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

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