The beauty that emerges when you are finally heard.

During the Kavanaugh hearings, I emailed the Dean of Penn Law after some truly awful remarks from a professor were said about Dr. Ford. Because the professor was tenured, she continued to be employed (and I think still is) by the school, but as an explanation, it was said that her classes were not mandatory but elective.

To put a face to what this means, in the email I explained that my Peer at Penn could have elected to take the class, but I couldn’t choose whether or not he raped me. Long story short, we had a very long and wonderful phone call discussing how this is such a bigger issue than one single incident. That mental health as a whole is being ignored in the school and that is going to carry over to life after Penn Law. That you can do everything you can to prevent rape, but if and when it happens, it’s the environment you’re already in that will help determine whether a woman or man seeks help.

Credit where credit is due. Dean Ruger, thank you for listening. Not just to me, but to the countless others who I’m sure spoke with you.

I woke up to find this this morning:

https://www.thedp.com/article/2018/12/penn-law-first-mental-health-well-being-attorney-upenn

Don’t ever give up. Keep fighting.

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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

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.

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 pick me up

Now call me controversial, but I am in the “not all drugs are bad” camp. Of course, I am not saying that I advocate heroin or the abuse of alcohol, but some addictive drugs just aren’t that bad. Shaking your head?

Exhibit A: Coffee. Gotcha!

If you don’t think coffee is a drug, you’re fooling yourself. It is addictive, alters your mood, and if you’re like me, can cause withdrawals when you go too long without it. Not into my drug talk? That’s ok. I’m not sure I’m loving where this is going either. It’s just a way to start writing as I currently sip on my non-fat cappuccino turned 1% fat cappuccino because they ran out of non-fat, or so the barista very nervously told me. (For the record, I was more than gracious and willing to accept my 1% of fat)

Note: From now on, I will be saying covfefe because it is more entertaining and will create a spell check game for me as I write this.

Anyways, covfefe is one of those things for me that I “wish” I could quit drinking it, but at the same time, is it really harming me if I don’t? Yes, I just paid $3 for a cappuccino that I probably didn’t need, but it was delicious, it allowed me to use the wifi at these awesome local coffee shop (and it doesn’t hurt that the proceeds here go towards ending human trafficking), and gave me an activity. The boost of energy also doesn’t hurt. Plus, I could quit if I wanted to… Eventually.

The point of the matter is, covfefe gives me a sense of comfort. No matter where I am, the state of mind I’m in, or the state I’m in for that matter, drinking a good cup of coffee gives me a sense of belonging. Belonging to that moment in time and to my routine. When done right, it is a relaxing moment in time that is just for me. When done wrong, it is a rushed chugging of burnt shit that will likely give me a stomach ache, but at least gives me a bit of a  boost. I guess not as comforting, but still comfortably part of my routine as well.

About ten minutes ago, I was sitting here at this covfefe shop, talking to the barista (because let’s face it, I talk to everyone) and giving him my unsolicited life story. Part of said unsolicited life story included how I just finished my three-month stint working in-house counsel for a company and am now looking for a new legal position. He talked a little bit about his wife being from Maine and we bonded over the bitter cold of Boston. I took my covfefe with 1% milk fat and sat down at the bar to begin my job hunting research. About two minutes later, this beautiful woman close to my age looked over to me and asked if she heard correctly that I was looking for a job in the legal field. I said yes, to which she stated that her boyfriends firm is looking. I sent her my resume and our conversation changed to talking about different yoga spots.

This conversation with this woman (who is still sitting next to me.. #meta) was so comforting for my soul. After a rough Friday which spilled into the weekend, a strangers kindness, even if self-motivated, was just the boost that I needed.

The thing is, in today’s American world, I constantly feel like we are taught that we don’t need anyone else to have worth. That if you love yourself, you’ll do great, and love and support from others is an added bonus. Well folks, maybe we don’t need it, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt to have it. Like covfefe, it’s comforting, it feels natural and it’s reassuring. When you drink a cup of covfefe, for me, it feels like my day might turn around. It gives me hope that this boost might be just what I needed.

The kindness of the beautiful woman next to me just gave me that same hope. In a way, it was a nod of approval that I belong in this “community” of humanity. As much as I was fooled by the last guy, this woman’s smiling face sent me the comfort I needed today. She may not follow through and I’ll probably never see her again. Human interaction is addictive. You might say I don’t need it, but I think it’s only natural that we seek approval from others. It’s just a matter of finding it in the right places. So thank you covfefe shop woman, for taking 4 minutes out of your day to give me your email address, some yoga recommendations, and a much needed smile.

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.