All Kinds of Special

8:51 AM Edit This 18 Comments »
I showed this picture to Miss M yesterday and I said, "I have such a weird look on my face." And she said, "Yeah. Pure joy." And that about sums it up. One of the amazing things about my recovery meetings is that there is always someone there who has walked a path that I have walked and when I don't know what to do about it, someone knows someone who knows someone who can help me. All the way from helping me put air in my tires to banking to a new job or reconciling a part of my past with who I am today. It's just how it is. My mother is always amazed when I tell her, "Oh, so and so can help me with that." And just as I utilize others' experiences, I'm in a position today where people utilize me. And of course, I love that. I love that I have something useful to give to someone today. There's a phrase in the recovery book that says something about my past being one of my greatest assets. I didn't understand that while I was going through it. It hurt too much. I just wanted it all to go away. But today, I understand that what I lived through and conquered is useful in helping someone else walk their path.

So, it's not uncommon for someone to seek me out when a newcomer is dealing with a significant death. They introduce us, we talk, and they either want to work with me or not. I know in the past, I have been very belligerent when it comes to loss. Don't compare it to divorce, don't say you know how I feel, don't even TRY to understand it sort of thing. But as I've made peace with myself and my experiences, I have more understanding about death and loss. A significant loss is just that. Loss. And everyone has their own way of dealing with it. I can't say that one person's loss is any more significant than mine. I held onto Jason's death like a scarlet letter and used it to make myself "different" from other people. More special. More hurt. More whatever. And today, I don't need to do that.

So color me surprised when I was introduced to someone who lost her husband, became a complete recluse and drunk just like me, recently in recovery, and she wanted nothing to do with me. Nothing. Because I wasn't married to Jason. And with that she summarily dismissed me. Now, this no longer hurts me. I get all kinds of responses from newcomers in recovery. But it made me so sad.

I remember when I first got into recovery, it was suggested that I look into a group for survivors of suicide. Because for all practical purposes, Jason killed himself. Well, they wouldn't let me in because it was for spouses. I was shocked. As was the person who suggested I look into it. What? I have to have the ring and a piece of paper to prove that I belong? I felt like I was on the fringes of a club that wouldn't let me in.

I'm okay with that today, but at the time, I was so hurt and confused and wasn't what we had "special enough" to let me in? I have my support group today and it's grounded in recovery from alcoholism. I don't need a different group anymore. But where do I fit in that picture? I always struggle with how to phrase Jason's death when people ask me. "My boyfriend died." Well, he wasn't my boyfriend. "My fiance died." Well? That sounds a little pretentious. I still don't know what to say most of the time, and I don't need to say it to mark myself as special anymore, but when people ask why I'm not married, that's part of the story. And I don't quite have the right words for it. I suppose it will come with time.

And in the meantime, I'll just keep helping other people. Because that makes me all KINDS of special.

18 comments:

lacochran said...

You articulate a feeling that gay people deal with all the time. "Wasn't what we had 'special enough' to let me in?"

I wouldn't wish hardship on anyone but it's the people that have been through challenging things that are always the more interesting people.

Thanks for helping other people and making the world a little bit easier.

The stories and life of a 10-toed North Dakotan said...

Labels are a bitch. I'm glad you can get beyond what you and Jason were or weren't to each other and what people think about that... Grief is difficult enough. PS: I think I like the "pure joy" picture even more than I like the "best picture of me ever" picture. Beautiful. :)

Jeff D'Antonio said...

One of my all-time favorite quotes: "The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." -- Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Kate, you are a member of that exclusive club - the beautiful people - so carry your card proudly.

BrianAlt said...

Well, they wouldn't let me in because it was for spouses. I was shocked. As was the person who suggested I look into it.

What?!? I have to tell you, the definition of marriage in this country is going to DRASTICALLY change in the next 10 to 20 years. There are SO MANY couples that live together and have NO INTEREST in getting married. They ARE married, except for the piece of paper (rings aren't technically needed or proof of anything). And I'm talking about hetero couples, nevermind gay and lesbian couples who obviously have the same problem right now.

It's kind of funny, because the courts recognize "civil law" marriages for a long time now.

That's a beautiful picture.

Summer said...

First, I love that picture. That is frame quality!!! So go frame it NOW.

Second, I hate when married people pretend we have a special club. Before Tim and I were married, I had friends who would actually say "You don't understand. You guys aren't married." We lived together and were raising a child. Hate exclusivity. Hate it!!

You lived with him, you loved him, you hurt with him, and when you lost him- it nearly tore your heart out. Sounds a lot like fucking marriage to me. Her loss. She could have used your experiences as a resource.

The Good Cook said...

I love the Elizabeth Kubler Ross quote that Jeff D'Antonio included in his comment - and so totally agree with it.

The most interesting, profound and compassionate people are those who have "dealt with stuff". Never mind what that stuff was or how it was labeled.

But I love that picture of you and the little even more.

Todd said...

Kate,

so beautifully expressed...what a testament of 'growing serenity.'

peace,
todd

Megan said...

That photo is beautiful. Hopefully that girl will find someone she will let help her, and will eventually become as strong as you.

Ink Spiller said...

lacochran nailed it with "You articulate a feeling that gay people deal with all the time." They're not the only ones though. The older I get the less I understand intolerance and the need to seclude others especially when they're already suffer (and in my opinion that it's actually what the lady who refused your help was doing). Compassion is very hard to come by it seems and that makes you a very special person indeed Kate because you are compassionate (among other things).

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

I find it absolutely horrible when groups supporting one another find reason to exclude others. As if you weren't hurting enough from your loss. WTF?

It's largely why I don't subscribe to organized religion. For so many groups of all walks of life to preach acceptance, there sure is a lot of exclusions written into their moral codes.

That said, Kate, you've come such a long way. It's GREAT to see PURE JOY on your face. Seriously wonderful!

buffalodick said...

I think all that adds up to one word...Joy. It's good to be alive..someday, I may tell you my story...

Sparkling Red said...

From the depths of despair to the height of joy.
:-)

Jennifer said...

Are you going to make me cry every day this week?

That picture...

This post!

Thank you.

Suburban Sweetheart said...

Oh my. As happens every so often with us, I feel like I could've written this one.

Where's my support group? "My ex-boyfriend died." "How did he die?" "He killed himself." "Were you dating at the time?" "No." Would it be better if I had been? Would it hurt less? More? Would my grief be more real?

Thanks for this. <3

melissalion said...

Love that picture! You're all kinds of special! You help people every single day. All the time and I like that about you!

justme said...

i love this post. you are so right and i'm so glad that you know it. it's not about how you were "legally" with the person that you were...it's all loss. what a great way to put that.

Captain Crab said...

Both of you look just darling!

Jen said...

Of course you are all kinds of special! I've learned so much just by reading your posts. Thanks Kate!