Sunday, July 9, 2017

Who are my people?

I have been a counselor since the 1980's and recently retired. I became very skilled at sensing from within what each client sitting in front of me was experiencing and feeling. I had a deep desire to help and make a positive difference in their lives.  I felt no need to judge them good or bad, right or wrong. In fact I didn’t like to diagnosis, but knew I had to for insurance reimbursement. I had a deep understanding of what motivates and what causes their hurtful behaviors with empathy, not judgment. They were my people to help; I knew my role. I was a force for good; a force for making the world a little better place.
Since I have retired from psychotherapy, I have felt like there is a missing piece. It is not a longing or painful. It's not like needing to find another lover when you break up.  It's more like a phantom, a friendly ghost.  I spend many hours with myself in silence just being in the “now” sitting on my lanai among the smell of pine trees, the sounds of birds, and the companionship of Jaz, my yellow lab. My feelings of gratitude reach a level of bliss and peacefulness I have never known. I tell myself there is nothing I have to do, just be present and enjoy. There are no more health insurance claims to fill out, no more bills to collect, no more treatment plans, and no more phone calls to compassionless reluctant health insurance companies. Today I work in the garden, shop at the farmers’ stand, walk with Jaz and cook healthy meals. Sometimes I clean the house, do laundry and cut the grass.
It sounds very peaceful and it is and yet sometimes I remember and even dream about this phantom of a missing piece. Trying to please the phantom, I started a Meet up on Mindful Ageing and had a very nice turn out. It seems there is a great deal of interest in Mindful Ageing in Florida. I formed a Women’s Circle to replace the women’s groups I facilitated at the Mindfulness Center. Neither piece fit. It was as if my approach to the people who showed up in my life was coming from a different part of my brain. I wasn’t sure what I was doing in either situation. For sure I was not in the flow and the phantom showed up more and more. I found myself judging people with my keen ability to know what motivates others, replacing compassion. It was also very easy to get into the divisive worlds of politics and religion and label people acceptable and unacceptable based on their political and religious beliefs. I ended both the Meet up and the Women’s Circle. I was okay with more time alone on my lanai and started to read three books at a time. The books inspired me to want to share my insights and the missing piece phantom appeared once again.
I soon realized the problem was me; I didn’t know how to relate to the new people coming into my life and I no longer felt like a force for good in the world. I heard a story about a very special city bus driver who greeted all of his passengers with a smile and positive message. As they departed his bus he would tell them to have a good day or evening. When asked why he cared so much for his passengers, he replied, “These are my people.” These are the people God put on his bus to make a difference for good in their lives. He went on to say everybody can do something to make the world a better place. The words, “These are my people.” hit me like a ton of bricks. That’s it, who are my people? When I was a therapist the role was understood; I knew my people and they knew me. I didn’t judge them because they were my people. My authentic self felt empathy and compassion with a strong desire to help. I am not looking for  a missing  piece to recreate what I had, I am creating a new way to be a force for good. I am looking for my people.

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