Thursday, May 4, 2017

How Do You Do it?

It first occurred to me in 1996, when my (future ex) wife left me.  She encouraged me to go to therapy because ... well, I thought she thought I needed it. I agreed because I thought it was the best way to save our marriage.  Little did I know ...

She gave me the address of a therapist that she had found, and I went - on a weeknight at some stage of our deteriorating relationship - in the hope that it would salvage what was left of it.

After hearing both of us out, the therapist told us that "we shouldn't be married." That interested me, and I later found out that she had been to the therapist earlier, and only sent me as a knowledgeable participant in her game.
When the therapist asked her where she had gone to deal with it, and whom she had spoken to.  The answer came, "I went back to my parents' house."

When the therapist asked me, I gazed into the ceiling and thought for a second... "No one.  I didn't go to anyone.  I stayed home," was my reply.  The therapist looked at me in awe, and asked again, "So, you didn't talk to anyone?"
"No, I didn't."  I thought that was a reasonable answer, given the fact that I didn't have any friends - or at least any friends I thought I could go to with such a horrible life circumstance...

Rewind:  I came home that afternoon to a home that was bereft of her possessions and a note that said, "I'm sorry I couldn't be the person you wanted me to be.  Take care of the cat. He is very special."

I'm not sure how someone is supposed to react to something like that.  For me, I sat down and made a list of the pros and cons of what was going on, and the financial aspect of each.  As it was, I decided that I could make it on my own, as long as I didn't have any life-altering issues to get in the way of my financial goals.

For the record:  I took care of the cat. He lived another 12 years under my care, and died quietly of kidney failure at the age of 18.  He was my rock.

After looking into our bank account, I found that she had left with half of it.  Enraged, I ran back to her (parents) house and demanded the rest of "my money," since I felt that it was entitled to me as she had left for the security of her old home and I was left with the rest of the bills.  That may be right or wrong, and I'd leave it to a court to decide.  Nonetheless, I got my (our) money back.

Suffice it to say, I survived - however - and managed to exist on one salary where we had previously gotten along on two.  The sacrifice was no more vacations, lavish weekends, or otherwise fun things that two people did.  It was: Pay bills, care for the cat, and feed yourself.

Often, I have gone back to that therapist's words of,  "So, you didn't talk to anyone?"  I wondered if she was in a world of people who routinely leaned on others for their problems or asked for medication to get through difficult times.  I figured that people had their own problems, and didn't need me to compound the issue.  I can deal with it myself.

Because "dealing with it myself" is what I had always done.  Don't bother other people with your problems.  Your problems are yours.  They have their own issues, and don't need you.  It's like that.

I'm an only child, and grew up in an area where there were few people my own age.  My father died when I was nine, and I suppose that combined to make it difficult for me to ask people for help or expect it.
I remember, when dad died, my mother asked a family friend to take me to Gino's for lunch, supposedly to distract me from the reality.  I wondered, "Why is this person who I have never socialized with suddenly taking me out for food?"  He probably wondered the same thing, but was doing so because he was asked.
I was nine years old, and the whole thing washed over me like a wave.  I remember things my father taught me, and our time together; but the impact of his leaving me was lost on my age. I didn't understand.  He was gone forever, but the child in me didn't understand what forever meant.

I understand it now.  it toughened me to death and the certainty of it.  Not that it mattered less, but that the idea of it made it real to me at a young age.  I saw him die in our living room in front of my mother, and I was there for the subsequent burial and consequences of it all.  It hardens a child, even if the child does not realize it at the time. He realizes it now.

I had nowhere to go, other than the neighbor's house while the doctor and whatever medical people came to take his body out of our house. Before they sent me next door, the end had come.  My mother was hysterical. She held her hand up to his nose and said, "I can still feel him breathing!"
The doctor told her, "It's just the air escaping from his lungs."

How can a child experience that and not be changed?

I could not.  And so, I do not ask for your help.

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