A Historian Goes to Therapy

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Yes, I understand that you think there’s a lot you could have done differently to get her to stay, but let’s not obsess over the past – well, any more than you have to professionally. 

Sometimes, we regret what we’ve done, but there’s really no space in our lives for regret. Everything that’s happened has happened, and there’s no use dwelling on the past – well, I mean, there’s some use, of course, because students need to understand the mistakes of the past – and adults too – what is it you study? Geography?

The most important thing is to stay in the moment. Can I teach you some mindfulness techniques to focus on the present? You know what they say – yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery, today is a gift and that’s why they – the past is a gift too, though, and I’m glad you’re doing research into it. 

Right now, the big problem seems to me that you’re living in the past. You think too much about your relationship with Sally and how you could have behaved differently at every turn. This isn’t healthy at all – could you possibly try to restrict the amount of time you spend living in the past to just 9-5 on weekdays? Oh, you’re trying to get tenure right now? Yes, I can see how 40 hours/week might not cut it.

Everything happens (happens – in the present, the only time that matters) for a reason, and this is an experience you can learn and grow from. I don’t actually really believe in mistakes. I mean, do you know Chaos Theory? A butterfly flaps its wings and there’s a tornado, so the world would look completely different if even one thing had changed, including you not telling Sally that you didn’t want to have kids. Maybe if you had said that, a child in Africa would be dead right now, you know? Or, like, an extra child. So nothing was really a mistake – everything was the right move at the time. 

Your wife left because you couldn’t focus on her needs? It’s so important to let fights go and stay in the moment – the past doesn’t matter. Have you considered a different career? Perhaps your wife wouldn’t have left you.

What do you study? Oh, the 1940s? Did anything interesting happen that decade?

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