I'm still processing my thoughts about my therapy session. On the bus again and I will try not to sniffle my way to work. This may not be the best environment to dive into old wounds, but is the space I consistently have available.
My therapy session basically started with her asking me if there was any tragic events that happen when I was a child. Of course my sister's death qualifies, I also talked about my mom's suicide attempt and my dad getting rid of our cat without telling us. We talked about my mom dying a couple years ago as well and in all of this talking I had very little feelings besides shame in what it must sound like to an outsider to hear. She asked me quite a few times during my telling how I felt during that time. I've gotten to the point that I can talk about my past, but I still can't feel my past. I've been stuck here for years, intellectualized memories detached from the emotions I never have been able to express. And looking back, I don't know how I felt then, it's a blank spot, and even now I don't trust my emotions. I don't know how I "should" feel about things and often don't emotionally react right away, I need time to "think" about how I feel.
The only time I got emotional during therapy was when I talked about my mom dying, but mainly because I feel so much guilt for not doing enough, for not being there long enough, for the suffering I couldn't stop, for my family not being there to support her like she would have been for them.
Toward the end of our session she said, "you were like a pawn that was just put into these situations." She saw the pattern that I'm starting to see: I was often at the center of these terrible situations. The day after I turned 6 I found my sister's body in our shared bedroom and told my mom. When I was 12 I found my mom outside my bedroom door when she attempted suicide and I called 911. When I was 16 I drove the car and went searching for our cat in a neighborhood 25 minutes away from home. I've been the liaison between my family members who can't talk openly with each other, the decision maker in crisis, the most equipped of my family when I was just a child.
I'm both angry at my parents for not acting as the adults in many of the situations I had to manage, and also very sad for them that they had lives filled with their own pain that crippled their abilities to be fully present during my childhood. It seems my family's guilt, shame, loss and pain is generational. Not drinking and dealing with this stuff are the steps I know how to break the cycle and live my life fully. I can't necessary heal my family but I can work with myself.
My therapist said our sessions would be like peeling away layers, like onion skins. I think a better analogy is using a crow bar to wedge open a door that has been boarded shut, at least that's how it emotionally feels right now.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. I like myself better for it and have a full life because of it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp