I can’t write a letter this morning.
I meant to, and i know who I want to write it to. My ex and I were friends with a couple seven years older, just when we were dating and for several years afterward. I still think of them as friends, even though years ago they moved from California to Connecticut. They moved because their second son was diagnosed with autism, and they wanted to be nearer their families for support. I want to explain what happened to my marriage to both of them. I have no explanation.
Ironically, Alice and I met as workers in an after school recreation program for children with disabilities. Looking back, the epidemic of autism was a rising tide, even in the eighties. Within five years, Alice had an autistic child of her own, although that wasn’t clear for five years more. It’s hard not think now that Alice caught some virus, but the level of exposure to chemicals and God knows what else has made autism a modern plague, a limiting factor on the absurd explosive growth of humanity. No one really knows why Alice’s son, or the children of three or more people I know, never developed as expected. The experts pretend they know, but they don’t.
My ex and I left for the Pacific Northwest before their second son was born, nonetheless, I was really upset when they left the West Coast, knowing it would be harder to visit..
They called M and I “our M” and “our Pauline”. They cooked dinners for us and we hung out, before their sons appeared on the scene. I babysat for the older child. I still remember the dinners we shared-stuffed pasta shells, pumpkin bread, vegetarian chili. Alice was a vegetarian, but her husband would grill some meat for the rest of us. I still sometimes make the veggie chlli recipe. It’s very cheap…I should make it more often.
My heart is just aching after the last two letters I wrote. Just aching, and aching. Honestly, the grief never seems to end. I want to run away from telling my old friends. I feel I simply can’t stand it. My therapist says there’s no need to explain anything to anyone, that people will find out if they want to know. Didn’t my friend with the Christmas card send a personal note? Haven’t I been asked to dinner by friends who have known us both for years?
Yes, they sought me out. But I’m so tired of grief upon grief. I can plug along at work, and make good decisions, and everyone seems happy with me Then I come home, and I fight nonstop to keep the loneliness at bay. I don’t want to be alone. I really don’t . I am terrified of my daughter leaving for good, and she is gone half the time already. At the same time, I don’t have the energy to “go out and have fun” as my friend at work suggested. Besides, even with his new relationship, he still seems pretty depressed.
Yesterday I met with a young woman, 26, who has had a profound life of trauma. She has decided on a posture of moderate chronic depression, using the lingo of my trade. Nothing much interests her, she can’t afford to get too enthusiastic. She learned at an early age that it can all be swept away, that I child can be rushed out the door with nothing but a stuffed cloth suitcase and be forced to hide behind bushes to escape from a predator..a predator she lived with. She hates being comforted, she says that she’s not used to it and it makes her uncomfortable.
I think she doesn’t want to experience tears without end.
I don’t want to want a relationship, but I do. I don’t want my ex back, because there’s no potential to get what I want. I miss my “inappropriate” friend. I have so many obligations to people with their hands out asking for money. I want to scream at them to get away from me-don’t they see I’m trying? But it’s not personal. They need to eat, too, or amass their millions. Whatever.
Does this ever end? Or will I enter my last chapter like my 26 year old client, except old, old, iiving with a lonely old version of her depression and isolation? Problem is, I once knew something different. She hasn’t. Maybe it would be better if I had never known.