Editor’s note: This is part 47 of Marie’s story. This entry continues from last week’s post.
Carl: (After a respectful pause… ) In reflecting back on the content of the letters to both your parents, it seems to me that you continuously labored to win your dad’s approval—it seems to me that you had hope there was a possibility you might earn it someday, if you continued to work very hard.
Me: Yeah, that’s true.
Carl: It also seems to me that you gave up, at a very early age, on winning your mom’s approval. I think you knew early on that she wasn’t able to express approval to you, so you quit looking for it early on.
Me: Hmmm… I supposed that could be the case. But, I have no memory of ever trying to get her approval… like it never dawned on me there was approval to be gotten from her.
Carl: I suspect you looked to her for security and comfort, and you wanted her to show interest in… even to be involved with… your internal emotional life. But, I’m hearing that she was emotionally numb and, therefore, not able to honor your emotions. I’m hearing that neither she nor your dad were interested in interacting with you in a way that honored your own preferences and emotional needs.
Me: That sounds accurate to me… more so than what you said before…
Carl: What is going on inside of you right now? I’m not seeing a lot happening on the outside, so I’m curious what’s happening on the inside. I haven’t seen much emotion today.
Me: Yeah… I noticed that, as well. I’m sad that all of that stuff happened to me, but I feel like we’ve walked through it and there is not much emotion attached to the memories at this point.
Carl: Are you feeling numb?
Me: No, I’m feeling very in touch with my emotions… I’m just not overwhelmed with emotion right now. I haven’t had any trouble staying present… I haven’t felt myself trying to slip away into another time or place… I’m feeling relatively okay about all of this stuff.
Carl: (Allowing a small grin to move into his expression… ) As you have been reading, and as we have had follow-up discussion, I’ve been smiling inside. I could sense that you have been very present today. I could sense that you have been walking through the heart of your emotions today and yet you have stayed present.
You were able to read your letter on your own behalf; you have retained full access to your adult voice and to your adult vocabulary. I am very excited about this evidence of significant progress.
Me: I guess. Bottom line, I’m glad to be finished reading these letters. I’m ready for that task to be done and I’m ready to move onto something else.
Carl: Yeah… that’s what I’m getting from you, also.
What I’m seeing today is evidence that you are very committed to moving forward in your healing. I can see that you don’t want to be stuck. It is obvious to me that you want transformational healing—not just a little bit of healing, but true, transformational healing.
Me: Thank you for seeing that in me…
And, I appreciate the role you are playing in my healing journey. Your involvement has been life changing for me. I appreciate that you don’t judge me or push me away when I get into the tough stuff.
Carl: You are very welcome!
Okay… so… it seems to me that we are finished with this topic, at least for today. If something related comes up for you in the future, we can address it at that time. But, for now, I hear that you would like to move to a new topic for the remainder of our time together today.
Me: Yeah, I’d like to move on…
Carl: What did you have in mind?
Me: There is a topic I’d like to touch on… I guess I don’t really need to talk about it as a way to resolve anything… it’s more that I want to bring it to your attention. I have a concern it easily could become an issue in the future.
Carl: Okay… what would you like to tell me?
Me: I haven’t talked much about it, but ten years ago, I had a really nice job, a nice income, a nice house… and enough money to do things like buy nice cars, buy nice motorcycles, go on trips around the world…
At that point, I was still working my way through the pain created by a failed very-short-term abusive marriage… but I felt I had enough going for me that I’d find my way through eventually.
Then, September 11th  came along. The market for my skills tanked. I lost my job. I couldn’t get a job, not even at minimum wage. So, I started a business… and that failed miserably.
In the two years following, I lost my career, my health insurance, my ability to earn a living, my house, all the stuff in my house, all my investments, my good credit, my ability to buy my own groceries… most of all, I lost my sense of productivity and my sense of value as a human being.
My sister let me move into her basement, where I [figuratively] dug a hole in one of the basement’s corners amid the few boxes of belongings I still owned—and hunkered down. I was in such a deep depression that I prayed for death every day… literally every day for about 18 months. Sometimes I believed I couldn’t tolerate waiting for my prayers to be answered… and I created a number of contingency plans that would allow me to leave this life—in case I couldn’t tolerate waiting for life to leave me first.
I truly believed I wouldn’t survive… it wasn’t until about five years after getting laid off that I first started seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. I could see a potentially viable path to rebuilding my life and felt like I was getting some traction. But, even then, I got and lost a few jobs, I started two more business that failed, I’d set up some little apartment for living and then would have to move out and back into someone’s basement again… it was very hard to keep putting one foot in front of another.
In the four or so years since that first glimmer of hope, I have slowing been recreating myself professionally and financially. I started a fourth business—the piano lessons business—which is actually doing very well. But, I am, by no means, in a strong position. If things were to go badly with the piano lesson business after I resign from the bus barn, and I end up back in that hole, I don’t think I currently have the psychological reserves to survive.
I’ve been making some wise financial choices in my rebuilding—at least I learned some valuable financial lessons from going through a bankruptcy. I have laid a great foundation, and I’m proud of that… but, the walls and roof aren’t in place yet. I’m still pouring the foundation. I have no reserves.
I am terrified I’m going to end up back in that dark place again.
Even now, I struggle with significant depression. There are many days that I find it nearly impossible to get out of bed. At least the bus barn schedule has forced me out of bed before the sun rises on five days each week. I am up, dressed and out the door before I wake up enough to think about whether I’m too depressed to move or not.
I’m afraid that, without the consistent early morning schedule, I will find it too easy to stay in bed and do nothing. If I take that route, my piano lesson business will fail even if everything else goes well.
[Continued in the next post… ]