Dare to Tell – Day 19
I had been in therapy for 15 years.
When I would meet with a new therapist I would tell my standard stories.
It was like I had built up a repertoire of stories that explained who I was at that time. The stories were my way of managing therapy.
If only I had really listened to them.
I had heard about someone who had a different approach. My friend had recommended him so I went to see him.
I began to tell my stories, this time, after about 30 seconds, he stopped me.
The truth is I don’t remember exactly what he said or what he did but I was totally off my guard. I had let go of the standard conversation.
I’ll never forget the feeling when I left the session and walked out onto the street.
Everything was different.
For the first time, perhaps in my whole life, I really saw something new.
I realized that it was not about meeting my enormous needs with a pill or medical help or being called a crazy person.
I could create new stories. I could build a new reality. I could be well.
My father has schizophrenia. I have never understood what goes on in his mind.
I would talk to him and always be aware that we could not connect emotionally, or follow understand his line of thought.
I believed that I would be schizophrenic too.
When I was 14 I became depressed for the first time. My mother freaked out, she believed I’d end up like my father. He was diagnosed when he was 18.
I didn’t believe my diagnosis at that time. I didn’t believe I was healthy because I didn’t feel it. My mother had a new partner, and more kids with a different name.
I insisted that I kept my father’s name.
I needed to keep his name, he is my father.
I have his genes. I don’t belong to this family.
I belong to him.
If he’s ill I am too.
Over the years the good periods became shorter and the bad periods more intense.
Even as a child. I knew there was something, I couldn’t get to him.
Now my father has become incapable of enjoying life; he can no longer live on his own. When there is no one to take care of him he disconnects from his physiological needs. What’s much worse is that he can’t enjoy life or make sense of it.
That’s very scary.
Back on that street, I felt scared. I was scared that people wouldn’t love me anymore if I didn’t call them at 2am in distress because I couldn’t stop crying or couldn’t stop thinking.
And I’ve come to realize that that’s true.
Now I know that I couldn’t have recovered if I still had those friendships.
We define our difference in many ways.
A sister from a different father, a non-Catholic in a very Catholic place, mentally stable or the daughter of a schizophrenic father, we feel alone.
When I’ve told my story, I hear it back again from others.
If you don’t tell the story you’ll never know how normal you are, you never realize that it’s not so unusual. You are never alone.