Finding Peace — Manuscript Post #59
–Sessions: 49 of 53
Monday, May 17, 2010 11:00am
Blood Donation, Apheresis, Number 315
I discussed with Elsie my symptoms during the previous week. Elsie asked what had been happening during the week. The company where I was working had been acquired and I was transitioning to a new job at the new company. The new job would require weekend work and from what I could tell, the work would be deathly boring. Elsie told me I was too capable to be doing routine work. On the other hand, the company I had been working for was failing and I had been worrying about not having a job at all.
I had been transferring our old video tapes to DVDs and I had been watching some of them. On one tape from nineteen years ago I saw my mother and on another my oldest son was learning to walk. Seeing my wife and myself playing with our sons reminded me that I had no memories of my father playing with me. Elsie says my father was like ‘a ghost’.
Elsie told me that any of the things I brought up from last week was more than enough to explain my symptoms. These are stressors and the symptoms are my response to stress. I had decided to start building a new model train layout and she said that was very good.
After this session, I drove to my oldest son’s college to bring him home from his freshman year. My son trusted I would show up on time and that I would be ready to help him get home. No one ever visited me at college and I can’t understand why. My son trusts that I will pay for his college, as I promised him I would. My parents cut me off as I finished my senior year as part of my mother’s endless drama. This isn’t about the money, it’s about trust and honoring commitments.
I had a dream that upset me. In the dream I’m helping people in a railway station. I move around the locomotive and then outside the station. I come around the corner of a building and I see my sons, they are in profile to me, sitting on a picnic bench in the sun, their legs swinging gently. They are reading their books, they don’t look up as I walk towards them.
The dream ends, I’m upset, I want to cry. It was early in the morning, my wife was getting up. I waited for her to leave and then I did cry, hard, for about twenty minutes. During the rest of the day, about once an hour, I fight back the tears.
Later, after the dream and the crying, I felt I knew why the dream upset me so much. My sons were doing what they like to do, knowing that I would come for them as I always have. They weren’t waiting for me, they just know I’ll be there when I said I would. They trust. They assume and believe I will be there. They believe I will pay for their college education. When their laptop doesn’t work, they believe I will be there to fix it.
I never experienced this trust. My father never came around the corner and never will.
My sons had a trust and a faith that I never did and never will. I’ve created for them a reality I never experienced. This is the loneliness I feel, the disconnect from others. They have that trust, I don’t. And I wanted it, and I still want it fifty years later. Since I don’t have this faith, I feel alone. No one cared enough for me to give me that faith. I had to take care of myself emotionally, all the time, alone. I can grant wishes for others (my sons) that I can’t grant to myself. Why didn’t my father want to come around the corner for me? I never just sat in the sun reading, knowing that I would be cared for.
–Sessions: 50 of 53
Monday, June 7, 2010 11:00am
Blood Donation, Apheresis, Number 316
My time in therapy was coming to a close. Elsie said “how we say goodbye is more important than how we said hello.” I think Elsie meant that what we talk about at the end is more important than what we discussed at the beginning because we don’t have more sessions in the future. We need to review what I’ve learned so I will be best prepared for the future, a future beyond therapy.
Elsie had lots to say this time. “You are doing very well. You and your wife have done a wonderful job parenting. You are immensely capable. You need to give yourself credit.”
I told Elsie about my dream. Elsie said my dream, and the crying, were completely understandable, and it was important to let the process of grieving continue. She continued, “You deserved to have the trust and faith that your sons have in their father. Your father wasn’t there. He left you with a mother that he knew was impaired. Your father being gone hurt the children.” Elsie was referring to my siblings. She reviewed some of the behaviors I had described about my siblings to illustrate how they had been affected.
After this session, sometimes, when I felt bad, I would go out in the backyard and lie on my back and watch the sky. I would watch the clouds moving along, swirling, the edges breaking off and disappearing. I watched as the sun went down, the moon came up and seagulls drifted by. I thought about all the experiences I was having where I had no equivalent memory. A few weeks ago, for Father’s Day, I was asked what I wanted to do. I had started a new model train layout so I asked my wife and sons to come with me to Hobbies Unlimited to pick out some new freight cars. They were into it and I enjoyed watching them. I have no experience like this from Father’s Day with my father.
I was at a training class for work. At lunch I was watching TV and had an overwhelming urge to cry for no apparent reason. I didn’t feel bad, and it passed. Later in the day I actually felt good. This happens occasionally, and I assume this is what Elsie meant when she told me to let the process of grieving continue.
Another day, while listening to the radio in my car, I heard about the anniversary of a major event in Hollywood. The report asked “where were you” when you heard about the event. I was visiting my mother in the hospital, the last time I would see her alive. Until I heard this report I wasn’t aware it had been a year since that visit. I didn’t have a strong reaction, I was thoughtful and I was glad a year had passed already.
Several weeks after this session I photographed all the items that had belonged to my mother that I had paid to have shipped to me and posted the photos on my website. I emailed my relatives asking them to review the photos and let me know which items they wanted shipped to them. I also identified to everyone which items I wanted to keep. It took time and many emails, but everyone knew every item that I had shipped to me, and everyone knew who got each item. I felt good about the way I handled this, no one had even suggested this approach, it just made sense to me.