how do we cope

as a child, i had this really interesting way of dealing with executive dysfunction:

when i needed to do something but did not get the impulse to actually start, i counted to 20.

and at 20, i did the thing.

i started this in order to get me out of bed in the morning, and after a few weeks it was a reliable source of starting impulses. every time i hit 20, i got started. 

somewhere along the way i stopped doing it, because it was weird and nobody else needed to count in order to do stuff.

it makes me wonder, how many brilliant coping skills do we loose or never develop because we live in a neurotypical world and nobody teaches us these things? because we think they’re weird, because we don’t have words for what we’re doing, because they seem to have no place in this world?

Just finished all 4 books of DtoA over the past two weeks, reading during every available moment — while brushing my teeth, while eating lunch at my desk, in line at the grocery store, while stopped at stoplights…

So, question: What’s the Chitaqua SOP for coping (besides rereading, which I already started, while eating lunch (I think; can’t remember, doesn’t matter)? 

Patrol units, any words of wisdom for our newest recruit? Personally your scribe sat vacantly in a sunbeam this morning thinking about Alicia and wondering where to get knife-fighting/dancing lessons. Agincourt: it’s a lifestyle.

Anyway please accept our traditional welcoming gift, this fine thigh-holster!


11 year old Muggle borns getting their Hogwarts letter and being all flustered and confused (mostly confused).
They’re reactions would probably be along the lines of:
“Does Hogwarts have free wifi?”
“Does Hogwarts even have wifi?”
“Can I bring the cat?”
“I’m eleven how do they expect us to cope with the fact that we are going to do mag-HOLY FLOWER WE GET WANDS!”
“Why can’t I wear jeans and a T-shirt and be comfortable?”
“Mom how do I get an owl to send a RSVP?”



Planning to see the movie featuring a guy with 23 personalities who terrorize 3 girls? Please read this first.

Released today, Grief Diaries: Through the Eyes of DID is a groundbreaking first-person anthology featuring the stories of 17 men and women who live with DID, dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personalities. Each one has faced tremendous challenges since childhood, and yet they bare all in the book to help society understand that people who live with mental illness are so much more than just their diagnosis. One writer is an award-winning musician. One is an artist who has had her work shown in galleries (she illustrated the book’s cover). Two host their own shows on YouTube. Two are published authors, and one is a published poet.

Despite tales that begin with severe childhood trauma, each writer bravely faces deep stigma and controversy to reveal their inner world’s struggles, fears, and hopes—and opens the dialogue to raise awareness about what it’s like to share one body with multiple personalities.

What do the writers have to say?

“I spent my childhood living in fear of my home and fear of the outside world. There was no safe space to exist. The way I survived was by splitting off into different parts.” -CRYSTALIE MATULEWICZ

 #DID #Dissociative #MentalIllness

“It’s horrible knowing that everyone inside me was created during trauma, as a response to trauma, to avoid triggers, or to avoid being affected by triggers. There are parts of me who have only known torture and pain.” –AMANDA LINEBACK

I had to give up my dream because the community that is supposed to be the most understanding is the least accepting of people like us. -CRYSTALIE MATULEWICZ

“I fear being deemed crazy, stupid, weak, incapable, disabled, too much, not enough.” -GAIL BUSWELL

“Most of us are so terrified of the day when we finally learn the truth of it all. How will we cope with that, and what do we do with that sort of information? It’s terrifying. Knowing that our brain separated all of this off for a reason, but we have to remember at least some of it to be able to heal and move forward, is absolutely terrifying.” -KATT HART

“Growing up, I always thought it was normal to lose time or have other people frequently mistake your name.” – ALICIA PETTIS

“I worry that I will be left in a bed somewhere, and no one will understand that there is so much more going on inside me.” -KERRYJANE VOTH

“To me, what is scary about having DID is the horrific amounts of torture I was forced to endure as a small child. It is terrifying to think about being so abused that your brain has to take you away and create someone else in order to endure the abuse. It’s abuse so awful, that it’s like being tortured to death, except you didn’t die physically.” -AMANDA LINEBACK

“I fear failing at therapy. I fear that my therapist will give up, that she will realize that I am too broken to fix. I fear that maybe I really am just crazy. Maybe there is no help for me, for us.” -CRYSTALIE MATULEWICZ

Please help the writers share this groundbreaking book—the first anthology ever written about multiple personalities— and help them get their stories out that they aren’t crazy, fake, or to be feared. Thank you!


  • Me: Basically, I feel like I have a terrible hangover all the time.
  • Friend: So nausea and headache?
  • Me: Yup. All day, every day. Plus fainting, joint pain, etc.
  • Friend: How do you cope with that? You seemed fine every time we hung out.
  • Me: I'm really, really good at hiding it. That's how you cope when you've been sick for so long that nobody wants to hear you talk about it anymore.

Drawing some ugu things for falsehero because we’re both broken souls

if you ever think I’ve moved on from hideyoshi nagachika then you are so wrong

  • what she says: i'm fine
  • what she means: how did nate and elena part ways between uncharted 3 and uncharted 4? what did he tell her when he left again? are we supposed to pretend we didn't see the disappointment on her face and the shocked expression on his? will they get past this last predicament? what about nate's alleged brother sam drake? how does he come into all of this? why do i fear for sully's life? how are we supposed to cope with this until next year? will we ever know nate's biRTH NAME?!??

Confessions of a D Girl: Colorism and Global Standards of Beauty by Chika Okoro

If you look like me, you’re used to colorism, says Stanford Graduate Business School student Chika Okoro. She calls the phenomenon known as colorism – discrimination against those with a darker skin tone – “both as sinister and as subtle as racism.” In a world where light skin, light eyes and long “real” hair are sought after features, Okoro tells us how she copes, and what we can do to unlearn this deep rooted, destructive mindset.

Chika Okoro is a second year MBA student at Stanford. Passionate about race and gender equality, she is excited to raise awareness about the many issues that women of color face around the world. She hopes that her talk will start a conversation about important issues that people are less vocal about today. While at Stanford Chika is an Arbuckle Leadership Fellow providing leadership coaching and training to MBA 1st year students. Before coming to Stanford she worked at Procter & Gamble as an assistant brand manager and spent last summer at Google as a product-marketing manager. Chika holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University where she wrote her honors thesis on race and identity in the black community.

Billboard Cover: Lana Del Rey on Why Her Pop Stardom 'Could Easily Not Have Happened'

Lana Del Rey photographed in Los Angeles on Oct. 2, 2015. Joe Pugliese

Lana Del Rey and I were first introduced at an Architectural Digest pimped manse off Pacific Coast Highway during a party thrown, weirdly enough, for Werner Herzog and his bud, the physicist Lawrence Krauss. (Del Rey, 30, has spoken before of her interest in science and philosophy.) On that night, she wore an unformfitting Polo shirt dress with a personal-old-fave vibe. In deglamorized “Stars Without Makeup” mode, she was unpretentious and softly gregarious, like a doe-eyed, underdressed newcomer to the Town. I was at the same table, and she caught me staring off at the horizon. Del Rey was sardonically attuned, nudging her boyfriend, the Italian photographer-director Francesco Carrozzinni, to have a look at the cliché: Old Brooding Man. Her warmth took me out of myself.

Lana Del Rey’s fourth album, Honeymoon, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in September, but when I asked if she planned to go on the road to promote it, she shook her head. “I do everything backwards. It already happened – I’m actually done with the world tour I started four years ago, when I needed to be out there. I really needed to be out there singing.“

That exodus was partly born of the need to heal following a 2012 appearance on Saturday Night Live that elicited a slaughter-of-the-lamb storm of derision over the then up-and-coming star’s seemingly zoned-out amateurism. She was tarred as a poseur – part Edie Sedgwick, part Valley of the Dolls, a Never Will Be Ready for Primetime Player – but it turned out that Del Rey was only at the end of Act One in an all-American A Star Is Born passion play of celebrity crucifixion and resurrection.

Born Lizzy Grant in Lake Placid, N.Y., Del Rey moved to Manhattan at 18. “For seven years I wrote sexy songs about love,” she says. “That was the most joyous time of my life.” The screen that so many gossipy personas have been projected onto (rich preppy, suicidal anti-feminist, morbid dilettante) has instead transformed into a nearly religious dashboard icon of ghostly seduction. She’s a global phenomenon, part of the national conversation and cultural soundscape. Nielsen Music puts her total U.S. album sales at 2.5 million, and her videos have been viewed hundreds of millions of times. Del Rey is now a few years into her return from the desert, having arrived on a mystery train of Santa Ana winds, existential dread and “soft ice cream” (to quote her song “Salvatore”) that is uniquely her own.

I meet her for the interview at a John Lautner house she rents in Los Angeles. Lautner was a seminal Southern California architect, and Del Rey says her choice of lodging was deliberate. She production-designs her life. She greets me in the drive – inquisitive, friendly and aware. For a moment, she looks like Elvis and Priscilla, all in one. The hair is old-school Clairol dark, the eyes siren green, the auburn ’do the most done thing about her.

“You’d love my dad,” she says. She was just on the phone with him; her parents are visiting. He’s a realtor, and Mom’s an English teacher whose passion is reading history books. Del Rey lives here with her younger sister, Caroline Grant, a photographer who goes by Chuck. (Del Rey tells me that her sister was so shocked by the force of the fans’ emotions during concerts that she doesn’t take pictures of them anymore.)

“My dad’s that guy with perfect Hawaiian shirts and matching shorts,” says Del Rey. “The other day he said, ‘We should see about getting you a vintage Rolls.’ I said, ‘Um, it’s a little attention-grabbing.’ And he said, ‘Uh, yeah.’ ”

What do you do with yourself now that you have nothing on your schedule?

I go for long walks, long drives. I’ll get in the car and drive the streets, feeling for places. I go to Big Sur. I love Big Sur, but it has gotten so touristy. I went to the General Store, and there were hordes. On a Monday! But I’m drawn there. Sometimes I go to write. I’ve been thinking it might be time to do a longer video, a 40-minute video. I was watching The Sandpiper, and I was working on something kind of based on that.

Have you thought of writing something for yourself? Shooting down the paparazzi helicopter in the video for “High by the Beach” was your idea, no?

Yeah, it was. I’d like to write a book one day. But you need a beginning, a middle and an end! I can deal with four minutes – but I’m not so sure about a book.

Your song “God Knows I Tried” fits somewhere between The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” I’m thinking of Cohen because of that line “Even though it all went wrong.”

I love Leonard – because he’s all about women. Women and God.

Does it all go wrong?

It’s hard for me sometimes to think about going on when I know we’re going to die. Something happened in the last three years, with my panic…

I had read that you were prone to that.

It got worse. But I’ve always been prone to it. I remember being – I was, I think, 4 years old – and I’d just seen a show on TV where the person was killed. And I turned to my parents and said, “Are we all going to die?” They said “Yes,” and I was totally distraught! I broke down in tears and said, “We have to move!”

How do you cope?

I saw a therapist – three times. But I’m really most comfortable sitting in that chair in the studio, writing or singing.

The panic won’t last forever.

I don’t think so, but … sometimes you just want to be able to enjoy the view. I think I’m really like my mother, in the sense that I make small lists. To calm myself down. I reward myself. You know, “If I finish this, then I’ll do that” – I’ll go for a walk on the beach or swim in the ocean. I go for swims and am actually shocked I do that. Because one thing I’m terrified of is sharks.

Do you think having a child would chill you out? Do you want to have kids?

I’ve thought about it. Really thought about it lately because I’ve just turned 30. I’d love having daughters. But I don’t think it’d be a good idea to have kids with someone who wasn’t … on the same page.

Someone who…

Who isn’t exactly – like me! (Laughs.) Though maybe it’s best to have kids with someone who’s … normal.

When was the last time you got trashed by a love affair?

The last one – before the boyfriend I’m with now – was pretty bad. It wasn’t good to be in it, but it wasn’t good to be out of it, either. He was like a twin. Not a facsimile twin, but a real twin.

So maybe finding the same person doesn’t work. Are relationships hard for you?

For someone like me – and it’s not a codependent thing – I just like having someone there. I’ve been alone, and that’s fine. But I like to come home and have someone there. You know, to say, “Oh, he’s here. And this other thing (Mimes a table.) is there. And this (Mimes setting down an object on the table.) is there. (Laughs.) I’m very methodical. I have to be. I’m like that in the studio too. Mixing and mastering can take four more months after we’re done – three to mix and one to master. I like having a plan. Though I do leave spaces for ad-libbing in the studio when I write.

Do you mind if I write all this? Because I don’t want to piss off Francesco.

Oh, he’s going to read this! But he’ll have things to say anyway. He’s very … aggressive. (Smiles.) And besides, I didn’t say he wasn’t just like me.

There’s something weirdly shamanistic about your work. You channel Los Angeles in ways I haven’t seen from anyone, at least not in a long while. Places now extinct, streets and feelings that you have no right to be able to evoke because of your age. And it’s so unlikely that you’re the one to be the oracle that way. But it’s for real.

I know. I know that. I love that word, “shamanistic.” I read energy; I always have. One of the books I love – aside from [Kenneth Anger’s] Hollywood Babylon – is The Autobiography of a Yogi. And Wayne Dyer … I was so upset when he died! [Dyer, part Buddhist, part New Thought motivational speaker, was best-known for his book Your Erroneous Zones. He died in August.] He gave me so much over the last 15 years. I went to see a clairvoyant. She asked me to write down four things on a card before I came in, things I might be thinking about, and she nailed all four. I asked about the man I was seeing – that one, before the one now. She said, “I don’t really like to go there, but … I just don’t see him present.” I went, “Ugh.” She’s seeing the future and doesn’t see him present. Oh, no!

Are you aware of your effect on men?

I’ve only recently become aware of the heterosexual males who are into my music. I remember when I was 16, I had a boyfriend. I think he was… 25? I thought that was the best thing. He had an F-150 pickup and let me drive it one time. I was so high up! I panicked and was worried I might kill someone – run over a nun or something. I started to shake. I was screaming and crying. I saw him looking over, and he was smiling. He said, “I love that you’re out of control.” He saw how vulnerable I was, how afraid, and he loved that. The balance shifted from there. I had the upper hand – until then.

Do you want to be in the movies?

Well… I’m open to it all. James Franco asked me to be in three films that were going to be directed by a Spanish director, and I was hesitant. I think he heard my hesitance and got scared. Someone wanted me to be Sharon Tate. I thought, “That’s so right.” At that time, there were three Manson movies being talked about, but none were ever made. So maybe that was the answer.

Have you ever been the “voice of reason” for a friend in crisis?

I have – I can be. It’s easier to do that sometimes … for someone who’s half-checked out.

Meaning you.

Yes. (Pauses.) You know, I was living in Hancock Park once and thought about a movie idea. I was renting this house whose high walls had been grandfathered in, so of course I kept making them taller and taller. And I had an idea about writing something about a woman living there, a singer losing her mind. She has this Nest-like security system installed, cameras everywhere. The only people she saw were people who work on the grounds: construction people and gardeners. One day she hears the gardener humming this song she wrote. She panics and thinks, “Oh, my God. Was I humming that out loud or just to myself? And if it was aloud, wasn’t it at 4 in the morning? Did that mean he was outside my window?” Then a storm comes, one of those L.A. storms, and the power goes out except to the cameras, which are on a different source. And the pool has been empty for months because of the drought. And she goes outside in the middle of the night because she hears something – and trips over the gardener’s hoe and falls into the empty pool and dies facedown like William Holden at the end of Sunset Boulevard.

For me, one of the most interesting things about you and your story – and of course your work – is that you broke through. That it has turned out well.

I think about it, and I’m so grateful. I am aware that it could easily not have happened. That I could have become … an American nightmare. I see her – Lana – I listen to her and watch her, and I’m … protective.

Let’s end with Big Sur. Do you think your interest is by way of your kinship with the Beats? Your enthrallment with Kerouac?

Big Sur challenges me to surrender. What draws me is … the curves. I’m really drawn to the curves. 

Bruce Wagner, a novelist and screenwriter, lives in Los Angeles. His new book, I Met Someone, will be published by Blue Rider Press in March.

Imagine how defeated we feel having bpd, knowing that we will always experience emotions this intensely, we just have to learn to cope.
Imagine how exhausted we feel, constantly shifting between the highest highs, lowest lows, and numbness; knowing its never going to end.
It takes so much strength to live with this illness and I personally think we are such strong, amazing people.
I see so much kindness in my fellow bpd people, so much love; to hold on to that softness despite how harshly we experience life is a miracle in itself.

So can we take a moment to appreciate ourselves, no matter what we’re doing or how well we may or may not be coping because life is damn hard for us and most people don’t understand but at least we understand each other.

Danielle Cormack I’ve had relationships with people of both genders

In Season Four you go to a place that you hadn’t previously been with Bea and that was to explore a same-sex relationship. Was that something with which you, as a straight woman, were comfortable?

Is that what people would say? That I identify as straight? I’m going to bust something out here. There’s a really interesting conversation around now about gender fluidity and busting down the walls of sexual orientation and people not having to feel like they have to identify with anything-I sit in two different camps around that.

I think it shows that we’re progressing past labels, as in “fuck the labels” as Bridget said to Bea in Season Four. But then I also have a perspective that might be challenging for some people: maybe it is important to identify with a label to make sure people know exactly who they are and not be ashamed of that.

Labels help us to understand the plight of our forefathers and foremothers and sisters and brothers that have actually really fought to be able to say, “it’s okay to be … whatever it is for you.” For me, would I go “I’m straight”? No, I wouldn’t. I mean you could ask my partner now and he’d go: “Hmm? Hetero? Maybe not!”

I’m all for the latest trend of “hey, fuck the labels” as long as it comes from an educated place and there’s knowledge about the history of the journey we’ve come on to get to this place where we are now, and we’re still going on with it. I mean-Jesus-we’re still just getting over Orlando, you know. And people are still running around bashing people because of their sexual orientation. It hasn’t changed.

I don’t need to quantify my sexual history, but I’ve had relationships with people of both genders, long-term relationships, and that’s why the conversation interests me, because people are interested in the place you come from. Then perhaps you’re “there” and then you’re “not there”, and you can become the subject of a great debate.

Thanks for clarifying! I feel sufficiently admonished for making the assumption! People are very curious, especially fans of Wentworth, which has such an enormous lesbian audience, they’re interested to know these things. Also, when you’re in a minority group, being able to latch onto someone that you admire and know they’re like you-it’s very validating.

I am definitely this way but right now I am in a very happy, healthy, beautiful relationship with a man and it’s wonderful.

So back to Kate Jenkinson and “Ballie”. In Season Four, we see the arrival of Allie. The chemistry between the two of you is off the charts!

Is it? Wow, that’s so great to hear!

Some desperate “fan shipping” going on throughout the season.

Yes, I definitely feel the love for the Ballie thing. I shouldn’t say the “Ballie thing”, it sounds so reductive, but about Bea and Allie.

I was quoted as saying “I was interested in exploring Bea’s sexuality” and it was never that, it was about “Bea’s sensuality”, which is a very different thing, because it was never about “is she gay, is she not?” It was more about her allowing someone into her heart that she hadn’t done for a very long time and we had never been privy to on the show.

Bea was confronted with someone who was offering that; someone who was clearly interested in her with an agenda that was really to connect with her.Allie was someone who was really taken by Bea as a person: not because Allie was trying to manipulate Bea about being Top Dog, not because she was trying to get something from her, but because Allie could see something in her that Bea hadn’t actually seen in herself.

Bea’s been so saturated in grief and surviving in this harsh environment, and I was really interested in seeing what would happen when someone tried to unlock that part of her personality, or who she is. And then it starts happening and it leads to that point of ‘oh my god!’

When Bea decides not to resist, I wanted to make it not just about the first kiss with a woman, but just a “first kiss”. Not the first time you ever kiss someone, but like when you meet someone as an adult and it can still be awkward. In the bright light of day, it ignites something that makes you become so “ish”, you know-girlish, boyish-and it’s so innocent and so pure. And it was like trying to find what,in this environment,is going to help us to explore that part of Bea that has been so damaged?

I think with the Bea and Allie relationship there is a beautiful, maternal quality to it, like a sistership and being best friends, which exists in a lesbian relationship that you don’t have in a hetero relationship. It transcends the erotic nature of the relationship, and there’s something else in there that starts to chart other territories. When it goes to the sex and the chemistry, I think that’s where Bea goes “whoa, hold on, where’s this come from?”.It’s frightening and exhilarating and all so new to her, but I also think it feels so right to her.

Now I have to go here and ask this question. Are you aware of the “Bury Your Gays” and “Dead Lesbian” tropes?

Yes, I am, but to be honest, with a show like Wentworth, I think everyone’s fair game.

In this story with Bea and her love for,and relationship with, Allie, my job is to try and shine as much light into the dark recesses of these characters and the storyline regardless of where it goes. So when it is time for any of the lesbian characters in the show to meet a tragic end, it’s our jobs as actors to cast an equitable view on each of those characters. You can’t just look at it as, “oh look, here’s a lesbian character that’s gone”. You can go, no actually she may have died BUT she was also part of the bigger story; she represented so many other things than just being gay.

I think that you’re right with Wentworth in that anyone is fair game. It’s quite different and you never ever know what’s around the corner.

Right, and it’s not my responsibility because I’m not the writer on the show. But as far as my support for any kind of movement that is trying to break down historical oppression in terms of characters and/or ideas, such as this one, then yeah, I see that as my responsibility. I will try and support any movement that is trying to reduce marginalisation and making people invisible.

But then you look at the Bechdel test with women as a marginalised group. What percentage of female characters exist only to inform the male characters or only have conversations that are centred around men? I’m still getting my head around that. My role in any show is to help realise and bring to life a character as much as I possibly can by creating dimension and colour and by honouring the telling of the story. That’s the most important role of an actor: to help tell the story. The audience is there to watch the story.

I agree. It can be quite disingenuous to reduce any characters to merely “being gay”, although it is a conversation that does need to be had in terms of equal representation.

Absolutely, and I embrace the conversation because I think it’s really important-and rightfully so-but I’d also like to think that our show has honoured a huge number of women and represented a wide social strata of varied backgrounds, of economic status, of colour, and of sexual orientation. I stand proudly by the show because of that.

One of the strengths of Wentworth is its diversity. People can tune in and see themselves represented.

Which is probably why it appeals to such a broad age group and demographic. I sometimes forget that our show has probably one of the more broad demographics of any show that I’ve ever been involved with.

With Wentworth you expect any characters that have a shred of happiness to have it ripped away from them. Bea’s falling in love-she’s a giggly little girl-and then she has it taken away. As an audience we want Bea to have a happy ending. How do you cope with all those emotions?

I think I’m kind of used to it on Wentworth because it’s the lay of the land. You can never get too comfortable, that’s the thing. That’s not the show-it’s not Better Homes and Gardens! Every time we’d get a new block of script, it was with great anticipation that I would read it to see what Bea was going to be subjected to in that episode?

But the writers have crafted these episodes so beautifully because they do take these twists and turns-the minute you are comfortable, something comes and rips it right out from underneath you. Then you have to try and piece it back together again to find that place of being comfortable-it’s so fleeting. I think they craft it so beautifully where they place all those moments; that’s why people stay engaged with the show.


we have to talk about bucky in long-sleeved shirts with the cuff pushed up to the elbow to reveal his gleaming metal forearm

Room Enough for Us: Coping With the Way We Cope.

Part of my hospital chaplaincy duties is to write a reflection on how it’s going. Identities may be altered for privacy. All the writings are here.

I’m in a room where a father keeps telling his high school daughter, “It’s all in God’s hands now, it’s all in His hands.” The girl has lost both her feet in a car accident and her eyes are blank; she’s looking past her dad, somewhere else, into another universe where the other driver had one less shot at the bar.

I want to tell the father, You’re not helping. Can’t you be more sensitive? Don’t you know it’s a process? Can’t you see it doesn’t work?

Every room, one after another, is filled with friends and family members who try to help with the same kinds of shrink-wrapped platitudes. I’ve heard them all.

“Everything will be okay.” But what if it’s not?

“This is God’s plan.” To suffer this much? Why?

“It could’ve been worse.” But isn’t it already bad enough?

I get bitter about this stuff. You’re not helping, I keep thinking at them. And more selfishly, Let me do my job.

I guess it’s easy to see the dad as the bad guy. And sometimes, the guy who brushes off your pain really is the bad guy. But — I’ve also been learning about why we say this stuff so much.

I’m learning that we’ve all learned a way to cope, whether good or bad, and we default into the only way we know how to get through.

I thought about that father and his daughter, and how much his daughter needed to process what was happening. But maybe for the dad, the platitudes were his initial way of processing. Maybe that was all he knew about coping, and it’s what he needed right then.

Of course, the daughter needed it more. She needed the honest room to talk, to be mad, to felt what she felt. But the dad was short-cutting all the honesty because he never had the room to feel how he felt, either. He never had that chance in the first place.

I’ve seen that there’s no school for this sort of thing; there’s no open venue for vulnerability in an increasingly polarized world; no one is rewarded for saying the harder things out loud. We use religious language and pep talk and positive thinking because it’s all we’ve been trained to do. Westernized prosperity and self-help and self-talk are big businesses. We’re constantly taught that if we “dream big” and “try your best,” that we can “achieve anything” and “like attracts like” and all this other brainwashed, first-world, upper-class tripe that only works in suburbia. We’re conditioned to affirm and encourage and cheer each other on, even and especially by forced, coerced, plastic smiles. Anything else is seen as a “Debbie Downer” or “Negative Nancy” or “toxic triggers” or something. No one is taught how to talk about illness, death, or dying with dignity.

So I get it. I get why we try to fix it so fast. I get the denial. We’re all indoctrinated to be scared of the dark, so we keep it light. It’s easier to spout off a motivational one-liner that looks good in typography. No one tells you how to paint without a brush and to jump in the bloody mess.

So I hear, “God has an amazing plan for your life!” one more time, and before I get too bitter, I have to pause. I have to remember where all this comes from. This is what he knows. That’s the size of his spiritual muscle. It doesn’t make me better than him. It only means I have to be better for him.

I’m trying to have grace for this.

I’m in a room where this guy Steve was robbed by his son, who dropped a granite dinner table on his dad’s head. Steve has a fist-sized triangular hole in his skull. Because of his brain injury, he lost his job, his wife, his house, and most of his memory. He tells me, “My pastor told me to suck it up and tough it out. He said I can’t get mad at God and that God won’t give me more than I can handle, and that I just need to forgive or I’ll go to hell.” I’m suddenly angry at this pastor, this awful, terrible, minimizing, ugly little man. But I also pause to wonder, What happened to this pastor to make him say these kinds of things? Who diminished the pain in his own life? When did he ever have a chance to be honest? And I want to hold empathy for both of them: for Steve first, but also for this pastor who was suffocated by brimstone.

I’m in another room with Jordan, a young guy with cancer, who keeps saying, “But praise God! Hallelujah, I’ve accepted it, God’s will! I’ve accepted I’m gonna die.” I really try to dig deep with him, to get him to confront the fear and uncertainty, to admit this is a hard thing. I’m worried that this guy is sugarcoating extra-hard, and like all sugarcoaters, the crash would be gloriously explosive. But Jordan keeps shaking his head, “Praise God, praise God! God’s will, I know what’s coming, I ain’t scared.” And really, what could I say to that? Who am I to tell him otherwise? What if he really had accepted something as grand as God’s Will? What if this was actually working for him? What if there was no more coping or processing to be done, but he had really made peace? What if I was the insensitive one?

I’m not saying that these platitudes are always okay. It bothers me when we rush past someone’s pain. I’m always going to work exhaustively around them. I’ve just seen that there’s a reason we go there so quickly, and I wonder how I can get underneath it and ride the river back to the deep of the ocean.

I was thinking about how to ask new questions. How do I hold space for everyone involved? How do we make room for the way we cope, without judging the other, and land to a better place together? How do we peel back the layers of all the ways we’ve covered up the dark?

I’m with another guy who has just lost his wife, and I lean over to put a hand on the guy’s shoulder. Without looking, he says, “Leave me alone. Leave us be.”

It wasn’t the time to talk. Not a time to process or to cope or to hear a damn thing.

That’s what he needed right then. To be left alone.

We’re just trying to cope with it, somehow.

We’re all on the way to making peace; we each have our own way up the road. There’s room enough for how we get there.