Author Archives: Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian - in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at www.susanhammondswhite.com.

The Other Side of the Couch – Lessons from a Pandemic

The landscape outside my window is bound by the rectangles of the windowpanes on either side and the windowsill below and blinds above.  Just below the sill are holly bushes, still with bright red berries, a little further on is a brick border, then a grassy verge, then a sidewalk that passes in front of an old oak tree.  A large shrub whose name I do not know creates a boundary on the other side.  Farther away steps lead to another level of the condominiums.

Centered in the midst of this view is an iron post with an arm that swings out over the grass; hanging from that arm is a cylindrical bird feeder with four perches.  This object is fought over, jumped on, blown about, surrounded by so many birds – and by the occasional squirrel.

Today, a gray and frosty day, the feeder is surrounded by many house finches, red-headed and breasted or dove-colored depending on their sex.  A Carolina wren approaches, yellow breasted, then a black-capped chickadee.  Suddenly a flash of blue – an Eastern bluebird appears momentarily, then leaves, disappointed with the seeds available.  A mockingbird approaches – too large for this feeder.  I watch a squirrel make a determined assault on the feeder, climbing the pole, reaching out onto the swinging arm, then actually grasping the cylinder with all four feet – but this feeder closes with the weight of this determined rodent – no luck.  He retreats to the scattered seeds and shells beneath the feeder.

As all this unfolds outside, my Maine Coon cat sits inside the window, watching every move of every creature on the outside, tail switching and ears perked.  This is her daily entertainment – a bench is placed at the window level so she can enjoy the vista, even though she cannot reach the creatures she would like to hunt.  Sometimes a squirrel decides to climb onto the outside ledge – to his dismay as the cat strikes, the squirrel jumps, and is suddenly displaced from what appeared safe.

I too spend lots of time at this window.  My own life is also bounded by the rectangle of this window and the computer that sits to the right of it.  The computer allows me the opportunity to connect with family and with friends; it also allows me to continue my life’s work of serving those who are struggling with varieties of life crises and emotional distress.  COVID-19 has led to the compression of life into a computer screen in so many ways.

What is amazing to me is the persistence of life in the face of these limitations.  The birds keep on searching for food, the squirrels keep on trying for more, the cat keeps on doing what cats do, and so do we humans.  In the face of this life-changing year, we keep on.  We continue to live, in spite of the limitations.  For me the year of COVID-19 has been a distillation, a clearing, an intensification of all that matters most.  With so much gone, I have had time to learn what matters.  Not surprisingly, it turns out to be connection with family and friends.  While I miss the busy life of pre-COVID, full of many subscription series, I believe I will not return to that busy life.  COVID has taught me once again that it is necessary to choose between good and good.  I hope that as the year goes on and more safety returns I will remember that important lesson.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit!

Leave a comment

Filed under Self Savvy, Uncategorized

The Other Side of the Couch – A Silver Lining

 

As sickening as the mob is that overran our Capitol building on January 6, 2021, I am oddly grateful for it.

Terrible crisis always brings with it amazing opportunity.

This crisis has brought into stark reality the ways in which our country has been infiltrated by anti-democratic fascism.  Thousands have been radicalized by the ongoing lies perpetrated by Trump, Trumpism, Fox News, and all the social media platforms that were allowed to run unchecked over the last four years.

Katherine Belew, author of Bring the War Home (a treatise on the reality of the white power movement that extends all the way back to the aftermath of the Viet Nam war) writes that law enforcement and media in the U.S. have looked the other way at domestic terrorism, defining violence perpetrated by angry white men as “lone wolf” types of events. She shows that these anti-democratic, pro white-power groups, essentially Nazi-like in their beliefs, are actually deeply embedded in our culture. There aim is to OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT and to create what they call a transnational white country (excluding any kind of person who is “not white”). Unsure about whether a group is patriotic or not – look for the Nazis. If there are Nazis or Nazi-like rhetoric involved, be sure the group is NOT patriotic!

The ideology of Trumpism, America First, anti-immigrant, anti-black and indigenous peoples, is not conservative. It is radical, and its aim is to de-stabilize and ultimately dismantle the institutions that have governed this country since its inception in 1776.

Why on earth, then, would I say there is silver lining to this horrific event?

The way I see it – the reality is no longer hidden. It is no longer possible to discount Trump and his extremist followers as “patriotic Americans who are exercising their free speech rights”. The President of the United States incited violence. He supported an insurrection. We saw it happen. It cannot be denied.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s powerful condemnation of Trump and of the invasion of the U.S. Capitol compares what happened to the Nazi’s Kristallnacht – the Night of the Broken Glass – the ominous beginning of the rise of Hitler’s legions. His video is well worth watching. Look him up on Youtube.

Our democracy held, and swift change has followed. No more Twitter, no more Facebook, no more access to social media by President Trump. The “free-speech app” Parler was shut down when Amazon removed its access to its servers. Large corporations are informing elected officials who objected to the state’s electoral votes in the House and Senate that they would not be receiving campaign donations. The FBI began investigations into hundreds of people who appeared in video on the Capitol assault, and arrests have begun. Trump may be impeached for a second time – and this time he could be convicted.

As we enter a new year, a new administration, and new hope for a different future, I am glad that the reality of these extreme groups has been revealed. Hidden, it was hard to believe. Out in the open, we can see the reality, and we can begin to change it.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com .

Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Other Side of the Couch – What It Costs Us

The woman was talking to her son, age seven. He was in tears. “I’m sorry, Robbie, but you’re just going to have to learn to control yourself. You can’t dissolve into tears over every little thing.”

Two little boys were having an argument over a toy. One child hit the other one. A parent standing nearby said, “Hit him back, Johnny.”

The little boy had fallen and skinned his knee. He began to cry loudly. His peers, slightly older and already wise in the ways of the world, taunted him. “What a crybaby – he is a girl.”

The preceding stories are typical interactions that happen every day, every week, every month, every year in our society. They represent pervasive attitudes toward raising young boys to be men. The message goes something like this: “It is not good to let boys grow up to be too sensitive. They will be ridiculed: they will not have what it takes to succeed in a competitive world. It MAY be all right for them to express some feelings when they are very young, but they should not be coddled. The last thing anyone wants is a son who is a sissy.”

Sensitivity to the experience of others, the ability to feel with another person in his/her joy or pain, is often regarded as suspect when it is displayed by boys or men. This attitude presents a significant barrier to improved world community.

A central task that faces human beings is that of maintaining a balance between self and other. Human as we are, we can neither live alone nor together; we are caught in an ongoing tension between yearning for connection and affiliation and yearning for autonomy and independence. The experience of empathy – a process during which a person experiences the experience of another AS IF it were her own and AT THE SAME TIME is clearly aware of her own self – clearly mirrors that ultimate humanity.

The empathic process calls on the individual to perceive affective cues, both verbal and non-verbal, which serve as indicators of the other’s emotional state. The individual, perceiving these cues, takes the role of the other, experiencing the other’s feelings vicariously. Empathic ability is complex, requiring a clear self-concept, the ability to connect affectively, and flexible ego boundaries. Empathic ability has been posited to be a strong indicator of effective human functioning and maturity. A major component of effective parenting rests on parental ability to empathize. Inability to empathize, on the other hand, has been linked with a variety of antisocial behaviors (narcissism, in particular).

When empathy is broken down into its various components (perceptual, affective/cognitive, communicative) boys and girls do well on all aspects of tasks other than the motivation to attend or perceive. In other words, girls notice the non-verbal and verbal cues necessary to arouse empathy. They seem to be more perceptually attuned to pick up on these cues. Boys, when trained in research settings in doing this, were equally able on the other parts of the tasks. Differences in measured empathic ability diminished with direct teaching of perceptual skills to boys.

The implications of these findings are both heart-rending and hopeful. The ability to empathize is an essential human skill. Our culture encourages girls to have it because it fits with our definition of female. Boys, who need it just as much and who benefit from direct teaching of how to pick up on perceptual cues from others, are instead taught to deny their own feelings and to ignore the feelings of others.

Boys may require actual specific teaching of skills that girls acquire as part of their identity. Boys seem to be deliberately trained away from acquiring this set of skills because of well-intentioned parents’ fears for their future success in an out-of-balance society. Young boys are placed in an emotional
catch-22 by this process -subject to deep emotional arousal, yet not given the tools to understand it or to release it into altruism or prosocial behavior.

Our world is poorly served by this unfortunate situation. Something little boys and men need – full emotional, flexible responsiveness – is being withheld from them, through no fault of their own. Knowing that it can be and must be directly taught is essential information for our world’s future functioning.

Parent: “Johnny, you hit your friend. What is he doing? “
Johnny: “He is crying and holding his arm.”
Parent: “If someone hits you, how do you feel?”
Johnny: “I feel sad and mad.”
Parent: “How do you think your friend feels right now?”
Johnny: “Sad and mad.”
Parent: “What can you do to help?”
Johnny: “I can give him a hug and say I’m sorry.”
Parent: “Good job, Johnny – I am proud of you for noticing that your friend is sad and mad and needs help.”

This little scenario is an illustration of two-step perspective taking that helps a child understand the beginnings of empathic connection. It works! As we enter a New Year, as we leave behind a year fraught with pain and distress, may we all take heart from the good and decent men and women who are learning and teaching the lessons of empathy and care needed by all human beings.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com .

Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit!

Tagged as boysempathygirlsHopemasculinitymental healthnarcissimSusan Hammonds-White

Leave a comment

Filed under Self Savvy, Uncategorized

The Other Side of the Couch – What’s Next

     

 

I was driving on Old Hickory Boulevard on Saturday morning (November 7) on the way to visit my daughter and granddaughter and listening to NPR’s Ask Me Another, when suddenly Scott Simon broke in, and it became clear that the presidential race had been called for Joe Biden.  I had been waiting for this, hoping for this for so long – and as I took in the news, I felt a weight that I hadn’t realized I had been carrying begin to slip away.  Unfortunately, that weight has returned, given what is transpiring in our government in these last few days.

Ever since that awful morning in 2016 when I awakened to learn that a misogynistic reality TV star had defeated the most qualified and prepared candidate for president who had run in the last forty years, I have been to some degree in disbelief.  Secretary Clinton said he was unfit to hold the office of President of the United States.  It turns out this was an understatement.

Now after a hard-fought race that has been clearly won by Vice-President Biden – now President-Elect Biden – Trump is refusing to concede, is directing government offices NOT to cooperate with the transition, and appears to be purging high-level Pentagon officials and installing his own loyalists.

Over and over again well-meaning people have said, “It can’t get worse.”  And over and over again it has gotten worse.

I don’t want to think that Trump is planning to stage a coup or start a war in order to stay in office.  I don’t want to think that he would incite some blindly loyal followers to become violent in order to keep him in office.  But I didn’t want to think that most of the things he has done could happen.

I say, America, wake up!  Something is not right.

My dependence is on our military because I do not think the military will allow itself to be used for political ends. And I never thought that I would be saying these things in the United States of America.  The tradition of a non-political military that is not used to enforce domestic policy is essential to our democracy – and I believe that line will hold.  Today is Veterans Day -and we owe a debt of gratitude to all our service members, past and present, who have been willing to give their all – even their very lives – in service to our country.  I say to them – thank you – and may you soon have a Commander-in-Chief who values you and sees you and supports you.

May we survive these days and make it to January 20, 2021.  Then we can say with hope – what’s next.

 

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit!

Leave a comment

Filed under Self Savvy

The Other Side of the Couch – Making an Ofrenda

Autumn has arrived. As I look out the window I see leaves scattered across the yard, berries turned bright red on the shrubs just below the sill, and squirrels busily chasing whatever they can store up for the cold to come. The angle of the sun is different now, and brilliant as it is, still plays hide and seek with wind and clouds. The humidity of summer is over, and a little crisp bite of a breeze sends the leaves scurrying.
Autumn has always been to me a bittersweet time – a time of laying to rest, of putting by, of acknowledging endings. The time of harvest has arrived, and the time to sweep the fields of plantings, prepare them for the rest of winter, has arrived. No wonder then that in this time of planetary transition, I am drawn into remembering.
The Disney movie “Coco”, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with this small gem of an animated film, focuses on the story of a young boy who finds himself catapulted into the land of the dead. Based on the Mexican tradition of the “El Dia de los Muertos” – the Day of the Dead (celebrated in Mexican culture on November 1) – he finds himself as a living boy searching for someone he remembers. This causes consternation in the Land of the Dead, as a living boy is NOT supposed to be there! After a number of snafus all works out, and he finds the family he was meant to find. A message of the film is the importance of remembering and honoring those who have gone before us.
I was touched by my daughter’s request for family pictures of grandparents and great-grandparents so that she could make an “ofrenda”, as is done in the movie, to remember those dear people and to teach her young daughter about them. What a lovely idea! And so I began to search and to remember.
In the process of finding and sharing these pictures I was drawn into the joy of thinking about and remembering these loved family members – remembering not only their faces, but also their beings – the things they enjoyed, the times we spent together. Little moments returned – shopping with my mother; making boiled custard with my grandmother – so many precious moments.
In our Western culture this concept of celebrating the dead may seem morbid to some – but I am seeing it as a lovely and gentle way to both grieve and honor those who live on in our hearts. So thank you to my daughter for this opportunity – and welcome to Autumn, that time of bittersweet Remembering.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.


Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Other Side of the Couch – The Land of Present Time

What a time we are in, my friends – what a time!  Surely this moment in history is one that will be dissected and studied and torn apart and rehashed again and again in years to come – and yet here we are, living it day to day.  Who could have known that we would still be separated when the pandemic began to affect all of our lives in March – now it is six months later, and we do not know how long we will need to continue with the new behaviors that are required to maintain our own health and the health of others  – masks, social distancing, hand washing being the activities that are proven to result in protection.

I know this has been tremendously hard for many of us – I would venture to say for all of us – for different reasons.  For some it is the pain of living alone, for some it is the terror of getting this virus, for some it is the loss of face-to-face church, for some it is the loss of being with children and grandchildren.  For some it has been the loss of the ability to earn a living, for some it has been the loss of the joyful experience of making music together.  I am sure that each one of you can identify a personal impact that COVID-19 has had on your day-to-day life.

The response many of us have to all this is to worry.  We worry about what may happen tomorrow; we fret over what could happen, might happen, won’t happen, will happen – we spend so much time and energy on events THAT MAY NEVER HAPPEN.

We have three possible ways to address time.  Some of us spend way too much time in the land of If Only – – if only I had done that, or not done this – maybe things would be different now.  Some of us spend way too much time in the land of What If – this or that might happen or not happen.  We fret about the future – a future that does not exist!

The place that we are in now – the Land of Now, of Present Time – is the only time that we have.  Surely we know that we are not guaranteed another day of life – and that we can never reclaim time that is past.

I invite you to take a breath, right now – to look around.  Celebrate this moment.  We are here.  We are connecting in spite of the distance imposed by the circumstances of the pandemic.  Notice what your eyes can see, what your ears can hear.  We are here together, now, with the amazing opportunity through technology of being present together in spite of the physical distance many of us are living.  I, for one, am more than grateful.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy cr

Leave a comment

Filed under Self Savvy

The Other Side of the Couch – Holding On to Hope

A friend of mine just re-posted a handwritten note on Facebook that listed many things to do during the social isolation imposed by the pandemic to maintain “Isolation Well-being”.  Jonathan H. Jones’ post has apparently received thousands of shares.  The suggestions are simple, the activities easily available.  Whether you are weathering the pandemic alone or living in a home with others, all these activities feed the body, the mind, and the soul.

And yet – what is it about being human that, even in the face of KNOWING that such activities would be helpful, stops us in our tracks and puts barriers in our way.  I know that drinking water is good for my body – yet do I do so in an intentional way?  I know that reaching out to others improves my own emotional outlook – yet do I consistently do so? Too often we depend on being in the mood or on wanting to do these things – and will power runs out after a while.

The key words here are intentionality and consistency.  Most of us will do some good self-care every now and then, but few of us are find it easy to stay with that self-care over time.  We run out of gas; we run out of energy; we run out of self-discipline – we run out of whatever the wherewithal is to just keep on going.

This is especially true when there is no end in sight.  We are living now in a time without markers.  We do not have any clear expectation of what is ahead; we do not have a timeline; we do not know when or even if there will be a way to return to familiar life.  And this new life is getting OLD!

I do not have any easy answers.  I am tired of being inside and of not having plays and concerts and of not having church services and of not being able to sing even if there were a church service and of not being able to go out to dinner and of not being able to see friends unless we are on a Zoom call.  Tonight, I just want to bemoan my fate and have a bit of self-pity…

And yet…even as I complain and feel the sadness and loss of these familiar joys, I am remembering that all is NOT lost.  If I am alive and have breath in my body, I have hope for another day.  Each new day is another day of possibility, another day of doing things that I know are good for me and for my community.  I may not do all those things on that list.  I may not do any of them perfectly or consistently.   I may complain and feel the sadness.  And yet – no matter what, I will celebrate that new day, and be grateful for the breath in my body, for eyes that see and ears that hear, and for the renewal each day brings – because in the end, I am alive to live it.  And that, to me, is hope enough.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Self Savvy

The Other Side of the Couch – What We Didn’t Know

March 18, 2020 – A day like many other days – I saw clients, did paperwork, watered plants – walked out, drove home.  I did not know then what I know now – that March 18, 2020 was the last day I would see clients in my office for many months, that the country was embarking on a perilous journey with no current end in sight, that the major issues of mental illness and trauma would be Trumped – and I use this word intentionally – by a raging pandemic, poorly controlled.  I did not know that my office would become a laptop, a butler’s table (the right height for the computer), a new office chair, rapidly purchased when dining room chairs began to cause backaches.

I did not know that I would lose clients who hate working online, gain clients who love it (so convenient – just like in person).  I did not know that I would tolerate working online but sorely miss being with people, that my ability to survive as an introvert who does not depend on other people’s energy for motivation would be a plus in this situation, that being unable to see my daughter and granddaughter would become intolerable.

I would not have believed that the leaders of our federal government would literally reject science in favor of pushing for opening the economy – at the expense of hospitals, health-care workers, and vulnerable populations.  I would not have believed that the simple, caring act of wearing a mask would become a political statement.

In the months ahead there could be many good things – science-based treatment, a variety of vaccines targeted for the different populations that are most at risk, a coordinated federal response, an economic plan that supports everyone rather than the 1%.  What we do know now that we didn’t know then is that life as we knew it is irrevocably changed.  Good things will come again – but much has changed, and much more will change.  When January comes, perhaps many good and new things will move forward.

I keep hoping – and voting in November.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under Self Savvy

The Other Side of the Couch – Is There Hope?

As I write this article I am listening to my friend’s beautiful cello arrangement of the familiar hymn, “Amazing Grace”.  My friend is a professional musician who shares her gift freely with our church and with so many others, including the terminally ill.  As I listen to the sacred chords and lift up the words of the hymn in my heart, I am also at this moment so aware of the pain that has engulfed our nation in the last two weeks.

Tonight marks the fifteenth night of protests ignited by the death of George Floyd, a black American who was killed in full view of the world.  We all saw a police officer calmly holding his knee in Mr. Floyd’s neck as he struggled, saying over and over again,  “I can’t breathe.”  As he lay there dying he called for his mother.  The officer never moved, even had his hand in his pocket.

This is an image that can never be erased from the world’s consciousness.  We saw it happen.  We saw a man die.  And yet, it is only because someone had a video camera and filmed it that the world knows.  How many other lives have been taken without any record and without any possibility of accountability?

We will never know.

After all the words, all the protests, all the promises, all the political uproar, only one thing is left.  Black people are dying at the hands of authorities, and no one is held accountable.

I am hoping that change is coming.  I am hoping that this time the reality that we are seeing will make a difference.  Things like the NFL’s commissioner admitting his error regarding black players’ protests at games, the NASCAR group announcing that Confederate flags are banned from cars and arenas – these are promising.  I just heard that “Gone With the Wind” has been removed from streaming and will be returned only with an explanation of the historical inaccuracy of its presentation of the institution of slavery.  Perhaps these are only cosmetic changes, but perhaps also they reflect an awakened sensibility.

Maybe more people are getting it – not just black and brown people, but white people, who have to get it in order for real change to happen.  It is no longer up to black and brown people to teach white people what to do.  We have to be willing to learn, and to do that we have to look at ourselves.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now am found

Was blind, but now I see.”

May a world that has been blind to the death of black and brown men and women be awakened by this new reality.  May the world truly change.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under Self Savvy

The Other Side of the Couch – Goodbye to the Music

 

“It’s a lesson too late for the learning, made of sand, made of sand

In the wink of an eye my soul is turning, in your hand, in your hand

Are you going away with no word of farewell,

Will there be not a trace left behind

Well, I could have loved you better, didn’t mean to be unkind,

You know that was the last thing on my mind.”

 

This song by Neil Diamond has been playing in my mind off and on for days.  I know it is meant to be a song about a lover who is leaving someone behind – but what it is meaning to me is something else.

I learned this week that the process of making music – of singing in a choir, or playing in a symphony, or listening to a congregation singing hymns, or attending a concert – all cause greatly-increased possibilities of exposure to the Corona virus.  Going to a play is also part of this problem – the projection required to be heard in a theater increases the risks of infection.  Time exposed plus being in a closed environment plus the presence of people who may have the virus but don’t yet know it results in vectors of disease.

We have endured so many losses due to this pandemic – loss of control, loss of the illusion of control, loss of being able to be with and hug our loved ones and friends, loss of safety, loss of income in many cases.  My personal loss involves being unable to be close to my daughter and granddaughter – she is only two and would not understand social distancing. Losing music – that really was the last thing on my mind.

Finding out about the music and about live theater has really thrown me.  Being able to sing together is such a wholesome thing, such a joyful experience.  People who sing together experience a symmetry of rhythms – blood pressure and heart rates synchronize, breathing synchronizes.  Studies indicate that group singing results in increases in positive affect and decreases in production of cortisol (the stress hormone), as well as increases in immune functions.  To lose all this to a virus – incredibly sad.

It feels as though the music has gone – gone in the wink of an eye, with no opportunity for farewell.  Who knew that mid-March would mark the end of symphony as we know it, the end of church choirs, the end of group singing?

I would like to come up with something positive and hopeful at this point.  However, the truth is I do not feel hopeful.  I feel sad, and bereft, and lost – and loss of the music is part of that reality.

I can listen to music – and I do.  I can sing, and I do.  It is the creation of music together that is lost.  Creation of music in real time, in the same room, breathing the same air.  This will not come again – not until there is a vaccine and better treatment.  The time will come – but oh, I am so sad for now.

“Could have loved you better – didn’t mean to be unkind,

You know that was the last thing on my mind.”

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

2 Comments

Filed under Self Savvy