Tuesday, May 20, 2008


The Man and I had an appointment with our therapist (we’ll call him PS) last night. Our normal schedule is to see him about once every four weeks. Our last appointment with PS was April 2nd. Two days before The Man was laid off. When The Man told me he was laid off, I really wanted to make an appointment sooner than our four week appointment. I didn’t, because I didn’t want to be a melodramatic patient who overreacts to situations. I wanted to deal with the situation on my own, or at least try. The Man didn’t seem bothered by it (something I still don’t understand for the life of me), so I should be able to get over it fairly quickly, right?

A couple of days before our scheduled appointment, I received a call from PS. He needs to reschedule. Fine, we reschedule, and it will be six and a half weeks since the last time we saw him.

I trust The Man. It took a long time for me to really trust him. I don’t trust anyone else the way I trust him. I trust PS, a person I have only known for two years, almost as much as I trust The Man. I don’t trust anyone else in this entire world half as much as I trust these two people. So when something happens in my life, these are the two people I depend on to help me get through it.

Although I trust The Man and I know he loves me more than anyone else in the world, he doesn’t always understand me. And I don’t always understand him. But PS understands both of us, and he explains me to The Man in a way The Man can comprehend and he explains The Man to me in a way that I can comprehend. So when The Man and I don’t see eye to eye, PS can usually help us figure it out.

I don’t like change. And not in the normal “I don’t like change” baloney that everyone says at least once in their life. I hate change. With all my heart. It does not feel safe to me. I experienced so much change as a child. An unhealthy amount of out of my control change, with nothing stable to hold on to. I was not taught to cope with change, just forced to do it. So I developed compulsive behaviors as a defense mechanism because those felt safe. Washing my hands, counting, touching objects in a certain way, rigid routines. Obviously, I didn’t realize WHY I was doing this. I actually just came to that realization last night. I never knew why I did those things, only that I eventually felt bound to those things instead of in control of them.

Shortly after we started to see PS, he helped me get my life back and I am no longer tied to these compulsions. Obviously I still have certain routines, as does everyone, but they do not define my day. I didn’t think they would ever go away, but it actually didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would to break those habits, some of which I had been doing for a good twenty-five years. For that I am forever grateful to PS. However, I no longer have those “safe” obsessions to lean on when change occurs in my life.

With no obsession my world feels really out of control. The Man doesn’t have a job; he’s gone on an interview in a completely different line of work. Those are the two major things, but because I don’t have something stable to rely on, all of the little changes seem magnified. I feel like the small changes are pointing at me and laughing, as if to say, “Let’s see how she handles this one. Ha!”

Small things, like getting an unemployment notice back that states I missed a box on the original form; the fact that I missed a box on the original form – that is so unlike me; The Boy not going to school anymore; getting new furniture in our house; having the company who interviewed The Man postpone the second interview; The Man is taking over all of my normal chores like laundry, cleaning, etc. (which is certainly a positive change, but a change nonetheless!). All of those things feel like giant, unmanageable situations. When, intellectually, I know they are not.

PS suggested finding a “tree” – something unchanging that I can always go back to when things in life are changing. His tree is the Bible verse Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I like that verse, but I don’t know yet if it’s my tree. I like the idea of a Bible verse being my tree. Because The Bible doesn’t change.

I mentioned a little over a month ago that I didn’t like my new bed. It’s a little better now. I sleep fine on it but I don’t feel like it’s mine yet. PS encouraged me to think of something that would make it feel like mine. I think The Man, The Boy and I are going to write our names on the back of the headboard and on the back of the dresser. Just in the corner, small letters, “Daddy,” “The Boy,” and “Mommy.” And then I think I’m going to lie on the bed and look through my Bible until I find my tree. That will make the bed my bed, if I find my tree on it.

And if I chose the verse from Joshua, or another verse from that book, I can call it my Joshua Tree.

If it were my choice, here is how I would love to handle change – don’t have any change. This could be achieved by staying in bed, hidden under the covers all day, every day. No moving from the bed ever. Or getting someone to commit me to a mental institution, where I would happily sit in a plain room, staring at the wall, strapped into a straight jacket, rocking back and forth all day. I’m serious. Those two options actually sound APPEALING to me. Since I have chosen to be a mom and a wife, those options are not available to me. Consequently, I have to force myself to function properly even though my brain is screaming for me to STOP! GO BACK TO BED! DO AND SAY CRAZY THINGS SO THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH REALITY EVER AGAIN. YES, that will fix everything.

Next appointment: three weeks. Although I think I have made huge strides in a positive direction in the last two years, it’s obvious that I still have a long journey before my mental health is restored. My hope is that one day my brain will not be fighting me. That I will prefer life over crawling into a hole. Then I can be a good example for The Boy, and prepare him for changes that come in his life.


Kelvin Kao said...

I think writing the name on your bed is a great idea. It's like people pimping our their cars. Once they made their own changes (which you might not like), they'll love it more because it feels more like theirs.

My last car, that I bought from a good friend of mine when she left for New York, was stolen. Now that I bought a brand new car, but I was still emotionally more attached to the old one. I guess memory is sort of a tree too, because memory doesn't change (provided that aliens don't invade the earth and abduct you to conduct memory-related experiments). But it's also a dangerous thing to do because people sometimes try to repeat the good memories in the present and it just creates disasters due to inappropriate circumstances.

Bible as a tree is a good idea. I like that concept too. Some people have some kind of a mantra that they always go back to. Hm, this makes me wonder what mine is.