Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Do you all know the spoon theory?

It's on my mind right now, back from tea with a friend. It was exhausting. Being out in the world of people and crowds, the loaded question of "how are you, really?" and the energy necessary to either answer or evade that question. How answering the question feels like small-talk about death, or "how I spend my grieving moments: the sound bite." Knowing that if the question isn't asked, or the subject discussed, it is there anyway, the color and context of everything.

Nothing is pure or normal anymore; everything is a reaction to or a response to or an outcome of. I feel defined and fenced in. And while it may be true - in fact, this does define me right now, and all actions come through this, I would just rather not feel like I face it everywhere, that anyone and everyone is along for this trip with me, expecting access to personal details and decisions, wanting to hear how I am, or silently giving that "knowing nod," or doing that ~because of in reaction to as an outcome of ~ assessment of my every move that I often only imagine and also often happens.

It is always always present, effort-full in acknowledging or avoiding. It takes energy to give a safe-for-in-public answer to an intimate question. It takes effort to simply nod and shrug when someone asks how I am and it is not the time or place to answer. It takes effort to appreciate the asking while also not feeling like discussing it right at that particular moment. It takes effort to evade the question when the answer is intimate and personal and really not appropriate to the level of relationship with the asker. It takes HUGE amounts of energy to explain to someone why everything takes so much energy and effort.

I think, as I get "better," I return to my pre-death/pre-trauma state of being more and more private. Certainly, early on I had no choice or thought in the matter. I cried everywhere. I welcomed and accepted comfort anywhere. There was much less talking. I feel like people who were present for those early days now expect a continued intimacy and a front row seat, though their attendance has been spotty at best, and we were not close before this event.  I assume maybe it is a bit confusing for them to have been so close at impact but not be given access now. To those people, I want to say - just because you have seen intimate things does not make us intimate. We did not have a moment "together;" you were near me when I had a moment. That's not just a semantic difference. And it takes so many spoons to tell you that. It takes so many spoons to not tell you that.

I have less to say now, to the general public, to casual friends, to family. You take the most intimate and personal thing that has ever happened to me and I am just supposed to discuss it. Describe it. Continue to give every detail to both the ones who genuinely care and the ones who are rubbernecking tire kickers. I have no interest in giving a blow by blow, or in talking things to pieces. I cannot possibly Sum Up this experience for you in a few sentences. My life with matt, my life with god, my life with me - really not casual topics of discussion, up for discussion. However, I also have no real non-death related items to talk about, to offer to the conversation, so there is that.

I can listen, that's alright. Though I am listening with that death filter on - I can't take it off either - and that costs me some spoons. Not many, but some. I am more frustrated with the entire situation, how heavy and draining everything is, than I am frustrated with any actual people. No one is doing anything "wrong." Given that asking is tiring, and not asking is tiring, it really is hard to be near me at all. Knowing that is tiring. Preparing for social times, getting through social times, recovering from social times, wondering if a "simple" trip to the grocery store will result in a social interaction requiring the energy necessary to deflect, ignore, or answer "the question" - it all takes spoons. I am not rich in spoons. Knowing that costs me some spoons.

This is sounding so negative. I remind myself, now that I am back home with my own tea in my own quiet space, that there are a couple of people who do not ask for blow by blows of my internal process, who recognize and respect that this is deeply personal, who are able to hang out without "IT" lingering in the air quite so heavily. There are a couple of people who can have whole discussions not about this without it feeling obvious that we are not talking about it, and for whom entire conversations do not come to a grinding, "poignant" halt when one of us mentions matt's name, thus prompting a detour into "so how are you really?" All is not lost. I am not so completely drained and exhausted after time with them; the preparation and recovery is much less. It still takes spoons, but not the whole bunch. I'm not at a place where interactions with people tend to replenish any spoons, but not taking so many counts as a Plus.

Given that I am not so much on the sharing of details on intimate things, the irony of writing a blog is not lost on me. The way I think of it, not having to explain why things cost so many spoons: priceless.



  1. I also hate those loaded questions... "how are you *really*?"
    If you aren't my best friend or my mother ... (or someone that reads my blog where I really feel like I'm telling this stuff to my dead husband) ... forget it, because you will get my patented "yeah fine thanks" response.

    ..and this is also the reason why I blog.
    I give up my spoons in my own time and at my own discretion.

  2. I loved the spoon theory link and think it is so easy to apply to ourselves too. Great post.