Summer is upon us and in full swing. The beaches and pools are slammed. People are on vacation in my own neighborhood. It is hot and hectic. Everywhere you go you can feel that amped energy of family or social activities and busyness – it seems safe to assume that life is full or even over-full.
But lately, I have felt that the seat I sit in (my therapist seat and my seat as a woman) has screamed nothing but grief and loss. In the heat of summer we are confronted with the dissolving of marriages and losing parents. We face losing our careers and sense of self as we fall in love with our infant. We grieve and find relief in miscarriages and abortions. We confront singleness. We part ways with friends. We lose pets.
The paradox of our full, yet empty life here on earth baffles me at times. It is, perhaps, one of the main reasons why I have recently struggled to blog and express language to the constant push and pull. One thing I notice with clients is a propensity to laser beam focus on either just our fullness or our emptiness. One client will report seven new demanding hobbies to distract from pain while another cannot permit herself to revel in a refreshing moment.
Yesterday, a client shared new insights about this paradox and finally brought clarity to my own conflict. As a gal who tends to distract herself with busy she stated, “I realize I just need to find acceptance in my empty well. It’s where I’m at; it is me today. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t get to enjoy the gifts around me”. Wisdom. True wisdom. Here are some further insights:
- Acknowledge the paradox. Life is neither full nor empty. It’s both. And, given the face paced trends here in Southern California, it is probably a whole lot of both.
- Find space to confront our loss. More than likely, summer schedules are jammed packed. We are going to Movies in the Park, and buying houses and overscheduling ourselves with soccer games. And, we are agitated. We lash out or cry spontaneously. Block out some time for a therapy session or return to journaling to find out what is rumbling in your undercurrent. Invite yourself to take a break from the busy even for one hour.
- Permit yourself to enjoy the full. We are allowed to take breaks from grief and loss. And, we are allowed to distract ourselves from pain. I love hearing when motivated clients who do hard work in their sessions report to me fun-filled weekends with healthy friends. This lets me know their life journey is well-intentioned, balanced, and sustainable.
- Foster relationships with people who can take care of all parts of you. We need friends who can comfortably and empathically sit beside us in loss without judgment or shaming. They are the ones who we are silent with, and the ones who extend compassion and tears without hesitation. We also need friends who invite fresh fun and enjoyment, and fill our empty well. I have a friend, Anne, who will happily show up in yellow leotards from Goodwill just to put a smile on my face. As long as I am therapist who faces loss regularly, I will always need her in my life.
If you are needing help finding clarity in your life paradox I would love to meet or talk with you. Happy Summer!