Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Life Is Like A 1960's Western Television Series

Forest Gump said “My momma always said, Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are gonna get.” Well, I think life is like a 1960’s television western series. Good things and bad things happen in life. You deal with it, and then move on to the next episode.
Just think of Ben, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe on Bonanza. They spent their lives protecting the Ponderosa from swindlers, land grabbers, and a crazy con-man who thought he could “row” a boat across the ranch and claim the land as his own on a technicality. They wooed women, fell in love and, ALWAYS, lost their loves in tragic accidents or murder. Or else she really loved someone else. And sometimes the men were caught up in a case of mistaken identity, jailed for a crime they didn’t commit.

In the shows, the Cartwrights lived, loved and laughed. They fought, struggled and persevered. They grieved and learned to live again. Isn’t that what life is about?

Now, imagine if Bonanza was a true story. A person could not go from tragedy to tragedy, drama to drama, or from love to loss to love to loss constantly. Think of the years of therapy and medication the Cartwrights would need to even get out of bed in the morning!

And yet, that is what we often try to do. Something major happens in our life, then a tragedy, and more drama. Rather than taking the time to process our feelings and thoughts, we keep pushing through. We don’t have the luxury to get everything settled in one episode. Or we don’t have the resources.

But, then the re-runs play over and over in our mind. The movie reel never stops. We become angrier, more anxious, depressed or helpless. We isolate ourselves. The re-runs become debilitating. Especially when more than one episode plays at a time.

That is where therapy or counseling helps. We can tell the story to a counselor, but this time we allow ourselves to feel the pain, the hurt, the anger we may have avoided. A counselor can help us navigate through the feelings and move us towards processing the feelings.

And then, the counselor can help us “reframe” our experience. How did we grow from it? What was the best outcome? Sometimes the best outcome is that we survived the experience. But even seeing that can be enlightening.

My family and I have been through a lot of stuff the last few years. Even a thunderstorm with wind and lightning can set my nerves on edge and leave me feeling helpless. On the minor side of events, our old 5th wheel camper blew over and was totaled in a microburst last summer and then our new one was struck by lightning this spring.

Through therapy, I have been reminded that just because something happened once, it doesn’t mean it will happen again. My mind has stopped replaying the episodes. I no longer drown in the pain, fear, panic, anger when I think about the past episodes. And I trust that whatever happens next is something we will make it through with God’s help. Because we do keep making it through.

Now that I’ve dealt with the re-runs, I am ready to face the new episodes. The good and the bad. Because that is life. Let's ride.

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