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Unfinished Business

April 7, 2014

Unfinished BusinessYears ago there was a popular book on the market called Unfinished Business, Pressure Points in the Lives of Women by Maggie Scarf. You may have read it. The year was 1980. I was in my late twenties and my life was falling apart every which way but Sunday. As fate would have it, I stumbled across a review of Scarf’s book in The New York Times. As soon as I finished reading it, I went straight to the book store and bought a copy. After I read it from cover to cover I went back to the book store and bought two more copies. I mailed one to the therapist I had recently abandoned after two fruitless years and spending money I didn’t have, and another to my spiritual advisor, who in a moment of desperation I had sought guidance. My instincts were right. The results not so much. In all the hours I spent with these two people, neither one once mentioned the word “depression”. Both were highly credentialed and well-respected in their fields. Both were men, and a product of the times.

The books were acknowledged but I did not receive any insightful comments by return mail; no, “wow, I never thought of that”; or, I will use this information with future clients. The important thing was that my copy was read, and it had a lasting impact on my life. I plan to read it again just to see how far the thinking on mental health and depression has come since then, but the key concept of “unfinished business” is as relevant today as it was then, particularly at midlife.

Regardless of whether or not you suffer from depression or any other emotional problem, most of us don’t make it to our forties, fifties or sixties without some unfinished business, some hurt that won’t heal, some behavior pattern that keeps recurring in our lives. I have come to believe that it is precisely in these areas, in the places of our woundedness, that we will find not only our core selves, but the potent gifts and valuable treasures, we will find there. When we turn toward our pain, rather than away from it, we find exactly what we need, not only to survive midlife and the aging process, but to be transformed by it.

In my blog Manifest Me 2014, I have been talking about some of the things I have learned in recent years along my own healing path. If you are interested in the body, mind, spirit connection, I hope you will join me there. We each have our own unique collection of stumbling blocks to wholeness and inner peace, but I believe the basic elements and disciplines to moving forward along this path are the same for all of us. It’s not always an easy journey. I would be lying if I said otherwise, but it is real and meaningful beyond my wildest imaginings.

Dorothy Sander ©2014

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2014 4:54 pm

    Dorothy, I am sorry you were a victim of chauvinism, it seems more than once. But you still persevere, finding answers. Right now I am reading a fascinating memoir by Abigail Thomas entitled Safe-keeping. You are probably familiar with Thomas and maybe even with this particular book. I am certain, from her reflections, that she was suffering from depression, but used her writing to carve a path out of the wilderness at long last.

    • April 7, 2014 5:16 pm

      I’m sorry if there was a bit of an edge to my comment about men. I generally don’t harbor any ill will toward the gender and hate when people harp on it. What I think I didn’t say and could have was that, particularly during that time period, there was little awareness of women’s reactions, responses, experiences of life and wellness as being different from that of a man. They lumped me, like many others in the category of being overly emotional women, or some such thing. What still disturbs me now, and is equally true now, is that I, a student of psychology, should know more than my teachers! Or, that we should be able to diagnose ourselves better than the doctor. It has something to do with the capacity to look at the big picture and women tend to be more naturally adept at this ability. I will have to pick up a copy of Abigail Thomas’ book. Thanks for mentioning it. Sounds interesting!

  2. Rachael permalink
    April 8, 2014 12:05 pm

    There were so many great books written by women during the 1980’s. As I rediscover and read them, I rediscover parts of myself that I want to reclaim. (Re: therapists, feminist philosopher Mary Daly called them the rapists).

  3. April 27, 2014 2:27 pm

    I believe that circa 1980 the predominant information on breast cancer was what doctors and researchers learned from studying men…….Enough said?

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