Through the Glass…Dimly

Please welcome my wife Karen to our blog writing team. Karen is currently preparing to launch her own blog and is in the certification process to become a Life Coach. Enjoy…

Recently Ken and I went for a walk as we often do on the weekend. And as we often do on those walks we take time to talk and reflect with one another on things we have been working through or dealing with during the week or just in general. We are captivated by one another and unencumbered by the distractions – it is wholly focused time that I crave. I am an introvert by nature and much of the dialogue I have in my head goes unspoken till I have the opportunity to think it through, process it into something tangible. And when I’m ready there is a waiting ear to hear my thoughts and answer questions. This walk was no different. 

I think a lot about what was… and reflect on the impact that has on the present. So I asked my husband a question that is not unlike previous ones. What do you miss about your previous life, your previous wife? While this question may have been a curious one at first it was one that opened up a cherished opportunity to talk and reflect and think out loud. 

As we talked I reflected on how often we see through a glass dimly…that we attempt to understand our circumstances and choices through a dim lense and many times view who we are through that same impediment. As the conversation continued I peeled back more of the layers to walk down a side road long ago traveled but the experience was immensely valuable and very appropriate to draw conclusions pertaining to our conversation.  About 12 years ago I experienced a significant bout with depression. It was like a crushing weight, something unlike I had ever felt or experienced at any point in time up till then. It was a daily struggle – like a war inside me that was often lost to remain free from tears as I soul searched and pushed hard against the waves of emotion that battered me.  I was desperate to understand why I felt the way I did, but the more I tried to get answers the more elusive the resolution became. I knew I was unsettled in my marriage. Mine was a marriage of emotional and at times physical abuse, and my faith flew in the face of the reality that if I was to be content in all things I needed to be content with this behavior. My mind and heart were at war with one another, and the result was a deep depression that at the time I could not explain. I would look into the mirror every morning and see a woman that I did not know and the conflict inside me raged silently.

How could I be content with the behavior of another that regularly and systematically demoralized, degraded and manipulated me and my children? How could a Faith that commands us to love one another allow a man to perpetrate such pain on his family in the name of the Bible but tell us we are to be content in our circumstances? While I understood the context of this statement and it’s application, holding it in perspective with my circumstances is how the conflict – for many years – churned and evolved in me – till it developed into something outward…a sadness and despair from which I could not free myself… it was all encompassing.

I thought I was to be that person of contentment even with such behavior, even with a spouse telling me I was his to command and I was to be happy in that role. But it didn’t make sense…and my fear kept me captive to the behavior, all the while my heart was running in the other direction… not from God, but from the woman in the mirror of whom I could only see vague glimpses…images that were distorted… painful shadows of what life had become and the remnants of the self I had lost to be for another what would never be ‘good enough’. I was seeing my image dimly through glass…a mirror that was terribly distorted. I had allowed another person to create those distortions and in that process I lost my own sense of self in order to make another person feel better about their own shortcomings and failures. I had allowed my spouse to manipulate and distort just enough to take what was needed, but in that taking, my own image was slowly, piece by piece being clouded from view. I was no longer the person I was created to be, I was the person I had to be to survive, to keep peace, to run from my fear… I was captive to the marriage, and to my fear, and to the woman I could no longer see in the mirror.

Freedom lies in being bold

Robert Frost

So many of us find ourselves in this same place… fear has gripped us and we are unable to look in the mirror and see who we really are… see the person we have become or the person we need to be. We fear change, we fear failure, we fear the pain, we fear the unknown. At some point in my process, I realized that if I wanted to understand my journey, my depression, my self, I needed to look into that mirror and see myself for who I was…peal off all the layers, take away the view of another, and see…clearly. It is only in these most vulnerable of moments when we are alone with ourself, and if you are a person of faith, with God, and we cry out for the sight we need…the clarity to understand without the distortions… to see ourselves as a valuable and significant human being. We have to want to see ourselves though… to do the hard work of knowing who we really are.

That depression was a turning point for me. It did not mark a dramatic change at that particular time, but it marked something far more significant. That depression marked the realization that I no longer needed to live in the internal conflict that held me captive. I had a choice. I had a choice to live in fear and continue to look at the woman in the mirror and not recognize her, or to find a new path…one without fear…one that looked into the mirror and could see the person I needed to be…the person I wanted to become. In 2009 my journey would intensify culminating in filing a protective order against my spouse in 2013 and ultimately divorce in 2014. The finality of that decision was life changing but it has been the best decision I made and I have no regret…

So how did a question about what my husband misses about his previous wife turn into all that you might ask…? Well, it’s quite easy when you both enjoy the ability to converse and engage one another deeper without fear of being shut down or shamed or your thoughts minimized. We could talk for hours…and on a walk such as this one… miles go by and it’s just he and I…together… I am so grateful for those times and for the man he is… respecting me for the woman I am… As for that question, well, it did get lost in the conversation, but was eventually answered… but that will have to be for another time.

There is so much more to my story, and one that I want to share and unfold on my own blog. I hope to post more here as well, and add a link for ease of access. For now, thank you all for reading.

May you look into your mirror and see…

Plan to Thrive…

While alone in my office, having already moved all my appointments to a virtual platform, I decided to check in with my wife, Karen, who I knew was at home in bed feeling rather ill. Our concerns were that she had the virus. After talking with her and realizing her symptoms were not improving, she phoned her physician and it was decided she should be tested for Covid-19. My thoughts quickly shifted to a surreal sense of survival and fear that something so unknown and out of my control would now have a foothold on my spouse and likely myself. There was only one place to be and that was at Karen’s side and getting her the attention and the care necessary to gain the upper hand with this virus. Fortunately, my remaining appointments were very flexible with my abrupt need to postpone and relocate those appointments later in the week.

As I rushed home so many thoughts ran through my mind. The local news and national news had not adequately explained what needed to be done in order to get tested. All we knew were that resources were scarce and protocols were blurry at best. After speaking with her physician we understood that it was the primary care physician that would make the call and the appointment at a drive through site at a local hospital. The test was ordered and we made our way to GBMC’s drive threw evaluation tent. As we drove up to the MASH looking site, a medical person walked up in full protective gear and asked that we roll down our window a quarter of the way. After confirming the identity of my spouse we waited for a few moments before being motioned forward to the nurse/doctors waiting to swab her nose. Those nurses and doctors were so patient and wonderful as they explained the procedure, the discomfort Karen would feel, and that it would only take a moment. Within 5 mins, we were on our way home. As we drove home I had a sense and feeling of relief now to have been tested yet the realization that I have likely now been exposed began to sink in. The cough I experience for much of the allergy season had worsened over the past week but the adrenalin I felt as I was hustling to keep my practice running may have kept me fairly stable. My symptoms were not quite what Karen’s had been the last two days, but that quickly changed. By weeks end the two of us were in varying stages of exhaustion, fever, headache, cough, and flat on our backs. Couldn’t move, no motivation, no appetite, Karen couldn’t smell or taste a thing which produced some panic that this virus was going to get worse for the two of us. We had agreed we would ride this out together, care for each other as best we could and support the other till our health returned to normal. Fortunately, though normalcy is a relative term now, we are able to look back having endured and successfully reached the other side of this awful virus. We weren’t alone. Friends, some we haven’t seen for many years, current friends, a very committed and supportive office assistant and our kids, brought us food, checked in on us daily, sent us videos, Face Timed, Zoomed and kept us feeling loved, cared for and encouraged. All of which became our road map to thrive.

The estimates tell us that several million of us in the US will be infected by this virus. Of the staggering number of those infected, we also hear the projections that 150-250 thousand may lose their lives to this ‘invisible enemy’. The news shares images and stories of the suffering and of the heroism and creative resiliency of our Nation. We are a people created to survive and adapt. Though that adaptation may not be readily known in this moment, there is within each of us a spirit of ‘not giving up’, an inate sense of survival that fuels a persistent pursuit of moving forward each day. Remaining connected to your community, family, your faith all become vital to our ability to thrive through this adversity. For the first time in many of our lives we can’t have a consistent long view of life as we knew it before. Our view may have to be one of ‘today’, the present moment. Otherwise we may become lost and paralyzed in the fear of what the future may become.

I am often asking my clients… “What’s your plan?” or telling them to “have a plan” when they are faced with circumstances that bring them to my office. Having a plan is vital to our process of survival. Plans aren’t rigid, they are flexible, fluid, yet once a plan is made, stick with it, see it through, learn from it. Whether we formulate a plan and follow it step by step, or use it as a template that continues to take shape as it moves you forward to whatever that ultimate goal might be, starting with a framework gives us structure and stability. Take notes, make observations, all of which help you to see how effective your steps are as your plan unfolds. Take risks…think outside your comfort zone…dig deep inside your creative well called the human spirit. As Karen and I write these words, we look at each other and acknowledge that the two of us need to remind each other of these very words as we plan to thrive.

Seeds of Change

The unimaginable has happened… as the global pandemic spread and we watched the news from afar, it became our news and our struggle, impacting so much of what we have known, depended upon, considered safe and relied on as unchangeable. The unimaginable hit us all… This pandemic, this virus doesn’t discriminate between the many things that distinguish us or set us apart from another… instead, it chooses it’s victims without bias… not color or race or religion, height or weight, wealth or poverty… we find ourselves all fighting the same unseen enemy. To the many heroes out there, we give our thanks and gratitude for their sacrifice and dedication to caring for the sick, stocking the shelves, feeding the hungry or simply being the smile that encourages a lonely heart. These are times of unprecedented tension for all of us… tension that produces a heightened sense of insecurity and fear of the unknown…of what is to come… As human beings, we have a survival instinct that naturally seeks to overcome and find a viable solution to thrive. This fear can also immobilize us, creating an apathy and leaving our creative ability to thrive in a dark abyss… It’s not unusual to find ourselves in either one of these places.

Tension in itself is not a bad thing. Tension actually becomes a platform for change. All of us are now standing on a very new platform facing an unknown horizon. A new normal has to set in as what has been is not what will be… this is uncomfortable…scary…uncertain, yet we must embrace the courage to step forward to discover the possibilities and the power we have within us to succeed and overcome.

So let’s step into this together as a nation…as a community…as families… we are not alone in this and there is a way through it all. If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, confused or evening grieving, take a moment first to validate what is real. Validation is something that the human mind needs to find grounded balance. Though something might be scary and overwhelming, the validation and acceptance of what is, tends to stabilize and free the mind to focus in the present rather than being consumed by what we fear ‘might be’. Stay connected and present with those close to you. Assess what resources you do have in the present rather than focusing on what you don’t have or what may have been lost thus far. This is an enemy that has taken so much and will continue to take, so focus on what you have in the present that can be useful in setting the stage for your next steps. Plan to thrive! Give yourself room to look at things differently… to see things from different perspectives… to approach solutions with a different narrative… take notes, write down your thoughts and observations, share them… we call this brainstorming. It brings out the best in us.

In the coming days and weeks we will all be faced with challenges and decisions to be made socially, financially and economically. We find ourselves, here at Wellspring, in the same position. A small business rediscovering a new path through an unpredictable future… looking for new seeds of change that will take root and grow into a thriving future. Step into this unprecedented time with us as we remain committed to our clients and the support they have come to trust for the last 30+ years.

Welcome To Wellspring

Welcome to Wellspring Baltimore.  If you’re here, you’re curious… if you’re curious, you’re motivated… if you’re motivated, you’re looking for answers… if you’re looking for answers, we can help.

At Wellspring Baltimore, we are here for you… let us know how we can help.  Call or email our office to start on your path to redefining balance, fulfillment and contentment.