Tag Archives: Denial

I Felt Nothing.

nothingIn the full daylight of 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 I slept the deep, tunneled in, wake-me-and-die sleep of the depressed. My mom’s voice began to come through my bedroom door, joined by that of my boyfriend’s–a surprise since he had no car and rarely showed up of his own volition. They knocked, then walked right in as I struggled to gain consciousness and go back to sleep all at once. Sleeping my activity of choice when I wasn’t working or at school, I resented the intrusion and bristled, scowling at them from my cozy den. I wasn’t a morning person, and they both knew it. I was not friendly or even really coherent before my first cup of coffee, preferring silence for the first hour or so of wakefulness before the more reasonable hour of 10 a.m.

“Ryan’s here,” my mom, Captain Obvious, began, her brow furrowed, manner grave. “New York has been attacked, it’s all over the news. Why don’t you get up and watch with us.” Ryan towered over her in my doorway, wringing his hands, face ashen. “I ran all the way here,” he said. “I told him he should come over immediately,” my mom continued, “because we don’t know what’s going on yet, or if something more will happen.” Continue reading

Managing Expectations Down To Nothing

expectI didn’t even realize I’d done it until I looked around and saw that I had. I’m superstitious and fear disappointment just as much as the next person. I believe in Murphy’s Law, and that the universe is random and chaotic, and have a Midwesterner’s tendency to downplay good fortune. I do this to avoid inviting bad luck. I don’t count the eggs even after they hatch and have been sold at a profit. I try to be prepared for the worst, because doing so ensures a fairly well-prepared today. I have built a life on avoiding discomfort by attempting to maintain balance. I try to look out for myself and make healthy choices. The view I have of my life is a precious, hard-earned stability to be cherished. It wasn’t until very recently that I was forced to peer below the surface where I confronted a glaring truth: I had worked so hard to manage expectations for myself and my life, that I’m not striving for anything more than stability.  Continue reading

The Interview Series: Preparations For The Divorce Party

IMG_20150220_170714He offered to be interviewed when I put out the call for volunteers, and I knew immediately I wanted to hear about his experience of divorce, Initially I had wanted the series to be all about different peoples’ experience of sex–what they learned growing up, what constituted sex ed at at home/school, first experiences, overall attitudes. But with him I remembered getting a facebook invite to a party that was part farewell to a marriage, part estate sale. At the time I thought him and his soon to be ex-wife incredibly respectful toward each other and thus felt intrigued by his seeming drama-free divorce. He had “a lot of angles and spins on divorce in his head” which I found him quite open to discussing, as I sat in my car outside work, furiously scribbling notes while he spoke into the phone.

A man in his mid-forties, he had been in the marriage for ten years, divorced now for three. I told him about my impression of his “divorce party” to which he replied, “I’m sure we seemed very evolved. In reality it took a lot of drama for us to get there. Once we had decided we weren’t healthy for each other, if we ever had been, it was easier to be civil.” Continue reading

Inside Out Person

inside…continued from Tuesday

When I was nineteen and in the middle of a major depressive episode that made me numb, restless and irritable for an entire summer, my therapist told me, you’re rather an inside out person, aren’t you? At the time I wasn’t quite able to grasp her meaning, and like many of her words, they’ve stuck in my head and evolved in meaning over time. She was good at her work. What she meant was that while I felt entirely disconnected from my feelings, it was readily apparent to others what they were. I was wearing my emotions on the outside, without experiencing them on the inside. I was an inside out person. Continue reading

Sex Ed Fail

Sex edDuring my master’s internship I worked as a counselor at Planned Parenthood for six months. It was a unique style of therapy–short term, solutions-focused crisis work. I had just completed a six month practicum at the University’s Counselor Training Center, where I met with a roster of five clients, individually, once a week for an hour, for fifteen weeks. I hated it. Having to sit there in a room walled with one-way glass, knowing I was being filmed and possibly watched in real time by my supervisor and listen to people vent about their issues was anything but inspiring. I felt completely on display, self-conscious and wooden. As a result the sessions were inorganic, and I doubt I helped any of my clients, who seemed to be there not to work, but to have someone on which to dump their problems at no cost. Planned Parenthood couldn’t have been more different: dynamic, fast-paced. A revolving door of changing faces, I was completely engaged with each client’s unique story, like that of the pregnant virgin. Continue reading

The Justifications Are All There

JustificationsWe began dating in my last year of college, when I was 19. Our relationship was full of typical college dating clichés, and I’m not sure why we ever thought it was a good idea. The first time we broke up was 7 months in, when I declared that what we had was just casual and we didn’t work on so many levels. We were from different religious backgrounds, had different social interests, and were on different intellectual planes. But he was really nice, and a few days later I felt crummy for hurting him, and next thing I knew we were back together and more serious than ever. Continue reading

It’ll All Work Out Isn’t a Thing

Work outWhere is the line between optimism and lying to yourself? Or is optimism a form of denial? As an unrelenting optimist who also has veins of stark realism running through her personality. I tend to believe that it’ll all work out if we’re flexible and open to change. It’ll all work out is too passive a philosophy, as though life is something you can leave to its own devices, by which it will flourish. It’ll all work out suggests no work need be done, no reflection or learning or choices made either. You can just drift in a direction, or check a box and let it go, because it’ll all work out, whatever it is. Continue reading

Up to You

UpIt’s up to you.

Simple, right? Cliché, maybe? Must be, because people say it all the time. Because it’s something you’ve heard all your life.

You’ve heard it.

But have you listened? If you’re like me then the answer is a resounding, unequivocal, “No.”

It’s up to you, as an individual in control of your own life. What do I mean? Everything you want it to mean. Your life is your life. You have all the power.

Even if you believe in fate, destiny, or a predetermined path dictated by a higher power, the bottom line is that it is all up to you. There can be no path without the actions you take. From choosing to get out of bed in the morning to where you go to work every day. From where or whether you go to college to the people that you decide to date, marry or leave behind.

I never listened. Continue reading

See Something? Say Something.

See somethingHave you ever been in a situation where things weren’t going well, but no one around you seemed to notice or acknowledge it? I think the high value we place on privacy and autonomy can cause a kind of social paralysis, where we’re not reacting honestly to what’s happening around us. Louis CK has a stand-up bit where he talks about a friend’s teenage country cousin seeing her first destitute homeless person in Manhattan, and how while the man didn’t register to Louie or his friend, the cousin got down on her knees to do a welfare check. The anecdote illustrates Louie’s embarrassment at the cousin’s reaction, and the internal revolt he feels at his own jaded inaction. Don’t we kind of do this a lot as a society? Certainly we can’t help everyone, and we tend to accept what we feel we can’t (or won’t) change. But what about when it comes to the people we’re close to in life, when we see something that doesn’t look right, or sense something’s wrong? It’s a minefield, and I’m not sure how to cross it without something getting blown up. I keep trying, though. Continue reading

Why Did You Tell Me That & Expect I Wouldn’t React?

Why Tell Me ReactOne of my stations in life appears to be that of confessor. I studied psychology in graduate school because life seemed to be sending the message that I should make counseling my profession, rather than my pastime. As long as I can remember, people have been unburdening themselves to me and I’m honored by the trust put in me. I admit I enjoy holding reams of privileged information inside, to privately analyze and synthesize. It increases my understanding of people, while adding complexity to that knowledge. Continue reading