This writing business is tricky. Soul-baring and truth-telling required, but It’s a delicate balance between privacy and honesty. I hope I’ve achieved it.

Coronavirus Cases Rise as U.S. Marks Holiday Weekend—The Wall Street Journal

One final viral infusion: Trump’s move to block travel from Europe triggered chaos and a surge of passengers from the outbreak’s center—WaPo

May 23, 2020

The elephant in the room
by Ruth Neuwald Falcon, Seattle, Washington

When I was young, I often acted out the part of the extrovert. I’m still not sure what I was back then. The last twenty or more years, I became more and more introverted, more and more preferring to be home, often alone. I had jobs, but few of them took me out of the house. In the first years of working at home, I felt self-conscious about it. I didn’t know anyone else working this way at the time and felt that people didn’t really believe I was working. Now, work-at-home is a thing.

When this started, because of all those years of practice, working at my kitchen table didn’t throw me the way it did people who were used to having workplaces to go to. On the other hand, the pandemic became official seven months after my marriage of 33 years imploded.

Even a marriage that went south a long time ago is a loss. You get used to a person being part of your life, imperfect though the life and the relationship may be. It fills some needs, some empty spaces. The empty spaces loom large these days, for all of us. But for me not to acknowledge that I am negotiating the pandemic, while also still in the relatively early stages of grief for a failed marriage, continues a pattern of hiding out that hasn’t served me well over the years.

When you feel you can’t, for whatever reasons—fear, denial, embarrassment, protection of the status quo, a strong sense of privacy—tell the truth about your life, introversion is a logical outcome. Also, loneliness and a feeling of being friendless on any meaningful level. 

This is what I’ve learned in the past months: If you want to have friends, real friends, you have to be willing to share the truth of who you are, what you are feeling. You have to risk that they will judge and withdraw from the intensity of your emotions. Or that they won’t. After the marriage ended, I had no capacity for subterfuge. There was nothing left but the truth so I had no choice but to share myself honestly with a small circle of people who let me know that they were genuinely and wholeheartedly there for me.

What I have gotten is the kind of unconditional love and acceptance that I have never received before. If you don’t reveal the truth about who you are and what you are feeling, the world is a very lonely place indeed. That is not to say that I no longer have a strong sense of privacy or that I am interested in baring my soul to all. I don’t want to do a confessional here, but honesty is essential to writing that has any real meaning. So I guess I am no longer willing or able not to talk about the elephant in the room.

This is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. Doing it during a pandemic adds a wholly unexpected layer of challenge. It has also been the most enriching. I am aware that, were I still in the marriage, there would likely be no Corona Support Blog, that I would still be putting my creative and practical energies into the furtherance of his work, which, worthwhile though it may be, isn’t mine. I didn’t know that mine had value on its own. It’s a hell of a way to find out, but I’m grateful that I did.

And I was wrong about not having friends. 

24 Comments

  1. Beautifully expressed. It took courage to share, and it has to be so hard to endure the aloneness of this pandemic so soon after the end of your marriage. We do find how much strength we actually have during times like this….and the friends we find we have who give us the love and support we need.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ruth,
      Your honesty is touching and encouraging of others of us who ‘hide out’ behind whatever strategies we have used to protect ourselves. You have clearly used this time for reflection and creativity. Thank you for taking the risk and trusting you will be supported.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Ruth,

    I just read your blog post, and want you to know that I love you and care about you. You are courageous to share how you feel here, I understand it, and I am lovingly holding you in my heart.

    I am here for you anytime you may need me, ❤️❤️❤️ Eileen

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dear Ruth, I’m so appreciating the courage and trust it must have taken you to write & publish this piece.

    My first thought/feeling after learning about your breakup was resentment about all your years of apparently quiet, but active support of Ted, visibly and not. I haven’t verbalized this before now.

    Could be a projection, now that I think about it, from my mom’s story, but that doesn’t negate how true your word rang to me after all these years of observing.

    You do have my full support, without expectations. Just so you know.

    Love, Shari

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ruth—Thank you for your vulnerability. It is hard to be open and honest with oneself, much less to do so in public. ‘’Through the stories on this blog and your own willingness to share your present, you give us a gift. Thank you. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ruth, your sharing is raw, brave, honest. Your courage reveals authentic healing, showing a way to step into real relationship with self and perhaps a small (but significant) circle of true friendship. Thank you for taking all the steps that have led to now❣️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you Ruth for this insight into your being. I always liked you from the first day I met you at Teletronics. Reading how you feel, how major events in your life have affected you, opens my heart to love you as a long lost friend. Life can be challenging as we are hit by events and the manications of others but learning lessons helps us get through. Be strong in your own way. You are a gift to the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You are a brave woman. Although we are only “virtual” friends who share a name, a birthday, a love of Springsteen and our friend Gail😊 I feel I know you pretty well from your posts and now your blog. I feel you are a friend and hope you know the in the virtual world, I am out here rooting for you too. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dearest Ruth. Thank you for your honesty and for bearing your soul.
    My feeling that marriage is neither rated success or failure, but yet another part of our journey to becoming more of who we are! Your words hold many truths for reflection. Much Love & Many Hugs my friend 💗💗💗

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I know of few people who can be this honest, yet not engage in self-pity. Life is a journey with unexpected turns. I am glad that you are able to gain a new sense of self-worth during this difficult time. Your writing is powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My dear, dear Ruth…how I appreciate and respect your being able to write this honest comment upon your life and the value of friendship! When you and Ted made the announcement that the two of you were separating, I did reach out to you, but I understood your need at that time to huddle a bit until you felt ready to reach out for deeper connection.

    Having chosen to leave (and eventually divorce) my husband of thirty years, I truly had compassion for your situation. I also recognized that yours was even more difficult, given Ted’s fame and the adoration so many have held for him. I believe you did not want any of us to have to choose sides. I did not feel it necessary to choose one of you over the other, but I did feel the desire to be your supportive friend.

    I am here should you wish to deepen our friendship, and I send you loving appreciation for the courage you have displayed!

    With affection, Ellin

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  11. YAY! It’s sort of fun to tell the truth, a little, I think, even when it’s a terrifying truth.

    I think it allows that truth to do two things: 1) change, and 2) accrue meaning.

    Keep teling the truth, please! The day you get in TROUBLE for it, hit me up for empathy and encouragement!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is a beautifully courageous piece of writing. After I read it I was struck with how this pandemic has forced you to sit shivah, to just be with no distraction and mourn the loss of your relationship. Even when we know a marriage is over we go through a mourning of the dream we thought it would be for us. I am so glad you have a community of friend to help you feel safe enough to grieve. I hope you count Michael and I among those friends. Love and hugs from our house to yours.
    Jeannie

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ruth, I read and re-read your piece (both last night and this morning) because there is so much here that calls for reflection.
    How courageous you are! How honest and authentic! You inspire me.
    Grief over a loss, such as a marriage that has ended, takes time and patience. You are doing the deep introspection, and I commend you for it. Your work—be it creative or emotional—has great value, and it sounds as though you are recognizing that as never before. Additionally, you are realizing how many caring friends you have. I am very honored to be included in that circle. Thank you, Ruth!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Dearest Ruth
    I always hold you in my heart & treasure you. Your willingness to share your vulnerability creates another new path for closeness & connection. May it be so.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Dearest Ruth,
    I am in admiration of your courage and generosity to share with us your story! Last meeting, you looked like you sooo needed a change! I know you can close one door and another will open, it’s just the Raw pain of going through this alone!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you for your heartfelt sharing and letting us into your life. You were ahead of the curve by working at home.
    Thirty-three years is a lifetime. I can only imagine how difficult and painful the dissolution of the marriage must be. Letting others see deep into one’s soul is a scary proposition. Most of us are scared too. Ruth, you are loved and valued. So very thankful you are connecting with all of us.
    Sherry

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This just in from Nashville – Ruth Neuwald Falcon is simply “the best kind of folks there is”. Period. Love “seeing” you and hearing you. John xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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