The Five Stages of Grief: Anger & Depression

I asked for Anger because the Depression was weighing too heavily on me. I didn’t intend for them to become as intertwined as a couple of Siamese serpents constantly trying to swallow each other’s heads.

Anger does not come naturally to me, which usually serves me well. In the case of my breakup and my heart however, my passive nature was interfering with the forward momentum I needed to get unstuck from the dark mucky well of harrowing pain I’d found myself in.

I would look for things to be angry about. There were the obvious fuck-ups he’d made that I’d spent a lot of time thinking and crying about but had chosen to forgive because, after all, aren’t we all human? So I tried to think of little things: Why didn’t he ever take me to meet his eccentric grandmother? She lives five minutes away from me! But that only caused more sadness because it made me realize: he knew we weren’t forever. Or even a hopeful long time.

I tried to let myself feel haughty and liberated. While sitting on his couch drinking sparkling wine as the kids played games in other rooms, he talked to me about his upcoming schedule, how stressful and crazy and overwhelming it all was. I thought: this isn’t my problem anymore. I don’t have to try to solve this. He wants his freedom? Let him figure it out on his own. But underneath that, I felt emptier knowing I wasn’t a part of it anymore.

So I listened as he and his son discussed dinner restrictions given their lack of pesto. After his son flailed his arms in exasperation and walked away, I said “I have pesto at my house.”

Then I went into his son’s room, clicking my fingernails on his bedroom door before walking in. He was on his  bed, laptop on his lap, so I sat by his feet and absentmindedly reached for one over the covers. While I squeezed his toes and the arches of his feet I said “listen – I’m giving your dad some pesto. He’s going to start some water, and leave out the pasta, and you need to get up and check the water in a few minutes. When it boils, put the pasta in, and then wait –  stir it around so it doesn’t get all gloppy. Okay?” He said with half-closed eyes, “okay.” I asked him to repeat what I’d said and he did, then said “that feels so good. See? You’re the only nice person,” and then closed his eyes.

I turned my head away because even though he wasn’t looking I was still afraid of him seeing into my heart, and I felt so much love for him that I squeezed the padding of his heel extra hard. I took a deep breath and tried to be funny but he beat me to it, as always. I said, “any time you need a foot rub, just text or call me, and–”

“–and you’ll come running over to give me one?”

“–ha, yes, I’ll come running.”

I couldn’t feel angry, even knowing all of that would be gone soon.  I felt incredibly sad.

It wasn’t until my kids asked me the next day after school if we could watch their movies – the movies I’d made with meticulous yet sleep-deprived care for each of them after their first  year of life. First we watched my daughter’s. My kids asked me questions and we laughed and I let my eyes fill with tears, which scared the kids until I assured them it was just because I was happy. Next we watched my son’s and I cried some more – such a happy baby –  and he, age 9 now,  put his arm around me and said “come’ere mom, come’ere” and kissed me three times on the side of my face. Then he took his sister to play in their room.

I thought If he doesn’t want to be a part of this with me, then fuck him! He doesn’t know what he’s missing. Let him go off to Mexico and dry out in the sun while his pores fill with sand. Let him find some other dimwit who has a few minutes or years to waste on trying to make him happy until he decides he needs something different – he’s a goddam fucking IDIOT!!!!

I punched the pillow my kids and just abandoned, and then I sobbed for a while.

Then, as if that weren’t enough, I got even madder thinking about how much I still wanted him. What a dick for being so close to everything I needed, but too soon, and not needing me in return? Who the fuck does this guy think he is, anyway?

A few days later I was driving home from work, listening to myself because the radio is broken, thinking about how he was ten years older than me. He was older than I’d been looking for when we met, but he’d come after me and had sucked me in from the first glance, and I’d been losing my breath whenever I looked at him ever since. Suddenly I felt like I’d been tricked – by myself.

I slammed my hand against the steering wheel and shouted FUCK! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!! and then burst into tears while driving down the freeway. I recovered quickly because I remembered that I was on probation for trying to fight a speeding ticket and I had to drive very carefully.  Motherfucker, I thought, hitting the wheel again.

Then he went to Mexico, and after five weeks of daily communication, I didn’t hear from him for three days. The timing of this slap to the face was good – my best friend was in town and so I was distracted with the joy of having her around – though the sadness from the breakup and sudden silence drooped down around my shoulders even through our laughter and pranks.

She helped me over-analyze the relationship. Or, the end of it. Even having never met him she kept shaking her head and saying she couldn’t understand what either of us was thinking.

After she left, it all hit me – all of it, at once. Pulling away from the airport, maneuvering onto and off of the correct freeways to take me home, I held my breath until I was sure I was going the right way, and then I pulled in air, breathing in oh, no and out it’s over, it will never be the same; desperately, shockingly, without tears because at that moment, even the tears were gone.

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