I have recently become aware of how I have been a bit of a Debbie Downer, all my many years, when it comes to Life Appreciation–even when my particular life has been sort of calamity-free ever since I made it out alive from my family of origin. It has been even better than calamity-free, really, once I started down my career paths. Once I started teaching curious, eager, gifted middle schoolers. Once I started dancing the Argentine tango. Once I became a therapist-consultant-blogging maniac. Once I had fifteen+ years of therapy. Calamity-free if we ignore the end of the short-ish marriage and the end of the years later partnership with the Nature-is-my-therapist-Neighbor-from-Hell. Those events were calamity-ridden at the time but turned out to be great material for psychotherapy, blogging, and my future memoir-turned-rom-com-chick-flick starring Meryl Streep or maybe Jenny Slate, for the more ethnic look. And the hair.
My resistance to Life Appreciation started early. In the womb. There was quite a bit of fear, rage, and shame there, as I recall. It wasn’t the safe, sweet, nourishing cocoon that we expect. I was happy to exit that womb but the aftermath was no picnic. Did I agree to this? This family? Planet earth and its people? Seriously? And, as you might imagine, I was kinda sensitive. Vulnerable. Emotional. Aware. Smart. Like all of you. So, I had to protect my soft side, my natural tendency to sing songs from Broadway musicals, my deep capacity to love, my odd inclination to throw kisses at strangers.
And, as many of you know, now, I am almost-famous. Well, OK, I have a small but dedicated bevy of international fans. I live in a progressive, cozy community in a safe home with amazing woodwork. You would think I would be thrilled with living. And, yes, I am certainly very grateful. That is true. But only recently have I made the connection to my ambivalence about life and my early need to shut-myself-down-down-down. Only recently, have I opened up to the possibility that I am a lover and not a fighter. A lover, not a fighter. The thought makes me a little faklempt, if you must know. In a good way.
But, why should you care, you might ask? How does my latest awakening affect you?
Well. Here’s the thing. You, too, may have had to protect your sensitivity, your vulnerability, and your smartness. You, too, may have wondered how you landed on planet earth to interact with all the
muggles somewhat annoying, bizarre, mysterious humanoids. Perhaps, you, too, had some trouble appreciating life, especially if you have had assorted calamities along the way.
If that is the case, here is my recommendation: Grab your trusty journal and start a dialogue with the part of you who is hiding from life or who hates life or who thought they had to be a fighter but is really a lover. Ask that part to tell you what happened and why they are hiding, or lost, or angry, or ambivalent. Be gentle and patient and take your time. You may be surprised by what you discover. If this technique is new to you and difficult but intriguing, look for the book No Bad Parts by Richard Schwartz. It will explain the whole introspective process in-depth. It could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
With yourself. With life.
And, if you welcome back that sensitive, vulnerable, aware, smart part of you? Well, you just might end up throwing kisses at strangers.
To my bloggEEs: Let us know if you try the technique or if you already use it and how it has worked for you. What other ways have you found to welcome your intelligence, sensitivities, and vulnerabilities? And if you know any successful screenplay writers, send them my way!