I’ve been told that when faced with uncomfortable situations, or when asked to describe how I’m feeling and how badly things hurt, I laugh. I make a small chuckle and remain mute until the person who makes the inquiry leaves me alone. Laugh, and do not feel. Laugh, and do not speak. Laugh, and laugh, until it actually becomes funny. Then neither them nor me will remember the seriousness of the conversation.
I have laughed things off for years. And years. And years. And now that I’m older, things are not that funny. Things don’t go away anymore with me being mute. I don’t find results from picking up a new hobby, going to a different meeting or adding more hours at work to avoid being left with my emotions. Part of this is because things have gotten deeper now. The other part is that everything I tried to laugh off, smile away or didn’t cry about at the time didn’t actually go away. When I woke up, they were still there. When he left, they were still there. And now that I’m older and have to make room for more aspects of my life, I have to deal with these things and decide what’s worth keeping and what’s worth dealing with in order to get rid off.
How much time could I have saved if I actually dealt with things that were wrong, rather than playing pretend until they became right? What if I actually mourned that loss? Or, unpacked how I felt after that interview? They didn’t love me back; what if I healed that hurt by forcing myself to love me rather than forcing myself to love somebody else? I probably would’ve had more than enough room by now. But now here I am, touching things that I had set down to cool off and finding that they still burn.
My excuse was that I didn’t have time. I had a meeting, or work. Or I had to go listen to someone else talk about their problems when I was “fine”. The honest true is that has time; I just avoided using it by placing other things, or anything, into that time. Time can heal wounds, but I never gave my wounds time to breathe without slapping another time consumer on as a bandaid.
I was under the terrible impression that strong women are the ones who jump over the hurdles that life throws at them. I thought that strength was how fast you could move on and walk out on the other side unaffected. But, I think that strength may actually be in your arms, and how you can actually use them to maneuver your way through what it is you’re going through. How you weed yourself out. How you pick up and throw away the heavy things. How you wash your hands with the mess that tries to stain you. I’ve been running, and jumping, and landing elsewhere for a very long time now. I think now is the season where I find strength in my arms.