Waiting To Exhale: A Journey Through Heartbreak and Grief Into Acceptance
In my life I have received many gains and have encountered many losses. I view my life as a way of learning from every experience, taking every lesson, and applying my newfound wisdom into my future. One thing I learned is, most of my lessons I didn’t learn in my most glorious moments. I instead found most of my lessons in my lowest, my darkest, and most painful moments. There’s a saying I used to hear all the time growing up: “A hard head makes a soft behind”. It was through my mistakes where I found my lessons. It was through my choices, and the consequences of those choices, where I found my wisdom. From this came clarity and insight to apply to my next experience, and my next lesson on my continued journey.
Alot of my reflections in my life came during the grief of a heartbreak. Alot of growth in my life was reliant on the relationships I encountered, and the connections I made with others along the way. The beginning of much of my healing over the years came after the loss of a relationship with a lover. I spoke about this lover in my blog, “I Used To Love Him”. Imagine loving someone so deep, that you lose your own identity in the process of loving them. You completely lose yourself trying to hold on to someone who can’t see past the tip of their own nose. A narcissist. You start behaving in a way that is unrecognizable to yourself and those around you. You feel pain so deep from the hurt, that you don’t even recognize your own face in the mirror. Pain can show on your face and in your eyes. You start to question yourself. Who Am I to allow myself to be this mistreated? Who Am I to love someone so deep with joy, yet I am the one that feels like knives are stabbing me in my chest?
I questioned if I was loving him correctly. I questioned if I was doing enough to please him. I questioned if I was good enough or even worthy of anything more than the pain I was feeling. I questioned, “Is this Love?”. During this time I got a tattoo, “Love Is Pain”. I showed him. He barely responded. Did he see the pain he was causing me? Did he even care? Was it his job to care or my own? After two years of trying to convince him to care about my heart he was breaking, I decided to take back my power. I made a choice to take my heart back and love it until it was whole again. To nurture my own heart. To care for my own heart. My will to love IS more powerful than his will to break me. I needed to breathe again. I desired to love again. I needed my heart.
After the loss of this relationship, I embarked on a journey of grief. Not only was I grieving him, but also the lovers before him. The first stage was DENIAL. At first, I denied the significance of the impact the relationship caused on my well being. I tried to appear strong. I tried to appear brave face in front of my friends and my loved ones. I denied the part I played. I couldn’t of detached long before I fell so deep. Where was my breaking point? I denied that I still loved him, that I still cared for him. I denied his existence. I denied myself of a new lover. I denied my shame. Pride can do that sometimes. I had to be stronger, or at least pretend to be until I had the courage to say: “I fell in love with a man who only hurt me in the end”. I was embarrassed. How can I face myself? How can I face my friends who told me so? I didn’t acknowledge how much it hurt me until my emotions became harder to contain. I tried to drink the pain away until I blacked out. At a point where I began to feel I was slipping too deep, I went to therapy. I cried. I vented to my friends. I cried more. Eventually I began to acknowledge: I Am Hurt. And I have every right to be.
Many moments during this time, I BARGAINED with the conflicted emotions inside of myself. I struggled coming to terms with being hurt, while still trying to press on with my career, loving my friends, and family. I tried to rush the process. It was to painful to endure, but too real to deny. When I stopped resisting against my inner confliction, I fell into a state of deep DEPRESSION. This carried on for years, even until the present. It triggered the pain and resentment I carried in me for years, even before him. Previous betrayal. Previous men. The pain from my childhood. I cried myself to sleep. I drank myself to sleep. I prayed myself to sleep. I drifted off to sleep with music playing to console me. I vented to my support partners. I sought counseling and therapy of all sorts. I fought daily, and harder. I wrote down all my lessons, and all the thoughts that kept me awake. I found my healing in my writing.
After tears could no longer do me justice, I became ANGRY. I became filled with rage. I was not the same loving and caring woman I was when I met him. I was always on the defense. I was paranoid. I formed barriers around my wounded heart. I guarded it with anger and rage at anyone who dared to hurt me. I was already hurt. I wrote my anger on paper. I cursed him in my notebook. I cursed all my previous lovers. I wanted him to feel my pain. I cursed my mother and father who caused my childhood pain. I wanted them all to feel my pain. I wanted revenge. I took it out on the people I loved. I took it out on the people who violated me, no matter how small the violation. Yet, at night I still cried. I was still angry. I continued this process until I became too tired to fight. I gave up fighting, and just started living. Focused more on my work. Focused more on my education. Focused more on loving those who actually loved me at that time. I was no longer angry. I am no longer angry.
After years of counseling. After years of therapy. After years of praying to God. After letting go of God. After years of trying to repair the damage with my loved ones who fell into the path of my rage. After Years of letting go of the people I used to know. After years of seeking understanding, remembering the memories, letting go of the memories, and accepting my lessons. I spent years of closing my eyes and asking myself, “Who Am I?”. “Am I the woman he said I was?”. I spent much time in the mirror asking this question. I spent much time writing about myself. Writing about the lessons. Writing about the pain. Writing about my next Love. A New Love. A love that doesn’t leave me wounded, and broken. A love that doesn’t make me question myself. But first, I had to find the first Love that I lost. The love I once had for myself. Where was this Love? Was my value decreased? Will someone else find it before me? Who will reciprocate it? Who will cherish it? Who will care for it? Who will love it passionately and fiercely? ….. I chose ME. I found my Love, Within Me.
Last year I heard his voice for the first time in 4 years. I asked him for some insight for a book I am writing. I was in a new found place. We laughed about the silly things we’ve done to each other. We reminisced on the passionate moments we spent together. I sighed about it. We thanked each other for the experience and the growth. We were two wounded people trying to find a place to hide and there, we found each other. Five years ago, I was seconds away from wishing death upon him. I cursed him. I hated him. I resented him. I loved him. I thank him. I forgave him. I wished him the best in Life. Now I forget. I forget all of the dark memories we shared. I forget all of the pain. I forget all of the tears. I forget all of the anger. I forget all of the regrets. I accept the experience. I accept the challenges. I accept the choice I made to love him. I accept the pain, I healed from. I forgive myself. Most important of all, I loved myself along the way. In the most quiet, most simple, and most caring ways.
My next Love will be a masterpiece. All of the lessons I learned, will be better choices. As I healed, I found My Joy. All of my pain became my power. My weaknesses became my strengths. I found the Love I lost within myself. My Love is not a game, but a gift that can be shared. Now I believe in Love again.
© Tanisha R. Coleman and Visions Of A Black Herstorian, LLC 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Tanisha R. Coleman and Visions Of A Black Herstorian, LLC with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.