“If you ever need a helping hand, I will be there in a double to offer a helping hand”.-Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
Short trip to San Francisco for some rest, recharging and much-needed change of scenery. Other than one extremely contentious party, I have spent much of my week lying by the pool, running by the bay and drinking a much needed Sam Adams lager as I read a wonderful novel recommended by a wise friend. This has been a different kind of a vacation for me, short and serene. As I sit here typing this by the pool, I look at the city of San Francisco shrouded in the early morning fog, the town of Sausalito dotted at her base in the masts of hundreds of small sailboats, most still tethered in port but a few making their way out onto Richardson Bay. From my vantage point, high above Richardson Bay, I am master of my prospect as I anticipate running the steep hills today.
My rest was punctuated by a lunch with a psychiatrist colleague who is a chum from medical school. I am grateful for his continued friendship over these years because he implored me to enter psychiatry largely based on my intense connections with my patients. Though I loved my studies into the behavior of others, I knew early on, that I was not a psychiatrist. I was far more interested in the science behind human behavior rather than explaining such behavior. To make a long story short, my colleague tends to provide insight into my behavior from time to time, an exercise I have come to welcome as much as the soothing sound of his voice, the feel of his dark black beard on my cheek as we embrace and the flash of his dark eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses (so Freud).
“You know, a friend mentioned that I have PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), last week.” I said as we laughed at his joke about the surgical personality. “Well, you certainly do have a bit residual PTSD from your husband’s suicide.” “Remember, I saw you two days after that event and you were barely breathing.” “Now, I sense a phase of acceptance at last but even a serenity and calmness, never present in all my years of knowing you and your high life of adventure.” “Tell me what has changed for you.”, he implored.
I couldn’t answer him because I don’t know where I am but I do know that I have a sense of acceptance. Some of my serenity has come from my theological duties and studies but much has come from stopping, taking a long slow breath while allowing the world to pass with each step on my distance runs. As the world passes by, I pass the world, taking in the people and places around me in the present. I have lost the need to explain my actions or to seek acceptance for my life. I have simply stopped, rested and recharged.
My colleague’s explanation for my PTSD, is my general hype-reactivity to situations that can take me back to the feelings right after Gene’s death. His comments left me wondering if my feelings in these cases now largely controlled by my stress relief physical activity, are my last holdings onto Gene as time passes. The results, I am quite introverted, introspective and thanks to beautiful San Francisco, rested and recharged.