Learning To Love You More




Assignment #14
Write your life story in less than a day.

Karen Gabrielle
Newport Beach, California USA



I am a Mexican-American, Chinese, Spanish, Sephardic Jew, Catholic and I come from a big, crazy family. My name is Karen; I was born on March 3rd 1968. This priest I've known all my life told me that being born on the third day of the third month means, "The Trinity," and also that my name is the Danish root of Catherine, which means, "Pure of Heart." This is especially important because I wanted to be a nun. I am a psychotherapist, working with abused children, before that I managed a domestic violence resource center, before that I worked for an insurance company. At the insurance company I settled bodily injury claims, so basically I argued with attorneys all day, 5 days a week, for 10 years. I hated that job so much that I began to do volunteer work just so that my spirit wouldn't die. I started out as a rape counselor, then a child advocate and I ended up working in Tijuana, Mexico, helping to build communities and homes for the poor. I worked in one village with the same 60 families, for 5 years. I did not get paid a cent, I went through my entire savings account twice and it was the most difficult, heart breaking, rewarding work I have ever done. I got up at 3 am every Saturday and worked for 18 hours helping people to live better. It's the reason I was able to stay at the insurance company so long; one attorney called me, "a stupid cunt." I will never forget that. I have many siblings; 6 brothers, and one sister, and this is because my father was married 5 times, 6 times technically but because he married his 4th wife twice, I don't count both. My sister called him, "the sperm donor," and she wore a red dress to his funeral. My father left when I was three and for one year, I slept next to the front door, waiting for him to come back. I did not hear from him again until my 15th birthday. When I answered the phone and he said, "Hello, this is Philip, your father," I think time actually stopped, and my lungs froze because I could not breathe. I think this happens sometimes. Once when I was in therapy and I was being hypnotized, the therapist said, "Karen, you're forgetting to breathe." (How does someone forget to breathe?). From the day we met until he died when I was 34, my father and I had dinner at this Basque restaurant every Wednesday night. He was a great story teller; he loved history, all things Russian, and had a great gun collection. He made me feel like whatever I had to say was the most important thing in the world. He died while I was in Peru doing volunteer work. He was in perfectly good health when I left, (he fell, hit his head and died). I was raised with 2 younger brothers, my mother and stepfather. My very best friend is Valerie, we met in 3rd grade. My second best friend is Rick, we met in 4th grade. My mother is the most beautiful, and supportive mother I could have hoped for, and my step-father, a nightmare. He hated children and was very abusive. When I was eight I had this great friend, his name was Greg Field. Every Saturday mom packed us 2 lunches and off we went, to seek adventure. We spent hours and hours building tree houses, and forts throughout the surrounding mountains. When he moved I missed him so much I thought I was going to die. I prayed everyday, asking God to let me see him just one more time… that prayer was answered ten years later. I was on the ASB council in high school and was invited to go to Leadership camp in Santa Barbara, California. During the orientation process, surrounded by 5,000 students, the director asked us to turn around and introduce ourselves to the person behind. When I turned to meet the boy behind me, it was him, Greg Field; the Greg of my childhood. We talked all weekend. He was dating a world famous ice skater. I married my college sweetheart, Martin, when I was 23 years old. Five years later, I left him. He thinks I left him because he had an affair but that's not the reason. The real reason is that he did not care about my hopes and dreams. He did not care that working at the insurance company was slowly killing me and he would not let me go back to school. The saddest part of that story is that all I ever wanted was to be a wife and mother. One day, during the divorce, which was amicable, but very painful, I went for a long walk. It was dusk, that time of day I call, "The purple haze of twilight," and it was really beautiful. I began to pray about how much I was suffering and how I always wanted to be a wife and mother and that I loved him (God) so much all my life, that surely he could make things easier. All of a sudden (and I swear this is true) I heard a loud voice. The voice said, "He made you as you are, to use you as he planned." I opened my eyes, saw that I was alone, felt very weird, and a little scared. I considered what the message said, thinking that it meant that God had some kind of plan, despite my misery. I went home and sort of forgot about the experience, until the next day at work. This girl from across the building, also named Karen, gave me a little gift; a desk calendar, the kind that flips over. When I flipped the page over to the present day, the quote said, "He made you as you are, to use you as he planned." I almost fainted. I called the priest, the one I've known all my life and he explained that the voice had been a locution from God and that it was confirmed with the quote. So now looking back, I'm a really gifted therapist and it is this, which brings me the very most Joy. I've worked with over 6,000 abused families, children, incarcerated youth, rape victims and the poor in Mexico, Peru and India. Sometimes I wonder if maybe I was supposed to be a nun and then the priest reminds me that it doesn't matter. Sometimes when my clients are very depressed I ask them to tell me about their very best day. When they start remembering, a little flicker of light and hope passes through them and sometimes it is this very moment that helps them to live. I love that part. I won an essay contest when I was seven and another one when I was seventeen. I wish I was a writer, that's my secret wish. My second secret wish is to live in Italy. The end.