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Secret Santa

Thursday, December 8, 2005 10:01 PM CST

Okay, guys. My pity party is over. For now. I'm sorry, sorry, sorry. I really, truly didn't mean to induce guilt! I didn't. I was just whiny yesterday. And feeling profoundly alone.

It truly does help when people write in, I feel less like I'm in a fishbowl then, and more like I'm sharing with friends. Claudia wrote on her site (link above: Robert Williams) about the power of a witness. The need we have for someone to verify, to affirm, to testify to an event. When we're facing about a life-altering event, like cancer or death or autism, the need for a witness, someone to affirm and verify our reality is so profound. It's easy to feel alone, even when surrounded by people. It's easy to feel that tenuous grip on sanity slipping away. So thank you, for being willing to be my witnesses, there is real power and healing in your very presence.

Still, I apologize for guilting you all and feeling sorry for myself.

Speaking of feeling sorry for oneself, I ordered some buttons that say, "Cancer Sucks." Let me know if you want one!

Joan Didion writes about self-pity in her book, The Year of Magical Thinking.

People in grief think a great deal about self-pity. We worry it, dread it, scourge our thinking for signs of it. We fear that our actions will reveal the condition tellingly described as "dwelling on it." We understand the aversion most of us have to "dwelling on it." Visible mourning reminds us of death, which is construed as unnatural, a failure to manage the situation. "A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty," Philippe Aries wrote to the point of this aversion in Western Attitudes toward Death. "But one no longer has the right to say so aloud." We remind ourselves repeatedly that our own loss is nothing compared to the loss experienced (or, the even worse thought, not experienced) by he or she who died; this attempt at corrective thinking serves only to plunge us deeper into the self-regarding deep. (Why didn't I see that, why am I so selfish.) The very language we use when we think about self-pity betrays the deep abhorrence in which we hold it: self-pity is feeling sorry for yourself, self-pity is thumb-sucking, self-pity is boo hoo poor me, self-pity is the condition in which those feeling sorry for themselves indulge, or even wallow. Self-pity remains both the most common and the most universally reviled of our character defects, its pestilential destructiveness accepted as given. ...In fact the grieving have urgent reasons, even an urgent need, to feel sorry for themselves. Husbands walk out, wives walk out, divorces happen, but these husbands and wives leave behind them webs of intact associations, however acrimonious. Only the survivors of a death are truly left alone. The connections that made up their life - both the deep connections and the apparently (until they are broken) insignificant connections - have all vanished. ... I could not count the times during the average day when something would come up that I needed to tell him. This impulse did not end with his death. What ended was the possibility of response....We are repeatedly left, in other words, with no further focus than ourselves, a source from which self-pity naturally flows. ...I remember despising the book Dylan Thomas's widow Caitlin wrote after her husband's death, Leftover Life to Kill. I remember being dismissive of, even censorious about, her "self-pity," her "whining," her "dwelling on it." Leftover Life to Kill was published in 1957. I was twenty-two years old.

I'm still thinking about that. Interesting to me, that my self-pity is okay, but pity from others stings. I'm not sure why that is. It's definitely something I think about. When am I wallowing or dwelling? When am I simply honest? When am I putting on a brave face and denying the reality of what I feel? I'm in an odd space tonight, thinking about feelings rather than actually feeling them.

Thanks, Mike and Lisa for being there to help with the auto wheeling and dealing yet again.

Thanks to our Secret Santa...

Yesterday, a beautiful basket of pears with elegant pear napkins came with this note:

On the first day of Christmas
We bring these pears to you.
We would have brought the partridge
but from the tree it flew.

Today, we got a cute Christmas bag with CHOCOLATE!!! You'll see what kind...

On the second day of Christmas
We bring this gift with love.
Please eat the turtles,
and definitely eat the Dove!

We have no clue who this Secret Santa is. We feel so loved. Thank you, whoever you are!

Love, Chelle


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