Friday, May 18, 2007

Not A Pretty Picture

The sessions with TGD for the next several weeks were an attempt to delve into my childhood with more and more specifics. Progress was being made. At one point TGD happened to notice my new shoes. WTF?? Was TGD reading my mind? Geez, I'd better watch what I was thinking. I even started to notice a few other things in the office besides her shoes. Her coat, for example. It was a beautiful leather half jacket that hung on a pink satin pillowy hanger on the back of her door. No doubt- she was pretty cool. And I finally figured out how she knew our time "was up."
I turned around at one point while she was writing something down and saw this digital clock with huge red numbers blaring back. Okay, some of my mysteries were being solved.

Too bad I didn't seem to catch on to the mystery of my life as quickly. As I sat there droning on about my life, I was still mystified by so many things that I thought I had figured out or at least didn't question anymore. Not so.

For some reason, talking about this shit, with this woman was different than any other therapy I had before. I had the sense that we were actually going to try and fix my issues once and for all.

"Suzy, can you describe for me please, if there was any change or difference at all when your step father came to live with you. We've talked about how angry and removed your mother was. Were things any better when Big Frank came to live with you?"

"Not too much different," I replied. "I think in retrospect that Big Frank may have provided a buffer between my mother and me, but she treated him as a servant. She always said she married him for convenience, and that they never had sex."

"Do you think that they never had sex,?" TGD asked "I'm pretty sure they didn't. They never slept together," I replied.
"Why do you know that?" she asked. "Because when we lived on Henry Street, she always made me sleep with Big Frank in the big bed, and she would sleep in my lower bunk bed. She said Big Frank moved around too much."
"How old were you when this happened," TGD inquired.
"Probably about 5 or 6." "And when did it end?" she asked. "I think when I was 12 or so," I replied. After a pause TGD dropped another bomb. "Did Big Frank ever molest you"? WTF??? Was she crazy? Why would Big Frank ever molest me? He was the only one in that house that was ever kind to me. I liked sleeping with him. I felt safe, and he never ever touched me. He was the kind of guy who was afraid to be demonstrative, but I always knew he cared. He would stick up for me and not my brother, but to no avail. My mother wore the pants in the family and controlled everything. Sometimes I even had the sense that he got punished or yelled at for taking my side.

Trying not to show my anger at this question I just responded with a simple "no."

"You mentioned that you told your mother once about your brother and the dentist who had also sexually abused you. Why do you think your mother would put you in another situation that could possibly be harmful"?

"But it wasn't harmful. Big Frank was really good to me."

Fuck. Never put these two things together, nor did I want to. In fact, I was tired of digging up my mother and still yakking about her. Why were we doing this over and over I asked TGD? I was becoming one of those classic whiners that blamed the mother for everything.

"Suzy, it is very important for you to understand that your mother put you in constant danger, even when you weren't exposed to it. No girl child or any child for that matter should be sleeping with their father. You were extremely fortunate Big Frank was the kind of man he was. Mothers are supposed to be role models for their children and also protect them. You had no protection and had to learn everything on your own and it's time you realized that you survived on your own and be proud."

Maybe I should have been proud of surviving, but the sadness, loss and loneliness of doing it all on my own as a child was coming into view. This picture was getting clearer and clearer.

And it wasn't such a pretty picture. It was a pathetic picture.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

So Not the Look of Love

Although the medication had started to work it's wonders and calm things down, a profound sadness and seriousness took over. Yeh, the anxiety was gone, but what replaced it was an overwhelming and daunting task of this type of healing I had taken on. As I voiced this to TGD, her rely was simply, "Yes, it is a daunting process."

Thanks. Thanks so much for candy coating it. Throw me a bone here will you Doc and not just a bill? Give me a fucking answer every now and then. I know you know the answers to some of this bullshit.

Anger had set in . Anger at everyone and everything.

"I'm having a hard time comprehending the term "motherless" to describe my life," I said while glancing at her shoes. The sobbing would have started immediately if I looked into those eyes of hers. It was a strange experience having someone's eyes riveted on me and listening to every word, every inflection, every passing thought, and watching my reactions even when I wasn't aware I was having them. The intensity was profound, leaving me drained after every session, but not drained enough to have me not carry these sessions around all week, like a migraine you know is coming on. You just keep waiting to hurt more. And before you know it, it's time for the next weekly session and you do. The pain returns.

"What do you think of when you hear the term motherless,?" TGD asked. "I guess I thought that being motheless meant that the mother was dead", I responded once again.

"is it possible that even though your mother was alive, her actions and words were so harmful that she actually wasn't being a mother to you at all? Just because you lived with her does not necessarily mean that she mothered you. It was quite the opposite, wasn't it? She did not keep you safe. She did not nuture or take care of you."

That was putting it mildly. I still couldn't figure out after 58 years why she was the way she was. What happened to her to make her so bitter, so angry, so mean? She wasn't like that with my brother. She liked him. She loved him. She lived for him. She was so consistent in her anger and hatred I think at one point I stopped expecting her to be happy and just would wait for that next reign of terror to hit.

What I remember most are the looks she gave, if she looked at me at all. They were glares, looks of disdain. One of her favorite mantras for me when she was yelling was that she was "fed up with me." Strange, because I really never did anything bad. But those was as if she really hated me. And I suppose she did.

No, she never loved me. Never hugged me, never kissed or held me. There was always this distance I saw between us, even as a little kid. I can remember watching her in the White Tower. I would sit on a stool, spinning around like any other 5 or 6 year old and she wouldn't even look at me. It was like I wasn't even there. If I spent the day in downtown New Haven in the summer, and she happened to be working days, she would go into the backroom of the restaurant where her pocketbook was, come back out, and just put change in front of me. Without even looking at me, she would say off into space somewhere, "here's money for food. Go eat at the Carousel Restaurant or the Waldorf Cafeteria." She didn't want the management or her co-workers to think she was favoring me. No chance there. I think her co-workers were somewhat embarassed by her behavior. I know I always felt ashamed but never really understood why. I always saw pity in their eyes when they looked at me. Any attempt by them to talk to me was always met with my mother referring to me as "her" or "she." She never used my name. "I just gave "her" money for lunch." "She'll be back by the time I get off work." "No, "she" doesn't want a soda."

"Your mother's behavior was never about you," said TGD. "She was incapable of giving, of mothering, of nuturing. It was her lack of compassion and love. Do you understand how it has nothing to do with you"?

Maybe next week I will.

Or not.