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.