Since my huge outpouring of emotions over the last week and a half, I feel a tremendous sense of relief.
I’m just going to have to do this every time it flares, every time I have an upsetting memory, every time I end up reliving something I wanted to forget.
Truth is, I was holding in a lot because having these troubles puts me in a very uneasy position.
Consider my options:
1. Hide everything and pretend I’m fine while it slowly eats away at me.
2. Tell everything and face the demeaning prospect of having my pain pathologized, while not being able to complain about how it’s being treated because let’s face it, even I’ll admit it’s not normal to feel this way.
3. Tell only the nice whimsical parts and gloss over the more troubling memories so that people get the impression that there’s something of Walter Mitty about me.
When it comes to friends and family (who know about this blog but only a few actually read it), I’ve kind of chosen the third option without even realizing it.
This sort of came to light with Dad the other day, and last night it came to light with my fiance as well. He admitted to me that it sounded like a harmless game, until I explained that I’ve really downplayed the unpleasantness.
With him, it was twofold: I didn’t want him to see me in pain that he couldn’t fix because that would distress him, and I wanted to remember happier times with him. When I showed him bits and pieces of the world I remembered, it was mostly songs, films, and photographs of civilian life, old cars and planes, and charming villages. I had to explain to him that these were just the parts I like to think about and that the reality after 1914 was not something fun or pleasant to remember at all.
I offered to let him stay in England with a friend while Dad and I go to Flanders to retrace my steps, in case being around me crying often and surrounded by cold stone monuments to the dead was more than he wanted to deal with, but he replied that he would rather go with me. Part of me is thankful that he wants to be there for me, but part of me still thinks of the Western Front as no place for someone like him and I have to remind myself that the things I want to protect him from aren’t there any more, they haven’t been for over 90 years.
I’m through sheltering the people who have listened to me from the worst of it because I need them. I’ll tell them if they’ll listen. I just feel really bad telling them; I want to just keep telling them it was a lovely war and we had a splendid time but that lie no longer serves me.