As is often the case with these sessions before hand I consider all the possible conversations we might have, all the variations of paths we could take and the only thing that is always true, none of my predictions are ever right. It makes me wonder if there is much value in worrying about it in the first place.
What we covered…
In todays session we started out touching on the end of the last session. I had a clear desire to tell Chris all the wonderful things I could about my parents. Chris was wondering why. Always such a simple question. Why? I didn’t have an answer, I am one of life’s natural reflectors so often if I get asked a question I have not preempted I struggle to form a clear response.
I jumped around a bit trying myself to understand the reasoning. Because I wanted to make myself feel better saying the awful things, because I felt guilty bad mouthing someone who could not defend themselves, because I knew there were reasons I could never understand that forced them to do the things they did.
I don’t think my answers were very helpful. I think rightfully Chris picked up that if I did not feel able to talk freely and just from my perspective then I would not get what I needed to out of these conversations.
I totally acknowledged that I very mindful of always trying to be objective, to take a balanced view. I feel very uneasy taking sides, only looking at something from one angle. I always have.
The we dipped our toes into some of the events on the timeline. We touched on that first day in care and the occasion I managed to negotiate my way into one of the child protection meetings which frankly I should never have been at.
I knew these memories were not especially feeling provoking, I think I had put them there as a bit of a safe starting place. They felt relevant because certainly the “information overload” as I badged it started when I was exposed to a level of information I had not fully appreciated. When you sit in a room and hear the police and social services talk about the risks to you in the third person as though you are not even there it is surreal, unnerving and scary all in one. I know that first meeting I went to was a tipping point in my drive to consume information, to read social services reports, letters about my mums treatment. I would break into my dads metal filing cabinet at night and read through pages of documents trying constantly to identify the measure of danger me and Mel were in.
We talked too a little about that first few days in care, the sudden fear, the uncertainty, the worry.
But the strange thing was there was little emotion. Perhaps it was not strange I had chosen those events as very light weight ones. But we also went down a couple of tangents which in hindsight probably should have sparked a little more. I am how normal is it to talk about one your parents endangering your life and not get upset. Every now and again I could sense the conversation with on a path which could lead to upset but I instinctively pulled away. I started justifying actions in my head. Telling myself again why it was ok. Even now as I write that I know it was not ok. Lots of what happened was not ok, but why do I feel the need to justify it?
We talked about the pressure I felt to be brilliant. That mum would often tell me or write to me saying how I kept her alive, gave her a reason to live, bought so much joy into a difficult world. From my perspective all these things were said with love but with them came a weight of responsibility no child should ever have to bear. If I don’t make mum happy she will kill herself. If I don’t show her the light in the world she might hurt us. And once again as I write I can hear my internal dialogue trying to convince me that it would be wrong by any child except me. I am not sure if I have such little self worth that I honestly believe I deserved it or if I have some skewed sense of the world that it had to happen to someone better to have happen to me. At least I survived.
The takeaways from the session were that I should try to empathise with my ten year old self. Honestly when I think of my ten year old self most the time I just feel pissed off at her. I should have done better. What I did was not good enough and for all my effort to hold my world together it still unravelled. I get I stayed alive but at what cost. I failed at keeping my family together, failed so many more times to protect Mel and I, failed to ever mend my mum.
I will try to empathise with her. he suggested looking at pictures so I will try track some down. I feel like I would have better luck looking at any random picture of a ten year old than one of me, but I will try to resist the urge to just throw darts at it. But I suspect I will just find myself angry. Fear and anger what companions I have chosen.
My take away was I need to learn to look at things from my perspective to purely and singly be thoughtful of an event from my point of view and to allow myself to feel what I would consider nasty feelings towards others. I might create my own homework I might pick an event and write about from the first person and with a “biased” perspective. My perspective.
I spoke to someone else today who reminded just how much stigma there was around mental health back then and how even now there is a long way to go. People don’t talk about suicide or treatment, so I will continue to talk because if we don’t we can never understand.