I Don’t Own All The Sadness

Friends and family members ask me a very simple question all the time.  I’m adept at skirting the question though.  I have a thousand other pieces of news to report in response to “How are you?” without actually answering the hardest question in the world.

When your world is turned upside down by a catastrophic accident, it’s easy to become single-sighted. In my defense, with a little (a lot!) of help from my friends and family, I have managed to get my children to all the places they’ve been expected or required since my husband’s hospitalization and rehab. My “single-” sightedness is maybe more accurately single-family sightedness. Everything I’ve done since May 7 has been done with the goal of meeting Tom’s and the kids’ needs first.

I’m physically spent, knocking out my step goal every single one of the forty-one days since the accident. For the first time in a decade, I’m actually sleeping well. Annihilating exhaustion will do that to a girl, I guess. My brain, the hub of our family’s organization scheme, is numb from overuse.

Though my brain and body are in constant motion, I’m forced to admit my brain is not necessarily firing on all cylinders. I realized two weeks ago how very egocentric, or only MY family-centric, I’ve become. But life doesn’t stop for the rest of the world just because mine has been dealt complete upheaval.  As the saying goes, life goes on.  It does, and ours is not the only story in which bad things happen.

To my friends who have lost dear, dear aunts, grandmothers, and mothers-in-law since May 7, I’m so sorry. I’ve sent cards and expressed my sympathy to my friends, but not in the timely way I’d have liked.

To my friend whose mother’s health scare led her to the emergency department, and was subsequently hospitalized only to emerge with a cancer diagnosis, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for your mom, for your family, and for you. I should never have unloaded my own tale of woe on you. Even though you asked, it wasn’t MY time;it should have been yours. I’m sorry.

To my friend who moved, I’m sorry not to have offered a helping hand or SUV. Moving is extremely stressful, even if it’s good stress, and I could have, at minimum, offered to help with your son, but that didn’t even occur to me until it was too late.

And to the boy who says he is fine, but is clearly struggling in one highly visible, very public aspect of his life, I’m sorry.  As soon as I can, I will do my level best to help you get back to your “A” game.

I don’t own all the sadness in the world right now. Some days digging out from under is unimaginable though. My husband’s recovery is underway–he’s been home a month now and in a major victory, I’ve caused no further harm or injury to him.   He has such a long road to travel though.  I worry just how long I’ll continue to wear my “accident blinders.”  Then a second later, I worry about my return to work.  I’ve been off of work nearly seven weeks and haven’t not worried about my husband for one single second–how on earth will I be able to continue to manage my husband’s needs and work my full time job?

We have the tremendous good fortune to have received love and support from around the globe since the news of his accident broke.  I sincerely hope that each of my friends forced to face their own overwhelming or sad days of late feels the love and support that we have.  I’m sorry I’ve not been 100% up to the task, and though I feel rotten about that, my fingers and toes are crossed in hopes you understand.


7 thoughts on “I Don’t Own All The Sadness

  1. Quite recently, Wendy, I was having a conversation with a colleague — a climate activist — who told me about a friend of hers who’s a sociologist, therapist, and group-dynamics expert. He understands people in a way few of us do. And what he once told her was this: Where emotions and empathy are concerned, most people in the world are “seventy-five percenters.” Meaning, they feel things only within a certain range; they empathize… to a point. Very few of us, he asserted, qualify as “hundred percenters” — those who feel things all the way up and all the way down, all the time.

    This post — this entire blog, for that matter — is unambiguously written from the perspective of a hundred percenter. You wouldn’t feel so guilty about tending to your family’s needs first were you a seventy-fiver. As someone who works almost exclusively with artists (or at very least creatively inclined people), social activists, and animal-rescue advocates, I am fortunate to know many hundred percenters. So I know when I see one, Wendy Weir.

    My wife and I foster kittens for the local animal shelter here in L.A., which is always overcrowded with strays and in need of fosters to help alleviate the pressure on this vastly under-resourced city service. Despite their constant need for help, though, the life-saving liaison at the shelter encourages fosters to take occasional breaks from fostering, else risk succumbing to what’s known as compassion fatigue. People that give freely of their time, energy, and compassion for the betterment of others — or the betterment of all of us — by their very nature have a hard time saying “no” to good causes, but every so often that’s what’s required for their own best interest. There is absolutely nothing selfish about stepping back when necessary to put you and yours first. It doesn’t mean you don’t care, or that you value your needs or your feelings above anyone else’s, it is simply an acknowledgement that your needs need to be met, too, and people like you — who are such tireless advocates for others — occasionally need to be advocates for oneself.

    No one thinks you’re claiming a monopoly on sadness, Wendy; no one thinks that if you’re putting your family’s needs first right now it therefore means you don’t care about their family’s needs. No one thinks that. A heart as big as yours is capable of feeling love for multiple people, multiple families, at once; its capacity for compassion is boundless. But the time and energy you have to express that love and compassion is limited — for all of us — and right now those resources are needed close to home. You needn’t seek anyone’s understanding for that, and certainly not their forgiveness. Your problems aren’t “bigger” or “more important” than anyone else’s, but they are your problems, and you have every right to prioritize them as you have. And anyone who begrudges you that ain’t no hundred-percenter.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I understand your pain. We have also been through a life altering event, where you lose sight of the bigger picture. It has been 100 days and I am just now trying to thank everyone for their help, trying to help other loved ones who are struggling. You will find your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry you have to know what it’s like. I would not wish any type of life-altering event on anyone, but I do hope that you have the good fortune we have to be surrounded by wonderful generosity and kindness. My best to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sean is so perceptive—I agree with him completely. Much love to you, my friend. Maybe you THINK you not putting in 100%, but your heart is so big, it’s already functioning at peak efficiency 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: July 5th 2019 – Weekly Roundup of Members Posts | Blogging Meetup

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