Friday, May 23, 2014

The Horizon and A Thousand Questions

Yesterday was Thomas' usual therapy session and it was yet another one where the questions about Thomas' symptoms were thrown at him in rapid fire fashion and Thomas shot them down just as quickly with denials that they exist. This new trend in better mental health for Thomas has been an amazing thing to watch. As a result though we have had to move on to more ordinary subject matter which amounts to rehabilitation and alleviating the remaining symptoms. What came up yesterday though was an entirely new issue rooted in an old trauma.

I first need to tell a little backstory in order help you understand what Thomas faces soon. I hesitate to tell this story because it is extremely polarizing and generally falls on the side of disgust and anger at the parties involved. FOR ME though, it needs to be understood that in a lot of ways this challenge has been overcome. What remains is Thomas and his feelings about all of it.

The story goes like this:

Years and years ago I was married to Thomas' biological dad. The marriage didn't work out for many reasons and it ended in a crashing down of Thomas' and my world. Not too long after my divorce, my ex-husband and my sister fell in love and married. In to that marriage my sister brought 4 children from her first marriage and her and my ex had 4 more children of their own. All of this would have been possible to overcome for Thomas and I (and it has, for the most part, for me) if that marriage and the children hadn't changed Thomas' world in profound ways.

As time wore on, and it didn't take too long, Thomas' biological dad disappeared from Thomas' life. He made attempts at keeping contact with Thomas in the beginning but could never seem to maintain it. My sister tried to keep him in Thomas' life reminding him of Thomas' birthday and Christmas etc. but my ex, for whatever reasons and ones Thomas or I will never understand, my ex eventually cut all ties with Thomas. As a result of that it has now been 3 years or more since Thomas has heard from his biological dad. I have had many talks with Thomas in the past about his feelings about that and he has come back with either indifference or a white hot anger the kind which I rarely see in Thomas.

On the flip side of all of that, my sister, through the years, has cultivated a loving, supportive relationship with Thomas. She has helped facilitate much of my dealings with the medical insurance company since my ex holds Thomas' policy. She has always insured that Thomas got the care he needed and when she has been here during crises, she has been by Thomas' and my side through everything from the moment we discovered Thomas needed hospitalization to the E.R. visit and through to getting him checked in to the psych ward. Following that she has made calls to Thomas while he was staying there and done what she could to cheer him up. Unlike my ex, she has never, not even once, failed Thomas in any way, shape or form. Where my ex failed to stand up, my sister did her level best to fill that void and for that I will be forever grateful. Thomas loves her very much and has looked forward to every visit she has ever made to our town.

So, you might be wondering why I am telling you all of this. In part it's because it is part of Thomas' history, a heartbreaking one at that, but partly because of what is coming up very soon. As you know, my dad passed away February 28th of this year and he chose to be cremated. In July we will gather as a family to spread his ashes in the place he wanted to be his final resting place and then we will travel on to the ocean for a 5 day stay, as a family, to celebrate my dad's life.

In case you haven't put it together yet, what that will mean for Thomas is that for the first time in 3 or more years, he will see his biological dad and will be forced to spend time with him. All of this came up in therapy yesterday and when asked how he felt about it, Thomas' answer was that he had mixed feelings about it. To that his therapist said,

"Yeah...(long pause with sadness and trepidation in his voice and eyes).......I have mixed feelings about that too and a thousand questions all of which will be covered in therapy in the next few weeks until you go to see your biological dad."

It's hard to say how that trip will go. It'll be just over a week of time, for Thomas, spent around his biological dad and the children he bore and helped raise all while completely abandoning Thomas. It will, most certainly, be a trial for Thomas and with his inability to handle stress it could be the start of another fall into the depths of his illness. We have a few weeks to prepare, a lot of days of therapy where Thomas will be able to (hopefully) make his feelings known to his therapist about this and (hopefully) begin to work through some of them so that this trip won't be too traumatic for him. It is his next hurdle, really more a climb to the top and hopefully over the other side of a mountain akin to Everest. For me, as his mom, I will do what I can to help him through the visit and hopefully, with his therapist's help and with mine, he will be a stronger young man for it.

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