Why You Need a Psychotherapist

The other day I was doing laundry and I overheard this conversation between a very perky person and a politely suffering person.

Perky: "Other than being sick, how are you?"
Suffering: "Ok I guess" 
Perky: "How's the puppy?"
Suffering: "The puppy died; we had to put him down."
Perky: "oh well, now you don't have to worry anymore."
Suffering: "still, it was sad."
Perky: "it's a tough decision but it was the right thing; how is your husband taking it?"
Suffering: "he was crying for days"
Perky: "how is he now, ok? are you getting a new one?"
Suffering: "I don't think so, no."

I suppose it continued in the same vein but fortunately, because I was finished loading the dryer, I escaped before tearing a giant hole in the social fabric of this public perky space.

Life is suffering, the Buddhists say, which is rough on perk, which nevertheless remains popular and pushy, like a big bully. If the bright side doesn’t close the exchange, the participants seem to feel that they’ll be stuck with the big bag of gloom. We want so much to cling to the idea that everything is fine, or everything is going to be fine.

This week my good friend died of brain cancer. Fortunately no one delivered the bright side, because the cycle of life and death is as bright as it needs to be. Grief is part of that because we are connected to each other. Grief is fine with me.

On the other hand, when Trump claims to be exonerated and accuses the FBI of treason, I really really want someone to give me the bright side. Things do not seem fine at all in the US of A, and I feel morose, and then everything I encounter is wrapped in sticky strands of morosity.

We need to share things with each other, and yet our responses to each other and to events are limited by our ability to tolerate complex emotion. Mr. Trump, for example, can only swing between "very very bad" and "tremendous." Perky person above is jammed on cheerful, and morose is jammed on morose, and humans are designed to mirror each other except when they are mad or morose themselves or fear being morose or when they are your mother or your husband or otherwise have their own interests to protect.

So, yeah, it really does help to have someone who has enough theory to keep them occupied so that they neither follow you into gloom nor invalidate your misery through excessive cheer. Maybe along the way you can so-called change your ways but I've come to feel that is not the most important thing. You might be ok just as you are, and we'll get through it together. 

March 2019


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