But you also don’t have to do something you hate
“Do what you love!”
“Follow your bliss!”
“Anything is possible with hard work!”
From the time we are small children dreaming of being astronauts, we are told that we can be anything we want to be. Americans are in love with the idea of pursuing a dream job. Going to work every day excited to be there. …
People with mental illnesses have a myriad of talents, but society won’t make room for them.
As mental illnesses go, mine isn’t really so bad. I have anxiety, depression, and I’m on the autism spectrum, located somewhere between a few niche savant-esque abilities and having to remind myself to make eye contact. With some effort, I can pass as “neurotypical but quirky.” However, that’s on a good day, and does anyone go through life with only good days?
You wouldn’t know it to look at me. To most people, I seem cheerful, witty, even charming. I camouflage pretty well most of the time. If I get enough sleep, if I’ve had plenty of alone time to recharge, if I’m eating healthy and exercising, if I’m feeling secure in my life and relationships. …
Why I can’t celebrate Father’s Day.
“You just push each other’s buttons,” my mother used to tell my teenage self, exuding exasperation, after yet another screaming fight with my father. Always the same theme, with varying narratives. Usually, I was grasping for some freedom he wasn’t ready for me to have. I was an odd teenager, naive and innocent in most regards, which may have been why my parents chose to keep me as isolated as they did. My social activities and friendships were heavily restricted, as were my hobbies and academic pursuits.
But my father didn’t only want to control my behavior — he wanted to control my mind. …
And yet I’m probably going to do it.
Today I smiled at a fussing baby in a store. I talked to him in my special just-for-babies voice. It made him stop crying and smile back at me. When we parted ways, we were making each other giggle with silly faces.
Once, on a long flight to Latin America, I was seated next to two adults with that glazed-eye look of new parents, and their six-month-old who was entirely disinterested in the nap they so desperately wanted her to take. When I offered to hold her for a moment so they could eat their airplane snacks and compose themselves, it took five minutes of softly patting her back for her to pass out on my chest. Her parents said they hadn’t slept in almost 24 hours. I told them to go ahead and nap, I’d let them know when she woke. They fell asleep almost as quickly as she had. She slept most of the flight splayed over my lap, leaning into my chest, and I cupped her soft weight close to me. …
If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be eating a mostly vegan diet, I’d have laughed in your face. My childhood was spent on a farm where we raised our own beef, chickens, eggs, and milk, and these foods were thought the most healthy. We ate beef several times a week and summer barbecues were orgies of carnivory.
But we change.
Having grown up surrounded by fields of happily grazing bovines, I’d assumed that all farm animals lived their lives thus. It’s the image on the butter carton, the yogurt cup, the coffee creamer. Happy milk. Happy cows. Little red hens, tucking downy chicks under their wings. No need to writhe in guilt about cutting their lives just a little bit shorter. They existed because of us and for us. …
Once upon a time there was a woman with a garden inside a high square wall.
Inside the walls she grew every kind of plant she loved. There were sometimes weeds too, and some she let take root for too long, for some weeds carried sharp thorns and digging them up caused pain. Still, she tilled and watered and nurtured her garden. …
It’s not a secret code word.
Somewhere in Cambodia, a few years back, I’m sitting in a hotel room with some fellow Peace Corps volunteers. They are all women, and all several years younger than I am. They are recounting the sexual escapades of their college years, and I am listening with deep fascination. Where did they learn to be confident in their desire? How did they find the courage to ask their partners for what they wanted in bed? I grew up in a particularly conservative bubble of evangelical Christianity, where female sexuality was something to be smothered and unacknowledged. …
“Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.”
— Mary Oliver
To my husband:
I don’t know how to be loved by you.
More days than I’d prefer to confess, I wake up wondering if today is the day you will leave me.
You feel as though you’ve lost me. I fear losing you.
I cry easily and neither of us quite knows why. You put your hand out, I pull away. You throw up your hands in defeat, telling me that I’ll have to come to you, that you’re tired of reaching for me. …
I have never attended a public school. I have never felt excitement at the sound of the recess bell, or eaten in a school cafeteria. I’ve never been threatened with detention or sent to the principal’s office. I’ve never navigated the complex arena of classmate politics, and never been to a school dance. Until adulthood, school buildings were places of mystery and fascination for me.
I was homeschooled until I was 17, when I began attending an early college program called Running Start at the community college in the small town where I grew up. Until that point, I had never had homework, or had to study for a test. …
Yes, the mental load struggle is very real, but so is the love.
In October of this year, I sat down in a simmer of frustration to bang out a manifesto on the mental load and its unbalanced state in my own marriage. I’d gone to bed exhausted the night before, while my husband stayed up late, and he’d neglected to tidy up after dinner yet again. I was irked and needed to tell someone about it, but since I strive to avoid excoriating my husband to our friends and family, I decided that the internet could be my listening ear. …