It might be the very first sign that your partner is abusive. You need to recognize it.

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This story is hard to share. I look back at my younger self, chagrined and wondering: How didn’t I see that? But the answer is simple: society doesn’t train us to identify abuse in its earliest guises. We’re left to figure it out for ourselves while we stumble through a gaslight-illuminated maze.

I’ve also hesitated because this story (like many other early warning signs in abusive relationships) hinges on a banal event that reached an absurd level of drama. Banality begs the question, Why even tell it? And drama is a bad look. But that’s the rub: abuse does happen…


How to draw firm boundaries and walk away with grace and equanimity

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Sometimes you need to detach from a friend indefinitely. I’m all for healthy communication and trying to sort out misunderstandings before ending things because I believe in giving people a chance to explain themselves or meet in the middle. But having spent years in academia studying abuse, I also know that unfortunately some people have emotionally abusive habits — and those people aren’t going to change just because you’ve had a heart-to-heart with them.

If you’ve realized on a gut level that a given friendship isn’t likely to work without the other person engaging in years of therapy . …


If we’re anxious or stubborn, we might misinterpret signs — but we can’t misinterpret impossibilities.

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This is the story about a very stupid choice I almost made when I was alone and vulnerable in a foreign country — and about how the universe delivered some very literal (and, dare I say, poetic) intervention to save me from myself:

A long time ago, shortly after I moved to China, I decided I wanted to freelance so that I could live on just part-time teaching work while using the rest of my (hopefully-ample) hours to build a career as a writer or a healer. The problem? Visas for freelancing didn’t exist in China at the time.

So…


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A poem

Last night,
I dissolved in God and wandered out
beyond the confines of my long-impoverished truth.
Some sacrament I drank, its psychedelic sweetness,
reminded me of how it felt to be created whole
and resonate divine
before the dawn of time,
before that big-bang-moment chaos
that had split me from myself.
And in that tranquil place, deep space,
that velvet void of perfect peace…
there was a texture
just like I remember now,
tracing your brow
this morning.

My Soul — last night, I realized that I have never died, that dawn is always breaking, like the inhale–exhale waves that…


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In the pre-pandemic era, when going-places was a thing, I used to go to acupuncture. And in my acupuncturist’s office, there was a book called 365 Tao: Daily Meditations that I used to flip through while waiting for my appointments. Since going-places is currently not a thing and I missed reading that book, I decided to buy a copy a couple weeks ago.

And on January 20 — Inauguration Day in the US, when I, like many Americans, breathed a sigh of relief and felt the stir of hope again — this was the daily verse and meditation:


And what if I told you that maybe they already do?

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I think people see me as way more serious (and less playful) than I actually am. This has been something of a private, lifelong insecurity: I spent my childhood and adolescence feeling like an outcast because I was a brainiac, and I guess I never fully shed the fear that people saw me as some humorless intellectual. (I’m an academic editor, for heaven’s sake.)

Combine this with the fact that, as a woman, I’ve been told more than once that I need to “smile more” or that I come off as “unapproachable.” So I suppose a part of me has…


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Pleasure is a worthy end in itself.

Yesterday, when I was at the doctor, the guy realized that I might have a (mild) heart irregularity since, uh, maybe always. While we discussed how my symptoms present with various types of physical activity, I considered how climax causes the heart rate to spike. So I decided to ask him about sex and, specifically, self-pleasure. …


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Or, how Christmas in China taught me that solo celebrations can be beautiful.

One year while I was living in China, I didn’t go home for Christmas. It would’ve been nice if there were some fun reason like “I met a partner and am going to stay here with this person I love” or, better still, “WOOHOO, I scored an amazing deal for a tropical beach vacay!” But it was nothing like that. I was poor. Like, “homeless”-in-a-hostel-dorm, treat-a-cup-of-milk-as-a-“meal,” bed-down-with-a-guy-who-shares-his-food-and-wonder-if-the-food-seduced-you poor.

How I ended up scraping economic bottom there is a whole other story. Suffice it to say, there was no money for a round-trip flight back to the States. …


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“Christmas With the Darlings” broke so many molds that I’m still surprised.

While I’ll readily admit that Hallmark Christmas movies once got me through a psychologically fragile time, they have been widely criticized in recent years, and rightfully so, for dropping the ball on everything from feminism to representation. You can find dozens of critiques on this all over the internet. Have a look at this recent one by Tressie McMillan Cottom, or read some of my own criticisms — and theories about the movies’ appeal — in the aforementioned piece about my mental health.

However.

I watched the latest release this past week from Hallmark’s 2020 holiday lineup, and it left…


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I didn’t know I had it. I’m glad I took extra precautions anyway.

Let’s start by making one thing stupendously clear: COVID-19 is terrifying, and it’s serious. My mother spent nearly a week in the hospital, plus two more ER visits in the week after being discharged. Words don’t touch the fear, stress, heartache, and anxiety that my entire family felt as a result of our household’s infection — and we’ve been among the lucky ones. So I’m not here to encourage anyone to visit (much less lodge with) others during this pandemic.

Even so, it feels important to talk about my experience. The holidays are right around the corner — Thanksgiving, Hanukkah…

Laura Rosell

Love, sex, dreams, soul, adventure, healing, feeling. I kinda experience life as magical. Memoir is my jam.

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