A Big Law MUST read

I beg anyone who is in law, considering law, or knows someone in either category to read this article. And if not, read it anyways.

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“Though it’s only the beginning stages of trying to figure out why this happened, I came across a concept, maladaptive perfectionism, that combines unrealistic standards of achievement with hypercriticism of failing to meet them… Maladaptive perfectionists lack self-compassion.

I know “Big Law” didn’t directly kill my husband—because he had a deep, hereditary mental health disorder and lacked essential coping mechanisms. But these influences, coupled with a high-pressure job and a culture where it’s shameful to ask for help, shameful to be vulnerable, and shameful not to be perfect, created a perfect storm.”

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This article hits uncomfortably close to home for me. Those closest to me will immediately see why just from what I’ve quoted above. The truth is, in June of 2017, in an uncharacteristic move, I quit my Big Law job because I knew it was a life or death decision. Most times when I tell people that I quit my job, the response is “how millennial of you” or “oh, that’s brave.” In reality, there was no thought put in it aside from the sheer need to survive in this world. I wouldn’t fault anyone or anything, but I know staying in that environment meant the end of me. Maybe not in a month or even a year, but eventually.

For those of you that read this and this hits close to home, please believe me here. If your job is killing you, if you no longer feel like yourself, if you do not understand the point of what you are doing anymore aside from the fact that “it” has always been your plan, you do not have to quit, but it is OKAY if you do. No position and no prestige is worth your life. It will at first feel embarrassing, but that will fade. You will question yourself, but that will fade. Your friends and family will question you, but the importance of that in your life will fade as well. Do not let yourself and your happiness fade.

I am constantly told that “I’m going through a rough patch and this will pass.” I’m still putting things together, true, but I am so thankful that some sort of greater being took over my body and quit in June 2017. I wouldn’t trade that decision for the world. I also do know that there are PLENTY of jobs where I will thrive and, to be honest, fucking kill it, without the same life-threatening culture that Big Law can induce for SOME people.

By quitting a job, I made sure I didn’t quit in this life. Please love yourselves and trust.

https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2018/11/12/big-law-killed-my-husband-an-open-letter-from-a-sidley-partners-widow/?slreturn=20181103231025

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Deafening Silence

I’ve never known which was worse – feeling alone with a plethora of people physically around you or “in touch” with you or feeling alone because you are, truly, physically and mentally alone. I guess they’re both equally awful and equally unavoidable because let’s, or I, rather given the fact being that it is I who feels alone right now, must face it – if you are the type to feel alone, you’ll feel alone whether others are surrounding you or not.

On the campaign, there were moments I felt more full of love and joy from others than I’ve felt in my entire life. This was for about the first month. So much love. So much understanding.

Somewhere, I realized I had not put my warning labels up – that I had flashed some signs of caution.. but that was not enough. Soon enough the parts of me that are so undesirable would creep through, and ruin the experience of perfection everyone else was feeling.

It’s funny, my signs of caution in this setting would normally be seen as “get the fuck away before you’re part of the damaged goods” in other scenarios, but here, in a safe Beto space, my signs of caution were seen, as one told me, as badges of bravery. “I have been raped.” “My father abandoned our relationship.” “I experienced discrimination in the workplace.” “I quit my job and don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.” These are all things that really, in most instances, one would think would not be celebrated… but would likely incite the slow but steady walk away. You know the one – the one where the conversation seems to be going well but then you drop the bomb… the other party acts like it doesn’t matter and then steadily figuratively backs up in the conversation and then suddenly backs up physically from the conversation.

This wasn’t the case here. In Beto 2018, I was celebrated for my “bravery.” Put at ease for my uncertainty. In a cool kids club for quitting my job and saying no to corporate America.

Well, I’m not sure if this is a chicken or the egg scenario, but this sort of acceptance can only last so long. Our Mecca lasted, as long as it could have, before suddenly I knew: either I was the fraud or I was being fraudulently supported. The vibe wasn’t there. The trust. The support system. The insider feeling… it was gone. I told others outside of the campaign the second I knew. They told me give it a few days and the feeling would subside. It didn’t.

We become the person we expect others will expect us to be.

So I don’t know if it’s the chicken or the egg. I became, or at least I think I became, a scarred person who let my scars show. My scars did not seem to be celebrated – or perhaps I just felt that way. I don’t know.

I know a few things. I know my thoughts are incredibly scattered right now and I know that many from the campaign word feel that way too. I know we were warned of feeling all of these ups and downs after the campaign and to spend the time after the campaign with those we love and who love us.

I know that many people from the campaign spent every waking moment together afterwards because those were the people they know loved them. I know I have spent most of my time alone. Searching for those that make me feel loved.

Chicken or the egg. Yet again. How can you find those that make you feel loved if you aren’t capable of feeling loved – or, is it, that those in your life who do love you, which dear lord I hope exists for me, who truly love me, don’t know how to express it. Or is it that I don’t know how to accept it?

I do know that there’s been less of the expressing recently and more of the feeling alone. The doomsday feeling of alone. This is not a cry for help because I have too much pride to do that and frankly, am too self-aware and would get annoyed with random people reaching out to me. It’s just a curious musing.. at what point do you truly become unlovable? Unbearable? Are they the same thing?

What about just … uninvitable? Not a word, I know, but the person that people stop inviting to things. Either because they think they’re too cool, you haven’t shown up in the past, or because their everyday life is simply functioning without you as a true consideration? How many times have I done this to others? Infinite, I’m sure. I’m sure as I write this, there is someone out there who today thought that abandoned our friendship. But perhaps that is too self-Indulgent to think that way.

The feeling of annoyance is deafeningly loud. I mean, the feeling of being annoying. Somehow, the silence from others, the desire of meaning, the feeling of being a constant nuisance for trying to surround myself with those I Love, has turned into a deafening roar. Yet the silence is destroying me.

Break

It’s funny. My first post ever was about leaving my lawyer job for a “break.” I had no idea how long that break would last, but I knew without taking it, without that leap of faith, my already broken self would crumble into smaller pieces until I would just disappear. Take that as you will. That was on June 1, 2017.

The year and some change that followed was difficult, as many of you know, but full of many moments of.. just living. Of experiencing. Of being capable of feeling again- the good, the bad, the extremely ugly. All of the things that I had suppressed through my immersion into work and avoided through conscious avoidance. All of the things that are worthy of human experience and deserving of attention.

At the end of August of this year, 2018, I not only broke again, I crumbled. In an undated journal entry, I wrote:

“I don’t know why I’m on this earth any more. I don’t know why I exist. There is not much difference between my physical existence and the pen that is slowly moving in my hand. I am here to help others, but by failing to help myself, I have failed to help others and in turn, no one needs me or wants me. I am used to me not wanting me. But to not even feel like my perishing would be a disappointment to one person, this is new. I don’t need to be needed or need to be wanted, but I need to have meaning. Otherwise, why am I still fighting for myself? What is there to fight for? I am certainly not the light of anyone’s life at this point, and if for some reason I should become that, this overwhelming sense of darkness that inevitably overcomes me will make them walk away. It always does.”

I went on. I called a friend to come over that night and she did. I brushed it under the rug.

I joined the Beto for Senate campaign just a few days later. Everything turned around. I was needed. I was helpful. I was productive. And for a little bit, I was the light of some people’s lives.

For a little bit, the stress of the campaign was the fuel that kept my life going. Not always graceful, I pushed through with pride and joy. Somewhere along the line, however, real life… “real me”.. made my light flicker and other people took notice.

In the end I remember all of the beautiful faces of the campaign. The potential voters, the non-voters, the volunteers, and most of all the gorgeous faces of my teammates. The fellow warriors. The shared faces of confusion, love and determination.

I don’t know how much to write here or to not write here, because I think sometimes writing things down in a public manner seems like a “vindictive” thing to do. All I know is some of the highest highs I had during the campaign.. surrounded by people who I felt understood me. For the first time ever. Part of understanding me is understanding my lows. My failures. But also my deep empathy for others. I fuck up. A lot. I also trust that people are good on the inside. I know I am good deep down. I may not be great to myself, but when I can be, I am great to others.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of my biggest struggles is understanding how someone so scarred could be lovable. I don’t mean always in the romantic sense, but in a more familial, friendship sense as well. I am beyond scarred. This is nothing new. When wounds have started to heal, somehow the stitches are ripped open. That being said, I have pushed and pushed to heal myself and move forward. I’ve done a pretty damn good job of it.

In the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the beauty of what was and will always be the Beto for Texas campaign 2018. We made something big. We created something beautiful. And by we, I mean every single person who is a part of the community that did this. It was an honor.

One thing I didn’t expect was the feeling I have right now. Feeling lucky to have made new beautiful friends, especially post-campaign, but also knowing that their gorgeous kindness is likely due to the beauty within them, and not because of a light within me. The light within me right now is flickering, and I’m at a loss of what to do.

During the campaign, when I lost grace, I also lost a friendship I thought I’d have for my entire life. I still can’t wrap my head around it, and I still don’t know why it hurts so badly. I think it’s because I let the friendship in and I knew I shouldn’t have. I know myself and I know better. I know I most likely did something to cause distrust, but I also know it was not intentional. I can’t be angry about it, but I am confused. It’s strange when you aren’t able to even speak to someone to express something. All I know is the worst feeling in the world is feeling silenced and helpless. I have a pit in my stomach every single day. I can’t shake it and I don’t know why. I’m “stronger” than that.

This friendship lost, other factors in my life right now, I am once again not much more than that pen I have now misplaced. Useful when those who need it need to get something done, express their feelings, or simply have a means of distraction. Aside from that, easily misplaced and of no use when the ink runs out.

On the night before Election Day, I told the out-of-state volunteers and the staff my story of how the election saved my life- win or lose. It did. Somehow during the election, with as much as I gained, I lost so much more.

Here’s to hoping.

My Walden Pond

Growing up, there were two types of kids- the kids who opened their eyes under water and the kids who didn’t. These same kids also somehow seemed to be blessed with the immense and enviable courage it took to flawlessly master the high dive.

I, not surprisingly, was a didn’t. As a kid, despite my brother’s constant nagging to “just do it” I was the kid who did not open my eyes under water. Not even with goggles. I was too scared water would leak in. This led to a lot of near death experiences when my brother would confirm I did not open my eyes and subsequently try to “drown me” by holding me under in the deep end just to scare the bejeezus out of me. Additionally, this meant I was definitely not a swim team contender.

During the past few weeks, dealing with a break up has meant having a lot of time to refocus on me. I was focused before, but I think that’s something people who go through break ups say. “I’m finding me again.” “I’m putting me first”. “I deserve better”. “It’s better to be alone than with xyz.” For the record, I will never say these things about this relationship and never have. But life is life and things “happen for a reason.”

Anyways, with this free time I decided to invest a lot of my energy into working out. Working out has always been a way to cheer myself up when nothing else could, or at least clear the dark thoughts in my head. As part of my new exercise regimen, I decided I would learn to swim laps, and … I did! At first, I attempted to do the breast stroke in a way that could only be described as arms projecting out and about in sort of spastic Macarena and legs … scissoring? Either way, each day I added five more laps to my routine and with the help of some YouTube videos, was able to improve my technique just a bit and get up to 30 laps.

Despite my embedded sarcastic tone in the phrase’s last use, things did seem to happen for a reason, as I found myself being annoyed about having to fly to Boston for a continuing education course to keep up my law license. Somehow, however, my flight was just a day after said break up. So a day of continuing education turned into 2.5 week’s of Boston fun and escape. And it has been.

Most of my time during these past couple of weeks have been unplanned and spent spontaneously catching up with friends and wandering various neighborhoods and enjoying the beauty of Boston/Cambridge. The one must on my list, however, was a visit to Walden Pond.

Walden Pond, for most of you, is likely the physical written manifestation of Thoreau’s imagination and historic prose. For me, it is a beautiful escape that I never knew existed. Growing up in Houston, we did not have these natural beautiful ponds or springs to swim in. When I came to New England and discovered with awe the beauty of these natural treasures, I was hooked. I have visited Walden Pond several times over the years, and I knew it was a must during this visit.

Yesterday was the day. My beautiful friend who graciously let me crash with her for the past 2 week’s drove the 30 minute drive to Concord, where we finally turned left into the wooded parking lot and then crossed the street, walked down the steps and across the beach to our somewhat shaded (for her) and somewhat sunny (for me) spot we would claim on the beach. I laid down and it was just as beautiful as I imagined.

Now, I’m pausing here to tell you that there is no use of metaphors in the creation of what is to follow. Why, you ask? The experience was simply too beautiful to create a metaphor. It’s beauty was too true to be a metaphor. Too literal for comparison. It was the metaphor.

(Con’t…) I don’t remember the specifics of every time I have visited Walden Pond, but I do know that my time in the water is usually minimal and spent within the confined areas – not in the designated free swim area. The free swim area was where experienced swimmers could swim across the lake and back. Warning signs upon entry stated in no uncertain terms that those who ventured out were on their own. Well, yesterday when I grew restless in my half shade/half sun spot and read those words, only one word came to mind: “perfect.”

I walked into the water and kept walking. I kept walking until my toes no longer touched the rocky bottom and I was floating. And then I was “swimming” and then I wasn’t swimming, I was gliding. Flawlessly. I was being pulled towards what can only be described as the beauty of another world. Eyes closed under water, but open as I reached the surface with my eyes only on the beautiful clouded wooded horizon with the sun somehow coming through the trees in a way only seen in paintings. I now understood the term breathtaking.

Taking no notice of the distance I now was from the beach of the lake, I yearned with each scoop of water to bring myself closer to this masterpiece. It’s a freedom they write about in the classics and proclaim in the movies.

As I came closer and closer to the center of the lake, The most incredible thing was, I think, was the quiet. For the first time in my life, I felt peace. The only noise I could hear was the calming ripple of the tide interspersed with the sole voice of my own thoughts. There were no voices in my head but mine. No currents pulling me in different directions or pressure pushing me down. I was floating and I was soaring. For those minutes, however many, I was where I needed to be and it was majestic. I was floating towards the beauty of another world.

As the tide turned I noticed a woman about 10 yards away. I was no longer alone. There was an intruder. Without glasses I could not make out much of the contours of her bobbing face, but from what I could see, we looked eerily alike. No longer gliding, we both were facing each other with our confused heads bobbing in unison. My peace was gone and the beautiful moment though captured, was finite.

I suddenly became hyper aware of the fact that if I kept gliding, we would collide. She wasn’t moving, so it meant that I either need to change directions or stop moving myself. The tide quite literally turned and I turned with it. My eyes opened to the tiny figured on the beach and, struggling to find the energy, I swam towards shore. With each awkward stroke, more cries of babies could be heard and even worse, complaints from teenage beauties about their “flawed bodies.” My knee scraped a rock and I was forced to stand. My time, my moment was done. And I was incredibly sad. I am incredibly sad. And truth be told, this was this first time i had felt remotely sad since the breakup because I had felt it was the right thing to do.

My mind, just a few minutes before completely at ease was racing a mile a minute. That experience, what was it? How had it suddenly become so easy? Was this what the brain of a “normal” person feels like? Was this the outlook on life the prescribed tablet I take like clockwork every morning was supposed to give me but has failed to do so? Was this calm other people’s equilibrium or would it have been as incredible to them? You see, when you deal with mental illness, I think people forget that you have as many questions about how other people, the normal ones, experience life as they have about someone like me.

I sit here now, reading the notes I took right after the experience, full of hope that I could go back in the water and recreate the experience. I couldn’t. I didn’t.

I lied. But I came by it honestly, I promise. I did not set out to have a metaphor, but I suppose I’ve had a revelation in the midst of typing. Well, not a metaphor, let’s say a comparison. I can’t decide if I’m happy yesterday happened. I am filled with anguish today that I know that sort of experience exists and, though fleeting, I experienced it. Just as fleeting, it’s now gone. With my breakup, I am just as torn. Is it really better to have love and lost than to never have loved at all? I hate cliches, but seriously. Every other break up I’ve had, I’ve had so many major reasons to dislike the person, the relationship, etc. But this one, this person, we knew it wasn’t right in the end. But during it, the experience, it was beautiful. I might not have had perfect form, but I felt like I was gliding. I experienced a beauty and a peace that I did not know existed. And now it is gone and I don’t know if I’ll ever experience that again. With that experience comes new expectations and a different kind of unrest.

It’s easy to accept not having something when you don’t think it’s attainable. When you cannot experience it – never have, never will. Right now, wish I never experienced it. Wish I never glided towards the unknown without fear.

So what do you do. And please don’t tell me Bumble.

Arson

I had presented myself with warning labels, and even presented some malfunctioning activity to give signs of what may lay ahead, and for some reason, he still proceeded, albeit with caution.

I had been given reason to believe that I’m not good enough, and and hadn’t been, enough, from the beginning. He had not given me reason, but I knew it. It was preordained – I. Am. Not. Good. Enough.

Of course this is false and, of course, it is unreasonable, but throughout my young..ish life my truth has become clouded by perception. There were reasons to know it would not be, it never was and never could be.

The irony that this is my only truth I choose to believe is not lost on me.

And so, I cashed in on my insurance policy. Burning up the possibility before undoubtably my strike of luck would end and my profits diminish. Fraud, is the technical term.

The Empty Docket

Every October or so I buy a new moleskin 18-month planner, usually in black – the flexible, bendable kind. It is my world’s equivalent to a new year’s resolution – except combined with the overly quoted “definition of insanity”. You know the one, the thing that guy says when he feels all wise and shit. “You know the definition of insanity- doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Well, my October insane resolution is buying a planner and expecting it to make a difference. If I just write things down, I think, it will be different. I will somehow transform into the person I want to be because I will have my to-do list right in front of me and I will make it happen.

Inevitably, like every new-year-new-me #goal, although I eagerly jot down and cross off item after item for a month – even two if I’m lucky, by the end of the year, my attempts become sporadic at best, and in the end, the planner becomes exactly what it is – an overly priced, leather bound collection of paper and I become exactly what I am – insane, at least by most people’s standards. 

I have never liked that definition of insanity – the one about doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results. Because even though I don’t feel like doing a quick google search, I’m pretty sure if you google the definition of “perseverance” or “heart of a champion” or “practice”, you’ll find a description pretty dang close – but I guess hindsight is 20/20, right?

I can tell you right now that I know the definition of insanity, but that’s about it. I know it, because I am feeling it, and the feeling is absolutely indescribable. It goes something like this though – insanity is having done the same things over and over again, realized they didn’t work, and having no clue where to go from there. It is the realization that you literally don’t have one to-do list item, even a dentist appointment, to write in your under-used yet overpriced moleskin notebook, and even if you wanted to make up a list just to have the pleasure of checking off an item, you wouldn’t know where to begin.

Insanity is a feeling of helplessness like no other. Not the kind where my friends and family should be worried about me in a life or death kind of way, but the kind where I am worried for me in a having the life I wanted or living a life wasted kind of a way.

It’s pretty funny, really, I used to bill by the hour. A large number. Now, I seek to fill every hour. How can you work for 26 years towards a goal only to achieve it, take a wrong turn and suddenly you’re out of the game? But more on that later. All I can do right now is write.

A stranger at a bar a few months back (I know, doesn’t sound good) asked me if I could accomplish one thing in life that would really make me proud of myself, what it would be. I immediately said have a successful relationship and beautiful children and be a great mother. He nodded, he had a son, he said, and he understood. But he said that that wasn’t big enough. He asked what could do or create to make myself proud. Personally. I still think my original answer fit his question, but I acquiesced and admitted that I wanted to write a book. I always have.

He asked me what was stopping me. I said I wouldn’t know where to start. He said that isn’t an excuse. Start writing.

I think I wrote something on here that night, I don’t remember. Or maybe I wrote in a journal. But I know that I want to write. My docket is empty and my brain is full. But how do I do it? Is my story even worthy of telling? Beyond that, is it worthy of listening to?

Right now, I know one thing. My insanity is wanting a different result, but not even trying. I also know, that I’ve done a lot of trying and a lot of succeeding and a lot of failing. There has to be some meaning interwoven in my insanity.

Have any of you had experience with publishing? Advise on the business/how to break into it? If not, any words of wisdom or thoughts would be appreciated in comments.

Love always,

Lollie36291412_10211091456552801_2126267256882069504_n

Limping through my strut

Some days, most days, I can lift myself up nowadays. This day is not one of those days. I have fallen. Sure, someone may have stuck their toe out and tripped me, but that does not make the fall hurt any less than if I had missed my own step.

I don’t know how spilling that analogy onto the page (I hand write before I type this in) somehow is the only thing that made me smile today. Because it’s so true,right? People who care about you, or who, at the very least, have incentive to care if you feel like you’re under a dark cloud or not, are always very quick to tell you to not be too hard on yourself or it’s not your fault when you get screwed over or hurt and feel down on yourself. Sure, fine. But how does that make me feel back at that wonderful equilibrium I felt before? Just because someone tripped me and you point out that fact does not put me back at that equilibrium before the fall. My knees are still skinned and my hands cracked from trying to catch myself. Maybe I’m slightly less embarrassed or feel like a little bit less of a duntz, but if I get back to my steady strut, my skinned knees are there and most likely, I’ll have a little bit of a limp that I can’t just ignore.

It’s a pretty good analogy, I think. But of course, I can’t say that to those well intentioned ones who care. Instead I retreat and take a seat for a bit til I regain my balance.

It’s too bad human instinct isn’t to just invite someone out for ice cream or a tv binge after they fall and pretend like I don’t have an ice pack on and like you didn’t go out of your way to change your plans to just be there.

But I guess I’ve been an all-star at getting through things in the past, so It’s a given I can do it again. Right? After all, why do I need help picking myself up if I’m so strong to begin with? What was I thinking? The fall was yesterday. I should already be back to a full-blown Power strut by now.