I think I might have found a counselor that suits my needs. After the first (would it be too much to describe it as harrowing?) experience, I contacted my employee assistance program hotline again. I was lucky enough to talk to someone named Al, and he had a lot of good things to say:
- “Continue success. You’re on the right track. You’re doing well with how much you’re dealing with. Just give yourself a reward once in a while!”
- Make a list! After every 3 items, put a reward. My reward might be different than your reward, but put in in there. Just break it up–because otherwise it just becomes one thing after another after another. A reward doesn’t have to be food. It could be going for a short walk, or visiting a fun website, or calling a favorite friend.
- Tell yourself every morning “I’m going to do the best job that I can, with the resources that I have, and the time I’ve been given.”
- You have everything with you, [all the tools that you need to be successful.] The key is finding someone who can help support you in that. And that’s where the counselor comes in.
- If you go in and say “Doc, I’m broke, fix me,” they’re not going to know where to start. Be specific about the goals that you have, and it’s not unreasonable to expect results in five weeks.
So, with Al’s wisdom, I saw the next counselor. This time, I went in with a goal–I am stressed, I want to know how to de-stress, and cope with stress. I met with her yesterday and started off the conversation cordially “Have you had to write the date yet today..? It’s 10-11-12.” “Oh! I hadn’t noticed that. I’ll have to share that..”
This time, the office was clean, presentable, she introduced herself and I felt at ease.
“So, what brings you to counseling, today?”
“I am stressed, and I would like to have tools to deal with that stress. I go to school, I go to work, I’m trying to lose weight–and I’m quite overwhelmed. But there will always be stress in life, so I would like to know how to balance it and to cope with it.”
She was receptive to me, the conversation started out pretty well, and then she hit me with perception. “Has something heartbreaking happened? You seem hurt.”
Until she said those words – Heartbreaking, hurt – I didn’t realize just how right she was. My relationship has been through some trials lately, and in working through it, I convinced myself that I was alright. I knew I wasn’t 100% better, but I didn’t recognize that it was this lingering heartbreak that was holding me back.
We talked about what happened, and it was freeing to share everything with someone who wasn’t going to paint anyone out to be the bad guy/girl. It was freeing to admit that I felt betrayed and that I still felt as if I could be second best, even though I am treated like number one.
She comforted me with facts. The divorce rate is huge, and based on my own experience, I should know that distance is not a deterrent to relationships. He chose me. He has chosen me, every time he’s presented with the chance not to. We are good for each other and I just need to believe it when he says that I’m the one for him.
The rest of the session went exceptionally well. At first, when I left, I was concerned about my heartbreak and how to fix it. I was able to do some reflection and realized that I thought everything was fixed, but really I was just holding it together like a bad entry on ‘there-I-fixed-it.’ Now that I know that there’s still a problem, I can take intentional steps to get better. To heal my broken heart and mend the relationships with the people important to me.
One thing that hinders our understanding is that the English language is actually quite limited in describing different forms of love. We lump love for a spouse, a child, a pet, a job, a higher power, yourself, a good meal, and family members into one generic word. Other languages have specific words for different types of love, so the best we can do is make up some new ones. So this post is going to cover “romantic love” and “committed love”, two of the most often confused and discussed in my office
Romantic Love This is the type of love that is the stuff of countless poems, songs, films, and fantasies. The all-consuming, heart-skips-a-beat, shooting stars in the sky during a kiss, can’t wait until he/she calls, crazy kind of love. Most committed partnerships start here (romantic love usually doesn’t last more than a year), in the phase of intensity, “connection”, longing, focus, and feeling that is hard to describe and feels special. What a ride this can be! This is the stage where people generally describe being “in love” or “falling in love”, and is the stage of courting and being in a state of “fusion”.
Committed Love Robert Johnson, a Jungian writer, calls this “stirring the oatmeal” love, and describes it as: “…a willingness to share ordinary human life, to find meaning in the simple, unromantic tasks: earning a living, living within a budget, putting out the garbage, feeding the baby in the middle of the night. To ‘stir the oatmeal’ means to find the relatedness, the value, even the beauty in simple ordinary things, not to eternally demand a cosmic drama, an entertainment or an extraordinary intensity in everything. Like the rice hulling of the Zen monks, the spinning wheel of Gandhi, the tent making of Saint Paul, it represents the discovery of the sacred in the midst of the humble and ordinary.”
And so, I’ve learned that I have heartbreak to deal with. But, more than that, I’ve learned (or perhaps I’ve finally accepted) that Jeff chose me. Time, and time, and time again, he’s chosen me. He’s my committed love, and I am his–no matter that there was a romantic love in the past, ours is the love that has staying power.
I think exploring this is going to help me to sleep better at night and to handle stress much better, because I have peace, now, about where we’re at, where we’re going, and hope that we can be little old folks holding hands while feeding ducks.
I’ve talked to both parties involved, and discussed with them where I’m at, and where I’d like to be in my relationships with them. It’s not fair to blog about a person without their knowledge or consent. There are still bonds that need to be mended, hearts that need to be forgiven, faith that needs to be restored. But I am comforted that everything happens for a reason and this trial tested my relationship with my future husband in a way that could have broken it to pieces. But we got through it together and that proves to me, more than happiness could, that we’re meant to be together. There were also lessons learned for the other person involved that will lead to personal development and healthier relationships there, too. Because of this, because of the good things that can come out of it, I think I’m one step closer to being okay.