Fill It Up Again

(or You Can’t Always Get What You Want Need)

One of the ideas rattling around in my head before the election madness took over had to do with routines and the impact of disruption to these orienting, centering, reliable constructs that make up most of our lives.  As a parent, I know I bemoan any disruption in my children’s routine, be it a snow day, a holiday break, summer vacation, even the weekend.  We all know that children usually thrive on routine, when they are fully aware of plans and timings and expectations and what comes next.

I suspect many adults also function better on routines, but for some reason we aren’t allowed to openly admit that.  As adults we are somehow expected to better withstand the changes in routine, to be able to adjust the sails and keep the boat from capsizing.  Even if it’s a tricky maneuver, we must try to make it look easy and effortless, even in the face of gale-force winds.

I’m likewise certain that the recent election results are unsettling to so many precisely because we are entering unchartered waters, and have no idea of where we are going, or how we will get there or what the ultimate outcome will be.  The routine of life as we know it has been completely disrupted and we may never settle into a new, predictable routine again.  Responding to rapid changes may become the new norm.

For me, the theme of therapy this year has been disruption in routine.  It started back in April when my therapist took a much-needed sabbatical abroad.  I didn’t begrudge her (too much) this time away, but I did anxiously count down the 25 days she was gone.  Then we ran into a 21 day stretch at the end of June when I was away and another 20 day stretch at the end of the summer when our vacations misaligned.

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Under Construction

(or Do I Stay or Do I Go?)


Sometimes I really wish my therapist would just fire me.

Then she can give my spot to someone else.

Someone who will pay her 100-300% more than I can pay.

Someone for whom one, or even two, 45-minute sessions a week will be enough.

Someone who doesn’t need to push past that boundary of time over and over and over again.

Someone whose emotions can be contained inside the therapeutic frame.

Someone who doesn’t need more than any reasonable therapist can be expected to give.

Someone who shows up to session willing and able to talk.

Someone who is able to take a professional’s advice.

Someone who wants more out of life.

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Change of Terms

(or Me vs. the Horseshoe Crab)

I walked into my therapist’s office the other day to find that it was all packed up.  The bookcases were empty, the knick-knacks were gone.  There were stacks of boxes and rolls of bubble-wrap.  She had momentarily left the room when I arrived, so I had several minutes to devise a list of worst-case scenarios.  Was she moving to a new office?  In the same suite?  Same building?  Across town?  How would this move impact my journey?  Or worse: was she retiring?  Closing up shop?  Had she had enough?  Had we all driven her completely crazy?

When she returned to the office I immediately demanded to know what was going on.  She seemed shocked that I would ask, as if walking into your therapist’s packed-up office was completely normal.  No, she was not moving or retiring.  Her office was just being repainted and new flooring was to be installed.  And did I really think she would move or retire without giving me months and months of notice so that we could process it together?

In short, yes.

Certainly a move of office would be a much easier scenario to adapt to than losing her to retirement, but even so, I was uneasy with the thought that anything about this therapeutic environment might change.

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The Guessing Game

(or Why Can’t You Just Read My Mind?)

I’ve wasted many, many therapy sessions waiting for, hoping for, my therapist to guess what I need to talk about that day, or in her words “where do you need me most?”

It can be agonizing to sit across from the person you are supposed to be able to tell anything and to still have the words catch in your throat.  I have this problem in a lot of my relationships.  Sometimes words just escape me altogether.  But more often, the words are formed in my head and I just can’t get them out.  They get stuck and I can’t seem to translate what I am thinking in my brain into actual words that can leave my lips.

So I just sit there and wait and hope that she – or anyone for that matter – will figure it out by mind-reading.

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There’s No Place Like Home

(or Do Turtles Ever Get Homesick?)

I’ve just spent two weeks away from home.   Some would call this a “vacation.”  I don’t mean to sound flippant or ungrateful.  Yes, we’ve been in England these last two weeks… but mostly visiting my in-laws and in the non-stop company of two young, jet-lagged children who don’t really understand where they are or why their bodies are so out of sync.  It’s hardly been restful or restorative, as the word “vacation” usually implies.

What I’ve noticed most about this trip is my longing for home, a home-sickness of sorts, that I’ve never experienced before when we’ve traveled.

Perhaps it’s because it’s been more than two years since we’ve made the journey over the pond.  Or maybe it has to do with being here, during the Brexit vote and subsequent fallout.  I long for the perception and illusion of stability and safety back home, as opposed to the stark reality of instability and unknown that can’t be avoided on this island.  England, or more generally the EU, was always our backup plan.  If things get too politically unstable in the U.S., we always can head to Europe, or so we thought.  Now I’m not so sure.  I want my children to thrive in a global world, not be restricted to small-minded island thinking.

Maybe it comes from so many years of living in a country where I felt so many of the states were “off-limits.”  Sure there are gay people living in all 50 states (shock! horror!), and many did so under repressive local governments, but that’s never what I wanted for myself or my family.  I refused to live in such places and was lucky that I didn’t have to.

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Time Warp

(or Why I Hate the Buzzer)

I hate the therapy buzzer.  There, I said it.

Nothing quite says “time’s up” like the disruptive sound of a buzzer.  Wrap it up, move along, the next person is waiting.

My therapist is terrible at keeping time.  This is kind of a liability for a therapist.

I noticed the absence of any clock in her office the first time we met.  Most therapists seem to have at least two – one for them, one for you.

I asked her about this: “Are you the keeper of the time?”  To which she replied, “I am the Time Keeper!”

Frankly, I’m relieved that there is no clock in sight.  It takes the pressure off.

However, I don’t think she answered the question fairly.  It is her job to keep track of time, but she’s so bad at it, she really could use some help.

Time seems to be such a part of the therapy frame.  45 minutes.  Not a minute more or less. It’s the part of the frame that I most struggle with, the part that I rail against the most.

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