Saving My Younger Self


Saving My Younger Self

A Therapist Finds Her Mission

By Nicole Thompson

January/February 2020


Whatever our backgrounds, most of us were called into this field hoping to make a difference in others’ lives. In my case, the call came from the experience of learning how much of a difference attention and caring can make to a struggling child.

In the middle of the night, when I was eight years old, I woke to find my mother dead in bed beside me. She’d overdosed and rolled on top of my baby sister, who was shrieking. I remember struggling to pull her off my sister and trying to shake her awake. When she didn’t rouse, I pressed my tiny fingers against her grown-up wrist to find a pulse—something a concerned neighbor had just taught me how to do. I knew instantly that she was gone.

My mother, the daughter of a teen mom, had her first of five children at 20. She was just 33 when she took her own life. Her death followed that of her boyfriend, who’d been murdered while she was pregnant with my sister. Before she died, my mother’s depression was deepening, and my siblings and I were in an extreme state of neglect: either not going to school at all or showing up unkempt. The roaches that had taken over our house would sometimes crawl out of my book bag and into the classroom.

After my mother’s funeral, three of my siblings and I moved in with our biological father, a man who’d physically and emotionally abused her. I’d felt utterly alone and isolated—thinking this couldn’t be happening…

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3 Comments

Friday, May 8, 2020 1:11:09 PM | posted by Edwin (Ned)
I never understood the concept of not talking with kids. The mindset through which I work with kids is that if they are old enough to ask/be concerned about a topic, then they are deserving of an age-appropriate answer. Regardless of whether or not a child will *understand* a concept is incidental to the fact that they are very much afraid *now* because of real/perceived threat. Like anyone else, kids just want to know the truth, because anything else is uncertain or scary and threatening to the Nervous System, like you're saying. Envisioning success is so, so pivotal in the lives of the youths we serve too. People who have had the privilege of success often cannot comprehend how those with so little do not simply *do the same thing* but without thinking that if those things were never a part of every day conversation, how would anybody be necessarily expected to know of something better or simply different? Well said, thanks for sharing!

Saturday, February 29, 2020 3:38:06 PM | posted by Lori Parker
I've been a school psychologist for 15 years. It's my second career. I've almost always worked in low-to-extremely low income community. I learned a whole new perspective and love middle to high school girls because whether they are my counseling kids or not, most of them begin sharing and we connect in whatever way they need. A lot of the time they find their way back to my office so that we can continue our relationship. To me, that's why I'm here.

Monday, February 24, 2020 9:09:32 PM | posted by Nneka
I can relate to your message. I believe that sharing our personal experiences is more powerful than speaking in general terms.