Not all of Tyler Durden’s advice in Fight Club was sound, but this piece has merit.
I am Jack’s inability to turn off repeat screenings of Fight Club on IFC.
As a result, I’ve watched Brad Pitt pour lye on Edward Norton’s right hand, and the ensuing chemical burn, more than three times in the last week. It’s this scene that always captivates me. As Norton attempts to escape the pain through guided visualization or going to his cave and harnessing his power animal, Brad Pitt constantly slaps him back to reality. “Stay with the pain. Don’t shut it out,” he says.
I am Jack’s procrastinating grief.
When given time to myself, I often spiral out of control quickly. My own head is not a place I enjoy staying for very long. As a result, when pain and grief of old hurts seep back, I deflect. I dive into a good book. I bury myself in work. I run for miles and miles until my legs ache. I have a few adult beverages until clarity isn’t so clear. Whatever it takes to avoid sitting with my pain long enough to face it.
I cope. I procrastinate my grief indefinitely.
I am Jack’s broken heart.
A series of personal tragedies over the last three years has left me with a broken heart. I’ve tried procrastinating grief. It isn’t working.
Several weeks ago, my therapist recommended I take time to sit with my pain. Let it wash over me and really allow myself to feel. Now, I’m hearing the same advice repeated by Tyler Durden. This is my pain. This is my burning hand right here. I can either choose to continue, pointlessly, pouring water over the burn. Believe somehow the trickles of procrastination will soothe the burn.
Or, I can stay with the pain. I can let go. Allow myself to feel rather than run. Then, perhaps the initially off-putting vinegar will neutralize the hurt. Perhaps then the scar will form. I’ll begin to truly heal.
I am Jack’s cautious optimism.
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