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on old hurts and rotten milk


Matt was driving us somewhere the other day and starting frantically shoving toys around, looking under bags, and opening compartments.  My car is super clean and organized except not at all.  His face scrunched up and twisted all funny and I said “WHAT?!”

“I’m looking for the rotten milk.” He said breathing at only half capacity through his mouth.

“Oh, babe, don’t be so sensitive.  Here, it’s probably just this.”  I gathered up three different fast food bags from the floor board, closed them all and tossed them in the way back of my car.  “Better?”

“Mmm hmm.” He repositioned uncomfortably. 

Moments later he rolled his window down and began to lean into the air, hoping I wouldn’t notice him gulping down breath after hot summer breath.

“I mean, does it really smell that bad in here?” I was starting to get annoyed.

His eyes started to get all shifty like they do when I start acting unrealistically emotional/(am wrong).  The latter is hardly ever the case.  “Oh, you know, I just thought some fresh air might be nice this afternoon.” 

We live in the deep south.  In 100% humidity. In 100 degree heat.

When I opened the car the next day, I was hit with pure putrescence.  We’re talking the stink of a thousand dead rodents in a wall.  Mind numbing, eye watering, STINK!  I held my breath in increments and dove around the car until, sure enough- I found it! A sippy cup holding a subtance formerly known as milk, but in it’s current state resembled a cheesy yogurty dead-dead nasty swamp gag vomit something.  It was buried in a box of Mills’ toys.  Every thing in the box was infected too.  Once the culprit was out of the car, it took a good two days riding windows down and heads half out until the stench was gone.

I got to thinking about other hidden things in life.  Like old hurts.  Recently I was talking to my counselor Melea and said, “But I left that situation SO long ago.”  Her response is still bouncing around my ears.  She said, “Distance doesn’t heal the pain.  It just gets you away long enough to let you think it's gone.  But when you return, the hurt is still there, sometimes bigger than you left it.”

Hm, so that old “Time heals all wounds” bs... People are well meaning liars.

I am learning that when I stuff painful things down inside (family situations, body issues, anxiety, worry, sadness, shall I continue? ) if I don’t deal with them, they begin to rot and fester and turn into a molten lava of yogurty cheese yak just like that mess in my car.  Soon everything around it (all of my insides) begin to suffer too.  And it doesn’t matter how much good I try and put on top of it.  I STILL STINK! 

I had gotten so used to the funk in my car, I didn’t even notice it any more.  That’s like pain in my life.  Sometimes I get so used to carrying these things around, I begin to think that they are normal.  Or, I don’t even notice them any more.  Friends or family will try and gently bring up an issue (you smell like curdled milk, honey) and I just start balling up trash and dismissing them.  Worst of all is when I think maybe I do know, but I am afraid of the pain, so I try and keep going.  Drive faster-add an air freshener-smile bigger-maybe no one will notice-kind of thing.

But you know what? I wasn’t meant to smell like gut rot.  Or carry past pain.  God wants to come in and heal the broken places.  I am learning that I have to admit I need help, move some toys around, and allow myself to be helped.  It takes some adjusting, and some time to air out, but it’s so worth it.

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