Thursday, January 09, 2014

Family Therapy

Well, we did it, we survived family therapy. I'm still trying to decide if family therapy is healthy especially when we walk away from it feeling worse than when we went in.

It started well enough, a typical session where we went through what Thomas was feeling (paranoia still there, delusions still fixed, increased hallucinations but no depression or anxiety). I was happy that my husband was there to hear these things because I felt like it was a safe space for Thomas to be honest about his feelings without getting attacked like my husband has a tendency to do to him.

Then the fun began. My husband got to be heard. Don't get me wrong, the point of therapy is to be heard and a part of me was happy for him to be able to tell a professional how he feels but so many of the things that he said were the things we argue over all the time. That of course left me wanting to, yet again, defend myself and Thomas and I did just that. I am frustrated because the world my husband sees just isn't the world that it is where Thomas is concerned and where my relationship with Thomas is concerned. He works a lot and when he's off he's not around very often so he's so quick to say that I over-mother Thomas. I have heard this my whole marriage and have worked extremely hard to curtail that in myself and I am proud of the mom I have become as a result. There's no doubt that I used to consider myself one of those dreaded "helicopter parents" but I am not that person anymore. Yes, I'll admit, I am very watchful over Thomas but I am just not the person that my husband claimed to Thomas' therapist that I am. With or without therapy, I believe that will always be an argument of ours and I will go to my grave defending Thomas and our relationship.

One important thing that did come out is that the therapist believes my husband and I need to carve out some time for ourselves, without Thomas, even if it's just a dinner out alone or even better, an overnight trip to the city. I wholeheartedly agree with this line of thinking and want the same for us but when the therapist asked Thomas how he would feel about us leaving him home for a night he readily admitted he would be terrified. This type of thing from Thomas is exactly what keeps me here with him a lot of the time and somewhat unwilling to leave. What was more heartbreaking was as the therapist worked to paint a picture of normalcy for our marriage it became even more evident how not normal it is. Thomas' therapist asked Thomas if he would be ok if his best friend came to stay with him that night we were gone and he stated that he would still be scared. I know that kind of thing happens all the time in the real world. Two teenage boys normally practically beg to be left alone so that they have time to be teenagers and raise some hell but that is just not meant to be for Thomas. His normal, our normal, just isn't in the cards for us. Ultimately my husband and I promised ourselves that we would at least go out for dinner together sometime soon.

One thing that we did take away was the good doctor's diagnosis of our family's individual diagnoses. Thomas, of course, has schizophrenia, I have anxiety and bipolar II, and my husband is depressed. Of course we're all suffering from mental illness. It's what my family does and that fact causes me great humor no end. As a side note, I stood outside and talked to my new neighbor the other day and she went on and on about the guy that used to live there and how mentally ill he was. She said it with such venom in her voice grouping all mentally ill people into this box to be kicked to the curb. I had to laugh as my sullen, expressionless, schizophrenic kid came out of the house in the middle of that conversation to tell me that the meat on the counter was thawed. For as much as this new neighbor hated this mentally ill tenant that used to live in the house, she would be shocked to hear she has a gen-u-ine, vilified, violent, sick, scary schizophrenic living next door to her (read sarcasm here). I didn't say anything, of course, but people like that, who are closed-minded, crack me up because they are so shut off from the truth and a willingness to learn the truth that they live in such a narrow, and in my opinion, sad world.

So all in all I guess family therapy went well. None of us hate each other but old and current wounds were opened up raw and the dynamics of our family lay bare for a professional to see. We survived, Thomas was the most unscathed, and hopefully we will make some changes in the near future to better our marriage and family.

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