This has been an emotionally difficult week for me. A confluence of hormones, circumstances, the stage of the depression cycle I experience, and how the people important to me in my life react to their own issues, have created the perfect storm of emotional disruption for me. So much that I decided to seek out the EAP services offered by my employer.
The inciting incidents were a conflict at work that was contributed to by and blew back onto my relationship with my fiancee and having a dear friend offer condolences for a post she had seen on facebook, where my adult son publicly named another woman his mom and me as his incubator. I was very hurt and somewhat offended by my son’s post, but knew if I reacted or responded to it – publicly or privately to him – it would not end in a healthy way for either of us. I don’t have very many people in my life that I can turn to, but I do have a couple of online groups where I can seek out support, encouragement, and acceptance without getting a bunch of negative feedback. So, I did post an update that included details about what my son had done, but also included other things going on in my world.
It was two more days before I could actually meet with the therapist from the EAP program, and since I knew I only get three sessions total, I had some time to think about what I wanted to achieve from that session. I thought about what I believe my core issues to be. I spent some time on the phone with a friend talking out my side of the issue with my son. So, by the time I actually met with the therapist, while I was still highly emotional, I was able to be rational as well.
I went into that appointment believing a lot of negative things about myself – specifically that all the years of counseling, classes, reading, groups, and treatment I’ve participated in to deal with my depression and the effects of childhood dysfunction and recover from unhealthy choices made in adolescence and early adulthood have done little to no good and I’m still a completely screwed up person. I’ve done such damage to my oldest two children, that I have developed this second skin of mommy guilt that tells me because I wasn’t a good parent then, I am incapable of being a good parent now. Somehow, all of my errors, mistakes, and deficiencies mean that I shouldn’t feel good about myself, who I am, or what I’ve accomplished and that I should have given up believing myself capable of healthy change and function.
The feedback that I got from this counselor was very soothing for me. She told me she was impressed that while it was obvious I was being overwhelmed by my emotions, I was thinking and speaking in a way that showed I was capable of very rational thought. She stated that it was obvious that I’ve done some work and validated the good parenting I am doing now. When I explained that I had chosen not to confront or engage my son in any way regarding his post she validated that decision. I told her that I have struggled with following through on the 4th step in the 12 step process, primarily because I’m afraid of being so emotionally overwhelmed that I will become immobilized – which is something that almost happened this week – she stated that she thought that was a wise decision on my part because it shows that I am being realistic about myself and the circumstances in my life.
We went on to discuss the resources and support I do have in my life that I can build on. We agreed that I need to look at Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) in learning how to deal with the emotional responses that overwhelm me. In the next two sessions, we’re going to focus on some of those things and she’s going to look for affordable options for me to have ongoing treatment without insurance. I left her office feeling much more focused and confident that I can get through this.
I got to spend some time with my son yesterday afternoon. I followed through on my decision to not engage him about his post. I did give him something that I knew he felt he was owed by me, that I didn’t necessarily agree that I owed him, but had decided it was worth it in order to settle accounts and work toward restoration of relationship. I didn’t make a big deal of it or go into a lot of discussion about the whys and wherefores of it. He thanked me for proving him wrong and hugged me. Then he informed me that this other family had decided that they were going to adopt him, officially, and he would be changing his name. I have some feelings I haven’t really looked at regarding that, yet, but it will happen. My response simply was that he was an adult and it was their choice. I did ask if he’d informed his other sister, because I believe she will have a much more intense personal reaction and will wind up feeling even more alienated than she already does. But that’s their relationship with each other and not mine to meddle in. Subsequently, he and I spent a couple of hours watching Youtube videos, chatting about facebook games, bad Syfy tv, and politics.
Last night I got to have dinner at a restaurant with four of the people I love the most, three of whom happen to be some of the most difficult people for me to deal with individually, much less together. Add into the mix that they historically don’t do well in each others presence. So, eating out in a public place with my fiancee, my son, and my friend who had notified me of my son’s post, along with my three year old daughter, had me in a bit of an inner turmoil. Thankfully, less so than if I hadn’t met with the EAP Therapist. There were a couple of bumps in the road, but overall, a good time was had by all.