Earth Day is the unhappiest day of the year

April 22md approcheth, and with it the brooding sense of dread that accompanies it every year.  I have written hundreds of pages about it.  It’s the centerpiece of my memoir, since my life changed profoundly on that day.

I don’t know what to do with any of this.  On one hand, I feel that it would be good to share it: perhaps one person might be helped, might not feel so all alone.  On the other hand, I don’t want to contribute to the gross sensationalism that feeds off of any seeming misfortune, if it is shocking enough.

The extremely short version:  on April 22, 1970, which was the very first Earth Day, I was drugged, abducted, and brutally raped in a dark basement by an older man whom I knew slightly.  I was sixteen, and a virgin.

I never told anyone.  The physical damage required two surgeries to repair.  The damage to my soul is much more complicated.

I ran away from home shortly afterward, and lived the life of a vagrant.  Pretty sixteen year old girls who live on the streets get raped a lot, so that was part of the unpleasant bargain.  I soon learned to leave my body when it happened.  That was a good survival strategy then, but as one might imagine, it wasn’t a very good thing once I got off the street and began having consensual relationships.

Writing helps.  After the first 20 years of denial, after my first marriage failed, I started writing like my life depended on it.  And in large part it does.  Writing has been the keystone in my recovery process from the monster case of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that I had acquired. 

But what to do with the hundreds, maybe thousands by now, of pages that reside on my hard drive, my notebooks, and in every digital device I own?  Every resource on publishing tells me that I need to have a completed manuscript before I approach an agent.  So I need to get my life together, literally.

This coming Earth Day, I hope to spend some time organizing, going through chapters, beginning to take control and make some order in my life of the page.  I feel that what I need is to control “it,” rather than “it”  controlling me.  What do you think?

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

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  1. DeeDee

     /  April 18, 2012

    Wow. That’s pretty horrifying. I’m so impressed with the strength and determination you’ve demonstrated in working to get past that trauma. Taking control seems like a very good therapeutic approach!

    • It’s the only approach. Otherwise, there is nothing but anger, unanswered questions, and more chaos. It has taken a very long time (42 years!) to get to the point where I can talk about it. I do tend to cry when I talk about it, but tears are cleansing.

  2. bpshielsy

     /  April 18, 2012

    You’re obviously a very strong person. It’s really good that you’re looking to control it rather it controlling you.

    I remember the anniversary of a traumatic day in my past was (sometimes still is) daunting. My worrying about it made it almost like a self fulfilling prophecy that it would be a bad day.

    Good luck

    • Know what you mean. I’ve had years like that, when the dread would take over and make things a lot worse than they needed to be. I wish you healing on your personal journey. I guess that’s what these challenges are asking us to do: overcome, heal, and go on, even better than before.

      • bpshielsy

         /  April 18, 2012

        Yep I reckon you’re right. Dust yourself off & carry on…

  3. I am so sorry to hear that this horrible thing happened to you. I can’t imagine how you must feel, even now, after so many repeated rapes. You are an incredibly strong woman to have survived all of that and still gotten a MD degree. I am so very impressed by you for all of your accomplishments. I am glad that writing has helped you deal with it, even if it is still sensitive. I have PTSD too regarding my car accident, but it is nothing compared to yours. I wish you luck and continued strength!

    • Thank you, dear. The MD has helped me to cope, and even to have the privilege of helping others in that situation. I worked for a few years in a clinic for street kids, and when they said “you don’t know what it’s like,” I was able to truthfully say “yes, I do.” And their eyes would get big and they’d say, “but you’re a DOCTOR!” And I would smile and say, “yes, and you can be too.”

  4. Wow, powerful words. Thank you for sharing. I, too am a bipolar person who has struggled through having a full on mental breakdown to developing a holistic way to help me treat my condition. Please check out my blog if you’re interested:
    Take care!

    • Thank you, Paul. Takes one to really know one, doesn’t it? I did go to see your blog. Looks very interesting: I will have to spend some time clicking around and reading! Did you do your book through a publisher, or is it self-published? All the best to you. Laura

  5. Ithanks for sharing your past. It helps me in a way to read your blog and know there are others out there with BiPolar. I’m sorry it took you such a long time to get where you are. i have been like this since I was a child, they didn’t know what was wrong with me. i missed a whole year of school, my mom had a nervous breakdown, was gone in the hospital. I couldn’t move my legs. I stayed in bed a year. Doctors had many ideas. Finally one said, she must walk, he made me, though I was weak.I can’t remember details. Time went on, I was a daydreamer, flighty. When I was 16, i was diagnosed w/ depression, put on anti depressants, told to walk a mile a day. It didn’t help. I went on drugs, drank, etc. When I left home, married, still drank, had a breakdown.Also put on several pills. It was not noticed that I may have bipolar till in my 30’s. They changed meds. Some good came of it. Now its a bit better. But, I have bad & good times. I pray & hope a lot. I’m alone with it, my husband doesn’t share the faith anymore. He is tired of my ups & downs, we’ve been married 32 years. My son thinks I could run, lol, (I walk my dog) & I do eat right, take vitamins, try to see what is good for the brain in foods. I think its nice you are a doctor now, you’ve done well and overcome a lot! I just want to stay alive a bit longer.

    • Sally, you’ve had a rough time. Good for you that you’re still here on the planet and hanging in, even if it’s not much fun.

      If you read my “About” page, you’ll find out that I haven’t been well enough to practice as a doctor for over 10 years. Yes, I made it there, and I did practice for a long time, for which I am grateful.

      Sometimes “one day at a time” is too big a chunk to manage. Sometimes it’s more like “one minute at a time,” or “one nanosecond at a time.”

      The important thing is to keep on keepin’ on. We don’t know G-d’s purpose for us in this life. All we get to know is that He put us here, gave us our sack full of blessings and challenges, and said, “now go do your best.” And our job is top do the best we can with whatever resources we’ve got. Hang in there.


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