Sadness and Solace

4 Feb

                                                Sadness and Solace

I don’t like writing about sadness. However, it is important to write about the things that we don’t want to write about. Maybe more important than anything else we write.

Cheerful roses on a snowy day.

Certainly, from a cathartic view, this is the case.

Why does my body resist when I think of what makes me sad? Why not face those things? Why not try to sort out by importance and impact those things that are lurking in the shadows of my mind. The very things I leave alone, to languish unbidden and unexamined, are the things I need to catalogue and perhaps, even repurpose into life lessons and growing experiences.

Sadness creeps in “on little cat feet” (to quote Carl Sandburg). It does not overwhelm like a wave, nor does it clatter toward us like a colt. It approaches silently and stealthily and seeps up around us like a mist, rising. Or perhaps it is more like sinking into a bog, thick and tenacious in its hold on us.

Like a bird on a cold day

Sadness can exist side by side with all the happy emotions. Like sundry sets of china in a cabinet sitting side by side, the most disparate emotions, the feelings that confuse as well as those that please reside in us together. That feeling of darkness that descends as certain thoughts and realizations engulf us can paralyze. Sometimes, it rests quietly in the background, hardly raising its head as the joys of a happy and fulfilling life run together.

My mother’s decline causes intense sadness to fill my mind, if I let it go free.  Generally, I do not. I Feel sad, then follow that with a hundred things for which to be grateful.

One must be careful, however, when following sadness with gratitude, not to ignore the sad part. I tend to do this a lot. There are so many wonderful things in my life that I often neglect the sad things. It is major. There is time for both. And ignored feelings do not simply disappear. They tend to collect somewhere in the body and manifest in some way you will not like.

Sadness can be pervasive and play on itself if there is no relief from some other source. That feeling hangs over us and it is indescribable to those who are not also sad. All-encompassing and impossible to escape, the feeling may accompany us wherever we go, insinuating itself into every action, every response. So “sticky” it won’t be ignored, won’t be run away from, won’t detach itself unless we find a key of some sort to open the floodgates of other emotions.

There are a few things that can work quickly. Music and puppies come to mind, first. Who can feel sad when listening to uplifting music? Unless that particular piece reminds us of the cause for sadness, it is almost certain to lift our spirits. Especially if we can sit still and breath into the music, sway inwardly to it. Perhaps, it is literally toe-tapping joyful listening meant to bring us up out of the depths. As suddenly as swimming to the surface of deep water and breaking through to fresh air, joyous music played by a symphony orchestra or a radio disc jockey twirling discs can banish sadness.

Some people relish their sadness and cling to it as a thing to hold close. It gives them feeling where perhaps none existed before. Perhaps it is because they must replace the feeling of love with something else. The sadness is near at hand and becomes a well-loved friend. During this type of internal struggle, it is very difficult to extract oneself. Meeting new people, trying new things, even buying a new dog or moving to a new house or a new country never really enters the reality of the grieving one. They are too numb and too oblivious of the world around them to respond as a normal person might. That point needs to be examined. They are not normal.

Treating a person as if they could just “snap out of it” when they are so deeply saddened by events or loss seems cruel punishment. They are helpless. Would you ask a drowning man to go out to dinner, or take a trip with you, or anything at all while they are busy drowning? No, and the SAD thing is you cannot save them as easily as you could do if all that was happening to them was that they were drowning. It is not that simple. No one WANTS to stay sad in their conscious mind. Even though there are plenty who cling to it, they say they want to be happy again. They even mean it, but it is not that easy.

Sadness is a downer. Figuring out how to get out of it can lead to all sorts of discoveries. If one is brave and curious, the search for a cure to sadness may encourage behavior that would have seemed too risky before. Mountain climbing, cycling cross country, riding in sporting events, motorcycling, white water rafting, ballooning or bungie jumping, all of these raise the adrenaline, which pushes out the sadness to make room for a little terror, and the exultant feeling of accomplishment when these activities are survived.

A tree in sunlight

We in our family used to foxhunt regularly. We had fabulous horses, and we hunted with the best pack of hounds in the USA at that time. Believe me, the rush of pleasure we felt daily in the hunt field, with the cry of the hounds, the cool air, and the scent of leather and horses and once in a while a whiff of fox elicited pure happiness. Sadness, if any was present, had to take a back seat (Or leave altogether).

Everyone can find something they love to do and do it.  I wish you a very short period of sadness and much joy.

Copyright©. 2019 Bonnie B. Matheson                                                                     

The Journey Continues

20 Jan

We are all on a journey. It is different for everyone. No one can prepare for this journey because what happens on it and where it takes us is completely random.
The journey of which I speak is the one we begin when our parents begin to fail. I don’t mean “fail” in the sense that they seem older, or look older, or act older. I mean when they actually have an event, which ages them quickly. Sometimes it is a fall, or a broken bone. Sometimes it is a heart attack or a stroke. Sometimes it is a disease like Cancer or Diabetes or Parkinson’s Disease. And worst of all it can happen that they become demented in some way, generally from Alzheimers Disease.

pear trees blossom in the snow

When one of these things happen, life suddenly changes dramatically. I remember the first time something like that occurred with my mother. It was Memorial Day 2007, and she had had a pool party. After the guests left she was gathering wet towels to take to the house to be washed and she tripped and fell. She broke her hip. Lucky for her she was not alone when she fell. Her secretary was nearby and called an ambulance.
I heard about this by phone, as I was driving a car with my sister in law, as a passenger, somewhere near Great Meadow in The Plains Virginia. I remember it very well, because it was such a shock. To be told one’s 89 year old Mother has broken her hip is intense. And for many people that is the end of the line. They never really recover. They sort of give up. It crossed my mind that Mother might not come back from this, but immediately after that thought, I rejected it. NO! My Mother will NOT give up. I will go to the hospital and make sure she knows this is just an inconvenience.

SO off I rushed. I actually arrived before they wheeled Mother into the operating room. But I did not try to interfere and no one asked me for my opinion. Later we discovered that Dr Harris had given Mother a “partial” hip replacement, rather a total one. When I asked him about it, he said “I did not know your mother. All I knew was that I had a patient who was 89 years old, with a broken hip. Most people who are that age do not want to be ready to go to dances at the country club. They are finished. But, now that I know your mother, I know better.”
When I saw mother after the operation she was doing OK, but she was worried. I stayed with her from then on, sleeping in her room on one of those horrid expandable chairs that supposedly become a bed. Ha!!! Horrible. But I stayed and coached mother day and night, about how she could beat the odds. I felt my job was to convince her that she would get better. That she would be dancing again, soon and that she was NOT DONE. I talked to her about it in an upbeat way, until I was blue in the face!

Everyone knows I can be a contrarian. In this case, every person I met was saying “such a shame about your mother”, as if she was dying. That just made me more determined to make sure she did not. She liked the idea that she would be better soon. She was willing to do the work. She did not let this setback defeat her.
Mother was by no means finished. She was in a hurry to get better. She got herself up to Newport, in a hospital plane. That was 12 years ago. She got better over the summer and was dancing by Labor Day. She resumed driving and she was just fine. She was back!!!


But, I was different. My trust in Mother always being healthy and alive, was shaken just a bit. She was such a great patient. She showed herself to be willing to do the rehab, and not be depressed. In many ways she was an inspiration. Today she is fast approaching 101 years old. Now my part of the journey is often sad. But Mother is still beautiful and healthy. She still wants to be where ever there is action.

Copyright©. 2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

Out with the Old, in with the New

9 Jan

Out with the Old, in with the New

It is over. Christmas passed by, and here we are already into the New Year of 2019. Now, Twelfth Night is done and it is beginning to be a little bit lighter each day.

Taking it all down, putting it all away, starting a new fresh year, even while trudging up to the attic and down to the basement, getting things out of the way. It is a bit ironic. Start fresh, but not for a few days. Right now, much of the house is clear of decorations, but the dining room table is full of every thing taken from the other rooms. These decorations in my mother’s house are sometimes as old as I am. Some of them are from my earliest childhood. I wish I knew their stories. Where did those Art Deco angels come from? A whole choir of them sit in the window near the front door. When I was very little, they sang on the dining room table. They are reassuring to me. Time passes, but some things remain the same.

Fresh starts are marvelous. We can always start fresh. But, the New Year makes a logical place to begin anew. And since I am not as fastidious and neat as my mother, I need excuses. My latest book has been languishing as a rather boring first draft, since October. I have not touched it since then. But NOW, I am ready. It is time to add the meat and the spice to that first effort. It is something like cooking from scratch. The first draft is a rich, but bland soup stock. It is sitting, simmering, ready to be changed into something much more interesting and tasty to read. There are many lessons to be learned in the book, but they are subtle. They don’t shout about their benefits. You could call them the meat of the soup.

Next comes the spice. The fun stuff, some gossip, some speculation, and some outright shocking stories that may, or may not, be family stories, or those of close friends.The question always is; “How much do I want to upset my family?” How much spice shall I add? The spice is the best part, in my opinion. But, there is more to the soup than meat and spice.

There are the veggies, these are good for you and useful. Like life tips gained from living a full life, and surviving. Younger readers might gain an insight here or there and older readers may identify. They need to be part of the story, whether it is anyone’s favorite part or not. I am good at mixing things together to make a delicious stew or soup. I am betting that the end result will be fun to read, informative and in the very best cases, life changing.

Of course I suppose that is what every writer craves to hear. “You changed my life.!” Those words are magic. Magic for me, as well as the speaker. And it has happened to me before. That is why I know how exciting it is to hear them.

Back when my entire focus was on childbirth, I was able to really help some women empower themselves. They were hungry for some support in their beliefs about giving birth. I was right there, with as much information as they were ready for. And in some cases they heard me and they took action. Those are the ones who later told me what I wanted so much to hear. They told me that if it were not for my council they would not have dared change doctors, or hospital or they would never have dared hire a midwife. Not everyone needed that knowledge, but for those wanted it, I was available with books and contacts and my own story of empowerment. Those were happy times.

Now, I am a different sort of “pregnant” and getting ready to birth a book. A book about my life and it’s transformation over the last 4 years from desperately unhappy, to a joyful existence in the same place, with the same cast of characters that made me miserable before. Now every day is a good day. I want to share that journey with others.

Copyright©.  2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

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