Mother’s Day Metaphor

Last night I was alerted by Facebook that one of my estranged siblings, my brother, had used an old family photograph I posted to Facebook five years ago following my uncle’s wedding. My brother cropped me out of the original photo to create a Mother’s Day photo for his profile picture.

So what remains is a cropped photo of my entire family, sans me. 

For the first minute after I’d read the notification and realized what he had done, I was speechless. The heartbreak, betrayal, and sense of grief was overwhelming. 

Then, after I’d had a chance to breathe and think about it a bit, I just started laughing because, really, it is an absolutely perfect representation of what has transpired over the last several years. 

Those five individuals – my former family members – have remained exactly the same, preserved in a state of chaos and dysfunction. My life has changed dramatically, for the better, and has continued to improve with each passing day since I severed ties with them. 

But the only thing about their life that has changed is that I am no longer in it. I literally cropped myself out of the picture. 

It’s hard to remain upset when the universe handed me such a beautiful metaphor on a day when I really needed to be reminded of why I became estranged from these people in the first place. 

They will never change. 

I will never stop growing. 

Happy Mother’s Day to myself: the best mother I have ever had. 


Tomorrow I start my second clinical affiliation. I was super nervous about how I’d manage full-time clinic with therapy three times a week. Turns out the physical therapy office I was assigned to is literally three blocks from my therapist.

Huh. Interesting how that worked out, eh?

finally got my schedule from my clinical instructor. I was originally assigned a week of mid-shifts, but I asked to switch with my fellow student so now I have a schedule that allows me to go to therapy right after my internship on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

I am very looking forward to getting back into a regular routine. Therapy has felt sporadic and far away lately. We’ve been mostly puzzling our schedules together, trying to make the pieces fit as best we can. I was totally checked out emotionally during finals week, so I kinda feel like I haven’t really been in therapy since late November. We did have one phone session while I was away, but I was so distant and walled up that it didn’t really feel like much of anything.

But she came in to see clients on the 28th and that session was fruitful. I felt very relaxed and spoke openly about how much I’ve been struggling with my eating disorder. I think she was relieved that we were finally really talking about this in a way that allowed for more options. Since I was going to see my psychiatrist later that week, she asked if I would be willing to share about this with the doctor as well.

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A Year of Bonuses

New Year’s Eve is always a weirdly emotional time for me. Similar to my birthday, it’s a time when I feel a lot of panic and anxiety about whether or not I’ve done anything worth celebrating. It’s also a time, culturally, when we’re encouraged to reflect and make promises to ourselves about all the changes we’ll make to be better in the new year.

Fuck that noise.

It’s just a damn day. Sure, the year changes and I guess that could mean something, but is it really that much different than the day before or the day after? No.

Last year I resolved nothing. My only goal was to survive. Anything above that was to be a bonus. And in that sense, I’d say this was a year of bonuses:

I completed all of my clinical coursework, including my first internship, maintaining a 4.0 GPA and scoring a perfect 100 on my comprehensive final practical exam.

I weathered a shit ton of relational and other challenges with a new therapist who is now someone I trust and value tremendously. I saw her once a week. Then twice. And now solidly three times a week.

finally found a psychiatrist that I don’t hate. In fact, I love my shrink. She is my favorite doctor that I’ve ever had, ever.

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Magic Gone

I always loved Christmas as a kid. I think I did, anyway. I have a sense of being mesmerized by the wonder of the season – all of the lights, glitter, music, and overall festive nature of late December.

I also remember a Christmas morning when I was a teenager. Our family had been fighting, per usual. I don’t know what the fight was about, probably something stupid. But I left the house and walked to church. I sat in the front pew for the early Christmas Day mass and cried through the entire service. Back then, church was a safe place for me. I loved being there. I love the pastor and the stories and the music. I was in awe of the old gothic cathedral that was never quite warm enough, but still felt cozy.

As I’ve gotten older, the meaning of Christmas has changed. Primarily because I no longer identify as Christian, but also because of my estrangement from my family. For me, Christmas has always been about the gathering of loved ones. I enjoyed getting presents as much as the next person, but I was also really happy to see the joy on someone else’s face when they opened that super awesome gift they’d really been hoping for. And there’s something about everyone finding their way to each other for one day a year just to eat, drink, and be merry.

It’s magical.

Or it was.

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A Long, Fast Week

I’m writing this from an airport. Our flight back to NYC was cancelled, rebooked, and the new flight has been delayed.

The joys of holiday travel.

Wife and I just spent a week at my sister and brother-in-law’s home, virtually attached to our nieces and nephew. We also spent a little over 24 hours with my “Mom” and her two golden retrievers over the weekend.

It was a long week that went by fast.

It was exhausting, exciting, stressful, frustrating, triggering, soothing, confusing, nostalgic, loving, fun, and unexpected. I would say it was both an incredibly joyful experience as well as tremendously difficult. But that’s okay, it can be both things at once. I’m trying to let it be, anyway.

It’s too hard otherwise. And this is how I went through my life – separating things into “good” and “bad” and putting huge walls between them to stay sane. But I don’t need to do that anymore, so I am trying to allow being “home” to be an experience that is complex and painful, but also really enjoyable and, quite frankly, something I need every once in a while.

I haven’t seen my nephew since he was born and he just turned nine months old. Too. Damn. Long. My nieces are growing like weeds and I HATE missing so much of their lives. My sister and brother-in-law are both wonderful people who I have a great time being around.

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I want to write about Thanksgiving, but it’s hard to even remember much about it.

My wife’s grandmother passed away unexpectedly a few short days before the holiday, leaving her family scrambling to figure out funeral arrangements on top of holiday planning. Wife has been understandably emotional. Her family is predictably WASP-y, all but ignoring the death of their matriarch.

There was virtually no mention of her during the holiday spent together.

Not a single person asked about me. Or my wife. Or anyone, really. They talked about sports, television, Broadway, politics. There were some heated discussions, which is always confusing since we’re all vehemently liberal. We’re on the same damn side.

Somehow we found a way to argue about politics anyway. I suppose it’s not a holiday without that requisite?

The food was terrifying. I’d made a plan and I mostly stuck to it, but the tiny variation from that plan has me reeling even now. My intake has been dangerously low ever since in some futile attempt to even the balance and prevent imminent danger.

I wish I’d taken photos of what I ate. I always overestimate how much I eat in my head. Sometimes just visualizing what was actually on my plate at a later time helps me understand normal portions.

Whatever that means.

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When I was 11, my parents hosted Thanksgiving. In my family, we generally ate breakfast and then fasted until gorging ourselves on the impending feast in the early afternoon. There were no appetizers or snacking pre-turkey. Partly because I grew up poor and partly because my family is punitive around food. 

So that’s about six or seven hours without food. Which, when you’re 11, is a long time. 

On this particular holiday, my mother put a dish of pickles out on the table just before dinner. They were sweet pickles, the “bread and butter” type, sliced into pieces. 

Our dining room table was pulled apart with the extra leaves stuck in to make room for more guests. It barely fit into the dining room. I was carefully navigating my way between the wall and a line of chairs when I spotted the pickles. The porcelain dish sat next to a tiny pickle fork used only for this occasion. 

I impulsively reached for the pickles. I was hungry and I love sweet pickles. 

My uncle, however, was watching me. He was standing on the threshold between the dining room and family room, arms crossed, apparently surveying his environment. 

Just as I put the first pickle slice in my mouth, my uncle pointing at the remaining 2-3 slices in my hand and said,

“See, Andi, that’s why you’re fat.”

I can’t remember what I said. Probably nothing. I think I was stunned and embarrassed, so I just shrugged. I was also mid-chew, so I finished eating. And since I’d already touched the other slices, I ate those too. 

Later on when dinner was served, it was the first time I restricted what I ate for the sake of not wanting to be held responsible for “being fat”.  I also felt acutely aware that people may be watching me eat, thinking the very same thoughts my uncle did as he watched me eat the pickle slices. 

He violated me. He humiliated me. I was a hungry little girl who was innocently eating a few slices of sweet pickle. He intruded on my moment of pleasure to shame and guilt me for a very natural thing: eating because I was hungry and the food in front of me looked good. 

I don’t think I have ever been able to do that since. 

He’s a shit person who has no influence on my life now whatsoever. But that moment, and his choices in that moment, had a profound impact on me.

And from that experience, I learned that I could control uncomfortable emotions by altering the amount, type, and quality of food I eat. I also learned that “fat” is highly undesirable and I should do everything in my power to avoid it. 

A lesson that has tormented me ever since and come into full relapse for just over a year now. 

Can I just sleep until Friday??

Fuck Thanksgiving. 


It’s been hard to write for the past few days. I had this experience on Tuesday that has been difficult to process or understand. There was a lot to hold onto, so it felt impossible to even begin writing. But I’ve been able to talk though it a bit in therapy, so I want to try to write it out here.

*Mild trigger warning for content (medical trauma)*

Earlier this week I had to get an MRI. Which, for those who don’t know, is a type of image taken of the body using magnets. The scans vary in length and type, but the entire procedure is generally around 45 minutes or so.

I was prescribed an MRI due to a previous injury to my hamstrings and hip muscles. Since my bone x-ray was normal, the orthopedist wanted a scan to see what might be going on with the soft tissues in that area to cause me pain, or that may be attributed to slow healing.

I wasn’t given very much information about what to expect. Some friends in the radiology program at my school informed me that the machine would be very loud (and to ask for ear plugs if they didn’t offer), the room would be cold, and I’d probably only have to go halfway in the machine.

When I got to the hospital, the security guard sent me to the wrong location (to be fair, he directed me to inpatient MRI, which sounds pretty similar to outpatient MRI) so I had to walk across the entire hospital to the correct location. Luckily this appears to happen often because there were blue arrows stuck to the floor that followed directly to the outpatient radiology clinic.

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School is back in session.

The first day was long and terrifying. The second day was long and exhausting because I had to go to session in between classes. I had exactly enough time to commute there, have a one hour session, and commute back. I made it to class with one minute to spare after running from the train in pouring rain.

Not super fun.

Yesterday was long, but better. The first-day scare tactics my professors love to employ wore off a little and they were more chill and seemed genuinely enthusiastic about the material. I’m already beginning to feel less anxious and more excited about my classes this semester.

And I finally found out my first clinical assignment. It’s about a 25 minute commute via subway train and I’ll be going on Fridays, which means I only have to reschedule one therapy session per week. My clinical director paired some of us up and my partner is a classmate I really enjoy being around. We’re both meeting with the clinic director on Monday to talk logistics and find out the hours we’ll be working.

Very exciting, very scary.

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The Art of Saying No

A few weeks ago, the woman I call “Mom” called me and left a voicemail. She wanted to ask me a favor and requested that I call her back. I returned her call as soon as I got home.

She repeated that she wanted a favor and asked me what I was doing that Thursday and Friday (as in two days from this call). I told her nothing (since I was out of school and work by that time, which she knew), so she explained how her good friend was in town for a job interview. She was scheduled to fly home on Thursday, but had an overnight layover in my city. Her connecting flight wouldn’t leave until Friday afternoon, so she asked if this friend could stay with Wife and I on Thursday night.

Then she referenced how her son had stayed with us for a month last summer while he looked for work. He slept on our couch through all of August and it was (mostly) fine, so she suggested her friend could also sleep on our couch.

My knee-jerk reaction was to say yes, so I did. But I only said yes because I felt very put on the spot. I’d just told her that I was free, and she knew that my schedule was open. Plus we did in fact let her son crash on our couch for an entire month, so what excuse could I come up with at that point?

As soon as I agreed to the favor, I heard her tell her friend, “She said yes! Just like I said she would! She’s the best!” and I realized (with a bit of horror) that her friend had been sitting next to her as she asked me for this favor.

I suppose this seemed like a no-brainer to her, but it’s not so simple for me.

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