Saturday, August 24, 2013

The song is wrong

Any musical theater fans here?  Anybody remember "Carousel", and the song, "You'll never walk alone"?  (Yup, I'm dating myself... well, actually that's kinda where I'm going with this one, but more on that later.)

The coach this morning started us with some "ankeling", he called it, a kind of almost-running walk, with a lot of heel-to-toe movement, and then some backwards walking, some sideways skipping, some weird looking high-stepping movements straight out of "Springtime for Hitler", and then he and the half-dozen regulars with The Run Team took off running.  And I do mean "took off", as in a flight of well-synchronized eagles.

But I'm not an eagle, or even a seagull, ... I'm more of a penguin, actually. (If you're not familiar with the concept of a running "penguin", click here to read John Bingham's blogpost about runners who are penguins.) The flock of folks for whom an "easy jog" is a 6-minute mile were out ahead of me and gone in what felt like seconds.  So much for running with a group, which was my plan when I clicked "join this group" on Meet-Up.  I had been assured that there were going to be "runners of all abilities" on this run.  I guess the otherly-abled people decided to sleep in this morning.

 I ran alone,


...except for when the 70-something-year-old coach of The Run Team turned around from the 3-mile-point and ran BACK to me, asked if I had any injuries, and then, after giving me a few pointers about working on my speed by doing short intervals, turned around and ran ahead to catch-up with his group.

I ran the rest of my 4 miles alone.  The full run was an 8-mile out-and-back, and I'd been told there would be some other folks who would turn around early.  Again, I guess they slept in this morning.

Except for when the six-milers on their way back to the start point passed me in a cloud of dust, I ran alone.

And lately, I'm finally facing that that's my state; alone.  Yes, I have 4 kids, and some great, caring, selfless friends, friends who would drop everything and be with me in a crisis, friends who mentor my teens, friends who let me hide-out at their house; making jam and drinking wine, friends who move themselves and their entire family into my house to look after my kids so I can go away for a week...  And then there's another undeservedly large cloud of friends on Facebook who post encouraging words, who like my photos, who read these blogposts almost before I have them posted, so I'm not truly alone.

But, in some new way, I'm coming to grips with the fact that I'm a widow.  I'm alone.  (The Chorus of DUH has not been heard from in a couple of months, so it's time to let them warm up... go ahead, give us a melodious , "DUHHHHHH!!!")

After I congratulated myself this morning on 4 miles at a faster pace than I've done in many months, I got into my car, drove to a parking lot a few miles between the run venue and home, and had a full-throated, self-pitying, damn-it's-good-no-one-here-knows-me, no-holds-barred, cry-it-out session like I haven't had in quite a while. And it felt different this time.

As odd as it might seem, I have not truly allowed myself to come to terms with this layer of "alone" yet, ever since the police told me to "call someone" as they shoved past me, into my house and up the stairs on the night Andre died.  From that point on, I've leaned on friends, leaned on my therapist, my pastor, my neighbors... and eventually I found a... gosh, "boyfriend" sounds so silly... a man-companion to lean on, to hide from my growing horror at the thought of a life alone.

And he was a terrific distraction. There is nothing like a smart, funny, handsome guy to completely un-hinge me from reality. So while most widows would still have been wearing somber clothing and staying at home every night, I was distracted by balancing the rest of my life to include dating.  And then that relationship went bad, and it ended after a couple of months.  And a day later, (really, no kidding)  another incredibly attractive man walked into my life, and we had a terrific 3-month relationship.  And then it ended.  And the day after it was "over" with Man-Companion #2,  Man-Companion #1 briefly re-appeared on my Distraction Board and I was able to keep running from my sadness at the loss of MC#2,  my residual grief over Andre, and my completely unprocessed sadness at the ending of the first relationship with MC#1.  But now MC#1 is gone again and I'm left facing the fact that I really am alone, and it hurts like hell.

 (Are you feeling like you need a scorecard to keep this straight?)

But I'm studying to be a therapist.  I'm supposed to KNOW better.  "Physician, heal thyself", I guess... It's only dawning on me now that I'm not done with the park-the-car-somewhere-and-bawl-your-eyes-out stuff yet.  And it looks like I'm not the only one who is just turning the corner into a fresh field of grief.  My youngest child, who has been pretty much coasting along, doing well, is suddenly, daily, having tearful episodes of "I miss Daddy.  I want a Daddy."

Oh, crap.  (Don't worry.  That's a technical term.  I'm a trained professional... well, a professional in training..)

I can't do anything about either of those conditions, especially not now.

So, when he's sad, we talk about it, and I tell him that it's really Ok to feel sad, that he won't always feel this sad, and that he can tell me any time he's sad.  Sometimes we cry together, and then we brainstorm ways to feel better.  Sometimes a hug will do it.  Other times, it's tickle-session, or a ride-along on some errands that I need to do. Tonight, his solution seemed to be a bubble bath with ALL the floating toys: ducks, cars, fish, airplanes, trucks.  It can get a little crowded in that tub sometimes, but I guess that's better than being alone.

Not long ago, on a night when the plan to go out with one of the MC's was suddenly cancelled for "unfinished business", (yeah, that is as bad as it sounds),  I did something I haven't done in a while. I took myself out.  Yup, I dated myself, as it were.  I grabbed my notebook and a pen, found a table in a place that played good music, ordered a beer and some chili fries, and spent some time with myself, working on some writing for myself alone.  By the end of the evening, I'd heard some terrific music,  gotten some clarity, felt a little stronger, banished most of my self-pity, wrote a note that needed to be written, and went to bed and slept well that night.

So, maybe the song is right, in a way, "...walk on, walk on with hope in your heart, and you'll never walk alone."  (Here's the cheesiest, most clearly-learned-phonetically-by-people-unfamiliar-with-the-idiom performance of the song that I can find: The Three Tenors (I loved them) sing "You'll Never Walk Alone )

Ok, nope.  It's drivel.  I'm walking, and running, alone.  At least for a while.  And I'm pretty darned sad.

Now, let's see...where did I put those floating toys...?

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