Opting Out

Eudaimonia Tip # 6 – Never be afraid to opt out of certain things; the time alone may be what you need.

As if on cue, the first day of fall bloomed late night bonfires around my neighborhood. Open a door, a window or step outside and your senses were hit with the familiar campfire smell of burning wood. I found out Sunday that even my parents had a fire on their deck Saturday night to usher in the new autumn season.

September 22nd hosted a vast array of activities, according to facebook anyway. From festivals and flea markets to special store sales; the world was undoubtedly humming along in celebration of the Earth’s axis moving the northern hemisphere away from the sun. There was one particular event that I was invited too by my dear neighbor-friends called the Lantern Festival. It was a night of food trucks, music, and the main event, the release of a few hundred paper lanterns into the night sky, presumably the majority with notes to loved ones that are no longer with us.  

Typically, I would have jumped at this is the kind of event, but dealing with my melancholy attitude and lack of wanting to be around people, I decided not to go. It’s true that no one would have cared what I wrote on my lantern, least of all my friends, but I would have felt compelled to write something in memory of Sam. This may sound harsh, but I didn’t want to do that. I remember him enough as it is let alone have to pay money to watch a paper lantern burn up in the night sky. I get the symbolism, and I bet for most it was a great night of remembering a loved one, but I am so glad that I listened to my inner voice, women’s intuition, gut (whatever you want to call it) and chose to opt out.  

Guess what? I had the best day on Saturday. I got so much done, and I even took my dog, Friday, for a walk which I’ve promised her for a while now. The fresh air felt good, as so did the exercise. I also didn’t mind that I went to the park that Sam and I used to walk together. Maybe it was the distraction of all the busy sports camps that drew my mind away from him, or perhaps I finally realize that I don’t have to carry all these emotions around with me forever.

Everyone that has lost someone has their own story to tell and all are tragic in their own right. In my support group, we are starting to share our stories, and each story brings strong emotions and tears. From losing a mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, and niece, the circumstances of each of these are heart-wrenching. Some knew their loved one struggled with mental health issues their whole life while others had no reasons to suspect that something, like the suicide of a loved one, would be their new reality.  

For these people, their grief is linked to a family member or a spouse and years of memories to sift through and understand why their loved one chose to depart the way they did. My story of losing Sam is different. He wasn’t a family member that I grew up with or a partner that I married. He was my boyfriend for six months, at least six normal months. The truth is, the few years I had with him were dramatic for one reason or another with a lot of breaking up and making up along the way. When we finally hit our stride this time last fall, I still had my reservations about some things but chucked it up to “relationships take work” and shushed my inner voice.

Now I know that shushing a gut feeling is never a good idea when it comes to relationships.

There were many reasons on both sides that caused Sam and I to get back together in August of 2017. For me, it was a combination of Sam finally having his life together, or telling me he did, and wanting him around during my health scares.  Sam was with me through the whole ordeal, even taking the day off to sit in the waiting room at the hospital with my parents while I was in surgery. Now, this would have been a sweet memory if I didn’t find out later that while I was having things removed from my body, he was emailing the girl he dated over the summer. (Nice!) For Sam, I would say he loved me in his warped way refusing to let me go thinking that I was the answer to all of his problems. He also was type of guy who could not be alone for a day without a woman somewhere in his life if not two at the same time.

The reason for this window of my time with Sam is to show that we were not a healthy couple, no matter how hard I wanted us to be. At one point there was genuine love, but not enough to take away all of his demons.

I’m not sure exactly when the revelation hit, but this past week I realized that I don’t have to carry this grief around with me forever. Honestly, I’m tired of grieving a man who manipulated me even in his death. I’m tired of my emotions and attitude being wrapped up in this tragedy. Some may think that I am cold-hearted for wanting to move on with my life, but as I’ve alluded to in past posts, I wasn’t sure we had a future after I learned about a significant lie.

His death tormented my soul in those first weeks. I would cry myself to sleep at night begging God to tell me “Why, Why did he do this?” I would wake up in the same state full of tears and fear and dread that he was gone. Thankfully, God listened and provided answers, which were shocking and hard to comprehend. The new knowledge stopped the torment, but it did not stop the grieving.

Fast forward seven months. With the help of counseling, my current support group and opting out of things to give myself time to heal, I’m seeing that there is life for me beyond this tragedy. Grieving has taught me to wake with a thankful heart for all that God has given me, shown me and sustained me throughout my life. With this new found emotional freedom I’m starting to sense the excitement of life creeping in and all its possibilities

 

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