Back in the 1990’s, I watched the Sean Penn film ‘Dead Man Walking’ at the cinema with my then fiance. I couldn’t bear it. I was literally sobbing in the cinema as the lead character is lead to his execution. My sobbing was belly shaking and snotty. My fiancé was embarrassed. (Which in fairness to me he often was… no wonder he left me!) Anyway, back to the point… I couldn’t tolerate the pain that film provoked in me. (At one point, Penelope set me the homework of watching the film again and managing my distress. (I couldn’t do it)).
I’m on holiday and someone had left the book ‘Me before You’ in the apartment. I decided to read it. It’s an excellent book but it provoked a similar reaction in me. It was a bit too close for comfort with my brother’s death… but I made a conscious decision to continue with the book instead of stop reading it. Again, I was sobbing and snotting. But this time I was more skilled at coping with my distress.
In DBT, the module is referred to as Distress Tolerance, and I realised how much more skilled I have grown. I’m not sure I should have read the book to be honest, but I did and I survived. I have no intention of watching Dead Man Walking ever again but if I did, I do think my reaction might be the same, but my response could be a bit better!
This situation has reminded me of another time. I am on holiday by myself for 10 days- and I’ve been finding it hard. I’ve felt quite lonely and vulnerable at times. I’ve been surrounded by families, grown up children visiting parents out here… grandchildren… the whole lot… and I’ve been by myself. That was my choice and when it works, it works really well for me. But I was thinking about previous times when I have felt similar while abroad and have ended up flying back home. At times I’ve wanted to come home but I’ve stayed put. I’ve survived the moments and as I continue to relax, I’m able to embrace the space and the process more. I could have easily got on a plane back home, but I’m so glad I didn’t- even if just for the fact that I can write this. I am doing ok- bit by bit.
Thanks for listening.