The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. That’s what this is, really. Grief. I’ve lost someone. The stages don’t have to be in that order, and some people skip phases entirely.
DENIAL: A defense mechanism designed to give your mind more time to process the shock of what’s happened. I think I skipped this step. I think I’ve always skipped this step. Maybe that tiny fragment of hope that she will consider reconciliation at some point is a form of denial. Lying to myself because hope is the only keeping me getting out of bed.
ANGER: A way to hide the true feelings underneath. You may know that the focus of your anger isn’t at fault, but the feelings you have are too strong to allow something like rationality to get in the way. While I’ve been angry at myself this entire time, I don’t think it’s irrational. I am to blame. I made bad choices, terrible mistakes. To avoid responsibility would be setting myself up to do it again. Yesterday, though, I wallowed in that anger until it came to a boil. She doesn’t really answer my emails, and it’s infuriating. I want to know how she’s doing. I want to know because I want to help her. Even if we don’t remain friends after this, I don’t want her to hurt. I don’t know if she reads this or not, but I imagine she does. That makes it unfair, in my mind. She gets to see how I’m doing, but I don’t get to see back. Again, though, this is my fault so it’s perfectly fair that I not have the right to know how she feels. I didn’t open the pack of cigarettes, but I did drink a little. I listened to depressing music all night into the morning hours, and I lashed out. I want her to care about me. I want her to want to know how I’m doing. The lack of reciprocity made me angry, and I thought I’d take that visibility away from her to make it fair. It doesn’t accomplish anything, though.
BARGAINING: Trying to regain control of the situation, whether it’s making deals with God or playing out “what-if” situations in your mind. I think I do this, to an extent. Thinking of the mistakes I made, and thinking of how I could show that they happened, explain them rationally so that she would see that I’m not a terrible monster and maybe give me another try. The confession letter was a good example of this. It “explained” everything that happened, giving reasons for my actions/inactions in the hopes that she would see me as more human and, thus, fallible. The problem, though, is that I think she doesn’t think I’m terrible. She knows I’m human and make mistakes. No explanation is going to repair our relationship, and so I burned that letter.
DEPRESSION: The quietest stage of grief, and a place I already live. I’ve effectively isolated myself, short of logging into Discord to talk with friends and play video games with them. That’s about all the human interaction I can stand at the moment, and even that isn’t very active. It’s more listening to them talk to each other so I don’t feel entirely alone, don’t get crushed under this weight on my heart.
ACCEPTANCE: Coming to terms with the loss and what it means for your life. It doesn’t mean you don’t still hurt, but you accept the pain and cope with it. It’s entirely possible that I won’t reach this stage until I sign the final paperwork. There is that small sliver of hope, and maybe it’s denial/bargaining, that I won’t let go of right now. If I lost that, I don’t know what I’d do, but I don’t think it would be pretty.