"She has to be squeezed immediately before she explodes." --Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka
One of my favorite scenes from the 1971 Roald Dahl adapation, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory**, is the infamous "Violet, you're turning Violet, Violet!" scene, when Violet Beauregarde impulsively snags a piece of fancy new chewing gum from Willy Wonka's "revolutionary, non-pollutionary mechanical wonder" and promptly turns into a giant blueberry. Wonka whistles to the Oompa-Loompas, who roll Violet off to the juicing room before she explodes.
These days I feel quite a lot like Violet the Giant Blueberry Girl. With the CDR gone until mid-October, and the boys acting out as a result, and me watching So You Think You Can Dance? over and over on my TiVo because I'm bored and lonely, the emotions start welling up inside me until I feel like I'm about to explode.
Under normal circumstances, the CDR is my juicing room, so to speak. He is a compassionate, attentive listener, and he (usually) knows when to give advice and when to just shut up and hold me while I cry.
Before he left, my husband encouraged me to write him anytime, about anything, without worrying about how it might make him feel. He wanted to continue being my juicing room, even from so far away. A noble request, to be sure, but I'm not sure it's the healthiest choice for either of us.
Why? First, my emotions are more volatile than ever, and therefore hard to express via email. I am 100 percent extrovert, and living alone in a community where I don't have many friends. I don't like small children, yet I cohabitate with and solo-parent a preschooler and a toddler. Turns out these personality traits make for an explosive combination in a long-term deployment situation.
Second, what is the point of bemoaning my existence to a person who cannot do anything about it? What I really need, in my lowest moments, is to be held. And writing a message to the person from whom I want holding, but who cannot give it to me, makes a really bad situation even worse.
Third, the CDR is in a high-pressure environment on his ship and has a gazillion other concerns to address on any given day. I know how sensitive he is, and how guilty he still feels about this unexpected assignment, so I don't want to make his life miserable when he has so many other critical responsibilities.
On the other hand (isn't there always another damn hand?), I know that keeping my true emotions at bay is only going to make the situation worse for me, and for the boys. They have already heard more crying, and seen more sippy-cups thrown across the kitchen, in the past week than they have heard or seen in their entire little lives.
I also know that the CDR is not completely useless in such a circumstance. I believe in the power of prayer, and I know that my husband prays faithfully for me while he is underway. By letting him into my heart, even within the constraints of Arial 12 in his Outlook Inbox, he can pray more specifically for my day-to-day needs.
Okay, fine. Even from the Arctic, my husband should still be my juicing room. But I truly believe that I cannot share everything with him because that just wouldn't be fair. Anything I write can easily be misconstrued, and his tendency to worry could hinder the CDR's ability to effectively lead his crew.
So, every time I write my husband an email, I now think about the blueberry balance:
How much should I share, and how much should I keep inside, in order to support the CDR in his mission while keeping myself from exploding all over the children?
**Some movies should never be re-made, Tim Burton, thank you very much.