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Johnny Sack

Abrupt loss of blended family, fiancee

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At the beginning of this past summer I had a tragic breakup with a woman I was engaged to and had been with for over six years.  Our kids all loved each other and we were truly a family. We traveled together and spent time together and the kids all called themselves brothers and sisters. We had such wonderful memories. Her kids' father is mostly absent from their lives and her kids came to think of me as their dad, and expressed that to me.  I took on a father role for each: bringing the boy to his first Red Sox game and countless other events.  Same with the girls.  This woman was sexually abused by a neighbor as a child--never got help or told anyone at the time-- that at times led to anxiety issues, and she would distance herself if criticized in even the slightest most loving way.  In June she abruptly ended the relationship with little explanation.  My life was pulled out from under me, and it has been extremely painful. There is a huge hole in my life and I am haunted by memories of six of the happiest years of my life. I still cry almost every day, sometimes total meltdowns.  I lost my family in an instant. The pain is almost unbearable, at times the memories just burn so much I refer to it as white hot grief. I am seeing a therapist who has helped somewhat. Can anyone relate?

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A breakup is always hard, especially when you thought you were going to spend your life with this person, but it's compounded greatly when you loved her kids and were already a family together.  It's going to be very hard for the kids too.  I'm so sorry, it takes time to begin to heal but a part of you will probably always be with them.  I'm glad you're getting help for it, it's very hard.

 

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Thanks for your heartfelt response.  I suspect they will always be with me. But it pains to be out of their lives and not seee them grow. It pains me that my former fiancée just be hurting and I can’t comfort her. 

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On 4/6/2018 at 10:51 AM, Johnny Sack said:

In June she abruptly ended the relationship with little explanation.  My life was pulled out from under me, and it has been extremely painful.

My friend, I would think that the way your relationship ended is having a profound effect on how you are mourning this loss. You've given little detail as to what happened to cause this breakup ~ which is fine if that is what you prefer ~ but that makes it difficult for us to know what support we can offer you. In any event, it's good to know that you're seeing a therapist, and I hope he or she is trained and skilled in understanding grief. Your situation is not unlike what happens in a divorce, so I'm hoping that you may find some of the resources listed here to be of help to you: Is Grief A Normal Reaction to Divorce?

 

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Her reasons weren't clear.  She suffered sexual abuse as a child and never told her parents.  This led to issues of trust.  Something triggered her, I don't know what.  'but she distanced herself over a period of a couple of weeks, and then called one night to say it was over.  She would not talk to me about it.  Six years of a family, and engagement, ended with a phone call.  This was ten months ago and I am in pain every day.  I cry almost every day, sometimes complete meltdowns where I sob and an hour or more.  I am seeing a therapist, working on it.  But I feel haunted and the pain never goes away.

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You say that you feel haunted and the pain never goes away. I'm so sorry, my friend, and I can only imagine how challenging this is for you. The loss you are mourning is one of the most difficult to endure, because it is an ambiguous one. You don't know if you've really lost this woman or if one day she will come back to you and how you would feel if she does. So you don't know when and if you "should" be mourning the loss of her. This is a form of complicated grief, and the feelings are the same as if your person has died, such as sorrow, longing, denial, anger and guilt. But because she hasn't really "died," your grief is complicated by your need to keep hope alive, which constantly interrupts or delays the mourning process and makes it far more difficult to resolve. It's like harboring a wound that cannot heal. As one expert in this field states, "With ambiguous loss, there is no closure; the challenge is to learn how to live with the ambiguity (Pauline Boss, About Ambiguous Loss)." If interested, you can read more about this unique type of loss and watch an interview with Dr. Boss here: Unresolved Grief: When a Loved One Is Missing

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While no one ever fully knows the future, the state of being in limbo is one of the worst places to be in.  Since you have nothing else to go on but her last words to you, I would take them to heart and try to make your way through this, even though it seems nigh impossible to you.  I'm very glad you're getting professional help with this as it's too hard to try to do alone.  I have an idea of how you are feeling...when I was married the first time, my husband got a mistress and she bore a child, which he brought home and I raised for three years, at which time we were divorced.  Back in those days stepparents had no rights.  When we divorced, the child went to his mother as his father was unstable.  For six years I did not know where he was or if he was okay...I had reason to doubt the okay-ness of it.  I saw him for his ninth birthday, and again when he was a teenager.  Now he's grown up and living in DC but I've seen him a few times as an adult and we keep in touch on FB.  I can tell you that children never forget the kindnesses shown to them.  You have had a part in their lives and it will have an affect on them even if that time was limited.  I hope that knowing that consoles you.

I got to have a hand in raising Bo the first three years of his life, the formative years, I feel honored to have been able to, even if I didn't get to fully raise him.  Sometimes our part in someone's life isn't permanent but it's very special all the same.  In those years I didn't know where he was or how he was, I was still able to say a prayer for him.  I know the pain, it's worse than death in a way and my heart bleeds for you and what you are going through.

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