Last week was a trying week energetically. I ran into almost no one who did not comment on ‘feeling tired,’ or ‘off,’ or ‘irritated.’ It was up and down. One minute feeling productive and the next feeling down. I have been working with a lot of clients recently in my practice that are really working to assimilate things into their lives. One thing the lockdown and COVID did for many people is it ‘slowed down the should’s.’ People did not have to be worried about a lot of the ‘norms,’ they believe they have do (or the should’s). Everyone was not really doing much. There was not vacations to hear about and feel like you were ‘missing out.’ Staying home on a weekend night was the ‘normal.’ It allowed people to ‘not have to engage in a lot of things they never really enjoyed. For some, that was attending holidays with their families, for others it was having to keep a busy social calendar, when they’re more introverted and would prefer to spend a Saturday night alone at home reading. In therapy, a lot of what people work on is figuring out what they want versus what they have been told they want by the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m in the business of giving people permission slips to ‘be who they are.’ (‘It’s okay if you hate festivals. Lots of people do. Don’t go.’) In the last few weeks (especially last week), I felt like people were very clear that they do not want to return to certain aspects of their lives. For some, it’s “I don’t want to feel like I have to date.’ Others it is, “I don’t want to go out to a bar on the weekend.” One thing the pandemic has seemed to change is people’s ability to tolerate things that were less than pleasant before for them. The work becomes learning to set boundaries with people and yourself to allow yourself to ‘say no,’ if it’s something that has never served you. The incidents I’m using are examples, but I’ve heard many people leaving jobs, relationships, etc., but they realized it was not serving their soul. I gave a lot of permission slips last week for people to expose themselves and be truthful to their nature. Along with that, there always comes feelings whether that’s grief, guilt, sadness, etc. People seemed to need a lot of encouragement that leaving behind something does not mean it was a ‘waste of time.’ I cautioned many people to ‘not throw the baby out with the bathwater.’ There was something learned in all these situations. I believe we all engage in ‘acts’ in our life. There are times when we outgrow each other. We’ve all had to leave situations or people we care about because we were stagnant. We were not evolving. Our purpose as we grow and experience life is to evolve. Often, there are times when someone or something is holding us back from that process. I often have to give permission to people to own the dialectics. “It can be true that you love someone and you have to leave them in order to continue growing yourself. Those opposing things can both be true. I tend to think of things in terms of ‘journeys.’ Along the way, we have people and situations that play as escorts in our journey. They walk us to the next situation or person. The role they played in our lives is now a part of us, while maybe they are not. However, I believe that ‘those people,’ or ‘those situations,’ often walk us to the next place or person who will walk that leg of our journey with us. All the places, experiences, people in our lives are simply there to escort us for the time that they’re supposed to, and often, we have to say good-bye to things that brought us a lot of happiness and growth because that person, place, experience, thing provided us with what we needed during that particular leg of our journey. It’s a time where many people are recognizing they’ve come to a place where they’re ready to let go to become introduced to whatever is going to walk them through the next phase of their life journey. Even in our most despairing times, it might be the experience that is walking. We often grow faster in the most challenging times of our lives. It’s been very interesting to see people understanding and learning they need to bless what was and move forward. It’s often scary because it takes a while to get to know and feel comfortable with the new experience, person, situation that is waiting to pick us up and move us forward into the new neighborhoods of our lives. New is always a bit scary because it’s not familiar and familiar is safe. Familiar does not always help us evolve though. I was looking for a poem today and I came across this poem. I don’t know why, but it reminds me of the process I’m describing. I hope you enjoy it.
The moment you feel a cool breeze on your island
is when the hurricane sits off the shore, waiting to bury you.
The sun drinks up the night,
and I am not sure I can make myself thirst for another start.
I remember when I’d wake and look over at my lover
in a room where no one was lost.
A time when the air didn’t smell of someone on someone’s breath
every time I called.
I used to say I was loved
now I say that and feel like an octogenarian with a cane who says he used to run.
I used to run until I was breathless
now I would give my breath to run.
I want to believe life has more oxygen to breathe into me,
but it’s hard when I feel like a slow punctured football.
I guess there was a time when trying to find something to kiss in the dark was fun,
but now I just want a night light in the hallway to assure me somebody is there.
I want to have no judgement of what will happen, where my breath will fall,
but the heft of being forgotten, collapses any trust in the architecture of my walls.
We are told to root ourselves in the ground,
but it is hard when all you do is stare down at the unkempt foliage delirious in our abandon.
I am writing forgiveness because I believe writing something keeps it alive.
If you take the ink away, I don’t know how I’ll keep my heart awake.
I may have gotten to close to the mirror and saw the reflection of my life,
now I’m laying in a broken pool of my own mind.
I expected no calls -but no texts, no messages,
I guess I overestimated the decimal I saw you seeing me as
Still I will get through this day, as I always seem to do lately
talking myself back together again.
The one thing you still give me
are lessons on the pleasures of possessing capacities of being unfulfilled.
Exposure to blood does nothing now,
except remind me somehow there’s something trying to keep life flowing inside me