Monday, March 02, 2009

Going Through It

There’s something in the air lately. Some of it's the optimism, and relief, that comes from finally having a President worth believing in. A President who not only understands the depth and frailty of our economy, our safety, our future, our planet, but a leader who believes in our ability to make it through times such as these and come out stronger on the other side.

But the other emotion traveling through our atmosphere is realism. The realistic expectations of the grownups we're being forced to become instead of the children we've been for almost a decade now. We're finally being told to be adults, instead of greedy, spoiled, careless brats. Or to be fearless, instead of being full of fear. Not fearless enough to spend money we don't even make, but fearless in the way we attack our real lives. Fearless in the way we look at reality and deal with it, make the most of it, adore it. We’re supposed to learn what matters, what counts, what lasts. We’re supposed to take stock of our lives when we go through something like this, when our friends are losing jobs and money isn’t just tight it’s squeaking.

Right now, some of our friends are taking leaps they weren't before. Quitting and starting over. Leaving for a new city. Being brave instead of refusing to move. Several friends are getting divorced. Others have considered it, dropped it, picked it up again and set it down in some dark corner hoping it will stop making noise. In every case, money or lack thereof has absolutely nothing to do with it. Most have been married a long time, some more than 20 years, others ten or eleven or twelve. In almost every case the wife or the husband – or both – have been thinking about it, tossing the idea of it around, for years. And then shoving it under the rug. Until the rug is so high they have to walk around it when entering the house.

For some of us, the rug covers a multitude of things we refuse to look at. Whatever we’re ashamed of, afraid of, loathe to admit. The way we eat too much, care about ourselves too little. The phone calls we never make, the list of to do's that gets longer and longer, the life we let slip away, the lies we mumble to ourselves and others, the way we act like we'll live forever and a day. And we walk around The Rug until we’ve created a groove in the floor, then a gutter. And we look up from the gutter at the shadow that mountain makes and we feel buried beneath it. And our necks ache so, constantly turning away from the shadow it casts.

One of the best things I learned during therapy was this: Whatever it is, you have to go through it. Not around it, through it. Grief, fear, loss, addiction, anger, hatred, self-loathing, we’re so afraid to go through the darkness of the woods. Like a child we keep pretending if we don't acknowledge it, it will cease to exist. Close our eyes, whisper the words, poof! it will disappear, like some lovely fairy tale.
But it doesn't.
And it won't.
And it's ourselves we bury in that darkness, not just those Things We Shall Not Name.

And so to my friend who keeps shoving things under the rug:
Get out the vacuum.
You can get through this.
God it will be messy and painful and there will be times you can’t stand another second and you'll cry and you'll wish you'd never started and you will feel awfully alone and utterly overwhelmed. But then you'll see something through the trees: a light.
And you will be brave.
Because sometimes brave is the only thing to be.

- Janet

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