When I opened the email from Jennifer Louden (pictured above) that contained the words she penned after reading Fear, Folly & Freud, I almost felt invincible. Here’s what she wrote:
“Nicola is an alchemist, a magician, a sage. She has taken a decade of her Freudian analysis and created a page-turner of the inner life. Her courage and clarity take my breath away. To read her story was to hold a mirror up to my own psyche and feel much less alone. Brava!”
I have followed Jen Louden on social media and been a member of her Writer’s Oasis group for three years. Her honesty about deep inner feelings, ones I have felt but not had the courage to express, is life-giving.
Even though I’ve read her new book Why Bother? cover to cover, I opened it again because I needed help! In spite of knowing better, I had begun expecting consistent feelings of happiness and relief because my book was finally finished. I thought I would feel happy and relieved because I am in the termination process of psychoanalysis.
Alas – contrary to my expectations, life suddenly had begun feeling scary and difficult.
I found help on page 119 where Jen explores the concept of self-compassionate grit which she describes as an alternative to numbing out or grinding yourself into a pile of rubble.
Jen writes that when practicing self-compassionate grit, you acknowledge that life can be difficult and scary, that maybe you don’t think you have enough energy, or perhaps you don’t know what’s next AND (here’s the good part) at the very same time, you can stay alert and willing to be engaged with life. With self-compassionate grit, you are able to contain it all!
Not numbing out or denying my feelings, I became aware that many of the feelings I was experiencing were feelings of grief. That while I am gaining a lot – a debut memoir published and the end of successful transformational analysis, I am also losing things.
Creating a book has been my focus for over two years. I loved crafting the sentences and creating the vignettes. It was very satisfying and I no longer have that. Working with my Editor Mary Nilsen was rewarding and I learned so much and now other writers are taking her time. I miss her.
Leaving analysis and the analyst forever feels so finite. I want to actually feel the feelings of loss and speak of them in sessions but it is hard. And besides, what is there to say? But I know that the way I leave relationships has not always been accomplished in the most helpful ways for me or the other and that this is a chance to practice closure in a healthy way.
Luckily I have learned the importance of paying attention to my feelings without adding on the layer that says I have done something wrong or that I need to do something so I won’t feel this way. Being with feelings and emotions is a skill I am learning. Compassionate grit is a skill worth learning. Thank you Jen Louden for this wisdom and for your words about my memoir.
Do you find it easy to hold multiple feelings?