Today’s guest post is from Linda Esposito, a long time Redhead Writing community member. Say “oh haiiiiiii” and steel yourself away for a wild ride through your YOU problem. Next week, you’ll meet Jayme Yarrow, one funny-as-hell stand-up comic that I met while at my recent stint at Second City. Buckle up yer shit.
I bet you’re pretty good at what you do for a living–be that sell widgets, offer kick ass career coaching, or design vibrators that can help her engage her G-spot and double as a dildo.
But what goes on behind closed doors when the MacBook Pro shuts down?
If you’re more comfortable during the hours of 9-5, or 11-7, if you’re a ‘trep, you may be leaving money on the table when it comes to your livelihood.
Believe me, I know.
When You Can’t Breathe
I wasted precious emotional energy in grad school, on jobs, and during my psychotherapy training. I knew I wanted my own private practice to undo all the fuck-ups caused by my clients’ crack-ass parents, plus be my own boss. But something was holding me back…
It wasn’t my rookie credentials, or the fear of putting up a website, or narrowing my clinical niche. I knew I could learn what I needed in order to build a viable business.
The lesson that came too late however, was how to stand up for myself in my relationship. I knew how to teach others to establish boundaries, how to say ‘no,’ and why it makes sense to walk away when someone emotionally abuses you.
In theory, anyway.
I was capable of rational thought when I was calm. I planned out the scripts in my head for the next time me and my partner went at it like two fat housewives in curlers during Black Friday at Walmart.
But when the emotional thermometer rose, I reverted back to lashing out, or swallowing my feelings. I became BFF with Sara Lee Chocolate Cheesecake. At least she never complained about my consumer debt.
It was like living separate lives.
By day, I was building my therapy chops and gaining valuable professional experiences. By night I was miserable and stuck. For the first time in my life I entertained a flight of fancy: If one googles ‘cyanide poisoning,’ is it traceable…?
Truth and Bloodstains
My “Fuck-This-Shit-O’clock” epiphany came while eating lunch at a quaint outdoor cafe in downtown Los Angeles. I looked around and saw vibrant people: Business-types, techies, and ladies who lunch. I envied their energy and gusto.
My eyes were burning from lack of sleep, and my slacks were wrinkled. I looked ahead five years and asked myself how many more restless nights, silent meals, and psychological arm wrestling matches I could endure.
I wish I could say I walked away after the last bite of my bleu cheese and red pepper quiche.
The important thing is that I eventually left relationship dysfunction–the biggest creativity killer and energy thief this side of normal, IMO.
In doing so, I opened the doors to self-confidence, innovation, and most importantly, emotional well-being. Three characteristics essential to any business model, and kick-ass brand.
And not to sully the house with Sigmund Freud, but if you don’t have mental health, you don’t have shit.
Maybe you’re struggling, too. Perhaps your partner doesn’t get you, and complains about the hours spent online.
I know–It’s hard to justify when the cash isn’t exactly flowing.
- But why is your self-worth tied to money?
- Why is okay to wake up with a knot in your stomach more mornings than not?
- And most importantly, how would you spend your emotional energy if you weren’t squandering it on someone who doesn’t value you?
I’m not advocating that you get all hasty and walk away. I don’t know you, or your background, and all of the details that got you where you are right now. And I’m sure-as-shit not the expert in all things that are other people’s situations, if you’re not on my couch. I’m just encouraging you to get clear. And to befriend the truth.
Yeah, I know the truth can be a bitch. But so is snapping at your kid, and neglecting to walk your dog because you’re exhausted after working twice as hard as necessary in your relationship.
Here’s the rub: Your business and your personal life are intertwined. That’s human nature. As much as we try and leave our home life out of the office, and vice versa, there’s going to be an overlap. But there’s a big difference between seeping into, and bleeding all the way through.
And blood stains, am I right?
Once I walked away from relationship dysfunction, I walked into a healthy private practice I was proud of. I was clear about the clients I would accept, and which ones I’d pass on. I decided how to handle late arrivals, what my rates would be, and whether I’d offer couples’ counseling (fuck no).
The experience felt real. And real is the new black – to hell with orange. And if that isn’t a sexy brand in the making, I don’t know what is.
Linda Esposito, LCSW is a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, CA. She’d love to help you get from anxiety to Zen (awwwyeah). Get on the list, and get something here!