RSS Feed

Search Results for: In need

In Need

I don’t like the word needy. I much prefer the word crazy to needy. Crazy can have many meanings, and not all of them are negative. Sometimes crazy can be a compliment. At least that’s how I interpret it when I’m feeling good about myself. Neediness, on the other hand, is never a compliment.

I admit I am sensitive to the word because I have been accused of being too needy, too demanding.  MI have tried to correct for this, but I don’t know how to distinguish my unreasonable demands from my needs.

I’ve tried to deal with it by giving my partner the benefit of the doubt. If he couldn’t give me what I needed, then perhaps it was a demand that I mistook for a need. How important is meaningful conversation anyway, really? How much contact is actually necessary for the survival of the relationship?

This approach hasn’t gotten me very far. I seem to have overshot my mark.  MMy therapist tells me that I cannot disavow my needs in order to make my relationships work. Sounds good to me. But how do you separate the needs that are necessary for survival from the ones that make people accuse you of being needy?

Let’s say that you came across a boy who you met in the woods while hiking one day, like the wild boy of Aveyron.  MYou feel bad for him so you invite him over for dinner. But he’s really hungry, so he eats all the food in your house and still wants more. Obviously, you wouldn’t blame the kid for this. You wouldn’t accuse him of being too hungry, because it’s not his fault he was abandoned in the woods to fend for himself.

Psychological needs are no different. Neediness is the product of prolonged emotional starvation. You may not be able to give the person what they need to feel satisfied, but that’s not their fault.  MIt’s not yours, either.

But it feels like it should be someone’s fault, doesn’t it? Someone should take the blame!

I prefer to reframe a needy person as someone who is in need. Perhaps their needs are so great that I can’t help them. That’s OK; I don’t have to be able to help everyone–although I do still try.

I am trying to think of myself as someone in need, too. I am just learning what these needs are, because I’ve spent my life focusing on other people. M There are a lot of them, and they have gone unfulfilled for a long time. I’m not blaming anyone for this, but I’m trying not to blame myself, either.

I’m just trying to make my way out of the woods.

Wants and Needs

The other day I had a session where I was talking to a client about wants and needs.  She said that she knows that she needs to allow herself to be taken care of, but she doesn’t want to do it.  I thought that was interesting.  How can you not want what you need?  But then after I thought about it some more, I realized that there are all kinds of things that people don’t want to need.  They are usually the things that bring people to therapy.

Most people don’t want to need other people.  That would make them dependent, and dependency is bad.  It’s a sign of weakness.  There is even a diagnosis called dependent personality disorder.  Excessive independence, however, is not considered a problem.  In our culture, you can never be too self-reliant.

While I have certainly seen clients who depend too much on others, more frequently I see people who are afraid to rely on anyone, like this client.  Which is strange, because in the animal kingdom, humans have the longest period of dependence on their parents.  And even as independent adults, we still need other people to have babies, to have jobs, and to survive.  Even hunters and gatherers relied on one another.  I don’t think anyone would consider them weak.

Despite this knowledge, I have to admit, I don’t like to rely on other people, either.  I don’t ask for help unless absolutely necessary.  And the flaw that I am most of ashamed of is my need to be in a relationship.  That’s why I’m so proud of myself right now for being alone.  But the truth is, while I’m not in a romantic relationship, I’m not really alone.

The other thing that people don’t want is to feel.  Usually they come to therapy with the hope that I can help them stop feeling.  This includes the feelings that accompany disorders like anxiety and depression, as well as normal feelings like sadness after a breakup or loneliness–because that makes you weak.

Like dependency, feelings are also necessary for survival.  Without feelings, we would have no signal to figure out what is causing us pain.  Without feelings, we aren’t able to empathize with other people.  Without feelings, we would be classified as reptiles in the animal kingdom.

I don’t want to be a reptile, but I do get frustrated with the intensity of my feelings.  Sometimes they reach the level of depression and anxiety.  And then I feel other people’s feelings, too.  That’s a lot of feeling for one person to tolerate.  And some people do find my feelings overwhelming.  I’m too needy. Too sensitive. Too much.

Or maybe they were too reptilian to be able to empathize with me.

I often have to tell clients up front that if what they want is to stop needing and feeling, I can’t help them.  Sometimes they transfer to other therapists, which I understand.  Who wants to be told that they have to accept being human?  But most people stay.  When I point out that only robots have the luxury of not needing or feeling, they acknowledge that they don’t want to be a robot.

But it’s surprisingly hard work, this being human stuff.  It requires a lot of self-compassion, self-acceptance.

Which is why I started this blog.

It Matters to Me

IMG_0546

Last week in our body image support group, every single client prefaced an anecdote about something that upset them with a disclaimer about how it’s not that big of a deal. This thing that bothered them enough to bring it up. Not important at all, in the grand scheme of things.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Trivialize our feelings? I do it all the time, but it’s more noticeable when other people do it because it sounds so mean.

For example, if I tell my opponents before a tennis match not to be alarmed if I throw up, I feel like I’m just trying to get attention. Because I secretly enjoy telling them about my GERD/asthma/allergies and listing all the drugs I take for each of these conditions. And if they make some comment about what a trooper I am for continuing to play, I feel guilty. Am I misleading them into thinking that I am strong? Maybe I’m exaggerating how bad it is.

I get it that this is a defense mechanism. I am going to beat you to the punch. I am going to say upfront that I know this thing I am about to tell you is trivial so that you can’t hurt me by not caring about it. I am going to shame myself out of being upset to try to make the feeling go away. I am going to compare my pain to other people who are suffering more than I am so that I will feel guilty and stop complaining. I’m going to repeat to myself how stupid it is to be upset every day, hundreds of times a day, until the pain goes away.

Except it doesn’t make the pain go away. So we just end up invalidating our feelings hundreds of times a day, every day. Or, if you’re successful in being able to cut yourself off from your feelings, then you end up invalidating other people’s feelings, too. Which is why they preface all of their comments to you with a disclaimer about how what they are about to tell you is not that big of a deal.

Even though I am now aware of the harm I am doing to myself with these comments, it is effortful and time-consuming to come up with something nicer to say. Which is a bit disconcerting, that being kind to myself would be so difficult.

It was even more difficult for those clients, who did not even realize they were invalidating their feelings until I brought it to their attention. They sat in silence for a few minutes, straining their brains to come up with something they could say to themselves that would be more compassionate.

Which is exactly why we need to practice.

That’s why I help clients come up with mantras in advance to counteract their inner demons; it saves time and energy. So if you are in need of something to say, here’s one you can use: it matters to me, and that’s all that matters.

Friendship

Last night we had our 2nd Annual Charlie Brown Christmas Party.  The party was named after last year’s tree, which looked like this:
 
 
This year the tree was more normal looking but my friends were more comedic, as you can see in this picture:

We even had prizes for Christmas attire:  Ugliest sweater, Most Festive, and Prettiest Sweater.  Guess which person won each prize from the picture below:

I am so thankful to have such good friends.

In my first marriage my husband and I were everything to each other–just like in love songs and romantic movies–but we didn’t have many friends.  Perhaps at some level we feared that if we told people what our relationship was really like, they would see how fragile our marriage was.

I believe that lessons are often learned from tragedy, pain, and hardship–particularly lessons you don’t want to learn.  What I learned from that relationship is that no single person can be everything you need.  And when you lose that person who has tried to be your everything, you are left with nothing. 

So I vowed never to allow myself to be that socially isolated again, and I have done a pretty good job of honoring that commitment.  In addition to playing and captaining all of those tennis teams, I also organize most of our social events and play the MC at the parties, making sure that our time is evenly spent between eating, singing karaoke, and playing board games. 

However, I am still more inclined to play the role of therapist with my friends than friend in need.  And I use all the same excuses that my clients use for not asking for help:  I am a burden, a broken record, a person whose feelings may be too much for other people to handle.  A person who is too needy, too demanding.

I’ve spent today the way I spend most Saturdays–tired and alone.  I did text a few friends.  And I talked to my brother.  And I’m writing this blog post.  So I’m trying to reach out.  But it will always be more natural for me to help than to be helped.

Perhaps whenever I have doubts about whether my friends want to be there for me, I can look at the deranged elf pictured above and remind myself that only someone who cared deeply about me would pose for a picture that can be posted for all the world to see.

Meet the Drill Sergeant

Allow me to introduce you to the Drill Sergeant–one of my most challenging parts. Many of you may have a similar part. My drill sergeant demands productivity at all costs, and not in a nice way.

I am not a morning person, as I indicated in my first post. The drill sergeant doesn’t give a crap. He (I think of it as a he) doesn’t give a crap if it’s a weekend, either; he still wants me to get up. I don’t listen to him, of course, but I pay the price. For every extra hour of sleep I try to get, the drill sergeant yells at me, telling me how other people are up doing normal people productive things, while I am lying in bed wasting my life away.

It doesn’t matter if I don’t have anything pressing to do. The drill sergeant will make up random to do lists as though these things are of the utmost importance. You need to wash those bath mats! There are scraps of paper all over the house that need to be put in the recycling! I’m pretty sure there’s a mug in the sink that needs to be washed! Get up!

I have been sick for the last few days, which is very frustrating for the drill sergeant. I always get sick at this time of the year because, despite my best attempts to manage the stress of my job, I still get exhausted and can’t function. The drill sergeant is frustrated because I was just two days from making it to Thanksgiving break, but I had to miss a day of work, anyway. And I have to say, that frustrates me, too. But what can I do? I don’t even feel like playing tennis. Or eating! If you know me, you know that’s bad if I don’t want to play tennis or eat.

In my efforts to practice self-acceptance, I’m trying to get to know the drill sergeant better, understand his point of view. I can see how he’s trying to prevent me from a life of sloth-hood. And I do have to wake up early to get to work. And occasionally you really do need your drill sergeant–like when you have to channel your inner warrior on the tennis court.

So I’ve struck a deal with my drill sergeant. As long as I am waking up when I need to, fulfilling my obligations, and being a productive member of society, he can be at ease. But I have promised to call upon him when I am in need of some ass-kicking motivation.

So far, it seems to be working.

This doodle reflects my less positive emotional state at the moment. I think it looks like some kind of scary octopus with floating eyeballs, albeit in pretty colors.

 

Solitude

Solitude

I am about to share with you my most shameful flaw so please don’t judge me. And this post isn’t that funny. (Although I always think I’m kind of funny, even when I’m being serious). But it’s the truth, so I have to say it.

I have been in a relationship non-stop since I was 14. That’s 30 years of relationships, and not just to one person. So no pearls for me. That’s the 30 year anniversary gift, in case you didn’t know. I just looked it up.) And sometimes the relationships were slightly overlapping towards the end. And often they were not very good relationships. And I knew this at the time, but I stayed in them, anyway.

In my defense, the marriages were both relationships with two very good guys, but that doesn’t guarantee that a relationship will work, as I indicated in my previous blog. But most of the other relationships were not very good. I stayed in them because: 1) I’m drawn to guys who need psychological help and 2) I am terrified of being alone and am in need of psychological help myself. My attitude was that something was better than nothing.  I didn’t have any empirical evidence to support this, but that’s how fear is. It feels true, even when it’s not.

So in addition to channeling all of my energy into my long-standing dream of becoming a writer, I have also decided to be alone for the first time.

A lot of my married friends say, oh I would love to be alone. I look forward to the times when my husband and kids are not in the house. I, too, appreciated my alone time when I was in a relationship. But it’s different when you go home and no one will be there, and you don’t know if or when someone will ever be there.

It’s different when you could fall and hurt your back and not be able to reach your phone and call for help and people might not notice that you haven’t been around until you stop showing up to work for a few days. Then they would have to send someone down to find you because you’re not answering your phone. That’s not the same thing as having a break from your husband and kids at all.

Last night I tried to change one of the flood lights in my bedroom, but I couldn’t reach it. I tried to use that thingy that allows you to reach light bulbs that are really high up but the floodlight was too big. I probably wouldn’t have been able to get the thingy to work, anyway. I considered getting out the ladder but that would definitely result in bodily injury and/or death. I don’t want to call one of my guy friends and ask them to come over and change one light bulb, so I’ll probably have to wait until several bulbs burn out and exist in semi-darkness in the meantime.

Don’t get me wrong–I know that in the grand scheme of things, I’m a very lucky person. I have a loving family and a great group of friends, I can support myself and I love my job, I have a nice place, and I am hopeful that at some point another relationship opportunity will present itself. Still, there’s no amount of self-talk that can change the fact that sometimes it sucks to be alone.

I’m a big proponent of learning how to sit with negative feelings. This is what I tell my clients all the time. I’m often amazed that they start doing it because I tell them to.  They’re better at taking my advice than I am. I’m amazed that I can give them the courage to break up with their boyfriend or girlfriend, even though they were terrified of doing so. At those times I think, why is it that I can help them do it but not myself? It doesn’t work to be your own therapist, apparently.

But now I’m ready. I’m going to face sadness and loneliness and fear if it kills me. I am going to find out whether or not it’s true that it’s better to be in a bad relationship than none at all. Obviously it’s not true, but like I said, fear is not always logical.

And it’s going OK so far. Sometimes it does suck, but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. Because when I was in a bad relationship, I still felt sad and lonely and afraid, but I also beat myself up for staying in a relationship just because I was afraid of being alone. It’s much better without that last part.

The thing I miss the most is having someone to talk to–someone to share how my day went, to talk about the book I’m reading, or to share any deep and meaningful revelations I’ve had. But now that I have this blog, I have all of you to listen to me. And that helps a lot.

And you know what else? My neighbor called me this morning to check on me because she hadn’t seen me in awhile and wanted to make sure I was OK. I was afraid she was going to tell me she hit my car or accidentally opened my mail again or try to get me to come to church with her. Because those are reasons she has called in the past. But no.  She was checking on me.

I take that as a sign that God is looking out for me.

Housekeeper for a Day

I can see why parents say that having kids provides hours of entertainment–expensive entertainment if you ask me–but entertainment nonetheless.  That’s one advantage of being an aunt: you get the entertainment for free.  Or at least at a reduced rate.

When my niece Sadie came up to visit last weekend she was obsessed about raising money for this school project in which her class was going to make a donation to some place in Africa so that they could build a well and have fresh water.  At first I thought she said a whale and I couldn’t figure out how a whale could survive on fresh water in Africa, even with the most generous donations.

Rather than the usual route of selling candles and tin cans of popcorn, the kids are supposed to earn the money through performing chores, so Sadie was anxious to get back to my place and clean. In fact, she was so exited that she followed me into the bathroom when we got back, asking me for assignments.

So first I asked her to water the plants. I had to show her where the watering can was and she asked her dad to fill it with water and then I had to show her where all the plants were.

It took her less than a minute to water them.

Sadie:  What else can I do?

Me: You’re done already?

Sadie: Yes.

Me:  Did you get the plants on the other wall?  (My brother points out the wall.)

Sadie:  Of course!  Now what can I do?  (I make a mental note to water the plants tomorrow.)

Me:  Why don’t you put these magazines in the recycling bin? (I show her where the bags are and her dad shows her where the recycling bin is.)

Me:  You forgot a magazine.

Sadie:  I’ll just stick it back in the magazine rack.

Me:  That’s not really helping me.

Sadie:  I’m afraid to go in the garage.  It’s dark and scary.  (I walk with her to the garage and turn on the light.)

Sadie:  Now what can I do?

By this point I realize that whatever task I give her is going to mean work for me so I’m reluctant to give her any more assignments.

Sadie:  I can cook you something.

Me:  What can you make?

Sadie:  I can get you a bowl of cereal.

Me:  That’s ok. I’m not hungry.

Sadie:  I can vacuum.

The rug does need to be vacuumed.  But then I envision having to get the vacuum out, move the furniture, show her how to turn the vacuum on, help her push it, and then put everything back in its original place.  I’m too tired to vacuum so I hand her the Swiffer instead.

It takes her a minute to do my entire place.

Me:  Are you sure you got every room?

Sadie: Yes.

Me: What about this room, and this room?

Sadie:  Of course!

I’m not convinced she actually cleaned anything so she sweeps the living room again. She takes her time and does a better job.

Me:  You seem to be enjoying yourself.

Sadie:  Well I have to raise money for the poor!  Is there anything else I can do? This is fun.

By now I’m tired of cleaning so I give her the $5 and commend her for her noble goal. She runs to her dad and excitedly gives him the bill for safe keeping.  He is on Skype with his wife so Sadie tells her mom that she just raised money for building a well in Africa so that they can have fresh water.

I enjoyed being a part of her first lesson in being helpful to people in need and admired how she really took it to heart.  It was definitely entertaining, as well as good exercise.  And the memory of the housekeeping incident will keep me entertained until I see her again. All for the bargain price of $5.

Client Spotlight: Meet Dee

“They”

I am currently working with a client who is smart, funny, irreverent, and inspires me so much that I asked her if I could write a blog post about her. Dee is 73 years old and entered therapy for the first time 2 years ago during the pandemic. Although Dee knew that she needed help since she was a teenager, she was not given the opportunity to go as child because her mom didn’t believe in therapy. As an adult she didn’t have insurance until she started receiving Medicare. Nevertheless, she didn’t resign herself to a life of suffering and sought therapy when it became an option.

Therapists often say that they learn as much from their clients as clients learn from them. Here are some of the things I’ve learned from Dee:

  1. If you live long enough, you will probably experience trauma. Dee lost her dad when she was 15 and her mom was not able to help her navigate her grief. As a result she turned to her first boyfriend for support, only to lose him to a motorcycle accident, thereby doubling her grief. After that she had several more relationships with men who were bad for her in different ways–several of whom were outright abusive. Trauma inevitable if you live long enough. It would do us all some good to give ourselves permission to get help when we need it.
  2. Change is possible if you work hard at it. Even though change is possible, it isn’t probable unless you really want it, and most people don’t like change. Dee is diagnosed with depression, anxiety, trauma, and binge eating, and these conditions were exacerbated with the isolation of the pandemic, as it was for many people. The turnaround she was able to experience in improving her condition in a 2 year time frame is remarkable.
  3. A long life is a sign of resilience. Without access to therapy, Dee unknowingly created her own treatment to cope with her suffering: she began a business working one-on-one with individuals and families to train their own service dogs. These dogs were trained to the same high standards as national service dog organizations – a process that took 1-3 years. Partnering with her clients, she trained autism, medical alert, psychiatric, and mobility service dogs. And she was really good at her job. She found a way to combine her passion for dogs, the need for social connection and self-soothing, and with her need to make a living.
  4. Growth is always possible. In addition to focusing on ways to address her depression, anxiety, trauma, and eating issues, our work focuses on developing spiritual growth, gender identity, and intellectual and creative interests. Dee often talks about how lucky kids are today who have labels like transgender and nonbinary so that they don’t have to force themselves into a category that doesn’t fit. In the last few weeks Dee has begun exploring her identity as a lesbian–literally trying on new clothes, joining Facebook groups, and giving herself the opportunity for the social connection that she has gone without for her entire life.
  5. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Less than a year ago Dee decided to take up painting, even though she had never done it before. In that short amount of time, she has her work shown in several local galleries and has sold several of her paintings–one of them to me! Dee recently decided to use her art to bring awareness to social justice issues by linking some of her pieces with information related to causes that are important to her. I encourage you to check out her art work at http://fullcircleartworkx.com. The painting above is a self-portrait that explores the commingling of masculinity and femininity that she entitled They. I bought the piece below, entitled Heartfelt. Which I find poetic because Dee told me in a session that she always knew that she would fall in love later in life, and she did–with painting.
“Heartfelt”

Self-Awareness

I recently finished reading The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult. It is about the sexual assault of Trixie Stone and the secrets and lies that are unveiled in her family as a result. The title is in reference to Dante’s Inferno–part 1 of the poem The Divine Comedy. If you didn’t have the pleasure of taking the class in college, I’ll give you the soundbite version. Dante’s Inferno describes nine realms of hell in which sins are rated in terms of how egregious they are. From least to worst, the sins in each realm are 1) limbo, 2) lust, 3) gluttony, 4) greed, 5) wrath, 6) heresy, 7) violence, 8) fraud, and 9) treachery.

In the novel mother, wife, and classics professor Laura Stone muses that perhaps there should be a 10th circle of hell with a sin even worse than betrayal: lying to oneself. For me, this is the most intriguing idea in the book. On the one hand, lying to ourselves seems so commonplace that it seems like it would be a minor offense, rather than something so treacherous that it that places you even deeper in hell than Lucifer in the ninth realm, half submerged in a frozen lake, suffering for eternity. But then again, it’s the people who lie to themselves about their intentions who can sleep at night even though they are causing millions of other people needless suffering. Like Putin, for example.

This theme of self-deception brings to mind another book I read recently–Dopamine Nation, by Anna Lembke. It’s about a psychiatrist’s work with people who suffer from addiction. This may seem totally unrelated to Dante’s Inferno, but hear me out. Lembke argues that the best way to overcome any addiction is through the 12 step model, with perhaps the most important step being radical honesty. Robert Brault said “every lie is two lies, the lie we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it.” That is an apt description of what it’s like to be in the midst of an addiction.

Ever since I read Dopamine Nation I’ve made a more concerted effort to encourage clients and myself to engage in more radical honesty. For example, my recent breakup has been a betrayal that comes only second to my first marriage, in which my husband asking if we could have an open marriage in response to my asking him what he thought about having a baby. It’s been very, very hard to deal with feelings of hatred, resentment, jealousy, and regret that have emerged since the breakup. I feel like I’ve become a completely different person, and not someone that I find very interesting. Which is why I haven’t written.

At the same time, when I talk to my therapist about the breakup, she repeatedly tells me that she thought I was the one who broke up with him. So how can I feel so betrayed if I’m the one who ended things? I mean, I guess they can both be true, but still. There has to be some self-deception of my part. Some unwillingness to see how I contributed to the demise of the relationship. Some unwillingness to take responsibility for how I have hurt him.

So I’ve been trying to be more honest with myself about the things I haven’t wanted to see. Trying to remove the log in my own eye rather than focus on what he has done to hurt me. It is painful stuff, let me tell you. The biggest problem I’m facing is that, while lying to ourselves may be letting ourselves off the hook for our sins, the problem with radical honesty is that we run the risk of blaming ourselves for things that aren’t in our control.

I said no when he asked me if I wanted to be in a relationship. My brother was living with me and I was barely holding myself together. I had no personal space in my own home, and even though I was barely able to feed myself, now I had to make sure my brother who just had open heart surgery had healthy meals. My performance at work was suffering as a result. I had to cut back on my hours, which meant less pay, even though I had another mouth to feed. I was not in the head space to be in a relationship. But he wouldn’t take no for an answer. In moments where I tried to be radically honest, I told myself that maybe I didn’t say no often enough, convincingly enough. Maybe it was my own weakness that made me ultimately go along with it even though I wasn’t ready. But in reality, no means no.

Perhaps a more compassionate approach to radical honesty is the concept of self-awareness. Jesus and Buddha both say in their teachings that it is self-awareness that leads us to the most moral version of ourselves. Self-awareness is the goal of therapy, too. To truly acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, and motivations. To have your eyes wide open. Self-awareness means that we recognize that we aren’t better than anyone else. Any sin we can accuse others of is something that we have committed, too. Once you realize this, you understand why you can’t cast the first stone. Hence, you cannot help but have compassion for everyone, including yourself. Because we are all ultimately the same. Just trying to get through life without a road map, stumbling along, doing the best that we can.

And that’s the truth.

Self-Care, Part 3

Lately I’ve been reading old blog posts in an effort to reconnect with myself. I have gotten better at practicing self-care. I am better able to recognize when I’m hungry, when I’m anxious, and when I have to pee. Those 3 used to feel really similar for some reason. Now I feed myself. Last week I cooked 3 meals, and I hate cooking. I just came back from the grocery store, which I also hate. My sleep cycle is more similar to the average person, although still night owlish. I don’t go to bed past 1 am, and I don’t sleep past 10 am anymore. I even do chores on the weekend, rather than lie around because I’m too exhausted to do anything. I don’t overstimulate my brain with games in an effort to prepare for some kind of mental apocalypse.

I’m working on taking care of my health. I just went to an orthopedic appointment last week because my shoulder hurts so much that I can’t even swing a racket. When the woman took me back for an x-ray she asked me how long it has been hurting, and I said since January. She was like, that long? What, did you think it was just going to get better on its own? It made me realize that I don’t take my pain seriously. I wanted to get my hip checked out, too, but I have to schedule a separate appointment. It’s been hurting for several years so I wonder what she’s going to say about that.

I also realized that I don’t get to decide what is strenuous enough to require an inhaler. My body decides. I may think it’s pathetic to need to take a few puffs to bring my trash can up and down the hill, which only takes about a minute. Or that cleaning doesn’t count as exercise. But if it makes me throw up, then I have to accept that my asthma is that bad and just take the darn thing.

I’ve gotten better at solitude. In one of my first posts, I talk about my newly single status and how challenging it is to live and be alone. At that time, I had never been without a romantic relationship because I thought being alone was worse than being miserable. I was terrified of something happening to me and no one knowing about it so I played tennis every night just so that people would worry if I didn’t show up.

At the time I figured out that feeling bad about yourself for being in a sucky relationship was not better than being alone. But I had no clue the extent to which boundaries were an issue for me. Now I do, and I feel fiercely protective of my boundaries. My home has become my safe space, and I am happy to have it all to myself. I am happy that everything in it, including the color of the paint on the walls and the art work that I created, is a projection of myself. I am not ready to have anyone in my space. If someone else is in it, then I feel them instead of me, and I need to know what’s me. I need to know what it is that I want. Even if the other person doesn’t ask, I intuit what they want and give it to them anyway without asking myself how I feel.

I try not to beat myself up for my codependency. It’s not my fault that I had to develop this skill. I’ve always told my therapist that I feel like I have a crack in my foundation. That something was broken from the very beginning, although I didn’t know what it was at the time. Recently she told me that those cracks can be repaired. That a house is a metaphor for our personality, and the first floor is our relationship to ourselves. Only after we’ve spent time on the first floor can we move to the second floor.

I do have some advantages this time around that I didn’t have last time. One is that my family lives nearby, so if I’m too tired to eat I don’t have to lie on my couch and starve to death. I can just go over there and let them feed me, which I do with some regularity.

The other advantage is my Apple Watch. Before I used to obsess about throwing out my back and not being able to crawl to my phone to call for help. Because one time my back was in spasm and I couldn’t move for a few minutes. I used to try to remember to keep a device in every room and to tell my friends that if they received a text or saw a Facebook post saying Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up! to take it seriously. They suggested getting one of those Life Alert buttons to wear around my neck, but that seemed extreme. But now that I have my Apple Watch, I will be able to call for help in any room of my house even if I can’t move thanks to Siri.

So thank you, Apple, for making solitude a little less scary.