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.
I remember from my childhood reading the Choose Your Own Adventure series. Instead of going in order from the first chapter to the last you could pick up a CYOA book and head in numerous directions.
On page 5, for example, you’d be presented with options: If you wanted to scale the mountain to avoid the bear, go to page 27; if you wanted to run into the forest away from the bear, turn to page 39, etc. Each choice led to another series of choices. Multiple outcomes existed; there was no straight line.
My life is its own Choose Your Own Adventure. I enter every day a world created by an Author other than myself. Options abound but no clear path presents itself. There’s always a bear to contend with.
I choose blindly. Sure, I can weigh options and consider where each might lead, but I’m deceiving myself if I presume to know what the future holds.
Sometimes I flirt with the idea of closing the book entirely. What’s the point in picking one path over another when all contain obstacles I might not overcome?
But then I gather myself. I believe in the promise of the story. I want to see how it ends, this book I’ve devoted my life to. My fingerprints smudge the corners, each page retains my trace. Choosing has no easy answers, but not choosing is out of the question.