Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Planned aloneness

I mentioned doing a silent retreat in one of my blogs recently. After my friend Summer called and laughed hysterically, I found out that retreat centers are all closed due to COVID. (Honestly, I don’t really get that. You are isolated and silent. How is that dangerous?)

This weekend is my annual Magical Misery Tour. That means it is the “anniversary” of my husband’s death. This year marks a decade. I can’t even believe it has been that long. Normally, my girl peeps and I go away for the weekend. For whatever reason (I blame it on COVID) I only want to go for one night. Anything more than that just seemed overwhelming.

Then it occurred to me that I can go a day earlier by myself and spend the night alone. That is the plan.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I can’t be alone in a room. It’s not that. But I am definitely high-level extrovert. When I hit my low points, it’s when I don’t have a significant other- that kind of lonely. That is not the case this year.

However, I also have lots of intense things swirling in my mind. People to worry about, take care of, big decisions to make, and so on. When I really sit with my thoughts, they can get pretty strong. That’s when I need my peeps. First, because I’m a verbal person who needs to run things by others. Sometimes it’s several times with several people before I’ve worked it through. Secondly, if my thoughts are about myself and they are painful, I also need to touch base.

My goal is to spend time solely with myself and do my own self-soothing if and when I need it.

I plan to:

Enjoy the beautiful foliage and lakes

Paint my nails (without having to rush and ruin a couple because I’m trying to do something while they are drying). Won’t it be nice to just do it leisurely and enjoy it?

Play my favorite solitaire games (without being paranoid that someone will walk by me and think that I am being lazy)

Color (without feeling like I’m doing it to balance the chaos of my day)

Watch home movies. This will be a high-risk activity. My son turned 18 this summer and he’s “been so over” his mom for at least 8 years. We were incredibly close when he was small. I love looking at memories of him. It will be super great to do that. And it will also spark a lot of tears. I know it will. I grieve his childhood being over. I grieve all the mistakes I made after his dad died when he was only 8 years old. I grieve that we can never rewind and squeeze them all over again before they thought it was gross to be hugged.

Journal. I haven’t journaled in years. I’m just taking a notebook and seeing what happens. I’m going to think about a lot of those issues that trouble me. This is also a high-risk activity. I am not afraid of honestly looking at myself. I will take the truth, no matter how difficult it might be. But I can also come undone and need my folks to ground me again.

Wish me luck. I may end up calling someone and that won’t be the end of the world. But I am truly going to try and suck it up and rely on myself. It’s only for 24 hours. I can do it, right?


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Company

Last week I went to see a play called “Company” in Amherst. It’s a musical actually. I’ve been hanging out a lot with my theater friends lately and we’ve been to several shows. This one is outstanding and it plays til June 26th so I highly recommend it.

Anyhow, I think a lot of theater appeals to me because it is entertaining, upbeat, funny- and yet underlying is a very, very dark and somber message. Relationships are hell. A couple of weeks ago we watched “Lovers and Other Strangers” which had you rolling in your seat the entire time. But the underlying message was the same. People can be awful and relationships are next to impossible to navigate.

“Company” had great music, which I just loved in and of itself. But I found the message to be riveting. It centered around a character named Bobby who was surrounded by married friends. We follow the different relationships and all their complications as we also watch Bobby date equally complicated and imperfect women. The happiest couple in the show was one that decided to get divorced. They still lived together and were obviously in love. Divorce was what allowed them that luxury.

The director Roger Paolini wrote a note in the program which I think captured it all: “As it deals with marriage and relationships, the show forced some people to acknowledge things they didn’t want to acknowledge, and they missed its ultimate message that, as Sondheim states, “to be committed to someone is difficult, but to be alone is impossible.'”

And that’s it. While it’s terribly uncomfortable to immerse yourself in the truth that relationships cause great pain, the fact of the matter is, there are endless plays and songs and movies about them. We are driven to have them, in spite of their imperfections. We want them, warts and all.

The play ends with a song from Bobby called “Being Alive.” Here is an excerpt from the script and lyrics as he struggles with himself and the decision to be in relationship or not:

“Bobby, there was something we wanted to say.
The line was busy…
Bobby…Bobby bubbi…
Bobby fella…Bobby sweetie–

ROBERT [speaking]: Stop!…What do you get? [Sings]
Someone to hold you too close,
Someone to hurt you too deep,
Someone to sit in your chair,
To ruin your sleep.

PAUL: That’s true, but there’s more to it than that.
SARAH: Is that all you think there is to it?
HARRY: You’ve got so many reasons for not being with someone, but
Robert, you haven’t got one good reason for being alone.
LARRY: Come on, you’re on to something, Bobby. You’re on to something.

ROBERT:
Someone to need you too much,
Someone to know you too well,
Someone to pull you up short
And put you through hell.

DAVID: You see what you look for, you know.
JOANNE: You’re not a kid anymore, Robby. I don’t think you’ll ever
be a kid again, kiddo.
PETER: Hey, buddy, don’t be afraid it won’t be perfect. The only thing
to be afraid of really is that it won’t be.
JENNY: Don’t stop now. Keep going.

ROBERT:
Someone you have to let in,
Someone whose feelings you spare,
Someone who, like it or not,
Will want you to share
A little, a lot.

SUSAN: And what does all that mean?
LARRY: Robert, how do you know so much about it when you’ve never
been there?
HARRY: It’s much better living it than looking at it, Robert.
PETER: Add ’em up, Bobby. Add ’em up.

ROBERT:
Someone to crowd you with love,
Someone to force you to care,
Someone to make you come through,
Who’ll always be there,
As frightened as you
Of being alive,
Being alive,
Being alive,
Being alive.

AMY: Blow out the candles, Robert, and make a wish. *Want* something!
Want *something*!

ROBERT:
Somebody, hold me too close,
Somebody, hurt me too deep,
Somebody, sit in my chair
And ruin my sleep
And make me aware
Of being alive,
Being alive.

Somebody, need me too much,
Somebody, know me too well,
Somebody, pull me up short
And put me through hell
And give me support
For being alive,
Make me alive.

Make me confused,
Mock me with praise,
Let me be used,
Vary my days.
But alone is alone, not alive.

Somebody, crowd me with love,
Somebody, force me to care,
Somebody, make me come through,
I’ll always be there,
As frightened as you,
To help us survive
Being alive,
Being alive,
Being alive!”

And that about says it all…