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Val, (1st thing I noticed--you used a name other than Marksgirl--good for you, it might not seem big, but on a subconscious level, you've taken a step right there!)

Thanks for writing, I was so worried for you. You have every right to feel all the mixed emotions you're feeling right now. You must feel like your whole world has been turned upside down and maybe you blame yourself for your life's turn of events. You do sound depressed...depression brought on by a situation is normal, though, my gosh...look at all that's happened to you and all that you've found out about some people (that's a lot of information to digest for anyone!)

If it lasts and you find yourself thinking more about doing something harmful to yourself, perhaps a visit to the doctor, not a counselor, but a physician could help you. There you have total freedom to talk--doctor/patient confidentiality. You probably aren't eating or sleeping well, and taking a prescribed medication for depression isn't anything to be embarassed about. You say you have to stop feeling this way--please give yourself permission to experience your feelings, it's okay to, really!

Yes, we are fortunate in many ways. For example, we don't live in a war torn country nor in poverty and without basic human rights. But that doesn't mean that because someone else out there has it worse in some ways, that your feelings are any less important and that you're not entitled to feel them. It is okay to feel like you want to curl up in a ball and stay in your room. You've been thru hell for quite awhile.

After my divorce (I was married 18 yrs.), I was so depressed (and all that past sexual abuse started to arise in me, too) that I literally took to my couch for almost two years. I only did the things I had to do and sometimes I could barely do the basics--eat, shower, etc. I totally withdrew from my friends, my family and even my kids.

Eventually I came out of it, but not without the support of others who had been thru similar situations and the love of my older sister. That's why I suggested a support group, there you will meet people who are just sharing what they've been through--not a counselor trying to diagnose you--just compassionate people who have had similar experiences and can relate to you and what's happened and who won't judge you, but will listen--for free.

I do understand your confusion about why you might want to stay with Mark in spite of the unforgivable things he said. He doesn't deserve you though...and you would be putting yourself at a health risk if you stayed with him and he strays to get sex somewhere else, or blackmails you into doing something you don't want to do--your self esteem will be even lower if you do that. But Val, run--don't walk--away from Mark, he's nothing to you and you're absolutely right--he has no sympathy, love, or compassion in his soul, but you do, and try not to waste it on someone who isn't worth it .

Congratulations on getting your CNA! What a wonderful feeling you must have to have achieved that! Again, so proud of you. I am so sorry to hear about your friend and the have been through so much for someone your age. But don't let the sadness of her loss confuse the good feelings you have for your achievement. You did great.

You see yourself as ugly and undeserving of happiness right now. I see a smart, intuitive, attractive, caring, young girl who's been hurt by others and is hanging on by a thread, but you had the strength and courage to be open and honest with people about what Jerit did, and that's a brave young lady, not an ugly person. Jerit's abuse and Mark's degrading comments to you are ugly...not you.

I hear you when you say the sexual remarks happen at work, too. Unfortunately sexual harassment happens everywhere, and you've experienced it in your personal life and in the workplace. Once you see the gains you've made and are working elsewhere, I expect that in a professional setting like that, it won't happen. You will eventually come to see just how much control you really do have over your life--you've made huge leaps and bounds just in one week, I see a bright, happy future for you...and you will, too, but I won't lie, it won't happen overnight.

I'm so glad you wrote back, I just couldn't help but feel like you were in trouble in some way. I'm glad to hear your mom is so loving and caring. If you take a piece of paper and write down all the good things in your life right now (it might sound silly,) but it can not only be very therapeutic but really helpful in abling you to see the positives more than the negatives in your life right now.

Do you see your relationship with Mark as a positive? I know you don't, but I can see that if you feel bad about yourself right now, that's why you are having a hard time breaking it off--not because you love him, but because you can't imagine anyone else loving you. And if someone did, you might not feel you deserve the love of a good man. But you do, and in time it will come to you.

I am 27 years older than you, and I've had my share of bad men in my life, but I refuse to settle. I find the ability to do whatever I want, whenever I want and having no one in the background criticising me or making demands on me so freeing, and I am happier than I've ever been. Don't think I don't feel alone and lonely sometimes or that I don't get sad and cry, I do. Sometimes I feel that a lot, but the bottom line is that it is very empowering to be financially and emotionally independent.

You are young, but you are wise beyond your years! You'll get there, just be patient, don't expect too much from yourself too soon, and eventually (especially when Mark is no longer important to you) you will probably feel like a giant weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Guys like him will just bring you down--he's a loser, and he's lost you, and you will see (because you already know this) that it's for the best.

You are just starting to go up the ladder, please be strong and don't let him pull you back down. Your life is just beginning, and major props to you for holding out on having sex until YOU are ready. If you do it for the wrong reason, it might not be special for you in the future--and I don't see Mark in your future, do you?

One more thing...why do you have to be around Jerit? Did you and Brooke tell her mom? I think it would be perfectly acceptable for you to say "no, I don't want to go over to that house" the next time it comes up. If you're asked why, you can either tell them the truth (if you're ready to) or you can say you don't feel well, you have other plans, anything--but you really need to stay away from him if you can. The evil you see in his eyes is real--he is evil.

Start your list of the good things you've accomplished and the good things you know about yourself. Eventually you will see a picture of a beautiful, brave, intelligent woman, and the current picture you have of ugliness, unworthiness, and guilt will disappear.

Put your CNA on there, list your relationship w/your family, put down your bravery and your honesty, put down that you sought help via this forum and even a counselor (that's not easy to do for a lot of people), put down your friend Brooke, put down you made it through another day. You will make it through tomorrow and the next, too, be patient and kind to yourself. Do nice things for yourself, buy yourself some flowers to look at while you're curled up in your room--it's okay to curl up in a safe place!

You are always in my thoughts, and thank you for letting me be a part of your life--even it was brought about by the terrible thing that happened, I'm very glad to have met you. There is someone who loves you, you just haven't seen that person for awhile, but you will the next time you look in a mirror...

Just take it slow and get through this one day at a time. After time and years have passed, you will look back on this situation as something that made you stronger and more attractive because you were true to yourself.

Keep in touch ok? (and think about changing your user're not Marksgirl anymore :) and if you do change it, let me know what it is so I can find you on here!

Hang in there, Annie... :)

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