I think I may be losing my touch, literally and figuratively. First off, back in the day (when I was a practicing psychotherapist) I paid some attention as I chose my words. I also stayed pretty focused on the other person. Twice now, in recent months, while my editor is what- sleeping? checking into senior housing? I’ve let words come out that, upon reflection, left me wishing I’d bit my tongue off instead.
The first time, I got into sort of a hurt feeling pissing match with a friend but the point is, she was and is again, one of my very dearest friends. Many years, book club, travel together, all of that. Someone I really love. But life got in the way and with no other excuse than that, I hurt her feelings deeply. The worst part was that for a number of weeks, I didn’t even get it and felt like I was the one entitled to be all hurt. Nursing that along, you know, while I was busy pushing away reflections on my culpability. About the time you start scoring points in your head for what was said, what wasn’t said, who has bigger worries, who is more entitled to their hurt- well, that’s just so much crap and excuse and doesn’t fly with real friendship. I love this woman and we pushed our way through it. The pain we each felt before that happened and the relief we have felt since reminds me daily of how lucky I am to have such a friend. It also reminds me that, in fact, I have a number of them, and I should be very careful about protecting such valuable gifts.
Then yesterday, in a much more benign but still insensitive and thoughtless way, I left a sort of cynical-trying-to-be-funny remark on a friend’s facebook post. It had nothing to do with what was going on with her and was totally glib and stupid. I felt crummy about that, big time. I really really don’t want to become an inconsiderate klutz with me at the center of my world. That would be lonely, dreary and a major bore.
Later in the afternoon, Rich and I went out to celebrate our anniversary; we saw a fun action film and then went to a quiet romantic dinner in Gulfport. Over dinner we talked about the evolution of our relationship and our love, the kids-always the kids, how they are growing and what we hope and wish for them. We reflected on all their strengths and the things that cause them to stumble and then we got back to remembering our life as children and the things that shaped our personalities. Rich asked me if I had always been a person who enjoyed such good friendships and communicated so comfortably with others. I hadn’t discussed any of the first part of this post with him at anytime; he was making an observation based on our company dinner the night before and then a visit from a new friend in the morning. I felt sort of smacked by his question and recalled a childhood where, absolutely, children were to be seen (if it was not possible to hide them) and never heard. And later, a childhood that had relatively little to do with the children and everything to do with how the grownups were feeling or behaving. And an adolescence of total geekiness-awkward and clumsy and shy. That persisted through my first few years of college away from home and then, I sort of changed. Although I’m still more shy than people think.
I’m not sure what changes people, even after so many years of trying to help people change- their approach, their perspectives, their responses. I think that probably becoming a mother changed me the most and secondly, becoming a therapist. Becoming Rich’s wife fairly late in life has changed me in the way that feeling solidly and securely loved and in love increases your patience, your tolerance, calms you down.
And finally, last night I was trying to knit on a lace shawl I started with baby fine mohair as fine as a hair on your head. This is utter madness. I probably won’t live long enough even if my right hand wasn’t screaming at me with tendonitis and yet it’s so beautiful, knit up. I went to make a scrabble move against friend, Kenju, and my right finger yowled. So I typed in a google search for tendonitis and found the usual hysterical bulletin board type responses where people had achieved effective relief after 8 years of agonizing pain with cervical spine fusion and lots of oxycodone. I suspect the cure for me is a closer check on my words, written on Facebook and spoken aloud and this may be Somebody’s way of poking me about becoming lazy, thoughtless and self- indulgent. Or, it’s just the goddamn lace.