Everything was perfect between us except for this one thing: I was in love with my boyfriend but he wasn’t in love with me. So we ended it. For my part I immediately fell into a rapid cycling of grief expressions. We are none of us alone in this. Here I apply the five identified stages of grief to my own experience.
Denial: Ever since we split I have been spending most of my time in a state of denial. I find it is easier to remove myself from the sadness of reality by fantasizing about getting back together. My favorite version of this fantasy is one where my x and I meet unexpectedly in summer. I have a nice tan and a new haircut. I am happy and smiling; life is fine because I have moved on. He sees me and suddenly realizes that he loved me all along and life is empty without me. It all moves along nicely from there. Version two of the get-back-together fantasy: It is next week and a cold, rainy night. He shows up at my door. He brings flowers. He begs me to take him back, and I, compassionately, tell him all is forgiven. I get somewhat agitated every time I realize that I am not predicting the future, or even forecasting a likely scenario. I am simply in denial that this break up is for good. At this point in time however, it brings me a relief from sadness that would follow if I rushed into cool acceptance of the facts.
Anger: Admittedly, I am prone to moments of anger. Why the hell don’t you love me! How could you be with me all that time and not love me? I am enraged by own unlovableness and my x’s unloving of me. This sentiment is followed often by tears, stomping and pounding into the pillow until exhaustion takes over, or I remember it is time to go to work. (Luckily, I am always able to rely on denial to lift my mood and allow me to get through the day.)
And once again, moving on…
Bargaining: This is the most annoying of all because I constantly beat myself up over causing the break up with my stupid need for love. Why couldn’t I just settle for less than perfect? He said, “I care about you” – why wasn’t that enough? Why didn’t I just wait to see if deeper feelings evolved over time? Perhaps seven months isn’t sufficient for some people. Maybe if I call him now and explain that I have made a terrible mistake, that I am happy to take whatever he is willing to give… maybe we can get back together and put this fiasco behind us. *Sadly, I cannot allow myself to do this. I want to love and be loved. It is simple, and I remind myself to be true.
Depression: Based on past experiences, I would say that I am prone to depression. Strangely, I have yet to experience any signs of depression over this break up. I mean, why am I not on the couch day after day with empty icecream cartons all around? I fear that may come later. In a queer way, all my sadness has created an abundance of energy, which has been channeled into manic activity. I suddenly rollerblade again. Not since I was 13 have I felt the urge to rollerblade. I suppose this is depression disguised as anxious distraction. Different sides of the same coin perhaps.
Oh, God… have we come to this point already?
Acceptance: Okay… I haven’t quite gotten here yet. I have not accepted this break up. If I had, would I be writing this now? Part of me says, “It’s all for the best” while all the other parts of my psyche are still caught up in the first four stages of grief. I believe that acceptance will come later, after everything else has been processed and I no longer yearn. Of course, even thinking that this is a possibility, I fantasize that as soon as I accept this break up that I may immediately call my x and see if we can “just be friends”. Right… Now I start to cycle all over again, starting with denial.
Another day, another reflection on the art and experience of loss. Later, I will write about the blessings and gifts of this life, staying true to my idealistic nature.
(* Reposted from April 7, 2008 with revisions.)