The week after I finished my CBT course I only spent three out of four nights at home, the rest of the time I was either walking the streets or curled up in a ball in the back seat of my car. Despite that it was quite a productive week – I even managed to sack a useless psychologist.
Halfway through the course I informed my mother that my depression stemmed from emotional deprivation during childhood, and that her depression during that time played a significant role in that. As expected she was quite teary upon hearing the news. I gave her some of the handouts that I had been given from the course for her to read over the weekend, and she seemed happy enough with that. However the handouts weren’t terribly application to my situation – they talk a lot about relationships whereas in my case I have been unable to form a basic friendship throughout my life (well, since my depression started anyway).
The day after the CBT course had finished I caught up with my mother and she handed me back the handouts. The worst thing I can think of apart from depression is to have caused somebody else’s depression. I hate the fact that my upbringing resulted in this outcome, but I don’t want to hold a grudge against my family either. As my mother explained her depression to me in more detail it became painfully obvious what effect it had on me.
During the period from when I was around 12 – 20 months my own mother does not remember me. She can recall my elder sisters, her husband, and everything else that went on, but she can’t remember me ever being there. I presume I was fed, but other than that nobody seems to have any answers. My sisters have blocked that part of their memory out and they don’t know what happened during that time. It’s sad to think that a mother would become so depressed that she has no memories of her child at that age.
My own memories don’t paint a pretty picture either. I have vague images of a house before my mother’s depression and then it becomes hazy until several years later.
[I began listing other issues pointing toward my depression in childhood before I stopped myself. I’m not dwelling on that right now. My memories are incomplete and my understanding of that time is limited. I write this blog for myself, but even I can’t be bothered dwelling on all that stuff]
Overall my mother took the news quite well, and I explained to her that I understand she couldn’t control the circumstances of my childhood. It just turned out that way. However my mother isn’t the real problem in this, my father is. While my mother suffered from depression in my childhood my father has been emotionally distant from my entire family ever since I’ve known him. And being the same sex parent he makes up a big chunk of my emotional deprivation.
I knew that in handing that information over to my mother my father would have read it as well. The only conclusion he can reach from that information is that he failed me as a father, except I’m sure he realised that the day I tried to kill myself.
It took another week after my meeting with my mother until I confronted my father. I was trying to delay it for as long as possible because he has had a few issues with his own mother being moved into a nursing home. I wanted to plan the confrontation carefully, but realising that I would probably break down midway through I decided it was best if I just stick to some key points. I would forget everything I had planned once the tears began flowing. I came up with the following ground rules for confronting my father,
– I am not responsible for my parents issues
– I am not responsible for raising my sisters, nor should they have been made responsible for raising me as the result of the emotional neglect of my parents
– I have the right to be hurt and angry at my emotional neglect
– I am not blaming my parents for their issues, nor do I intend to let the emotional neglect of my childhood sour our future relationship
– I am not seeking revenge, I am moving on
That, along with two loosely memorised paragraphs, was all that I prepared for my confrontation with my father. As an adult I can understand the pain my father must have been going through. To know that your only son, at the age of 24, is going to tell you sometime in the next week that you have failed both him and his family must be an extremely heavy burden to carry. In your retirement, after having sacrificed almost all your time with your family, to work and provide for them, only to have them tell you that you failed throws your entire life into question.
Honestly, my greatest fear in confronting my father was that he would commit suicide after the meeting – and I mentally prepared myself for such a situation. However I highly doubted that this would be new information for him, and if he hadn’t seen this coming then he would have failed on a far greater magnitude than I first thought.
[There is no way I could eloquently describe the meeting itself. I owe my father that much respect]
After the meeting I left my parents house quietly. He had taken it extremely well in as much as he did not break down as I expected him to – he was rather stone faced at times. Nothing I told him was a surprise, and while I was able to say most of what I had planned I downplayed the neglect of my siblings more than I intended. In the end it didn’t feel right for me to speak on their behalf. I can only go on what I know and what I feel.
All in all last week was probably an important step in my recovery from depression, though I wish I could have put it more elegantly. It feels like such a waste to let an important week get recorded when you are extremely tired and emotionally exhausted.
Anyway I’m moving on, but to what I don’t know. I have no emotional support, no social network, limited motivation and nothing to do, but at least I have helped alleviate other people’s pain somewhat – even if it means starting all over again.