Tar pits are formed when petroleum deposits bubble up from deep underground. Bubbles rise to the surface and pop when the bacteria that live inside the tar digest vegetation (and the odd animal who found itself trapped in the tar) and produce methane gas.
Saturday morning as I drove down I-5 toward Deb's house, a big burp erupted from the tar pit of my soul. Nearly twenty years ago a huge animal fell in and disappeared from sight beneath the muck. I fished around in there off and on for several years to no avail and finally gave up. Now, just when I had forgotten about it and assumed it was gone forever, up comes the gas. Loud, smelly and impossible to ignore.
Instead of spending my weekend fine-tuning some pieces I'd written months before with my writing group, I made it to Deb's house just grateful for a friendly face. I spent an hour trying to chip away at the story so that it would make some sense, all the while shaking my head in disbelief that it was surfacing again. The chipping away wasn't working. I couldn't put it in any sort of context that explained the fulness at the base of my throat, the tears welling in my eyes.
After dinner Deb and I sat and talked it through. By 11:00pm her gentle wisdom and insight had begun to clear the fog. By midnight I was sitting at the edge of the tar pit, in it up to my elbows. I was getting to the core. By 2:00 the next afternoon, three cups of coffee, two pieces of toast and hours of conversation with Deb and her generous spirit later, I was holding on to the bones of this beast. His name is Shame and it is going to take a lot of work to pull him up out of this muck. Fortunately, I've got friends like Deb tugging on the rope with me.