Meet TREMG Writer Charlene: “Can I Be Vulnerable to You?”

Selfie taken by TREMG Author Charlene Frett on a typical Friday afternoon.

Can I be vulnerable to you?

Do you know when you are beginning to lack inspiration, that suddenly you can’t help but become vulnerable within your own writing, even when you don’t want to be? It becomes inevitable almost, your fingers itching to write what needs to be written.

Lately, if my readers haven’t noticed already, I’ve been writing about emotional love in the form of prose poetry, giving me some type of satisfactory based on recent (not too recent) romantic emotions, disregarding my emotional instability. I used to strive and thrive in my passion for writing, become utterly entranced in the art of my work, amazed with my abilities and capabilities as a creative writer. I find writing to be erotic even; I become obsessed with the short stories I create, with all the elements in the seductive plot which would ultimately lead to a character’s demise. I’m taken out of my own reality and into a new one, one where I have control, one where the woman takes back her power without permission or hesitation, and become a woman many either praise, or horrifically fear.  

I still have that passion, I can sense it. I can feel it in the root of my bones, in the blood that courses within these fingertips that type fervidly along this keyboard. But there is a lack there, and I believe I even consciously put distance between writing and myself as a way not to reveal too much of myself to you, not to reveal too much vulnerability, too much of my reality, the authenticity of my being. I resist the temptation to be cathartic, knowing it could lead to a much needed release, and satisfy a certain black abyss in my soul.

So, can I be vulnerable to you?

From past posts, if not clearly stated, it may be known that your girl struggles with anxiety. I’m not going to go too much into detail about my anxiety and the development of it, but the unhealthy, toxic, and detrimental cycles that I’ve repeated throughout the last four years in regards to my anxiety resulted in me seeking out a therapist through BetterHelp, an online therapy service. Unfortunately, I decided to end therapy after about four months because of how much it was burning a hole in my pocket financially as I, you know, work a minimum wage job. That isn’t to say that therapy didn’t help me confront certain issues and provided me a cathartic release because it most certainly did. But when I found out that I could see a therapist or a psychologist mostly for free through my insurance with only a small amount of co-pay, I procrastinated in seeking one out. The process to see one through my insurance was going to be headache, which is why I placed this predicted stress on the back burner, until now.

Do you know how difficult it is to find a Black female therapist or a female therapist of color that takes my insurance and is still accepting new patients? Do you know how difficult it is to find a Black female therapist or a female therapist of color that isn’t booked until the Fall? Do you know how difficult it is to find a Black female therapist or female therapist of color in my area in general? Is the stress even worth it? Is the calling and emailing and rejections and out of service numbers and lack of help to find what I need worth it? How can my insurance in the first place refer me to a therapist that isn’t available to see me until September? Was it not stated or noticeable during my consultation that it was needed now?

In regards to this difficulty and stress, when I thought I was doing better and my life was moving forward, I slumped back. And it’s not just me, I’m sure, because I’m definitely thinking about the hundreds if not thousands of people, whose mental health has gotten much worse during this process, recognizing that there are limited options and their area lacks therapists of color as well. Luckily, I was able to find a solution, though; I can’t say other people could say the same.

And since I’m being honest with you, despite meditating every day and going to the movies by myself and finally moving out of my parents house which has been such a huge achievement and accomplishment this year, my anxiety still tugs on that rope, crying and screeching in my ears, begging me to fall helplessly back into my depression. I think of the Netflix show “Big Mouth” sometimes, a guilty pleasure of mine that is not only inappropriately hilarious, but also depicts depression and anxiety quite accurately, at least in my opinion.

And my emotional and mental state is not helping any of my relationships and friendships either. One of the issues that come with anxiety is that constant nagging thought of being a burden and a bother to everyone you know. I not only have compassion fatigue but as someone who’s quite known to be one of the most empathetic and sympathetic person in the world, I’m beginning to lack in those areas. Suddenly, I’m putting up a façade in order to please my loved ones, to hold up this expectation and reputation I have when all I really want to do is say fuck you and just be. Why can’t I be however and whatever I’m feeling, and not care about the standards I’m not reaching for them in this particular moment? Isn’t that selfish? As someone who also struggles to be selfish (yes, selfish and not selfless), I end up feeling so guilty. I feel guilty for feeling how I’m feeling, for saying too much or too little, for putting my issues on them.

This isn’t me, and I wouldn’t want someone else to be like this to me either.

I have such an internal conflict with myself, with my actions and thoughts that I become so numb, wanting to go against what I need versus what I want. Maybe that’s too vague, but the truth is, in my mind at least, my life is not going the way that I want or need it to go. It’s at a standstill, the earth is turning but my life is not, even when I’m taking the necessary steps to move it forward. My former therapist would tell me that I’m being so hard on myself, and that I’m going to soar and bloom so high I wouldn’t even see it coming. But when I slump back into my hole, grabbing onto gravel to keep myself from slipping, I start making the worst decisions, particularly when it comes to men.

And then there are men! I don’t even want to touch on that subject because that’s a whole different conversation. And I don’t even want to talk about him. Him. My fingers are hovering over the keyboard to speak my truth about this dude. I find him to be somehow important in my life, and maybe you heard enough about him to know that I love him, even when we are now, just friends. I hate that word. Friends. I honestly think our love is growing into something else, if it’s even growing at all. I’m not even sure he loves me in that way anymore. It wouldn’t be the first that that happened. My ex is now married to the woman I predicted he would marry right after me three years ago. Is it petty of me to say that I feel I should get credit for their marriage? I’m joking…but also…referring to the song “Creation” by Sabrina Claudio, “[He] got all the bad out [his] system. What we had was nothing but lessons.” It’s the truth, but you are right, that’s petty. I should stop haha. Quite honestly, they are perfect for each other, and I wish them well.

Anyway, he (not my ex) has been “putting up with me” (and I have been “putting up with him” haha) for four months now, which seems like four years in retrospect. I know that God has placed him in my life unexpectedly for a reason. I put him on that pedestal, and he has done same to me. And has it been going well? Has my mental health and emotional instability affect the relationship I have with him? Is it becoming too detrimental and wavering what I thought was building? If he is part of my cathartic process and writing right now, I think you know the answer to these questions.

I realize that this is almost three pages, and surely it’s more like a rant than anything. It’s not that I’m not getting help, because I am. And being vulnerable and cathartic in this way (basically doing an exposé on myself) is more of a release for me, but at the same time, I hope it does something for you. Whether it brings you some type of relief or makes you think “wow, even this bright, beautiful, intellectual Blasian woman got issues too,” I hope it does something for you.

It might be cliché to say, because we hear it all the time, but I hope you know you’re not alone. Mental health is so, so, so important, and it is just as important as anything else in your life. People still find it such a stigma, and choose to ignore mental health because either they are going through it too or they just don’t understand it (or even care about you enough to understand). No matter what anyone else says and what happens in your life, just know that it is important to take care of yourself. Like my former therapist would say, “take care of you.” Even if your life is shit, take care of you. Even if you got in a fight with a loved one, take care of you. Even if you just got yelled at by a Karen, take care of you. Do at least one thing that makes you happy, even if that is driving a total of two hours to get and eat your favorite pizza.

You got this, boo.

We got this.

If you are going through a mental health crisis, whether that’s depression or suicide, you are not alone. Please visit these websites and call these National Hotlines listed below:

SAMHSA National Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

NAMI Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

https://www.nami.org/help

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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