Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mean Reds

One of my favorite books is Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. Many people have seen the movie, but I know far fewer have read the book. I would recommend this short novella to all who have ever felt the need to belong while at the same time, to not be tied down. The underlying theme is that you should never love a wild thing for the more you love a wild thing, the more inclined they will be to break away. As Holly Golightly says in the book, "...you can't give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they're strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky."

I've always felt a certain kindredness to Holly. She seems always to be running, while at the same time standing still. She is a strong female character with an inherent weakness for never giving up on her "friends", even when her friends have given up on her.

Holly describes the concept of the Mean Reds. What we nowadays call "depression", Holly describes this feeling as being afraid yet not knowing what you are afraid of. There are times when I have often experienced the Mean Reds myself. I think everyone goes through them from time to time. It's when they start to take over your life, that you have to wonder if maybe you should seek professional help. I will not lie...I've been that low...so low that I needed to reach out to an unbiased third-party to help me through. That was several years ago after a nasty episode with someone I credited at the time with being the one true love of my life (I now know this to not be the case), and my married co-worker. No need to go into details - you can do the math and maybe understand why seeing a therapist was a good option for me back then!

It's been years since I have been back to therapy. Nowadays, I try to combat the Mean Reds with other distractions - I call those Warm Fuzzies. Things that I enjoy doing, that bring me happiness one way or the other so that I may impart joy onto others (yuck - I sounded like friggin' Pollyanna right there, didn't I?!). Do you remember when you were a kid and learned the story of the Warm Fuzzies and the Cold Pricklies? I do...it was a concept that stuck with me throughout childhood and (obviously) till today. It was an important lesson to learn so young in life...that being warm and inviting will get you much further than (frankly) being a cold-hearted bitch ever will. Unfortunately, there are still those people out there that think being cold and callous is the only way to get through life. The challenge for the Holly Golightlys' of the world is to learn to identify the signs early on and extract yourself from the situation so you do not encounter the Mean Reds. I am by no means advocating that one should run away from their problems, but simply don't entangle oneself in the pettiness of others and you will be fine.

I know....easier said than done.

Back to the idea of not loving a wild thing...when I think back on my relationships, the ones that always seem to start off well, the ones that are actually good for me, usually end up with my pushing the other person away and not letting them in. The relationships that were the unhealthiest were the ones that I fought tooth and nail for, and miserably lost. We always want what we can't have, right? I propose as well that we often reject what we need the most. After all, isn't it easier to be alone than than to make a romantic relationship work with someone else? That's all fine and good until you find yourself in bed alone on a cold Saturday night with your down comforter from Ikea and a 15-pound cat keeping your feet warm. (YES..I speak from personal experience). So the question remains, like Holly, am I better off being a wild thing, or will allowing myself to be tamed be to my benefit?

Any lion tamers out there?

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