Within the past week I’ve had two notable encounters which left me wanting to run far, far away, but instead having to stay in place and put on a friendly, happy front.
The first encounter was at a house concert, where Tom Conlon was playing. All was going (relatively) well until he started talking about his search for his grandfather that he only met once. He went to the country that his grandfather was from and diligently searched for him, searching public records and knocking on doors. His search had a happy ending, a satisfactory resolution.
And as musicians do, he wrote a song about it, with lyrics like “do you ever think of me,” “every question seems to be overstepping,” and “give me one hand up before you leave me, without a history unknown and alone.” These are the lyrics that managed to creep into my consciousness, as I assure you, I was doing my best to imagine I was somewhere else– anywhere else.
After playing the song, which to me seemed like some form of strange and unusual punishment, he described how having to search for a family member left him feeling utterly demoralized. Yeah, that sounds about right. During all of this, I thought about leaving and getting as far away from the place as I could, but not knowing exactly where I was, and given my tendency to collapse under trees, this wasn’t a viable option. So instead, I stayed and pretended everything was fine, even though on the inside, I was dying.
The second encounter occurred while on the set for a television show.
During the break between the first and second interviews, the host and guests of the show further explored the complexity of the topic at hand, off the cuff. Although nothing was being recorded, their mics were turned on in the production room where I sat, alone, and awaiting further instruction.
And then it happened.
They began talking about adoption.
The guests, who happen to be very significant individuals when it comes to policy making/changing, began talking about closed adoptions and how they were a necessary part of the system in order to protect everyone involved. Protect everyone involved? Yeah, right. Everything after this is a blur, as the force of their words crushed me. I felt like walking into the studio and thanking them for being complicit in creating the hell that I’m experiencing. But, I’m not that impulsive person, so again, I sat through it, struggling to remain unphased, intact, and smiling.
Having to hold yourself together during moments like these kills your soul.
This is the best way I can describe what things feel like right now: it’s a constant struggle to remain fine on the outside and function as a normal person, when inside I just want to run away to the middle of a forest, curl up into a ball, and be forever free.
There’s a passage from Mockingjay that also describes things really well. The main character, Katniss, is referring to Crazy Cat, a “game” where a cat chases around a flashlight’s beam. (If you’ve ever played with a cat, dog, or small child, then you’ve probably played a similar game.)
Crazy Cat becomes a metaphor for my situation. I am Buttercup. Peeta, the thing I want so badly to secure, is the light. As long as Buttercup feels he has the chance of catching the elusive light under his paws, he’s bristling with aggression. (That’s how I’ve been since I left the arena, with Peeta alive.) When the light goes out completely, Buttercup’s temporarily distraught and confused, but he recovers and moves on to other things. (That’s what would happen if Peeta died.) But the one thing that sends Buttercup into a tailspin is when I leave the light on but put it hopelessly out of his reach, high on the wall, beyond even his jumping skills. He paces below the wall, wails, and can’t be comforted or distracted. He’s useless until I shut the light off.