This is the forty-sixth edition of The i’Mpossible Project: A series where anyone can share a personal story of inspiration or an event in life where they overcame tremendous odds. Everyone has a powerful story to tell and something to teach the world. (See HERE for guidelines on how you can write for The i’Mpossible Project.) Here we have Karen Gould with Best Laid Plans
I had it all planned out. It was my sophomore year of college and I had just been accepted into a highly selective program to start junior year. This was my chance to move and start my life anew. I wanted to get away from the place where I never felt accepted—the only person in my household who was not related by blood. I was “different” — in temperament, looks, and the way I viewed the world. But now I was planning my escape, my new life, and it would be amazing. I would finish college, have my dream career, meet my handsome prince, get married, and have a family. I would finally fit in and know what it was like to belong. And the memories of recent unspeakable events would be banished forever. But life had other plans.
My first serious boyfriend came along at a vulnerable time in my life, not long after the passing of my beloved grandmother. She was kind to me in a way that deeply touched my life and I loved her dearly. I was eighteen when she died and that was definitely not how things were supposed to go. She wasn’t supposed to leave my life. But I pushed aside the grief and focused on my new boyfriend. I was inexperienced but I trusted this man who was brought into our circle of friends by my best friend’s boyfriend. I still remember the shame I felt the night my best friend accompanied me home on the bus after he sexually assaulted me. In every scenario I created in my mind it was my fault. So I buried the shame, the pain, the confusion, the anger, and moved forward. I was good at moving forward.
Spring of my sophomore year tragedy struck. A friend of mine was murdered during a store robbery where he had been a clerk. Everything seemed so surreal. I couldn’t believe he was gone. It was only a year prior that a high school classmate took his life on a train track. That was horrible enough. And now my friend had been murdered. Through my pain I carried on, as I always had. Denial was my friend. I was going to move away and forget this horror. I was going to move forward into my perfectly planned life. But the final straw was waiting for me just around the corner.
I called my best friend to shoot the breeze one day the summer before I was to start my junior year. Suddenly I felt faint, confused, sick… what was happening? What did you say? He was MURDERED?? I didn’t understand. I once wished the man who forced himself on me that night dead... but not really. I swear I didn’t mean it! I hung up the phone and left the house. It was a hot day and I was at the mall but didn’t remember how I got there and I was crying. How long had I been crying? I saw a friend from high school on the sidewalk outside the mall. Her words sounded hollow and I felt dizzy. I somehow made my way back home. I had to put this latest disaster into another corner of my mind. It was my time to move into this new life I had been planning. Only this time, my plan to go forward didn’t work so well.
The next few weeks were a downward spiral. I was unable to sleep or eat. I continued to try to work my fast food job but couldn’t concentrate. I went to see my family doctor and after many tests he exclaimed: “Karen, there is nothing wrong with you physically, I need you to see a psychiatrist.” What? I’m not crazy—don’t you know how strong I am? Terrified, I followed his orders and made an appointment to see a psychiatrist at the college counseling center. I didn’t even know what that meant. I didn’t know I was headed to see someone who would ask me questions for an hour and then prescribe medication. “It’s for depression”, he said. “It will help you sleep”.
I was a compliant patient, and I wanted to feel better but the medicine was not working. “Just keep taking it,” the doctor said. “It takes a while to work.” So I followed the doctor’s orders. By the end of the summer, at the cusp of my perfectly planned life, I still couldn’t sleep; I lost weight, and cried all the time. As the new school semester began, I could barely hear what the professors were saying. I was terrified and profoundly sad and soon enough, I began to think about suicide. Would I stand in front of a train like my classmate? No. But in my dorm room, during the worst of it all, I took an entire bottle of medication, prayed to die and to never wake up. But I woke up in the emergency room. My plan was thwarted.
Many days and months of darkness followed that attempt on my life, but countless times I was embraced by the healing hands of those who had dedicated their lives to helping people like me. It was during that time of recovery that I discovered therapy and was grateful for the healing it provided. I wanted to do the same for others—to shine a light before things go dark and to help those who were already in darkness to find the light. I have never doubted with each person’s life that I have touched as a therapist, that every second of my pain was worth it and that my journey was exactly what it was supposed to be. I had my life planned out… but God had better plans.
You can find more stories like Karen's in The i’Mpossible Project: Reengaging With Life, Creating a New You, now available for pre-order. 50 authors. 50 inspirational stories of overcoming tremendous obstacles.
Read a few sample chapters HERE.
The first 200 people to pre-order will get a “thank you” in the front of the book, and a free copy of the book The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah.