Friday, September 21, 2012

Spiky Exposure

Carpet has been torn up in our new house everywhere.  Did I tell you we got our new house?  We did. I look forward to the day I'm calling it our home, but for now, it is the new house and is in the stage where it must look worse before it looks better as they tear out carpet, cracked tiles, chipped tub and warped linoleum.

That house is a little dangerous.  Prickly.  Little nails and staple spikes are scattered across the floor, shards of tile spill from the bathroom, unwanted glass shower doors lean against the wall.

It is unwelcoming, a bit chaotic, and a bit unpredictable.

But when it comes to the carpet, I am so grateful that we have pulled it all up with the pad. Animal stains we suspected have been confirmed and the damage assessed.  We found some mold that also needed to be bleached and "Killzed."

But this post is not about the trials and tribulations of home ownership and repair.  Many of you, I'm sure can relate, but it got me thinking about something else.

The carpets have sustained some serious damage.  And only by really exposing it down to its boards can we assess, repair and prevent.

Without turning our living room into a spiky mess, we would never have been able to enjoy it as a welcoming and inviting space.  The smells would linger.  Some would get worse.

All the Yankee Candle plug-in air fresheners, Fabreeze dousings, and cloying air sprays were only masking the much deeper issues.

Expose and eradicate.
Mask and fester.

Two choices for  our house.
Two choices for my heart.

This month we've sustained some serious damage.  In the aftermath of adversity my whole family has to decide now how to deal with the deck we've been dealt.  One of my instincts is to just cover it up.  Spray on a happy face, "fabreeze" it with a breezy attitude, and tell myself that time heals all wounds.

But is that true?  Doesn't healing heal wounds?
Here's the rub:

If I expose these parts that need to be addressed I become prickly.  Anger and grief mingle in me in chaotic, unpredictable ways.  I am not a welcoming refuge to the people who love me.  In fact, I'm as uninviting as a bare, spiky floorboard with random debris and undetermined damage points.  At one point last week this sensation was so acute, I did not even want Bill to touch me.  I felt like a hedgehog on full alert.

I'm not exactly sure what the spiritual equivalent to "Killz" is when it comes to taking care of emotional damage, but just smothering it with a kick in the pants to "buck up" is not it.

In the meantime, my own raw vulnerability makes me wonder how many angry people I have encountered who are not "what-a-jerks", but really folks who are in a spiritual remodel, letting their pain be exposed in uglier ways to make sure they can really address it before they move on.

Also in the meantime, books, mindless movies, chocolate and chai, eating out and taking it easy on my path of parenting excellence all make some pretty decent throw rugs.


  1. Some day you need to tell me these things face to face. For now I hear my lesson plans calling, along with papers to grade and grandkids to tend to. You always had the best way to say what I was thinking. How cool is that?

  2. An essay like this reminds me so much of reading Robert Fulghum when I was in high school, and I mean that as a compliment! You do a wonderful job of using prosaic situations and turning them into marvelous metaphors. I so enjoy keeping up with you, even if it's not in person. *sends mental hugs for your spiky places*

  3. This is so true and real. So much better than trying to paste on a happy face and get over it. You have such a great heart- I am so glad to know you.