I was in an emotionally abusive, co-dependent friendship from the ages of 13-16. It skewed my views on love and friendship. My friend–we’ll call her “Kendra”–brought me to the brink of ending my own life, then heroically brought me back. For years, I cut, obsessed over death, and completely lost my sense of self. I am now 34. I have not had a “normal” relationship since. My marriage has been marked by my distorted reality–allowing myself to be walked upon, thinking that he could leave me at the drop of a hat. Recently–last November, actually–a friend that I met online reached out to me, and helped me to trust again. I rewarded him by becoming extremely clingy and needy. He never said it outright, but 5-10 e-mails a day equates to being needy. For the rest of this, I will quote an e-mail I wrote to that friend today: OK, let me start at the beginning. I stood up to DH. I flat out walked away, saying “I don’t do drama anymore.” It had great results, but it freaked me out so much! Because I’m not willing to walk away from him, from my family. I am so scared of becoming arrogant. Of thinking I deserve more than I actually do. I’ve been told, for so long, that I’m selfish, full of myself, and that I think I’m better than everyone else. Maybe I was just told that by Kendra, I don’t really know what is real anymore. Can I really escape her? I know the “odds” of “recovering” from PTSD after 19 years (OK, it was when I was 13 that I first met Kendra and last felt happiness, so that would be 21 years) are next to none. But can I create a life that is worth living? Can I still contribute to the world? I don’t know. I know that, at the present, I am unable to have “normal” relationships. I don’t trust. I cling, because I don’t trust. I think anyone and everyone could walk away from me at any time. And know what? That’s true. None of us actually need anyone. But I also think that anyone and everyone would WANT TO walk away from me, if I am less than perfect. That my damaged mind (and possibly soul?) is enough to drive anyone away. So I cling. I try to force people to stay nearby, because–while we don’t need one specific person, we DO need to be connected. And I’ve been alone, disconnected, for most of the time that I’ve been alive. That’s why I get so excited if anyone wants to listen to me. That’s why I get so panicked if I don’t hear from someone. It’s never you, and it’s never been your responsibility. You never need to make excuses, or even provide a reason. You’ve chosen to care about someone who is not easy to love. Well, back to yesterday. I made the calls, to the schools that supposedly had “doors” open. One had already hired, and the other was out of the office. After such promising progress, the principals just hide, don’t return calls, then hire someone who is more “special” and connected. As much as I try to shed the poor girl image, I am still a nobody, no matter how assertive I am, no matter how hard I try. Is This Town all there is for me? Is being a second class citizen here all that I can hope for? I will keep trying, but what happens if I fail? What if nobody will let me through that damned door? I’ve got the fucking stigma of being unimportant, no matter what. There has got to be a way out. There just has to be. This would really be a great place for you to stop reading, but I know you won’t. Just remember, my choice, my life, my responsibility. You are simply a friend who is listening. I kept thinking, I can’t have normal relationships. I can’t be close to anyone, because I will push them away. And that includes my marriage. I’ve screwed things up so much, that I don’t even know how to get us back to a healthy place. And e-mailing you a million times a day–just because I’m thrilled that you value what I have to say–that isn’t right. I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. Nothing makes sense anymore. And this job. I can’t deal with being stuck here. I can’t deal with that image, that feeling of strength being a construct of my imagination. I kept thinking of this quote. It applies to worse than I’ve experienced, but it kept coming to mind. ”He who has been tortured remains tortured…. He who has suffered torment can no longer find his place in the world. Faith in humanity–cracked by the first slap across the face, then demolished by torture–can never be recovered.” Jean Amery Does my life have value? Does my soul even matter? I imagined myself dying, but then I pictured the trauma it would cause Rob and Ili, finding me. But if I could go somewhere into nature, where I belong, where nobody would find me. If I could get thin first, be beautiful, wear a white dress. If I could die on a hillside somewhere, where nobody goes, perhaps lying on a bed of rose petals, holding a rose. If I could leave this world in beauty, creating beauty through my death, maybe that would be the only beauty I am capable of contributing. Maybe it would make everything all right. I’ve been working on the details, wondering if I really would hurt no one, and maybe even help my family, ultimately. I’ve thought about posting it anonymously, and finding out what other people thought. People who didn’t know me, people who might have suggestions for the more practical aspects of my plan. I even liked the idea of someone else, laying my body on the rose petals, caring and making sure I looked beautiful. The thought of being tended to, so carefully, felt good. But if I found anyone willing to do that, I know I would wake up in a mental institution. But instead, I am telling you. And that means it is a fantasy, and nothing else. I don’t think I’ve made my choice, but if I’m telling you, I have. Once again, I’m choosing today. I might never fully “recover.” I’ll probably choose many more days. But my choice has always been the same. So what can I do now? I’ve been reading articles about being less clingy, less needy. In fact, I waited for you to write me first today, so yay for that! I want to have normal relationships. Maybe by facing my fear, by setting limits for myself (and–for the time being–warning others about my tendencies), I can accomplish that. You will need to set limits with me. I think by being online less, you’re already doing that. I just need to see–probably through experience, actually–that you’re not just going to cast me aside. I can also keep moving forward. Face my fear of my husband leaving me if I’m assertive. It will be unbelievably hard at first, but it’s worth a try. I can stick with the job hunting, try to find more doors. I can look in more places. There is still hope, even if I’m not feeling it right now. I can let that hillside, with the rose petals, be a metaphor, and I can keep trying to create beauty with my life. Thank you for listening. It is through writing this that I realized my decision, and regained my will to fight. In fact, I feel that energy within me, again. When I first started writing this, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to live or keep fighting, but now I am. So that is where I am. My friend, of course, recommended counseling. Which would be great, if it wouldn’t get me put in a hospital or jeopardize my future career.