Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Paradox of Grief

                    I know it's been a couple weeks since I posted anything.  Sorry about that.  The start of classes  combined with the emotional fall out of my recently ended relationship ate up all my time and inspiration.  Today, though, I had a moment of clarity that I wanted to share, regarding that emotional wreckage.
                    When I ended things with my ex-boyfriend, it was painful.  I was still in love with him, and I knew I was hurting him.  Though I was braced for anger, my new ex was nothing if not understanding.  He made sure that I had support from my family, then quietly took himself out of the way to allow us both to heal.  He told me within two weeks of the break-up that he forgave me for hurting him and that he hoped we'd find a way to stay friends.  Though encounters with his family have been a bit awkward, they too have expressed no anger at me or my decision.  It all seems like a best case scenario, right?
                    Well, not quite.  I still felt guilty for causing pain to someone I loved.  In a twisted sort of way, I wanted them to be angry at me.  I felt that I deserved to be the target of anger, that I deserved to be shunned or shouted at.  I felt that my ex, or a proxy for him, should strike back at me for the emotional wound I had delivered.  And with no other proxy forthcoming. . . I took the position.  I became angry at myself, over and above my guilt.  On a very basic emotional level, I refused to forgive myself for choosing to end the relationship.
                    The last time I ended a long-term relationship, my new ex responded with anger, and even led one of our mutual friends to a similar level of anger.  At the time I was hurt and frustrated by their reaction, but now, looking back, I can't help but wonder.  In a strange way, it seems that their rejections freed me to forgive myself and move on.  When my first relationship ended, my former boyfriend was not angry with me. Like in my most recent break-up, he simply removed himself quietly from the situation and told me that he didn't blame me and wanted to stay friends.  It makes me wonder if I didn't do something similar then, directing anger at myself because no one else was.  Could it be that my whole slide into the darkest period of my life was some kind of misguided punishment I was giving myself?
                    I honestly don't know.  The idea is both horrifying on an emotional level and intriguing on an intellectual one.  Regardless, I don't intend to give in to my depression again.  I will keep telling myself that I did the right thing until I start to believe it, no matter how long that may be.  After all, if the person I hurt has forgiven me, what right to I have to withhold forgiveness from myself?

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