Monday, September 09, 2013

It's Going to Get Worse Before It Gets Better

In my defense, I was tired. I had been up since four on Labor Day, although I napped, and to prepare for an upcoming Jewish holiday threw together a few chalahs (those breads Jews make for the Sabbath and holy days, shiny and twisted), one carrot cake, two blueberry, and four sheets of chocolate chip cookies.  For a change, it all turned out well, not a burnt morsel, nobody fell.
West Wing on Mourning

FD and I colluded to tackle a closet and made considerable progress. You know what that means. You label what should go back in, and most importantly, throw a great deal away.

At 8 pm, paralyzed, the TV beckoned, I succumbed, chose vegging and watching to reading the new DSM 5. Nothing appealed on the tube so I turned to The West Wing on Netflix.

To me, it is new, although a well-respected patient had recommended it years ago when there was no time, no inclination, for television.  My luck, I pick a Christmas episode (In Excelsis Deo) in which Leo McGarry, White House Chief of Staff, is about to be outed for having had a Valium addiction when he was Secretary of Labor.

"It is going to get worse before it gets better," Josh Lyman, his young deputy tells him.

And maybe it will. I'm still in the first season reruns.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Landingham, the President's secretary, tells Toby Ziegler, Communications Director, that she's sad because on Christmas she thinks of her two sons, killed in combat in Viet Nam in 1970. A minute later Toby takes a call from the police. A homeless man found dead in the park has Toby's business card in a jacket pocket.

"Is he a friend of yours?" the detective asks Toby.

"No, but he's wearing a jacket I donated to the Vets.  My card must have been in a pocket. Sorry I can't help you."

Cleaning out that closet, one of the things I found was a bag of clothes put aside to give to the Vets. Irene from Purple Heart calls me at least six times a year to see if there's anything to give away. There is always something to give away.

Toby doesn't recognize the body but feels he must do something for the dead man wearing his jacket. There is a bond. He searches out the man's relatives, finds a brother-- "a little slow" -- and determines to see that the deceased has a military funeral. He oversteps his authority and uses President Bartlet's name to make it happen, but when the president hears about it, he is unhappy.

"Do you realize," President Bartlet chides Toby, "that when this gets out, every homeless Vet is going to want a military funeral?"

"I hope so," Toby replies.

The President thinks about it, nods, and lays a grateful hand on the aide's shoulder. He gets it.

The music on the West Wing is sinfully good, and between the children's choir and the Xmas pa-rum-pa-pum-pum continuing throughout the snowy funeral, and Mrs. Landingham (Kathryn Joosten, Mrs. McCluskey of Desperate Housewives) telling Toby to wait up, she wants to go to the funeral, too, I'm in a million tears and hunt down FD to tell him that I have stupidly booked my whole day tomorrow, between babysitting and really working, and Wednesday, too, because distraction helps, but now I want to go to the cemetery to see how my mom in doing instead. She's been there a little over a week, after all. She is surely upset with me.

Although she knows the trip out there is going to kill my back.

I'm worried, that this could get worse before it gets better.  Best to watch less TV, maybe. No, watch more! When television is best, it inspires us to be better people. That episode of West Wing, several that I've seen so far, moralized without ever using the word. A bit like my mother.

So the next night I watched a Sopranos episode from the third season, wouldn't you know, the one where Tony's mother dies. "Why is this happening???" I shout to FD, but make it through the show anyway. No idea what happened there except Tony's sister insists people say things about their mother at their family/friend get-together after the funeral and no one can think of anything nice to say.

In the comments to the last post, one of you mentioned that as I work my own program, that grief therapy I've been shoving down your throats for years,that I should talk about it here (or did I dream this).  At first I balked, thinking, the new DSM will prove far more interesting, and I just read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (amazing), and The Good Wife is starting on television at the end of the month.

They're saying, you know, that blogging is dead. But someone told me the other day, "It will make a comeback, for sure.  You'll see."

We're in the seventh year of Everyone Needs Therapy. Seven years!  Maybe it is time that I write more about myself, my life, my mom and dad, my brothers, handsome and strong, one here, one there. Something tells me that you won't mind.



Critically Observant Jew said...

Won't mind at all. Write on.

lynette said...

Therapydoc, you've helped so many with your thoughts and ideas and opinions. I am sure we would all be so very glad to be here for you to return the favor.

As I approach my mother's yahrzeit, my heart goes out to you, who are just beginning the journey of the grief of losing your mom.

clairesmum said...

it's your blog, you get to write about what you want, and not write about what you don't want to write about..and to take time off, too...take good care of yourself right now....don't fret too much about anything, try to have a little sunshine and play in every day, and let the days unfold....

Mound Builder said...

I would be interested in reading whatever you feel like sharing about your own grief process.

In December, it will have been 2 years since my father died. It's been a little more than 6 years since my mother died.

After my father's death, some people said I was an orphan now or "welcome to the orphan club". I don't experience life without my parents that way, though. I can't say that I feel orphaned. I have so much, inside me, from both of my parents, that it doesn't feel as if I've been orphaned/abandoned by them.

I miss them both. The pain of missing them isn't as sharp as it was at the time. I am grateful that the pain isn't as great. But I continue to think of them, miss them.

Recently, because I was going through some of my mother's extensive professional writings, I realized that now, six years after her death, I feel as if our relationship has been restored, made whole, as if I can relate to her in much the way it was when she was alive. I don't mean that I am having hallucinations of my mother. I don't have a better way of saying it than that the relationship feels restored, though she is no longer here in a body for me to see.

I feel my father with me on an emotional level daily. I realize how much my father taught me about all kinds of things...the natural world and how to be centered, grounded, how to observe all that is around me.

As for how ordinary life seems to keep presenting you with stories about deaths, a way to experience and observe via TV, that makes me think of the way that has been a part of my own life. Much of my professional life has revolved around studies related to the funerary practices of ancient cultures, particularly the ancient Egyptians, though most others as well. I remember as a child being so afraid of death. I remember when I was about 12 I had a dream in which a monk came to me, back from the dead, from the graveyard, and walked and talked with me, and that comforted me for a long time and left me feeling less fearful. So much of my life seems to have led me over and over again to confronting and being around that great mystery.

When I realize that many people begin to experience the death of both of their parents when we are in our 50s, it does make me feel a different kind of tenderness, at times, toward all of us. We all bear that. You never know what people may be feeling and bearing and experiencing. But the older we get, the more we'll all be living out our lives without our parents here but with those dialogues continuing within us, still coming to deeper, and different, understanding about those relationships.

I miss my parents, as I said, but they left me such a rich legacy, as if they've given me all the food I need to live out whatever remains of my own life, and that they are here, with me, for that journey.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so very very much for sharing how much you love and miss your mother.

I learned - in the program/fellowship - that loved ones who leave others behind - take much with them, thereby, you know the love that was exchanged between you both.

There's not much I can add by way of tenderness in acknowledging your honest grief; but, I also learned from program folks to allow myself a period of emotional grief, like tears - - - just set a time to tuck the feelings away in your heart. It was suggested that I cry and talk to (my husband's) spirit for no more than 10 minutes at a time. In this way I maintained my personal relationship with my Higher Power, who offered the total solace I needed, anyway.

Time, as you already know, will take care and soften the edges of your grief and homesickness for your precious Mom - allow it to do so.

Anonymous #1

Donna Hill said...

Wouldn't mind at reading whatever you write. And this us be here to listen while you work through your grief as many of us have loss our mothers also. It takes time so hang in there!

Anonymous said...

It's always an honour and privilege to have a glimpse into anyone's life.. yours isn't any different.

So sorry to hear about the loss of your mother.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a professional. I live in a city with my simple job,my simple family.I love your blog.I'd love to read more about your life.It's nice to hear how other people see things,gives perspective.I'm truly sorry for the loss of your mother.She meant a lot to you.My father's death meant nothing to me.That's sad for both of us.I read blogs because I have such little time to read whole books.I love to read.I love to hear how others survive.Thanks for your blog.Sorry this is so wordy.

Lorri M. said...

I think all of us would love to be here to listen to you. Not necessarily give advice, but just listen to you, and allow you to get all you thoughts and emotions out.

therapydoc said...

You people are amazing. Thanks so much. I'll get back to blogging next week, please G-d.

Syd said...

I remember when I found you in the blogosphere. We have been at this blogging quite a while.

Miss Sugarpants said...

We don't mind. Please write.

Better Things-- Seeing Ghosts