Here’s my attempt to rationalize my addiction to Beyond Blue (and maybe to the Internet): it’s my support group.
Today it got the okay from my therapist.
“Do you think my behavior during my week in the country when I was supposed to unwind and find myself, but instead cursed all week at the slow dial up connection signals yet another addiction?”
“Not if it’s your support group,” she said.
COOL! Green (or Blue) Light!
I hadn’t realized until I was without free Wifi just how much I rely on you all to carry me through the day. During my week in the vineyards, I found myself saying things like, “I’ve got to save this story for Lynne,” or “Wait til Babs hears this one,” or “I hope Peg is having a better day today,” or “I wonder if Larry went to that high school reunion he was dreading.”
This could mean two things: I am becoming a loser whose friends exist only online (a step above the imaginary friends Katherine talks to in the bathtub), OR this virtual community is much stronger than I had been giving it credit. I need these guys more than I thought.
Ironically, one of Katherine’s preschool friends picked the same vacation as we did (to Traverse City, Michigan) the same week we did, and rented a car with the same company (Avis). We spent much of our three-hour layover in Detroit getting to know the family, as Katherine (and their son, Sam) propped naked barbies in the cool fountain in the middle of the main terminal, which drew spectators (who sent the image via cell phone to friends).
I was glad to get a chance to know Sam’s mom better, because our first conversation went like this (at the Valentine’s Day party at preschool):
“Your Sam’s mom, right?”
“Yeah, I’m Sandy.”
“I’m Therese. Thank you for your sincere thank you note.”
“For a dinner you brought us?”
“Yeah. The lasagna. But don’t worry, I didn’t cook it.”
“I’m so sorry,” I said, bursting into tears.
I didn’t know what to say. This woman had just lost her three month old to SIDS during Christmas break. What do you say to a mother who just lost her baby?
She teared up.
Three months later, she was pregnant with Sam’s sister, camped out with us at the cool fountain with the two barbies having a pool party, and taking the train back and forth across terminal A just for giggles.
The timing was perfect for my Barbara Walters interview.
“Do you mind me asking? What has been most helpful to you in dealing with your grief? I just can’t imagine.”
“Our SIDS support group,” she said. “People who have been through the same thing and can speak from experience. Because nothing is more annoying than hearing folks say, ‘I know exactly how you feel.’”
“Oh really!” she continued. “You understand? You walked in on your baby dead from his nap when you just checked in on him twenty minutes prior? You understand?”
“But some of the couples we have met there live parallel lives to ours, and that’s been so important to Tony and I,” she said.
“I used to make fun of support groups,” Tony chimed in. “I thought they were like that scene in ‘Jerry Maguire‘ when he goes to a single mom’s support group. But nothing horrible had happened to me. You gain a whole new appreciation for these groups after going through something as traumatic as we did.”
Even though I hesitate to put depression into the same categorizing as losing your son (I don’t know exactly how they feel!), I could definitely relate to their assessment of support groups.
They’ve been my saving grace at so many unexpected times. Like during the ski trip of my freshman year in college, right after my mom and stepdad tied the knot, and treated the merged family to a vacation (think Brady Brunch on crack). I was nine months sober, having difficulty with all the heavy drinking. On New Year’s Eve, I couldn’t take it anymore.
I called the AA hotline and a young woman about my age came to pick me up. We spent two days together, snowshoeing and hanging out at her place.
“I just don’t get it,” my sister said to me when I returned to the condo tucked away in the Colorado Mountains. “How can you go off with a complete stranger? That’s just weird.”
“Because all the drinking was putting my sobriety in jeopardy, and I had to do what I had to do to stay on course. Besides, we had a lot in common and I had a great time.”
“Some people are lucky to have their friends and family be their support network, my therapist said to me today. “But when that’s not the case you have to build your support in any way you can. And if that place is online, I don’t see anything harmful in that.”
So there you have it. Rationalization with the stamp of approval from my therapist. You all are my support group. Thanks for being there.