This is day 7 of the writers’ group. 7 of 30. It’s turning out to be very intense, time consuming, mind consuming. There are 40 people signed up on the private Facebook page, but maybe half of them actually share their writing. It’s eye opening to read other’s raw thoughts about their pain of loss while trying to process my own. The first night, when we were allowed to introduce ourselves by sharing a paragraph about why we were there, I felt almost shocked by it all, as if someone had sprayed cold water over my sleeping head. The stories made me sputter and gasp, but I didn’t look away. How do you comment on someone else’s pain when you are not even sure how to feel your own? From the very beginning, my friends and readers have tried to join me here by saying: “I read you, I hear you.” Maybe that’s all it takes. So that’s what I’ve been doing.
But it’s intense. Reading other’s words as they navigate a new loneliness, the loss of their bearings, a new identity, is sometimes challenging. In opening myself to the pain of others, I can feel my own more clearly…like a cool draft that stings my own wet wound. It’s healing, I think, in a way, but now without discomfort first. I had to take a break yesterday from writing (I got stuck on the prompt of the day), though I kept going back to read what other’s had shared. It keeps my head buzzing, involved.
I went swimming on Friday. Usually because I go after dropping the kids at school, my friend Sandy and I have the pool to ourselves. Sometimes we share it with one or two other early birds. But that day there were more swimmers in the water. We had to keep moving over to create extra lanes. I didn’t mind, in fact it changed the dynamics for me as instead of seeing all that blue emptiness through my goggles, I’d catch sight of other passing bodies, kicking and crawling just under the surface. Pushing themselves, strengthening their hearts, breathing underwater. Suddenly it’s not my own tiny world, but one I share with others, keeping to their own lanes at their own paces. It occurred to me that this wasn’t unlike joining others in creative grieving this week. We are each processing things as individuals but learning to acknowledge others swimming in a shared space.