My parents and therapy

My parents aren’t much for therapy. Oh, they took me. They always took me, and for that I suppose I should be grateful. It wasn’t something readily acknowledged, though. My mom would drop me at the front door of the therapist’s office, usually 15 minutes prior to my appointment time, and she would be there waiting, right on time, after my appointment. In my teenage mind, if the current therapist wasn’t “fixing me” fast enough, my parents would find a new therapist. This usually occurred every three to six months. Bea has offered a new idea; perhaps the therapist began to pressure my parents to be more involved in therapy and my parents didn’t like that, so they searched out a new therapist. Either way, I didn’t accomplish a lot, switching shrinks every three to six months. And my mom faithfully dropped me off at every appointment, and picked me up, on time. Therapy was never talked about though. I was never asked how my appointment was, or if I liked my new therapist. I’ve made a point to talk to Kat about her therapy with Bea, and I’ve also made a point to tell Kat that mommy sees a “head doctor” like Bea, too. I explained that she sees Bea and they play to help work out things in her head, but grown ups see people like Bea and they talk to help work out things in their heads. (I didn’t feel it would be good for Kat to know she shares Bea with me at this point in time.) I don’t want Kat to think it’s weird or bad to need help to work things out. Everyone could use a therapist from time to time. I want to be as honest and open with my daughter as I can be.

The the tour of therapists started when I was 12, and ended when I was 19. I got caught purging in the girls bathroom at school, by the guidance counselor, no less. The guidance counselor and I had a nice “chat” and she called my mom. And so therapist number one was brought into the picture. I didn’t do much with my therapists until just before I turned 14.

—–sexual abuse, suicide attempt, self harm, warning

I don’t remember the details, I know now that I dissociated, because of what happened when I was a child. (Of course, I did not know understand this until recently, thanks to Bea) At a friend’s sleepover party, her older cousin, who had been left in charge, sat next to me while all the girls watched a movie. He touched me. I don’t know for how long, but I think it was the duration of the movie. It was summer, July, during Venetian Festival, and it was hot. I was wearing a little nightgown, everyone was. Getting to to anywhere on my body wasn’t exactly difficult.

I liked my therapist at the time, and I had been seeing her for almost six months. Not long after this incident, on top of my eating disorder, I started cutting. The cutting was discovered, and my parents informed her of this. She asked me about it, and she asked me to show her the cuts. I eventually talked about the cutting. And, the incident with my friend’s cousin. I still remember how terrified I was to tell about it. I had to write it to her asking for paper and pen. However, when pressed for more details, I didn’t have them– not even things like his name. She insisted I had to. It was now October, and this has happened in July. People don’t forget things that quickly, she said. I felt attacked, interrogated. I left that appointment feeling upset and crazy. I truly did not remember, yet my shrink– the expert, said I had to. I went home and that night swallowed several bottles of pills.

My stomach was pumped, and my parents fired that therapist. They found a new shrink. I didn’t talk to any more shrinks, after that. And I continued to believe I was crazy. I kept that secret close, but because I couldn’t remember the details of that night, and my shrink whom I had trusted said I had to, every time I forgot something, it was reinforcement that I was indeed, crazy. When I finally told Bea, and we discussed that night, she explained that because of my childhood, I had dissociated and I really did not have those memories. I was not crazy. I had a normal trauma response. That was all. I was not crazy.

My parents never spoke of that suicide attempt, not even to say they were glad I was okay. It was as if I was in the ER for a migraine (which had happened in my teen years before). That is how much they needed things to be perfect, how much they can not address anything that is not pretty, perfect and happy….that is not sweetness and light.

You can imagine my surprise then, when tonight my mom let me know they are planning on coming to visit tomorrow. She said they know that Kat has therapy tomorrow, and so will meet us downtown for lunch, afterwards. She also asked, if they get there before the appointment is over, if they might participate. I thought I was hallucinating. MY PARENTS WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THERAPY?!?!? I realize it’s play therapy, but therapy is therapy is therapy. I told her I thought that would be fine, and then emailed Bea to let her know. Bea, of course, thinks it would be great to have my parents join us. She believes that the more family members involved, the better the outcome of therapy.

This ought to be interesting on two levels. One level for Kat’s session, and on a whole different level for my session on Monday. How can my parents go from people who refused to even talk about anything to do with therapy to wanting to go to my daughter’s therapy session? I’m glad if they are changing, but I’m hurt, too. I needed them to be this for me, fifteen years ago.

One very great thing about telling hubby my past? I was able to talk to him about this therapy thing, and tell him exactly why I am feeling so upset about the simple request my mom made to join Kat’s therapy if they get to town in time. This is so much better than keeping it in, wishing I had someone to talk to and then snapping at him over something dumb because I’m angry over my mom being fifteen years too late with her acceptance of therapy.

I wonder what Bea will think of my parents of she meets them tomorrow. It’s funny, but I want her to like them. I also want her to see their flaws. All in the space of an hour long play therapy session, of course.

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