We all know about Grief and what it is, but maybe we haven’t MET Grief yet. Not in a proper introduction kind of way. At the very least, most people know Grief like we know our distant, out-of-town cousins. Peripherally aware of their being, slightly curious maybe, mostly irrelevant, and showing up once in awhile during family gatherings. Not until that distant cousin comes to visit, and outstay his welcome, do we then really know him. By then, we are intimate companions feeding on the familiarity. It’s annoying, to wake day after day, to find the horrible house guest squatting on my heart yet again, suffocating my happiness. I long for the day, when I wake and find Grief has gone. I imagine a kind of “Dear John” letter left on my kitchen counter announcing defeat and exiting just as unexpectedly as he arrived. Grief comes in all forms. It came to me, without invitation, last Fall when I lost my dear husband and the life I loved. Nearly one year later, despite my many invitations, Grief has yet to leave. Instead, he’s unpacked, strewn himself carelessly all over the house, seemingly propped his feet up on the couch and defiantly says, “Yea, that’s right, and what are you gonna do about it?”
Thankfully, in our society, there’s at least a cultural roadmap for managing this mangy houseguest. When we lose someone we love, whether it’s unexpected or not, there are certain things we can depend on. Funerals are planned, eulogies are read, stories are shared, memories preserved, and love and support envelope those left behind. But I didn’t lose my husband to death. Like many woman today, I lost my husband to the realization of his double life. A life so carefully curated on-line, with legal pick-your-partner pages available for a small, quarterly membership fee. The uncovering of this broke me in two. Two lives: his AND mine. My life “BEFORE DISCOVERY” (which was pretty much all I could have ever hoped for) and the one “POST-DISCOVERY” (which was pretty much a complete living nightmare). I often hear what I think the sound the Titanic must have made as it broke into two halves that night it hit the iceberg and sank. I know that sound. It came up from the depths of my belly and out every orifice, violently, slowly, the night I found my husband’s double life, a life with many, many, many betrayals with many, many, many women. The night my marriage hit the iceberg, sank my marriage, rerouted my life’s course and Grief came to visit.
As a form of my own therapy, I am writing about my trauma, and the subsequent tidal wave of grief that has been my last year. Since my Beloved did not die, I didn’t have the luxury of an immediate and structured grieving period. Our marriage of 20 years died and I was left to grieve not only my present, but my future, and a now unknown past as well. Without the societal milestones we use to heal our grief through death of a loved one, I was left to chart my own course. I read and I read and I read. I watched every.single.SuperSoulSunday every made. I wrote to authors. I devoured TedTalks. I prayed and meditated daily – and still do. All of this to help my mind process, and maybe someday understand how and why this all happened. In this quest for information, looking for “my people”, or someone, ANYone with a roadmap for Ambiguous Grieving, I learned so much. Most importantly, that I CAN DO THIS.
There is a way back to joy. I feel it. I don’t have the map, and I know it won’t be easy. What I DO know is who I am. I know I am strong but flexible, humble and generous. I am deeply rooted with branches of blessings surrounding me. Grief has overstayed his visit. I am done living in the dirt. I feel it coming. I feel I’m changing.
I feel it’s my time to Rise Up. Rooted Like Trees.
Thanks for walking with me as I do.
How Surely Gravity’s Law
How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the strongest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.
each stone, blossom, child –
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.
If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.
Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.
So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left him.
This is what the things teach us:
patiently trusting our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.
-Rainer Maria Rilke