I’ve been thinking about “me too,” and how it is used. The photo of Emmy in yesterday’s post helped me with my thinking. “Me too” had come to suggest pretense to me, pretending someone else’s shoes fit.
Don’t get me wrong: in no way am I disparaging the MeToo movement, whose voices have given the strength of the many to the one. As depressing (if unsurprising) as MeToo truth has been, it has also been affirming; the one person who comes forward now has the voice of the many behind her or him.
But if you tell me about a worry or fear or grief you have, and I respond “me too” or some variation of it, aren’t I slamming a door on you? Dismissing you and changing the subject to me? Aren’t I saying “enough about you”?
Once I was talking to a dear friend about a problem in my life. She responded, “I can’t even imagine.” It was the most supportive thing she could have said. If she had said “me too,” she wouldn’t have helped at all; she would only have been pretending to walk in my shoes, pushing me out of them.
When is “me too” genuine empathy, and when is it just upstaging?
And that, dear reader, is how yesterday’s post came to be.
Yesterday, dear reader, came the fifth sunless day of rain in five days. Also came the haulers in a pickup truck pulling an open wooden cart. They hauled stuff from my garage and then we drove to my storage unit and they hauled stuff from there.
And the rain poured down.
I followed them out of the storage place, and there was no way not to see the detritus of my life, soaked and wilted, riding in front of me. The big cardboard box with the old Christmas tree figured prominently in the heap. Some of the stiff old branches had fallen out and, formed yet in their bent upward curve, lay there appearing to wave goodbye to me. It was the forlornest vignette to be imagined.
That tree belonged to my parents and had seen many, many Christmases. Yes, I still have the top. Yes, it was time to let it go.
But did it have to wave at me?
And the rain poured down.
I came home and attacked the garage, sweeping and shoving and piling. The temperature was 59 and it was suddenly April. We haven’t seen the sun all week, but there was warmth! The daylilies were sprouting!
This morning the temperature is 18, windchill 0. A winter wind rattles the house and my head. Poor daylilies. Poor old frozen Christmas tree.
Mourning is a process not meant to be cured or stopped or unfelt. Grief will be, just as the winter rains will be. I loathe Pollyanna-isms, but there are those sprouting daylilies.