Adventures in therapy: I’m writing a book, now.
Sarah, my therapist, is a tyrant. We spent my last session discussing LARP, what it is, and what I get out of it. Somewhere around the time where I was recounting hiding in my sleeping bag in 30 degree weather in the pitch black of an eight-to-ten person tent, alone, hearing human beings on their NPC shift howling like savage animals and stalking through the woods to frighten and fake-murder their friends at around 2 in the morning, she asked me, “So, given you know, your history with trauma… how does this fit, and how does this feel?”
I then proceeded to speak, uninterrupted, for the rest of our hour about simulated risk, the physicality of combat, the power of fantasy, and claiming space as a femme-presenting person in traditionally masculine spaces and roles. As we drew to the end of the session, she looked at me with an exhausted seriousness and said, “I want you to write that book.”
And I didn’t say No.
And then I came up with a title, a structure, and the titles of the first six chapters on the 42 bus home. And then I wrote ten pages.
So that’s happening.
Between that, teaching myself to sew, a new relationship ( ❤ ), combat practice, and my ongoing efforts to elevate myself professionally while being a long-distance Star Mom, a love-struck wife, and a devoted friend, and my docket is pretty packed. I fully expect the research the book will require to take me for a long hard drag through some difficult feelings, so I’m earmarking a lot of my bandwidth for that ride.
When I take on a big project, I’m inclined to reevaluate my life choices. The weeks leading up to and following my birthday were rough for mostly practical reasons. I had to buy a car, unexpectedly (though was given an amazing loan by a wonderful friend that eased that purchase considerably). I had a job interview. I learned just how hard it can feel to be a parent at 1,100 miles away because your kid is hurting and you cannot just hug her or take her out for a milkshake. We hit a major milestone in our quest for Thomthulhu’s military benefits. I questioned friendships twenty or more years old, finding them to be largely vestigial and plagued with dysfunction I’m tired of trying to fix without meaningful reciprocity. I grew overwhelmingly tired of roles I never wanted in other people’s narratives of unworthiness, persecution, neglect, and entitlement. I went quiet, seeking what I needed to recenter myself firmly in “Yes.”
I’m still pretty quiet. I’m sure that’s uncomfortable for people who are used to me filling the silence, writing the emails, reaching out, setting plans, maintaining. But realistically speaking, there are 168 hours in a week. I spend 56 of them sleeping, 40 at my actual job, 1 in therapy, 11 in transit, 6+ with my husband, 6+ with my girlfriend, 6 hours by myself, and on a good week, 5 or more hours moving my body in ways that feel good for me. That leaves 37 +/- hours a week that are not explicitly earmarked in advance. There is no guarantee that they will occur in convenient chunks or will not involve me needing to multi-task. Once a month, I drive another 5 hours and spend an entire weekend being someone else for 2.5 days.
I also like, have laundry? And Cats? I like to be able to read sometimes. I’m watching Peaky Blinders. I’m a team member on a mobile application that’s about to drop to beta test. I occasionally write for money. And now I’m writing a book, and teaching myself to sew. Some nights, it’s my night to make dinner.
Part of loving me is loving this. Part of loving me is not simply tolerating this or accepting it, but actively loving that I have learned, FINALLY, that I deserve to spend my time and energy on myself. Sometimes (OFTEN!), that means I’m not available (unless you are my kid, or probably, Molly). I’m not super inclined to apologize for that. I’m not super inclined to carve out time for people who expect me to apologize for that. I’m also not super inclined to carve out time for people who don’t get that legit, I am beholden to 3 entire humans at the moment, to see to their basic needs and their welfare. I am typically not in a position to drop money on things like $35 worth of gas money to visit a friend unless they scheduled with me in time for that to be calculated into this paycheck’s budget.
And honestly, there are some weeks where I’d rather blow that $35 on a pedicure, or we’re over on our grocery budget, or I want to mail something to my child because she’s had a tough week. It’s not that people are competing with other, cooler, newer, or more fun people for my time, attention, and resources — it’s that I don’t have a surplus of any of those things. And I feel fine about that. Chances are folks that spend their time feeling salty about that aren’t offering me anything that would incline me to overdraw against future resources. I will carry a deficit if I have to, but it’s never a sustainable or rewarding choice; it always comes back to bite me. We also don’t have a whole lot in common, probably. Because when I hear that my pals are reading cool books, moving to a new place, doing things they love, or found a new volunteer opportunity, or are changing jobs/fields/whatever, decided to have another baby, are enrolling their kid in soccer, or found a new hobby, mostly? I’m excited for them. Even when it means I see or hear from them less often. Because I just generally assume people are building the lives they want for themselves, and that part of loving them is loving the things they choose. Even when those things are explicitly not me. Especially when those things are explicitly not me.
So there’s all that.
And now I should get back to structured writing — I’m hoping to put in about 10 pages this week.