I once heard a minister talk about the differences between the ways men and women typically deal with stress. Long story short, men think about the stressor and try to figure it out for themselves. When they reach a point where they can’t, they may ask someone about it. On the other hand, women will talk through a stressor and it makes them feel better. It’s like frickin magic, if you ask me. With this in mind, I’ve begun trying to talk these things out with my psychology professor wife.
“I has a sad, Doc.”
That’s the question of the day, isn’t it? If I hit my finger with a hammer, it hurts. It hurts because I smashed it. Boom! Puzzled that one out all by myself. Cause and effect. I just need to identify the preceding event to current sadness.
“No worries, Doc. I’m just as confused as you.”
I am almost always a happy person. I have found that I am happy just about anywhere, doing just about any thing. Whether it’s chillin in a 3,600 square foot home in the states, sweating in a cramped and dusty room in a combat zone with vodka scented blood stains on the floor, or doing schoolwork in my tiny barracks room in Korea, I just bop along through life. I think I figured out how I manage this. I spend a lot of time avoiding feelings. My wife shared with me a video of some martial arts match where one girl deftly dodged thrust after thrust from her opponent’s spear. It was quite impressive, honestly. My wife then told me that this was like me ducking feelings. I couldn’t argue against her point though. I think feelings are messy, uncomfortable things to be avoided at all costs. Kind of like hungry sharks or rabid dogs. And maybe zombies. I may need to reevaluate that last statement. Now that I think about it, I’m better equipped to deal with sharks, froth faced canines, or the undead. I have a number of weapons that would suffice. But how does one fight something like a mysterious sudden onset of inexplicable sadness? No fricking clue.
On top of this, being sad is startlingly abrupt when it happens to me. It’s like some earth shattering revelation between blinks (you like how I foreshadowed that in the opening convo?) when I realize that I am not happy. It’s honestly quite confusing. More often than not I have no idea why I am not happy when a sad slaps me in the face.
I don’t like opening my mouth on a topic I don’t understand. The thought of discussing feelings is horrifying. And there is that one snowflake that kicks off the avalanche. Being scared set’s off confusion. I don’t know why the prospect would scare me. Confusion sets off anger. And what do I have when the raw energy of fury dissipates? Sadness. It’s like some emotionally charged sequential vortex from which you can’t see a way out once you’ve crossed the event horizon.
Then I wake up the next day and it’s gone. I feel like laughing manically at my resounding defeat of this unknowable foe. What happens though when I’ve pushed it aside for decades? Will it rage out of control one day like wildfires in the western US because the firefighters have been so effective at stopping fires that forty years of fuel sits waiting for an opportunity to level entire communities?
Could the ladies be right about this one? Is the solution found in words? I think maybe it’s time I start talking about things even if I can’t Spock that mess into making sense. Maybe the girls are right. Maybe a controlled burn will avert a wildfire in the future.
So I write.