Tag Archives: therapy

Men

I went on three dates with three different guys in the past two weeks. The most recent date took place in a bar in Cambridge with the first white guy I had gone out with in a few years. He graduated from Harvard, worked as a political consultant, and bored the heck out of me. The date itself had been pleasant enough and I got him to pay for my drink, though I still felt disappointed as I left the bar and walked back to my apartment.

A few years ago, I think I would have experienced a more extreme reaction to this mediocre date. Continue reading

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The End (?)

In my most recent session with my therapist, she and I decided that we would stop seeing each other after two more meetings. Logistics initiated this shift – my residency starts on June 30 and I will have far less free time then in my schedule for a weekly therapy session. The choice to end therapy, for now, feels quite emotional though, in large part because of how I have attended therapy for six of the past seven years.

I remember at one point in undergrad talking with one of my favorite mentors on the phone while sitting on the floor of a bathroom in the main campus library. Continue reading

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The Revolution Out There

I remember sitting at the kitchen table of my childhood home, sometime in middle school or high school, listening to my mom talk about two college-aged Vietnamese kids she knew through her friend circle. They had been dating – a young woman who went to Virginia Tech and a young man who turned down Cornell to follow her. They had broken up, and my mom shared the news in an excited yet hushed tone, even though only she and I occupied the kitchen. I wonder if he regrets turning down the Ivy League, I recall my mom saying. What a waste, she said, to follow someone to a school like Virginia Tech and for it not to even work out.

Whenever my mom praised prestigious colleges and the people who attended them, I always rolled my eyes on the inside. Continue reading

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Once in a Lifetime

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

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Idealization

I had stopped seeing my therapist L in 2017. After two years of therapy then, I felt I had grown a lot, such as learning to communicate more directly instead of passive aggressively, to tolerate my more intense emotions, and to process my traumatic childhood. However, elements of our work together still felt unresolved. In particular, I still questioned at times whether L cared for me. Though a skilled therapist, he had not been a particularly nurturing one – which he himself said multiple times – and I wondered what that meant for our therapeutic relationship.

When I saw him last week, I made a comment about how I write about him on this blog. Continue reading

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My Turn

This week I visited my old undergraduate college. I decided to go see my little cousin who attends that school now; at one point I promised her I would, and I figured better to do it now than when I live a ten hour drive away in the Boston area. About a week prior visiting I reached out to my former therapist L to see if we could meet to catch up and talk a bit about our therapy work together.

I had talked with my current therapist about whether I should reach out to L. Some of my old concerns about L and I emerged – would this come across as too needy, will he think of me as annoying – though I also felt that as a 26-year-old with almost 900 clinical hours under my belt, I was more prepared than ever before to talk about our therapeutic relationship and to address some of my unresolved questions about it. When I reached out, he replied soon after and said that it was good to hear from me and that he would be happy to talk.

It felt surreal stepping into L’s office, the same office I had seen him in five years ago. Continue reading

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Wanting

A desire I felt ashamed of: I had wanted my first long-term therapist L to attend my college graduation. When I stood on the auditorium stage receiving an award in 2017, I thought less about the work I had put into my academics over the past few years and more about the effort I had spent in my therapy with him. I felt fine that L had not attended, though I had always perceived my desire to see him there as too needy or too much in some way.

“I totally get why he couldn’t attend, because of ethics and stuff,” I said to my current therapist over Zoom a few weeks ago. I had never told anyone about wanting to see L at my college graduation before this. “I feel some shame though that I had wanted him there at all.”

“Thomas, it’s completely normal and makes sense that you wanted L to be there,” she said. “You two really cared for each other.”

When my therapist shared this, I started to tear up a bit. Continue reading

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What Matters

Oh my goodness screaming: I matched at H*rvard Medical School for my final year of my Psychology PhD program! The email arrived in my inbox at 5:06AM yesterday, right after I rolled out of bed and brushed my teeth in my Seattle hotel room. I feel excited because this position focuses on conducting therapy and research related to serving marginalized and vulnerable populations in the Boston area, which aligns so well with my values.

I visited Seattle so I could spend the days before and after match with my bff Bri! Here is the fantastic dinner we had the night before the Match results.
Also omfg there’s a cafe that sells acai bowls within walking distance of my hotel room and I’m LIVING. I’m fruity and so are these bowls and that’s why we stan (feat. a random meat bun).

In some ways this match process reminds me of when I graduated from undergrad in 2017. Continue reading

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Reflection of Feelings

I saw my first client in 2017, toward the beginning of my time in graduate school. Before my cohort and I saw our cases, we practiced therapeutic basics with one another, such asking open-ended questions instead of closed-ended questions to encourage deeper exploration, or reflecting and paraphrasing statements to get to the gist and the heart of the matter. Though these techniques feel automatic to me now, I still remember how much my listening skills – and my self-awareness – improved when I started using them on a consistent basis.

“You don’t really go toward sadness,” my first therapy supervisor told me, way back in 2017. Continue reading

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Emotions and Beats

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

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