Navigating My New Normal

It’s been 7 shorts weeks since I lost my Partner of 4 yrs. – Clayton, or as my family calls him “Tin”.  Right now I am sitting, ironically, at the Atlanta airport on a layover to go home to Boston for my cousin’s wedding. Tin and I met in Atlanta and left the city to move to the beach, get married and make a life. Everyone has been saying “Great! You get to see your family!” “You need a break!” “Have a great vacation!” They are right that I do need a break, but as I type these words I am deeply terrified. This visit will be a hurricane of emotional tests and trials.

Last year I lost my father at the end of this very month. I haven’t been home since. Shortly after, Tin was diagnosed with terminal liver failure. My mother was the only family member who could come down when Tin passed so I am about to walk into a tidal wave of in-person condolences that normally happen much sooner for others. Not having seen anyone else, the weak scars of seven weeks healing will undoubtedly be torn open. I feel like Dante beginning his journey through the Inferno. This plane is a ride on the boat crossing the river of the damned. I see the other side and along the banks are demons whispering dreaded questions that people ask to show support only to be used by my demons as worded weapons. Dante’s Inferno is my favorite book. I guess knowing that Dante eventually leaves Inferno provides me with a bit of hope that someday I too may reach Paradiso.

I had to consciously choose to go up three days before the wedding so I could get the “I’m so very sorrys” over before the wedding but there will be people I won’t get to see before hand.  I’m preparing myself for the words “How are you?” “Are you angry, because it’s ok to be angry?” “Have you moved on?” The only answer I have:

I am utterly heartbroken and there is no other way to explain it.

I am happy for my cousin while concurrently having to accept that Tin and I can no longer reach that goal together. How do I deal with such conflicting emotions? I feel like I’m bipolar but I know I’m not. I’m just being thrust into an emotional experience that is a combination of a million to one. Why do I have to be the one?

Things might be a little easier if I had the opportunity to go through a funeral service for Tin. As fate would have it, Tin’s mother had a stroke after his passing. Everything is on pause. Like the loss wasn’t enough and the Universe felt it necessary to punish me more by delaying some closure. Than again, this may just be a lesson I’m supposed to learn. I can’t believe I control my own destiny and also that everything happens for a reason. I’ll go with the latter to save me some tiny bit of grief. Until everything is sorted out, Tin sits and waits in a beautiful blue vessel the color of the ocean with seagulls rising to meet the clouds. I cannot take care of him and I cannot be responsible to care for his mother. Here is where the demons of my guilt hide.

I’ve now started my connecting flight up in the clouds crossing this airy river towards I don’t know what. Will I be able to handle it all? Will I be able to fight the demons off? Part of me thinks that holding the demons at bay is survival. However, there is a small voice inside me telling me the demons are not to be feared but faced. Experience them to take away their power so I can be granted safe passage. Perhaps I should name that little voice Virgil….

It’s Saturday and while you read this blog I am getting ready for the wedding without Tin here to fix my tie and hold my hand as I step onto this new shore….



Showing 5 reactions

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  • Bryan Martin
    commented 2018-06-20 19:54:20 -0700
    Thank you everyone for your support. I appreciate the support and advice. I made it through the wedding with a few new invisible bruises but I’m continuing on my journey. Glad to have you all here with me…
  • Lisa Richardson
    commented 2018-06-19 22:15:11 -0700
    Bryan the wedding and this entire trip must be heartwrenching for you. We have all faced the well intentioned questions/comments and know how difficult they are to bear. Know we love you and lean on the strength of that love.
  • Gayle Goldberg
    commented 2018-06-19 05:58:48 -0700
    One of the best pieces of advice I received early on was “Be gentle with yourself.” It’s very early in your grief and I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you find the support you need here, and from your family and friends.
  • Sonja Mendez Handwerk
    commented 2018-06-17 07:16:11 -0700
    Wow I am at almost 5 years and you have described this experience to a “T” especially the bipolar part never thought of it that way. I commend you for even going to a wedding when you are so new in this journey. I actually dread that step.

    Lastly, I am so sorry you had to join our tribe, but so glad you have and I am looking forward to your future post. Your writing is very moving. Hope to meet you at CW Tampa. Will be thinking of you today and I am sure Tin will be right by your side.
  • Sarah Treanor
    commented 2018-06-17 06:58:04 -0700
    I’m so sorry you’ve joined this club. I’m the Sunday writer, and have been without my partner for 6 years as of last week. I didn’t go to a wedding after he died for over two years, no doubt it will be hard. All the firsts are hard and terrifying. All I can say is to let the emotions and the demons out when you can, how you feel you can. Sometimes that means taking a break from your trip to call a close friend and unload. Or even just slipping away to the bathroom to have a moment to let some of it out on your own. I’ve found giving myself permission to have little breaks like this helps with the anxiety of having to face lots of faces and questions and times of celebration that are tough.

    I’ve told a lot of folks this… I think of grief and the pain it causes as something that needs to be bled out of us. A bit like a toxin. And it must be done gradually, and often… and our tears are the way that we let the pain bleed out. Over time, as we bleed out the pain, we have more and more room for the love that remains for them.

    Wishing you the best on this tough journey. We’re sorry your with us, but glad to have you.