A while back, Virginia Woolf was my therapist. At least I thought it was Woolf. But maybe it was really Ilana Simons.
My confusion came from the fact that I was immersed in the Woolfian therapy found in Simons’ A Life of One’s Own: A Guide to Better Living Through the Wit and Wisdom of Virginia Woolf.
Thanks to kind friends who know what I like, I had two copies. That meant I was able to sneak in a dose of therapy whether I was upstairs or down, reading in bed or ensconced in my favorite chair.
And I found myself applying the wise words contained within — whether they were Woolf’s own or Simons’ interpretation of them — to my daily life.
When I felt annoyed by my husband, I remembered Simons’ discussion of the wisdom of Mrs. Ramsay, for example.
Now Simons has an interesting post on the Psychology Today blog about the benefits storytelling has for therapy. As she puts it, both literature and psychology must “try to organize the mess of human emotion and motivation into a narrative” and both “[w]riters and therapists need to be good storytellers, because they have to build stories that organize emotion.”
In her piece, she credits several writers, including Woolf, for giving her “new images or narratives to live by.” In the case of Woolf, Simons says the author helped reframe her feminist thinking and stand her ground as a strong woman.
Perhaps it is this ability to help us think differently about some aspect of our daily lives that has helped Woolf earn her iconic status.