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Human Parts
A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.


In Human Parts. More on Medium.

Past Is Prologue

The term went mainstream in the ’80s and ’90s, and it’s carried a stigma ever since

By the time I attended my first Al-Anon meetings as a teenager in the ’90s, I had heard the word “codependency” many times. Where? No one in my house talked about it, nor did friends, but it was ambient in the culture at the time. While researching the genesis of this term and its conceptual underpinnings for a memoir about my own disastrous relationship patterns, I realized I’d probably heard it on the daytime talk shows I sometimes mindlessly watched after school.

Codependency had a moment in the late ’80s and early ’90s. But, sadly, when the term went mainstream…

Humans 101

We’re all in a state of flux right now, but that doesn’t mean we’re helpless

A mysterious lone figure standing in a field on a beautiful early misty morning.
A mysterious lone figure standing in a field on a beautiful early misty morning.

The world is full of uncertainty right now, and many people are experiencing the ups and downs of adapting to new ways of living. I’ve had a few emotional dips recently, which took me by surprise—I’m generally an upbeat person.

But William Bridges, author of Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, has some compelling explanations for these ebbs and flows. He explains that change is external—moving from one city to another, for example—but transition or adaptation to change is an internal, psychological process.

Bridges describes three nonlinear phases of transition: endings, neutral zone, and new beginnings. Endings occur with significant…

Lived Through This

‘Medically unexplained’ symptoms are as misunderstood as they are common. Here’s what I wish people knew.

Distraught woman covering her face while lying on the ground against a black background.
Distraught woman covering her face while lying on the ground against a black background.

At 24 years old, my stomach hurt. A lot. It wasn’t “gastrointestinal discomfort” (though multiple doctors tried to argue about my diet), nor did it indicate that I was menstruating (I was anorexic and hadn’t done so in years).

This was a “my abdomen is being sliced down the middle by a jagged instrument while a third, more decisive tool churns my insides apart” pain. It was wrenching, twisting, mechanical. The pain started in my sternum and spread down, sideways, outward, and inward. Standing was bad; sitting made it worse. It took my breath away. …

Humans 101

First, you must know yourself

Our lives are not what they used to be. The pressures on many of us continue to mount, and it’s more important than ever to take responsibility for managing our well-being.

In the face of these challenges, we need to find ways to live peacefully on our journey toward inner satisfaction, purpose, and meaning. Here are 10 practices that have helped me — and may help you — live a more peaceful and fulfilling life.

1. Find your inner strength

We all have routines, rituals, or practices that help us focus. The most important thing I’ve ever done is to find a practical way to…

Planet Soul

Meditation can help you locate your truest self

Abstract illustration of person balancing on ball and juggling at the same time.
Abstract illustration of person balancing on ball and juggling at the same time.

There is nothing better than being in a loving, peaceful relationship with your spouse or partner — and nothing worse than being stuck in a relationship prone to tension and contempt. But to build a great relationship with someone else, you need to have a healthy relationship with yourself first.

Imagine you’ve just finished a wonderful meal and are relaxing by candlelight in your favorite spot, enjoying a piece of chocolate with your partner. It feels so good you almost don’t notice it. You experience an absence of wanting anything else. You feel whole without the need for more. …

Mind Games

It’s hard being Autistic in a noisy and bright world

The lights in the courtyard are burning much brighter than before. Our building’s maintenance guy must have been told to switch them out. There have been problems with people smoking by the doors, leaving their cigarette butts in the grass overnight. Maybe the lights were changed in hopes of making the area less inviting to the smokers. The bulbs used to give off a soft yellow glow that the Venetian blinds of our bedroom could almost block out. But now the light is cold, clinical, and painful to take in. I only just noticed, but I’m furious about it already.

A meditation, with screaming parrots

A flock of feral, red-crown parrots zooms around northeast Los Angeles and Pasadena. Now and then, they settle in for a couple of days on a hill near my apartment. They scream in terrifyingly human voices. They are very, very loud.

There are all sort of stories about the original group from which these green-bodied alarm clocks descended: They escaped from an exotic bird preserve in Alhambra, California during a storm. They were all purchased from the fancy bird shop on Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village by some animal rights activist and released at Occidental College. …

Ignorance around herpes and other STDs made coming to terms with my diagnosis harder than it needed to be

Life, I had long ago determined, was a cosmic joke — an empyrean prank — an infinite farce directed, cast, and produced by entities beyond my understanding. I was its unwilling star vehicle, a clown careening through door after door opening to reveal tigers and tragedies disastrous enough to land me in therapy for decades to come.

And then I got herpes.

It was while curled in an armchair, sobbing about my ex for the thousandth time, that a therapist gently suggested that I start dating again — when I got home, of course. …

A former gifted kid learns to embrace failure

Recently, my partner and I were looking at astrology memes on Instagram. Examining social media stereotypes of our respective signs remains one of our primary methods of introspecting as a couple. We’d just finished roasting him for being a Pisces, and had moved on to examining the traits that supposedly befit me, an Aries. One of the first traits listed was “competitive.”

I scoffed. “I’m not competitive.”

He shot me a look.

“What?” I said. “I’m not. I’m not competitive. Unless I’m sure I’m going to win.”

My partner squinted and pursed his lips, a surefire signal that I was…

Read the corny self-help books. Do the homework. Let your therapist know when they’ve screwed up.

I started therapy last August, after years of fits and starts. Every previous time I’d tried to start therapy, it had been a mild catastrophe. I could never seem to find a shrink who was a good fit. Either they were all unable to see who I was, or I was too emotionally shut down to really show it to them. Inevitably, they’d give me advice that struck me as really bad and pointless, and I’d smile and nod and say nothing. Then I’d cancel my next appointment and run gleefully back into the familiar, cold arms of emotional suppression.

Human Parts

A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

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