I will stay with you

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Jenny was the first dying psychotherapy patient I’d ever seen. She tested my certainty that I was a pretty good therapist. A survivor of three bouts with breast cancer and some very difficult treatments, she initially consulted me about conflicts she was having with her adolescent son. Every now and then, she referred to the breast cancer, but not often. Several times, we did some relaxation exercises focused on pain control and sleep.

Cigarettes

One early spring afternoon, she marched into my office, plopped into a chair and proceeded to light up a cigarette. I quickly intervened. …


I bombed on Oprah and crash-landed on my way home

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Patrick Kool on Unsplash

Following the publication of my third book, I was finally invited to be the guest shrink on Oprah! on a topic related to mothers and daughters. I was thrilled. However, when I arrived at the studio and spoke with the producer and the family in question, I was not convinced that the sequence should, or could, work. We all made the best of it, but it was by no means, a Kumbaya moment, for anyone.

Still, I had been on Oprah, for goodness sakes!

Taking care of business

I had just enough time for a much-needed pit stop before my flight home. I forgot…


I’m trying to get back in the game: is it too late to be beautiful?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

When my 43-year marriage ended a few years ago, my husband said I wasn’t “fun.” I didn’t remember that from the “till death do us part promises,” but I felt ashamed, and gave up.

Lately I’ve begun to wonder what male companionship would be like. It’s taken me forever to consider the online sites. I almost had a panic attack when I did. The women looked about a thousand times better than I do. They sounded “fun.” I put the whole “meeting men” thing on hold.

I never knew that there was such a thing as “hitting rock bottom” in…


No matter how old you are, I worry

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash

I just got a call from Sweden. I didn’t recognize the number. I didn’t recognize the voice. Through the thick accent, I heard “daughter”, “accident”, and “head.” Someone else got on the phone and told me that her bike crashed and that she hit her head. I gripped the chair.

These are the calls that give you the earned stripes of motherhood. He identified himself as a bystander and told me that she had been taken by ambulance to the hospital.

And to my great relief he said she would have been badly hurt if she hadn’t been wearing her…


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Marc Schulte on Unsplash

A furled ten dollar bill nests deep in the pocket
of a winter coat that feels like the down
has surrendered to the years and is no longer up
to the task.

I slush my way through the night’s anemic
snowfall, frustrated,
“Either do it or don't,” I scold the clouds.

My quest is coffee.

I pass a riot of flowers first.
Two tables full. Roses, orchids,
fancy flowering plants whose names I don’t know.

I sigh, wishing the ten bucks would allow for
stimulation and beauty.

A flash of purple stops me short.

It pokes out from unfriendly, dry…


Celebrating love with a broken heart

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Muesli on Unsplash

If you need help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

My dearest friend took his life two months ago.

Today I cleared off the top layer on my desk. Underneath there was a big yellow envelope I couldn’t ignore. It was a Valentine’s card. To him. My hand shook as I lifted it and turned it over. It was addressed and stamped. I’d made it with an incredibly stupid cartoon from an old New Yorker magazine, and I had festooned it with the only stickers I had — George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Should I shred it? Or trash it? Or stow it in my box marked, “Personal Things…


Thirty years later, there’s no other way to say it: I’m pretty fat and nearly frozen

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

Thinness is a function of the scale and the mind. Hotness exists primarily in the eye of the beholder

The decline

I’ve kept all of the copies of consultations I’ve had from various medical specialists over the years. They are addressed to the referring doctor, but I always got my own copy. They are a roadmap of the perceptions of presumably objective men towards a woman as she ages.

Written humiliation

From my twenties and thirties, the introductory paragraph says something like, “Dr. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash

By the end of the day, you will push and punch your way
from your mother, my sweet niece.
We know a lot about you, already.
Your name,
your substantial size,
your slot number three in the sibling lineup,
your ownership of more crap than any full
grown man would ever need.

We know the renewed excitement of a family beginning to mourn more losses than gains. We know how to change and feed you, how to make it through the long nights, and the delighted discovery days. We long to celebrate and protect you. Because you are tiny and…


When I feel stuck, I think about skateboards and risking for joy

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash

Rear view wisdom is a mixed gift. On the one hand, I have the pleasure of figuring out some of the bigger questions life throws at us. On the other hand, I have to live with the fact that I don’t get a lot of do-overs, and I am just going to have to live with that reality. I have no choice but to make peace with your mistakes, or be miserable. But the things that landed me on my ass aren’t the things I regret. …


It began in second grade and I just can’t get past it!

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

Why not make a strange holiday, just a bit perverse?

When you can’t sleep, you end up with too damn much time on your hands. Not that the days are especially rollicking either. I’m tired of making up vaguely positive aspects about living alone. The only thing worse than living alone is living alone in a freaking pandemic. Things are so boring here that even my goldfish (with whom I had a warm relationship) died.

Valentine’s Day has never mattered to me. When my ex-husband gave me gifts, I cursed them and wished aloud that he could have just given me the money. Whether this has anything to do with…

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.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store