I said goodbye recently to my therapist before she left for her new job. I know she’ll continue transforming lives, including her own. I’m taking a break from therapy now to clear my mind. I can resume treatment with someone else whenever I like.
Childhood trauma, I’ve learned in therapy, has altered my relationship to time. It’s been hard as an adult to maintain a coherent personal narrative, an uninterrupted story of my life. As a creative writer, however, I’m free to fill in the blanks and disconnect the “not’s”—those self-defeating thoughts telling me I’m broken, useless, and lost.
My imagination is a powerful tool of persistence. Showing myself compassion in reverse, I write a story, in present tense, about consoling my past self as he struggles to survive. In the same story, I write about consoling my future self as he continues his recovery, thanking him in advance for being gentle with me now and encouraging me to stay alive.
Whether I’m prewriting, writing, or rewriting, my life story remains a work in progress.
“If you do it, then it’s done.”
I thought of this phrase back when my sense of time was a bit jumbled. Memories, mostly bad ones, were flooding my brain as thoughts of the future were rendering me a petrified mess. In trying to make sense of my mixed-up self, I realized that what we consider NOW is finished the moment we experience it. The very act of doing something puts the actor in the immediate past, as things to do—in the future—wait to be accomplished.
This is all coming back to me today because lately I’ve been taking my emotional temperature a lot. I keep searching for the connective tissue between what I did yesterday and what I have to do tomorrow, all while my being occupies its current position. I’m always aware of my thought/feeling processes, but my self-monitoring has increased during my recent job search.
The larger issue here is, of course, the question of value. Throughout my life, even in the smallest moments, I have demanded ultra-meaning. I often ponder the purpose of this or that aspect of my life, which ultimately leads to: “What is the meaning of my life?” Perhaps the answer that pops up a lot (There is no meaning—I have no purpose) is a direct result of my wanting an-easy-to-find, single Meaning in everything I do. (And believe me, during this difficult job search my questioning of the process has happened more than once.)
Sometimes I forget just to live and to allow myself my thoughts and feelings as they are. My battle is, indeed, an internal one. I suppose, when I finally pull back from beating myself up, I can take comfort in the realization that it’s better to “hyper-feel”—to be a jumble of emotions—than to feel nothing at all.