Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Holding the Paradox

I decided that it was time to look January 8th in the eye and see what was back there, so I went to therapy and I searched.  There were tears, there was laughter and there was confusion.  Lots and lots of confusion.

Turns out I was not required to sort it all out.  Turns out that I could hold the paradox, one piece in each hand and not seek a solution.  The answer could be both and that would be okay.

It was nice to hear someone else say it, especially a person who'd been trustworthy and believable and helpful in the past.  Especially when it turns out that her website lists trauma as the first thing she's interested in fixing.... or exploring.... or teaching the person on the couch about as she smiles and suggests holding  the paradox in two hands, saying "Breathe."

(This is a "find a Russian bride" site)
I'm finding it interesting that both talk therapy and pilates focus on the breath.  I feel like Boris and Natasha - Out with the bad air, In with the good....  I'm sure there's a physiological reason for my enhanced well-being, but I am able to enjoy the sensation without knowing the science.

So much for my on-going struggle to understand everything that's going on around me.  Getting shot took that away from me pretty quickly.  The world had been fairly predictable til just after 10 that morning.  I was rarely taken by surprise.  Once I felt the first bullet whiz by me, once I saw Gabby slide down against the flags, once my brain told me that this is really happening, well,  I was keenly aware that something out of the ordinary was going on.

My brain screamed "NO!"

I had no frame of reference, no folder in my brain to open and seek the answers.  I had been pushed off the edge and only finding Christina and getting out of there made sense.  Or so they tell me.  I've lost 3 or 4 days of my life and the hole is scary.  I fill it with what I hope I did and with what others tell me I did and I am coming to terms with holding I have lived every day of my life  and I can't remember the most significant days of my life in my palms, equally weighted or one heavier than the other but both there and present and relevant and real.

Most times I find that my hands are out in front of me, weighing the facts and feelings, without my brain alerting me that my body has gone on without me.  I take it as a sign that I am healing, that deep down I am becoming conscious of the fact that this is just too big to be okay so few months afterwards.  I am comforted, having been given permission to examine the paradox without requiring a solution.  I am amazed at my ability to relax into the not-knowing-ness.

I wonder who I am and then I find my hands out in front of me, holding the old me and the new me, secure, not falling off the edge, easy with the knowledge that going to Law'n for my exhortations to a dying 9 year old does not make me foolish or shallow or unthinking.  It makes me human.  It reveals a piece of myself that is neither embarrassing nor exalting but just is.

I can wish that I had told her it was going to be okay and I can be glad that I spoke only the truth to her.  I can be furious with the shooter for aiming weaponry at innocent citizens while I am, in the same instant, heartbroken that his mental illness was left untreated.  It was much easier when it was just hate which was attached to my thoughts of him.

I am thinking about the impossibility and the necessity of holding both those thoughts almost every day.  The solution feels no closer, but the weights are feeling lighter.  The paradox still exists, but I have permission to examine it without judgment.

It's liberating, in a frightening sort of way.


  1. You have the very best possible therapist for you, I think. Both/and. Embrace of paradox. The radical acceptance of the reality of being unsure.

    Now that I'm not practicing, I'll be your psychotherapy cheerleader. Go,process! Be right where you are!

  2. Yes, as she says, "That's the work"... as I hold the paradox and wonder.

    I will be sending pompoms your way so that your cheers have more oomph!

  3. The "not solving it" is obviously the hardest part. I'm not sure we'll ever be able to let go, but learning how to live with it I think is victory enough.

  4. I agree that you aren't ever going to be able to solve it. It was totally senseless and how do you make sense of something that shouldn't have happened? All you can do is try to examine it and you may be able to live with it and dare I say accept it, but it still doesn't lessen it in any way.

    I'm glad you have a great therapist. She is probably going to be the most crucial person in your emotional recovery. I've found breathing exercises to be quite liberating in lots of stressful areas. I tend to do them a lot when dealing with work issues or with my children--especially when all I want to do is cry. Take deep breaths and trying to relax my racing heart helps immensely in me regaining my perspective. I'm glad you've seen the correlation between pilates and talk therapy. Both are a conditioning of the mind and body; so it's great that you already had the pilates foundation.

    Hope you are hanging in there.

    Megan xxx

  5. I can't imagine how difficult this must be to process. I am so happy that you are able to sort through it with the help of some amazing people.


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