There has to be something said for opening up your mind and heart to a stranger, letting EVERYTHING out to lie open on a table and be dissected. Especially if that stranger is studying to be a psychologist. lol 🙂
A friend introduced me to L. We had met before but this is the first time it was just L and I getting together to spend some time together. See, L is studying for her honours in psychology and me, well I’ve been very depressed lately, getting a few panic attacks and generally feeling that I needed to see a counsellor or therapist. A lot has happened in the last over 2 years of my life and I feel that I need to speak to someone.
So the first session we had together, was discussing my marriage. I’m going through a divorce, have been separated for a year. The second session also discussed my marriage, but also the relationship I had with my father. I don’t want to discuss the marriage sessions here as I feel they are too raw and personal at the moment. But I want to talk about how many of my insecurities stem from my relationship that I had with my father.
Growing up, my father remarried 3 times after he’d married my mom, who was his first wife. I was 3 when my mom and Dad divorced. The stepmom that I had the most “dealings” with was this 3rd wife who he divorced and remarried (hence the 4th marriage). Confusing I know… I can draw a picture? Anyhow, this stepmom treated my brother and I really badly. We weren’t allowed to visit my dad nearly as much as her children were allowed to visit there and even sleep over! I remember sleeping over once and that was it.
Often my stepmom and her daughters would be busy doing sewing or kitchen things and I’d stand to the side a bit out of place. I’d try get involved but get brushed off. I’d then have my dad scolding me on the way home that day that I’m not doing the proper womanly duties. And the one thing that would always crop up? That I didn’t look smart enough. As I grew older and into my late teens, early twenties… I remember getting ready for a visit to my dad and being so stressed about what to wear and how I looked. I felt constantly scrutinized in front of him and her as well as her children. It’s as though I could NEVER do anything right. I dreaded going eventually, even though I so wanted to have a proper father/daughter relationship with my dad.
In 2001 my Dad had started divorce proceedings against my stepmom and he’d met someone else who moved in with him. She was lovely and would often tell me how much he spoke of me. This still to this day floors me as I never got that impression around him that he was “proud” of me. I always felt “not good enough”, “second best”, “not thin enough or not pretty enough”.
My Dad’s heart was weak and he went in for a triple by-pass in August of 2001, recovering well. One Saturday night in November he invited us over for a braai and I made and took a lovely salad. He had returned to work and I still remember scoulding him for working so hard. That night, for the first time he kept commenting on how proud he was of me and how I’ve grown into such a lovely woman. I’ll NEVER forget this. The Monday after this braai, he died. I lay on his bed next to his lifeless body, holding his hand and sobbing my heart out and repeating “I’m sorry Dad”.
I was sorry because I wasn’t there to say goodbye to him, and I was sorry because I felt as though I’d let him down as a daughter. By pouring all of these details out to L, processing it and seeing it all laid out before me, I could see things more clearly. I could see why I’ve always had a low self-esteem, why I’m always worried about how I’m dressed, why I often don’t feel good enough. These feelings, compounded with verbal and emotional abuse as married woman, really dented my self-esteem badly. Being told as a married woman that I’d never find someone else who’d want me, how I was a bad wife etc. all added up to me feeling so depressed and feel as though I was alone.
There are other factors too, that are added to why I’ve been depressed. The main one being my failed marriage… but looking back and dissecting was so helpful. I feel as though I can deal with these issues better. I can look inside myself and KNOW why I feel the way I do… instead of wondering why and beating myself up about it.
Hopefully I get a few more sessions with L. She really is amazing, listens, asks such good questions, offers up different perspectives of looking at things. I feel as though in a way she is showing me a few life skills. She’s not “fixing” what is damaging or broken. She’s giving me a few tips on how to look at why things aren’t going well, how to deal with and accept it as it is, and how to be okay with it.
A bonus is L is also a single mom of 2 little boys that are the same age as mine! How awesome is that? L has been a single mom for longer than me and I’m truly inspired by her. A quote that will stay with me is “I am the anchor for my boys”. 🙂