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Memores acti prudentes futuri


You move forward, I move backward
and together we make nothing at all
A few words
"When we describe the Moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness."
~ D.H. Lawrence

"Is the meaning of life defined by its duration? Or does life have a purpose so large that it doesn't have to be prolonged at any cost to preserve its meaning?"

"Living is not good, but living well. The wise man, therefore, lives as well as he should, not as long as he can... He will always think of life in terms of quality not quantity... Dying early or late is of no relevance, dying well or ill is... even if it is true that while there is life there is hope, life is not to be bought at any cost."
~ Seneca

"People will tell you nothing matters, the whole world's about to end soon anyway. Those people are looking at life the wrong way. I mean, things don't need to last forever to be perfect."
~ Daydream Nation

"All Bette's stories have happy endings. That's because she knows where to stop. She's realized the real problem with stories-- if you keep them going long enough, they always end in death."
~ The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes

"The road now stretched across open country, and it occurred to me - not by way of protest, not as a symbol, or anything like that, but merely as a novel experience - that since I had disregarded all laws of humanity, I might as well disregard the rules of traffic. So I crossed to the left side of the highway and checked the feeling, and the feeling was good. It was a pleasant diaphragmal melting, with elements of diffused tactility, all this enhanced by the thought that nothing could be nearer to the elimination of basic physical laws than deliberately driving on the wrong site of the road."
~ Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

“It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.”
~ William Blake
TICoSME
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This past week and a bit
Saturday, April 7, 2018
I was trying to finish a paper for a class but did not end up finishing it and had to ask for an extension. Part of this was because I got food poisoning (I think?) on Tuesday and have been recovering from that for the past few days. My appetite hasn't come back entirely yet. I realized that I ate one actual meal today, and two mini bundt cakes at a baby shower for my friend's friend, and two bananas, and... some chocolate. And that's it. It felt like a ton of food, but in retrospect it wasn't?

Might be going on a date tomorrow, but we haven't really confirmed plans and it's been a once-a-day type correspondence, so I'm unsure at this point what's going to happen... Wondering if I should just offer my number so we can actually coordinate. :S

Well, anyway, here's a song.

"Halcyon Age" by Vansire.

But no one's really there
Does that mean it's done in vain?
If no one really cares
I'm back to acting strange

Like Daniel Johnston in Texas
At some point in the eighties
Passing out his cassettes with
The j-card that he drew, oh did he ever expect it
I guess it's just what happens when the music's a respite
The world is so appalling and you come to detest it

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The crying therapist
Thursday, March 29, 2018
In my Thursday class we do dyads. These are practice exercises where we partner with a classmate and act as client or therapist for fifteen to twenty minutes, then switch roles. After each session, we reflect on the therapist's performance for five minutes. These dyads give us a chance to try out skills we are learning in class and to improve our listening/therapeutic skills by getting feedback and discussing our process.

In my dyad today, my 'client' told me about an experience she's currently going through (really currently-- she had an incident involving it right before class started) that she has a lot of feelings about. She got to a point in her story where her face just fell and she looked so small and crumpled up, and I felt tears coming to my eyes from the immense sadness and aloneness I sensed in her narrative. Feeling my eyes water made me nervous, and I tried to prevent myself from crying, but I couldn't stop the tears. I focused on what she was saying but kept having to wipe tears off my cheeks while she talked.

In our five minutes of reflection on my role as the therapist afterwards, I told her that I had felt self-conscious and somewhat embarrassed about crying, but that her story had made me so sad I couldn't help myself. She said that I had given her an odd look at first when I moved my hand to wipe my eyes, and she had worried that I was judging her in some way, so she was relieved to know that it was just me feeling self-conscious about my emotional reaction to her. She also told me that she liked the expression, because it felt like a genuine display of empathy to her.

I have always hated how easily I seem to cry sometimes. It's not entirely consistent, but it can get really annoying. For some reason I just have strong emotional reactions to certain stimuli, or to seeing other people cry. At times, that made it a little difficult to work in a nursery full of babies. For the most part I wasn't too affected by their crying, but sometimes holding a baby who was crying just after being dropped off would start my eyes watering, and I had to do my best to contain it. I too easy imagine the fear and loss and powerlessness of the baby, who is unable to articulate any of these feelings in a way other than crying. They don't have a well-developed organizational structure for the world yet. They don't have a defined sense of separation between the self and the world. They don't have the capacity to understand that the mother will return soon, or that she even exists when she is away. How terrifying must that be, to a baby who can't understand why its mother is, as far as the baby knows, abandoning it?

Anyway. it's not always something as traumatic as the baby-mother separation that sets me off. Sometimes it's just... random loud music in a movie, or a particular arrangement of words, or a look, or something I'm passing by but which hits me in an unexpected way. I don't think anything is wrong with crying in itself, but it impedes communication and I don't like to cry in front of people, especially not if I'm trying to talk.

I think I would feel awkward if I had a therapist who cried in front of me. I've tended to prefer male therapists, in some part due to a (possibly sexist?) belief that they'd be less likely to be too emotionally expressive. I guess I just don't like seeing strong emotional reactions in general in an environment where I'm supposed to feel safe. I prefer a neutral presence to contain the energy in the room. Similarly, I don't like the idea of myself being a therapist who cries in front of clients. I'm not saying that I want to be emotionally expressionless, but crying feels like is more of a reaction than I want to have in a professional therapeutic environment if I'm trying to hold space for the person I'm supporting.

On the other hand, crying is not discouraged--maybe it's even encouraged--in the general therapeutic orientation I find myself in at school.

From my first experiences with counseling, when I cried for something like eight out of the ten sessions I had with my counselor at St. John's, I always thought that they taught you how not to cry in therapy school. My tears back then weren't contagious to my counselor, and I figured he must have a secret way to prevent himself from crying. When I actually got to therapy school myself, I realized that there were no secret techniques for keeping yourself from crying. I am constantly horrified to remember this.

I find myself conflicted over this issue of crying as a therapist. Crying in front of clients can have different outcomes. Not everybody would see it as a bad thing. In fact, it can be a constructive force in some situations. A client who tells their story flatly, without any visible affect, might be emotionally disconnected from the story, and the therapist's tears could signal to them that hey, this is actually a story with a lot of feeling to it. Crying, even if the client isn't, can show them that the therapist is being genuinely touched by what's being talked about, and that the therapist cares. It might help to dislodge the fear some clients have that their therapist is just someone who's "being paid to care." The therapist's crying, if handled well (without shame, without redirecting attention to the therapist) can also serve as a model for acceptable behavior. It's okay to cry, it's a natural human reaction to emotional situations. You don't have to make excuses for yourself or feel embarrassed or try to hide it. Part of the job of the therapist is to show the client alternative behaviors and reactions that are healthy.

In any case, it's a subject I'm thinking a lot about right now. The pros and cons of it all... I have to find my own style as a therapist, and I'm still feeling out what's right for me.

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A little more on the same theme
Monday, March 26, 2018
"Ten-Twenty-Ten" by Generationals.

When I need it so bad, why do you not come to defend?
Is that any way to tell me that you're gonna be a terrible friend?
You remind me of a distant constellation
The way you cover it up, but don't let me touch
So now you wanna know, is that important?
Baby now well it just depends, it just depends

And when you come back uptown remember not to look for me there
I gave you one more chance to make it better but you don't seem to care
You pretend to be accosted by tradition
And now you cover it up, tell me you don't
Well now you wanna know, is nothing sacred?
And I don't wanna have to compare, they don't compare

When I see your friends they say it's in my head
All my friends seem to think you might leave me for dead
I don't remember if it's cost or complication
That keeps leaving it out, cover it up
And if you wanna know, I won't confront you
With all the stupid things that you said


---

I hung out with Alice last night. We got dinner and caught up a little. I mentioned that she told me once that she didn't think I had a strong personality, and she didn't remember. She seemed to think she had insulted me by saying it, though I didn't receive it that way at the time. I told her that someone else had told me I had a strong personality for the first time, and she said that she thought I'd always been opinionated, and that I just hold back on expressing those opinions. I guess I'd agree with that assessment. I have often preferred not to share my thoughts until I know what other people think first. Lately I've been volunteering more though. I'm not sure if it's a strategy I find advantageous.

---

First session with the new counselor today. Every time I try to plan what I'll say in a session, I end up deviating from my plan, so I haven't tried too hard to think of what I'll say. Whatever comes up comes up.

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Odd comments [2P]
Saturday, March 24, 2018
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Necessity, desire, and the bare minimum
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
I think I've probably written about this before. It seems to come up every once in awhile. I get tired of people telling me that I "don't need to" or that it's "not your job to do that," as if obligation is the only reason to do anything.

This tends to come up specifically in the context of being kind or forgiving towards people who have wronged me. I've decided to talk to that guy about what happened so he at least knows that he did something wrong. Some of my friends think that's a bad idea and I shouldn't even try. Stuff like "he doesn't deserve that" and "you don't have to be nice to him" has come up. The only support I've gotten about this is from someone who thinks it could be "cathartic" for me to chew this guy out for what he did. That's not why I want to do it, though. I think it's possible that nobody else will call him out for this kind of behavior, and I want to give him at least a chance to change by providing him with feedback. If he doesn't, then whatever, that's not really on me. I don't think it's my mission to fix this guy, but I want him to have the opportunity to work on himself, whether or not he "deserves" that kindness.

My kindness and forgiveness are not finite resources... I don't feel like I lose something by being this way, by acting this way. I feel like I am adhering to my values rather than caving to the social pressure to be more selfish and stingy with my goodwill.

I get not wanting to put in more than the minimum effort in some ways... that's pretty much how I got through most of school. This isn't an area of my life where I feel like doing the bare minimum that's required of me, though. So, yeah. I am willing to try to communicate with the people who have done hurtful or unpleasant things to me, as a way to point them towards improvement, not because I have to, but because I want to.

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The pain and relief of feeling seen [DP]
Friday, March 16, 2018
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What happened [DP]
Monday, March 12, 2018
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No no no no no
Sunday, March 11, 2018
I got into an unexpected uncomfortable situation today, and was kind of scared about how to handle it, but I held to my boundaries and I feel proud of myself for that, even if I made mistakes earlier on.

Tonight could have gone much worse than it did, but I still feel a bit on edge. It doesn't really feel okay to me.

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