Loving Others

What were the best moments of your life?  My last glucose was 544, so I thought this was a good time to collect the best moments of my life.

  • The most recent was in April at the Empathic Therapy Conference.  It was Friday night at the hotel, after my friend/therapist/lover/colleague and I had presented our workshop to splendid reviews.  My book was selling well.  There was a chocolate fountain flowing in the gathering room.  My friend was playing bass and another fellow was on banjo.  I was sitting next to them singing.  Happy people were milling around.  Dr. and Mrs. Peter Breggin were smiling and singing with their arms around each other.  In one moment, my soul drew back to see the long view and capture a picture, and I knew a moment of total happiness.
  • Talking to my mother.  She and I called each other once a week for twelve years.  I could call her when I was sad or hurt and she would comfort me.  I could call her when I had accomplished the most marvelous success in my activist work and she would celebrate with me.  I loved the conversations where I made her laugh.  She was a very smart woman who read widely and had a gracious heart so our conversations were always broad and deep with a compassionate outlook.  She was kind and loving and my best friend and all those conversations compiled an enormous amount of happiness.
  • Sex with that special man.  We had many, many long conversations before the relationship became intimate, and in that time we really, really got to know each other.  Consequently, when we became lovers it was with deep trust and knowledge and we could fully surrender to one another.  Not to mention that he was an extraordinarily talented lover, giving and sensitive.  We were defenseless in our shared pleasure and the unity was complete.  Ying and yang met and formed wholeness.  As good as the sex was there is also the memory of a day we spent so far out in the country that all manmade sounds stopped.  We sat silently on the top of a hill and watched dragonflies and the shadows on the trees.
  • Gardening.  There was a time when I could get down on my knees in my garden, work the soil with my fingers and talk to the worms.  The deeper you get into nature, the deeper the peace becomes.  Lately, it is the time I spend in a rose garden in a nearby park.  When the days were good, I could pull weeds.  Call me crazy but I loved pulling weeds, making God’s flowers look and feel good, at sunrise or sunset or in the heat of midday, surrounded by hundreds—thousands—of beautiful roses of every color and shade.  The roses would attract people who would behave lovingly.  Last month I met Leo, who had thick dark hair, milky white skin and dimples.  He also had cerebral palsy, a power wheelchair, and an onboard computer that we took turns using to talk.  Leo was three years old and had a smile as beautiful as any rose in God’s garden.
  • The spring of 2002.  It was so awesomely, overwhelmingly, powerfully beautiful that it left me speechless.  I could not believe the splendor of that spring—and why weren’t other people gasping in amazement at that extraordinarily breathtaking spring?  The colors of the flowers, the sounds of the birds, the sweetness of the air—how could people not exclaim?  And then I knew it:  this was the spring that everyone experienced every year—but I had been taking antidepressants every day for twenty-six years.   For more than two decades I had been drugged into insensitivity.  The experience of joy was there for the taking every year but I took drugs instead.  Without drugs, the happiness returned.

I cannot remember any times of great happiness during the twenty-six years I took psychiatric medications.

  • Walking with Bob.  We were going to a nightclub in a hotel and walking up to the hotel with him I realized that everyone was looking at me—a thought that was immediately revised to everyone was looking at him:  he was a Marine wearing dress blues.  I was so proud to be by his side.  We had recognized each other as soul mates only days after meeting.  We had shared everything (quite probably marriage in a previous life) and he’d told me all his stories, things he’d never told anyone else.  I knew him to be honest, courageous, happy, funny, smart, loyal—a piece of the sun in the shape of a man.  He was a pilot, with his application in to become an astronaut, and every moment we spent together was a joy for us.

Happiness resides in nature, in unity with the world God created.  Happiness is sharing life with other good people.  Happiness is not being loved; happiness is loving others.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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2 Responses to Loving Others

  1. Don says:

    Hi Annie, Very nice stories , hope you are doing well. The heat is hard to deal with I hope it breaks soon. Don

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