Tell me how to deal with grief and I’ll tell you how to live

When grief becomes part of living

December of 2020, without any knowledge I found out in April of 2021 that my ex-wife had an emotional affair that month. The following month May 2021, I caught her lies and she fully disclosed that on two weekends, she was sleeping at the guy’s pad. She made me believe that she was going to her parents to take space. I trusted her up to that point. After 4 years of dating and 21 months of engagement and barely making it through a full year of our second year of marriage, we filed for marriage dissolution on February 24.

I’m writing this in May of 2022. I can say the grief after one year of finding out about the affair in successions of disclosure was devasting, to say the least. I did not realize how painful it was until a full year. Even after consistent months of therapy, being part of a songwriting community, staying close with people I trust and care for, and meeting several other divorcees and affair wounded spouses who are still going through it or part of their history, grief stayed painful.

I am barely scratching the surface. Often times it becomes part of how I react and engage in the world around me. I have developed coping mechanisms I am not proud of and healthy ones I decided to keep. I still don’t know how much healing I have been through. My therapist tells me to give myself some credit for how immensely I have been healing in a short amount of time.

Months after finding out about the affair, it wasn’t until July of 2021 that we decided to go to couples therapy. It was the hardest to get us to decide whether our marriage was salvageable. I felt the loneliest and it was the darkest time of my life. Not only did I feel the need to protect my ex-wife’s reputation, I felt the need to work harder to save a marriage that she was willing to throw away like trash after shitting on it.

It took 7 years for her to finally realize she didn’t want an adult and mature relationship. It took an affair to finally open up her options and self-awareness. We are 6 years apart in age. Married her at the age of 24 and I was 31. I value marriage and took it sacredly. Working harder to salvage the marriage by agreeing to separate during our couple’s counseling from July 2021 until October 2021 was merely just running on a treadmill. It wasn’t going anywhere. At least for me. For her, it was to save face, and felt the need to reconcile herself but never the relationship to any capacity.

From feeling the need to say words and sweeping statements throughout our dating that I am the husband she dreamed of, that I am who she always thought to marry, and an exhaustive list of an ideal husband she always wanted is right in front of her but not when her “husband” doesn’t conform to her expectations of ease and conflict-free relationship.

Early in our dating, I was vocal about my own abuse as a child. How do my triggers and insecurity stem from it. I have surely developed responses to conflict that I immediately reconciled and made clear to help bring clarity to my blind spots. I was self-aware but I needed to be surrounded by mentors and counselors. So I did it for myself, but she was hesitant to bring people, into our relationship as she felt that I was emotionally unstable and manipulative and that “people” will convince her to break it off. I told her I do not care about what other people say, all I wanted was for her to gain insight and perspective to get clarity on her decisions about whether to stay in our relationship or not. She refuses to bring anyone in and kept deciding to move forward for reasons I later found out were a red flag.

I’m sure, the relationship that we had, it’s no different from those who had a past history of abuse from their parents. Like so, my ex-wife had her own trauma and abuse. This was all informed of the was she was deciding to stay in a relationship, to fill the void of loneliness, and to feel the need to dismiss her own trauma by projecting it on fixing my own. I have exclaimed on many occasions that our faith and my intention to move forward isn’t for her to fix me but to simply understand and hold my hand in the process.

During our couple’s counseling, we later learned that 4 different types of attachment theory in which played a huge role in how we responded or reacted during the conflict. It concluded that in our therapy, we both were simply choosing different things, and the justification of our decisions was not the same aim as when we first met. She recognize that my growth was leaving her behind and her awareness of herself wasn’t until she made a mistake that she didn’t regret.

I am writing this not because I want sympathy or to find allegiance to feel good about villainizing my ex-wife. What I learned from my story is not to escape grief. The pain and the story behind the scars cannot be minimized. I fought each day to choose my ex-wife and justify her inability to be proactive in our relationship because I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I trusted her and I accepted her for who she was, who she is, and who she will be. And yet none of those protected me from getting scarred and torn apart. It is a risk I took for myself to simply love a person without first loving myself.

The last 7 years of my life is grieving. After meeting my ex-wife in May of 2015, I could not make sense of the in-conflict I had to restrain myself from liking her. There is a part of me that has this threshold to allow myself to get hurt because it is what I am familiar with. My expectation is that someone will and can walk alongside my own capacity to walk through pain is never going to be the same for the other person. The words “choosing” someone regardless of how hard was simply dealing with her own blindspots. Not understanding her limitations or having the tools to know when it’s enough for her so she can be honest about what she truly feels. I had my fair share of justifying the loneliness, the red flags, the gaslighting, the manipulations, and the unhealthy way that we dealt with conflict that I had viewed through stained glass.

To be honest with me. I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t happy either leading up to our wedding day. All I wanted was to live another day so I can learn ways to love her well. It was so that I can be loved too.

When you choose a path to purely love someone, who ended up lying, manipulating, and betraying you on multiple occasions in those 7 years, There are no amount of words that can describe how to grieve, especially when I was made to think I was the problem of the relationship and gaslighted to think I was the manipulator. I was blindsided. Those 6 years have not been grieved yet until today. There is no amount of days or arithmetic to quantify that it would take me another 7 years to finally be healed.

I did not know I was in a very unhealthy relationship after recovering from a previously toxic relationship at the same time I met my ex-wife. I have not had the chance to grieve safely on my own. I knew I wasn’t ready to commit to another relationship, but this one felt like it was asking for it. Or I was just blind enough not to see that I need to love myself first.

Understanding that the gravity of my choice to stay in that relationship did not rob me of the experience to love myself and being who I am. What it has done was to add to the fuel of how I need to grieve my childhood from when I was 6 years old until I was 20 years old.

What this all means is that I am not only grieving my divorce, my ex-wife, my marriage and dating, but also every relationship I had before her, and the entirety of my childhood living within the constrain of pain, guilt, shame, anger, loss, loneliness, invalidation, fear, deprivation, and a plethora of insecurities all wrapped in grief.

I’m 32 years old now. An Immigrant who moved to America when I was 21. Old enough to feel depressed leaving behind my two older siblings, my large group of friends, and my life in the Philippines for another life I have to make for myself with no help and guidance from my parents besides living with them and helping survive a few hundred by not paying rent until I was 30.

I moved to multiple cities from New York to the Bay Area, and being uprooted multiple times from people and friends and returning the San Diego is like back to square one. All this played a huge part in creating a coping style and even burying many parts of myself in a ball of insecurity that all found its way into my artistry, faith, and business endeavors. I was living in grief without even knowing, or should I say I was living.

What I learned about grieving is that it looks different for everyone but everyone is living in lament and grief in some capacity. You don’t have to lose someone to grief. It can be in many forms and often times these losses become part of who we are and how we interact with the world around us. It affects the way we view our own life and how to view others as well. It clouds our judgment and influences the way we make decisions when something triggers us externally. Most time these triggers are subconscious unless we took steps to understand them through counseling, therapy, or other forms of personal development. The most common ways that we relive these losses are through relationships which is why relationships are difficult and complex to keep.

Learning how to live, is learning how to grieve. This may be an unconventional way of seeing life for those who only recognize living through a hedonistic lifestyle or casm that focuses on pleasure and escapism but these ways of living are also triggered by grief. If there is anything all humanity shares is that we all lost something and someone. We all have been hurt and scarred and we will be.

The way someone views their own life and others do not mean we fully understand how to grieve and should we even try to understand how? Simply recognizing that we have losses, or something was taken away, torn apart, or stolen from us. That we were hurt, betrayed, abandoned, bullied, shamed, miscarried, infertile, gender dysphoria, discriminated, taken advantage of, objectified, violated, abused, manipulated, ill-treated, depraved, and forgotten, helps inform us how to keep living than choosing not to.

--

--

--

I write to soothe my soul. It keeps me honest. For the most part, to get the point across through tight spaces and cracks where I see the need to expose.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Gay “dating” in the middle of a pandemic.

After Losing Everything Can Love Survive?

Gravity

The Pleaser and the Receiver

Looking through all the search engines I could think about, trying to find how to put something…

Its been a year…

Why Men are Cancelled

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
JB Verances

JB Verances

I write to soothe my soul. It keeps me honest. For the most part, to get the point across through tight spaces and cracks where I see the need to expose.

More from Medium

Keep things simple but stable

ARENA PROJECTS

Coming to America: The thing that saddens me most.