One Week Later, Trying to Find My Words

Friday, December 21, 2012

The words. They’ve always been my thing to look for, to lean on, to use when I’m trying to work my way through something. I usually write them down, these words, so I can see them better and make sense of things. Through all the clouds and the fogginess, writing is my beacon. But then Friday, December 14, happened and I lost them. I lost the words.

I haven’t written anything — not a blog post, not a page of manuscript, not even a paragraph of journal notes. The horror that happened here in Connecticut, my new homestate, knocked me to my knees, and getting back up has been a struggle. I’ve been sad and hurt and heartsick, and like many you, utterly devastated by the sweet lives lost, so tragically. My spirit feels like it shifted and I’m thrown off-balance.

Even doing the other things I enjoy — taking pictures, going running — I simply haven’t done. Twitter, Facebook and other social media felt … weird, like I was doing something trivial when these families (and the whole Newtown community) are going through unimaginable anguish. All the energy I had was trained on being present and bright for my young son. I’d save my tears and chest-clutching for the night after he’s fast asleep. And then I felt somewhat ridiculous for being so broken up for people I’ve never met.

Then this morning I read a post on Motherlode that seemed like it was written directly for me. It’s called “The Holidays After a Tragedy,” and asked the very questions that have been filling up my head:

“While those of us who celebrate Christmas wrap our gifts, how do we keep our minds from going to the children who will never unwrap theirs, or who will never again bounce around their homes for a long winter vacation? How do we stop ourselves from imagining the last moments of all who died, and letting our brains run circles around the endless loop of what if it happened here?”

And it introduced something key, an important aspect in human nature and how we relate to each other:

“… to think in the first person is to place yourself in the situation. To think in the third person is to express sympathy and feel compassion for the victims.”

That’s it. I’ve been thinking in first person only about this Newtown tragedy. (Not necessarily a bad thing.) And in order for me to get back to center, find my set point, I need to move to a third person approach. Or at least try.

Then Motherlode’s lead blogger KJ Dell’Antonia said the words that touch me like a necessary hug, mending me and my hurt heart a little at once. It was her answer to the heavy question, How do we go on joyfully ¬†celebrating this holiday season in the face of the unspeakable grief that the Newtown families are in right now?

By being “as present as possible at every moment,” she says, “and to try to keep [your] grief in the third person rather than letting it poison moments so many parents would give anything to have back.” And we should also¬†“accept the good fortune of being able to find strength in what is left behind.”

These words make sense to me. And they may just open the door for the other words to return.

  • 1
    Kristin says:

    I read this earlier this morning, just after I published my own “A Week Ago” response. Yours is more comforting and Good – and I thank you for it.

    • 1.1
      Ms. Mary Mack says:

      Thank you, Kristin. I’ll be sure to check out your post next.

  • 2

    yes to all of this. the same words comforted me. and i love connecting with you here about that. so glad you’re finding a way to find space for happiness. happy holidays, MMM. excited to see what you have up your sleeve in 2013. xo

    • 2.1
      Ms. Mary Mack says:

      I’m glad we can connect too, Stacie. Thank you. All the best to you and the fam over the holidays. See you in 2013, friend!

  • 3
    Nicole Z says:

    I needed this, Nic. Thank you.