Life Rants

On Counseling, or: How Does That Make You Feel?

Six different counselors have listened to me, and I don’t think there will be a seventh.  At least not for a while.

Some terminology first:  I use the word “counselor” over “therapist” because counselor to me suggests someone advising you versus someone “fixing” you.  Therapy inevitably winds up alongside concepts like physical therapy, which you do for a set amount of time until your muscles have healed.  Sometimes this is how counseling works—you do it until you no longer need it.  But I haven’t ever felt “fixed” so much as I’ve learned some new coping strategies and some ways to recognize when I’m not coping well.

I’ve had counselors I’ve really clicked with, and others not so much.  My latest taught me two things:  1. Sometimes the counselor is wrong for you, and 2. I have the tools I need to be my own best counselor.

I should clarify the first point—I don’t think my counselor was under-qualified or giving out bad advice, but it wasn’t advice that made sense for me.  The best counselors for me listen and help bring me to my own conclusions, whereas this one told me on several occasions what I should do and, implicitly, how I should feel.  She told me about the solace she has found in religion.  I honestly wish I could say the same, but I don’t, and the tone she took made me feel inexplicably guilty.

At the time, I was feeling inadequate about starting a new job, managing one of the worst family conflicts I’ve ever dealt with (and that’s saying something), and feeling extremely isolated.  According to the counselor I spoke with, the key to unlocking all of my problems was forgiveness (and, I swear, The Secret, but I will try to refrain from being overly snarky in this post).  I do know that I hold onto grudges and don’t forgive easily, but telling me that I should be more forgiving does absolutely nothing to help me feel better about myself.


We weren’t even halfway through our 6 sessions, and I already knew this counselor didn’t understand where I was coming from.  She told me I was adorable and angelic, both of which made me feel worse.  I catch myself being fake nice all of the time and suppressing the shit out of my negative emotions, so being complimented on how sweet I am just makes me feel like complete garbage.  She asked me if I love myself, and I don’t know how to fucking respond to that.  I’m human.  There are things I like about myself, and things that I don’t.  I know that one of the people I’m most reluctant to forgive is myself.

The worst was when I told her my reasons for coming in, and she paraphrased, “So you’d say you’ve had a pretty easy life.”  Would a single fucking person in the world say they’ve had an easy life?  Life is damn hard, no matter who you are.  I’ve certainly had privileges others haven’t, but I felt so obliterated when she said that, so completely invalidated.  In retrospect, I should’ve said that it wasn’t working out and asked to see another counselor, but I am so goddamn stubborn and feel like I’ve failed if I quit something.

Even though I don’t think of the sessions with this counselor as successful, being unable to connect with her gave me room to connect better with myself.  I realized I didn’t need these sessions at all—what I really needed was to give myself time alone to unravel my feelings, space to breathe, and compassion to be fair to myself even when I don’t like who I am.

I’m not particularly good at trusting or forgiving people or feeling like an authentic version of myself, whatever that actually means.  Sometimes I dig myself a pit of self-despair and don’t know how to get back out.  But that’s part of who I am, and I’ve gotten better at recognizing when I’m doing those things and trying to refocus my energy.

Believe me, I’m not saying you should ignore the advice your counselor gives you or skip out on counseling.  I am most certainly not an expert on mental health issues.  Besides, I really clicked with a couple of my counselors, one of whom I still imagine having conversations with when I’m feeling really low.  He really understood me and pushed me to follow through to conclusions I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with.   But even psychologists are only human.  Like all human relationships, some work out better than others, and it’s not your fault if they don’t.

fashion, Life Rants

Fashion Blog, Part Two: Judgment Day

I had about 10,000x more fun sorting out my wardrobe when I blogged about it (approaching a year ago, I believe?!?).

I’m taking a page from Hollywood and creating a sequel long after anyone needed or expected one.  That’s right—the Fashion Blog You Never Knew You Needed returns for part 2, in which I expand my wardrobe and buy clothing of a business casual nature.

My obsession is ModCloth, but I also managed to get a bit of thrifting done at my local Goodwill and put together some pretty nice outfits if I do say so myself.  Allow me to introduce you to my recent-ish fashion acquisitions.

  1.  The Spring Weekend:
Shirt from ModCloth; jeans from Goodwill

2.  The Librarian with Too Many Sweaters (Or Not Enough???):

ModCloth sweater (I’m obsessed with this one); same jeans from Goodwill (also note Bertha Mason’s tail featured in this photo)

3.  The Vintage ‘80s Chic Colorblocking Throwback

Apparently ’80s fashion is old enough to be vintage now.  Sweater and dress pants from Goodwill (Bertha Mason featured in this photo as well)

4.  The Weekend at Woodstock

Shirt and yellow pants from Goodwill; I love the shirt, but it’s made of rayon and gets hot really quickly (which is surprising considering it doesn’t really have a back)

What about you?  Any fashion finds you are particularly proud of lately or on the prowl for?  What I would really like is a pair of sweat pants that look like dress pants, honestly.

Featured image via Unsplash; all other photos by me (obviously).

Activism, Life Rants

Some Thoughts of a Political Nature: Orlando and EURef

If you are like me, you are so sick of all of this political bullshit because you care about it so much more than you want to.  It’s vital to have some political awareness, but it also hurts, like getting a colonoscopy or going back to work after your vacation.  As such, I will take a page from John Oliver’s book and reward you for reading this post with an adorable picture of a puppy and kitten who are best friends at the end.  Oh, what the hell—you can just skip to the end now if you really want to.

I didn’t write anything about Orlando because I didn’t know what to say.  Don’t know what to say.  There are levels of hatred beyond words.  I still can’t organize my thoughts enough to say something about my unwavering support of the LGBTQ community and Latino-Americans, shame in the victimization of Muslim, and anger that the right not to be murdered in a public place takes a backseat to the “Don’t Tread on Me” gun-toting mentality of fringe groups in the U.S.

These are a few recent experiences I’ve been processing in that context:

Someone I know (I’m keeping this all as anonymous as possible) admitted her LGBTQ son may be attending the Catholic University where I work (keeping it super vague because I’m not sure exactly how he identifies).  And she is afraid.  Many of the faculty and staff are open-minded and supportive, but some of the students are so conservative and unsympathetic.  Perhaps that’s the way people have always been, but I’ve really experienced such a lack of sympathy for those in pain, those who are different, and those who aren’t well understood lately.  There’s no room for sympathy where there’s hatred, which is what concerns me the most.  And that kind of hatred leaves such a lasting impression on young people.

There was a wheelchair outside the women’s bathroom in the library, which was a bit strange, but I went inside anyway.  Inside the bathroom was an older man just outside the handicapped stall, who immediately rushed to explain, “I’m just helping my wife, who’s in a wheelchair.  I’ll wait outside.”

I said, “That’s okay—it doesn’t bother me.”  But he left anyway, which was considerate but heartbreaking.  I’m embarrassed that we are so shamed about acting appropriately for our gender that a man helping his wife in the bathroom feels like a criminal for doing so.

Men, how can you not be feminists when the patriarchy dictates what you should do and how you should behave too?

On another political note, since everyone in the world has a goddamn opinion about it, I may as well weigh in on the EU Referendum (I refuse to use the “Brexit” word because it’s stupid and sounds like a horrible type of cereal.  John Oliver is with me on this one).  I know the world wants the opinion of another Midwestern American.

I admittedly have a very selfish interest in seeing the British pound retain its value because the sale of my grandfather’s London house is finally supposed to go through in July.  This is the only time I’m pissed about the dollar being strong compared to the pound.

What concerns me the most is the anti-immigrant platforms that have been so successful in the UK and the US.  I did talk to one of my students about the EU Referendum, and how enraging and small-minded it is for the anti-immigrant mentality to persist.  We are so interdependent—our economies, our political decisions, our lives.  Like all empires (and don’t get me wrong, I include the US in this), a slight majority of the UK has had a convenient memory lapse about what it has taken from other countries and what immigrants have brought to the UK.

I’m avoiding reading all of those click-bait articles of reasons the EU Ref is a good sign for Trump because they make me panic.  A man who has been like a grandfather to me went on a bit of a rant about Trump being a Democrat conspiracy to destroy the Republican Party (had to bite my tongue before responding “I think they’ve done fine on that without any outside help whatsoever”).  He also asked if I thought the country was getting worse and, in spite of the bigoted and completely irrational groups on the rise, I don’t.  Our systems are deeply flawed, but we live in a country that is more open, more diverse, and more creative than it ever has been.  How can that possibly be a weakness?

Anyone else in the mood for a political tangent?  Feel free to rant/despair/agree/disagree on this blog.  Just remember there is a person on the other side of the screen.

As promised, here is the picture of adorable puppy and kitten BFFs.

I bet no one cares if this dog and cat are gay, lesbians, transgender, Muslim, Hispanic, and/or immigrants

Images in this post via Unsplash

Activism, Life Rants

A Few Words About Choice

My intention with this post is not to sway any opinions, but to express my admiration for women who unabashedly support the causes they believe in.

I care about politics more than I’d like to, but I haven’t been one for political rallies up to this point.  They hurt, even when peaceful.  I attended a pro-choice rally a couple of weekends ago organized as a counterpoint to a demonstration at a clinic that provides abortions.  Basically, the people who work for the clinic get harassed for doing their job, and it was especially obnoxious during Lent.

It’s so self-congratulatory.  They wouldn’t do this alleged praying privately because no one would be watching.  Perhaps not a surprise when the current likely GOP nominee is just the one who equates being right with yelling loudest.

Keep in mind these were pastors, religious leaders, who said they were there because they love us and want to save us…despite the fact that we are murderers who will burn in hell.  And that we are Satanist communist pagans, which I really don’t see the problem with.  I admit I got a bit of a giggle when a few pro-choice women started chanting Hail Satan and the pro-lifers believed it to be a literal moment of devil worship.  This is why liberals can be funny but it’s so incredibly painful when conservatives try to use humor—everything has to be literal.

One of the pastors argued that you can’t speak Gaelic and be pro-choice…with a member of our group who then proceeded to speak Gaelic.  That he doesn’t care if anyone gets raped, there are alternatives to abortion.  That all of the Christians there would adopt a child—but have they?  And have they supported a single mother who has no job, maternity leave, or healthcare?

It got really ugly when a pastor told a veteran who has served 3 tours of duty to get back in the kitchen.  And called Obama a Muslin f–, one of only a handful of words I won’t use on this blog.  (Hint:  not the “fuck” f word.)  So many homophobic slurs and the reiteration that sodomy is a sin (but it’s fun).  And abortion is racist because it’s mostly black and Irish babies (I have no idea where the Irish part comes from or why they still think Irish is a race; perhaps it surprises no one that they aren’t interested in talking about Latinas when discussing stats).   It was the only time I’ve heard women un-ironically called “jezebel” and “witch” outside of The Crucible.

I don’t mean to assign blame to religion because I know these groups don’t represent a majority of the faithful.  This isn’t meant as an attack on religion, but on a certain approach to religion.  The mentality that there’s a correct religion to follow, so it’s okay to have a morality complex and talk down to everyone who disagrees with you.  I can’t stand the idea that there’s no room for a viewpoint that isn’t yours (a statement that I acknowledge contains a certain degree of irony).

Some of the cars driving by were encouraging, while others were pretty douchy.  Guess how many of those driving by flipping us the bird were women?  Zero.  And guess how many middle fingers we got from men?  Don’t tell me this issue is about religion or morality or politics.  It’s about men controlling women.

Besides the torrent of verbal abuse, it was sort of the ideal social gathering for me as it required no small talk whatsoever.  Lots of chanting “What do we want?”  “Choice!” and honking and screaming when people supported us.  I truly admire the activists who attend rallies every month and even every week and manage to hear insults hurled at them without taking them to heart.  It was extremely difficult for me to switch gears and go to work later that day without the words popping into my head.

As a librarian it really hurts that people don’t bother to find credible sources of information, which they could at the library.  FOR FREE.  These people STILL believe Planned Parenthood sells baby parts even though the alleged proof was fake, and Planned Parenthood has done more to prevent abortions than Right to Life.  The words you use and the “truth” you spread can kill, so please be careful with them.

You can still feel morally superior and pray for me.

*Image via Unsplash

Life Rants

Sorry If That’s Too Complicated for You

If I’ve ever expressed an opinion about ranting on the internet, I’ve most likely advised you against it.  Even if you just had to get something off your chest.  So feel free to say I told you so because I have to.  Have to.   I have at least calmed down so I’m flipping the bird in my neighbor’s general direction approximately every 5-10 minutes (previous rate:  every 30 seconds).  I refuse to comment on the aspersions that I have been marching rather aggressively up and down the stairs every now and then.

Allow me to use a visual aid.  THIS is what I found when I returned home from work today: 2

I was inwardly seething already because a member of our board of trustees and our asshole neighbor had started doing whatever the fuck they’re doing to repair a connection about a week ago, and had dug up some of the garden and just left the wires exposed.  (Idiots.)  No prior warning whatsoever.

Anyway, I kept my shit together enough to ask “Um, what exactly is going on here?” in a tone that was my best attempt at neutral.  If anything I must have sounded extremely uncomfortable because I hate this kind of confrontational shit.  Honestly, guys, this is perhaps the number one reason I stay inside with my books and Netflix when I don’t have to work.

So, this is how it goes:  the trustee continues to work on trashing our yard, not answering any of my questions.  Just totally insane, unreasonable questions like “How long is this going to be here blocking the path?” and “After you’re done, is the yard going to look the way it did before?”  Asshole neighbor, about whom I had previously felt neutral (but just wait), starts to “answer” my questions.  And the trustee, if he answers at all, gives one-word answers, saying all this shit will only be here today, and that he’ll talk to my mom about it, just completely blowing me off.  My mom is out of town for a few weeks, so actually it is important for him to tell me what the actual fuck is going on.  Oh, and maybe for it not to be an obstacle course to get to my fucking front door.

According to my asshole neighbor, his wife told my mom what was going on, and that my mom knew they were going to dig up half of the yard (she didn’t).  And I’m sorry, but it should really have been someone on the board who told us what they planned to do.  Apparently my saying “I think it would have been considerate for us to have gotten some notice about this” just absolutely crossed the fucking line.  What did my neighbor have to say about this?  “What difference would it have made?  We would’ve had to do it anyway.”  And here we go, you guys.  Male chauvinist asshole gold:  “Sorry if that’s too complicated for you.”

At this point, I suppose I have to thank working with the public for my remarkable ability not to scream at people.  I did say “Seriously?  That’s a really condescending thing to say.”  To which he offered an extremely half-assed apology.

Keep in mind that the guy playing in the fucking dirt was a member of the board of trustees in the homeowner’s association which my mom is required to join.  As far as I know he was getting paid to do this really unprofessional repair, which just seems ridiculously unethical to me.  Instead of paying a contractor, he is in on the decision to pocket the money himself for fucking around in the dirt.  Apparently THAT is worth his time, but serving the members of the association is not. And guess how willing he was to talk to my mom when she was on the phone?  Yeah, not at all.

What the entire thing smacked of was asshole dudes getting pissed when I called them out that they didn’t have a plan and couldn’t answer a fucking question.  So instead of admitting they messed up, whose fault is it?  That feeble-minded, irrational female.  She dared question our already tenuous grasp on authority.  Welcome to being a woman in our society.  Fucking asshole pricks think it’s okay to call you stupid to your face when they’re the ones digging around in the dirt pretending to know what the fuck they’re doing.  AND straight-up refusing to answer your questions.

As a librarian, this was especially bitter since answering people’s questions is my fucking job.  Even when I think they’re awful questions, like one lady who calls asking for businesses that are “American” (read:  owned by white people.  Really).  As a member of the board of trustees, I would think answering the questions of the people you serve would be part of your job.

Though I’m still enraged, look at what happened a few hours later:

You’d better believe I’m going to complain about that ugly dirt patch they left where there used to be living plants.
You’d better believe I’m going to complain about that ugly dirt patch they left where there used to be living plants.

All I’m saying is that bitches get shit done.  It’s that simple.

EDIT:  Since tomorrow’s film features Julia Stiles, I have to: