Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why A Highly Creative Person Should Never Shop For Fruit In Times of Great Distress

In normal times, I like the way my brain works.

I can be entertained for hours by my thoughts. They touch down on the floor on my brain in a unique square dance that often involves emotion joining in, normally keeping a steady beat.

Indeed, an excess of the creative gene, a lifelong reading habit, and the daily company of fellow English majors has created in me a unique triple-layer candy bar of thought that I normally enjoy very much.

However, over the past few weeks, as I have tried to absorb the blow dealt to me about a month ago by my husband, (divorce now, no trail separation, no chance of reconciliation) my brain seems to have a life of its own and my emotions have stopped keeping a steady beat.

Indeed, they are erratic and many times go joyriding in the unsafe vehicle that is now my cranium.

I am getting better, but I try to stay home as much as possible these days. Getting out into the world is sometimes a struggle it seems. I do go to work and when trusted friends go with me, I feel safe enough to go out other places. However, especially in the early days, I feared going out by myself because I did not trust my emotions to stay in one mode for even two minutes.

I find that my brain is still working overtime to try and understand what is happening and as a result, it makes dangerous connections with even the most mundane of objects.

Three examples:

Example #1)

I forced myself out on a walk one day, and there in the center of the street I saw it: one lone shoe. Its mate gone, it sat alone. It was somewhat worn, but still functional.

That shoe had still had places to go, but it was stalled out there alone.

Naturally, I saw myself in that shoe.

I started to cry and went out in the street. I gently picked it up, moved it out of harm’s way. I patted its side in solidarity. Maybe, I thought, maybe someone would come back for it.

I walked further down the street for a block and something caught my eye behind the fence in the schoolyard. The other shoe! Tears in my eyes, I ran back to get the first shoe. I picked it up and ran back down the block. I stopped and threw it as close as I could to the one on the schoolyard.

Then, I sat down on the sidewalk and wept. I am now a lone shoe, I thought. My mate has made it clear he is not coming back for me. I thought we were a good match. I thought he had wanted to be with me forever. We were going places together in the future. Now, I was on the sidewalk, all alone, feeling very tattered and worn.

Example #2)

The classroom I teach in is right next to the ceramics studio. While giving a lecture to my English class one day, I looked out the window and saw students bringing in heavy blocks of unformed clay.

These blocks of clay were destined to be cups or vases, or wasted in bits and pieces as the untrained and inexperienced attempted to create something new. I had to stop for a second and grip the edge of the table as I thought, “That’s where I am right now. I have to try and form a new life as a single person. I have no idea how.”

I liked being married. I liked everything about it. I knew how to do it and, truth be told, I thought I was pretty good at it too. What if in this new life I don’t construct a firm enough foundation on my own?

What if I do form it and then can’t stand the heat of life’s kiln?

What if I crack completely and am of no use to anyone?

Oh and speaking of cracking up…

Example 3)

One day, early on, I made a risky trip to Target (risky because everyone in our town goes to this Target and didn’t want to see anyone I knew.)

The store has just added a food section and so on my way out, I went to the pile of bananas and, as I have done the last 20 years or so, I grabbed a big bunch of about ten bananas.

Now about a month and a half ago, I would have thought nothing of this. HOB and the boys all loved bananas and ten would have lasted the four of us about three days.

I suddenly remembered. I lived alone now. The boys were gone. HOB was gone.

I dropped the big bunch of bananas and had what I believe would be considered meltdown right then and there.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I started weeping hysterically over the banana display in Target.

Going bananas over bananas? Yes. Symbolic? Oh yes. I believe we could say so.

(I am sure there was probably some Target executive on the security camera watching me with concern and jotting down a note to bring up at a later meeting, “Are our prices on bananas perhaps too high?”)

I am happy to report all of these things happened fairly early on after HOB left and while I would not claim to be exactly mentally stable these days, I am getting better.


A. I can now buy fruit in small quantities without breaking down completely.

B. I no longer internally freak out too much when I see those blocks of clay being moved into the studios.

C. (Not evidence of progress, just informational) I haven’t seen another single shoe in the middle of the street, but I know I would probably still go rescue it, put it out of harm’s way and hope whoever lost it came back for it. And yes, I would probably still pat its little side.

Further evidence that I am getting slowly getting better:

Just recently, I got off a plane in Portland and stood waiting with the other passengers while our luggage was pulled out of the small plane and placed on a rack on the tarmac for us.

I joined in as we all got our own bags, pulled up the handles and wheeled them behind us moving in toward the airport.

As we fanned out across the dark pavement, like ships leaving a harbor, our colorful bags in our wake, a thought crossed my mind.

It was this: We all have our own baggage. Everyone does.

It is the way we put it behind us and continue on our journeys, heads held high, that makes all the difference in life.

Here's to Happy Sailing in the future.

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VEG said...

Sad and inspiring all at once! Don't get ME started on how I always feel sorry for discarded soft toys and the like. :)

You're doing well. And you'll do better as time goes on. You can stand the heat of that kiln, I am sure of it.

Good luck as always, Betty!

Unknown said...

Great post because it does show that you are moving on with your life.
Here's to you keeping it going.

Lin said...

You are making strides, Betty! BIG strides! I mean, just buying fruit in smaller quantities is good--and I'm not being silly. It takes a while to get used to being alone, whether it be divorce, death, whatever. And you have to learn how to make meals for one, do smaller loads of laundry, etc. My mom went through this when my dad died. It's normal--it is grief.

Keep going, Betty. Every single day you grow a little stronger. Before you know it, you are gonna look back on these posts and see how far you have come. :)

Parsley said...

I love how you use your humor and words to express both wit and grief. Yes you are stepping down a new path. Hold God's hand.

joan said...

Beauty and humor... hand in hand.

I did lol about the Target Executive and banana prices. =D

Anne Gallagher said...

Oh Betty, there are so many things I want to say to you that are just not appropriate in a comment box.

But one thing I will say, you ARE getting better, stronger. I can hear it in your voice, on the page.

This crapstuffsh*tthing you're going through will only last for a very short time. You're already pulling out of the gate, gaining on the darkness, coming into the light. You're going to be just fine. Just a few more weeks and you'll start to feel like your old self.

You are an unfinished, unmolded piece of clay right now. But remember, it's what you do with it, how you shape it, that will make it unbreakable in the future. You are in control of the mud and the mess and I'm sure what you'll make from the clay is going to absolutely beautiful.

Teresa Evangeline said...

Wow. Wow. Wow. The universe is really mirroring things back to you isn't it? That's powerful stuff there, my friend. The clay is such a great way to see the possibilities for reshaping our lives.

I, too had to get used to buying smaller amounts of fruit, smaller amounts of everything. A lot of lettuce went bad. :)

You've been through a lot and learned to handle it in a relatively short amount of time. Someday, when you're ready, you'll probably meet some guy over that banana pile at Target and, well, I can't wait to hear that report! ;)

Laura said...

Little by little, Betty, you're making strides!

The Time Sculptor said...

I am so proud of the way you are dealing with this, Betty. The strength of your voice sings out through these words... you are probably giving strength to others facing similar pain without realising it :-)

This happened to a relative of mine. Almost exactly the same situation. The secrecy and private new address was because there was a.n. other involved. The man concerned had a complete character change and seemed to be divorcing the whole family, not just his wife.

It lasted a year. He returned to his old self and came creeping back, little by little, full of abject remorse. By that time she had realised she didn't need him in her life, but she took him back for the sake of the family. It was her choice.

Perhaps one day, when the time feels right, you may feel like writing a bright, shiny, new profile?

Take care, Jane Gray xx

Alison said...

Oh Betty, now I can see why you are surrounded by so many who love you. You are amazing! Your line about the Target manager made me laugh aloud even as I was getting teary-eyed. As they say around here, "You a hot mess, girl!"

I wouldn't be surprised if this tearing down and rebuilding process ends up in a Betty novel someday. Maybe with a picture of a lumpy clay pot on the cover.


Leah J. Utas said...

The lessons you've been given are wonderful, and you're very strong and aware for understanding them. Good to know it is getting better.

Empty Nester said...

Betty- You are going to be just as great as you always have been. It's funny how your writing seems to reach out and give us comfort in YOUR time of need. Such a giving, caring heart you have there. Continue holding your head up high and deep breath the fresh, new air.

Erin Janda Rawlings said...

Soemtimes I wish that I wasn't so sensitive and make connections to everyday things with my emotions. It's exhausting and can make me feel vulnerable.

Having said that, I think it's for the best because I am working through my issues instead of ignoring them, leaving me to one day snap and never come back.

This is a beautiful post, and I wish you peace.

Green Monkey said...

you really are getting better. I predict your sense of humor is next! BY the WAY.... we are in sync. I noticed a lone shoe by the side of the road yesterday. only my lone show had company. a black front end of a car and a mylar happy birthday balloon! all within 5 yards of each other. (p.s. I noticed you updated your profile - GOOD FOR YOU BETTY) see how observant I am

Tabor said...

I see that large crack in your heart is healing...every so slowing...but that means it will leave a much smaller scar.

My Mind's Eye said...

Morning BB,
In my humble opinion, your brain is working beautifully!!! Excellent post on your daily steps of bravely dealing with what was dumped in your lap, in a very classy way. I do so admire you.
Hugs to you now and everyday,

john said...

I will never look at a single, abandoned shoe the same way again...

Lydia Kang said...

I am so happy that things are a little bit better. You are stronger than you think. See?

Now every time I see a lone shoe I will think of you.

Can I also say that the way you react to different things in your environment shows what a creative mind you have? You're amazing.

Unknown said...

Betty, that was a beautiful post with an upbeat ending! Good for you! It does get easier, I promise!

Pearl said...

That was an excellent post with some wonderful threads...

I had a similar experience in a grocery store after a break-up (after five years). I had spent over an hour trying to buy food and having a terrible time of it. When I got in the check-out line, the lady looked at me and said, "Honey, are you okay?" and I burst into tears and said "He left me, and I don't know what to eat." I left without the food...

You're wounded right now, and sometimes it's visible. But it's going to be okay. It really is.


Ms. A said...

I thought I was the only one that looked at a single shoe and had strange thoughts!

Betty, you WILL get stronger and more able to get through this. You will, I promise. I'm the weakest person I know and I did.

McGillicutty said...

What a lovely post, sad but hopeful post, I hope and pray your sanity will return. I really like the way you write.... big hugs and positive thoughts coming your way!! xxx

Unknown said...

BB this is truly a great post. After Rich died I felt like I'd lost my right arm. I started going to a park with a book and cup of coffee every so often. Then I would take rides to coffee shops a little further out and sit and enjoy coffee and a book until I felt at peace with being alone. Because let's face it, we must survive on our own before we can make anyone else happy. I too loved being married but it just didn't work that way. We can't just fall apart! I'm good with Bruce and I parting now too. I've survived my husbands death. I can certainly survive a man who doesn't appreciate me. Love and hugs!

annie said...

Your sensitivity is precious.

Eileen said...

What a wonderful post. Lovely and perceptive, even though you're going through a terrible time. xx

Pat said...

Oh, Betty, you made me laugh, you made me cry. You ARE getting better. Just face it one day at a time. That's all you have to do. ONE DAY.

The Time Sculptor said...

You did it! You updated your profile Betty! Well done... you are so brave :-) Keep moving towards your future happiness, one small step at a time.
Hugs, Jane Gray xx

ellen abbott said...

oh yes, stride strongly into the future.

Mandy_Fish said...

What a beautiful conclusion.


Wonderful to read Betty, nothing wrong with your brain.


Ann said...

I think you are doing very well Betty. I foresee a beautiful journey in your future.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Betty, I think you will do well on your journey. Your banana story proves it. (Wonder if they marked the bananas down the next day?)

jenny_o said...

It takes time to grieve. Old everyday habits are everywhere, just waiting to pop up and take you by surprise. But as you plow ahead and form new everyday habits and routines, the old ones lose their power. Sounds like you are doing exactly that - plowing ahead. Good for you - for yourself, and for others who will read your words and see a way to pick themselves up and keep going.

ladydazy said...

Betty you are an inspiration to me and others!! You are going through the ups, downs and adjustments through your life's sudden changes. Whether they be your decision or not they are changes. Change is hard, especially when it's thrown upon you. But I think going through the shock, anger, sadness or all the emotions is the best way to deal with things. I admire you and am so glad I found your blog. Kisses and hugs to you!!

Hilary said...

Everyone should have your strength and humour to get through life's pitfalls.

You might have been going bananas but you must know that you have great a-peel.

That shoe may have lots its mate but really it lost a heel.

That pottery may be a bit cracked but it ain't kiln you yet.


Jenny said...

Oh girl, I can relate. You will make it through the pain and shock and discover things about yourself you didn't realize before.

You can be the clay now and the life you carve out can be the life you want.

You will be happy again.

Unknown said...

You know, I think going to the grocery store might be the hardest part of all for me.

I can 100% understand your breakdown in the bananas.


Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

"I find that my brain is still working overtime to try and understand what is happening..."

A friend of ours recently committed suicide, and the pastor who conducted the funeral gave some good advice. He said we shouldn't try to understand why. Each of us is responsible for our own decisions. Suicide was a decision that this individual made, and there was nothing anyone could have done that would have changed the outcome.

HOB has committed marital suicide. It was wholly his decision. You'll never be able to understand it, and you mustn't allow yourself to accept blame for it.

You're a smart woman, Betty, with a wonderful sense of humor and amazing insight into life in general. You're going to get through this.

Miriam in KS said...

Mmmm. Do you think you could audit a clay class in the studio or even just go play in the clay? Working with clay sure helps make the emotional physical and helps with getting it out. (Plus it is a legitimate way to go play in the dirt!)

After just mushing and punching and rolling it, you might even decide to make something to keep. Pinch pots would be a good start.

Whoops. My inner arts-based preschool teacher is showing again, isn't it? :)

karen said...

Yay, you! You're starting to heal and you're beginning to take the necessary steps. I wish you much happy sailing.

faye said... are movin on up ...
the journey continues one step at
a time.

Kazzy said...

I just wanna give you a big hug.

Shan said...

You are so right with that thought at the end. So, so right.

Zuzana said...

Wonderful! Just keep that positive attitude and allow yourself to feel all those emotion. As you process your sadness and anger, soon you will make room for more constructive emotions to surface, such as determination, optimism, progress and new beginnings.;)
I recognize all about breaking down in public, had my share of that in the past too.;)

Cricket said...

My Jesus, mercy! As you noticed over the summer, I haven't been around much. Finally, at long last, I'm playing a bit of catch-up. I expected, from the title, Betty humor. Yikes.

Yes, I backtracked though previous posts. Oy. There is a tear in my eye for you, my friend. and I do consider you a friend, in that nebulous bloggy way... somewhere between imaginary friends and the ones who knock on my door.

We has a similar happening in our family last year, roles reversed, but equally sudden and strange. And there it is.

With my prayers, best wishes, and love. I know you'll manage.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful, heartfelt, inspiring post Betty! You will be's an adjustment, but who knows, once you're used to being single you may find you like it a lot! Peace to you. said...

I've cried so many times at the supermarket -- at the fruit, frozen food aisle, jelly beans, wherever. I hate it. (Hint: dark sunglasses).

Love and hugs to you.
Go easy on yourself.

Connie said...

I am glad to hear you are doing better, Betty. Each day will get a little easier. As for your brain, your wonderful creative thoughts are some of the best things about you. I love the way you think and the way you write about the thoughts you have. The future will get here and the past will get farther away one day and one step at a time. Hugs to you.

joel said...

Always love your site and nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Pop on over if you'd like to participate, otherwise, no worries. :)

Sarah said...

How long have I been gone? Here I am drowning in my own problems and thinking all is well in the blogworld--wrong! It was a shock to all of us, and I just can't believe it. Yes, it will get better, but know that it will be good days and bad days, and give yourself plenty of time to heal. It's okay to rely on family and friends when it gets too tough. God bless.

Baby Sister said...

I think the shoe appreciated you caring for it. I'm proud of you, Betty. I don't know how I would move on after something like that, and you are doing just that. Good for you. *hugs*

Alexandra said...

Did you read Elizabeth George's incredible book?

She has a paragraph in there that just killed me.

Her son's favorite soda, cherry coke, was on an end of aisle supermarket display, and she just fell to the ground, a heap of tears, over soda.