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Grief and transference


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I don't know much about psychology, and I know that transference is usually between a therapist and their patient, but I've heard it can take place elsewhere in life, so I was wondering if I might be experiencing it, and if anyone could give me any advice.

A little background:

I recently lost my fiancé, Mike, to pancreatic cancer. It was very sudden, and very unexpected (he was 30 when he passed away). We were together for 12 years; High School sweethearts. In the three months between the diagnosis and his passing, my entire existence revolved around him. It's so incredibly difficult to care for someone with such advanced stages of cancer, especially pancreatic, that even with all the help and support from friends and family, I only had time to care for him, go to work (had to keep a roof over our heads, or I wouldn't have bothered with that), and sometimes catch some sleep.

He passed away on August 3rd, and I've been terribly lonely ever since. I fell into a pretty deep depression - I could barely care for myself, every little thing from getting up in the morning to brushing my teeth to feeding myself was difficult and took all of the energy I could muster. I always thought that lack of energy, that extreme fatigue I've had since I was a teenager was due to my thyroid, but once my prescription for T4 supplements ran out, the tests kept coming back normal and it was too much energy to try to fight the doctors and find out what was really wrong. When I told my doctor of Mike's passing, and that I was having trouble sleeping, she prescribed me trazodone. She said it was for sleep and "may help with depression." When I would stop taking it (because I thought it was to treat my insomnia, which comes and goes), I would spiral back down into the depression. I noticed that when I took it again, I would feel better, have more energy, and actually give a damn about whether my apartment was dirty (something I've never cared about in my adult life). So, I do think I've suffered from depression for a very long time, and I'm glad the trazodone is helping with that.

I still miss Mike terribly, though. I feel very alone at times, and it helps to talk to him, and to work on learning to play my keyboard (he was a guitarist, so I feel like I'm still able to connect with him through music, even if I'm only still learning). However, there's still that hole inside of me, that ache that can't be soothed.

I'm sorry if I'm rambling, but I want to give enough background so that you can understand where I'm coming from here. On to my dilemma.

Recently, a new employee, Erik, started at my work, and he sits right across from me. I noticed that he seems to have taken an interest in me (asking about what music I like, what video games I like, etc.). When he comes up to my desk to ask me a question, he gives me a cute little eyebrow raise. I've suspected since he started back in October that he might be flirting with me, but I've also wondered if I'm just imagining it, and if that might just be his personality.

More recently, I've started to find myself becoming attracted to him. Mind you, I'm still grieving very much, and haven't even been able to bring myself to the point of even sleeping in my own bed yet (I never slept in the bed when Mike was at the hospital - I would just watch TV, too sad to go to bed, and eventually fall asleep with the TV on), so I don't think I'm anywhere near ready to start a relationship. But still I find myself fantasizing about how I might respond if Erik were to ask me out. I've actually done some almost stalker-like behavior by checking out his myspace page, and, upon finding that he's got a girlfriend, checking up on her myspace page and wondering if their relationship was going very well if she wasn't even in his top 8 myspace friends. I kind of scared myself with that one. :)

The other day, I was thinking about my behavior, and I was wondering if I wasn't projecting my feelings about Mike onto Erik. Erik is a guitarist, too, and he likes a lot of the same music. I think it's possible those similarities may have triggered a transference type of response in me. I know that transference usually has to do with childhood, but I understand it's also able to apply in other situations.

I'm just not sure whether my little crush is real, or if it's projected. I certainly won't make a move on him since he is involved with someone, but I worry about my fantasies and if I can't break myself of the more obsessive compulsions I've had, I'm worried I might do something extremely unwise, like make a move on him.

Thanks for listening to me. I feel like I got a lot off my chest.

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:confused: What is a crush if not a projection, I wonder (having had many myself across my life)?

More to the point, you are grieving a pretty significant loss and it sucks, it hurts, and will just take some time before you feel like the loss is really in the past and you are again engaged fully in the present. I would take the sign that you are fantasizing about erik as a positive one; that you are now starting to be interested in what the future may hold, rather than being completely consumed with what you've lost.

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I guess you're right about that. It's been 12 years since I've been "on the market" so I guess this all feels new and confusing for me.

I guess one of the reasons I'm concerned is because Mike's father re-married less than a year after Mike's mother passed away (also cancer :D ). No one thinks it was love; everyone believes it was co-dependency, and the woman he married is terribly selfish and controlling. That really hurt Mike and his sister. They felt like he didn't care about their mother, and it didn't help that he doesn't feel comfortable showing emotion.

I guess I fear doing the same thing. I don't want to hurt my family or our friends by moving on too quickly, and I don't want to just mask my feelings with something I might not really be feeling. I already suspect his father thinks I wasn't grieving "properly" at Mike's deathbed (we were *always* very positive around him; we didn't want his last days to be frightful, lonely, and sad; we didn't want him to think we'd given up on him like the doctors had). I don't care what his father thinks; I was never welcomed into the family by him, but I do care how his sister (who has become like a sister to me), my family, our friends, etc. feel.

But thank you, I do feel better now.

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There is no "correct" way to grieve. You need to give yourself permission to do the best that you can. Also, most people have good days (where they feel mostly back to normal) and bad days (where they are clearly having a hard time). It's not uncommon to experience intense loss feelings for several years after someone dies.

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I am very sorry about your loss. It is very difficult. I have experienced such a loss.

There are good websites and message boards. Two good ones are: widownet.com and groww.

As said above, we are all unique and we all grieve in our own way.

You should take care of yourself: eat right, try to sleep, keep busy. And, find a way to talk about it. That is what those two websites are for. There are others, but I know of those two.

Eventually, the grief monster will not bother you so much.

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