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Month: June 2021

Grad school counselor

Grad school counselor

It was the last session with her. She gave me a good bye note. She told me things she would remember about me and wrote out a list of things to keep doing for the future.

At the end of every session she used to make me promise to stay alive. Several months before I had asked if she was going to make me promise to stay alive always. If I was going to have to promise that I would never go through it. She hadn’t decided at that time and she said she had spent a lot of time thinking about that question. Ultimately, she didn’t. She made me promise that if I killed myself that I would have tried everything I could to stay alive. That killing my self would be a last stop. That I wouldn’t take the decision to die lightly. I promised.

I asked her if we could keep in touch. She said not for a while. That after ten years I could email and she would decide then. I told her she wouldn’t remember me after ten years. She assured me that she would remember me for a long time. I asked her why (mainly because I couldn’t believe why anyone would want to remember me). She told me she would remember me because of how much I hurt.

I found out she retired from being a counselor a couple weeks ago. It took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that I made the promise to stay alive as best as I could to her as a person and not her as a counselor. That just because she retired doesn’t mean that I can cheat on my promise to her. It hurts though. Having to be accountable to her. I still wonder what if I fail. Heck, would she even know?

She was so pivotal in my time there. Leaving her behind hurt so much.

Her office had two dining room table like chairs. I hated sitting in chairs or sofas or anything for that matter back then. First session I asked if I could sit on the floor. She said sure but she felt bad that I was sitting on the floor and she wasn’t. Next session and every one after she sat on the floor with me. If she had something to do that day that she had to be dressy for, she changed for my session. She was the third counselor that I had that I sat on the floor for. She was the only one that got down with me.

I had a hard time talking. She let me email. But it wasn’t just write down what you want to talk about next time. She answered throughout the week. If it appeared I was doing bad and she had a clear calendar, she would have me come in.

To this day, I still don’t understand how come she didn’t have me hospitalized. I walked a tight wire where it felt like I could fall at any minute. Most nights I had the bottles of pills, the liquor, and the knife all laid out for “use”. She knew. The rule was that as long as I was talking and could promise to stay alive she wouldn’t have me involuntarily committed.

It would have been involuntary. She asked me multiple times to be hospitalized. She told me she would drive me there and literally hold my hand through the process. I couldn’t. My parents would know. They would find out.

One day I was having a rough session and I asked if she would hold me. She said that touching is a touchy subject. Pun intended. So no go. She got me a pillow so I could pretend that someone was holding me. A couple of months later, I sat in her office unable to say anything. If I talked then I would cry. She sat with me. She talked and asked questions and was just there. About half way through the session she asked if I wanted her to hold me. No. I wish I could have said yes. It would have been too intense and I would have been in tears. I didn’t say anything for the entire hour. I couldn’t. I went to the bathroom afterwards and cried for quite a while. I watched her come in and held my breath. She couldn’t know that I was crying.

All these memories still hurt. It’s been 20 years and this still hurts.