Like many of my colleagues that feel deeply connected to the practice of psychotherapy, I believe that I was built for this kind of work. When in the therapy room, I feel capable, confident, and clear – this is what I have always done; this is what I do. When I attend trainings on methods and ideas that spark my interest, I feel more excited than anytime else in my life, ever. Psychotherapy is my thing. I love it and I’m good at it.
For a very long time, this was enough for me. My work created a distinctive sense of purpose and urgency that allowed me to make it the main thing – the only thing – that I did. Throughout my twenties, I identified with my work more than anything else in my life, and found it generally satisfying and meaningful. Luckily, there’s a fair bit of self-reflection that’s necessary as a psychotherapist, so I continued to grow as a person. But I worked several jobs at a time, was highly committed to the quality of my work, and didn’t have resources to do much else, so I was immersed in my practice pretty much all of the time. I identified myself by virtue of what I did for a living for about 15 years of my life.
In this last decade, I’ve begun writing. I’m not sure if I first decided that I wanted something more for myself, or if the writing itself seemed so desirable that I just decided I was going to do it. Either way, the itch to write asserted itself more and more frequently, asking for my time – time to talk with others about writing, time to engage in writing for no (productive) reason, time to read the beautiful writing of authors I have always loved, and new voices, and of friends of mine that I’ve discovered write lovely and sacred things. My attraction to writing isn’t surprising – I’ve been burying myself in heaps of books since I could read – but the pulsing need to put something out there in my own voice feels important, urgent, and interesting, and I’m following that impulse all the way down the rabbit hole.
Here’s what I have discovered thus far: My work is the bedrock of my life. Therapy is where I practice my craft and my discipline. It sharpens my focus and steadies my gaze. It’s my daily morning jog, it’s my vitamins at breakfast, it’s washing my face at the end of a long day. For me, practicing therapy is filling and nutritious and necessary. It is life-sustaining.
And writing is something else. Writing is juicy and it is delicious. Writing is that part after the jog when I take off my constrictive workout clothes, put on old pajamas, and stretch out my limbs all over the floor. It softens my consciousness and sinks me into somewhere fuzzy and warm. Writing is gentle, it is decadent, and it is flexible. The nudge to sit and write can dangle over my head for hours and hours, and the process takes the time that it takes. An unknown Part of me is engaged in this process, and I’ll never neglect it again. It is life-giving.
I’m not sure what the lesson in this post might be, but I know it has something to do with paying attention to what Parts of us cry out for, and responding to those desires. I think that there’s a pressure as we become adults to become unidimensional – to keep our focus to one thing (our job, our marriage, our family) and not to be sidetracked by our whims. I guess I believe that our whims are key to our wholeness and well-being. To engage with them is to enrich Parts of us we may have been neglecting (or not even known were there). How glorious; what a wonderful opportunity to discover something new, out of the blue, out of our regular everyday selves.