Is feeling loss before it happens a good coping strategy?

Time for a personal post again.

I mentioned a couple of months ago that Megan (my ex) and Aishah (her five year old daughter and our son’s half sister) are back. This was after agonizing over it for months, with her pleading for me to let them come back. So now she is talking about going back to Cape Town and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change her mind.

I should have known.

Things are not going perfectly, but they are going pretty well. I love Aishah like my own child, and she loves me. She’s happy here and I think it would be in her best interest to stay. There have been issues with both children fighting for my affection, issues with sibling rivalry, but on the whole it’s getting better.

Aishah meanwhile, wants to spend more and more time with me and less with her mother. She wants me to brush her hair, bath her, cuddle with her, and even help her brush her teeth. The teeth brushing thing started last month when Megan went away for a weekend. I had to make sure both children brushed their teeth, and take her with to Josh’s school sports day on the Saturday. Ever since then, the normal custom we have of Josh and I brushing teeth together at night has changed. Aishah wants to brush her teeth with me too. The bathing thing started last week.

A while back, we had a “bring your kid to work” day at work, so I took them both. Now every day Aishah asks me when she can go to my work with me. She also takes turns on the Xbox, playing one of our demon hunter characters in Diablo, playing standard rifts and bounties. Besides playing the levels, she even knows how to sell items she picks up, and upgrade gems. She’s actually pretty good at the game.

I tried telling her that Mommy wants to go back to cape Town soon, and she doesn’t believe me… She replies with, “No, we will stay here for a looooong time”. It breaks my heart.

Anyway, I’ll spare further details. The thing is, while I’m there at home, I am still just as happy. Anywhere else, I remember to be sad that they will likely be leaving soon. I’m not sure if this is a good coping mechanism or a bad one, but I have this habit, when something bad is going to happen, such as when they will leave (or someone will die and so on), of feeling some of the emotional pain in advance.

I don’t know why or how it works exactly, but I always do this. When I was younger, I thought it would prepare me for the real loss that would come later. But it doesn’t. It still hurts just as much when the time comes… All this “coping mechanism” achieves is that now I hurt beforehand, when I don’t have to.

I wonder… Is this normal?

2 thoughts on “Is feeling loss before it happens a good coping strategy?

  1. Yes, it’s normal, Jerome.

    You can take the expected loss in advance. You can wait to feel sad until the loss has actually occurred. And you can deny you’ve ever had a loss although it really “stabbed” you in your heart.

    #3 is often the worst coping mechanism, but not always.

    #1 and #2 are usually the most frequent coping mechanisms. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

    What’s really sad here is that Aishah seems to be happier in your home together with you and Josh. But what can you do about it? Nothing. Except trying to explain to Megan what’s best for Aishah.

    Are you completely certain you can’t change Megan’s mind? I mean, a mother maybe can be expected to care for her child in the best possible way. Can’t Megan see what you seem to see? That Aishah apparently thrives while being with you and Josh.

    Liked by 1 person

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