Jul 19, 2014

Therapeutic Endeavors

What I Learned As a Child

I see a therapist every two weeks now. It has helped me a lot. He is a good therapist to work with. He gives me homework to do. This is part of it. I haven't written anything here for a long time. Life has been hectic and those curveballs keep on coming. I'm catching them as fast as I can, but sometimes I need help, so, hence, the therapist.

The goal of this cognitive therapy is learning to change the self-talk that everyone has inside their head. Some of it is good. When it holds you back, it isn't. It keeps you from being the total person you can be.

So what did my childhood teach me?

1. Fear. The biggest thing I learned in childhood was fear. Fear of what was outside at night trying to get in and kill us. Never mind it was probably all in the mind of my mother. Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming her at all. She did the very best she could do at all times when raising her six kids. She had her own issues to deal with at a time when we didn't go see therapists or doctors, and there was no Prozac or Zoloft to help keep the demons away.

Fear is a contagious thing. It jumps from one person to the next in the blink of an eye. It creates panic, which in turns brings chaos to an otherwise peaceful place. It doesn't matter who you are, or what your economic situation, fear can keep you locked inside your own little world, one created solely to keep you from facing that fear. I believe my mother became agoraphobic at some point in her life. She would not leave the property we lived on for many years. I learned to grocery shop when I was 11. No big deal, but it seemed strange to me. I always felt apart from others, not quite fitting in, because of the fear.

I can remember being very small and sleeping under the covers to hide myself at night. It wasn't until many years later I would realize we all are equal in the dark. The hunter and hunted are on equal turf in the blackness of a hot summer night.

More later.

Jan 6, 2014

On December 21st, I lost my dear brother. I don't know how to handle it. I really don't. There is no one here where I live that I can talk to about it, except a therapist, and I already know what they will say. It hurts as bad as losing my mother. Almost. I could pretty much talk to Buddy about anything. I don't have any idea how his wife, Nancy, is coping with his loss. They were together over 50 years. They were in their teens when they married, and they were best friends. Their passion and love never dwindled.

I remember being very young, and my surroundings seemed almost without color sometimes. There were periods of bleakness and sadness about the household. In the winter you were cold, very cold, and in the summer, well, you got hot, but you could stand it. My mother was still going through menopause, so you can imagine the mood swings and hot flashes. It really hit her hard. Always she was fanning herself with something, a magazine, a piece of notebook paper, anything. We never kept our windows up at night for fear of rapists and burglars. The fact that we had absolutely nothing worth stealing didn't seem to matter. I didn't know what a rapist was at the time, so I just went along with the program. That was how it was.

I remember Buddy sitting outside sometimes on a warm summer night, before he joined the Navy, and playing his guitar into the phone. I thought it somewhat odd behavior, but hey, I wasn't going to comment.

One day, however, things changed forever in our family. Buddy brought home his new girlfriend for us to meet. To me, a little girl who was all tomboy, but had a huge crush on Mr. GreenJeans, and Little Joe Cartwright, she seemed like a movie star. Her full skirt and white blouse, her bobbysocks, and teased blond hair, sparkling blue eyes, and wonderful smile, all combined to make me think she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She was nice to me, polite, and I can't remember if the incredible shyness I grew into was in place yet or not. Most likely, I showed off for her, doing ignorant little kid things to get her attention. I loved her from that moment on. I think she became a role model for me in many ways. I have never, ever heard her raise her voice to anyone. I have often heard her speak with authority, but never heard her yell and scream like the rest of us did. To me, she will always be 16.

I live many miles from her and other than the phone calls I have made, I have not seen her for many years. Yet hearing her voice, and oftentimes, Buddy's, kept me assured that they were still there. I still did have family that I knew cared.

I know that Nancy has many family members of her own to rely on at this time, and that gives me great comfort. There is not much I can really do, except listen. It's odd, somehow, that she and I have both lost sons in their mid-twenties, and dealt with that enormous grief that never really leaves. And now she must face this loss. She has her daughter who I know is a great and wonderful comfort to her. I know she is very proud of her and her successful career.

I guess I wish I could be there now. I wish I could comfort the person who made our family act a little more decent, a little more caring, and gave us sunshine when we had none.