Don't grieve alone; 14,000 members and growing
Lori, I am so sorry for your loss.
I lost my lover five months ago today. Similar yet different scenario. He was in the early part of the process of getting a divorce and we hadn't known each other long enough to be talking very far into the future or merging our lives yet, but it didn't make the loss any easier to take when he passed suddenly in his sleep.
It IS hard. Very hard. I remember when I was at that stage. I think I cried every single day for the first couple months, then almost every day for another month or so. I wish I could tell you it gets better soon, but I'm still working through things and suspect it will be a while longer before I feel some form of "better." I sought out a good counselor who is helping me deal with some of the deeper issues surrounding my grief as well as dealing directly with the grief itself. I also had a friend who recommended a book, "The Language of Emotions" by Karla McLaren. I found a lot of what she had to say about emotions in general to be helpful, and the section on sadness. I didn't particularly resonate with her chapter on grief, but you may.
At five months out, I still have not gotten to a place where I feel hopeful about life or my place in it. But I have lived through the worst of those first few months. I still have days where things catch me off guard and my eyes leak and my throat hurts. I have also seen life slowly returning to a new "normal" that feels somehow steadier and broken at the same time. I don't believe life will ever go back to being "normal" again, but a new routine establishes itself and somehow we march on through work, the daily monotony of bills, groceries, inane conversations with random people or well-meaning friends. Eventually you manage to not think of him for a few moments, then a few hours, then you may go a day without thinking of him - but it was only very recently that I've had those realizations. And once you realize you hadn't thought of him yet that day, it tends to be all you think about for a while.
I have replayed every conversation, every moment together, everything.... you're not crazy. It's how our brains try to hang on to what we can no longer touch. It got less intrusive over time. Again, my history was not as long as yours so I don't know how long you will experience that before it starts to give you peace from time to time, then fade to where it doesn't take up your every waking moment. My counselor says "it takes what it takes" to work its way through us.
Keep breathing. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. If you have supportive friends, keep in touch with them. If you can find a good counselor, it can be a real help. Give yourself time. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel and to not let anyone tell you when you should be done grieving or how to grieve.
I hope this helps some, to know you are not alone.
I felt the same way about "my role" and being treated poorly because of it. I chose to tell very few people about the situation. Some who found out on their own were incredibly supportive of me and said the same thing "love is love". A couple of those people surprised me because I thought sure I would be judged. They did not care. They told me that if his wife had been living out of state for three years and seeing another man, that was not a marriage and he and I did nothing wrong, no matter what the law says.
Good friends who know you will be supportive. A good counselor will not impose their judgement on you.
Life goes on and it's up to us to decide how it's going to look. Take it easy on yourself, don't make huge decisions right now. Allow yourself to feel your loss, cry, rage against the unfairness of it all, and then know that you are still here and have something positive to contribute to the world - whatever that may be. Look for the blessings and the gifts of your time with him. The memories will bring smiles as well as tears eventually. And eventually you'll understand what purpose your future holds for you. For me, I'm channeling my energies into documenting my grief process and writing a book to help others in these kinds of situations.
Are you still a member on here? My story is similar to yours. We dated back in the 70's. He was my first romantic sexual relationship. We kept tabs on each other through friends and family all our lives. We got back together in 2007 and were together until he got so sick he couldn't live a double life anymore and his wife found out. He lived another year and a half where we had no contact before he died. We were both married and I am still married. Long, long story. I would like you to email me if you are still interested in talking to someone. I know I really need a sympathetic ear!