Growing up, I told my grandmother that I wish she had been my mother instead of my actual biological mother. I said this to my grandmother because she gave me everything my bio mother did not: unconditional acceptance, a safe space to cry, and a celebration of my more femme qualities. When I said this to my grandmother, she would give me a look of fake sternness before laughing and smiling with me about it.
When my grandmother died in 2017, I felt sad though also prepared. Continue reading
Growing up, I always felt scared of what my mother. One moment I would walk by her as she leaned against the kitchen counter, eating tiramisu with a smile on her face, and the next I would hear her screaming my name in anger because she didn’t like the way I set my shoulders. Throughout my childhood I prepared myself all the time for her to berate or yell at me for hours.
“Your accomplishments are pretty amazing,” my former therapist L told me, a few years after I had left my childhood home for my undergraduate studies. “It’s kind of like pillars. For a lot of people, when one pillar gets knocked down, a lot of their other pillars fall too. But not for you.”
L said this to me when I told him I maintained a 4.0 GPA, at the end of the semester that my PTSD obliterated my mental health. I think he wanted me to take some pride in my academic performance even though a bunch of my friendships had fallen apart a few months ago and I had just finally managed to get ahold of my panic attacks. I probably shrugged, saying something like yeah, well, school’s kinda always been whatever for me, so.
My most recent year or two of therapy has helped me see this past conversation from a different, or at least deeper perspective. Continue reading
“It’s hard to imagine you sleeping,” a casual friend of mine said to me over dinner a few months ago. She stated this in the context of how I like to move, how I like to get things done. Indeed, as a fifth year PhD student, I have published a little over a dozen peer-reviewed publications, I have read and reviewed about 80 to 90 books a year for the past decade, and most importantly I try to engage in consistent self-reflection and self-compassion to improve as a friend and a person. When anyone mentions my “accomplishments”
accomplishments in quotes because I’m literally just a Gaysian nerd who wants to sit on my couch and read novels all day lol and also “accomplishments” don’t determine people’s worth I feel a desire to crawl into a pink-colored cave and never come out, which my therapist calls “modesty.” People often ask me though: how do you do so much?
On one hand, I have a lot of privilege. I present as male, and I grew up in one of the ten wealthiest counties in the United States. Without a doubt these factors influence my achievements. I want to own their influence and take action to deconstruct the systems that create these forms of privilege in the first place.
At the same time, I do my best to minimize distractions. Continue reading
In 2019, I started a clinical placement at a community health center in a city near where I live. This upcoming May, I will end my time there and my relationships with the clients I have worked with for over a year. Because I feel that people in helping professions should practice consistent self-reflection and because I enjoy
over-disclosing about my various emotional experiences on the internet writing, I want to process what it feels like to say goodbye from my perspective, the clinician’s perspective. When I soak in my emotions about my impending goodbyes with my clients, I first think about the goodbye I experienced four years ago, with the first therapist I saw long-term, L.
When I reflect on my goodbye with L now, I feel a sense of calmness and serenity, that even though our work together felt difficult, I processed my PTSD and grew a lot as a result. However, when I reread the post I wrote four years ago right after our relationship ended, I remember all the emotions I experienced then. Continue reading