Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Take my hand

My Beloved and I had a long discussion about what to do when someone, post trauma, has disappointed you in some way. Or if it's even fair to be disappointed in someone who quietly faded away while you were in the midst of your darkest grief.

Is it fair to expect more of someone than they were able to give?

For three years I've been defiant, arms folded across my chest, chin in the air, my answer a resounding "YES".

Yes, I believed, it IS fair to expect someone to rise to an incredibly difficult challenge when you desperately need them to. Figuring out how to deal with you as a bereaved person instead of the person they once knew. Figuring out how to approach you that first time after. Figuring out how to be there for you when they haven't got a clue what you're going through or what you need.

Yes. I've always thought it was fair to expect those close to you to find a way to do all that.

So many people did, you see. In varying degrees and in different ways, they were there.

But a small few weren't. Not after Thomas. Not after I lost the twins. And now, with no end to the silence in sight, I'm wondering if maybe I really have been expecting too much.

Or if perhaps I'm not, but need to let it go just the same.

My Beloved asked what I'll gain from still being hurt and disappointed in these few.

I had no answer. I will gain nothing from continually allowing myself to feel the sting of their continued absence.

In fact, I will lose. If I let the chasm continue to grow, I will simply be adding further loss to a life that has already seen too much.

My point has always been that it seems wrong for the person who has suffered to have to reach out and pull in those who have stood quietly by and done nothing. It seems unfair for someone who is grieving to have to take care of others; hold them by the hand and tell them what to do to help.

But if we don't, are we any further ahead? If we stand just as quietly on our side of the fence mourning our losses and the loss of much needed support on top of that, are we any better off?

If I could let it go, the answer would be yes. And I have been able to do that in at least one case. But another, I just can't.

"Reach out." He said.

So maybe I will.


Catherine said...

Not to contradict your Beloved, but my own experience has shown me that reaching out to those who were absent can cause further hurt when they don't respond in the way you need them to respond. Just my own little pessimistic warning, I guess.

niobe said...

I try to believe that people do the best they can. It might not be the best that someone else could have done. It probably isn't what we wanted or hoped they would do. But, given their limitations, it was all they were capable of at that time, in that situation.

That -- and keeping my expectations extremely low -- has
helped me more than I can tell you.

But, obviously, it might not work for you.

Kristen said...

I have to agree with Catherine on this - it's been my experience with several people that to reach out and invite them in is to be disappointed time and time again.

Sure, a part of me knows that I should be the bigger person, and forgive - and maybe I have forgiven on some level - but I also have the memory of an elephant, and I don't forget.

I know that for many, they just don't 'get' the whole idea of loss - because they have never walked any sort of path of grief. I understand that they don't know what to do or what to say, and perhaps believe saying or doing nothing is the best way to handle the situation.

And I'm happy for them. I'm happy that they don't know what it is like to have the rug pulled out from beneath them, over and over again.

But I can't forget the silence. I can't forget them acting like nothing is wrong. For me, it invalidates my feelings and makes it seem like the grief doesn't exist - and it does - as you know - it's always there. It's there under the smiles and - and it creeps up and taints even the most happiest of times.

So for me, I've become the poster child for keeping those people at a distance. I'm cordial to them, I answer the 'how are you' questions with 'I'm fine' when I see them, but I don't let them in. I don't provide anything but the basics - and I don't offer up anything more.

Does that make me bitter? Perhaps. But safer. I guess I just had to come to the conclusion that if they couldn't be supportive in a time of need, why do I need them in my life - to continually disappoint when the bottom falls out again....

katherine said...

I don't remember how I came across your blog, but I found you a few weeks ago and I've been reading pretty much every post since then because you are able to put into words the grief and deep emotions involved in loss. Although your story is unique, it helps me understand a little better what several of my friends may have felt when they experienced similar losses.

I hope I have never been the friend who has disappointed them to the point where they question whether we can really remain friends.

Given the wisdom of your words I've read so far, I think you'll find your way through.

Oh, I hope it's alright that I'm sending your blog address to a friend of mine. I think your words will encourage her even if just by helping her understand the confusing emotions she is feeling.

B said...

I think all of us have written about the hurt caused by what our friends did and didn't do. And let's face it, we're a pretty cool bunch of people and we have some pretty cool friends between us........ I think that when you are hurting so much, it is very difficult to accept what people have to offer, well, because, God damn it. I am so God damn needy and they (no matter who they are, what they do, what they say) cannot fulfill my need. They can't even scratch the surface.

And it is so bitterly disappointing to realise that you well and truly are alone. People outside don't understand the inside. And you stand inside looking out and see the faces of horror and pity, fear and shame. A slow turning away of the face of friend with the look of "there but for the grace of God......." . But, you scream, Where is the grace of God in my life. And they cannot face you or offer any answers.

And there two beautiful people who were good friends have to make a choice.

I think your husband is wise...... what have you to gain by holding on to your righteous anger (which is well justified).

In the middle or a shiatsu massage last week the therapist felt a knotted bit of my back and just said to me "you have to let go to receive new things". How did he know?

Anonymous said...

You have a wise Beloved. Hopefully you will be surprised.

You should also guard your heart if you do chose to "be the bigger person". People truly don't understand loss or IF and although they may try they will probably at some point step on your feelings out of ignorance.

Good luck and hugs.