Craigslist Confessional by Helena Dea Bala

From Book Trigger Warnings
Craigslist Confessional
Cover of Craigslist Confessional by Helena Dea Bala
Author(s) Helena Dea Bala
Published July 7th, 2020
Genre(s) Memoir, Nonfiction, Anthology
Age group Adult


Helena Dea Bala was an exhausted and isolated DC lobbyist, suffocating under the weight of her student loan debt, when she decided to split her lunch with a man who often panhandled near her office. They chatted effortlessly as they ate; there were no half-truths or white lies, and no fear of judgment. Helena felt connected and unburdened in a way she hadn’t in years.

Inspired, she posted an ad on Craigslist promising to listen, anonymously and for free, to whatever the speaker felt he or she couldn’t tell anyone else. Emails from people desperate to connect flooded her inbox, and she listened. Within months, Helena quit her job, deferred her loans, and dove into listening full time.

The forty first-person confessions in this book are vivid, intimate, and real; they range from devastating traumas, to lost loves, to reflections on hard choices. Some accounts are quotidian, like that of one increasingly estranged “I want to feel that we’re not just roommates—that we’re not just waiting for the kids to grow up so that we can move on.” Others are deeply disconcerting, like that of a sex addict employed by a religious organization and several are heartening, like that of a mother who dares to hope that her daughter, born with life-threatening heart defects, will one day walk down the “Sometimes you need to have the audacity to believe that it will all be okay, that it is okay to have the same kinds of dreams as everyone else.”

In its complex portrayal of the common human experience, Craigslist Confessional challenges us to explore the depths of our vulnerability and expand the borders of our empathy.

Trigger Warnings

Anonymous Confessional Stories include:

  • 9/11
  • Abortion
  • Abuse by Caretakers (implied, Elderly Home)
  • Abuse by Nurses and Doctors
  • Accidental pregnancy
  • Affairs/Cheating
  • Age Gap Relationships
  • Agoraphobia
  • Alcoholism
  • Alzheimer's/Dementia/Sundown Syndrome
  • Amputation
  • Arranged Marriages
  • Bank Robbery
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Body Image Issues
  • Cancer
  • Child Abuse
  • Choking Kink
  • Co-dependent Parent-Child Relationships
  • Cultural Appropriation
  • Cycle of Abuse
  • Depression
  • Drug Addiction/Use/Dealing/Cartels
  • Eating Disorder
  • Gaslighting
  • Grooming
  • Homophobia
  • Incest
  • Infant Illnesses/Death
  • Immigrant Struggles
  • Imposter Syndrome
  • Isolation
  • Jim Crow Laws
  • Kink Shaming
  • Larceny
  • Manipulation (mental, emotional, financial)
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Mental Illness
  • Miscarriage
  • Molestation
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Oppressive Systems
  • Physical Abuse
  • Prostitution/Sex Work
  • PTSD
  • Industrial Prison Complex
  • Racism
  • Rape
  • Refugee Camps
  • Religious Crisis/Zealots/Trauma
  • Risky Sexual Acts
  • Self-Harm
  • Sexual Abuse (including of minor children)
  • Sex/Porn Addiction
  • Social Media Addiction
  • Spousal Abuse
  • Suicide Attempts/Ideology
  • Systemic Racism
  • Transgender Issues
  • Transphobia
  • Victim Blaming/Shaming
  • War
  • White Supremacy


An asterisk (*) indicates that the author openly identifies with that identity.

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