Abused

I’ve been abused.

It happened to me as a child.

I’ve talked about it before here on Hitting Reset. I’m not afraid to talk about it anymore. I’ve processed the repeated trauma I sustained as a child with S back in June of 2016. I wrote about that experience in two places: Processing a Childhood Trauma – Thoughts From Therapy #61 AND Thoughts From Therapy – #66 – Childhood Trauma

Speaking about my experience had been frightening at the time, but it also empowered me to be brave. It taught me resilience, and it taught me self-love. I still have a lot to learn, but processing my trauma with S had been so helpful in making me a lot more confident in myself.

When I got older, I was convinced that I’m a wiser person than I was and thus, more capable of protecting myself. I mean, I didn’t have a reason to disbelieve that, or to think otherwise.

So it came as a shock to me then, in September of last year, that I found out that I had been abused again at an older age. And again, it was a repeated abuse. Regardless of someone’s age, I realize that they can still get themselves into abusive situations.

I didn’t realize that I was in one until years later. It is a story I deeply wish to share in hopes of helping others, but it is also a story that I’m still hesitant to share because of some privacy issues, as well as safety issues. I hope that I can build up the courage to get to that point, and still be able to publish the story publicly (as opposed to making this blog a private, invite-only blog because then it’d defeat the purpose of my writing – since my goal is to help others, if people can’t see my story, how is that helpful?) without any personal repercussions.

For now, I just had to get this off my chest – today was the Peer Educators’ Spring Retreat and I had just come back from yet another day of knowledge on health and wellness topics (sexual assault prevention, sexual health, ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs) and mental health were covered today), and subsequent thoughts about the things that we had discussed. The fact that I have a valid and justified story to tell came about from one of those thoughts but at the same time, also came concerns and anxiety over the story.

I’m just fearful of the possibility that my post be read by the people that I want no further association with. >_>

Lessons in Recovery

“I know from the way you stroke my hair, the way you talk to me, the way you look at me, that you really love me,” Chérie said to me yesterday as we laid in bed.

That made my heart melt. As someone who constantly feels like I’m never enough for anyone, it made me realize just how my girlfriend – and also others – see me. Just from the things I do, and the things I say to her, she could tell that I cared about her greatly.

Although my school life has been a huge mess lately, being with Chérie has brought a different kind of clarity and stability to my personal life – this has made it a lot easier for me to deal with the distressing situation that school has become.

I was lucky enough to have gotten the weekend off from work that I was able to spend almost a week with my beloved at her apartment. Her family even invited me for Thanksgiving and I got to meet her parents, and some extended family. Although nerve-wrecking because this was the first time meeting them, I also settled in comfortably without much difficulty shortly after. It was the kind of ease that I never got from meeting my ex’s family.

I was supposed to leave for home tonight but I found that I couldn’t. I had been crying the whole day today because I didn’t want to leave. The pain of separation from Chérie for the next 2 and a half weeks was great and unbearable. I am glad that she’s strong enough for both of us to not cry with me because that would have made it even harder.

I finally decided on a compromise – I would leave at 5am tomorrow morning instead, to make it in time for my shift at the MAC. This has given me a few more precious hours with her. My friend, El, told me that though it’s hard, it must also be a great feeling knowing that there is someone amazing I could look forward to seeing. She’s right. I never looked at it from that perspective because I’ve always just been so used to seeing life from gray-tinted glasses.

The changes that Chérie has catalyzed for me in my life has been so drastic that I really just can’t imagine life without her anymore. I know that I am so much better than I was just a month ago. Even S has noted that several times – telling me how proud he is of me and of the changes I’ve made in my life.

Last session, he asked, “Do you think you could’ve done the same a year ago? Maybe even 6 months ago?”

I shook my head as soon as the words left his lips. “No! No way!” I responded almost immediately. “I couldn’t have done this a year ago… Not even 6 months ago. I feel different. And I can see that I have come a long way…”

“You have!” S said, smiling. “I’m so proud of you!”

His words made me smile. It made me feel proud too – I am proud of myself for how far I’ve come. I know that he and I have done a lot of hard work – he would also often remind me that most of the hardest work was done by me – but I also know how much Chérie has helped catalyze things for me as well.

Most of the hardest work in my recovery happened over the course of a year and a half with S. However, not even a week after I met Chérie, I had managed to take all the groundwork that S and I have laid down and made leaps and bounds of progress. It’s amazing just how one person can make a difference in your life.

Despite that, I am still struggling with many more things – there are days when I still wish that my marriage had worked out; that I didn’t have to struggle as a bisexual person; that I didn’t have to struggle with understanding my faith and the judgments I’ve had to deal with; that I didn’t have to feel so insecure about myself and what I have to offer. It’s just that despite the struggles, I am able to work past them – with Chérie by my side, I am able to let myself see the positives that she sees of me. She’s able to help me accept who I am, and learn new skills to cope with life as a non-neurotypical person.

The last 5 and a half weeks that I’ve been with my girlfriend have been the best time of my life – not only have I been able to learn to value myself more , I’ve also learned that it’s much easier to go through difficult times when you have someone to help you. Through it all, I’ve also learned that it’s okay to still struggle and that recovery doesn’t mean that everything is 100% fixed.

I’m thankful for this amazing woman in my life. I am sad that in just a few hours I’ll be packing up to leave, but I also know that like El has said, I have someone incredible to look forward to seeing again in a few weeks’ time.

Thoughts from Therapy #86 – Self Punishment

Note: As usual, this is a long one – usually the posts titled “Thoughts From Therapy” are going to be really long doozy posts to read.

S’ expression was worry and/or concern almost the whole time through our session today.

Hey, I’d be too if I were the psychologist and my client comes in and the first thing they tell me after I ask them how they are is, “I’ve been very suicidal this last week because things have gotten worse for me…”

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Renewed Passion

After the amazing experience I had at the Office of Health and Wellness Peer Educators’ Retreat, I’ve added one more thing that I could potentially do as a future career. I’m looking at different ways I can combine Computer Science with my other passions and I think I’ve got some ideas what I want to potentially do in the future.
Here are some of the ideas that I’m thinking about:
 
1 – Work for my Director at the MAC to develop technologies to aid in education and to build educational resources for the masses (schools, colleges, community learning centers, etc).
 
2 – Pursue my PhD in Computer Science Education and open a Computer Science Assistance Center using a similar model that the MAC is currently using – it’s super effective!
 
And now, 3 – Work for the Office of Health and Wellness Promotion to develop technologies to aid the Peer Educators as well as the campus, to develop apps/websites/other forms of computer tech to disseminate health and wellness related topics and data to campus citizens, and help coordinate the infrastructure for such reasons.
 
I know all of them sound ambitious but it all really boils down to my passion of wanting to make meaningful connections, to educate others in topics that are important to me, as well as further my passion for mental health advocacy.
Now, I’m not sure exactly how to do these things yet but at least I have an idea what I want to do. I want to make a difference in people’s lives in the educational aspect because the most meaningful time of my life has been when I was a college lecturer.
It’s also made me realize that I have made an impact on others – even if it was just for a day. And that to me is more priceless than money. It’s so important to me to know and to feel like I’ve contributed to society – even if it’s just the campus I’m in.
I know it’s going to be a tough journey because Computer Science is kicking me in the butt hard, but I also know that I’m going to work my hardest to make this a reality. This means that I’m going to have to work even harder than I have to help myself through my recovery. I’m still dependent on S, and hopefully someday that’ll change because I’ll have learned to rely on my own strengths, to practice self-care daily, to self-affirm, to self-love, and to keep growing.
After 8 painful months of suicidal thoughts, self-harm, severe depression, anxiety, and emotional turmoil, I hope that I can cope better and really commit to my recovery.

Thoughts From Therapy #78 – Craving Attention

I have found from today’s session with S that when I’m sleep drunk, I’m actually very effective and productive in therapy because it lets the child take over and talk more freely than when I’m fully awake.

I had woken up this morning in the middle of REM sleep which caused me to experience a moderately severe disorientation that lasted hours. I was so disoriented, I almost walked into walls and things like that. It was a wonder that I was able to drive. I thought for sure that I would’ve ruined today’s therapy session because of it. In fact, I had woken up 10 minutes to 10am and freaked out because despite now living closer to school, I would never have been able to make it to CAPS on time. Thankfully, S had an opening at 11am so I was able to push my appointment back.

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Thoughts From Therapy – #72 – Growth and Progress

I can’t  believe how much I’ve changed and grown as a person since starting therapy last year.

The Jules last year would have freaked out, felt thoroughly ashamed, beat herself up, and be devastated had she heard what S told me yesterday because the last-year-Jules was a different person then.

When I walked in to therapy yesterday, S quickly said, “So before we get started, I wanted to mention something real quick. And I really appreciate you bringing me Starbucks multiple times but it’s probably we need to… Keep a lid on it for now. I don’t want to be like, shaming you or anything. It’s really not a big deal…”

I had been bringing him Starbucks quite a few times lately. It’s more because I’m trying to show him gratitude for his hard work more than anything.

“No no no… Gotcha… I know. Yeah, it’s not a big deal either you know? But yeah, gotcha!” I said. I started to feel heat creep up my neck. I wasn’t necessarily feeling embarrassed or ashamed but I do have seemingly automatic physical responses to embarrassing moments even if I’m not fully experiencing that feeling at that time. It’s really strange. I didn’t know if S noticed or not. If he had, he might think that I was just lying.

“And again, I… I really appreciate the sentiment behind it. There’s really not any guidelines about that sort of thing… But just kinda a general consensus is, it’s like, on a regular basis, just…”

“Right! Right… Gotcha!” I said, interjecting because I was feeling uncomfortable with the situation.

“Yeah…” S said. I knew what he meant, and he knew that I knew. “Any reactions or…?”

“No. I think that, that it’s good that you mentioned it,” I said. To be honest, I had started to wonder how many more times I could do what I was doing before I would be told to stop. I’m actually glad that I’m told to stop – only because I keep spending money when I probably should be saving.

“Okay. As long as you’re cool with that…” S said. He seemed a little uncomfortable, bringing up the subject. It’s funny how sometimes we both act so uncomfortable and awkward around each other despite having worked on such an intimate level for a year and a half now. “In that case, how have things been going?”

I for one was glad that we were done with that initial topic and was able to talk about what was really burdening me for the past week. That said, I wasn’t trying to be dismissive on purpose. I think I still need to work on being able to handle uncomfortable situations.

I explained to him today, as we saw each other again for the second time this week, that I really didn’t feel ashamed when he told me not to bring him anymore Starbucks. I told him that every time that I did, I was feeling good after therapy and when I feel good, I want others to feel the same – so I always try to do nice things for people. One of the ways I show my love and appreciation is through buying people things. So the Starbucks, I told him, was really just an extension of that. I wasn’t in any way trying to control or manipulate him in session. I wasn’t trying to make him feel like he owes me more than he does to his other clients. As I told him all that, I realized that I was calm.

I told him that if this had happened last year, last-year-Jules would have been so devastated to hear that he wouldn’t accept any more gifts. Last-year-Jules would’ve considered it a sign of rejection and she would’ve withdrawn, which would’ve affected the course of the therapeutic journey. I told S that I feel much more mature, much more secure in our therapeutic relationship. It seemed to me that I now consider him my partner and though I still deeply respect him, look up to him, and still adore him, he’s no longer on my pedestal as he used to be. I now see him as a regular guy who works just as hard as I am in therapy. I’m still curious about him – like how old he is, why he decided to work in a college instead of starting his own practice, where he lives, if he uses social media and stuff like that – but I’m not as desperately dependent on him as I used to be.

I’m not independent yet either but I’m at a spot where I know I am depending on him but at the same time, I’m no longer ashamed that I am and that I’m ok with the fact that I have to use him as a crutch for now until I can walk on my own. I’m not there yet. We both know that. And he’s even told me before how it’s ok to not be there yet.

I told him all that today. I told him my observations. “I feel like I still have that really great respect for you. I still look up to you and think highly of you. But it’s less desperate…”

“Less desperation. Less dependence even…” S said, “It’s interesting. It’s almost paradoxical. Sounds like last year I was more up on that pedestal but there was actually more desperation and less trust on your part…”

“Yeah, more fear,” I added. It really took me a long time to trust S enough to be truly vulnerable with him.

“More fear, okay. And so now, I guess there’s more of a partnership. But you don’t idolize me, there’s less desperation, I’m not as on the pedestal…”

“Yeah, I have quite a lot of difficulty with accepting that you’re just as human as I am… Whenever I get those drinks at Starbucks though, I’m just doing it like I would any other friend. I get 4 every single time – ok, one for myself, one for CG, one for D because I really like her, and oh, one for S. If I had done that last year, it would have been like ‘This is a gift, this is a big deal. If you don’t take it, I’m going to be so ashamed’ but it feels different this time. It’s more like, ‘Wow, that was a great session! I feel great right now! I want to do something nice!’ almost like a, ‘Hey you worked really hard with me today. Here’s a little something. It’s not a big deal. It’s not to ask for favors, but it’s more like I feel good. So I want to pass it along. Pay it forward I guess…'”

He then said something that I wasn’t expecting. He said, “As you’re saying this, I wonder if I haven’t been giving you enough credit. Or I haven’t seen as much of a progress. And what I mean by that is, I was kinda nervous about talking to you about this because I thought to myself, ‘Oh no… She’s going to be devastated or ashamed or something if I bring this up’. I was worried about what it would be like for you when I go on vacation. But hearing you talking, it sounds like you’re farther along than I thought! You’re less dependent on me than I thought. That feels really good for me to hear! I wish I had given you more credit!”

I wasn’t expecting that at all because that was just another reminder that the psychologist that I used to put on a pedestal before is also as fallible as I am – that sometimes, he does make mistakes, that sometimes despite his years of experience, he does overlook things. And he admitted that he overlooked my progress – that I am a little more stable than he had thought I was.

I did explain though that though I can be very positive and calm, the child also takes control away from the adult very quickly whenever triggered. So I can go from telling him how I’m starting to depend on him less to telling him that I desperately need to see him again tomorrow in a matter of moments. Yes, there is definitely progress but there is also definitely setback.

“You’re talking to the adult right now,” I reminded S. “The child is in her room right now. She’s not out and so the adult can take control”

I’m not trying to negate the progress I’ve made but rather just to face the reality that I am struggling with myself on a daily basis. As we talked about that more and also hashed out some things I could do for myself while he is gone for vacation for the next two weeks (Boo!!), I realized just how far I’ve come. I’ve still got a ways to go ahead but wow, I am amazed.

Since the adult is still in control right now, I can continue to be positive about this day despite the fact that I was still hit with negative things that triggered the child. I hope that someday, I’ll be able to get the child to trust the adult and that for once, all three selves will come together and be truly united.

For now, I’ll take whatever good and positive moments I can get!

Oh, uh, and yes, I won’t be seeing S until  August 3rd. I forgot to mention how kind and considerate he was to think about me because he’s still very concerned about my emotional state and my suicidality. So, he actually spoke to a colleague of his who’d seen me a couple of times before during walk-ins (I’ve spoken about him as well here) and set up appointments for me to speak to J while he’s away. It felt good when he told me that he’d talked to J and that J had agreed to take me on for two weeks because S wanted to make sure that I had good support while he was gone. I think that’s probably also why I’m a lot more stable than I was last year – I have a buffer in a manner of speaking, until S comes back.

Still… I can’t wait for August 3rd.

 

** Note: We talked about plenty of other things too (and I did spend yesterday’s session just bawling my eyes out and a little bit of today’s session doing the same thing) but this felt like the most important and the biggest epiphany I’ve had this week so that’s why I wrote about this instead of the whole session.

Project Semicolon 416

“On April 16, 2016, everyone who is feeling suicidal, struggling with mental illness, living with anxiety or unhappiness, self harming, surviving a broken heart, or learning to live without a loved one, post a picture of your semicolon, whether it’s drawn on your arm or tattooed, we want to see it.

A semicolon represents a sentence the author could’ve ended, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.” – From Project Semicolon.

Below is my contribution to Project Semicolon‘s call out:

image

I’m still here. Despite having lost my battle to self harm just recently, my wounds are healing and I’m still here. In just 6 days, I’ll celebrate one full year of psychotherapy. It’s been a journey of mostly downs but I’m seeing progress because I’m beginning to reconnect with myself and slowly, with others as well.

This by no means claims that I’m now ok because I still struggle but at least for now, I’m still here. I’m learning to not be ashamed of my weaknesses and not to be ashamed to be mentally ill.

I don’t know what tomorrow will hold and in fact, I don’t even know how I’ll feel once my 10 hour shift at the restaurant ends tonight but I’m going to try to plug along. For now, I’m just surviving and it doesn’t seem like it’s much of a life but I promised S that I’d at least try. So I’m going to try. Maybe someday, maybe soon, I’ll come to see that life does get better as everyone keeps claiming it to be.

For now, at least, I have a husband who loves me and a psychologist who is supporting me. I think I’m very fortunate in that way and so I’m thankful.

#semicolonproject416 #projectsemicolon