Tag Archives: acceptance

H is for Honesty. And Humanity.

If I am to be honest right now, I have a heaviness sitting in my chest. I just finished my weekly personal therapy session and while it was great to see my therapist and know that she is healthy and well, there is also a sadness that I cannot quite describe.

I tried to explain it to her, how it came over me yesterday when I ventured out into the world for the first time in over a week. I had to go get a prescription refilled and pick up an order at the local cidery (yep, part of my self-care). I was at a normally vibrant and bustling intersection, waiting for the light to change noticing how very still it was there. The car dealerships that populate that particular junction were mostly shuttered, and hundreds of brand-new cars were lined up in the lots with nary a buyer in sight.  

The scene felt apocalyptic. I can’t think of a better word, and a deep grief welled up inside of me and I thought “What if this is it? What if we never get back to normal? What if these cars just sit here into perpetuity, unsold, un-driven, rusting into the next millennium?” I wanted to put my head down on the steering wheel and just sob. Finally.

But I didn’t. I allowed the wave of hopelessness wash over me, and then I pushed it away. I had to get home and start seeing clients. I didn’t know what I would able to bring to my sessions, if I allowed myself to break down in that moment, to realize the anxiety and fear I had been carrying as I’ve been soldiering on through this pandemic/lockdown/quarantine.

The anxiety would not go away, though. As the clock raced toward my first session, the more distressed I felt. So, I texted my therapist friends and my own therapist for advice. To a person, they all said the same thing: “Of course you are feeling anxious. We are too. We are human. The best thing you can do for your clients is show up as fully present and just be with them in these strange times.” I asked my therapist specifically if she felt anxious before sessions. Her answer in the affirmative was the most helpful of all. Her honesty, her humanity, shone through in that moment.

And I realized that is what I wanted to bring to my sessions, more intentionally than ever before: honesty and humanity. I cannot sit here and pretend that I’m skipping through this pandemic, successfully using all of my coping skills and shedding the anxiety like so much water off a duck’s back. I feel it. I carry it. I cope as best I can. That is what I have to offer, my humanity.

As we struggle through this strange new normal, I can offer moments of grace, acceptance, and honesty.

A is for Alone

For most of my adult life, I have not much cared for being alone. I grew up in the country, away from other kids, no neighborhood gang to hang out with, no one but my little brother to play with, and while he is amazing to spend time with now, it was different when I was 8 and he was 3. I learned to entertain myself. I read books and wandered the woods around the house pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder or Sam from My Side of the Mountain, the kid who left home to go live in a hollowed out old tree stump in the Adirondacks at age 12 where he trained a falcon to hunt for him and taught himself to tan deer hide. But birds scared me, I had no idea how to skin a deer (nor did I want to), and the hollowed-out tree stumps on our property harbored far too many spiders and other bugs to make it habitable for me. But I learned in those long days of alone time that I could be good company for myself. That I had an imagination and could harness the power of my mind to entertain myself, to explore, and to learn new things.

Only as I grew up, did I begin to equate being alone with loneliness. We moved a lot as a family once I turned 12. I went to several high schools. I struggled to make friends. I lacked confidence. And then began the dawning awareness that I was, in fact, different in one fundamental way. I did not then have a word for what I was, but let’s just say I had some spidey sense that being attracted to other girls, sexually or romantically, wasn’t okay (it was, after all, the 1970s). I wasn’t okay according to our family’s religious beliefs; I wasn’t okay according to our culture; I wasn’t a typical girl in that I did not like typical girl things. I began to feel more and more alone, apart, separate. I began to hide who I really was. Which limited my pool of real friends and made me feel lonely AND alone.

I began the work, then, of trying to make sure I was never alone. Because in my mind, in the reality I had constructed, alone=loser. Not alone=not a loser. Many years of therapy and hard self-work later, I have finally unlearned that destructive lesson and gotten back to my child self, that confident girl who could entertain herself, be comfortable with her own company, relax into learning new things on her own, for herself, by herself. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t grow to love myself and my own company again overnight or even within a year. But I kept at it—I kept talking (and listening) to my therapists and teachers, trusting my own judgment, taking risks, being honest about myself with others.

In time, I learned that being alone was not a measure of how much I was loved nor a reflection of my worth. I learned what it means to have true friends, people who care and value me whether we are out for happy hour or thousands of miles apart from each other, people who I trust love me because I believe I am lovable. These lessons keep returning to me now, as I, a single divorced mother of two grown children, hunker down for the duration. Alone. But I am not lonely. I am loved. And so are you.