Talking Through the Grief

I recently went to a new salon to get my hair highlighted and cut. What I had envisioned as a cute, strawberry blonde highlight and cut turned out looking like blood streaks. Another trip back to the stylist proved to be even more disastrous. I walked out after the second try with brown, blonde, red, and pink stripes, all of which were so over-processed that the outer shaft of my hair was sloughing off in my hand as I drove away. By the time I got home I looked like a mangy calico cat. Needless to say there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth at my house that night. The first thing I did when I got home was get on the phone with several friends for some much needed sympathy.

A few days after my hair disaster, I was scheduled to work. I had about 12 nurses ask me at different times throughout the day what had happened to my hair. At the beginning of the day I still felt the sting of having my hair ruined. But by the end of my shift I discovered that I had grown a little bored of the story, and that I no longer felt upset over it. I still didn’t like the way it looked, but I no longer felt the need to cry over it.

Certainly a bad haircut in no way compares to the amount of pain that I felt when I discovered my husband’s betrayals. But going through this reminded me of the grieving process that I went through during that time on at least one level. When I first discovered my husband had been living a secret life, I talked about it - a lot. To pretty much anyone who would listen. It was almost like a weird compulsion. Not because I wanted to bad-mouth him, but because I was hurting so deeply that it was all I thought about. It was all-consuming in my thoughts, so it naturally poured out whenever I opened my mouth.

But as time went by, I discovered that the story hurt a little bit less when I told it, until finally the day came when I no longer felt the need to spill my guts every time someone asked “How are you today?”

After being hurt so deeply and thinking that I would never feel right again, I remember feeling hope mixed with surprise and relief when I first discovered the pain was subsiding. It took a while to get there, but it was well worth the work.

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