Me: So . . . what would you like to do now?
Carl: I’m open to suggestions. What would you like to do? I see you have a crate full of stuff with you again today.
Me: I think I’d like to show you my photos—we can pick up where we left off last time. That seems like a fun thing to do . . . I wouldn’t mind having some light-heartedness in a session for a change!
Carl: Oh, cool! I’d love to see them!
Me: Do you want to come over here to the couch so we can look at them easier?
Carl: No, I’ll stay here in my chair and you can hand them across to me.
Me: Okay . . .
(We shuffled through the photos . . . I showed him many photos of my family and close friends . . .)
Carl: What is your relationship like with your siblings?
Me: We get along okay . . . I don’t have very in depth conversations with them but we get along fine, at least in a superficial way.
One thing that has always struck me as odd . . . I’m the youngest of four kids . . . there are 16 years between the eldest and me . . . and, yet, for whatever reason, I seem to be the “rock” in the family. I’m the one they all come to when they are in crisis. They look to me for advice. It’s just weird.
I think it is mostly because I’ve been pretty open about my lifestyle . . . about not being committed to following the rules of the church. While I don’t talk about my choices very much, they can observe my obvious disregard for church rules.
So, when they are struggling with not fully buying into the teachings of the church and/or the Bible, they look to me for advice because they know I won’t judge them for questioning the established dogma.
When my dad died, they were—and, of course, my mom was—in zombie land. I was only 23 at the time, but I laid out a plan of action—a plan for the funeral, a plan for picking out a casket, a plan for notifying friends and family, a plan for places to eat and sleep, a plan for finances, a plan for finishing the construction project Dad was working on when he died . . . no one else seemed capable of figuring out what had to happen and how to make it happen. My siblings were a mess!
I guess that was my way of dealing with his death . . . I got busy and organized things.
Carl: Are you okay with being the rock—the mentor—for your siblings?
Me: Sure . . . I don’t see them as a source of wisdom and guidance, so I guess it doesn’t take away anything from me to be the mentor of sorts in the relationship. I’m glad I can be of value to them in that way.
(I showed him a picture me with the guy to whom I was briefly married . . . )
Carl: This is the guy to whom you were married for ten weeks before you separated, right?
Me: Yeah . . . I’ll have to tell you about that someday.
(I showed him a couple of photos of the married guy—but not married to me—with whom I had a 2½-year affair . . . )
Carl: How was that relationship for you?
Me: It was actually fun . . . we rode motorcycles together and we had a lot of common interests. It was a fun relationship. And, it was safe for me because he was married.
Carl: So, why did it end?
Me: That’s a long story . . . best saved for another day . . .
(I showed him photos of all my adrenaline-producing hobbies like motorcycle racing, bungee jumping, sky diving, fire fighting . . . )
Carl: Wow. This is a side of you I didn’t know about! You have done some really adventurous stuff!
Me: Yeah . . . I’ve gotten to do some really cool stuff in my life.
Carl: Looking at you sitting here on the couch, I would have never guessed about this side of you!
Me: I guess I’m mellowing out as I get older!
As he handed back the last photo, he stated he had learned a lot about me though the photos and that it had been a great idea to bring them to therapy. He said he was very glad I shared them with him.
I told him I appreciated his looking at them . . . I don’t get to share them with people because no one wants to look at them. He reiterated his appreciation for being able to view them because it helps him better understand what I have experienced in my life.
[Continued in the next post . . . ]