Still Alive

I have a therapist.

Originally, I started seeing her for a mélange of issues. After soldiering through my struggles alone for years, I finally admitted I was probably in over my head, and that without help, I wasn’t sure how I could function in a day-to-day capacity.  I was diagnosed with depression (with suicidal ideation), anxiety, and complex post-traumatic stress. I’ve been seeing her consistently, every other Thursday, for nearly nine years, a faithful companion as my life has progressed.

I met my husband about four years into our work together, and my relationship with him offered me many opportunities to uncover my neuroses, unpack my preconceptions, open up to life, practice clear-seeing. And even after I’d largely come to terms with my psyche and how it operates, I continued to see her. I see her still.

It’s not that I don’t think I could make it without her, but rather, I know how much value there is in safeguarding mental health. I know I’m a giver, tend to be the one always compromising, always allowing, always making room for someone else’s pain, someone else’s need. I also have a lot of unproductive mental habits, developed for survival in my youth, that can quickly spiral. No matter how good I am at catching them, having an impartial witness there to help me suss out reaction from reality has been an enormous asset for me. I value her wisdom.

Since my husband passed away, my friends have come to the worrying (for them) conclusion that one therapist is probably not enough. They insist it will benefit me to see a grief counselor, or to become involved in some version of group-therapy with other grieving spouses. They are probably right.

Still, I can’t bring myself to seek out these resources or to make any phone calls in pursuit of them. I just don’t care enough.

I inherited a gun from him. I’ve never owned one before, so it’s new territory. If I’m honest, there have been days, many of them, when I consider carefully what it would be like to end my life with that gun. A world without him in it seems so dull and empty. What am I still here for? What do I do now?

I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I’m unwilling to part with the gun, either. Something about it being there, with me, right there on the razor’s edge, keeps me sharp. My work is to simply notice what is arising, notice the despair, notice the pain, notice the desire for escape… and not have an answer. My life is lived for this minute alone. And that will have to be enough.

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