Sunday, October 30, 2011

Join me in the pressure cooker.

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

Under Pressure.


ChiTown Girl said...

This post really hit home. There have been so many things going on around here lately that I think I may be taking up permanent residence in that pressure cooker. They're things I (obviously) haven't really felt comfortable sharing over at my place. I guess part of that is out of fear of judgment and/or ridicule. But, at the same time, I know my Bloggy Buddies would probably be incredibly supportive. You guys always are.

Linda@VS said...

Wow, Maria, this is a powerful post. Thank you for reminding us that we can choose to diminish someone else's stress and, in the process, probably diminish our own. I'm bookmarking this post to reread from time to time.

lyon de clarasvals said...

Good post. I needed the reminder.

JohnD said...

I think I've had about six nervous breakdowns - then each time I then saw someone who had really cracked up and I knew I was OK! It gets hard. Its like climbing a mountain and the relief you get when you get to the top ....... only to see another, higher, mountain in front of you that you have to hurdle. I did seven medi-evacs and I was shit scared on each one of them - from the little old paranoid schizophrenic lady I brought back from Vienna (she had attacked a museum guard with a pocket knife) to the kid that blew his mind on psychotrophic shit in Bali and never made it back to reality. When I was putting tourniquets on leg stumps while trying to run an IV into another kid and poke a fourth one's guts back in all I could think of was "Why me? Why me?" - and afterwards, always afterwards, the uncontrollable shaking as I tried to light a cigarette.

Welcome to reality - it bites you right on the arse - but I made it, I'm seventy years old and the last of the few from my graduating class! I'm going down the last mountain.

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful. Thank you for reminding me and thank you for video. I love Freddie.

fairydogmother said...

You've definitely nailed it with this one, Maria. So, so true! And beautifully written of course, once again.

Rose said...

Such a good reminder for us all, Maria. We are all connected, and we all have problems, issues, and obstacles. That smile you suggest may be just the thing to keep someone going when they may have given up instead.


e said...

There is a hand-painted sign on a street near me that reads:
Thank you, stranger, for your therapeutic smile.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Thank you for the always-timely reminder that we don't have to do it alone if we don't want to, that we are always free to reach out and find comfort in others.

Yesterday, my neighbor offered to help me carry my laundry upstairs because I've been having some shoulder pain, and I declined, politely. She said, "Do you ever let anyone help you?" and I realized that I don't. I intend to work on this because I think helping others but not accepting their help just might be a kind of arrogance, and that is not who I want to be.

sandy shoes said...

On my best days, I feel this like a tangible hum behind everything I do.

When I get off track, I forget it entirely.

Thank you for the powerful reminder.

sybil law said...

I always try to keep that in mind when someone's extra bitchy towards me. It's also why I let people out in traffic, or hold the door for people. One small kindness might mean the world to them that day - I know it has for me, at times.

Chris said...

this was the exact message at church yesterday. i love that.

Miss Healthypants said...

Maria, this was beautiful - and oh so true. Thank you for the reminder! :)

P.S. So glad to hear that Liv is holding her own - I can tell you're proud of her, as you certainly should be! :)

teeveezed said...

That was me, but I said, 'Why the fuck did this shit happen to me?!' and then cried.

John Gray said...

Be kinder than necessary. For everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle

love that quote!
Eric's back BTW X

Mitch Block said...

Thank you for this beautifully and intelligently written post and for the perfect musical finish. I wish I could implant this in my brain... permanently!

kristi said...

I really blew up this morning. Guess the pressure got to me!
Great post. :)

the only daughter said...

Yes. Oh, yes.

Eric said...

Great post, and so true! I sometimes have to force myself to be nice to people at work...fake it...but, I've noticed that after a while I'm not faking it anymore and it just happens.
We never know what those around us, even those we know well, are going through.

Prairie Wanderer said...

Hi Maria,

I've been a lurker for a few years now, and have always enjoyed reading your posts, but I have to say this is probably the best blog post I've ever read written by ANY blogger. Wow. I find myself reading and rereading this. With so much being written now, it's difficult to make such a profound statement about how such fundamentally different people can find common ground -- but you did it. This post really touched me. Well done!