Personality changes are among the weirdest of the changes that have taken place since “this”.
When you hear that profound grief changes you – you don’t really have any idea of the full impact of that statement. You think: "Well, of course I know that it has changed my family. There are so many empty chairs now, meaningless birthdays, hard holidays and bad anniversaries.” And of course you see how it might change your roles in life; if you were a primary care-giver to one that had an extended illness, you suddenly find yourself without a purpose. Or perhaps your identity as someone’s wife has changed and you aren't sure who you define yourself as anymore or the daily routine of being someone’s mother leaves your days empty and quiet. You may change where you physically reside because of the passing of a spouse requires that you move to something more manageable or less expensive. Your responsibilities may change in that you now have to do things that someone else once handled for you. These things are the things the books and the grief classes prepare you for. These are common sense and while you may not think of them all at first –they are logical and natural expectations.
But no one prepares you for the changes to your actual personality.
Like the way you suddenly relate to all of your personal relationships: The sudden and unexpected intolerance for certain types of people in your life; or the exact opposite –the sudden uncontrollable clinginess you have towards certain others?
Before - I wanted people in my life. Any people. All people. No matter that they were not particularly "good" friends to me. I kept friends that weren't always honest with me; friends that had ulterior motives; friends that were insincere and self-absorbed. It is not like I was blind before and could not see who they really were – I knew. I always knew. I just didn't care. I allowed them into my life and even at times, struggled to keep them there. Perhaps my “co-dependent “ tendencies made me cling to even toxic relationships – because they were better than no relationships. I needed “friends” however loosely one might define that term.
After - it is not that I no longer need people in my life but I find am choosing quality over quantity.
It seems that after, I am seeing things much clearer. I can no longer close my eyes to things I once could and a relationship regardless of the quality of that relationship just does not fly anymore. Maybe it's because I have now experienced the worst of the worst and realize that being without a lot of people in your life really does not kill you. Losing those people that really matter in your life -- that is what kills you.
I have learned the difference between real true pain and isolation and the imagined pain and isolation I feared would come from being without a lot of people in my life.
I also see that life is short and that the quality of people I was spending the precious few days of my life on was taking away from the relationships that mattered.
When you have been through something like the loss of a child, two children – three; your need for loving, quality relationships is so intense that things very quickly become black and white.
Toxic relationships are all-consuming emotional vacuums; they are time consuming, resource consuming and downright painful at times. Perhaps when you have been through something as horrific as this – you simply cannot take anymore pain and you just have to eliminate it where you can.
Perhaps it is just an application of the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.