Avoiding Mental Purgatory

November 20, 2012

in Life Lessons


The gray area.

My own version of a mental Purgatory.

Having uncertainty leaves me spinning, looking incessantly for the answer so that I can move myself safely into a clearly-defined area: the land of black and white. But sometimes, no matter how hard I focus on something that is not clear to me, I won’t discover the answer. Even though I know I can’t think my way into a black or white safe ground all the time, I will try. And try. And try.

Being analytical has a lot of positive aspects, so it’s not a trait I wish I did not possess. But there are times I would like to quiet my mind, and be at peace as I enter the gray zone. While I may never be able to calm my mind when an ambiguous situation arises, I can express my need to find the safe haven of certainty. I did that Sunday night with Sean, and he was able to guide me lovingly out of my mental Purgatory. As a result, I no longer worry about what was overly-concerning to me last weekend.

What I have learned in the last few years is that I can do something else to help me with managing this trait: choose my relationships wisely.  A few years ago I was in a relationship with someone who knew I possessed this quality, and chose to exploit it to manipulate me for his own personal gain. It was emotionally abusive, and painful for people who loved me to watch. While Sean helps guide me out of my mental Purgatory, others have chosen to imprison me there.

“Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity…” ~Gilda Radner

I know I will never describe ambiguity as “delicious,” but I am confident I won’t spend much time spinning in my mental Purgatory with Sean by my side.

For that, today, I am very grateful.

What are you grateful for today?

 {This is part of a week-long series on giving thanks.}

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

@bluenotebacker November 20, 2012 at 11:04 am

“To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.”
~ Ursula K. Le Guin

I’m SO happy for you both that you and Sean have found each other. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to accept that we don’t always see the clear path laid before us but to know that we have a partner who will be there to right us if we stumble.
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Naked Girl in a Dress November 20, 2012 at 11:11 am

I love this quote; thank you for sharing it! I collect quotes and sprinkle them in my writing so I am especially appreciative when someone shares one that resonates.


lisa thomson November 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Sean sounds like the genuine person who has your best interests at heart. “Mental purgatory”, I like your definition of uncertainty. I hate to admit how often I’m in there. Sometimes the answers come at the most unlikely moments, too. I’m grateful for learning to listen to my gut instincts.


Naked Girl in a Dress November 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm

You have a wonderful point, Lisa. I do have those moments of clarity for which I am also incredibly grateful. All the mental energy can pay off for me as well.

As for Sean, he brings so much good into my life. I am truly a lucky woman.


Hey Monkey Butt November 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Happy to read that you two are doing well together. I don’t do so well in the grey zone either, I prefer the black and/or the white. There isn’t really a grey for me! Grateful that we’re 2 days away from Thanksgiving and Mama MB is still here with us. :)
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Naked Girl in a Dress November 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Those are wonderful things to be grateful for today MB. Have a great Thanksgiving.


Nicole November 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm

It took me a long time to learn to navigate grey waters. I still struggle, but not as much as I did. When I learned how futile it is to try to keep everything within my own control, it helped me let go. Plus, sometimes the grey brings something wonderful. Letting go of the control invites possibilities you may have never considered.

Definitely helps to have a sounding board who doesn’t throw it in your face or tell you you’re a crazy control freak, too. Sean sounds like a good egg. Happy you’re happy! :-)
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Naked Girl in a Dress November 21, 2012 at 11:34 am

Thanks, Nicole. Sean is a good egg. :) I have let go more in the four years I have been single than ever and it does have great benefits. Some unexpected, but welcome surprises have come my way.


Mia Jones November 21, 2012 at 8:07 am

When life throws you lemons, how to get out of a rut, what gets you going, shake of negative energy…Keep going.

Smile. Stay strong.
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Naked Girl in a Dress November 21, 2012 at 11:36 am

Thank you, Mia.


Vinny C November 21, 2012 at 9:08 am

I’ve had so many of those “grey areas” in my life (especially in the last few years) I guess I’ve gotten a little used uncertainty.

Doesn’t mean I have to like it.
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Naked Girl in a Dress November 21, 2012 at 11:33 am

I am trying to get used to it, but it’s certainly good to have someone in my life who respects this challenging issue and operates carefully around it. Maybe I will get better with age.


TB at BlueCollarWorkman November 21, 2012 at 9:27 am

You know, the older I get the more I realize that almsot nothing is black and white. When I was a kid, everything was black and white, no problem! But as an adult, I can see the other side more and understand more of the complex junk going on. Almost everything is freaking gray, isn’t it?
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Naked Girl in a Dress November 21, 2012 at 11:32 am

There’s certainly a lot to consider with decision making as an adult. As kids we rarely thought through anything. We didn’t have the frame of reference in place to be more introspective. That’s my opinion.


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