I’m a writer, artist and researcher recovering from an acute episode of life. Finding common threads of growing from adversity in fairy tales, creation stories and scripture left me assuming the blown-down houses, hysterical rulers and predatory wolves were somehow part of the plan. Everywhere I went looking for answers, which was most often in books, revealed hardships were part and parcel to having a heartbeat and if we persevered a gift, lesson or ability would reveal itself. I liked reading in closets, where it was safe, treating reading sessions like life-classes; Tragic beginning. Check. Girl on a solo, uncharted mission. Check. Talking forest creature to ensure my safety through the wilderness to a happy ending. Since no talking animals showed up to guide me, I became a therapist.
I practiced for nearly 10 years in a variety of settings which is one of the reasons I initially chose to write anonymously. I’ve since moved into administration but remain on the fence about full transparency. The lack of clarity associated with clinicians having and sharing a lived trauma history remains murky at best. Marsha Linehan talked about her hesitation in an interview with the New York Times in 2011. I’m cautiously invested in the process. Recently I’d been invited to speak on a panel with several other behavioral healthcare professionals who’d overcome various adversities. The workshop was cancelled. No one signed up. Anna Freud suggested that many join the profession to retain an illusion of power, using the title of ‘expert’ to distance ourselves from any lingering or unattended personal wounds. The letters after our name and certifications we earn act as a kind of shield. I tried running for years, to no avail. Learning to be with and embrace the truth about my life continues to offer the peace and substance I’d previously looked for in all the wrong places. What I notice about western culture is we’re lacking an emotional education. I know how to care for my teeth without being a dentist, but feelings get treated like hot potatoes. What do I do with this? Ooo! Oww! Ahh! Drop it! Similarly, if someone comes down with a physical illness we show up with a casserole and a get well card. Admission of P.T.S.D or panic attacks get blank stares and crickets.
Remaining anonymous was beginning to feel like lying and being silenced all over again. Early in my career I wrote an advocacy piece. When a colleague was told I’d written it, they laughed. She’s not that smart. I’m an introvert by nature which means I might someday write better than I speak. Worthlessness has also been a familiar outfit. I was afraid of hurting people I love but got tired of apologizing for and trying to hide the real me; classic codependence, shame or moral crisis? Probably all of the above. The final piece about lying was how much the hypocrisy was bothering me. Part of our work in therapy and as therapists is in learning and teaching others to compassionately own all the parts of our lives. The truth is ultimately safer, lighter and more reliable.
I’m Christian. Don’t run away; I actually love people and have studied a variety of beliefs, noticing the majority of faith practices connect us to a moral compass and source of unconditional love. Each creation story is dressed up in different languages, customs, rituals, songs and clothes. Since I’m not omnipotent I can’t say which prophet is the real Slim Shady of the universe. Prophets are like life guides who love us. My source of unconditional love is something I value deeply, but I also respect all the other sources of spiritual teaching. Without getting into the weeds just know I don’t intend to use Jesus as a weapon. I love him and the way he loved people. Sitting at his feet, resisting the urge to clean or fix everything, continues to help me figure out how to be kind and feel safe in a world that’s often brutal, busy and confusing. That’s all.
The boring facts are I was literally born in Providence Rhode Island. Though my name suggests otherwise, my family lived in a housing project in Woonsocket the first 5 or 6 years of my life. We moved into a partially condemned apartment building to get out of the projects and things just kept getting better from there, meaning life has offered many colorful lessons. Thirteen years of those colorful lessons took place on Matha’s Vineyard, though it’s generally not associated with children of a lesser God. Rich people need their houses cleaned, kids watched, lawns mowed and trash picked up. My family was happy to oblige and the view didn’t suck.
Maybe we’re all born in Providence and pain or adversity are somehow part of the deal. I don’t believe God intends for us to suffer; but it seems like our earthly existence is some kind of spiritual education disguised as family dysfunction. I don’t know the whole, big, deep truth. I just write about it. My brother likes to joke that somewhere some people really are sitting on a picnic bench by a lake with boats, eating noodle salad. I’m a white woman who grew up and through real, often invalidated American poverty, a potpourri of compound trauma and an ongoing waltz with anorexia, anxiety and body image dysmorphia. I like the F word and don’t own a t.v. If cigarettes didn’t scare me I’d probably still smoke. Aside from being darkly introspective and socially awkward, I love using humor to cope and refuse to take myself too seriously unless confronted by a pan of frosted brownies. I’m happily married to a man who’s obsessed with bikes and has turned our dining room into a garage. We’re permanently, radically, intentionally, politically and peacefully child-free. This is my blog which I hope to someday publish as a book. Thank you for reading it.
*If you’re in need of professional help I sincerely encourage you to seek it.
**Please note mostly all names have been changed, some words will occasionally be misspelled, all photos are my own unless otherwise stated and I rarely brush my teeth before bed