Current State of Affairs

Re-invigorated by the overwhelming positive response from my last blog, I shall attempt to humour you with some fanciful details of my current life as it stands, which is not so unlike my blog from last week. I had a mostly soporific weekend punctuated by a lovely dinner with friends. (Yes I do have some friends here in this not-so-new area of the world… it will soon be almost a year since I moved here). I have a new four-legged trailer, literally, attached at my hip (okay, figuratively); this creature wants to make sure I’m not out of his sight at all. I’m surprised, as I would deem him to be slightly neglected due to my depressive sleeping activities, but he seems to want to beg to differ. It’s as if he’s just begging to be petted. And so, the petting shall commence shortly.


In the meantime, I realized that whilst one of the hundred or so residents of my complex is using the gym, I might best make use of my time by doing some much-needed laundry. I seem pretty level-headed as of late. That means that my emotional state-of-being is even-keeled and I even feel invigorated today, which is surprising, it being a Monday. I’m impressed with myself. In fact, I’m doing so well that I’m seeing my therapist in two weeks rather than weekly.


“You’re only going to harm yourself, and then pass out,” the employee of the county mental health ward said to me, as I had barricaded myself from intruders into the room, only to wrap a towel around my neck in defiance of the insidious beasts that ran the ward. Did this have to do with my post-traumatic stress disorder? Probably. It’s a memory that popped up from January in the aftermath of my suicide attempt. Evidently I am still processing this memory. Healing from PTSD is not linear. No one can claim it to be so. Trauma memories pop up time and time again as intrusively as salty anchovies on a pizza… Can you tell I’m about to eat a pizza? 

I don’t know why that memory popped up but I’m not opposed to it either. It brings no significant feelings of remorse, more of disdain for the staff at county mental health. 

Before dinner on Saturday we stopped by FLAX art and design, a fabulous art supply warehouse where I dared to purchase a whatchamacallit… one of those things that you mix paint on to then apply haphazardly, in my case, to a canvas. I also spent $95 on stickers, gorgeous fake tattoos, a fancy set of colouring pens, and a mindfulness colouring book, among other things, which are intended to be gifts to a certain someone down the road (for her birthday). Hint: she’ll be 9 years old in a few months, must be a pretty special someone! I’m just delighted that I even have a gift for her this year. I’m pretty adept at getting birthday cards for special people but not so practised at buying gifts.

A little whiny creature is reminding me that dinner is sitting on the counter and has yet to be eaten. It’s cooling down from the oven. I am also reminded of how fortunate I am to have my very own apartment… that I don’t have to share it with anyone else. My dog can whine and I can talk out loud on the speaker phone without having to apologize to anyone.

The pizza was delicious and the scraps went to a certain someone who was begging for them. What would we do without our furry or feathered beings? I am reminded that I have to do better by him in the form of more frequent baths and medications to be dispensed daily instead of merely when I remember. He is truly a pleasure to come home to, lest the turds I find because he couldn’t wait to go outside.

All in all, things are well. Isn’t that great to hear? I couldn’t have imagined this being the case five months ago. Thanks for being a part of my journey and I look forward to checking in with you again soon. Peace.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I am okay now ~ a reflection.

Mindfulness Meditation. It’s what I just now attempted to do. I managed it for a whole ten minutes by focusing on my breath. When my mind wanders, gently bring it back to my breath. According to Dan Siegel, a wonderful psychiatrist and researcher who has written several books, we can rewire our brain and our neural networks just by practising focused attention. If I am not in tune with my emotions, or if my emotions are overwhelming and dysregulated, I can practice mindfulness and eventually that practice, even if it’s only five minutes a day, will help me, in the long run, to be more aware of what is going on inside. Dan Siegel calls it “the sea inside.

I am drinking hot tea. I have delicious-smelling candles on. Today is Sunday. Instead of going to church, I decided to cook steel-cut oatmeal, which takes about half an hour to cook, and I opted for my mindfulness practice to be my church today. Sometimes we just need to be quiet and calm. Sometimes being around lots of people, albeit that they are friendly and smiling, can be, well, just not the right thing at that time. We are all different and we all have different needs. Today my need was turning inward and spending time with myself. It really feels good. I even watered my plants today! That’s a huge accomplishment because it doesn’t often get done. My avocado plant which I grew from seed is about a foot and a half tall and over half a year old. I am very proud of this accomplishment.

Dan Siegel also talks about “the rim of awareness.” This is in his book called “Mindsight,” which I am listening to. It is read by the author himself. The rim of awareness is like a bicycle wheel. There is the outer rim, then the spokes, which are like our different thoughts, and then the inner circle which is the “hub.” I think of the hub as my safe place. Right now my focus is on feeling safe, and if that means I need to sleep twelve hours a day because it feels safer than experiencing my strong emotions, then so be it. I used to get very angry with myself for oversleeping. There was a time in my life when I have slept and stayed in bed for 22 hours a day, multiple days in a row. Now I am not so depressed and this sleeping a lot is still a protective measure and a defence mechanism. I am defending myself against the difficult thoughts and emotions which come up.

Now that I have been in therapy for over ten years, well, I have a better understanding of the sea inside. I can name my emotions. Another saying in psychology is, “name it to tame it.” It’s true. If you can identify and put words and a name to your emotions, then it gives those emotions less power by the simple blessing of your greater awareness. It’s a powerful thing, awareness, conscious awareness and focused attention.

In my mind, it has been many years since I left the man who had abused and controlled me for almost a decade of my life. I left him in 2012, not knowing whether I could survive without him because he made sure I depended on him entirely, in every aspect, and also knowing that I would not survive another day living with him because I was extremely suicidal and had attempted to take my life several times already. I am safe now. I have to remind myself that no one is abusing me. No one is criticising me or putting me down. No one is telling me what to do. No one is making me do things I don’t want to do. No one is hurting me on the inside or on the outside, physically. I pray to God that he protects my mind, my soul, my body and my spirit. I pray that I remain safe and that the nightmares don’t come back. He has been in my dreams lately, occasionally, but he no longer scares me. I have my power back. I have the power I always knew I had but was too afraid to exert.

I am okay now. I just have to keep telling myself that. Sometimes I feel not okay, and those times are difficult to get through. As my therapist always reminds me, “feelings come and go but I remain.” It works every time he tells me that. It’s like a mantra which gives me comfort and reminds me that I don’t have to let my emotions take over and control me. I get to choose to be okay and I am choosing to be safe.

 

New Year’s Hopes

It’s the new year. I could say I have been waiting for this day to come, but I haven’t. It just came. But I am more than just surviving. I am thriving. At least, that’s what I would like to think. I’ve been back at work for three weeks now. After a leave of absence of three months, being back and even doing well is quite remarkable.

Today is a sunny day. It’s nice. I hope that it will be a sunny year. We often think of bad things, like how I spend more than I make and that that is a problem. But bad things aside, there is room for hope. I hope that I never have to go to the hospital again. I hope that I don’t have any more suicidal episodes. I hope that I can just live my life. “Speranza” is the word in Italian for “hope” and it pops into my mind now and then.

April 13 of this year will have been the seven-year anniversary since I left my abusive ex-husband. Seven years is a long time, actually. Then it will be ten, then twenty, and I’ll have made such a meaningful life for myself that I won’t even have to look back at what was. Of course, there will be a day, I know it, I’m sure of it, that I won’t feel the need to count the years or give any credence or energy to the fact that the anniversary of my departure has gone by. I’ll just be living my life.

I’ve been writing a lot of poetry lately. I honestly don’t know if my poetry will ever actually get published, but I am okay with that. I share my poetry with people I care about and occasionally I will hear back on how much they appreciated reading my poem. Appreciation goes a long way. Other than poetry, I haven’t actually been writing a lot and I know I need to get back to it. I have my leather-bound journal that I write in occasionally, but the two blogs I have running have been rather neglected. I love being able to express myself with words. The written word is something very special. It’s not like oration, not one bit.  You get to put a little bit more thought into something that is written but not said.

I am feeling hopeful. The emphasis is on the “am.” As in, I am. I am and I will be and I will just be. I want to exist. I want to be here, on this earth, living my life. No one is telling me what to do, and I am in charge of my own life. After a lifetime, it seemed, of having every aspect of my life controlled, the feeling of having control of my own destiny is quite remarkable too. How do I describe this feeling? It’s a feeling of satisfaction, of comfort, of self-worth. Can self-worth be a feeling? I know it’s a state of being so I’ll include it in my “feeling” category.

I know I’m going to be okay. I just know it. My dog has been with me for a year and a half already. Every day I walk him, I feed him, and I pet him. I give of myself to him and for me this is healing. Doing everyday things is healing and it’s a part of building my life. If I can just keep on doing everyday things, with calm and peace, then those days will become months and then years, and then a whole lifetime. What am I going to do with my life? Am I going to have children of my own? I still have some time for that left. A lot can happen in five years, and in five years I will be forty years old. From a certain perspective, that’s quite young still. That means that I still have my “whole” life ahead of me. So many things can happen in the decades to come. I just want to be a part of it. I choose to be an active part of my own life. I choose to live. I choose life.

Letter to Myself

Dear Me,

You are worthy. You are so incredibly worthy. You matter. You matter to me. You matter to your Mum and your brother and your other family and friends. You are compassionate. You are caring. You make a positive difference in other people’s lives just by existing. Your existence brings joy to your mother. You used to be her baby and you are still her child even though you are all grown up. She loves you.

Your therapist cares for you. If he didn’t he wouldn’t have been there for you, regardless of your ability to pay him or not, every week for ten years. He has always been there for you. It’s okay to feel angry at people you love. You have a right to your feelings. You have a right to feel whatever you are feeling and to have those feelings be validated.

Here is what your girlfriend said to you recently, let’s memorialize it once and for all: You are beautiful, inside and out. You are intelligent. You are intuitive. You are compassionate. You are giving of your time and love. You are also worthy in every respect.

It’s easy to forget these things when you are feeling down and depressed. It’s not always possible to control your depression but you can take steps to have a more positive outlook. You can remind yourself that you are worthy and that you matter. When you feel like taking your own life know that this feeling will pass. Feelings are there to inform us, and we don’t have to act on them. Practise opposite action and do something nice for yourself when you don’t feel like practising kindness to yourself.

Remember your GRAPES from CBT: Gentle with Self, Relaxation, Accomplishment, Pleasure, Exercise and Social. Remember that doing something in each of these categories every day actually does help. Plan it out at the beginning of the day and try to keep that plan in mind. Remember to take deep breaths and let your belly expand. Don’t just breathe with your chest. Use your gut. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You can do this.

You are strong. You are resilient. You have been through so much worse. You have overcome some of the darkest of times. You are who you are and nothing less. Who you are is everything and you are everything that matters. You are the best you that you can be. Your existence, your well-being is paramount and your survival means everything. Each day that you live you bring hope to others. Each day that you live you bring meaning to the lives of those who were not so fortunate and who lost their battle with depression.

Remember that depression is an illness and you can fight it. You have the tools. Rely on the people around you. Reach out and do not isolate yourself. Pick up the phone and call someone. If you are still reading, then you have proven to yourself that you don’t have to act on your feelings. You can use distractions. You can remind yourself that you are loved, and how much you are loved. Don’t forget that God loves you too. Prayer can help and there is no set way to do it. You can pray however you want and whenever you want. The Lord is here to help you.

With lots of love,

Me