Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Value of Abiding Presence

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Yesterday evening I read a blog piece in the New York Times. The title caught my eyes because it referenced someone who had been in therapy for forty-five years. Yes, you read that correctly...forty-five years of therapy.

It seemed especially timely that I should read this particular piece on the day before the anniversary of the murder attempt that nearly took my father from me in 1982. Permanence and impermanence have been on my mind the last few days as this sobering anniversary has once again approached. I am grateful to be able to honestly state that the feelings I hold about that day as well as my father have shifted quite a bit from a year ago.

Impermanence has, ironically (?) I suppose, been a rather permanent feature of my life. But then this is actually true of all of our lives. Some people just have more impermanence than others. I wish I had not had so much impermanence in the realm of close relationships when I was a child. But I had no real choice in the matter. One distinctive gift of adulthood as compared to childhood is that we can make our own decisions. This is both exhilarating and scary.


Today has been a relatively easy day for me. I do feel quite a bit of sadness. This is not surprising given the existing associations I have with June 3rd. After a fairly bright morning the sky darkened as thunderstorms moved through the region. The outdoors have been moistened and softened by what was a stout (but thankfully not too harsh) burst of rainfall.

I started writing a letter to my eight-year old boy self this morning. I suppose I will finish it tonight. I am writing a letter that I imagine giving to myself on June 4, 1982. In fact I wish someone had given me something so encouraging and reassuring as what I have been composing. I essentially remember nothing of how the day of June 4, 1982 unfolded after my aunt told me that my father had been shot. I remember it was a sunny and typically warm June morning in Arkansas. I cannot remember crying, screaming or otherwise indicating the immense distress I felt upon hearing the news. As I sit here and share my recollections of that day some thirty-three years later what does stand out in my conscious awareness is my certainty that my capacity to dissociate became much stronger after that day. Dissociation became a preferred method for me to cope with the anxiety I felt much of the time I was growing up.

It would be incorrect for me to claim that my grieving process has ended. I am still learning to let go more and more of the pain, anxiety and distrust I carried around for so long. But with each day that passes I find the world outside my skin to be more vivid and more amazing.

Healing is an amazing thing.

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