Archive for therapy

Someone’s knocking at the door

Posted in 37, friends, joie de vie with tags , , , on October 14, 2011 by ana

My friend Alicia is, among many other things, a yoga teacher. Sunday, after a very boring french lesson, I went to her apartment for lunch. We sat at her little table and ate sausages, salad, heirloom tomatoes, and olives flanked to one side by a statue of Durga. Alicia was tired from a week filled with teaching and driving, and I was feeling kind of blue, the way I often do when I don’t sleep well or I’ve partied too much. I think we were both feeling a little guilt for different reasons.

Being in her company, in her space, eating yummy food was recalibrating. Sometimes you just need your friends to reassure you that everything is okay, even if deep down you know it. At overwhelming times a little validation can go a long way.

Over the years Alicia’s home has become part treasure chest and part library. Everywhere I looked my eyes would land on something interesting- mythology books, an old Judy Blume paperback, a shelf filled with all the markers, pencils and pens imaginable, a huge vision board, an old suitcase filled with papers, collections of her favorite authors, little notes left for herself as reminders of dreams, vintage toys…

For dessert there were blueberries, strawberry biscuits and tea. Alicia said, “I think I want to give you your birthday present.”  She handed me a shopping bag. “This is for when you feel lonely in Paris. Or in LA,” she added.  Inside was a collection of all my favorite eighties movies- Can’t Buy Me Love, Some Kind of Wonderful, Flash Gordon. Hands down one of the best, sweetest gifts anyone has given me. I felt so loved and known.

Saturday night I went to a dinner party at my friend Rami’s house, on the way there I kept thinking- this has been the best year of my life- hard but really great. When Stevie showed up a little later she said, “this has been the best year of your life SO FAR”

My birthday is around the corner.  Birthdays are my preferred New Year’s celebration, a time to lovingly recall all that has transpired and to think about what you hope to accomplish in the coming year. There are three or four big reasons why this has been the best year of my life. One was the break-up. It is almost a year since Leo and I split. I have always thought that to get yourself over a break up you need a year. You need to live all the seasons and major holidays you lived with that person without them. While it pains me to write that this amazing year came in part from loving and leaving someone who I will always love and who will always live in my heart that was the turning point, the empty handed leap, as they say. Sometimes it’s still hard to wrap my head around that one but there is strength in both knowing that I could have such a satisfying relationship, that I could love and be loved and feel the magic of being in love, and there is beyond strength in knowing that I chose me. That through life’s twists and turns, and the logistics of navigating a life shared with someone else there came a time where the only choice that was true to everything I believed was to walk away, and I did it no matter how much it hurt.

What followed was in many ways the main reason I have had such a successful and rotund year.  I have been fed and nurtured by an amazing, eclectic group of friends who have been my shelter, my cheerleaders, my sounding board, and my laughter. More than at any other moment in my life I have thanked my lucky stars for them.

Then there was therapy and my seven-month workshop, which was a journey in and of its self.  Much like with the break up, I grasp that something life changing has occurred. I feel internally that I am now completely different, yet the same. I am stronger, closer to who I have always thought I could be. I also sense I am too close to the events to truly grasp their magnitude in my narrative. I get that this year has been a game changer but to what extent remains to be seen.

And then there was Italy and all the mayhem that ensued from traveling with my mom, my brother and his brood, going to cooking school in Puglia for a week, having a lovely fling, and ending up in the emergency room with my mom after she broke her wrist. I came back from my trip to Italy inspired in a way I hadn’t been in a long time or perhaps had ever been. Certainly the accumulation of all that had happened in the year led me there. The commitment to write regularly either in this blog or for myself led me there.  But something was sparked that led me to fall in love with things I’ve always loved- food, photographs, words.

The last two months have been fraught with ups and downs mostly of my own doing. When I started my therapy workshop I knew that when the time came, after the workshop ended, I would know what to do next. I trusted that completely and in time the decision and opportunity to go to Paris appeared. Soon after I decided on Paris all these voices and doubts started to pop up. Part of me worried about what I would do in Paris, part of me worried about what I would do after Paris, and part of me wished I was there already. Then the other day it just hit me- you will know, when the time is right, you will know the next step. Just do your work and don’t worry about what will happen four steps ahead.

This has been a year of great lessons that I work hard at remembering. I can only live the moment that I have right now. I have no control over outcome. I must let life live me.  The only control I have is the choice to surrender and trust, and to be picky with what, who and how I fill my day. I think Anne Lamott said it best:

There is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder. But the good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.




Posted in 37 with tags , , , , , on August 27, 2011 by ana

Maybe seeing Leo last week, rolling around, and pressing up against each other wasn’t such a good idea.  In the moment it seemed okay. The next day, this past week, I’ve felt fine. But the past few days I have been so emotional. I want love in my life- it’s no secret. And while I feel that I’m over Leo I don’t know that I’m over the heartache.

I spent the weekend in Napa with pregnant Nai and then drove down to visit Willa and spent a few days hanging out with her gorgeous one year old baby.  Both my friends are happy and in love. I’m happy that they are happy but I feel lonely. It’s a funny feeling to want something that feels completely out of my reach, something that I thought I had and that I thought was coming. I feel that it is time for something new but I think I’m still in the thick of it just in a different stage.

My fling in Italy helped and didn’t help. Something I thought would be light and breezy turned into unexpected feelings and strong desire I have had a hard time letting go of. The emails back and forth were probably not the best idea either.

Were the feelings for that man strong because he was the first man that I was with after Leo? I have wondered that more than once. Or was there something really there? Does it even matter?


Willa and I went to the beach. It was a beautiful, foggy beach with seals, cliffs, and redwoods, and I was all weepy. What I realized in talking with both my friends is that I’m angry. That I still somehow feel that the tables were turned on me. That I ended up so far from where I thought I would be and still there is the strong undercurrent, the knowledge that it was the best thing that happened to me.

Nothing like a six hour drive to clear your head. I drove the five freeway home with a vengeance and almost got pulled over.  The night before I left Willa said, “there is nothing you need to fix. You are perfect as you are and love will walk in when it will.” Anouk in an email said the same thing, perfect as you are. This is a revolutionary concept for me. I always feel like there is something I need to fix.

What is it then that is going on with me? What is it that keeps me from feeling completely full, from seeing the abundance I have in my life each day? I drink strong coffee in therapy and say, “there are so many ups and downs lately. I’m sad, and I’m also happy. I’m scared and excited.” I voice the fear that is creeping in about moving to Paris and all the things I have been learning about myself lately. “I think maybe I don’t need to go looking for a purpose. I think I just need to be me. Like you said, live each day fully. Do the things that fill my soul.” I voice my deep desire to connect with a man. To have a relationship that is a collaboration more than a compromise. I say, “I want a lover but sadly those never appear when I go looking for them.” I talk about how inspired I feel, and wonder why I am complaining. I am a broken record. Well, not broken, skipping.

“When you feel disappointment,” she says,  “you start to doubt. You keep expecting something to happen that will somehow create this ideal life you have in your head, this magical fantasy life keeps you from seeing the fullness, the excitement that is already there.”

She is right, I keep thinking I will find an enchanted doorway, a lucky coin, a magic lamp that will put me in some paradisal version of my life where macarons are eaten every morning for breakfast, everyday feels as exciting as brand new love and is filled with great sex and fabulous outfits and incredibly fulfilling creative endeavors. I know, ridiculous.

Later she says, “you always look for the wonderment in life.”

And I interrupt and say, “I know it is my downfall.”

“I was going to say is one of the best qualities about you.”

I need to stand in my own life complete and whole, absorb whatever comes my way, and be present to all of the amazing, dark, lovely mess that life is.

She says, “I’m excited for you.”

She says, “you need to write love letters to yourself. From the one that longs to the one that longs to be desired.”

And we talk about Paris. How it has been there for a long time, the thought, the idea, and now the leap. In a previous session she said, ” you keep asking for signs when they come you have to take them.”

And so Paris, Paris, Paris in January. Is it really happening? I feel the same way I felt before I moved to LA. I dosn’t feel real yet but it is there.

I have been trying to push myself. In the summer the restaurant doesn’t get busy until the sun starts to set. Chili and I talk about where we are, where we are going. I tell her, “I had a revelation the other day. I work hard but I never push myself.”

And she says, “my drumming teacher used to tell me- if you show up to rehearsal and do the same thing you always do that’s not practicing that’s just repetition. In order to practice you need to push yourself.”

For the last seven days I have been waking up and doing the opposite of what I always do. I haven’t reached for my laptop or phone. I have written “morning pages” stream of consciousness writing at least three pages long. Then I’ve sat down to meditate aiming for ten minutes maybe getting seven. Hey, it’s still something. I have gone running and not given up. And I’ve been working on being, on living life exactly as I want my life to be. I have been trying to live perfect days. Or at least doing my part.

Today I started sorting and organizing my room. I live with a very lovely and anal (no pun intended) gay man. I know that what I call neat is for him chaos. I live in his house for free so I try to keep things, try being the key word here, somewhat organized. I have a lot of stuff. Among it are boxes upon boxes of letters and journals, almost 20 years worth. I have moved with these boxes from Midtown to Harlem to the East Village to Brooklyn to Burbank to Hollywood to Koreatown and back to Burbank. Each time the boxes get heavier. Do I really need to hold on to all of it?  Watching The Cook, the Thief, the Wife, and her Lover, one of my favorite movies, I started to go through some of it. I read old letters some written to me, some rough drafts of letters I’ve sent. I read old journals from art school, from when I was seventeen, and from a few years ago. Certain themes emerged. The therapy workshop that I did was all bout shadows and patterns and looking at your defenses, and boy were those blatantly there. They sent me for a spin. They drove me out of my house to Stevie’s, where I am the resident squatter, because I can’t really write where I live. And writing I have been. And in between I had a long heart felt  conversation with my lovely designer friend who lives next door to Stevie. A conversation in his kitchen with cigarettes, tears, and trout steamed with lemon slices. His beautiful gowns hanging near by. I walked with Stevie’s man to buy bread and felt so much love for their neighborhood as we walked past succulents and lavender and blooming myrtle. I bought a perfect peach and felt the thing that I love to feel most these days- everything is okay. Everything is fine, perfect, magnificent just as it is.


And then the sadness returned but it didn’t last

Posted in 37 with tags , , , on June 19, 2011 by ana

I take the 5 to and from work. That part of the freeway, late at night, when there aren’t a lot of cars on the road, and I’m ready to tuck myself away from the day, has come to represent a certain solitude and freedom in my life. How many times in the past months have I cried my heartache out, singing out-of-tune to some song driving home in my car. I wouldn’t quite say I was crying my heart out last night but I was sad. Sometimes when I’m tired I get kind of blue and melancholic. At work I was exhausted, and I missed Leo with a deep longing I hadn’t experienced in a while. It took everything I had not to say fuck it and text him to meet me for a drink. I don’t think I really would have but I wanted to. The thought of how I would feel after stopped me. The pointlessness of it stopped me.

On Friday I had the penultimate project of my therapy workshop.  Each time we do process work it feels to me like I’m removing barnacles from my soul. So that was probably the main reason I felt emotional and exhausted. So much of the investigation, of the work in the workshop, is about finding what holds us back, what the defenses and patterns in our lives are, and for me it has also been about learning to trust, about not being so driven by a timeline, and learning to really believe in myself.

I did my project in my friend Vee’s back deck. The afternoon sun had burned off all of the morning June-gloom haze and butterflies were fluttering about. Part of my project was to build a castle out of cardboard and cover it in glitter to sacrifice  my attachment to fantasy. I listened to Vespertine, which is such a brilliant album about creativity, sexuality, potentiality and dreams. While building the castle I thought about the last time I had spent an afternoon being that messy and carefree, which was probably when I was in summer camp in my early teens. I then was stung by a bee. The crazy thing is that the only time in my life I have ever been stung by a bee was at summer camp. In one of my one-on-one sessions with my therapist we’d talked about hummingbirds going from flower to flower, unknowingly pollinating other plants, and in the process making something magnificent grow. That is what showing up, and doing the work everyday does. Regardless of what the work is, if you do it consistently something grows. That is what bees do too, so later at home, I looked up the symbolic and mythological significance of bees.

Bees also symbolize eloquence , speech, and intelligence . In Hebrew, the word for bee, Dbure, has its origins in the word Dbr, speech.”

In modern psychoanalytical thinking, honey symbolizes the “higher self” , the ultimate consequence of work on one’s inner self. As the result of the transmutation of ephemeral pollen into a delicious food of immortality, honey symbolizes the transformation by initiation, the conversion of the soul, and the complete integration of the person.”*

I mean seriously could anything be a more magical or auspicious? Am I crazy for taking the sting as a wink that I’m on the right path?

When I got home I had a package from Leo with some mail and a cd- Belle & Sebastian Write About Love but all I could see from the cover was just Write About Love, and I thought- well, I am.

The next morning I met up with some old friends, from the summer camp I had been thinking about while making my castle, who were in town. On my way to meeting them I was thinking about community. How often I had shunned it. How much I had hated in High School growing up in such a small, tight-knit community, and how I had come over the years to love that I had. I sat with my friends having coffee, loving how we had shared such a formative experience, how we all shared the memories of running around barefoot, of living practically without electricity, of laying on blankets at night looking at the stars. Then Leo drove by. I caught the tail end of his little convertible. It was the closest I’d come to seeing him since November and it didn’t quite throw me off kilter but it definitely set me on the path to missing him.

All weekend long all these meaningful connections kept dancing around me. One of my camp friends had mentioned the last day of camp, how amazing that last morning was. We would all be woken up super early, while it was still dark, and there would be a path lit with with small flames. We would all silently make our way to the woods or the beach, and there there would be a bonfire and the older campers would be singing Neil Young songs, and we would all sit around the fire and listen to the camp director or a counselor talk about something meaningful to them- community, honesty, love… At dawn we would all say our goodbyes and it would be cold and everyone would be crying. That was the thing about camp. It brought in to my life some of the magic of everyday life- the sitting around watching a sunset, or walking at night with the fireflies kind- which is the best kind. My friend said, “Isn’t it amazing that our camp would do this beautiful ritual. That they would close the summer with a ritual instead of an awards ceremony or something like that.” I had totally forgotten how powerful those morning were. How wild that she would be in town reminding me of it it over the weekend that I had done a personal ritual as part of my workshop.

After coffee, I met up with Stevie. She was getting a mani/pedi, and I desperately needed to cover my grays (which aren’t so many but are noticeably there). We went for lunch after, then spent the rest of the afternoon drinking bubbly, listening to records, and talking about creativity. It was a lovely afternoon, and I was really bummed I had to go to work, which for the most part ended up being light and breezy. That is until I started to crash from the past day and a half. I started feeling so heavy and sad because I realized I had to come to terms with my loss once and for all. I had to make peace with it and let it go. That there could have been so much love between us. That there still was. That it couldn’t work out. That it can’t. That I ultimately don’t want it to. That is the wall that I have, over and over, come up against. Back in September I read a piece in The New York Times that spoke intensely to me. I thought about it last night. And I thought- in love you often have to completely let go of something before you can begin to harbor hope again.

*lune de miel

*modern love



Time moves fast but change is slow

Posted in 37 with tags , on May 23, 2011 by ana

Ever since January I have been doing a Jungian workshop. To say that it has been intense is an understatement. This past weekend we ended the shadow part of the workshop and today I’m feeling a bit delirious, scared, neglected, and sad. This kind of work is supposed to stir up a lot of things. Right now I’m so exhausted, which is where the delirious part comes in. I suppose I should take a nap but in doing the work I needed to do to prepare for this past weekend I neglected a lot of little things, and I feel a little guilty not jumping right back into the things I’m trying to solidify as routines, namely making time to write and read and exercise and meditate. The morning just got a way from me and now the afternoon is slipping. All I want to do is watch movies or go to the movies but I can’t seem to relax either. I’m feeling anxious because summer is almost here and that means that my workshop will be over, that I will go on my trip to Italy, and that I need to buckle down and really try to figure out what my next step is. The workshop ending makes me sad but I’m also excited to see what comes once it is done. Italy I am beyond thrilled about. Figuring out the next step not so much. The truth is sometimes I feel confident and excited, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my life is changing. That I am changing and that surely I am at long last finding a voice stronger than all the hobbies, curiosities, and interests that I never can quite fully grasp but intrigue me.  Other times I am still racked with doubt because I see no concrete external change. I am still essentially where I was last year. I am still trying to become, trying to make something of my life. There are moments where I feel sure that this is part of a process and that one day it will make sense. There are also many times where I feel overwhelmed, and I find myself ruminating over the same old questions- Did I do enough? Am I enough? Will I ever truly move forward? Time moves fast but change is slow, and I’m scared because this year is flying.

An empty handed leap

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 25, 2011 by ana

There have been lots of ups and downs this week. Plus, I’ve gained a little weight which never helps make anyone feel great. Add that to the ten pounds I’ve been wanting to shed forever but I’m never disciplined or committed enough to do. It’s frustrating. There is no better example of my lack of follow through that I can think of than that. It becomes a vicious, obsessive cycle I never break from. But I think it can be approached another way. Not dieting or exercising every single day. But taking dance classes, meditating, and eating mindfully. It all comes back to the same struggle that holds me back from all the things I want- being present, being in my body, being more in touch with my emotions and less in my head and not giving up.

After a weekend of work, wine, and therapy I woke up late today feeling blue. I keep telling myself- there will be a point later on where this moment in your life will make better sense, where you will see how everything worked itself out. Right now I don’t see it at all. I just keep showing up. I just keep getting up and dusting myself off because there is no other option. I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even though I know there is one and that it is closer than I think. I don’t know how anything is going to work out- where I will end up living, if I’ll meet someone else and fall in love, if I will find a new job and/or career that will be creatively and financially fulfilling. I am so over being a waitress. It has been a great job in so many ways. It has given me lots and lots of time to take acting classes, to write, to explore anything that interests me. There is no other job I can think of that gives you good money for the amount of time you invest in it. No other job you can leave behind at the end of the day. I’ve also become a better cook working there. I’ve learned to make a perfect omelet and hack apart a chicken. But I’m done, I don’t want the gossip, the erratic personalities. I don’t want to wait because that is what it feels like in a sense, like life is on pause somehow.

Last night I dreamt that I was looking for a way to get an apartment in New York. For as much as I want to be back east I’m also scared of moving back to New York. I know I don’t have to decide today but I know that the thought is always there. Even my unconscious mind is preoccupied with it. A few days ago I thought- I will know, when the time is right, I will know. I got this feeling that things would be different in the fall around my birthday. I want to walk with that feeling. I want that confidence, that faith. Maybe my friend Vanessa is right. “Trust in the universe right now. I really, wholeheartedly,think this is the precipice to a transformation for you.” I know what she says is true but what do I have to do to feel that way in the days when I don’t quite feel it? Nicki once said to me, “the bird trusts itself to the wind.” I took a leap and now I must just trust. I guess is not a matter of knowing but believing.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 14, 2011 by ana

Sometimes all it takes is a good night’s sleep. And while I wasn’t 100% myself in the morning, the feverish self-loathing and self-pity had turned into a more sizable, more manageable, slow humming doubt.

I went to therapy. There was a fire in the fireplace when I walked in and that immediately lightened my heart. She made me a cup of coffee. We talked and I cried. “I’ve been working so hard,” I said. “I just feel like I keep knocking my head against the wall. Nothing changes I don’t feel I have any clarity. At the same time I feel so different than the person I used to be. I have such a better sense of myself.”

“I’ve never seen you more centered than these past few months.”

“I just feel I’m still struggling with all the same things that I always have no matter how hard I try not to. I still live in fantasy. I still think that something is going to happen and my life is going to fall magically into place.”

The thing about therapy is that you can say anything and it doesn’t matter. You can go in there and say, “I feel so out of control about food. I can’t stop putting cookies in my mouth! I’ve been fantasizing about this man who has a girlfriend. I’m so annoyed about my coworker. I feel so worthless as a human being or this great thing happened to me.” It doesn’t matter. It’s all a tool to look deeper into what makes you tick. You figure out how to be more able by understanding the things that enable you.

“Shadow work stirs things up,” she said. “It may not seem that way but believe me all of this is part of the process.”

We talked about trying not to control outcome because of course we never really control anything, and about the things that I could do to be more present. When I left I drove feeling the palms of my hands on the steering wheel, the sun hitting the tops of my hands and arms, and how my back and thighs pressed lightly on the seat. By the time I got home I felt a little more on top of things.

Willa and I were supposed to have a writer’s meeting but ended up having a long chat over the phone when I told her what a mess I’d been the past day.
“I just feel so lost,” I said. “Where am I going to live? How am I gonna make a better, more fulfilling living? Who is going to be the father of my children? I have all these questions in every aspect of my life, and I don’t know where to start.”

“You are going to figure it out,” she said. “I have no doubt that everything is going to work out. You have to give yourself the space to go about your day, day after day, while still dealing with your feelings. This huge thing happened in your life and you were very brave about it. Don’t underestimate how brave you were but also you can’t forget that this huge thing has happened. It’s like a meteor that fell in the ocean creating not only ripples through out everything but this tsunami of emotions. And I can help you be better about money stuff because I had to learn to be better. I can give you tips. Just think every time you don’t buy something you are empowering yourself, you are taking control. It’s like quitting smoking, after awhile you start to feel proud, to take pleasure, every time you want a cigarette and you don’t have one. What you can control is how you spend your money, what you eat, because you can’t control the bigger things. I know you’ll figure it out. I have known you for a long time. I know things are going to work out. I know that you are going to figure it out. I would bet money on it; lots of money.”

She was right, and I hung up the phone feeling grateful and also knowing that the feelings of disappointment, of being let down where still fully alive in me. I was hurt and there was nothing I could do but acknowledge it.

Saturday morning chilly and gray

Posted in 37 with tags , on October 16, 2010 by ana

The alarms went off at 7:30 am because we both forgot to deactivate them. I can’t go back to sleep but I’m going to try again. The weather is perfect for being in bed. I’m always grateful for my bed.

Usually, mornings are rough for me. It hasn’t always been that way-just in the last couple of months. Yesterday was tough until I went to therapy. It was a good session. She said that all those feelings of self-worth were always there but being in a rocky place in my relationship was making everything come to the surface. Awakenings are painful, she said. I left feeling renewed but now I’ve gone back to feeling the way I did before I went.

I feel like I’m giving birth to myself. When I was kid I would look at pregnant women and think-there is no getting out of it. That terrified me. Want it or not, that baby was coming out. There was no changing your mind. No saying-I’m going to keep the baby in forever. Those women would all have to go through labor. I feel that way- want it or not this is what I have to go through. As painful as it feels this may be the most important threshold of my life so far.

This new beginning, this new crossing is the one that comes from figuring out why I hold myself back, why I don’t always show people who I am, and why I find myself in a relationship with a man that after six years isn’t sure whether he wants to commit or not.

This relationship will either thrive or wither. I love this man and he loves me but we are at a crossroad. At least I am. No matter how much I tell him I don’t think he knows he also is. I keep thinking once this is settled all this other stuff that’s coming up inside me will start to fall in to place.

It’s hard to make a decision. In so many ways we fit.