Since I now have both feet firmly in the second-half of my life, it seems like a good time to examine the first half, so I decided to start working with a therapist.
I have tried this route before, in times of crisis, with mixed results. Talking to a therapist is always a dicey business because they, like all humans, come with a complete set of their own crap that sits down in the room and shapes the discussion like we are a threesome. The best you can hope for is that their agenda intersects with what you need at the moment. Not usually the case, but it can happen. I am hopeful.
My childhood – those years before you have real agency in life – is stored away in a locked box with enough slush of detail left over to be turned into blog fodder or a funny story. That is usually enough. While I’m curious about looking closely at the stuff I deliberately shut away, I’m a bit anxious because I know good instincts are usually about self-preservation.
I am curious. Curious to see if looking at the past – my kaleidoscope of fractured memories – will reduce its power over the present. Maybe willing those boxes locked sucks more energy than its worth. Who knows. Like a good Gothic romance, could be the rooms in the abandoned house locked so long ago are just… empty.
I am anxious because – what if it really was that bad? Then what? Lots of folks have had a crappy childhood. I’ve spent my whole life telling myself, and others – ‘It wasn’t that bad. My folks did the best they could with the tools they had.’
Granted, this may have been lingering Stockholm Syndrome given that their toolbox was full of hammers, but I moved on with my life. I left the neighborhood and the expectations of my family, and they said “Who needs ya anyway” and cut me off. Nineteen at the table for thanksgiving became three. There really is no going back once you jump class lines.
One of the stock phrases my mother used when one of us went looking for sympathy was “Some people don’t have any legs”, meaning, it could be worse so quit your whining. I am not looking for sympathy by understanding the past, I am not peddling a story of “triumph over adversity”. I have a fine life. And I have my legs.