Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief

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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.

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.

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.

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*!

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…

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Sing It Anyways

Thanks for all the love and concern from last week’s blog. And it may seem odd to say, but thank you to everyone who was able to be angry with us and for us. Pushing us to get over it was not helpful and it certainly was too soon. I don’t have a great update. Basically, there is nothing we can do because the laws are geared to help perps and not victims. We will have to cough up four grand to get a privacy fence if we want to continue to live here. We have had serious conversations as a family about moving, but for now the fence will have to do. I don’t think we could sell the house anyway without the fence because it is too obvious of an issue.

I considered last week’s blog a memo to the universe that we are done handling hard stuff here. Someone didn’t read it though because I got a call yesterday from my doctor’s office. The nurse informed me that I suddenly have full blown diabetes and need to make immediate changes for this life-long disease. What? Out of the blue? Obviously, they didn’t get the memo. However, due to a bunch of reasons I don’t want to take the time to write, I requested another test which I took this morning. Results will be in next week. I have legit reasons to suspect the test results they got might not have been accurate. I have postponed panic until the next set of results. (By the way, it is NOT helpful to tell people they just need to improve their diet or that diabetes isn’t a big deal. ESPECIALLY for those of us that have already been spent on handling ridiculous amounts of stress and loss. There is no simple life-long disease when you are already at the end of your rope.)

But the good news? Well, I am in a show that is opening tonight. It’s all music from Broadway shows. Last week I was quite panicked about it. I didn’t know how I could possibly get up on stage and sing and smile and be entertaining. I could barely function. I felt empty inside. I just told myself that it would have to be like all of those times I have to pull up my big girl pants and conduct counseling sessions. I just do it. I just have to. And most of the time, it ends up being as good for me as it is for my clients.

Three rehearsal nights this week, then three performances. Six out of seven days. How was I going to pull that off with all that other stress?

Turns out, it has been the best thing for me. You can’t really sing and stay down. It’s just not possible. Music feeds my soul. By the way, theater people (for the most part) are also extremely funny and entertaining to be around. Spending so much time there immersed in music has been healing for me. Or at the least, an excellent distraction from neighbors that hurt us and brand new diseases to learn all about.

I only get my parts right slightly more than half the time. So you should come see it. Either you will be impressed with yet another thing I can do, or you will get to laugh your ass off at me when I’m the only one that raises the wrong hand and then freaks out and makes it even more obvious that I screwed up. I already have my comedic lines ready for my duet in case I totally blow that one too. It’s in East Aurora at Hamlin Park, tonight and tomorrow at 8 pm, Sunday at 2:30. Come and forget about the tough stuff for a while.