Feeling grief and shame are deeply uncomfortable emotional experiences that arise from different circumstances but often have overlapping impacts on our mental health and well-being. Shame typically occurs when someone believes they have violated social norms or failed to meet their own or others' expectations, leading to a negative self-evaluation. Grief, on the other hand, arises from loss—whether it's the loss of a loved one, a relationship, or a significant life change. Both emotions can profoundly affect various aspects of a person's life, impacting mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.

I have lived with deep feelings of grief and shame, but through time and practicing the recommendations I share here, I have experienced gradual growth, healing, and progress. I know I am not alone in this; these feelings are universal. While our situations may differ, the emotions we experience are shared.

Despite the pain from my unhealthy marriage, I find immense joy and pride in my four children and six grandchildren. They have been a constant source of strength and happiness, reminding me that there is always light even in the darkest times. My hope is to share my journey so you know you’re not alone and that healing is possible.

For me, pharmaceuticals to numb the pain have not been the answer. I need to feel and understand my emotions to heal. By being in control of my thoughts, I can make better choices and shape my future. Healing takes time and can be painful, especially as I acknowledge my role in perpetuating an unhealthy relationship and in not being the kind of mother and person I had dreamt of being.

Emotions are an essential part of us—they’re not bad. They act as a warning system but can also overwhelm us. Understanding our emotions is crucial for mental health, healthy relationships, personal growth, physical well-being, professional success, resilience, and overall life satisfaction. Our emotions make us fully human, enabling empathy and connection. My painful experiences are shared here for you, my friend, to help you purge the poison of grief and shame from your body and mind. This process will allow you to blossom into a better version of yourself, armed with the wisdom gained from your experiences.

In 2020, I left a very unhealthy 41-year marriage. In 2021, I divorced, and in 2022, I went through personal bankruptcy. When I left, I had no idea who I was, what my personality was like, what I liked, or what I wanted. I called myself a “nothing.” I was in immense pain, yet numb to any desire.

Therapy helped, but it didn’t provide answers to who I was. I was warned that after such a long, unhealthy marriage, I should expect at least three years before being ready for another relationship. Four years have passed, and while I’m better and somewhat ready for male friendship, trusting someone intimately will take much longer.

In 2021 I had a very good nursing job, but I kept getting in trouble. My emotions got the better of me. The first time I was called in front of the board of bosses (I later called them the tribune), I was chastised and felt intense shame. I have no recollection of what I did.

The work was very easy, yet with the strong feeling of shame, I could hardly function. Here is a collection of my initials. You can see what that feeling did to my ability to think; I could hardly hold onto the pen. I’m just glad that I had enough sense to take these pictures.

Contrast that with my normal writing:

As time progressed, I discovered that I had deep feelings of grief, sadness, and a sense of loss. I have sobbed in agony over the 41 years that cannot be replaced. Several things have helped me in my healing journey. Understanding the emotional effects and knowing I can make empowering choices have been crucial. This understanding is empowering, and I know that I am healing.

See the next parts to learn the following and how they have helped me in my healing journey:

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