Sunday, April 13, 2008

Therapy Plus

Just as growing old is not for sissies, therapy is not for sissies, especially therapy for post traumatic stress syndrome. Many years ago, a therapist at her first meeting with me told me that she thought I needed to work on PTSD about my brother's death. I fled and never went back, using a very flimsy excuse. I couldn't think too much about that then.

Now, with the emotional flashbacks, I have no choice to but to think and, worse, to feel. Last week after I had carefully enumerated how I had felt abandoned by various important people in my life, my therapist said that I needed to write down the feelings I had at the times of those abandonments.

The first was my father, and I don't recall the event of his leaving to go back in service and returning home only two weeks a year (he had to go somewhere). I can't put any emotions to that event except an intellectual knowledge that Mom, Brother and I drew much closer together.

Now, I realize that my brother played the role of father in my life even though he was only six years older. He was left to drive the tractor and help make the crop that my father had planted before he left. He was left to do the heavy work around the farm that my father had done. He was only 13, but he took on the father figure.

And, truly, he had been the one to take care of me most of my memory. I went everywhere with him - even to school occasionally. I have often wondered if others had siblings who occasionally went to school with them, but the people who would know are all dead; so I can't ask.

So, this brother of mine was father, brother, friend, confidante, teacher, and very handsome even at 13. And, I adored him. He was mine. I was his. No hanky-panky. No fooling around. I just knew that Brother would take care of me always.

Always lasted until he got a girl pregnant and married her at my mother's insistence. Then he moved her into the house with us and went off to work as a welder's helper on the pipeline. When he came home, I was no longer primary in his life. And, I hated his wife.

He died following an accident during at storm on an oil repair barge in the Gulf of Mexico. He actually died on the operating table in Morgan City, Louisiana, two weeks after my 16th birthday. Always didn't last very long.

And, I have finally re-created the emotions of that abandonment - both his marriage and his death. Let me tell you, that's not fun. I feel as empty as I did then. I feel as angry, as fearful, as hurt, as whatever as I did then. I cry occasionally. I stare a lot. I play a lot of computer games. I can't even knit much. My brain has shut down for the moment except for the this re-creation of those times.

And, it's hell. Intellectually I know that we have laundry to do, the floors are getting filthy, things need putting up - but I just cannot do anything except feel and re-member.

Okay, so now I have those feelings. What do I do with them? I am tired. I am useless right now. I am crying. I am feeling. This is not fun. And, I don't know the next step. I see my therapist on Monday afternoon. Maybe she'll tell me what to do next.

Meanwhile, as my online buddy Lindy says, just do the next right thing. Since it's 3 am, maybe going back to bed is the next right thing.


PseudoPiskie said...

I hope you got some sleep. Praying exposure to the light will fade all those uncomfortable memories giving you peace finally.

Kate Morningstar said...

Just going back to bed may well be the best thing to do right now. It's really hard to honour our feelings, and follow the direction they point us in.

One of the two wisest people I've ever known told me, "You lived through these events. You will live through remembering them." Sometimes I wish I wasn't going to live through the remembering. But it IS getting better all the time.

Anonymous said...

Remember the old saying: The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. Or the alternative---but first it will piss you off.


Judy Vaughan-Sterling said...

One day at a time! When my son comes home from his therapy appointment, he always feels miserable and goes to sleep for hours. He just feels traumatized. Later, he's OK. I explained that therapy is a lot like cleaning the toilet -- it's a lousy experience, but you'll be happy you did it. We'll see.

You're in my prayers!

Janis Bland said...

Like I said on my blog for a different reason: baby steps, baby steps ... and sometimes we need to start those steps all over again.

Love you!

Anonymous said... do remember that YOU are the one who wrote that little bit of advice to me? See, you have the answers you need.

I've been disconnected for a few days so all this is new to me. Sounds like you are doing good work. I know it doesn't seem that way when you re doing it but you know... you already know everything I'd say.

Have some love.

Believe in your spirit to guide you.

Try and stay awake. Sleep can be a drug. I mean, for me.

I believe in you!