Hiding the Pain

In Ithaca, New York, Robin Botie's friend walks across her garden rocks, tiny and agile as a cricket.“You don’t show enough struggling in your blogs. I need to see more of the pain,” my friend, Lion, tells me. I call her Lion because that’s what she looks like on her good days. “I want to see the raw parts. I want to hear more about your suffering,” she says, seated across from me at Tamarind Thai Restaurant where I’m giving her a copy of my manuscript. Today is not one of her good days. It looks like she may cry at any moment. I’ve already shifted the conversation to avoid discomfort. How can someone in so much pain and loss stand to see more?

Only a few hours earlier I had photographed Cricket, another friend, leaning on a garden hoe, using it as a walking stick. It was hot and muggy when it wasn’t raining. And in between shots Cricket had retreated to her wheelchair to recover from the effort it took to stand upright for five minutes. But she was determined to carry on with the photo session.

“I want to be tiny in my garden, sitting on the rocks,” she had said. Hence the name Cricket. Afterwards, gathering the garden shots into Photoshop as she looked on, I quickly erased the photo I had not intended to snap, of Cricket wincing as she collapsed into her wheelchair. We watched as the other eighty shots flashed across the computer screen like a movie of her easily traversing the lawn. Before I left, I started to photo-shop together the pretty picture that would make us both smile."I want to be tiny in my garden, sitting on the rocks," Robin Botie's friend in Ithaca, New York had told her. So she photoshopped her tiny, in her garden.

“I want to offer my readers hope,” I tell Lion, over our Thai roasted duck. “They’ll never keep reading my blogs if they have to drag themselves through all my suffering.” But inside my head I wonder if the manuscript I’ve written is raw enough.

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6 thoughts on “Hiding the Pain

  1. Lynne Taetzsch

    Robin, you have pain enough and have express it beautifully throughout your blogs. Part of healing is accepting life after our loved ones die. We can grieve and heal at the same time. I celebrate your love for your daughter and your love for life.

    Reply
    1. robinbot Post author

      Thanks, Lynne. You have said so much in just a couple of short lines. I really appreciate your keeping up with my blogs. Cheers to you, to your loves and losses, and to your best life.

      Reply
  2. Elaine Mansfield

    Yes, hope to balance the hard stuff. So much of my rewriting was about putting myself in it, especially in the first 25 pages. My anxious self, my whining self, my not coping well self, the part of me that was exhausted with suffering–all standing next to love, moments of grace, and hope. Some people will find my book too “realistic.” Others too “idealistic.” I think it got better as I added more of my subjective reactions and more self-description so readers could see me, too. We give it our best, listen to everyone, and decide what we want. I love the photos of brave soul Cricket. Very creative, Robin.

    Reply
    1. robinbot Post author

      Hi Elaine. Thank you again. And thanks for a reminder to look for myself in my first pages. I can’t wait to read your book cover to cover. The chapters I heard read in writing group were amazing. Realistic and idealistic and beautiful.

      Reply
  3. Kirsten Wasson

    It’s quite the balancing act! But what I’ve heard of your ms is full of both pain and hope. Love and loss and showing others that life is worth living–and laughing at. You Your work is inspiring. From what I know of it, you walk a very delicate walk between loss and life–going forward no matter what. And even laughing.

    Reply
    1. robinbot Post author

      Thank you, Kirsten. Maybe too delicate a walk between loss and life. I’m going to try to be more gutsy and brave like you. I need to put on my cowgirl boots and get out and go. Not just inching forward, but going far and fast and into unimaginable territory. Cheers to you and your new home in LA.

      Reply

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