Someone recently was talking about the phenomenon of chasing the dent when doing body work on the car. You can deal with the dent and try to hammer it out, but it will flow along in the metal, popping up somewhere else different and yet still needing your attention.
Sometimes I feel like my body does this. One problem in one place leads to trouble in another. Aging sucks.
But I’m thinking about chasing dents emotionally. I see this in the work that I do as a trauma therapist. Rarely does the problem that comes in the door represent the real issue that is underneath, or the one that follows along behind, whispering in your ear when you would prefer it didn’t. When we figure it out, it is so often back in time, back when no one had any control over what happened, but it left a mark that can’t be fully scrubbed out.
That’s where the dent started.
Where it ends up or shows up is the emotional challenge.
What really annoys me is when well-meaning people encourage us to “get over it” and “move on”…first of all, no one has any right to impose that on anyone else, but more significantly, I feel like it’s not our job to tell someone to get over anything. No one knows what story is behind it, what happened before, or what open wound hides in plain sight.
Instead, I have to say, encourage someone to “move through it” instead. “Getting over it” may imply that whatever it was didn’t matter, and I’ll bet you that it did. I bet it mattered a lot. So, finding the grace to move through something seems like the far kinder option, and maybe the more realistic.
All we end up doing is chasing dents, the older we get.
But, at least there can be a kind process of helping it find an exit, a place where it no longer needs to exist, to flow out of the metal and let the tension be released so the dent doesn’t need to be maintained anymore.
I think that’s freedom.