Saturday, June 17, 2017

I saw Wonder Woman-

-and I need to talk about her.

I'd like to start by putting aside issues that have already been mentioned and talked about elsewhere: Gal Gadot the person being problematic, the influence of the patriarchy, lack of diversity, and the fact that the super serious male character was named Steve (it just DOES NOT sound cool when Steve is dying and Wonder Woman is yelling STTEEVVEEE! I feel like I'm watching a sandwich commercial or something).

What matters for me is that I started crying during the very first fight scene (involving men, not the practice scenes) when strong, fierce women start yelling and flying through the air and protecting themselves. 

I didn't understand the obsession with superheros until I watched Jessica Jones on Netflix. Then I saw the female reboot of Ghostbusters, and now Wonder Woman, and I really, really get it.

Representation matters.

As a cis woman, I grew up in a society that both subtly and forcefully told me I'm weak and lesser and overly emotional. Like so many others, my consent was violated, I was made to feel small, and I internalized and pushed down traumatic events until they became physical pain. And all around me, I saw women "needing" to be rescued by men; women portrayed as week and helpless. Strong women were always a surprise or funny.

When I see women who can fight back, who can save themselves, protect themselves, I feel better. I feel like I could do the same.

Once, in therapy, I was talking about how anxiety was making it difficult to sleep. My therapist asked me to imagine people standing outside of my house, protecting me. All of them were women: Olivia Benson, Xena, Jessica Jones. I'm glad that I had them to imagine, because when I imagined men standing around the outside of my house, my anxiety grew.

Tonight, I can add Wonder Woman to the list of role model heros who help me feel safe.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Save this link and send it to me when I'm burned out, okay?

I told someone today that becoming a therapist is one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life because my job is now constantly helping me to become a better person.

I didn't go in to it for that reason. In fact, I almost didn't even go into it at all. I went to get a Masters Degree in Social Work because I felt like I was about to become stuck and unhappy with the jobs that I could obtain with only a Bachelors. I spent 2/3 of my time in grad school insisting that I would find something else to do with my degree that didn't involve so much sitting in one spot making eye contact with people all day.

Then I had a dream, woke up, and changed my mind. I'm not kidding. I dreamt one night that I had successfully completed a therapy session and in the dream I was happy and excited. I woke up craving a therapy job the same way I craved moving to Tucson from New York when I was 22 or living abroad for a couple of months: it just had to be done.

What a weird reason to make a career choice. It's like I had some wiser alternative Emily living inside me who already knew that the things I fear usually end up being the things that change my life for the better (kind of like my experience with women...I'll tell you about that later). 

I love sitting in an office all day making eye contact with people, and in a way, I can't fully describe why. I know what's happening, but I'd be violating confidentiality if I fully explained all of the incredible things that happen between those four walls every day. What I can say is that I've become a better listener, more empathetic, more content, and less judgmental. I've had the privilege of interacting with people who I might never have met in my own day to day social goings ons. I actually see change happening, both in others and in me, as I'm constantly nudged farther and farther out of an ever growing comfort zone. 

The things that scare me continue to be the things that change me for the better. I've faced men, stern parents, yelling, complete silence, trauma, people asking for my "professional opinion", boundary crossers, gory descriptions of medical problems, not knowing the answer, and so much more. And I'm only two years and 590 hours in. What an adventure!

And what a privilege. What a privilege that people trust me enough to allow me in. What a privilege that I had the support and therapy and finances of my own to get to this point, and to be able to utilize it. What a privilege that, even in the midst of a chaotic work environment, that I'm able to feel this way, and that there are people reading this and NOT rolling their eyes. 

Even if someday I do get burned out or I decide to make a career change, I'm grateful for the experience I had up until now, for as long as it lasts.