Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What is a blog? What is a bogle?

First post at Ana Verse,  Monday, January 16, 2006, 10:14:00 CST.

What is a blog? What is a bogle? What is a day off from doing nothing? From "nothing doing." What is a sun sign? What is a moon? What is a tsunami? What is a fraction? What is caring disorder? My favorite therapists (of eleven) were one, Murray, M.D. (adjustment disorder & suburban housewife neurosis at 17 -- there were violent boys in our neighborhood who had enacted domestic abuse against me, perhaps as witnessed in their houses and about which few could actually afford to care since the alternative in education terms would seem to have been boys' schools all over again); four, Ms. Siebert, MSW (who resembled a happy, well-adjusted suburban housewife and mother herself and who served as a mother for me in urbania); five (Dr. Hall, a terrific male psychologist who gave no diagnosis but who suggested something my adorable friends got later -- a longer form of psychoanalysis intended for writers and artists), six (a psychiatric resident named Griff who refrained from diagnosing after a domestic assault, even though I told her that that plus writing were causing me to feel uncharacteristically religious); eight (Susan K., MSW); nine, (my all-time favorite, Deb Otto, MSW) and eleven (Dr. Honebrink, Ed. D.). Total years in therapy: Exactly eight. My worst therapist was number 10, Daniel Carlson, M.Div. He mocked me for wearing nice clothes into the city and wanted me to list every lousy person I had ever met, something I refused to do. My seventh therapist, in retrospect, was Micki Fine, M.Ed.

Micki acquired me after Dr. Alan Hurwitz had diagnosed me with bipolar disorder in 1991. Religion and writing were related to mental illness, afterall. I had hoped I had just been hungry. Micki diagnosed me with PTSD right off, as if she were in a little quarrel with psychiatry. For three years, she got me to go faintly where I did my work, and she sneered at what I did for play: visit a quiet actors' bar. When I got a boyfriend three years later, she diagnosed me with a need for five twelve-step groups (AA, Alanon, Sex Addicts, Co-Sex Addicts, and Coda). My Ph.D. was toward English not toward chastity. She might have said to me, as my boyfriend's mother had said to him, 'You're not an alcoholic; you're a friendoholic." Or, "You sure are attracted to Catholics, aren't you?" But she didn't say that. My Catholic drinking friend, who had the same therapist, had five boyfriends, not five 12-step diseases. She was without diagnosis beyond having had a violent dad, her PTSD dating back to childhood; other writers we knew, gay or straight, had what is usually termed by the uninterrupted as "lovers." Love to the Catholic clinician sounded like a lifelong disease in certain men and women who are unauthorized to have it with members of the opposite sex.

Many years have flown by since, many of them without my active participation. Without meaning to or wanting to, I have ''achieved" eight years of adult celibacy; the only good one of those was my first in sobriety. My pelvic area aches for interior toning, for massage. I have dull-looking skin and my muscles look like loners. Micki was wrong about love and sex being only for the designated or the few and to speak of them as unnecessary.

Almost everyone we knew was wrong about beer. Whereas before, I had accepted the general definition of alcoholic as someone who drinks a lot of beer, I now know it to be a mixed determination. In fact, I now know that beer drinkers are better people, even if they do run into aches and groans associated with their favorite form of sour dough. True, they're likely poorer people, but the men are more handsome. The women are a little swelly, perhaps, and may run an occasional sinus infection, but isn't it better to drink a few beers than to pill-pop (as if for recreation), to let her get a little braggy in her laugh now and then, her teeth a little bucked, than to brand her a bad mother when she isn't even a mother and wasn't one and will not now be one, despite a furious insistence on who she was as a person (I was a native Minnesotan Swedish/English/Scottish American Protestant young writer!) and a glorious capacity to reproduce still? Ice cold milk, milk with ice in it for me, then. Rounds.

1 comment:

Luis Lemus said...

Love the revealing commentary, Ann, especially re: working man's champagne and quiet actors bars (or is it quiet actor's?). Keep 'em coming.