After graduation, after a divorce, after an election
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Lauren Slater is the author of Prozac Diary; Opening Skinner’s Box: Great Psychology Experiments of the Twentieth Century; and, most recently, Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs That Changed Our Minds. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.
That word, competence, came to me after my six-year struggle; it came as an alternative, if not an outright escape hatch, to the daily grind of despair.
A marriage can be many things. Ours was a series of secrets and small betrayals, little lies that poison you like an odorless gas you don’t even know you’re breathing until you stop.
Consider this a kind of consumer report. I am not a car gal. I have little interest in vehicles, and the ones that I have owned I’ve driven until their grisly deaths: burst gas lines, generator poof-outs, whole-engine cardiac arrests requiring that the massive mechanical muscle be lifted from the steel cavity and dropped onto a junkyard heap. It is easier, by the way, to dispose of a dead body than a dead car.
I have not healed so much as learned to sit still and wait while pain does its dancing work, trying not to panic or twist in ways that make the blades tear deeper and finally infect the wounds.