The Hardest Part

December 12, 2005

The hardest part about going through this grief process isn't that other people can't experience what I am experiencing. They couldn't experience what I was going through when everything was great either. No, the hardest part is the loss of the one place where I was assured of a response that worked for me. No matter what the situation I knew that I could vent, spew, cry, rage, sulk, or whatever until I had expressed the emotional reaction to an outside stimulus. Michele never tried to hurry that process or fix anything for me until I was done with my emotional work. I learned over time how to do that for her as well.

Today when something happens in my life that has a larger than normal emotional impact I have no safe place to discuss it or sort through it. I have tried to rely upon my friends but what I fear I am doing is driving them away with the sheet weight of the emotions I bring to bear on them. Michele and I forged an incredibly strong platform together that supported us through thick and thin. I am coming to realize that none of my friends will be able to step in and shore things up. Not all the way. Maybe all my friends combined and in rotation could give me most of what I lost and now need. But it isn't what they signed up for, and I fear my lack of tack through grief is starting to damage some friendships.

We all have habits that support us and allow us to function in daily life. Over the course of the ten years I knew Michele I developed many habits that worked for me, and complimented our relationship. Those habits that she was a part of are now causing me more pain that comfort, more stress than relief, more sorrow than joy. Letting go of those parts of me that were exclusive to Michele is excruciatingly painful. It means letting go of a part of me, forever. Even if I find a new partner down the road, and even if I have a wonderful full relationship with that person, the Mark that Michele knew died with her. And the Mark that is left behind is struggling to develop new habits, new coping mechanisms for this strange and terrifying new reality. Leaning on my friends has helped, but it is adding to my pain. This new raw Mark doesn't know how to interact with friends from before. Like a stroke survivor relearning how to walk or speak, I must relearn how to be in the friendships that have survived her death.

And learning anything new when all seems pointless is more difficult that I can imagine or overcome. I am afraid that I will now start to retreat even further from society as a whole and the small circle of friends I have in specific. I want their advice and I don't want it, I want them to help and I want them to leave me alone. I am a mass of contradictions and opposing forces, ready to dissolve into tears or fly off the handle. I want to be cared for and I want to be left alone.

I no longer know who I am or recognize myself. I am having to learn a whole new personality while dealing with the world at large like nothing ever happened. I feel as if I am insane for the world makes no sense to me any more.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.