My years working at the CIA seem eons away, and so they are. Most of my memories are fuzzy, which is probably the way the agency would prefer it. But apparently there are untold inner stories agitating to be free.

I went to see the movie Argo this evening and came home with my insides churning. The movie is about the CIA efforts to free the American hostages from Iran in 1980.

American Embassy in Tehran, 1979

I can’t quite put my finger on why the film upset me, but I know it has something to do with Maya Angelou’s statement :

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

I’ve already shared one CIA secret that needed to be purged, the one that’s flopping around out in the daylight this week after General Petraeus’ unfortunate nose dive. Sexual mores at the CIA aren’t what they could be, or at least they weren’t in my day.

I have no comment on the General’s performance, except to say that unless they found evidence of some truly egregious classified pillow talk, I think the resignation is an over-reaction. But what do I know?

Besides, I’m sick of sex at the CIA. I’ve said what I needed to say about that, here:

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/rubber-ducky-exposes-cia-sexual-harassment/

There’s something else causing me agony tonight. Some untold story.

I was at the agency during the Iranian hostage period, and I had a good friend who had only just escaped Tehran before the fiasco. Perhaps the movie simply stirred up the fear and upset of those times. Although I was just a lowly clerk, I certainly absorbed the crisis vibes all around me.

I think, though, it’s something more personal. More like,

What the #@$%!! was I doing at the CIA??

The -foot ( m) diameter granite CIA seal in th...

The sixteen-foot diameter granite CIA seal in the lobby of the original headquarters building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a psychological term, cognitive dissonance, which describes what must have been pounding inside my brain and my heart the entire seven years I worked there. It’s a situation where you’re trying to live with two conflicting beliefs, or where your behavior and beliefs don’t match.

Say that you are demonstrating in front of the White House against nuclear power on Sunday, and then filing documents promoting nuclear power abroad on Monday. Or maybe you’re hoarding a closetful of anti-Vietnam war buttons, posters, and flyers while microfilming documents detailing the long history of U.S. aggression there.

I did not belong.

I told myself I didn’t care when one friend stopped talking to me because I’d chosen to work “for the dark side.” I told myself I needed the money to pay for college tuition, which was true. I was working two jobs.

Still, I might have paid more attention to the bizarre juxtaposition between a degree in Environmental Studies and a career at the CIA. Crazy, right?

I had stumbled into a career that was taking me far from my values. I was 18, for Heaven’s sake; I didn’t even know what my values were.

Apparently, though, I did. Instead of facing it, I just drank and partied and tried to numb the cognitive dissonance. That’s why it’s still in there, deep in my gut, an untold story.

The emotional unrest I felt during those years got stirred up tonight, watching scenes of stressed-out white men in black suits stalking the marble halls in McLean.

I was there. And I shouldn’t have been.

<Disclaimer: I do not mean to say that I don’t respect part of what the CIA does. I knew some true patriots there, including my Dad. I honor those people.>

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