Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Autobiographical Statement - C 1994 Dakini Verona

My Autobiographical Statement

The year was 1994. I had just graduated from California State University, Long Beach, with a degree in psychology. My plan was to continue on to graduate school and earn a master’s degree in family counseling. Well, as they say “best laid plans”. I never did get that advanced degree in psychology, I ended up getting it in business and it was not until 2009 that I was able to reach that goal.
However, as a part of my original plan, I applied to Antioch University in Marian Del Rey, California. As a part of the admission package I had to prepare an autobiographical statement. What follows is the “watered-down-unemotional and politically correct” account of my life. Like I said, although I was accepted at Antioch, I did not attend. Life got in the way. 

My life began in March of 1954. I was the last of five children, born into a family that would today be considered dysfunctional. Parenting was always a chore for my parents and the children in our family were to be “seen and not hears”. My mother was prone to attacks of rage which were mostly directed at my older sister.

My sister and I took care of ourselves due to our parent’s lack of supervision and indifference. I was easy prey for the neighborhood molester. I went to my parents and told them what was happening to me. They discussed the issue behind closed doors and I was then told “we will never talk about this again.” I felt shame and guild and soon fell into a deep depression. I withdrew from all of my friends and family and spent the rest of my pre-pubescent years feeling sad and lonely.

At the tender age of thirteen I had my first boyfriend. Again the situation was one where I found myself manipulated and was forced to have sex with him against my will. I tried to ignore the feelings of shame but they were still there inside of me. From that point on when I became involved with a boy I felt I had to have a physical relationship in order to keep him interested. I soon discovered the boys I really were attracted to wanted nothing to do with me due to my “bad reputation”. I tried escaping the pain with drugs and alcohol, but when that didn’t help I ran away from home, hoping to escape my problems. And so my life continued for the next couple of years.

I traveled to New York and was drawn to Greenwich Village where there were many other runaways just like me. My drug abuse quickly worsened, causing me to become disengaged from reality. I spent my days aimlessly wandering the streets of the lower East Side, while my nights were spent with anyone that would provide me shelter. Needless to say, I was a shell of a person at only fifteen years old.

I began thinking about suicide and when I visited my sister she was so concerned with my welfare that she called in the authorities. In January of 1979 I was made a ward of the State of New York and was sentenced to 18 months in the Hudson State School for Girls.

In an attempt to suppress my suicidal tendencies I was heavily mediated. I spent my first few months in a veil of Thorazine. I attended four hours of group therapy sessions on a daily basis, but was so far removed from my pain that I continued to remain withdrawn. I was unable to relate to the other girls in the home, as they were unable to relate to me.

I managed to escape the home by jumping out of the second story window and hitchhiking the hundred miles back to the city. My return to street life was not exactly a low profile one, and after just three weeks I was arrested and returned to the home. I decided to play by their rules and was granted an early release after having served only one half of my original sentence.

Upon my release I returned home to my parents and got a job as a waitress. I really tried to fit into society, but continued to feel alienated from everyone around me. I soon felt the desire to leave home once again, regardless of my parole.

I changed my name to avoid being arrested for violation of parole. I hitchhiked through the New England states, and then began to slowly drift westward. In July of 1971 my travels took me to California. I lived in the hippie sub-culture of the San Francisco Bay area where I felt as though I had finally found a place to fit in. I survived in the streets among the left over flower children and other so called “drop-outs” from society.

Once again I feel deep into a world where my feelings were clouded by drugs and alcohol. I was known as “Dakini” on the streets, which in the Tibetan Bok of the Dead means “angel of death”. It was an appropriate name because I wasn’t the one living this part of my life. Somewhere deep inside, the real me was waiting to be born.

My walking death continued until the end of 1972 when I work up one morning with an overwhelming feeling of regret. Perhaps it was the fear that one more rape or one more day of going hungry would just push me over the edge. For whatever the reason, I knew I wanted out. I called my parents and begged them to let me return home. They sent me a plane ticket, and I was on my way. I was hoping to start a new life, to try once again to find a way to fit into society.

Shortly after arriving home I discovered I was pregnant. I wasn’t really sure who the father was, but I chose to have the child and to raise it on my own, regardless. I returned to San Francisco when life with my parents again became unbearable. I refrained from drug and alcohol use during my pregnancy and even gave up smoking cigarettes. During a routine visit to my doctor I was informed that I needed to have emergency surgery to remove a growth from my ovary. I was terrified and alone and had no support from my family.

In desperation, I remembered a minister whom I had met while hitchhiking earlier that summer. I’m not sure why I trusted that stranger, but I felt I had nowhere else to turn. He brought sunlight and trust to my dark world and stayed at my side offering me support through my entire ordeal.

After I was released from the hospital he opened his home to me, never once asking for anything in return. He nurtured and cared for me until the birth of my son, then dropped out of sight, never to be seen or heard from again. It was as though I had been sent an angel from God to help me through my darkest times.

After my son was born I moved to Los Angeles to be near my sister. Motherhood was overwhelming to me and I soon began experiencing bouts of rage. I confided in my gynecologists and was prescribed valium. The valium just seemed to take my life from me and so I turned again to alcohol to avoid the loneliness and depression I was feeling. The next couple of years passed quickly, with many men coming and going, but no one staying in my life for very long. Then one night I met someone hat seemed to offer me that sense of security I was searching for. When he proposed marriage I jumped at the offer without knowing what I was getting into.

My husband was abusive from the start, but I just considered it to be a way of life. Soon after our marriage I entered the business world for the first time and became a sales manager for a small import and export company. I found that success came very easy to me in a work environment and was soon earning more than my husband. We bought a home and were starting a family of our own. All seemed well until complications from the pregnancy forced me to stop working.

The loss of income, compounded with the mounting medical bills put us quickly into financial hardship. My husband changed careers and my salary was no longer important for our survival and so I became a housewife. I no longer felt good about anything I attempted and my self esteem was nonexistent. My husband reveled with his new found power and position of control in the household. The spousal abuse increased and I found myself trapped in a situation without escape. I felt totally worthless.

I had gained a lot of weight during my pregnancy and there was another source of abuse from my husband. I entered a weight reduction program that included psychological counseling. In the process of undergoing counseling I realized that I had been burying my emotions over all the years and was ready to explode.

I suddenly realized I had to deal with all the traumas of my life that were still trapped inside. I had to face the fact that my parents were both alcoholic and my mother was abusive. I had to deal with the multiple molestations and incidents of rape, and lastly, I had to face the fact that I was trapped in a marriage to a violent abuse alcoholic. The discovery of these feelings only made things get worse. I began to contemplate suicide, thinking it was easier than dealing with the emotions that had surfaced. I knew I needed to seek a private therapist that could understand what I had gone through and could help me o deal with these issues.

Luckily, I found such a therapist and I immediately began therapy. After two years of intensive psychological therapy, combined with a sincere desire to change, I found myself able to finally confront and work through the issues that had been buried deep inside. My therapist helped me to realize that my abuse of drugs, alcohol and even sexuality was means of coping with all the issues that were deeply buried inside of me. My life was becoming livable for the first time in many, many years. I had begun attending the local community college and was enjoying the interactions of the academic setting. I proved to myself that I not only could make it thought the school, but I was able to perform at the top of my classes.

It was at this point that I realized I was experiencing a progressive physical weakness in my legs which was causing me to fall on a constant basis. I began undergoing diagnostic testing and it wasn’t until a year later that I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. At first I walked around in a daze of denial. However, after working with my therapist I was able to gain a new attitude and viewed this disease as just another obstacle that would someday make me stronger. I wouldn’t say that all of my issues were overcome at that time, but some aspects of my life were better than others.

I was finally able to direct my anger towards the people that had hurt me and stop blaming myself. This was the most difficult aspect of my therapy, to let go of all the guilt I had been carrying throughout my life. I let go of the guilt of witnessing my sister’s abuse. I let go of the guilt I carried thinking I was to blame for being molested. I let go the guilt I felt from raped, and even the guilt I had for marrying an abusive man. I was finally able to feel alive.

I remained in counseling for some time and during one session felt a “merging” of all the different people I had “played” in my life. Feelings of joy and pain flooded my being, as I realized I was the little girl who witnessed abuse and was abused. I was the victim of the rapes. I was the survivor. I felt a feeling of completeness that had never before been felt. I was the complete person ready to form a new life.

After this awakening I realized I deserved a better life that what I was living with my husband. I gave him an ultimatum: to either seek help with his drinking, abusive behaviors and extramarital affairs, or I would seek a divorce. We were separated in less than six months and divorced within two years.

It is hard for me to believe that was almost 20 years ago…

Today I sit here and gather my thoughts – trying to put together the pieces of my life. I am sure that all of these experiences have been for a reason and I hope to be able to help others that have experienced or are experiencing pain.


  1. I found your account of therapy very useful. It was a great success for you. and what you describe is interesting. Many find therapy does not work but I have often thought that whether therapy works of fails, often depends on the individual and whether they are motivated and sincere. You seem to be those.

    Dr. Janov says cognitive therapy is useless. Many types are but not all or all therapists. Janov has the best but I suspect it only works really well for those who are best adjusted to begin with, not those falling apart or very damaged. Your testimony helps what I am working on at the moment.

    When you addressed the proper blame and guilt, what brought you to do that? the therapist's suggestions or did you slowly come to realize it for yourself?

  2. Hello Apollo,
    I think that cognitive therapy is very helpful and have used it when working with my kids.. replacing old patterns of self abuse through new thoughts. Self talk is effective, is used consistently to make new habits, in my opinion.

    If not for my therapist, I would never have been able to get in touch with my feelings from the past. They were eating me alive and causing me to live in a state of constant rage.

    I do not think that therapy is for everyone.

  3. Yes, rethinking things and putting them in perspective is vital as I see it. Self talk and thinking out loud is also very helpful as you point out. I think there is something about verbalizing that really drives it home.

    I think you are correct too, in pointing out how help from another person, who is well versed in trying to solve problems and rethink things, as is the case with a good therapist. I have known people, who once they were directed or asked questions, could then respond and see things differently. some can do it without but not all. Some are not ready for it. Some can't handle it or won't.

    I think that seeing things in the right perspective does help many areas and in many ways. A good head cleaning, I call it. Taking inventory of ones self and fixing it all up. I do think Dr. Janov has valid things, too. There is still a residing kind of pain in us that, even if the thinking is corrected, this pain still resonates until brought to consciousness. But that is another story. Proper thinking is vital, even without exorcising the pain of trauma buried deep within. Super article!