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Our talk with Dr Jerry was interesting tonight. It broke the pattern that we’ve fallen into, which has just been a rehashing of the latest traumatic happening and resulting damage control. The hour started with a discussion of the last week, but then headed into a theological discussion. Dr Jerry has mentioned a specific Bible verse several times…

Love thy neighbor as thyself. (Mark 12:31)

The common interpretation of this verse is pretty straightforward – you should love others. But Dr Jerry takes it one step further, which I’ve never heard from anyone else… the words “as thyself.” In order to love others as yourself, you must love yourself first. So YOU come first – BEFORE others. Not what you expect to hear out of a typical Baptist preacher (which is what he formerly was).

So then I headed into the “guilt” arena. When I put myself first, I feel guilty. When I do this, or don’t do that, or say this, or think that, I feel guilty. Guilt. It’s a wretched emotion. I’ve been of the opinion that it’s good in small doses – after all, it is our conscience telling us when we’ve screwed up – but when it goes into overdrive, it becomes debilitating and harmful. You start questioning EVERYTHING. Everything you do. Everything you didn’t do. Sometimes it’s legitimate, sometimes it’s not. And when it becomes such a huge, formidable player in your existence, eventually you’re no longer able to differentiate between what’s real and what’s not.

Dr Jerry was confused. For six months, I’ve seen him weekly. And during those six months, he hasn’t picked up on the driving force that guilt is in my life. Probably because the last year has been full of raw emotions, an overwhelming outpouring of grief and loss. But I think I might have needed therapy even before Mama died – not to talk about grief and loss, but to talk about my own personal hang-ups. Hang-ups – we all have them. But mullers like me feel the need to understand them. :)

So I felt that my and Dr Jerry’s relationship turned a corner this evening. As time goes on, it becomes inevitable that Mama and miscarriage and lost relationships won’t be the subject of every session. It makes sense that we would eventually work our way back around to the underlying crap that’s lurking… like guilt. And religious inhibitions. And how they’re inextricably linked.

And I had another random realization that really doesn’t have much to do with this topic at all. As I was falling asleep last night, I realized that during moments of altered consciousness – falling asleep, waking up, drinking, strong medication – that I forget that Mama’s gone. It’s almost like the knowledge is right on the surface, but it hasn’t sunk down past those top layers. My awareness has definitely changed over the last year… I don’t forget anymore during the day, dialing her number or thinking “I need to remember to tell Mama that.” But when my defenses are down – when I’m not completely “there” – I forget. And when I remember, the loss is crushing. Takes my breath away.

Today’s September 10th. Only 7 more days. One week until September 17th. I can’t believe that I’ve gone almost a year without my mother. The words “I can’t believe” are pitifully inadequate in describing the total displacement I feel when realizing that a year has almost passed. How have I functioned, survived, existed for a year without Mama? If someone had told me that my mother would die at age 50 and I would make it without her, I would have… I don’t even know what I would have done. What I would have said. But I know that I would have been completely incredulous. Not possible. Simply not.