A Well of Unprocessed Grief

For a number of days I’ve been feeling really awful. Empty and meaningless, lost in a world where there is no depth or soul. In writers group on Monday I tried to describe it. I thought maybe I was picking it up from somebody. I read the piece to Erica on Wednesday, and she helped me understand what happened. I looked in my journal and found that the whole thing began with the folk singer who played and sang in the gathering room on Saturday night.

Here are the relevant journal entries:

Sunday, May 7
I’m having a strange uncomfortable feeling of being stuck in this place with all these old people and it’s meaningless, empty, waiting for death.  I picked it up last night at the folk music concert.  The guy singing was a fascinating entertainer, but he was billed as singing folk songs of the 60’s so of course I expected Dylan.  No.  He said one song was Bob Dylan sung by Joan Baez, but it was a sort of sentimental song that neither of them would have had anything to do with.  He sang the Sloop John B, and Charlie on the MTA, both of which I remembered all the words to.  And he sang Day-O as a tribute to Harry Belafonte who died recently.  He also had a fascinating mechanism that somehow added his voice singing harmony.  But I was disappointed and left early.

Monday, May 8
I’ve been feeling very strange.  I think it started Saturday night with the Folk Singer.  Haven’t been able to find words.  Empty and meaningless but in a different way from long ago.  It doesn’t feel like myself.

Writers’ group

the sky is pale like a thin haze covering the whole thing.  It seems ill somehow, weighs me down.  oppressive.  suffocating.  Life feels meaningless we just go on getting more and more tired and then it’s over, fading out, fading away, disappearing into the void.  Surely there’s something I can distract myself with, a murder mystery or solitaire.  Looking out the window gets boring fast.  When will something happen, something wonderful, exciting, full of drama and romance.  I remember how good my mother was at picking up the latest slang.  She liked to be “with it,” in with the latest, the newest, the most recent.  Deep slow thoughts are not “with it,” won’t catch any one’s attention.  I want to write a poem and don’t know how to do it.  words rise from the tide’s slow turning, and blood seeps from a volcano — but only a little bit mind you.  The day’s too far gone and fading into a grey night, without light, oppressive, suffocating.  Two people trade shadows, coming to the edge of what they share.  Empty is too clean a word for the blurred and jumbled mass of a fragmented life.

Note: The sentence that starts “I want to write a poem…” comes from a poem I wrote called Blood and Stone. In some ways that poem expresses how I felt as a child.

Tuesday, May 9
Judith thought it was a good piece of writing.  She said it conveyed an atmosphere, which was my intention.  She said there were a lot of people here at Kendal who felt like that.  I agreed.  I said it was a lot like my mother.  I just read it again and was struck by the people who trade shadows.  I had meant literal shadows, but I see that it could also mean psychological shadows.  Mother certainly projected hers onto me.

Dear Inner Teacher, I am feeling so lost and strange.  Please help me.
Dear Jenny, you will need Erica’s help with this.  Yes, it is some young part of you that somehow got tangled with your mother.  Remember when your mother took you to visit the Rogers sisters, who had been servants to her family, and you thought you were being shown how your life would end.

Note: They were living in a miserable little apartment that smelled of urine.

Wednesday, May 10
Talk with Erica:
Read her the piece I wrote on Monday
She was struck by the sky being ill — color of an alcoholic’s skin
Moves in and out of un-metness
* Disappointing *        Looking for what might have started it I found the “folk singer” who came on Saturday, songs from the 60’s.  I had expected Bob Dylan, songs with soul and depth.  No — we had Charlie on the MTA, and Sloop John B.
— can represent so much of my life
so much was disappointing in my early life — a well of unprocessed grief
also needing soulfulness in this community

It became so clear. I was dealing with “a well of unprocessed grief.” I wanted depth and soul, and was born into a family who, as Jung suggested, turned to alcohol because they couldn’t find spirit in their lives.

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