“I’ve started to write short stories again – something I haven’t done since I was a kid.”
“How’s that going?”
“It’s disturbing, actually; the endings are the same even after all these years.”
“Me in a straitjacket, completely mad.”
“Oh, I see!”
As do I – there are never happy endings, just a worsening of the situation caused by my inappropriate actions.
I used to fear I was going insane as a child – not a far stretch considering that’s what happened to my older sister. This conversation is with my psychologist. Just when I thought things had settled out in my psyche, the dreams have started again – not so much nightmares as deeply disturbing.
I grew up in a house full of secrets, where chaos was the reigning element, and hope, if it dared rear its head, was quickly squashed. As a child it was difficult to see a way out of the pain, other than suicide or extreme acts of violence. I attempted neither – was the ‘good’ girl in the family – but it doesn’t mean I didn’t fantasize about it.
“I left home when I was seventeen!” I whine to my therapist. “It’s not fair that I’m still struggling with this.”
“How have you been feeling lately?”
“Tired,” a ludicrous comment (I have ME/CFS which is characterized by systemic exhaustion); “I’m sleeping more than usual, which is actually a good thing, given I don’t sleep well with this disease. Have lost interest in food…generally depressed, I guess.”
Damn! Depression is like that elusive fly that keeps buzzing around but I just can’t catch.
“You have lots of good things going on right now; is there something that has triggered it?”
In fact, there is – a conversation my younger sister and I had around Mother’s Day. While I have sought extensive help to support my healing process, my sister prefers to hold it all in, and then every once in a while bits spew out. Her mini revelation was enough to ignite the dreams for me.
“I don’t have a conscious memory of what she’s talking about, but the dreams would seem to indicate I was affected too.”
“Do you want to explore it further, or do you think you know enough to move on?”
I had been doing quite well – had gained enough perspective to be able to extract past wounds from present occurrences – yet, in my writing, there has always been something else lurking – another layer of hurt.
“I just want to know that there is going to be a different ending! I need to know that there is a purpose to all of this and that my life won’t end up tragically, but right now I can’t see any other options.”
And then it hits me – this is what I love about effective therapy – my upbringing was not about love and connection, it was about survival. I did not learn the skills that I need to have a fulfilling life experience, thus the need for re-parenting.
“Do you have a copy of Growing Yourself Back Up?”
“I do! Found it the other day when I was clearing things out!” I’m feeling lighter now, having identified the current dilemma and having an action plan in place.
No matter how innocent, children take on responsibility for the dysfunction that adults dish out. They absorb the abuse, violence, and imposed secrets as reflections of their own lack of worth. Consistency, enforced guidelines, and predictable parenting help build a secure sense of self, and a foundation of confidence from which a child can progress.
“Try to see the good things that have come out of it all,” my therapist offers kindly.
“You mean like resiliency?”
“Yes, that’s a good place to start.”