Debra Wesselmann, MS, LIMHP

Debra Wesselmann, MS, LIMHP

Author, Mental Health Therapist, Researcher, Expert in Attachment Trauma

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On Being Present

Buddha-9897I re-watched the movie Totoro with my grandchildren for the fiftieth time recently.  I want to be Totoro.  Totoro is so very present for the sisters in the story.  His very presence makes them feel better when their mom is in the hospital.

Now I do feel I am doing a better job lately with being present–although as soon as I write those words, I have an urge to knock on wood.  (I inherited the knocking on wood habit from my father.)  The funny thing is, I have noticed I am not working at it at all.  The ease with which I am “present” seems to be connected to what is happening in the larger picture of my life.   I guess it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.  At age 58, I have spent decades as a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, friend, and sister. I have experienced the gamut of personal worries, joys, excitement, disappointments, grief and loss–like most people.  During some of the most challenging periods in my personal life, staying present for my clients required great determination and effort.  I remember during one of those periods, a lovely client diplomatically pointing out, “There seems to be a funny little lag between my comments and your responses.”  I had to agree with her.  I was in a state of fatigue, and everything she said had to be played back in my mind before I could respond—hence the lag time.  It was a good wake-up call reminding me I needed to do some things to take better care of myself.

So it is with mild surprise and extreme pleasure that I have observed, as of late, an absence of background chatter in my head.  It is so nice to feel content to just be in the room, to be focused and attuned to the nuances of the words and the nonverbal signals without effort.  And what brings me even more satisfaction is, for lack of better words — a noticeable openness in my heart.   I wonder if that feeling naturally accompanies the sense of comfort and connection.  I know there will be other challenging times in my life, during which I will have to return to being intentional and committed to staying present, and that sometimes I will be more successful with it and sometimes less.  Life is life.  But just for today—without knocking on wood– I’m going to enjoy this feeling.


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