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January 18, 2012


at the end of our sessions, jim almost always asks what i’m thinking.

sometimes it’s, “jim, i’m tired and i’ve just spent a good part of the last sixty minutes sobbing in this green leather chair and i’d like to go to the bathroom and throw water on my face. then, i’d like to go home and sleep.”

other times i want to say, “i want to write down everything you just said because i’m afraid i’m going to forget it,” or, “i’m thinking…i have a lot to figure out, jim.” 

when i say that, he always, always says, “you will.”

i smile. some days i nod and respond with, “i know.”

i walk out of his office, down the hall to the bathroom. i look in the mirror and see a pink face and tired eyes, but i like how i look after crying, alive, like i can see everything better. i can feel everything better.

in our very first session, i told him, “no drugs. i won’t take any drugs.”

“okay,” he said.

i’ve spent my entire life until now numbing myself with food and the desire and need to be needed by people. if i don’t feel needed, i don’t feel wanted. i fix things and i take care of people. taking care of people makes me feel good, but i’m in that chair to work through all of that and i can’t do that if i numb myself again.

if i’m sad, i will feel sad. if i’m anxious, i will feel that too. i will breathe, write, walk, and call my friends and walk through it to the other side.

i fully understand people needing medicine to get through the day and deal with pain, but this is how i feel about my struggles, what i want to put in my body. yes, part of it is stubbornness, but a bigger part is trying to see what i'm capable of.

i'm learning what it’s like to feel all of these things instead of reaching for food at the first sign of discomfort.

sitting in his office, week after week, answering his questions, i have come to realize how many different versions of that word exist. discomfort.

“you're doing too much at once,” he tells me tonight.

“it’s what i do,” i say in a joking tone.

nobody laughs.

“you’re trying to fix so many things,” he says.

i nod.

after meeting with him, i don't like to talk to anyone. i need the quiet to collect the tiny things he said to me, the things that aren't tiny at all.

i go home. i turn my key in the door. i collect my mail from the third step at the bottom of the staircase, another magazine i don’t have time to read. i walk to the top floor. i hear ruby purring on the other side of the door, my door. i shed a coat that’s entirely too big, but i love the belt and the color; i like myself in green. i feed ruby. i feed myself. i try to only feed myself things that nourish me. i listen to what my body wants. tonight, my body wanted a sandwich and a root beer float.

i light the lilac candle next to my bed and pour myself a big glass of cold water in one of my favorite mugs, a beautiful white and blue cup with red, yellow, and green flowers, like something i’d see in a spanish garden.  i can’t wait to see spanish gardens. i put on another sweater, one i only wear around my apartment as it is too big and frumpy. i never feel pretty when i wear anything frumpy. i climb into my bed as ruby curls up next to my left leg, as close as she can get. i turn on mary chapin carpenter, patty griffin, lori mckenna, etta james. strong women. their energy changes me. i feel their words change me.

tonight jim asked, “what was the last thing you did to make yourself happy?”

this forces me to pause. i need more moments throughout my day that force me to pause.

“i bought myself running shorts on monday. on saturday, i flirted with a man, a man who was kind and made me laugh. a man who asked about my writing and my life.”

“good, you don’t do enough of those things for yourself,” he says.

tomorrow, i will wake early. i will drink coffee from this same mug. i will eat an english muffin while i watch the news. i will read on the bus. i will go to the gym and push my body. i will say a prayer of thanks as i stretch. i will be thankful for the day and plans with people i care about, people who care about me.

i will show myself compassion.