Back in February I wrote a post for the blog carnival entitled Patiently. It was a fictional account of a victim of domestic violence. Today, I am grateful to have a guest blogger who not only knows first hand what it is to live that nightmare, but was able to escape from it.
Louise Gallagher has moved through Calgary’s corporate hallways to not-for-profit fund-raising and communications. The author of The Dandelion Spirit, A true-life fairytale of love, lies and letting-go, published in 2006, she is the producer/writer of At The Heart of Centre Stage, a one hour documentary for Global Television and numerous other video productions. In addition, Louise’s articles have been published in print and online and she has had several articles aired on CBC Radio.
Louise seeks to inspire everyone to make a difference, in their own lives and in their communities through creative expression in everything they do.
Grieving a Love Gone Wrong
When someone dies, we grieve. The process is well-documented, the steps clearly defined though seldom straight-forward. We each journey through the process at our own speed, in our own time. But, regardless of our pace, we must go through each step to come to that place where we can be at peace with only the memories of the one we loved to warm our hearts, as we learn to accept that they have gone forever as we move on.
We start with disbelief. It cannot be true. They cannot be gone. We are in denial. And then we move into anger. How could they have left us! Why me? Why them? Why now? Why? Why? Why? Anger gives way to bargaining, trying to find some way to reach peace with the inevitable truth that is edging away at the darkness, trying to bring light to the endless night we seem to have slipped into with their passing.
We’re angry they left us, angry they won’t come back. And angry there is nothing that can bring them back — though we keep searching for a way to make the pain of their going, go away. Until, finally, sadness invades our minds like fog drifting upon a river in the grey on grey world of a winter’s dawn as we wade through the pain of the truth seeping into our hearts with chilling clarity. We will never see or feel or hear them again.
As the truth settles in we learn to accept. They are not coming back. Sad, but true. But we have our memories. Those beautiful, jewel encased visions of who this person was and what they meant to our lives. And so we slip from the waters of despair into the memory banks and photo albums of their loving faces frozen in time, etching their images upon the page with our fingers lovingly caressing their smiles as we point and laugh and tell stories about them.
Remembering when. Remembering how. Remembering them. We hold their memory lovingly in our hearts and feel the breath of life return once again to our peace of mind. Knowing that whenever we need to, to have them near all we have to do is open a photo album, slip into our hearts and there they’ll be, forever and a day. And so we grieve as their memory turns into a poem of love we will cherish forevermore.
There is no poetry when grieving a psychopath
Grieving a love gone wrong hurts. Especially when the one we loved has been untrue. Has lied and deceived and manipulated to get what they want. In those memories, there is no place where it is safe to trace their image upon the pages of our mind as we carefully gather mementos in the book of love we are writing in their passing. For, no matter where we roam, the lies, the deceit, the cruelty and desperation we felt in loving them tinges our minds with the ashen silt descending from the volcano that erupted in their passing through our lives.
Where once love blossomed on every branch and flower strewn vistas of happily-ever-after cast a sweet heady aroma of bliss upon our minds, burnt out memories lie etched in stark relief upon the black and grey landscape of our dreams. We are not safe to grieve wrapped in the memories of their love and so must find a way to release the tears without falling into the river of despair as anger and hatred and revulsion invade.
And so we grieve
In anger we turn the pain of having loved a phantom onto ourselves. We search for answers to their duplicity in our own naiveté. We blame ourselves, we find solace in trying to keep alive the image of what we wanted so desperately for him or her to be. We attach ourselves to the belief we love him as reality rises with our racing hearts pounding out the truth in a mind-numbing tattoo. He is the lie. Until finally, like Vesuvius erupting, the anger boils over the top and we are free to vent our tears and pain and fears and anger.
We were betrayed. Not because of anything we did. Not because of who we were, or how we looked or behaved, but simply because the abuser was who he or she was. We were betrayed not because we deserved it, but simply because we lost track of what we truly deserve when he betrayed our truth, our faith, our hope in love. We were betrayed because he chose to betray us and we were not expecting betrayal. We were expecting the love we gave in such breathless wonder to be returned with equal honesty. We were expecting to be cherished as we cherished him. But we didn’t know that upon that first sweet hello, we were targeted for betrayal. And betrayal is hard to grieve.
I grieve for the woman who was abused
When the man who promised to love me ‘til death do us part and who took the death part way too seriously was arrested and I was set free, I wanted to mourn the relationship that was too good to be true. I wanted to grieve the man with whom I’d fallen in love. But he did not exist.
How could I mourn a dream? How could I grieve a figment of my imagination? Where was the substance to the chimera of his being in my life?
When first I was set free, I tried to mourn the man I thought he was and ended up grieving for the woman who was betrayed. Me.
I grieved for the woman who believed in Prince Charming and awoke to her worst nightmare raging in the night. I grieved for the woman who believed no one could willingly, knowingly, consciously create such evil and who had to awaken to the truth. Someone could and that someone was once a man I loved. A man who was untrue.
I grieved the woman whose hungry heart led her into his unholy arms. I grieved the woman who had to give up on believing in herself in order to keep believing in him. And I grieved the woman who almost lost her life because she could not believe she deserved to live. I grieved for that woman who was me who was so wounded, battered and bruised upon the road of life she thought she had no choice but to follow her magical thinking into the nightmare of his lies. She was betrayed and lost her way.
I grieved the past. I grieved the woman-child who believed she deserved to be abused.
In my prayers, I let him go
I did not grieve for him.
I prayed for him. I prayed for him a miracle, for only a miracle will set him free. And in my prayers, I let him go.
And focus on me.
When first I stumbled off that road to hell I could not feel my heart within me, could not feel the warmth of the sun upon my face. I could not feel. In grieving, I shifted my focus from memories of him to memories of me. My life, my joy, my sorrow, my pain, my elation. In grieving, I mourned what happened to me and rejoice in the wonder, the beauty, the joy of being alive today. In living, I create my poem of love that says, this is my one and only life. And I am the one and only me that I can be living it up for all I’m worth in the rapture of now.
Becoming all that I am meant to be
In letting go of him, I catch hold of me and wrap myself up in my loving arms. For I am the wondrous, incredible, miraculous being who has been given this gift of her life to live it in freedom. In freedom, I know that whatever lies I believed, from childhood through to this moment, there is only one lie that could hurt me now – to believe that I am not worthy of love.
He was my worst nightmare. But in his passing, I have been given the gift of truth that has saved my life – I am an awesome human being, worthy of love.
In love with me and my life, I accept all of me. Beauty and the beast. Joy and sorrow. Tears and laughter. Pain and ecstasy. Perfectly human in all my imperfections.
I am not less than, greater than, other than. I am me. And as me, I have the gift of embracing all that I am meant to be when I accept, without equivocation, my truth. I deserve to live my beautiful life without fear of being anyone other than who I am.
To read more from Louise Gallagher, please visit her at Recover your Joy.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, please know that this is not the life God intended for you. Please visit lovefraud.com. There is a better life for you.