Session the 14th: It’s Been Too Long

I see that I last made contact with my bartender in January. It is now May. Between now and then I got sick, but ye gods, I can’t skip this long again.

Anyways. So. I have issues with holidays. Here’s a fact pointed out by my wonderful bartender: every holiday brings up its own specific issues. There are overlapping issues, but Mother’s Day brings about somewhat different ones than Father’s Day, etc.

(I hate thinking about this stuff. Onwards.)

It used to be am ambition of mine to save my mother from my father. He abused both of us, after all. My first childhood memory is of trying to shield her from him. I have no idea whether that’s normal behavior for five-year-olds.

In the end, however, she clearly did not want to leave him. Indeed, she tried to force me to stay with both of them (this always puzzled me, because my parents hated each other so much; my father tried to kill her numerous times, raped her numerous times, and other fun things; and yet they stayed together through thick and thin. Not something I need to figure out, though; clearly, whatever issues are there, are theirs and not mine); more of this is covered in Session Five, or How I Left.

So yeah, you can see how this might drive one a little crazy, literally.

A common component of holidays is… well, in college, I got to escape from being under the watchful eye of my parents 24×7. Sure, they made me call all the time and notified the police if I wasn’t there, and they visited almost every weekend regardless of whether or not it would harm my academic studies… but the fact was, I didn’t have to be afraid of surprise midnight beatings. (Well, I still was, but you know, it wouldn’t have happened while I was away from my parents.)

But holidays were great excuses for my parents to either (a) take me home with them (and thus sometimes resulting in surprise midnight beatings, and almost always in constant dread and hellish screaming and emotional abuse) or (b) spend more time with me (same effect, different location).

Mother’s Day brings its own traumas with respect to the mind breakage mentioned above, plus my father could never understand why I liked my mother more than him. You know, surely every kid appreciates beatings, strangulation, emotional abuse, torture via boiling water and desk drawers, etc. Every bruise and moment of fear are actually tokens of love! No, he really thought that. HE. REALLY. THOUGHT. THAT.

(Oh gods, this is all so messed up.)

Anyways, my father hated Mother’s Day, and so it was an extra excuse for verbal/physical/emotional abuse/humiliation/whatever his whim was.

There is all kinds of messed up here. I’m sure as the next holidays come up we will get to examine them for other messed-up-ness, and probably we’ll need to revisit this one next year. Which will be fun. Not.

But there are two recommendations my bartender made, which will be helpful this weekend:

  1. Consider every holiday passed a milestone. In other words, rather than thinking, “Oh my GODS this shit is STILL affecting me TEN YEARS LATER”, instead modify this to “It has been ten years since that shit, and that shit is not going to happen again. Hoorah!”

    It sounds like cognitive whatsis. I’ll try it out, because obviously “THIS SHIT HAS NEVER HAPPENED” has not worked, and nor has “I AM TOTALLY IGNORING THAT THIS SHIT HAPPENED.”

  2. When waking up from nightmares, try coming up with a good ending. You can’t orchestrate dreams, but you can, when you wake up, try to modify how you think about them.

    So, for instance, the next time I have a nightmare about MY PARENTS COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY FROM COLLEGE AAAAAAIIIGGGGH ((That’s been the nightmare, a different variation each time, for the last three nights.)), I will try adding the following:

    SMASH CUT:

    Bedroom full of RPGs, boardgames, books, and tea.

    ZOOM: large atomic calendar display on the nightstand says [CURRENT DATE]. ((I have to find something like this. After an intense nightmare the last thing I can do is manually locate the current day on a calendar.))

    NARRATOR:
    And over a decade later, I am still free.

    … and in dire need of some fucking tea.

    … or something like that.

My bartender tends to make suggestions geared towards keeping me in the present, or at least resisting getting pulled into the past. It’s not a denial-based approach to the problem; it’s, I guess, a cognitive thingy whatsis.

He never says it is a cognitive thingy, but that’s what it sounds like.

Anyways, I think they are good and I hope they work.

Also I linked up all my “Dancing with Psychologists” posts in a series mechanism on the blog. So now I can find them all easily. Presumably.

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2 thoughts on “Session the 14th: It’s Been Too Long

  1. Sounds like it could be a cognitive behavioral hooha, or it could be the “mindfulness” thing that is a current favorite buzzword. I hate all buzzwords, so I just think of it as being a zen in the moment thingy. Focus on the taste of the tea instead of the thoughts, you get the idea.

    Feel better soon.

  2. My bartender doesn’t use buzzwords, and he knows that what you describe as “mindfulness” doesn’t work for me. I tend to need a narrative; meditation makes the situation worse instead of better. It’s an oddity of mine.

    So I’m cool with his recommendations. They seem sensible.

    Thank you for the well wishes.

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