“So, at this risk of being a bit kooky or intruding into your journey, I want to suggest something…” he says.
Kooky? Intrusive? Isn’t therapy supposed to be intrusive? Isn’t that the point? I asked him.
“Isn’t the goal of therapy to be intrusive? Haven’t you professionals designed it that way?” I inquire as I fidget in the green leather Queen Anne style chair. I find myself still curious if where a client sits in the therapy session is indicative of anything.
He responds with his own giggle.
“Well, yes and no. I am struggling to articulate what I mean.” He says. I see him continue to debate the thought.
“So, let me just say it. In the coming days, I want you to consider thanking her. Thank that 13 year old girl.” he offers with a slight anxious tone to his voice
“Just look at her and say thank you.”
Thank her? What am I thanking her for, I wonder to myself? I also wonder why he would find it difficult to suggest this to me. Why that is considered intrusive?
I remain quiet for a few minutes. He senses my ambivalence. He then asks about the ambivalence and when I agree with the observation he explains further.
I don’t remember the exact time period in my life. I am going to guess based on the images in my mind that I was thirteen years old, perhaps fourteen.
My parents’ living room may have had blue carpeting though for some reason I am thinking that came afterwards. Blue carpeting and counter tops are very 80s. This memory is likely late 70s. Oh, no, wait; it might actually be early 80s. My estimated age of thirteen or would make the year 1980 or so. The blue carpeting might have been there after all.
My mother is seated behind me on a couch. No idea what the print is, what couch it was, we had several. I can sense her knees directly behind my back. I am sitting on the floor. My sisters are to my left. Feels as if older sister is right next to me with younger somewhere off to her left. Brother is across the room in the upper right corner with father somewhat parallel to him only on the opposite side.
My sister and I are folding laundry as the entire family watches television. I am angry. Really angry. I don’t recall why but can guess it has to do with the chores my sister and I are once again performing as mother, father, brother and baby sister sit nearby. We did a lot of housework as children.
Of course, I could also just be angry at my Dad. He is most likely drunk, again. When isn’t he?
The silent seemingly unprovoked rage builds inside me and I scream out.
“I FUCKING HATE YOU. I HATE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU. SHUT UP… I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU.”
I push the laundry basket in front me across the room and throw a garment into it.
My fathers head spins in an unnatural way towards me. Bad enough I raised my voice to my elder, but I also dropped and eff bomb.
A painfully audible gasp is heard escaping from the mouths of my mother and siblings. They are frozen in place. Fear of my father’s reaction has paralyzed them.
The next few minutes are a bit of blur. I am ordered to my room and as I run past my father to get there, he attempts to trip me. I get past him, run to the stairs as he follows.
My flight up is more like a bumbling leaping crawling debacle than an energetic walk. As I try to climb to the first landing, my father grabs my ankles and pulls me back down towards him, ankles first. Chin hits stairs. Bonk. Bonk. Bonk. I scramble up a few more. He pulls me back. Two steps up. Four steps down. Bonk. Bonk. Bonk.
Family still frozen in living room pretending nothing is happening. I turn towards the staircase and look through the thin vertical spindles expecting my mother to be there. Surely she will stop this nonsense?
I twist my right ankle oddly and kick him off. My foot lands squarely on his right shoulder. He is shocked I made contact wit him. His processing delay offers me enough time to scramble further up steps to safety.
My mother fails to utter a word. As I treat my chin and ankle wounds in the upstairs bathroom, my older sister resumes the laundry folding and the family continues watching the television.
“How do you feel about that now? How does she feel about it?” he asks.
I am annoyed that he talks about her like a separate person, a person that exists today. Earlier discussions of splitting and dissociation come to mind. They also annoy me.
I am too choked up to respond immediately.
“We are both angry. Where was my mother? Why didn’t she stop it? Why didn’t she say anything? Comfort me? Stop him? Really! Why! I don’t understand it.” I offer as I hold back tears.
He grins with understanding and appreciation at my response. Rocking in his bentwood rocker, back and forth, back and forth, he launches into a theory that my children’s ages, events in their life today and in the future will reflect, mirror or provoke images from my own childhood. He suggests that as a mother I will work to do for my children the things that were not done for me.
Duh, I think to myself. Of course I will, don’t all mothers, I want to scream at him. I feel a gust of hot hair blow into my face. My youngest son comes to my mind.
He sees my expression change and asks what just occurred. I tell him that I am currently in the midst of a bit of a battle on behalf of my youngest son. Learning and behavior challenges in school, difficulty blending with the family that lives at his father’s home and more have been causing my youngest son to be a challenge to all who encounter him.
Except me, I share. I feel as though I am the only one standing in his corner. The only one demanding people stop, look and listen to this child and what he has been through. The only one who wants all the adults in the room to drop their command and control method of behavior modification to realize it will not work on this kid, my kid. I know this far better than they do as I was once THAT kid. We need to listen, understand, and take a breather. Find a different approach. One size fits most not all.
I start to cry as I fully understand what he was suggesting earlier. No one stood up for me as a child. Well, no one but her, my own younger self. I/she balked at the insanity around us while others walked dutifully into my fathers’ ovens of emotional and spiritual death with smiles on their face.
I get it. She saved me; at the very least she helped me. She, me, our lessons together, are helping me to help my son in a way I was never helped.