Trains, Pains, and Dysfunctional Brains

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“It’s like I’m some sort of adrenaline junkie who gets off on emotional masochism.” Upon coming to this realization with Therapist #2 (of 7, going on 8, now), I was met with the clinical “you have to get sick and tired of getting sick and tired. You have to get tired of playing chicken with a train.” Except I don’t think that’s true. Sure, I was sick and tired of getting hurt, of digging myself out of one hole only to find I’d buried myself in another. Who wouldn’t be? But I don’t think the idea of playing chicken with a train ever gets less appealing. I think one of two things happens:

-You get off the tracks.
-The train wins.

“Well, you could lose a leg or something.” A friend of mine offered. “Sort of a compromise.” I felt my eyebrows shoot up my forehead, nodding my head in consideration. And not in the way I’d nodded to my therapist that she’d grown to recognize as my saying “yes, I hear you loud and clear. That makes perfect sense. I’m going to do literally the exact opposite”, either. The gears were finally turning- the metaphors which I rely so heavily on to make sense to the rest of the world that doesn’t make sense to me piecing together. I hadn’t thought of it like that, yet wasn’t that exactly what I’d done?

“Really, I think it’s just that sometimes maybe our shoelaces get stuck in the track and we don’t realize it until it’s too late to get free,” I debated, happy to be having this conversation in a language I could understand. Too focused on the screaming locomotive headed your way to question the reality of the situation until it’s too late and you’re blinded by the light.* Sometimes we even tell ourselves it’s not that bad. That train can’t hurt us. Not if we stay perfectly still. Not if we pretend we’re not really on these tracks at all. I know, because I’ve been there. When the time came, I was so detached from reality that I willingly let the bad guy tie me to the tracks, curling his evil mustache in classic bad guy fashion. Consequences? I’ll worry about consequences later. I’m trying to live over here

For the longest time I’ve been dragging my broken self up to those tracks, getting just close enough to feel it whiz past. To get that adrenaline high; so desperate for that shot of Oxytocin that my brain is addicted to. It’s like I’m on my fifth round of Russian Roulette with a six shooter and suddenly realizing that luck has never really been on my side. Weighing out the pro’s and con’s. Calculating velocity. If train A leaves the Munich station at 12:47…

Life isn’t easy. It isn’t fair. Anybody who claims that it is so is a liar. Sometimes, all you can do is put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes you need someone or some thing to help prop you up. But one step at a time, you keep going. And little by little, you get Someplace. “There is a phrase,” I was told, “from the Talmud that roughly translates as ‘Whoever saves a single life, saves the world entire.’ I think that also applies to saving one’s own life. We all have value. We’re all connected.”

Maybe there’s a chance the train will derail the exact moment I get a little too close. Maybe I won’t have learned to get away quickly enough since the last time it crippled me. Maybe it will blow past me obliviously, leaving me to bask in the afterglow of the rush. I used to think one of two things happens:

-You get off the tracks.
-The train wins.

But that’s not the case. There’s a third option- a caveat in the compromise where the train stops in its tracks, lets you aboard. To borrow from The Fault in Our Stars, which I began and finished within 24 hours, “It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing”…

If you’ll excuse me, I have a train to catch…

As you’ll see I take myself very seriously, and you should too…

 

*YOU CAN’T UNHEAR IT, NOW, EITHER, CAN YOU?

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