jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
It turns out that Portland, at least the Alberta St NE between about 10th and 30th part of Portland, is really cool and the kind of place I'd like to live: a ton of little shops and restaurants, people wandering around, not too many cars, a couple of parks and grocery stores, etc etc. If only it weren't in a) Portland and b) the States.

Over the course of three days I got sprinkled on, rained on, hailed on (!), and sunshined on, although not all at once.

I stayed at a hotel that used to be (part of?) an elementary school, in the English Wing. This gains points for having each room themed around a particular book (I was in Jennifer Egan's The Keep, next door to The Farthest Shore and across from The Riddle-Master Of Hed), loses them for not having either a hot-water-heater or a bathtub in the rooms, and gains a few back for the lauded Soaking Pool, which used to be an outdoor Olympic-sized swimming pool and is now an outdoor Olympic-sized warm (not very hot) tub.

So, what did I bring out of Rally?

cut for suspense )
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Some links about not writing, which have been open in Firefox for the past month or more because my response keeps being "this is helpful" crossed with "i do not have the emotional bandwidth for this to be as helpful as it could be."

Flight or Flight as Applied to Writing: "It was a trigger-state choice: I wanted to run. Therefore, I chose to fight, and I felt better fighting than running." This is deathly familiar to me.

Writing In Life: "A riverbed doesn't stop being a riverbed in periods of drought. A writer doesn't stop being a writer while raising children, loving families, caring for friends, or enduring and processing emotional upheavals." (Have I mentioned that Blair is smart? Because Blair is smart, and also kind and perceptive.) (Related, Creative Fatigue.)

I'm not willing to say that writers' block doesn't exist: a lack of ideas to write about has never, ever, been my problem but that's not to say it isn't someone else's. My blocks are of my own making, primarily of exhaustion and fear.

2013: A Learning Year: Managing Expectations: "If I'm calling it a Learning Year, what exactly did I learn?" Answer: "I am saner and happier and more me when I write." Yeah.



I am personally offended by the 'graphomania or gtfo' crowd, and I don't know that I've ever really laid out why. You know the types: the ones who spout 'if you don't have a burning NEED to write then you have no business being a writer' nonsense, who hand out the poisonous 'if you can possibly do anything else then do that' advice to aspiring writers. I'm perfectly capable of not writing. I burned years of my life shutting down that part of myself, because the messages I heard were that I wasn't dedicated or passionate enough to be a Real Writer. Sure, I was miserable, but that was all my own fault for not being a Real Writer.

"But that proves it," you say. "You're miserable without writing! See, you Have To Write!" To which I say cheerfully, fuck you. It is a goddamn miracle that I am alive and breathing right now, because making myself miserable to be what other people wanted me to be was a survival strategy for longer than I care to recall.

I'm starting to get over that now. I still get angry every time I see or hear someone pushing that crap, because I'm only starting to get over it. It still sounds like "you, tucker, have no business writing," and it still sounds almost true enough to take hold. And if I don't get angry at it, it will take hold, and it will eventually strangle me, all because you thought it'd be cool to hold up your creativity as some weird combination of Special Flower and Vicious Taskmaster.

So, contrariwise, anything that tells me 'it's okay to not write all the time' is a lifesaver. A small kindness, and something to be treasured.



My tag for noodling about writing is 'not writing,' from something Gene Wolfe once said: "To be a writer, you must write. And no amount of prep-work is writing. Research is not writing. Taking notes about the world is not writing. Thinking about writing is not writing. Only writing is writing."

It's nonjudgemental, it's not prescriptivist, and it leaves it as something you, the writer, or aspirational writer, have control over.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
I hate Facebook. I use it because I know too many people who are only on Facebook, some of whom I want to keep up with, but I hate it. I hate that it won't show me everything I want to see, I hate that it keeps showing me things I don't want to see, and I hate its intrusion into every facet of my life. I would give 1:2 odds on me abandoning Facebook entirely by this time next year.

(I am bemused by Google Plus. I'm on there but see little reason to use it.)

I enjoy reading Twitter but I am not well suited to using it. Twitter is one big internet party. At parties I am consistently the guy who's either standing around looking a bit lost, or talking excitedly to the same three or four people for several hours and wishing we were someplace a little bit quieter and more comfortable.

(Two quotes: "Facebook is the internet for extroverts" and "Facebook is where you hate your friends; Twitter is where you like strangers.")

I adore long-form personal blogging, which is why I'm still on DW/LJ and why DW doubles as my RSS reader. Not much more to say about that. I rarely comment on other people's posts but I do read them as they go by, and appreciate them a great deal.

I miss email, which is a stupid thing to say because I seem to know a number of people who want to communicate with me by email. I think what I miss is an ability and desire to be open on email without worrying about whether I'm about to say something stupid (for any of a number of definitions of stupid) and revising all the soul out of it until I'm exhausted and just don't bother writing.

I am apprehensive about IM. A side effect of talking so much to the same person for so long is that I'd built up an idiosyncratic ... personal language of chat, almost, so that talking with anyone now feels like I'm having to mentally translate as I go. That ties in with the fear of doing/saying something stupid from email, too.

I'm not sure about Skype but I'm also not so sure about the phone, or talking in person for long periods of time, because I'm not sure I can hold up my end of a conversation for that long.

(I dislike text messaging because I can't type fast or accurately enough on the Device's keyboard.)

... I think what's going on here is that I miss being less guarded around people, but I don't know how to turn that off. Although... hm.
jazzfish: A small grey Totoro, turning around. (Totoro)
My apartment is further from the skytrain than I'd like, the heating is uneven, and most importantly The Rent Is Too Damn High.

And yet I don't want to move.

Since leaving home in 1995 I've moved thirteen times. That's counting one dorm room, and one move from a basement to an attic, but not the places I lived for less than a month. Still. You'd think I'd be used to it by now.

So I think about packing everything into boxes again, and changing my address in a dozen places, and renting a truck, and just living somewhere different, and I start to ... not panic, not exactly. It's somewhere between "scared" and "just don't wanna."

Something about this apartment feels like home, like permanence, in a way that nothing else ever has. There's light, and space, and a sense of having chosen to be here.

And today in the too-bright autumn sunshine I saw a perfect V of Canada geese fly behind the hotel across the way.

I like it here.

Which doesn't make the rent any less Damn High.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
I recently reread Susan Palwick's Shelter, a book that knocked me over so hard on first reading that I couldn't find anything at all to say about it. It's an amazing story about people who are doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons, and it's about forgiveness and identity and love and being human. It is also, almost incidentally, a well-constructed near-future SF novel: having come out in 2007 means that its lack of smartphones etc makes it feel a bit dated, but other than that it's eminently plausible.

This time it left me neither speechless nor in tears. (I got a little sniffly at the end but other than that.) It just had much less of an emotional gut-punch. I suspect that I'm better-adjusted and more in tune with my own emotions, so it's not poking so directly at some raw spots.

(I have Palwick's latest, Mending the Moon, but haven't gotten to it yet.)

On the other hand, I also reread Le Guin's Very Far Away From Anywhere Else. That one still gets me curled up in a ball on the couch at about the two-thirds point, and again at the almost-end. ("See, I'm supposed to go on living all those years, and I don't know how.") So, maybe not as well-adjusted as I'd like to think.

... in fact, definitely not, because I seem to have a very strong internal prohibition against talking about Very Far, about the things in it that spoke to me. Huh.
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Up 'til after 2 AM last night, doing workstuff I couldn't get myself motivated to do until I started thinking of it like a paper or a class project so I drank a bunch of tea. Oops. At least the work got done. Today I feel more zombielike than I have in ages.

Which is not to say I've been all here the last couple of weeks. The weather has been deeply foggy, like "can't see two apartment buildings over" foggy. Lots of foghorns coming in off the inlet. This is an acceptable metaphor for my state of being as well. I think it's fair to class this as "depression" even though it's got some obvious and some not-so-obvious external causes. That is, it's not, or at least not solely, chemical. (Causes include workstress, lifestress, and other fun things.) I mean, you can tell I'm depressed because I'm not writing here, for one thing. Contrariwise, that I'm writing this is a sign that I'm doing better. I think.

We went down to B'ham over the weekend for a US grocery run, which was mostly unremarkable except that I picked up a nice wool coat from the thrift store. Not having a car has made me acutely aware of the difference between "comfortable" and "a little too chilly" in my green jacket, and my hunting parka is warm but too bulky to be a good city coat.



101 )
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Elseweb a friend asked about personal hinge points, of the "if you could go back and do one thing differently, what would it be?" variety.

Most of the poor decisions I've made were the best decision I could have made at the time. As noted elsewhere, I lacked the tools to make better ones. To have chosen differently or better I would have had to be a different person. This rules out such obvious choices as "don't nearly fail out of college" or "don't give up on writing for the better part of a decade."

Having said that, there are one or two places things could have gone differently. For example... )
jazzfish: A small grey Totoro, turning around. (Totoro)
"Why I can't write" turns out to be one of those things that my brain just slides off of rather than grappling with. I literally cannot hold the idea in my head for long enough to say anything coherent about it. Usually when that happens I forget about it altogether. It's some sort of defence against prodding too much at something very frightening. I've only kept track of it this time through concentrated effort.

Anyway, writing. I've been here before, and sort of skirted around what was actually going on. Now I'm getting closer to it but still not to a point where I can think usefully about it.

A tangent: in my limited experience, the two main attitudes of counselors/therapists are "wait the patient out, they'll bring up the hard stuff on their own when they're ready" and "prod the patient gently to get at the hard stuff." Prodding seems to provide more immediate results for me, since I'm very good at Not Thinking About things. However, my current counselor is more of a waiting type. This has the (probably intended) result that if I don't bring in something to talk about there's not much talking going on. So when something happens like "I spent three days straight playing a computer game that I'm not even sure I like very much," I bring that up, and it turns out to be relevant. Anyway. Tangent over.

Normally when people think about being afraid of writing, it's the whole 'what if it isn't any good' thing. I don't have that, so much. I mean, I moan about how awful my stuff is as much as the next writer but I don't let that stop me. I keep going, usually with friendly support and 'it doesn't suck' from various people. Once it's Out There for whatever value of Out There, I don't worry so much. It's either good enough or it isn't and either way the next one will be better.

This... has something to do with the weight I place on Being A Writer, and something to do with needing other people, and, oddly, some relation to a couple of other things I'd like to do but haven't pursued.

Twitter turns out to be a horrible medium for me to feel connected to anybody. It really is like being at a huge party all the time, and as such it's exhausting for me. (I am decidedly not comfortable with jumping into conversations.) Unfortunately it's also where much of my writerly social circle is being sociable and supportive. That's more of a big deal for me than I'd thought it would be. It's not a cause, I don't think, but it's not helping. I am, as always, deeply grateful for the people I have here. DW/LJ helps. It's just not enough.

Which is in some sense the problem. What I can get isn't enough, and so I stop asking and seeking. Not sure how to resolve that.
SAM: Well, that was needlessly cryptic.
MAX: I'd be peeing my pants if I wore any.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
Tempus, as Scott M-- was wont to say when Latin class ran late, is fugiting.

I don't do very much, socially speaking: board gaming once or twice a week, an RPG once a week, hanging out with a couple of friends of an evening. There are a handful of other events I've been psyching myself up to get out to, and of course there's the neverending search for Cool People To Bond With.

Even so, since mid-October I've been feeling more and more time pressure. It's like I can either write or not-write, and not-writing isn't getting me any closer to my objective. (Not the kind of not-writing that results in posts about my writing, the other kind.)
No matter what I did it never seemed enough
He said I was lazy, I said I was young
He said, "How many songs did you write?"
I'd written zero, I lied and said "Ten."
"You won't be young forever--
You should have written fifteen."
--Lou Reed & John Cale, "Work"
Come the end of May I'll have twelve days of vacation available. May's a busy month: Beach Week with the Arlington Board Gamers, WisCon, and Origins all fall within a three-week span. The original plan was to take most of those three weeks off, and work from work for the time betweek Beach Week and WisCon.

This eats up nearly all of that vacation time. Which would be acceptable... except that someone on the VP list pointed out that the Rainforest Writers Village still has several spots open. It's three weekdays, which is about the length of the time I'd need to take off for Origins at the end of those three weeks.
Andy sat down to talk one day
He said "Decide what you want:
Do you want to expand your parameters
Or play museums like some dilettante?"
--ibid.
I've been thinking lately about who I am and who I want to be, where "who i am" is defined by what I do. Four years ago I was a gamer. I had several consoles hooked up, I had a room full of boardgames and shelves of RPG books, I even actively sought out new computer games. Now... I'd like to do more boardgaming and role-playing but that's a desire for quality not quantity. I'd happily drop back to one RPG every two weeks if it was a sufficiently good game, and one of the best parts about living outside DC was the really good boardgaming every other weekend. I've decimated the room of boardgames and have every intention of doing the same with the RPGs as soon as I can find them a home. Video games have fallen off my radar almost entirely; I sort of miss them, but (with the exception of "soon i will make time to play Portal 2") not really.

I think I was always a storyteller, and for awhile games were my chosen medium. Thing is, they're a peculiarly passive form of storytelling. They're a way to create someone else's story. Even the best role-playing games are built around someone else's framework. I have no intention of giving them up; they're just not so prominent anymore.

VP reminded me that I don't just want to "be a writer," I want to write. Which means making choices, which are here embodied in "how I want to spend a lot of money and a not insignificant amount of time": writing retreat or gaming convention?

Really, though, it's not much of a choice. Last year GAMA decided, that having Origins at the end of June meant that people were choosing between going to Origins or GenCon, and they didn't want to force people to make that choice. So they made it for them, and moved Origins back into the school year. This resulted in, among other things, Looney Labs deciding not to have a presence at Origins 2012. Thus at least half the people I go to Origins to see won't be there this year. My original thought was that I could get back to my roots, schedule some one-shot RPG sessions, maybe do a LARP that would go better than the last disastrous Deliria LARP I played in[1].
Andy said a lot of things
I stored them all away in my head
Sometimes when I can't decide what I should do
I think "What would Andy have said?"
He'd probably say "You think too much,
That's 'cos there's work that you don't want to do."
--ibid.
Given the option of either seeing some people I hardly ever see and doing things that might or might not turn out to be fun, or going off for several days in the company of a couple of folks I already know are pretty much awesome, doing What I Want To Be Doing... well. I don't want to rush into a decision so I'll sleep on it (and talk it over with [personal profile] uilos when I get back home); there are probably aspects I'm not thinking through.

At least Readercon isn't until July. I'll have time to save up enough vacation for that regardless.



[1] Short version: we were members of a travelling market that got ambushed and slaughtered with no chance to fight back, get away, or otherwise save ourselves. One player got handed an inspiring speech to recite before being killed in a particularly gruesome way. We were told afterwards that this speech had a huge effect on the game world. It was quite effectively horrifying, but an empty experience in terms of the kind of role-playing I'd wanted and expected to do. If they'd told me I was signing up for a horror game I might have been willing to forgive the blatant railroading. As it happened, all I could think was "for this I skipped the Icehouse tournament?"
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
Six months ago I started wrapping up loose ends.
A year ago I saw my awful ex for the last time.
Two years ago my relationships turned into a slow-motion fountain of shrapnel.
Three years ago I was cautiously optimistic about the fall election and my life plans.
Five years ago I'd gotten settled back into northern Virginia.
Seven years ago I was drowning in theatre classes and Not Dealing with life stuff.
Nine years ago I was underemployed, horribly depressed, and developing a crush on a sophomore.
Ten years ago I was employed at Syncad at the second-worst job I've ever had.
Twelve years ago I was employed at A&W at the worst job I've ever had, failing out of school again, and trying to sneak a cat into the worst apartment I've ever lived in.
Fifteen years ago I was going back to Nova every few weeks to see Steph, and I'd just met [personal profile] uilos.
Twenty years ago I fell into an environment where I could thrive, though I didn't know it at the time.

Three months ago I fell into another new environment, where I hope I can thrive.

Life flies when you're living it.
jazzfish: five different colors of Icehouse pyramids (iCehouse)
So, on Friday morning I woke up at quarter of four, taxied to the airport with the cat couriers (because the Skytrain doesn't run that early), and hopped a flight to Toronto. From there I caught a puddle-jumper to Columbus.

Eventually. )

But I made it okay, starving and headachey and worse for the wear. I found [personal profile] uilos and collapsed on the bed in the hotel room for probably half an hour or so, and then she herded me to North Market for the first of several weekend meals involving crepes.

And then it was Origins. )

Speculation about next year )

Overall: fun but not nearly enough of it.

And now I am home,and it's time to face the week.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
I don't know if it's being an Army brat, or having been a student for so long, or just hating the heat in general, but my relationship with the seasons seems to be different from most people's.

Autumn is a time of beginnings. New house, new neighborhood, new school, new classes, new people. The oppressive heat of summer's broken and there are leaves that want scuffing through. Autumn has always been my favorite time of year.

Winter is when the living happens. I've been here long enough to get comfortable and I know what's expected of me. I can just get on with being where I am. The snowfall and the occasional random days off it brings are nice as well.

Spring and summer are for endings and waitings and transitions. February is traditionally when things start to go to hell, and then it all falls apart in spring, and I spend summer picking up the pieces. For a long time spring and summer were the same season to me: bright sunlight, green trees, too miserably warm outside to do anything other than swim or roast.

Of course, the last couple of years have turned all that on its head, culminating in my now making a huge life change in the middle of spring.

I'm pretty much okay with this. I'm tired of my old patterns; I'm ready for some new ones. Like a job where my boss is willing to move metaphorical mountains to keep me, or relationships built on affection, communication, and concern for each other's well-being, or a drive to tell stories that's strong enough (and sufficiently fed by the rest of my life) to overcome fear and laziness and exhaustion.

Summer approaches, but it's not the heavy, stagnant, life-leaching summer I'm used to. It's more like autumn, only with better light and longer evenings.

I think I'll be able to get used to it.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
21 days for Dreamwidth, #11:
What features do you think Dreamwidth should have that it doesn't currently?

Photo hosting and the ability to read locked LJ posts, both of which have been in the works since well before the site launched.

That's really about it. I'm happy with just about everything else.



Derek K. Miller's last post has gone up.

... yeah. Just read it. (Read the linked xkcd cartoon about legos, too.)

And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

blocking

Mar. 22nd, 2011 02:18 pm
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Blocked:
"For a long time, I considered myself ADD and dreamed of a pill that could make it alright. But the longer I write, the more I think my problems have less to do with ADD, and more to do with my desire to avoid pain.

It's painful to write. It's painful to take a clear look at your finances, at your health, at your relationships. At least it's painful when you have no confidence that you can actually improve in those areas. I would not speak for anyone else, but most of my distractions (and I said this at SXSW) are traceable to a deep-seated fear that I may not ultimately prevail.
I was diagnosed ADD in elementary school, and put on Ritalin for a few years. At this point I'm willing to believe that it wasn't that I couldn't concentrate, it's that I didn't want to. There wasn't any point to it. The reward for doing the work was either more work, or getting to go play-- and it was easy enough to just go play without doing the work, especially once "playing" and "reading" became interchangeable.

(None of this is intended as a slight to anyone else who may have been diagnosed ADD. It's a Real Problem for a lot of people. I'm only looking at whether it was the problem in my specific case.)

These days? There's something going on there, something that makes focusing incredibly difficult without an external deadline, and trivial when the deadline's imminent.

(Self-imposed deadlines have less force. I hate that.)

And I'm tired of how much effort it takes to start writing. I'm tired of sitting down intending to get the next scene done, and having this bit in my brain that doesn't even bother talking to the rest of me about what's going on and instead just holes up with a mindless computer game for an hour or two.

I don't know myself well enough to say whether I'm afraid of writing. It's got an awful lot of baggage associated with it; maybe I'm afraid that may parents were right (and if they were right on that then what else might they have been right on? TERROR).

I don't know what to do about any of this, other than to name it.



No deadline this time, just a reward: when I finish the (current draft of the) space story, and ship it off to VP, I can write a (fun! or at least exciting) letter that I've been contemplating for the last couple of days.

That ought to be enough incentive. I hope.

words

Mar. 18th, 2011 02:23 pm
jazzfish: Pig from "Pearls Before Swine" standing next to a Ball O'Splendid Isolation (Ball O'Splendid Isolation)
Elseweb, a thoughtful person says I exist primarily in words. Meaning there are very few conversations I would rather have face to face instead of over IM or e-mail.

Her reasons make a great deal of sense to me. Particularly I don't have a record of the conversation later to consult and ask further questions on. There are a number of Hard Conversations that I'm happy I had over IM, because that way I can go back later and say "oh, that's what that meant" or "i was a jerk and need to apologise and make amends for that" or "wow, that was kinda fucked up." And having the time and leisure to think out a response clearly and see that it's saying more or less what I want it to say helps as well.

Even so, when things are overwhelming, when I'm so hurt or angry I can't process, I need more contact than chat or email can give me. I need the sensory input that tells me there's a human being on the other end of the conversation. I need that knowledge, that visceral reassurance, that says I'm still here, even though this is hard I'm still with you.

Physical presence and contact are preferable. Voice will do in a pinch.

(Not that I expect this to come up anytime soon, or likely ever, with anyone reading this. It's more for my own record than anything.)

bookness

Jan. 23rd, 2011 03:43 pm
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
I have no brain, and I must edit.



This year I am, relatively speaking, devouring books.

I've read Kristin Cashore's Fire (which messed me up for a couple of days), and the four Old Man's War books, and Jo Walton's Small Change / Still Life With Fascists, and a book on the Bach cello suites, and odds and ends from Jeff Vandermeer's Booklife. (The cello suites book slowed me down in a way that felt awkward and frustrating.)

I've not read so much so fast, and had it feel so right, since high school, I expect. I can't even say "I've missed it," because reading fits back into my life in a way that I can't imagine what it was like without.

I mention this mostly because, like half the internet, I'm currently reading Among Others, which is not so much about reading as infused with it. Mori reads at a rate that makes my "devouring" look positively dainty, because that's where the non-horrible part of her life is.

I remember living like that. I can't tell if I'm living like that now or not. I do know that I've not Done much in the past, oh, month or more. Going to try fixing that this afternoon/evening.

But, reading. Home. Comfortable. Safe.

(Cue Admiral Hopper on the safety of ships in harbor.)
jazzfish: Windows error message "Error 255: Too many errors." (Too many errors)
Mistakes I've Made: Drinking Four Loko: "Four Loko Blue Raspberry is abhorrent and I can only imagine that these cans are filled by a long assembly line of Smurfs vomiting."

An Experiment in Accurate But Misleading Movie Descriptions: "Back to the Future: A bewildered teenage boy fends off his mother's disturbing and unnatural attraction to him."

Inventor's 2020 vision: to help 1bn of the world's poorest see better: "Silver has devised a pair of glasses which rely on the principle that the fatter a lens the more powerful it becomes. Inside the device's tough plastic lenses are two clear circular sacs filled with fluid, each of which is connected to a small syringe attached to either arm of the spectacles."

Geek Luddites: "The concept of computer has radically changed in that vision [of 'ubiquitous computing'] in a way which is much more than giving the navigation system the pleasant voice of Majel Barrett. We know this because if it hadn’t, a quarter of the fucking Enterprise crew would be the IT department."

Henge Docks: "Henge Docks has created the first truly comprehensive docking station solution for Apple's line of notebook computers." Mine's on preorder and will, I hope, be here by the end of the month. Not that I'll really be able to use it that soon, since as far as I know my desk chair hasn't miraculously gotten any less painful to use, but hey. Maybe I can figure out how to use it, with appropriate incentive.

I have never had a bad experience having lunch (or dinner, for that matter) at La Sandia, no matter the company. I should remember this more often. Meanwhile, thoughts on "friends" continue to bounce around my head and not settle out in any coherent fashion, as they're wont to do. The short version being that I'm not used to having "friends" anymore, if I ever was. Acquaintances and very-close-friends / sigoths / partners I can do, it's that middle ground where I'm uncertain. This has been a good year for fumbling through that uncertainty.

on therapy

Nov. 17th, 2010 01:45 pm
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
(expanded from a comment elseweb)

I have a theory that I've been meaning for months now to post about, because on a fairly regular basis I find myself in conversation with someone and saying "wait, i haven't told you this?" and having to explain it. And now seems like as good a time as any. You know, now that I'm pretty sure I've told it to everyone who I might possibly need to.

Anyway, my theory: by its very nature, therapy, or counseling, or what have you, makes life a lot more difficult for you in the short term.

You (the nonspecific 'you') have had these patterns of behavior, defence mechanisms, coping mechanisms, whatever you want to call them, and they've kept you alive but keep you from living. So you go into therapy with the express purpose of replacing them with mechanisms and patterns that will serve you better, that can allow you to live. To do this, you first have to disable the old mechanisms. Then you can take a long close look at how they work and what exactly they're defending against.

This has the unfortunate side effect of opening you up to all the emotions those mechanisms had been defending you against. And you can't just pull up the old way of dealing with it, because you've just gone to an awful lot of trouble to turn that off. So you're extremely fragile, and trying to hold yourself together when every single thing you encounter seems designed to make you fall apart.

The good news is that it does get better. You learn how to take care of yourself, in ways that aren't harmful to your long-term mental health. But for awhile, everything really is worse.

(okay, so the part about how it gets better isn't one I've really gotten to myself except in small doses and brief flashes. I have to believe it does, though. The alternatives are to either keep feeling this crappy and broken, or keep feeling as crappy and broken as I did before I started.)

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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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