Alphabet Soup

Life can be/is very hard. Confusion is common. Confusion does not feel pleasant. I was once told that confusion is good:  “It means you are working on a solution and haven’t arrived at it yet”. I found that explanation to be comforting. There could be an outcome, but it was not clear what the outcome would be or when the outcome would occur. That got me to thinking about vegetable soup.

I have had food poisoning twice in my life. What miserable experiences. I hate to vomit. Yet, when I was in the middle of the intestinal upset, I was wanting to vomit to alleviate my misery. Vomiting brought about the end of the suffering. It was a very intense, very messy, and very unpleasant experience. But, it brought about relief.

What if I ate a bowl of alphabet soup and it caused food poisoning? It would need to come out. It would not be pleasant, it would not be neat, and it would not be pretty. The letters would certainly not come out in alphabetical order. Some (maybe many) of the letters would be unrecognizable. The result would be a rather unpleasant mess. But, it would mark the beginning of recovering.

There is a parallel to food poisoning and emotional/stress poisoning. Both cause misery. Both require a type of vomiting. Neither allows for an orderly exit of that which needs to be addressed. As is true of the vegetable soup, what we need to “vomit” emotionally will not come out in “alphabetical” order. No words, no paragraphs, no chapters, no edited final product. But, in order to recover, vomit we must.

Emotional vomiting is unlike food poisoning. With food poisoning, all of that which comes out is cleaned up and flushed. Emotional vomiting allows for some salvaging of the vomited mess. One has the opportunity to make use of the vomited letters–to make some sense of the upset. Those letters can be used to create sensible meaning. Words, sentences, chapters, new narratives, and healing can take place.

I hate to vomit. But, vomiting can be my friend. That is true of both literal vomiting and emotional vomiting. Unrelieved, both perpetuate misery. Vomiting is not neat and orderly. It is messy, it can smell, yet it is necessary to alleviate the upset. Both are arduous. Both leave us worn out. Both require some time for recovering. Sometimes I am glad I can vomit.


Richard L. Brewer