When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. – Ann Morrow Lindbergh
New Beginnings by Betty Jane Wylie has been sitting quietly on my shelf for years, along with my other books on loss and grief.
Some, I’ve shared about here and others, well, for one reason or another, it just wasn’t the right time to talk about them. This one is among the latter.
So, what changed?
It has been five years since “The Year of Pain” (2014).
(I’ve talked about it ad nauseum all over this blog space, but if you need a reminder, the best place to find it is in this post.)
As all who have read here have witnessed, I’ve been up and I’ve been down. I may have even gone sideways.
Five long years. And then, also, an instant. Depends on the day.
In a way, it’s kinda like the lost first decade of the 2000’s. You know about that? It’s when old fogeys like me think the 1980’s were twenty years ago because of course there’s the 1990’s and we’re IN the 2010’s. That means high school (1970’s) was thirty years ago. And so on.
Except it’s all a lie.
The 1980’s is thirty years ago, the ’70’s, forty. It’s a math problem that can’t be solved for addled brains like mine.
Five years ago feels like just yesterday and a million years ago, too. That’s what I mean.
The reason *this book* in particular seems apropos right now is because it covers all types of loss and grief. Most others (at least among my collection) are about the death of loved ones. That certainly occurred in my Year of Pain. So did a bunch of other stuff. And it’s the other stuff that this book seems to get very right. It certainly reached out to me.
There are other kinds of death, as devastating and far-reaching as the physical demise of a loved one. – Wylie (pg. 157)
After loss, “you find out who your friends are,” says Wylie. This never occurred to me. Not ever! And yet, I wrote a post right out of the playbook.
This book helped me clarify and perhaps, for the first time, understand what really happened. While I was thinking, “How could she?” … it was instead, “What took so long?” because in truth, the friendship had been dying, decaying, long before the final goodbye.
That’s the kind of “Aha! moments” I had while reading.
The chapters are short, easy-to-read and interspersed with quotes and poetry…
Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go. – May Sarton
I have not quietly “sat it out” as evidenced by this entire blog and the many before it that were destroyed. I have felt grief and pain before, of course, and found my way through it.
What happened in 2014 was very, very different. It was grief, piled on grief, piled on grief left over from a lifetime of pain, loss and confusion. If my life before was a gravel pit of pain, 2014 was a meteor from space, slamming into my life, leaving a path of hellfire and destruction.There is no “getting over” that. There is only getting through.
One of ways I got through was ignoring my usual self-care routines. Besides the nasty anxiety-habit of nail-biting, I was the kind of woman who (at least) kept my elbows and heels soft with creams, lotions and potions. I wore pretty underwear and kept up with my hair. Five years ago, that mostly stopped.
In particular, dying my hair stopped. I told myself and others I was being authentic. It was true, I guess, but it was more than that. I was sad, trying to save money and didn’t think I was worth taking care of — also, a little lazy.
I took a good, hard look at myself over the weekend and decided I need a change. I’m gong to start with my hair.
I’m hoping it spurs me to work on the other stuff… cuz, Lordy… I look old, tried and like I don’t care.
Now don’t get me wrong… in a “we’re all beautiful” way, yes, I’m still beautiful.
Ahem. Anyhow. That’s changing. I’ll be back with more of that “””journey””” when I can. Should be interesting.
In the meantime, this book about loss and grieving gave me a boost. I know it’s not what it was trying to do, but it did. Your mileage may vary.