“And a man shall be free, and as pure as the day prior to his conception in his mother’s womb, when he has nothing, wants nothing, and knows nothing.”
– Meister Eckhart
Grief is such an odd, unwieldy thing to live with. To me, it seems a bit like the Bogart in Harry Potter, my grief can take the shape of whatever it is I fear the most at that moment, ie. losing control, being vulnerable, overwhelming pain or anxiety, numbness when I should feel something.
During my marriage, especially the last several years of it, my grief was in the driver’s seat when it came to relating to my husband. It is so surreal to acknowledge that now, and I did then at times, but now I can see so clearly what was pushing me forward was a robust combination of pain and fear thickly enveloped in grief.
On this day, 5 years ago, I was grieving. I knew my marriage was dying. I knew that my husband was not the person I married nor someone I could stay married to. But, I was still holding on so tightly, because I was so deeply afraid of the unknown and afraid of the pain that I knew would come with getting divorced. I knew that pain was something I did not want. Some people won’t change until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of change. I have been one of those people. I am working towards being more open to change.
Grief is never something you want. It’s never something you want to know or have. But, all of us will experience it and without that were we ever alive? Did we ever connect to someone enough to actually mourn the loss of them?
Grieving isn’t linear and clear cut either. It has layers and ebbs and flows. I’ve reached a point where now I can tell the difference between trauma-grief and loss-grief, whereas before they bled into each other in my psyche, a horrifying melange of pain. Sometimes one would trigger the other and give me a real one-two punch.
This last couple of weeks my ex husband has been attempting to be more involved with our kids. I struggle so much to be cautious but open. I know how hard I am trying to change. I want to believe he has good intentions and is working on himself.
Our agreement, the way we “co parent”, has been such that he doesn’t parent. He doesn’t get to see them when he is not doing well, which has been most of the time. So far, he’s seen them 3 times this year, twice in the last two weeks. Last year, he saw them maybe a half a dozen times. He has been good at recognizing within himself when he needs to stay away. Sometimes he directly communicates that to me and other times, I just know from his inability to communicate at all.
I feel very defensive for my kids where he is concerned. And I don’t like feeling defensive. I think that defensiveness can give rise to more defensiveness and difficulty from him. I try to stay neutral but, it’s hard. It’s gotten easier as I untangled my grief, but there are still moments that it blurs together, anger and fear. I’m generally not angry about the past. It is dead and I don’t miss it. Just like I don’t miss my marriage and I don’t feel angry about it. The things I grieve are for my children. They won’t ever know what it is like to have a father who loves them and supports them unconditionally…. but, neither do I. I worry that they will end up like me, functional but fundamentally and foundationally broken.