Saturday, October 13, 2012

Weed Whacking Negative Thoughts

By Claudia Ricci

I need some help with my thoughts,

Because they have gotten tangled up in the weeds

Growing in tight knots around my stomach.

The worst part is that I’m not even sure where to


When I tried to describe the problem to my therapist

the other day

I felt like the weeds were expanding, curling up my esophagus

Pressing up on

My throat and the words that spilled out of my mouth

Were shiny and fluorescent green and a little slimy. And of course they didn’t make a bit of sense, or at least I couldn’t quite
understand all of what I was spilling out to her. At one point I know I said the word

“Fear.” I know I said, “I’m so afraid.” She made me try to elaborate and

I felt like I talked and talked and nothing was making much sense. And the more I talked the more tense I felt and the weeds just grew and grew.

Especially scary was this: I told her I was afraid I had no purpose in living, or that I wanted some new purpose, I wanted to feel as though what I did every day of my life made a difference at least to me. “I want my ordinary everyday life to make me happy.”

That’s not asking too much, is it?

She took page after page of notes, and at one point she put her glasses on and flipped back through the pages and she announced that she had found a “clue.”

“You said that when you were younger you were busy trying to become something.”

I nodded. “Yes,” I said. “I was very busy building a career. And I have a wonderful curriculum vitae to show for it. Except now that does not seem very important, that CV. Now what seems important is just being happy day by day.”

The therapist still hadn’t pursued the clue.

“So what I want to ask you is this,” she said. “If you say you were busy trying to become something, does that mean that you had to become something because you were nothing beforehand?”

And I looked at her and I thought wow, how smart a woman she is.

That she could see so clearly the girl that was me, decades ago, who was so desperate to become something  “successful” that she dressed in a navy blue Brooks Brothers suit (matching skirt and jacket) and a pink bow tie, and she marched down to Wall Street with a brief case and put on a corporate face that she borrowed from some magazine.

I need some help with my thoughts alright. I need some help looking back at my life and realizing that I was so afraid I was nothing that I made myself into all kinds of things I didn’t want to be.

I don’t want to do that anymore.

I want to be the woman who is OK – no, not just OK, but happy -- being nothing else besides the woman she fully wants to be.

As I write this, the weeds go limp at my gut. And for the first time I can imagine taking a weed whacker to cut away the mess of knots that is not so tightly wound around my stomach anymore.

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