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  • Writer's pictureJ.L. Whitehead


I honestly didn’t know that I was depressed. I had no idea. I moved through life looking at things through a negative lens. I would drink liquor daily. I called it having my "regular cocktail after work" and to be damned with anything or anyone that stood between me and the bottle that I had stashed away in my liquor cabinet at home. I drank too much when I went out…sometimes waking up besides someone that I vaguely recognized from the night before. The evening prior was always a blur.

I had no conception of self-worth. What mattered was that I was young and I looked good. I couldn’t find what I was looking for in a man easily. Finding that man proved to be more challenging than I had anticipated. Still, there were other times in my life when things were good. I didn’t need liquor to validate me or my achievements. I functioned well enough.

But then there was the fact that my job(s) reinforced something that I never realized mattered enough to pay closer attention to…and that was I didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I was always at fault for my failures, and my failures; whether by accident or not, didn’t matter to their bottom line. Ultimately, the message that I heard was that I wasn’t good enough for them to keep their promise to me to “come and grow with them.” It didn’t matter how hard I worked or how often I got things right and excelled in my role to meet their bottom line. I frequently heard the message that I wasn’t good enough which was a message that I heard repeatedly when I was younger. I heard it so often that I started to believe it. In my relationships, I heard the message that I wasn’t valuable enough to be the one and only.

I tried to be whatever the job or partner wanted me to be even if it went against what I needed me to be.

But I know what my worth is. I know my value. I know what I want as well as what I don’t want. My current job knows my worth and they validate me daily. And because of this, I give 110% on most days. I don’t love going to work but I don’t hate it either, which is a plus.

I talk to my husband instead of assuming the worst in him. And I now know that he doesn't assume the worst in me...that he sees through my faults and tells me that "it's okay." But mostly, I have learned to live my truth and own it. The mistakes that I made in life is mine; but they are mine to make. Maybe writing “Groomed” wasn’t the best way to try to help folks that have been sexually abused by a predator. But I wouldn’t have known that this wasn’t the way to help people recover if I hadn't tried to write about my experiences.

All I know is that for some parts in my life, I was depressed. And I didn’t know it. But I know that I’m not now. I’ve stepped far enough away from it that I can see it clearly.

Have you?

~ J.L. Whitehead

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