I am struck tonight by the power of other persons’ words.
Oh, I know, this web is a world of words. I spend too many hours meandering among miles of words that escape my head and ignore my heart.
Ronni Bennett’s Time Goes By is the one blog I read every day because what she has to say always has relevance for me. And so I don’t know how I managed NOT to read an incredibly moving section of her blog until tonight. And it is a section that has deep meaning for me because it’s about her time being her dying mother’s caregiver.
“A Mother’s Last Best Lesson” is presented in 12 poignantly honest pieces that hold the mind and touch the heart.
It’s not that I identify with Ronni’s experience; my attempts to take care of my mother have been very different. But she tells a powerful story, and there is something in me that is jarred by her revealing words.
There is something in me that resents not being able to do for my mother what Ronni did for hers. Oh yes, our circumstances are very different. Dementia makes it so. As does, in my case, situations of brutal familial disputes over how my mother’s care should be handled. I couldn’t win, so I abdicated because I have no legal power to make her struggle any easier, and I couldn’t bear to just stand by.
Ronni’s story made me realize that, after 8 years of caregiving being the intense focal point of my existence, I now find I don’t have a point, a purpose. I can get up in the morning, or not. I can eat, or not. Bathe or not. Go out or not.
I am finally “retired” from employment and living with a loving family and an almost-7-year old engaging grandson who is a joy. But I have forgotten how to be engaged in my own so-called life.
I am feeling like a work in progress that has had no progress for 8 years. In my past life I raised a family; held various challenging and rewarding jobs; was an vocal activist on behalf of various political and educational issues; and found power in the poetry of women’s spirituality. And I wrote. And I wrote. I was passionate about everything I did; if I didn’t feel passionate about it, I didn’t do it.
I have found myself in a “dark night of the soul” before and have labored, successfully, to find my way out, one step at a time.
Next week I am going on a week’s vacation to Maine with two of my closest friends. We will play Boggle and drink wine and laugh a lot. We will walk on the beach and read and contemplate and talk and laugh a lot.
And when I come back home, I will begin yet another journey to find the parts of myself that I have lost, to regenerate the parts of myself that have lost passion and purpose. I think I have found a new counselor who might be able to help me with that process.
Over the course of some 20 years of my previous life, I had the good fortune to have had as a friend and counselor someone who has moved on to assisting veterans and their families as they reconnect and readjust into full, productive civilian life.
He was a poet before he was a therapist, and his work and his words, now, still hold a great deal of healing power.
The word psychotherapist comes directly from the Asclepiad tradition. It means “soul attendant.” Psychology literally means “the order and meaning of the soul.” It didn’t become a science until Freud and his followers arrived out of the medical tradition. Modern psychology left the soul far behind and has not yet reconnected with its spiritual roots, though it needs to, because psychological healing occurs at a spiritual level.
The above is from an interview in The Sun magazine on helping veterans with PTSD, entitled Like Wandering Ghosts: Edward Tick On How The U.S. Fails Its Returning Soldiers. It’s worth a read.