The Good Enough Life: Reflection For 2011

Margie Nichols, Ph.D.by Margie Nichols, Ph.D.

In the sex therapy field there is a wonderful concept put out by my colleague Barry McCarthy called “good enough sex.” Modeled after the old psychodynamic concept of the “good enough mother,” it proposes that people’s idealized visions of what should be – the perfect mother, the perfect sexual experience, the perfect partner – get in the way of enjoying what they ‘really’ can have.

I think we need a concept of the ‘good enough life.’ I’m a boomer who has been around for a while, I came of age in the sixties, my life has been almost a caricature of a sixties lefty chick. Among many, many other adventures I’ve had in my life, good and bad, I weathered losing countless young gay male friends from 1983 through 1996, and in 2004 I lost a child, my daughter Jesse, not quite ten years old at her death.

Whatever ills aging brings, it also, if you’re lucky, brings perspective. After my daughter died I felt I never would be happy again. For quite a while I felt I was living primarily for my other children. Only in the last year or two have I reached a ‘tipping point’ where my life felt more positive than negative.

As I begin 2011, here is what I realize: it’s probably true that I will never be as happy again, certainly not in the particular ways I was happy, as I felt before Jesse died. But I’m happy enough. I have a rich life: family and friends I adore, a profession that is an avocation, a business that is a challenge, but an exciting one, and enough money to live comfortably and not worry.

That’s more than probably 95% of the people in the world have. This is not a perfect life, but it is a ‘good enough’ life, and for that I am grateful. I enter 2011 realizing that my cup runneth over.

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