If it wasn’t clear through several blog posts, I have a lot of unresolved feelings about my emotionally and mentally abusive mother.
For a while now, my husband had suggested I see a therapist for these feelings. I had seen a therapist when I started seeking help for my mental health for general stress and anxiety, but eventually stopped going as it was getting really expensive. I was also kind of skeptical if it would help in this case because I’ve accepted what happened to me, that none of it was my fault, there’s nothing I could have done, and I can’t change the past. What was therapy going to accomplish if I already realized these things about my abuse?
Yet despite these realizations, I still have the nightmares and still get triggered whenever I happen to see her at the retail store I work at or someone asks how she’s doing. I still struggle with what’s happened even though I tell myself, “She can’t hurt you anymore. She’s not a part of your life anymore. She has no control over you anymore.”
I finally broke down and scheduled an appointment with a therapist. Luckily, the clinic had gotten a new therapist that wasn’t completely booked until the middle of this year so I was able to get in within a couple of weeks.
Last week was my first appointment. While I sat in the waiting room downstairs in the behavioral health unit, I noticed a Happy Meal toy of Bruno from the movie Encanto on a shelf with kid’s books and small toys. I found it amusing.
We’ll talk about your feelings, but we don’t talk about Bruno.
“Samantha?” I heard a voice call. It was the therapist. She was kind enough, but hadn’t known the background of why I hate being called by my full name so I tensed up when I heard it. Oddly enough, the reason why I was there is why I hate being called by my full name in the first place.
The office was pretty standard: dim lighting, leather couch, computer screen with a large display of the time. I was feeling pretty nervous so my mind went completely blank when the therapist asked me “What brings you here today?” and I really struggled initially trying to put it into words. I referred to the packet they had given me two weeks ago to fill out.
“Wow! This is rather impressive! Most of my patients write a couple words and that’s it.”
“Well…I have autism so I don’t like to be vague.”
After finally getting out the issues with my mother, she asks me what my maiden name is.
“Oh…I used to babysit for you…and before this I was a social worker and I have some familiarity with your family and your mom…”
It felt like my heart plopped out of my chest and onto the floor. I’m thinking she’s going to have the same bias everyone else has because my mother presents herself has this cheerful, kind person to most of the world.
“Yeaaaaaah, I get the feeling your mom doesn’t like me very much.”
She obviously couldn’t tell me specifics because of confidentiality reasons, but based on the little bit she was able to tell me I theorize she had dealt with my youngest brother when he was emotionally out of control and suicidal. Long story short, my mother was not particularly happy with the way things were handled—possibly because she wasn’t in control of the situation—and I always had to hear her rant about everyone involved after we would visit my brother in the group home he was housed at the time. I never imagined I’d be sitting in front of one of those people as my therapist.
“So I have seen that darker side of her.”
“Imagine living with it,” I said.
“I can’t imagine what it was like for you and, honestly, I’m not sure if I want to.”
“Fair enough. Can’t say I blame you.”
My therapist being in the extraordinary position of seeing the side of my mother she typically keeps hidden away from the general public and being hated by my mother was oddly comforting. It suddenly became easier to explain everything: how I think she instigated a lot of things with my dad and made him out to be an abuser, the lies she told me about the circumstances of the divorce and learning the truth years later, essentially becoming dad’s replacement when he left, finally getting away after years of abuse, and still being plagued by nightmares even after nearly ten years of not having a relationship with my mother.
“Perhaps…you’re still processing the loss of the relationship with her.”
“I tell myself that she can’t hurt me anymore, she’s not in my life anymore, she has no control over me…and it still bothers me even after all this time. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over it until after she’s dead.”
“Well, I don’t want you to wait that long! If you’d like to continue these sessions, we could discuss stress management and ways to help lessen the presence of ‘Mom’.”
“Shall we say…once every couple of weeks?”
As I left the building after scheduling another appointment I felt good and relieved getting things off my chest, but the moment I sat in my car I started to sob uncontrollably because those things were awful to remember. It went as quickly as it came, but it was intense.
We shall see how the next appointment goes.