Death and life…and EMDR

I enjoy thinking about how they interact, how they make me feel.

I think about this a lot.

Last night I was sitting at a bar on Geary Street, texting with my partner about missing these conversations I had with a friend on the darker aspects of life. She humored me and we reflected on the impact of death in our lives, she who has a much more personal acquaintanceship with such things and myself who has experienced them primarily through work.

The death process: how does it feel? What is the threshold for enough of this life, and when reaching that threshold, how would that feel? Would it be alarming, sad, or bring a certain sense of peaceful resolution? And what comes next? Personally, I don’t think there is anything after this life, that when you’re gone, you’re gone, but she’s not so sure.

Death is much a part of life here in the neighborhood I live and finding a balance between the two is hard to achieve when walking down the street and seeing people every day on their way to finding out which one of us is right about the afterlife. In our discussion a comparison came up between the Tenderloin and New Orleans, how the life/death interplay makes New Orleans feel vibrant, but she feels the Tenderloin doesn’t have this same vibrancy because of how hopeless it seems.

I disagreed, said it was more of a nuanced issue, where one had to look harder to see it all, but it was there in the small shops and restaurants, or within the tents on the sidewalk and in groups sitting on the corner. Community, there is a lot of community here, sometimes I feel a part of that, but more often I feel as a ghost simply drifting through.

The therapist said this past week, they want to to EMDR with me to help process trauma, and they are waiting to do this until next month when my partner will join me in San Francisco so I have extra support. That seemed odd to me, a need for extra support. She said it was because there is a risk of emotional spillover and it will be good to have someone here instead of being alone should this occur. I spoke with my partner about this who is in favor of the plan and I’m willing to roll with it to see what happens. The therapist has previously expressed subtle concerns about my safety, concerns which have always landed wrong for me. I don’t feel at risk. I think it’s because she is still getting to know me and doesn’t understand that thinking around death, or of a bleakness, or of a tendency to focus on all things terrible within peoples’ inner worlds or society at large is just where my interests lie. It’s not a reflection of any personal thoughts towards my future or lack thereof. Joy, while acknowledged as a pleasant emotion and experience, is not really in my wheelhouse whereas death and it’s causes are one of my main axles.

And this might be why I prefer the Tenderloin to New Orleans much of the time. My partner describing my neighborhood as feeling hopeless without the resulting celebration of life that accompanies much of New Orleans…maybe for me the Tenderloin carries a more realistic tune. It’s a song that is not entirely absent, but playing at a far lower volume.

Sometimes one must strain to hear it.


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