Welcome to my hometown where the breathtaking views of the Hudson only caution the inability to dip in. Life requires self-discipline and consistency. Show up for yourself. I have been telling my clients for years to be on the lookout for your true self and make the commitment.
I walk into the deli; in comes one of my very first clients. She screams, "Donna, you saved my life!" and proceeds to buy me a turkey sandwich and tells me that a teenager she referred to me is doing incredibly well!! (A kid who not long ago couldn't leave her room). What more could I ask for? But am I an egomaniac? I little bit don't believe her. I don't deserve the projection of her progress, her readiness, her motivation. Imposter? What is she referring to that I did for her? Provided space, support? Big Whoop.
I witnessed, I cared, I guided, and challenged. The rest is so entirely hard to put into words. The experience changes you. You learn to care about yourself but not be a narcissist. Therapy lets you tolerate your pain, be objective, and cry. Or in my case, stop the rumination and pivot.
My patients worry that they're "not enough" - that means someone abandoned them. You're not good enough for someone to stay. I have patients who won't show up to work, or drink themselves to death's door, or lost someone to suicide or had such a chaotic childhood there's no surface from which to repair. You can't shut down one aspect without shutting down all - that's trauma. There's no such thing as selective shutting.
Anxiety eats away at you. I started shaking the other day when I had to change my health insurance. This country is maddening: no socialism!! But give me my Medicare! We learn to be like animals - sell yourself to the capitalist beast; but it's never enough. When I go to other cities I remind myself that parking is not the Hunger Games. We are conditioned to be cogs in the moneyed wheel but we can't get out of the middle class. We smolder there while kids of the privileged squander all with abandon - no repercussions. Why is everything so hard? Anxiety because it's too far to fall. Anxiety because it's too hard to reach.
I look at the stacks and stacks of books that my father collected, then my husband. All the love I had for those babies is now reflected back to me as: heaviness and mold. My father wanted to make it, he almost had us all fooled. Something about an American Dream, the youngest executive to grace publishing. The clippings, the Mad Men, the parties. But you can only lie to yourself for so long. If you don't make changes, nothing changes. Life of the party. Life of dreams. Heaviness and mold.
I eat the sandwich that my former patient bought for me. The warm wonderful feeling is so good, then it's gone. I pause. It's my job...