Hide and Seek

"couch" © emdot, 2005. CC BY 2.0.
couch” © emdot, 2005. CC BY 2.0.
“I can’t tell. I can’t tell if it’s just that I have no motivation or self-discipline or I’m just telling myself that everything is fucked and so it is.”

“Do you think that’s really true?”

I notice that I’m sitting sideways on his couch. I’ve never sat like that here before. My back against the armrest, my knees up to my chest, facing away from the window, away from him. I take a deep breath and drop my head toward him, raise my eyebrows, and connect our gazes.

“I’m asking a leading question, aren’t I?”

Our faces crack into grins simultaneously, teeth showing. We let out matching chuckles and he leans forward, then back in his chair again.

“How about… I don’t think that’s true. I think you’ve proven that you have no lack of motivation or discipline. I think you have very rigid standards that don’t lend themselves well to things like getting sick.”

My stomach turns over on itself and I wish I’d gotten out of bed early enough to have breakfast. That the coffee shop I went to in order to avoid Starbucks had peppermint tea. Only two herbal offerings and they choose rooibos and some weird flower thing. Ridiculous.

Coming back down I meet his eyes again, but don’t find any words to go along with the look I’m giving him.

He tells me stories about my childhood that I never told him. Recites D.W. Winnicott to me. “It is a joy to be hidden, and disaster not to be found.”

Mental Health

Fifty-seven days ’til spring

"Spring Flowers" © Billy Wilson, 2010. CC BY-NC 2.0.
Spring Flowers” © Billy Wilson, 2010. CC BY-NC 2.0.
I bought a two-month trial at a yoga studio near my office. It runs out the day after the vernal equinox. I’m trying hard to grab onto anything that may be able to propel me out of winter. Ever-hopeful late afternoon stretch breaks are exactly what my routine has been missing.

At 4:30 in the morning I climb out of bed and stumble to the gym before I have time to form any feelings about the day. For an hour I lift weights and blast music through earbuds. I climb onto an elliptical and only briefly curse my once-again hurt foot that’s preventing me from running. Forty-five minutes. I shower, eat, and walk out the door regardless of where I’m heading.

The less I’m at home the better I function. I go to my coworking space, hang out at coffee shops with Mason, and take walks with Alyssa. I meet with my therapist twice a week now and together we try to unravel a lifetime of habits and a faulty belief system.

It’s a constant struggle. I often catch myself wondering if any of it is for anything. There is nothing broken here. There is nothing to fix. All I’m trying to do is understand. Trying to find out what needs I was filling with things that did not fit. In a text message to an old friend I say, “It’s weird because, ultimately, all we’re saying is, ‘Here’s the foundation you’ve built your entire existence on. It’s shitty, but you built your entire existence on it, so good luck with that.'”

There’s a part of me that thinks realizing why I do the things I do and hold the truths I do will help me let them go. If I know why I developed a habit, a trait, a belief that does not serve me then maybe I can find a better way to meet that need. A more effective way to say the things I’m feeling or wanting or wish I could get from somebody.

But I know that I can’t hold on too tight to that hope. Maybe we will hash this all out, take it all apart and inspect every element, and be left still not knowing how to change any of it. Maybe the foundation always just stays the same. And I’m going to have to get used to the idea that that’s okay, too.

Sitting on the couch in my therapist’s office, my legs curled under me, I stare at the plants in the corner. Not avoiding eye contact, but not making it either. He tells me he’s changed my main diagnosis on my insurance claims again and my stomach gets all up in knots when he starts talking about PTSD.

Post traumatic stress disorder. I wobble in and out of focus. Part of me hoping that naming something makes a difference. Part of me knowing it doesn’t change anything. And a third little voice talking low, “Post. Post. Post. It’s over. That’s promising.”

Mental Health

White Light

"Light Lair" © Evan Leeson, 2013. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Light Lair” © Evan Leeson, 2013. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
“You’re in a good mood today!”

He caught me by surprise. I wondered what my smile must have looked like when our eyes met as I rounded the corner into the kitchen. Then I immediately caught myself trying to figure out if he’d read the surprise on my face from his statement. How flustered must I look right now? Continue reading →