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Location: Midwest, United States

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


My last post was rather bleak, wasn’t it? Sigh. This, truly, has been the bleakest year of my life. It wasn’t a waste, though. There is something to be said for self-examination. Preferably, one is a wise and contemplative sort by nature, thereby remaining firmly grounded throughout life. Admirable folks, those. I think, though, that many people may be just like me. We live our lives as best we can; swallowing our pride or integrity, playing our roles, turning a blind eye to damage wrought or lives compromised. People such as I can only hope to fall to grace. Well, I’ve fallen (whether I am to be ever graced is yet to be determined).

Luckily, there are always hands outstretched to help us up. There are the hands of family, friends and, yes, therapists.

I never gave much thought to therapy. I had always managed to figure out my life’s mysteries (or miseries) on my own, in my own time and fashion. Not this time, though. This time I knew I was dying, and had been dying for a long time (Walker Percy’s “death in life”). I started seeing a therapist about two years ago. She was OK. She let me ramble for days on end, sometimes asking a question or two, but mostly just listening. I didn’t get all that much out of it. I grew tired of hearing my own voice.

Then there is my psycho-pharmacologist. My goodness! Her appearance, manners and behavior literally scream: “Stay away! I’m as neurotic as any human can be!” She scares me. Really. She did know her pharmacology, though. She plied me with a variety of anti-depressants, noting their effects (mostly physical discomfort), and modified her prescriptions repeatedly until we found one that worked (albeit with significant side-effects). My visits with her border on the surreal.

Finally, there is our "couple’s" therapist. She has been a godsend. My wife and I began seeing her a year ago. She probed, posed provocative questions, scolded, counseled, gave us reading assignments, and opened my eyes to the myriad of factors that come into play in every relationship.

Despite her impressive talents and experience, she was not a miracle-worker. She couldn't save the marriage. She did, however, manage to bring a good measure of peace to the both of us. A deep, blue melancholy finally displaced red-hot savagery. I asked her about her success rate. She answered simply: “It all depends when people come to me. If they come early enough, the relationship can usually be salvaged and repaired. If they drag themselves in near death, then it’s usually a matter of burying the dead.” We’ve been burying corpses all year. We both grieve, saddened and ashamed of all the ways we failed each other.

Still, our therapist gave me insights…into my self, my life, my family, and my marriage. She led me down a rocky path towards enlightenment. She focused my eyes. She held out her hand and gave me assurance that there is more to pain than just agony. Pain can be the impetus for change. Pain can be the crucible to immolate our demons, leaving only the soul’s pure ore. Pain may be shed along with old skin, though the whole process leaves one bloody and raw for a mighty long time.

She has become my mentor and life raft. She’s taken me to places I did not want to visit (think Dante’s Circles of Hell), so that I may come to know my heart’s true desires.

I owe her.
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