Questions? Comments? Thoughts?   Future psychologist, always drinking tea, never being as sassy as I'd like...but working on it

Tuesday was a red letter day.

I spent the day at a PD workshop held by one of my supervisors on applying attachment theory to relationship counselling. The 6 other people there were all practicing psychologists, and sitting in a room and discussing people and attachment and relationships in that way was amazing. When the other women asked me what I planned to do, I confidently told them that (after my year off) I was going to apply to the doctoral program. It was lovely being in that environment, because even though I was the least experienced in terms of counselling experience (of which I have none), everyone listened when I spoke. With the exception of my supervisor, I actually knew the most about attachment theory; it seems crazy to me that people could be out there in the world with a limited knowledge of something that has completely changed the trajectory of my life.


I went home and wrote an email to my supervisor, thanking him again for his faith in me, for giving me the opportunity to attend the workshop, and also telling him how much his exposing me to attachment theory has changed my life. Then I was just relaxing and watching an episode of The Good Wife when my friend Alex messaged me to say that our final Honours marks were out. Our internet was being painfully slow and I was so keyed up I couldn’t stay sitting down, and then the screen loaded and all I could do was laugh. I got 92% for my thesis, and an average of 86% for the whole year. I think at that point my level of happiness was bordering on hysterical. It took me a good few hours to stop bouncing off the walls, and lying in bed that night I started to think about how far I’ve come and how much I’ve changed this year.

When I found out I got into Honours last December, deep down I felt it was a mistake. My marks weren’t high enough. I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t good enough. My dog died in early January, and the relationship I found myself in (my first real relationship) by the time I started meeting with my supervisors and starting the whole thesis writing process was not really conducive to building confidence. I don’t blame that person for this (in fact, we’ve remained friends), because the way I was going about things made it impossible to know how I was feeling or what I wanted. Also I think we’re pretty fundamentally incompatible. So I week or so before starting Honours, we made a mutual decision to end the relationship. Being me though, any kind of break-up or romantic/dating relationship dissolution has very little impact. In comparison to everything else I was dealing/have dealt with, ceasing dating someone didn’t/doesn’t even register as a blip on my radar. Also, after 8 years of being on high dose anti-depressants, I had been off my meds for 2 or 3 months without any problems. Then out of nowhere I started having killer withdrawal symptoms. For those first few months of Honours, I was in a special kind of hell. When I went running, I had to stay in the park until the walking traffic light turned green and then sprint, because I couldn’t trust myself not to run into on-coming traffic. I had a panic attack at least three times a week, and felt like I was going to fall apart completely at any second. In those first few months, I also came out to my parents. They reacted badly, and didn’t speak to me for two months. I also attended the ashes scattering ceremony for my niece’s remains. The inquest into her death loomed in August.

At some point though, things started to change. I can’t even describe it or how exactly it happened, but it had a lot to do with my supervisors.

I had told them at the start of the year that I had clinical depression and was experiencing side-effects coming off my meds. I told them because I was worried I would have some kind of freak out mid-year, and I wanted to try to prepare them. Maybe I also wanted to give myself some kind of excuse, to pave the way for me inevitably dropping out. Once it was out (and they were lovely about it), then never mentioned it again. They didn’t make a point of asking me how I was or if I was back on my medication. It was as though the conversation had never taken place. That is, until I had a meeting with one of my supervisors about the second-last draft of my thesis. At the end of the meeting, he told me that he and my other supervisor had taken notice of how well I had handled everything that the year has thrown at me. I think that was another massive turning point, because not only had I not taken time to acknowledge that myself, but the idea that my supervisors were thinking that had never crossed my mind.

When we all went to the conference in Sydney to present out symposium, I was struck by completely normal all the amazing academics were. They certainly had their eccentricities, but they were so accessible. I guess in my mind I’d build up doing research as some completely unattainable thing, and saw people who did do it as god-like. Releasing that this wasn’t the case made me start to think seriously about doing my doctorate. At the conference dinner, I was able to chat to my supervisors over wine as though they were friends, and I was struck by how interested they were in all of us, and how genuinely proud they were when we presented.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I had an email waiting for my supervisor:

“Hi Hilary,

Many thanks for your very kind and generous email, it was very humbling to receive this. I’m glad that you enjoyed today and it appears in talking with people and with looking at the evaluations that things went down a treat — not bad for never having given this workshop before :o) I’m all about giving things a red-hot go :o) 

It really was my pleasure to have you attend, and I appreciate the thanks, but you deserve it. I am glad that the things you’ve been exposed to, while confronting, have been helpful — our dream as therapists, researchers or teachers is to do even a little something that impacts on people’s lives for the better. So this is very pleasing.

Hilary, make no mistake, you are a very, very clever person, you are a very, very responsible person, and you have a very, very kind nature — you have all the hallmarks of being well suited to a doctoral program. Dealing with the challenges you have, and in the manner you have, speaks volumes of your character and who you are as a person, and don’t think that people like Marita and I don’t take notice — we do :o) So I am heartened to hear of your ambitions, it is a very big step for you to admit this to yourself and to admit to pursuing it… But to Marita and I, you are preaching to the converted, we knew what you were capable of before you did — we just needed you to see it — its sounds like you might just about be there.

See you tomorrow, and remember, I’m only ever an email away”

When I read this, I actually welled up; it is without a doubt the nicest letter I have ever received. It pretty much sums up all of my feelings about this year and what I have become (which is lucky, because I have lost the ability to express my feelings and experiences in a written narrative).

— 9 months ago with 1 note
#thesis  #honours  #life  #confidence  #support 

Last week I was lucky enough to spend some time with my favourite family; my brother Matt, his wife Josie, and their little girl Ginger (my niece). Visiting them is always a really lovely experience, but it also makes me pretty sad, because it makes me realise just how much I missed out on.

Ginger is turning five in March next year, but she’s already so grown-up. I feel like she’ll be able to do anything in life, mostly because of how fantastic her parents are. Four year olds take a lot of energy and patience not only to entertain, but to raise. Ginger is no exception. What amazes me is the seemingly effortless love that Matt and Josie bring to every interaction with her. Even when she’s tired and grumpy and being unreasonable, they always listen to her.

On Saturday afternoon I walked to the beach with them, and stood with Matt and Josie in the water while they took turns helping Ginger swim. She would swim from one parent to the other, and they were both so encouraging and excited. It struck me that I couldn’t handle going in so far that my feet didn’t touch the ground, but here was a four year old doing just that when she hadn’t been swimming that long. Ginger was able to swim in such deep water because she trusted that her parents would be there to help her if something happened. It seems like such a simple, innocent, given thing, but I can’t even imagine what that would feel like. I know from attachment theory that children who are securely attached receive consistent support from their caregivers, and this helps them to develop positive mental representations of themselves and others. They are better able to cope with problems and stress because they have a secure base, and they believe that they are worthy of love and that others are reliable providers of support. I on the other hand have vivid memories of genuinely believing that my parents didn’t love me, and of them letting me down at some of the most crucial times in my life. As a result, I can hardly hug my parents, let alone talk to them or go to them for support.

I know that Ginger is going to grow up confident and strong, because she will always know that her parents are there for her, and she’ll have countless memories to back this up.

When we went out for dinner, Ginger insisted on putting on all her jewellery (lots of beads and plastic rings) and asked Josie “Mummy do I look beautiful?” Josie replied “Yes you do. And you know what? I think you look just as beautiful when you’re not wearing any jewellery, and when you’re just in your nighty, and even when you’re not wearing any clothes”. I love the way they make a point of instilling in Ginger the idea that beauty isn’t just dressing up and wearing make-up. Josie never got Ginger jewellery or put her in pink, but Ginger ended up picking those things out, so I guess some things are out of their control. After talking about looks when they’re brought up, Matt and Josie always make a point of complimenting Ginger on how smart she is and what a great artist she is, and they seem to try not to talk about looks much at all.

After they put Ginger to bed, Matt and Josie were telling me about a game they play every night, where they say things like “I love you more than everything”, and how Ginger responds with strange, beautiful things like “I love you more that everything, including all the dead dogs”. I love the way they’re all so open with their feelings in that house! I remember how strange it was when I first spent time with Matt and Josie just after Ginger was born because their relationship was so different to my parents’. Matt and Josie never seem to be passive aggressive or give each other the silent treatment; they always tell each other how they feel, and speak to each other with respect.

On Sunday morning Ginger deliberately splashed water all over the bathroom during her bath, and Josie explained calmly that this was not ok, and that she needed to apologise. In the course of the (brief) drama that ensued, I heard Josie explain carefully to Ginger that she loved her very much and nothing would ever change that. Because of the way kids tend to think, they often get the impression when they’re in trouble that their parents don’t like them anymore, and it’s so important to make sure they understand that their parents’ love is unconditional.

I think the best part of the visit though was when Matt and Ginger were dancing. Ginger loves music and does ballet, and of course Matt exposes her to great music, so she’s always requesting certain songs, and then they dance together. It was such a beautiful thing to watch, especially because Ginger points her toes when Matt lifts her up and spins her around. I feel like one day this video will be played in some kind of montage when she’s a famous singer or dancer or something. Or maybe just at her 21st.

It’s all these simple little things that I love, because they show just how thoughtful Matt and Josie are about what they say to Ginger and how they raise her. There are a lot of parenting books around the house which I’m sure they’ve read, but I can tell that they also discuss how they do things, and make sure what they decide on is the best fit for them. I think a lot of people (my parents included) would think parenting books are stupid and that you should parent on ‘instinct’. My view is that becoming a parent is the greatest responsibility there is, and the way you communicate with your child is too important not to give a lot of thought to.

Going places with Matt, Josie and Ginger, I always wonder if people think we’re a family. I have almost identical colouring to Josie and Ginger, and I think Matt and I look a bit alike. Maybe people see us and think Matt and Josie are my parents, and just had Ginger quite late. When I see the time and love they devote to Ginger, and think about how my relationship with my own parents has shaped me, I can’t help wishing that this was the case.

— 10 months ago

I’m trying to remember that it’s ok that not everyone is as organised and conscientious about their work and commitments as I am.
It’s hard.

— 10 months ago

I remember hearing my supervisor give this lecture last year, and my heart stopped.

It reminded me of countless times when my parents let me down or just plain ignored me, but one time in particular came to mind.
I remember I was in mid primary school, so I was only 8 or 9, and I went into my parents room before school, crying, telling my mum I didn’t want to go to school because all the kids were horrible to me. I remember her turning away from me and saying (sounding frustrated) “I thought you were stronger than that”, and walking away from me.
People often think it’s crazy to attribute so many of your problems in your adult life to you parents but, as someone who just spent a year writing a thesis on attachment theory, it really really isn’t.

As much as I try to move past it or forget it, my relationship with my parents and what has happened between us affects me every day. Thankfully, I’m on my way to being able to talk to them about this, and I’m trying to change my behaviours and habits.

— 10 months ago with 1 note
Getting pretty good at life

I handed in my thesis today and I’m dating awesome people and standing up for myself and saying what I think.
I’m finally getting an idea of what I really want and have stopped comparing myself to other people.
Honours was a bit of a mind-fuck, but a pretty great year in terms of personal development.

— 10 months ago
My first tattoo

My first tattoo

— 1 year ago
Romantic Relationships and Sexual Behaviour Survey →

Please help me complete my thesis by taking part in my study on sexual behaviour in romantic relationships - you’d really be helping me out!

— 1 year ago
amandaonwriting:

Literary Birthday - 12 June
Happy Birthday, Anne Frank, born 12 June 1929, died early March 1945
The Top 12 Anne Frank Quotes
Because paper has more patience than people.
Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!
If I read a book that impresses me, I have to take myself firmly by the hand, before I mix with other people; otherwise they would think my mind rather queer.
The only way to truly know a person is to argue with them. For when they argue in full swing, then they reveal their true character.
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.
In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death.
Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction.
I have often been downcast, but never in despair; I regard our hiding as a dangerous adventure, romantic and interesting at the same time. In my diary I treat all the privations as amusing. I have made up my mind now to lead a different life from other girls and, later on, different from ordinary housewives. My start has been so very full of interest, and that is the sole reason why I have to laugh at the humorous side of the most dangerous moments.
The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.
For someone like me, it is a very strange habit to write in a diary. Not only that I have never written before, but it strikes me that later neither I, nor anyone else, will care for the outpouring of a thirteen year old schoolgirl.
I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop and to express all that’s inside me!
Who would ever think that so much went on in the soul of a young girl?

amandaonwriting:

Literary Birthday - 12 June

Happy Birthday, Anne Frank, born 12 June 1929, died early March 1945

The Top 12 Anne Frank Quotes

  1. Because paper has more patience than people.
  2. Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!
  3. If I read a book that impresses me, I have to take myself firmly by the hand, before I mix with other people; otherwise they would think my mind rather queer.
  4. The only way to truly know a person is to argue with them. For when they argue in full swing, then they reveal their true character.
  5. The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.
  6. In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death.
  7. Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction.
  8. I have often been downcast, but never in despair; I regard our hiding as a dangerous adventure, romantic and interesting at the same time. In my diary I treat all the privations as amusing. I have made up my mind now to lead a different life from other girls and, later on, different from ordinary housewives. My start has been so very full of interest, and that is the sole reason why I have to laugh at the humorous side of the most dangerous moments.
  9. The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.
  10. For someone like me, it is a very strange habit to write in a diary. Not only that I have never written before, but it strikes me that later neither I, nor anyone else, will care for the outpouring of a thirteen year old schoolgirl.
  11. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop and to express all that’s inside me!
  12. Who would ever think that so much went on in the soul of a young girl?

(via bells-littlethings)

— 1 year ago with 3642 notes
I’m practically George Clooney

Ryan Bingham: You know that moment when you look into somebody’s eyes and you can feel them staring into your soul and the whole world goes quiet just for a second?

Natalie Keener: Yes.

Ryan Bingham: Right. Well, I don’t.

— 1 year ago
#up+in+the+air+movie