Therapist Blog

Life changes so quickly

Our bodies consist of mostly water, as hard as that is to comprehend. Although it appears to be different, this is not a solid universe. Everything is fluid. Babies enter this world from a watery sack, and my idea of a “good” death is to float away in a warm body of water.

Water is interesting because the same cup can be liquid, solid (ice) or gas (steam), in just a matter of several minutes. Sometimes all of life seems to be as fluid. Within minutes, our lives can change.

When my oldest son, Joe, was 10 years old, we moved from a small, quiet community in West Virginia to a large, busy suburb of Los Angles. Within the first month after we arrived, he was in a serious accident. In the minutes that followed, many lives changed. The older couple driving the van that ran over him were in shock. They drove down their same street every Thursday afternoon at the same time, but that day was different. Suddenly a young boy was under the front tire.

I was painting a kitchen cupboard in the old house we had moved into earlier that week. Joe's younger brothers and sister were playing in the side yard. We all heard the screech of the tires and ran to see the disaster. All of our lives changed in that moment. When the ambulance arrived, they actually jacked the van off his right arm. Joe had tire tracks up his chest, but no broken bones except in his wrist. He was unconscious and remained in a coma for the next several weeks. We were all stunned and basically unable to function. The following months of intensive care and surgical procedures were a night mare, and none of us awoke from the shock until he regained consciousness. When he spoke it was a miracle!

And our lives changed again. Years of rehabilitation followed. I was now the young mother of a handicapped child, and his siblings suffered from the lack of my attention. I did my best to make certain they were included in future planning when we moved from that house, and then moved again and again due to circumstances that were far beyond our control. Thirty plus years later, we seldom talk about this day. But it is in the air, a part of our shared history.

All family relationships share history. Some are happy memories and others more complicated like the scene described above. Like water, some are fluid and difficult to recall, some are frozen like ice in our memory, others drift away like steam, never be remembered. But the trauma or residue of difficult memories remains in our tissues. As we get older, the pain of living shows up in our bodies. It often appears as anger or resentment in new relationships when words or actions trigger old hurts. This has been true throughout history and is a natural part of the aging process.

Many different therapies and interventions have evolved to facilitate the relief of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual pain that is part of being human. Some take the form of religious beliefs, others take a more rational, scientific or logical approach. They provide release mechanisms that are opportunities to take action, and consciously let go of past hurts. Smoking, prescription and non-prescription drugs and alcohol, mindlessly watching TV, and shopping are other ways people choose to avoid feeling the hurts. There is nothing wrong with any of these as long as they are done in moderation, including moderate religious beliefs and scientific explanations. The point is to live remembering that life is fluid, and that like water it can also be solid or elusive. As we move from day to day and month to month, from one state of consciousness to another, the best thing to do is let go of the past and LIVE to fullest extent. Find joy and pleasure where we can and Focus on the positive rather than negative outcomes of each situation.