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Re: Experiences of Grief

@CheerBear   Yes !!  Giving off the don’t mess with me vibe - my husband used to tell me that I made myself “unapproachable”, he never understood - until recently - that my first reaction on meeting someone new is to not trust

them , that it takes me a while to drop the defences and see that not everyone is a danger.  More hard work that requires me to change.

Re: Experiences of Grief

I can relate well to that @Razzle. I too have a pretty hard time with trust and have some strong defenses up.

I guess that icy defensiveness is part of this grief stuff for me. I wasn't always like this. I used to trust easier, be more relaxed and optimistic and I was a whole lot less bitter. Sometimes I really dont like the me I am now and I miss the way I used to see things.

Its complicated and difficult to try and challenge something that has protected us but can also impact us in an unhelpful way. I hope it helps that husband now understands better.

Re: Experiences of Grief

@CheerBear   I’m not sure it helps, but he’s not so much of an ar$ehole  about it now when I’m “unaproachable”.  I can’t remember a time that I was ever trusting, except when I met my husband.  It was a conscious decision to let him in - I’d never even met him before he asked me out.  I think that’s what hurt the most the night he defended my SIL, he broke my trust and I am having a hard time letting that go.  He did it so easily, and I don’t want to get close enough to be in a position for him to do it again.

Re: Experiences of Grief

Thankyou so much for your sharing here @CheerBear  and @Razzle .  I feel so much for what you've both been through.  I'm lost for words right now but will respond in more detail when I'm able to, to each of you.  I'm really glad you've been able to share with and support each other here.  I'll read the article you linked to @CheerBear  before I respond, but even just at first hearing the term 'disenfranchised grief' rings so true to me.

I guess I knew that opening up this topic might leave us somewhat raw and I'm really grateful for the way we can be here for each other.

@Exoplanet  posted a piece on this topic on the Writing as a form of therapy thread that you might like to read.  

Thanks everyone for being so brave.  I'm hoping that by truly being heard and safe to share here, we might begin to heal some of our wounds.


Re: Experiences of Grief

@CheerBear  @Razzle @greenpea @Zoe7   part of why I can't respond individually in detail tonight is that I've been making a list since yesterday of all the different events in my life that I have or have had grief about (not that it's ever really finished and in the past tense in my experience) and it just keeps getting longer.   Lost my Dad suddenly, had a stillborn baby, had a 3 month premmie who is legally blind, lost 2 really significant teachers in my life,  4 miscarriages, 2 terminations of pregnancy,  the list goes on.  Even grief about what life might have been without bipolar.  And I think grief for a lost childhood is real for me too - parental abuse, csa, many possible reasons for this.


While reading that article CB a big one came to the surface - I've had many responses, immediate and delayed, to the loss of a particular relationship.  And it's a good example of disenfranchised grief - the loss of an abuser.  Such a complex topic.  I dreamed he was in my bed saying sorry and goodbye after he died.  Even tho his death could have helped allay many fears, still living in the same town, it hit me hard.  All the woulda, coulda, shoulda thoughts, what could have been if he'd been the man I thought he was when I fell in love.  What might not have been if I'd not lost my inner strength long before I even met him from previous abuses.  If either of us had been living true to our 'mana' (a maori word I've not found an english alternative for)....  Everyone in my life who knows what happened has anger at him on my behalf and I don't think any of them would even begin to understand that there's grief involved for me.  


One thing that really p's me off is when someone asks 'Aren't you over that yet?'  The truth is that some things change us forever.  Grief emotions may get further apart and even less intense,  we may learn to live with it, but that doesn't mean we're over it.


I keep editing this post as my list gets longer.

Re: Experiences of Grief

How are you feeling writing that kind of list @eth? I can see how maybe it could be a helpful thing to do but also something that could send me into a spiral of sinking-ness. Lots of ❤ to you. You have had some awful experiences 😔

The loss of a relationship with a person who was abusive is definitely something that could lead to that kind of not recognised or acknowledge, complex grief. I remember doing some really interesting reading on grief and loss in family violence and the things you mentioned were there. It's one of those situations where so often the response of others is relief that you're out of the situation and as you said, anger for you. It doesn't seem to even register with some people that it has often come at an enormous personal cost with life changing consequences that cause deep pain. It's real and it hurts, even if others can't see that.

My example of it is that I remember being super messed up in the refuge and getting told in the most dismissive way, that the only thing that mattered was that we were safe and away from that situation. It was an opinion and attitude that I consistently came across. It felt like everything we lost - our home, community, friends, freedom, privacy, my vision of our future etc... didn't matter and never did as we were safe and that's all that mattered (apparently). It felt like a double blow.

No "at least" will ever make certain things feel better. Just as no "aren't you over that" could make anyone feel at all OK (I imagine) 😡. That one hurts and I'm sorry you have that question given to you. When someone is experiencing grief it's so important to recognise that it is there rather than to question why I think.

I see your grief eth and know it is real.

Re: Experiences of Grief

I hear you and see you too @CheerBear .  I really get how those 'at least ....' statements can actually invalidate large aspects of what we are dealing with after dv relationships end.   Yes, our kids are now safe, Yes, we survived ..... there is just so much more to it than that.   

I think it's time for me to sign off and watch some telly to distract myself and get back into the now.  Hope you are feeling ok after your generous sharing here - will check in in the morning to see how you're doing.  You too @Razzle  @greenpea .

Re: Experiences of Grief

@eth   Being told “aren’t you over that yet” is as bad as being told, (when my son died) “he’s in a better place now”.  Be fu€ked he is, the best place for him was here with his family.  I could have knocked a few people on their arses with that line.  


I also understand the grief of a lost child hood.  When I first started my councilling sessions, I was asked “who am I”.  After a lot of soul searching the answer was - I have no identity.  I “died” after that first group assault, that little 8yo stayed there forever and I became whoever I had to be to survive.  My childhood stopped that day and I have no clue who I really am.   I never really grieved for her, and I get so sad for her now.  Even in councilling I never refer to her as myself, she’s  always “that girl”.  I’m learning to connect to “her” and to grieve what she (I ) lost.  It’s dificult.


That’s a whole other type of grief, it’s not grieving another’s death, it’s grieving your own while you’re still alive - if that makes sense?


It must be difficult to feel like you do about your abuser.  You obviously loved him, it must be so hard when others don’t feel about him the way you did/do, it leaves you in a terribly lonely place.


Take care, I hope you sleep peacefully tonight after visiting this topic ❤️❤️

Re: Experiences of Grief

@eth Heart

Grief comes and goes too , like my great gran always gave me "cat cards" for my birthday , even now seeing a cat card brings me a tear

and sunflowers reminds me of my cousin who paseed away at 6

soo many exanples i could share

but i usually cry lots first wuthout talking , my mr shaz used to get upset with that , but now he just gives me a hug without saying a word

Re: Experiences of Grief

Good morning @CheerBear  @Razzle  @greenpea  @Shaz51 @Exoplanet @Zoe7 @Dec   checking to see how you're all travelling today after your sharing yesterday.  Hope today has started gently and yesterday hasn't caused too much to trigger re-living all the events we discussed.

@Shaz51  you're so right about how seemingly little things can trigger us to remember someone or something that we have had or still have grief over.


For me one biggie is when football ads come on the telly i.e. all the time for several months of the year.  The ex I mentioned was previously a professional footballer and when I was with him the world would have to stop while a match was on.   It's a dichotomy for me - I remember the footy parties with all his crowd (maoris in the top end) and at the same time the ways he used all his tackling and injuring 'skills' on me.


Another is whenever I see an infant or toddler with glasses - mine had them since they were a 4lb 12 week old premmie.  Sometimes even just seeing a smaller-than-average newborn is enough to take me back to the whole intensive care scene, and bring up a whole lot of 'if only's.


Australia day is the anniversary of my son being still-born and at least that's one that by now I can recognize in advance.  I usually boycott the world that day.  He would have been 23 this year.  Sometimes I light a candle for him, send him a message in my mind, do something consciously to let him go.  For years I felt like his spirit was hanging around me all the time.  These days he just visits occasionally.


My brother's birthday is also the day our dad died suddenly, fit as a fiddle, at 60.  It must be worse for my brother.  We had to go to Canada for his memorial and cremation and I lost the plot completely when there.  Overcome by grief, I was triggered into mania and also spent 2 days  hanging over buckets at both ends, unable to leave the room I was staying in.  I was the only one who went into the room where he was in his open casket.  And went alone to the cremation.  My siblings said I was mad and my sister didn't speak to me for many years afterwards.


Seeing kids playing in the rain in their swimmers evokes the time I was attacked and sexually assaulted at age 9 in Papua New Guinea.  My brother and I were walking home from a friend's house in our togs when the man started following us.  Because of the way my parents handled it (long story there) I feel it was the end of childhood  innocence for me.  Other assaults happened between then and 15 and I wonder if they would have if I hadn't been 'sexualized' at such a young age.   So I grieve my lost childhood too.


When I get hit by a wave of grief that I didn't see coming, it swells up from deep in my torso, into my heart, through my voicebox before it reaches my eyes. It also affects my breathing.    I get overwhelmed and find it very hard to speak.  If possible I flee from company so that I can allow it to come through without having to supress it.  Not always possible.  Sometimes I cry, sometimes I wail.  Usually I feel the need to sleep afterwards.  Endorphins?  Or exhaustion from the intensity of emotions?


I could continue here.  

I should add that at this time I'm ok about having a look at all this.  I am not being triggered.  More like observing and feeling validated, thanks to all of you sharing.  I hope it's a bit like that for you all too.  If not, if you need support today, sing out.  I'll be around this morning.



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