Thursday, April 14, 2011

International Conference on Gifted Adults, Part II

This is going to sound like another downer, but it really isn't. I am, by nature, an optimist. I tend to take most things with equanimity and make the best of them.

But... (and, face it, you knew that was coming) there are times when pain takes precedence over optimism. What I think was missing at the conference was significant acknowledgement of pain, and practical steps to deal with it.

Yes, pain was mentioned, briefly for each stage of adult development. I brought it up myself when we were discussing Annemarie Roeper's message to us. My mother is 96. She is increasingly deaf and frail, which is an insult to what she perceives of her former self. Her most significant pain is that she doesn't have anyone to talk to. Annemarie alluded to this problem as well. And, as I said in the conference, my mother refers to her assisted living facility as "jail". I know they try and my mother isn't always the easiest resident to deal with (perhaps an understatement of gigantic proportions). But we need to look for practical ways we can help the elderly gifted deal with their pain.

Two other brief allusions to pain were also mentioned: the difficulty of finding a life partner and the pain of losing people in a relationship, either through divorce or death. I happen to know two young people in the 20 to 35 age range, who are not only gifted, one highly gifted, and who are also either gay or lesbian. Imagine how that complicates finding a partner. Which part of you do you hide?

And what about the pain of losing someone in a relationship? I have been married for nearly 40 years, so I don't know that particular pain, but it certainly isn't a cake walk. What are some tools of self defense that we need to make it through that experience?

Or the pain of losing or quitting a job? Which I do know quite well.

I am not spiritual - sorry, Patti - so it takes me longer to find the kernel of that message that can help me. And I believe my pain right now COULD actually be addressed in that dimension. But some of the other ways of coping would also be of interest.

Yes, I know that this was the FIRST International Conference on Gifted Adults. The most significant intellectual piece for me was the delineation of the different stages of adult giftedness. And, I know that many of us tend to be optimists, at least outwardly. But being in the throes of a difficult transition right now, I am particularly sensitive to the pain side and need to take a closer look there.


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