I have a habit of taking things in to my therapist before she asks for them. When I went to my first appointment – transitioning from a therapist who was leaving – she said she didn’t know much about my family. I handed her a family tree I had drawn. She asked if I had supportive people in my life. I handed her a copy of my safety plan. She said, “How did you know to bring things to answer questions I didn’t know I was going to ask?”
In a later appointment, I brought in a little essay I had written about what my current life would look like if it were perfect. I had also created a checklist of the elements. As it turns out, this is an actual exercise that my therapist sometimes assigns to people.
I live with my cat in a spacious apartment located in a quiet neighborhood within a large city. There are numerous amenities (banks, parks, post office, stores selling natural and exotic groceries) within walking distance. Just about anything else I could want to do is easily accessible via public transportation, or a short drive in my compact 4-door sedan that has a roomy trunk.
I work part-time at the nearby public library, helping people learn to use technology. I go to work wearing my own handmade cardigans and chainmaille jewelry. I take two college courses per semester, working toward a degree in psychology with minors in law enforcement and creative writing. When I have a week or two off from school, I travel internationally to do charity work.
In my spare time, I volunteer with a local theatre company and meet with a writers’ group where I share excerpts of a play which will soon be professionally produced. I update my popular blog at least once per week. I enter poetry and photography contests, which I occasionally win. I am a member of Mensa and participate in their puzzle competitions.
I regularly cook for friends, either by hosting dinner parties or bringing food to other people’s events. I keep in touch with many extended family members and bring updates on my genealogy research to our family reunions, where we hold board game tournaments. Some of my close friends have small children with whom I do art and science activities. I send greeting cards for all occasions.
For relaxation, I spend time at pools and water parks. I keep GAMES Magazine, Popular Science, and Reader’s Digest on hand for filling spare moments while waiting at appointments or riding buses. At home, I always have a jigsaw puzzle in progress, and work on it while listening to mix CDs I’ve made to tell stories.
All of the elements of this scenario are individually plausible. Putting it all together presents budgeting issues, both financial and timewise. It would be impossible to pay for tuition and all the fun activities on a part-time salary. Perhaps more importantly, juggling all those activities would require a level of manic energy that a.) cannot be summoned on command and b.) would inevitably lead to hospitalization.
My therapist thought it was cute that I had already checkmarked “cat”. I’ve had my beautiful, sweet, loving cat for 9 years. So far, I have acquired the car, which is not compact but otherwise meets the description. I have been making chainmaille jewelry, although it’s for gifts and sale rather than for myself. I’m getting closer to updating my blog regularly, but it’s nowhere near being popular. I’ve handed out a ton of greeting cards, just not as many as I’d like. So I am making some baby steps toward what may not end up being a perfect life, but at least will be a better one.