Reflections on “doing the work”

Today was my last session with Laura, the amazing therapist I’ve been working with since 2015. We knew that we went as far as we could go together. I have new hills to climb, and I may need a new partner to help me get there. (More specifically, I want to focus on my recovery from diet- and body-related trauma with an ED specialist.)

Ceremony and closure are important, and that’s what the last session is for. Laura reminded me of the first day we met and how deeply depressed I was—and how much we’ve faced head on over the past 6 years.

I had seen therapists at different points in my life for short stints, but there was always something that got in the way. (Usually underemployment.)

In 2015, I saw (on facebook lol) that a close friend whom I loved like a sister and fell out with a few years prior was getting married a couple miles away, in a park we had walked through hundreds of times as we navigated our 20s in Brooklyn together, and I wasn’t invited. I felt something break inside me and I realized that it was an outsized reaction because I hadn’t fully dealt with a lot of trauma. So I found Laura. Her office was only one block away because I knew that that was the only way I’d make it there.

After the session today I scrolled through 2015 in my photos so I could fully acknowledge who I was then. I had just turned 30 and had a job that was toxic but also my entire life. I was dating regularly, and that mostly meant going on lots of bad first dates. I had friends and community and two baby nephews, but it was a bit of a house of cards. I was going through life’s motions, but there was so much underneath the surface that I had to tend to.

I share this photo because the mood stood out to me, but there were many of me smiling and having fun. Many bright skies and ocean waves. I can actually see all of that now. I couldn’t then. For the first time recently I realized how many beautiful things I’ve gotten to see and experience. I now see that woman in the mirror, so tortured in her body, through a much different lens.

Therapy saved my life, and I mean that in a pretty nonchalant way because it’s so obvious. A lot of really hard stuff happened in the last 6 years and the 30 before that, and while therapy didn’t make everything suddenly happy, it did make the unpredictable circumstances of life more manageable. What I wanted and needed became worthy of inspection. Who I was evolved; parts of me sharpened while others dulled and receded.

I’ve pushed a lot of people I know to pursue therapy, and probably been a bit too intense. Some have gone and it has been so amazing to watch. Like, truly amazing. I am constantly in awe of the ways the people I love have been growing and changing. But most haven’t and I feel a genuine nagging sadness about it. Because everyone’s life is worthy of inspection and reflection. And after 6 years of piecing myself together I can say confidently to that 2015 version of me in the mirror: even ours.

A Nice Lady

My grandma turns 89 today. I can’t call her because she won’t remember me so I remember her instead.

I leaned in, talking to her like nothing had changed (because for me, nothing had). I showed her old photos of herself. In one photo of my pregnant mom, she asked who it was. “That’s your daughter, my mom. And that’s me,” I said, pointing at my mom’s belly. 

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Grand Army Plaza’s Food Truck Rally

Every third Sunday from June to October, the Prospect Park Alliance and the NYC Food Truck Association sponsor a Food Truck Rally in Grand Army Plaza. I finally checked it out today, sampling the best trucks before the event’s end next month. (The Atlantic Antic is in October and one can only handle so much street food. Just kidding. Street food is the best.) The trucks encircle the entrance to the park from 11 AM to 5 PM, but things didn’t really pick up until close to 1 PM. Pictures of the food after the jump. Continue reading

Sand

The beach-shadows captured
in the photo look dead on vacation.
In the 20 years since, these
ghosts have seen us, too—
two children, digging themselves out
so as not to be buried alive.

Start to Summer

Lost light fixture,
hanging smoke alarms ringing—
I can’t wake you.

The last night:
sharing my twin bed,
your furnace/your face.
When you love me, you rest your head on mine
and leave it there,
forgetting that it’s heavy.
It hurts to feel you, but you call me
girl
 over and over
and it makes us swell together,
melting lashes, singeing sheets.
You never know the last time is the last time.

I bought wine-colored curtains to keep
the sun out, the dark in—
the bed, it was getting so hot.
I don’t know what to do with all this love.

Moving

I remember visiting multiple stores with my mom and grandma as they searched for the perfect reading chair. This was to be my mom’s alone, an investment, something that helped her unwind after a long day of everything that came along with being a single mom with two kids and three pets. At night, she’d sit in the chair in the living room, the room with no TV, and read a book while I played computer solitaire, listening to Green Day on my walkman. As was routine, she’d fall asleep that way, the chair a comfortable lullaby. Catching my mom dozing in her chair is one of my favorite memories of her. Continue reading

The South in Summer

The south in summer—
feet bare trail hopping
in a cotton-candy-colored skirt, flowing neatly below the knees.
The sun is his periphery and it dips into the water,
shine stretching the length, dyeing the top of his nose:
the kind of scene that makes you regret Godlessness.

I touch it for a moment—
touch the faith, feeling it—
and step onto the tracks.
He’d save you. He’ll save you.
How fast does it go?
About 75 miles per hour, a good clip.
It’s a lovely lemon sunset.
Yes, I’ve been watching from the window.

In the night, the pond water
mixes with his salt-sticky sweat, and never seems to dry—
the humid air lingers, making batter of our limbs.

The bulb light shines down, his face and torso mine,
but his arms are only smoke stacks in the dark.
What I can see, I claim; what I claim, I love—
I try to take everything back.
I climb a ladder in the dark
and cover the buzzing fixture with my fingers,
leaving stripes of black on his body.
Later: the sheets are wrinkled and I fall into the creases.

Whistle Song

You like dive bars, and so do I.
Walking away, my heels lick the road.
No one knows this city like we know this city.

From behind, you bent—
kissed the hook of my back.
Like a tree, carving your name on me.
All around me is stale water.

I look at my hands, think:
these will decay some day.
These will decay and
the things touched—
Your lids close when I look back and
I adhere my hands to the wall and wait.

Down in the cellar,
she smoked hidden cigarettes—
the atmosphere of what she wants.
I stand with the face of a dead woman, my palms up on the counter.
Sometimes you find out things on trains, I think.
Sometimes it’s very inconvenient.