Thank You, My Friends / Burdens

Thanks to everyone who has reached out to me in the last two weeks. I’ve been shocked and amazed at how much support I received, and I appreciate all the words and stories you shared. The week following my post, all the messages, texts, emails, and Facebook Likes and comments were my lifeline. I re-read all your comments and words, which really lifted me through to the second week. I got very excited whenever I saw a new red number on my Facebook globe. For those that I’ve seen in person, I thank you for your receptiveness and allowing me to share whatever I could. All we need is somebody to lean on.

Let me just recount where I was, where I am, and where I hope to go from here.


If you’ll squint with me a little and look at the world through the lens of everyone carrying weights and loads, you’ll understand how hard it’s been for me to hold this secret for so long. These traumatic events live in your body. Our language reflects this fact: we talk about the gravity of a situation; topics can feel very heavy to discuss; our problems weigh us down. There's also evidence that it alters your DNA. Talking about my abuse allows me to lay my burdens down. When you indulge me in the topic, you take me on your shoulder and carry me forward a few steps. Even by not talking about it and just by hanging out, it’s an important part for me to feel normal and accepted. 

Hitting “Publish” on my post was like rolling a boulder up a hill all summer and finally pushing it off a cliff. I didn’t know what to expect next, and processing it with everyone all at once took me off guard. While I’ve appreciated all the love, it has taken a lot of physical energy to take it all in. I opened up to some people, thanked others, and for some Facebook comments, I could only muster up a simple Like. For everyone that’s reached out, I mentally flipped through our past, present, and future. What’s our history? When was the last time I saw you? What’s the nature of our friendship? Do we joke? Are we coffee friends? Do we keep it casual? What will you think of me now? When’s the next time I’ll run into you? Should I say something back? Every interaction recently has had a calculated strategy behind it.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
— Matthew 11:28-30

Emotionally, the way the last two weeks have felt was like revealing to the world that there was a crack in the foundation of my home. There’s some deep structural damage that’s going to require some repairs, and rooms in the house need to be cleaned and renovated. The basement is a mess, with old memories lying hidden in boxes with meaningless labels in Sharpie. Cleaning things up requires me to flip through every photo album, trinket, toy, and evaluate whether I want to toss it or repurpose it for my new home. Sticking with the analogy, people have come over to the house to show their love and support, stopping for some iced tea on the patio, rehashing old stories and experiences. Most people never knew something like this could have happened, but others have seen hints of it. Not everyone has been into all the rooms, but you could tell things were off in a small way across numerous interactions.

In reality, I haven’t talked to many people about it since. Many exercised the option I gave, which was to opt out of what could be a very awkward and difficult conversation about a painful and sensitive subject. For the few that have broached it, I don’t really have the energy to take deep dives into the topic, so it helps to just describe what I’m currently going through or what a rollercoaster it’s been lately.

A video that I saw recently has also spoken to my experience. A high school student cranked his back pulling up tree roots, and he was in excruciating pain for three months. No chiropractor wanted to approach this case except for one in Australia. He (somehow) made the flight, and you get to watch the therapy process.


My general output is about half what it used to be, so days feel twice as long. My sleep has been very erratic, where some nights I stay up until 4 AM thinking a thousand thoughts at once, or I’ll feel tired enough to sleep at 8 PM. Sometimes the pain is so great that it feels like my whole body is on fire. I’m spending a lot of time in front of the TV, possibly even more. Sometimes my heart just pounds and throbs, so I feel paralyzed to the point where all I can do is to just lie in bed and stare at the ceiling. I’ve also fallen ill with whatever everyone is catching and spreading.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
— Galatians 6:2

Now that the post is published, I can redirect my energy towards taking care of myself. I think I’ll take a vacation soon here. My counsellor spoke about containment, where I don’t have to always feel everything related to my abuse all the time. It’s okay to take a break, to escape through activities and contain the processing to short bursts. Go for a bike ride, play some video games, watch some TV, go out to eat. Generally, these behaviours would be seen as procrastinating or avoiding, but I have the opposite problem of trying to tackle too big of a problem all at once. It feels like I’m trying to make a road trip all in one shot, and I’m learning that it’s okay to stop and smell the flowers. I’m listening to music a lot. EDM may not be soothing for other people, but shuffling my playlist is getting me through these hard times. My dad just bought me some headphones that sound amazing (Audio Technica ATH-M50x), and they’ve been a cup of cool water to me in this dry land.


I’m not 100% sure what to do with this blog. There are a bunch of ways I could take this, but mostly what it’s been to me in the past was an outlet for whatever’s on my mind. A lot of things stand out and I want to share what I’m learning in counselling, but at the very least, it’ll continue to be my open diary. I don’t want to turn it into some digital soapbox where I point fingers and make people work on what I’m working on. I don’t want to turn it into a pulpit either. I want to continue to be authentic and share my experiences, unloading my burdens here with you.

Jonathan Phan Lê @jon_le