God, The Couch, & A Heating Blanket…
Live Meaningfully – By Ayesha G. Shenk, M.A
So, I have to be honest. It hasn’t been the greatest month. As I was gearing up to write this article, I told my husband that I wasn’t feeling all that inspirational. And, as he is wont to do, he challenged my inertia by encouraging me to write about the authenticity of just that. “That’s great!” he said, in a disproportionately enthusiastic manner. “People would probably love to know that even you, living meaningfully, have days that challenge you. Write about that!”
Write about that… he said.
Sometimes life is really hard. Sometimes there isn’t an immediate silver lining to what presents itself. Sometimes you’re walking along your daily horizon and something altogether unexpected levels you. Sometimes you go from planning your next date night or vacation to finding yourself thinking about God, while sitting on the couch, with a heating blanket…
Sometimes, it would be nice to call in a ‘mental health’ day (or even week) and just go home and feel sorry for yourself. (*Being a mental health clinician, this feels like an especially vulnerable disclosure, but I will channel the immortal words of Brene Brown.)
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
So, as I write this, I recognize that I am supposed to be positive and happy and steadfast in my beliefs and wisdom. Most of me absolutely still does feel this way. But there is absolutely also a part of me that feels fragile and questioning as well.
I believe we must feel our feelings. I believe we must share and honor our pains. I believe we are best served by allowing our loved ones to bear witness to those pains and offer us the empathy and acceptance we so need. I also believe inherent in the very process of that sharing is the healing we so desire.
As my best friend reminded me, I have often said to her (edited for a polite readership), “Yes this absolutely stinks. And yes, this is absolutely unfair. And yes, you are absolutely in the middle of the #$%. But, yes, going through the middle of it is also the only way to get to the other side…”
I told her I was sorry for being annoying (and right).
Nonetheless, I write this article today on the heels of some tough stuff. I continue to share some of the pain with my loved ones and I work hard to allow them to be there for me. It has been an interesting and dichotomous gift to, in turn, show up and be present for other people. It has offered me some amazing celerity in my own perspective and healing.
Which leads me to, perhaps, the most salient part of this whole article… Connection is the wound and the salve. We feel our greatest pains in the face of feeling disconnected – from ourselves, from our loved ones, from our hopes, from our truths or from our desires. We also feel our greatest healing in the manifestation of feeling connected to all of those things. Connection is the antidote to the hollowness of the alternative. So, if this hour, this day, this month or this year has offered you challenge or heartbreak… extend yourself counterintuitively to another. Show your most exposed self to those you love and offer your vulnerability in exchange for their empathy. Rinse, repeat and reciprocate.
Till the next time,
Be Well; Live Meaningfully.
Ayesha G. Shenk, M.A. practices at 2150 Park Avenue North as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and can be reached at www.livemeaningfully.net or 407-796-2959.