The upside of letting go

It’s Monday morning. Time for blueberry pancakes with my ex-husband.

He is my ex-husband because, after 43 years of marriage, he dumped me for some miscreant he lives with (sorry). He brings the pancakes, steaming with hot berries and dripping butter and syrup. We talk about our weeks. We notice new things about each other.

Some of you may be thinking, “Girl, what the hell are you doing?”

I’m walking the long road toward forgiving him.

As a psychologist, I know the research.

Why am I learning to forgive him?

Because I can’t afford not to.

Psychologists define forgiveness as…


It’s so hard to bear the suffering of those we love.

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Of all of the stories in the New Testament, the saddest, for me, is not the most obvious. It’s not about Jesus being mortally betrayed by a good friend. It’s not about his subsequent arrest, his flogging, or the excruciating crown of thorns. It’s not about the vicious and jubilant crowds, or being dragged to the place of his punishment with the instrument of his death on his back.

Depression and the Garden

Ever since my first deadening, solitary, frightening depression, I have surprised myself by thinking about Jesus. I am no longer a very “religious” person anymore. …


Sometimes it’s hiding in the down times

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Along with my fair skin, my thick hair and my big mouth, my foremothers passed on a vulnerability to the darkness. Genuinely funny and engaging women, they knew times of sorrow that shut them down and paralyzed their many gifts.

My great- grandmother: strange woman makes magic

My great-grandmother was basically a strange woman, with odd ideas. She was a real character who could tell horrifying stories that could keep a young girl awake for nights at a time. She also dipped into periods of depression. which silenced her. During one of those times, she automatically picked up scraps of…


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Resurrection haunts me. Why make such
a big damn deal about one guy’s rebound?
One guy.

On Holy Fridays we stepped, hushed in enforced silence.
The only sound was the rubber soles of our saddle shoes
on the black and white tiles of church.
Sr. James Catherine led the parade that halted
fourteen times as we craned our neck to see the pictures.

They were graphic, with at least a PG13 rating,
and we were only seven. “The Stations of the Cross”
they were called, which meant, “chapters in a vicious death.”

I knew he’d been condemned to die, but…


What I’m learning about boycotting

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Giving up something I love

I have to quit Coca-Cola right now. Why? Not because it’s expensive. It has nothing to do with my weight or health. I certainly haven’t lost my taste for it. While technically, I’m not “addicted” to it, I’m pretty damn close. It’s my first gulp when I wake up and the last before I go to bed. I’ve been known to sneak out in the middle of the night to restock so that it will be there for me when I wake up. If I were on a desert island and I was allowed one…


But I keep trying.

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Not again?

I swear, it’s encoded into my DNA. The night we change our clocks, I am victimized by the same spell I’ve known since adolescence: the urgent and infrequent push to establish cleanliness and order into my life.

I don’t know who instituted this annual torture, but it bites me in the ass year after year, despite the fact that I swore off it, but obviously forgot. Spring cleaning says to me, “OK, we all know you are a slob in almost every area of your life. But here’s your chance to get it right. …


Stop the suffering. The prayers and thoughts can wait.

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I am weary. Weary of the ways we all sleaze around the issues related to mass violence in this country. The losses of those poor patrons of a regular old grocery in Colorado or women staffing massage spas are unfathomable tragedies in a country rocked to its bearings with so much death already. The steep sorrow that will never heal brings me to tears.

The trivialization of mental illness

Tears, and unfortunately, another kind of fatalism that lurks inside my professional brain and my personal experience, says that nothing, nothing will change, that the deaths of groups of people in public places, in toxic families…


When love burns out, danger takes over

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The last words I said to my (ex) brother-in-law were in a “victim impact statement,” minutes before his sentencing in federal court.

I wrote it in a quiet rage, never imagining how hard it would be

To read.

To look straight at him.

To keep myself still and stiff.

To hide the terror I felt being in the same room with him

To try to make out the words smudged by anxiety, on paper damp with tears.

To stand before a judge, in the midst of federal agents and state police.

One person was missing. My sister. She was dead.


Humor is a protective factor against anxiety and depression.

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Clowns suck

It was the first night of my first hospitalization. I was so depressed I couldn’t see straight. I was agitated. I was exhausted from incessant movement. I was sitting on my bed, hugging myself, as if I was trying to keep all my parts together. And I rocked and cried. Rocked and cried.

All of a sudden, I AM NOT KIDDING, a clown appeared at my door. A totally dressed-up clown-replete with an array of clown paraphernalia-honking horns, balloons of all shapes. He stood at the threshold of my door and mimicked my expression. …


Sometimes you’ll do anything

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I was not such a hot baby mother. Either that or I had a not-so-hot baby. We were actually terrific during the day. She gurgled when I talked and looked at me brilliantly like I was reciting Proust.

She was always hungry and acted like my breasts were BigGulp dispensers at the local convenience store. She was a beautiful baby . . . during the day. The problem was that at night she turned into an Exorcist baby, the nightmare child who was just not getting the fact that sleep was the natural counterpart of waking. …

Martha Manning, Ph.D.

Martha Manning, Ph.D is a writer and clinical psychologist, whose memoir, Undercurrents deals with her severe depression. Like heavy stuff with lots of humor.

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