Tomorrow is my two-year anniversary with my boyfriend. By far, this is the longest relationship that I’ve ever been in, which is not really a cause for a celebration. The honeymoon phase is long-gone, and my boyfriend and I have settled in a pattern that is comfortable and never boring.
However, since my mom died, my relationship changed. This is probably natural, as I have changed too. Grief is something that consumes me – not enough to prohibit me from still carrying on my daily responsibilities, but enough to handicap me in daily life. I’ve began to pull away from my relationship a bit – something of which I should have expected.
After a while, I began to notice something else. I would scroll on my social media feeds and see people in relationships – people my age – practically writing novels on how much their significant other means to them. Meanwhile, I would be scrolling on Instagram with writer’s block on my feelings. Was there something wrong with me? Did this mean that I didn’t love my boyfriend?
What I didn’t realize was the difference between them and myself. Those friends didn’t lose a parent less than a year ago. I did. I was dealing with grief and trying to create a new normal. That feeling is so overwhelming that sometimes you just want to crawl into a corner and sit in silence with the TV remote.
I bought up these feelings with my therapist yesterday. I confessed that I thought this meant that I didn’t love my boyfriend. Her response? That is was normal, as you try to create the “new normal.” The brain is more focused on trying to rebuild a stable normal that you pull away.
She also assured me one other thing – the thing that no one sees when you’re scrolling on social media. The arguments, the misunderstandings, and the issues. She said that no one sees that. Furthermore, there is something that is I have never posted – the fact that my world turned upside down, and my partner chose to stand by me. What you don’t see on my social media is how many Starbucks drinks that I’ve ordered from my phone that he picks up for me. Or, the fact that he listens to me, even if I complain about the same thing over and over again.
What you don’t see is that he is there for me. And, I am pretty lucky that he is there for me as I progress through this journey.
Now, grief is something that will change the relationship – as it changes the person who the grief is affecting. I believe that it’s something that will make or break the relationship Going through the motions of grief is isolating. Some people chose to walk away from the person, as their grief is too overwhelming for them. Others choose to stay – those are the ones that grow stronger.
I guess you can say that I am the latter.
When you’re in a relationship, you often feel that you are not alone, or you’re scared to mention it to your partner. Opening up is difficult for me, as I fear that he would think that I’m complaining or not understanding what I’m feeling. However, when you’re in a relationship, you should probably share the feelings that are bottled up inside you. And, I often wonder how could he understand what I am going through? He’s never lost a parent.
The thing that I am constantly wrong about is that he’s understanding even though he doesn’t understand what I am going through.
And, that’s all that truly matters.
So, here’s what I think about grief and relationships. Of course, the partner may never understand what you are going through. But, it’s the little things that they do to get you through and to make daily life easier. It’s the listening to you vent. It’s the asking what can I do to help? It’s about the little things such as making you dinner, or buying you flowers on a bad day. Of course, you can say that about all relationships, but it applies even more during the journey of grief.
Furthermore, it’s the fact that they want to support you, that truly matters the most.
And, you can’t see all that behind a cute caption and a selfie.
But, honestly, I would take these real moments that I don’t capture any day over the ones that I do.