Getting Happy... when you wish you were dead
Day 79 – Monday, 28 Jan
Met with Matthew Parks today. He seems committed to the idea that I’m mentally ill rather than unhappy and under a lot of stress. I really have to start recording the sessions or making notes. I’m afraid of the power Matthew wields to have someone committed.
It was sad to feel pushed to be ill, but we did do some good talking today. Matthew likes the idea of me keeping a journal. I’ve done it off and on for years, and right now it’s helping a lot to write things down.
Naturally we talk a lot about my past. Matthew and I agree that what has passed is precisely that – the past. You can’t do anything about it. Yet he seems to phrase things as though I’m behaving like a victim of my past. That feels odd because I’ve never perceived myself as a victim. Yes, bad things have happened to me. I am the person I am today because of all my experiences, but I don’t think I use that as an excuse or crutch.
When I say this to Matthew, he gets upset. He claims I’m not appreciating what he’s doing for me. His phrasing takes me back to a similar situation with my father and brother.
There was a model jet fighter I was trying to put together. It was a large model with wings made to move forward and back for different flying configurations, and I was having a lot of trouble getting it to go together.
My father was sitting in the living room reading, and I was building the model on the coffee table just a couple of feet away.
My fairly frequent complaints of “This is just not going together,” must have caught his attention.
“Then leave it alone. You’re never going to get it together anyway.”
That went straight through to my heart. I put everything down and walked out of the living room to go to my bedroom. Joe and I shared a bedroom, and he was sitting at his desk working on something.
“That model is just not going together.” It had been the highlight of my Christmas presents, so Joe knew exactly what I was talking about.
He turned in his chair to see me, and asked “What’s not working?”
“Oh, I can’t get the wings to go on right.”
“Maybe try reading through the instructions again.”
“I don’t know why I bother trying. I’ll never amount to anything anyway.”
Within seconds of saying that, I was slammed backward onto the bed. My father stood over me growling “Don’t ever let me hear you talk like that again.”
I spent the rest of the evening in our bedroom.
The next morning, I walked into the living room to find the model completed.
“Way cool! Who put this together?”
My father was in the kitchen eating breakfast. “Your brother and I put it together last night after you gave up. Be sure to say thank you.”
I grabbed up the model and tried the wings. They moved just the way they were supposed to. I immediately went buzzing down the hallway to our bedroom.
“Thank you! This is way cool!”
My brother was a little surprised by my bursting into the room, but he also looked a little embarrassed. “You’re welcome. I’m glad you like it.”
I spent the next hours flying the plane around the living room. It dived, soared, buzzed the coffee table, and flew past the windows. The wings changing for every dive and climb, and spreading wide for level flight. Until finally, something clicked inside the model and the wings wouldn’t move.
I tried everything I could think of to make the wings move again. When I couldn’t get them to move, I quietly put the model back on the coffee table.
As I was leaving the living room, my father lowered his book and asked “Why aren’t you playing with your model?”
I knew there was no point trying to hide anything. “I think I might have broke it. The wings won’t move.”
“That’s typical. You just have to play with things until you break them. You don’t appreciate anything your brother or I do for you.”
I went to our bedroom and read until supper. I had learned to stay out of the way whenever anything bad happened. When Mom called all of us to supper, I noticed the model had landed in the garbage.
It makes me sad that my therapist is taking the same approach. He tells me I’m behaving like a victim, and when I give him current examples that show that’s not true, he claims I don’t appreciate what he’s doing for me. It’s a hard spot to be in.
The most important thing any of us can do is be honest with ourselves about who we are, what we’ve done, and what we are doing. I’m finally headed in that direction, but it’s hard to know whether I’m on the right track.