Friday, January 22, 2010

Seeking Grace

In October last year, several big events in my life conspired to knock me convincingly on my heels. There were moments when I felt like I was incapable of handling what came next, unable to make a sensible decision in any given moment.

Considering that I've slogged through some pretty deep, fast-moving water in the past, this state of affairs shook me.

That feeling convinced me to go seek help in the form of therapy.

Though there were (and are) unpleasant situations over which I have no control, I have, for the most part managed to take control of the things that seemed reasonably graspable. And that achievement has made all the difference.

In the last couple weeks, however, with the help of a few taxing events, I've felt myself slipping a bit, felt the breathless panic of powerlessness creeping in.

In talking with my therapist, his goal is that, in the heat of battle--talking about one particular interpersonal struggle here--I get to a place that I handle things with a sort of emotionless equanimity. That's not how he put it, exactly. He said to find my own sort of Zen place to help me fend off the fury with the least possible bleeding.

But he knows what should be obvious; it ain't easy.

The best you can hope for in situations like this, I think--the Holy Grail of responses--is to handle the moments with humor and grace. And, historically, before the toughest of this struggle, I think I've done a reasonable job with this. Second comes my therapist's recommendation, a steady sort of equanimity. Third is the head-in-hands, hair-on-fire survival mode.

Today, in the heat of battle, I fell back on the last. Almost immediately, I was annoyed with myself for it, for being incapable of even approximating what my therapist was recommending. I let the situation, in essence, own me. Let it tear me up. And I know I must do better.

It's hard, after all, to chase goals when your hair's on fire. And goal-chasing--in one form or another--is, in the end, what 2010 is about for me.

But sometimes the lowest form of survival is the best I can manage.

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