I have always loved people and their feelings. My family told me that I did not make a sound until I turned two years old, because I spent so much time sitting and watching other people. As a kid, I felt drawn to television and video game characters who used magic to heal others, like Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender and Yuna from Final Fantasy X. Though I did not have the words for it then, around the age of eight I sensed that I wanted to be a psychologist when I grew up, if not a writer. My then best friend in high school and I loved playing amateur psychoanalyst, such that we would spend hours talking about our peers and our families and fictional characters and their emotions, their relationships, and what drove their behavior.
Flash forward to now, over a decade after I started high school: I provide therapy*, and I feel guilty about it. Continue reading
About a week ago, I thought about how I would feel about my life if I never left my apartment again. I am so privileged to get to work from home while Rona rears its ugly global pandemic head. Yet, how would I feel if my life somehow came to a screeching Coronavirus-induced halt, forever, right now? For the most part I have accomplished all I ever wanted, like escaping my abusive childhood, providing direct mental health services, and listening to the most iconic pop music. Yet, I realized one thing I may want yet have never experienced: I have never been kissed by a guy I care about.
The moment I realized this unfulfilled desire, I judged myself hardcore. Continue reading
Three years ago, I felt abandoned by my therapist L. I remember curling up into a ball on his couch, a few months before I graduated from undergrad. I muttered something about wondering if he would miss me when I graduated. I felt a tight ball of shame in my stomach, like my desire for him to miss me marked me as too needy, or disgusting.
“Of course I’ll miss you,” he said. “I’ll miss you a lot.”
I struggled to believe L: to believe that he liked me, that he cared about me, that he wasn’t abandoning me. Continue reading
About a month ago I got dinner with a friend who I have known since high school. At some point the conversation turned to what it felt like to support me when my PTSD emerged for the first time during our undergraduate years together, about six years ago.
“Yeah Thomas, it was rough,” she said. “I remember I had to set super clear boundaries with you, because if I didn’t pick up the phone when you called, you’d freak out.”
When my friend told me this, I felt mortified. Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago I caught myself worrying about whether one of my closest friends will abandon me. I have mentioned this friend on this blog a lot over the past year. I read some of her poetry before she submitted it; she took me out to dinner in DC when she visited; together, we’ve talked about how we feel about our friends, we’ve eaten Jeni’s ice cream, and we’ve shared our hopes for the future as well as for our friendship.
What is this friend and I break up? I thought to myself a couple of weeks ago. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I was texting with an acquaintance of mine, a smart and passionate and kind woman. This friend started dating a white man this year and they already moved in together. I shared with her about my struggle to find friends who feel as passionately about friendship as I do.
“I fully believe in nurturing all healthy relationships, but there are only so many hours in a day and we can’t commit to everyone the same,” she texted. “It’s easy to get hurt when you go outside the script.”
I responded about how I feel that the script itself confines people into valuing romantic partnership above all else, how the script hurts people who do not conform to heteronormativity. In all honesty, I felt a bit annoyed at this acquaintance. Like, given her feminist leanings, how could she not discern how patriarchal and heteronormative romance is? But then she shared that she had tried to form a non-sexual life partnership with a friend who turned her down, an experience she found discouraging. Her sharing this shifted most of my annoyance into empathy, as well as anger at the heteronormative patriarchy.
I share anecdote this because sometimes I freak out about whether the script will consume me. Continue reading