Taking an Analogy Way Too Far

I learned something about myself last week. NJ uses this analogy to describe how I deal with emotionally difficult situations, which is to essentially close the door to the painful feelings enough to be able to talk without feeling the pain – when I’m at work, for example. What I discovered last week, though, was that I don’t necessarily know when to open that door back up and let the feelings turn to tears when they need to. What inevitably ends up happening is that my painful feelings find a window to crawl through and then they climb into another completely unrelated window and come shooting out that door.

Are you following? Basically, I overreact to seemingly unrelated things because I’m missing Olivia but not being honest with myself. It’s frustrating and completely catches me off guard.

I feel myself doing it now. There’s a very sweet girl I work with who just got married and is now pregnant. She’s 38 years old and has never thought of herself as the mommy-type. However, she’s super excited now. I’m excited for her, too. As I said to her when she asked if I was okay, I don’t want her baby; I just want mine. Talking about her baby doesn’t make me sad…necessarily. It’s the remembering how happy I was when I was at that stage. It’s the ever so comforting feeling that everything will be okay that’s slapping me in the face. Because it wasn’t okay for me. Not even close.  I almost find myself wanting to tell her to not get her hopes up, but I know that would be cruel. It takes so much energy…

We’ve been talking about going to lunch since I’ve been back and I keep procrastinating. I want to spend time with her and I want to talk – she’s very sensitive and I know I could be honest – but I’m scared of being too personal with a closed door. Does that make sense? I’ll talk like I’m okay and then I’ll go home and fall apart over Lily not eating enough for dinner.

So today we went to lunch but I invited some other people to keep the conversation neutral. I could tell she was disappointed but she would never say anything. I want to tell her what my problem is but at the same time we’re not really that close, so that may be too much information.

All I know is I’m left with this sinking feeling that I won’t be able to fully explore because of meetings and work for the rest of the day. My fake door will have to stay closed for a little while longer. I just hope I can remember later what’s really bugging me. And I hope it’s not when I’m sitting on the bathroom floor tonight sobbing over the death of more than just my innocence.

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  1. #1 by Bridget (turtle) on February 16, 2010 - 5:49 pm

    I compartmentalize too, for the same kinds of reasons. I need to be OK at work, when I’m caring for my living son, when I’m at the grocery store – so I know how to say “fine, thanks and how was your weekend?”. I can even stay at the lunch table at work while my pregnant co-worker complains about the inconvenience of maternity pants.

    But then, just like you describe, it is really hard to know when to open that door back up. We have to do it at some point, but it is so hard to know when and with whom. And I don’t know how, so I don’t, and then I flip out when I overcook dinner or my living son dumps his magnets out on the kitchen floor when that isn’t what is wrong at all.

    Thanks for the analogy – it makes sense, even if it doesn’t tell us how to fix it.

  2. #2 by CaDaLily on February 18, 2010 - 7:24 am

    It’s good to see I’m not alone in this technique. It makes sense for those of us who don’t really have the downtime in a day to get to think about our grief. We just keep shoving it back in our minds but it must come out somewhere. I guess that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise but it sure can be. I’m trying to use my drive home to think and be sad by myself. I talk to myself, Olivia, feel sorry for myself, cry by myself and by the time I get home, lately anyway, I’ve been okay. We’ll see how that goes. I cry a lot more now but maybe not crying isn’t really a good sign.

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