Just a little more about my Pandora's box, if you will. About the scenes that I put in that box. They are not Monsters. The only monsters I have seen are poverty, ignorance, racism, and hatred. And the only offspring they have produced is war. The scenes I speak of are real, and I will give you one example, a mild one, of the scenes in the box.
Many years ago, a friend gave me a Siamese cat named Missy.
Aloof she was, but beautiful, and loved nothing more than to wander the fields surrounding our farmhouse. I knew there was no threat of little Siamese cats, as she had been neutered many years ago. There came a time in late summer one year when she did not show up for upwards of a week. We, the boys and I, went looking for her, many times, that week. We called, and searched, but could not find her. One morning I opened the back door, and there she was, full of cockle-burrs, thinner, and obviously having been through a rough time. I picked her up and carried her inside, into the washroom, and set her on top of the dryer, to look more closely at her wounds. One of her legs, while not broken, was stripped raw, and full of tiny holes filled with maggots. Busy little maggots eating away at her rotting flesh.
I remember, even at the shock of seeing this obscenity, telling myself that this was really a good thing. That while it seemed an obscenity, they were actually doing what they were best at, removing necrotic flesh, and perhaps preventing gangrene.
The vet said the same thing, and looking at me, said, "We have to get rid of these you know." And old country vet, he always gave you the truth. "Can you do this?" he asked me. I would be his assistant. I would help him hold Missy down, while he sprayed her leg with the medicine to kill the maggots. "Can you handle this?" I nodded, not really knowing if I could or not, but determined to do so for Missy's sake.
So, a short spray, and what seemed like thousands of maggots boiled out of her leg, like a pot of water boiling on the stove and spilling over, these things came from everywhere. And died. And, while dressing her leg, he spent a long time telling me about the beneficial nature of the maggot. The same things I had told myself. We talked about how they may have saved lives on the battlefields of many wars. Eating away the dead flesh, and saving the good flesh. I knew all of this was true, but the image was burned into my mind. Forever.
With antibiotics, and instruction, he told me, "If she lasts through the night, that is a good sign. I could keep her here, but you can take her home." I liked the way he put that. He was giving her a chance.
We worked with her for days, trying to get her to eat, though she refused. And then she refused water, and I knew it wouldn't be long. And then her death throes began, and I went to get the rifle, as I knew it was time. But, tears and shaking hands, made me so slow, and she died before I could load the gun. And we cried. My boys and I.
And we found a box and a beautiful cloth to wrap her in, and found a spot where she liked to sit, and she rests there today, and rather than curse myself with why didn't you, and if only you, and you really should have...I have placed Missy in my Pandora's box of memories.
So, when it came time at the hospital where I worked to help dress a patients bedsore, infected to the point where the smell pervaded every item in the room, and the tunnels and fissures of it seemed a living thing separate from from the patient, I could say, yes, I can handle this. Yes, I can sit in the room, and talk with her, make her comfortable, because I had been trained by fire.
It doesn't matter who holds the keys to the box. The scenes have no meaning for no one else but you. Other's may find them equally disturbing, but there's nothing in there that anyone can use to possibly hurt you anymore than you've already experienced. And if they climb out, then its usually for a reason. So, look at them, remember them, then tuck them away again. The greatest harm is when they run rampant through your mind, play endless on a repeating loop, to the point that all you see is the recurring scenes of remembered trauma.
This is a visualization technique. Much as laying down at night, and taking a deep breath, and exhaling slowly, but visualizing all the negativity you experienced flowing out the soles of your feet as you exhale. It takes a while, but you can actually feel it happening, if you give it a chance. A deep breath, a cleansing breath, is when you place your hand on your diaphragm and when you breath in, your hand rises. It may sound like psycho-babble, but it is actually a physical response, and if you are going to think about something, why not do your best to make it positive? What can it hurt?
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