After Leanne, and a suicide attempt five months after DDay, I ended up in a psychologist’s rooms for the first time. I was diagnosed with complicated grief.
About 10% of those grieving end up in this cycle. I had never had a problem with it before. I had suffered some big, sudden losses, but the grieving process had been ‘normal’ and ‘healthy,’ not like this.
“Prolonged grief, also known as complicated grief or traumatic grief. Grieving is an intense, painful, and yet altogether healthy experience. What’s unhealthy is when the symptoms of grief — such as yearning for the dead, feeling anger about the loss, or a sense of being stuck — last for six months or more.”
I was stuck. And I knew it. I fought and fought and fought to get unstuck. Going back to uni eventually was part of me trying to unstick myself, trying to rebuild my self esteem.
I’m stuck again. I know it. And am fighting again to deal with the magnitude of the grief.
Talking to a grief counsellor online has pointed out to me that I have experienced this loss as sudden traumatic loss. Which seems counter intuitive. I knew Roger was a cheater, so why would his cheating again seem like it came out of nowhere?
It’s because of how he talked about us. About me. About how he would do whatever it took, forever, to keep me. I believed him. I believed when he said he would support me and wait for me, that he meant it. And prising the reality away from those empty promises has been impossible for some reason!
I have slept for just over an hour. And the dreams were of the two of them, hand in hand, walking to a restaurant for dinner, kissing deeply, him throwing her on his bed and making love to her. It is slow torture.
I keep thinking my cognitive behaviours, deliberate mindfulness and meditation practices will eventually help unstick me. Lord, I hope so!
“For those directly impacted by the this, their lives become shattered. They are shocked and in disbelief. Their emotions are intense and unpredictable. All of a sudden nothing makes sense. Pictures of the trauma play out in their heads. Survivors will likely have difficulty eating, concentrating, sleeping and feeling safe. Some may develop physical symptoms or anxiety and panic disorders. Some may also cease to function. They may want to stay home and keep family close to them. They may become less trustful and hypervigilant.”
All of the above.
My friend who messaged me was acutely intuitive about my grief. She immediately talked about my grieving as equivalent to death of my husband, and suggested it may be almost worse, because the man I love feels like he has been body snatched, “enjoyed by’ another woman possibly increasing my distress at the loss.
“A growing body of evidence supports links between attachment style, complicated grief (CG), and coping mechanisms in bereavement. In general, adults with insecure attachment styles are at an increased risk for developing CG when faced with the death of a loved one.”
Or loss of them to someone else?
One of the frustrations is that when bringing up attachment theory, our couples counsellor clearly identified Roger’s anxious attachment style, and my secure attachment style. You would like to think that meant I had a good grounding for dealing with loss.
I wonder if I was flipped somehow here? That my firmly secure attachment was shaken loose? Am I now anxiously attached? I don’t know, all I do know is that I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of my embodied pain at the loss. And that in these periods, it feels like loss of a bizarre competition I never knew I was entered in. That Trinket held all the cards, and played the ‘winning’ hand as he compared my grief to her bright and bubbly winning hand.
It fucking sucks to be broken down, then entered into a stupid competition with someone who wasn’t broken by him. I had no fucking chance of ever ‘winning’that game. Was like a cock fight, where I was the rooster who had battled forever, the previous opponent, coming out the victor (over Leanne, lol) only to be thrown back in the ring, bleeding, exhausted and barely breathing, to face the fresh challenge of Trinket, who had just awoken from her long rest, ready to rip me to shreds. The odds were fucking impossible. And me begging her to give me three months space were laughed at.
Fuck you broken bird. Just go away and die quietly. Don’t let me see you suffer.
The level of selfishness in not giving me just that tiny bit of breathing room? Unbelievable. I mean, what did she think 30 years was? Chopped liver?
Yep. Our me me me society once again.
So, I am dealing with the resurfacing, or unresolved matter of complicated grief. From my research, it appears that this is a particularly difficuly disorder to treat, with around a 50% success rate. Those odds are tough, but, it does mean it can be done, right?