Some people, when they are hurt and in turmoil, keep themselves occupied every minute of the day, programming even their breaks so as not to allow time to reflect. Reflecting means only more hurt and turmoil to this kind of person, so it makes sense to squeeze in an hour of strenuous exercise in between work and a social evening, and then whatever is next on the program.
In contrast, there are people like me. If something is torturing me, I cannot stop my thoughts until I’ve worked out some way to make the pain stop. The process involves communicating, with myself and others, to understand as much as I can about my predicament. This is done by thinking, writing, reviewing and running it by people I respect. It involves getting advice, feedback and insight from others, unless there is a privacy issue involving another person’s shame or anger that prevents me from sharing it with someone who knows them. In that case I seek out someone who doesn’t know the party, and run it by them. It is a very helpful, healing process, I find. You hear things you never thought of, you see things from other perspectives, you learn new things, you get other things confirmed. Importantly, you listen to things you may not want to hear sometimes. Those things are sometimes the most helpful. All of these things are the result of communication.
The thing I‘ve never been able to do is keep myself so busy, so programmed, that I don’t have time to focus on what is eating me from the inside. I had a friend I’ve known since we were eight. The guy loved me and told me frequently that I was his very best friend, that there was nobody else like me in his life. I had fond feelings for him, having known him since we were boys. His impulse to bend the truth when in a tight spot never bothered me, because I knew he couldn’t help it and his little untruths never unduly affected me. Like his mother, who I know well (and God bless her sharpness at 95), he always runs what my father used to describe, referring to the mother’s frantic life, as a “full flight pattern”. He meant that since so many planes were constantly taking off and landing in her mental airport it was impossible to concentrate on any one flight for more than a moment.
A full flight pattern prevents being present, you can’t be present, it’s too dangerous, all the planes will start to crash, thousands will be killed, it will instantly become an international scandal and all the fault of the distracted flight controller.
I called this guy a few months back, after a long period of estrangement. Told him a few revelations I’d had since we last spoke three years earlier. He told me I’d never left his life, that, odd though it might sound, he sees me in dreams quite regularly. It’s truly like I never left. He was happy to hear from me and promised to tell me his revelations next time we spoke. It took a while. About five or six weeks later, when he had an opening in his schedule, I asked him to tell me about his new revelations.
“I have no idea what those revelations could have been,” he said, the 6:02 coming in perilously close to the 5:57, with the 6:05 already on a dangerous trajectory.