A complex season

by cathrynbauer


These treelets will be planted in our yard, hopefully the start of an evergreen forest!

So we’re into the Solstice season, and I can feel the old angst hovering just behind me, just over my shoulder, waiting to strike if I should let it in.  But I feel like I have a choice, and I don’t need to gesture it over right now to spoil everything.  The old angst remembers the fraught, overdone family Christmases — oh, great Goddess, the tension and guilt lest the wrong word be spoken at this time when we just had to be happy for each other despite the misery of life together the rest of the year — and says, “They were the perps.  I wasn’t.  They’re together.  I’m alone.”  I could feel that way if I let myself.  But it would spoil all the goodness of right now.

One of the great questions of my life is this:  Where do you draw the line between the tragedy in the world and having a good life of your own?  The horrible shootings in Connecticut are in everyone’s mind.  That terrible tragedy of just last week feels like a black, jagged, gaping hole in the world.  As a thinking and participating U.S. citizen, even more as a card-carrying member of humanity, I need to think about it and let it affect my decision-making.  And then there is one of the most significant events of my personal year, communications from someone who is once again near and dear to me that contained the sentence, “He tried to molest me, too.”  A friend is struggling with recent bereavement and another impending death.  Another friend’s life partner is struggling for his life in an ICU.  Where do you let go and enjoy your life and good fortune without being callous and in denial?  Where do you give tragedy its due without letting it blot your entire life?

One decision I have not ever regretted was terminating four years of continuous therapy because the therapist simply would not follow my lead into the real world.  He did a good job and was there for me in the best of ways when I was agonizing over long-ago events.  And that needed to be done.  But there came a time when I wasn’t willing to agonize any more.  I felt that I wanted to deal with the issues I had with sleep, with overweight, with employment, real-world matters where I knew I needed to change; I wanted support and guidance in doing so.  It didn’t happen, and I actually think he was rather angry with me for seizing the helm in that way.  He was not amenable to the argument that I was ready to go with what I had and not waste any more of my life agonizing over events I wasn’t responsible for.  So after about four months of this dissension,  I did what I had to and simply said that was it.  Last session.  He wasn’t going anywhere with his position, and I wasn’t going anywhere with mine.  The therapy was helpful, and I’m sorry it had to end that way.  But the operative word was “had.”  It was plain and clear. In hindsight, I don’t think he should have been threatened or angry about it at all.  I think the seizing control was progress.  And he should have respected that.

Yes, I’m in a new place, feeling that there aren’t enough people in my life, feeling out of touch with my body, feeling overworked.  Well, poor me.  I have a lifelong true love whom I live with in our dreamhouse and dear cats; I have a thriving career and so does he; we have a lot to explore here; we are substantively healthy.  That’s what I want to focus on today.  As I turn in the transcripts, I can think about the other problems; I have set aside the time for it.  Unlike most employed people, I have the ability to set aside the time from it.  I have the comfort of prayer for those whose situations I can’t help.  The older I get, the more I appreciate this and see it as a gift to myself, not just to them.  And I give myself peace by looking for the chance to say an encouraging word in these situations or an opportunity to be helpful in a concrete way if they live nearby.

Onward, ever onward.