Monthly Archives: June 2011

Water Lillies

Monet painted more than sixty paintings with water lilies as the main theme of his study. Over and over again he studied the flower each time finding a nuanced edge that had passed his notice in his previous attempts to recreate the flower.

Perhaps he discovered a new shade of blue or rose that he had not been aware of when he painted the impression the time before.

Much of the work I do is long term. I sit with people and learn about their lives by listening to their stories. Together we notice the automatic involuntary memories that are evoked by holding up a light to their past. Some stories need to be told over and over again so that the cobwebs that lie in each corner of the memory are wiped away and the picture gets clearer and clearer.

It is not unusual for someone to say to me. “I am so tired of these same problems. I talk about them over and over again! ” And then of course the worry is that I will become bored or frustrated. I am asked if I am tired of listening to the same ‘issues’ that are on the turntable repeating and repeating.

What if someone had said to Monet: “Enough with the water lilies! Choose another subject! ” We would have missed out on some of the most beautiful impressionist art of our time. What a loss that would have been to civilization.

We tell our stories many times over to perfect our understanding of them. We decide which impressions to etch onto our personal canvas and which to omit.

We must re-tell our stories as often as we need to. Each time we gain a new and deeper understanding of the metaphors and messages they hold.

Making Use of a Broken Heart

After a long search, you found the love of your life. It was not perfect, but you connected in so many ways and it was better than being alone. Maybe she didn’t want children but you did. Maybe he said he was looking for a job, but still lived on unemployment. You came from different religious and cultural backgrounds but still shared values. Well, mostly. He insisted that separate vacations were essential to his well being and you did not agree to that. Smoking marijuana daily to soothe himself seemed less harmful than alcohol, but you thought he had an addiction problem.

After searching and searching, you found a great partner you could talk to and have fun with. One day you realize that the differences are too great and the relationship ends. Your heart breaks.

Broken hearts are painful. It feels as though your heart has literally been cut in two. You lose your appetite, and have difficulty sleeping. You take sick days off from work because you can’t get out of bed in the morning. It becomes difficult to socialize, to be around other people. It hurts to feel lost in a crowd.

These are symptoms that come if the relationship meant anything to you at all. It means you are able to attach and find meaning in connecting to another.

Although difficult, these moments of rupture are opportunities.  Peer into the crack in the massive stone of locked psyche and look inside. You may be surprised to discover the soft mystery that makes up the complicated whole of the self that we usually protect in order to live our lives.