Friday, February 27, 2015

When your partner's sorrow looks different than yours

If you’ve read the title to this post then there is a good chance that you don’t need to read any more to know exactly what I am going to say. Maybe just reading the title sparked a familiar pang in your heart. One you aren’t completely comfortable with.

Being that I am on the female end of this two sided topic it is naturally really easy for me to speak from just one side. Probably the same one you are on, considering that I have pretty much all female readers. But let me give you a heads-up. I’m going to do my very best to present a fresh perspective – the one of the father – the other side, if you will. And please don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying there should actually be two sides, because mother and father should undoubtedly always be a team...
I remember being angry. I was mad that Brady had a job and could leave the house all day and I couldn’t. I was mad that he could smile and laugh. It hurt when he would say, “Can we just go one day without talking about this?” And my whole entire world was wrapped up in the “this” he was referring to.

I was in survival mode. I was doing all I could to remove myself from bed in the mornings and function as a normal human, and on top of that take care of the little human that I spent my days with. I had to be normal-ish for him and that was really my only motivation.

I was swimming in an ocean full of different feelings, thoughts, and emotions and it was all I could do to breathe and stay afloat. I was looking out for myself. I needed myself to make it through. I wanted to protect myself from any added pain. Myself...myself....myself

I had no clue that while I was swimming in the emotion ocean focused solely on my own survival I had a lifeguard on the side trying to throw in the lifesaver.

But I wouldn’t let him.

He was wounded too, but he was trying to take care of his family. He was doing what he knew to make it all better for us while at the same time reeling from the death of HIS son.
I just couldn’t see it. All I could see was how I felt. All I knew was that I wanted him to grieve with me and I felt so alone. The one and only person I wanted the most to cry with me was my husband.

Oh what I’ve learned since then! And I don’t mean like the next few days or weeks or months after it all. I mean like, just in the last year. Perhaps I’m slower than most, but I’ve just recently caught on to what was truly going on in those moments.

It took us a good year or two to start having open conversations about Hudson and how Brady felt about it. Let me tell you, these conversations weren’t pretty. After I figured out how to put away all my defenses and “but I” remarks I learned something, and to be honest, it cut me to the core.
I learned he was grieving just like me. Only it looked different. This is probably no surprise to you and you’re probably thinking I’ve lost my mind if I couldn’t see that then. The thing is, I think I did see it but I didn’t accept it. I saw his attempts to make me smile and change the course of my day but I wouldn’t accept them.

What changed it all for me was when Brady began to explain that he would have to go to work and hear, from his co-workers, “How is your wife?” He would hear from his friends, “How is your wife?” He would hear from his family, “How is Misty doing?” Rarely, very rarely, was he asked about himself.

He explained to me that there were many days he would leave work and go straight to Hudson’s grave to stare at the cold slab of concrete and weep. He would then come home and do his very best to hold the walls of our home together with whatever strength he could muster. He knew I would be a mess and he knew our 17 month old needed a happy daddy. So he did what every good man would do. He tried to keep me from getting messier and keep a smile on Dawson’s face and a laughter in his heart.

If I had it all to do over again now, I would try harder to remove myself from my own sorrow and look for my husband’s. I would share my appreciation with him for trying so hard as opposed to hiding under the blanket of hurt when he appeared to be so much better off than me.
I’ve come to terms with myself that I wasn’t a team player through that difficult journey.  I put up the armor around my heart and eyes and didn’t even know I was doing it. Thank God that I can now see Brady’s perspective in it all.
I’m taking a stab and guessing that potentially you’ve felt alone in your relationship with your spouse or partner even as you’ve both grieved over the same exact thing. Possibly you’ve felt like they don’t understand or care.

What if they do? What if they’re trying to stay strong for you? Could you see it?
I’m one of the lucky ones because my husband finally opened up to show me his perspective. Not all men are willing to do this and I’m hoping that sharing these insights with you could bring you a step closer to understanding your partner’s perspective as well.

Please, please feel free to share your own thoughts and insights with us all.


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