Tag Archives: Viktor Frankl

Busy Falling in Love & Moving to Texas: Part Deux

It’s been a whirlwind romance. It’s been a whirlwind several years. I won’t re-cap in great detail—you can read back through the posts if you’re very curious—but I will say that the last few years (and more recent months) have been filled with self-reflection, radical acceptance, and courage.

As I have been preparing to drive halfway across the country with two cats and my best friend—for a boy I’ve fallen head over heels in love with—I’ve done a lot of reflecting on how I have come to be in this position. I fully intend to document the adventure that will begin this Saturday November 16th as Babette and I head south, but for now I’d like to highlight just a few of the life lessons that I have learned within the last 5 years.

(In no particular order of importance)

  1. There is no good reason to have a credit card. I’m sorry but there isn’t. There is REALLY no reason to EVER have a joint credit card. Save your money. Pay cash. If you can’t, you probably shouldn’t buy it.
  2. According to society, it is a risk factor for a single woman to own more than one cat. It could be argued that there is a risk in owning any cats as a single woman, but clearly there is some degree of exponential (read convex) growth in terms of the number of cats owned and likelihood of entering cat ladydom.
  3. There are clear blue jobs and clear pink jobs. Sometimes there can be purple jobs, but only if partners are equally skilled, competent, and have agreed that both working at the same purple job will complete it faster. When women and men start mixing up jobs, things get confusing and people get their egos bruised. Best to clarify from the start which jobs are what color.
  4. The risks associated with alcohol consumption more frequently outweigh the benefits. Also, alcohol should never be included on a person’s “self-care plan.”
  5. Having a “5-year plan” is silly. There is no way to predict what turn of events will or will not take place. Please see previous post Series of Unfortunate Events. Best bet is to take all steps possible to be prepared for what might happen i.e. used gained wisdom from self-reflection, radical acceptance, and courage to be content with life and find purpose in daily living. Happiness will be the side-effect. The only plan one should make is to be debt free.
  6. Moving frequently encourages minimal possessions. Minimal possessions decreases risks of entering a life of hoarding….Does frequent moving and minimal possessions therefore increase the risks of becoming a nomad? Is that bad? That seems like a bell curve of some sorts…
  7. You can’t mail liquor boxes (unless fully wrapped covering all labeling) despite their amazing qualities as a sturdy shipping box.
  8. The cheapest way to move to another state is via the United States Postal Service and Wal-Mart. Boxes are about 69 cents each at Wal-Mart and if it doesn’t rattle, it ships media rate…. Just be sure to get delivery confirmation. Those pods, trucks, and everything else costs several thousands of dollars.
  9. It is important to step out of your comfort zone from time to time. Go on random dates, go on blind dates even, interview for jobs so that you can practice presenting yourself in a professional manner, say yes to the invitation to go out even though you would rather just veg at home.
  10. Be hopeful. Be thankful. Be open. Be wise. Be silly.

One random evening…

je t’aime plus qu’hier moins que demain

“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”
Viktor E. Frankl

During the several years I worked as an inpatient mental health therapist, I completed somewhere around 900 mental status exams on children (5-17) admitted for severe psychiatric concerns. Entering the program for stabilization, many of them were experiencing severe symptoms of depression and had attempted suicide. During my work with these kids–when they were ultimately able to identify a “reason” to continue living–9 times out of 10, their reason was a connection with another being.

More and more I am discovering and re-discovering that people aren’t meant to be alone. The soul searches and longs for companionship and connection. Love connects us. Psychologists and researchers have proposed a number of different theories of love. Love is a basic human emotion, but understanding how and why it happens is not necessarily easy. In fact, for a long time, many people suggested that love was simply something that science couldn’t understand.

Psychologist Zick Rubin proposed that romantic love is made up of three elements: attachment, caring, and intimacy. Attachment is the need to receive care, approval, and physical contact with the other person. Caring involves valuing the other persons needs and happiness as much as your own. Intimacy refers to the sharing of thoughts, desires, and feelings with the other person.

According to psychologist Elaine Hatfield and her colleagues, there are two basic types of love: compassionate love and passionate love. Compassionate love is characterized by mutual respect, attachment, affection, and trust. Compassionate love usually develops out of feelings of mutual understanding and shared respect for one another. Passionate love is characterized by intense emotions, sexual attraction, anxiety, and affection. When these intense emotions are reciprocated, people feel elated and fulfilled. Unreciprocated love leads to feelings of despondence and despair. Hatfield suggests that passionate love is transitory, usually lasting between 6 and 30 months. Hatfield also suggests that passionate love arises when cultural expectations encourage falling in love, when the person meets your preconceived ideas of an ideal love, and when you experience heightened physiological arousal in the presence of the other person.

Ideally, passionate love then leads to compassionate love, which is far more enduring, and what long-term relationships are based on. While most people desire relationships that combine the security and stability of compassionate with the intensity of passionate love, most researchers believe that this is rare.

So what is the point? What happens when you have a broken heart? The term is used to describe those terrible feelings of unreciprocated love, damage to our ego, and ultimately disappointment. But I would suggest that it is not only humans who break our hearts, but society as well. We become disillusioned and jaded when injustice occurs, when we suffer despite our best efforts, and when there is no end to this suffering in sight.

However, I would argue that love is bigger than a broken heart. In all of its complexity, love remains capable and present, despite being bruised and battered. When I look at the ways in which a person can love and be loved, my spirits are lifted. We form attachments that include caring for others and their needs. We value other peoples needs and happiness as much as our own. We share, respect, and trust. All of these are choices that we are capable of making as human beings, time and time again. We have freedom to choose our attitude, despite our circumstances.

There is no way to describe the feeling of caring for another person, such that it enables them to identify their own reason to live.

I hope that I will always choose to love and serve others.

What meaning do you live for?

Series of Unfortunate Events: Life’s Biggest Questions

“Only my happy old life wasn’t happy anymore. I no longer blithely sang the why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along song. Because now I’d seen poverty, I’d seen perseverance. I’d seen the craters gaping in the level playing field of American education, health care, and economic opportunity. And I’d been humbled, inspired, angered, and most important, change by all of this. Who I’d been before was no longer me…/…I’ve spent the past six months trying to figure out who I am all over again.” -Janna Cawrse Esarey, The Motion of the Ocean

For the last year, I have been crossing a bridge between identities.

About a year ago, I found out that my then husband was cheating on me. Without going into all of the long details about that for his sake and mine (although it may be elaborated on at a future date), let’s just say that by late May I found myself to be 27 and a divorcée. Then the doctor told me that I had some abnormal cells in my bladder, and that I might have cancer, and that we should schedule surgery for August. As in 3 months away August. Sit with that. I sat with it for 3 months. I figured there really wasn’t any control I had in my life anymore and so I just was. I was present with my life. Never did the phrase it is what it is make more sense than during those months. I had started practicing radical acceptance. A therapeutic technique of Dialectical Behavior Therapy that is basically a cross between Buddhism and the Serenity Prayer that states “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference between the two.” It’s all about being present with the internal conflict, and then choosing how you respond, because sometimes that’s the only choice or control one has. THEN a week and a half before my biopsy, I was working late in the psych unit completing an intake assessment, and my stomach just ached. I threw up. It continued to hurt into the next day. And the next. I webmdeed (web-em-deed: the act of searching for diagnostic answers on webmd.com) my aches and figured I must either have appendicitis or totally severe gas. Hmm. On top of this, I had been offered a new job that was supposed to start August 30th so my current insurance was going to be ending soon. (During all of this I completed the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale for myself and my score was 533, no joke).

So, I figured I could either have my appendix erupt, causing my blood to become septic and possibly die (before the cancer, or a double whammy, who knew?) or I could just be quite embarrassed by going to the ED for gas. What the hell right? So I drove myself at 11pm to St. V’s (my parents thought I was being melodramatic about my diagnosis of appendicitis i.e. after I left to return home they had gone to bed thinking I would wait it out and take some pepto.) During my intake in the ED I started bawling like a baby, detailing the events of the last year to the empathic grandma-like nurse. “Don’t you just wish you had a gun sometimes?” she asked referring to the events of the affair I had informed her of. This of course caught me off guard, and I thought to myself “wow, until this moment, I’ve either handled myself quite well i.e. not having shot anyone, or this lady is crazier than she looks.” She laughed and so I did as well. I’m pretty sure they slipped me a roofie/Xanax and I started to settle by the time my CT results came back. Yep, appendicitis. Good ol’ webmd. They tried to call my parents to confirm that someone would be able to be there in the morning, but to no avail. I didn’t have a real emergency contact anymore. You know, I was single and living alone. No one was going to notice that I didn’t come back from the hospital. Welp. Surgery happened at 1am to take that sucker out. Through my belly button. Sorry but this was quite an interesting part of this story. I also learned that the appendix is about the size of a small fist. Not the large looming deflated red rubber kickball that I had imagined. My parents finally got the message at 7am. So I spend the next few days in the hospital. It was actually great. Lots of cream of wheat and a gal came in and cleaned my room, and I wore scrubs and those amazing socks, and I just read smutty celebrity magazines and listened to music. Friends and co-workers came and we had a party in my room. By day three, they were trying adamantly to send me home. This just didn’t feel right, and it wasn’t because I was thoroughly enjoying my inpatient stay, my women’s intuition was just kicking in. Well, they kicked me out. A couple friends took me to my place and we started to play some Mario Kart, and an hour later I had a fever of 104. Hmph. Went back to the hospital–because they told me too if I had a fever, and so I did–and they admitted me again. My women’s intuition was 2 for 2. So in total I was inpatient for 7 days. Remember that biopsy? That was scheduled for day 7. So I’m inpatient after surgery trying to reschedule surgery. I tried to get a two for one deal but that was a no go. So I leave on a Friday and then come back for surgery again the next Tuesday. They punch my I’maregularatthishospital card and do the whole shebang once again. This is also a nice/terrible detail/self-disclosure-they sent me home with a catheter for 3 days. 3 days. Apparently my bladder was going to be “angry” and so well, they didn’t want, well you get it. When I went back in to be rid of the darn thing, the nurse nonchalantly said “Did the doctor tell you that the cells were benign?” “No.” “Oh, well they were. That’s nice huh?” That’s nice huh? Yes that’s nice, I don’t have cancer. Just a string of unfortunate events leading up to I’m not quite sure what.

20120409-161727.jpgAnd so I thought about Job (the character in the bible).
And thus I started my journey across the bridge of identities with a bang. No longer a wife, and with a clean bill of health, I have spent the last year trying to once again answer the questions who am I and where do I want to go in life? I still don’t know. I’ve seen a lot and I’ve experienced a lot. All I know is “what is to give light must endure burning,” (Viktor Frankl) so I have to keep my chin up.