Meandering Monday about The Counseling We All Need

This last year or so has been a rough one for us all. The PANDEMIC. LOCKDOWNS  that still somehow allowed a year of RIOTS in the streets. An strangely irregular ELECTION , with a RESULT that half the country still doesn’t believe, and a new POTUS who seems intent on upending everything the previous administration accomplished as though it never happened – like we’re living in that season of Dallas when they told us that the previous season was JUST A DREAM.

We’ve all found ourselves in need of counseling in these crazy times we live in, and at the same moment uniquely deprived of it.

I’m not talking about professionals, trained to treat the problems of mental health, where the customer is so far from being able to stay in reality that a serious intervention is required. Semi-professional counselors, perhaps? That role that is often stereotypically filled by bartenders, or by hairdressers and stylists for women.

OK, already – I know that statement will be treated as sexist. I am well aware that there are women who go to bartenders with their problems, and I’ve had some lengthy discussions with my SIGNIFICANT ONE’s hairdresser. Let’s just go with the idea so I can make my point. The lockdowns seemed to take particular aim at the bars, and the salons that people counted on for their SEMIPRO COUNSELING. Heck, they even shut down the CHURCHES, too, where many of us counted on getting some relief and reassurance.

For people of the younger generations, you might have thought that they’re used to NOT being around people physically and would be okay with this situation, but they are obviously more in need of contact than even they realized.

We all find ourselves in need of someone to bounce our thoughts off of. Have you ever had a problem you just couldn’t solve, but when you went to someone else for a solution, the act of trying to put the problem into words wound up with the solution coming out of your own mouth? Sometimes all we need is a focus for our thoughts. This person might guide us some, but ultimately we’re responsible for solving our own problems, and even have the solution within us, if we only had someone there in a familiar environment to help pull it out of us.

Any good counseling relies on you to solve your own problem – the counselor may offer advice from their area of expertise (like when you’re talking to a plumber about a clogged drain), but they don’t REALLY know you or your life. It’s up to you to find what works for you and implement it. When you see the priest in the confessional (you didn’t used to actually SEE him) he can dispense the sacrament of absolution, but you are also working on fixing yourself – he can’t do that for you.

It can be intimidating sometimes to realize that YOU are the only one truly responsible for your life, and tempting to turn over your problems to someone else. But no one sees your life quite as well as you do, and, quite frankly, in today’s environment, trusting anyone’s eyes other than your own can distort your reality into something that doesn’t resemble the one you know you’re living.

Over the centuries there has been some variation stated of the wisdom that God doesn’t give us any more than we’re able to handle. So sure, find someone to listen to your problems, but don’t abandon their resolution to someone else; solve them for yourself.

I think most of us can tell whether we’re really crazy or not. Unless we really are. Just saying…

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Reaching Out

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

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