Friday, May 26, 2017


Today, I checked in with my counselor to stave off a panic attack. Despite her role in a department that primarily handles sexual assault, I thought it would be relevant to discuss my current state as it is similar to the situation over spring break that led to a non-consensual encounter. In anticipation of going back to San Jose this weekend, I've been incapacitated by the anxiety of interacting with my parents. I don't want to repeat the mistake of placing myself in an unsafe situation as a distraction to recover from that mental health state. Like binge eating, self harm via other people is a coping mechanism — obviously not the best one but a strategy nonetheless.

My counselor's response was that I should do what I needed to do to survive — if that means a reckless and irresponsible hookup, so be it. At first this didn't make sense to me: how would placing myself in danger help me survive? But I had an epiphany when I realized that sometimes it is easier to recover from an acute trauma than it is to resolve longstanding traumas that have built up over years, as is the case with my parents. It was a means to redirect my attention from the suicidal thoughts that emerged in the aftermath of the panic attack. The issue with the spring break incident wasn't that it felt like the fallout directly from a sexual assault, but rather, that it refreshed recurrent issues around control and affection that stem from my relationship with my parents. The hookup itself was easy to recover from, if I had to recover at all.

I called my mother at 7:30pm today to discuss the logistics of traveling back to San Jose. Seeing as it would be a hassle to drive forty minutes each way, then pick up my sister, then go to the dentist, I made plans for a friend to pick me up from the train station and drop me off at the dentist directly instead. Somehow, this change in plans irritated her. Toward the end of the call she went off on a tangent, making accusatory remarks about how I didn't ask her earlier about finding a subletter. One, I did bring it up to which she said nothing (her excuse is that she didn't know anyone at the time who was looking) and two, it's not as if she's never shoved her unwanted input at me regardless.

I can't quite identify what about this kind of behavior sets me off, but the reality is that it severely affects my mental health. It is now 9:30pm — two hours wasted lying on my bed trying to recover from a minor conversation. If anything, this conversation was the impetus for my resolve to stay with my friend over the next few days in San Jose rather than living at home. My mother will no doubt be furious, but I'd rather confront that later than to subject myself to a continuously toxic environment. ◊

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