Just Another Day

I’m sitting upright on my bed with my back supported by a pillow as I type this. Piano music is playing from my phone. Ah, the wonders of modern technology where things like surreptitious music are but a finger swipe away. Some kind of Nocturne is playing and I’m wondering if it’s Chopin. It’s a familiar melody as I’ve listened to this Pandora Radio station many-a-time. My bedroom isn’t my only sanctuary. My home and private space extends into the kitchen which looks out onto the dining nook, filled by an upright piano, and the spacious living room of which a $3,500 couch takes up a copious amount of space because it boasts a queen pull-out bed. Behind the light moss green couch, a colour which I specifically selected, are a couple of dark bookshelves packed with books and my cast iron teapot set which I use once a year for fun. I would never again spend such money on a couch, of all things, but at the time, I was not worried about money. These days, worries of money pass in and out of my consciousness like an ever-present cloud of rain.


This is the life I have made for myself, chosen for myself, won for myself. This is not the life I had on the other side of the state, where I was far from family in a place I had forced myself to call home for over fifteen years, working several underpaid jobs, stressed out by the workload, underappreciated and torn by the remnants of post-traumatic stress disorder and severe clinical depression. I would say that I still suffer at times, but much less so. Torments of the past and extreme states of emotional distress have left my life almost completely. My depression takes the form of entire weekends spent in bed, whilst still managing to feed and walk my dog, a necessity of the life of being a dog mom. When I adopted him five years ago I committed myself to the responsibility of taking care of him. Though he is aging, he is still a spry 11-year-old chihuahua mix and at 10 pounds if he doesn’t listen to me, which is often the case due to poor training and a diminished sense of hearing, I can pick him up and bring him to me. Last night he had his monthly bath. He hates baths but oh, I am such a proud dog mom to say the least, as he is finally clean again! What a wondrous sight and smell. He was beginning to smell a bit like wet dog smells when he wasn’t even wet. I can’t manage to bring myself to bathe him more than once a month due to my depression. If I were a good dog mom I would bathe him at least twice a month due to his consistent allergies. Now he has arthritis to add to the mix, for which he will have to take special medication, hidden in between a “pill pop” flavoured like chicken that I got at the vet’s office today. Dogs are expensive and any pet owner can relate. Vet visits add up quickly. He’ll have to have a chest x-ray due to his heart murmur before we can decide whether his little body could tolerate the anesthesia required to get his teeth cleaned, for he has also been diagnosed with mild periodontal disease. 


Friends of a distant past have moved from my former home to Bali, Indonesia, where the wife of my photographer friend awaits giving birth to their first child. This friend sent me a photo and a video of her engorged, naked breasts. They were very tastefully and artfully depicted in the images. While this may not be a “normal” sort of thing for friends to exchange, I once posed nude for this photographer. We created a collage of artful and very explicit nudes of my then 115 pounds of flesh. I weigh much more than that now and would never get in front of a camera like that again. But in those days I was not afraid of nudity, nor was I a stranger to sexual escapades while I was being taunted by a narcissist who sexually exploited me to a degree which to some, would be unfathomable. I am happy for this couple, my friends of a still-distant past. It’s strange that I’ve remained in touch with them in spite of leaving everything else from that time period behind.


I’ve often dreamed of a different life for myself. Not the life of the 25-year-old new bride who dreamed of being a mom with two children behind a white picket fence. But a life which includes the trauma, now healed, and of being of service to others. I tried one semester of graduate school only to discover to my dismay that it was not good timing. When will it ever be the right time to go to school to become a psychotherapist? Perhaps never, perhaps, one day, when I am fully healed and suicide attempts are a thing of my distant past.


My last suicide attempt was in January of this year. I was so sure, absolutely certain, that killing myself was the right idea. I had come up with a brilliant strategy to complete my impending death sentence, one that I had never thought of before, only to chicken out at the very last millisecond. I ended up hospitalized for the requisite 72 hours, which were torturous because of the way hospital staff treated me, or should I say, county mental health staff. County mental health is notorious for being bad. After I got out my brother took care of me for two days and those days were lovely. It felt nice to be cared for, before I had to submit myself back to the daily grind, sometimes excruciating grind, of being at work five days a week and “pretending” to be okay.


The piano music is still playing and my dryer from a load of laundry is humming in the background. My hair is so long and voluptuous that after a shower, the weight of my wet hair is not well-held-up by one single hair band. I am wearing a baseball hat, so-to-speak, to keep my hair up and off of my back. My hair stretches all the way down to my waist and I normally wear it in a braid to my side, with my hair parted in the middle. That is my “look” every day of the week at work. They rarely see my hair flowing freely at the office.


I had my obligatory weekly shower. I don’t know why, but showering for me is difficult. Survivors of sexual assault and chronic sexual abuse often find showering difficult and unpleasant. Once I’m in the shower, I’m fine, but it’s the “idea” of the shower which assaults my placid mind which makes me want to vomit. Something about being naked, in the nude, in the buff, whatever you want to call it, something about that gets to me and it’s not something I can take for granted as many people do.


Well, this is a window to my world. My therapist, who has stuck by me for over a decade of weekly sessions, five years of which were pro bono and unpaid, has been on vacation for a week. I will finally get to see him again this weekend. I’ve been doing so well that we will often skip weeks at a time, or at least see each other every other week instead of weekly. There was a time in my life back in 2012 whence I was so incredibly suicidal and unable to work, that I would see him three times a week just to keep myself alive and from killing myself. Because inevitably, as all my attempts at my life have been, another attempt would be unsuccessful and land me in the hospital for a number of weeks. I had so many hospital visits and bills that I filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Seven years have almost passed by since then and the bankruptcy will finally exit its doleful place on my credit score report. Maybe one day I’ll actually be able to buy a home: a nice little two-bedroom condominium where my mom can stay in her elderly years. That’s my dream. She took care of me for most of my life, still does to a degree, and I owe it to her to give back to her what she gave to me: self-sacrifice.


It’s almost bedtime now. I walked on the treadmill for an hour this evening. I manage to do that once every few weeks at best, given that one out of the hundred residents of my complex could be using the gym at any given moment as well, and often the treadmill is taken. Because of Covid, only one person at a time is allowed to use the tiny gym anyway. So it’s time to say goodbye. The effects of the red wine are wearing off and I occupied my mind whilst cooking dinner tonight by listening to Michelle Obama’s “Becoming.” It’s a book which causes me to reflect on my life as it stands today, and on my past. I am really enjoying the listening. I finally got a library card because buying audio books and Kindle books was becoming an expensive habit.


I am in rare form tonight. I actually have energy. Not the sort of boundless energy one could attribute to a 20-something-year-old, but energy enough to sustain me, rather than having to feel the need to go to bed hours before my necessary bedtime. My brother inadvertently mocked me for going to bed at 7 PM one night, asking if I was a baby. I quickly changed the subject but I was hurt and I know he will be able to hear my complaint one of these days, to repair that minor damage to our relationship. Does he not know that I spend entire weekends in bed doing nothing but sleeping?


I just got up to use the restroom as my bladder wasn’t having this typing anymore, and I was delighted to use my bidet. This is a bidet installation to a regular toilet that my brother so lovingly and painstakingly installed when I moved into this apartment almost a year ago. If and when I ever move, I’ll have to get him to uninstall the bidet, as I am not adept at such very specific manual tasks which require a lego-like minded assembly motif to the instructions that come with the gadget. Mind you, my Mum did buy me pink legos when I was young, and I enjoyed assembling those buildings, as per the instructions. But those days are long since over and my patience wanes.


“Pure Imagination,” which played in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is playing right now in the form of a piano composition. The melody is familiar although I haven’t watched that movie since childhood. I’ll get my obligatory eight hours of sleep tonight, though sometimes it wickles down to seven hours, in order to be able to function tomorrow. I can’t imagine functioning on less than seven hours of sleep though some people do it regularly. I don’t know how. Tomorrow I’ll send emails to clients, and be the detail-oriented me I know how to be. I’ll service the clients of our financial firm that were assigned to me, and I’ll prepare for upcoming meetings. I won’t call in sick, though I think about it almost every morning when faced with the prospect of having to go to work, particularly on Mondays. I’ll do my once-a-week grocery shopping trip to Trader Joes, get frozen meals for lunch at work and try to buy some fruit and vegetables since those are supposedly good for the constitution. And then I’ll have another mostly peaceful evening, perhaps punctuated by another glass of red wine, although I’ve been trying to curb my drinking habit as of late. But a bottle of red is open, so why not finish it off? And so the cycle continues. And so life continues, my life, specifically. I’m not dead yet and I am aware that death inevitably comes to us all one day. But for now, I am alive, and I’ll keep living until there is no more life to be lived.

A Decade of Healing

So, it’s the new year. Another one. I’ve survived how many new years since I escaped my abusive situation? I guess it’s been nine years now. Nine years, going on a decade. And what do I think of it? Well, meh. But it’s also quite a feat. The fact that I’m still alive and haven’t killed myself? Kind of miraculous. Except nowadays I don’t really have this urgent need to kill myself. It comes and it goes but I am able to weather the storm.


I don’t know if I’m partial to writing as much any longer about how I feel and about my situation. In the earlier years of my recovery I had the need to write and write and write. But now, not so much. And that’s okay. I get away with writing occasionally.


I had a scare last night. Trauma memories came crashing in and I thought I was losing my shit. It hurt so bad. I just cried a ton until I couldn’t cry anymore, and then I slept. Sleep is renewing. It’s where the body and mind heals themselves. Imagine if you couldn’t sleep. What kind of a life would that be? Well, I know someone who has bad insomnia and let’s just say, he’s really not doing well.


I wish the bad guys in the world, the abusers, the murderers, the bludgeoners of bad will, I wish they would all just stop with the crap so that the good people in the world could go on living their lives. And whilst we have a justice system, that justice isn’t always served, as in my case. Mine is a cold case in the justice system and likely won’t be renewed. I didn’t have any proof of what had happened to me, so no legal justice could be served. How sad is that? Years of rape and abuse just amounts to nothing.


And yet I persist. I exist. I continue to live and to thrive. Occasionally I have setbacks, but then I get back on my feet and do it all over again, each and every day. I live. I manage to live, somehow.

A Piece of Writing

What makes music so beautiful? What makes it so perfect? What makes it so special? Why is it that I am crying at the mere thought of creating such beauty when I know I don’t have the skill, but to listen. What is it about music which produces tears?


Watching the Soloist this evening, on my phone, since I don’t own a television, brought some humanity to my otherwise mundane days. I’ve felt lately that I have no purpose in life. Yes, I am my dog’s mom. I am a good friend to a few people. I am a sister and a daughter and a patient to a very special therapist. But there are days I wish that my life would just end.


I don’t have the skill when it comes to creating great melodies but I do have words and with my words I sing until I feel better, until I have created a picture of something that I could imagine swallowing whole, like swallowing a pill to make things seem better if only for a few moments.


Somewhere in life there has to be a purpose for me still being here. My mother has counted the number of times I’ve tried to take my life. Maybe it helps her. I’ve lost count and I dream of the end of my pain all the time. I just want my pain to end. When I looked up the year The Soloist was released, in 2009, it brought me back to my painful years of being abused. The feeling never quite leaves you, when you’ve experienced that much pain in your life. The feeling of being raped, of having every aspect of your life controlled and not having a say, it never quite leaves you. I want to keep practising saying “no” because my “no” was disregarded so many times. It just wasn’t a thing.


I feel like I have a wet beard because my tears have traveled down the length of my face and have stopped at the hairs of my chinny chin chin. And just like that, with the swipe of a long-armed sleeve, they are gone. My piano has been vacant for over two months, not being played, no sounds being produced. All I can do is sleep on the weekends. I don’t make a sound. I don’t disturb anyone but myself and the waves I make with followers on my Twitter account. It’s as if I don’t exist and I really don’t care to exist.


Pain makes tears seem easy. Some people who have experienced pain cannot bring themselves to cry, and they’ve envied my tears. It’s true! Tears are a way of releasing emotions that have built up, festering, for some time. They come and they go, just as emotions do. The pain comes, and then the pain goes, and somehow, I get to live in the present with the past in the past, once again, where it belongs.

A Letter to my Therapist

To My Therapist,

I don’t understand why I keep looking to the past. Why I can’t just stay in the present. It’s like I’m trying to look for some kind of proof. Something that proved something. Only, I don’t know what that is. Why did I go back through my emails and download old modeling photos of myself? Why did I look at those photos from 2008 and the years surrounding it? What was I looking for? What do I want to prove? Who do I want to prove it to? Why why why why why.


I wrote a blog today. That prompted me to look at past blogs. I skimmed them. I don’t know if it does me any good to read what I’ve already written. Gotten my thoughts and feelings out once. Why read those words again and potentially dredge up old feelings again? Why can’t I leave it alone. Do you know I was abused? Raped? Sold for sex? Of course you do. You’ve been listening to me talk for over ten years. But I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it. The one thing I do know and believe is that you will never leave me. One day you may retire but you will still be there. One day you may no longer be on earth but everything you have taught me will be a part of me still then. Feelings come and go and I remain. That’s the most important thing I have learned from you. I want you to tell me that phrase over and over again. I won’t get mad at you. It won’t get old. Tell me, please. Tell me that my feelings will come and then they will go. Tell me that I will still remain in existence.


I didn’t kill myself. “Not yet.” At least, I haven’t killed myself yet. But the funny thing is, and there is nothing funny about it, that I don’t want to kill myself anymore. Not right now. I don’t want to kill myself. I don’t want to die.
Tonight I ate a lot of cheese and carbs. I had Trader Joe’s gorgonzola gnocchi microwaved from frozen. I ate the whole packet. Then I had a slice of cheesecake, which I defrosted from the freezer by leaving it out on the counter for a while. It was pretty good! I enjoy food. Eating food is a part of living. I am alive. I do what living people do. I eat and poop and go to work and sleep and get up the next day and do it again. I do what living people do, which means that I must be alive and living. I never thought I would make it this far. I never thought that I would, in 2021, still be alive. The grand master plan was to be dead long ago. But that didn’t happen.


Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for being my one person audience. Thank you for always reading the words that I write and for never giving up on me. Thank you for allowing me to reschedule our next appointment although I would have much rather kept the appointment, but I am prioritizing seeing my brother over seeing you. Living people also have priorities. I make priorities. I decide what gets to happen in my life. My life, my choice. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. I don’t have to have sex with anyone if I don’t want to. I get to decide now. I get to make those decisions. I get to see you, or not. I get to be me. I get to keep on living.


Talk to you soon.

My Life: a Story

As my fingers grace the soft, delicate keys of my keyboard, my eyes become fixated on the black lettering appearing on my screen and I go into a sort of trance. I have been writing for years, and the assuaging cadence of the words never fail to lull me into this deep place of comfort. I feel comforted at being able to put my thoughts and feelings into words, even if it’s just a long drawn-out description of how much I enjoy the sensation of writing. For it is writing that keeps me alive. Every time I connect with my therapist via email, whether short and cryptic or long and sensuously, unnecessarily wordy… it all seems necessary to me at the time. I need to connect with him. I need to connect with you. I need to connect with my reader.

The tears have dried up and my breathing has become regulated again. The snotty sniffling of the after-cry shock has subsided and I’m back to my “normal” self. But then again, what is normal, where I often feel depressed and all I want to do is to sleep? I can’t bear to pick up a figurative pen and let the words flow out of me. There are times whence I am stunted and just dead-to-the-world and I can’t write. Luckily today is not one of those days.

I got triggered. You see, I used to model. I used to model for photographers and I was skinny and very unhappy. The modeling brought me a sense of something that I could control, in the midst of a time when I was being abused and my life was very much not in my own control. I was miserable and trying to not let anyone know that fact. Now, it has been over a decade that I’ve been in recovery. I’m no longer skinny nor do I want to be. And I read an article about a model whose risqué images had been published by a photographer in a book without her consent for his profit and gain. Why “his”? Well, it had to be a man. I don’t think a female photographer would have done such a thing. Prove me wrong please!

When I think of my modeling days, I think of the sexual abuse I endured at the time. Being sold for sex and raped by countless men. I was drugged with alcohol and was told to comply. Well, it’s not like I was given a choice. Being raped was my normal. Being sold, and my body used as a commodity, that was what was normal for me. I had become accustomed slowly by my abuser to that sort of life. During the thick of it, I simply didn’t know any different. I didn’t have any friends I could talk to about my feelings.

My abuser was staunchly against me seeing a therapist but that was one thing he couldn’t keep me from. You see, I knew something was wrong with my life, but I didn’t know what that was. I wanted to be the “perfect wife” for my abuser, and I thought a perfect wife did everything her so-called husband told her to do. She was obedient. When I did what I was told to do I received what I thought was endless praise. What I now know to be a mockery of my very being.

For the first couple years of therapy, I didn’t talk about the sexual abuse that was happening in my relationship and outside of it. Everything was intertwined. I don’t even know anymore. But I talked about other things, until finally, here and there, I began mentioning that there were things that I didn’t like, or things that seemed off. Up until then, I hadn’t had a voice. I was not allowed to have an opinion. I didn’t know who I was. I had no sense of self. But slowly, over time, week after week for an hour at a time, I began to have a voice for the first time in my life during those therapy sessions.

Looking at the self-aware person I am now, I don’t know who that bold, sexy, seemingly sex-addicted abused young woman was. Admittedly I did look somewhat sexy in those modeling photos. But I also looked emaciated, with hollow, empty eyes peering forth at a relentless truth that was staring me in the face, only I didn’t see it at the time. I had to get out. I had to get out of the relationship because it was killing me. Either I was going to die or I was going to kill myself.

I thank my lucky starts that the inevitable happened: after years of being sexually abused I became so severely depressed that I couldn’t hold a job. With our two incomes my abuser had planned on buying a second home to house his girlfriend (while he was still technically married to me). He couldn’t do that when I announced one day that I had quit my well-paid corporate career job. Of course he was pissed! It took him two more years to divorce me. Or should I say, it took two more years of me going to sometimes twice weekly therapy before I could leave him. Either way you slice it, the apple is cut, and we separated.

Years of recovery ensued. He was a narcissist. Nothing he had done was wrong and he quickly moved on with his life and got remarried, even had a kid. I feel sorry for that kid and worry about the potential of her being abused. But that is not my responsibility. My therapist tells me it is the parents’ responsibility to keep their child safe. So unfortunate is this world where children get abused, even sexually, by the ones who are indebted with their safety.

The type of life I have now is unimaginable. Ten years ago I could never have imagined the sort of life I have now. I have room to breathe. I have an income. I pay my bills. I am in charge of my life. No one else tells me what to do. I no longer starve myself. I no longer cut on my arms with knives and scissors to punish myself and to make myself bleed. I no longer wish to kill myself. I’m not in and out of psych wards. I live in a suburb in a one bedroom apartment by myself. It’s just me and my dog, Samuel. He is my ESA – Emotional Support Animal. In fact, if I didn’t have a note from my psychiatric doctor stating such, I wouldn’t be allowed to live here with Samuel. He keeps me alive. He keeps me going. He gives me a reason to get up each day and go to work.

Working 40 hours a week isn’t easy for a formerly and somewhat still currently depressed person. There are often mornings I wake up and I don’t want to be awake. I’d much rather sleep the day away and not be conscious, because when you are conscious, you think, and thoughts can go awry if you think of the unpleasant, and in my case, traumatic, past. To top it off, I’ve had Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I don’t know if that diagnosis would currently apply, but certainly my unstable behaviour of the past was indicative of a traumatised person.

And this all brings us back to the act of writing. If I couldn’t write, I don’t know what I would do. I need, in a visceral way, to connect to other people. I’m writing as if I’m writing to one specific reader, and I hope this touches each individual person who has taken the time to read the words I have written. Thank you.

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.