Oh the ongoing dramas of life.

Last month I went to a women’s circle meeting, organized by a woman at our church who is the first woman to have been ordained in our denomination here in Colombia. She invited a bunch of her friends who for one reason or another don’t exactly fit the conventional church way of being, so it’s kind of an alternative group. This is the second or third time I’ve gone, the meetings were sporadic last year and when they did happen I often couldn’t go because of travel. But they are lovely. The first meeting I went to, a woman shared a meditation on intuition, built on the framework of Maiden, Mother and Crone – doncella, madre, y anciana – somehow much more poetic in Spanish. I was astonished and delighted by the whole thing. 

This last time, we talked about a technique called co-counseling, which one woman in the group has been trained in; what I took away from the discussion was this idea that we are socialized to suppress certain strong emotions, instead of expressing them, and that this suppression locks us up internally so we can’t process or solve problems easily. We get really stuck. Co-counseling is, apparently, a set of techniques for releasing these emotions and freeing us to move forward with our lives. 

Makes sense, right?

I realized that the day I learned about Illyria being denied entry to that one school, I locked up a lot of the emotion. I did cry – quite a bit – but it wasn’t the full release that I knew I needed. And I think that has been contributing to my insomnia quite a bit. The day I told our team during a routine check-in about how anxious and stressed I’ve been about that and my dissertation, I slept hard all night for more than 10 hours. Just putting it out there somehow made a big difference. 

Then Saturday Gimli was in the WORST mood, he’d been awake since 12:30, circling around in his head about a friction at work. Which I didn’t think was really the issue, frankly. I asked him to try to figure out what was really bothering him – and probed whether it had something to do with an e-mail from a friend/colleague in the US who is exploring possibilities for a sabbatical? I know my husband. I know his triggers, and this is one of them – seeing other people go to exciting places, places he sees as being “out there,” on the fringes as opposed to in centers. And I think that was it. He said it out loud: feeling jealous, wondering if we’d made the right decision in coming here, feeling that wanderlust, that itch to see over the horizon into an exciting new adventure, feeling like our lives here are humdrum and ordinary.

There was no solution – I didn’t offer any answers or resolutions, just listened and acknowledged his feelings, and within minutes he was a different person. For 3-4 days we’d been butting heads over all kinds of things, and suddenly we were in harmony again. Instead of longing for him to leave on another trip I was feeling like we’re going to miss him (he’s going to the Middle East for 2 weeks in March). It was amazing to see the turnaround. And it unlocked his mental energy for working towards a solution to what’s been bothering him at work. 

Last night I was awake at 2 a.m., grumbling mentally about the note from my dissertation committee – and I realized that I need to make some changes. I need to establish a writing space in the office, where I won’t be distracted. I need to aim for 3-4 hours a day, not just 1. I need to print out all the documents I’m working with because I work visually, and my desire to save paper is getting me nowhere in terms of productivity. I’ll worry about my energy footprint later.

I found the USB stick I’d been working with in january that i thought I’d lost – with all my backups on it as well as a bunch of articles I’d downloaded only there.

My goal is to become slightly obsessed with this thing because that’s the only way it’s going to get done.


6 Responses to “Insights”

  1. Rachel Says:

    I have to process things, just like you said, I had no idea there was a term for it. If I keep it inside I get grouchy and stressed, that’ why I started a blog. Even if no one else ever reads it, it helps me get things out of my head.

    Obsess about that dissertation, you’ll get it done.:)

    For what it’s worth I think you and Gimli are living a very exciting life. Jetting off to the Middle east, living in interesting places. Humdrum and ordinary are my life.

  2. Esperanza Says:

    I’m sorry I haven’t been commenting. I always want to, but I want to say more than I can on my phone. Anyway, lame excuses. I’m sorry.

    I was really intrigued by this post, namely the striking change in Gimli after you identified what was bothering him. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever had such a dramatic shift in mood from releasing negativity. I’m sure I have, that must be why I always want to talk things out. It’s probably why I write so much on my blog.

    I hope you find the time and space to bang out that dissertation. YOU CAN DO IT!!!!

  3. jjiraffe Says:

    Very intrigued by the co-counseling method! It sounds useful.

  4. St. Elsewhere Says:

    I am glad about the group you are attending. I would have loved to have been part of such a thing myself. Co-counselling sounds too good.

    Do you have help at home? I am glad you are going to be devoting more time to that dissertation. Tell me when you are done, and I will have a Pepsi in your name. 🙂

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