On Loss and Mourning – A Therapy Session

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“Tell me about the loss of potential. What does that mean?”

It’s been over two months since Guy and I “transitioned” from emotionally intimate to something far less – perhaps penpals. It took a lot of time to deal with the residual resentment and feelings of being rejected and replaced. Which surprised me as the break up was mutual. But in working through the feelings of anger and hurt, I came to realize that it was not him, per say, that I was upset over losing. It was the loss of potential.

When people meet and begin to form an intimate bond, they tend to look for reflections of their own qualities or traits. It is a way to connect; to understand the other.

I saw a lot of what I wanted/needed in Guy; a lot of the best parts of myself: the ability to listen and go deeper than the superficial, his curiosity, his motivation and drive. And I saw my fears and insecurities reflected in him as well. I wanted to share my family with him; my tribe; my life. I thought he would be around for holidays, vacations, parties, events. I wanted to be in the relationship for the long haul.

During a break up, those visions vanish and it hurts. It is the loss of what could have been; a loss of the unfulfilled plans and desires. And I mourn for the things we had talked about doing together that will not come to pass.

For a while, I would have loved to move back towards the emotionally intimate relationship, we once had. But the more that time passes, the more I realize that the man I fell in love with no longer exists. He has changed or perhaps he never really existed at all. Perhaps I overlaid my perceptions on who he really is. I have had trouble sorting out how much of what I was most attracted to is real and how much of it was something I wanted to see. Regardless I miss the man I fell in love with.

What frustrates me the most is that occasionally I see glimpses of that man – in a conversation or a comment on social media.

It helps if I avoid him; which in itself is not difficult since he has not asked to spend any time alone with me and I have stopped begging for his time and attention. He has asked me to do several things with “the group” but I have no desire to. I even thought to completely sever contact with him as a way to stop the hurting. He seems almost a stranger to me now and that makes me sad.

My children noticed a few weeks ago that I was no longer spending time with Guy and he was no longer on the calendar. It broke my heart when my daughter said, “but you can’t break up. I love him.” “Yes, baby,” I said, “so do I.” My son simply commented that perhaps we could get back together. I wanted to tell him that anything is possible, but ended up simply saying not to count on it.

So have I come further in the last few months? I think so. I am no longer crying as often or hurting as much. I am seeing him more for how he is now and looking more inward than ever before.

And so I go forward and wonder what is next.

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Zoe first described herself as "bad at monogamy" until about five years ago when she and her husband discovered the term that actually described her: polyamorous. Since then they have opened their family to other partners. Zoe is currently juggling relationships with her husband, their two kids, her husband's girlfriend, and a slew of friends/loves that she calls her tribal poly family. She can be reached on facebook or on twitter @ZoeHanis

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