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grieving alone
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grieving alone

Nine years ago, my husband and I werethisclose to divorce.  I was extremely unhappy, frustrated, angry.  My husband was not a kind man - very self-centered, a control freak, selfish, rude and mean.  Ten years older than me, he treated me like his child.  I had no say in the marriage, and for all intents and purposes, was made to feel that I was lucky he "took me in" and gave me a life free of spinsterhood.  Understand that I have worked fulltime since H.S. graduation and never needed to be "taken in". I am in my 50's, still working, but wouldn't have it any other way.  I enjoy contributing to a work product and being productive.  

In the midst of my unhappiness nine years ago, I met a man who changed my life.  He was the kindest, gentlest man I have ever known.  Very humble, he didn't have two cents to rub together, but he would give ANYONE those two cents if you asked him for it.  I have never known that kind of kindness and love and I doubt I ever will again.  Lightening doesn't strike twice.  I can't say enough how kind, selfless, generous, warm, intuitive and perceptive this man was.  As you can guess, we had an affair which lasted four years.  The intense happiness and fulfillment I felt being with him was only diminished by the growing guilt I felt about betraying my husband.  "Steve" and I would meet when I was able to slip away from home. Many times I would be distraught about something that happened with my husband and Steve, in his kind, gentle yet perceptive way, would listen, offer me advice and gave me confidence to start standing up to my husband.  Never once did Steve push me to leave my husband - over four years! - but always let me know that he just wanted me to be happy.  He told me many, many times he would like to see me free of my husband; that he wanted to make a life with me; that he loved me more than his own life; but he felt unworthy to ask me to leave a life of financial stability, a paid-for home and vehicles, when he couldn't give me those things.  He never pushed me to leave my husband, but hoped I would make that decision on my own.  

During those four years of love, encouragement and tutelage from this wonderful man, I began to stand up for myself at home.  The consequence of this was that my husband actually began to change.  He started showing me respect, gave me some independence, and no longer treated me like a child.  As time went on, I knew I couldn't leave this man.  He was ten years older than me, in bad health, and I had been with him for 30 years.  I was fairly certain it would kill him if I left.  Beyond all that, I felt sorry for him.  He had no friends, (no one wanted to be around him) no family except me, and in a strange turn-around, I realized HE would be lost WITHOUT ME!

For the next four / five years after the first four years with Steve, Steve and I saw less of each other.  We tried many times to break ties altogether, but we couldn't do it.  Because of my guilt, we were no longer intimate, but we continued to meet from time to time for lunch, or saw each other in the evening, grabbing a hamburger somewhere for dinner, all innocent, but I still had to deceive my husband as to what I was actually doing. Just knowing I would get to see his face again, for an hour or so, in a public place, over a sandwich, was enough for now.  It would make me so happy. I always thought that some day, we would be together again, legitimately.  Up until a month ago, the hardest thing I ever endured was trying to separate myself from this man who gave me more love than I will ever experience again.  I loved this man, and will love him for the rest of my life.

Last month, after we had not been in contact with each other for about six months (although we did pass each other on the road and would smile and wave), I read of his sudden death in the newspaper.  This wonderfully humble, sweet man had a stroke at his home and wasn't discovered for a couple of days.  

I am beyond distraught.  I cry behind closed doors all day long.  I feel regret for not giving him the one thing he wanted in this world - me, free and clear, all to himself.  I didn't get a chance to say good-bye, tell him I loved him, tell him how my life changed because of him.  I think of him all day long.  I can barely function at work.  And I must suffer all this internally, by myself.  No one knew of our relationship.  This honorable man took our secret to his grave.  I wouldn't even consider hurting my husband now by letting him know what happened nine years ago.  It would serve no purpose for him to know about that now, and my Steve's efforts to defend my honor would have been in vain.  

Someone please help me cope with the deepest sorrow I have ever known.

Darla
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If sharing and responding to your grief helps, I can do that. I am glad that you found some love in your life. I was once with a man who fits your description of your husband: mean, selfish, controlling. I left him years ago and am still picking up the pieces ... we had a daughter together and she's a suffering addict which means I'm a suffering addict's mom. We'll never know what differences a good father might have made in her life, but she's circling the drain, and I'm powerless to help her.

That ex of mine ... my daughter's father ... later married a woman who has toughed it out with him all these years. They had two more kids one of whom is a rage-aholic and frequently incarcerated. I don't know what's going on with their daughter, but she was okay last I heard. Anyway, and I'm making a long story long, this woman has stayed with him all these years, and she has confided a little in me; for example, I know she's been stashing money all these years, haha! What I don't know is how in the world did she make it through however many years of marriage to this monster without love, and I hope she has had a lover like you did. I hope she's known some love in her awful life with him. Ugh! How has she done it?
Now, though, here you are with this grief. I think it's good to have a sense of closure in life, but we don't get much of that, do we? Seems we wind up with many strings left untied and lots of unresolved stuff at our life's end. The only advice I would venture to you is that you might find some peace in the knowledge that, in a world with little of it, you found love.
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I am so sorry for your loss.    I don't know how I would feel if the same thing happened to me but I can understand the shock and horror of finding out someone so close to you died.  It must be so painful to feel this loss alone with no one to talk to, no one to confide in.
I am so sorry.. I'm glad you found this forum.  It is a very good place with a lot of nice people.
Take Care
Dee
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Thank you Dee for your response.  (and Lizzytish as well)  Your kind responses did provide some comfort.  

I am doing just a little better now with the passage of about six weeks.  I don't feel on the verge of tears continually which is a great relief.  That truly is a horrible state to be in.  I can wait now and let my sadness come to the surface in the evenings, when I'm alone in my bed.  (my husband and I have separate bedrooms) I still feel an overwhelming sense of sadness that this wonderful man is no longer among us.  This man had such kindness, generosity, gentleness about him - to be taken so young seems so unfair, not just to him but to those who loved him, and loved being around him.  The thought of never being able to talk to him again, and the knowledge that the occasional "chance encounter" is no longer possible are the things that make me cry the easiest.  I visit his gravesite daily.  Why, I really don't know.  I guess it just makes me feel closer to him.  I can tell him things there in a conversational way.  I know it sounds silly, but it does help for some reason.  

The thing, I guess, that distresses me most now is the behavior of his family.  Steve was the only boy with three sisters.  He would tell me how he always felt in the shadow of his three sisters, who were favored by his parents.  He never ever complained about it, he just stated it matter of factly, and lived with it.  I knew it was hurtful to him, but he didn't dwell on it.  Within a week of his death - one week - they had his house up for sale!  Truly!  The real estate agent had photos of his home on the Internet, and it's completely cleaned out!  There is nothing in it!  I understand the need to "move on" - but ONE WEEK!!  I don't understand how they could have moved out all of his furniture and belongings so quickly.  It was startling in its - callousness is the only word that comes to mind. A few weeks after that, they sold his vehicle.  As I said, I visit his grave daily.  My footprints are the only ones in the snow leading up to his resting place.  No one else has bothered to visit.  This is a small town.  It's only a ten minute drive from their homes.  I just don't understand that.  It just breaks my heart all over again.  

Poor Steve.  So marginalized by his "family" - even in death.  It was heartwarming to see the numerous expressions on sympathy on the funeral home website by people who knew Steve. There were more than I've seen anyone else receive.  People had such lovely things to say about him; gererous, sweet, caring, "a great guy", would drop anything to help you, and most often, the word "kind" was used.  

Thank you for making it possible for me to share my grief and my love for this man with someone.  If permissible, I'd like to write more later about this truly humble and loving man.

Darla (like the LIttle Rascals - that's what he called me.)
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It's been a little over two months now since my world was rocked with the sudden death of Steve.  I don't cry spontaneously anymore.  Thank you God for that.  I get teary-eyed when I'm alone and think of happy times with Steve.  

I feel deep sadness now, not depression, just truly sad.  I'm sad because I miss that wonderful man.  I miss him so much even though we hadn't been in contact very much before he died.  I feel sadness because I miss knowing there was someone out there who got butterflies in his stomach just by passing me on the road, the way I did when I passed him.  We talked about things like this often, even after we decided not to see each other romantically anymore.  He used to tell me how it would "make his day" when he would see me in town, walking around, or on my bike, or driving in the car.  He would tell me that such an encounter would lighten his step and make him feel like he was walking on a cloud for the rest of the day.  I knew exactly what he meant because I felt the same way - EVEN AFTER we ended things!!  I felt this way up until the day he died - nine years after our first romantic encounter!!!!  This was real.  The love and feelings were so strong, even after nine years.  I know I'll never have that again.  Even after all this time, no one else interests me.  

I want to relay the following story and ask if other people find my feelings strange.

I live in a small midwest town, very typical of the small towns we all know of in America.  I am originally from the neighboring town so by that, I am afforded a little anonimity living in the area where I reside and work now, which is a bit larger than the town where I was born and raised.  I'm in my 50's though I look younger.  People tell me I look to be in my late 30's.  I got lucky in the looks department.  I take no credit for any of it.  Maybe when I'm in my 60's, my looks will take a plunge, but for right now, I'm just a lucky woman.  As I said in my first post, I am married to a man who is 10 years older than me.  I do love him but not in a romantic way.  He is a mean, ornery man with no friends other than me.  I feel sorry for him a lot of time and just want to protect him and make him feel loved.  Steve was the complete opposite; kind, gentle, sensitive, intuitive, many friends but not a partier or a barfly.  He was also younger than me.  

Prior to meeting Steve, 9-10 years ago,I remember how lonely I was.  I remember looking out the third floor window of the building where I work and seeing a birds nest on the windowsill of the building next door.  I remember watching the progression of the building of the nest, seeing the eggs in it and the mom sitting on them, then they hatched and I watched the mother bird bring worms to her hatchlings all day long, back and forth, back and forth.  I remember thinking what a pathetic life I had and how  this symbolized it - a 40+ married woman, smart and attractive but not very confident, working at a two bit job, watching the life of birds.  I remember thinking of my high school class and how so many of those people had gone to college, moved to big cities, had successful careers; and here I was, only 10 miles from the spot where I was born and raised.  LOSER!!

Then I met Steve, and suddenly, someone thought I was the greatest woman that ever lived.  He would tell me how flattered he was that I found him attractive!  Can you imagine!  This was just the way he was - humble, gracious, loving.  The reality was, I was the one who was flattered.  After being told what an awful person I was by my husband repeatedly, to have this kind, gentle man find me attractive and want to make a life with me.  I couldn't believe it!!! I was so lucky!!  

Well, as I said, this went on for a few years, and other than the growing guilt I was feeling, these years were truly the happiest years of my life.  Up until Steve died, I knew there was someone in this world, in the small town I inhabited, that thought of me daily, that still got excited when he saw me, someone whose days were brighter because he knew I loved him.  How wonderful that was FOR ME to know.  I hope he knew, particularly in the last year, that I felt the same way about his love for me.

Well, now he is gone from my sight forever.  I still can't believe it.  I still find myself looking around for his truck without thinking.  Feeling sad and thinking, "I'll call Steve, he always lifts my mood", without thinking.  (and then realizing that the reason for my sadness is that I can no longer do that.  It's like a double whammy in a matter of five seconds!)

Anyway, this morning, I happened to look out the window of my office building at that window sill next door, which I hadn't done since my grand adventure started with Steve nine years ago, and still sitting there were remnants of that nest from nine years ago.  And this brings me to this board again and the reason for this message.  I have this strong, overpowering sadness, like I'm back to where I was nine years ago.  With Steve gone now, and seeing that old nest, I feel insignificant again, like the past nine years didn't happen, even though I know they did, but it feels like they didn't.  I can't reminisce with anyway about them.  There is no one else alive that can substantiate the last nine years of my life.  I feel like it's 2006 and I'm alone, unnoticed by all; a big loser in life.  These feelings are not just sad for me, but unsettling.  I don't want to go back to the way I was feeling in 2006.  But with Steve gone, I feel like I haven't moved off the dime since then.

Can anyone give me their thoughts on this.
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Give me some time to read all of this
dave
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I think with great losses like this we will always boarder on that thin line that brings all the sorrow back as fresh and deep as if it happened yesterday. And by allowing them back to the surface once in a while does serve the grieving process to run its course. But we do have to ask ourselves, was revisiting the sorrow worth all the hurt that reappears? I truely think not. Look at it this way. Where they are is a place we also will be some day, so in a sense our separation is only temporary.
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