March 19, 2012
Grief Therapy 3, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 12
10/26/11. The week between my first and second appointment was spent trying to stay alive. Not in a suicidal way, but having to admit my IADLs had gone to hell. Realizing what I wasn’t doing was traumatic. I cried so much that when the next session came, I could for, a while, hold back the tears. That was a coup. When asked about Jeff, well, I’ve told his story so many times out loud, in my head, on paper. I shared my memorial poem, and origins. We talked some more about his big heart and how kids loved him. And coming home to find Jeff and his young neighborhood friend playing Star Wars in the den. Darth Vader mask, light saber, and all. It always comes back to the laughter. I guess it’s my coping mechanism, but I’m glad it makes other people laugh. So many funny stories.
But there was also fear. So much fear. And some anger - over chewing tobacco. I didn’t have to make us so miserable about that. But I needed something to be angry about. It really wouldn’t have mattered all that much. His health was spiraling downward fast. It may have been his coping mechanism. And only one of two things I believe he ever lied to me about.
I only ever tell the funny stories. Or the sweet ones. It makes it seem as though our ife was idyllic. It wasn’t, but we had an unusual advantage. We knew what was coming. More accurately, I knew what was coming and while Jeff chose to favor denial. It was a strange moment when the therapist made reference to his own personal relationship and commented that he very much admired me; for my strength and commitment to myself. My marriage, he said, was a good example. “Sticky notes,” I advised him. That’s the key. “I’ll stop at Staples on the way home,” he smiled. I really think he will.
We talked about how I hate staying home with nothing to do, but hate doing anything. I told him about the condolence cards, and writing notes to friends and family about the notes they wrote to me. I told about the list of things that were said at the family and friends gathering, some funny, some sweet. Some I had forgotten, that made me laugh aloud, again.
We talked about how I am embarrassed and humiliated, worried about being treated differently. I didn’t mention an errant comment wound sustained from an unintentionally cruel blurt, “You really are just the same as everybody else!” I don’t think it was meant in an offensive way, but it registered that I had been knocked down a peg in their eyes. I’m not perfect; never claimed to be. But I have been a pretty good actress. 5 years of keeping in character. Better than a soap opera star – because I worked on weekends, too.
Talking about the fun and the laughter makes me smile, for a while. But around the moment, reality stands, a solid block in my path, a stark white placard faced with big, black, bold stroke letters impossible to miss stating stoically -“That’s all gone.” And it’s true. I can’t argue that part.
It’s a bit of a hilly hike – ups and downs, rain and sunshine. There aren’t always bridges to carry me where I want to go. So I either have to do without or build my own. Doing without means sitting still on the shore or wading through the clawing river intent on shredding my heart and soul.
Building my own means baby steps; doing it on my own in tiny, well planned chunks, so the deep rooted timbers I’m chopping down won’t topple onto me. Or asking for help which means I probably won’t get to do it exactly my way. Do I want to spend another five years in this spot? Damn, I don’t even want to spend today here. But I can’t go back. Can’t change what I’ve done, can’t repair an image that was at best smoke and mirrors. Not all that interested in doing so, anyway.
Posted by jaselin at March 19, 2012 07:51 PM