I think that if you ask a millennial what their dealbreakers in a relationship are, the chances are high that you’ll get quite a list. The truth of the matter is that marriage isn’t what it used to be. More people are getting married and changing their minds about it afterwards. There’s also the trend of getting married later in life so marriage is not seen as the only avenue to financial stability. We see better examples of co-parenting and amicable splits. Our parents and grandparents may have stayed married because they felt that they had to but millennials don’t feel the same way. We know that life is too short to be with someone that you can’t stand and that you can’t put a price on peace. It’s one thing to be married but another thing entirely to be happily married. No relationship is worth keeping at your own detriment just to say that you “hung in there.” Lately, I’ve met quite a few middle-aged people who are staying in relationships where their partner is actively sabotaging their goals. Their sole reason for staying is because “Jesus hates divorce.” And at the end of the day they have to make a decision for themselves or for the relationship. I personally believe that being alone is better than being alone in a relationship ESPECIALLY when it’s not healthy. Regardless of age, it’s important to put yourself first because no one else ever will.
This month is Domestic Violence Awareness month and it is definitely needed and deserves attention. More recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with some women who have experienced it. While DV impacts both men and women, so far professionally I’ve primarily worked with women. People seem to be always quick to judge this population and I have to admit that women quite often catch the short end of the stick in the court of public opinion. There’s an opinion that women who stay with cheating spouses are just doing what is expected of them and in many situations men aren’t questioned when they leave a relationship if the tables are turned. The truth is that it’s not always easy to get out. Abusers often control finances and seek to isolate their victims from close family and friends. It’s even more complicated when children are involved and there are questions about next steps and potential custody battles. It’s also important to realize that abuse doesn’t always have to be physical. It can be emotional and verbal as well. In order to make a plan to leave the relationship, one has to come to the understanding that it’s an unhealthy/abusive situation. I’ve had women tell me that every marriage has ups and down and that they don’t want to be quitters by leaving when it gets tough. Many have been encouraged by pastors and faith leaders that they should just submit to their spouse and just bear their cross. It’s important to understand that most victims don’t leave their abusers on the first attempt AND that they are more at risk for increased violence when they try to leave. This is why it’s important to be a supportive friend because you don’t know what someone is going through. Many times women won’t open up to their friends or relatives because they feel ashamed and may feel like they have failed in the relationship and/or marriage. Be present, be aware, be supportive. Learn and recognize the signs of an abuser and don’t give second chances.
I’ve made so many decisions since I moved back the South. Where I was going to live, what I was going to do, where I wanted to go, etc. In addition to starting a new job, I’ve also been tasked with keeping up with another job I have and simultaneously getting another two jobs off the ground and running. The thought of totally working for myself has always scared me to an extent. As an unmarried single person, there isn’t even the “safety net” of a spouse who could hold me down while I got something off the ground. I remember reading a quote that said entrepreneurship is like jumping off a cliff and building a parachute on the way down. The thing about building a location based business is that you have to be willing to put down some roots in order to build up some clientele and network. It isn’t something that happens overnight and it takes some deliberate effort. But maybe it’s time to do something different and consider settling down for a change. While I love the idea of some stability, I also hate the feeling of being stuck without a good reason. And if I have to settle down I want it to be close to a beach where I can see and swim with some dolphins. But the truth is that if I’m taking the fairly big step of renting an office, then I need to do something that actually justifies the monthly fee that I’m paying. Logistically, having even two private clients a month would pay for the office itself. Two people out of a city of several million doesn’t sound too bad. It just means that I need to be strategic and market appropriately. Maybe it’s time to step out and do something different. I don’t love the idea of working for other people for the rest of my life.
I feel like I haven’t blogged in a while and it’s actually true. Another cross-country move, getting settled in, and starting another job. As someone who has gone through multiple transitions this year, the thought of being settled–even for a little bit, definitely has some appeal. I can’t believe that the year is more than halfway over and I find myself asking what’s been accomplished. I’ve been so future focused but I also want to be more intentional about living in the moment. The year began pretty low-key but has been going almost nonstop. But I have to say that I’m glad to have made it this far. I’ve always been one to be constantly on the lookout for new opportunities and there may be some of those on the horizon. I decided to take a break from dating since I’ll be working as a therapist again and I don’t want to compete with my clients on the “men ain’t shit” stories. Needless to say, it might be nice to start considering settling down. Living out of a suitcase for the past 10 months definitely has it’s downsides. I’m going to make more of an effort to write consistently in the next few months. Hold me to it.
Not too long ago I ran across an interesting article and immediately shared it with a friend who also agreed wholeheartedly with the author. You can read it here. As a therapist I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve talked to clients about accepting themselves and not basing their happiness on the presence of another person. But let’s admit it, we all want acceptance, companionship, and validation. The author brings out a good point when she talks about a strange sort of contentment in doing your own thing 100% of the time. You don’t have to consult with anyone or let someone know where you’re going when you leave the house. It’s like settling into a homeostasis of sorts. You aren’t obligated to constantly think about the welfare of another person. If only you could order a significant other as easily as one does an Uber or Lyft. You could specify various characteristics that you wanted and then request. As promised, a companion would suddenly appear on your doorstep, the epitome of all your hopes and dreams. No heartache or second guessing because you’ve just met your soulmate and you know that you’ll live happily ever after. Let’s be real, there’s a certain amount of selfish that is perfectly acceptable being a single person that just won’t fly in a relationship. You can’t get your way and never compromise and still expect to have a successful partnership. The author brings out a good point when she discusses the constant self-analysis and diagnosis that happens when you try to make sense of a phenomenon that is supposed to occur within a certain time frame. I have to say that I agree with her conclusion.
I’ve never been much of a groupie but I must admit that it was cool to share an airport terminal train with Michaela Watkins, one of the stars in my favorite Hulu show, Casual. While it definitely contains some adult content, the show accurate depicts a lot of the confusion and anguish that can accompany relationships that merely casual. Michaela plays a therapist who is a recent divorcee and a single mother. She’s great at what she does but finds it hard to separate her personal from her own professional self. All the characters in the show experience their own personal crisis that make them more aware of who they are as people. The show is messy like real life often is. There’s so much ambivalence and the characters struggle with being honest with themselves and their partners. We often have to operate and make decisions based on limited information. Casual is a good show because it makes you think and do some honest analysis of the complicated relationships in your life.
One thing in life that is always inevitable is change. I remember imagining what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always imagined myself with stethoscope around my neck shouting orders in some emergency room as a trauma physician. Instead I ended up in mental health calming down psychotic people, explaining to parents why I was taking their child, and attempting to reason with psychiatrists. I worked in the mental health equivalent of the ER and found that I did enjoy it. It’s always been interesting to me how our life experiences can shape our perspectives and general outlook on life. If I had seen myself 5 years ago I would not have believed it. For me, the change happened once I was outside of the protective bubble of my family and the group of people who thought like me. It was eye opening to work with people who had a totally different set of beliefs and values than what I had been used to. There’s a lot of people who don’t agree with the traditional education system but it helped me to build my critical thinking skills. My post-graduate competency based program taught me how to conceptualize and justify every intervention that I did while doing therapy with clients. I think that it’s so important to be open minded. While I’m not saying that every varying perspective needs to be agreed with, I think that seeing something from another point of view is important.