Look How Far You’ve Come (Notes on Therapy)

futurecalled
I’ve been going to Corner Bakery for their Loaded Baked Potato Soup once or twice a week for the past few months. Sometimes, I upgrade to a bread bowl for an extra $1.89. I don’t do it all of the time because I don’t want luxury to become my standard. Plus, all of the soups come with a focaccia roll anyway, and it’s really not that hard to dig out a little soup moat. I treat myself to these soup lunches on the days I go to therapy.

I’ve avoided therapy for most of my life because the whole concept seemed like a crock of shit. Still, I’ve gone on occasion over the past sixteen years. Many of those visits were part of different drug treatment programs. You have to go every day and act like you’re making breakthroughs, but really, you’re just thinking how many more times do I have to lie to this homegirl wearing all Talbots errything before she recommends my release. It’s never made a difference because I had no interest in sorting through my sordid past. Processing and transcending and letting go takes time and effort. Not only did that seem painful and unnecessary, I also believed that I had earned the right to harbor all of my rage and depression. They were my souvenirs for surviving, and I fucking love souvenirs. (A big shout out to my Disney lapel pin collection. You guys keep my lanyards looking fly.)

The only gift Harv wanted for our anniversary last fall was for me to find a therapist I liked and start going on a regular basis. At some point in 2013, I moved into Rock Bottom, and he could see that I had no interest in leaving. Actually, I was getting settled and quite comfortable in my new little hole, and every time I left and came back, it just felt like home.

The request came at a bad time because I had already ordered a Full Dozen Strawberry Medley from Shari’s Berries as an anniversary gift for Harv. Highly perishable items are extremely tricky to return…if you can return them at all. I said I would “think about it” which is basically a “no” in adult code language. He didn’t pressure me nor did he bring it up again.

A few nights later, I had a hankering for something delicious and ate seven of the nine remaining Berries. I am surprised by my own selfishness from time to time. This was one of those times. Shari, why you gotta make your products so delectable? It didn’t seem right to order another dozen, and I thought about blaming Cal but decided against it. I felt horrible and guilty so I told Harv that I would start going to therapy. I don’t know. It made sense at the time.

My advice to you would be to think carefully before putting someone else’s food into your mouth.

I am trying something new this go-round: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR for short. It sounds kind of creepy. Maybe it is creepy but it can’t possibly be worse than everything that I have ever done to myself because I, on a deep level and in a non-transient way, dislike myself.

EMDR is supposedly effective for people who have experienced severe trauma that remains unprocessed. It goes directly against the coping mechanisms I have become so good at- denial, dissociative amnesia, detachment. In each session, I recall traumatic and distressing experiences, and as I allow the memory to fully unfold, I am taken through a series of sensory exercises.

I can’t describe it more than that. I don’t have the right words and it sort of makes me sick to think about it. Poet Nayyirah Waheed’s words on love now cross my mind each time I walk through my therapist’s doors:

“like everything I’ve ever lost come back to me.”

Except none of my memories involve love.

I still go and I haven’t given up on EMDR yet, although I feel like I am being punished twice for each moment I recall- once by living through it and a second time by inviting it back to invade the small amount of peace I have gathered and stored. Everything that I have ever pushed out and ignored and left by the wayside is coming back to me.

Each time I leave, I call Harv. The conversations are most often about how lonely I feel. I complained about this loneliness for months. Just two weeks ago, it dawned on me that it wasn’t loneliness at all. It was grief. But since I had not allowed myself to grieve about anything for such a long time, the only label my mind could attach to the heavy feeling was loneliness.  I’m not very good at grieving, but I feel like it could become one of my better skills. Like scrapbooking. My scrapping skills are fucking legit.

“Sometimes just the act of sharing a painful secret can relieve some of the pain.” -Anonymous

I hope so.
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All Gold Everything (Notes on Depression and Feeling Broken)

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I really hate being outdoors. Not the “Great Outdoors” outdoors with grass and Magnolia Warblers and shit, but “any expanse that puts me in direct contact with air that has not been recirculated and filtered” outdoors. If I have to sit on a restaurant patio because indoor seating is not available, I will just go home and eat white bread and uncooked lentils because, fuck no, I’m not paying money to be subjected to leaves falling on my head.

But for the past year, I have forced myself to sit on my bedroom balcony for five to ten minutes each day. My home is extremely quiet, and the sound I hear most is the noise inside my head. I stepped on the balcony to get away from myself (This totally seemed like a doable and reasonable goal at the time. I have no idea why.) and after ten minutes, I wasn’t dead or anything, so I went out again the next day.

I started snapping a picture of the same tree every day with my phone. Since I’m not a fan of looking at pictures of the outdoors either, I didn’t even bother to look at them again until recently. When I opened the album with my collection of trees, I couldn’t believe how varied and beautiful they were. Also, I was extremely impressed with myself, but this isn’t about my on-point photography skills right now.

I assumed that all the pictures would look pretty much the same, since this tree never even lost its leaves over the course of the year. But it wasn’t the tree that made each shot so stellar (still not tryna brag). In each, the sky changed. And it made the tree seem different and, at times, unrecognizable.

All of my hours seem to be running together these days. I used to think that my life was unstructured and spontaneous, but that’s not the truth. I get up at the same time each morning to get Cal ready for school. I eat the same breakfast most of the week. I travel the same path to pick her up from school each weekday. And I didn’t realize that my days had structure until they started to lose their form.

So far this new school year, I haven’t gotten out of bed in the morning unless I absolutely needed to do something like help Cal with her picture day hair. School pictures are, like, so expensive it’s kind of unreal, and once I get over my depression, item number one on my to-do list is staging a protest against these pricing shenanigans. ONE 5×7 for the special reorder price of $20? Y’all some fuckin’ robbers.

I can pull myself together for a few hours at a time. During these pockets, I tell myself to keepgoingkeepgoingkeepgoing as I brush my hair or change out of the drawstring pants I’ve been wearing for so many days in a row that the ass section has become baggy and droopy. I can smile and remind Cal not to forget her water bottle.

Maybe I still look the same on the outside. All year round, I try my best not to lose any of my leaves. But I feel so very broken. And I am different and unrecognizable to myself.

Upon finding out how broken I felt, my friend, Aaron, showed me this word:

kintsukuroidef
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at pictures of once broken and now beautifully repaired bowls and cups and vases. The delicate gold veins add a note of beauty to each piece, but the original finish is still dominant and apparent.

My biggest fear is that once all of my pieces are pushed back together, I’ll just be all gold everything because I was too broken.

I thought that I could somehow will my way out of this trench, but I guess that’s not how depression works. I also thought that high fructose corn syrup would remedy my mental malaise, but that didn’t seem to be the right answer either. I haven’t stopped my extensive research on that one. I’ll get back to you. I thought about shutting down the blog, but for now, I’ve decided against it. All of these thoughts would have to go somewhere, and it would most likely be to Harv, and hasn’t that poor man suffered enough by being married to me? One day, I hope to wake up and feel like my old self again. But better. Cuz I’ll be all gold lacquered and shit.

P.S. If this post resonated with you in some way, please share it. If something helps you feel less blue, please share with us below. And if you are feeling blue, please know that you are not alone. We can be all gold everything together.

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Not only can I be a downer on this blog, but I’m pretty good at it on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress). Let’s get connected if you’re into that sort of thing.

P.P.P.S. Winner of last week’s giveaway: Lauriewrites. Please email me at flourishinprogress at gmail with your mailing address and which set of cards you would like.

Thug Matrimony

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I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’ve only forgotten my wedding anniversary twice. Since I view life as a series of small victories, I’m not shy about reminding Harv that I’ve remembered FOUR out of SIX anniversaries. If you’re math-minded, that’s well over 50%.

We celebrated this year by going to an Earth, Wind & Fire concert, not only because their pimp game is still strong, but because it’s the one band we can enjoy together. Usually, I’m on the rap grind, and Harv likes Nerdist podcasts. I can’t remember the last time I heard music in his car. It still pinches my insides to know that Harv doesn’t understand any of my Trick Daddy references, but I’m a big believer in the Hands Off Policy. I never force the people I love into bettering themselves. Instead, I offer gentle reminders that they’re living in darkness.

I might say, “You’re only a dime-store version of yourself without _______.” (Possible endings: regular exercise, a multivitamin, self-worth, Tupac) (Note regarding endings: I don’t exercise or take supplements, and I have ongoing issues with self-worth, but I listen to a lot of rap so that makes me an expert in life, money, boss bitches, cars, parole, and Tom Ford.)

Harv never dismisses any of my helpful and extremely valuable suggestions. Instead, he always stops what he’s doing to make eye contact and listen. And even when I change my mind halfway through a thought and divert the conversation in another direction, he doesn’t act like he’s chatting with an elderly shut-in suffering from dementia. Only a handful of people have made that comparison, so it’s probably not even a real thing.

After six simultaneously long and short years, I’ve realized that these everyday courtesies differentiate bomb marriages from bombed marriages.

The problem in our marriage is that only one person is being courteous.

I’m the other person.

Once in a while, I’m a good wife. Harv brought home half a pound of candy from a business trip last week, and I saved him three jelly beans. Actually, it ended up being only two beans because the tip of the third one had already touched my tongue before I remembered anyone but myself. After I put the bean back, I couldn’t stop thinking about germs, so I ended up eating it. Not giving contaminated food products to a spouse is also another form of courtesy.

I’m quick to point out imperfect minutiae, but on the rare occasion Harv offers a suggestion, devoid of judgment, I’m all Your high standards are unreal, broseph. Everybody throws wrappers on the floor if a trash can is too far away . LET ME LIVE MY LIFE. 

Harv has never given up on me, even during the lowest moments of my depression and self-sabotaging behavior. When I ask him why he stays, he replies, “Because I think you’re worth it. I hope one day you know you’re worth it too.”

Instead of feeling gratitude, this always makes me wish he had married someone else. It must be hard waiting around for the woman you think your wife could someday become to show up. It’s a lot of pressure to know that someone chooses to see the best in you, despite daily reminders otherwise.

Last year, on our fifth anniversary, I tattooed the title of a song I’ve been listening to for over ten years on my arm. It’s my promise to Harv that someday…I’ll fly with you.

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