D etached, my mind cataloged clearly, and somewhere deep within an alarm bell rang vaguely. I didn’t care too much to hear it, but my therapist’s voice was all too clear in my head: Notice those dissociative moments.

Her compassion and understanding — something I could not yet give myself — and the clarity and safety I felt when with her made me listen. Dissociative moments meant danger.

I walked the streets in search of the newly located jewelry store, in search of a pair of earrings to replace one I had lost. Why am I even doing this?

I tried to shrug off the thought.

Habit? Logic? I lost the earring, I should replace it? And who cared, if anyway….

I pushed the thoughts down, unwilling to go there. They persisted. Really, why was I doing this?

I located the store and walked in. Showing the saleslady my single remaining earring, I asked if the store carried an identical pair. She shook her head regretfully. “No,” she said, sounding genuinely disappointed. “We last had these in a long time ago.”

“I bought them here about two years back,” I murmured. I felt a stab of disappointment. So much for simply replacing the earrings — an unprecedented birthday gift purchased together with my father — with an identical pair. I’d been so shocked the night he took me out; our relationship was complex in the best of times.

I looked over the earrings on display.

“How about these?” she suggested, pulling several pairs of earrings down carefully from behind the glass. “They’re somewhat similar to the pair you had.”

I was pleasantly surprised at how she did not pressure me as I looked them over and selected one to try on.

My first instinctive try was a hit with her. “Beautiful,” she said immediately, a certain joy on her face. “I like it.” I felt her to be sincere, even as my mind cynically shot back, So typical sales type — she says that to everyone.

“With the shape of your face, it looks just right.”

I glanced in the mirror. The earrings were simple, slightly shorter than the length I wanted. I wouldn’t have to think twice about wearing them; nice but not showy. They were delicate and pretty.

I checked the price tag. Thirty dollars.

Thirty dollars may not be much for genuine silver earrings, but most of my jewelry is costume, purchased for between two and ten dollars. So for me, it was a lot.

Especially for someone who—

Logically, I knew it was a good deal. But why was I spending 30 dollars on a piece of jewelry I wasn’t sure I liked, when I could maybe just get something cheaper at a 99-cent store, or better yet, spend the money on other things?

I removed the first pair of earrings and tried on a second pair. These thoughts were a distraction, I knew, and the next thought hit me like a splash of sadness.

Why spend 30 dollars on something I don’t deserve to look nice in, especially if in all likelihood I won’t be here much longer? (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 563)