I get melancholy this time of year, every year. The garden stops producing, the leaves turn color and fall, the days get colder and darker. I love wool socks and hot soup and down blankets and snuggling, but the turn towards winter is bittersweet. Having lived almost 48 years, I have some pretty good evidence that this is a season that will pass like all the others, that spring and summer will come again, that there will be another garden next year, and enough light and warmth that I’ll even start to complain about how hot it is all the time, and yet somehow it feels so final, so sad.
But as life is, it’s a mix of tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal. At the same time I felt sad to see that the aspens at Pinagree Park had already lost all their leaves, I was filled with joy this morning — I took a 3 mile walk, y’all! I’ve been dealing with this foot thing (plantar fasciitis) for about ten months. For the first six, I didn’t realize it was a thing. I blamed my shoes. I blamed sleeping “wrong” on it. I blamed an extra intense yoga practice or not stretching enough or not drinking enough water or sitting too long or standing too much. I even started running again, not realizing it was a real problem. Four weeks into that it was clear it was an actual thing I needed to deal with, that wasn’t going away, and I did some research and realized I was going to need help and rest and time. I’ve been doing physical therapy for almost three months and resting it for close to two, and it’s finally getting better. This morning I decided to see where my edge was, go a little further, see if I could start building my way back up to the six mile morning walk. It was one of the best walks ever. I felt so…normal.
Next week I’m meeting with my therapist for the last time. I’ve been working with her for about 2.5 years. When we started working together, Dexter was dying and I’d just seen a doctor who told me I was obese and tried to put me on a diet (right after I’d told her I had an eating disorder, was over exercising, and suffering ongoing fatigue). I had a mild form of PTSD, wasn’t sleeping very well, dealt with both anxiety and depression regularly, and felt generally miserable. I wanted help, knew that developing my self-compassion practice was the place to start. Since then, my therapist and I have worked through some hard stuff together. I’m stronger and more sane, better off for my time with her.
And now it’s time to quit. It’s been a few months that I’ve known, but when you have that kind of long term, ongoing, positive support in your life, it’s hard to give up even when you stop needing it. For quite some time, we’ve only been meeting once a month, and the past few times she was functioning more as a business coach than a therapist (another thing she practices), and the last time it was obvious I’d outgrown the need for therapy. I told her it was an odd profession she was in, where the measure of her clients’ success was that they didn’t need her anymore. We are meeting one more time to wrap up, review, say goodbye, have some closure. It feels a bit like when I broke up with my trainer, another moment when I rightly took back my power, was strong enough to take charge, take care of and responsibility for what’s mine, for myself.
And that’s just it, I need to take myself back. This is just one way I’m doing that, but there are lots of other ways too. I’m working to stop looking outside myself for permission, for approval, for direction. I’ve learned that no one needs to tell me what to eat, when or how much. No one gets to tell me how my body should look or how I should move. No one can tell me how to practice or what is true. I don’t need anyone’s advice or agreement. I can ask for help when I need it because I know what I need. I can, but I also don’t have to. Even as I’m connected, part of a larger community, I can take care of myself. I’m not going to let fear of failing stop me from trying. I’m not going to give up.