♥ Stress and grief

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Submitted by Zia on
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Once again, the brain science presented in CPA has provided me with tremendous support and allowed me to be more understanding and supportive. My friend has just lost a loved one and is in deep grief, and this after going through months of work related stress.

I have been working through my own disappointment of the relationship not going the way I wanted it to and trying to allow our friendship to grow and establish trust and things are okay'ish, but I'm not quite sure of my role when it comes to being there for him now. Our interests in each other are out of balance. I care deeply for him, feel bonded to him and want to be supportive, but he says he doesn't need support. So I try to give him both space and offer what I can as a friend (food, listening ear, etc) without pushing at all. I want him to know I care and that I'm not going to abandon the friendship because he's irritable.

On the other hand, I don't want to trigger more stress for him. The hard part is, he seems to perceive anything from me as pushing. Reading up on the role of the amygdala and cortisol, I can see easily why he snaps at me like I'm a predator when I ask how he's doing. Knowing this allows me to stay present and not take his reaction personally or confront him on it. On top of all the stress he's already going through, I wonder if I'm still associated with relationship pain in general so maybe he reacts even more strongly to me.

As I give him space and don't ask anything too personal, he started to open up a bit and allow me to listen. He won't let me get physically close at all, which I also understand, since my touch in the past was usually with sexual intentions. I'm sad for him though because I can see that some loving touch would probably help relieve some of his stress right now. I'm hoping he's getting that from other friends, although I'm not so sure.

I'm treading as carefully as I can, but I'm finding it hard. I have already been feeling intense compassion after reading CPA and getting my neurochemicals back in balance, but now I'm feeling overwhelmed by it. I cried for two days and missed a full night's sleep after listening to him talk about what he's going through. I kept that from him of course, he certainly doesn't need that kind of 'compassion'. I think that I might be feeling this more intensely because we're not sharing physical affection that might calm those feelings a bit. Today I started back into feeling disappointed about our lack of closeness and intimacy, but again, reading up about the brain, I realized that my own amygdala is probably reading any of his distancing as rejection or danger based on our past and my relationship history. And even if I'm misreading the science, at least it took me out of my sadness and I feel a lot calmer now.

So I guess I just wanted to appreciate all the work that Marnia and Gary have done. I can see how the brain science and bonding behaviours could really help people in relationship to get through the many stressful events that we encounter in our lives together.

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Gosh, you are more

Gosh, you are more persistent than I am...and I've been accused of persistence my entire life! Um, I don't know if he misperceive a foot massage or not, but it sounds like a good idea. I guess it depends on the context.

I'm finding this kindof exhausting...I'm curious, when do YOU decide that it's time to give up on wanting an intimate relationship with someone you're in love with?

Men mourn differently than women

The worst thing you can do is ask him to talk about his feelings because that would mean to ask him to show vulnerability, which most men cannot do. In cases like these, two men would never discuss the loss, their form of support would be to do something together. Physical presence is a man's way of saying he supports another man. Women like to talk and hug, for men it's too unpredictable because we may burst out crying and
1. we have been taught that is not cool
2. men are fixers, we don't believe crying ever fixes anything

Also, we believe people must see us as weak if they feel the need to comfort us, and that's when we snap. It's a guy thing. He needs time to reflect on what has happened without talking about it. My advice as a man, just be there for him. Go about your business casually but make sure you're physically present around him. That is all you should do, nothing more. And if even that becomes too much for him, let him be alone for a while.

Anyways, sorry if I sound too preachy but I have a pretty good idea about the process he's going through and it's very different from the way women deal with such matters.

Thank-you Goosewort, that's

Thank-you Goosewort, that's very helpful and reassuring. When I was around him and not asking him anything, that was when he started talking about things. And it was different then the way I would talk about it...more like he's solving a problem rather than crying through the pain. I think I'm pretty good at sensing what to do when I'm around him, and when I slip up and ask something, I'm quick to get the point when he snaps. The difficulty for me is knowing whether to leave him alone (not call, email, etc) or whether to invite him for dinner, a walk or some activity so that I can be physically present for him.