Tonight one of my most treasured and dearest friends allowed me to accompany her to the Philadelphia premier of Next to Normal (one of the treats of living in Philadelphia is the wonderful shows that come here off Broadway).
Here is an excerpt from her brilliant column on the musical for a little background:
“. . . the saga of a bipolar housewife struggling to keep her equilibrium amid a barrage of pharmaceutical and psychotherapy protocols, opened on Broadway in 2009, few could have predicted its celebrated two-year run.
The unlikely hit earned a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and three Tony Awards along the way, including Best Original Score for composer Tom Kitt and lyricist Brian Yorkey, and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for Alice Ripley in the role of the wildly unpredictable Diana Goodman.”
On my way home I found myself contemplating the concept of “normal.” I mean really, what is normal? And I found myself particularly perplexed by two things the leading actress, who was playing a bipolar woman, said.
First, not a direct quote, “maybe it was my soul that was broken.” And second, again not a direct quote, “four months, four months of depression and then they put you on drugs. Four months to grieve the death of my son!”
In the musical the bipolar woman is grappling, and has been for sixteen years, with the loss of her son. Her son was only eight months old when he faded away.
So tonight I am wondering just where each of our souls has been broken. What has wounded us to our core, yet we have never had time to touch, to hold, to name, and to heal?
Some of us have suffered miscarriages. Others have experienced abuse, in many varied forms. Still others the untimely and painful death of a mother or father.
Where has your soul been broken? And, have you given yourself time to grieve it?
Infertility can be an awakening in our lives. It can be a gift, a flashing sign that tells us there is something deeper, something hurting, some mirage we may see yet don’t name.
My wish for each and all of us is that we have more than four months before we are classified as “broken” and given medication to cover over the break. That we have as much time as we need to mend the hurt, to grieve the losses, and to learn how to see ourselves anew, with the old fear, anger, and hurt finally released.
The musical ends with a wonderful song about the light coming–that after the dark, dark night the light comes.
Each of our awakenings is coming; our light is on the horizon. However, perhaps we need to make peace with what is lurking in the dark before the sun can shine.
Mabe, just maybe, infertility is a gift leading us into the dawn of the day where each place our souls have been broken can be gently nurtured back to life.
And perhaps being next to normal is more normal than we think.