Tag Archives: trauma

44 Days

I signed a lease for an apartment in Cambridge last week! While I felt relieved after receiving the final confirmation email, the stress about moving itself soon sunk in: I have so much random sh*t strung about every nook and cranny of my apartment, I lack any sense of where to obtain boxes to pack this random sh*t once I get it together, and I still need to figure out how to attain furniture for my new place. I have told my friends over the past week or so that I feel stress adjacent – not stressed, because of my intensive use of emotion regulation strategies, though approaching stress, because moving blows.

On one level, I think I may feel stress adjacent because of just how much logistical effort moving entails. However, today, I made a to-do list of sorts to orient myself. Figure out where to get boxes. Ask about the parking situation at your apartment complex. Get rid of old clothes. Make a plan to procure furniture. Find a new hair stylist in the Boston area. Sacrifice your values and seduce a rich man of color to finance your life so you can afford a 1bed/1bath right on the Charles River, an apartment filled with books and far from the man himself.

When I paused to self-reflect on my stress adjacency today, I thought about the urgency I felt throughout my childhood. 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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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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Bleeding Purple

Several nights ago I had a dream in which one of my former professors from undergrad told me that she had started seeing my old therapist, L. When I interacted with this professor in real life several years ago, I could sense that she possessed unaddressed mental health issues. So when she told me in the dream about seeing my former therapist L, I felt happy for her, though a bit confused that we spoke about this topic while standing in one of the large, open bathrooms of my childhood home. The dream then shifted to me standing alone in an empty hallway with blue carpeting. A single showerhead jutted out of the wall, and I washed my blonde hair and saw it turn purple. As water continued to pour onto my scalp, purple hair dye ran through my fingers, the original black and the newer blonde strands nowhere in sight.

When I woke up, I knew right away that my former professor represented my mother. Continue reading

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I Didn’t Choose This

A few days ago, I started to cry on my daily jog while listening to “Feel Special” by Twice. I had been thinking about someone I know facing a ton of racism in their life, obstacles that no one should have to go through. The lack of control this person experienced in relation to racism made me think about unfair situations in my own life, in particular growing up with my abusive mom as well as my attraction to men. I didn’t choose either of these things, I thought to myself while jogging in circles around the big lake near my apartment, tears falling as dance pop flowed from my earpods. Running around in nature while processing my feelings felt healthy and cathartic.

Sometimes I think other people feel more uncomfortable talking about my abusive mom than I do. Continue reading

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I’m Real

The other day one of my best friends found out that if you google my full name and the word “blog,” this blog shows up as the first search result. When she messaged me this, I freaked out a little bit. Though I feel confident and secure in myself and in what I share on this blog, I still got shaken up by the notion of someone within my “professional” circle stumbling upon these posts especially my posts that involve strikethroughs and mentions of railings, anyway.

When I sat down and started to process my slight fear, I recognized that I felt concerned about people judging my competencies as an academic based on this blog. Continue reading

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Silver

Last week I went to my local hair salon and got my roots done. The process involves several steps. My stylist: applies a scalp protecting fluid all over my head, paints my roots with bleach in meticulous detail, washes out the bleach, heals my hair with restorative shampoos and conditioners, and finishes by applying toner to get the color just right. After almost getting my hair burned off with my old stylist in early April 2021, I appreciate my current stylist’s level of skill and attention to detail, especially given the difficulty of turning my natural black hair to light blonde in one sitting.

When I went home following my appointment last week, I looked at the mirror after my hair had dried and saw silver. Continue reading

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