I received an email offering “1 on 1 counseling”. All I had to do was respond via email with some details and if it was a good “match” I would receive free counseling from this person. I have no idea who they are, what their credentials are, and no faith they could offer me any meaningful guidance. I contemplated responding just for fun…
The first question was “Why do you wish to have counseling?” My answer to that…well, I wasn’t thinking about it. I have tried “Counselors” in the past, but tend to think I gain more from introspection, mediation, reading the works of people like Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and the like – and just plain old common sense.
The next thing was to provide “a resume of your life so far” and a “synopsis of your current life situation”. Well – that is almost comical. No one would believe my crazy life. It’s like a series of lifetime movies all strung together. Not pretty. To sum it up as briefly as possible…here goes…
I was born in Texas. My mother left my biological father and met and married a Jewish software developer from Beverly Hills who was going through his hippie phase. They decided to be hippies together in southern California for a time taking me to love ins and peace marches and I stepped over junkies to get to the bathroom. They thought it was okay to get me high and teach me to roll dime bags. This led to them neglecting me and leaving me to fend for myself although I was not yet in first grade. Then they decided to buy a farm in the Appalachian mountains…live off the land – revolt against “the man”. We showed up at the “farm” in a Cadillac with our microwave oven and water bed to a sharecropper shack with no running water. They named it Genesis. Thus began a series of years of them learning first to survive that very rural environment and then to farm. In second grade my routine was to get up early – 4:30 or 5 in the morning to do my chores before getting myself ready for school. Stress they were experiencing caused them to become very abusive and even more selfish parents. (One of the ways I was punished was to be denied food for days – which created a lifelong “food issue”.)
My brother was born. My mother attempted suicide. We moved to town and my “dad” went back to work in the software field. My mother started her own business and I was left to take care of the household responsibilities and caring for my little brother and myself. At age 12 I woke up one morning with big boobs and had no way of knowing how to deal with the lude, crude remarks and attention I was suddenly receiving. I had to beg a girlfriend to give me one of her bras because my parents didn’t believe in them and wouldn’t buy me one at first even though I was being teased at school at ogled by men everywhere. I was molested by a family friend, attacked by the farmer who was boarding my horse and then came very close to being abducted by a man in a van. When I was 14 we moved to New England. My “dad” had gotten a high paying job for his software talent and decided he was done playing hippie. Underneath, much to my mom’s surprise, was a Republican work-a-holic. She was left in a big fancy house with a pool and tennis courts (I know your heart breaks for her) all alone in a new part of the country with no friends. She was expected to be a “corporate wife”. It was no longer acceptable to pop pills and “hang out”. Her artistic soul didn’t even know how to cope. So she drank. She drank a lot. He was verbally, mentally and physically abusive and neglectful and she was lost in her own world.
At 16 I started a couple of businesses, quit school, moved out…I eventually fell into a career, got married way too young, promptly had three children. My mother and father split up when the drinking made her sick – actually that was a “pc” way to say it…he abandoned her. She ended up being murdered by an abusive boyfriend after several stints in and out of rehab. I stuck out my marriage for 24 years to a bi-polar man because 1) we had children and 2) I really thought if I worked hard enough I could fix it – fix him. I spent my marriage devoted to raising my children in a caring, compassionate, conscientious manner. I was the primary breadwinner and the housekeeper and the school volunteer…I did it all. I just kept thinking if I work harder, work smarter, try harder, keep trying…I could make a life that was okay. My “dad” has remarried. I don’t speak to him much. He caused me enormous pain throughout my life and takes zero responsibility – he thinks he’s just awesome. My divorce was long, so incredibly emotionally draining I can’t even describe it, and hard but it was by far the smartest thing. I treat him like a friend because he is my children’s father but I am thankful every day that I don’t have to deal with him daily any more. The ups and downs of bi-polar is a story all in itself. He will always be my children’s father and I will be kind and decent and not tear him down to them. They have their own relationship issues to work through. At least they have someone they can call and talk to when their dad is manic and no one else understands those challenges or what it means. I will have his back and explain again what is beyond his control, encourage getting back on the meds, and support them in their interactions with him.
I am in a relationship right now…he is smart, kind, caring and loving…although it started on false pretenses and he lied to me the first 2 years I was involved with him. It’s shocking that I forgave him for the first two years of our relationship. His lies put me through enormous stress and caused me to make decisions I would not have made otherwise. We started fresh last year. I guess I forgave him because he makes me feel not only loved but “adored”. That feels really good. I’m cautious though. He doesn’t know it but I am always checking. Checking to see if he’s lying, see if he’s emailing or calling someone that I don’t know about. I’m still the primary breadwinner…I’m really fucking exhausted – I wish someone else would do it and take care of me…but at least he’s thoughtful. He has no parents (of course neither do I at this point), he has a sad life story of abandonment and abuse. We don’t speak of those things. We just be nice to each other – which is all either of us has ever wanted anyone to do. He is sensitive to my idiosyncrasies because he has some himself. He doesn’t judge them. It’s okay with him if I feel the need to have a fully stocked, highly organized pantry yet may not eat. And I will show him love and kindness even when he feels unworthy of it. We are both broken people in some ways. It’s okay.
I have fibromyalgia. The first symptoms started when I was about 7. I didn’t know what it was for a very long time. Doctors always had explanations for the current ailment presented to them…weak ankles, overstressed ligaments, TMJ, anemia. It took almost a lifetime to connect all the problems and understand what it is and was. There is no “cure”. Sometimes I can forget I have it but as I have gotten older it’s gotten worse. So my work-a-holic self can’t walk some days or the fibro fog sets in and I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing (thank goodness I am a list making control freak). It’s very frustrating when I can’t remember words I want to use. This year my goal is to de-stress more, do more yoga and eat more healthfully to minimize the fibro problems as much as possible. I have a photographic memory…I used to be able to rattle off phone numbers and always know the bank balance…my ex-husband used to get so pissed off when I started not being able to – of course I didn’t know what was wrong yet. I just knew I was so stressed I couldn’t think straight and my brain was failing me.
Now as I begin what I assume to be the second half of my life…I am happy. I control my own environment. I make choices for me. My children are grown. I don’t have to please or take care of them…that’s their job now. I don’t have to please or take care of a husband. I can focus on my business as much or as little as I like. I can eat what I like, go where I want to…be who I am. No excuses. No apologies. I live in a big house overlooking the Puget Sound and being there makes me happy. I still have a few messes to clean up from the past but I will do it in my own way and in my own time.
I am responsible for my own happiness.
So do I need counseling? Probably. But that’s okay.
I’ve squeezed an enormous amount of “life experience” into my time here. I’ve learned a lot. I could probably teach a counselor a thing or two. Especially about forgiveness and resilience. I can’t blame anyone else for my life. I have a spiritual belief that we choose our parents and our basic life path before we are born based on what we need to grow spiritually. It doesn’t make some things any less heartbreaking. But how I react to it – my response, is my choice. Parents do the best they can with the tools they have. It’s all anyone can expect.