What Therapy Feels Like and Developing an Idea

I know. I’m the worst. It’s going to take me a week to get back into the swing of things. But in the meantime…

So I’m just mindlessly scrolling and this happens. And you guys?

Oh my god I want every fucking therapist in the whole world to see this and I need, I need y’all to understand that this is what feels like when you ask us to journal about our feelings and breathe in annoying ways and shit. This is what we feel like.

Goddamn it, if you are a clinician and you have a fucking big project long term client who doesn’t stop showing up even when it makes them feel like blowing chunks?

Just watch this and understand that so deep is that person’s desire to somehow figure their shit out they will relentlessly endure this level of indignity, continuing to trust that you are not just fucking with them the whole time.

Appreciate the clients who will put up with this bullshit in order to improve. We are dangerously close to the edge of saying fuck this all the time. And we’re at least good sports, considering, if a bit lacking in the trust amd spontaneity departments.

We are analysts at heart. Watching things, studying them, thinking deeply about what they are, and could be, and might become. Being analyzed feels icky.

Icky icky.

Also, I’ve been developing a small piece addressing the little conundrum of writing, as Hemingway is said to have demanded, “hard and clear about what hurts.” I don’t know the veracity of the quote but I do know that I’ve had multiple writing professors attribute it to him so I have to assume it’s at least a very good fake. If it is indeed a fake. Which, as I said, I don’t know.

I’ve been addressing both an internalized fear and the subject of external feedback; where are the boundaries to be drawn? Between myself and the world. This has never been an easy thing for me to estimate, the distance between my shit and the vast, vacuous shit of others.

Where is the line between authentic and burdensome? What is off limits, just for me? How is the age of my daughters correlated to their expectation of privacy? Am I going Joan Crawford without realizing it?

Just the basic philosophical quandaries that have beset the path of and driven mad anyone who writes literary nonfiction.

I find myself more and more developing a distinctive voice that tends to be the common thread in anything I write. And I’ve been developing it in a number of places.

This one Word Porn quote popped up, tonight, that was unatributed but entirely new to me:

Be the same person privately, publicly, and personally.

I like to commit to being as honest in my column as I am in my kitchen. And everywhere in between. I prefer to talk openly about my own failures as well as my traumas and my successes.

The more you expose these things to the light of day the less powerful they become over time. I do mean over time. It’s like an IRA. It’s never stuning in process, but the accumulation can be vast when considered over years.

That’s why I write, and write publicly, about some of my most personal and private trash. It’s off putting to some, but in the end if you’re not writing creative nonfiction to discover and understand yourself more completely, even in small ways, and if those personal lessons can have meaning for others and you can tell them what that is, then you’re just writing about yourself for yourself.

And that’s its own genre.

I love watching little ideas like this develop. It used to be very anxiety-provoking, carrying a story idea but having it feel so overwhelming that I didn’t know where to begin separating all the pieces. I’d have this flash of the entire essay all finished and polished. Almost a visual image of it, on the page, but I lacked the focus or stamina to try and reverse engineer it from the memory of the feeling of that initial burst of experiencing it.

Like knowing what you want to say, precisely, in English but being surrounded by people who speak no English.

How to communicate its entirety to them?

Insurmountable. Having a deadline and some loose constraints in terms of length (very loose) has taught me how to write through that enormous wall of fog.

And now I always have a bit of weeding to do. The insurmountable task is no longer generating words and sentences and paragraphs and essays. It’s shaping them once they’ve been set down.

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