Interstate I-7P7

I’ve been down this highway too many times to count.  Somehow, I’ll end up on this road, whether I want to or not.  Whether my soul takes me there, or whether happenstance sends me in that direction.

It’s a self-hating stretch of highway called I-7P7.  Interstate 7-Pity-7.

I’ve traveled this road when things in my life have gotten too tough to handle.  I’ve been on this motorway when my world has been a depressing crunch and there’s nobody to turn to.  I’ve probably visited this road longer than I’ve had a valid driver’s license.

It’s easy to get on I-7P7.  All it takes is something to go wrong in one’s life.  A relationship breaks down.  A major mistake at your job.  An action that destroys a friendship.  And you start to internalize that pain and you concentrate it and it multiplies and propagates and festers inside your psyche.

There’s the highway on-ramp.  And you instinctively hit your right turn signal, and you’re on the highway of humbleness.

There are other cars on the road with you.  Some of them are speeding in the left-hand lane, they want to get off this highway as fast as possible.  Others are stuck in the breakdown lane, trying to reconcile their pains and woes before starting their car again.  I stay in the middle lane.  Let the cars pass me.  They have their own travails.  Let me deal with mine.

Are you looking for an exit ramp?  It’s not there yet.  You have to internalize everything that put you on this road.  You have to psychoanalyze yourself.  Was it really your fault, or did someone put their insecurities on you?  Was it something you can correct, or was it something that was totally out of your control?  You keep thinking about this.  The little green rectangular mile markers tick by.  They’re going up.  16. 17. 18.  This road could last for many miles.

And you keep driving.

You muse to yourself, can the drama be fixed?  Will things be back to normal?  And if they aren’t, how can I adapt?  How can I adjust?  How can I reconcile?

Maybe I just won’t deal with it, you think to yourself, a sad twitch along your lip.   Your car tire hits a pothole.  Stay focused.  Or you’ll be on this highway for days.  Maybe months.

There must be someone you can call to talk through this.   Your cell phone is nearby.  Call your spouse.  Call your friends.  Call your pastor.  Call AAA.  Call Jay and Ben on Magic 590.  If you can’t get off this highway, maybe something someone says will help you escape this long, painful road.

You turn on the car radio.  There’s bad magnetic interference on I-7p7.  You can’t pull in any radio stations.  Not one.  The CD player spits out your custom-burned CD like it was liver-flavored chewing gum.  You can’t receive any distractions.  You need to internalize your issues and control them.

You know the prayer.  You recite it.  You ask God if He is listening.  You keep on thinking.  There’s a way off this road.  But if you don’t figure out how to deal with the broken parts of your life, you’re going to be stuck on this interstate for a very long time.

This is a highway when a person you thought was your friend invites you to a party – and then, 48 hours before the party starts, un-invites you.  This is a highway for when your date for the prom – after she agreed to go with you and you bought the most beautiful corsage imaginable – isn’t home for you to pick her up, and you find out that she went to the prom with her old boyfriend.  This is a highway for those who feel like it’s their fault that the world is the way that it is.

And you can say to yourself, “It’s not always your fault.”  But in order to get off this highway, you actually have to believe it isn’t your fault.  You have to believe that things do get better.

How long must you travel on this roadway?  How come there isn’t a rest area or a truck stop?  Why is it always raining and gloomy?  Why can’t you just pull over, turn off the car, sit in your driver’s seat and just wait until the rains pass?

You can’t.  This is a journey of self-realization.  No one can get you out of I-7P7 except yourself.  You have to make it happen.  You have to try.  You have to know that things will get better, the sun will rise, your friends will support you if you can’t do it yourself.

But you need to know this.

And if you can do this… if you can realize all this… if you know where your support system is and how to access it in times of need or in times of crisis…

Then maybe, over the horizon, just a few miles away…

You might see an off-ramp to exit Interstate 7-pity-7.

Take that off-ramp the minute you see it.

And try to be that support person if you ever see someone heading on their own emotional journey down I-7P7.