This week, I realized for the first time that I am married to a Firefighter.
I thought he was a sensitive artist type, but I was mistaken.
He’s a Firefighter.
The way I see it, Firefighters are always on alert, constantly ready to stop catastrophes. They see a billowing plume of smoke, and dash out with a big truck, hose and axe to stop the fire and fix the problem.
But my problem is that I am the problem.
And I’m not on fire.
Being an emotional person, sometimes (okay, let’s admit it. Not sometimes, but daily…) I have emotional outbursts. My billowing clouds of emotion tumble about, rising and falling, blown about by the winds of change. And they do change. The emotional clouds change color (from pale, baby blue all the way to darkest, threatening green) they change shape and size (from ooo, a pretty one - all the way to OMG get out of the way, it’s a funnel cloud!) But the point is, they are clouds. Emotions aren’t tangible objects. They float about, scare people sometimes, and then disappear as quickly as they arise. They seldom emit downpours, unless, of course, it is Typhoon Season. Then you’d just better get the heck out of the way.
Now, all this cloud activity would be fine if I had married an artist, or even a weatherman.
But apparently, I didn’t.
I married a Firefighter.
At the first sign of rising smoke (or clouds or steam or even slight vapors) he grabs his trusty axe. Engines roaring with efficiency and power, he puts on a self contained breathing apparatus. He grabs a light and radio, and personal protective gear. He watches the Emotional Clouds for changes in volume, color, intensity, and movement. He listens for popping sounds and stressing noises. He scans the walls for cracks. He is on the offense, ready to chop down doors and bulldoze firebreaks and blast my Emotional Cloud with 126 psi of water pressure.
He has one thought only. Kill the fire. Quick.
But, as we all know, there is no real fire. Only my Emotional Clouds.
The more my Firefighter tries to dissipate the clouds, the more I huff and puff and my emotions blow into tornadoes, hurricanes, thunderstorms, and even an occasional blizzard. Water doesn’t help that. His offensive tactics with water only ice everything up.
And he doesn’t want that.
This whole scenario sounds hopeless… Stressful! Whatever can we do to fix it? How can we get rid of the blasted smoke?
The answer is so easy, it’s magical. You just need the right person for the job.
Call off the firefighter.
Call up the sister.
“Hello?” she’ll say, answering her cell phone at any hour.
That’s all she needs. Just by the tone of my “Hi,” she can assess the emotional content, and she knows what to say, what to do, and how to proceed. Her response may be a compassionate sigh, an I’m-fed-up retort, or even an all-out laugh. She has even been known to scold my Emotional Clouds away with an oh-for-heaven’s-sake-you’re-ridiculous response. Whatever she says, it is usually perfect. Five minutes with my sister, and the threatening Emotional Cloud disappears, melting into a comfortable summer breeze. Sunshine, even. Great weather forecast for the rest of the day!
And my poor, besieged Firefighter is left standing in his tangled pile of high tech, fireproof gear, without a smoke cloud in sight, wondering what happened. He has all this power and muscle, intensity, technology, and testosterone, yet all his best efforts often make that cloud worse. And while he is baffled by and battling the stormclouds from hell, a tiny 110 pound, middle-aged woman vanquishes his enemy over a cell phone.
Works every time. He’ll never really know how or why. He wouldn’t understand it, anyway.
But I do. Firefighters battle fires.
And I don’t deal out real fires, just Billowing, Blustering Emotional Clouds of smoke.
And that kind of smoke is best blown away by the soft gentle breeze of a Sister.
Thank God for sisters!
And thank God for Firefighters, too. They are overworked and underpaid. Perhaps they are under-appreciated, a tiny bit, though you'll never hear that from me.
I love my Firefighter.