Wednesday, April 20, 2016

To Toe the Line (but not really)

As part of one of my modernist theory courses in undergrad, my professor asked us to spell out the phrase "to toe the line."  Half of the class spelled it as "tow" and the other half spelled it correctly.  I would say that we were having fun with homophones except that I seem to recall Fanon somehow being involved, so it probably wasn't fun so much as horrifyingly depressing.

I know, I know. Great story.  You laughed, you cried; it was Homeward Bound: the Emotional Journey.  What does this have to do with anything?  Nothing really, except that I thought about opening this post by ruminating on how I tend to toe the line on this blog between candor and reticence and I had to remind myself to spell it "toe" NOT "tow" (thus the recollected lesson) but then I thought I should probably look up the phrase to determine if I was using it correctly and...I sure was not.

So.  

My sincerest apologies to all those I have deeply offended over these past nine years by using the phrase "to toe the line" to mean to straddle/to test the boundaries of/to draw the line.

Shan't happen again.

Elaborately incorrect definitions aside, I think what I was trying to say is that I often struggle with my own boundaries with this blog.

Sure, no one really reads it, but some people do and if they don't, when I click publish and this disperses into the nebula of the internet, there is always a possibility that someone could read it.  And as someone who regularly plays my hands close to my vest (and apparently uses idioms with reckless abandon), I am always slightly uncomfortable with that fact.

I suppose I could get a journal and blog privately as they say, although "they" probably wouldn't actually say that, but there's a part of me that wants to use this to connect with others; to share these sparse and fleeting glimpses of my life with family and friends whom I don't get to see very often.

I am not a terribly social creature by nature but I do cherish the friendships I have deeply.  It is because of how deeply I cherish them that I only have volume enough in my heart for so many.  Before I was even familiar with her work, I had always seemingly subscribed to the Emily Dickinson philosophy on relationships: "the Soul selects her own Society--and then shuts the Door."  She really had a fascination with doorways.  And windows.  I could write an entire blog post about it but #priorities!

Anyways, I had even once told a good friend of mine, who wanted to introduce me to a good friend of hers that I simply was not in the market for any more friends at the moment.  Of course she introduced me anyways and I totally fell for her and had no choice but to rearrange the parlor in my left ventricle to make room for one more.  And I did so with gusto.

One of the more unexpected aspects of grief is how it has impacted my ability to be social.  Initially, it had extinguished the desire entirely. In the first six months or so, the thought of casually hanging out or, worse yet, having to make small talk with a new acquaintance was insufferable to me.  I would turn down invitations, saying that I wasn't feeling well and it was totally true.  I literally couldn't stomach the idea of sustaining polite chit-chat with a virtual stranger; it made my physically disgusted.

As time has progressed, it's gotten a little better but I still find it challenging to build new friendships and to maintain the friendships I have already built, which, of course, is frustrating, because I love my friends.  I want to be present in my relationships, but when so much of your emotional energy is devoted to the levies that keep grief at bay enough to be productive, there is just not much left over at the end of the day.

Time is the balm in all of this.  Even when I thought it initially impossible, it has been proven to me over and over again this past year and a half.

So what else is there to do really but to abide and to try in small increments--whenever and however I can manage it--slowly nudging myself back into my society.

I feel like I have a tendency to end posts like this somewhat defensively because I assume that you are judging me and I will be damned if you think I am writing this to engender sympathy or pity.  But I've decided that I am generally too defensive and ultimately, it doesn't matter if this gets misconstrued.  I always find it so refreshing and comforting when people speak frankly about their experiences with grief, so that's precisely what I am going to do.

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