When you go through therapy, the matter seems to be that of identifying your values. Values have a system. Values are what make you tick. Values are what you respond to. Values are what you see in the world and how you see it, how you grasp its components.
Values are what can potentially make you miserable. Or, they are something you keep in natural balance, finding your happiness through them, celebrating, enjoying, finding peace therein.
When you don't seem to fit in with where you live, the tone and temper of the town, perhaps there is reason to enjoy your unique perspective, what you have to offer, the things you find yourself doing over and over again. Is it, was it, fate that brought you where you are?
For a long while, everything seemed a struggle. Cause for complaint. And yet, over and over again, you experience a strange joy and even a talent in what you've been doing. There are pieces to a puzzle, but they are coming closer together and even start to fit, whereas before the pieces seemed distant and even warring with each other, at conflict, at odds. Enough to put you into complaining mode, feeling down about yourself and your situation.
Things are as they are because of your value system, the things subtly ingrained into the fibers of your being, what kind of person you'd be, how you'd act, the way you'd talk. And in life you cannot disrespect those values within, at least for long, at least in the long run, because they are what you've got, they are who you are, and these some things cannot be changed. They are the fire in your brain, the joy of your working hands, the voice you have within.
I'd sort of looked at it all from a perspective emphasizing the downsides of life, my own life. There was college, there was the girl, there were all the things I'd "fucked up." There were the things that were the "consequence" of those crucial mistakes at a crucial formative time, and I would be very down on myself and wonder why I'd fallen so low, "down and out" not in London or Paris, but in Washington, District of Columbia. Not in New York City. I looked at things negatively, in the logical part of the mind, as in trying to figure it out. Why was I different? Why wasn't I working in the daytime, in an office, like everybody else? Why did I live not all that far away from paycheck to paycheck? Why was I single, no wife, no kids, a renter, not an owner, figuratively speaking?
I will admit, I had a bad attitude, a voice telling me, "well, things aren't really going to work out that great, though I will manage to survive, get home after another long shift, and with some energy to play the guitar." I don't blame the mythical princess who was a girl when I was a boy more or less, clumsy I was, and not forceful enough and sometimes too emotional, as young people, I think, can be, when it's a bit too easy to feel hurt when you shouldn't feel hurt. If one knew then that simple habit of optimism, of ignoring the false symbol message and seeing the truer positive one, as in, "me thinks the lady doth protest too much," in the dance of courtship, male female interaction such as it is.
Nature recycles. Hair brushed from the shedding cat, bits of newspaper's stringlike end cutting, old bits of grass and leaf stem, odds and ends of twig and straw become nesting material for our friends of the air, where they will nurture their children.
Therapy changes patterns, old habits. The therapist, hearing you recounting an old tale of an old story, remarks of what "she" said. "She was treating you like you were a low-life..." Pounds of heavy weights lifting off, room, a crack of light to move in, to crawl out from under a guilty burden.
And for that matter, it's just as well, probably, I never became much of a scholar, much as I might have wanted to, following in my father's gentle caste, wishing all the while to preserve the laws of nature of societies, maintenance of their function. Oh, for the longest while, of this whole life, I really truly was saying to myself, "what was I thinking, what was I thinking?"
Good medicine dissipates the negative thinking. At my middle Dante stage of life, early fifties, yes, there was a considerable rut of pattern I needed to drive myself out of. And I will say, to the best of my knowledge, therapy and a little gentle bit of daily medication, in my case Lexapro--I had been long suspicious of medicines not in the natural state, like ginseng, or turmeric or holy basil or cayenne, or L-Tyrosine, or GABA, or 5-HTP--helped in that small area in which a balance is tipped just a tiny bit for the better, like as if from a good walk in the forest along the path by the stream, enough to make a daily difference for those of us who have become are own harshest critic somehow from within.
Writing was a component of my value system. There is something psychologically beneficial about putting the things you experience down on some form of paper. Being of negative mind, worn down, perceiving some unfairness at work, I would sometimes carp. Out of love and respect, and out of grace for the tradition of, say, the old form of classic Parisian bistrot, I would write out my complaints given my limited perspective and my sense of things, my feelings, feelings that come out of nights when the AC is not working, when there are too many people and not enough waiters.
Fortunately time refreshes your perspective, and you see things not out of the paranoia and negativity, but with an eye for the ultimate fairness of the burdens pulled by the team, given the restaurant as it is. You see them again with the old affections that were always running firmly as a current beneath the work, that camaraderie, the kitchen, the chef, the dishwasher, the downstairs wait staff, the upstairs bar staff, the bussers, the clock itself, the late hours setting things up for the next day, and maybe even pulling a notepad out to write down a few of the good thoughts about those values I seem to have inherited, somewhere inclusive and between hospitality and education, psychology, a pleasant exposure to different walks of life in an international city, longing something to be out in the country as I might have wanted to be.
Well, there was a whole pile of writing. Some of it kvetching. But there were strains in it that presented the nuggets of my values...