FRIENDLY PSYCHOANALYSIS

I saw a friend the other day. Two kisses on the cheek in front of her office, coffee/coke and confessions to go. Laughter, regrets, (dis)satisfactions, moments of happiness, plans, work, you know, the usual stuff friends share when they meet.

We’ve known each other for almost three years now, I. and me. Up to now, we’ve considered the pros and cons of dozens of issues, exchanging views on the people we hold dear, regard highly, think the world of or look up to, as well as the ones we’ve disrespected, ignored, neglected, insulted, even ridiculed one way or another. We’ve discussed the memories we cherish, places we’re attached to or fascinated by, food we delight in, music, movies, museums and books we’re enchanted by, trips which took our breath away, challenges we thrill on, and things we find less or not at all challenging. We’ve explored injustices and wrongdoings done to us and by us. We tackled our beliefs, our doubts, fears, and conflicts. We’ve touched upon accidents, deaths, terrorist attacks, anniversaries, celebrations, commemorations and politics (even though she’s not much of a fan). We’ve addressed the righteousness of our behavior, and our professional and personal successes and failures (as working gals, wives, sisters, daughters and friends), our judgments and misjudgments. I. is a psychotherapist by the way, not mine though (although I wouldn’t object), an ex-student of mine who has with time become a very dear friend. I recall a friend’s reaction when I told her what I. does. Oh, lucky you! But she’s not my therapist, I teach her English. Yeah, right. She’s still a shrink, you know. I couldn’t help laughing.

I. told me once she found it hard to resist the urge to psychoanalyze those who weren’t her patients and how she would many a time have to refrain from doing it. No, you’re so not doing this. Stop right now.

So despite the fact that I know you find me eloquent, witty, charming and frank (do you “hold these truths to be self-evident?”), I can’t help but wonder:

Have you ever psychoanalyzed me?

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JOURNAL OF A MOM – UNPLUGGED

What most of parents have to come to terms with is the fact that their apartment will never be clean again, at least not any time soon. We’re no exception. Still, we keep trying, M. and me.

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I plug the hoover in and switch it on. The fan blades begin to turn and the air starts pushing itself in.  My son B. is impressed with the sound of the vacuum cleaner (as well as the hair dryer, mixer, blender, and washing machine). He’s pulling and dragging the cord, examining the plug, inspecting the hose, and looking at the push fit floor tool carefully as if to ensure everything’s in its place. As long as the fan is running, he’ll be calm and by my side. He discovers the volume knob. He turns it up. He turns it down. He turns it on and off again and again. I put the sweeper back to where it belongs. Don’t forget to put the outlet plug covers back. Wash him up.

B. detects the cardboard box filled with toys. What he does is haul everything out of it, leaving the green and pink ribbons hanging across. He’s looking inside. It’s empty. It needs to be filled. It’s full. Now empty it again. Fill it one more time. In with bright-colored building blocks, stacking cups, balls and books, in with musical toys, rubber animals, push and pull toys, a plastic bottle and an empty cookie box. B. loves things that bounce off and away, things you chase, and drag, things to bat, reach, and bang, things to shake, throw, and especially whack against a surface, be it a glass window, the floor or whatever. He presses buttons of his toy keyboard, swinging his body to the sounds of the recorded beats – samba, pop, waltz, disco and rap, along with the sounds the animals make. The horses neigh, the sheep says baa, the duck says quack quack, moo, tweet, woof… Next, he grabs hold of the floor lamp. No! No! No! No! He lets go. He starts turning round and round and round. It gets dizzy, doesn’t it? He’s smiling. I adore him.

 

AN OPTIMISTIC PESSIMIST

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Remember the test from my previous post? Well, this is what it says next:  Each time you answer A score 1, each time you answer B score 2, each time you answer C score 3. Then calculate your score, read what it means on page 127 and compare with a partner.

I go to page 127. What are you like? If you scored 19-24, you’re an optimist; if you scored 13-18, you’re Mr. or Ms. sensible; if you scored 8-12, you’re a pessimist.

I’M AN OPTIMIST. (No kiddin’!) You always try to see the positive side of life. You know how to enjoy yourself and you don’t waste time worrying about things that may never happen. But be careful – your friends might find your happy and carefree lifestyle rather irritating at times.

So not true. OK, I do know how to enjoy myself and that’s it. I’m too skeptical to be foolishly optimistic. I’m too pragmatic to be idealistic. I’m too much of a realist to believe in happily ever after. I’m too down to earth to be unrealistically hopeful. I’m too practical to have illusions. I’m too sensible to be overly sensitive. I’m too sarcastic to be sentimental. I’m too inquisitive to be indifferent. I’m too responsible to believe in nonsense. I’m a no-nonsense. I’m too much of a mom not to worry. Worry is another name for moms. 10 secrets to becoming a worry-free mom. Not for me, thanks.

LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT…

You know those personality tests we used to do in high school? Well, I did one the other day. Boy, did I enjoy! Stupid and untrue as they may be, I’ve loved doing them for as long as I can remember. We’re on our bench in the schoolyard, my friends and me, giggling, elbowing, poking, nudging, sighing, smoking, puffing, fighting, hugging, kissing, touching, humming, singing, whistling, whispering, confiding, being painfully honest, gossiping, learning, considering 101 off-the-wall places to have sex, bursting into tears, bursting into laughter, yelling at the top of our lungs, laughing our lungs out, living and dying for. We share secrets and same dreams, exchange ideas, glances, clothes, records, teen magazines and books.  We discover sexuality from Erica Jong, INXS, Bukowski, Edward II, older pals and one another. We put pictures of Kim Basinger and Nastassja Kinski on our bedroom walls. We want to talk like Annie Lennox’s lovers do. We want to seduce like Sharon Stone. Loves me, loves me not, only wants to…, really cares about me.

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6 sure signs to read his mind, 5 practical ways to find out whether someone really loves you, 11 undeniable signals she’s into you, 8 certain things to prove you’ve got a crush, 44 reasons why I love you, 100 reasons why I hate you, 15 best ways to sweet talk to a girl, 25 romantic ideas to make your lover melt, 20 greatest quotes about love, 30 irresistible suggestions on how to write a perfect love message, 8 tips on how to leave him, 8 tips on what to do when his ex-girlfriend won’t leave him, 13 hints on how to turn a girl on, 22 responses to use when turning someone down for a date, 3 questions to ask that will make her want to tear your clothes off, top 14 most sexually charged excerpts from erotica books, endless foreplay, masturbation and sex advice. Plans, designs, schemes, projects, proposals, propositions, recommendations, aims, intentions, objectives, goals, targets. Indications, symptoms, pointers, indicators, marks, manifestations, demonstrations, exhibitions, presentations, displays, illustrations. Proofs, confirmations, affirmations, verifications, validations.

“What are you – optimist or pessimist?” is what the test’s called. I tick I don’t mind the rain. I start planning my next holiday as soon as I arrive home after a great one so as to have something to look forward to. I’m 40 – getting older – so what? A cold is just a cold; it won’t kill me. My partner has ended our relationship – he wasn’t the right for me. I have to make an important life decision – I’m going to take my time to think carefully about it. It’s autumn – a beautiful time of the year. I unexpectedly inherit £5,000 – great! I can buy a few luxuries that I couldn’t afford before.

Up next – how I scored…

LIKE A CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF

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I wonder why we are all unique in one way or the other. Because of who we are? (Too shallow). It’s because we are throughout our lives shaped by our experiences, people we meet, people we don’t, schools from which we graduated or dropped out of, careers we pursue or stopped pursuing, trains we caught or missed, dreams we thought would never come true and the ones we have yet to fulfill, our fears: the fear of dying, flying, aging, loving, not being loved, being paralyzed, imprisoned, abandoned, rejected, not respected, the fear of mutilation, separation, humiliation and finally shame. According to surveys (source: Wikipedia), some of the most common fears are of demons and ghosts, the existence of evil powers, cockroaches, spiders, snakes, heights, water, enclosed spaces, tunnels, bridges, needles, social rejection, failure, examinations, and public speaking.

We are influenced by births and deaths, jobs we’ve done enthusiastically or half-heartedly, past lovers, loves of our lives, unrequited loves, crying over spilled milk (it’s no use), spilling the beans (once, many times), people we trust, people we don’t, people who betrayed us, people we deceived, people we lied to, people we have been lying to, people we could never lie to, truths yet to be told, our friends, our families, our acquaintances, our neighbors, our parents, in-laws, strangers in the night, our soul mates, people we have nothing in common with, best sex ever, worst sex ever, public sex, private places, words spoken, messages between the lines, messages taken, messages misread, secret glances, memories (good and bad), diaries, photos, galleries, books, songs, funny jokes, lousy jokes (why laugh then?), witty people, boring chores, errands to run, demanding bosses or just bosses, a wish to become a boss but knowing deep down you’ll just go on being bossy without being someone’s boss, perfectionism, a lack or ambition, excuses, secrets and regrets, drunken parties, camping sites, starry nights, starless lives, falling in love, falling out of love (will I ever love again?), falling apart, falling, falling…

We are molded by being polite for no reason or for a good reason, not offending somebody, offending somebody, being offended by somebody, meeting somebody, fancying somebody, dating somebody, getting married, having kids, getting divorced, getting back together, our first kiss (cat got your tongue?), first sex (painful), last sex (don’t remember), sleepovers, confessions on the dance floor, estranged siblings, estranged partners, being born again, food to die for, girls and boys to die for, dirty hospital linen, good doctors, bad doctors, cramped buses and deserted beaches, moments of utter happiness and profound sadness, embarrassments, school trips, day trips, bicycle rides, journeys we took, places we visited, going to visit, about to visit, shall never visit, paying a visit, being visited.

Images take turns before my eyes, images of big beds, empty beds, small beds (who mentioned small beds?), snoring, hiccuping, does somebody out there still think about me sometimes – wishful thinking, wishes coming true, wishes we stopped wishing, cruelty, poetic justice, paradise found, paradise lost, paradise regained (maybe), breathtaking waves, breaking the waves, empty stomachs and full hearts, full stomachs and empty hearts, a carousel: an amusement ride with seats for riders, how amusement stopped being amusing. When did amusing turn into amused (if at all)? I love you’s, don’t forget to take out the trash, why didn’t you take out the trash? I am happy. I am unhappy. (Are you happy?) 2 in 1, a baby bump, 3 in 1 (when are you due?), light, who turned off the light? I can’t see (light at the end of the tunnel).

 

JOURNAL OF A MOM – DO’S AND DON’TS

After waking up and kicking and wriggling in our bed for a while, B. turns on his stomach and pushes his way off the bed. He moves things to and fro, starting with my socks drawer which he empties thoroughly. Knowing he’ll be safe for a few seconds, M. and I go back to bed, briefly closing our eyes. The socks are flying all over the room. They are on the bed, under the bed, on the window sill, and in his laundry basket. Now he’s on the other side, pulling the sliding closet door and taking out the towels, napkins, his hygiene products and cloth diapers. Suddenly, we hear an unfamiliar sound.  What is he up to? He’s trying to climb the changing table. Yes, he’s made it. I didn’t think he wouldn’t. Get out of there. Down, mister. His diapers are full. He needs to eat. We get up.

While I’m preparing his breakfast, I’m going through today’s to-do list in my head. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, fruit, don’t forget the fruit and veggies market, strawberries, raspberries, playing in the backyard, nuts, laundry, get the swimming pool ready, cut his nails (he scratches), yogurt, buy cheese, we’re running out, juice, tea with lemon. M’s in a hurry today. He washes up, gets dressed quickly, grabs a banana and next thing you know, he’s at the door tying shoelaces. Daddy’s gotta go sweetie, but he’ll be back, I promise, no need to worry.  Don’t cry; momma’s here. Momma’s with you. Brush your teeth up and down, brush your teeth round and round… He hears me sing and heads straight for the bathroom. He knows it’s time to do the teeth. Brush your teeth from left to right, brush your teeth in the morning and night… I’m closing the door behind him, putting his bib on, and squeezing toothpaste onto his brush while he’s waiting patiently. Brush your teeth to keep them white…We brush our teeth together. Brush your teeth in the morning and night…

M’s out. We can get back. On his way out, B. grabs the shampoo bottle. He’s running rampant through the apartment: living room, bedroom, kitchen, living room, bedroom, kitchen. Put that thing down. Put it down, I said. Don’t touch that. Not the garbage, for God’s sake. Not in your month! What do you have in your mouth? Spit it out! Spit it out! A long list of don’ts.

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Breakfast served. Breakfast eaten. The dishes are dirty. The dishes are clean. The dishes are dirty. No dishwasher, all manual labor. I’m sipping my first morning coffee, looking away for a split second. A loud crash. Several glasses and mugs are on the floor, shattered in hundreds of pieces. By the time I get the dustpan from the storage room, B’s already seized the cupboard tablecloth and pulled it down. His glass nuts jar falls on the ground. Don’t come near. Mom will take care of it. He watches me collect the big pieces with my hands. God, what a mess!

JOURNAL OF A MOM – SLEEPING LIKE A BABY?

My son’s 18 months old. He’s just woken up. I wake up too. I don’t bother to check the time. I know it’s early. Not for him though. For B. it’s just the right time. Rarely does he sleep through the night. He sleeps tight for a few hours, then starts tossing and turning, next he cries a bit (or a lot), and sometimes he picks up his pacifier, puts it back in his mouth and goes back to sleep. This time M. does it instead. B. spits it out and sits right up waiting. He wants to be close to us so we let him finish sleeping in our bed since he can’t settle in his crib. We have been trying to break this co-sleeping habit but he keeps “raising objections” so it hasn’t been easy. Broken nights have been pretty exhausting for both but as long as he feels safe and protected, we’re ok with it.

Once he moves in with us, he’ll take possession of most of the bed (usurper: a person who takes a position of power or importance illegally or by force), squirming, in an attempt to get comfortable, until it’s time for him to get up. During these few hours he spends with us, he’ll demonstrate zero tolerance to his dog-tired parents, and consequently we’ll hardly sleep a wink. To date I’ve read dozens of articles and forums with tips on baby sleep only to discover we haven’t been doing anything wrong, really. In a nutshell, B. is a lousy sleeper and there’s nothing we can do about it. Be that as it may, we tend not to worry. As tiring as it is, we know it’ll pass. Besides, we’re not the only ones in the boat.

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It’s past 7AM and B. is almost ready to get up.  His leg is on my head while he’s pulling M’s hair and playing with his ears, which is his usual ritual signaling it is either bedtime or that he’s awake but not ready to open his eyes yet. Now he’s really up and about. He’s crawling, kicking, punching, slapping, pushing, pinching, scratching, and biting. He stands up. He sits down. He’s running on the bed. We run after him. He’s jumping up and down. We jump out of bed. Wake up folks. We’re gonna hop. Let’s twirl. Let’s hop and twirl. We fall down. One man is still standing. We’re wide awake thanks to the loudest alarm clock in the world. Shock and awe.