April 21, 2010 in Features

Carolyn Hax: Facing loss takes a conscious effort

Carolyn Hax Washington Post
 

Dear Carolyn: All my good friends are friends with my recent ex, whose mention is still pretty painful for me. I’ve tried telling them I’m not ready to talk about him yet, but they can’t help mentioning him in passing when he’s so relevant to everyone’s lives, still. I know he sees them when I don’t, and I don’t want to be possessive, but I feel uncomfortable with that.

Time for new friends? Or am I being unreasonable to think my close friends could join me in pretending this heartbreaker doesn’t exist for a while, till I get over him? – D.C.

It’s perfectly reasonable to ask friends to spare you detailed reports on your painfully recent ex. They owe you that.

To ask them not to mention him “in passing” though, when he’s still their friend, is to make your problem into everyone else’s.

Life is really painful sometimes. Sometimes you have to watch other people enjoy something you recently lost. Sometimes, you have to accept there are limits to what your community can do, and things you must face on your own, even when you’re in agony.

Facing your loss, in turn, means there’s no place for “pretending” – not for your friends, and definitely not for you. He exists. He interacts with your friends. He will love again, maybe soon. He didn’t evaporate.

But neither did you. So, tell yourself this until you believe it: “I want us both to be happy again.” Then, figure out conscious steps you can take to hold up your end of that deal.

E-mail Hax tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at 9 a.m. Pacific time each Friday at www. washingtonpost.com.

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