Fill Your Bucket

The other day, one of my clients started to ask me a personal question in the domestic violence support group I run.  I could feel it coming.

“Hey Melissa, I don’t mean to pry into your business, but I was just curious…”

My blood pressure started to rise.  I could feel my armpits start producing more sweat than usual, which meant that I’d soon soak through my shirt and be stuck to my cheap office chair until lunch.  My face started to get hot, and I knew, I just knew, that my face was starting to turn red.  I hate that.

So which question was it going to be?  Was I married?  Did I have kids?  How long had I been doing this work?  Do I know what it’s like to be a victim of violence?  Did I have to use a prescription strength deodorant?

“…how is it that you hear stories like ours day after day and you don’t fall apart when you go home?  How do you do this work?”

Ah, this was an easier question to answer than most.  A lot of people- clients and non-clients -ask me why I do this work, and the answer is simple: because I love it, I am actually good at it, and I feel like I am making a difference just by connecting with people.  How freaking cool is that?!

But my client’s question was a twinge different than that.  She was asking me, in so many words, how do I take care of myself?  How do I keep myself from going crazy, from getting depressed, from losing hope?

My honest answer to her was that some days, some weeks, I fail.  Sometimes I fail to take care of myself and sometimes I do hit a wall and just start sobbing because Will Smith’s character in Pursuit of Happyness has to get into a line for a homeless shelter and he reminds me of one of my clients and the world fucking sucks.

I know this is a cliche thing to say, but hey, cliche things are such for a reason: my clients teach me so much.  They teach me how to be a better therapist and how to be a better person.  For instance, a former client of mine once told me how she reminds herself to put herself first and to take care of herself before trying to help others.  She said, with her wicked awesome Boston accent, “See here.  We all carry around a bucket with us, right.  And you can’t fill your kids’ buckets if your bucket is empty.  You gotta fill your bucket up first before you can fill anyone else’s, and that’s how it is.”

That is how it is.  I can’t possibly expect to help all the clients I see each week and hear all of their horror stories and sit with them while they cry unless I fill up my bucket.

I fill my bucket with yoga.  I found a cheap yoga class that I go to every Tuesday night.

I fill my bucket with cardio, usually on Thursdays, even though I loathe it with the fire of a thousand suns.

I fill my bucket by making sure I shower regularly.  For me being borderline OCD, showering is a real time-consuming production, and it’s like exercise to me in that it feels like a chore, but it makes me feel so much better when I am done.

I fill my bucket with some Kardashians, washed down by a bucketfull of mocha chip.  Their lives are so fucked up that one can’t help but feel better while yelling at giant ass cheeks on the TV screen.

I fill my bucket by getting enough sleep and eating regularly and as healthily as I can.  I can’t stress just how important these things are.  If I haven’t slept or eaten, I become a monster even when I’m not working.

I fill my bucket by owning a vibrator.  I never thought I would ever write that sentence, but there it is.

Lastly, I fill my bucket by hanging out with healthy people.  I spend so much of my time with my clients, who come to me at their lowest, when their own buckets are empty.  If you’ve ever spent time with a person who is profoundly depressed, then you know just how emotionally and physically draining that is, especially when you’re tuned into that person’s needs.  Feelings are contagious- both the good and the bad.  If they weren’t, it would mean that we didn’t care, and that we weren’t connected.  Sometimes I just need to be reminded that not everyone is suffering, and there aren’t child molesters around every corner.

I’ve learned by trial and error what I need to fill my bucket, and how to listen to my mind and my body to notice when my bucket is getting a bit too empty and I am heading for Hot Mess, CA population: one.

When I find myself sobbing on a Friday night because Bella broke Jacob’s heart and he prefers to ruin yet another pair a pants by transforming into a wolf before getting naked first, then I start to take stock of my week.  Did I have any really tough sessions with clients this week, particularly with kids?  Did I miss yoga this week?  Did I eat the entire shelf of Hostess cupcakes just to spite my fellow shopper who was too damn slow?

Usually, if my waterworks are triggered by the smallest thing at the end of the week, chances are I had really tough therapy sessions, I’ve chosen a trauma-related book to read for fun, I’m watching a documentary about Holocaust survivors because it’s interesting, and I didn’t properly fill up my bucket.  This has actually happened before.

At any rate, I gave my client a much abbreviated answer to her question, but I did answer her honestly- that I am human and I do my best.  I also wanted to let her know that I practice what I preach, in that I don’t spout all this bucket crap to my clients and then ignore it when it comes to taking care of myself.

So, my dear Psychos, how do you all fill your buckets? 


Therapy is fab, you guys

Somehow, a little bird heard my prayer and it was answered.

That’s right, folks, the Kardashians went to family therapy, and my hypothalamus lit up like a pinball machine.

Do you all get what this means?!

Whatever the Kardashians do is automatically cool, by default.  Especially x-raying your ass.  I had mine done twice.

Sooooo, this means that……therapy is cool now, you guys!  Booyeah!

Since soon there will be a monsoon of Kardashian followers wanting to seek fulfillment through the art of frontal lobe massage, I had better take advantage by opening my own private practice.  I mean, this is too good to pass up!  But that’s not even the best part:  Another truth about the Kardashians is that they never miss an opportunity to whore themselves out selling various shitsnacks, so I said to myself, I says, Self, them Kardashians need to endorse my private practice.  Hell, I’ll even make it worth their while and name it after them.  Maybe something katchy like Kardashian Kalm.  The commercial would go something like this:

White background.  Kim comes sashaying to the foreground wearing a skintight sweaterdress.

Kim: Ohmigod, you guys, I feel so…empty inside.

Enter Khloe from the right

Khloe: Maybe you should, like, eat something.

Kim: No, it’s not that.  I had a stick of celery five hours ago.

Enter Kourtney from the left

Kourtney: Maybe it’s a different kind of empty.  You know, like, the feeling kind.

Kim: Ooh, yeah…that.

Khloe turns toward the camera

Khloe: I think I read somewhere that talking about feelings makes people feel less crappy.

Kourtney (turning to Khloe): I didn’t know you could read.

Kim: Anyway, we went to therapy as a family, and it was fab.

Khloe: Bible.

Kourtney: Yeah, bible.

Kim: We made each other cry, put it on the teevee, and got paid for it.  We think that you  should do therapy, too.

Khloe: Except you’ll have to pay for it, and stuff.

Kim: So if you sign up for 15 sessions at Lyssapants’ new private practice, Kardashian Kalm, we’ll throw in this waterproof mascara for free.

Kourtney: Cuz when Lyssa makes you cry, your makeup will still look fab after you’re done.

Kim: Bible.

Khloe: Yeah, bible.

This is gonna be awesome, you guys!

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad…Lib

Play along! I command you!

1. Go through the below list and come up with hilarious words of your choosing that fit the prescribed category

2. Apply your list of words to the Mad Lib story I have created for your enjoyment!

3. Pee yourself laughing as you read the story to friends, family, and strangers on the street

4. Clean up the pee and go change your pants, for goodness sake.  Don’t forget to disinfect.  You know, for the children.

5. Post the list of words you used in a comment so others may enjoy your version of the pee-inducing story


Word List

1. adjective

2.  a number

3.  verb

4.  plural noun

5.  verb

6.  adjective

7.  verb ending in “ing” and starting with “F”

8.  part of the body

9.  really gross food item

10.  noun

11. word that rhymes with “dash”

12.  adjective

13. plural noun

14.  noun

15.  adjective

16.  the name of your favorite character from The Addams Family

17.  your favorite mind-numbing drug

18.  adjective

19. adjective

20.  verb

21.  another gross food item

22.  part of the body

23.  kitchen appliance

24.  exclamation

25.  noun


And now: The Story


Reality TV May Cause Nosebleeds and Cancer: A Cautionary Tale

As you know from my (1.)______ About Me page, I watch roughly (2.)______ hours of reality TV a week.  My favorite shows to (3.)_____ include Keeping Up With the Kardashians, The Bachelor/ette, Dancing With The (4.)_____, American Idol, and Man v. Wild, among others.  Mostly, I (5.)_____ these (6.)_____ shows because I work hard during the day and I deserve a (7.)_____ break.   And by “break” I mean sitting on my (8.)_____ and eating copious amounts of (9.)_____.  Just so we’re straight.

The easiest (10.)_____ to make fun of is The Kar-(11.)_____ -ians, by far.  Can they hear themselves talk?  The females sound like (12.)_____ (13.)_____, and the males sound like baboons being artificially inseminated.  The two who entertain me the most are Khloe and Scott, because at least they  have a sense of (14.)_____ about life and the show.  And Kris (the (15.)_____ one who looks like (16.)_____, not the speed-fueled helicopter mom one) – he had no freaking clue what crazy-ass shitstorm he walked into.  Was he even awake during filming, or was he on (17.)_____ the whole time?  He was no fun to watch.  Good thing they wrote him off the show.  Honestly, the best episodes to watch are when (18.)_____ fights go down.  You know, the times when Kim gets all pissy and (19.)_____ and so she (20.)_____ (21.)_____ at the oldest one and gets it all over her hair and (22.)_____.  So then oldest-one-with-a-K-name has to retaliate by jamming Kim’s head into a (23.)_____.  (24.)_____!  I seem to have drifted into wishful thinking.  I suppose a (25.)_____ can hope, right?

Stuck in the proverbial mud

Does anyone remember the awesome variation of tag called Stuck in the Mud?  It’s like Freeze Tag, only when you get tagged, and thus frozen, you stand with your feet apart, and the only way to get unfrozen is by someone crawling through your legs.  At the risk of being Captain Obvious, Stuck in the Mud is far superior to any other variation of tag, no exceptions.  It was the same in elementary school as it is now: a true friend is one who takes the time to crawl between your legs to get you out of a tough spot.

A few days ago, I was tagged by the fabulous Speaker7 in a game of tag via blogging.  Ever since, I have been stuck in this proverbial mud, contemplating how to unstick myself (meaning, how to answer the earth-shattering questions listed below).

Allow me to post the rules:

1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3. Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them!

Here are Speaker7’s questions for me, followed by my answers:

1.) Which member of the Backstreet Boys are you most like?  I worshiped these fine young gentlemen and was even a proud, screaming fan in the front row of one of their concerts in high school, so this question is near and dear to my heart.  It is also very easy to answer: Brian.  In the special bonus squee version of All I Have to Give, where each dude got ~30 seconds to  answer the question “What do you look for in a girl?” while talking over the music, Brian gave the sweetest, most sincere answer about liking “…a girl with a good head on her shoulders.  One who likes to go to school, even.”  THAT’S ME!  I screamed.  Nevermind that my current partner’s name is Brian, and my younger brother’s name is also Brian, which means that if I had been born a boy, my name would have been Brian.  …Paging Dr. Freud!

2.) What did Bruce Jenner do to his face?  Let this be a lesson to you, boys and girls: that is what your face will look like if you hang around the Kardashians for too long.  This is why The Hump got out while he still could.

3.) Please explain what a Kim Kardashian is and why anyone would know what a Kim Kardashian is?  Based on the evidence from question 2, Kardashian is a very infectious virus that originated from Armenia and has since spread to the United States.  There are several different strains of this virus, the most common of which is called Kim, but you may run into others such as Kloe, Kourtney, and Kris.  Symptoms include an incredibly annoying nasaly voice, the urge to constantly surround yourself with cameras, and in men, morphing facial features as seen in question 2.  This virus is most commonly spread through the TV and computer, so use with extreme caution.  Treatment includes turning off the TV, running away, and divorce.

4.) How doomed are we?  Based on my answer for question 3, very doomed.

5.) Is Ryan Seacrest a robot or is he something less artificial?  Ah, see, Ryan Seacrest is like a modern-day Frankenstein’s monster.  He is the robot-turned-evil who killed his creator and is now responsible for the spread of this evil infectious Kardashian virus that will one day engulf the entire world.  We’re that doomed.

6.) Why isn’t Rush Limbaugh kicked in the nuts daily?  So Angie totally took my answer on this one.

7.) Which religion is correct?  Bokononism.

8.) Can you think of someone who is worse than the current slate of Republican presidential candidates?  Hitler.  Satan.  Or worse, Rush Limbaugh.

9.) Why do people enjoy the book Twilight?  Honestly, because it’s fantasy.  All the possessiveness and teen dating violence aside, it’s just fun (I get how horrible that sentence sounds, trust me.).  The most appealing part for me was getting to feel the fantasy of just how devoted someone can be to someone else.  Hard to describe, especially since I have a lot of problems with that story as applied to the real world.

10.) What’s up?  I’m currently obsessed with The Walking Dead.  What pains me is that they keep making so many mistakes!  You’d think they would learn to stay together and KEEP AN EYE ON THE DAMN KID!  Damn you, Carl!!  You’re the reason Dale is dead!  I loved him!!!!  AND I HATE YOU!  The end.

11.) How many Academy Awards will Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance win?  This is going to play out like Repo Men, where this movie will have sucked the time and humanity from all the poor souls who end up watching it, and then the Academy is going to hire people to hunt down those responsible for making the movie in order to repay the poor, lost souls who are out ten bucks and two hours of their lives.  Wow, someone should do this to cure Kardashian Ksyndrome.


Here are my questions, and I am tagging anyone who reads this (that’s right, I am that good at tag):

1.  If you could have any institution, building, thing, named after you, what would it be and why?

2.  What is the most annoying commercial in the history of the world?

3.  What modern convienience could you most do without?

4.  If you were reincarnated, what would you come back as?

5.  What do you most often judge people for?

6.  If there were no negative consequences, what horrible crime would you commit?

7.  What would your stripper name be?

8.  What do you want other people to know about you?

9.  How will you survive the Kardashian virus, or has it already taken hold in your soul?

10. What is your favorite childhood game?

11.  What is the meaning of life?


Okay, so I just got myself unstuck from the mud…which means…continuing this convoluted metaphor of cyber-blog-tag-as-Stuck-in-the-Mud… I must have gone under my own crotch, through my own legs. Which meeeeeans….yoga has really been paying off!  Score!