Chapter 9, Part 7: Solo Therapy, and the End of the Long Summer of Terror 2.0
So let me start off by saying that I’m really not into therapy. I dislike talking about myself to start with, and I generally operate under the principle of I’d rather be happy than perfect. But in this case I was less than happy after Bratty’s arrival in our home and I needed to do something to alleviate the anxiety I was feeling.
So going into my first therapy appointment, my mind was racing and I was nervous. The therapist was immediately comforting and that put me at ease. As we got into why I was there, I started talking about Bratty, her messiness, and her being home a lot. Funny for someone who doesn’t like talking about herself, once I got going it was hard to shut up. The frustration had built up and now all the words were just racing out of me. It was helpful to even just say some of the things out loud.
After a couple of individual sessions, the therapist noted that SO and I were not on the same page regarding our home. It may have seemed that way, but it was not the reality. Nothing would improve until SO and I sat down, agreed what our rules were, then SO needed to enforce them. No making excuses or minimizing concerns. So that was one of my big homework assignments. We also talked about my feelings about Bratty as a person. How it was uncomfortable for me and I felt like I was on eggshells all the time since Bratty really never spoke much to me. The therapist suggested we try and do things together (the three of us) but that I also take initiative and spend time with Bratty myself.
After getting home, SO asked me how it went. I said it was enlightening but we should talk in a couple of days after I had time to think about it. We did and it still made me very emotional as I told SO how it made me feel unimportant to him when he trivialized my concerns. He listened carefully and said he understood and wanted to do better. We ended up agreeing on some clarifications to our house rules, such as Bratty needed to clean her day’s dishes by 4 pm each day so I didn’t come home to a full sink. Also we agreed that I would try and find some things for Bratty and I to do together.
I felt a lot better having a plan, and SO stepped up over the rest of the summer. He did take better charge of Bratty and enforcing house rules. Bratty mostly kept up with the new rules once SO was clear about them – I came home to a clean sink, closed doors, a clear driveway, no messes, and a clean upstairs bathroom.
As SO worked on keeping his end of the deal, I worked on mine – I found events and activities that I thought Bratty would like and invited her to go. A couple of times she said yes, a couple of times she said no thanks. I would usually go for a walk after work when I came home, and would ask Bratty if she wanted to join me. Same result – sometimes yes, sometimes no. Often she was still quiet and I had to force a lot of the conversation. Except for one day, when Bratty decided to accompany me on a walk and she mentioned that a couple of high school friends had invited her out to dinner and bowling. She said she wanted to go bowling (they had some free coupons) but didn’t want to spend money to eat out (Bratty is REALLY cheap about spending her own money). I had prepped a casserole for dinner and knew it was more than enough food, so I suggested she invite her friends over for dinner. Bratty immediately lit up – she was so excited. Her friends (who seemed very nice) came over and had dinner outside in our yard and SO and I stayed inside and ate separately. I had to admit it was nice seeing Bratty happy and behaving like a normal kid, for once. Bratty even sent me a lovely email the next day thanking me for letting her invite her friends over, and telling me what a wonderful time they all had.
At this point, I was feeling a lot of relief. Things seemed to be going much better. I was still a bit stressed but now confident that SO and I would be fine. I stopped seeing the therapist.
Of course, the road to stephell has its ups and downs. Looking back, that was as up as it ever got, which is partly why I felt such disappointment when the relationship ultimately devolved. Our next chapter finds Bratty back at school and considering her career options. Meanwhile SO makes a big overstep that led to a big-@ss fight between us…