from the Submissive Guide Newsletter 6-11-16
At the end of May, KnyghtMare's long-term girlfriend broke up with him suddenly. He said he had no idea it was coming so it hit him really hard. I know that any time someone you love ends the relationship you go through a period of grief and loss and depression, but I've never experienced it. I had nothing to relate to. So this has been a new experience that has not only taxed me but taught me more about selfless submission.
I wanted to write about my experience in case it helps some of you in poly relationships when your partner's other relationship(s) ends. I've gained permission from KnyghtMare to talk about how he's feeling and his behavior but I'm going to avoid the dynamics of the relationship or the circumstances related to the break up since the ex isn't communicating any longer. So, here's the experience I've had helping my partner grieve and move on.
First, I know I've been lucky, but I have never been in a break up before, so I have no experience to draw upon to help me comfort KnyghtMare. My previous marriage ended amicably and I've not been in any other long-term relationships. Seeing how KnyghtMare is struggling has been eye-opening and difficult. I've had moments of selfish need and anger and a huge amount of sadness as I see him mourn the loss of a very intimate, powerful relationship.
The first hour into the first day
It happened after I had gone to bed so I woke to him sobbing in the living room. I held him and comforted him as much as I could as he spoke in fits and starts that his girlfriend has just ended it and he had no reason why things had gone so wrong. I didn't add anything to the words coming from him and wanted him to just know that I was there for him to comfort and love him through his emotions. After a couple of hours of complete breakdown he calmed enough to try to sleep so I tucked him in and quickly fell back to sleep.
I wake up before KnyghtMare does, always have been a morning person. So I went about my morning routine. When it came time to wake KnyghtMare I sent in quietly and asked him if he wanted to get up. I know grief can completely alter your behavior but I didn't know how it might affect him. He stirred but said he was going to keep sleeping. I believe he slept most of the day. He didn't eat, he didn't do much of anything. When he was awake he was crying or on the verge of it. I didn't push him to do anything or ask him any unnecessary questions. I knew he needed time.
That first week
The first week after the breakup was an emotional disaster. He finally got some answers from her and it left him even more frustrated and confused. He sank deeply into depression and I was afraid for a day or two that he'd not make it back out any time soon. I felt that his need for answers and her distancing from him was making it worse. I tried to reassure him that even if he never got answers that he'd be okay eventually and that maybe she just needed time. It was still so raw for both of them.
During this first week KnyghtMare's anxiety issue went through the roof and he was put on medication to help him with that as well as his depression. He needed it just to get out of bed. For us, the relationship just froze. We were neither Master and slave nor husband and wife. I was his caretaker and he existed as best he could. I took this job seriously but I was feeling very separated from him in this time. I had selfish needs that weren't being met and it made me very resentful of HER and I blamed her for how things went down. I realize it isn't fair now, but part of me really wished terrible things on her as I nursed my grieving husband back to some sense of normalcy and set all of my needs aside.
During this time I constantly told KnyghtMare that I was there for him and that I wasn't going anywhere. That I would be his rock and his shoulder to cry on for as long as he needed me. My own heart was tearing in two, but at that time I was only there to serve his needs. My love needed me and I wanted to make sure he knew it. KnyghtMare lost 8 lbs that week when he refused to eat more than a bit a day. He got nothing done and slept more than I've ever seen him sleep, even when he's sick.
I'm not infallible. During the following week my patience broke at least once and I told him that he needed to try to move on, that he had others that cared for him and they needed him. I was harsh, that I'm sure. Our five-year wedding anniversary went by that week without much more than a few "Happy Anniversary" wishes. I couldn't expect him to focus on me when his heart was breaking. Inside my heart was aching too.
The good news is that as the days went on he was able to function a bit better and started showing interest in doing things again. He's not over her, far from it but at least I can begin to see my husband return to me. And I'll wait for him as patiently as I can. Because he's worth it.
Breaking up is traumatic and should be managed like grief and loss. It can't be rushed and everyone deals with it differently. But as long as you have patience you can help your partner make it out the other side. I learned a lot about myself during this time and it made me realize just how service can play a role in caring for him while he grieved. I don't want the chance to perfect it, but at least I know I can care for him when he needs me the most without too much selfish need cropping in.
Thoughts to Ponder
- How does a breakup affect you? Do you have a support system in place to keep you functioning?
- What advice would you give someone who is going through a breakup within a poly relationship?
- Explaining Poly Breakups: Why Polyamory isn't (Always) to Blame
- PolyWeekly: Dealing with a Poly Breakup
- What happens when poly relationships end?