Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

You Learn To Live Without

You learn to live without.

Ah yes.

How I have learned.

I learned at a young age. But most recently, I spent ten years absent from the ties that bound me most in this world and there was not a day that went by where I was not without struggle.

You learn to live without.

What did I learn:

I learned to be alone in my grief. 
I learned that I could quickly recognize it another.
I learned that I don’t know how to stop loving.
I learned that everything and every day reminds me of what was lost.
I learned that most people leave you.
I learned that I barely take deep breaths and when I do, everyone around me hears them.
I learned that my first tendency is not to lean on people.
I learned that I muscle through my pain when I am really near collapse.
I learned that I can be alone on every single holiday, and my birthday.
I learned that I can endure surgeries without the touchstone of my biology.
I learned that I can forgive people who have betrayed me.
I learned that I have the potential to be just like the people who have left me in an ocean of silence.
I learned what it means not to be afraid of myself.
I learned that I know profound gratitude.
I learned that the truth matters to me more than anything. Hearing it. Saying it.
I learned that I want to feel joy again.
I learned that I love myself and I lost myself.
I learned that I know who I am.

You learn to live without.


Being a great thespian, I had the tremendous fortune of seeing Idina perform many times and it was always an enriching and exciting and truly spectacular experience which I could barely put into words. I have shared her music with people who have never heard certain songs and they have watched me focused and flooded with tears. Her voice, for me, is simply great medicine. But it couldn’t possibly be, if it weren’t fed by something rich, and raw and authentic.

I always wanted to meet her, but with the 43 billion others who feel precisely the same way, well, “you [just] learn to live without.”

I thought about waiting at the stage door many-a-time, but it just never felt right to me to be in the wild vortex of energy. I’ve always felt protective of her, like I wanted to “cloak” her from the “grabbers” and “screamers” knowing how much she had just given of herself. It just never felt right to ask more of her. Not to me.


A few days ago, I stepped out of a building in New York and I was talking with a friend when I saw a woman sauntering slowly up the street in my direction. I stopped speaking mid-sentence and focused solely on the figure coming towards me, knowing instantly that it was her.

I simply opened my arms and began speaking to her.

I recognized something in her which I know lives inside of me. And of course, I wanted to spend the rest of the day with her. Well, maybe more than just the day.

When I saw “Elaine Stritch At Liberty” she spoke about the few times in her life which somehow changed her so deeply, she can source them at any moment.

This is now one of those times for me. I wasn’t certain why, at first. But I see now, that it opened something in me which I have been living without for a long time. 

Anyone who meets Idina will undoubtedly report that she is funny, and kind and generous, smart, insightful, powerful, authentic, and her talent is in a category unto itself!!! 


After seeing her perform at Radio City Music Hall last night, which was unstoppable brilliance, I began thinking more about If/Then and how candidly she spoke about her personal transitions. I was struck by the fact that she has a beautiful theatre family, whom she referred to as such. And I started to think that healing and resilience really happens in a force field of love. 

I learned to live without that with few exceptions for a long time. And I think that was one of the reasons meeting her went so deeply inside of my cells. Recognition, whether you go without it, or whether you are offering it, can be so deeply healing.

Yes, I adore her. And her music, and her spirit and her talent. But I am talking about an experience. And I am interested in integrating the experience so that I stop the experience of learning to live without.

In John Guare’s play, “Six Degree’s of Separation,” during one of my favorite scenes, Ouisa says the following:

“But it was an experience. I will not turn him into an anecdote. How do we fit what happened to us into life without turning it into an anecdote with no teeth and a punch line you’ll mouth over and over for years to come.- How do we keep the experience?”


I think I am beginning to see that the way to do this may be through the integration of learning to live without while allowing some good peeps around you through the process.

Thank you, Idina. Just thank you.


Jill Bacharach

Thursday, June 5, 2014

"Like Them"

I sat with my beloved friend today. She is a force of tenderness who, with one look, can help me feel like I could literally take on the world and also melt into a million pieces. I feel so deeply loved by her in a way that it disorients me. She has been the most influential person in my life. And I cannot utter her name without an ocean of hope and deep abiding love welling up inside me.

Today she didn’t understand something which I need to understand more than anyone. I sit now, feeling guilty for asking her to bear witness to my pain. She’s seen enough of it. Truly. 

I sat with her and much of what I did was cry. I cried and cried and cried and cried.

I was catching her up on the very painful narrative of what I had set about to heal in my life this last year, which turned out to hurt me almost unbearably. 

Like many, I have had a history of being abandoned in my family of origin. The pattern is very real and very deep. And I have always been so very cautious to not be someone who would abandon another. 

Yet, the last few days, I made a decision which was causing me to feel like I had abandoned someone I have loved and the reaction was activating something inside of me which was terribly painful, and I would even go so far as to say, “harrowing.”

It was my worst fear.

“I am just like them.”

So the pain of that was what was playing over and over and over inside of me today while I was with my cherished friend. Oy, I am really carrying this!

As I sit now, in my home with my beloved dog, who is so deeply settled next to me after a nice walk, with ice in my glass, listening to his breath, which always lifts my heart and changes my posture, I am realizing something else.

“I am just like them.”

“I do abandon people.”

Every single time I have felt “that” pain, and I know the pain I mean, I have been abandoning myself for the sake of not wanting “to be just like them.” What a laugh! When you run from fear, it comes running after you and it is always faster!

So big deal!

I am not going to fall to pieces. 

I am just going to stop it. 

Because as I wrote here long ago, (and I knew I was onto something when I wrote it): 

The only way to heal a life is to not repeat a pattern.

So what. I am like them. But I also have awareness and agency over my choices. 

I have boundaries. And I exercise them. And I am proud of that. And I am no longer going to spend unnecessary minutes or hours or weeks or months or years explaining what I need and therefore, abandoning myself, and losing myself, to the point where there is no self left to love.

I forgive my family for abandoning me. 

I forgive myself for not being able to stick with my last relationship. 

I need to keep forgiving myself for all of the times I have abandoned myself. There have been many. 

But it stops now. And if I mess up, I start over and it stops again.

My friend calls me an orphan. I know I am not alone in that. 

Right now feels pretty great, actually. Because I am looking at myself as clearly as I can with so much love and I am no longer afraid of the very thing which I believed would completely dismantle me.

So… I guess I can take on the world now. 

Where should I start? 


Jill Bacharach

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


When your life is colored by loss, it can become defined by loss. It is not all that different than shadows. You must keep an eye on this. It’s your job.

Being happy may not come naturally even though it is a birthright. 

For some of us, being happy is a practice and a discipline.

That’s how it is for me.

We know that loss is cumulative and when we get hit by new experiences of loss, the previous and most impactful, and of course, most traumatic ones can begin to creep in like a sinking ship.


I have to coach myself constantly and move in a different direction even as the ship is ready to take me down. I have to.

My body gets heavy, as one would when she is drowning, and I have to awaken myself back to life. Back to now. Back to the life which is waiting and wanting to be lived.


I used to be told that I was so eager. I love that word, “eager.” But the truth is, I think of myself now more as quiet and as humble. I don’t see myself as the horse who can’t wait to be released from the starter gate. But I used to be that way. No question about it. 

Repeated events, let me be more specific: BETRAYAL and DEATH, beat the thrill of that anticipation out of me.  

You heal and heal and you heal and you love the people who love you, which is probably the most profound healing. And still there are always moments when you find yourself shattered in a million pieces.

But because it has become known to you, the putting yourself back together becomes easier and swifter. 

Dr. Maya Angelou said, “No one can make it alone.” I thought I was destined to. But I have a few dear souls who show me all of the time that I must stop thinking this way even as determined as I am to do so. Because even though I don’t tell them this, every time I think this way, I start to drown. And then, luckily, I awaken to the questions again and discipline or not, I recognize that there is a birthright which I am determined to discover, uncover and keep allowing to live inside of me. Because I know it is the best part of myself, the best part of who I am. The best part of who I will keep becoming. 

With love, discipline and prayer.


Jill Bacharach