Monday, January 24, 2011

Cleaning out my Emotional Closet

Sunday I wrote about cleaning out our closets....literally. You know, tidying, tossing, organizing.  Today, it's the emotional closet. 

I think we all have things in our emotional closet that need to be dealt with.  Whether it's a memory, a person, a feeling, whatever.  And it's one of the hardest things to do.

I used to be a super hyper emotional person.  I took everything so personally, got so involved with other people's problems.  It just about did me in.  So I learned to not take things to heart as much.  At least not that I'll admit to it.  I've learned that I have to deal with my own stuff ... and so does everyone else.  I may seem not to care .. yeah, right ...

That is not to say for a moment that I don't care.  That I don't grieve for those who lose loved ones.  That I'm not outraged by the sheer stupidity and cruelty of some people.  I read about a woman in Toronto (67 suffering from dementia) who died from exposure.  She left the house around 2 a.m., got disoriented, must have fallen and tried to get up (her fingerprints were on the car she fell next to).  People heard her, someone even saw her, but no one called for help.  They didn't have to leave their cozy homes, all they had to do was call 911.  Giving them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they thought someone else would call.  Problem is, when everyone thinks that, help never arrives. This happened the same day (or maybe it was the next) that a police officer inToronto was killed in the line of duty.  Oddly, the woman's plight hit me far harder than the officer.  Not to diminish his sacrifice for one instance  ... I have the utmost respect and admiration for our law enforcement team ... but he knew the risks he took ... even if his death was stupid and senseless .. but she was scared and alone and didn't truly understand what was happening.  Her family was looking for her ... she was a block away from home.  A woman finally called 911 but by then it was too late.  I couldn't watch the officer's funeral, couldn't watch any of the story .. I knew I would be a mess.  They had the funeral playing at work ... I put my headphones on and escaped into my own little world .... I knew I'd fall apart as soon as I heard Amazing Grace on the bagpipes ... that and TAPS, are 2 pieces I cannot listen to.  Under any circumstances.  Yes folks, I am still a big softy. 

Why has this hit me so hard?  Probably because my mom had dementia and that was one of my biggest fears for her ... to die alone and scared.  Fortunately she was in a nursing home, being well taken care of, and as the coroner told us, she just kinda petered out.  Nothing traumatic ... just went to sleep.  It's been a little over 2 years and I still haven't dealt with her death.  She could be hurtful, she could be frustrating, manipulative, toxic ... but she could also be a lot of fun and would do almost anything for me.  Perhaps it's because it was my decision to put her in the nursing home, even though I did so with my siblings' blessing.  Perhaps it's because I should have gone to see her more often.  Perhaps it's because I meant to go see her the Wednesday and Thursday before I got the call to get home to see her 'cauz the doctor didn't know how she was still alive.  She wasn't coherent by the time I saw her ... but I believe that she heard me.  Barry and I went to see her ... my cousin Deb was there ... my brother arrived the next day ... he just returned from Brazil to find out his mother was dying.  I try not to let guilt get the better of me.  But sometimes. 

There's me, going off on another one of my tangents .... I guess I needed to share that.  Perhaps that's part of cleaning out my closet.  The only other big thing is Vince.  Oddly, I feel like I finally have that closet under control.   If I can keep him "sort of" in my life from time to time, it won't be this big emotional roller coaster when we do connect.  I don't feel the emotional upheaval that I did when we first connected in September.  He still remembers me from my youth ... I don't remember much about us back then ... I remember us more in my 20's.  I remember the upheaval.  I remember the hurtful things that had been said.  The disappearances and the reappearances over the years.  I could have stayed hidden.  We could have gone to our deathbeds without ever seeing each other again ... but no ... I had to go and look him up on Facebook... and contact him no less.  I honestly didn't think he's respond.  It was an emotional couple of weeks ... but typically ... it burned itself out very quickly.  Where was Barry in all this?  Giving me the space I needed to deal with everything.  I don't know that I could have handled the situation if the roles were reversed with nearly as much calm and patience as he did.  Of course I didn't tell him a lot of what was going on in my head.  Vince is like being sucked into a vortex.  But I'm 14 years older than I was the last time he was in my life (he's in California so he'll only ever be a "virtual" friend) and I like to think that I have a better handle on things now.  I had a momentary lapse of reasoning.

It's amazing how difficult, and how therapeutic ... catharctic even ... it can be when you open the door to the closet, haul out all its contents, inspect them so see whether they are worth keeping or whether it's time to dispose of them ... and let yourself be free.

I keep opening the door ... peering in ... I take some of it out from time to time .. sometimes to reminisce, sometimes to try to deal, sometimes I even succeed.   I encourage you to do the same.  And if you need someone to talk to ... my door is always open.


  1. Beautifully said honey. I didn't have to know everything that was going on in your head to sense it, but as these things go we have no more control over our emotions than the weather and sometimes what we need most is space. That and patience and understanding. :)

  2. oh my sweet friend I'm so going through this "closet of emotions"...whether I'm ready or not .. its like I went in to look at small box that caused huge ones to tumble open and the contents scatter all over the place ....for now I'm leaving on the floor - ignoring them - or at the very least trying to ignore them ....but you know, its the domino effect...

    Keep strong!! xo HHL

  3. The story about that poor woman makes me sick. :( How tragic that nobody helped her until it was too late. Have we become that disconnected from humanity? It reminds me of one of my ex-boyfriends with a similar story. In 2007, just two days after their wedding, his wife was driving her parents back to the airport in the afternoon. Her car got sideswiped by another vehicle and she ended up crashing into a ditch. Her parents died instantly but she was stuck in the car for a few hours until she died. Police didn't arrive on the scene for FIVE HOURS because nobody called them. People who witnessed her fly off the road didn't call the police. The people who sideswiped her clearly did not. Her car was visible to the highway, so cars were driving past it and nothing was done. Her husband was told if she had been rescued hours beforehand, she could have survived. He is still traumatized about it to this day. :(

    Sorry that was long, but stories like these anger me blind.

    I also agree with you that cleaning out our emotional closets is necessary...especially when we have a friend like you to help.

    If you ever need to talk, just know my shoulder is open as well. xoxo

  4. This is some great advice. Lately I have been learning some similar lessons. The conclusion I have arrived at recently is that constant negativity should be cut off. I don't need negative energy in my life whether it's from people, situations, or places. If it can't be cut out, that is one thing. But if I can spare to go without, than I will. It's just the place in my life that I'm reaching.

    Hope you are having a great week, and freeing yourself of negative energy while cleaning out your emotional closet!