I’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.