I sat in group tonight; surviving our loss. It’s only the second time I’ve attended because of childcare difficulties and because I didn’t feel I was ready to go “there” out of fear. The last time I went was in June, 2016, and I cried the full two hours. Bawled actually. I worried my grief would affect the others in the group, and hated how emotionally raw I was in front of complete strangers. I was vulnerable, and couldn’t speak.
The past few weeks I’ve been bottling up my grief. Everything is ok. Everything is awesome. I’m ok….at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself between soccer games, college appointments, birthday parties and work. It is a lie. But it was working.
I came home after picking up my daughter from choir practice, made supper, cleaned after supper, got our daughter in the shower, reviewed the responsibilities for the evening with our son, and jumped in the car all the while forgetting to grab my cell phone and spilling coffee on my shirt on my way out the door. Everything is awesome.
About two blocks from the venue where group is held, I felt the anxiety in my chest. I felt the lie boiling just under the surface. The tension increased in my jaw, and the road before me became blurred by the tears I could no longer hold back. Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. I couldn’t even make it to group before springing a leak.
I sat quietly in my chair, trying to hold back the sobs. I sit and listen to everyone check in, discuss how they are doing. They aren’t bawling like me. They seem to have it together. Some even say they feel at peace today. I feel a shit storm inside me and I can not seem to get it together. Can I say that out loud in group? “I feel a shit storm inside me and I do not want to do this ANY FUCKING MORE! Can you just give me some of your peace so I can get through a day without eating a bag of chocolate chips, or without this stupid headache damn it!”. Probably inappropriate for the situation I’m in now, but it fit for how I was feeling at the time.
When they ask me to check in I speak carefully. “I feel overwhelmed”. Not even close, but good enough. ” I hope one day I can get through group, without crying”. A smile came across both the facilitators face, and the face of the older man sitting diagonal from me. “You will” they both assure me.
As the evening progressed, and I engaged, I felt the weight inside me lifting. The more I focused on others stories, and the more I talked about my own, the less I cried. The more we discussed, the more release I felt inside, and I began to be truthful about my feelings ( I did leave out the F-bombs out of respect for the others). I talked about how I felt I was at fault. About the guilt I felt for having put up such stringent boundaries and the guilt I felt for feeling relief I no longer had to worry about him. How I just missed so desperately the man I married, and how even though we were separated, I was still grieving him as though we were always together. I never thought of us as separated. Just temporarily disengaged until he could get back on medication, and in therapy, and somewhat stable.
I felt connected; and here in this group, I didn’t feel alone, and I didn’t have to lie. They get it. They’ve been there, and they are baring witness with me, and I them. The lie I have been telling myself is I’m ok. I’m not ok. I feel awful inside. I feel sad without my person here. I feel sick when I think of how he left me, and his children. I am devastated because I miss him. So. Fucking. Much.
I AM NOT OK. And that is ok. And I am done lying to myself. By lying to myself, I am only prolonging my grief and pain and causing myself suffering. I am already experiencing a complicated grief, so I don’t want to make it worse. By doing so, I will be hurting not only myself, but my children. So, I’m not Ok today, and that is ok.
I’m done with the lie.