Friday, May 9, 2014

How 'Divergent' Helped Me Through My Loss

Yes, the movie.

I just realized I never really talked about how I physically survived those first few horrible weeks after losing Petey.

The 2 weeks-worth of dinners from my sister, parents, and coworkers fed my body when I could barely take care of myself, and all the messages of love from everyone fed my soul when I couldn't imagine how I could get through the next hour nevermind the next day.  But going to the movies are what really helped me start to move on.

After spending weeks sitting in one spot on the couch all day long (and oftentimes most of the night) I knew I had to force myself out of my comfort zone and leave the house. But I was afraid. Afraid of unanticipated triggers, of breaking down, of having to make small talk, even of just seeing other people. I was surrounded by my invisible bubble of grief and shock and denial. I couldn't imagine how I would integrate back into "normal" life again.

So, I decided to go to the movies.  It's dark, no one gives a shit about anyone else (aka: no small talk or even eye-contact to be made), and ideally, you can lose yourself inside the world the movie creates for you. Plus, I've always liked going to the movies alone.

Divergent had just come out and I liked The Hunger Games so I went.  In fact, I went to see it in the theater three times in a matter of 2 weeks. THREE.  And it wasn't even all that good. But hear me out:  it wasn't about the movie, it was about DOING something. Anything. It was about figuring out a way to integrate myself back into the living, moving world again in whatever way felt possible to me.  And each time it got a little bit easier.

The first time I threw on whatever dirty clothes would fit me, crying as I pulled on my maternity jeans. I cried as I drove for the first time, feeling completely overwhelmed. Once there I couldn't even look up at the teenager who sold me my ticket but I entered that dark theater and sat there and stayed and was able to immerse myself (the majority of the time) in the futuristic world within the movie.

The second time I had to wear those maternity pants again but I expected it so it didn't hurt quite so much. I cried during the car ride to the theater again but once there I was able to look at the kid who sold me my ticket, and at the girl who sold me my popcorn, and I even returned a small smile from another woman who was also washing her hands at the bathroom sink.

The third time I actually showered first, wore clean clothes, and didn't cry once during the entire trip. I even went to Five Guys Burgers and Fries afterwards for dinner. And there was a family there with small children.  And I was okay. And after that, I knew I could go out in public and see people and see children and not fall apart.

It's like the movies held my hand as I got back on my feet and learned how to be in the world again. But why see the SAME move all three times, you ask?  Because I knew what to expect. There were already enough variables to deal with in just getting myself there successfully; I didn't want to deal with unknowns. I knew there were no storylines with babies. I knew none of the characters were pregnant. I knew it wasn't anything that would make me feel sadness. It allowed me to "live" in that other world for 2 hours instead of in my own world of constant, swirling, all-encompassing pain. Plus, I knew when the boring part was coming so I could make a bathroom trip without missing anything good :-)

So yes, Divergent actually helped me start to move on from my loss.  Regardless of the fact that I'd give the movie about a C+ this movie will always be important to me.

Plus, the guy who played Four ain't bad to look at:

By the way, the first time I went I was the ONLY person in the theater up until the credits started. Then a couple walked in. WITH A BABY.  Seriously?!!! I really felt like that was a cruel joke from the universe. The baby was sleeping for a while but obviously woke up partway through as I stared hearing sweet little baby noises and coos and cries during the quieter parts of the movie.  It felt like such a slap in the face. As the tears streamed from my eyes I contemplated fleeing from the theater back to the comfortable safety of my couch but I didn't. I stayed. And eventually I started to be able to (sort-of) ignore the baby sounds and focus again on the movie.  

That experience was extremely painful at the time but, in hindsight, it was probably the absolute BEST way I could have encountered hearing a tiny baby cry for the first time since losing Petey; in a dark, virtually empty theater where no one could see or hear me sob and I had an immediate distraction once I could focus on the movie in front of me again.  Since then, I have encountered a coworker's new baby, learned that one of my good friends is pregnant with twins, have seen lots of sweet baby pics on facebook, and (now that it's nicer weather and the windows are open) I often hear the cries of my next-door neighbors' 1 yr old daughter. And although every single time I feel at a minimum, a small stab to the heart and at other times, like my world is caving in and it's hard to breathe, it doesn't break me. I am still standing and am slowly figuring out how to work towards being OK.


  1. I just found your blog! I'm so sorry for your loss. But I'm glad Divergent could help you out of your slump. Hugs!

  2. It's funny how something so small and seemingly unrelated can be the biggest crutch. And also the way that you think that just going through the motions is nothing big, but when you look back you see just how strong you are. I am always proud of you, Chickin, and am glad you can see the strength within.

    1. Thanks Cici :-) It's funny because when I was going again and again, I felt a little crazy. I couldn't see from the outside why I was doing what I was doing. Now, looking back, it makes sense to me. I guess I just needed that so I'm glad I allowed myself to do it even if it didn't make a lot of sense.

  3. I have similar feelings about a movie we rented the first day we came home from the hospital. We watched The Internship or something like that, but I actually found myself laughing. I'll probably never, ever watch that movie again but I realized that there could be laughter after our loss. I am glad that you are taking these steps towards healing, but also allowing yourself to feel whatever emotions come your way. Hugs to you this weekend.