Grief, Sex, and Love
After Matt passed, almost nine years ago, I thankfully was unemployed. I would have never been able to work after he died. It was hard enough to get my son to school; it was a 20+ minute drive from where we lived. I wasn’t able to sleep. I’d sit up in my bed, scouring the web to find either something someone would write about him that I hadn’t heard about, or looking for a picture of him that I had never seen before. When I look back now, I was trying to hold onto him. I was trying to hold onto a ghost.
I didn’t turn to family, friends, men, or booze. I soothed my grief with more than my usual long hot baths, where all I did was cry, not wanting to be here without him. I didn’t know how I’d be here without him. I didn’t want to be here without him. But I wanted, and needed, to be here for my son. The love I had for my son was bigger than what I felt for Matt and what I felt for myself.
I found quick pleasure in red velvet cake slices, sometimes having two a day. I found moments of forgetting what I had lost, through my son’s laughter, stories, conversations, or smile.
After a month of Matt’s passing, I picked up the handwritten, and typed, manuscript of my memoir that he told me he would love to read one day. I pieced it together and dove right into finishing the book I had started when I was 22 years old, nineteen years earlier.
For almost 2 years, this was my life. I gained 30lbs, from the grief of Matt dying and from reliving and rereading my difficult childhood in my memoir. It could have been worse. I could have been in a bar every afternoon.
After I was done writing my book, it took me about another year and a half, to edit and re-edit my memoir.
The only person I did see, from time to time, was Matt’s mother. I found comfort in speaking to someone about Matt. I still felt close to him and felt his presence with me.
By 2013, I was working. I sometimes tried to get out of my isolation either by meeting up with friends, going to the beach, or going outside to exercise. I also sometimes tried to move on and date. I wanted to try to find pleasure in being with another. If anything, I at least needed sex. But, I couldn’t. I didn’t want to.
Matt had passed at the end of 2011 and from 2013-2019, I slept with 4 or 5 men. I was disconnected. I put up a wall around my heart. I didn’t want to love anyone else. I didn’t want to be touched by anyone else. I didn’t want to connect with anyone else. Matt felt like my destiny and that was a hard thing to stop feeling.
I knew it was important to get myself out there and that maybe the hurt would lessen if there was somebody that came into my life. I wanted to try to be hopeful, maybe something would bloom, but all that happened was that I would get what I wanted (as far as sex went). I sometimes would not even let them finish. I was cold afterwards. No hugs. No sleepovers. My feelings afterward were – OK, now don’t touch me, I gotta go. There was actually one guy in 2018 that I dated several times and only kissed, but after two weeks he wanted to know where this was going which freaked me out. He said he was ready to have someone fully in his life. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about him. So, that ended.
But to know something about me after Matt passed, I had mostly met guys with the sole intention of having sex. Once I realized I had issues with intimacy, I made a more conscious effort for it to not be just about that. I usually don’t want to always have sex on the first date. I’ve dated a few times in the last two years where I didn’t have sex. But, sometimes the need to have that pleasure, not just orgasm, but to really enjoy kissing and being kissed, to wrap your arms around another, is what I longed for.
During these years, the longest I worked at one company was almost 2 years. My patience would wear thin when it came to people and their toxicity, stupidity, or lack of humanity. Death wakes up what is in your heart and soul. And, the way people go on and on about little things that are going to be irrelevant in the end, or the way people chase money and are greedy, or how people aren’t kind or compassionate to a stranger that is obviously struggling, is always magnified for me when I lose a loved one.
Eventually, over the years, I found the grief to be bearable and it would only show it’s self a couple times a year. I found joy in my son’s success. He went away to college for two years. And, then he moved back home when he transferred to UCLA. For the most part, I was starting to feel somewhat back to normal.
Or, so I thought.
By 2018, my suicidal thoughts came back. I think the passing of Matt, rewriting, rereading, and going over my past for completing my book, the fact that I hated doing accounting, wasn’t following my passion – photography, and that I didn’t have someone in my life (or relationships figured out) brought back my suicidal depression. It sucked because it had almost been 20 years that I hadn’t been suicidal or for the most part, depressed.
Two other things that may have also had a part to play in triggering my suicidal thoughts were the passing of my dad in December 2016 (we hadn’t seen each other in over 5 years because I had removed myself from my mom’s narcissism and alcoholism the week Matt passed) and when Chester Bennington killed himself. Let’s just say, that one hit me hard.
So in 2018, I was trying to take care of myself. I was trying to market my book. I was trying to pursue my passion – photography. I was even flown out to New York City to be on the Kathy Lee and Hoda show for the “Pitch Your Passion“ episode. But, what I was also sometimes doing at home while either in my room or walking around my neighborhood was, thinking of where I could hang myself from. Trees? Anywhere in my apartment? I did try time and again to talk myself out of thinking about it because I had to live.
By the end of 2018, I had stopped trying to conjure up a full-proof way of hanging myself. I reached out and sought therapy. In January 2019, I was back in therapy. By July 2019, I was in ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholic) meetings for the first time in my life. Also in mid to late 2019, I dated this one guy. I had actually let him stay the night, one night. I liked how it felt when he reached for me in the middle of the night and in the morning, but I didn’t feel that I wanted it from him. I just liked how it felt, the touch of someone reaching for me. I missed that feeling. The next guy I was with at the beginning of 2020, it felt great to be held by him. There was no longer that, oh gosh, don’t touch me feeling. It was now, yes, embrace me. Hold onto me as long as you’d like. But, I ended that because we were in different places in our lives. Then last month, I met someone who I enjoyed having sex with and wanted to see more of. That hadn’t happened in a long time. I was ready to have someone in my life again or at least ready to see what could develop.
Grief is hard on everybody. But, when you are either in a relationship with someone or like me, saw that Matt was the first person I had ever seen marrying, it is hard to let go or put that love in a box, on a shelf, in your closet. Sex is natural and we all need that intimacy and connection. Love is harder when you’ve lost someone you thought you would love for forever. But, life is mysterious. For people like me, we think and we feel like we cannot get through the tough shit the universe throws at us. And yet time and time again, in the end, if we just hold on, breathe, and seek help, we find a newer us. We are much stronger and unbreakable than we give ourselves credit for. We must always remember that!
Stay strong, stay sweet, and know you are not alone!