my Gemini mind on benzos

A Gemini is a person of duality.  We have two sides to ourselves.  We can be frickin nuts or frickin brilliant.

So, it makes perfect sense that I would love to own a duplex, right?

I love the idea of two separate living spaces, and the option to use one or the other and to move back and forth.  I love the idea of having one of the spaces be my office for my therapy work.  The concept feels so at home to me, because metaphorically, this is how I already operate within my own private world.

Of course, to even get to that office for therapy work, I have to actually 1. complete my internships and get appropriate hours 2. complete my coursework 4. write a thesis and pass oral exam and 4. get hired by someone and get licensed.  So I am a little ahead of myself, but that’s how I roll.  I live in the future and a little in the past, and often forget to stop and smell the roses.  But there are plenty of roses around here.

The roses I have to stop and smell more often are:

My husband

My kids

My cute yellow house with a red mailbox and a blue door

My cat, Jezebel

The many awesome people in my life who are also sometimes fricken nuts or fricken brilliant

And, I wrote this post while under the influence of a prescription benzodiazepine and feeling a bit loopy.  We will see what I think of that in the morning.

Good and crappy.

Anna is sick.  Again.  She has been sick on and off for 4 weeks with fever and bronchitis.  Mia and Alan had it but are all better now.  Anna is still fighting it.

My anxiety goes through the roof when my kids are sick, and even when my husband is sick. I panic sometimes.  In fact, tonight I took an Ativan, which I try to rarely do, to get myself back together.  It is hard to give a sick child loving attention when you are a nervous wreck.

What I am afraid of is losing her.  My mind goes right to the worst case scenario and I lose sight of all objectivity.  Right now it is just bronchitis, but what if it becomes more than that?

I am  overwhelmed right now, but in a manageable way.  I will keep walking the walk.  Marriage, children, managing a household, interning, kid in Kindergarten, grad school–all those things cause stress for me.  And probably for most people.  Now, how to manage that without losing myself or driving my husband away–that’s what I need to figure out.

Thoughts on the power of compassion.

First, this is what I am listening to right now.  It is beautiful.

Before writing here, I was reading my latest Family Therapy journal issue.  A section caught my eye, and seems deeply relevant in both my own life and beyond:

Compassion means seeing and responding to suffering.  Without it, people become self-focused and egocentric, and relationships suffer from a lack of caring and forgiveness.”

Wallace, L. (2014). Family Therapy and the Science of Compassion. Family Therapy, 13(5), p.33.

This view of compassion speaks to Alfred Adler’s notion of “social interest” or Gemeinschaftsgefühl, in Adler’s native German tongue. Gemeinschaftsgefühl expresses a concern for one’s community and having positive regard for those around us.

Adler viewed social interest or Gemeinschaftsgefühl as a barometer of mental health.  In other words, we can determine out own level of mental health and the mental health of others simply by assessing our levels of compassion and interest in the well-being of ourselves and others.  The more a community exhibits social interest, the healthier the community and its individuals tend to be.

I am intrigued by this notion, partly because of how simple it makes to assess clients and myself on a daily basis. I am intrigued, also, because of my Danish heritage and of Denmark’s incredible display of social interest.  Studies on happiness have found Denmark to be among the happiest countries in the developed world, and the United States among the least happy. There is more to be read about this here.

Denmark is built upon a system of caring for others and from sharing from a communal pot (filled up with tax dollars), and all people are cared for in terms of education, health care, pension, and elder care.  Whether rich or poor, whether working for a good company or not, all people who have lived in Denmark for more than two weeks receive these benefits.  In Denmark, a person will never go bankrupt because of an illness or be without care or pension in the elder years.

The United States is a bit different, as those of us who live here are well aware.  One could say that social interest in the United States is spotty, or that evidence of it is not consistently planted within our societal framework.  Individual liberty is valued over the well-being of the whole.

Just some things I am thinking of today.

On embracing imperfection.

A foundational aspect of the work of Alfred Adler, after whom my graduate school was founded, is “the courage to be imperfect.”

The courage to be imperfect constitutes a healthy mindset and allows for good mental health, social interest, and meeting the demands of life.  These are all indicators of how a person is doing in his/her life.

I am working on this.  I’ve been a perfectionist as long as I can remember.  I am not proofreading my blog posts the way I used to.  If I notice a mistake after I’ve posted it, I leave it.  This is not a professional site that needs to be perfect.  So it’s ok.

It feels good to embrace imperfection.  So much pressure is removed.  I am imperfect, so what do I have to hide?

I am reading “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown.  It was recommended to me by several different people, so I took that as a message from the universe and started reading it.

On feeling secure and being loved.

I am in a pretty good and secure place now.  My family has had a long stint of illness  this fall; the girls and Alan have had bronchitis over the last 2 weeks, and I have been well.  It’s been tiring to care for everyone but somehow I’ve managed and have met the demands of school and internship without having any major breakdowns.  I am beginning to think that I am capable of handling this thing called life, even when it throws in the unexpected.

I am also beginning to see how many people have my back.  I have had so much support over the last month, from being cared for when I was sick, to receiving words and gestures of love and support from friends, to my school being super supportive about my absences and letting me make it up, to my internship giving me the space I need to care for myself and my family–and no hard feelings or guilt involved.  I think there was an important lesson for me to learn here:

I am taken care of.  I matter.

I really, really like my work as a therapist at Park Avenue Center.  Now that I am doing individual and couples counseling as an MFT student, and no longer doing the LADC work–I just love it.  I know this is what I am called to do, and it makes me feel settled and secure.  I feel like I am contributing and no longer a burden to the center.  I know how to do a lot of things now.  I love working with the clientele at the center I am at. They need this and they appreciate it so much.  I don’t even have to be good for them to appreciate it; I just have to be present and listen to them.  Which is good, because I am nowhere near being a good therapist–but thankfully I am able to listen and genuinely care, and sometimes that is all they need.

Sometimes I feel self-conscious about this blog and how it’s “all about ME.”  It’s kind of self-absorbed.  And then again, it’s the place I can sort out all of these things I need to sort out so I can figure out my life and myself.  It’s healing and rejuvenating.  I do care a lot about other people, not just about myself.  I also know that I have to know myself and love myself first in order to be my best self.  My blog helps me with that, I guess.

I have been really crabby at home lately.  Really anxious and controlling.  I think it has to do with feeling out of control in many ways, and that my home is a place I can express some form of control.  I want my house neat and clean.  It is soothing to me and allows me to focus.  I wish my family felt the same.  They don’t.  I am still the house manager like I’ve always been, only more crabby and demanding. I’ve also felt confused in my marriage and what is ok to expect and what is not.  This goes back to my “boundaries” work I’ve been doing for a while.  It’s a new layer.  I don’t know what is ok to expect, and what belongs to me and what belongs to him.

The Sandplay training I am working on is going well, and I still feel very drawn to continuing and using it in my future as a therapist.  I think I want to eventually have a private practice with a specialty in healing childhood trauma through the use of Sandplay and other modalities.  That is what gets me excited about my future.  I think I am becoming more drawn to working with children.

Alan and I want to buy a piece of land somewhere in WI or MN.  Private and secluded, somewhere we can have a family getaway and build an off-grid cabin someday.  I think we can actually make it a reality someday soon.  It is really, really exciting and I think about it every day.  We hope it will be quiet, have some water access, either on the land or close by.  We’d like a chunk about 20-40 acres.  Maybe we could even live there someday if it would work for our careers.  We both love the country.  We also want a city close enough, especially one with a co-op so we can get our healthy groceries.  The Superior area is looking rather good right now.

Anna is not super happy about Kindergarten anymore.  We’re trying to talk about it a lot and help her with coping skills, and it seems to be helping somewhat.  We’re encouraging her to make the best of it and remember it is over in 6 months.  After that, I think I’d like to do ome school her for a year.  We could all use a respite from the craziness of this year.  It sure would be nice.

The other night, Anna wanted to snuggle me in my office chair.  I thought about how it was hard to get the space I needed to do the work.  But how could I resist? Then I picked her up and snuggled her.  She melted into me and I could just feel her love.  I felt how wonderful it was to have this being whom I so deeply love, right there close to my heart, loving me right back–while I do my work.  What a blessing. I love her so much. She is such a gift.

Having children is such a healing experience.  I have been thinking of that since that moment in the office chair.  For those of us who did not feel loved as children, or who felt loved only conditionally, having this unconditional love to give and to receive with our own children is such an incredible gift.  Yes, it is time-consuming and sometimes stressful to have children, and it opens us up and heals us in the most incredible ways, which makes that work and stress melt away.  I am so grateful to be a mother.  It’s such a beautiful thing.  It’s such a beautiful thing to love and be loved unconditionally.

So much better.

Mercury retrograde is over, but doesn’t go completely direct until November 9th.  Still, I can feel the weight being lifted.  This was the hardest Mercury retrograde period I’ve had in a long time.

Along with having pneumonia and being the most sick I’ve ever been in my life, (except for when I was sick with morning sickness, which is a different kind of sick), I had a mental breakdown and felt super crappy emotionally for the duration of my illness.

It was all for the better, as struggles usually are.  We can learn so much when we are ripped open and exposed like that.  What I learned is that I had to make a decision about my schooling and internship to make it in line with what I want and what makes me happy.  In light of this, I decided to drop the LADC portion of my training and internship, which will shorten my time to graduation, make my internship shorter and less demanding, and overall make me happier–because I have also learned that I never want to work as an LADC, even for one day.  The paperwork and government oversight is enough to make me go bananas.  So, I am going for my LMFT, and working toward my goal of being a creative therapist with freedom to choose my clients and how I work with them.

I also realized that I need to get my anxiety under control.  My stress-coping skills are lacking, and when life throws me lemons I get so stressed out that I make myself really sick.  I had two panic attacks along with my pneumonia, and ended up taking Ativan for one of them.  It helped a lot, but I am not a “Band-Aid” kind of person.  So I know what I need to work on.  I need to be able to do what I need to do, manage my life, without becoming a nervous wreck who makes myself and everyone around me miserable.

I was raised in fear.  My parents still perpetuate fear and extremism every time we are together.  It’s fine for them to be who they are, but I have blindly adopted the fear-based mentality that I was raised with.  It’s time for me to change that now.  I don’t want to live like that.  I want to live believing the BEST will happen, rather than the worst.  And I want to live believing that IF the worst were to happen, which it still has not ever happened in my entire life, that I CAN COPE WITH IT.

So, today I have more energy, physically and mentally, than I’ve had for weeks.  It’s great.  I wrote out our new budget and am planning to make something yummy to eat.  Ginger carrot soup, maybe.  Pumpkin cranberry muffins.  It’s nice to be feeling better.

I have class all day Saturday, and my instructor has been so kind to me about missing all the class I’ve missed.  He’s allowing me to make it all up and take an extension.  It stresses me out a bit, but I am working hard to choose to be grateful for the opportunity and trust that I can get it done.

I’m going back to my internship next week.  I feel nervous, of course, but again, am working on trusting that I CAN handle it and do well there.  I can take care of myself AND help others.  I can be a therapist AND a mom, at the same time.


Feeling bad. Feeling broken.

I have had a fever and a terrible cough for 6 days.  I have eaten very little in that time because there is no appetite and there is nausea with eating.  Alan got hit with it a couple of days ago, too, so now we’re both in bed and relying on grandma and grandpa for help with the girls.  I am so, very grateful to have them in town.

Along with hitting rock-bottom with my health this week, I’ve hit rock-bottom emotionally.  I am not enjoying my life right now.  Something has to change.  Since starting this school year and my internship, the way I feel about life has been on a gradual decline.  Now I am at a point where I am no longer excited about school, do not like my internship, and honestly, am freaked out about the career I am signing up for.

I need a hiatus from it all.  I want to quit my internship, take some time away from school, and rekindle my spirit.  I want to be here to see my kids off to school in the morning, see them when they get home, and tuck them into bed every night.

Since I am in a depressed state, I have a “fuck it” mentality.  I can see that I may come out of this, and I can also see that going forward without changing anything is not going to make anything better.  I don’t want to give the next year of my life to an internship that totally stresses me out.

Also, I strongly dislike my LADC track at school.  I dislike the classes and the whole vibe of the field.  Even though my classes are at Adler, they have nothing to do with Adlerian psychology. It is very rigid and rule-based.  I don’t roll like that.  I need room for creativity in my work, and I do not want the pressure that comes along with working with the government for funding.  I despise that kind of work.  An LADC job an office job with deadlines and more work than one person can handle.  Basically that is a nightmare in my book.

So, if I want to do this mental health thing at all, I am thinking just getting the MA in the MFT and see if I even want to get licensed.  Maybe I don’t want to get licensed.  Maybe I just want a cash-based practice.  I don’t know if I want to deal with all the insurance bullshit. I want to make my own hours.  I want to keep my family first.


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