Right away we were seeing each other every weekend, we became intimate within two months, and then I moved in with him two months after that (leaving my son to house-sit in my home). We had the most wonderful relationship for a year and a half. We were very much in love. Then in January my mom died. In February we decided to take a vacation to Florida so I could meet his 77-year-old mom and some of his other relatives for the first time. We were back home in March when his mom found out she had cancer. My boyfriend was devastated, and I was there for him for the next six months. He visited her again in September, and she passed while he was there. He texted me on the way home and asked me to understand that he didn’t want to love or be loved anymore, and to please leave because he wanted to be alone.
I was devastated and incredulous that the man who had said, “Never leave me,” “Where have you been all my life?” and “Thank God I found you,” etc. was deserting me. He even packed up most of my stuff. Well, I have moved back to my house and he has told me to not make contact with him. I have called or texted now and then when I remember something of mine that’s still at his place. But then he recently blocked me, and, unable to call first, I went to his house to ask for a few more things and he was furious.
I’m out of my mind with grief now and feel like I just lost another husband. Why is he doing this?! He said he hates me because I won’t leave him alone and respect his wishes. What about my wishes for the life he promised me that I would have with him? How could he go from loving me so intensely to hating me? I’m so confused, and I can’t stop crying every day. I miss us so much. — Like I Lost Another Husband
As you said, you are out of your mind with grief, and I believe that’s how your ex is feeling, too. Who knows how much of his grief he truly processed when he lost his wife at what sounds like a relatively young age. Maybe instead of dealing with it, he pushed it aside for 17 months until he met you and then you very quickly moved in together and you became a fast replacement for the wife he lost. And then when his mother died and he was confronted with the feeling of grief again, all those feelings he pushed aside when he wife died came rushing back. Or maybe not. Maybe the guy’s just a real asshole. But I think there’s more to it than that.
When grief happens — and it will happen to almost all of us at some point in our lives — it tests us in numerous ways, often pushing us to the limits of what we think we can handle, while simultaneously testing the strength of our character. Can we be good partners, good parents, good friends, good employees, good people in the face of our grief? Some of us can. And for some of us, the grief is too much. It alone is more than we can bear and so we retreat because we don’t believe we can be of any good to anyone else and we don’t want to be reminded of that failure or of a life beyond what’s been lost or of what is yet to be lost. We see everything as an affront to us.
What you’re seeing with your ex is someone who is so consumed with grief he is “out of his mind,” to borrow your phrase. He is showing you both the depth of his emotion and the limit of his character. It’s an incredibly difficult and painful way to learn about someone, to learn about the flaws you had yet to see, but in the end, it may be saving you more potential grief later on.
As I wrote yesterday in my post about death, missing someone is another way of loving him or her. Of course, someone doesn’t have to die in order for you to miss him, and you missing your ex — the person you believed him to be, the person he was with you, and the future you imagined together — represents your love for him. Maybe for your ex, the potential to miss someone as a result of loving her is so painful and sad he is willing to forgo another day of love in his life if it might save him further grief later. Grief, as the payment we often make for the love we get to have, might be too great a cost for your ex to risk paying again. And for you, that means you’re paying the price instead, and for that I’m very sorry.
There are stages of grief you’ll have to move through at your own pace, but I would encourage you, even if you aren’t to the acceptance part yet, to accept for now that your ex isn’t in the head and heart space to hear from you. Let go of whatever else might be at his place; accept that you may not see those things again. As for seeing him again, take things one day at a time. And remind yourself that you’ve loved and lost and grieved before and still opened yourself to love again. Your strength of character is being tested once more, and I hope for your sake and for whoever might be lucky enough to risk potential grief for the chance of loving you, you will find your way back to hope again.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.