Growing up in Southern California, one is aware of the perils of a Tar Pit. So sad for the Mammoth's and Sabertooth Tigers... They were tricked. They thought they were going to get a drink of refreshing water but instead they got stuck. They were stuck in this place they thought would nourish them and soothe their parched throats in the desert. Instead they got stuck and died a slow death.
There are tar pits out there much like those that tricked those ice age animals. They are just as deceiving. They disguise themselves as a place to soothe the soul. To find comfort and nourishment. In reality, they are a tar pit.
I have encountered, rather suddenly, a series of tar pits. Not for me, but for others. At first I thought they were just wallowing in self pity and martyrdom. I rolled my eyes in disgust. I passed them off with a "what the f-ever". But I realize now that they have encountered a tar pit.
Sadly, these tar pits are just as deadly as those 25,000 years ago in what is now Los Angeles. They have found places that appear to comfort and soothe, but in reality are literally sucking the life out of them.
Some of them arrive at the tar pit with the same need, some different. Well, I suppose they all have the same need. They each have a different genesis. But they gather together, huddle close and confirm their wounds one to another. They dwell. They rehash. They commiserate.
I understand it's natural to "be" in that bad place for a time. It's how we cope and process. Nor can I impose an arbitrary time limit on someone else's angst. But when they gather together and reinforce the angst and keep ripping at the scab. It never heals. It never forms the tough scar tissue that, while always with you, allows you to move on.
Each one of us has scars that have shaped who we are. Usually we become stronger people. Sometimes we become less able to cope. I have watched those who are able to face adversity and tragedy and grow stronger. I have watched those who are given adversity and become jello. I want to take the jello people and shake them. Not to watch them jiggle, but to shake some sense into them.
Getting stuck is a death sentence for them as sure as it was for the Mastadon and Shasta Ground Sloth. But instead of being attacked by Dire Wolves, they are prey to their souls. They are more likely to get sick. Stress breeds illness. Being stuck in a stressful situation wears on the body as well as the soul. Sometimes people literally die of a broken heart.
I wonder if I am doing them a favor by facilitating the wallowing. Where is the line between being supportive and picking the scab? I try to take to take my lead from the person in question. But I wonder if that is the right course of action. Is there a time to say "Snap out of it!" ??
I haven't had Great Tragedy occur to me in my life. I have, however, had events in my life that I could still be stuck in like the bubbling asphalt in downtown Los Angeles (it's really asphalt, not actual tar). I have moved on and have been asked HOW I could. How could I cope? I've always said "I had no choice." because I always felt I actually had no choice. Life went on and so must I. It never occurred to me until fairly recently I could choose to stay in that place. I never could see what the point of being stuck would be, exactly. Why would I want to stay in that bad place? It made no sense. Move on and get it over with.
I still don't understand. What IS the point? I have wondered this for some time. Usually when passing one of those roadside memorials. There are two near my home. One of them was the tragic death of a teen who was riding his bike on a dangerous road to do so. A tragic convergence resulted in his death. Often the memorial would be augmented by an admonishment that "speed kills". I often think, "more to the point, riding one's bike on a high speed road is dangerous to your health and life." The other one was a young man who no doubt never thought he could die on his motorcycle and didn't think about it when he turned left right into the path of an oncoming car. When I see that memorial I think of the poor schmo that was driving that car and how arrogant motorcycle riders often are. I don't think the families that placed these memorials intended for me to have those thoughts. But I do. I am positive that the effort they put into maintaining these memorials would be better spent on something truly honoring their lost sons. Safety education for one.
Is the point of being stuck to honor the memory of "the event" (whether that event was a death or some other major event)? If I can remember and be reminded when I dare to start to forget how wronged I was, do I honor that painful memory? What purpose is served? Is it simply attention? Are we that starved for attention in this ever increasingly busy society that the only way we can garner attention is by Keeping The Memory Alive? Is negative attention truly better than no attention?
We must remember Kaitlyn's heart surgery. I've been campaigning to remember every 2 years instead of every year. I got permission to remember every 18 months. I tend to procrastinate and push it to 2 years anyway. (it's ok mom. every one is better than the last.)
Most days I don't remember my own surgeries. About a week ago I was reminded of one of the side effects of my treatments. It's starting to look like I'm gonna have to go to the doctor. I'm gonna procrastinate until next week. Hopefully it will just get better. But dammitjanet, I doubt it. It's been a damn week. I'd go ahead and call the doctor now but we have plans for the weekend and I don't wanna mess that up. But my main coping skill is ignore it, not remember it. Meanwhile, I just take small bites and maybe this will help with the weight loss plan.
I have no personal need to remember. I have no personal need to rehash and re-examine. I don't want to join a support group. Really. I don't. I just want to deal and move on and get it behind me.
Maybe that isn't healthy either. But I know that I'd rather do that then die a slow death in the tar pits.