I am absolutely terrified of “loss”.

Most things in life I can accept with a degree of equanimity. At least I can face the prospect of them with a fatalistic composure. Loss / Ending, especially of relationships, fills me with fear. Actually its not the loss, its the intense grieving reaction that I have afterwards.

I think this dates back to when I was 18, and my first serious boyfriend dumped me. I grieved for several years, for the loss of a 6 month relationship. I was literally broken hearted. I told NO-ONE how desperately unhappy I was, because I was ashamed that I loved someone who didn’t love me, and I don’t think it occurred to me that this lengthy, intense grieving was abnormal. I was literally consumed with the loss. I couldn’t enjoy anything, I thought about HIM every single minute of every single day. My first thought on waking and my last before sleeping. Of course my thoughts and yearning were for what I thought I had lost – my image of a stability, a happy relationship, rather than the reality – I made lists of things about him that had annoyed and upset me  (and there were quite a few !! )- but this made absolutely no difference whatsoever to the depth of my suffering. I could not rationalise or think myself out of the enormous well of pain.  My yearning continued through my initial university years, probably until I was 22 and fell in love again. I can still remember vividly the aching void and the pain of the loss.

This happened again when I separated form a more serious boyfriend in my early 30’s. Although we were clearly unsuited for each other, I was not at all happy with him, and I ended the relationship, once it was over I entered another protracted period of intense grief. Same thing. Intellectually I knew it was best that the relationship was over, that I could move on, that it was going nowhere and giving me nothing …  by the end I didn’t even LIKE him much. But I was stuck grieving, keening, yearning for something that I felt I had lost. Bonkers. This time I DID recognise that the depth of my despair was a) ridiculous and b) not ‘normal’ ; but , possibly because I still couldn’t bring myself to speak of it to anyone, I never worked out why I reacted like this, or how I could respond more healthily in the future.

This intense aversion to loss, or fear of going through THAT disconsolate mourning process again, keeps me in situations I would be better off leaving. Or would I  ?  How much effort do others put into maintain relationships that are not making them happy ? With adult children? partners ? friends? How long do you go on trying to fix things ? when do you know that things just will not work out in a way that you can find acceptable, when and how do you walk away ? Or does everyone hate loss this much?  does everyone else compromise and bury what they need in order to ” keep the peace”.

These feeling too I drank to avoid. These hard questions are easier avoided, ignored and not aired….buried in a fuzzy head full of  wine … But they are still there, and one day, somehow they need resolving



  1. I think learning to mourn and let go is something many of us need help with.
    Change requires this step. I know I have had to mourn things I know I didn’t need or want, but they had become familiar.
    Familiar means safe.

    Every time we go through a change with open eyes and sober self awareness we build the skills to make the next time easier…or at least less draining.

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  2. I can relate so much to this post… very interesting and eye opening for me. Thank you Lily and by the way, I received my sobriety pendant (like yours from Etsy) and love it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Lily I’m not sure how to attach a picture here, but I can tell you there are 3 medals, the larger one says: “Love-Serenety-Courage” then the middle one “One day at a time” and the smaller one has my sobriety date. I’m very impressed with the quality of the chain too, and the artist who designed it was lovely to deal with. First experience with Etsy, and a great one! Thanks again. x

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  3. I’m not sure what your personal situation is Lily, but I gather from previous posts that you have a difficult relationship with your eldest son. I feel your pain as I did too. For seven years we hardly communicated and I felt he was lost both to us and to himself because of the lifestyle he had chosen to live. I never envisaged the future that is now, more than ten years later. I had to accept that I couldn’t save him but was determined to carry on loving him. However I was not going to let him take advantage any more. I told him all this and he moved away for a while. I always stressed that I loved him as much as I ever had.
    The boy now at 26 is unrecognisable, happy and loving and living a much healthier lifestyle. For years I had hardly been able to look at baby boys because I felt that I had so well and truly lost mine, and I did blame myself, even though I’d been overall the best mother I could be really.
    All I am trying to say is that as far as this relationship is concerned, he is not lost to you, and you must not beat yourself up over it. I did to the point of despair and like manipulative toddlers they know they have us. Carry on loving him but don’t let him make you feel inadequate. Hopefully he will come back .
    Take care Lily

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    • Thank you so much for this. It really helps. Yes, there are serious problems with my eldest son. I don’t know what to do for the best. He is only 17, and has almost no qualifications. he would not survive for one minute outside the home – I am hoping to find some supported living / college for him. The tension between him and my partner is the most difficult thing to live with. Thank you for you honesty. Lily x

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      • You are welcome. We’ve been through hell with our boy but it was worth carrying on loving him, although it wasn’t always easy. My husband was at the end of his rope but we git there eventually. Not over night though. I can honestly say it was almost if not the most painful experience of my life x


  4. There is no feeling more helpless than seeing your “baby boy” struggle through life. Dear God, I saw my share of that. It does get better. They do grow up.

    I understand that pain of relationships, especially the early years of boyfriends. I have read only one thing that made sense to me as to why we are so bereft when someone doesn’t seem to love us anymore. It’s a spiritual call to love ourselves. The heartbreak we feel is really the pain of accepting someone else’s judgement of our worth. It teaches us to love ourselves without the approval of someone else, and independent of their decisions. With that perception, I was able to step back somewhat from similar situations and try to love myself past needing their approval or their presence. It didn’t stop that awful mourning phase, but it lessened it and gave me a direction to take in the meantime.

    Thanks for sharing, Lily. ; )

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      • I had the very interesting experience a while ago in that one of my former “loves” died unexpectedly. It’s a strange feeling to know that trying to measure up to someone else’s standards is so fleeting. I don’t have to impress him anymore. I never did.

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  5. I, too, mourn loss too long. Specifically when the “loss” was something taken from me beyond my control. I like the comments about being highly sensitive and also the part above about accepting someone’s judgement of our worth. Interesting.

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