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?”
I always crave oranges when it’s cold and grey outside. They just brighten up my day! 🍊☀️ So after some internet issues (not sure what’s going on…super slow lately!) my vlog from yesterday is finally up on my channel: https://youtu.be/0TSvEumUrOA 😬 I’m trying to stay motivated in this weather until we move! ☁️🌧☃️ How do you cope with winter?
to see the movie featuring a guy with 23 personalities who terrorize 3 girls?
Please read this first.
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?
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
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
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
fear being deemed crazy, stupid, weak, incapable, disabled, too much, not
enough.” -GAIL BUSWELL
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
up, I always thought it was normal to lose time or have other people frequently
mistake your name.” – ALICIA PETTIS
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
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
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!
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.
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
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
“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
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.
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.
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
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.
Does anybody remember when I put a missile through a portal, in New York City? We were standing right under it. We’re TheAvengers, we can bust weapons dealers the whole doo-da-day, but how do we cope with something like that?
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
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
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
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
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”
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Does anybody remember when I put a missile through a portal, in New York City? We were standing right under it. We’re the Avengers, we can bust weapons dealers the whole doo-da-day, but how do we cope with something like that? Together.