It’s an odd time in our history, and I’ve spent the past four months trying to put into words my own experience, but have found myself suffering from writer’s block. Every time I’ve sat down to write something, I’ve found myself unable to string sentences together.
I mentioned my mental gridlock to my dear friend Kelly, and she suggested something new: that I interview her about her own, much more tragic, current struggle. She thought it might help her to put her thoughts down, and it would give me the impetus to throw myself back into writing.
Our interview is not my typical spirituality-based discourse: instead, we are focused on grief. I have written about my own grief before, and perhaps grief is another facet of our soul’s experience, so I don’t believe it’s too far outside the realm of this blog. I have some other interviews that get back to my typical subject matter in the pipeline, but this interview really did get me back into the swing of things—I’m grateful to Kelly for that.
I’m grateful to Kelly for a lot of things. She’s the kind of friend that everyone needs but few have: a force of nature, fiercely loyal, and unflaggingly honest. She can be intimidating at times—she seems so put together and sure of herself that she must live on a different plane of existence—but she is the truest friend. She let me live with her for a month when I moved to Denver, and we had only met in person a few times—and this was after she connected me with her employer, revamped my resume, and provided me with information about how to move across the country. Kelly is funny, brilliant, and overall incredibly caring. She’s one of the few people who notices when I’m struggling with my own demons, and she’ll check in on me and invite me over when she can tell I need the company.
That’s why it’s been so hard to watch as she’s had her own dark period—you never want to watch someone you love experience a loss, especially when the loss is that of someone who chose to part with your friend. I’ve been with friends through breakups (and imagine at some point I will be with them through divorces, but I’ll hope not), and through the death of parents, but I’ve never had to watch a friend’s parent choose to exit their lives. As someone who is perhaps overly close with my own parents, I can’t imagine the pain this would bring. Even the strongest of us (as Kelly is) would break under this kind of suffering. So I’m glad we had a chance to talk about it and check in, and I’m glad to know Kelly is working on taking care of herself in a healthy way. But I’ll defer to her words to explain any further.
Interview 14: Kelly
“Sometimes it just strikes me, ‘Oh my gosh, my mom is not going to be at my wedding.'”
Me: Would you give me a thirty-second overview of what’s going on with you right now?
Kelly: So…I guess it really all started when I moved to Denver three years ago. My mom and I had been very very close my whole life. She was arguably my best friend, but moving to Denver was the first crack in our relationship, and I think she interpreted it as a betrayal that I would leave her. And so things had been tense for a while, and long story short we considered entering an investment property situation that just fell through, and it really all culminated in my mom ending our relationship. For several months over the summer I tried to repair it, and it all came to a head when I went home in September for my mom’s birthday, whereupon she announced that she would not be attending my wedding. And that was the last time I saw her. So now I’m in this weird limbo where I don’t have a relationship with my mom; my mom has, in short, rejected me, and it’s a really really weird place to be.
Me: Thank you. It’s definitely been hard to watch, as a friend, to see that, and I’m sure I still don’t even know everything you’re going through, so….let’s go over that. I’d like to know how you’ve been coping with going through this loss, when, as you’ve said, it’s a loss where the person is still alive. What have you personally been doing to try to get through it?
Kelly: I think—the first thing I did is I recognized that I needed to talk to someone professional. And so I did go to therapy, which at least affirmed that I was feeling grief in the right way; it affirmed that I was not wrong. I doubted myself through a lot of this. So that was helpful. I’ve also just sort of allowed myself to go through the stages of grief. There was denial, there was anger…I’m sort of approaching acceptance, I don’t know. And I’ve also leaned heavily on Will, my friends, and tried to be very open about it. You know, I don’t blast it on Facebook, but I try to let myself talk about it among my friends, and to talk about how I feel, or even joke about it, is sometimes an easy way to accept that it’s just a part of my life, and it’s not something I need to hide. I don’t bottle it up. But some days it catches up with me. I still have nightmares about confronting my mom or my mom confronting me. I have nightmares about friends or neighbors of my mom telling me I’m a bad daughter. So there’s definitely feelings of guilt still there. I still struggle with it.
Me: Do you find that you’re at all reflecting on your past and you’re rethinking the memories that you have? Or is it painful to look into your past? Or is it almost better?
Kelly: Maybe a little bit of all of that. Knowing what I know now about my mom and the true nature of what our relationship was, that it was not at all what I thought it was, definitely colors all my memories in a different way. I think the biggest thing was all the horses. I did competitive horseback riding and that was a huge thing that Mom and I did together, and I sort of see now that I don’t think it was even about me, I think it was about my mom wanting to do horses, and luckily I also enjoyed it too, and I wonder how that would have played out if I had not had an interest in horseback riding. And a lot of the things that she had done for me that maybe were more self-serving at the time—I don’t know, it definitely, yes, colors my memories in a different light. I do feel bitter about some things. It’s sometimes painful to look back and see what a fool I was, but…for lack of a better platitude, it is what it is.