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Smile Through The Tears – Or Not

People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be. ― Abraham Lincoln

There are two ways to read this quote.

Lincoln might be telling us to “accentuate the positive.” That managing our emotions and deciding to be happy will make us feel happy. In which case,  this quote is kind of ironic, given that poor Abe struggled with depression. Seems like there's a little self-loathing mixed into the words.
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Anxiety

Gift-Giving OCD

It’s the thought that counts.

Here is the gift-giving credo that has given a pass to all manner of disappointing gifts, from “what were they thinking?” garments to “oh good, something to dust” tsotskes.

Our smiles might freeze on our faces as we rip the wrapping from a package, but whatever is within, we think, “It’s the thought that counts,” because that’s the nice thing to do when someone is nice enough to give us a...
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Family

Your Family Is A Bummer

Family first!

Politically incorrect as it might be to object to this cheery little rallying cry, it has a dark side. I hear “family first!” and think, “everyone else, distant second.”

The problem is that some of us suffer (or enjoy, depending on how you look at it) a dearth of family, or of nearby family. For us, “family first” can feel a little exclusionary. And sometimes it is, actually, exclusionary.

I have friends who travel to...
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Emotions

Chocolate-Covered Revenge

Living well is the best revenge.

A fine credo to live by. Noble, even. And win-win. You get your fine life, and you don’t debase yourself with some sort of tawdry act of revenge. And the other guy doesn't have vengeance rain down on him.

I am not by nature a vengeful person. Which is not to say that I don’t hold grudges and fantasize about vengeance. But I don't do anything about it. Instead, I...
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General

You Are What You Love And Not What Loves You Back

You are what you love, and not what loves you back.—Jenny Lewis

This is a lyric from a ditty by Jenny Lewis, and it has has taken my brain hostage. This little quote, the song's hook, is on a tape loop in my head.

Lewis is singing about a stuck, mutually exploitive relationship, but I keep finding different shades of nuance in this quote.

You are what you love, and not what loves you back.

In a way,...
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Family

By Choosing Not To Have Children, I _____

Would raising children make the best use of what you bring to the world, or would not having kids do that? – Carolyn Hax

As Oprah used to say, frequently, raising kids is the hardest job in the world. And I don’t argue with that. (I wouldn’t dare.)

But choosing not to have kids has challenges of a different kind--not the least of which is censure from a segment of society that assumes you must be selfish,...
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General

Intimacy Is Good, But What Is Intimacy?

The opposite of loneliness is not togetherness, it's intimacy ― Richard Bach

I’ve never read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and probably even mocked it back in the day, when it came out. It just sounded so silly. But here is a very wise quote from its author. Of course. Doesn’t everyone know the feeling of being lonely in a crowd? (Does everyone? Or is this more of an introvert thing?) You needn't be alone to...
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General

When Love Just Doesn’t Add Up

Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye. -- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.*

Certainly what makes us love is often invisible to the eyes of others. How often have you said, “I don’t know what she sees in him.” (Or vice versa, of course.) No, you don’t. You can’t. Love is intensely personal.

And sometimes even  the lovers themselves can't see the why behind the emotion.
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Communication

Shaddup Already!

It is a common delusion that you make things better by talking about them. -- Dame Rose Macaulay

Is this true? I need to know.

I’ve always believed that talking things out is the right thing to do, but I am doubting, doubting, doubting these days. And here's this dame (a novelist and travel writer) telling me my belief is delusional.

But I need explanations. Is nothing made better by talking, or are some things made better...
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Creativity

Be Who You Are Not

It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not. -- Denis Waitley

This one twangs me in all the right ways.

One of the hurdles to becoming a writer is identifying yourself as a writer.

“I’m a writer.”

It sounds so pretentious.

But until you can identify yourself as a writer, you’re just a hobbyist. A dabbler. A person with a day job who writes for fun. (Or frustration. Or both....
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