Pieces of Me

I don’t really have a history of setting new years resolutions for myself, and on the few occasions I did, I’d approach them only halfheartedly. They’re not really my thing.

I do like the concept of intentions, or choosing a word for oneself. 2020 started out so hopeful and then quickly plunged into survival mode. I entered 2021 with an extremely low bar, and although I didn’t set a word at the time, looking back it was probably something like cope.

I’ve thought a bit about what I want my word or intention to be for this year. I want to keep it realistic and relevant. I’ve decided on self-compassion. It’s high time I give myself a fucking break, stop beating myself up all the time, and start being uber mindful of just how often I cut myself down. It’s almost constant – much more than I’ve been willing or able to admit to myself. The problem is that it’s so deeply ingrained that I couldn’t recognize it until someone else – usually my therapist – would point it out.

I’ve started doing this thing that I’ve done for clients many times before but never got around to doing for myself: I’m focusing on reparenting myself. I have identified a voice within myself and I have personified this being as my inner loving parent, and this person is going to give me all the judgement-free love and encouragement and sensitivity I needed as a kid and that I still need now. This may sound very woo-woo, but please trust me that the work is incredibly impactful.

Often times it helps to personify this part of oneself in order to give it life and body and meaning. It didn’t take any work, really, because two characters popped into my head once this concept was explained to me. For me, my loving parent is two sides of a coin: on one side, she’d Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz. She has a huge puffy pink dress and a magic wand and a soft voice and she giggles and calls me honey. She gives the best hugs and reminds me to be kind to myself. I realized later, after I chose her, that she’s also the one who gently tells Dorothy that she had the power to fulfill her deepest wish the whole time. Go figure. The other side of my inner loving parent is Mary Poppins. She’s a British nanny who doesn’t take any bullshit from anyone and sets firm and healthy boundaries. She also sings the best lullabies and makes the world a more fun and happy place to be. She tells me that my inner critic is complete rubbish and has my back at all times. She can also perform magic.

When I told my therapist about the two connected personalities of my inner loving parent, she summarized them as the comforter and the protector, respectively. Nail on the head.

The personification of my inner critic is still taking shape. While I felt like I had to unearth and go find my inner loving parent, my inner critic is always present. She never fucking sleeps. I picture her sitting in a chair in the corner in the dark, smoking a cigarette and glaring at me while I’m asleep in my bed each night. Mary Poppins would tell her to go take a hike. At any rate, the first image that came to mind was Miss Hannigan from Annie, the original one played by Carol Burnett. She stumbles around and yells. She’s a drunk and she’s miserable and she hates kids. But, I also feel like my inner critic needs to have a more cleaned up side. Meaning, my critic takes the form of an authority figure who is rigid, perfect, to the letter. On my better days, I’m able to shove Miss Hannigan into a closet and lock the door because she doesn’t have her shit together. But my big, bad critic has power and is fucking terrifying. I’ll think more on this. (Just had this idea while editing – maybe something like a Miranda Priestly? That’s all.)

At any rate, I’m working through being mindful of who is in charge of my inner dialogue at any given time. Who is driving my bus, if you will. If I become aware that Miss Hannigan is drunk behind the wheel, I’ll call on Mary to put her back in her place and I might call on Glinda to tell me that I’m safe and she’s not going to let the bus crash into a tree.

Again, I know this sounds ridiculous on some level, but even simply mapping out the pieces of me like this has brought me comfort. I plan to go looking for a little figurine of Glinda and Mary to have as reminders. My therapist asked me to draw her as one person, and that should be fun.

All of this is with the goal of being kinder to myself. I already know that that will trickle down to how I treat others in my life. It’s impossible to give out what you don’t have.

And so. Here’s to 2022. I’m going to be more self-compassionate.

The Silver Lining

This post picks up where my last one left off, last Friday the 13th.

The next day, we woke up to snow. We couldn’t believe it. All winter, we’d been hoping for snow, wishing for some, and nothing. Until schools close and the world starts shutting down. It started snowing again during the day, and they were the biggest, fluffiest flakes I had ever seen.

THIS IS THE SILVER LINING! THIS IS PERFECT! I yelled as my family and I gawked out the window. My kids scrambled to put on shoes (no jackets) and ran out into our yard to play. Still wearing my pajamas, I put on a jacket, hat, and snow boots and decided to sneak out the front door to stand still in the (relative) quiet.

Several neighbors were outside also enjoying the weather, including my next door neighbor with their young son. Earlier, we saw our neighbors across the street letting their two retrievers frolic and play in their front yard. They looked like they were having the time of their lives.

“They should have their dogs on leashes.” my son dutifully said. He’s heard me complain in private and chastise people in person for not having dogs on leashes. It’s not safe for all involved, and I’m proud that my son now knows this.

“You’re right. They should be on leashes.” I replied.


I stood on the sidewalk and looked up. The fat flakes were falling so slowly that I could pick one out and position myself so I could catch it in my mouth.

I heard a shout from across the street and I looked up just in time to witness one of the gorgeous dogs get hit broadsided by an oncoming truck. It all happened in slow motion and all at once.

My other next door neighbor burst out of his house and started screaming. Apparently he had been watching from inside. He yelled at the owner something about how the dog should have been on a leash and pick him up, get him to the vet, RIGHT NOW. I also heard a voice whimpering oh no, oh no, oh no and realized it was mine. The owner ushered the still upright and walking dog into their house and closed the door. The truck was long gone; it never even slowed down.

Realizing there was nothing I could do, I turned around and made eye contact with my neighbor and his son. Oh god, I hope he didn’t see, I thought, and not knowing what else to do I turned and walked into my house and burst into tears.

I kept peeking out my window because I wanted to make sure they were going to get the dog emergency care. I saw a man come out and empty out the trunk of a car. The next time I peeked, the car was gone.

Over the weekend I kept watching for the car, and it didn’t come back until 48 hours later. I am both desperate and terrified to know how the dog is – too terrified to go and outright ask.

Needless to say, that event definitely spoiled my day and probably my entire weekend. I took a ridiculously long shower, trying to wash off the trauma. As a trauma therapist, I’ve heard every disturbing narrative you could imagine and many you can’t, but I’ve never actually seen something so traumatic. I also can’t tolerate violence toward animals, real or fabricated.

I spent the rest of the day manically cleaning my house. None of us went anywhere that day.

Since then, we’ve essentially been sheltering in place. On Sunday I saw on Facebook that our local library was closing the next day, so I ran out and checked out a buttload of books and DVDs to hopefully last us for a long time. My husband called in sick on Monday and then went to work on Tuesday only to pack all of his office supplies into his car so he could continue working from home. Besides walks around the neighborhood, grocery shopping, the dentist, and one trip to the pediatrician because my kids continue to be sick, we’ve been hanging out at home, just trying to hang on and get well.

I’m pretty terrified. I’ve said it feels like we’re waiting for an invisible tidal wave to hit us and the anticipation is crushing me. I’ve had to shake off the ridiculous expectations that suddenly mothers are supposed to homeschool their kids like we don’t have enough shit piled on our backs. Not only are mine still ill, but they are confused and frustrated and do not take well to their mom trying to get them to do fucking worksheets. To hell with all that. We’ve been taking temperatures daily, we’ve been watching a lot of movies, and we’ve been taking walks, reading books, writing letters to grandparents, and doing art. On our walks, I’ve been carrying chalk and writing positive messages around the neighborhood. Once the rains come and wash them away, I’ll go out and do it again. Not sure if I’m doing that for myself or for others, but I guess that doesn’t really matter.

I’ve been meaning to compile a list of the positive side effects we’ve been experiencing as a result of all this chaos.

  • We get to sleep in
  • We don’t have to worry about being on time for shit
  • All the hilarious memes and videos and late night shows being broadcast from celebrities’ couches
  • I don’t have to make school lunches every night
  • My husband is home during the day
  • My house is going to be spotless by the time this is all over
  • Our carbon footprint has been drastically reduced! Both on a local and global level; how exciting is that?! Perhaps this experience will drive lasting change.

Now go wash your hands and stop touching your face.