Talk Therapy

I think that we all could benefit from a little professional “talk therapy” in our lives. Some of us could benefit from more than a little. Here’s why:

We are more capable of loving ourselves and our loved ones when we at least know why we sometimes behave insecurely, erratically, defensively, or arrogantly. It’s even more effective when we take that knowledge and do the hard task of working through our shit.

We love our people. And we hurt them because of hang-ups in our distant and not-too-distant past. It’s usually not irreparable damage—the people we love tend to forgive if asked, sometimes even when they aren’t asked. But I’d rather be the kind of person who engages with my loved ones in healthy, helpful ways. If I can help it.

And sometimes our people are the ones who hurt us. Therapy teaches us how to handle the pain they cause us and how to form healthy boundaries so we stop enabling them to hurt us and others.

I don’t want to settle for the unhealthy patterns in my life. If you don’t either, I urge you to give therapy a try. Find someone you feel comfortable with, who accepts your worldview even if they don’t believe it themselves, and whose priority in your conversations is to help you find the ability to thrive in all areas of your life, including your relationships.

May you love well and be loved well.

Silence Says Something

I am terribly ill-equipped to say the right thing when it comes to racial tensions, racial inequality, and racially-motivated killings in the United States. Anything I say will come up short and (as an introvert who takes quite some time to formulate words) too late for the moment it’s needed. So I’ve often opted for silent, private grieving. But silence, although comforting to introverts like me, can be experienced painfully by others.

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Lean Facebook

Facebook is a great tool for connecting with far-away friends and acquaintances. It can also lend itself quite easily to superficiality:

  1. voyeurism without connectivity,
  2. exhibitionism, and
  3. a facade of the “newsworthy” things

The latter is usually comprised of the highlights and occasionally a life-altering lowlight that we are essentially asking prayer (or warm thoughts) for, but not much of the mundane in-between. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because

a) most of us don’t want to be inundated with the minutest details of our friends’ lives, and

b) most of us don’t like our “dirty laundry” or that of others to be constantly aired out online.

The issue is, because Facebook is mostly a conglomeration of good times and best moments of hundreds if not thousands of friends on the newsfeed, it can be very easy to believe that one’s own life pales in comparison to everybody else’s.

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Confessions of a Grammar Nazi

Rarely does the wrong usage of the words “there”, “their”, and “they’re” pass my eye unnoticed. I learned the proper spellings of these homophones (among others) in middle school, and I prided myself on being able to use them correctly. I was genuinely confused that others couldn’t get them straight, and I found camaraderie with other Grammar Nazis who shared my passion for the proper spelling of such commonly used and confused words.

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Formerly Fostered: The Search for Healing, Part 3: Healing the Angst

For context, please see Part 1: Accepting the Angst and Part 2: Examining the Angst.

If you’re new to this whole process of emotional healing, I’m going to say something now that might frustrate you: it’s probably going to take a long time and be a lot of work. We can reach major milestones and still have setbacks, but that does not mean we’re not making progress, and I hope that you won’t let it discourage you from beginning and continuing to do the deep inner work of healing. I’ve been frustrated and discouraged, also, and sometimes even gave up hope for periods of time that I could ever reach wholeness. But for me, living with the angst without pressing on toward healing left me in a state worse than the hard work of healing. I knew that there was something better for me than staying in the muck of depression—it was discovering my truest identity and finding freedom and joy in that.

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Couples Retreat

A friend of mine once told me that thousands of years ago in Israel, newlywed couples would retreat for a year to get acquainted with one another. They’d be isolated from the people they knew, leaving behind the former ties and making new ones with their spouse, before re-emerging in their society as a couple united in mind and purpose.

I don’t know where she got her information, and whether it was historically true or not, and generally I thought something like that was kinda unnecessary in the day and age (and the type of society) where couples actually do know each other very well before getting hitched. But something about it drew me to the idea because I was in the kind of long-distance relationship that didn’t allow for us to be around each other very much in normal everyday experiences. We talked a lot on Skype, and I was sure that he was the right guy for me, but I knew that sharing a home and a life would be a hard transition for a couple who couldn’t act like a couple most of the time and who essentially turned back into independent people as soon as the computer screens closed or as soon as one of them got back on a plane to go home.

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Non-Verbal Affection

Sometimes I am so exhausted that my over-taxed brain just cannot pull it together to work with my mouth to produce words that make any sense. And often when this happens I’m in a situation where I cannot escape into a quiet room all by myself, and sometimes there’s someone with me I care very much about who wants attention and affection.

So I’m learning how to communicate non-verbally. Being present with another person, showing them I care about them, without talking. Here’s how:

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Twice as Inefficient

I love efficiency. I love getting things checked off my to-do list, and the more things I check off (and the more quickly I do that), the more accomplished I feel. And subsequently, the more happy.

So when I got married and acquired twice as many to-do’s and a to-do partner who doesn’t value efficiency as much as I do, I became twice as inefficient. And I got a little depressed. I mean, who was I if I wasn’t being super-productive??

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The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

I love personality profiles. Something about categories helps me feel like less of an anomaly, that there are other people out there who are like me, that I can embrace aspects of myself that are valid personality traits rather than flaws to overcome.

The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator is my go-to. I know social scientists give it mixed reviews of its science-iness, but I don’t even care, it’s so useful! Since I learned about the MBTI, it has helped me understand myself as well as embrace the differences of my friends, colleagues, roommates, and the guy I married. When bewildered by their ways of thinking, communicating, and decision-making, instead of demonizing them I recognize that it’s just a personality difference. And that is much easier to navigate than a situation in which one or both parties unnecessarily think of the other as the scum of the earth.

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