We all live here, some of us more than others. Some just visit from time to time for a variety of reasons. Others take up residence for years. Some of us dip our toes in now and then and shudder from the pain, others deal with life here on a day to day basis and learn to thrive on the chaos.
I suppose that those are the strongest of us.
Still, others spend a few months at a time here and then, well...CRACK.
It's too much, the burden is too heavy. They end up sitting in facilities rocking in chairs, hands to their heads. Or shuffling down the puke green hallways, face averted, eyes downcast. Coping mechanisms come in all shapes and sizes.
Sometimes we can stand without knees buckling and then when the pressure finally eeks away, we stand resolutely on our own two feet and shake our heads smiling. How in the hell did we do that? How did we NOT CRACK? How did we get so lucky.
Some of us need drugs or booze to dull the pain. It works for a while and then turns into it's own separate cooker. A pressure cooker within the pressure cooker.
The cause is random so there is no foolproof help book.
Your child is on drugs and you can't help.
You might lose your job, you did lose your job, you are always on the verge of losing it. You hate your job. You hate that person that you have to work with. You hate the smell of the building. The work doesn't stimulate you or it stimulates you too much.
You look at your wife, your husband, your partner, your significant other and for the life of you, you can't see spending another year with him/her.
You look at your wife, your husband, your partner, your significant other and feel them slipping away.
What the fuck is the matter with your kid? He used to be so sweet, so good, so easy going. Who is this snotty little monster that has taken his place?
Where are we going to find the money to pay for THAT?
If one more thing breaks down, that's it. We are going to be in deep shit.
How am I ever going to pay for college?
Why did I lose my temper like that? I HIT her. I can't believe I did that? Wait. That wasn't me! That was some creep who took me over for a bit there. IT WASN'T ME. I SWEAR IT WASN'T ME.
WHY did I quit college? I can't save any money with this dead end job. My wife/husband looks at me like I should have a big L on my forehead.
CANCER? She/he has CANCER?
That storm took out the whole tree and it fell on my house. Will the insurance cover it? What is that deductible again?
I'm scared. I feel that if someone were to prick me with a pin, that would be it. I'd explode.
Does she/he ALWAYS have to fuck everything up for us?
She/he doesn't love me anymore. They're working all those long hours but I can never reach them. Where ARE THEY? And with WHOM?
I can't seem to eat anything anymore without getting a major stomach ache. Is this something I should have checked? What if it's.....something?
I miss her so much.
I can't believe he's dead.
Why does everything have to happen to me?
The list is endless. You stop at a traffic light. Look around. That teenager in front of you? He is hanging with the wrong crowd. His parents know this, but they can't seem to hold him back. He'll be dead in a year. Another overdose. Another kid who jumps off that balcony because he just dropped acid and he just knows he can fly.
The man in back of you who is riding your ass and you wish he would stop? Well, his wife is cheating on him. He knows this. He was also given his second warning at work that he didn't meet his quota. He wants to bash something SO BADLY. He has a dog at home.
The woman next to you? The well coiffed one? She is so tired. All. The. Time. She works full time, makes good money. But, she has three kids and she worries about that daycare the youngest is in. He had bite marks that one day on his arm. And her daughter? Why does she insist on looking like a prostitute when she gets ready for school? Her middle daughter is doing well in school, but maybe she fawns too much on her? Maybe it is hard on the siblings? And her husband didn't make tenure. He is now in a dead end job and wants to apply for that job in Missouri. She doesn't want to move, she loves her job. It is the only thing about her life that she LIKES some days. And they haven't had sex in months.
The teenager on the other side of you? He wonders if he'll get that scholarship. He knows his mom can't afford to pay his tuition next year and his dad left years ago. He didn't make the basketball team so Cassidy didn't look twice at him. He should stay home tonight and study, but GOD...he needs to have SOME fun doesn't he? And there is that kegger at Ben's house. His parents are gone for the weekend.
We are all in our own little pressure cookers. But sometimes it feels as if we are alone. but, Plato was right, you know.
Be kinder than necessary. For everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Try this. The next time you are at a stop light, look over at the person next to you and smile. I realize that this has to be subjective. Like if you are an older guy, you can't do this to a teenage girl or if you are a teenage girl, you might be careful doing this to a carload of other teenage boys who look like they might want to eat you for dinner.
Or smile at someone who is waiting with you in a grocery line. DON'T try to initiate a conversation, though, because if they are like me, they will think that they really don't enjoy talking to strangers. But a smile can be nice. And if they have a bratty child, they won't be expecting it. They will be expecting you to look at them as if you think they suck at parenting.
And maybe they do. But, maybe that smile will make them take a deep breath on the way home in the car instead of reaching into the back seat to slap their child.
We are all in this together. We are all in a circle, as trite as it sounds. We are all connected. Me to you, you to that woman in your office whom you CANNOT STAND, her to the neighbor she has who never leashes his damn dog, him to the mailman who is afraid of his dog, the mailman to the teenage girl who makes his latte every day at Starbucks, she to her college intro to literature teacher who is a newly divorced dad and mourning the loss of seeing his kids every night,the teacher to the janitor in the hallway who works nights so his wife can work days and that way they don't have to pay for daycare but GOD they miss each other, the janitor to the guy in the 24 hour convenience store who sells him his cigarettes.
The guy in the convenience store who gets killed when some low entity slugs rob his store at 3 a.m.
You'd think we'd all feel the loss in the force. But we don't.
Because we are in those pressure cookers. And in our despair, we can't feel that faint pulse of connection that binds us to each other.
Sometimes we can feel the tug of it, when something bad happens, like 9-11. Then, we all feel our connectivity.
But it is always there, can always be used to help us. If we would only reach out to each other.
I'm going to try harder to feel that pulse. I promise.
Because, yes....we are all