When you’re in severe physical pain, the only thing you want is for the pain to go away. I think the same can be said for our emotional pain. Our emotional and mental anguish can overwhelm us to the point where we let it consume us or we try to get rid of it by ignoring it all together.
But it’s always there, disguising itself, keeping us within our myopic view of the world – within the context of our pain. That’s pretty much true for me at the moment, but I know quite a few people who can’t see they are in pain, no less address it. I think this is true for one of my neighbors – a woman who moved next to us about a year ago.
I’m a live and let live type of person and pretty private. My neighbor, on the other hand, has no problems telling you more than you need to know about herself. She’s a friendly person, who is open about her life and is sure about herself and her opinions – perhaps to the point that other people’s opinion don’t seem to matter.
I was walking my dogs when I first met her. She was looking at the rental house and wanted to know a few things about the neighborhood and the landlord. She recently separated from her husband and was looking for a place in the same school area so her son, who has special-needs, could be close to his father and his friends. She was also looking to see if they would lower the rent because she liked the fact that it had a back yard for her dog training business. I am probably writing run-on sentences, but she just talked on and on providing more personal information as she went. I wasn’t sure if this was the way she was (very open) or if she was just nervous.
She stopped by today to give her condolences about Butter’s passing. It was nice and considerate of her. Our conversation started normal enough with the usual small-talk, and then it turned to a weird confessional. I live too close DC to completely avoid getting into political discussions, but I prefer not to engage in them. That’s not the case for my neighbor.
She had a just come back from being interviewed by the BBC about the current Virginia politics scandal and if she thought they should all resign. She was worried about whether or not she said the right thing, and lamented that she didn’t say Trump should resign too. She had lost her opportunity to make a statement, to make an international statement. The conversation turned serious suddenly, and she talked about being raped when she was in her 20’s about 30 years ago in New York City and how Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination hearing had triggered her trauma.
She said she was told that there was no statute of limitations on rape and they would open a case if she wanted to file a report. I asked her if that’s what she wanted to do because it’s a difficult decision to make and litigation can be an unimaginably traumatic and grueling process to undertake – she wasn’t sure. But she wanted to take a stand against this administration and to show her son that this, this political climate, is not normal.
Her son, at least her son was in a good place, a good school now. He hadn’t been doing well in public school and they kept putting him in special education classes and more special classes, she felt that they were just passing him off instead of helping him. And she was worried about how he would adjust with the separation, even though his father lived 5 minutes away. She and her husband separated because she just outgrew the small house they lived in and couldn’t deal with his early stages of dementia (I think he’s in his fifties, so relatively young).
But it seems that their family was going better now that she and her son moved out of the house. Apparently, she got into a car accident this past fall and now her husband takes their son to school and back. Despite his dementia, he can do the simple drive and the routine helps keep his mind engaged and its his time to spend with his son.
I am sure I am selectively leaving out a lot of the conversation. I remember these parts most because of the way her statements funnel down to the real source of her pain. Or maybe, I am projecting and seeing things through my pain. Either or, maybe both.
We’re always searching for bigger things than ourselves to be a part of when we’re feeling powerless and searching for purpose. I see her tackling this great white whale of social injustice, trying to make the world right for her son because she feels powerless to correct his immediate problems – a fractured family and an inadequate school system.
I feel for her, because very few of us live in balanced harmony where all the different parts of our lives work together instead of the chaos of work demands ruining your personal life or family demands clash with your personal time, etc. The one thing I do know, is that it so very easy for you to get distracted by the “bigger picture” stuff that you take for granted all the little things that actually make up your life – your relationships, family, friends, your health.