December 14, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

When I was 16, my parents sent me to a psychotherapist, Nina Blinstrub, to address the possible psychological dynamics behind my difficulty with speaking in circumstances outside of talking to family and friends.  Evidently, I was not just shy but hardly understandable.  Two years later, when I moved to Florida to go to college, I continued therapy with a gestalt therapist, Mike Gardner.  With Mike I attended a therapy group and individual sessions.  After three years, I stopped seeing Mike individually and continued the group for three more years until I moved back to Chicago in 1977.

In 1985, during a particularly troubled period in my marriage, I started therapy again, group therapy, with Jane Jacobs and Tom Goforth.  After a couple years, Tom split off and I continued group therapy with Jane.  Twenty-three years later, I’m still in group with Jane.  More than half my life I’ve been in group therapy.

When my first marriage ended in 1989, the group offered the safe place my soul desired.  When things were worst–bad enough to be the most distressing time of my adult life–I’d find myself imagining myself in group telling my confidants about what was occurring.  I had and have many friends, but the group was family.  A healthy family.

When I was a teenager, I was fascinated by psychological process, therapeutic intervention, spiritual experience and the relationship of the individual with his or her unconscious.  I had a manic depressive mother, borderline grandmother and a number of other relatives with unique derivations from the norm.  I craved my center, often feeling stalked by fear and rage.  Studying psychology and participating in psychotherapy became integral to my seeking to become whole.  Then I began meditating when I was 19.  The combination of meditation and group therapy, and later exercise and a healthy diet, became the foundation for the way I weather life.

When I received news of the aneurysm four days ago, I was prepared.  Still, it’s a one-day, one-moment-at-a-time thing as I experience my emotions swinging back and forth like the proverbial screen door in a windstorm.  Many of my feelings come as a result of observing family and friends receiving the news and expressing fear, dismay or concern.  It’s almost as if I experience more fear identifying with those I’m close to than I experience myself.  Maybe the fear I feel that I’m not aware of emerges around those I love.

Not that I do not feel fear much of the time.  I awoke feeling dread.  But the fear and dread feel manageable.  The fear and dread are accompanied by love.

Often, I imagine myself in group sharing what is happening that moment with Jane and the others I’ve become so close to.  Just the imagining I find consoling.  Along with the ability to travel to that place with those people in my imagination, I meditate.  I place my consciousness within my body.  I accompany me.  I experience me.  I do not generally run from the emotions, though they do stack up like airplanes circling an airport in bad weather.  I sometimes feel like there’s more emotion to be felt than there is time.

In about two weeks, I’ll sit down with the brain surgeons I met this weekend.  Then I’ll get a second opinion.  For now, it feels easy to choose no intervention.  I love my life and choose to live it as I am, aneurysm and all.  With time and more information, I may change my mind.


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