Hey friend, it’s been awhile!
It was good to see you again although I wish it had been under different circumstances. I’m so sorry about your dad. You and your family have had a rough year. I wish we could have talked a bit more. You mentioned (it might have been said jokingly?) that you might start therapy.
Thought I’d write you and let you in on a secret: I’m in therapy. Promise you won’t tell my parents if you run into them? Thanks.
I wanted to tell you that therapy wasn’t what I thought it would be. I thought it would be totally focused on ways to cope with my unhappiness, my boredom, my anger…and we do talk about that sometimes.
What I didn’t expect was to focus so much on…well, me. That might sound silly because obviously in therapy, I’d talk about myself. But seriously, I’ve never really focused on myself.
I know we’ve lost touch over the years, so I don’t know what your family is like now. In high school though, I do remember our parents being similar in that they expected us to study hard, be at the top of our class, go to an elite university so that we could get into a prestigious graduate program, so that we could get a high-paying job and buy a nice house and car. I think we both worked really hard to meet all of those expectations.
In therapy I’m learning about what my parents didn’t focus on: me. Who I am, what I want, how I feel. My dreams, my worries, my fears. My feelings, my hurts, and my insecurities. It’s weird to talk about this stuff in therapy because it’s not something that comes natural to me. And at first, it was really, really hard. I’m still getting used to it. But I’m finding that there’s more to me than my degrees, my title, my car, my house. A lot more, actually. It’s been hard, and healing, and eye-opening.
Ah, but you notice that I asked you to not mention to my parents that I’m in therapy? Yeah, they don’t know and I don’t want them to know. They think that seeing a therapist means that something is REALLY wrong with you. Like you’re crazy. You know, I’m doing pretty okay. On the outside, it looks like I’m alright, doesn’t it? Yeah, it was on the inside that I was suffering, hurt, limping along, and sad. I was never really taught what to do with all of those feelings except pretend that everything was okay. I’m learning now that feelings aren't scary. They don’t last forever. And that it actually feels better if someone (or a handful of select someones) knows what I’m going through. I don’t have to be alone.
Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m thinking about you, your mom, and your family. Text me next time you're in town. We'll catch up over some coffee. Or ramen.
Linking to Episode #45 of Laura Tremaine’s 10 Things To Tell You podcast titled: Questions for the End of the Year.
It’s that time of year again. Holiday parties, gift-giving….and perhaps some time to reflect on 2019. Laura Tremaine provides ten questions to help you do just that.
These questions would make great journal prompts or conversation starters. Or maybe answer all ten questions for yourself and then share with a friend who has done the same.
Here’s to more reflection and connection in 2020!
When Long Litt Woon’s husband suddenly dies at age 54, she signs up for a class that her and her husband had intended to take together but never got around to. She takes a beginner’s class on mushrooming. She eventually becomes a certified mushroom expert.
In this book, Long Litt Woon tells the story of, “…two parallel journeys: an outer one, into the realm of mushrooms, and an inner one, through the landscape of mourning” (p. 282).
There is a lot about mushrooms in this book. We also get a glimpse into the culture of mushroom experts. Throughout the book, Long Litt Woon weaves in her thoughts and observations about her grief: “One thing I’m sure of: the grieving process does not follow a linear step-by-step pattern. It is complex and full of moveable parts. There is no straight, predictable arrow pointing upward from a grief-stricken existence to a grief-free state, the road twists and turns, and so-called progress occurs when it suits the grief, not you” (p. 87).
The main theme that I was left with after reading this book was how after such a significant loss, the question of identity comes up. Who am I now? Who do I want to be? Long Litt Woon shows that there is still room to grow, to learn, to live even after loss and while grieving.
“Choosing to spend time doing things by yourself can have mental, emotional and social benefits, but the key to reaping those positive rewards comes from choosing to spend time alone.”
Read the rest of this New York Times article.
It's not talked about much, and is actually more common than you might think.
Take a listen as the two OB/GYNs from The V Word podcast discuss miscarriage: https://vwordpod.com/episode/miscarriage/
This is a graphic novel that follows the author while she tries to conceive. She does (warning: pregnancy losses), and she also chronicles her pregnancy.
This book includes sections on women's reproductive health and history and myths around miscarriage. Lucy Knisley's drawings and writing very effectively normalize the common feelings experienced while trying to conceive and feelings around pregnancy loss.
This is one of the best blog posts I've read on how to support a friend going through infertility.
How to Help a Friend Facing Infertility. "Let your friend know you are there, and open the door for discussion without pressure or pity."
This is a collection of essays written by women and one man about their personal stories of infertility and pregnancy loss. Some of the stories end with a baby, and others do not. These stories may help the reader feel less alone.
Finding support online when you're facing fertility treatments can be helpful...or not. Here's an article about the benefits of these forums and what to look out for.
The pros and cons of online fertility forums. "While most users of an online fertility forum are genuine, and the experiences are positive and supportive, it makes sense to be careful, says Ms Bold at the University of Worcester."
I’m Elaine Gee-Wong and I'm a therapist with a private practice in Santa Clara, CA.
Any information or advice on this website is for informational purposes only, and should not take the place of information or care provided to you by your physicians, medical, or mental health care professionals.