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Archive for the ‘gratitude’ Category

The Timelessness of Attachment

March 19, 2014 18 comments

My husband and I went on a trip to Colonial Williamsburg last Fall. For those of you who have never heard of it, Colonial Williamsburg is a living history center. Williamsburg was the first capital of Virginia and was still the capital during the American Revolutionary War. Many of the buildings, including the Governor’s Palace, House of Burgesses, Armory, homes, churches and coffee shops have been restored and there are re-enacters in colonial costume at all the various buildings to teach you what life was like at the time. There are also re-enactments of major events leading up to and during the revolutionary war (we got to storm the Governor’s Palace which was pretty cool, I’ve always wanted to storm a palace!) and talks are given by famous people, such as George Washington, who even took questions from the audience (which was impressive, the man had an incredible grasp of both Washington’s life and the events of the revolutionary war.) I love revolutionary history (my humble apologies to my British readers. 😀 )and found this fascinating.

One display I found especially striking was in one of the museums. An early mental hospital had been established by a Dr. John M Galt, who was one of the early adopters and strong promoters of more humane treatment of mentally ill people. Conditions up until that time were pretty horrific, with many patients chained up and left in their own filth, treated worse than livestock in many cases. He was an early proponent of treating the mentally insane with respect and compassion.

Among the displays was the following letter written by a resident of the hospital:

Dear Brother,

It would have rendered me most agreeable pleasure to have been with you all these Christmas times, but Dr. John M. Galt, the gentleman under whose care and protection I am here placed, does not think my mind sufficiently cured for me to leave here yet so I will not say in this epistle when you will see me, probably never.

The Doctor is a gentleman whom the whole world ought to love and respect. To speak more concisely and emphatically, I do not think that I ought to desire a better or more worthy friend in this world. …Be not disposed to think me exaggerating, for I am writing the real truth, and am bold too, in having the gratification of writing thus. I’ll now bring this epistle to a close not knowing what else beneficial or amusing to write you.

Yours until death,

Excerpted from
The Galt Family Papers
Earl Gregg Swem Library
College of  William and Mary
Williamsburg, Virginia

Reading this was so powerful. The man who wrote this letter lived in such different times. The culture, the technology, the rhythms of life were vastly different from what I experience, yet the feelings he spoke of echoed across the years with a piercing familiarity. Someone had come alongside him, and given him compassion and acceptance and understanding and at a time when those things were exceedingly rare for someone with mental problems. And he reacted in a way which resonated deeply with me: he saw Dr. Galt as an amazing human being, one deserving of love and respect. He was grateful to speak of his esteem of this man as he saw him as so deserving.

While human cultures, mores, beliefs and customs change, human beings do not. There is a reason we can look at, and be moved, by a piece of art conceived and executed thousands of years ago. Human beings have always, and probably always will, struggle to understand ourselves and our purpose, to make sense of our experiences and distill meaning out of our lives. And one of the most important ways that we do this is to connect with other human beings. We can only know ourselves in relationship, by being clearly reflected by another person. So it is these connections, these attachments, that evoke our most powerful feelings.

So across the years, I found a kindred spirit. He wrote letters home to speak of his love and esteem and I write letters to a world-wide community to speak of mine. But the deep feelings of gratitude and respect are the same and spring from the same source. The next time you are wondering why your therapist is evoking such strong feelings, I hope you remember this post and that these feelings come from deep within and are integral to our humanity. Perhaps one of the privileges of needing to heal is to be conscious of our deep attachments and how they have shaped us. Know you are not alone in how you react, in this or any other time where humans have reached out to each other for meaning.

The Repair Part I

August 16, 2013 12 comments

I am back with the promised account of my last session. This post is the first of two (it got REALLY long). It was a very long, very intense session, so I’ll do my best to describe what happened. As in the last session that I described in Disruption and Rage, there are exchanges that stand out, but sometimes the order in which they occurred can get a bit fuzzy. And honestly, it feels like there is no way to convey just how powerful and intense this session was. As BN said later in the session, we were in right brain territory and it is in that place that words often fail. I do want to say up front that I experienced that my relationship with BN is very real, involves deep care on his part, I even dare say love, and some of my anger and all of my fears were based on my past. Even in the midst of being angry with BN, I am immeasurably grateful for him and his (sometimes appreciated, many times hated) boundaries.

I also want to confess that this feels scary to post. I am uncomfortable (such a weak, inadequate word) with my anger, so to allow others to see me at my most angry can feel like everyone is going to be deeply disappointed in me. But I thinks its an important part of owning this part of me to speak of this here. Sorry for all the bad language; to quote BN “you do like to cuss.” Especially when I am angry. 🙂 Continue Reading

Why keep going back?

February 14, 2013 43 comments

***Trigger warning: Religious content, I talk about my Christian faith in pretty specific terms late in the post.

A reader emailed to ask me a question whose answer I thought would make a good topic for a post. So with their kind permission, the question is below, followed by my answer.

I would like to ask how you got through it.  I mean when the feelings became so intense with your therapist, how were you able to keep going back?  What stopped you leaving?

This is a really good question. There were so many times I threatened to quit, or told BN I wanted to quit. I lost track of how many times I said (often out loud) “I cannot do this anymore, I can’t take it.” Sometimes on the way to therapy. I wish there were a simple answer to this question, but it was, as usual, a complex interplay of a number of factors. Experience, fear, attraction, desire, longing, faith, hope, determination and belief. One at a time, all at once, or some subset were what kept me going. Continue Reading

What I missed

February 1, 2013 22 comments

Since I’ve been on the topic of how we work through our grief for that which we did not have, I thought I would share some particulars losses I ran into and what was underneath them. As I’ve worked my way through therapy and uncovered the feelings I had buried so long, I also uncovered losses I had not been able to admit, let alone grieve. This is a very personal list. I expect that some of this will resonate with other people and some of it will be not true for them or seem like a significant loss. These are mine, what I needed to mourn, and I again offer the disclaimer that not everyone will need to do this the way I did. But I am hoping by being more specific about some of the issues I faced, that the process might be more understandable, even if my reasons to mourn do not resonate with you. Continue Reading

My first ever blog award!!

November 15, 2012 8 comments

Yes, Gentle Readers, I will confess that I am very excited (and not a little flattered) that Purple Dreamer has recognized me with my very first ever blog award, the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award. First, I would like to say thank you to Purple Dreamer for being so gracious as to bestow upon me this honor as I feel like her contribution here has far outweighed mine on her blog, so now I am doubly in her debt. Secondly, there are requirements for the award, which I fulfill below.

The Rules

1. The Nominee of the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award will display the logo on his/her post/page and/or sidebar.  – Look just above. 😀 Continue Reading