Three-course Emotion

January 12, 2010 at 9:02 am Leave a comment

I like my emotions like I like my dinner-each item separate and far away from the other stuff. Happy, sad, scared, shocked: I want enough distance between each so that I can savor or grieve as my psyche directs.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way life is served.

Yesterday I received a call from the son of a friend I lost contact with years ago. The delightful news: he was alive, healthy, and engaged to be marred. The devastating news: my friend was dead.

What the hell was I supposed to feel? My governor wasn’t kicking in. As someone who’s ridden the roller coaster of emotions for decades, my survival mechanism for crisis has become think first – emote later. The event planner didn’t show up and I was left with a bunch of empty chairs and no one to put them in the correct place.

After playing out this narcissistic tirade, the universal shock and disbelief set in. Yes, I say universal because I’ve never trusted my emotions and end up thinking what I think others would feel in this situation.

But I really felt nothing. Empty, numb, hollow, shot with so many shells I was unrecognizable to myself. How do you grieve someone you haven’t seen in years? Someone who died years ago when you assumed all this time they were just doing normal things that people do every day and keeping their demons at bay with therapy and proper amounts of prescribed medication? Someone who was as energetic and humorous and quirky as you are?

So I switched the emote-o-meter to ‘gratitude.’ After all, her kid-who I’ve wondered about for years-was alive and gratitude is a good thing, right? The post-it note on my computer has been telling me so for six months now so it must be true.

The mashed potatoes got mixed in with the green beans and I have no choice but to eat them if I want to survive.

Life: 1
Death: 1

I’m waiting for the tie-breaker.

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Roberta Gale

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