Snow and the Psyche

It snowed in Pocatello today, and although it’s mostly gone now, it was quite beautiful, and very cold, and made me unbelievably happy. I finally broke out what I like to jokingly and very inaccurately call the Captain Jack coat, because it looks a teeny tiny bit like the WWII greatcoat he wears when Nine and Rose first meet him and also when he catches up to Ten and Martha in Series 3. It’s actually a calf-length navy wool peacoat (??) which is missing most of its buttons and which used to belong to my mom. I distinctly remember from my pre-sibling days, before my mom had stopped teaching and I was still in a daycare of sorts, that my dad wore a scratchy green coat (which is still in the closet somewhere) and my mom wore a scratchy blue one. That was how the universe worked.

Anyway, I felt pretty cool in it, if by cool we’re talking a very nerdy sort of cool that isn’t always.

The other day I had an idea for a blog post, and this was it. I wondered if, when the human psyche is experiencing something traumatic, like a breakup or a death, it is better to understand the process you’re going through as you’re going through it and to control your feelings because you understand where they are coming from, or to feel them all and process it thoroughly as it is happening.

It’s kind of a hard concept to explain, but I have an illustration from personal experience. Back in March (which seems like years ago now), I wrote this on the old blog.

In Closing (13 March 2013)

Well, here we are.

I’m not going to be evasive about the point of this post. My boyfriend and I broke up today and I have some things to write down.

It’s probably best. I’ll say that right away. He’s right – we’re not right for each other and we may never have been. We tried to be together because somebody suggested it. It worked for a little while. I am hurt because I feel that his faith in my ability to make it work was less than my faith in his. I am hurt because I feel that I took him more seriously than he took me.

That said, I am in a pretty pitiable emotional state for having ended a relationship of barely three months. It will take me a while to not be hurt and angry at him. I will get there. But it will take me a while.

I am also frustrated that it happened so suddenly. There’s still a lot I didn’t get to say. But I don’t even know what I want to say, so I can’t fault him for that. I wanted to say that he had made me happy, if only for a while; to ask him to tell his parents thank you for being so kind to me.

I wanted to tell him that I was upset because I was hoping to share so much more with him that now I never will. I wanted to run a race with him watching or cheering or doing whatever he’d do; I wanted to share the results of my Harvard application with him; I wanted to take him sailing in the summer and teach him how to do it and show him how to do that thing that I don’t remember the English or Swedish word for where you hold the rope back tight and go really fast and lean outside the boat. I wanted to high-five him at graduation and watch fireworks on my birthday with him.

I wanted to tell him one more time that I was sorry for smothering him, that I was sorry I wasn’t what he was looking for. That I hoped he’d find it, whatever it was. I don’t hate him. It will take me a while before I’m done being angry with him, but I do not hate him. I do not regret having been with him. The sadness of the ends does not justify hating the means. It will just have to be what it is, and it is over.

But for all that my life is not over. I have track to pour myself into and a publication to edit, among a lot of other things. And people I did not even know had my back have crawled out of the woodwork to say “I’m here for you” in their wonderful individual ways. I have never felt so loved and so unloved in the same week in my whole life. I am grateful for all of them. And I cannot help but think that if I had completely internalized this and not told anyone, none of them would have even known they could come out of the woodwork. Maybe I have learned how to need, as I wrote about two posts ago. And for that I can be happy.

One of the things my best friend Hannah told me last night, when I was over at her house spilling my guts to her because she is a lovable wonderful person, was that she admires my ability to love and love freely. Which I didn’t quite know I possessed. Maybe I never thought about it. But I am glad she told me. It helps me to understand a little bit more about why Matt and I didn’t work.

Today as Matt and I were talking through some of the things we wanted to say to each other he talked a lot about hope. Having hope for the future. I do not presume to be optimistic about my ability to form a new relationship. I do not know what my future holds in that line. But I know now that I can love, and I know also that I can need. And if that was part of the reason Matt became part of my life, to teach me to love and to need, if not to love and need him, then that is that, and I am on my way to knowing how to love and need. I cannot change him. I cannot save him from the lonely future he may be dooming himself to. But I can be grateful to him for what I learned while he was in my life.

But first I have to get done being angry at that fucking dickwad. And then I will be grateful.”

I think what we see here is me, trying very hard to suppress the anger, until it sort of splurts out in that last line. And that is what I think is unhealthy, and that is why I think very emotionally intelligent people have an extremely difficult time processing anything because they do not just feel what there is to feel, but they know why. It’s like the Doctor (I’m sorry, I can’t help it) when he tells Rose in Series 1 that he can feel the turn of the earth. (I love that bit.) He doesn’t just live on the planet (well, stop off for visits on it, in his case), he understands all of it, all its inner workings. And we all know he is little the happier for it.

In the same way, I was understanding the process too much, making it too complex, instead of simply feeling what there was to be felt at that moment and not trying so hard to push the process along.

Later, after the big fat forgiveness episode which I have referenced on this blog entirely too many times, I wrote in “Forgiveness and Other Wonders of the World” that “I tried entirely too hard to learn all this right after we broke up.”

Threeish months later when “Forgiveness” was written, it made more sense for me to be okay with what had happened, and ready to finish the process. When I did process that breakup, I sort of skipped around a lot, I suppose.

The question is, is that healthy? Is it really that emotionally healthy to be emotionally intelligent?

It reminds me of Hemingway. “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”

Think of the Doctor. He “sees” (understands or observes are better words, but sees has more poetic oomph) everything that goes on around him, all the time, even things we ordinarily wouldn’t remember as “going on,” like the turn of the earth, as he tells Rose. And he is not necessarily happier because he understands everything, because he sees right through the most complex processes. I suppose it is true that ignorance is bliss.

So that’s how my psyche is cursed, I guess.

PS: Something cool: if you write the date like this 12-03-2013, it’s an anagram.


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