Friday, October 24, 2014

Who Would You Choose?

I had forgotten this story until yesterday when I was sharing it with my mom and sister. It happened in therapy last week, fresh off of the Seattle trip.

We were talking about all of the good things that happened in Seattle and it was so much fun to see Thomas light up about all of the things he had done. Then the whole thing took a dark turn. At least in my opinion.

Dr. K. asked Thomas,

"What was the worst/scariest part of the trip?"

I was a bit surprised by the question myself because I thought everything had gone so well and Thomas had seemed so good. But Thomas had an answer,

"I was afraid I was going to be pick pocketed."

I was again surprised but then started thinking back on the trip. Had there been any time where I felt Thomas had anxiety while we were out on the street? Yeah, I suppose so but even I was anxious about being out on the street around all of those strangers. Then the whole conversation took a dark turn as Dr. K. went on to explain something to Thomas. He asked,

"Do you wear a watch?"

"No."

"Do you have any jewelry on at all?"

"No."

"Okay now I want you to look at your mom right now. She is dressed very nicely, looks very well put together. She appears to have a very expensive purse and she looks like she could be carrying quite a bit of money. Thomas, who do you think the pick pocket criminal is going to choose to attack? The kid in regular clothes with no watch or the lady with the nice clothes and purse looking like she's carrying a lot of cash?"

Thomas got kind of quiet and said,

"They'd pick my mom."

"Yes, so you see? You're not in any danger of that happening to you."

So maybe you see no problem in this exchange but let me tell you what happened next.

Apparently, the entire time we were ever out on the street or in crowds, Thomas said he felt he needed to protect me from being pick pocketed. He said he had walked with me the entire time to protect me.

I know.

Beautiful.

I love that young man.

Then it dawned on me something about all of the times we had been out. Thomas had always walked just one step behind me on the side that I carried my purse. He was always behind me and each time I would try to get him to catch up he would always end up back behind me. As a mom with a kid in a strange city, I wanted him with me so I was only focused on keeping my eye on him and instead, he was being a protective son watching out for me.

Then Dr. K. hammered it home about how I would have been the victim of the attack. After hearing how anxious Thomas had been about an attack, after hearing how scared he was for me and how he felt he needed to protect me, it was evident he loves me very much and feels responsible for me. So I had to wonder...

and here is what made me mad....

Why on earth would you tell a seriously anxious kid who loves his mom that she would be the victim?!?!? What purpose did it serve to single me out in such a way when before him sat a scared kid who loves his mom? I was mad, to say the least. I mean, seriously, I already try to protect Thomas from things involving me that he doesn't need planted in that brain of his to make things worse. Now I think,

"How will he ever again feel like I am safe if we are out on the street and I am dressed nicely and carrying a nice purse? Why did Dr. K. use me as an example? Why couldn't he have singled out a stranger on the street, another woman dressed nicely carrying a nice purse? Why did he have to frighten Thomas even more than he was already frightened?"

Needless to say, now whenever we are out, I am going to have to clean up the mess Dr. K. created. Thomas's anxieties run rampant and I know that his fears surrounding my well-being are very entrenched--he used to think the government was going to kidnap me because of his political beliefs. He was always scared when we were out in public that I was going to be pulled off the street into a van and taken from him. Imagine what he felt...the guilt...that his political beliefs threatened MY life. Imagine how scared he was that he could lose his mom forever. So now we make it all worse by making me a victim of a crime on the streets of a city.

So, obviously, I was not happy about that part of the session. I guess it's time for another talk with Dr. K. about how he handles Thomas with certain things. Most importantly, he must never again make me the focus of anything involving a crime or something worse equally scary. Thomas just doesn't need that. Not now. Not ever.

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