On Saturday, I met my Living Idol, Patti Smith, and I was crushed that she didn’t ask to be my best friend. She was actually perfectly nice, and autographed an old book of her poetry for me, but the distance between my fantasy and reality was intolerable for the rest of the day. I was overwhelmed by a feeling that my life was totally pointless. I wished someone would shoot me in the head. I felt a little like Mark David Chapman.
Today, I described the experience to my psychiatrist, who said, “Who’s Patti Smith?”
But he understood my feeling, because he is a good psychiatrist. My disappointment at not being recognized as the Chosen One had already settled down; I am grateful to Patti for all the joy and inspiration she’s given me for 35 years. When I replay the encounter in my head, it is pleasant and fulfilling.
Your whole life is a narrative that you create in your head, and it is subject to emotional states, varying needs, perspective and the passage of time.
Some people need drugs to shift the narrative from unendurable darkness to something more moderate. Other people seem to operate from a narrative that has little to do with reality but casts everything in a favorable light.
At my grief group tonight, I cried at every single story of loss, and wondered how all of us parents can create a narrative that will allow us to find meaning in our lives, not to mention acceptance of finality. I think the idea is to trudge through every day and month and year until you believe you’re something more than a grieving mother.
I think I use this blog as a way to shape my ongoing narrative. It helps to structure my thoughts and feelings. I’m gradually learning not to be rattled when someone doesn’t like what I write. I’m even going to ignore a new outburst from that Crazy Russian Lady. I think this proves that I’m mellowing with old age. Or maybe I’m just exhausted.