Staring Squarely at Square One

square

Though a good friend said it’s not exactly square one because yes, I’m going back but going back to address something I neglected before. Neglected is actually not the right word: I overlooked it, I ignored it, I mostly pretended it wasn’t there. Because I know it will hurt like crazy when I bring it to the surface—just glimpsing at it makes my heart ache and tears flow.

So I make excuses, and they are not bad excuses exactly.

I’m not ready—well I wasn’t a year ago. One appointment with the therapist had me bawling for one hour straight and her simple, straightforward plan filled me with pure dread.

I’m too busy—that one might be true. Work is crazy. That’s how it goes for freelancers. You can’t pick project timelines for your clients; they impose them on you. If you like the client, you do your damndest to make it work. Truth be told, you do almost your damndest even for the ones you like a little less.

And there’s this excuse I never quite pinpointed before. I knew it was there and I blamed it on a more general concept. Well, I live in Canada, a part of the world that is rich, comparatively speaking, where there is no war or famine or terrible hardship. I make a decent living, I own my place (though the bank is still an important co-owner), I never lack for anything (except vacation), I’m free to go wherever I want, so how terrible can it be really? Then I picked up this book. In truth, I ordered this book over a year ago but I’m only now finding the courage to take a closer look. In this book addressed to adults like me or adults with similar issues, there is this one paragraph on page 13 (interestingly) that spoke directly to me. Like all other paragraph titles in the book, this one is printed in a bold font, but in my case, it might as well have come with a flashing arrow leaping out of the book. “Feeling Guilty for Being Unhappy.”

Head, meet nail.

The author writes that individuals who’ve been through a trauma similar to mine are quite competent adults. Actually, the fact that we function so well makes it hard for us to take our pain seriously. That’s where the guilt over feeling miserable comes to play. Oh boy, is that ever true! How many times have I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should go back to therapy?” only to have my second thought be, “But why? You’re fine. Everything’s OK. Why can’t you just be happy? Look at the countless number of people who have it SO MUCH WORSE than you!” And so I stopped myself, put my head down, and kept at it, because it is true: so many people have it so much worse.

But now that I’ve read that paragraph…

In my work, I often translate projects that have to do with normalizing a concept, breaking people out of their isolation by making them understand that what they feel is normal, common; basically telling them that they’re OK. I’ve been translating about this concept but never applied it to my own life. This paragraph managed to do that for me in a way and, strangely, gave me permission to go and look for help.

So now I’m back to square one, but perhaps with better tools to tackle it?