Avoiding Avoidance

A few days ago while I was doing my upteenth Facebook scroll of the day this post from one of my dear friends in Utah showed up. I read it and felt sad but quickly moved on. I couldn’t respond. Not one word. 

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I read that she was home and okay and that was enough. I didn’t think about it at all until yesterday. When I did, I let the thought go faster than a bolt of lightning. Today when I woke up, my friend posted that so many had responded wondering how she was she wanted to let us know she was home and doing well.

Bing! The lights on in my brain. OMG, Carole was in this accident!! It could have been terrible. She could have died. OMG, I didn’t even say anything to comfort her. OMG, what’s happening to me? Because it was Carole, I told her I was so overwhelmed I didn’t really even grasp what I saw. Carole, is a friend who prefers my real over platitudes and pretense. Just want you to know that about her.

As I’ve thought about this experience, I have realized some things. As a person who has endured a number of personal losses and learned how to process them, I have a deep knowledge inside of me that gives me courage to continue. I understand at a cellular level that  just about anything can be overcome. At present, I know that the human species can overcome this…but…here’s the thing, overcoming this will involve the kind of work that those of us in industrialized countries are hell bent on avoiding.

What is making this nightmare incredibly difficult to deal with is that while we sit here in our homes with electricity flowing, lights on, refrigerators full and running, we don’t know how to imagine that when we get through this, we will do anything but return to our old lives. Simultaneously, as this crisis continues to drag on, we are collectively becoming aware of the reality that normal is just a setting on our dryer.  Whatever anyone’s normal has been, it is now gone.  And we are just beginning to realize that. We are going to be stressed out for awhile. We are going to have to figure out some things.

A few years ago, Dean’s and my world was completely shattered when we had to liquidate everything and borrow ourselves into oblivion to get our daughter treatment for a life threatening mental illness. It simultaneously included a five year battle with United Healthcare in order to make them honor the words in our family’s health insurance policy. We won but the emotional toll was profound.

Today, I’m thinking about the reality that unfathomable circumstances require unfathomable things from deep within us. Things we didn’t even imagine existed. We all know this at some level, especially if we are at all interested in history. Stories of survival are always favorite ones and give us hope. Simultaneously, they encourage us to do whatever it takes to avoid any need for such heroics. I’m here to say, the coming seasons will require us to find ourselves at the depths of ourselves.

I’m grateful today that my friend Carole knows that I am always in her corner and that it’s no big deal that I didn’t respond as I normally would have when she shared the news about her accident. I am grateful that I could process this strange experience instead of avoid it. My personal journey has taught me that any avoided experience collects in the dungeon of my soul and slowly sucks the life out of me.

My hero is Nelson Mandella. He led his people in the fight to end apartheid – white rule of the country. He endured much hell and experienced unimaginable suffering. He chose not to resist and found a well deep within to endure for his people. He survived 27 years in prison and became the President of South Africa upon his release. He left prison without bitterness and was able to see apartheid come to and end in his lifetime. He lived with these words engraved in his soul.

One thought on “Avoiding Avoidance

  1. Jane, what an incredible post, just like you. I’m blessed with friends who surround me with grace and hold me up when times are hard. I’m grateful our paths crossed and that just saw and heard in each other what was needed at the time. I smile whenever I read your posts because I often am saying YES to them before I see that it was you who posted. I’m so grateful a being on the same wavelength even as distance separates.

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