I’VE BEEN DOWN TO DIXIE

“I went to a cobbler to fix a hole in my shoe
He took one look at my face
And said ‘I can fix that hole in you.
I beg your pardon, I’m not looking for a cure.
I’ve seen enough of my friends in the
Depths of the God-sick blues.

You know I’m a liar.
You know I’m a liar.
Nobody helps a liar.”

I’ve long prided myself on my incredibly high pain tolerance. I laughed through my tragus piercings and hardly flinch when I smack my funny bone. When snowboarding, any pain I experience doesn’t even register, let alone affect me. Last Saturday afternoon as I ripped down the Coaster run, I let my toe edge dip into the snow before I was ready and completed two cartwheels with a heavy board and boots strapped to my feet. Surprisingly, the transition from my second cartwheel back to carving was seamless. Downtime was non-existent. That’s not to say, however, that I didn’t feel it the next day.

My resilience in the face of physical pain begged a single question of me the other day: “If I am so quick to bounce back, pick myself up and dust off when my body’s battered, why is it seemingly impossible to do the same when the heart is what’s ripped?

Perhaps it’s because physical injury is tangible, often visible, and tracking the progress of healing is a much more practical process. We cut open our hand, the blood coagulates, inflammation begins, the surface of the wound epithelializes, soon after scar tissue develops and, if all goes according to plan, in time there isn’t even a remnant of the injury.

"Look At the Blood Stains..."

The same steps cannot be said of damage to our inner selves. The pain is not the same, subsequent emotions ping back and forth and up and down like a pinball machine and there is no cookie cutter-method to finding a cure. And even so, sometimes what looks healed over can break apart and open up, bleeding once more, starting the healing process all over again from square one.

Yesterday afternoon, as the sun was setting and casting warm golden light through the blinds, I sat in my therapist’s office for the second time in as many weeks. While I had much to say during my last appointment, I was much quieter this time around. She asked how I felt. I responded as saying “oblivious… and discombobulated.” Waking up each day and not knowing how you’ll feel moment-to-moment is disheartening and frustrating.

One thing I have been feeling a great deal of in the past few days is anger. As a child, it was never seemingly okay with my dad that I express anger. So many of the emotions we feel are labelled as “bad emotions,” but the truth is that they’re all okay – how they’re expressed is what’s most important.

Anger isn’t an emotion I’ve ever learned to express, but what I’ve noticed is the ways in which it’s seeping out of me lately. Snarky retorts to strangers who cut me off on the sidewalk and a death stare at a man who accidentally knocked my BlackBerry out of my hands on the bus yesterday are just two examples. While it’s clear that I’m trying to reveal what is – and isn’t – acceptable to me, I need to learn to express these sentiments in a way that won’t find me in a scrap fight.

My therapist suggested perhaps I look into taking up boxing.

It’s beyond cliché to say, but it’s tough to navigate life experiences like this without a manual. It’s a strange place to be, not unlike wandering a foreign city without a map and no knowledge of the language. I’m walking a fine line between encouragement through amazing personal growth and a dark place completely consumed with devastating sadness.

When black and white mix, there is only grey. Everything looks the same.

To be lonely is a habit,
Like smoking or taking drugs.
And I’ve quit them both,
But man, was it rough.

And now I am tired.

All lyrics from “Acid Tongue” written by Jenny Lewis; © Warner Bros. Records

7 Comments on “I’VE BEEN DOWN TO DIXIE

  1. The thing about emotional healing is there are no clear stages of healing, no matter how we try to classify the process. Sure psychologists try to identify the ‘denial’, ‘anger’ and ‘sadness’ stages however personal healing isn’t a quick and easy step-by-step maneuver. The only true statement that can be made, in my opinion, about personal healing and growth is: “It takes time”.

    I think that it will take some time Keira, but in addition to that, it takes some great friends who have got your back. And you’re surrounded by plenty of them.

    xo

  2. It’s like grieving…we go through different stages and only time will help the healing to a certain degree. Given the circumstances…you have every right to feel sad and angry and probably a lot of other emotions as well. Lean on us whenever you need to. xo

  3. Love those lyrics… maybe I’d love her music too?

    Re: Boxing

    not a bad idea! you could always tape a note on the bad with a list of all the things that are making you angry. sounds good, no?

    love and hugs to you…

  4. wow this post really hit home for me today, this was my latest post to twitter yesterday…

    “i’ve had this pain in my heart for a couple of months now and i’m just coming to realize that it’s not a physical problem at all … ouch”

    it really got me thinking about how emotional pain can manifest in physical ways and as you’ve said, in our words & actions.

    wishing you more growth and less sadness ♥

  5. The comment by Lindsay rings clear in my own experience: My mother being my rock, my sound stone of reason, telling me only time will heal my greatest wounds. I find myself deep in an uncomforting position these days myself. Completely agitated with everyone I come across, completely dissatisfied with my life in general , and overwhelmed with the many great tasks i have to deal with on my daily basis.

    After a couple of years, I have had to welcome back into my life the medication that once kept me balanced, and that brings a strange comfort and sadness to me. Comfort in knowing i can hopefully expect a change in my mood and affect, but fear that now i will have no one to share in my journey. I have for so long, kept to myself, tried so hard to get through this seemingly unharmed, unaffected. Just like anyone else, i go through each day avoiding, wondering, crying.

    “Tomorrow is a new day”, i always say, but when will that give me peace? Time, time, time, rings clear in my ears and heart but it doesn’t help heal the pieces of my heart as fast as I would have hoped. I want to express, but I’m numb. Every moment brings worry and an anxious heavy heart that i am trying to work through.

    I gather from your words that you are a woman of deep and compassionate thought and being. I can’t speculate on what you are thinking or feeling other than the fact that you feel deeply… and I share in that, and respect what you have written deeply… Dunno, kind of speechless… Your post mimics my existence so similarly it scares me.

    Therapist or none, is my decision right now. Have had several in the past that i never quite connected with, so i feel as though i am sitting on ledge. I honestly don’t know where to go, i’m not sure where i feel “saFe”, but i do know i feel angry and anxious. Wondering where i go from here?

  6. My natural way of dealing with bad situations, or serious situations is almost business-like. I can cry like a fool watching a movie, but when it comes to my real life…I can’t cry. I don’t see any point in it, for to me, it won’t help the matter any by crying.

    When my dad was going through cancer, my mom would cry on the phone alot. It used to drive me nuts and I felt like telling her to stop crying. BUT…I learned to recognize that everyone is different at dealing with things. And I had to get used to the fact that my mom deals by crying. I deal by not crying. So…I had to almost train myself to let her cry with me.

    Same with my daughter. I find she is so like me already. Especially when her father went “deadbeat” on her…she didn’t cry as much as I thought she would. And I had to bring it out and tell her it was OK to cry, and if she wanted to, then it’s good. Because I know that she is not me. And I don’t want to forge her to be like me…even unexpectedly.

    Anyway, I think it’s a huge step that you recognize that some of it bears from how you couldn’t express anger as a child.

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