A to Z Challenge: C is for Comfort & Companionship

food and wineI’ve needed a lot of comfort and companionship in the last year. It began last Lent (the 40 days before Easter) when I caught a viral infection I couldn’t shake and was sick for most of the season. Everything came to a dead halt: my writing, church, friends–everything. The extended illness led to clinical depression. I had been diagnosed with clinical depression about 12 years ago, but I had kept it under control for three years, and was even able to get off of anti-depressants.

Fortunately I didn’t need to go back on medication, but I did see my psychiatrist weekly for almost five months. We didn’t just treat the symptoms; in our sessions we dug down to the root causes of what triggered the depression and dealt with those too. It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of time. There was no quick fix. But I did it. I worked through some issues and ghosts that needed to be dealt with for quite some time. Eventually I came out on the other end.

My psychiatrist was not my only companion through this dark night of the soul. My husband was right there beside me along with several friends. I discovered a lot of the comfort I found, and consequently a lot of the healing that happened, occurred with these friends while we were eating. I shouldn’t have been so surprised. After all,  I am a member of a religion (The Episcopal Church) whose main service revolves around a symbolic meal, Eucharist. It also shouldn’t have surprised me because I’m a word nerd that knows the Latin root words for companion are “with bread.” But surprise me it did.

Over tables full of food and drink we talked about what was going on in our lives: the good, the bad and the ugly. I had a lot of ugly. That was OK. Some of the best advice I received last year came around these tables as I decided I was done with being self-employed and wanted to go back into the traditional job market. A pretty scary prospect for someone who has worked from home for the last decade.

Some of the biggest self-revelations came to me over these meals as well. The largest revelation occurred during a quiet dinner at home with my husband and two of our friends when I said: “I want writing to be fun again.” I didn’t know I felt that way until I said it.

Being self-employed and seeing writing as my “business” (especially fiction writing) had become torture for me. The one thing it hadn’t been for a very, very long time was fun. So the decision was made with friends across tables: it was time to find a writing job out in the world as my career and leave fiction to be a fun hobby.

I’m now in a time of great transition as I polish up the resume and send it out. All of these friends are still meeting me around tables and supporting me. They’ve given me advice on my resume, tips for answering questions in interviews and getting my wardrobe back into shape.

They met me around tables after my father died suddenly earlier this year.

They will continue to meet me around tables through the coming year. I find great comfort in this. Knowing that no matter what this year throws at me, they will be there introducing me to a new restaurants, pouring me a glass of wine, patiently listening then imparting their wisdom.

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28 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge: C is for Comfort & Companionship

  1. Sounds like you are making a lot of positive changes in your life despite having many set-backs over the past year. I wish for you continued growth and positive change as the year continues to unfold!

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  2. Here through the A-to-Z Challenge.

    I’m Italian-American (2nd generation), and my family has always focused any kind of gathering around food. I was recently telling my husband I really wanted to have a nice dinner with friend, out or in, I didn’t care. I don’t think I recognized until now how important communal meals have been to me, throughout my life – I’ve probably had the most important or enjoyable conversations of my life over dinner and drinks.
    Good luck with the rest of the challenge xx

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  3. Food is comfort.
    And my grandfather always said, you can trust a person who loves his food.
    Hope and wish that you are always comfortable and healthy & happy
    God Bless

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  4. Happy to hear you’re on the mend, Shawna.
    And aren’t family (and friends) terrific? It’s so wonderful to have support when life can get tough, but also super fun to have someone around when something awesome happens – nothing beats a good party. 😀

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  5. Beautiful post. You’ve got a great psychiatrist and I love the Episcopal church, too. It’s very comforting and inclusive. I agree that leaving fiction writing to be a fun hobby is the way to go. Keep the joy in using your gift. It’s sad when the thing that you love most turns into stress.
    I’m so sorry about your dad. My dad passed away four and a half years ago. It wasn’t a sudden death but losing a parent is hard. Sending you hugs and prayers from rainy western New York.

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  6. This is a great post, Shawna, and i think you’re very brave to share this with us. I’m happy you found your answers and that you’re heading for a new life 🙂

    2016 was a hard year for so many people. It sure was for me too, and I’m not sure yet that this year will be any better (though if there won’t be any health issue I’ll be happy anyway).

    Turning writing into something I don’t enjoy is something that scares me. A friend of mine decided aboua a year ago that she wanted to sell books no matter what, and started writing erotica even if she doesn’t enjoy it at all.
    I would never do that. I would like writing to become some sort of career (though I’m aware I will never live off my writing), but I don’t want it so badly that I’ll stop writing what I really care about.

    Thanks so much for sharing this 🙂

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  7. So sorry to hear of your father and the troubles you faced over the last year. Thankful your table of friends was there to support you. Best wishes in your journey back to the traditional workforce and looking forward to seeing the rest of your A-Z Challenge work.

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  8. What a heartfelt post. Thank you for bravely sharing that. I can relate in so many ways.

    I enjoy companionship of good friends, but due to my unhealthy relationship with food, meal gatherings can be stressful for me. I’m striving to learn to “love” food rather than abuse it. (My theme reveal explains that with more detail: Food in Film

    Trudy @ Reel Focus

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