Friday, October 2, 2015

The Jar

It was almost time. She felt dread, and she had to actually feel it because her jar was almost full. She didn't want this to top it off. So she sat with her dread for a minute until she decided to just do it. Let's get this over with, she mumbled to herself and grabbed the large, opaque jar from its hiding spot in the dark recesses of her closet. It was so heavy she could barely lift it. She sat down with it in a corner of her bedroom. 
Here was everything she had put off over several years. Discomfort from a small tiff with her husband that had been avoided by looking at her phone. Jealousy that had arisen from subsequently seeing fabulous vacation photos on Facebook from the girl who had lived next door to her in college. Anger and frustration from that time(s) her toddler threw a fit in the Target aisle. Those feelings were forced aside by two new sweaters, a cute pair of boots and a cheap toy from the dollar section. Shame from remembering the hurtful words she had said about her friend's parenting skills, before she had even had children, of course. Shame that was deepened later when that friend was so gracious with her when she was a fragile new mother. Fear of several varieties: middle of the night "what does it all mean?", and the near miss of her kid almost running in the street, and that abnormal lab test that later turned out to be OK, and on and on. Some were ignored with a large glass of wine. Others with reality dating shows. But here it was now, a jar full of moments like these, where she felt she just couldn't deal. And she had to face them. She had heard what happens if you never empty your jar... It explodes. And those feelings are like shrapnel that hit every area of your life. That didn't sound pleasant, so she was going to do the responsible thing and empty her jar completely this afternoon. 
She took a deep breath and slowly unscrewed the lid. One by one they hit her. First it was just the uncomfortable ones, nothing too painful, but there were so many. So many moments that probably weren't that bad at the time, but piled up like this were becoming unbearable. But then came the anger and frustration. She felt white hot with indignation and rage. She had spent so much of her life trying to be nice and pleasant, not rocking the boat. No one had ever said it out loud, but women who showed their anger were rarely admired. So down it had been pushed with tight lipped smiles and polite words. But now that she was overcome with all that anger someone calling her a bitch didn't seem like the end of the world. In fact, she dared them to do it. Shame came next. Things she had said, things she had done and things she had thought. Hateful things, ugly and mean, about other people, but mostly about herself. She shut her eyes tight to try not to feel it. Shame overlapped with fear, of course. Fear that she was a bad friend, a terrible wife and an unfit mother. The fear then turned to all of those worst case scenarios she had ever let take root in her mind. Car crashes, accidental poisoning, divorce, death, loneliness, abandonment, the list went on and on. She found herself thinking there was nothing but horror in the world. What was the point, really?!? The apogee of the experience was hurt. The times she had felt lonely and isolated and ignored and dismissed. It pierced so acutely she almost couldn't breathe, tears were following abundantly down her face. She has reached the point where she wasn't sure she could stand it. All these feelings might actually kill her. She felt weak and hopeless. 
Of course this jar was only filled with things she hadn't wanted to feel, so there was no joy, no pleasure, no goodness at this time because that she hadn't pushed away. But what she didn't realize all this time is that the lack of these difficult emotions had dulled the pleasant ones just a bit. So at once she was flooded with the crisp edges of delight and joy and happiness. And this brought freedom and hope and an amazing strength. This strength enabled her to open her eyes, take several deep, cleansing breaths, stand up, pick up her jar (that was now as light as a feather) and smash it to pieces on the hardwood floor. She looked down at the shards of glass and how powerless the jar was now. She smiled walked away smiling.

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