Finding Peace — Manuscript Post #34
–Sessions: 23 of 53
Monday, June 15, 2009 11:00am
Blood Donation, Apheresis, Number 298
My son graduated from high school last Saturday. I thought about my father, who didn’t attend my high school graduation, while we were at the ceremony, but I wasn’t sad. That evening my symptoms appeared and continued through Sunday. Perhaps attending the graduation had caused my symptoms to return?
Elsie asked me how I felt while I was at the graduation. I told her I wasn’t upset, but almost cried once. I felt like I was really there. I was affected emotionally, but I wasn’t so upset that I didn’t enjoy and experience my son’s graduation.
We happened to sit next to one of our son’s teachers from grammar school. We told him about our son learning Japanese, an interest that started with video games (Kingdom Hearts I believe) and manga. The teacher was impressed and admitted that as teachers, “we are so down on anime and manga”.
I thought about how much my sons had accomplished. I hear from other parents that anything less than perfect grades is the end of days. Elsie listens to all I had to say. She says, “your friends are intense”.
Elsie said my approach was very correct, only react to a real problem. Whether my student has perfect grades or not, focus on serious issues. If there were behavior problems or grades were suddenly slipping that would be a real problem. We have, at various time had the grades conversation. I always told them, “They are your grades and it’s your future”. Some years from now, someone may not accept them at a college they are interested in based on their grades. At the same time, I can’t tell them exactly what grades they will need to pursue whatever they become interested in.
She agrees that you can’t make them study, they have to do it for themselves. They should look into what interests them and what it takes to do those careers.
I asked Elsie about my son being very quiet sometimes. She said her son is the same and when he does speak, she and her husband cherish it.
I asked Elsie about what she said last time, that my conclusions were wrong when I told her I have a hard time believing that my wife actually cares for me. I asked her if I had upset things with what I said to her. She said I didn’t upset anything, she says “wrong” and “screwed up” were harsh and she apologized.
She also said that she wants me to be mindful that people like me for who I am, not just when I am helping them or saving them. Looking back, with the benefit of almost four years of hindsight, I think I understand why she said what she said. I think she wanted to say what she said, and she meant it, but, after she said it, she realized I wasn’t ready to hear it. I think a lot of being a therapist, or any other professional service provider, is reading the client and deciding when you can tell them what you have to tell them. Sometimes you have to just wait, telling the client too soon just doesn’t work.
Elsie wanted to discuss the details of which symptoms came back Saturday night. I was very tired, my chest was sore and my throat felt sore. I had some wine Sunday night and slept very well. She asked me what helped when I had symptoms. Lying down for an hour or more and sleeping overnight, both help a lot with the symptoms. She told me that, when you can, do what helps reduce the symptoms. She suggests a glass of wine. I told her that I’ve noticed that sometimes alcohol does help but I know that can cause problems. She confirmed that I was not having any issues with alcohol. Because of what I saw when my mother would drink, I wanted to be very careful and not allow alcohol to interfere with my treatment.
My mother’s end of life
Therapy works by having you talk about what is happening in your life. The therapist asks you how you feel about these events and how you reacted to them. Therapy helps you see how your past influences how you see and react to current events in your life.
You may think that talking about what is going on in your day-to-day life is not significant, and therefore therapy is trivial, silly, just a waste of time. What may appear to you as trivial is really what makes therapy so effective. Therapy doesn’t try to teach you some abstract set of concepts from a textbook. Therapy is effective because it is real. It uses events in your life to help you understand what is causing your symptoms so it is always very relevant to you.
My life was about to have a very real event. My mother died while I was in therapy. My involvement in her end-of-life care began at this point. Death of a parent is a major life event, a major stress. Because my father chose to not let me be involved in his end-of-life care, I was highly motivated to be involved with my mother’s care. This event also forced me to deal with my siblings in a very intimate way and this would force me to deal with all the issues of my family.
I had discussed my family history with Elsie during my second session, but to understand some of the issues that were going to come up regarding my mother’s death, some additional family history is needed.
My mother had lived in the same major city for many years. Snap had never lived away from her. Crackle lived with her for many years until she moved out to live nearby. Pop had moved roughly a thousand miles away. I was living about three hundred miles away.
My parents never discussed their financial situation. They would fight about money but I never heard any actual facts. After they divorced, I didn’t know what my mother’s finances actually were. Some years after the divorce, she told us that she didn’t have the money to stay living where she was. I had no way of knowing the facts of the situation, but it was easy to believe, because she had made so many poor money decisions, that she really did need to make a change.
As with all things, there had to be lots of drama. My siblings and myself all met with her at her home. She had been drinking, she cried a lot, she was hysterical at times. There was no discussion of any numbers or any other facts. I don’t know how it came to be, but my mother decided she would move to be close to Pop, where the cost of living was much less.
My mother and Snap moved. In theory, her living near Pop would help her. This didn’t last very long. It was only a few months before they started fighting. More drama. My mother and Pop would not speak again after that. When I would visit either my mother or Pop, they would get upset when I told them I was going to visit the other. Each of them actually believed they had the right to tell me I couldn’t visit the other. During this time Crackle moved over four thousand miles away.
As my mother’s health and finances declined for the final time, she was living with Snap. Pop was living in the same city but they refused to have any contact with each other. Crackle was thousands of miles away. I was seven hundred miles away.