September 6, 2021
Just 6 years after my mom’s death, a year and a half after my Beagle’s passing, and 4 years into my transition to a new state, I met David. The year, 2018. Little did I know that just a year and half after meeting him, I’d experience my dad’s death as well. Needless to say, grief has played a central role throughout our relationship.
For example, when David and I first met, I sensed he’d be a good friend. In my mind, that was it! We’d hang out, meet for coffee and a movie, and talk on the phone every now and then. See, my heart had already been devastated following my experiencing two significant losses and truthfully, I didn’t think I could stomach another death of any kind.
Unfortunately (and fortunately for me), David had other plans. He insisted on us spending time together in person, rejecting my phone-focused relationship plan. Darn! So little by little, I obliged. And about 9 months into our relationship, I realized that my emotions were shifting me into an uncomfortable direction. Much to my surprise, I thought of him often and felt love rising in my heart. As a result, I shared my desire to end things. David grudgingly agreed.
Whew, I thought. I wouldn’t have to deal with the ebbs and flows of grief against a blossoming love. Despite feeling remorseful about my decision, I also felt emotionally relieved. With the breakup, I didn’t have to confront any more feelings. It felt logical at the time.
However, just 48 hours later, I heard a knock on my front door. It was David.
I could easily share that ‘the rest is history,’ which is true on some level. We remain together to this day, planning a life moving forward. Nevertheless, grief has continued to rear its ugly head throughout our relationship, raising my fear and upending plans towards a ‘known’ future.
For nearly 3 years now, I’ve swung between hot and cold ends of the relationship pendulum. On some days, I cherish David’s presence, maintain a healthy view of myself in our relationship, and share my grief needs. On other days, however, fear grips my heart, and I find myself clinging to him in unreasonable ways. Or lashing out in anger. Or dealing with concerns that he, too, will suddenly die.
As you might imagine, this makes the ‘love thing’ challenging. For me, it’s a daily battle, one that I fight with radical self-care.
Here are a few of the ways I work to keep myself in harmony, not only for myself, but also for the sake of relationship building.
Know that whatever your experience is or has been, it’s 100% normal. When you experience significant loss, everything in your world is rattled. The result? Fear, anger, anxiety, isolation, and/or confusion, to name a few.
I’m hopeful that you consistently work to re-open your heart to experiencing love — whatever that means for you, even in the face of loss. Is it easy? Nope. At the same time, what’s the alternative?
Take a moment to answer that question, my friend. Then listen to your heart’s response.
Of course, I can’t predict if or when you’ll feel ready to explore the possibility of romantic love. Nevertheless, I’m hopeful that you’re aware of the possibilities.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to share them below.
Head over to my Facebook page to chat more about life lessons and interact beyond the blog: https://www.facebook.com/DrMekel
If you’re interested in learning more about managing your lifestyle, love, leadership, and loyalties to God, self, and others, click here: https://mekelharrisphd.com/.