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Veneer

I’m going to have lunch with a friend today. I haven’t been socializing much lately, and I feel like I need to get out more. I’ve been using the excuse that I have too much stuff to do, but I’ve let “stuff” become a distraction. I’ve been stuck with me long enough. Last night I took a wire-wrapping class. (For those of you who don’t know, I make jewelry.) It was nice to learn a new technique and experience some creative time. It helps me think.

I suppose I’ve let a little fear creep into my life. Fear is so irrational. I’m not referring to the instinctual fight or flight response. I’m talking about the paralyzing, not enough saliva in your mouth causing your tongue to stick to the roof of your mouth kind. It’s been just me and my dark thoughts, usually contemplating my inadequacies.

On the outside everything looks fine. I’ve managed to create a pretty authentic-looking veneer. It’s very placating and co-dependent. No one else minds because it means I’m helpful and keep my opinions to myself. My family may notice an increase in the grump factor, and I suddenly get the urge to eat small kitchen appliances, but life appears from the outside to be progressing quite nicely. Then the veneer gets nicked and starts peeling up, exposing the wood underneath to the elements.

Did you know that 100+ years ago when craftsmen applied veneer to furniture often the wood beneath was as good of quality as the thin sheet they applied over the top? It was just prettier…a nice curly maple over white oak, that even sounds more attractive.

My mom and dad owned an antique shop for a brief period before they divorced; there were a lot of interesting business adventures. Perhaps it was their attempt to keep the veneer firmly in place over their troubled marriage. They were sinking fast. I watched from a distance and stayed out of the water! I didn’t want the moisture to bubble up my veneer.

I managed to keep “everything” intact for many years, probably until our twins died. Their death left me more exposed and vulnerable than I could have ever imagined, but somewhere I knew I would need to remain uncovered in order to survive. I received that message loud and clear. I think that happens with grief – if we listen.

My worst fear was realized; I outlived two of my children. What is there to fear or cover up after that? A Big, Fat Nothing! I lived through the experience, and that is something I would never wish on anyone. I don’t want to say I came out better because never do I think of that period without wandering what life might be like had events taken another path.

I gained perspective so at least there was a take-away. It took me years to get from that point to today, but that’s o.k. too. I’m moving in the right direction, and I can generally realize when I’m trying to cover up with food or some other faulty coping mechanism. What is beneath the veneer may be different, but it is just as valuable.

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