A Most Convenient Truth

Shamelessly stolen from the sig line of a friend’s email…

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket–safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
– C.S. Lewis

I thought of this today as I caught myself again doing something I’ve blogged about before…compartmentalizing. Today was different though, I was actually verbalizing, opening up another virtual drawer in the file cabinet of my psyche and ordering the ugliness in…only to slam the drawer shut behind it.

I left work this afternoon and the reality of the next few months of my life slapped me about the head and shoulders as I drove out of the parking lot. When my eyes teared and driving became a slight hazard, I started the compartmentalizing that is so a part of me now…but today I paid attention.

Step one: find a peppy song on the CD that you’re listening to currently. Since I had my RENT soundtrack in the player, I found “Living in America” which is one of my favorites.
Step two: Start the self talk audiotape in my head to distract me from the pain.(this is the point at which I caught myself verbalizing…) “It’s not so bad. You don’t really know that many people here. You need to get out of South Carolina. They are just co-workers. You’ll make new friends. You’ll have a new life. It will be better there…etc etc etc etc.”
Step three: convince yourself that whatever it is that hurts doesn’t. Repeat as necessary until the offensive thing/person/event/memory/etc that is the source of the trauma is as insignificant in your mind as next week’s grocery list.

I was actually riding along saying out loud “It doesn’t hurt.” Literally. But it does. Just like every other bad experience in my life that I’ve tried to compartmentalize to avoid a backdraft of emotion, it hurts. I do have friends here. I have a routine. I have a life here.

LORDY I just did it again. Teared up and then forced myself to pay attention to my typing (“dang, I need a new keyboard, this one is loud”) so that I wouldn’t cry…wouldn’t hurt. I think I’ve been doing this all my life. I did it when we moved every four years when I was a child. I did this when my last grandparent died right around the time of my 13th birthday. I did this when I had to leave the people that had become important to me at Young Harris or Maryville or Camp Glisson or even Commerce High School. I did this when my childhood dog Buffy died and again when my Lizzard died last summer.

The concern now is what happens when this process fails? Will the dam break and drown me in left over crap that I really should have dealt with years ago? Or, more likely…will it have changed, “in that casket–safe, dark, motionless, airless,” into nothing but dust?

I think maybe it’s time to open the file cabinet and see.

“That drip of hurt…that pint of shame…goes away, just play the game…” -J. Larson, RENT

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