Dr. Melfi

Even Dr. Melfi, Tony’s psychiatrist on The Sopranos, has a shrink. Experts on human behavior are still humans themselves. No one goes through this human experience unscathed. We all need help, support, advice, and guidance. We are born with many skills of subconscious resiliency, but with a surprising lack of coping skills. Navigating emotional waters is a tough gig that will violently toss us ashore; leaving us gasping, breathless, and drained. A fellow person throwing us a life preserver truly does help us literally preserve our lives.

So first off, thank you to the quality, concerned doctors, analysts, social workers, therapists, gurus, and spiritual teachers who help keep us afloat. Secondly, and this is not a secret, I’m fairly adept at human psychology. It’s why I can write these posts. I have heard my whole life that I should be a therapist. I take this as a compliment. Complete strangers or brief acquaintances will tell me random, secret stuff. It’s nice to know people feel safe trusting me with their heavy loads; they must sense I can carry them. Often I can. Whether or not I want to is a very new question I’m asking myself. It’s an important question at this particular juncture.

While talking to a dear friend today, I had a revelation that may be a game changer for me. I realized that perhaps I naturally absorb other people’s drama as a direct result of my incredibly dramatic childhood. I come from a large family that can be best described as crazy. They did not put the “fun” in “dysfunction”. Growing up in this environment was emotional guerrilla warfare (if I’ve written that before it’s because I love this description for its accuracy). There was always a scapegoat, a fight that often turned physical, emotional and verbal lashings, fear, control, threats, secrets, and crime. That’s just scratching the surface. Despite this, I truly consider myself to be incredibly and surprisingly normal in all ways.

As a divorced woman, I don’t consider myself as having typical divorced baggage. I don’t let certain things I may be dealing with bleed into other areas of my life. I go to therapy. I go to yoga. I meditate. I have healthy channels to clear me when my emotional system gets clogged. I am overall positive and emotionally healthy. I can reroute myself at this point. Looking back, I really can’t say that I have allowed dramatic circumstances to overtake my life. They may have always been orbiting, insane factors but I've always just kinda did my thing regardless. I’m not a drama queen and never have been. I have never sought out unhappiness or problems. I have perspective and gratitude. However, I realized literally today that intense, crazy drama has always been woven into the fabric of my existence. Hence, I am so understanding of other people’s drama because I LITERALLY UNDERSTAND IT.  I learned this language very early on. Drama became a norm and due to it sheer familiarity, I never noticed. This was a loaded revelation, that was followed by a few minutes of self pity and feeling like a shmuck. Is this why people feel safe with me???? Not because I’m zen, open-minded, and empathetic, but because they can smell decades of drama on me???

There has to be something to this, if as a human I’ve always historically absorbed the complications of others. In learning to undo certain patterns, this is a big deal. Because honestly, I don’t want other people’s baggage anymore. As my friend said, “Jessie, life is hard enough. You don’t need to take on someone else’s difficulties”. Yes, I’m proudly an empathetic person. I love being sensitive and compassionate; these are important qualities, and they do indeed come easily to me. I’m not the chick who pretends to care. I truly do care, and I know you know that. But I can’t let this past language dictate my future. It’s enough. I don’t want to speak it anymore. I’m over it. There is such a thing as being understanding to a fault. Without judgement, I am indeed entitled to evaluate just exactly what it is that I allow into my life. Just because I’ve always opened myself up completely and welcomed external baggage from others, does not mean I should continue along that course. How many times have I written that different patterns invite different choices into our lives? And how completely in control of these choices we are? I think that since I was always normal while growing up in Crazy Town, I felt I had to temper the boiling emotional cauldrons that surrounded me. I’ve always been the ear, the sustainer, the cheerleader, and the comedic foil. This cannot be coincidental. Again, all good things. But they stem from somewhere.

While it’s my natural inclination to help, this can lead me to feel used sometimes. I have an overly analytical mind that starts working off energy perceptions immediately. Figuring people shit out is a puzzle. It’s like cracking a case. And I like helping others solve things. But I also like to be analyzed, seen, and understood. And if I’m doing all the seeing and understanding, then there’s no room left for me to receive. I accept responsibility for all of this. I cannot blame anyone for accepting services I give away for free, like Lucy from Peanuts behind a roadside stand. But let someone take care of me for a change. I can’t say I want that out of life when I perpetuate the same repeating habits of me doing all the heavy lifting. We weigh, we weed, and then we water ourselves. I don’t ever want to be the Pomeranian on some guy’s lap, who gets treated like the adored pet.  When I see couples like this I want to vomit (yes that was judgmental. I’m not perfect). Trust me, I could have had that already if I wanted. What I want is balance, reciprocity, and a constant give and take of both parties being supported, seen, and lifted up. I also have cracks that need to be filled, I also have crap I need to vent. I also need therapy and guidance, not just from a professional. I get it, it’s not so easy and obvious to hold up a very strong person. We seem like we don’t need it. But don’t hold our strength and functionality against us. Hey, I’m honored to advise you. I just might have to start charging...