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Gonna Rise Up, Throw Down My Ace In The Hole

It signifies the unknown but also the letter "U" kinda giving you the finger.

It signifies the unknown but also the letter “U” kinda giving you the finger.

So. I woke up the other day and had a multi-part epiphany, as is the custom among my overthinkish people.

The first part is that I don’t just enjoy giving readings to clients; I adore giving readings to clients. I mean, when I know I have readings coming up, I feel energized, excited, hopeful, happy. Part two of my epiphany is recognizing that I want to make it my main work, and do the muggle shrink stuff on the side. That was a major revelation to me, and I had to laugh at the fact that I’d never really given it serious consideration before.

I can only assume I never thought seriously about it because becoming a clinical psychologist is a long process. I’ve put a good amount of front-end work into my professional life. Four years of college, then eight hundred years of gradual school, followed by internship, post-doctoral training, and then licensure. Then of course there’s continuing education, supervision of trainees, workshops, and actually assessing and treating patients and writing reports and whatnot. And let’s not even talk about on-call.

I’ve been involved with psychology in some fashion (mostly voluminous floral print dresses and white tights back in the day oh goddess why why did I bring this up) since 1988 when I took Psychology 101 in college. And even before that, I was always fascinated by the workings of the brain and mind, and bought my own garage-sale copy of Freud’s classic, The Interpretation of Dreams, at age 12. Yeah. Total psych nerd, and proudly so.

What initially motivated me? Pure curiosity. I wanted to understand how this squishy Jello-lookin’ thing that only weighed a few pounds could possibly function without benefit of gears or pulleys. I wanted to get to the whys and wherefores of human existence. A tad lofty for a 12 year-old, but whatev.

Fast forward to today. What motivates me now isn’t the same thing. After many years of being privileged to serve others as a psychologist, I now want to serve in a different way.

Make no mistake; I paid some dues over the years. My right foot and left ankle are kinda blown from standing around on concrete floors. I’ve seen a lot of life’s underbelly. I’ve dented a lot of wristwatches by clanging them against rebarred concrete walls and steel doors. My working environments haven’t exactly been suited for the dainty, or, arguably, the sane. But I chose them deliberately. I made a few serious attempts at working “on the outs” in posh practices and such, but invariably I eventually drifted into feeling unchallenged, disinterested, and stifled, and once more unto the breach I’d return.

I even opened my own psychotherapy practice here. But I still had half my ass in the broom closet and wasn’t really paying attention. I wanted to somehow keep my weird ugly psychic secret on the DL so that no one noticed or made fun of me in professional circles. I reflexively cared about what some fictive “others” in my head thought of me, to the exclusion of my own deepest desires.

I get to have desires? What?

But as I’ve said before – a life lived in fear, is a life half-lived. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

And those of us who have decided on a life of service share a common trait; putting ourselves last. I’m not the only one. Just ask any nurse if they’ve peed within recent memory. Ask a law enforcement professional how well they sleep. Ask a teacher if they use their planning time for its intended purpose. Women are taught to do this, regardless of profession. Irish Catholic women like whut raised me are TOLD to do this. And it’s bollocks. You can’t be effective if you’re tired all the time, a kind of tired sleep won’t fix. You can’t be really present to your loved ones if you’re running around like a goddamned chicken trying to heal the world. I know this. I knew this. I have known this a long damn time.

But I didn’t feel it really, not deep down in my bones. It was kind of a nice idea that I would sometimes try to heed by scheduling massages or scheduling time with friends. But after awhile, the work would seem to take over, like a tide rolling in, pulling me back out to into the demands of whatever work I was doing. Teaching, committee work, clinical work, supervision, consulting, you name it – in the last few years it’s been all of the above.

I think one of the toughest things during the last year or so has been letting go. I think the Buddhists would saying I’m trying let go of illusion and see things as they simply are. I’m used to pushing, planning, charging, climbing, strategizing, striving, molding, shaping, challenging, trying, doing, analyzing, thinking, goal-setting, accomplishing, yadda yadda. And the long and the short of it is that anymore I don’t want do this like I’ve been doing it.

In the coming months I’ll be adding a lot more readings and subtracting a lot of clinical stuff, and also continuing to finish my various writing projects as I apply this course-correction. Pulling up this 1988 vintage anchor isn’t easy. But I have my heading now, and for once it’s not against the wind. Christ, did this just devolve into a Bob Seger lyric?

Anycuteboatshoes, I’m changing up the website. Be sure to look for some newsletter-type bullshit on a landing page, and for my eBooks when I decide they can be born into the world. I might make a few videos of myself pontificating and then I’ll realize that videos aren’t my thing and then someone will point out that hey, maybe pontificatey videos are totally my thing after all and then I’ll change my mind and you’ll still be stuck with the pontificating. Chagrin ensues, but you put up with it because I’m on a goddamned sailboat and there’s nothing you can do about it.

This song has been stuck in my head for the last several weeks.

 [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTE4lzeBUNI[/youtube]

Dear Dr. Ding: What About Love?

vintagesacreheart2-1

I get asked a lot about relationships, about love, about soul mates, Twin Flames, you name it. Freud said that love and work are the two pillars of mental health, and it’s no different when we do the Electric Slide away from the tropes of modern psychology, and boogaloo into the numinous world of human metaphysics.

It’s pretty much a given that if a client consults with me, wanting to know about their current booed up relationship, that something in the milk ain’t clean, honey. It may a big thing, it may be a little thing, but it’s something. Something isn’t sitting right.

So what do I tell people? I tell them to look. Deep. Way-down deep. It may help to imagine that this other person is represented by a vessel filled with liquid – how far down can you see into them? Why? And what do you see?

Is it clear? Murky? Filled with flesh-eating piranhas and stuff? Is the person even facing you or are they disinterested? Do they feel denser or lighter, heavier or slower, dimmer or brighter, louder or quieter than your own energy? Pay attention. You’ll get good information this way, even if you’re not 100% certain how to interpret it at first. I tell them, keep after it.

The question I ask next: what are you avoiding within yourself that you’re projecting onto this other person, thereby creating distortion in how you view them? Projection is a specific term, meaning that we tend to see the unpleasant parts of the Self about which we are largely unconscious everywhere but inside ourselves. It’s not about being a total putz, it’s a natural human foible. Foible. I love the word, sounds like I’m saying “gerbil” in 1930s NYC.

So we pick people that aren’t right for us, with whom we play out all our old unfinished business from our formative years. Over and over. It’s called repetition compulsion, and we’ll chat about it some other day. We project, they project, yadda yadda yadda. Next thing you know you’re two years from retirement with someone you can’t stand, having inane conversations about kitchen tile and crying yourself to sleep at night. Your chakras are fused and jammed and spinning backwards. Oh cheez.

I have a good friend who struggled with relationships over the years. After a particularly difficult and unexpected breakup we spent several hours talking, and she turned to me and said these apocryphal words: “There has got to be a better system of picking a partner, and I’m going to find it! I’ve got to keep refining my system.”  While I admired her determination and resolution to not make the same mistakes, I found her stance puzzling and told her so. I mean, isn’t that what we’re here for? To love the wrong people sometimes? To make new and different mistakes? If we reduce this grand force running through the veins of our lives down to a methodology, we cheapen it and maybe even dehumanize it. We agreed to disagree. Take a look at this wonderful scene from Moonstruck which illustrates this, best stuff is at 3:29:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ye3WFb_BhE[/youtube]

Money quote: “… love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and get in my bed!”

You were right, Slightly Neanderthalic Pre-Plastic Surgery And Bad Hairpiece Nicolas Cage! Love can wreck your shit with its sheer irrational power. It’s a huge goddamned risk. But it’s the risk we must take, lest our hearts become all shriveled-up like beef jerky. And who wants a jerky heart. Ew.

Sometimes it’s a risk to get involved, and sometimes it’s a risk to leave when it comes to the way the heart works.  I feel that too many worry too much about the Twin Flame/soulmate bidness; statistically, all of us have at least 10 other human beings on the planet with whom we could be a terrific match. The number is higher the younger we are and attenutates with age. So don’t worry if your sweetie is The One Flaming Twin or not. Chances are, there is more than one The One. It’s not a very romantic view I know, because it’s partly based in mathematical probabilities and statistical concepts, but my darlings life is too short and too interesting to spend a lot of time fretting about not meeting the other half of your soul and stuff. Just keep taking small risks if you’re still looking. Stay open to possibility.

So back to my original premise; if you’re asking someone for advice about your love relationship, first look within. Look within yourself but also within your partner, as far as you can see. Be honest about what’s there and not there. Learn to trust that little voice within that squeaks that maybe this isn’t the right person, but also learn to trust that same voice that tells you to take a chance. Within a few months of dating someone, you have most of the important data; people usually spot problem traits and behavior patterns early on, but don’t trust their findings. You have all the data you need.

You just have to really look at it.

 

Somebody Buy Me This

Oh my gentle GirlJesus™.  I found this gem over at List of The Day.  I want!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8RfzkhqBLY[/youtube]

What’s not to love?  Purple-haired aliens, mesh manboob shirts, and supergroovy space vehicles.  I immediately put it at the top of my Netflix queue.  If this is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

And while I’m on the subject of cinéma vérité, when are you bitchez going to pony up and buy me Killer Drag Queens on Dope like I demanded asked so nicely?  Chop chop.

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