In times of great stress we seem to find out thing about ourselves and others.
Things we didn't want to know.
In great sickness we find out who are friends are. here are friends who send e-mails. Then there are friends who follow around with a shop-vac.
In our worst hours there are friends who hold a mirror up to us and make us see our deep dark truth. In we either repay that kindness by facing that darkness and wrangling that dark passenger. Or we smash that mirror and turn our back on the friend who had the courage to call us on our bullshit.
In great sadness we find the person who knows that place you go to hide when you say you want to be alone, but you really shouldn't.
And again you will find the person you call with trembling hands, and weakest resolve who tells you quite honestly they just don't have the time for you right now.
It is both eye opening and heart wrenching the things that we find out when life decides to make things interesting for us.
There must be millions of dollars of research and man hours spent trying to find that one curative fix that would replace the healing effect of simple human kindness.
Thinking about the worst times in life, heart wrenched, broken, mind numb, body aching, mind all jumbled yet unable to focus on anything.
The urgency to be alone, yet the craving to be consoled.
The need to have someone say something to make everything make sense, and the wish that everyone would just stop talking.
Imagine if there was a pill, or a drink, or a patch. In your worst moment you pop it, slap it on, drop it under your tongue and suddenly your entire being is filled with the sense that everything really does happen for a reason and things really will work out and you are ok, and everything will be ok.
Suddenly you are calm, you can handle everything and you feel comforted and safe and assured that everything will be taken care of.
Someone would be a millionaire.
Part of me wonders if that is what alcoholics and drug addicts are seeking. However after questioning them as to how they feel when they do drugs they say it just makes them forget about how hard life is for a while.
But thats just it, what a poor drug or alcoholic I would be. I want something more. I already have a hard time remembering things and I need to remember things so that I know if they are working out.
I've tried a lot of things to reach this state of calm. Hypnotism,Meditation, Yoga, running, Martial Arts, Tai Chi, Fasting, even a sweat lodge ceremony.
Several times I have seen things I cannot explain. Several times I have felt closer to the earth and nature and closer in tune with my body.
Never have I felt that calm assurance that everything was going to be OK.
The reason I seek it out so diligently is that I am told that I appear to have it.
I am not a stranger to death. I saw my first animal corpse while hiking through the woods near my house. We came into a clearing and found a cat that had been nailed to a stump and gutted.
I had enough sense not to touch anything sent my friend back to call the police and stayed put.
I was the one who listened as the officers asked if anyone recognized the cat, saw any collars, or knew of anyone who hung out here a lot. I calmly told them about the neighbor who had three cats whose yard was adjacent, the kids who came down here to smoke who I'd seen the other night hanging out in the cemetery, and retraced our steps and showed them cigarette butts and shoe treads.
I felt angry about the cat because it was innocent. My friend threw up in the bushes and never spoke to me much after that.
A few years later my brother killed himself in our basement and I was the one who found him. I was 14. I remember waking up to my grandmother yelling hysterically.
I was screaming for 10 seconds. Then Nana slapped me and told me she needed me to be strong because she couldn't go into his room again. Something slid into place and I just handled it. I called 911,checked his pulse. I took the shotgun out of his dead hands, I unloaded it, I put on the safety and put it on the floor. I led the police down the stairs and showed them the body. I remember feeling calm. Like everything was OK. Like he was there behind me walking me through each step.
I remember washing linens for the company and making sure we had pillows. I remember my Nana telling me thank you because she just couldn't have gone into that room again.
We never talked about it after that.
I have seen hundreds of dead bodies and seen thousands of medical emergencies and life threatening situations and I still snap into that calm. I just do what needs to be done.
Its the afterwards part that is becoming a problem and I wonder if it is something that more people suffer from than just myself.
We learn to self soothe from example. In times of great trauma in my family they threw their hands up in the air and argued until I handled the situation. As early as 9 years old I was soothing over arguments, helping a drunk mother drive a car, and calling the police on a fight between my brother and my drunken parent. While consoling my bereft grandmother.
I don't remember what happened after I fixed things. I just remember that after things got out of hand, I would fix things even in college if my Nana and my mother were fighting I would come home and soothe things over. Because I could remain calm and not rise to anyones bait.
Even now people throw tantrums and things get insane and people get hurt and I am detached and making a list of how to best smooth things over.
But after its over and everyone else feels better. I don't know what to do.
How does one self soothe if they were never taught how? How do you learn to let yourself when everyone around you is telling you to take care of them?
The immediately pragmatic list making, name taking and sensible side says get over it. You may never learn to self soothe, you may forever bite your nails, have ulcers, and insomnia but you will always be calm under pressure. Count your blessings.
Yet the other side of me thinks after a half life of taking care of everyone else, I can still learn new tricks. Yes, I can be absolutely rock solid and calm under pressure. Learning to self soothe doesn't mean I am going to weep if someone has a heart attack in front of me instead of starting CPR. It may just mean that later I may give myself permission to be a little shaken up. To need extra hugs from my fiance, or a call from a friend.
Perhaps I will never invent the magic pill, and I won't learn to "get over" the strong after currents that come with emotions. But maybe by taking some time to learn some positive self soothing I can be even better without one.