A Debate About My Future

What determines my worth? Who determines whether I will make a good therapist or not? Because I’ve been through trauma, will that hinder my ability to be partial when providing care for a patient? I honestly don’t know the answers to these questions. Going back to school to study counseling is a major undertaking and not for the faint of heart. It has been a dream of mine to become a therapist for many years. My brother asked me the hard questions. This is what brothers are for. If I don’t have energy to study because of depression, and I am only just barely passing my classes, is that what I want to be for a therapist? A just-good-enough therapist? No, I want to be the best therapist that I can be. But I have limitations. I spend entire weekends just coddled up in bed. I don’t do anything. I just wait for the time to pass. I don’t spend my time studying. Of course, I’m not in school yet, but when I am? Do I want to be a just good enough therapist? Is that all I am destined to achieve?

I’m looking for a new job right now. A new job that will pay the bills, since my current job does not pay the bills and I am left scrambling to use my savings. It’s disheartening to say the least. And my lovely brother, the truth sayer in all of this, tells me that if I leave a new job after a year to pursue school, that I’ll be burning bridges. It’s very possible. That I would be burning a bridge if my new employer invests training into me and then sees me leave after a year.

I don’t know what my future is going to look like. I have anxiety just thinking about it. I mean, come on. If I can’t even bring myself to shower more than once or twice a week, due to depression, do you really think I am capable of showing up for a client, week after week, helping them to not end their life? I mean, you’d think I’d be capable of at least that. But of course I don’t want to be “just good enough.” I want to be the best that I can be. Help! Training is expensive. It doesn’t stop at grad school. There are so many hurdles to overcome. I need someone rich to adopt me so that my struggles for money don’t have to be so pervasive. I have friends whose education has been paid for them. They are the lucky ones, whereas I’ll be going into tremendous amounts of debt. But I have to take my situation into perspective. I can’t wish for something that I can’t have. That which I can’t have is financial security. How do people make ends meet? It’s a mystery to me.

There are days I just want to stay in bed and just not show up to life. I feel as if I could spend a year sleeping, just sleeping for 365 days straight and doing nothing else and that still wouldn’t solve my problems. My problem is that my past trauma prevents me from enjoying my life. There are days I just want to be, yes, I’ll say it, dead. There are days I don’t want to exist. There are hard days. There are not-so-hard days. I really, honestly, don’t know what to do with my life right now. I’ve been going through a series of job interviews, week after week, but is that really the answer? Should I just keep my current dead-end job for now because it has good health insurance, keep using my savings, and apply to grad school? I don’t know what the future holds. I know what I want and all I can do right now is to fight for that which I want.

My Dirty Little Secret

I have a secret that I keep hidden from most people. The secret is that I am dirty. I am being completely honest. When I rub my skin, just so, little remnants of dark substance come off of me and I rub it in between my thumb and forefinger into a little ball of… dirt. My aunt, whom I love and trust, tells me this is normal. It’s basically dead skin. We are human, and our body replenishes itself, including our skin. Our skin sheds, and new skin cells are formed. If we get a cut on our skin, our body heals itself. So I am not dirty, she says. I am just human.

I met my abuser when I was 12 years old. We had a class together. He was two years my senior. We reconnected after he graduated high school and started dating. The fact that my Mum didn’t like him made me want to date him more. The fact that I didn’t have a father after the age of three made it to where I didn’t know what a healthy relationship with a male counterpart should look like. I wanted to wait until I was 17 before we had sex for the first time, and my first time ever. He had other plans. Some might call it statutory rape because the age of consent is 18 in the state of California.

Many years later I fantasized about going back to that year and having him committed to jail for the statutory rape. Many years later I fantasized about having taken the external hard drive from our home that we later shared and giving it to the police, as it would have him committed to jail for possession of child pornography. Many years later, after undergoing years of sexual abuse, I fantasize about getting a gun and shooting him. Rage could define where I am at right now with my understanding of what has happened to me in my life. But many years later, I also still think that I am dirty, because men had sex with me while I was drunk and not able to consent to sex. Not once, but for six years.

At times I keep my fingernails long enough so that when I am in the shower, the seldom miraculous occurrence of a shower a week that happens, I stand there under the hot water scraping off the dead skin, off of my inner thighs, my chest, my neck, my arms, my bum, wherever I can reach, just scraping off dirt from my body, as it catches and collects under my fingernails. It’s proof to me that I am dirty, the fact that dead skin that looks like dirt, accumulates under my nails. I wash it clean and do it over and over again. I am dirty. I am dirty. I am dirty. And no matter how long the shower runs, wasting hot water, no matter how much dirt I get off of my body, there is always more.

Imagine how much dead skin needs to be cleared off of your body if you don’t shower more than once a week. I dread showers. I dread the nakedness, my fat, ugly body, appearing in front of the mirror as I make my way to the shower stall in my bedroom bathroom. I dread having wet hair for a night. I have really really long hair, it goes all the way down to my bum. Why don’t I get my hair cut? Rebellion! My abuser would always come with me to my hair appointments and tell the hair dresser how to cut and style and dye and highlight my hair. Never again! I get to have my hair as long as I damn well please. And it’s going to stay long, thank you very much. I’ve also thought about chopping it all off, which would be the polar opposite of what it is now.

So that’s my secret. My secret is that I am dirty. I can’t get off of my psyche the memories of decrepit man after sorry man raping me, not knowing even that I was not able to consent. He would always get me drunk, my abuser. “You’re more fun when you’re drunk” really translated to “I can get you to do my bidding.” My abuser? He’s alive and well, I would assume. There hasn’t been any contact since I left him nine years ago. I left him but he filed for divorce. Thank God! But really, he should be getting ass-raped in prison at this time. One can only dream and fantasize.

Trying to Figure Out My Worth After Sexual Abuse

What am I worth? Am I worth a $90k a year job when I’ve been working very underpaid jobs for the last six years? Before that, I couldn’t even hold a job. I was so broken. Broken down from a relationship that exploited me. Some say I was sexually abused. I say I was sex trafficked. I was only worth what someone would pay to have sex with me in a hotel room or at home in our living room with my malnourished, anorexic body.

My tears are still dripping as I type this. I’m too dumbfounded by the realization that I’ve undervalued myself for so many years to wipe the tears away. Wet, shining, they caress my cheek as they find their ultimate resting place. What am I good at? In my opinion, not very much. I don’t have much to speak for myself. Yes, I can write a mean poem and then recite it wholeheartedly. It takes everything out of me to perform my poetry. I need an entire day of rest before and after if I’m the headliner for the open mic show.

I’m on my sixth interview with a company. It’s scheduled for Monday, in just a few days, with the founder of the company. I guess they want to make sure that I am the right person for the job. If I get the offer, the numbers in the approximation of $90,000 will be stamped in black and white. Of course, in that area of the country, the living costs are very high. Rent would be around $40,000 a year, so that brings the number down a bit, and with taxes taken out, well, I would still be able to save a bit of money. I want to go visit my aunt in Australia one day. That will cost a bit of money.

When I think about my malnourished self of around the age of 24, that was in 2008. It’s when I started seeing my therapist, who hasn’t left my side in over a decade. I call myself malnourished because my abuser, who was also my husband and pimp and sex trafficker (the pimping out started only when we had gotten engaged)… let me side track for a minute. I remember an attorney over the phone exclaiming stupidly to me: “You married your pimp?” I’ll never forget those words. To an outsider who doesn’t know my story, it may seem like that. But no, I married my high school sweetheart. Only, he wasn’t so sweet. I didn’t know what narcissistic personality disorder was back then. I didn’t know that people who are sexually abused as children either become abusers themselves, or they heal from it. He was the first of those two options. We dated and the screwed up sex stuff didn’t start until he “owned” me by putting a ring on my finger.

In 2012 when I was 28 I left that relationship. I had been seeing my therapist for four years. I couldn’t take it any longer, the abuse, that is. Don’t get me wrong. There was a part of me that didn’t want to leave him. I was trauma bonded to this abuser and thought that I loved him. I grieved that loss of relationship for many years. It was a long time before the anger came. I still feel angry now and then. The anger rears its ugly head in the form of suicidal ideation. When I’m furious, I think about ending my life. At times, this is really intense.

Back to the beginning of where I started out. I’m about to get or not get a really good job offer that no one in their right mind would refuse. But it would mean leaving a city that has been my home for so long, and leaving my friends behind, even though I don’t see them often anyway. Taking this job would mean delaying my dream of going back to school to become a psychotherapist. But am I ready to help others when I am still healing myself? A therapist who helps suicidal people not kill themselves and yet experiences suicidal ideation on her own terms?

I really don’t know what to do. What am I worth? Does my $22/hour job define my worth? I’ve wanted to take a $15/hour job as a mental health worker, but that would mean I would be using a minimum of $10,000 a year of the nest egg I got from my divorce, because yes, everyone, the narcissistic man who sex trafficked me was a promising young CEO of a technology company. That’s the only reason I can afford to work such low paid jobs in the first place is the “savings” that I have which aren’t savings but divorce severance from the profit of a company sale, a company which I, in a way, helped to build, because I was married to the man who was a founder. Enough technicalities. I’m being completely open and honest here, and I have no idea who is going to read this, or what you, reader, are going to think. Of me. Of my story. Of my latest conundrum.

Really my focus should be on healing. I should keep my underpaid job that has good health insurance, whilst using some of that nest egg every month to make ends meet, and heal, heal, heal. I need to heal and figure out what defines my value. God defines my worth. Not a job. Not the status of my mental health. Not my depressed thoughts and feelings which tell me lies. Not my trauma. Not my history. God defines my worth and I define my worth. That last one is tricky, because whilst God may value my existence and my soul, I do not. Whilst at the moment of creation, God knew that he was creating the makings of a masterpiece, here I am years later still wishing I were dead because the trauma in my mind won’t leave me alone.

Images and memories pop up constantly, uninvited and intrusively pushing their way in to my present moment, making the nine years in which I have been safe from my abuser seem like the blink of an eye, and I am being raped, in my mind, in the present, by men whose faces all blur into one unpleasant, gruff essence of “man” and “abuser” and “rapist.” What I need to find out, before I start graduate school, again, is what I am worth. The truth is that I am worth my weight in gold. Gold is the word that God gave to me when Ruth and I were praying together.

A Letter About a Conundrum

Dear Friend,


This letter is going to be long. I’m expecting it to be equivalent to a three page document. I don’t know yet. Open forum, flow-of-consciousness type writing where I express my thoughts freely with the bonus of having you as my ultimate audience. So I think I need to thank you in advance. Thank you for taking interest in me as a person, that you would be willing to let me bounce my ideas and ponderings off of you. I hope to gain some clarity through this soliloquy, but my guess is that it will only confirm what I do know: that I don’t know what to do with my life over the next 30 years.


My therapist is well-versed in my hypotheticals, as well as my life history. He is patient and listens to me do a round robin over and over again out loud, in my mind. Somehow, I’ll just start telling my story. My biggest concern right now, is finances, and not being able to make ends meet, using my savings to cover my approximate $500 a month shortfall due to my low income. But it isn’t that low… it could be lower. Money wasn’t always an issue for me. When I was married and in the abusive relationship, we made enough money with both of our incomes for my abuser to do expensive hobbies like flying jets and sailing, going on expensive vacations to Cape Cod and New England. It was always what he wanted, I never had a say. Then we separated and alimony ended shortly thereafter and I was forced to go back into the world of employment. I’ve only just now come to the realization that ever since I left my abusive relationship I’ve allowed myself to work low-paid and underpaid jobs. Probably because I haven’t valued myself as a person, as a human being. I’ve always just scraped by financially in the last six years.


There, I’ve written up two lovely paragraphs and managed to say very little or absolutely nothing. So I shall continue. I’ve been interviewing for jobs lately. It has been very stressful, working full-time and doing between one to three interviews a day for the last two weeks. A recruiter from the Bay Area found my resume and contacted me. She has been facilitating me getting some interviews with companies near San Francisco. My family, specifically, my brother, lives in the Bay Area, so I do have an interest in moving if the right job at the right salary were to come my way. The only thing is, my brother won’t live in San Jose forever, just maybe for the next five years. It is likely that he will leave for a different state eventually. So if I moved, if I got a job offer and were to accept it, I would have around five years of paying roughly $40,000 a year in rent whilst living within a two hour drive of my brother, and maybe seeing him once a month as opposed to my current trajectory of seeing him once a year, maybe twice if I am lucky.


The other reason for wanting to move to the Bay Area is because I want to, yes, I’ll say it: rescue my Mum. She is financially tied to her emotionally abusive spouse of the last 20 years and although it would be very difficult living with her, as our personalities couldn’t be further apart, I want to give her an option of leaving her relationship and moving in with me. I’ve been interviewing for a job that could offer a $90,000 salary, so although $40k of that $90k would go to rent, it would still be enough to live off of, after taxes have been taken out. I would be able to afford to pay rent for a two bedroom place without my Mum having to contribute to the rent, where she could live and finally retire, if she so chooses. She currently works a very humbling job delivering food for a living on apps like Uber Eats and the likes. She earns less than minimum wage and pays almost $1,000 a month just for her health insurance. She and her abusive husband have savings, but it won’t last forever. She has talked about separating from that relationship for many years, but has not left. The likelihood that she would actually leave him and choose to move in with me? Slim. So one of the main reasons for me looking at moving to the Bay Area is because my Mum is from there, wants to live there and not in the rainy city where she currently is living, and the likelihood that she would actually move in with me, my whole reason for moving, is close to none. Yet I remain hopeful.


These are the things that have been on my mind lately. And then you texted me, ever so timely, right before my sixth interview with a company coming up on Monday, which will be the deciding interview that will determine whether I get this $90k offer up in the Bay Area. And the thing is, if I move, I plan to stay there for a while. Like at least the next 10 years, if not longer. I don’t want to keep moving around, so it would be permanent for a while. The job would be hard and challenging, not easy. It’s a client service associate position servicing extremely high net worth clients in managing their wealth and their financial investments. It’s a job I’ve done before, which is why this company is looking at possibly hiring me. But then I wouldn’t apply for the program at the University to get my LPCC. Hence your timely text message.


You see, if I stay here, I will likely apply to the Community Based Block Program, for which you’ve already expressed interest, ever so gallantly, in writing one of my three recommendation letters needed for the application. I realize they accept applications only every two years, of which this year is one of those application years. If I were to be accepted into the program I would start in the Fall of 2022, which opens a whole other can of worms in terms of financial concerns and worries. And the other question is, what do I do in the year between now and Fall of 2022? Do I work an underpaid job, or worse, even a severely underpaid job, continue to use my savings, until I can take out some student loans to help pay for tuition and living expenses? Or do I try my best to get a decently paid job for the next year, so I don’t have to worry about money, and stay in here? Because if I take the job in the Bay Area, “if” being the key word since I haven’t gotten a job offer yet, then it would take me away from this city and the CBB program. At least temporarily, because the funny thing is, and there’s really nothing “funny” to it, merely “odd”, is that I feel if I move away from here I’m going to end up coming back here anyway, eventually. This has been my home for so many years and I’m really tied to this city. I do have friends here but what keeps me here, primarily, I suppose is the familiarity and… my therapist.


My therapist has been my rock and my world for the past twelve or more years. I also don’t want to move away from him. But eventually, maybe in a few years, he will be moving regardless. He will keep his private practice but move away from here because this city is really just too expensive for the average person with an average income to live in. So, whether I move or stay in this city, eventually, sooner than later, my sessions with my therapist will no longer be in person, and over Zoom instead. I dread not seeing him in person anymore, but I think I would be able to get used to video sessions, which we’ve actually done in the past. I won’t even mention Covid, but throughout the pandemic I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to still see him in person. So, my therapist is another consideration, though my contact with him, whatever decision I make, whether I move or stay, will not end. Thankfully.
I have a good job right now. It just doesn’t pay much. Not quite enough. One thing I’m grateful for is the good health insurance coverage. It allows me to see my psychiatrist and to be able to take my inexorably expensive antidepressant medication at a reasonable cost. I’m also not challenged often enough at my job, but it is a good job. The only thing is, I would rather be making more money in exchange for a little bit more job stress, so I wouldn’t have to worry about using my savings each month. Because eventually my savings will run out and this is not a sustainable trajectory.


The other thing is, I so desperately want to work in the field of mental health now, but unless I have a master’s degree the pay is deplorable. I currently earn $22/hour, have a housemate helping with the rent, and don’t make ends meet. Imagine if I were to work as a Mental Health Worker at $15/hour, I would be using at least $10k a year of my savings just to pay rent and other relevant, non-extravagant expenses, for I do not live an extravagant lifestyle and am pretty frugal. But that’s what my heart wants to do. My heart and my linear, logical left brain side do not speak the same language, nor do they communicate very often. I want to work a shitty paid job, use up a significant amount of my nest egg, just so I can get experience in the mental health field. Because if I had my master’s degree already, I would be able to earn enough in that field to not use up too much of my savings. So, these are some other thoughts and considerations. Do I take a shitty job for a year before I “start” my master’s degree, saying I get into the program, and use up my savings by a significant amount? I keep saying “savings” but these are not savings. This is money I got from my divorce. There’s no way I’ve had nearly enough income to be able to save any money in the last six years.


Do I keep going? Do I keep boring you with my inundating thoughts? Because I’m not done. Can you see why I wanted to write you an essay before having a two-hour conversation over all of this? I’ve wanted to go into the field of counseling for at least, let’s say since 2016, possibly even before, though I can’t imagine that I could have imagined the possibility of becoming a therapist sooner than 2016, given the course of my healing journey from that abusive situation I was in during my 20s. In 2017 I did a stint of a semester at Azusa Pacific University. I was the only other student in the cohort working full-time whilst going to school and frankly, my mental health couldn’t handle it, so I took a break from school and eventually withdrew from the program. I didn’t get to know a lot of other students during that time, but one student was married and able to afford tuition by using her husband’s GI bill I believe. So with a spouse paying living expenses, rent, etc., she could afford to go to school. Another student had money and a spouse in China paying her tuition and expenses. Another student was also from money, and commuted from his parent’s home in Encinitas. Yes, living at home with your parents as a grown adult isn’t pretty, but it beats paying rent. I qualified for one loan which covered tuition at the time, but did not qualify for another loan to cover any of my living expenses. Hence, I still had to work full-time. My plan had been to work part-time and go to school with more focus on studying but I didn’t know that I didn’t qualify for the loan until I had applied for the loan just before the semester began. The reason I didn’t qualify for the loan? I filed for bankruptcy in 2015 because of hospital bills from my illness.


I could make school work. I could work part-time, take out loans, I could make it work. But if I get that job offer in the Bay Area, do I just say “no” to it? Do I say “no” to the possibility of rescuing my Mom? She took care of me for 18 years and I want to be able to take care of her one day. And what will the recruiter think of me, if I say no to a job offer she worked so hard on getting for me? Ultimately, I’m the selling point. I’ve been the one doing the interviews, and it’s me who is the value added to the company if they decide they want to hire me. But all of this is premature, because I may not even get a job offer.


I’ve exhausted my typing ability. I could write more but the rest doesn’t make sense unless we talk in person. I’m actually looking for advice here. From you. My therapist, he won’t give me advice. He’s in the business of helping me figure things out on my own. A very good friend, my aunt Ruth in Australia who has a lot of wisdom, and my mom, all three of them do not think that going back to school for counseling is a good idea at this time in my life. But it’s over a year away, potentially. I can do a lot of healing groundwork in that year. Know too, that I’ve had many suicide attempts in the past, including my last one in 2019, and one attempt at the end of 2018. The material that we study in psychology is triggering. Yet, there is a part of me that still wants to do it, still says, I can help people. I can be like my therapist and give back by helping people, by giving them counseling, in a way that someone without my past history could not do. But there are also many ways of “giving back” and helping people. I don’t have to become a therapist, even though that’s what I’ve wanted for so many years.


Thanks for listening. End soliloquy. To be continued at another point in time.

My Life Status and the School Debate

Life is really good right now. I’m not sleeping away my weekends. Having a job has gotten easier, after having been unemployed for six months last year. I’m not suicidal and when those thoughts come up I am able to tolerate them and know that they eventually will go away. I know I haven’t done as much writing in this blog at all really, but I have been writing poetry and for me, poetry is Life.

I’m really torn at whether or not to go back to school in the Fall of 2022. Which would mean I would be applying this Fall, a year ahead of time. My aunt and my mom and several other people who are important to me do not think that going back to school would be a good idea. The main reason being, the topic and subject material. I want to go into clinical counseling and then become a therapist. I would be going for the track of Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, or LPCC. It’s something I’ve had my heart on for a very long time. But the main reason I want to become a therapist? It’s because I love my therapist. I love my therapist of 12 years. It’s possibly been 13 years that I’ve been working with him now. I love him so much. He’s been like a father figure to me. The father figure I never had. The friend I never had. The person who sticks by my side and never leaves me. And I want to be just like him.

My aunt, whom I love very much, says I am not my therapist. I am my own person. I would have to go back to school for the right reasons. Not because I want to be like my therapist but because… well, for my own reasons. I can’t think of any just that I want to help people. There is a lot to be said for that reason alone. Helping people is a passion of mine and I want to do it professionally. My aunt says that I don’t know what a healthy relationship between a couple looks like. Well, that’s true. I had a shitty run of a six year marriage which turned out to be an abusive relationship. I haven’t been in a relationship since and it’s been, how long? Nine years. Next year will have been the decade mark since I left my abuser. He’s in another relationship now, married again, and this time with a child. I shudder to think of the abuse that might be occurring. But it’s not my problem anymore. I got away, alive, with my life and I’ve managed, after all of the psychological trauma I endured, to not die from suicide attempts. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve attempted suicide. I just have managed to not die from the attempts. No need for any details there.

So the dilemma. What are the reasons I want to go back to school to become a professional helper, a therapist? Well, I have this burning desire to do something meaningful with my life. I hate my current job, absolutely hate it. I’m an administrative assistant at a company, so I do administrative work, and it is not fulfilling whatsoever, and it pays shit too. I don’t get paid much, barely enough to cover my bills. Oh, another consideration of going back to school would be the debt I would incur. It would be about $80,000. Kind of like having a mortgage, it’s a commitment. I don’t think having school debt is such a bad thing and I’m not worried about it. What I worry about, what my family worries about, is the emotional toll the subject material would take on me. A lot of the psychology material can be triggering for me, given my past history of trauma. I don’t know. I’m in a conundrum. I will have to sit with this discomfort of the not knowing what to do, and ponder. Really think hard about what I want to do with my life.

Here’s the other thing. I want to have a child. I may not end up having a child but I would like to have one. I would be starting school at the age of 38 and not finishing until I am 40 or 41. That’s pretty late in life to think about having a child. So that’s another consideration I really have to think about. I have a bit of time left in my child-bearing years and technology and IVF can help along the way. I just don’t know, don’t know what to do right now and will have to give everything some more thought. Talk to people. Get more opinions.

Jobless Musings of a Mental Health Warrior

What am I going to do? I don’t have a job. I do have an apartment that I’m still able to afford renting for now, so I have a home. I have plenty of frustrations in my life. Every other week I feel suicidal enough to text with the suicide hotline for support. I have two therapists and a psychiatrist. They do what they can with me. I’m not a lost and hopeless cause but my past trauma is complex and difficult to deal with on a daily basis. I remember things that make me feel sad. I remember things that make me feel angry and ashamed. I remember things that make me feel confused. None of it is pleasant.

I don’t even know really how to express myself right now. It’s hard to type because I need to cut my fingernails. My hair is wet because I showered for the first time in a week or so. I have plenty of things to complain about, if you just give me a chance I can list them all. The funniest thing to me was when I told my EMDR therapist that “I’m fat.” She said right back to me without hesitation, “I’m fatter.” That solved that problem. I didn’t have anything more to complain about on that front. I just laughed and couldn’t stop smiling about that response. It’s good to have experiences where you can smile in therapy. It’s therapeutic to be able to smile, even if it’s only for a short while.

I have to take a shit. I have a friend whose nine year old child refuses to take a shit unless he can shower afterwards. So he won’t go to the bathroom at any public place and gets in a bad mood if he has to poo. So I guess my problems aren’t that bad after all if I can shit anywhere I please. Shitting having been taken care of since, I can now focus on other things. Like how discouraging and disappointing and how almost hopeless it is, applying to jobs in the Covid-19 era of life. So many people, thousands of people are unemployed right now, and many people are looking for a job to pay their bills, just like I am. I’m lucky that I have some savings to get me by. Not everyone is that lucky. I guess that makes me really really lucky.

I finally convinced a friend to try going to therapy. I’m taking her tonight and I am paying for the first session. I insisted. I’ve been wanting her to go to therapy for years and finally things are so bad in her life that she’s willing to give it a shot. Therapy has done amazing wonders for me in my life so I definitely recommend it, but you have to make sure you find the right therapist. You’ll just know if it’s the right therapist for you. I had to go through seeing several therapists before I found the right one. And I’ve been seeing him for the past 12 years. Imagine that, over a decade and a third of my life. Like I said earlier, I guess I’m lucky. I made it out of an abusive relationship. Not all women are able to make it out alive.

Yet Another Suicide Plan Averted

It’s half past ten o’clock in the evening on a Saturday night. I was, frankly, supposed to be dead by now. I’m not sure what triggered me. Whether it was staying in bed all day for days on end and being angry with myself for that, or the violent television programs that I’ve unfortunately been watching. Whether it was triggered by a flashback of my traumatic past (I think I would remember a flashback) or by my incessant self-hatred, which also stems from being abused. All I can say is that my therapist is in the business of saving lives and helping people live their best life possible. I am grateful for him.

Twenty-four hours ago I sent a message to my brother saying goodbye. He promptly phoned me and we talked for a while. I felt better after we had talked, and less suicidal. My plan had been to go through with my suicide plan after seeing my therapist one last time for our regular scheduled session. But as usual, with a good night’s sleep, and with having spoken with my brother, I was much less determined to kill myself. And by the time my therapy session was over, I had decided to not go through with it.

Am I glad to be here still? Yes. Plus, death is violent, no matter how you try and sugarcoat it for yourself. Me causing my own death would have been a violent act. Plenty of people, including my dog, would have been left with confusion and heartache. It was very impactful at the end of our session when my therapist, who has known me for twelve years, said that he would have been sad if I had killed myself.

But I was so determined to do it. I was sure that this was the answer and solution to solve my pain. Not healing. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to be healed because that would take away the option of suicide as a way out. If I were healed, fully and completely, then I wouldn’t want to kill myself anymore. I’ve been suicidal for almost a decade, off and on. What would I be without the option to die by suicide? I would have to live out the rest of my life and, well, that scares the shit out of me.

I’m glad to be here still. I’m glad I get another chance at life. I get to have the option of having a family one day. I get to have the chance at holding my brother’s baby in my arms and becoming an aunt one day. I don’t have to end things now. I am “free, pure, and blessed,” as one of my former mentors used to say. Any positive self talk I can get, I will take it, as it’s far and few in between. I am here to stay.

So I’m here. “Free, pure, and blessed,” as a former mentor of mine used to say. I have my life ahead of me. For this damaged yet vibrant woman in her mid-to-late thirties, there will be a tomorrow. I have another chance at life. I have the opportunity to continue healing. I have the chance to grow. I might have a family some day. I might get to experience the joy of becoming an aunt and holding my brother’s baby in my arms. Just maybe, the darkest days won’t hold be captive any longer and I can break through the muddy muck of awful thoughts to find a morcel of hope which will carry me through until tomorrow, and then the next day and the next, one day at a time.

Healing and What Depression Feels Like

I am eating oats, the old-fashioned kind that you have to cook on the stovetop for 30 minutes, not the kind you cook for 5 minutes or just put hot water in. I have coffee off to the side sweetened with maple syrup. My friend taught me to do that. Not the sugary syrup coloured to look like maple syrup but actual maple syrup. I like real food and real ingredients when possible. Fresh produce, not canned. All of this is slightly comforting because I’ve had not comforting thoughts in my mind lately. So external comfort is welcome. Plus I’m living. I’m actually living in this moment. I’m doing what living people do, that is, eating food and drinking a beverage and just, being awake.

In the last week, I haven’t wanted to be awake. I haven’t been awake much. A majority of the past one week I’ve spent sleeping in bed and feeling very, very depressed. Today, after walking my dog at 7 am, I decided to be like most “normal” people and not go back to sleep. I decided to live for a bit, instead of hiding out in my bunker, aka my bed. When I’m in bed, alone or with my dog, nothing bad can happen to me. Except for the memories. The trauma memories are horrific and terrifying. I hate it when they appear. When I sleep too much I tend to have strange, bad dreams, but I would much rather take those over reality. My reality. My reality is peppered with memories of sexual abuse from over a decade ago. I really just can’t stand it anymore. I cannot live with myself when those memories resurface, and somehow get triggered.

In January this year, I just remember screaming. I was driving home from the office of a new therapist I had been seeing for five months, to try out a different type of therapy than what I was used to, and it was night time. I started driving home, twenty minutes is what it took, and I just started screaming at the top of my lungs in terror because of the faulty therapy session which had pushed me to the brink. I don’t remember how I got home safely and I didn’t even think to pull over and stop driving for my safety because in those moments I was back in 2008 in my mind and being sexually abused. It was happening in my mind but not in reality, and I was terrified. Back then I was not cognizant of the abuse that was happening to me, and I just let it happen. It seemed like I didn’t have a choice. I disassociated while it was happening so that in my mind I was detached and somewhere else. But having a flashback over a decade later sent me spinning into oblivion. And that is, I was having a mental emergency.

Earlier this year when this flashback was induced and I experienced more terror than I had in a long time, I became immediately and acutely suicidal. I checked myself into a crisis house instead of going straight to the hospital. I’m not sure what is worse, a crisis house or a hospital, but I know that a crisis house is less acute. I had never been to one before. I still owe them money and haven’t settled the bill from now half a year ago. I’m sure it’s been sent to collections… the story of my life.

Now a week later, the fog of my recent depressive episode has finally somewhat lifted. You have to know, it’s really difficult, living with depression and feeling majorly depressed. It feels like you’re weighed down by a ton of bricks that you’re not carrying, but that essentially own you and you can’t get rid of. And even though you may have a regular heartbeat and a normal breathing pattern, at the same time it feels like you can’t breathe. You sleep all the time because you’re afraid of what may come into your mind if you’re awake. Nightmares are preferable to the reality that’s in your waking mind because when awake you are filled with the terror of memories of past abuse that feel like those events just happened and that a decade hasn’t actually gone by, that they happened yesterday. You’re filled completely and overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and shame and horror and absolute disgust with yourself that you could have let those things happen to you. So in this depression, you don’t want to be dead. You just don’t want to be alive. So when I say that I am “doing things that living people do” right now, like drinking coffee and eating oatmeal, well, that’s a monumental step towards my healing.

Thank you for listening. I don’t ever want someone to try to solve my problems for me. All I ever want is an empathetic ear to listen to what I have to say, someone to hold space for me while I go through this long and ancient process of healing, someone like my therapist who has never left me, never once emotionally abandoned me in the 12 years we have worked together. For this, I am grateful.

Schindler’s List in the Midst of an Epidemic

I am not about to write anything profound. I am sitting here on my bed in the middle of a city in the United States of America, a country I am glad to be in but am not proud of, letting out some well-earned tears after watching Schindler’s List. It is a movie I had not seen before and probably wouldn’t have gotten around to seeing for a while had I not been unemployed. But the company I have given five years of my life to, five years of my recovery from PTSD and depression, have graciously let me go thanks, apparently, to the coronavirus. Thanks to them I no longer suffer from work stress and get to sleep as much as I want to. The trouble with having depression is that I do want to sleep all of the time.

I attended an online Buddhist meetup group today. We talked about the value of life and about how precious life is, not only human life but all life on earth including that of an insect. In Japan, rather than kill a spider in the home, you catch it in a glass container, slide a piece of paper under the opening and return the spider to the natural habitat of the outdoors, wishing it luck. Well maybe not the latter part but I have been doing this practice for many years now.

There are some people who don’t value their own life. This I believe may be diseased thinking, that is, an illness talking. It is my illness talking when I say that I want to die. It is my humanity speaking when I say that I am grateful to be alive today. There are people out there on the front lines risking their lives to save lives, only the front lines are not on a battlefield, they are in hospitals. People, otherwise healthy individuals, are dying, and it’s not just “the old” people. Young people are dying too. The COVID-19 virus does not discriminate and can take anyone from us. It is a virus that is invisible to the human eye, yet its effects are far-reaching and devastating. People aren’t able to breathe and there aren’t enough ventilators to save every human life. Doctors are having to play God and choose who lives and who dies.

Not only did I lose my job but, at a time like this, my landlord is evicting me. They won’t do a walk-through of my unit because of the virus, yet they expect me to expose myself by going out and shopping for a new home, looking at prospective apartments. People hear this and assume it’s because I couldn’t pay rent. That’s not true. I’ve never missed a month and I don’t plan to if I don’t have to. It’s because my greedy landlord wants to sell and get the money. He owns multiple properties. Sure I get it, but at a time like this? I sent him an email asking if he would do this to his own daughter, have her expose herself to a deadly virus by going out and looking at apartments. Of course, I got no reply. I keep thinking secretly to myself that when they do the walk-through eventually, I will just “accidentally” sneeze on the property manager who has been very nasty to me, without covering my mouth. It’s the only thought that gives me some sort of comfort.

Life is precious and this, by all means, is not the end of mine. I will live until tomorrow to tell my story. My therapist hasn’t stood by my side every week for the past twelve years for nothing. I met him when I was 24 years old, in the midst of the years of abuse in that past traumatic relationship, and now I am 36 years old, have been away from the abuse for eight long years. Because of the ECT’s I have lost many memories and sometimes the night I left my abuser seems just a stone’s throw away. But I made it out. And if I made it out of an abusive relationship which kept me prisoner for twelve long years, from the age of 16 to 28, then you, my friend, can make it out of whatever situation you are in too. It won’t last forever. Nothing does. Feelings come and then they go and nothing ever remains the same, except you. You remain. The feelings go, and you remain. Never forget that.

My Duty

What’s a woman to do other than to post a blog entry? I’ve been applying to jobs today. The rest of the weekend I spent completely in bed. I only got up to walk my dog a few times a day. I haven’t accomplished much and I don’t feel like a go-getter. I want a new job with the least effort possible in terms of the application process. I don’t know if that’s possible, but we shall see.

It has been a week since I’ve been out of the crisis house. I was truly in a crisis and being at the house helped. I even got my own room to myself because there weren’t enough women in the home to have a double occupancy in the room. I’m trying to put my book together, that is, my poetry book. The other book I’ve already got put together, I just need to submit to publishers. But how many people really want to hear about what an inpatient psychiatric hospitalization is like? I suppose those who are just starting out in that industry may be interested in what it’s like from a patient’s firsthand perspective.

Will I ever get published? Will I ever stand in front of a crowd and be able to tell my story of horror and trauma with a straight face? My therapist said that no one has to know my story, no one, should I make that choice. But I feel as if it’s my duty of being alive to share my story with others who have survived similar ordeals in order to give them hope.