Sunday, November 13, 2011

All good things must come to an end...

Whatever patient, perseverant soul(s) are still reading this blog I salute you! This period of my life has not been the best for blogging. I started a full time job three months ago that just happened to be in a performance orientated company that I soon found out was very “trigger” happy. I hadn’t been there long before I starting hearing tales of our “fallen comrades” i.e. employees that were fired for something as simple as not sending enough e-mails OR (and this really takes the cake) supervisors/ managers that were given the chop because “they hadn’t fired enough people themselves”. Hmmmm…did I mention that this company is American? So I had been given the subtle message that- even though I was temp covering maternity leave- if I didn’t give 110% I would be given my walking papers. What was worse, and this really scared the shit out of me, if I messed up this woman’s job…she could get fired, even though she did nothing wrong! Did I mention she has six kids? Yep there was A LOT at stake. I’m pretty sure some laws are being broken here…but who ever dares to take on a monstrous American corporation?

So this coupled with the fact that I am still studying full time and have been writing exams ( two of which I am pretty sure I failed) I have not had much time for anything except eating and sleeping…and a spot of T.V if I am lucky!!. I hate to say this…but red wine and chocolate have become my best friends. I can’t exactly say it’s been a social pleasure working for this company.

I have lost two big features in my life these past three months, the first was my relationship with my sister (or rather the final realization on my part that the only way we would not kill each other is if we lived several hundred kilometers apart and didn’t speak at all…except on Christmas and birthdays…or if someone died) and the second, has hit me hard. My church counselor finally realized that she can no longer help me.

Years ago, I was talking with my friend’s husband about getting her to see a counselor. I suggested going to see a church counselor, since it was free and the husband said something that really rang true. Church counselors can only help you if you meet a certain criteria. At the very least you should be a believer…you don’t have to be a very good one…but you must believe in God. Second you need to be able to forgive…a lot of people will struggle for years with this but a GOOD counselor like mine, will be willing to stick with you….so long as you believe. Third, you need to agree with and do pretty much everything they tell you to. As I struggled with all three of the above, I knew that my counseling was doomed with these people from the very start. But I hoped that “maybe this time” it would work. I was at the edge with a knife in my hand, planning on ending it all, so I would have taken any helping hand that had been offered to me.

During my twenty –eight years on this earth I have been to so many psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors that I can’t remember them all. The one that helped me the most was a black psychologist ( pretty amazing as apartheid was still rife in South Africa) named Mandisa who saw me from when I was eight until I was ten. I also had reasons to believe that the church counselor I had now would be different: She has known my family and I since I was seven years old. She has done that most amazing work with people from Rape Crisis and victims of child abuse. The list of lives she has changed is endless. She told me when I first started that she had been waiting for me for years and that she wanted to make me her project. When I tried to run away she would come and find me. Who wouldn’t have been given a little bit of hope?

It started out with me, her and an elderly gentleman. Every Saturday at 3pm, I would arrive on her doorstep. She would give me a big mother hen huge followed by tea and biscuits and I would sit on her couch, her cat Joey purring in my lap and recount the horrors of my life. Then they would pray for me. Sometimes they tried to do deliverance – I’m not sure this ever worked (seriously, imagine someone yelling out you: “Spirit of illness, I COMMAND you to come out!!!!. And then feeling really guilty because nothing was er, “coming out”). No matter what they did the issue was that I didn’t completely believe in God. I remember them asking me each week, “Do you still not believe in God”. They didn’t seem to realize it wasn’t like a dress that I could change, it was more like a cancer invading my system that I couldn’t rid of.

When I came in one day the elderly gentleman was not there and I was told it was just going to be me and her. So for the rest of the year I spread myself at her feet like strawberry jam, she was the first person that I fully told about my abuse and my binge eating. I told her things that I had never told anyone before and she listened and prayed. Some major hurdles where accomplished with her- she confronted my mother head on about my abuse and her part in it. Because of that my mother started to understand me in a way that she never had before.

About three month ago I began to feel guilty…I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being selfish and was wasting her time. The revelations that I had made were now sounding like nothing but repeated complaints and whining. I hate to admit it but we had stopped making progress. Here was a woman who worked 80 hours a week and had women- most of whom had suffered the mostly dreadful atrocities- lining up at her door desperate for help…and I was just sitting on her couch complaining?!. Several times I was tempted to e-mail her and just tell her it was over but didn’t because I wanted to stay with her…sometimes I felt like she was my only friend in the world and I would miss her terribly.

The deal breaker was that no matter how hard I tried, I could never believe in God the way she did and it will take years to forgive my Dad for what he did to me. Not only that, she was way over her head with my binge- eating. It’s an addiction that I have lived with for most of my life that I actually don’t know how to live without it. It seems to make up so much of who I am that I don’t even want to get rid of it.

I fessed up to all of this on her couch last Saturday. Our meetings had become almost awkward because my guilt was always hanging in the air. She didn’t agree with me at first. But upon further retrospect she finally agreed. She e-mailed me last Monday morning to say that we had reached a stalemate and we needed to take a break. For me it was so heartbreaking but I realized that I had reached the limit with her and that she could no longer help me.

The unfortunate part of this is that my mother has been so devastated that yet another helping hand is going to disappear in the Stephi- void that she reacted with anger. This sadly has made the situation very tense with my counselor and it will probably be a while before we will be able to speak again.

I am trying to see this differently…my latest counselor is not someone who has bitten the dust but rather someone, like the rest of the people I have met on my path, has helped me and carried me closer to recovery.

At the same time I can’t get rid of the awful sense of failure…why is it that after SO many counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists that I can’t seem to get well? What is wrong with me that I can’t let my past go, forgive and live the life I was meant to live. For me failure also brings loneliness, the old enemy of rejection has reared its head again and I do feel so alone right now.

I will never be going back to her. From now on whenever we meet it will be as friends, I hope. I am thankful for everything she has given and for everything I have learnt. Writing this post has really helped. I haven’t spoken to her since she sent that e-mail but I now know what I want to say to her.

On to the next….


  1. I'm so sorry. It's so hard losing someone who has given you strength.

    I've been struggling lately and have thought about going back to therapy. I have no idea what we'd work on since I don't think my struggles are situational, but at this point I'm willing to buy a friend. I'm willing to pay someone to listen to me because I'm just so desperate to be heard. Yes, I know, it sounds pathetic.

    I'm sorry you don't feel like you are getting better. I think you have changed a lot. I think you have made a lot of progress. Better doesn't mean cured. It just means better. And I think you are.

    Have you considered the idea that you aren't meant to be like others? Maybe your healthiest self is just not meant to be the same as those around you. I don't know if that's true, I'm just throwing the idea out there.

    I believe that I have a different ultimate potential as far as health goes than most people do. I just don't think feeling really well is in the cards. Right now I am doing the best I can to find value in who I am instead of always being angry about who I am not. It's REALLY hard. I had so many ideas about what my life would be and it isn't those things. It's something different. But that doesn't mean that it can't still be a great life.

    I'm trying to find my way. I think that's what you're doing, too. But it's hard.

    And, honestly, I'm sorry you haven't been able to come to a strong belief in God. You're right that it isn't something you can just decide to make happen. But things sure make more sense for me because I do.

    You have a friend. And even though I am an American, I won't fire you.

    Best wishes as you fight your way through.

  2. Thanks Miss Robin, it has been a really difficult time. I now see why actully PAYING someone to be your friend has it's benefits....