Thoughts after going an old way home

I can be highly resistant to change in some ways, while blindly and happily plunging into the unknown at other times. There seems no correlation between caution and success, so I can’t credit instinct for random pigheadedness. The latest thing I resisted was upgrading my phone’s operating system, which automatically took google maps off and replaced it with another, unknown version. You know what they say about the devil you know.

I finally updated my phone and found the new version of maps is almost identical. I gained some features, lost some — it’s a wash basically and the new one might be better. The way it told me to drive home from a weekend trip to see family in another state reminded me how memories linger and fragments remain oddly intact. We drove past not one but three places I used to live long ago. Near the traffic light by the apartment my husband and I shared before we were married, I thought of our cat when he was a kitten and how we couldn’t leave pennies out because he would carry them away in his mouth and I was afraid he would choke. Driving near another old apartment, I saw a mall I had all but forgotten about and tried to come up with some memory of shopping there but could not. I vividly remembered the time my husband chased a peeping tom through the parking lot of that old apartment complex with a baseball bat. When I later drove through a part of town I lived from birth to kindergarten, none of it looked familiar. I had the sudden compulsion to turn right and drive until I saw something – anything – that looked familiar, but I did not.

I was flooded with memories from my grandmother’s house too. It still smells the same as it did when she lived somewhere else altogether, proving my memory isn’t about a place so much as it is the people we were back then. On the drive home, I had such vivid recollection of a chilly, wet Sunday and sitting in the backseat of her giant silver Thunderbird while windshield wipers screeched across the glass and my grandfather flicked his cigarette ash through the open window. My grandfather is long gone, but I still have my grandmother, or part of her anyway. Time changes people, eats away at them a little like old memories. Because of this, I’m glad I made the trip with my girls to see her. I felt more patient this visit and my grandmother seemed calmer. My girls ran between the hydrangeas in her backyard, playing some morbid hunting game that you’d never guess based on how carefree and happy they looked.

This morning I woke up from a terrible dream that had nothing to do with the weekend, so I’m not sure where it came from. It’s just an issue I still struggle with and I wrestled with it this morning over coffee and then decided to do something I’ve never done before: I let it go. My grandmother might be prone to psychic dreams, but I am not and feelings aren’t facts. One of the things I’m learning I need to practice is restraint of tongue. Just because I think it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because it hurts to keep it in, doesn’t mean I should blurt it out. My girlfriend calls this “emotional barfing” and I think there are certain people it’s safe to emotionally barf on. These people are usually far removed from the emotions being barfed up. Quite enough talk about barf, yes.

These disembodied feelings continue to crop up almost a year from when they first started. I used to think people were full of shit at meetings when they talked about not feeling things when they were newly sober. I had maybe three months then and I was feeling plenty. But after time, I realized what they meant. It wasn’t a total absence of feeling before, but maybe the ability to escape whenever I wanted that kept most pain at a safe distance. It took a good five months for uncomfortable feelings to float back down from wherever they’d been, and the intensity I felt at the time surprised and scared me. Still, this small voice at the back of my head told me they’d go away if I just acknowledged each feeling, which was tied in with some painful memory. Honestly, I had no choice but to hear them. They were very loud. They did go away, though. Some never came back. Some came back in more complex ways, which let me know I was dealing with that pain or discomfort on a more evolved level. I guess this can be called growth.

12 thoughts on “Thoughts after going an old way home

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  1. Again, beautiful!

    Growth indeed!! Becoming “self-aware” is a process and it takes YEARS… but once we ALLOW our mind, heart, soul, and environment to work cohesively, once we begin to actually understand some of the madness,, we’re moving forward, likely even upward.

    If we’re stagnant, we’re virtually of no use.

    Loved reading this. Thank you!!!


  2. I really liked this post. One of things I’ve learnt recently is that just because I think something doesn’t mean I need to automatically share it with my wife. This has probably saved me a bit of trouble and strife recently. Our minds throw up stuff all the time (throw up=barf), but not all thoughts are of equal significance. Separating the wheat from the chaff takes a bit of mental time and space. TAke care, Paul.


    1. paul, this reminds me of how i approached being newly married. i decided to share only about 2/3 of what i thought with my husband. i have lots of thoughts, not all need to be shared (or are very interesting). we had a language barrier in the beginning, so i was partly saving myself the effort of trying to speak a foreign language all the time. then, over time, i realized that my 2/3 rule was probably best…


  3. Oooohhh, nice. Thought provoking. Growth… feelings coming and going .. coming back in more complex ways. I like this, it’s interesting. You are always thought provoking my friend. Thank you xxxx


  4. I didn’t have an emotional clue until I was 10 years sober and out of my marriage. Alone, for the first time in 11 years, I realized that I didn’t have a clue as to what was all pushed down in there. I’m still processing.

    And the new Maps on iPhone can bite me. I have put in addresses to the most basic of places in my community just to test it out and it gives me vague directions, sometimes with streets missing. I don’t trust it, so I downloaded Google Maps instead.


  5. Self-awareness…. hurts… I always love the “good news is you get your feelings back, bad news is your get your feelings back” quote. Says it all really. It is a journey that never stops in my experience so far.


  6. “One of the things I’m learning I need to practice is restraint of tongue. Just because I think it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because it hurts to keep it in, doesn’t mean I should blurt it out. My girlfriend calls this “emotional barfing” and I think there are certain people it’s safe to emotionally barf on. These people are usually far removed from the emotions being barfed up.”


    Oh am I guilty of this. Reading this really made me see it! Thankfully, I have a couple of safe people. I think that it is worthy for me to note to myself that if I start puking on others not in that safe circle, I am probably on overload, and need to address that! Very acutely aware of that right now, lol. 😉

    Thanks, Triple B. I am glad that I came here to read this today.


    1. Hello fellow thinkers ;-). This is so beautiful and so appropriate. I’m learning so much, even after 7 years clean from bulimia (let’s call it addiction … and the loss of a soul) about the human condition: Especially mine, duh, right? Talking with my therapist the other day was so great. I have come to a point where i don’t need to see her every week because i can “act as if I’m an adult” most of the time. However, our conversation was about, what you might call emotional barf-back. I like that term, erm, MRS. D! I mean emotional barfing.

      We were talking about accepting other people vs. trying to like those who either dislike you, or who you dislike (and really don’t have a say in the matter, aka in-laws).

      Angela was trying to explain to me about the different between pain and suffering. We all have pain (happiness too of course) … but we’re talking about a “relation” who puts me into the “suffering pot” a LOT!

      My therapist suggested that i try to keep my eye on “acceptance” of Her and perhaps try to understand her underlying motivation that makes her act like an ass (oops). That way, see (calling her an ass) … will keep my feelings of hurt that she doesn’t like me (even though i don’t like HER) from turning from a bit painful into S U F F E R I N G .

      Trying to just keep myself out of emotional doodoo right now. Be well, and i’m glad Mrs. D and Celeste mentioned your blog. xo Mel


  7. Feel free to barf around me. I’ll even hold your hair.

    My grandmother had a bigass red Thunderbird. God I loved that car.

    I haven’t upgraded my phone yet. Aside from the maps, was it worth it? Any quirks? After windows service pack 2, I always try to wait a while so they can work out the bugs.

    There’s a Blues Traveler song “Look Around” that really speaks to me about having to pick up every rock (problem/ fear/ issue) and then simply put it down. Look it up if you feel inclined.

    I’m glad you had a nice visit, especially for the girls. They’ll always remember that. As will you.


  8. i really loved reading your stories of baseball bats and little cats with pennies! And the message was a strong one as well. Thank you so much for the beautiful writing and the thought beneath it.


  9. Beautiful writing, as usual. Love your description and rich memories.

    Yes, I’m still learning how to not “barf” up everything I’m thinking. I think it’s a new humility that comes from recovery: our thoughts and intentions are not necessarily crucial information that must be shared. We are not always right. And having the restraint to hold off on saying something is definitely growth.

    Thanks for sharing this!



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