After my carpet-burned belly incident, I browse online for the name of a good psychologist. One that specializes in childhood trauma.
My first fifty-minute session with Dr. Vee flies by as I hurriedly recount the past 20 years.
My parents had an affair in 1980.
My Father lied to my Mother about having a vasectomy.
Then he brutally forced my Mother to carry me once she became pregnant.
While they were both married with children.
My Father moved my mother in with his family. Not pretty.
She abandoned me after he threatened her life multiple times.
Everyone considers me to be his property. Even she does.
I’m afraid of him.
He’s threatened my life countless times.
I know my fear is not irrational.
I can’t go on like this anymore. What now?
I watch Dr. Vee scribble furiously on a legal pad propped against his knee. Offer him some proof. “Next time, I could bring you some of the letters he’s written to me…if that would help?”
“Sure. That would be very useful. It was a pleasure to meet you, Jenny. I’ll see you in a week.”
During our second appointment, Dr. Vee reads Dad’s letters while I sit across from him on a velvety mushroom hued sofa. I fidget with the pillows to distract myself from the anticipation. Please, please let him recognize that Dad is crazy. Don’t let him be fooled like every teacher, friend, and warm body who thought he was god’s gift as a single father. Just let one person understand…
“Well, Jenny, after reading these letters, my diagnosis of your Father is that he’s a psychotic-schizophrenic-paranoid-narcissist.”
Yes! He understands! Wait, he’s what? That’s even worse than you thought…
Dr. Vee stares at me intently. “People, like your Father, with this particular combination of mental illnesses, they are usually very dangerous. I want you to be very careful—particularly in confronting him.”
I take my first breath since Dr. Vee’s diagnosis. “Yes. I’m glad someone finally understands what I’ve been coping with for twenty years. Believe me, I have always been cautious around him. A few weeks ago he let himself into our apartment without knocking. The next day, my fiancé changed the lock. Before that, we got into a fight over the phone—which by the way, I’m sick of talking to him five times a day—and he threatened to kill me because I don’t believe in his predictions or whatever. This has to end!”
“Jenny, I understand your frustration here. I want you to know that I don’t see any qualities in you that are like your Father. You understand what happened to you very deeply, and you’re far more normal than you might realize. Next time we will discuss the possibility of limiting contact, or cutting ties completely. Though I caution you, that can be a very difficult thing to do, psychologically.”
After wringing my hands the whole session, I rise from the couch and sling my purse over my right shoulder. “Thank you, Doctor. This is going to help me. I’m so glad I came to see you.”
As I make my way across the narrow hall, and down two flights of stairs, I feel lighter somehow. Progress! You can do this…you can face your fear. Just you wait until next week, Doctor Vee.