My daughter and I were joking (in all seriousness) about how intense we are, how one of our greatest fears is that we are “too much”, and how many women seem to feel that way. I was probably born with an extra serious chromosome. I was definitely born with the super curly/frizzy hair genes and I used to hate them back in the 60’s when straight (or straightened) Cher hair was the rage. But I love my curly hair now and I’ve come to love my intense genetic make-up as well.
What can I say? I’m a psychotherapist. I deal with the hidden, more serious and sometimes extremely serious, aspects of human experience every day. My own psychological make-up, I’m sure, predisposed me to that profession. Every day I see pain in people you would never know is there from a passing glance at their cute shoes, perfect hair and well-pressed pants. And every day I see pain in people you could easily know is there from the sadness in their eyes, the sighs, the way they look away when something real comes up for them.
I got a notice last week from Honda saying that there was a recall on my airbags. I took my car in and needed a ride home. A lovely woman about my age was the driver of the dealership van. I thought to myself, “What is she doing driving a van?” And I quickly thought as well, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” And believe me I didn’t want to dwell on that thought. I snuggled down in my mind into my paid-for house and the love I feel from my husband. I grabbed for any insulation I could find from the pain of even the thought that I could be driving a van for a living at my age.
It was a long drive from the dealership to my house. We talked, and little by little the pain of her present situation seeped though. She was not self-pitying, though I’m sure she had every right to be. She had the bravest attitude, the deepest desire to embrace whatever the tremendous loss was that had brought her to her present condition. I witnessed the struggle in her to open up with me and be real and be known, and she let herself go there. And I let go of my insulation and I went to that place where she was me.
I was just a momentary passenger in a momentary relationship with her. But it wasn’t momentary at all. It was timeless. It was one soul touching another. I was so grateful for her “intensity,” so grateful for her willingness to take that risk. And she inspired me to take a risk of my own—I told her about my book. I wrote down the title and my web address for her.
So there was a recall on my airbags, those compact inflatable balloons that are supposed to save your life in an emergency. We need a recall on human relations. We’re supposed to help save each other in an emergency.
My book, The Road Home: A Light In The Darkness, is my piece of the “recall” on human relations. And it’s “intense.” I wouldn’t have it any other way.