Thursday, May 22, 2008
Acquiring Labels in Life
After my divorce was final, I remember thinking, 'I can never be one of those people who can say they aren't divorced.' It was a label I did not want to wear, and years ago, a less common one. There have been labels over the years that I acquired, and immediately wished I hadn't. Waking up with a hangover (one was quite enough since it felt like motion-sickness, and why on earth anyone would do that twice is beyond me), I could never say I hadn't had one. Smoked pot, twice, (unlike someone else, yes I inhaled) and thank the Lord someone told someone and I was threatened enough to never do that again, plus, again, it felt like motion-sickness. Hit-and-run driver, when I was 16, and I bumped into someone's car in the grocery lot and pulled out and peeled away, for fear my Dad would skin me alive. (It was just a bump, likely didn't do any real damage, but I've always felt terrible about it.)

So up to now I've never gone for 'counseling', a little to avoid the label, but more to avoid rattling the worlds of those around me, who see me as strong and wise and having it all together. Feeling the need to do that in itself is likely enough to justify counseling! Plus it just seemed like a lot of trouble to sit there, go on and on trying to get them caught up with where I am, then figure out the problem(s), so we can work through it together. When my brother died four years ago, I was already pretty stressed from a too-hectic life and some family issues that had piled up, I was beginning to see signs of unexplained anxiety. When he died, I still didn't go, for fear my family would worry over me. I just told them, "I'm a bit of a mess right now, I'm going on medication, and I'll be fine with time." That revelation alone was something, being a middle child who likes to keep everyone happy, and not cause waves. Looking back, I should have made the appointment and gone. I should have given myself permission to fall apart in light of the circumstances of my life then.

The older I get, the more comfortable I am in my own skin, wrinkles, loss of elasticity and all. I'm pretty comfortable being me. I'm also getting better at seeing, and admitting, the short-comings, the fragile spots, all those things I ignored for years or accepted as 'just being me, just the way I am.' One blessing of getting older is that I can look back, then forward and see my life in definite seasons, with different pressures and demands, goals, ways to spend my time and money and energy. If I'm almost 53 then I'm likely more than half-done with my time here on earth, and it changes priorities. I find myself thinking that I'll be early-70's twenty years from now, so how do I want to spend them? What is truly important to me? Like most people, it's people, and specifically it's family.

So I'm going to be brave, be smart, and take on this new label. I share that decision here hoping to give someone else out there the courage to take it on too, if need be. I'm going to schedule some appointments with a christian counselor, to work through some old baggage, and help prepare me for life's next season, when Don and I retire, move away from a daughter and her family and the place I've lived longer than anywhere else in my life. He and I will be together much of the time, living away from one daughter, near the other two kids and their families. My parents are getting older and that will bring challenges, we're taking on a whole new lifestyle together, one that will likely feel awkward and lonely for awhile. My husband will need some support as he starts this drastically different lifestyle, and I want to be as emotionally healthy as I can be when I join him on the journey. I suspect I'll need some support as well getting used to it all, starting completely over across the country and all the challenges that brings.

So after discussing it with Don, assuring him it's not a sign of being unhealthy, but rather of being healthy enough to get some professional input and guidance, I'm making the call, to a woman counselor my church recommended. I need someone who's at least on the same page, has the same center as I do. While I've been warned counseling can be a painful process, I'm excited at what she and I can accomplish together. Sometimes the strongest, bravest thing we can do is admit we're not - strong and brave. That we could use a helping hand. It'll be a few weeks before I'm actually sitting on that couch, but I'll be sure to come back and appropriately share what I discover. Hopefully it'll be encouraging to someone else out there. Some of the labels I've acquired I'm not real proud of, but I imagine many of you out there have them, or others, yourself. Honesty, keeping it real, it's the only way for me, and that includes what I share here. Life is just way too precious and short to do it any other way. I'm hoping this is a really great label to take on, much better than being a teenage hit-and-run driver!


  posted at 8:18 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

    I have a deep, abiding love for full octane coffee, sewing, knitting, quilting, reading, cooking, gardening, God and my family - not in that order.

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