I have a few interesting habits and ways to deal with strange, confusing and very strong emotions. Depending on what I’m feeling, it could be crying to my lovely friend M, dancing around the apartment with little miss, or cleaning obsessively, and let’s be real, those are usually accompanied by a lot of wine. This past Friday, while sorting through what turned out to be the beginning of some interesting emotions, I decided to pick up my Kindle and flip to The Fault in Our Stars. I thought rereading it (again) would be a good distraction while waiting for something which never ended up coming, trying to find comfort in the words I know so well. I’ve highlighted a few passages over the course of a few rereads, popular ones that everyone knows courtesy of the Buzzfeed coverage of the movie. The words are familiar and obvious but they were also, to an extent, exactly what I needed to read at the time. First up: That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.
Sometimes that sentence is very true. Regardless of whether it’s a little bit of pain, or something incredibly painful, sometimes you can’t do anything but sit with that pain and let it run through you, allowing it the attention it demands for as long as it needs. But once in a while, something finds you, something happens that you would expect to be painful, but the pain doesn’t come. It’s waiting for the final push into the right emotion for the situation, but you can’t locate it, so you just kind of Are, you just kind of Feel, capital A, capital F. There’s no gaping hole in your midsection gasping for air, no tears streaming like melting ice cream, bittersweet. It’s not even pain, really. To an extent, it’s nothing. And yet in that, it’s everything.
If I’m dealing with that type of emotion, a blank slate where it doesn’t help when I laugh, or cry, or drink more wine, I can’t tell if it’s the logical part of my brain telling me there has to be an explanation for whatever is causing the almost-hurt, or if it’s my heart putting up steel gates, trying to protect itself for just a little longer. Things can happen in such a whirlwind that you lose track of time, lose track of reason and just wander with the flow of the moment, wanting everything to stay exactly how it is but more, enraptured by the thought of the wide, unknown, hypothetical future. It’s exciting and scary in the best way while it’s happening, but when you find yourself out of the vortex and into the eye of the storm, you’re left standing still, surrounded by this beautiful mess with no way to clean it up. So you watch, and you wait, and try to sort your way back into any kind of emotional release, anything to escape from the numbness that’s slowly creeping into your extremities.
No one can stay in purgatory forever, at least not the emotional kind. Eventually the emotional novocain starts to fade, a temporary fix only. Through a combination of time, group texts with the Nickname Posse and yes, lots of wine, the pain will demand to be felt or will go away on it’s own, sated by it’s dulled, short-lived emotional fix. I may have reached that moment, or maybe I’m still riding the dull wave of a muted emotion, but starting a Monday numb and confused was not what I’d hoped. It is in that mindset that the next highlight from TFIOS comes to me, while looking back on the emotional ride I’ve taken in the past year and what I’ve learned in the past six months: I’m on a roller coaster that only goes up, my friend.