Tag Archives: relationships

The Stigma of Therapy

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I used to be one of those people–you know who I mean–the people who think that you only go to therapy if “something is WRONG with you.” The people who think that “mental health” is only important if you’re having suicidal or homicidal thoughts.

Ugh.

I’m so glad I’m not “one of those people” anymore. However, I AM broke–and sadly, to take care of ourselves mentally is significantly more expensive than taking care of ourselves physically. I can afford a gym membership, a massage, a whole grocery list full of fresh fruits and vegetables, daily vitamins, FREE birth control, and all of my yearly medical expenses, yet…I can’t afford to go to therapy as often as I’d like? THIS IS BULL. Insurance should cover this 100%…but that’s a separate blog post. This is not about that. Moving on.

I’ve always wanted to go to therapy–this mainly stemming from movies I’ve seen and books I’ve read, where the character lies down on a couch and it all seems so…cool. But also, I always knew I’d have things to talk about–I’ve never considered myself perfect, I’ve never considered my childhood drama-free, I’ve never considered all of my relationships healthy…I wanted to talk about these things with a professional. If, for nothing else, just out of pure curiosity. What would they say? Would it be helpful at all? What would they write in my file?

Late last year, I finally made that leap. My life was a frenzy of stress and anxiety. I felt…helpless. So when a friend of mine started raving about her therapist (she was going through an ugly divorce), instead of just listening, I said, “Hey, can I get her name and contact info?”

It was great…and I mean GREAT. I should make it clear–when I said stress and anxiety, I literally meant stress and anxiety. That’s it–normal, extremely common feelings of stress and anxiety, weighing down on me. Life, career, family, friends, relationship…everyday stressful, anxiety-causing stuff. I wasn’t depressed, I didn’t want or need medication of any kind…I just needed to talk. And that’s the amazing thing about therapy–you’re talking to someone who a) isn’t biased b) has an education and work experience in psychology c) doesn’t treat you with pity or annoyance or judgment and d) isn’t tired of hearing you talk about a subject, like some of your friends or family members might be.

These people listen WHOLEHEARTEDLY and give fantastic advice for a freakin’ living. They are basically YOURS for an entire hour, completely tuned in to your wants and needs and thoughts and emotions and rants and frustrations and…need I go on?

Granted, you may need to search for a therapist whose personality fits what you’re looking for. Not everyone will be as lucky as me (my therapist looks sweet and innocent, but has a mouth like a sailor when need be and doesn’t take anyone’s shit…I adore her). After my first session with her, I felt immensely better about my situation–not just because she listened, but she also gave me some things to think about that no one else had even thought of. My swimming, muddled mind was, for the first time in months, clear.

Let me wrap this up before this turns into a novel-sized stream of conscious on the benefits of therapy.

  1. If you’ve never been, you should! It’s pretty awesome sauce and can truly help with any issue that’s itching at you, big or small…
  2. DON’T FREAKING JUDGE PEOPLE FOR GOING…that just means they take their mental health seriously, which is super mature, proactive, and beneficial to them and everyone around them. It’s 2015. Don’t be “one of those people.”

Supposed To Be

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chaos

I’m supposed to be working on my novel.

I’m supposed to be sipping this Live Oak Hef, my favorite beer, and working on my novel.

I’m supposed to be enjoying the Texas summer (before it gets too hot)—wind through my hair, sun on my skin, taco truck scents drifting my way—and working on my novel.

I told my friend Ashely that it’s been difficult to write lately because I’ve been so happy. “Give me a heartbreak and I’ll pump out a few novels,” I’d laughed and given her tiny Pomeranian a pat. And it’s true, it really is. I mean, that’s how the first novel came to be.

But the thing is, you make me want to write all the time. And that’s not always a good thing. Usually it is. Usually, you make me want to write sappy poetry after I’ve had a few glasses of Cab. I grab the first writing utensil I find in your grungy garage and jot some cheesy observations into the legal pad that you draw in. I sketch stanzas about your whiskers and kisses and huge hands and you telling me you loved me in that sketchy motel we stayed in. I paint lines with your expressions, sayings, Spanglish, noises your watch makes.

But sometimes. Like now. I’ve felt on the edge of crying for a couple hours—thankful for my Ray Bans and lipstick and beer. I wish I could explain why. I wish I could be honest when you ask me what’s wrong. I think the sad fact is simply that I’m in love, I’m so in love with you and I’m so scared and I don’t want to feel completely destroyed ever again and that’s the only thing I wind up being able to write about.

I get anxiety, I feel this intensely strong desire to put giant walls back up, brush these feelings aside, break this off and avoid any kind of pain. I thought I’d be over this—I thought you’d be the one to be freaking out, tight chest, on edge. How hilarious that it’s me!

I wish I could explain this…better. But that’s what it is—you haven’t done anything wrong, necessarily. I think I’m a little crazy is all. Isn’t everyone? That Kerouac quote about “mad ones,” you know?

I need reassurance by the bucket or else I think you’re going to leave. It’s sad, really, but it makes me feel better that I’m not alone. So many of us have these skeletons, the burned past—the exact same insecurity, fear.

I wish it were my fault and I could fix it. I’m great at fixing things that are my fault. But I didn’t do this…my father did this, my ex-boyfriend did this, my friends and their stories, their nightmares, almost every single man I’ve dated, actually. It’s a long list, it’s a lot of pain, it’s kind of like this campfire experience of ghost tales that travels with you forever, the smoke seeping into your heart.

I hope you won’t be added to the list. That’s all I can really do, I suppose. Drink my beer, try again tomorrow to work on my novel (I’m supposed to be working on my novel).

Prompt: Unexpected Night

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Sometimes, when I’m in a writing slump (which lately, is always), I allow Twitter to feed me prompts. There are an astounding number of tweeps whose sole tweet purpose is to motivate others to write. It’s pretty great. So here goes: an unexpected night.

Mystique-as-a-child-teen-and-adult

Blue paint was creeping into my nostrils and caking around every crease of my lips but I was two drinks down and feeling anything but blue. I guess I can be more specific—it wasn’t blue paint exactly, that was curdling around my eyebrows—it was (unfortunately) more like periwinkle. Luckily, I had a BLUE long-sleeved t-shirt, BLUE shorts, and BLUE tights to combat any confusion: I was blue (even if my face was periwinkle). A long, RED (orange-red, if I’m being honest) wig draped itself around my splotchy neck and YELLOW (definite on this one) cat-eye contacts continued to rotate creepily since I was wearing them over my regular contacts.

In other words, I was a bit of a mess. The paint wasn’t spreading onto my skin very evenly, in fact, it was being downright exasperating. I had chunks on one side of my face that were thick and wet, spots on the other side that were thin and dry, flecks in strands of my hair (real and wig), flecks everywhere else within a 10-foot radius… I looked like something out of a budget Smurf production. An elementary school’s Spring performance. An understudy for a second-grade Smurfette.

Luckily, I didn’t give a damn. Amazing friends, Halloween excitement, and vodka do wonderful things to a mind, body, and soul. I hopped around my living room in my beige canvas slip-ons (apparently I don’t own blue shoes), sipping and laughing and unknowingly splattering a few paint specks on couch pillows and the likes.

“Girrrrrl, you are BLUE!” Anne giggled in her goddess dress and I eyed her (cat-eyed her) jealously. She looked like a goddess, with or without the costume. Giant green eyes, dark hair, olive skin, white dress, curves for days—she was straight out of a Greek myth.

“Do I even look like Mystique, though? Or do I just look like a blue girl?” Mystique has been an idol of sorts for years. First of all, holy hell she’s smokin’ hot. Secondly, she kicks ass. Third, she can literally be ANYONE she wants to be. I’d thought about buying a latex suit to look more like her—I mean, let’s face it, clothes really aren’t her thing. But um, tummy pudge is also not her thing, so yeah, I decided on the t-shirt-shorts-tights.

“Yes, you really do. You really, really do!” I knew she was lying, but in a lovely, daughter of Zeus kind of way.

“It’s actually creeping me out,” Jennifer the 80’s rocker chick chimed in. I was surrounded by such happy, “fluffy” costumes. Athena, the Molly Ringwald-esque punkstress, Tara was Rainbow Brite, and Sandra was a cute pirate. I stood out, obviously. I looked pretty evil, but like I said, Smurfette. So a Smurfette gone bad.

We eventually shuffled into a taxi and met up with a few more friends on Rainey Street. Here’s where I cut to the chase. Fill in the holes with (what else) drinking. There was lots of that. Also, random guys shouting out things like, “Ohhh, I get it! AVATAR!!!” and “Genie chick, cooooool.” To the bro’ who guessed that I was Beetlejuice: You. Are. An. Idiot.

—– cut>>>>chase:

Two pedi-cabs and lots of walking later, we drunkenly made it to our final destination: Gypsy Bar on East 6th to see our friend Brian’s band play.

Here’s where it’s important to know a couple things about me and alcohol.

  1. I’m pretty good at it.
  2. I get suuuuuper ballsy and confident and seductive sometimes (i.e. when I see something I want).

Also, I’d told Anne earlier in the night, “I’m gonna make out with someone tonight, OK? That’s the goal. You in?” And she was in, SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO EXECUTE THIS PLAN WITH ME. However, the goddess, Molly, Rainbow, and One Eye watched as I, and I alone, smoothly decided to yell at a stranger, “WHY aren’t you wearing a costume?! How lame! It’s HALLOWEEN, HELLO!”

Super sexy, amiright? Paired with my crusty paint job and rotating, wompy contacts, I was basically a catch. Did I mention that my skin was starting to itch underneath all that periwinkle? Downright foxy.

Look: he had dimples and he was really tall and someone obviously needed to yell at him for not wearing a costume (that’s just dumb…why even go out?).

Even closer: goddamn he was really tall and he had a random sprinkling of freckles and gray hairs and his eyes were kind of caramel in the light and he immediately matched my bluntness with, “Well, at least my paint isn’t weirdly coming off. And your contacts are all kinds of crooked too.”

Barely a breath between us: “Well then here.” I pulled the cheap tube of paint out of my purse—it was almost the only item in there. “And while you’re at it, go ahead and rotate my contacts for me please.” I leaned up towards his stubbly chin and opened my eyes wide, not allowing him to hesitate, my lips pursed in amusement.

All of our friends had vanished by this point, leaving us in a strange bubble we’d created within minutes. This is apparently the point in which I tell a stranger everything about me: teaching, my novel, moving from Hawaii…I don’t even know what else I told him, I just know that we were locked in conversation and we’d moved to a picnic table and it was ten minutes ‘til the bar closed.

“I really want to kiss you but you’re going to get blue paint all over your face.”

Yeah. That came out of my mouth.

He must’ve said he didn’t care or he might’ve not said anything at all, but as people shuffled out of the back gate and the lights were being shut off, Mystique made out with the costumeless man with two last names. He looked like he’d been periwinkle-pied. I giggled and tried to wipe it off of his lips. He asked for my number. I gave it to him, scampered off, and expected to never hear from him again.

Five months later and my friends still affectionately call him “Blue Man Group,” but usually just behind his back.

Sometimes it’s not a terrible idea to paint yourself periwinkle, take a few shots, and yell at a stranger.

Poetry Sections are Dangerous

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So for the longest time, I thought E.E. Cummings was a woman. All that talk of kissing and love and carrying your heart with me and being someone’s anyone…or anyone’s someone. Something like that. I, the wildly romantic college freshman, was like, WHOA, this chica GETS ME. On a punctuation level and a general heart wrenching kinda way. Ya’ know…basically, I TOO liked to write in all lowercase letters about boys being sun’s songs. I thought me and e.e. were soul sisters.

And some ridiculous amount of time later (no, seriously, I think it was years) I found out she was a he. I was so damn disappointed because my immediate thought was: Oh, well obviously, I have to find a new favorite poet.

There’s no way a MAN “gets me”. There’s no way a MAN can be my soul sister.

…right?

But then I realized that all of that is bullshit. I kept him around, my loyalty to his parenthetical ways winning over.

And I realized just the other day, as I was reading a collection of his in Half Price Books, that this shrug and grin of a “Yeah, I accept that I’ll never love another poet more” is prettyyyy similar to real-life-hesitant-already-had-your-heart-broken-but-c’est-la-vie-love.

I even wrote a poem about it. Something kinda cheesy about waiting for you to find me on a dusty bookstore chair. You lost somewhere in my life’s biggest love—but probably in the sections I’ve always left untouched (Art History, Non-Fiction). Too uninterested in browsing through other poets, too forever-drunkenly-fulfilled on Cummings’ words, kinda like how I feel about you. So tipsy on your everything, inclined to keep you for good, for you to be the accidental-favorite, the collection I come back to every time, for every mood, in every Sunday afternoon stroll through shelves…

Anyway.

Cummings is a man, y’all. And GODDAMMIT it hurts/is amazing/sucks/yes! when you’ve found a…highly preferred…poet.

Also, this, circa last year. Le sigh. #hopeless

When is it OK to do NOTHING?

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Feeling superrrrr unproductive lately. As in…I’m FORCING myself to write this blog post simply to feel that relief of “Yay, I checked ‘blogging’ off the list!” It’s bad, y’all.

My next novel, my lovely WIP, is sitting at the saddest ONE chapter halt, just eyeing me with pure hate, daring me to wait another week and then another and then another…

In fact, I actually did my taxes in order to avoid writing. Gross.

I’ve been traipsing around Austin like some sort of Hilton brat…pretending I have loads of cash to throw away on mimosas and sushi. This past weekend, I laid in Zilker Park with the boy and let dogs come up to lick my face—when I could’ve been writing. We went to a freakin’ improv show that was downright terrible—when I could’ve been writing. I went to brunch TWICE. I even took a damn nap. I hate naps. I could’ve been writing.

Decided: Happiness gets in the way of getting shit done. And I think that’s OK?

I typed my first novel so furiously, post-break-up. I was like, “I hate you, I HATE YOU, I hate me, typetypetype, BOOM- NOVEL! WHAT NOW, BITCH?”

When you’re super happy, you’re usually also super busy…with, ya’ know, happy-life-things like kissing and snuggling and park-lounging. And then WHOA before you know it, another weekend has flown by in a whirlwind of pancakes and sunshine. Your gut is kinda like, “Um, excuse me, ma’am, remember when you used to go to the gym and WRITE and schedule haircuts and WRITE and read and WRITE and stuff…?”

Heart: stfu I’m having fun.

Head: Don’t worry, I’m sure things will get crappy soon and then we’ll have all the time in the world, like we used to.

Heart: BUT WHAT IF WE’RE HAPPY FOREVER?

Head: lolz

Gut: omg you’re both so effing annoying. We’ll find a balance, chill.

Life gets crazy. Busy as hell (seriously though, taxes? Who thought of that, the Brits? Didn’t we gain our independence?) and superrrrrr happy-insane sometimes. It’s OK to do nothing for a while, especially if you’re like me and you’ve been some sort of psycho Energizer Bunny since birth.

Decided: Be productive when you can, learn to adapt, evolve, whatever…find a balance and chill, like Gut says. Don’t let go of your passions, but don’t freak out and hold them so close that you lose creative control.

Heart: k!

Head: sigh, k.

Gut: kduh.

And then there’s this ^ …

People Don’t Change: Except on Halloween

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Mystique

 

Yes, I was Mystique last night. Not a smurf, not an Avatar, not Genie, and DEFINITELY not Beetlejuice (to the bro who guessed that at Container Bar on Rainey: You. Are. An. Idiot.)

I had an amazing time with my friends (a goddess, an 80’s chick, a pirate, and Rainbow Brite), drank that PERFECT amount that only causes a slight morning headache, and somehow managed to convince multiple people (friends AND one handsome stranger…or WAS he handsome…?) to help reapply that cheap blue paint when it started to crust off.

It was win complete with food truck tacos, our friend’s band performance at Gypsy Lounge, and next-day Kerbey Lane brunch.

All of this coincides with an overused, but relevant expression: People don’t change. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately–the catalyst being the same catalyst for so much in my life…doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results (insanity as old Alby calls it).

I’m usually so good at recognizing it and steering away, self-solving. When I applied for Teach for America Hawaii. When I forced myself to finish my novel and self-publish. When I decided to start teaching high school instead of middle school. When I promised myself at least one new country per year. But I guess those are so internally-based, 100% me, myself, and I…it’s so much harder when you’re only 50% of a relationship. Your expectations of another person- a friend, a family member, a boyfriend, an i-wish-you-were-my-boyfriend, etc…are probably insane. That’s how I’ve been feeling lately at least.

Here’s what I mean: if people don’t change (I mean the true, real, nitty-gritty of a person), then why do we keep expecting them to? Human nature I guess. WELL I QUIT GODDAMMIT.

I shall expect nothing. Except, ya’ know, normal things that I’ve always expected and that are totally normal to expect because they derive from that person’s true self. Like…I will always expect my mother to use the word “Behave” via text/phone call on Halloween night, regardless of the fact that I am nearing 30 years old.

But other than that sort of stuff- nada. People rarely change. I like that better. Because, ya’ know, there are those fall-through-the-crack exceptions to the rule who truly, truly change. But if a guy has been treating you fairly shit-tastically for quite some time…chances are, that’s not changin’ any time soon, darlin’. Yes, I’m talking to myself here, people, just allow it. Stop insanely expecting some life-altering 360-degree turn-around. That’s just the Disney princess inside of you.

On October 31st, you’ll see tiaras, cat-eye contacts, wigs, fake tats, masks, and tutus. It’s really fun and you’ll be like, “OHMERGERD YOUR JON SNOW HAIR IS LIKE, SPOT ON.” But people don’t change their entire personality/outlook/morals/ethics/attitude.

People get haircuts and people have good days where they’ll say something particularly nice to you. But if, on all those other, normal days…they don’t say anything nice…ever…why keep ’em around? Choose who you surround yourself with. Choose to surround yourself with people who you can expect to be there for you- people who make you feel completely safe having that expectation of them. NOT people who constantly let you down and leave you expecting “maybe a different outcome next time…or the next time…or the next time.”

Happy Halloween, fellow bloggers 🙂 I hope the night was everything you expected it to be and I hope your company was everything you expected them to be. Mine sure were!

Damn you, E.E.

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So I just watched The Notebook a few days before Valentine’s Day. That was just downright stupid, amiright?

I’m glad I did though, because I now fully realize…THE NOTEBOOK IS TO BLAME FOR EVERYTHING.

Oh wait, this post has already been done a thousand times. No, seriously, it’s been done a TON. Ok one more because this is HILARIOUS. It’s not about how The Notebook ruins lives; it’s about how composition notebooks ruin lives (but it came up in the top ten when I googled “The Notebook ruined my life”). I am laughing out loud.

So I won’t write about The Notebook (or composition notebooks).

I honestly just want to write about love. I can’t freakin’ help it, ok?! I want to write about that sick, disgusting, unshakable love that makes me want to read E.E. Cummings and lay in the grass for hours looking at the sunlight coming in through leaves. THAT love.

I haven’t felt THAT love in a very, very long time. But I think I remember it swallowing me whole. I think I remember realizing what that “head over heels” thing truly meant and I think I remember trying to soak up another body and soul like a sponge. I definitely remember not being able to breathe for a long time after it was gone. I definitely remember ache and searching and want.

And I guess what I’m wondering now is…is it ok, to be waiting for that crazy, tumbling feeling again? Or is that just, sadly, immature?

I’ve met nice guys. I’ve met smart guys. I’ve met funny guys. I’ve met attractive guys. I’ve met ambitious guys. I’ve even met a couple nice, smart, funny, attractive, and ambitious guys. All my secret inner checklist boxes were checked off. But no swallowing me whole. No head over heels. No soaking up body and soul or reading Cummings.

I guess chemistry is something else entirely. And of course I’ve always known that looking good on paper, so to speak, doesn’t mean much in the real eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart, mind-to-mind. The whole checklist thing is pretty hilarious actually. We all kind of have one, whether we admit it or not. But the people we wind up falling for never seem to have very many of those boxes checked, do they?

Anyway, it’s V-day time. Everything’s pink and cupid-y. And I really am fine with the fact that the extent of my agenda is: House of Cards and pizza with my best friend. I’m actually excited about it (is he really going to become President?!).

The truth is, I really do want to wait until I feel that crazy, tumbling feeling again. I don’t want to settle for just some guy I have chemistry with, just some guy who has a ton of boxes checked.

Who needs those damn boxes, anyway?

“I do, sometimes, all the time, maybe, I don’t know…” says the angel on my shoulder who knows all the tricks to avoiding heartbreak.

“Shut up and read this poem!” says the other bitch.

You Being In Love (excerpt)

solemnly
myselves
ask “life, the question how do i drink dream smile

and how do i prefer this face to another and
why do i weep eat sleep-what does the whole intend”
they wonder. oh and they cry “to be, being, that i am alive
this absurd fraction in its lowest terms
with everything cancelled
but shadows
-what does it all come down to? love? Love
if you like and i like, for the reason that i
hate people and lean out of this window is love, love
and the reason that i laugh and breathe is oh love and the reason
that i do not fall into this street is love.”