(letter to JRT 3.4.19 – PRIVATE between us)
I am not sure how to start this, but am writing to you only, for a very good reason..what I write here may make that reason evident, as I know YOU will understand. You can’t imagine how much it meant to me, your comment one moment during my visit about how we shared a “kindred spirit”, when a great deal of noise was coming from the kitchen/dining room and I sat alone on the sofa doing a crossword puzzle. We absolutely do share a kind of spirit.
Perhaps partly because I have been away for over 50 years, I am unable to handle the loud noise and over-talk of so many at once. In my world, communication doesn’t happen during those moments…and as well, perhaps I think I have inherited Dad’s longing for quiet, something I think I am now very clearly able to understand. If that’s the case, I can only imagine the anxiety and frustration he felt with such nonstop ‘noise’. As much difficulty I have related to my (lack of) relationship to him, some things I cannot deny inheriting. Undoubtedly, on top of his obvious (what we now call) PTSD, I can only imagine his frame of mind dealing with the cacophony, or at least for me, that’s the perfect descriptive:
- a harsh discordant mixture of sounds.
“a cacophony of deafening alarm bells”
||din, racket, noise, discord, dissonance, discordance, caterwauling, raucousness, screeching, jarring, stridency, grating, rasping
There was a moment when the subject of the talk-over thing came up, and I was quite aware the comments indirectly pointed to me and my being uncomfortable with it. “It’s always been that way” was a comment that said much more than those 5 words. I have only lived in EVV for 18 years of my almost-72, summers only for 4…and sometimes I wonder if there was a subliminal reason for leaving – part of it escape from “the way it’s always been”? My reaction is not a choice; it is who I am, and has no bearing upon how much love I have for my family. Like Dad, I don’t have a need to have the last word, to be the expert on all things. As I have shared with many of my friends these last couple of years, I have become much more comfortable listening than speaking. Dad surfacing, perhaps.
Thus, during Fazoli dinner last week, I was totally in a shell at that point, clammed up (my Cancerian side?); post-funeral, I just wasn’t able to deal with more of the loud overtalk. Not to mention the invisibility that causes; one is rarely heard, and dismissed. I guarantee you, every time I opened my mouth, if I was actually *heard*, someone had something to say, to preach they knew more than I did about the subject, to add “their” take on it, make light of MY take on it…and not one living soul in the group has any knowledge how much I DO know about ANY subject, and quite frankly, could sometimes run circles around what THEY know. 50 years away is a mighty education – and I know not to mention that, ever. I let others bask in whatever it is that makes them feel on top (of every subject).
I have not been myself since the services; we all grieve in different ways. I need quiet to reflect. I cook to reflect. Since I got home, every interaction with others who mention condolence, brings me to tears…not sure why, just is. And of course, the requisite tears at any given moment for no reason thing, very normal, I know. My friends are also family to me, and I am not alone in that.
There is another angle to this phenom: I have had longstanding issues getting response from my Primary Care physician and his office. I have requested a refill for my Wellbutrin (depression), shingles vaccine, annual EpiPen scrip, and mammogram orders since last fall. I have called twice – no response. I finally wrote a letter directly to my doctor (that I sent with “signature of receipt required”) – documenting all of the above, and NO RESPONSE – nothing in writing or voice mail. I am now out of my Wellbutrin (have been for several weeks), and wonder if that isn’t a factor in exacerbating my feelings right now, given the timing. My scrip is quite mild, so I am monitoring my behavior at the moment to see if I can do without it (which I have tried before and it didn’t go well, but I was working and under far more stress at that time.) Maybe this is a sign I need to change physicians; I have thought about doing so for some time now – 2 years in a row, their office mis-coded my claim for an annual physical that should be paid for wholly by Medicare, causing me to have to pretty much fight for coverage.
I hope this makes some sense to you. Writing is very, very therapeutic for me, and this very moment, have emitted my third long, giant, deep sigh…a sure sign of stress relief in my world. I am still in my jammies, drinking a 3rd cup of coffee (something I never do), at peace with my thoughts, laundering the blankies of Mom’s for the shelter and the kitchen towels of hers plus the adorable cat-chef ones you gave me. It’s the simple things that I seem to be drawn to at the moment.
*Response from JRT 3.11.19*:
I share many of your feelings. I believe aging is the main culprit. Working with the old people over the years taught me this. They all experienced the discomfort of being ‘in a crowded room’. Everyone wants to be heard, at least once in a while, and I have lost the ability to jump in the mix. Screw it.
Even mom, who was the biggest people person of us all. I watched her retreat inward and it is a reason I did not attend the brunches often – I did not want to be part of what I feel was a difficult situation for her.
Yes, she used to love the crowds and just reveled in all the talking going on, and just listened to all of it for years, but age came upon her too.
I can’t say I even remember the specific things you shared, because in addition to my difficulty concentrating in a crowd, my short term memory has been a problem for years. I don’t talk about it because of the ‘assuring’ comments from dear family that would contradict what I believe to be true. I truly believe the comments to be an attempt to uplift, or make me feel better, but it’s not just my feeling or opinion. Since my accident I have had a problem and age I believe exacerbates it. When I try to share my concern, I always meet denial aka oh that’s just in your head type response. So I keep quiet and talk to my doctor about it. Sometimes family isn’t the best source of discussion group.
I believe you should change doctors if you are no longer satisfied. Dennis and I did some years ago when our family doctor, for whatever reason, didn’t seem to satisfy our needs. It was the best move we made – the new doctor took Dennis’ complaint of pain seriously and discovered the cancer. Don’t be loyal where it is not deserved – people and their needs change.
My response back 3.14.19
Your wisdom is evident. There is so much more I could say about this evolution of my ability (or lack thereof) to handle big groups – am not sure I even liked them in my earlier years. But yes, age has to be a factor.
I have to chuckle; my short-term memory totally sucks. Normal aging, they say. I guess that’s some comfort. As for your life post-accident, I know there have been changes in your being; some of us are more intuitive than others about things like that, and I am one of them. It makes me angry that someone (anyone, friend or family) would dismiss you, but people do that when they mean well but need to think through it before opening their mouths. I’ll stop there.
I rather enjoy my silence now. I feel listening is far greater at creating wisdom and insight.
Keep sharing. It was a tough visit for me, not just because of losing Mom.
p.s. I had one of those “moments” one is warned of, just after losing a loved one. I was at my Wednesday kaffeeklatsch having weekly brunch with my girlpals, when a threesome walked in the door. One was an obvious caretaker, accompanying a very elderly couple. Within a few seconds, I was consumed in tears; the little woman looked a lot like Mom, and a rush of memories at how much she loved eating out, being helped into the restaurant, etc…took me with a hammer-like emotion, and I could not control my silent tears. My friends knew what was happening, and one of them jumped up from the table and engulfed me with a hug and I held on for dear life. Friends are the family you choose; I have chosen well. And I choose you, too, family or not. You are such a gem to me, Janet. Please know that.