After the incredible session with S on Monday, I had one that I felt really unsatisfied with on Wednesday. I was unsatisfied because I was in a confused state of mind so for the first half an hour, we talked about something that I didn’t feel was very important and didn’t hit the points that I wished it had which unfortunately, because I was so confused, I wasn’t even sure what points I did want us to hit. I also felt unsatisfied because with only 20 minutes left, I had remembered an 8-year-old memory and had brought it up. It was something that had impacted me so much and had devastated me so badly 8 years ago that I had buried all the memories connected to it for that amount of time and had never thought of it again until Wednesday. Because we only had 20 minutes, after I had explained all kinds of details to S, we didn’t have time to process any of the information that I had presently. We briefly talked about how disappointing people had been towards me then and how cruel what they did to me had been.
S then asked me the question that he now asks me at the end of every session, “How are you feeling safety wise? Do you think you’ll be ok?”
“I think so,” I had responded, despite feeling the beginnings of neediness. “I don’t know. Just because of what we’d talked about, something I’ve not talked about in a long time…”
“Just feeling raw and vulnerable right now?” S asked.
“Yeah… Um… I might be alright?” I said uncertainly.
“What do you think you need to do to kinda manage this? Do you need to write about it? Do you need to draw? Do you need to leave it in here for the next time?” S asked.
“I don’t know… Maybe I need to write about it…. Because what had happened then was 8 years ago, when it happened, I just shut everything down and buried it…” I said. I had made the wrong choice then. I should’ve chosen to leave the issues there in his office until the next time I see him.
So, because I didn’t leave the issues with him in our imaginary chest that holds all of my difficult topics and issues in his office, I took the unprocessed pain with me as I left his office.
Lately, whenever I’m left alone after a difficult therapy session, I can almost never cope. I always go into the dark places of my mind and the part of me that doesn’t want to recover will bring out all kinds of nasty things.
When I walked out of S’ office, I felt devastated all over again. Just moments ago, I was fine but the minute the door closed behind me and I walked down to the first floor, I felt lost and confused. I sat at the steps of the building that housed CAPS for half an hour because I didn’t know what I should do next. I didn’t have to tutor my student until 1pm and it was only 11.30.
When I finally got up, my legs walked me over to the parking garage that overlooks CAPS. I climbed up the steps to the 5th floor – the top floor – and as I reached the top landing of the final staircase, I wondered what I was doing there. The parking garage was empty.
As I was getting ready to step out from the stairwell, a cop car on patrol cruised past me and inside, I hoped that the cop would stop, ask me what I was doing at the empty parking garage and shoo me away. He didn’t. He briefly stopped and looked at me but didn’t say anything. He drove away.
Since I didn’t encounter any resistance, I stepped out of the stairwell and into the parking garage. I was indignant to see that there wasn’t any kind of barrier at all to prevent someone from stepping up onto one of the short pillars and jump off. The pillars came up to the height of my chest and had bars that would’ve made them easily climbable.
I went to the edge and pressed myself against one of the pillars. I looked down. The parking garage didn’t look like it was very high – it was maybe 40 feet high? I don’t know… It did give me a perfect view of the city’s skyline though – it was beautiful.
As I looked down, I contemplated my next decision. I didn’t know what to do. A part of me wanted my life to end so that I could stop feeling the pain that I’m constantly in – so that I could stop being a burden to others. Another part of me suddenly felt afraid. Now faced with my mortality, I was suddenly afraid. I wasn’t afraid of the actual death per se – I was more afraid of the prospect of attempting suicide and surviving it with long-term severe injuries. After all, I felt like the parking garage really wasn’t high enough for me to die from.
Yet, I still stood there at the edge for an hour. All the time, I talked to myself, still not knowing what to do, still feeling distressed. In my distress, I sent S an email that to me, sounded desperate. I wished that he was there with me.
I wrote without a header or a signature, this email:
So I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now. I feel kinda aimless. I can’t believe that the top floor of the parking garage is low enough that anyone can just jump from it. I thought for sure that there would be a higher barrier than just a couple of wires… I guess I’m just up here thinking. I don’t even know why I’m writing you. You’re right. I have difficulty deciding what to do for myself. Even now I can’t decide what I want to do. Why do I need people so much? When I’m alone, I lose direction.
After an hour of internal fighting between the part of me that wanted me to step up onto the pillar and step off and the part of me that was still rational, I had thought about how Hubster would react when he found out that I was dead, I thought about S and how I couldn’t do this to him and his career. I couldn’t let him have a client who had died by suicide tarnish his career. When I thought about these two people – who were really important to me – my negative part lost control and the rational adult regained it. I walked myself down the stairs and out of the parking garage.
I then wrote an apology to S, telling him not to worry about me because I had managed to talk myself down from the parking garage. I told him that the rational adult had regained control. Then I headed to the tutoring session that I had promised that I’d be at. I carried the burden of my 8-year-old memory with me and subconsciously allowed it to consume my thoughts and emotions. By the time Hubster came to pick me up, I was in a foul mood and couldn’t be cheered. At about 7.40pm, after some prodding from Hubster, I finally exploded into tears and told him what S and I had discussed.
In between sobs, I told him that I felt like everything that had happened was my fault – that I didn’t find any meaning in life. That I couldn’t accept what it means to be bisexual/gay as a Christian. That nothing means anything anymore. I felt all alone in my struggles as I cried really hard in my room.
This morning, I struggled with the idea of going to see S again during his on-call hours. I knew that he was on-call today between 11am and 1pm and despite my distress, a part of me didn’t want me to go for the walk-in session. That part of me felt ashamed for what had happened on Wednesday when I had gone up to the parking garage to attempt to take my life. I also felt ashamed because I felt like I was sabotaging my own recovery and therefore, did not deserve to be helped. Finally, the rational part won out and I asked Hubster to drop me off at CAPS. I walked up to the front desk and D told me to fill out the BHM – “You can never not fill that out!” She said chirpily while I felt nervous about seeing S again.
S walked out to greet me moments after I filled out the questionnaire.
“Thank you for seeing me,” I said, needing to make sure he knew how much I appreciated his seeing me again despite having already seen me twice this week.
S told me that he had been expecting me to come in during his on-call hours. He knew me well enough to know that I would reach out in moments of distress. I told him that I had struggled with that decision because of the shame I was feeling but ultimately, took his advice for whenever I’m feeling distressed to come in for a walk-in session.
For the next hour and 15 minutes, we dealt with all the issues that came up for me and all the pain I was feeling. I cried through it all. All the time feeling like I couldn’t be helped. He told me that I was back at that place again – the place where I would constantly blame myself for all the terrible things that has happened in my life, taking responsibility for others who should be the ones who felt ashamed for what they’d done, protecting those who shouldn’t be protected for how horribly they had acted towards me.
I was also back at the place where I felt like I didn’t deserve the help – that I didn’t have a right to it because of how I was sabotaging my own progress.
“Yeah… Yeah… The thing is, I can’t stop this feeling of guilt and this feeling of shame. And feeling like I just don’t, that I just don’t deserve this help… And um, I feel bad too just because I know that um, I know also Hubster needs help too but he’s not able to get it you know? And just feeling like I wish there was some way he could get help too but… I don’t know… Somehow, somehow part of me just feels like it wants to do this by itself…”
“It wants to do what by itself?” S asked for clarification.
“Try to get better… Because I don’t want to feel like, I’m weak or…”
“So talking to me, or coming in here make you feel weak?” S asked.
“Yeah like other people can help themselves you know? And I feel like I can’t… At this moment, at least, I can’t feel like I can do that… So just feeling like, how much help can a person ask for? Just, I don’t know…”
“It’s interesting what you’d just said, that for you, you’re asking for too much help, you don’t have a right to that help. When J, he can’t get the help. It seems like, I mean that it sounds very lonely. Like you feel like you’re the only one, like that doesn’t have a right to it, but other people, they don’t get it because they can’t. For you, you shouldn’t get it because you don’t deserve it…”
“Yeah… Yeah…” I sobbed. ”And that’s the thing, it’s like, I’m getting help but every time we take one step forward, I force myself back two steps. It just feels like, it’s frustrating… I know that you’ve mentioned once, you get confused too because things get better and the next thing you know, I’m here again… And I do feel alone… I mean, I’m trying to find other ways to get support… So that I can kinda relieve that burden from you… But I’m not finding it…”
“So even in this relationship, you feel like it’s about relieving a burden, even for me… So I don’t have to work as hard or something…”
“Yeah…” I said.
“I mean that sounds pretty difficult too, like even in this relationship that’s here for you to get support and have help. It’s like you’re not doing enough…”
“Yeah…” I agreed again.
“I mean it does sound a lot like what you’ve described in other relationships where you hit that point where you feel like a burden and the need to start pulling back…”
“Yeah… And I think that’s why I was kinda afraid of coming here… Because uh, I know you’ve helped me a lot and I know you’ve been helping me as well. I didn’t want you to feel like, ‘Oh great, here she comes again’, I didn’t want to be that difficult client. The one that you start feeling like she’s not helping herself, she keeps coming here because she’s not helping herself…”
“Well Jules, it is a process. I mean I know I have mentioned some surprise in the past, but I mean my reaction is always like I said before that I do care about you, and I worry about you, and I want you to get better, not so that I can not see you as much, or so that I don’t have to work as hard. But because I want you to be happy. I want you to feel good about yourself! Because I think you deserve to feel better!”
“Yeah…” I said, trying to accept the kind words S had just said.
We worked on my issues a little more, S channeling all his care, concern, worry, and experience into helping me refocus my thoughts and cope. By the end, he asked me to think about the question that I had wanted to post on Facebook last night – I had wanted to say to my Facebook friends, ‘If I’ve ever impacted you in a positive way in some way or another, please post here to let me know’ – because I felt like, maybe I just needed to hear some kind words from people. I didn’t post it because I told myself that I didn’t want people’s pity. (S reminded me, “There it is again! That feeling like you shouldn’t be pitied, that you’re a burden…”) I was also afraid of the kind of responses I’d get.
So when I left S’ office this afternoon, I wrote that question. In a move that’s very uncharacteristic of me, I allowed myself to be vulnerable as I wrote this:
I realized that I needed help.
What I didn’t expect was the amount of responses I got:
When S had asked me to think about that question and what people’s answers would be (i.e. how have I impacted their lives in a positive way?) I could only think of 3 instances – one was when I helped El with her trigonometry questions and she claimed that without me, she wouldn’t have gotten an A, another was when I had gotten an email from a student that I had tutored last semester who told me that they’d gotten an A for their finals and had gotten a B for their overall grade, and the last was when Q told me that I was so brave to confront my sexuality issues that are deeply rooted in my faith. I didn’t think I’d have more than a dozen responses but I did.
I felt so touched by everyone who had reached out. I especially was touched by how personal each of the stories were because I had impacted these people in very distinct and different ways. I was just floored by how kind people were to me, in not only running to my aid when I asked for it but also with what they said to me. A couple of them even private messaged me with messages of hope and support. My “person/human”, SH also contacted me. He wouldn’t stop pinging my Messenger until I answered him, where I had to hurriedly tell him that I was in the middle of tutoring my student and couldn’t respond to his messages.
This then led me to post this at the end of the night:
It was also uncharacteristic of me to reveal that I had tried to attempt suicide. I never ever want to reveal that because I don’t want questions. I feel ashamed when I get attention from people (despite also craving it desperately – that’s why I feel so conflicted. I have conflicting desires). I also never want anyone to worry for/about me.
But I did it. I was expecting backlash but nothing I’ve gotten from anyone so far has been anything remotely negative. I am so very grateful.
I realize now that I have been stubbornly trying to chug along on my own (while leaning on S for some support) but largely trying to do everything myself because I felt unworthy to be supported by others. I know I am so very critical of myself, I can’t seem to help it.
Despite that critical side of me though, I feel kinda proud that I had actually practiced self-care and posted the question to ask for help. I think I really did take care of myself at that point by asking others to help me see that I am worthy. That I am enough.