Tag Archives: therapy

It takes a village to write a book

Here’s what happened when I joined a writers’ group a few years ago.  Wait a minute, you guys already know how this story ends.

If you’re interested (I know there’s some writers out there in the blogosphere who follow me), you can read how my writers’ group provided me with the fuel to write my book.

Just click here to link to the Women’s Writing Circle.  You’ll find my guest post and lots of great writerly resources.

Advertisements

The lesbian discount

W and I might be vacationing in Provincetown, Mass., in July.

We don’t get a lot of alone time, so this could be just what the Lesbian Doctor of Love ordered.  (Think Melissa Etheridge with a stethoscope.)

Initially, we had talked about going to Boston or Salem, Mass., but W texted me today and asked what I thought about P-Town.

I texted back that it is one of my life goals to buy something from the Provincetown Women’s Bookstore.

Cue flashback swirls and trippy music.

Flashback

The year was 2002.  A guy named Bush was president.  Later on, this will seem ironic or like heavy handed foreshadowing.

I am participating in a therapy group called “Married to a Man and in Love With a Woman.”  I am married to a man.  I can’t fathom the woman part even though I fantasize about it.

During one of these therapy sessions, a fellow participant talks about going on vacation in Provincetown with her family.  She is surrounded by hand-holding, rainbow flag-waving gay people but unable to tell her conservative family about her girlfriend.

She tells us that the Women’s Bookstore in town offers a 10 percent discount to women-loving women.  “You just have to ask for the lesbian discount,” she explains.

The bisexual in the group asks if she would get a 5 percent price reduction.

The moment that I hear about the lesbian discount, I want it.  It’s not about saving the 10 percent (even though I’m cheap like that) but about being able to identify as a lesbian.

At the time, it’s something that I can’t even imagine.  No one knows I’m a lesbian.  Not my husband or my parents or my friends.  How could I possibly tell a stranger that I’m one?

The Women’s Bookstore becomes a mythic mountain of sorts.  A challenge to train for and to conquer.

More than a decade later, I am ready.

I know that I can confidently ask for the lesbian discount.

Somehow, I suspect that they would give it to me anyway.

Writing as group activity

Good morning, my flannel-lovin’ followers.  I thought I would take some time to talk about some of my favorite things — books and writing.  We’ll have to save some of my other favorite things — Joan Jett, 30 Rock, Heidi Klum and the chips and queso at California Tortilla — for some other day.

I’m still actively participating in my weekly writers’ group.  Every time that I write something about the meetings, W points out that I refer to it as “group” like I’m talking about group therapy.  She says it’s cute.  She pretty much thinks that everything I do is cute.  This is not a bad problem to have.

In a way, my writers’ group is like group therapy.  It is a safe place.  We share our most intimate life experiences.  We support and encourage each other.  We draw knowledge and wisdom from the other group members.  Bonus: It’s a whole lot cheaper than traditional group therapy.

Often, I find myself mentally and emotionally exhausted yet exhilarated from these group sessions.  It is not the physical pen-on-paper aspect of writing that wears me out.  Instead, it is the process of delving deep and transforming some of my life experiences into words that is so tiring.  In the end, it is a rewarding experience that is allowing me to take control of my life and to move forward with my life-long dream of writing a book.

Some of the members of my group belong to another writing group, and they have penned chapters or poems that appear in a published anthology called Slants of Light: Stories and Poems from the Women’s Writing Circle.  It is a wonderful collection of short stories and poems written by a group of very talented women.

Slants of LightI enjoyed the pieces on their own, but I was struck by the power of the anthology as a whole.  It made me think of my own writing group and how we are each made stronger by the other writers.  It might be because of a suggestion in a critique that strengthened a chapter or a chuckle in response to a humorous quip read during a read-around that provides the feedback and encouragement that a writer needs to keep pushing forward.  Even though writing is a solitary pursuit, we can, as writers, gain so much from our fellow scriveners.

I would encourage you to check out Slants of Light.  There’s something inside for everyone, including a very inspiring coming out story penned by one of my friends.  Plus, it’s a great way to support other writers who are honing their craft and working on getting their stories into print.  I know that I’ve been inspired by the mere act of holding their book in my hands.

You can order Slants of Light on amazon.com.

Yes, you can fail therapy

Failing GradeI told W last night in bed that I’m failing therapy.

“What are you talking about?  You can’t fail therapy,” she said.

“Well, you’re wrong about that,” I responded.  “I’m definitely failing therapy.”

She just looked at me and waited.

Me: So, I have therapy this Friday.  And, I told you about my two homework assignments.

W: Right.  Start eating more healthy.  Which we did this week.  Remember, we had salad?

Me: One salad doesn’t really cut it.  But, that’s not what I’m talking about.  I have until Friday morning to start dieting.

W: Ok.  You were supposed to sign up for that art class or something.

Me: Yeah.  Which starts tomorrow.  At 10 a.m.

W: (laughter)

Me: And, that’s how I’m failing therapy.

W: (laughter)

Me: I didn’t feel like calling today and signing up for the class.  And I don’t know that I’m that into mosaics anyway.  But I do have a back-up plan.  So that I don’t fail therapy.

W: And that would be?

Me: There’s a writer’s group that meets every Tuesday morning from 10:00 to 12:00 at that new independent bookstore.  It’s free.  I thought I might give that a try.

W: There you go.  That sounds like a plan.

Me: Crap.

W: What?

Me: I forgot about those deadlines for work.  And I have to pick Kid #2 up after school.  Tomorrow is not going to work.  Looks like I’m failing therapy again.

* * *

WritingSo, I’m passing therapy, barely, because I actually went to the writers’ group today.  I’ve been talking in therapy about doing something just for me like taking a class or joining a group or doing something like that.  My deadline is this Friday morning when I show up for my therapy session.

About the writers’ group: The instructor is using The Artist’s Way as a guide.  We worked on some writing prompts from that book and actually wrote two short pieces.

Maybe I’ll share some of what I’ve written here in this space at a later date.

For now, I’m going to hang with this writing group and see where it takes me.  I liked hanging out with people.  Especially people who like to write.

So, yay me for doing something that took me way out of my comfort zone and following through and actually talking in a group and not seeming all weird and wallflowery (I think) and for squeaking by in therapy, at least for a couple more weeks.

* * *

One writing prompt from today’s writing group and my response:

Ten Tiny Changes (small changes to make in your life)

1. I would like to eat healthier, especially by eating more fresh and less processed food.

2. I would like to learn how to cook some new meals/recipes.

3. I would like to ride my bike more.

4. I would like to spend more time reading.

5. I would like to take an art class.*

6. I would like to get at least one piece of writing published this year.

7. I would like to spend more time with friends (and make some new ones).

8. I would like to be out in nature more.

9. I would like for the TVs in my home to be off more.

10. I would like to volunteer for something this year.

* Apparently not a mosaic class.

Pre-holiday update on Murray the kitten and letting go

With the holidays fast approaching, my posts have been infrequent at best.  So, I thought I would offer a brief update on the latest in my flannel-filled world.  C’mon, you know you’re dying to know what’s been going on with Murray the kitten and that letting go thing.

  • I called my best friend the other day and told her once again how I wanted to fill all of my holes with cats.  She laughed hysterically.  “That’s quite a picture,” she said.  “When I say holes, I mean heart-wrenching emptiness and aloneness,” I replied.  My friends are assholes.
  • I have not found Murray the Christmas kitten.  Yet.  Truth be told, I haven’t been looking very hard.  I’m a big believer in that whole if-it’s-meant-to-be line of thinking.  I know that when the right kitten needs a home, she’ll find us.  I don’t want to just go and pick out the first available kitten that I see.  Oh, yeah, I guess that one will do.  I did that with my first girlfriend and that ended horribly.
  • W told me that it would be totally ok if I got a kitten.  Which I appreciate immensely.  I know she would be ok with me getting pretty much anything — like a boa constrictor or a Russian orphan girl — if she thought it would make me happy.
  • I’ve been thinking that maybe we should foster kittens instead of just adopting a single cat.  I imagine fostering to be like a constant conveyor belt of cute cuddly kittens.  They’re so fluffy!

Yeah, a conveyor belt of kittens. That’s what I need to make me whole.

  • I went to therapy last week and pretty much all my therapist said was “I hear you.”  That’s all that you’ve got?  I hear you?  It was pathetic.  I mean, how screwed up are you when there’s nothing left for a licensed professional to do other than listen?  No advice?  No how could you have handled that differently?  No what’s the story you’re telling yourself?  No how does that make you feel?  It was like having a therapy session with Mr. Potato Head if he was only wearing his ears.
I hear you!

I hear you with my giant pink ears!

  • I’ve been working on the whole letting go thing.  I find that some things are much easier to let go of than others.  I feel like I need a letting go mantra.  Yeah, that’s what’s holding me back.  A kick-ass mantra.  Letting go, letting go, letting go … I’m letting go.  That’s what I’ve been using so far.
  • A gourmet cupcake shop just opened up down the street from us.  I frequented the shop twice last week to buy cupcakes for two celebrations.  I became agitated (read: obsessed and stalkerish) after I learned that the shop sells a cupcake that takes a shot at my collegiate alma mater.  Turns out cupcake shop owner attended a rival school.  I told W that I want to open up a competing cupcake shop in the empty storefront next door.  I have crafted a diabolical plan of vengeance in which I run the new cupcake store owner out of town  and insult her university using animal eyeballs purchased over the Internet.  W tells me that I’m ruining the new cupcake shop for her.
Patent pending

Patent pending

Oprah said I should let go of the past

I turned on the TV yesterday while I was folding laundry and found an old Oprah episode.

Oprah told the audience that she was going to share one of her favorite definitions of forgiveness.

My ears perked up because forgiveness is something that I’ve struggled with for years.

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been different,” Oprah said.

For some reason, the concept really resonated with me.

When W and I crawled into bed last night, I repeated the quote.

“Wow, that’s really good,” she said.

I asked her if she thought that people — real people and not characters in books or movies — could read something or hear something and totally change their lives.

“Absolutely,” she said.

W is a glass half full kind of person.

Me?  When my wine glass is half full, I’m flagging the waiter for another glass.

My therapist and I were discussing the concept of letting go last week.

I had brought the topic up.  Instead of picking my battles and setting boundaries, what if I just let go of everything?  Poof.  Released it into the air.

She chuckled a bit.  I knew she was suppressing a huge guffaw, but it’s really rude for a therapist to laugh at a client.

“Ok,” she said, drawing out the one-syllable word.  That’s her tell for what-kind-of-crazy-shit-are-you-going-to-tell-me-now?  But again, it’s really rude to call a client crazy during a session.

“What would that look like?” she asked.  I saw her ears perk up, curious as hell about my plan for letting go of my anal retentively tied baggage.

For the record, I hold onto everything like a three-year-old in a thunderstorm clutching a beloved teddy bear.

“I don’t know,” I said.  “It was just a thought.  I have no idea what that might look like.”

So, that’s where we ended things.

Me: I should figure out a way to let go of stuff.

Therapist: Good luck with that.

Again, that type of blase attitude that is typically frowned upon in the therapy setting.

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been different.”

What would me letting go look like?  It would look like me giving up the hope that my past could have been different.

I spend so much time thinking about how things could have been if I would have gone to a city college with a more diverse student body, if a gay couple would have lived on the street that I lived on as a kid, if I would have grown up in The L Word age, if my mother would have let me take those damn drum lessons in fourth grade. …

The interesting thing is that the more time I spend attempting to revise my past, the angrier I get.  And, nothing ever changes.  Wishing it so doesn’t make it so.

My therapist says that I’m unable to forgive despite my many sincere attempts because I’m still angry.

Maybe the key is that I need to let go of the past.

Maybe writing about it will help.

I’ve hired Little Debbie as my new therapist and blacklisted the Cocoa Puffs bird and Lindsey Lohan from my parties

So, I’ve decided to make Little Debbie my new therapist.

javaj240 from Ambling & Rambling suggested that I substitute Little Debbie snack cakes for extra therapy as they are cheaper and way more delicious. (See previous post.)

I thought why not go all the way and just name Little Debbie as my new official therapist.

Sure, she’s young.  And she wears a straw hat tied under her chin.  But she makes a delicious and affordable snack cake.

Some children have wisdom beyond their years.  Take Doogie Howser, for example.

Oh, Little Debbie, you had me at enrobed.

This whole Little Debbie thing got me thinking about other product spokespeople and the role they could play in my life.

W and I always talk about getting a house girl to help with things around here.  You know, hit the bank, pick up the drycleaning, take the kids to the orthodontist.  I always pictured her as a Swedish exchange student.  Like Uma Thurman in The Producers but younger.

I would like one pizza with all the toppings for my two lady bosses.

A few nights ago, I told W that we should just get a male nanny, or a Manny, because it might not be a good idea to bring a young, hot, blonde into the house.  Just to be safe and all.

I was thinking that Mr. Clean might be able to get the job done.  He could keep the boys in line and get the toilet sparkling clean.

I am strict but sensitive.

The Hamburger Helper hand would make a great masseuse.  Or, proctologist.

That’s not too much pressure, is it?

Snap, Crackle and Pop would be my drug dealers.  If I did drugs stronger than Zzzquil and Advil.

Yo, this shit will fuck you up.

I’d hire Mr. Peanut to organize all of my parties, because that monocle screams class. The Kool-Aid pitcher would tend bar.  Sam Ronson would DJ because she’s so damn cute.

Real, live lesbian — not a mascot

The Green Giant would work the door and have strict instructions to keep out Lindsey Lohan and Sonny from Cocoa Puffs.  That bird is an a-hole.

You won’t ruin my party, Sonny.

As you can see, I’m feeling a bit better.  Thanks for all the well wishes.

How about you?  Which product mascots would you like to hire?