Saturday, May 8, 2010


A Couple
Originally uploaded by
An Gobán Saor

Today a cousin of mine was in town from southern California. He came by for a visit with his long term girlfriend. We visited here at the house, then went out for a bite to eat. It felt good to be out of the house on a weekend. I enjoyed interacting with the two of them, even though it was the first time doing so without Michael. They have been so good about visiting us over the years, as she has a daughter going to college up here.

After our late lunch, I left my kids with them, then raced across town for an appointment with a couple of new clients. This couple both work full time, and they have a very tight schedule during the week. Since I don't usually do anything on Saturday early evenings I agree to meet with them at 5pm. The purpose of my appointment was to begin talking to them about better ways to handle stress and anger at home. I needed them to understand how anger, especially from the father, is experienced by their daughters at home. I shared with them how I have found this to be challenging, as a way to let them know that we all need to be aware of how others experience us.

After addressing each of their individual issues, I began talking to them about how they, as a couple, need to better assist each other in keeping their anger, and responses to it, in check. I gave them some ideas of ways to soothe each other, rather than fuel the fire. In the course of this discussion I realized that I had boxed myself into a corner where I needed to divulge that I am no longer part of a two parent home. To keep it simple I just stated that while I am familiar with this dynamic, I now find myself as a single parent, which has it's own unique challenges.

In all, I felt very good about this late afternoon session. I drove away feeling good about our interaction, and had some really good responses from both of them. It was one of those moments where I give myself a pat on the back, and take notice of something I am good at. Of course, like many situations these days, I find that this one was quite bittersweet. With all the experience I have attain over the years as a social worker working with couples and families, I now find that I speak from a place of reference to the past. In discussing the dynamics of communication within a couple's relationship I will need to find a comfort zone that works for me. I don't want to lose my focus by constantly feeling reminded that I am no longer part of a couple. Yet this is something I cannot avoid. This is the work that I do. I am currently applying for a new job where I would be mediating custody agreements with couples going through divorce. I know that some people may worry that this line of work is going to be difficult for me emotionally. After all, I would be spending my days with couples who do not want to be together, and here I am grieving the loss of the husband I would give anything to have back.

I don't know for certain how this possible new job will play out, but I do know that I am feeling stronger right now. I think I am up for the challenge.


  1. Regarding being "up for the challenge" -- I hesitate to make a blanket statement speaking for anyone beyond myself, but I'm beginning to think there's something to the whole "challenging ourselves" thing when we do something outside of our normal comfort zone. Perhaps it's good for us and helps us to move forward. For myself, during the times when I've tried to maintain the status quo in a desire to get back to my "old" life (life with Don), I've soon found myself hurting more and spending a lot of time reflecting back on all that has been lost. In contrast, when I've purposefully moved outside-the-box of what feels normal or comfortable, it seems to bring out a different side of me -- a stronger side that is more adventurous and willing to try almost unimaginable things. During those times, I feel less stressed and almost carefree as I'm not constantly struggling to keep my life "under control" or like it used to be -- this coming from someone who was a bit of a control freak, btw. For some of us, maybe trying to create what can only ever be a pastiche of our former lives, is not enough and we can take advantage of this time -- to "be the change you want to see in the world." Of course, this is all just a personal theory - a hypothesis I seem to be living out. But when I look back at my life (our lives together), I have few or no regrets of the times when I (we) took a chance and just did what we wanted to do - and by gosh, we did do a lot together! My regrets are more for those things we didn't do - like just cashing out and backpacking around the world when we contemplated the idea a few years back. I can't undo those decisions (possible mistakes), but I can try not to relive them.

  2. I really like your message here. The quote "be the change you want to see in the world" is a perfect message for the way the wind seems to be pushing me. It's a nice positive way to to use the change we didn't want, and make use of it anyway.