out of nowhere, there they were again, rearing their ugly head. those two small words, so powerful i thought i would wreck the car: laid off. maybe i should pull over, get out, breathe in some fresh air. maybe i should scream. no, that would scare the little one. in my head, i was cursing like a person with turret’s. at no one in particular, though in these types of situations it is easier to handle the pain, the grief, the overwhelmingness if there is someone to direct anger toward.
we had been through this before, so i knew better this time. i knew it was no one’s fault. maybe it was everyone’s fault. maybe it is our fault. (no, that is faulty logic, taught to me by my parents and scrambling every day to creep into the upper regions of my brain to taunt me.)
it happened on friday, so we could play house, pretend for the weekend that everything was normal. i even thought, maybe let’s not tell the kids. let’s just say, “oh, daddy’s working from home for the next couple of months.” let them jump up and down with excitement, imagining all the newfound opportunities for wrestling, baseball throwing, youtube surfing.
maybe i could join this fantasy world. imagine that suddenly i had a helper around the house, an extra set of hands with our increasingly difficult-to-deal (but still ridiculously lovable and charming) 3 year old. that maybe i could steal away to coffee shops and work on my laptop like i have been dreaming of doing since school ended last june.
i had immediately decided i wasn’t telling anyone. probably part of my scheme to pretend it wasn’t happening. suddenly i was getting comments on fb, e-mails, g-chats from people i know--some friends, some acquaintances. they even started chiming in with condolences, advice, offers to “let me know what i can do.”
i do not know why, but all of these voices of concern rubbed me like sandpaper until i was raw. each kind word made me feel less adequate, more out of control. if you are reading, and you are one of these people, then i am sorry if i have not responded to you with the reciprocity i should have.
i have deliberated over why this has bothered me so, and what i could come up with is that when someone is going through something, in the very midst of it, it is next to impossible to muster up enough courage or even self-knowledge and -awareness to be able to tell someone what she can do for a friend in crisis. i have thought about times when i have probably said this very thing to someone: “please let me know if i can do anything.” and i can almost guarantee that not one of those people has ever come back to me and said, “you know, what you could really do for me right now is bring me a meal. or contribute to the health insurance we are about to lose at the end of the month. or pay our electric bill if we need it down the road. or take me out for a drink because now i don’t want to spend the money to go anywhere beyond my four walls. or just love on me because i will probably be having a hard time loving on myself.”
part of this is community, where we live and breathe and cry and love and lean on one another, and we offer ourselves to one another, and we don’t have to ask those things: we just know. we know because we have spent time caring for these people already, and we do for them what we would want done for us.
actually, i think more than part of this is community. i think it’s all about community. i feel lucky that people along my life’s path have taught and modeled these things for me. and i think when the sandpaper starts to irritate, it’s not about anyone else but is more about me and what i’ve been missing. it’s that reminder of an empty space that was once filled and longs desperately to be refilled.
i am not sure how inspired i will be to share here, how open and honest i really want to be. for some reason, in the past 6 months or so i have found myself wanting to hold back from you. not be as open. maybe that connects with the community thing, with wanting to be loved as much as i love.
but i wanted you to know what is going on. thanks for reading.