Current Book Project

Finding Peace — Manuscript Post #28

Adult Child of an Alcoholic, ACoA, Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, Finding Peace, One Patient's Journey, Therapy For the Adult Child of an Alcoholic
Posted: August 17, 2015 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

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–Dr. Sue visit
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This was the first time I talked with Dr. Sue since she prescribed therapy for me. I know that she and Elsie have talked about my symptoms, but I didn’t know if they discussed anything else or how often.

Dr. Sue says my blood pressure readings and cholesterol levels look great. As you will recall from my background, I have hypertension and have been taking medication to control my blood pressure for many years. From my experience, the medication is very effective. Whatever else I was worried about, it was nice that I didn’t have to worry about my blood pressure as well. Please get your blood pressure checked regularly, along with any other health issues you might have. You don’t want worry about a medical condition to add to your emotional issues.

I wanted to have an office visit with Dr. Sue because of my continuing chest soreness. I tell her that therapy is helping but my chest soreness persists. Dr. Sue is clear that she doesn’t think I have a heart problem. I tell her that the soreness comes and goes and often times goes away if I relax. She says this is a “self diagnostic”.

While Dr. Sue didn’t think I had a heart problem, she said that because I’ve been to see her a handful of times with this same symptom, it was time to get a stress test. The stress test will be an EKG while I’m walking on a treadmill. She told me she would have done this earlier if she had thought it was needed, but if it would allow me to “unhinge” this concern, that would be freeing. In other words, she didn’t think I had a heart problem, but, a stress test should allow me to stop worrying about it. She also said she would give me her next paycheck if there was a problem with my heart.

I told her that my globus, my throat soreness, is gone.

We talked about therapy in general. She said therapy seems like a luxury. I realize this could be read as her saying it wasn’t valuable. What she meant was that the attention you get in therapy is much more than you are used to in normal life. I agree, no one has ever talked to me about me this much. We agree that everyone is busy and even taking the time to go to therapy is a luxury in a way.

I want to be clear that neither Dr. Sue or myself are saying that therapy isn’t necessary and beneficial. For myself, compared to my daily life of work and parenting, the therapy sessions are a lot more time dedicated to me than I am used to. Please accept that this is a vital part of the process. Someone taking the time to talk to you enough to help you is exactly what you need.

–Sessions: 16 of 53
Monday, April 6, 2009 11:00am
Blood Donation, Apheresis, Number 291

I was discussing my previous sessions with my wife. She told me that she thinks I am hyper-responsible because my parents were not responsible. This relates to the whole syndrome of ACA. The child sees chaos and the negative outcomes of the behavior of the adults around them. The child has no control. The child vows, as I did, to control absolutely everything, to never ever be out of control. I was going to make sure I did not have the same experiences as an adult that I saw around me growing up. The first book Elsie had me read is titled “It will never happen to me”, and the title is spot on. The child tries so hard to control everything, but can’t. The stress can push the adult child to the very same destructive behaviors they saw in their parents. The adult child may choose to self medicate with alcohol or other drugs. The child is driven to make sure that bad things they saw growing up will “never happen to me”. I had been there, done that. I never have had any issue with drugs or alcohol, but, the stress of trying to control everything did catch up with me with the onset of my symptoms.

I had told my wife that I was worried about any possible heart problems that my chest soreness might indicate. I tried to explain that in my world, if I was dying from a heart attack, I would be worried that she would be mad at me because I hadn’t done enough to prevent it. She was not amused. Of course, from her perspective, the last thing she would be is mad. I wanted to talk to Elsie about this because it was important to me. I have no doubt that my wife would not be mad at me if I ever had a heart attack. But I know that in my mind I would feel I had failed my family, those that depend on me to take care of them.

Elsie commented on my world view. She said I need to re-wire my world view. She says I’m not responsible for everything. Many things happen in the world that didn’t happen because of anything I did or didn’t do. I don’t control very much of what happens.

I told her that I donated blood again. She is puzzled by this and wants to discuss how I could donate twice in a week’s time. When you donate whole blood, it takes weeks for your body to regenerate the red blood cells. I have been donating platelets which are the component of blood that supports clotting. Since they only take the platelets, I don’t lose the red blood cells. Platelets are regenerated in three days, but they prefer to have a week between donations. The rules limit the donor to a maximum of twenty-four donations in a year. Elsie said I am a good citizen.

I told Elsie a story I heard at the blood center. Before each donation, they review your history and check your blood pressure and temperature. The story was that one donor came in and their blood pressure was 200/120. If you look this up, this is a ‘medical emergency’. The donor said he felt fine and didn’t want to take the medication his doctor prescribed for him. I told Elsie this story because I don’t “get it” how anyone could be so detached. I don’t know if this donor had anyone depending on him or not. I see many people being, or appearing to be, unconcerned about their kids, ex-spouse, their health, their drinking etc.

Elsie responds. She says “your father left you, and left you with someone he knew had problems”. Wow. I had never thought about that. She continues, “You are the role model. You should be the role model”. I thought about this and what I get from it is that I shouldn’t worry about not understanding how other people can be so detached from the effects of their behavior. They are the ones with the problem.

This also shows the therapy process in action. I tell her about things that I thought about during the week. She points out associations that I had never thought of. I don’t think I would have ever realized that my father left me and he knew my mother had serious problems. He was able to be that detached.

As my son prepares to leave for college, it is very difficult for me to understand how my parents never visited me at college and didn’t attend my graduation. How could my parents be so un-involved? This also connects back to something Elsie asked me during Session 2. She asked me how it would affect my sons if I left now, the way my father left just before I went to college. If I were to leave, my sons would then experience what I had, a father that wasn’t involved in their preparing for college, a father that didn’t visit them at college.

We also discussed something that had come up in my family history. Several times over the years, while visiting a relative who lived in a very rural area, this relative would turn off the headlights while driving. It was very dark and very dangerous. It was terrifying. I could never figure out why anyone would want to do that. Elsie listened to this and said it was “hostile”. When I was growing up, things like this were just part of the ‘normal’ course of events. Therapy was helping me realize that what I was told was normal was not normal and not healthy.

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