Another Me

If somebody told me 20 years ago that one day I’d wake up at 7 am on a Sunday excited to attend church service at a small church in the Midwest and to bring a bean dish to the annual parish meeting, I’d laugh for days.

Every word in this sentence would have sounded ludicrous to who I was 20 or even 10 years ago, including, Midwest, beans, and 7 am.

Example

Take teaching, for instance. I teach the same courses this semester that I taught in the Fall. But they are completely different in structure, readings, classroom strategies, etc. Because I love exploring new ways of doing things.

In the meanwhile, it took me almost a year to move a lamp from one place to another in my bedroom, which improved the look and the comfort dramatically.

Brain Issue

Every day, I rack my brain for ideas of places where I can take Klara after school. Now that she waits for feeding times and I don’t have to drag a bag of snacks everywhere, this is the hardest, drudgiest part of parenting for me. Because it takes up so much mental space every single day.

And it’s not a lack of places to take her. It’s my brain’s incapacity to see new opportunities anywhere outside of publishing my research. Yesterday, for instance, I finally noticed that our gym has an indoor swimming pool where I can take her any time I want. Why this possibility never occurred to me before? Because it’s a brain issue I have. I get in a rut and can’t get out.

As open as I am to experimentation and to finding new ways of teaching and doing research, in everything outside of the workplace, I’m completely incapable of seeing anything new. It’s like having two brains in one head with one of them being very defective.

Models of Femininity

Talking about psychology, there is a young contestant from Moldova on Project Runway, and she’s so totally like me that it’s hilarious. Not physically, obviously. Moldovans are a different ethnic group and look very differently. But in the way her post-soviet femininity is so different from the North American version.

There’s also the constant feeling that everybody around her is too slow, the capacity to do everything faster than everybody else, the irritability, the entitlement, the self-assurance.

I’m glad to see that the Soviet femininity is alive even for women born since 1991. Everything about the USSR was horrible. But it’s a lot easier to be a woman when you are from a post-soviet country. It’s much much harder to be a man but a lot easier to be a woman.

It’s a lot easier to live as a woman in the US but it’s a lot harder to carry the burden of North American femininity. Many women don’t understand that the discomfort and the pain they experience don’t come from any external circumstances. They try to project the problems caused by this defective model of femininity into all sorts of invented boogaloos like the ‘toxic masculinity’ or the equally non-existent epidemic of sexual harassment in academia (just to give a couple of examples).

But the real cause of the pain is the heavy weight of the North American way of being a woman that would defeat Goliath. Like Hasidic Jews who thank G-d for not making them a woman, I thank God for not making me a North American woman. Not because there’s anything wrong with them – they are definitely nicer than we are. But because it’s so damn hard.

A Temporary Conclusion

I have concluded my work with the analyst for now. Which doesn’t mean I won’t need him again.

Many people mind the length of the process and its lack of a definitive ending. But psychological problems aren’t similar to a cold. They are similar to Type 1 diabetes. You spend your life managing them. And after you figure out your regimen, you are fine most of the time. The blood sugar has to be tracked and meds have to be adjusted but people accept that and it all works.

Nobody tries to cure their own diabetes by applying willpower and nobody refuses insulin just because it won’t cure you instantly and completely. Curiously, this type of an utterly barbaric attitude to psychological dysfunction is widespread only in the US.

As for me, I would probably not be alive right now if I hadn’t contacted this analyst years ago.