Digging the dirt

When you dig be careful where you throw the dirt – WGB

This seems a little sinister after my tale of love and self acceptance but I wanted to explore this. It seems like a little quip – being clever with the metaphor of digging but I can see an extraordinarily valuable lesson here.

I want to share an experience I had years ago where my partner was cheating on me. I became a super sleuth, thinking I was so clever by winkling out every piece of information on who, when, where what! Well I might as well have taken a very large plank of wood and beat myself over the head with it!! For every time I found something I would almost go into shock. It was like a stabbing pain in my heart, the blood would drain from my face and I would get really cold and start shivering. The worst thing that happened was that I forgot basic maths skills. I would add two and two and make five, or two hundred and even a thousand! Seek and ye shall find. I sought, I dug; dug with my bare hands in effect and smeared that dirt all over myself, before I continued digging.

Imagine if we had some milk and it was off. Getting a rancid mouthful is not nice but it’s useful information. We deal with it. Continually testing that sour milk in every coffee, or on cereal or to make smoothies once we know the milk will probably give us a sore stomach, is just madness. We have our information. We dug and we found dirt. Lay the dirt gently aside and process what you have found. Stop digging.

Indulging an awful addiction is the only way I can describe it the sleuthing and was one of the bleakest times of my life. It was not because of the events – yes he was troubled enough to think that chasing other women would help him escape his woes. I don’t judge him for that. The problem was my reaction and the need to keep attacking myself with all the details which clearly hurt deeply. I didn’t see that then. It was like I enjoyed this heightened sensitivity. I was full of rage; self-imposed I now realise. I told myself wild stories about what a monster and a liar he was and that I was undeserving of this treatment. However he wasn’t doing it to me. He was just doing it to himself. In the same way I was just doing this to myself; looking for further proof that I had a right to anger and misery. But we probably all have a right to anger and misery if we relive our past and judge an event as worthy of self pity. Of course I was actually afraid – of my life changing with the split; of being unlovable, alone and broke.

But all good things come to pass. And I say good because ultimately we were fine and good friends and better off apart. What I have learned from this quote is once you have dug and found what you are looking for, process it, and let it go. Don’t take the dirt, roll in it, smear it on your friends with your rants, fling it at everyone who comes near. Step outside and see it objectively or seek help to do this, as if it were happening to someone else, because your own health, mental health and wellbeing are at stake. It is extremely difficult to do but you get the ultimate prize – the strength to deal with crises as they arise, and more importantly the knowledge that you have that strength when you need it.