Yes, I was generally confused in late 1990’s and early 2000s’ and after Natalie’s misdiagnosis and near death, to my confusions the fear of losing my child, or children seeped into my already frail heart…
I had spent all nights and days by Natalie’s bed, in the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and for the first time in years I wasn’t earning enough to support most of the household. For years I hadn’t used my ATM card to withdraw money from our joint account, but that night I had to as we were out of food. I took out $50.00 and shopped without thinking of the terrible crime I had committed. I arrived home and gave Kevin the ATM receipt, as he, as a holder of an MBA in finance was the one in charge of our finances.
“You took money out of our account?” He screamed at me?”
I explained it was for food, and justified I couldn’t work and…
“I will close the account!” He declared, and so he did…
Since that time, I stopped using ATM cards, as they were reminding me of that awful, unexpected incident. It was only in 2010 when forced by our computerized world, I had no choice but to start using them again.
It was then that I realized we really needed regular therapy, but what I was not, or refused to see, was that it takes two to “tangle,” as they say. What I didn’t want to see was that Kevin had no desire to get things better.
One of our therapists tried to explain to me by using a story, which now I understand, but then, even I understood it with my mind, I didn’t with my heart, and if the heart didn’t “get it”, no change occurred.
The therapist’s story said that he, the therapist went to a French-speaking country in Europe and asked in English to purchase a Swiss knife. The merchant asked him if he spoke French, as he didn’t understand English. The therapist repeated the request for a Swiss knife in English but using a French accent… and had to leave without a knife!
Kevin and I saw therapists together and separately and on and off he consented to medications. Those were the good times, when he was in a predictable mood, but while the medications helped, we knew it was therapy that would really help. He wasn’t opposing me, and again, what I refused to see, was that it was about “me” not “him” even when he did go to seek help. He was doing it because of me and then hating me for it because… he didn’t really need help, he was doing it for me!
At some point, we saw a family therapist who also saw us separately. She was a middle-aged woman and always ate during my sessions with her, giving me the impression that her focus was on her lunch, not on our conversation. That feeling was accented by the fact that she was always asking me only one question:
“…and what was it that attracted you to him when you first met him?”
I was explaining:
“He was handsome, well spoken…”
Next session, as she was taking her first bite from lunch, here came the same question again…
I was now justifying:
“…and he had never been married before and we both were in our early thirties, wanted a family.”
She kept asking the same un-nerving question over and over again and I ran out of reasons, the many reasons why I liked him, I loved him and I married him. I was determined to demonstrate to my therapist that the person I first met and fell in love with, and married was a different person from who he had become. I wanted to show her, the world, to myself above everything, that there were no signs that he would “change.”
Then, one day, as I was driving same boring road I did a hundred times, I thought to myself, “she will ask me again the damn, stupid question… what else to tell her, I am running out of reasons!”
I kept driving… and a thought popped in my had:
“What about all the signs I erased:
When I first visited his home and he told me he only cleaned every six months, if needed, I should have known to not expect help with our house hold cleaning.
When I gave him a watch for his birthday, my savings of three months, and he told me he never wear watches, I should have known he wasn’t going to protect my “sensitivity.”
When I first came on a date upset from work and told him an emotionally charged story and he asked me where do we go for dinner, I should have known I didn’t have an empathetic listener, a friend.
And later, after we married, when the first credit card company called and asked for him, I didn’t ask why, perhaps I was afraid to ask…
When I first came home from a doctor’s visit and scared i asked him what he thought, and he said:”Go ask the doctor, why are you asking me?” and left the room while I was in tears. Yes, I should have known I was speaking Enghish with a French accent!
Oh, and our intimate relationship, which started so fiery, and then the kisses on the forehead, which stopped altogether after Natalie’s birth, and my desperate efforts to revive the romance. How stupid I felt that Christmas, when I gave him a whole box of sexy and sexually inciting oils, tapes, lingerie. My girlfriends assured me any man would go crazy for such a present, but he said “thank you,” and without opening the box placed it in the back of his closed, never to be seen again.
Yes, these were probably the signs the therapist wanted me to bring up to my conscious mind, but wouldn’t it have been a shorter journey to ask me what was it that I disliked?
Perhaps not, then she would have given me the answers, and the challenge of therapy is to guide the patient to give her or his own answers, so they would remember them and really agree with them. But this wisdom I aquired much later in life…
As they say, we were given two ears and one mouth for a reason, and now I know what I didn’t then, that it is easier to talk and very difficult to listen, ask few questions and give no advice…
But then, driving to therapy, as I realized the “signs” were always there and I either chose to ignore them or just were not smart enough to see them at all
I called the therapist and canceled my appointment. I was angry, I felt it was taking too long, I needed someone to tell me what to do, but deep inside I knew the answer was within me and I feared it. No one was going to tell me what to do and I had to make decisions and take risks alone, without the coushion of blaming another if my future turned out wrong!
I remembered our little dog, Boo, who when born was smaller than a can of Coca Cola. I had to buy him a very small water dish, as the regular dish was so big, he almost drowned in it. Boo drank from the small bowl for a few months, as he grew. The time came when I thought he was ready for the big bowl, and I replaced the small with the larger. He approached it, sniffed and went away in fear. He was thirsty and came back again, he smelled the larger bowl of water still did not drink. I put water on my finger and he leaked it, then slowly I moved the finger in the large bowel and Boo drank at last, convinced he was just leaking my finger, but he was drinking at last, without knowing of his accomplishment. Boo had my finger to guide him to change, but no one was going to dip themselves in trouble for me…just show me the big bowl from a distance.
I stopped therapy…for a while
I wasn’t ready for the large bowl yet!