-cleaning up some old files on my computer.
One of the good things about seeing things I wrote a long time ago is that sometimes they apply back to me. Of course, a lot of it is junk, and should NOT rise again to the surface. But sometimes it is good for me to read again. This is one of those.
It was a response to a friend experiencing a difficult patch. But it could as well have been for me, just from one year to another. It may apply to you as well.
Well, “emotionally confused” has been a pretty homey place for me for the last 20 years, and my old shrink would probably have point out my ‘accidental’ pun there –on home being the locus for my confusion and suggest that I was revealing more than I had consciously intended. He would be right. My sense of my own pain over those years wants to jump up and say “yes! I know what it is like! Let me tell you all about it…!” But of course, that’s what pain does. It doesn’t want to talk about anything but itself, it doesn’t KNOW anything but itself – that it hurts. One of my greatest intellectual heroes (C.S. Lewis) described pain as a megaphone to get our attention. I hesitate to argue with someone I so much admire; but if pain is a megaphone, it’s a megaphone held up to my ear blaring so loudly that I can’t understand a word –I just want it to stop. But you know all about that.
It’s why pain needs a driver behind the wheel, a rational will that can make decisions – that include understanding what the pain is saying. If one lets pain take the wheel, well, I’ve seen enough of that to last me for quite a while. (of course, I have been told that I tend to get cold and analytical, so that’s a caution!)
If I had written your words, I would be talking about how one part of me is trying to keep control of the wheel, and not let pain drive – of being so afraid of how aggressive this pain is, that –well if I give it an inch, if I let it TOUCH the steering wheel, hell –If I let it even sit in the front SEAT, it’s going to make a grab for the wheel and run my life straight into a tree. I’ve been that afraid of my own pain (and sometimes of the pain of another), so afraid that I couldn’t even hold a conversation with it, and tried to simply exclude it. Once I tried so desperately to banish the pain of someone else that I seriously considered suicide – I mean method, timing, plans; all but the doing. How crazy is THAT! That was my ‘rational’ mind wrestling so hard for the steering wheel that IT jerked the wheel towards the edge of the bridge. That will never do.
The pain cannot be allowed to drive; but it is an equal (though opposite) error to banish it from the car. To exclude the pain from the conversation. I was at that time two people –deeply arguing – who needed to be integrated.
(And I warned you pain always wants to talk about itself! That’s all it knows.)
I hear you as feeling empty, numb and confused partly because you don’t want the pain to rule, perhaps very wisely so. I can sure understand that you don’t want to feel it, don’t want to access it –it is the monster in the closet that must be kept closed. “Frightening” is a good word.
I think that I need to remember that I am in control, and can look in that closet when I choose to, on my terms. For me, that has often been through writing – both privately, and later, publicly. I talked the monster into submission –literally talked its ears off (I know I mean “metaphorically” but there it is!). Now I have new confusions, but the pain part, while still here, is pretty tame –like a little dog –OK like a BIG dog – but he’s well trained – usually; he “most of the time” is well-mannered, performs some useful service, and still scares me a little.
But I for one might be encouraged to not try to banish the pain, but instead find a safe way to dialogue with it. You are quite competent to master it, and have it serve you. I have seen some who still have it the other way around, and it is not pretty. I think you have a bit more steel than that.
Always in my prayers!