“It’s like talking to a brick wall. You don’t get me. You’re not the person I fell in love with anymore. When did we stop laughing? How can you look me straight in the eye and lie to me? I’m so over this. I swear, one more time and I’m out. I don’t want to leave my home. I just need a break! But, I love you! Stay, go, stay, go…I’m done.”
I could write those words in my sleep, so commonplace to my vocabulary they are these days. If I had to bet, I’d put some dollar bills down that I’m not the only one holding onto that particular mix-tape.
Six years this year. That’s how long we’ve loved each other. That’s how much history we share. Six years of birthdays, Christmases, family drama, travel, work, making love, cooking dinner, re-modeling a home, and watching Grey’s Anatomy. Six years is how long it took for us to go from forever to separate bedrooms.
Facing the future and living the daily life inside a relationship that is unraveled is one of the most soul-shaking experiences I have ever faced. There is the point, call it “breaking” or “turning”…but it’s the point when the cries have been cried, the fights have been fought, the prayers have been prayed, the screams have been screamed and the dishes lay broken on the floor. You look up, look around and realize you hear the quiet. It’s the sound of a new page. A page that comes, no matter how many times you re-read that last paragraph to keep from turning to.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was really onto something when she coined the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. When we experience any change in our lives, we grieve what once was.
Here’s my impression of the five stages of grief as experienced during the are we or aren’t we phase of a relationship:
Denial: “Oh, we’re good. Things have actually been exceptional lately. We just got back from a trip.” A trip that was spent mostly in tears, but hey…it’s holiday!
Anger: ”Screw you, and your stupid mother, and that horrible haircut!”
Bargaining: New lipstick? Check. Dishes done? Check. Candles lit? Check. Emotional connection still as good as a two cans and a piece of string? Priceless.
Depression: Saturday night is spent playing an endless loop of Jodeci and/or the Indigo Girls while looking through “the box” that contains every post-it “I heart you” and movie ticket stub, while drinking the too-expensive wine you buy out of spite.
Acceptance: You realize an hour after you’ve done it that you just made plans with friends without touching base with your other. You follow through with those plans, and come home without a single sting of guilt. You speak when you come through the door. If it’s a good day, you stop and talk for a few minutes. If it’s not, you retreat to your corner respectfully and without snide remark. You go to sleep that night knowing that you don’t have any idea what tomorrow will be like, and that’s ok. Tonight, you’re ok. And so are they. You can rest and know the sun will come up in the morning.
The sun does come up. We are not required to know every single step our lives are going to take. More often than not, it’s the moment we believe we do have that kind of control that Life (with a capital L) throws a curve-ball just out of the reach of our glove.
If any of what I’ve said sounds familiar to you…take a deep breath. Come on, a big, through-the-nose deep breath. Now blow it out, slowly. Close your eyes. Think these words: “I am mothertrucking FANTASTIC”. Let it make you smile. Know it’s true.
You’re going to be ok.
Alisha is the woman behind the ya that is blahyaya.com. She and her partner, M, are best known for their tireless work to improve rural emergency healthcare and for changing the face of same-sex couplehood in hammered down hinges of hell, Alabama. Their love of good food, cold beer, and the ongoing argument whether or not to become a 3 cat household keeps them going. Of note: Alisha also enjoys speaking about herself in third person and writing in all lowercase letters. Follow Alisha on Twitter.