Monthly Archives: October 2014

In the weeds

She has an elephantine  memory.

She remembers everything, especially painful stuff.

She can describe every frustration, disappointment and betrayal that wounded her in the last twenty years.

She can (and does) recite conversations — especially hurtful ones — from a decade ago.

Listening to her I sometimes feel like we’re crawling together through an endless field of weeds.

The technical term for this is perseveration: the tendency of certain memories to persist even when they’ve stopped being relevant.

Bad habit, perseverating.

Because where you put your attention is what grows.

Keep your attention on painful memories, and you fill your life with pain.

Keep your attention on stuff you cannot change (like the past), and you fill your mind with helplessness.

Sometime you need to find a way to stand up and see beyond the weed field.


She feels unloved, she tells me.

It’s an old problem.  She’s felt unloved since she was a child.

Her solution is to demand love from her husband.

Daily, sometimes hourly, she demands he give her more attention, acceptance, approval and affection.

It’s not working, though.  And she doesn’t understand why.

What she doesn’t understand is that love is a gift, or it isn’t love.

That it can be received, but not demanded.

Given, but not coerced.

That when love is coerced, it becomes something else.

It becomes a lie.


I’ve just told her that I think she’s clinically depressed.

She frowns.

“Don’t label me,” she says.

“I’m not.  I’m diagnosing you,” I say.

“It’s the same thing.”

No, it’s not.

We label people.  We diagnose problems.

Labels are judgments, inaccurate and hurtful because they tend to oversimplify and stigmatize.

A diagnosis, though, is an explanation.  It explicates something that needs correction or repair.

And when it’s accurate, it points us in the right direction.

Discarding diagnosis because we confuse it with labeling is like ignoring the road map we need to get where we want to go.



Hello, narcissist


Bump into a narcissist

in the morning,

and you’ve

bumped into a narcissist.

Bump into narcissists

all day long,

and maybe

you’re the narcissist.

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