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.

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.

understanding the unlovable

“He jokingly said I should come with a warning sticker. I replied that I agreed, and that it shouldn’t be the one with red writing. Red writing creates fear, and I didn’t want to scare anyone. The message I needed to get across was “proceed with caution”, so maybe something a little less alarming, like sunflower yellow or clementine orange” – YettiSays

I just “discovered” the blog YettiSays. If you have not read it, read it. I found myself tearing up at the beautiful yet simple prose that seemed to string together the mixed emotions that have filled me at some point or another. Her writing is honest, pure… let’s say, it is raw.

One post in particular really stuck out to me – the one I quoted above. It is about feeling unlovable. About feeling like your past is so checkered with impurity that you can’t imagine someone else would want to love that. Here’s another excerpt:

“You see, I come with a lot of pieces. I know that. Some of my pieces are damaged but still functional. Some are renewed, and honey? Better than ever. Some are completely untouched. And some are what they are: painfully broken. I own behaviors that are questionable, and a past that sometimes haunts me. I attend therapy on a weekly basis, and have scars on various parts of my body that memorialize my past battle with self-hatred. I’m secretive out of self-preservation, and have a mouth on me that’s trained to destroy out of protection… and sometimes out of spite. I’m typically an annoyingly happy person, but when I have my down days, they’re bad. They’re ugly. I perform a balancing act between my ambition and my sanity daily, and more times than not, my ambition will win.

I can’t think of a better way of wording these feelings, so I will not. I will just add. I was, I am and I always will be broken. I think when you experience certain life events, you can heal wounds, but you cannot hide scars. For so long, and to a lesser, but still significant, degree today still, those scars can make you believe you are unlovable. Those who choose to fight to love you will try to convince you of otherwise, and for fleeting moments, they may succeed, but there is this lingering buzz in the back of your mind that is inexplicable. It just is. It says don’t trust it. They think they love you or care for the real you, but they don’t know everything. If they did, they’d run away. There’s the other part of you that when you do believe it, that someone could love you, wants to save them from loving you and wants to push them away to save them from getting to the point where they see your wounds and accept your pain as their own reality and bring it into their own lives. It’s as if the scars of experiences past are contagious, and if you let them in, they’ll catch the disease.

If you are a woman who has experienced this, this last paragraph, I hope, makes sense. If not, it may sound like a load of confusing horse shit. That’s alright.

Several times in my life, I have mentioned to friends things that have happened in my past. I don’t know why. Sometimes it’s as easy as ordering a pizza and other times it feels like trying to break out of a maximum security prison el chapo style. When I do tell the details of my scars, I don’t know why, but somehow I always tell the stories in a very matter-of-fact, blunt way. As if I am answering a deposition about the facts of my life. I think, because of this, and, like Yetti, my ability to have my ambition shine through, many times I don’t communicate these experiences well. One thing I’m very good at though, is regretting revealing my truth. I fear that I have scared someone away or just gave them the heads up that they should run pretty soon. When anything negative happens in the relationship in the future, be it a friendship or otherwise, I think I had said too much. I clamp up and my vulnerability is gone. I harden.

Another excerpt:

“[O]ur pieces are beautiful, and defining, and multidimensional, and interestingly jarring. So we may come with a warning sticker. It may be a little difficult to peel our layers. But with each layer you reveal, you’ll experience the rarest form of love known to mankind. You’ll experience a love we’ve fought hard to find and give…I’m secretive out of self-preservation, and have a mouth on me that’s trained to destroy out of protection… and sometimes out of spite. I’m typically an annoyingly happy person, but when I have my down days, they’re bad. They’re ugly. I perform a balancing act between my ambition and my sanity daily, and more times than not, my ambition will win. I’m petrified of the dark. Not because I was trained to sleep with a nightlight, but because someone else was trained to not take “no” for an answer.”

Yetti, thank you for this. The one thing I do know,  is that when I love, I love hard. It may take me a while to get there. To trust. I may not always believe. But when I allow myself to trust and decide that a relationship is worth holding onto, I am that person you want on your side. I am the one who listens. Who understands. Who wants to heal your wounds before they turn into scars. Who only judges enough to give you the advice that you need and keep you in line. Who means it when I say that no favor is too big and no story is too long. Sure, I’ve been trampled on when I’ve loved too hard. Yes, This creates more layers.

At a certain point, you have to stop believing you can heal scars. You can heal wounds, the scars remain. I have punished the innocent for the crimes of the guilty. I have acted out in fear of finding someone who will keep me safe. This self-preservation though, is just that. I am preserving all parts of me and my complexities are a part of me. My imperfections, my scars, my memories, are a part of me.

From those of us who have been conditioned to believe we are unlovable, a sincere thank you to those out there who know that our complexities are a gift and use this knowledge to give us the gift of love.

#metoo

The ultimate curse word: happiness

And it’s not even four letters!

Hey there universe, it’s me, Lollie. It’s been a while. A little over four months to be exact. I started this “blog” or what was intended to be an online journal in search of happiness on June 17, 2017, with my post about “Adulting”. In that post, which I hope you read, I described my sense of misery I had been feeling as I was quote-unquote doing all of the right things to succeed in life and how none of those things were bringing me the fulfillment that I needed. I had realized that with maturity comes a responsibility to self-love and create your own path. I took the first step by quitting my big corporate job and moving back to Houston to live with my grandmother and be closer to family and friends. So, if you’re reading this, I might just be repeating that to you, but oftentimes as time passes, perspective changes our views of what was really going on when major life decisions are made, and I am here to say to you, with pride, that I stand by the decisions I made 100% and still believe they were made with the utmost clarity. Best decision I have ever made in my life.

It was incredibly touching to see how many people reached out to me after that post. Friends, Acquaintances I hadn’t talked to in forever. Strangers. It’s unbelievable that so many of us struggle with this, yet it is hard for us to discuss it. But, pushing forward, on to this next post.

I am still living with my grandmother. I am still working a job where I am overqualified and underpaid (I may or may not be done with almost all of my daily tasks by 9:15 in the morning… it’s funny how now I have to literally come up with projects to fill my time when I used to stress about not having enough hours/minutes/seconds in the day for the work piled on me). I do feel like I face judgment from some about the fact that I’m not in a “prestigious” position right now. But here’s the thing, it has almost been six months since I quit my previous job, and, at 27, I am a new person.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not that mushy gushy looks for the fairy tale ending kind of a gal. I’m a straight shooter. I stand up for myself if I feel wronged. I love logical thinking. I like to avoid conflict, but can’t ignore it. The kind of girl who probably would secretly feel incredibly special if a grand romantic gesture was made, but also be a bit embarrassed and instead of knowing what to say, would make a bad joke. While this is all a bit of a digression, my point is this: I have always had a very hard time believing that things will just magically fall into place and with a positive attitude, anything can happen. I believe that hard work and determination can help make things happen, but a little bit of luck is needed and sometimes you can be just shit out of luck. Traditionally, when good things happen I am terrified. I wonder, alright, when’s the shitstorm coming to hit the fan?

[Edit: I kid you not, this next sentence took me six minutes of staring at the computer before I could type it.] This aside, I am incredibly happy. I want to add in “right now”, as in “I am incredibly happy right now”, but I am not letting myself do this. While this may not seem like a big deal to you, dear reader, it is for me.

You see, admitting happiness has always been an incredible struggle for me. Writing this, I’m thinking of my life in terms of “before” and “after”. The event being this huge life change (or what some cynics might call my derailment from corporate America). Before, I could not remember a time where I would call myself happy. Even in middle school, I couldn’t understand why those around me were so light hearted and I was not. In high school, I would consider myself lucky if I had a single night of fun. That night would be what I would remember and think of for weeks as I felt a general dread for life. If happiness were to be put on a graph, let’s just say if most people’s baseline was right at the x and y axis, mine was somewhere in the fourth quadrant. It also didn’t help that I’m a hyper self-aware person and would just further my own frustration by knowing that I was unhappy and seemingly not being able to do anything about it.

I had a difficult upbringing. Those close to me, and probably my own parents, would probably beg to differ. But, we’re the only ones who know the entire story, right? Without going into details, let’s just say I have had more than one therapist say that they are shocked by my demeanor that certain events and circumstances surrounding my life have happened and that I have come out “okay” on the other side. That was before. Before, I let these circumstances of my upbringing follow me into my adulthood and create this looming belief that my past dictated my future. So, when I had moments of happiness, I knew they must be fleeting, because history taught me that that was the case. Why do we do this to ourselves? I literally feared thinking I was happy because I knew that what comes up, must come down.

Now, I’m going to pause for a second. If for some god forsaken reason an actual medical or mental health professional is reading this, I do know that my description of my thoughts sounds like some classic depression or other mental issue. I agree. It does sound like it. It partially was. But having spent countless hours in therapy, I assure you, that part of my life has been under control for years. In fact, it was once that imbalance was, let’s say, “balanced”, is when I was the most frightened about my mental state. Therapists assured me that I wasn’t simply a product of mental illness. That I had issues that were clearly following me into adulthood and effecting everyday life. Obviously, true. For some people, knowing this is the hard part. For me, it was acting on it. For a while, I thought that if I continued to go to therapy (something I am a huge advocate of), things would eventually, maybe get better. Better, but not great. I didn’t realize the onus was on me. Issues aside, I have had many blessings. My issues are emotional at this point – I have grown up more than privileged fiscally and was never an “at risk” youth. My upbringing set me up to have a great life if I did it right, and at least academically and socially – “doing it right” was, of course, so much easier than so many others.  But just because my shoes were always shiny and my tummy always full, does not mean it wasn’t a struggle. I can only imagine what it is like for those who have those other hurdles on top of what I have gone through.

Okay, back to it. Here’s the thing, it’s on us. The individuals. Things happen to us. For so long, I focused on things happening to me. In the past, present, what I assumed would happen in the future. But, what about things that I could make happen? How did that not cross my mind? Well, you can see when I had this epiphany in my original post. I actively made a change and a deliberate decision to be happy. So, for the first time, I am not only admitting, but PUBLISHING that I am happy. I will detail more in the days to come how this has happened, but with the progress I have made, even though I’m scared, I know that I can say I am happy and I do not think that this means the world will come crashing down around me. I am not cursing myself by declaring happiness, I am praising myself. It is a huge achievement. I made it happen. It did not just happen to me. Because of that, I can continue to make it happen and I can handle the road bumps that come along the way.

This has been a long post, so if you have gotten to this point, I commend you. If you skipped to the end, here’s the gist: for years I have been scared to embrace happiness and consequently, could not remember a time where I was actually happy. I am now. I’m scared, but prepared. My sister-in-law just told me the best thing anyone could have said to me last night – we haven’t seen each other in about 9 months and she just looked at me and said, “You’re lighter. It’s a beautiful thing.” So, from a girl who hates clichés, let me just say, drop the negativity. Drop the presumptions. Drop your expectations and expectations you think you need to live up to. Embrace your self-love.

Be light. Be happy.

Love always,

Lollie

P.s. sorry for the rambling