Dress Rehearsals

I read the words that became the title of this post in another blog in a different context. But those two simple words gave me a sudden insight into how and where my mind wanders more often than not, and I feel the need to explore that.

Whenever I have my just ‘sit and rest’ breaks, which are happening with more frequency since I started physical therapy for my shoulder which makes me even more tired, I prop my feet up on the recliner and just close my eyes to rest. This is the time when I work to clear my mind of things that make me stressed and just let it wander. Often times, memories come into my mind, assorted ones with no rhyme or reason. Sometimes, however, I think about things that are more in real life in the near future, and find myself thinking about how I want to handle them.

I’ve never liked surprises. I have ZERO poker face, so any emotion I feel is going to be displayed for all to see. Because of that, I’ve developed this sort of strategy for how I want those things to play out so that I’m prepared for how I’m going to react emotionally. It can be what I plan to say or do, or how I plan to react to what might be said or done. After all, we’ve all heard time and time again the adage that this is our life, not a dress rehearsal for it.

I’ve had to work hard to overcome the me of the past who, having learned it from my mother, would fly off the handle without warning. That work has allowed me to keep automatic retorts and my impatience for idiots to, if not come immediately to mind, at least not come out of my mouth. To be honest, there are times I wish I could visit that ‘old me’ just for a moment – just have a moment now and then when I can immediately blow off the steam and ire that has bubbled up. And I have – on very rare occasions – and immediately felt bad and ended up apologizing. My bestie can probably recall the time I said something very nasty to her and apologized, while she thought it was just my streak of sarcasm and what I said didn’t even faze her. But I knew I’d said it in a moment of anger, so I needed to apologize.

So, it is really helpful to me to have these dress rehearsals in my head… to play out potential scenarios for something I’m pretty sure will be happening and how I want to deal with it. I don’t know – perhaps it is a form of wanting to control a situation, though I think it’s more about wanting to make sure my self-control will be activated. And sometimes, it’s planning something I want to say to a person in kindness, wanting to make sure that I hit the right chord of words that will lift someone up when they are feeling low.

Dress rehearsals are, I guess, a coping mechanism for me. However, once again, I wish I could just spontaneously combust when the spirit strikes me. Because I choose not to, I realize that the emotion I’m feeling just gets tucked away (not disposed of) and that I end up carrying it with me. Such is the case in my recent post about finding forgiveness. The anger I felt at the words that were said to me never got a chance to express itself, so these years later, it’s unresolved (thanks again to Just Being Me for words that have been helping me resolve it internally!).

I remember when I was still the ‘explode now’ kind of person, and a therapist I was working with who helped me by suggesting I visualized a container inside my chest where I would put those feelings, tighten the lid, and hold on to it until I was in her office, where I was free to let them out and deal with them in a place without judgement or fear. That actually worked like a charm! But now, I have no scheduled time or place where I can look forward to freeing them, so they tend to fester. Seldom are they things that don’t just dissolve with time, but when they are… Consciously or sub-consciously, I carry them around as a part of me – and then I wonder why I’m so tired!

I need to work on finding ways to free those emotions in a safe and non-judgmental way. I have been more open with my bestie and my brother in discussing them, and I have this blog as a place to at least pour them out.

But still, I choose to let my mind play out these dress rehearsals. Maybe it’s just my way of avoiding the possibility that something will happen that will add to my already full internal container…

One thought on “Dress Rehearsals

  1. I definitely do dress rehearsals in my head too. Especially when I’m anticipating a conversation that could be difficult. I like to think of all the ways it could play out and how I’d handle it. They say you should think before you speak so at least we can’t be accused of not thinking 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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