Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cyberwhore: A True Story of Hoarding and Collecting Digital Data © 2008-2013


by Elyssa Durant,
May 21st 2008

Background / Introduction:
Shortly after I moved back to New York City to complete my graduate degree, I lost all of my personal, physical belongings in a household fire. What wasn't destroyed was stolen shortly afterwards and I have very few things I created in along the way.

And though the memories surrounding this devastating loss are crystal clear in my head, my journals and my artwork are gone forever. Losing my journals, my books, my photo albums, and all of my school work was even worse than losing my home. I lost a piece of myself in the process. A piece that can never be replaced... If only I had the foresight to back up all of my work-- scan in my photos, or find a safe deposit box I could afford, perhaps I could have finished my assignments on time and completed the last few credits necessary for my PhD.

I became obsessed with backing up data and making photocopies of any and every piece of my past I could find -- just in case!

I was eventually diagnosed with OCD  and a myriad of other related anxiety disorders. 

I wrote this letter to my therapist who helped me get through the most challenging time of my life. Not only did he belierve in my talent-- he convinced to me to start writing again-- even if my skills are a little rusty!

Thanks Dr. T!



"Hi Elyssa,

It's nice to hear from you, I had just been thinking of you. Is there a reason why you sent me two copies?

Talk to you soon,"



Now how can you call yourself a qualified therapist and ask me such a stupid question?

I have at two of everything!

I did not intend to send you two copies. I do recognize this is abnormal behavior!

So my alter ego as a "Cyberwhore?" is no longer a secret! I always send duplicate copies of every outgoing e-mail to myself to a number of free-mail accounts. Most have probably expired and I can't even remember most of the passwords to access them-- which leads me to wonder what happens to my written works that I have so carefully created? Do they just float around in cyberspace forever? Are my words now immortal? Does that make me grandiose or paranoid?

So-- as you can see, I am doing well in Nashville! I had my first appointment with my new psychiatrist on Wednesday and he seems very, "eager." to help. He is a very young resident, and I think he is rather psyched that he was placed at Vanderbilt rather than some community mental health center in rural Tennessee. For his training, he needs a number of hours conducting therapy-- so I graciously agreed to be one of his guinea pigs. I negotiated a one-hour session every other week-- kind of weird, huh?

I hate therapy. It seems so staged and rehearsed. I actually spend hours before a session trying to think of what I should say...

That never seemed to work with you. That always kind of annoyed me, because I wanted you to play the game with me. This is the way it is supposed to work: I tell you what happened as a child, and you tell me the source of my insanity.

I would try to remember the random things that would happened each day that would let you know that I was telling you the truth about my life, my world, my family. On many occasions, I would forget my zinger, my "punch line" if you will, and I would be so disappointed in myself. I would drop these little hints; tidbits of information; hoping you would recognize that I was not completely beyond help, and you might understand the method to my madness. Would that make it okay to be so god damned fucked up? Loony? Crazy? Nuts!

In all that time, you never once said, "AHA!" Instead, you would listen impatiently as I reflected on childhood traumas. Even the most elaborate reports of my childhood experience did not make you flinch-- well, maybe a few times! At what point did you realize that there was some truth in what I was telling you? I would say the same thing over and over because I knew it to be true. To be fact. To be far more cruel and evil than anything I could I make believe as a child? I want to stop playing those games. I am ready to be a person. I am ready to love. I am ready to be "normal."

As I grow, I would like to become more direct, more assertive, and more sure of what I am saying and how it is being received. In the past, I would sit with silence and ambivalence and just fall into situations by default. I do not want complacency to guide me through life. I am not incapable of protecting myself anymore. I hated being such a passive participant in my own life. Not knowing where I would be living, with whom, and for how long. Learned helplessness. I wonder how things might have been different... if only... I will never know how these events shaped my life and broke my mind. What caused my mind to break? Was I too weak? Was there some point where I should have thrown in the towel and taken my own life? Was there anything, anything I could have done differently to survive? Is there a "normal" breaking point? Did I put up a good fight? Did I do okay?

I want to act with purpose, speak with conviction, and be confident in my decisions. I want to chose action rather than inaction and feel comfortable with the choices I have made. No more ruminating over what I should have, might have, almost did... I, I, I...

I am so textbook; it is becoming quite a bore!

You were not interested in treating my mind like a puzzle missing one piece. At one point do you say there's no hope? Will my fear of going completely insane ever go away? What if I am unable to write? Unable to communicate? Unable to interact with the human race on any significant level leaving me with no outlet for my overactive mind and compulsive need to write it all down... what if I am left with no outlet? No pen, no keyboard, no voice, no release. Am I a good writer? Does my writing make sense? Does anybody "get it?" Is it worthwhile or just a pile of crap that serves only as a solo desperate attempt at creativity? Do people laugh when I they read my work? Do they think I should accept my limitations and just marry rich like a pretty girl should?

How did you manage to put my mind back together again without knowing what went wrong? Is my head okay? Can I have children?

You were a good therapist. You are a good therapist. The best.


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