I am struggling with this post.

This will be a personal piece so I shan’t be offended by anyone who clicks away from my blog. Many of my regulars come for the writing and poetry aspects, some of you genuinely enjoy my randomness. Regardless, I am grateful for your patronage and ongoing support. I am writing this piece because it’s something I need to do.

I am currently undergoing changes. Not with work. Not with writing.

When contemplating separation from a partner or spouse, it is perfectly normal to look to the past for answers. Trying to understand how one went from a balanced union to an imbalanced union can lead to many discoveries. In trying to understand my current state of union, I ended up being hit with some knowledge bombs.

I keep all my professional materials. While I no longer counsel, I still have material dating back to 2007 when I was a fledgling intern. When you’re an intern you are evaluated – constantly. All your work is monitored and by more than one person. You receive a mountain of material, most of it notes from supervisors. I had the added benefit of receiving feedback from the very students I worked with.

The word “intense” came up several times in my first semester of practice. In present day, I recall being frustrated by that feedback as an intern because I didn’t know what “intense” meant. It seemed to be positive but could just as easily swing in the other direction too. There was a borderline hint of intimidation in that feedback and I’m not down for that. Intimidation is not who I am. I have laser-like focus when something or someone has my attention but I don’t mean it be anything other than thoughtful.

When you have my attention, you have my attention.

My supervisor, who did not interpret the feedback as negative, did suggest I try breaking eye contact more often…just in case. So I got in the habit of breaking eye contact when I speak with people one-on-one…just in case. [One of the hottest things I have never heard but have fantasized hearing, “Christina, keep your eyes on me.” In other words, they like my intensity. Sorry y’all, I live in my head. More to the point, if I didn’t laugh I’d cry.]

Still, that word “intense” would crop up again and again over the years.

I spoke with a friend recently and I had described my decision-making process as something akin to total carnage. Whatever decision is the last standing, or is the least bloody, is usually declared the victor. It may be crude but it’s my process and it works  for me. Once a decision is made and a victor declared, I clear the battlefield and move on.

As I walked away from that conversation, I was floored with sudden exhaustion by a simple realization. I can’t recall the last time I’ve been able to clear my mind and move forward. My current battle has been with me for so long now I don’t even recognize my own exhaustion.

In present day, I have found myself pouring through old documents and memorabilia, trying to figure out what the fuck happened and why. My style, my essence as a person was captured repeatedly by others, black and white, clear as fucking crystal. I, who could clearly outline the issues in others, am currently clueless as to how the solve my own problems. The simplest explanation is usually the correct one: I am incapable of fixing this. This thought, at least, I can stop fighting.

Something many counselors know: Endings are as probable as beginnings and in many cases are one in the same.

But what I can’t stop fighting is the comparison. I cannot let it go. While it frustrated me back then, what I wouldn’t give to be thought of as “intense” now. I ask myself how others would see me now and I can’t imagine being described as intense. Not anymore.

Distracted, maybe. Dull. Distant. Not on point. A kind of far away sad.

Observations that would not be out of tune with my reality. In reality, I feel bound, defensive, single when I should feel partnership, and if I could just rest my mind I could begin healing my heart.

My energy, thankfully, is still in place and it’s probably for this reason that I can present a decent front in my day-to-day. But for how long?

I’m writing in a new coffee house today, Radio Coffee. This place is perpetually slammed, so much life rotating in and out if its doors. In my corner, I sit, my thoughts like those people – a constant flow, each seeking their turn for attention, some patient, others not. It brings to mind a new thought: I’ll know I’m healing when I can return my observations to their rightful place, others. I find this internal focus to be uncomfortable and selfish, even if it is necessary. I want my energy to go back into being of service to others, that’s my lane. Be it writing, counseling, or customer service, I am in service to others. But this is my current state and will be until I can clear the battlefield once more. I’m doing my best to be patient with myself. I don’t know why I struggle to show myself the same latitude as I would anyone else. Pride, probably. Always my Achilles’ heel.

I am releasing these thoughts in what I believe to be a calculated risk in clearing that battlefield; I’m working on it.

This will not be a post that engages many, it is more for me than anyone else. However, if you are so inclined to share your thoughts, comments are, as always, welcome.

Christina Schmidt, MA

“I can’t tell you what it really is
I can only tell you what it feels like
And right now there’s a steel knife, in my windpipe
I can’t breathe, but I still fight, while I can fight” – Love the Way You Lie by Eminem