Why this new film is a must-see for anyone of dating age – and why any future partner of mine will watch this on our first date
Trigger Warning: sexual assault, domestic violence, rape, suicide, suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, PTSD, PTSD recovery
In the middle of a pandemic, on Christmas, I did NOT expect myself to be at the movie theater. But, I was. And why? Because the movie I wanted to see, Promising Young Woman, was not being streamed anywhere.
So, I bundled up, called my friend who had a Subaru, trekked through around 3-4 inches of snow and ice, and headed to the local movie theater, masks and hand sanitizer in hand.
Promising Young Woman was everything I expected and more: a cathartic experience for what has been a lifechanging relationship and event. The film is Emerald Fennell’s directorial debut, and it was fantastically done. The film is marketed as a Thriller/Comedy, a run time of 1:54, and has a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s the following description from Wikipedia:
“Nothing in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be — she’s wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she’s living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs from the past.”Want to watch the trailer? Click here!
To give a little bit more background, Cassandra is a medical school dropout who left “under unusual circumstances.” As a once Doctor of Physical Therapy School “dropout,” this sounded eerily familiar.
Fun Fact: Carey Mulligan’s character is named Cassandra, who in Greek mythology, was a woman gifted with divine powers to foretell the future, but was cursed to never be believed.
If you’ve followed my site, you’ve probably picked up by now that I was supposed to graduate with my DPT in May 2016; after “unusual circumstances,” my graduation date was pushed to May 2017.
And in May 2017? More “unusual circumstances” left me without a degree and my program deemed that I should “restart the entire program at semester two.”
Like Cassie, I was considered a “promising young woman.” I graduated from West Virginia University in May 2013 top of my class in Exercise Physiology (which also happens to be the largest undergraduate degree program in the university). I never had anything less than an “A” on a report card until my 3rd semester of graduate school. I applied to one physical therapy school and was told that I was considered their “top applicant” based on their criteria.
In 3/2016, I was finishing my last physical therapy clinical rotation. I had job interviews setup, and I had already moved all my belongings to Austin, TX to start a life with my fiancé of 3.5 years. By 5/2016, I was on medical leave from my doctor of physical program, had an ex-fiancé (and restraining order), and was in court to negotiate how to get my life belongings back from 1,000 miles away.
So, what the f*ck happened?
Some “unusual circumstances.”
Things came to a head when my ex-fiancé told me that “if I ever see them again, I will kill them with my bare hands.” It’s life alternating to have someone that you planned to marry threaten to murder your loved ones. My clinical instructor was aware of my situation; the clinic was instructed to call the police if he came to my workplace. I was so close to finishing my program; 10 days of work kept me from my DPT. Unfortunately, I was hospitalized due to complications from 3.5 years of domestic abuse. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with PTSD with major chronic depression.
My program worked with me, and I was placed on medical leave with plans to complete my program in 5/2017. Throughout my last clinicals, I attended weekly counseling and monthly psychiatric appointments. In 4/2017, I had two weeks left in my clinical rotation; I had my first experience with PTSD flashbacks. I struggled to push through my final weeks. While I reached 100% independence in my 3rd clinical rotation in home health, I only reached 75% independence in my final clinical rotation in an outpatient setting. My clinical instructor had no doubt in my ability; “I know you know the information; but, when you get into a room, you’re like a deer in headlights.”
My anxiety was so high I could not function. I had started medical treatment for anxiety 3 weeks prior; and I was told my psychiatrist that my symptoms would be managed in 8 weeks. I was in good standing with my program and was encouraged to restart my program. While I was in good standing with my program, I was unable to finish my program in 5/2017 due to financial concerns. I was already 50,000k in debt and recovering from a rough 2016. I went from my program’s #1 ranked applicant to having no idea what to do.
In 5/2019, I was financially in the position to consider school again.
I said I’d never repeat DPT school not even if I was offered a million dollars, but I just started my 2nd semester at the University of St. Augustine’s DPT Flex program this week.
As a survivor of domestic abuse, my life is different now. I’ve gone through a type of reinvention; I’ve picked myself up and rebuilt my life. I’ve learned the importance of self-care, mental health, and patient advocacy. 3 years of intensive counseling and trauma focused counseling have taught me how to recover from my “unusual circumstances.”
Mental health is a vital part of physical health; my recommendation to Cassie’s character would have been to seek help from trusted medical providers. But the idea of ‘righting wrongs done in the past’ is still strongly appealing. Especially when those wrongs are based on sexual assault.
Forgiving my abuser has been a journey. Initially, I wanted him to suffer for what he did to me and the pain he caused. After a few years, I determined I’d be satisfied if he was ‘forever alone.’ Surprisingly, I’ve recently realized that I’ve forgiven him. What he did was unacceptable; however, I hope this experience was a wake-up call for him and that he sought the help he needed. As long as I never hear from him again, all is fine in my book.
Carrying the amount of anger and hate that Cassie did was her undoing. I can’t fix the past, but I can learn from it. I can grow from it. And I have.
I aim to make the most of any “unusual circumstances.”
I am a promising young woman, and I’m coming for you.