“These aren’t about me! This isn’t me! These were the things my father said about my mother!” Therapy is hard work; weeks, months and years can go by without a breakthrough. It’s still beneficial for slogging through the days of your life, but we all want that light bulb moment. This was mine.
I’ve been in some form of therapy on and off for years, decades really. Crying about a father that didn’t want me, facing the traumas and horrors of my teen years and accepting that I did the best I could with what little I was given. There was emotional release, for a moment, but it was truly the same words being repeated year after year without getting to the other side.
I should disclose that in addition to my psychological therapist; I now have friends who know me well enough, and love me enough, to give just as much guidance and support. These therapist friends are a Facebook group of people I met through the page Stuff Christian Culture Likes (SCCL). I found the page accidentally while searching Jonathan Acuff’s – Stuff Christians Like. Stuff Christians Like was cute but tame; I got some laughs but didn’t really feel understood. Finding SCCL blew open my world, as I found my people. People being honest about their doubts, their fears and the atrocities committed by the church. Through random chance (divine intervention?) I was put into a group of 20 people who have stood beside me in some of the worst times of my recent years. I believe their presence in my life, along with my therapist, allowed this mind blowing moment.
My therapy homework assignment was to write statements I felt about myself in a specific area. I did my list 10 minutes before leaving for the appointment as it was too painful to see the statements and hold the emotions for a sustained period of time. As I read the list I saw my father’s face and was rushed back to a dinner we had shortly after my parent’s divorce. He went into graphic details of the ways she’d betrayed him, ruined him and broken him. Healthy boundaries didn’t exist as I had to listen to his tirade about my mother. He ended is saying, “I have a hard time looking at you because you look so much like your mother.” I was 16.
As I exclaimed, “These aren’t about me! This isn’t me! These were the things my father said about my mother!” I felt my body tingle. My face became flushed and I started struggling to breathe. My therapist called me to mindfulness and brought me back to the room, as my memories were swirling and starting to swallow me up. I said, “I’m going back to the grave with this list. I need ridiculous dramatic moments to push me along.” I added, “I’ll do it Saturday, February 13th, the day before Valentine’s day, I want this off of me before then. I also like that it’s on the 13th. I was raped on the 13th. I want that day – that number back.”
It wasn’t as cold on this day back at the grave site. Not nearly as tumultuous to drive there either; I knew my route and was focused. Still couldn’t find his damn headstone but I now had a place that I’d designated for my release moments. I read the list allowed, half crying – half screaming, much angrier than the previous time. As I ripped the list up and gave his statements about my mother back to him, I stomped and growled. Felt a bit like a toddler, or someone losing their mind, but it felt right and good.
I then drove to my step-mother’s and brought back the key to their house. I’ve held onto it with thoughts of breaking in when my step-mother isn’t there. I didn’t want to take anything. I wanted to snoop. And I wanted to see if my father wrote anything…about me…that’s nice. I kept the key in my purse so I’d be prepared for my moment. It had to go. Now in my family when there is an issue we typically write letters back and forth, raging with venom as to why we are right and deserve an apology. I did nothing this time. My silence was the statement. I wrote her name on an envelope, put the keys and a post it saying what they were, and didn’t even sign it. Be gone.
The blogs I’ve read recently tend to end with a bible verse or some statement about how “God did ___”. I don’t have that. I was told for years in church that God would reconcile my father and I and make everything new and better. I was disowned two years before he died, and though I did see him before his death, God didn’t do shit. As always.
There isn’t a nice way to wrap this up as the journey continues.