Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Grief


I remember on one of my many trips to Dublin we were reading side by side on her patio, birdsong trilling around us, the scent from the overhead baskets of tomatoes and strawberries perfuming the sun warmed air.

"You know," she said, "You're the only one in the world I can do this with. Isn't it perfect?"

Perfect. Yes.

There are multiple aspects to grief, thousands of manifestations. An enormous sense of never being the same. Ever again. And that's just one.

In spite of myself I go to the labelled email folder last night. Helen. Thousands of emails. It's like a compulsive first bite of something decadent, sinful and addictive.

And I realize some things that weren't obvious to me before.

She played her buttons close to her vest. She didn't let too many people in. Maybe it was the long history we had. Nothing could sever the trust, the implicit faith in that shoulder always being there. That acceptance. The sheer unconditionality of it. I really don't feel that way about anyone else. I always think I will be rejected, abandoned, condemned and shunned once I show you the inner me. It's happened far too many times before. It's my default setting. Therapy hasn't helped. It's like a permanent internal condition akin to an irremovable birthmark. Part of my psyche. And we knew these things about each other. In particularly bad patches we would sign off: "Remember I love you."

And we meant it. All warts exposed, all insecurities, all struggles. It didn't matter.

We'd speculate how we could do better, help each other climb over the stiles of our challenges and pain.

We'd talk each other through depression and bafflement over loved ones' behaviours.

And a little nugget:

A Canadian friend emailed me yesterday and said:

"Remember that day in Ballydehob and my nails were all a mess and Helen went off immediately and bought me stuff to deal with them."

I'd forgotten.

She'd only known my friend for a couple of days.

But her caring expanded to friends of friends of friends.

I miss her so.


18 comments:

  1. "I always think I will be rejected, abandoned, condemned and shunned once I show you the inner me. It's happened far too many times before." I know the feeling. Jenny is one of only two people in my life I've been able to be totally open with. So many people turn out to be censorious and intolerant when you scratch the surface. The loss of a really close and open friendship is painful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Nick, you get it. I know I'm not utterly alone at the moment but it FEELS that way. I have the love of many whom I love in return but this huge void she has left is unfillable. She was with me all my life.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  3. A true anam cara. May the good memories bring healing. Concentrate on a different one each day.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You brought us right back into that moment with Helen, with the scents and sounds and her words. What a loss you're grieving.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are a wonderful writer. I am sorry for your loss. I have never known friendship like that.

    ReplyDelete
  6. OWJ:
    I knew you would, Ernestine. I feel such an enormous void and really, there is no one who can replace her.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  7. GM:
    I was out with friends tonight and it really helped, just talking about her brought her into the restaurant and made her come alive. And others have troubles as well. I didn't feel quite so alone.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  8. Linda:
    Sharing helps too, particularly writing about her and all she meant.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you Liz for your kind words. You are right, the friendship was incredibly special.
    I am very fortunate to have known her all her life just about.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  10. You could be describing my long friendship with KL who died two years ago. The gap cannot be filled. I have found myself revisiting the e-file with her words of wisdom and encouragement.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Pamela, I know, this gap is insurmountable. I feel so lost. I, too, am so glad I kept most of her emails, her words remind me to have faith in myself and remind me of the deep love possible between two friends. Thank you.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  12. You will heal Wise. You are strong. I know you will heal!

    BECAUSE YOU SAID - “I always think I will be rejected, abandoned, condemned and shunned once I show you the inner me. It's happened far too many times before. It's my default setting. Therapy hasn't helped. It's like a permanent internal condition akin to an irremovable birthmark. Part of my psyche.”

    I wonder if you have looked at You Tube’s -"Back From the Edge" - Borderline Personality Disorder

    I sent them this comment yesterday.

    Excellent information. Thank you. I am an 80 year old woman who recently realized I have BPD. It is a shock! It is also a great relief. If you can’t see your misery how can you either cure it or live with it?
    To me the most important information was “you must find a therapist who understands and wants to work with BPD patients”. Second in importance - “it is curable”.
    I spent many many hours with psychiatrists over the years. One of the first I went to said “you have a personality disorder” but then he left the country and I forgot what he said until this year!! I saw books by Karen Horney on this doctors shelf. Reading Karen Horney and seeing other well meaning caring psychiatrists kept me alive over the years. A form of life support which is/was rather like treading water - you don’t go very far but you stay alive! Prozac helped too.
    The internet is a wonderful place and quite by accident I came across a mention of BPD and followed it because I recognized myself. This happened a couple of months ago and I feel a distinct change in myself. I know it is very late in the game but as Karen Horney says “there is no reason a person shouldn’t continue to learn until the last day of their life”.
    I am fortunate in that I have never been tempted to cut myself nor even seriously tried suicide although I thought of it often. Nevertheless my life has been the life and the struggle of a self imposed Outsider and until recently I often felt relieved it would soon be over. This despite the fact that I have been very successful and I know people look at me as something of a role model - a person who has all her ducks in a row!
    I hope I have the courage to actually post these words under my own name. They may help someone who is hesitating regarding professional help or working with a doctor who does not understand BPD. It will help me to admit I have and accept that I have an actual mental illness!! Yikes!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes, Betty I did look at that condition and it surely is a possibility but I've had so much therapy and group support at this point I just embrace my own unique personality and live with the darker side. I know the dark side lies and on good days (most of my life) all is well. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you SAW.
    It is unexpected in its intensity and unpredictable in its duration.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete
  15. My mother carried that kind of grief all her life. Even with a lot of help she was not able to stabilize her life. She did not have the ability to express her grief, sadly.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Expressing it is so important Hattie, I found I was able to talk about her last night over dinner with friends. I find being with people who demand absolutely nothing from me has been enormously beneficial to my wellbeing. Most times, these days, others have a hidden agenda of demands which makes me feel worse. Self care is so very important.
    XO
    WWW

    ReplyDelete

Some of you are having trouble, I've removed captcha and verification so we'll see how that goes. My apologies. Blogger is putting up far too many roadblocks. Thanks for the emails alerting me.
wisewebwomanatgmail.com