Categories
psychoanalysis

Paranoia

1. I suffer enormously from being ignored. Being ignored by those I love makes me feel I don’t exist for anyone.

2. I find this to be a paranoid state brought about by trauma. This knowledge gives me no relief.

3. If you are chronically ill, disabled, and home all day, the form acknowledgment takes is some kind of online recognition.

4. My sister A., with whom I communicate only through Instagram “likes,” has stopped giving me likes. She got angry at me at the beginning of the pandemic then (allegedly) stopped being angry, so at least responds to my IG comments. Still, she won’t like my posts or ask me anything about me.

5. The rest of my family, so active on Whatsapp during the beginning of the quarantine, has gone back to life as usual, which means no contact (I am in close touch with my mom; everyone else acts as if I don’t exist).

6. My mom told me that my niece had a fever. I wrote a Whatsapp message to my sister S. to inquire after my niece’s fever. She replied that it was all okay for now, it wasn’t high or anything. I said Ok good, love to everyone! No answer.

7. I go to a place where I think, I did this. They hate me because I am hateful. They don’t like me because I don’t make enough of an effort to be in touch with them.

8. I can’t let go of this massive sense of abandonment.

9. I can’t let go of this massive sense that people abandon me because I am bad.

Categories
love psychoanalysis

How not to be sad

1. Tell your therapist you love her madly.

2. Tell your husband you love him madly.

3. Tell your girlfriend you love her madly.

4. Call your mom and tell her you love her madly and forgive her absolutely for all the ways she fucked you up.

5. Call someone scared and tell them they won’t die of COVID19, then tell them again until they believe you.

6. Call someone who is going under financially or in other ways and tell them, “I am here,” and mean it because after this is over the world will be a newly communal space and we will be all there for each other and the silly things will no longer matter so you can definitely share a bowl of soup.

7. If someone’s car battery dies help them jump start it (stay at 6 ft of distance from them while you do this because no one needs to get sick while jump starting a car). If they need a car, lend them your car because this is not a time to hold on tight to a car or anything silly like that.

8. Tell your dog he/she is a good dog, such a good, good dog. Same to cat, pet rabbit, pet snake, etc.

9. Ask your friends, “What can I do for you?” and mean it because chances are they won’t need anything other than to hear you say that.

10. Forgive everyone.

11. Do your bit for a world based on decency, love, and cooperation. Do your bit to save the planet. Then, when you have done your bit, be at peace because this is literally all that is asked of you.

Art by Shepard Fairey, posted today on his Instagram, @obeygiant

Categories
psychoanalysis

Peace

1. Some in my family are leaving our all-family Whatsapp group and I am the cause. Everyone is in Italy so I thought it would be safe to bring up my president (Italian politics is high-level verboten). I thought it would be safe, two weeks ago, to say “We who live in the US are in really bad hands and I am scared.”

2. It wasn’t. The one of us who sees things in terms of individual choices and therefore (how does that follow?) supports right-wing politicians was all over me. She is always so disciplined, so good, so kind! But people had been dying for weeks and she hadn’t worked a day and no sick leave for her because she works for herself, so stress (I assume) got the better of her.

3. We argued, I and this person I love, for hours. Everyone else was quiet. We argued well into the late afternoon here and the night there. She was condescending. I was furious. Eventually, in the dead of night Italian time, I lost it and said the things one says when one is angry, which are not what one thinks but what one knows will hurt.

4. I watched the season finale of This Is Us last night. If you have seen it, you know what I’m talking about. Untrue words said in rage can only be taken back if both parties agree that they are indeed untrue and said only because, in rage, we’ll say what hurts.

5. My very loved one who believes that everything is individual choices also believes that rage leads us to say what we really think. She now believes every word I say, and, given the basis of her believing it, there is no talking her out of it.

6. But here’s the thing. I expected the whole family to be angry at me for my lack of control and meanness. They weren’t. They have tolerated my loved one’s right-wingness for years. I was suddenly the hero who said it like it was. They, too, believed my words.

7. Relations are now broken and it’s my fault. Relations are now broken and it’s my loved one’s fault. Relations are now broken and no one can see a path to forgiveness for my loved one except, paradoxically, me, so it’s their fault too.

8. The last time my whole family sided with me I was 9 and something really bad happened and they were on my side because it was just too egregious even for big-mouthed, easy-to-lose-her-cool, troublesome, designated-problem me.

9. But I don’t want them back like this. I don’t want them loving me, now, because we are all united against our loved one who hasn’t been working for more than a month and has ideas that don’t jibe with the rest of us but who is also always there for everyone, always there, always there.

10. And I think of all of us who are fighting now because people are sick and dying, because politicians fail us, because we are not working, because we are working and it’s killing us, because we are stuck together in small spaces including small virtual spaces, and all I can say is, peace, fellow humans, peace and ask forgiveness and give forgiveness and please peace.

Art by Lourdes Sánchez, detail. Via art-Walk.

Categories
psychoanalysis

hope

This is very, very good. There is hope, and hope is the hope for a utopia, and utopias are not silly dream but goals. We hope, we set goals, we strive, we believe, we cheer, we lift our hearts. We look forward. We cuddle the dog.

the stanza

Annuaire_du_Musée_d'histoire_naturelle_de_Caen_(1880)_(17802448583)

It feels a little risky to hope right now, but I find myself doing it anyway.

This is not because I’m a particularly optimistic person—I’m not. In fact, I’ve often found comfort in the theory that, as we evolved as a species, pessimists may have been more likely to pass on their genetic material than optimists [*shrugs]. And I’ve often thought that, since the dawn of vaccines and the long absence of wars fought on U.S. soil, some people have forgotten how much we need a functional government and one another.

As our lives have changed in order to (we hope) slow the spread of the Coronavirus, I find myself hoping that our world, our lives, our society will be different for those who remain after… whatever and whenever “after” is.

Here are some of my hopes:

I hope we finally build the healthcare system that our country needs, and…

View original post 808 more words

Categories
psychoanalysis

Little

1. I fight for the right to be little.

2. Little is the place I inhabit most comfortably.

3. Little is a place of joy and furious love.

4. Little is happy.

5. Little is free.

6. Little is capable of being loved.

7. Little is thirsty for play and giggles.

8. Little knows she will be kept safe.

Categories
psychoanalysis

Therapeutic regrets

1. I regret telling my therapist she should read more literature by people of color, that enough already with the White authors.

2. I regret humiliating her.

3. I regret ever making her suffer.

4. I regret making her work so damn hard.

5. I regret that we chose to have therapy during the plague.

6. I regret not having told her “thank you” enough.

Painting by Atsushi Fukui via What Jane Saw

Categories
psychoanalysis

Easy work

1. This is a psychoanalytic blog.

2. You won’t find comfort here (ok maybe a little).

3. You won’t find wisdom here (hmm maybe some?)

4. You won’t find guiding principles or witty maxims (I’m pretty sure).

5. You might find a quote or two.

6. Nothing useful (definitely).

7. Only the hard (tender, gentle, easy) work of love.

Drawing by Emma Kunz.

Categories
love psychoanalysis

Psych drugs, moms, and transitional objects

1. There is a site called Street Rx where people anonymously post how much they paid for street drugs.

2. It’s a crowdsourced way to help people not get overcharged.

3. I am not myself a consumer of street drugs (don’t need to; I have a good psychiatrist who gives me all I need and health insurance that pays for it, a tremendous privilege I never take for granted) but it gives me a strange comfort to see which ones of my drugs have street value.

4. When I get scared, or worried, or feel that my drugs are not enough to hold me together, I go to Street Rx and see that my drugs are sought after by people who are maybe also scared and worried, and I think that if these drugs are sought after by people then they are good, helpful drugs, and they will keep me together.

5. A psychiatrist once told me that drugs are psychodynamic. I believe this deeply. All care is pyschodynamic.

6. For me, at this time, drugs are transitional objects. They are the long arm of my analyst sitting at the bedside of little scared me and giving me a glass of warm milk and a kind, kind smile.

7. After my parents separated (a brutal and violent affair) I had night anxieties. I don’t remember much. I was very young. What I remember is that I had to call my mom. I would lie in my bed a long time trying to tough it out and always caved.

8. Maybe I caved only a handful of times and those few times feel like always.

9. My mom doesn’t remember any of this.

10. I couldn’t possibly get up and go to my mom myself because I was scared of the ghost men that populated the dark, so I called and called until my mom came.

11. I remember calling a lot. I remember calling with despair. I didn’t want to call my mom. I wanted to leave her alone, let her sleep. I was worried about her. She made constantly present to us how terrible everything was for her and us, how precarious and dangerous our situation. I wanted to take care of her. I needed to take care of her so that she would take care of us.

12. But I did call, and she would come, eventually, and say, What? and I would say the only words I could find to say.

13. I can’t sleep.

14. She would go into the kitchen and make me instant chamomile tea. She would sit on my bed and cool it with her breath and give it to me in spoonfuls.

15. But she didn’t smile. She was exhausted and anguished and worried. She would say, Hurry up, drink, and I tried to hurry up.

16. That is and forever will be the tastiest hot drink in the world.

17. Much earlier, before my parents separated, I promised myself I would never show weakness in front of my mom or dad.

18. But I did, on these post-separation nights, and my mom came, and, albeit not very graciously, she took care of me.

19. I know now, and in some small part of me I knew then, that my mom had no room in her mind to empathize with her kids.

20. I know now, and in some small part of me I knew then, that she would always take care of our physical health, but would never be able to connect with our minds. Our feelings were not something she worried about. I don’t think she could conceptualize that we had feelings at all.

21. I have been reading a lot of literature written by people with troubled childhoods real or fictional and I know I’m not alone in my experience of a radically absent mother. But I have seldom seen, in literature, a mother with such profound inability to form any understanding of the fact that her kids need her more than for clothing and food.

22. The only two places, in real life or in representation, where I have seen this complete abdication of the tenderness of motherhood are the Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante and the film version of Ordinary People (I have read the book but don’t remember it).

23. I scroll Street Rx and see those drugs that are the equivalent of a cup of hot milk (not chamomile tea, it’s hot milk now) my therapist is giving me while I lie scared and lonely in my bed in the dark, and see they are coveted, and think, I have this coveted thing that scared people seek. My psychiatrist has given them to me. My therapist (through my psychiatrist) is here with me and sees my pain. My therapist loves me.

24. I am not alone.

Painting by Vincent Buchinsky, via All Things Beautiful

Categories
psychoanalysis

Therapy during the pandemic

A couple of days ago a twitter thread by historians debated which historical moment was more similar to the current one. Historians were evenly split between the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and the 1918 flu pandemic.

What about all those other massively deadly times, though? World War I. World War II. Vietnam. South East Asia and the Middle East since 9/11. All the border deaths. All the genocides.

I worry that this time feels new and dreadful because we didn’t think it could happen to us, the capitalist West, the developed West, our (predominantly) White countries full of structure and infrastructure, full of law abiding (White) people with good jobs and good livings and a ton of technology and comfortable homes.

My homeless-on-and-off friend (most unhoused people are on and off; they still count as homeless) is not giving the pandemic a thought. Maybe she has bigger problems on her hands. Maybe she has less to lose. Maybe she doesn’t care about dying (she doesn’t).

I have therapy on skype and:

1. I ask myself if my trauma shit is still relevant.

2. I ask myself if my therapist thinks my trauma shit is still relevant.

Yet:

3. My shit doesn’t go away because there is a pandemic.

4. My shit gets worse because there is a pandemic.

Because:

5, The pandemic brings up childhood horrors.

6. The paranoid infant.

7. The abandoned child.

8. The child left to fend for herself.

9. The child with no tools to fend for herself who nonetheless built herself a little fire each night and curled up by it to ward off the horror.

To my therapist:

10. You keep your shit together for me.

11. You appear on the screen with a smile, freshly washed hair, a nice shirt, say, “How are you” and mean it.

12. You hesitate to go fully online because some of your patients don’t have the technology, the privacy, or the stability to do therapy online.

13. You say, I’ve got you.

To all therapists/helpers:

14. This is not just a job though it is also a job.

15. You are in the business of healing which is the business of love and

by God

16. There is no higher calling; there isn’t a nobler pursuit.

Painting by Perle Fine via a casualistic tendency

Categories
psychoanalysis

Grieving (twenty steps)

1. My friend G. spent decades in the company of despair. Her despair was deep and unrelenting.

2. During the time she was active, working at her job, and able-bodied she would catch a break once in a while, for a bit.

3. Then she got bad cancer and the despair abated for a while. Cancer felt like a break.

4. Part of the relief was that she thought she would die soon, and that felt delicious to her.

5. But she carried on living for years, and her life went back to being filled with despair, and her lifedespair meshed with the despair of not dying, the incomprehension of being still alive.

6. I didn’t talk to her much during her last few years, but when I did she would ask me if I thought she would die soon, and I would say, Yes, don’t worry, it will be soon.

7. I don’t think she had these conversations with many people. I don’t know that many people would have known to comfort her by assuring of her soon-death.

8. She was never really in physical pain.

9. I think of her often, partly because I miss her terribly, partly because of her depth of her pain.

10. I tell myself I did alleviate it a bit.

11. I tell myself she had moments of tremendous joy and also quiet peace (she did).

12. I tell myself no one knows what goes on in another’s life.

13. I tell myself that the lives of people in great pain have a way, from the outside, to hide the joy the people still feel.

14. My friend G. could never have committed suicide. She said she was too chicken for it.

15. When I think about her, I also think that she left me here.

16. For a while after she died I believed she might help me from the heavenly dimension where she certainly is, but I haven’t felt her help.

17. I haven’t even felt her presence.

18. This person was more than a sister to me, more than a friend. She was my life.

19. Why isn’t she talking to me.

20. Why isn’t she helping.

Painting Alexei Adonin