Don’t Fence Me In (The Self-Indulgent Version)

It’s a sad reality of my career that I’ve learned to work through emotional distress and trauma; a sad reality of my life and previous marriage, as well, in that work became a respite and relief from a relationship that was not good for me, yet I felt locked inside.

There used to be a skill — a term I use loosely, and arguably utterly incorrectly— I had, wherein I was able to tune out everything bad around me and just concentrate on the words in front of me, anchoring myself in whatever deadlines I had and whatever the subject matter I was to focus on no matter how turbulent all the other stuff was.

I was thinking of this almost wistfully last week, writing in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade ruling and end the national right to abortion. It was news I struggled to come to terms with — intellectually, sure, I understood what was happening, but as soon as I tried to comprehend what had been taken from people, and the pain and misery that would come from the decision, my brain started to swim — and, try as hard as I might, I couldn’t stop it from taking over my brain and preoccupying me all day.

(That Chloe was visiting family at the time didn’t help; I wanted to be there with her as she processed the news, too, I wanted us to process it together, to talk about it and get angry and sad and scared together. Doing it alone and through texts and calls felt unnatural and awkward.)

I tried to compartmentalize, and put everything in a box as I met my deadlines, and I couldn’t; it wouldn’t fit. It wasn’t just the Supreme Court news, really, but the accumulation of everything that had been happening in the past few weeks. I tried to eke out what I could to meet my deadlines, but my heart was barely in it.

It’s an evolution for me as a person, this new inability to shut away unprocessed feelings; it’s something new that I know is good in the long run. It’s just not particularly good for my workload.

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