You may recall this post, about how the loss of a significant relationship (or our mobility or a job or a home or….any big loss) forces us to deconstruct who we were–fall apart–and figure out who we are now.
That’s what I was talking about to someone who has known me more than 30 years.
“You know,” she observed, “maybe you don’t know HOW to fall apart. Your whole life you have had to be the strongest person in the room. You couldn’t afford to just fall apart because you really couldn’t depend on anyone but yourself. So maybe the discomfort you have been having with grief is that you just don’t know how to let yourself break into a million pieces.”
Who really sees you?
It’s always interesting (to say the least) to hear the insights and perspective of people you’ve been closer to than your blood family. She was the second person from the group I call famiglia to read back to me my life in terms of how strong I have always had to be, how I had to take care of myself because there was no one else to do that, etc.
That’s not how I would’ve described it–but now that I’ve heard it twice, it’s true. And no one would know me better than these two women.
When you build your life by yourself, when you’re the strongest person in your life, there’s no one to lean on. You lean on yourself.
Learning how to disintegrate
So when loss requires you to lean on someone or to just completely go to pieces, well, that’s not who you’ve been. So it’s true: I don’t know how to fall apart. I couldn’t afford to. That’s probably why I freaked out when I felt the disintegration that grief brought with it. It threw me, big-time.
There is no greater gift that a friend could give you than to show that they see you. That they KNOW you. In some ways even better than you know yourself.
No greater gift.
And as is my habit, I’ll take that insight, that gift, and use it to grow. And that was the next thing she said to me, with a smile:
“You’re growing, Carol. You’re growing!”