More Glee Counseling


I believe the stories we tell ourselves matter. 

In the quiet of early morning, thoughts play like TNT reruns movies in the background as I debate whether to fall back asleep or wake up. One memory has played out in this specific way for the past twenty years, shaping who I believe I am. It seems to be stuck in time, a black and white grainy video, like the 1968 Romeo and Juliet movie, and it’s rather boring. Where art thou, Claire Danes and Leo Cap, to save me?

Since you don’t know the tale, I better start there. At 20 years old, at the tail end of summer, I met a tall baseball player. I remember lying next to him in his dorm room, talking. It was the kind of moment that etches itself into memory—a foreshadowing moment about how cheating wasn’t okay. “I would never cheat on you,” he said, comforting me.

We went on to date for a year and a half. His chivalry, opening every car door for me, made me feel special. But when not even a week or two after that dorm room chat he cheated, I was devastated.

I don’t know why or how, but I forgave him.

Enter my morning thoughts. On the day he came home from a traveling baseball game with an Easter basket for me of candies, underwear, and a stuffed animal. That his gift was followed up by my telling him I cheated on him wasn’t the best timing. I didn’t tell him I thought I could have been roofied, that my three girlfriends left the bar without me, and that I had no memory of when waking up in the upper bunk of a camper at a KOA.

In my memory when I told him, I felt horrible, reduced down to dirt, the stinkiest piece of poop clinging to the waffle pattern of the bottom of your shoe. And he didn’t help. “You will never find anyone as good as me. You are nothing.” His words pierced like arrows into my heart, spreading their venom into a black and rotted future. He was right; he was on a throne, and I lay on that ugly green carpet, groveling for forgiveness.

But wait? I ask as the end credits roll, there seems to be something missing. So I turn back the tape. Forgoing more sleep, I grab my laptop, interested if there was a new perspective I could take.

At that age, guilt was a leaden emotion, all-consuming, and unforgiving. When I made a mistake, it filled my clear skies with a thick pea soup. Having felt guilt so strongly, I compulsively apologized like a sinner at the stake. It was as if others held the key to freeing me from the worthlessness I believed myself to be. I’m embarrassed that I went as far as writing an apology email to his mom, yet another person I was enslaved to by my guilt.

Did coming from a church and parents who used guilt to get the behavior they wanted influence me? Did that then lead to feelings of guilt and my self-worth becoming so entwined that I thought they were the same thing?

I notice a pang in my chest and a deadening of the space around my eyes as I tell this tale. It’s sad and pathetic, because the moral is I’m a piece of shit. I’ve replayed this story well over a hundred times, thousands possibly, and I know the impacts. It is true; I will never escape how worthless I am.

So here’s my story, stuck and never-changing. And yet, here I am blowing the dust off it one more time. That possibly by taking it into this secure space with you, I might be offered another perspective.  

And what do I think now? Well, I think I was young and dumb and took things far too seriously. I think I didn’t know who I was or how to practice self-compassion. I didn’t know how to separate myself emotionally from others so that their feelings didn’t become mine. I had mistakenly believed too hard in fantasies and romance, and a savior, and that idealistic perspective set me up to fail. Isaac was not my savior; he was a dumb boy. And I have nothing to be sorry for. Not anymore. My worth transcends what I do or don’t do. It’s inherent in me, like the cells of my body. No one, not even me, can take it away.

So, going forward, if my mind ever stumbles on the wreckage of that period, I’ll know what to do. I’ll stop the tape; there’s no need to press play. That’s not who I am today.

Love, Jaclynn

About Jaclynn

I approach counseling with the belief that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think, echoing the wisdom of Christopher Robin from Winnie the Pooh. 


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