Scene 1 - Therapist’s Office
My session with Laura went quite well. She was a straight-A student and appeared to be more aware of herself than most young women her age. The way she dressed appeared to be more of a boundary setting issue with her mother than anything else. Although, she did possess a definite artistic streak that I found rather interesting. Still, her appearance screamed for a separate identity than the one her mother wanted her to assume.
“Does it hurt?” I had to ask. “The one on your tongue.”
“Not really. Sometimes when I chew - food pushes on it, but you learn to work around it.”
I just couldn’t imagine anything being worth this kind of disruption to my body - but then again every generation endured something their parents found questionable from corsets to beehive hairdos to stiletto heels.
We talked for the rest of the session about all sorts of topics and it was clear that Laura knew who she was, what she wanted and how to get it. She didn’t need therapy - she needed to be treated like the responsible adult that she clearly had become.
I flashed to what Dana would look like in five years and wondered if she would be sitting across from a therapist, trying to separate from an overbearing mother.
Reality check - can’t let this happen!
I suddenly had a stark insight into how I should deal with my daughter from now on and made a mental note to start doing so immediately.
Scene 2 - Therapist’s Home
Dana and her father talked for more than an hour the other night and she stayed in her room after that. I heard her go to the bathroom later on but left her alone. I didn’t see her again until after work the next day.
To my surprise she had dinner waiting when I arrived home. Store-bought pizza and ready-to-eat salad never looked so good.
“Wow! This is really nice,” my response was genuine. It was the first time we had sat down to eat together in more than a week. Something I missed - dreadfully so.
I reached for my water as Dana sat down across from me.
“I talked with Dad last night.” She kept her eyes on her plate.
“How did that go?” I tried to keep my tone neutral.
She looked up to measure my response. “Great.” She took a generous bite of pizza. “Really great.”
I felt she was holding something back.
“He asked me to come visit this summer.”
“Is that something you want to do?” I reminded myself this was for her and not for me. My stomach still turned upside down, the pizza I had swallowed threatening to come back the way it went in.
“I think so.” Her stare locked with mine, her eyes pleading with me to understand, not be mad and still love her.
“That’s great, honey.” I mustered as much enthusiasm as I genuinely could, grabbing my water and swallowing to force the pizza in the right direction.
“You mean that, mom?” I flashed back to when she was much younger and shared her love with me so easily.
“I really mean that.” And, I really did.
I finally did.
Scene 3 - Therapist’s Office
“I did it.”
I looked up to see Regina raise an eyebrow. She knew what I meant. She just wanted to make me to say it out loud - to own it.
“I called Dana’s father –“
”Ahem!” Regina’s interjection made me pause.
“Okay, my ex –“
”Ahem!” She wasn’t going to cut me any slack. None at all.
“Okay, Richard! Are you happy now?” I knew she was my friend and was doing the right thing by me, but boy was it pissing me off right now.
“I’m happy - are you?” Regina’s southern drawl always made everything sound so innocent.
“No damn it, I’m not!”
I didn’t have an answer. I nearly jumped up from the chair as I escaped to the other side of the room and fled to the window - my sanctuary.
“Center, Georgia. Center.”
Regina’s voice was calm as she talked me down off the ledge I had perched on. She was right, as usual. I needed to center. I needed to get back to my authentic self and not respond from the negative energy that was now consuming me. Fear and anger were such powerful emotions and usually worked against me.
“So, when are you going to start living your life?” Her voice cut through my silence and inner turmoil.
I took a deep breath and turned towards my mentor and current tormentor.
“Who says I haven’t.”