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I gave my friend an elephant.
He thanked me.
"Don't mention it," I said.
That was a joke, by the way.
The elephant in the room: I'm sure I can't be the only one who prefers to ignore him. I can't be the only one who lets stuff build up emotionally, who prefers to act as if in ignorance of issues I just don't want to deal with.
I don't want the confrontation. I don't want the anger. I don't want the answers I fear I might get.
So, I put the elephant in a (large) cardboard box. I can ignore him better that way.
Yes, I carry on in fear and worry and in denial which isn't denial at all. And it takes its toll. It's like a medical condition which won't get better by itself. It's something that time won't heal. It can really drag me down.
Experience tells me that, when I do finally face the elephant, he proves not to be so scary after all. He proves not to be that mad African bull elephant with enormous tusks, but a well-mannered Indian elephant; he's rather embarrassed to be found in my living room at all.
But it doesn't get any easier, does it?
Last Summer I had a family issue I had to bring out into the open and address. It turned out to be much, much simpler than I had expected. What I didn't know, was that for my long-suffering husband (who dislikes confrontation even more than I), the elephant was not only bigger, but multi-coloured too. In fact, so gigantic and hideous was his elephant, that we both ended up in slightly hysterical laughter, and banished it with giggles from our room.
Yet – recently, I wimped out of asking a close friend about our own personal elephant. I still haven't. I don't know if I ever can; I'm scared of the answer I might get.
So often our elephant is imaginary, however – a bit like the Heffalump in Winnie the Pooh.
The trouble is, we don't know if he's imaginary – or at least bigger in our imaginations than in reality, until we deal with him. A bit like Schrodinger's cat, we must open the box to find out his state.
I don't have any easy answers. I know that last Summer I had to make a plan and schedule the conversation. I had to choose a time for that conversation when we wouldn't be interrupted. Then – I just had to draw a deep breath and launch in. "I want to talk to you about something..."
In most cases, the other person is pleased to have the conversation. If you get met with a frosty, "I don't want to talk about it," then I suppose you just have to let that elephant be. If you force the issue, you might end up squashed.
But on balance, I think it's healthier to open the box.
And much kinder to the elephant.
A Moodscope member.