50 is not the new 30. Or the new 40. 50 is fucking 50. When I told my new therapist I am 7 months away from 50 she said with a 30 year old smirk “oh, that’s when I’ve witnessed more than a few of my clients have a mid-life crisis.”

Hmmmm, I thought to myself. I wasn’t even thinking of that.

“my mid-life crisis happened twice: at 17 and 27. I don’t think I am due another.”

Her smirk became a nervous laugh and in pure therapist fashion she said “why don’t you tell me about that?”

I am not a licensed therapist but I have been in the helping profession for over 20 years, so I have used that very question myself “why don’t you tell me about that.” I love asking that because I am so curious about people’s journeys by the time they arrive at the non-profit where I work. There really is no one story. Systemic racism and gentrification seem to be the thread that sews their stories together.

“we have about 20 minutes left, so what happened at 17?”

I was about to tell my therapist who told me she will no longer be my therapist after this session to fuck off.

Before I had a chance she told me “do you think the car accident at 17 caused your mid-life crisis?”

Oh, I did tell her about the accident when she intaked me. Ugh. Why did I do that

“I don’t know.”

“Adriana, you were 17 years old when you saw someone die, someone get disfigured, and someone suffer from permanent cognitive impairments. Of course that affected you!”

“That doesn’t mean I should have become a self-destructive asshole.”

“You were 17. As you explained it, you told few people you were in a car behind your 3 classmates. You never told anyone you were supposed to be in that car. You didn’t even tell your family. So you were 17 dealing with this life changing event on your own.”

I never really thought what I witnessed was so life defining. Just like everything else, I drank too much. Smoked some weed. Moved passed it. I didn’t have time to sit in my sadness. I worked after school. I wasn’t that academic, so I was trying to get into any college. I needed to get the fuck out of my house and out of this town.

“I will never forgive myself for being so self-destructive,” I told my therapist.

“I put myself in such dangerous situations. Now my mom is gone, and I will never right those wrongs.”

My therapist softly said, “you are in the helping profession, right?”

“Yes.”

you work with really vulnerable people. People who have limited resources and limited support?”

“yes. I have been present to some serious suffering.”

“the folks you serve, some of them have done some pretty bad stuff, right?”

“They made bad choices. They are not bad people”

“So you can forgive them for what they have done?”

“Absolutely!”

“Then why can’t forgive yourself? Don’t you deserve that, too?”

I started to sob. I’m not sure why. I honestly never thought I deserved forgiveness.

“I guess…”

“Think about it.”

I was still sobbing as she said something about the next therapist. It probably be a few months before I get to talk with her. All the therapists at the practice are booked. You know with COVID and all. People are depressed and grieving their loved ones. I hung up.

I thought about what would it look like to forgive myself for hurting myself?

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adriana suriano

adriana suriano

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i am a first generation italian-american who grew up in southern new jersey. Life is amazingly beautiful and devastating. Sometimes in the same day.