September 28, 2010

Nursing Wounds

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I’m lame because I never posted anything about the BlogHer conference other than the vagina post, but in case you didn’t know, Karen and I were roomies. I adore Karen, and if there’s ever another opportunity to be roomies with her again, I’d jump at the chance because she’s just awesome, and getting to spend lots of time with her made the difference between a good trip and an uber-fabulous trip. Three days and three nights of hanging with Karen meant lots of good discussions about everything from missing our respective hubbies and critters, to the magic of Target, to more serious topics. Amongst all the conversation, I talked to her about my father’s suicide and all the related fall-out. Actually, I think I more accurately talked at her.

I don’t ever really talk about it, so there was rambling word vomit aplenty on my part, and friend that she is, she was a very good listener. One of the things that has preoccupied me all these months, and one of the concerns I expressed to her was whether or not to write about it here, and if so, how to do that. I’m struggling with this now as much as ever because I haven’t found a solution that feels right.

I know there are plenty of people who would graciously listen to me if I wanted to talk about it, but I typically don’t because I feel like such an ominous abyss of doom and gloom when I do. I know there are some people who will graciously read if I write about it here, but given the choice, I think most people would just assume not read about it. I joined an online forum for survivors of suicide, but I’m feeling very ambivalent about it now. The members of the forum are all survivors, so it seemed like a good idea, but now that I’ve tried reading some of it, I find it too depressing. I know how dumb it sounds for me to say that a suicide survivor forum is depressing, as if it would be something other than that, but I guess I didn’t really give much thought to what to expect. I had looked into a local support group, but haven’t been, and feel even less inclined to go now that I’ve tried the online forum. Having not warmed up to any of those options, I feel like the other obvious options are: (a) wait because time heals all wounds, or (b) find a therapist.

Right after I returned from Texas following the funeral, I went to see a therapist. I’m a therapist so I believe in therapy, and I know people go to see therapists to deal with these kinds of issues, so it seemed like a logical thing to do. I purposefully sought one who specialized in grief counseling because that too seemed logical. I talked her ear off, telling her all the details about my relationship with him, or lack thereof, and the circumstances of his death. I’m sure the visit had some value, because I got to tell someone the story in its entirety, but I didn’t care for her. Since this was last January or February, I don’t remember what exactly I didn’t like about her, but mostly I hated that her office was yellow and decorated with a thousand different birdhouses.

Birdhouses aside though, I knew I was trying too hard to tidy up an inherently messy situation. Talking to a therapist to resolve my feelings when I was only beginning to deal with the estate issues wouldn’t have been terribly productive. I knew I wouldn’t achieve any sense of closure as long as I was knee-deep in papers that needed to be notarized, death certificates that had to be faxed, a house to sell, and a mountain of belongings to sort. I decided it was too soon, and not terribly practical to begin a course of therapy, so I put the idea on hold.

My other reservation about starting therapy is that I’ve spent so much of my life in therapy already. My years in therapy truly helped me heal a lot of painful hurts, but prior to my father’s death, I felt like I was finished being a therapy client. A lot of the time I spent in therapy was trying to resolve issues related to my father, our perennial disconnection, and his persistent disinterest in me. A few years ago, I came to accept that he wasn’t willing to invest the effort, and I decided that being responsible for facilitating that relationship was no longer a job I wanted. So I quit, and hoped the day would come when he’d have a revelation that he wanted to be a part of my life.

It was hardly a solution, I know. Instead, it was a holding pattern that was more tolerable than trying to figure out who he wanted me to be so I could try to become that person so that he’d want to know me, which is what I’d been doing since I was a little girl. When I was about 30-years old, I had an epiphany that I was never going to be that person, so it was a matter of him accepting me for who I had become. The wounds of a relationship that had been in disrepair for so long were there, but freeing myself from the obligation to fix it allowed them to heal as much as I thought they could given the circumstances. His death has reopened those wounds though, and suicide has been the metaphorical salt.

I’ve tried to limit my posts about it, but on occasions such as this, I feel like I’m displaying the wounds in all their raw, ugly ooziness, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to be witness to this, anymore than I was able to read the posts on the suicide survivor forum. They’re the kind of wounds that need air though, and I think hiding them under bandages all the time isn’t good for them. Waving oozy wounds around haphazardly isn’t a good idea either though. When, where, to whom do I let them get some circulation to encourage healing? I don’t know the answers. I’m too ambivalent about therapy at this point to commit to it, so for the moment, here I am because I don’t have a better place.

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8 Responses to “Nursing Wounds”

  1. Scully says:

    Don’t worry about who will or won’t read it or how it makes us feel. Those of us who care WILL read it and be your shoulder and that’s all that matters.

  2. Becca says:

    Those internal wounds are worse than the ugliest skinned knee. It would be so nice if we could lift a bandaid and see “oh, you are getting better, I wasn’t just imagining that you felt better.” I’m in therapy and think about talking about it on my blog but haven’t felt ready yet. It did take a while before I found someone that really clicked for me. But I believe her when she tells me I’m taking the right steps to get to a more peaceful and happy life that doesn’t have so much raw pain. Some days it’s easier to “feel” that than others though. I’m rambling…just know folks care about you and thinking about you – even people like me that you’ve never met.

    P.S. Diabetes Art Day helped me pick up doing art again…thank you.

  3. Reyna Maher says:

    Time…the biggest healer, and maybe it will help you get to a place that you a)either feel like therapy or b) just to a healthy place with this. The hard part about time, is that it is so freakin’ painful and L-O-N-G when you are in a dark place. Ooze all you want sister…we are reading.

  4. casey says:

    we will read. :) Airing is good. Glad you and Karen got some quality time together. I am sure Jason is interested in hearing all about these emotions.

    Glad you are writing about it.

  5. jaimieh says:

    (((HUGS)))…we all have some sort of wound healing to do w/our hearts…holding pattern & “freeing myself from the obligation to fix it” … I most definitely needed to hear that so I thank you for writing it Lee Ann…

  6. It’s up to you whether you want to post the feelings online…I know everyone who reads your blog would be incredibly supportive, and it might be therapeutic to have that support. But if, on the other hand, you just want to get the feelings out so you can sort through them, I’d really recommend writing a journal.

    Maybe it’s just because I’m an author, but I’ve always done a lot of meditating-through-writing myself. I guess you could say it’s a form of therapy for me, although I’ve never had any urge to see a therapist…I think getting emotions out on paper–even if it’s through free-writing, which feels like vomiting random thoughts–really helps me organize all the issues I’m facing.

  7. wayne says:

    any time.

  8. Karen says:

    I was so thankful to be room-mates with you for BlogHer – I had the best time with you. Okay, except for the bug bites, but hey, at least we got a fancy Italian dinner out of it. I’m so glad you trusted me enough to talk about your father. And I’m glad you decided to blog about it. Writing always seems a good way to work through things and process them.

    PS: I’m still pissed that I left our roomie chocolate in the fridge at home, but it was so hot that it probably wouldn’t have made it to NYC anyway. :( And if I recall, we got some rather *ahem* nifty chocolate at that *ahem* party Saturday night. *wink wink*

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