It’s a holiday today. It is Country X New Year’s Day. At the moment, I am just grateful for the chance to sit quietly, to do nothing, to rest and try to put my mind in order a little.
I wanted to write about the grief of losing my relationship with Natashka this morning. As I think about it, I am increasingly aware that I can’t say what I want to say very well. The words for the ideas seem to crumble and fall apart in my hands when I try to move them around.
So my expectations for this as a clear, communicative post are low. But here goes.
One thought I have today is that life is manageable again. This is manageable. The pain of the loss is like a train crash, but a train crash seems manageable to me now. I have lived through many, many train crashes in my head and they were not easy, but I can do train crashes now. I learned how to do that.
What I couldn’t manage is the train crash without knowing what the train crash was.
I have a word now for what I am grieving. It is not a word I keep pushing away because I think it is impossible or incorrect. It fits, and so it is not a train crash and total chaos together.
It is also not a train crash alone. With words, we begin to be able to draw other people into our lives. We can tell others what hurts and why and these relationships do something that automatically helps us. I suspect this is biological and hormonal and totally beyond our control. But without words, this is hard to find. It is especially hard to find when the people in front of us are not close enough to be trusted with pure emotion. I cannot break down in front of my friends here and simply be held. Which would also work. They are my friends and they care, but I think that would scare the crap out of them. But I can tell people who are far away. They need words though.
So it helps to have this word. It helps to be able to say I am grieving a marriage.
It helps too to be able to say I am grieving something that is rare. I could have a different spouse—a good spouse and a good relationship—and it is unlikely it would ever quite be like that again. That degree of shared commitment to the wellbeing of both partners is just not average. It happens, but not that often, and maybe only to people who have faced a long series of hardships together. In a more typical world, you might need to raise children first, face a life-threatening illness together, weather a few lost jobs, and be staring mortality in the face. I don’t know.
But I realize I have expected it of relationships in the past, and been endlessly puzzled that it wasn’t there. No, it doesn’t come just like that to people, the necessity of sticking together through things, the benefits of supporting each other through whatever needs to be faced, the idea of being in the same life-boat, or the fact that there is usually a way to help everyone win if everyone tries. It comes eventually, but it doesn’t come to people in their twenties. It might begin to occur as we move through our thirties. It becomes a possibility in the forties. But you emerge into adulthood with that perspective only if you have repeatedly faced unbearable pain and fear with someone else at your side. And, for better and worse, most people haven’t. They haven’t faced that kind of horror at all—better–or they have faced it alone and without help—worse. Not that this has been my only problem, but it’s been one of them.
So it clears some things up too. And that always helps.
I don’t know how to grieve though. I think, perhaps, the first thing is just to let myself feel it when it is there. I think, perhaps, it is time to feel the pain whenever it comes to me. I don’t really know when it will come, but I know I have been pushing it aside. I know that has been my habit.
I don’t think I need to look at the 100 things that hurt because Natashka does not need to be considered in doing them. But I think as the things arise, one by one, I need to let them hurt then.
And then we’ll see.