Depression, Mental Health

And That, My Friends, Is The $64,000 Question…..

Do you remember when you were a child and did something that got you in trouble? Maybe you were chasing your sister through the house and hit a table and knocked off the lamp. As soon as you heard it hit the floor, you knew you were in trouble — big trouble. Your mom or dad would come after you and ask that ridiculous question — “So, young lady, just how many times do I need to tell you not to run in the house?” And they’d stand there and wait for you to answer them. Good gracious. How do you answer a question like that? Do you just stand there and say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to knock over the lamp.” (I tried that many times and it never went over well.) Or do you get brave like I remember getting one time when dad was raging and answer, “Seven times”?  Let me tell you now that that was not the answer he was wanting. Maybe I should have said, “More than a thousand times” because evidently that’s how many times he had said it to me already and I was still running in the house. I guess I was a slow learner.

Anyway, I finally made it to Macon to see my therapist this week after three long months of not seeing her. It wasn’t that I was staying away on purpose — I was sick and then I got busy with the class reunion stuff and then I spent a week of medical testing and appointments and I just couldn’t get over there. But, whatever the reason, I was finally there. And I was lamenting about the fact that I am still screwed up. I was talking about how I couldn’t forgive myself for being such a screw-up as a kid and then a screw-up as a wife and now I’m just a plain screw-up. Period. After a few minutes, she took a deep breath, looked at me, and said, “Betty, just how long are you going to let your father run your life? When are you going to take your life back? When are you going to forgive yourself and go live the life that you know you should be living?” Well, damn. What was I supposed to say? Do I (as I did) just look at her and say, “I know. I need to let it go.” Or do I look at her as I looked at dad all those years ago and say, “I’m going to do that next Thursday. Or next month. Or in three weeks. Or evidently, never.”

How do you answer that question? That question, to me, is what we used to call the “$64,000 Question.” It’s one of those questions that I have no clue how to answer. How do you decide when enough is enough? I’ve made that decision many times. I’ve decided that enough is enough. I’ve told myself that I didn’t deserve all the crap I got from him and that I was going to let it go. I’ve even said out loud, “This is enough, Betty. Let it go.” And maybe I would for a bit. And then, something else would happen or I’d have a nightmare and wake up remembering it all over again. And, Wham! It’s back! All the feelings of worthlessness. All the pain. All the anger. All the guilt. All the hatred. And I’d have to start over again.  I am so very, very tired of starting over.

She says we are going to work on that question at our next session. That ought to be a fun time, huh? If any of you have any answers for me, please clue me in. How do I let it go? How do I convince my heart that what my head knows (I don’t deserve the pain; it wasn’t my fault; It’s nothing that I did to make him not love me) is correct? How do I make it stick? How do I really and truly forgive — not only him, but myself, also? If any of you have the working answer to that question, I’ll scrounge up the $64,000 for you. You will deserve it!
~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I so wish I could just go buy a book from Amazon that has the answer to my question.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Been a pretty good day.  Talked to my friend, Dennis, tonight and he said I sounded like I was in a better place.  I had to admit that I just had some new, better drugs.  Ain’t that a kick in the rear?

~~~ Betty 

Depression, Mental Health

Memories of My Dad

I’ve been working on a post about God and depression and am having a real problem getting my thoughts together on how I want to say things in it.  So, until I get it perfected, I’m going to post a few things that I had posted on Facebook. These posts are what brought me to my blog.  I just wish I could also post the comments that were made — they were so supportive and uplifting.
Betty M O’Steen

June 19 · Eatonton ·

 Here it is, another Father’s Day on Facebook.  As I sit here and see all the tributes to fathers, I am overcome with emotions. So many people talking about the wonderful fathers they had, the love they felt, the good times they had, and I can’t do that. I wish I could. I wish I had those types of memories of my father. I have searched and searched my brain and my heart and I just can’t find them. I find criticism, abuse, demands, and put downs. Why couldn’t I have gotten what others had? (And I don’t mean this post to be just a “bash my dad” post because that’s not really what I’m doing.). To the public, dad was a successful businessman, a jokester, a father of four precious (yes, we were precious) little girls. But, that was to the public and also to some members of my family. But, that’s not the man I called father. I’m now trying (as I have done all my life) to understand what happened to make our relationship one with no love in it. I always believed (and maybe it’s because that is what you told me) that it was my fault — that I was unworthy, unloveable, not deserving. I think that most of the time I no longer believe that, Dad. I think that I was worthy. I was loveable. I was smart. I was deserving. At least that’s what I try to convince myself of now. I just don’t know where it went wrong. Yes, as a teen, I was defiant. The more you said that I could not do something, the more I was determined to do it. I wanted so badly for you to see that you were wrong. The more you said no, the more I said “Watch me”. So, yes, maybe I brought it on myself. But aren’t parents supposed to love children unconditionally? Shouldn’t you have loved me “in spite of”? I craved your approval all my life but no matter what I did, it was never, ever good enough. Once I realized how truly mean, hateful, and cruel you could be, I set out to hurt you just as much as you had hurt me. Little did I realize that the things I did to hurt you would end up hurting me even more.

 

But in the end, I did do good things in my life. I finished my education which you said I would never do after having run off to get married. I raised three wonderful, loving, accomplished children — pretty much by myself, I might add. I taught school for thirty years. I deserved your praise, your approval, and most of all, your love. I’ve struggled all my life with the fact that for some reason you, my father, just did not love me. Of course you provided for me — that was drummed into my head during each and every one of our fights. Yes, you bought me clothes, shoes, food, paid for insurance, provided a home to live in — all the necessities, but Daddy, that didn’t ever make me think you loved me. In my mind, those were chores for you, things you did because you had to do and you were always quick to tell me that. But, I wanted you to love me and you just couldn’t find that in yourself to do.

I’ve tried throughout the years to forgive you, to understand why you did what you did. And sometimes I’ve gotten really close to being able to do so. But, I’ve finally realized that in order to forgive you, I must first forgive myself, and that, I haven’t done. I blame myself for our relationship — maybe if I hadn’t been such a little hellion, maybe if I’d made all A’s, maybe if I’d chosen boyfriends better, maybe if I’d made your sandwiches better, maybe if I’d been nicer to Sandra, Sonja, and KaKa, maybe, maybe, maybe……. I could go on forever with the maybe’s and that’s part of the problem. I can’t accept things for the way they were. I can’t accept the fact that you just didn’t love me. I can’t stop blaming myself. And until I do, I will never be able to stop blaming you. I long for the day that I can do so. I long for the day that I can join others in celebrating their fathers. I long for the days when I can search my memory for the good times, for the snippets of caring. Surely there are some tucked away in my memories. I pray constantly that I can remember the good. I pray that I can forgive you. I pray that I can forgive me. All I want is to love you and believe that somewhere in your mind, you loved me. I pray that you found the peace that you evidently searched for in this life. I’m sorry I was not all you hoped I would be.