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Memories Unlocked

At my first therapy session, the revelation that my therapist had once been a social worker that had contact with my mother made me remember more about when my brother has been emotionally out of control and suicidal. From what I know, social services got involved after being made aware of his increasingly concerning behavior and recommended that he go into a pediatric psychiatric ward to get help. My mother would happily drive down to the city an hour away whenever she could to visit him and was incredibly worried about him—a stark contrast from the first time I was put in 72-hour involuntary commitment for my own mental health issues as she complained about having to drive all that way to pick me up and never once asked how I was feeling. While she was initially corporative, she eventually was unhappy about the situation, especially when my brother was not allowed to go home after his hospital stay and was placed in a group home for a time. On the rides home from visiting him in the home, she would vent to me and unleash all the anger she had bottled up inside of her about everyone involved in the situation—the social workers, the people that ran the group home, the whole damn system. I don’t remember them doing anything particularly egregious. I just think she was angry and frustrated that she couldn’t be the one calling the shots over her special little boy. If she could, she would have pulled him from that group home the moment she disagreed with what was happening. As my therapist couldn’t reveal any details of her involvement with my mother, I am uncertain if this was how she came to work with my mother, but based on what little she could tell me this seems like the most likely scenario.

Through my own curious research, I found there is something called a Voluntary Placement Agreement, which allows parents and guardians to voluntarily place into foster care for a specific length of time so the child can get the help and resources they need. I have no way of knowing for sure as the only person I could ask wouldn’t be able to tell me anything if she was indeed involved, but I wonder if this is what occurred with my brother’s situation as it would explain the involvement of social services had, how my mother could be heavily informed and involved yet have little control over what happened, and that my brother was eventually able to go home after a couple years.

I had to go to work a few hours after that initial appointment. It was Hell trying to be a productive employee in the face of customers who couldn’t see me grimacing underneath my face mask trying to control all these thoughts I was having.  

Two days after that appointment, I went on a small vacation to Las Vegas with my husband to see Metallica. Despite a few relatively minor setbacks and lack of sleep, I had a good time overall. For a few days, my mental health wasn’t a burden, but the nightmares restarted once I got home. I feel like my brain closed a dam to hold back all these intense feelings for a short break and then burst open the flood gates once things returned to normal. I’ve been struggling with a mental low that’s kept me on edge ever since.  

I dreamt my mother declared my younger brothers were long lost princes of a Russian empire; the older of the two was the “golden prince”. I spoke up that she was either lying or if she was telling the truth that should have also meant I was the long lost princess, but everyone laughed at the notion whilst my mother glared at me from a distance. “How could your mother be untruthful? How could you be a princess? Nonsense!” Ashamed, I found myself enveloped in blackness and eventually realized I was in the shadow of my mother and brothers—a shadow that grew bigger the further they were with their backs towards me. It was an obvious metaphor to my mother favoring my two younger brothers over me, particularly the older of the two who was her perfect golden child that I was always compared to during and after the divorce. I wasn’t as organized, quiet, academic, or well-behaved as he was. My other brother, the one with mental health issues and alcoholism later in life, could do no wrong no matter what he did like your typical baby of the family. “There’s too much estrogen in this house,” she would say to me; her only daughter and therefore the only other female member of the household. Of course, I couldn’t say how she made me feel because she would blow me off and likely no one would have believed me because everyone knew her as the sweet little lady who couldn’t possibly have a mean bone in her body after everything she went through during her two chaotic marriages—not that I didn’t try to stand up to her from time to time.  

Since then, I’ve been automatically recalling memories. Some always lurk in the back of my mind like the things I wrote about when I started the Don’t Worry, Do Your Best blog two years ago. Some I sort of forgot. One such memory was when I was really little. I was misbehaving and she spanked me on the bottom—not hard, but just enough to put me in my place. I had somehow learned about physical abuse at that age, possibly through my parent’s own marriage, and I called her out on it. “I think I’m being abused!” Her response was to put me in the car, drive down to the police station, and demanded that I file a report with the police if I truly believed I was being abused. I only vaguely remember being brought to the police station and would otherwise have forgotten about this incident if she hadn’t repeatedly told friends and family about how she called my bluff. At the time, they laughed about it like she was repeating a joke she heard. Fucking Boomers. “She knew that she wasn’t being abused!” when she commented on why I wouldn’t leave the car. Of course I couldn’t bring myself to get out of the car—I was a nervous toddler for fuck’s sake! I never thought of how fucked up that story actually was until now and was possibly a reason why I didn’t come forward about what she put me through emotionally and mentally.

My next appointment is in ten hours and I’m admittedly a little scared—what other fucking shitty memories will it unlock?

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