If No One Died, Can I Still Be Sad?

parting waysI have, these past several silent weeks, been searching for a way to process grief. Most of what I’m finding follows a back-and-forth formula of the dehumanizing expectations of emotionally stunted and immature Western culture and the reality of those who have lost a loved one. The bit about our culture being emotionally damaging and even abusive is validating, but the large majority of articles I’ve found on grief are not helpful. No one has died recently in my life. I am mourning the loss of three core friendships. And our society has so discarded or misused the word “friend” that, if you find it a struggle to get over the ending of a friendship, you’re weak, “too” sensitive, codependent and just need to get new friends. Continue reading If No One Died, Can I Still Be Sad?

Sad Lady and the Halfway Point

 

wandering2016, the year I was warned would be the hardest year of my life, is half gone today.

Should I think of it as the top of this gnarly crag and it’s all downhill from here? It’s been harder for me to hike down a mountain than up it; I’m not only shaky-tired from the climb up, but my jello joints can’t withstand gravity’s suck nearly as easily as they brace for my muscles’ pull against it. Continue reading Sad Lady and the Halfway Point

This is your culture on trauma

rainI want to name as trauma the experience of not being chosen in a coupled world. The living alone, the having no one witness your life or help you make life decisions, the having no one to hold or feed you when you get sick, the practical ways that two actually are better than one – because there is certainly nothing in our culture that says we have any reason to expect such care from our friends – are hard, traumatic, enough (though there are differences, this is true for both people who have never married and people facing the “after” of a marriage). But the meaning conferred by our society onto singleness as, essentially, unwantedness is unbearable, not just because the shame of such judgment often provokes tendencies to isolate and further remove oneself from community, but because it may confirm deep suspicions about one’s self. Continue reading This is your culture on trauma

Sad Lady Scatterdly Considers Aloneness

 

ClownfishI’m excited to see this going mainstream: the best we can do for our loved ones is to try to love them. We don’t have to call the police. We don’t have to recite all our commitments and things pulling at our time (I’m not alone in despising the “I’m busy” excuse). We don’t have to “just” pray for them, especially since it is an expressly Christian call, not to be passive in the face of suffering – that of our friend’s, that of our enemy’s, our own. Continue reading Sad Lady Scatterdly Considers Aloneness

Sad Lady, An Interlude

commitmentI had thought I found a new voice. Friends noticed a difference and I was filled up by their affirmations and encouragements even as I was facing a new way of being: sad not mad. But 30 years of loneliness, isolation and taking people far too seriously than they seem to want to be taken titrates a rage with a particularly long half-life. Continue reading Sad Lady, An Interlude

Sad Lady, Sounding Mad in Mourning

cliffside pathUnless you are willing to take care of me for a while, or take something off my plate, or spend time with me to ease the burden of aloneness, stop telling me to practice “self-care.” That’s a nice-sounding excuse not to show up. Self-care? How about community care? As Bessel Van Der Kolk writes in The Body Keeps the Score, “We barely exist as individual organisms.” A genuine thank-you to friends who have made a consistent effort without making me feel guilty for “taking” their time. Continue reading Sad Lady, Sounding Mad in Mourning

Sad Lady and the Persistence of Anger

falling_RockI have a dear and longtime friend who has worked very hard to understand me, who does so well generally, and who has been integral to my life since 2009. He’s also been unfairly (to him) busy in a way that’s not allowed him much rest or time to do things that are nourishing for him and in a way that makes me think we’re sort of losing him, at least as anything more than a shell of a person. I’m going through some deep pain and some ancient pain; I wrote him a very long letter explaining one aspect of this pain in detail and had been waiting for over two months to give it to him. I don’t need everyone to understand this particular thing I’m going through (most people won’t, given how deceiving a surface-level view of it is) but I really needed this friend to.

Continue reading Sad Lady and the Persistence of Anger

Sad Lady Meets An Unexpected Kindness

I cardwanted a water filter that removed fluoride and had been saving up. My mom texted me on Easter, wishing me a happy one, asked if I had plans and if I needed a new spring dress. “I’ve been looking at some for you and I want to buy one for you if you need.” The only thing I’m displeased with about my wardrobe is that I have too many clothes so I told her this, and about the water filter. She said she’d definitely contribute to that fund and would send a check. It arrived on Friday. And I was a sodden woman. Continue reading Sad Lady Meets An Unexpected Kindness

Sad Lady Meets An Unexpected Kindness

I cardwanted a water filter that removed fluoride and had been saving up. My mom texted me on Easter, wishing me a happy one, asked if I had plans and if I needed a new spring dress. “I’ve been looking at some for you and I want to buy one for you if you need.” The only thing I’m displeased with about my wardrobe is that I have too many clothes so I told her this, and about the water filter. She said she’d definitely contribute to that fund and would send a check. It arrived on Friday. And I was a sodden woman. Continue reading Sad Lady Meets An Unexpected Kindness

Sad Lady, An Introduction

cracked stoneThere’s a story in the Old Testament where Moses strikes a stone and water gushes out. Nevermind what he strikes it with; de- and recontextualized, this is my story of self protection. Literally, self preservation. The stone is my anger. The water is sadness so deep I don’t perceive how I’ll outlive it. It’s been there since I, age four, learned that trees can die and so can bunnies and flowers and dreams. My porcelain-doll sister was only five months old at the time; she, too, would die? Even if she (and I) did everything right? Continue reading Sad Lady, An Introduction