In Preparation for the Life Ahead

It has been a while since I last posted because I have been focused on other things, such as studying for school and working on my new creative art project which involves my three passions: photography, poetry, and painting. Of course, those are endeavours that are outside of the 40 hours a week that I work. My life is so much richer and fuller now. It wasn’t always like this, and not so long ago, as recent as last October, one of my biggest complaints was still that I was unable to get out of bed on the weekends. I would often spend 18 hours or more in bed, yet I managed to get up for work on the weekdays. I didn’t look forward to weekends. My therapist often reminded me that I was making a choice: that I was choosing to stay in bed for almost 24 hours at a time. I was feeling consistently very depressed and it did not feel like a choice.

It’s true: I did spend the last 14 hours in bed and only got up at noon. But right now I am not bothered by it because it did feel like a choice. I went to bed very early at 9:30 and woke up at 7:30 feeling refreshed. But I didn’t want to get up, not really, so I chose to go back to sleep. It was a choice, and had nothing to do with depression.

I am still seeing my therapist two times a week, down from the recent three times a week before he started teaching at the university when the Spring semester began. He teaches in the Education department and works with students who will be spending their careers working with young children. He knows a lot about human development, and how the growing mind works, and what is appropriate for different developmental stages.

I am going to be starting a ten-week group therapy course this week for survivors of sexual assault. It will be at a community center which provides housing for women and their children who have escaped domestic violence situations. I needed to find a group that was not for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, because that is not applicable to me, and most groups that I looked up on the internet were for that subject matter. I wonder if there will be members of the group who experienced ongoing sexual abuse for a number of years, like I did, not just one time.

My therapist told me that because it is a new group, a new cohort of women who have not met before, there are others who are probably also afraid of starting this group. I am feeling scared and I admitted to my therapist yesterday that I don’t feel like I am ready for this. He reminded me, basically, that I am in control and that if I need to step out of the group because it becomes too overwhelming, I can. No one is forcing me to go to this group and if I decide it’s too much I can even drop the group and stop attending.

I have no idea what this group is going to bring up in terms of feelings for me. My hope is that it will be healing, listening to others who have been through what I have been through, reminding me that I am not alone. I know there may be a lot of tears. I realize that painful memories might emerge. I am actually taking time off of work so that I can attend this group, because it starts in the late afternoon before I get off of work.

Currently I am not dating anyone. I have been on multiple dates with four different women, and after some time, I have realized that the special connection which is required for love to form, is not there. Or perhaps it is that I am not attracted enough physically and emotionally to the person, and that there might not be enough intellectual stimulation and room for growth. This one woman who I saw four times over a period of three months, I really liked her. I wanted to hold hands with her and to kiss her. That never happened and the frequency of our meetings was not enough for me. I wanted to see her more often but her schedule did not permit that.

For now I am focusing on my education, my new creative art project which will take place over the next year, my friendships, and therapy. Psychotherapy is the most important component to my life. It provides emotional stability and feeling connected to someone is so vital for me to continue to heal. I love my therapist deeply. There has never been any physical contact between us. I may have shook his hand the first time we met over eight years ago. I often feel like I want to hug him but I know about boundaries in the therapeutic relationship and instead of hugging him I simply tell him when I feel like doing it. Telling him is enough and I know he can appreciate the gesture and my expression of the feelings I have for him.

For a long time I thought of him as a father figure. I know that is counter transference. But I needed it at the time. I needed a protector, someone to take care of me. Since I started paying him a year ago, no longer pro bono as a client, it has helped to establish the boundary and I know that he is not a friend, but my therapist. He is not my father; he is my therapist. The therapeutic bond between a therapist and their patient is, once again, vital to the healing process.

I am preparing for the life that is ahead of me. I feel happiness more often than not, and peacefulness in my heart and in my mind. Occasionally, lately, I feel lonely, but that feeling only stays for a short amount of time, and then it goes. There is nothing that is really missing in my life right now. I have a full life and it will only start to become fuller as time goes on.

I had an episode a few weeks ago whence I got triggered and felt extremely suicidal. It was an emergency. I called the suicide hotline and then took the rest of the day off of work and was able to see my therapist within a period of two hours. I’m sure there was a lot to write about to help me process the event, but I chose to deal with it in other ways. I suffered for a short amount of time, two days, but it was intense. I had a plan to commit suicide and I had the intent to carry through with that plan. I was convinced that it was the right thing to do. The pain that had emerged suddenly was too much to bear and I needed to end my life. Seeing my therapist for an hour that day made me agree to not kill myself, and slowly over the next days that suicidal feeling dissipated until it was gone. It had been about six months since I had last felt suicidal, and those six months were quite the record. Although I had been very depressed, I had not been suicidal. Before that, suicidal thoughts and feelings came up about once a month for me. It was very difficult getting through those times.

I am ready for my future to begin. This is my new life and no one can take it away from me. I am in control of my life. I am an independent woman and I know that I am strong. I provide for myself financially and I am going to put myself through graduate school by taking out loans and then paying them back. I pay my own rent, I buy whatever groceries I choose to buy, I choose what to wear and I choose to be abstinent. I am choosing to attend group therapy starting this week and I choose to continue my healing process. I am in control and I get to be genuinely me now. And I am allowed to love myself, finally. I have waited a long time for this.

Some peace of mind

In a few days it will already be September. How do I feel about that? Good, I guess. I mean, I’ve made it this far. What’s to stop me from going further on with my life? I am no longer suicidal and although depression still gets me down, I am able to function during the week. The last time I felt really suicidal was two months ago, and two months of not feeling like wanting to kill myself is a huge deal for me. That was also triggered by my talk to the DDA. The Victims Compensation Program for the state denied my application because too much time has passed since the last time I was abused, but the victim advocate at the courthouse is helping me to petition. It would be nice to get some help.

I’m going on my first date from Match.com this week. He wanted to go for “drinks” but I insisted on meeting at a coffee shop and he conceded, which was a personal victory for me. I don’t want to drink alcohol with someone I don’t know. That just spells danger. Going to dinner is of course more of a commitment than drinks or a coffee, and that is for later if it goes that far. A glass of wine with dinner is different than just going to a bar. I really want to stay away from alcohol and any other bad influences. The nice thing though, is that this man I’m going to see is exactly the same age as me. I want to be with more people around my age. I’m so used to being with older people, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve always gravitated to a generation beyond my own. Even as a child, my brother and I mostly spent time with adults rather than other children. It’s just how things were. There were other children in our lives too, but moving around to different countries made it difficult to really relate.

I should definitely be a psychologist if I can go from the beginning of a paragraph talking about a contemporary issue and within that same paragraph tie it back to my childhood. It’s more of a personal joke. The truth is, I do so desperately want to work in the field of psychology, but I just cannot get myself to study for this entrance exam. I don’t have the attention span of more than 20 minutes, and then I wander off in my mind elsewhere or distract with social media for hours, just to not look at my study books.

This weekend, in lieu of studying, I went to bed at 7:00 in the evening on Friday and finally hauled myself out of bed a whopping 25 hours later at 8:00 Saturday night. I stayed up until midnight distracting myself with social media, and then went to bed again. I was, however, able to find the courage to face my day today and wake up, make myself coffee, take my morning medication and supplement. I started taking SAM-e and I have no idea if it’s helping but it’s ‘au naturale’ and I figure I’ll just keep taking it because it’s supposed to help.

I love my four-day periods. This month mine came a week earlier than expected. I only know because I track it on an app called P-Tracker, which tells me how many days are left until my next one. I find my period to be just an inconvenience and now that I am able to use tampons again, it just makes it so much more convenient and less messy.

I’m finally going to see a general health practitioner after four years of not seeing one. I’ve been to specialist doctors but haven’t gotten my annual health checkup. Who massages their own breasts every week checking for lumps or cancerous growths? I certainly don’t. Overall my body is rather healthy. I’m at a healthy weight. I eat my fruits but not vegetables. I take supplements and a multivitamin. My mum wanted me to see a doctor because of this cough that I perpetually have which sounds hoarse. I didn’t think of it as a big deal.

My theatre friend took me out for coffee today in between rehearsals. I actually spent half an hour in the sun, and it felt lovely. It’s highly unusual for me to spend time in the sun, ever, these days. I still have a t-shirt sleeve tan from the one hour afternoon walk I took with my mum last month. My life really isn’t that bad any more. Nothing dramatic is going on. No more suicide threats, self harm episodes, and crying spells are at an all time low this week compared to the last few weeks. As my therapist said, emotions don’t always feel good. Emotions are also there to inform us, and they come and go. So if it’s uncomfortable, I can count on that feeling dissipating after a while. Life doesn’t have to be so dramatic.

My life is so undramatic, that I still haven’t found energy to participate in hobbies. I don’t go out, almost never. I like to stay home at sit on my couch and do nothing. Evenings and weekends. It’s nice to be out but it’s nice to be home. How do I explain to a prospective dating candidate that I just don’t do anything? I don’t. I don’t go hiking, I don’t go for runs or for a swim or play volleyball. I just go out for coffee and sit and talk and people watch. Now, that isn’t such a bad hobby, is it?

I almost forgot to mention! I entered this poetry contest online! I found out about it while I was surfing the Internet and the deadline was August 30, so I put together a document of 95 pages of poetry (the maximum allowed was 98 pages) and submitted it along with paying a reading fee. It was for a publishing company that only publishes works written by women. I have over 100 unpublished poems that I wrote over a period of three years, and then spent six months to a year typing them up to my Google Docs. There they wait, hoping to one day be published when I have the time and energy to do it. It’s a part of my healing journey. I even performed one of my poems at an open mic night earlier this year and it was tantalizingly fun. I took myself out of my comfort zone and just did it with a friend one night. I was surprised I was able to memorize the thing in less than a week – I didn’t think I had that in me. That capability. I’m not a part of that underground, tightly-knit community of budding poet-artists in town, but I could be. I could be if I wanted to be. There are just other places I would rather focus my energy right now, such as this blog. This blog has become very important to me. I don’t know how to get more people to read my writing, but I wish more did. I want my story and my journey to be known. And I want it to help those who can relate.