Not Everything Can Be Overcome With Hard Work – Part 2 of 2

Filed in Living by on October 3, 2014 2 Comments

Woman Looking SadThe mental health program I was participating in utilized a method called “processing. To help them work through their emotional problems, each patient is given an opportunity to describe their feelings, emotions, mood, and relevant past experiences, in a group setting with one or two therapists and the other patients. You basically have about an hour to talk about anything you want, after which the therapists ask questions and give advice to help you understand and deal with your emotional issues. The other patients are also invited to provide brief comments at the end of each person’s session, but only ones that are encouraging and positive. It’s a pretty interesting concept, if a little daunting, since you are being asked to bare some of your deepest and darkest secrets to essentially a bunch of strangers.

I did my processing session and found it very useful. Later on it was Kristen’s turn to process. I had already learned how serious and debilitating her mental illness was, and I was quite curious to hear the rest of her story. I was hoping that her home life and other life experiences had been supportive and positive. Being born with such a devastating psychological disorder was bad enough—certainly fate and God must have delivered some other, better tidings for her to help compensate for her debilitating disease.

As she began to speak, she immediately had this look of tremendous sadness. I’ll never forget the look on her face as long as I live. It was a deep and abiding sadness that was apparently borne of some unimaginable tragedy.

What had happened to beautiful and sweet Kristen?

She began, in a quiet voice, to relay how the sexual abuse had started when she was a baby. “She was molested as an infant?” I thought. How could that be? She explained that this information was divulged to her by none other than her own mother, several years after the fact. Apparently her father had often fondled her inappropriately while she lay in her crib. When she was about four or five years old (Kristen was now recollecting these experiences first-hand), her father and uncle would routinely sexually violate her. She said the abuse occurred several times a year. Tears gently streamed down Kristen’s face as she spoke of the horror.

I was simply incredulous. The whole group was riveted on Kristen and her unimaginable story. Many in the group began to sob. I couldn’t hold back my own tears.

She said the abuse continued into and throughout her teenage years. She described how she had become a rebellious and difficult teenager. Alcohol and drug abuse helped her to cope with her trauma and emotional problems. It was in her teens when she was officially diagnosed by a physician as having bipolar disorder. The doctor and her parents weren’t of much help. She was given some meds and her parents were told to monitor her behavior, and that was about it.

Kristen married young, at the age of 18. Her husband seemed loving at first, but he held secrets of his own. Kristen’s husband was not a good person. Did she attract such damaged people at this point? Unfortunately, this is certainly possible.

She relayed how her husband would beat her mercilessly. He also abused her emotionally, telling her she was worthless, or worse. He demanded that she get breast implants to please him, and then he called her a slut. When they went out, he accused her of flirting with other men. When they’d arrive back home, he would punch her, knock her down, and kick her for her lack of fidelity to him.

And then he tried to kill her. Kristen didn’t describe what specifically happened; she just said she survived the attack. It was apparently simply too painful to recount.

Kristen was finished with her story for this particular day.

After listening to it, I was an emotional wreck.

I simply don’t even know what to say about Kristen and her situation.

Kristen has attempted suicide several times and has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals. She has been unable to ever hold a steady job. She lives with her mother in an impoverished area.

Since meeting Kristen, I have since had to rethink my belief that hard work cures all ills.

Kristen’s severe psychological disorder and history of being violated by close and trusted family members are not the sorts of things that can be cured through hard work and perseverance, right? Of course, everyone must do the best they can, but how can someone be expected to overcome such tragic circumstances? How responsible and productive of an adult would you be if you had suffered like Kristen?

If you have a moment, please comment below and let me know what you think about Kristen.

About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

Comments (2)

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  1. mike c says:

    Sadly there are too many Kristens in the world.

  2. Bernard Mcloughlin says:

    Very heavy and disturbing that no action was taken by those around

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