Thursday, May 15, 2014
The highlight of my evening yesterday was tracking down a colleague I had when I was a Jesuit scholastic living in Chicago. A mutual friend who has remained in the Jesuits made the simple recommendation that I google him. And of course I tracked him down very quickly.
It’s strange how quickly fifteen years has passed. My colleague Tim is still a very attractive man…now entering his late 40s. How did that happen? I also looked him up on his LinkedIn profile. It appears he has been successful in his chosen profession as well. I am happy for him.
As for myself I must admit to feeling a bit as though I have frittered my life away. In all truth I know I have not. I just still find myself wishing that I would have discovered the treatments that ultimately so transformed my life earlier in my life. Then perhaps I would not be going through the transformation I have been undergoing as my 40s began. But I am happy that such healing came to me. It’s better that it happened ‘late’ than not at all.
Joy and grief continue to intermingle within me. I am very pleased that Spring has finally arrived. It’s a wonderful relief after a very long winter. The color green is everywhere to be seen.
Despite my efforts to create a comprehensive medical record for myself last summer shortly after the whole structure of my life imploded I still find myself sometimes struggling to recall how I managed to spend so much time in therapy earlier in my life and yet not apparently truly resolve my long-standing issues. For example, I am trying to remember if I ever previously spoke with a mental health care practitioner about some of the darkest thoughts I have ever entertained. I am not referring to suicidal ideation. I am instead referring to the feeling I have sometimes had that I really should never have existed at all.
As with other painful thoughts I am sure I am not alone in pondering the likelihood and value of my own existence. It sometimes seems rather incredible to me that I came to be at all considering who my parents were early in their own lives. My mother did not become pregnant with me until approximately two years after she was married to my father. And yet I recall my father once telling me he apparently thought something was ‘off’ about my mother on their wedding night. I suppose his impression did not persist otherwise I think my father would have had the presence of mind not to have a baby with my mother. At least I would like to believe that my father would have been so mindful.
Some women become pregnant without even trying to do so. Sometimes they are healthy. Sometimes they are not. I thought of this just the other day while waiting for the bus. A woman was adjusting her child’s coat while she was smoking. I can only wonder what that child’s health will be like in fifteen years if he is exposed to second hand smoke on a daily basis throughout his entire childhood. Perhaps the child will be one of the lucky ones and his mother will quit sooner rather than later.
Then there are other cases in which both mother and father are not in the best place in their own lives when they suddenly discover they will be biological parents. I wonder if that was the story in my own case. I suspect it is true.
I cannot consciously remember a protracted period of time in my earliest years of life in which my mother was consistently healthy and stable. It would be a lovely thing if I had such memories to recall to mind. I sense that the difficulty I have found in my adult life in creating a stable, healthy, rewarding life for myself is due partly to the lack of good modeling of stability I experienced growing up. It’s not healthy for me to blame the present quality of my life completely on my childhood…eventually I have to grieve that which I lost (or never had) and ultimately finally focus completely on the present and future (instead of the past, present and future all at once). I am making progress towards this goal but it takes time to do so.
I realize that it would be a healthy choice to at least broach the subject of this dark feeling that ‘I should never have been’ with my therapist. I do not find myself ruminating in such a thought often. But somehow this feeling is connected to the grief that I feel in such an omnipresent way now. To attend to one will in some way therefore help me to attend to the other.
I believe it is not of value in the slightest to spend much time pondering such an existential question as to whether I should ever have been born or not. I am here now and I have a lot to offer the world. I only wish the economics of the present day world were better. The last many years have been devastating for so many people. They certainly were for me. And yet gradually I am crawling out of the abyss.