Spoiler alert: this post will make reference to several Angel episodes.
A while back, I started seeing a therapist. This was mostly to deal with my feeling of impending career doom.
As far as therapy, I'm not really sure how much progress I'm making, and if in some ways having that weekly appointment isn't creating unhealthy habits (like holding off dealing with emotional things until I'm in her office).
One of the things she wants me to do is work through this feeling of loss. It's weird, though, because I haven't actually lost my job. I still have to show up to work and at least pretend like everything is okay. So I'm sort of leading this dual life: trying to figure out if I want to separate myself from science, while still going through the motions. It's not like I can talk to my advisor about my feelings of doubt and fear and frustration!
Ironically, I think the people in my lab have kind of caught on that things are not so okay, and much to my surprise they're starting to behave more like human beings toward me. So I'm kind of impressed and heartened by that.
They've also been there long enough to have figured out that our PI is not all-powerful and all-knowing. Well, some have figured this out anyway.
And some have suffered setbacks, and some of these were the ones who thought they were invincible. So altogether, I think we're on more even ground now.
With all of that in mind, I'm still feeling like I can't be myself at work. At all. I've developed this persona who keeps her head down and her mouth shut most of the time, because I was always getting backlash when I spoke up too much.
So here's where the Angel character comes in: Fred.
It's not until later in the series that you learn that this scientist chick ended up in a hell dimension not just by accident, but because her thesis advisor sent her there for being too smart.
We find this out because she publishes a paper on her own, after she's no longer a scientist (unlikely, but okay), when her advisor sends a giant monster to try to eat her while she's giving her talk.
It's such a great analogy. So totally apt. It makes me want to cry, but it also makes me laugh.
Back in the hell dimension, when we first meet her, Fred has taken refuge in a cave and gone somewhat crazy (think: grad school). It takes a while for her to recover after she gets back.
Near the very end of the series, like many Joss Whedon characters, Fred gets killed off. And it happens because she's a scientist again, this time in industry, and she's literally killed by her own curiosity, falling into a trap set by a man who finds her overly attractive.
And the way she dies is so poetic: she's literally eaten from the inside out by a powerful demon who takes over her body.
My point in telling you all this is that after she dies, there is this montage sequence that always makes me cry. They flash back to Fred packing up and driving off to grad school, all full of hopes and dreams of doing nothing but science.
I'm finding this story is really helpful for me to acknowledge, as my therapist puts it, my own real and valid pain.
I like it because in a way, just by putting this out there, the people who made this show seem to be saying they know these things are happening. And that kind of public acknowledgment, however buried in this fantasy show about a vampire, is really comforting.
I also like how they use fantasy as analogy for these emotional, otherwise subtle things like having a sexist advisor who literally does everything in his power to try to drive you crazy and get rid of you once and for all.