I am pacing back and forth in a puddled parking lot, clutching my cell phone to my ear knowing that I’m talking to a loved friend for the last time. There are words in my head, but I can’t make them come out.
There were only three of them.
The plane is going down, girl.
“If you don’t say it, you’ll spend your life wishing you had, and you know it. SAY IT.”
I knew if I said it, I would cry.
My people do not cry in public.
“If there were ever a time when public crying would be OK, this is it. For God’s sake, girl, SAY IT.”
OK, on three.
“I love you.”
There. As predicted, the tears. God damn it.
I tell you this story because I remember it, plain as day, years later. I know what happened before and after. I know what I was wearing. I tell you this story because it’s one of the few times that a life lesson has walked up and smacked me over the head, mercilessly. I tell you this because we’re going to discuss The Crucible Theory. We’re going to get it all out. Days’ worth of it, the way we did when we fired the shrink. Not to play the “older than you” card, but I am older than you, and I’m trying to teach you something. Come with me.
Where were we? Ah, the parking lot. The three words I’d never said to anyone not related to me by blood. It doesn’t matter that he said them back to me. It’s nice, but it’s not the point.
The point is how, later, I was ashamed at how hard it was to get myself to say them. How, through this bone-perforating, mind numbing, balls-to-the-fucking-wall pain…I learned something.
Welcome to The Crucible Theory.
Crucible, in addition to being a book you probably had to read in high school, also means “a severe, searching test or trial.” Also, “a container for heating substances to high temperatures.” It gets hot as Hell and produces strong alloys. Assuming nothing bursts into flames or explodes and kills someone.
Friends, you cannot outrun pain. You can’t shop it out, drug it out, drink it out or fuck it out. You can’t push it down. You can’t tune it out. The further you shove it down, the more it festers. It’s going to come get you, and when it comes back it’s going to bring friends. Friends named anger or panic or insecurity or addiction or whatever. You shove that pain down, and you’ll be dealing with a small army in ten years. That’s if you’re lucky. If you’re lucky, your brain melts and you have no choice but to deal. If you’re not lucky, you become a shopaholic, hoarder or suicide statistic.
You have to stare the pain in the face. Roll it around in your mouth. See what you can learn. When you learn it, don’t forget it.
Invite that pain out for coffee. Give it a name. Think about it. Write about it. Play it as a movie in your head. Write horrible emo poetry. Write songs that are even worse. Get down in it and get it in your hair.
It sounds awful.
It sounds like wallowing.
That’s only because it is.
One day, you’ll be sick of yourself and sick of wallowing. You will have processed every single atom of that pain in such excruciating detail that you could make a life-size model of it. When you pick yourself up off the floor, you will wipe the blood from your nose, look around and know two things:
1. It didn’t kill you.
2. Neither will the next thing.
Also, a quick footnote about yesterday’s blog:
The subject of that blog had nothing to do with the four dudes who spent the night at my house Saturday. Total coincidence. All clothes were kept on and everybody slept alone. LOL @ you guys. Can’t you see the flashing red sign over my head?