Finding Peace — Manuscript Post #31
–Sessions: 18 of 53
Monday, April 27, 2009 11:00am
Blood Donation, Apheresis, Number 293
I asked Elsie if I am progressing. I feel like I’m going backwards sometimes. I ask her if I’m delaying the process. She assures me that things are going well.
Elsie wanted to discuss how the visit to my father in Carmel came about. She had asked about this during our last session and I had discussed this with my wife between sessions to recall the specifics. At that time, while I was in college, I had called my father’s home several times. Each time, my father’s second wife, my stepmother, would answer. She was controlling all access to my father. I wanted my wife to meet my father. I don’t know why my father’s second wife finally allowed me to visit my father. She had refused multiple requests in the past.
My wife remembers that when we did visit, my father barely spoke, while his wife talked the whole time. I had no contact with my father after that visit. He chose not to tell any of us, his children, that he was dying. His second wife didn’t tell any of us that he had died. I have no idea why. My father’s brother sent me and my siblings a letter describing the events leading up to my father’s death. The letter did not include any explanation for why we weren’t told until after he had died.
Elsie was upset that my father’s second wife controlled all aspects of my visit and had no further contact with any of my father’s children. By upset I mean that she was agitated and spoke harshly about how bad this behavior was. She did not get upset often during our sessions, but this was one of the exceptions. I was surprised by her upset. These events were just all part of what my family members told me was ‘normal’. Part of the benefit of therapy is realizing that much of what I was told was ‘normal’ was in reality complete bullshit. Adults telling a child that insane behavior was normal.
Elsie asks if I could contact other relatives to learn more about my father and my father’s parents. Over ten years ago I had twice visited my father’s brother, but there had been some health issues and memories were not clear. No one wanted to discuss sensitive subjects. As I discussed in my family history, the only things I know about my father’s parents came from my mother. My father’s father died in federal prison convicted of mail fraud charges. My father’s mother was deeply affected by these events and this contributed to her being crazy, according to my mother. Elsie didn’t have much to say about this.
I asked Elsie about repressed memories. I knew someone that told me they had experienced various traumas that they didn’t remember until they were in therapy. They told me how their family members took sides, those that believed these memories as they came to light, and those that didn’t. Elsie said she couldn’t understand why someone would tell me this, it’s so personal. She also told me that in the 1970s repressed memories were trendy but not so much anymore now. I wondered if I would remember things during therapy that I wasn’t remembering before. This never happened. I am not aware of any memories that came to light during my therapy.
My mother once called me and told me “she could have been someone” if she hadn’t had children. Elsie asked me how that made me feel and what I did after that. I replied that I refused to apologize for my own birth and I had no contact with my mother for several years.
I thought about our discussion last session about my feeling worthless. I told her that I know I’m important to my dependents. Because my mother attempted suicide multiple times, I read about it online. What I read was consistent. My mother’s suicide attempts were very selfish. Elsie agrees and reinforces this point. Suicide is very selfish and very hostile. I wonder, if I had become convinced that I would never feel better, that my symptoms would continue indefinitely at their initial intensity, would I have had thoughts of killing myself?
If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, thoughts of suicide, you must seek help immediately. I never felt suicidal. Having said all this, I want you to understand that you don’t have to be suicidal to need therapy. My point is that I never felt that I wanted to end my life, but I still needed therapy to feel better. My therapist told me, multiple times, that suicide is selfish and hostile. Please get the help you need. Please don’t complete the selfish and hostile act.
Elsie asked me to bring photos of my family for our next session. I believe this is a standard part of the process. The therapist wants you to bring photos because it will get you to talk about your family and your experiences growing up. I think they can also get a lot of information about you from the photos you bring, what the photos show as well as how you talk about them.