Growing Pains

In 2014, I employed 4 women to help me become a better woman myself. I call them “The Professionals” when speaking of them collectively. Individually, they each have a purpose. I’m going to devote a post to each. This is to 1.) promote them as professionals (duh) so others might seek them for their services, and 2.) remember what this period of growth felt like.

The Professionals are:

The Enabler: My talkie therapist
The Muscle: My personal trainer
The Practitioner: My acupuncturist
The Dealer: My psychiatrist

My goal is to write one post per week about each, and the hardest to articulate is definitely my relationship with my talkie therapist.

A little background on why I am in need of so much therapy:

I am very hard on myself. I think everyone knows this, but the standard I set for myself in utero (it seems) is at a bar my 5’2″ self can never reach. I hold a lot of anger towards certain elements of my childhood: Dad’s Quaker State job loss years, the car accidents, pretty much despising every educator I had at Flower Mound High School, not getting into a better college, getting majorly depressed at UT and always sorta kinda judging all those around me because I thought they were judging me.

Take all that, which exists in my brain, and add the weight gain from Josh’s Supreme Court year. Then, sprinkle on top my biological clock wanting to have a baby.

I needed to take charge of all my emotions and find ways to just be. Still working on it, but here are the people who helped.

Self-improvement: it does a body good.

This morning, Team McJohnson went in for their mole checkup, as a family. A family that takes preventative skin cancer measures together, stays together.

We now go to Josh’s dermatologist because in 2013, I had Josh’s health insurance. In 2014, I have health insurance via my employer. This was a financial decision, since economically it does not make sense for us to be on a family plan at either employer. As we checked in at the receptionist, I was told that I needed a referral. This was news to me, but I handled it well. I handled it like how we always handle things in this family: I threw money at it.

Instead of trying to get my primary care physician, who I had only seen once last July, to date a referral for today, I just decided to pay for the appointment out of pocket. We were quoted $80. A big fat SELF label was now adhered to my file. The doctor was concerned that I was paying out of pocket while my husband had health insurance. I explained the situation and literally motioned like the baby throwing money out the window. He said he understood and would not do any procedures that day and wait until I had my referral. I did not need any procedures so he, again, mentioned today should not cost more than $85.

When I checked out the total was $110. All paid for via a combo of my remaining FSA money and $5 from Josh’s HSA.

I recently lost $7.36 and I am mad as hell about it. I also recently spent $1000 to fly across the country last minute and go to a wedding and consider that one of the best decisions I have made recently. What’s the difference? Well, the $7.36 was on a gift card that I earned via a very specific grocery discount program. The trip was paid for from the travel savings account that grows via an automatic deduction from our bank account each month. That money is only used on travel, not touched for anything else.

I am very weird about coupons and gift cards. A gift card you are given can only be used to treat yourself. Don’t buy a gift with it or something that is a necessity. Coupons should always be used. If you let a coupon expire, you are throwing away money. I just sent an e-mail to my entire family this weekend telling them not to use my $7 ExtraBucks on my CVS card. I have something special in mind for that!

I will stand outside a restaurant and make an OpenTable reservation via the app, then walk in and eat. A coworker, older, more established, once claimed OpenTable dining points useless. Every 100 points is only $1 in rewards, she said. EXACTLY! That is a $1 I didn’t have before. Our anniversary dinner will be (partially) paid for with a nice $100 OpenTable Dining Cheque.

But yet, when it comes to services, sometimes Team McJohnson is just ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. We have to go to a car wash to wash the Volvo, since we live in an apartment complex. And for some reason, Northern Virginia doesn’t have very many self serve car washes. We have to pay people to wash the car. This last time, there was still bird poop on the window shield as we drove away. I asked Josh if we should mention it. He started to, then thought better of it. You just don’t want to be that guy who complains when you can take Windex to it at home. They did the hard part! Washing and vacuuming!

This brings us back to today. Josh didn’t want to go through the hassle of contacting insurance when we had the money to just pay for the appointment. But that just irks me, especially since the same thing happened to me earlier this year at our dental office. I feel like our health insurance is only for a catastrophe. If you couldn’t tell, one part of this relationship is quicker to the window with piles of cash than the other. Perhaps you would say we balance each other out.

But I, of course, will still be fuming about that $7.36.

I have mentioned before that my therapist wants to work through the trauma (read: 80% problems of white privilege that are embarrassing when compared to anything else in the world; 20% actual trauma) of my past so I can get over some issues and live a better life. In the beginning, I argued that wasn’t fair to the present. Mainly, my immediate family is no longer as angry as we once were. Angry at the universe, each other, everything. So why would I spend an hour a week discussing that? The years 1983-2007 are probably not going to go down as my favorite when I look back over my entire lifetime as an old, gray haired woman (if I am lucky). I just don’t let the past color how I view my family today, nor do I “blame them” for anything or think they owe me anything.

Sure, I came home one day in college and my mother had been so angry with me that she threw my clothing on the front lawn.

And it was a white load with pretty much all underwear.

But I just can’t be angry about that.

This is huge, Internet. My parents kept me alive, somehow picked up and moved 3 children to Texas without ever giving up the charge, and provided me with an education. As I get older, I feel like every parent deserves the respect of their adult child, no questions asked. And furthermore, your parents do not owe you anything, especially money. /endrant

I met with my therapist the day I returned from Christmas vacation in Flower Mound this December. I told her in advance our appointment could either be a disaster (due to the stress of visiting both of our families) or wonderful (since I would have been relaxed from a joyous holiday). The first thing she asked at our appointment was how I was feeling having just returned. Wasn’t I anticipating some sort of stress related to my visit?

My response was that as an adult, it is hard to tell your parents (and now adult siblings) thank you. And more importantly, they have no idea how meaningful it is to me to have a pleasant, calm, and joyous time together as adults. So maybe I haven’t completely processed all the emotions from my childhood to have gratitude for 1983-2007 as a whole, but I can certainly thank them for being one of the better parts of my life today.

In closing, here is a video that Ben Stein did on this topic on CBS’ Sunday Morning recently. Right there with you, Ben.

Via Janelle via a whole bunch of other Tumblrs that landed me at this Canadian website. The article is long-ish so I stole the quiz below:

Jane Looks Quizzical
Am I having a Quarterlife Crisis?

1. You make an impulse purchase. It’s
a) gum.
b) a Marc Jacobs dress that you can’t afford.
c) your fifth beer on a Monday night.

2. You stop dead in the street and can’t breathe. Panic attack. You deal by
a) going home and taking a bath.
b) sending an angsty Tweet from your iPhone.
c) registering for a dating website and marrying the first person you meet.

3. You wake up in the morning and dread going to work. You
a) start scouring for a better job.
b) call in sick for the second day in a row and watch back-to-back episodes of Saved By The Bell.
c) quit your job and apply online to seven different graduate programs.

4. You take up a new hobby. It’s
a) fostering cats.
b) Second Life.
c) unprotected sex with strangers, because having a baby might give your life some structure and purpose.

5. You step on something odd as you come in your front door. It’s
a) water, because you just cleaned the floors.
b) a dust bunny, because you don’t vacuum.
c) a cockroach, a pile of unopened bills, and a $300 vintage comic book you ordered on eBay when you were drunk last week.

6. You’re hanging out with friends. Everyone is worried about
a) the calories in beer and nachos.
b) their tangled dating lives.
c) turning 30 and moving back into their parents’ basement.

7. You rent a movie. It’s
a) Helvetica, a documentary about a font.
b) The Last Kiss, where Zach Braff gets engaged and then fucks it up.
c) A triple bill of Fight Club, Withnail & I and Betty Blue.

8. You wake up to a furious beeping sound. It’s
a) 8am.
b) 9am, and you’re late for work because you keep hitting snooze.
c) 3pm, and it’s your smoke alarm.

9. The two words that best describe how you see the future are
a) “limitless possibility.”
b) “option paralysis.”
c) “total desperation.”

Mostly a): Nothing is wrong with you. Except that being this well-adjusted is slightly abnormal.
Mostly b): You’re not in crisis, yet, but you’re starting to show some signs. Time to think about a five-year plan.
Mostly c): You’re in full-blown Quarterlife Crisis–mode. Immediately get to a shrink, and hang tight: the storm will eventually pass.

* * *

Since I’ve actually watched Helvetica, I scored mostly a’s.

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