Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Break On Through To The Other Side

There are times in therapy when you have an emotional breakthrough; an insight into a bit of information or a belief you carried with you up to that point in time.  I remember once talking about my older sister, the one who was sent away at the age of twelve,  and I at the ages of five and six.  I told my story and near the end of it I fell silent.  My therapist must have see something on my face because she asked what was wrong.  It hit me, a gut wrenching sense of lost and grief, and I blurted out, "I miss my sister."

Then I started crying. 

Right up to that moment I had not missed my sister because I had not really thought of her as my sister but only as ghost from my childhood. At the time she left I was already overwhelmed by life and, since my parents did not explain to us why she was taken away, I think that there was also a fear that my parents would send me away without warning if I asked questions about her.  At ten I had already learned to bottle my feelings and the fear, grief and lost I felt  when my sister vanished from my life  poured out that day in therapy.

Last weekend it happened again.  I was making the bed when I noticed volume one of my copy of Sherlock Holmes stories and novels sitting in the file holder on the back of the door next to husband's side of the bed.  (Our bedroom is so tiny  there is no bed stand on that side of the bed so I had I attached a file holder on the back of the door to give him a place to put the things that would usually be put on a bed stand.)   I've had this book for so long it was falling apart with a broken spine and a torn loose front end paper.  When I looked at the book I did not see the green front end paper peeking out but the white first page on the book.  I picked it up and opened it and saw that the front end paper was gone.  I flipped to the back of the book to see it it had been tucked between the last page and the back cover.  Not there either.  I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach and went looking for my husband.

"Where is the front end paper of this book?"

"I don't know."

"Did you throw it away?"

"Yes, it got in the way when I was reading.  The book is damaged anyway."

By now I was shaking in fury and I could feel a headache coming on.

"You had no right to throw it away.  This was my book."

"I don't see why you are getting so upset.  The book was damaged already."

"That's not the point, it is my book and you had no right to throw pieces of it away."

"OK, fine.  I won't touch any of your books again."

I stood there looking at him and realized I hated him.  I hated him because he didn't think throwing away something of mine was a big deal.  I hated him because he had no idea what it was like to lose things  that belonged to you, things that are important to you, due to no fault of your own. I had bought that set of books  at a used bookstore in Denver with my own money.  I had carefully carried them around with me for the next 40 years of my life.  They represented every tangible thing that I had ever lost while growing up; school photos, family photos, books, clothes, toys, treasures, friends, schools, and neighborhoods. I also hated him right then because he was a child of the suburbs and clueless. I hated him because he had always had a father, a father who never beat him or tried to kill his mother.  I hated him because he had never wanted for anything growing up, never went hungry, never went to bed in fear of what would happen the next day, and would never understand why this book was so important to me.  I left the room, the pressure in my head unbearable.   My husband followed me in to the  living room carrying the book.

"Look, we can  buy another copy of this book on the Internet and then  take the end page out of that one and put it in this one."

The solution of a desperate man.  I stared at him,  my head ready to explode. I was not going to destroy another book to "repair" a book that was beyond repair.

"It can't be repaired, " I said.

My head exploded in excruciating pain as understanding ripped the doors off the room in my brain where I kept the secret from myself.  

My childhood can't be repaired,"  I blurted out.

I looked at my husband in complete misery and as he put his arms around me I uncontrollably sobbed my heart out.

I am not sure what I meant when I said my childhood could not be repaired.  I'm not even sure why I subconsciously thought it could be repaired at all.  I do know that facing the fact that  my childhood could never be repaired and expressing the grief that surrounded this knowledge helped me.  Once I  was done crying I realized my headache was gone and that I felt at peace.  Maybe the person who said that which does not kill you makes you stronger was right.


Maura said...

It is a season of healing for us both isn't it? I love you so very much.

Rain said...

Sad story. Sometimes we need things we don't know we need and wouldn't choose because they are too painful. Your husband doing such a male thing (I can easily visualize my husband doing the same thing and being clueless why it mattered) opened a door for you that let you accept again all the places you had lost important things, parts of your life. Healing moments aren't always what we choose but it sounds like that one became a very positive one.

ally bean said...

Your story is fascinating and sad.  I can understand why that book meant so much to you.  Little reminders of the past are sometimes the only things that connect us with who we were.  For better or worse.

Are you feeling better about everything now?  I certainly hope so.  What an experience.

la pergrina said...

Yes it is and I love you so very much, too.

la pergrina said...

<span>"Your husband doing such a male thing.."</span>

If I hadn't been in so much pain I would have smiled when he came up with his solution to the problem.  And you are right, healing moments can be painful but they are also so worth it.

la pergrina said...

I was feeling better I second I stopped crying, ally.   Once I discovered the real reason why I was upset the book was no longer anything thing but an already damaged book.   My husband actually tracked down another copy of the two volume set on the Internet and bought it for me.  My husband is a good man, clueless sometimes, but a good man. :)

Martha said...

<span>"My husband is a good man, clueless sometimes, but a good man." Oh Brother, I know what you mean!  ;) </span>

Your story brings back the memory of the time when something negative triggered the moment I realized how and why I had let alcohol become a monkey on my back . It was a revealing and relieving experience and changed my life. One step back led to two giant steps forward. So glad it worked out for you as a positive experience and thank you for sharing it with me. Even though you are both from different backgrounds, you are yet the same, both wonderful people and are just as important and special as anyone else. Don't ever forget that. Hugs from me, too.

la pergrina said...

Hugs from me to you, too, Martha. :)

Blue Witch said...

"I do know that facing the fact that  my childhood could never be repaired and expressing the grief that surrounded this knowledge helped me."

And there is no short way of coming to that realisation, IME.
Thank you for telling your story.

la pergrina said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment, BW.

Andrea @ Shameless Agitator said...

Wow, that was powerful. Thank you for sharing.