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.

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.

From Suicidal Back to the World of the Living

I recently reconnected with an old friend or acquaintance whose existence I had forgotten because of ECT’s – electroconvulsive therapy treatments. I was suicidal last week. Really suicidal. Do you have any idea how much energy is sucked out of you when you are suicidally depressed? It takes all the energy you have and you’re lucky if you can spend 12 hours out of 24 hours awake because all you can do is sleep. You sleep because it eases the pain of being alive and experiencing the painful emotions which plague you and which won’t go away. But as always they end up dissipating and going away and then 4 days after you thought you were going to have to go into hospital so they could keep you from making another attempt on your life, you feel differently and all of a sudden life isn’t so difficult any longer. It’s a whirlwind to experience, a major storm in the middle of a deep, dark sea of despair and hopelessness. And the only reason you choose to stay alive is that there is one person who, next to your mother, has never given up on you, and that’s your therapist. I stayed alive for my therapist this week.

I am no longer feeling suicidal and the pain has subsided and now my life is back to the painless nagging worries of how I am going to manage to get five loads of laundry done before Monday comes around. Thank God for my dog, he has saved me so many times. His presence in my life is a Godsend and I am absolutely in love with him. His wheezing loud snoring breaths as he sleeps next to me are comforting and as long as I know that his little 12-pound body is right there next to mine, then everything is right with the world.

When you feel suicidal, that’s because there is something which precipitated those feelings and triggered them. I am well aware of the situation which triggered my suicidal ideation. I made the poor choice of putting myself into an unsafe situation with a man, and that’s all I am going to say about that.

My landlord wants to sell the condo I am renting to me. That means my monthly payments will go up by about $400 which is over $4,000 per year which is a lot. I’m contemplating it but if I don’t buy this place then I will have to move and I’m pretty content where I am right now. I’ve been living here for over three years and I don’t want to move. Wednesday I was going to check myself into the hospital and four days later I am considering buying a home to hold onto for the future. I’m actually thinking about the future now. Isn’t that amazing?

My therapist suggested I join a DBT skills group as a reminder. DBT is Dialectic Behaviour Therapy, it’s a form of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and is very useful for dealing with overwhelming emotions. They teach you skills to use when you get the urge to harm yourself. It has been helpful in the past and I know it would be helpful now. I am thinking about joining a group, I just have to make the actual decision.

Now that I’m not suicidal what shall I do? I could touch the electric keyboard that I haven’t busted out for over a year. I could paint, I could colour with my fabulous gel pens in my adult colouring book which I haven’t touched for a year, I could do some handwriting in my journal… then there’s the practical side of things. I need to get my shoes repaired, have the tires on my car rotated, do laundry, do the cooking for the week because I never have energy during the week to do any cooking… all of these things to do. I never end up doing many of them. Today I am going to church, then going to see a friend for coffee. Back to the world of the living.

Family and Loneliness

Today I am not depressed. It’s a really weird feeling. Something’s off. Something is not right. It’s Friday and I didn’t go to work today. I am not working for the next five days. I am spending time with my family. We are in mourning. The greatest shock of my grandfather’s life was to find his wife of 60 years dead one morning in their bed. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to go soon too, now that this has happened. We all thought she was going to outlive him. She was almost five years younger than him and women live longer than men in general.

I feel normal being here. I don’t feel out of place. I feel like I belong here, even if it’s only for a very brief time. My work place is very supportive. The people have been kind, empathetic, expressive of their sympathy. They told me not to think about work while I’m gone, and for the most part I’m not. I have certain daily responsibilities there that I have to complete. I spend 40 hours a week at work. It’s my life. I go to school two nights a week. I don’t have many friends. I’m alone most of the time. All I have is my distant family and my work. It’s not much but it’s a semblance of a life put together.

I am not suicidal. Two nights ago I was deadly suicidal and all I could think about was how I was going to kill myself. Apparently it’s not possible to overdose on Klonopin. I researched it. That was going to be my go-to. Now I have to think of an alternate plan. I still think that killing myself is a good idea and I’d like to reserve that option for a later date. I can imagine killing myself and ending my life. All my things would go to Goodwill and I would simply stop existing. I wouldn’t have to deal with life any more.

My emotions shift so rapidly. It’s unsettling. One day I will be completely suicidal, and the next, I’ll be thinking about the idea of living as a novel concept. I almost said, I think about what I’m going to do the next day, or focusing on what I’ll be eating at my next meal, or planning something for the weekend, but I actually don’t get that far. My thoughts are focused on the present moment and if I start to think too far ahead I become more depressed. Most nights when I go to bed and think about getting up for work the next day, I feel depressed. I don’t think eight hours is enough sleep but I don’t want to sleep more than that during the week. Waking up for work is just so difficult. Maybe it’s because I don’t love my job. I wonder what life would be like if I really liked my job. I probably wouldn’t mind waking up every day.

I want to see my therapist. I wish I could see my therapist several times a week. Sometimes I love him because he makes me feel good, and sometimes I hate him and get angry at him because he makes me think about difficult things and because I have to deal with my emotions. I write to him every day, usually just before going to bed. I sum my day up and reflect on my emotional state. It’s another form of journaling, and knowing that someone on the other end is reading about my experience. Knowing that he cares makes all the difference. He regularly references important content of my emails without me mentioning anything in the session, so I know he reads them. I got in trouble at work and he knew about it even though it was just one sentence in the middle of a myriad of sentences.

Being “home” with my family always feels strange. It’s a fragmented family dynamic. There is power play and negotiating that takes place. My grandfather is very particular about the way things get done and he needs to have it done his way. For example, I was helping him cook today, and I touched the packaging of the fish, and he made me wash my hands. He didn’t want anything fish-related to contaminate the rest of the kitchen. I suppose that’s an Indian thing too. The concept of “juta” or germs. Meat cannot touch the vegetables if someone is vegetarian. For me, I’ll just take the meat out of a sandwich and still eat the sandwich. I don’t care if it touches, as long as I don’t ingest it. Pescatarian, is rather what I am because I eat fish.

Life in my grandfather’s home is like stepping back in time. There’s an old-school radio with antenna in the kitchen, and all the furniture is really old and antique. There are photos hanging on the walls which have been hanging there for half a century. They never change. It’s always the same in that house. He has gardeners who help with the roses, and the fruit trees and the garden. The outside of the house is pristine, clean-cut and modern. The inside is worn and antiquated.

I really don’t mind being alive right now. Maybe it’s because I’m seeing family members. It’s a place where I belong. My life in the isolated city where I live feels fake. It feels like I’m trying so hard and I’m just pretending. It’s hard. It’s loads of effort. I’m surrounded by all of my things now, since I moved, but it doesn’t make me happy. It does make my life easier now that I have a better living situation, but I’m definitely not happy. I don’t have the energy to go out on dates and meet new people. My life consists of going to work, school, and then sleeping on weekends. I never cook. I don’t eat fresh foods. I barely exercise. I don’t have much of a life right now. Maybe somehow that will change and I’ll stop giving so much focus to the bridge where I want to jump off. I want things to be like today, but all the time. I don’t want to be depressed and I don’t want to be lonely. I am so desperately lonely at my home right now.