family ties

I had my second therapy session yesterday. This time we talked about my childhood/family issues. It came up because I told her that my grandmother died last week, and wanted to discuss the guilt I feel for not putting more effort into that relationship these last several years. This is a long story that most of my long time friends/followers already know, but the short-ish version is as follows:

My bio dad died when I was 6 years old. I didn’t really know him. He and my mom were never really together. In fact, she took me to his funeral, and didn’t tell me it was my father until I asked her about the flowers on his casket that bore my name along with the phrase “beloved daughter.” But that’s a whole other story. So anyway, the first 13 years of my life, I was told that his mom (my grandmother), who I saw a few times per year, was my aunt. Do not ask me why anyone thought this was a good idea. It was a terrible idea – for reasons we are about to dig into. I was never even able to get a straight answer out of my mom other than, “I thought it was for your own good.” lol okay.

I liked my “aunt” quite a bit, and always looked forward to the time we spent together. It may seem strange that I thought this lady was my aunt instead of my grandmother, but she was quite youthful in both appearance and personality, and I was a kid, so what the fuck did I know? When someone you trust tells you someone is your aunt, you believe that shit, right? Anyway – they eventually, at 13, tell me the truth – that she is my grandmother. I never really got over that shit. I was never able to develop that grandparent/grandchild bond with her. I had developed it deeply with my mom’s mother, and even more so with my step-dad’s parents, whom I adored and thought of as parents. As a result, I was never able to give my grandmother the type of relationship that she wanted. I loved her. I loved spending time with her. We wrote letters to each other for years back when she lived in Florida. But she never felt like my grandmother. I know she hated that, though she never once made me feel bad about it, but I could hear it in her voice when I talked about my other grandparents. She was a class act all the way to the end; always loving me and making sure I knew it.

I feel guilty about it all, and have for years, but especially now in light of her death. I look so much like my father, and she used to tell me that all the time. She would point out ways in which our personalities were similar. I know that being with me made her feel closer to him. I feel like I should have done more; been better. But on the other hand, it isn’t a switch I can just flip. I feel the way I feel. I was lied to, manipulated, and isolated for so long that I can’t just be like oh yes now I have the feelings you want me to have.

She used to bring me to family gatherings where all of these people I didn’t know would approach me and say (over and over and over), “You look so much like your dad,” and I was always so weirded out by the entire situation. They wanted me to come into the fold, but, in my mind, these people were not my family. They were strangers. And they were constantly comparing me to a man who was also a stranger. The only memory I have of my father is seeing him in that casket.

Due to Covid-19, my grandmother doesn’t even get a funeral. She is being cremated, and maybe they will have a memorial service for her sometime after all this shit is over. It sucks. It feels really shitty. I feel terrible about all of it.

So yeah – we dug into all that yesterday, and that brought up other themes from my childhood: the abuse, neglect, violence, drug addiction, etc. My epic guilt and resentment. At the end of the appointment, she told me she was really glad we had talked about my past, because it tells her so much about the person I am today.

I think therapy was a really good idea. I feel a little lighter after each session.

Session 1

My first therapy session went really well. I really like her a lot. She’s super easy to talk to, and we dug into a lot of shit, which is normal for session 1. Topics included: cancer (obvi), relationship stuff, self-esteem/body image issues, swinging/lifestyle stuff, parenting, and my career/the law firm. I’m going to be seeing her every two weeks for now. I felt heard/seen/accepted. It was good. I should have done this a while ago.