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Connie First

My Re-Invention Story – Overcoming Phobia

Growing up an Italian American with five brothers and the eldest and only girl, I was a disappointment to my parents. I wasn’t a boy who could carry on the family name.

I tried so hard to please my Dad.  I acted tough, I played ball and was very athletic.  After six years of being an only child and getting all the attention, my mom had 4 boys. Each one year apart and then one more boy when I was 17 years old, boy was I embarrassed. When my brothers were born, my grades went from 100 on every exam to being left back in the 4th grade and almost being left back in the 7th grade.  I attended Catholic School.   I was devastated. I felt so alone and stupid.  I managed to study over the summer and pass the 7th grade.

We grew up with nothing so I always had to fend for myself. At the age of 16 I dropped out of High School.   I was so anxious that I could not sit in class, let alone concentrate on studying.

I started dating.  I met my husband when I was 18 and was working in Manhattan at various jobs, including modeling.  I got married at 20 and divorced the next year.  I guess I needed to get out of the very crowded household. When I got divorced I moved back home and became very depressed.

I met someone who I had a lot of fun with and was working in Dentistry. He had a massive heart attack and passed away.  I was to phobic at this point to travel by public transportation. That sent me over the edge.  I stayed in my room for two years and thought if I went out I would pass out and die.  My very dear and close friend told me I needed to see someone to get help.  I had no money, no job and was living with my parents. I could not go out of the house because I feared I would pass out and die.  My friend suggested I see her therapist.  I took car service 2 times a week and paid this Social Worker $15 dollars a session. She was amazing.  Her and I worked very hard together.  I never missed a session.  When she went away in the summer, I had major separation anxiety.

I always wanted to go to law school. Being a high school dropout, I felt I could not go to College.  My therapist told me that Brooklyn Collage had open admission.  I could receive 24 collage credits and automatically get my high school diploma.  I went to the school for an interview and had to write an essay.   I was accepted! I worked 3 jobs in dentistry and went to school mornings and Sunday nights.  It took 7 years to get my degree, with honors. I Re-Invented myself through therapy.  Without therapy and my amazing friend, I would have never been able to achieve all this.

I did get married again and I have one son.  When he was 3, I went back to school, Adelphi University in Long Island, where I live today, to become a Social Worker. I am still working in Dentistry and still learning, growing and keeping an open mind.  People ask me why I still go to therapy. My answer is, it saved my life.  It doesn’t matter how long you go, as long as you  feel good about yourself and you grow. In my opinion, everyone can benefit from therapy.