Row Boat Man

In the Spring of 1976, I told my dad that I was thinking about quitting school. I was not asking permission. Back then, a 16 year old in Illinois could quit without parental consent, no signature required. My older sister quit every other day. Okay, just once a week, on average. She’d stomp into the school office on her way out the door, slam her books down on the counter and declare, “I quit!” And, on the very next day, mother would march her right back into the office to re-enroll.

Sis was emotional, so her quits were always in reaction to something, a tiff with a teacher or whatever. Mine was different. My quit would be an action, not a reaction. Much consideration needed to go into my decision, which is why I wanted to talk my dad. It never occurred to me that my parents may object. But, like I said, I wasn’t asking.

He did not tell me no. Dad never tried to control me, at least not in my teen years. I didn’t even have a curfew. I was expected to be courteous, to let my mother know if I would be home for supper, to call if I was going to be out late. At the most, he’d say, “think about what you’re doing.”

Oh, he did firmly ask me to stop trying to sign my sister up for the Army. That’s about as close as I can recall of him ever telling me no on anything, and that was just because they were getting tired of recruiters coming to the house. Yeah, every time my sister ticked me off, I’d fill out one of those military postcards in her name, get her a free pair of socks or whatever incentive was offered for requesting more information. Do they still do that? Maybe it was a 70’s thing. Those postcards were in about every scholastic magazine.

When I told dad that I was thinking of just not going back the next year, he knew it was my decision. I would be 16 in July. All he did was ask me why, and then he told me a story about a man in a rowboat.

Yeah, a man in a row boat. This poor sap set out to row his little boat all the way across the ocean. It was a long and perilous journey, months and months at sea. He was almost there, but he didn’t know it because he could not see the shore. Just another day or two, and he’d be there. But, he was tired, so he told himself that it’s too far away, he can’t make it, may as well give up. So, he turned his boat around and rowed all the way back.

It made a lot of sense. I already had 11 years of schooling, so what’s two more? Even if I did not graduate, I’d still have a 12th grade education.

Still, it was my decision. I opted to sign up for Graphic Arts at a vocational school for the next year to give myself a change of pace, with only a half day of High School classes. I was back in regular classes for 12th grade, as we moved to Ohio just before my senior year and Graphic Arts was not an option at the vocational school there. And yes, I graduated at age 17.

This is on my mind tonight… not exactly sure why. Maybe it explains why I don’t give up so easy, or why I hang in there far longer than I should at times. If it is a relationship, I don’t want to start over with someone new. If it’s a goal or a project, then it’s a “what if I’m almost there?” Maybe I’m just lazy. I don’t want to row my boat all the way back across an ocean.

Thanks for reading!

Ye Done

I think I am done with therapy.  The big debate question now is:  should I go to my next appointment and tell this psychologist that I’m not coming back OR simply call to cancel the appointment?

The real question is:  do I care what this intellectual type, with whom I have had serious communication problems, writes on my permanent electronic file? 

If I call to cancel, he will assume that I quit my recovery, that I am too defiant to accept help, there’s no hope for me, and all sorts of nonsense. Good psychologist, bad client.  Fact being as they are, therapy right now is a waste of time and money. 

I signed up for five sessions of cognitive behavior therapy last fall, first appointment on Halloween.  He told me on day one to look it up so I would know what to expect.  I think HE needs to look it up, as this is “talk therapy” without any clear purpose or direction. 

Okay, so my last visit was on the same day that my daughter opened a keg of worms.  I walked in baffled and confused, so I wasted my visit talking about it.  Walked out just as baffled and confused.  Then I spent a couple weeks mulling it over in my head and on virtual paper, writing endlessly only to delete. 

There was a lot of other stuff going on, July was a busy month.  I had art on display in three places, events to attend, things that had to get done, a shoulder that bailed out for a couple weeks requiring doc visits and X-rays to see if an injury had caused losing ye 70% use of that arm (it is fine now, so it was either an unknown muscle sprain or wacko nerve games, who knows? Ten days of pain and loss of use, wha la all better?  I keep telling these docs that there has got to be something else going on, the jab points and odd things that come and go.  Oh, it could be arthritis?  It is above the bad discs in my spine, which gets blamed for everything south.)  Anyway… July was a busy month for me.  By other people’s standards, maybe not… but my life goes in slo-mo because of the spinal crap.  July ended with going out of town for a wedding, doing the old auntie thing by baking a zillion cookies, then coming home to leftover cookie ingredients and nearby convienience store, a momentary lapse on the “not an option” as that is the problem, so when I went back to the doc for follow-up on the arm thing, my weight was up.  Down 75 on the day I went to the shrink, up 9 at docs on Monday, and today down 11 by my scales.  So, yeah, I screwed up but its okay.  Life goes on.

The only way to kick this binge eating disorder is to  convince myself, and maintain that conviction, that bingeing is simply NOT an option.  But it is… it always is, and that is the problem.  Like any drug or addiction, it is there.  It is my choice to make it an option.  It is me who has to say to myself: not an option, don’t do it.

Therapy did NOT help me… yes, I talked to him about what went down with my child.  I talked to everyone else, too.  Sisters, friends, my dad… so baffled and confussed to discover that my adult child was embarrassed of me.  Yes, the wild child who loved drama so much that she had huge comedy and tragedy masks tattooed on her arm has morphed into my mother, an all prim and proper lady caring about how things look as she nears the age of 30.  She was embarrassed of me.

I’m not going to get into the details of my “behaving badly in public” as that would only serve to embarrass her more. 

What baffles me is how easily she was embarrassed over something that did NOT embarrass me at all and then how mad she was, expressed later via text and phone calls over several days, and her coldness towards me on my birthday.  Oh, she sent a “happy bday” text wee early in the morning and she did say “happy birthday” when I called her late that night asking where’s my cake, I don’t get a card or nothing?  Oh yes, she was and maybe still is, really mad at me.

Maybe I should move, go live someplace else. 

Odds are that I will, repeatedly and unintentionally,  accidentally embarrass her again just by being my own damn self.  

OH WELL…  I am her mother and parents come “as is” so she best accept me “as is” and go on.   I am NOT going to play pretend by slipping on a public persona every time I step out the door, taking precious care to guard everything I do or say or simply BE or AM in a misguided attempt to avoid embarrassing my adult child.

I ain’t got it in me to do it again. 

Again?  Oh yeah…  that’s in my keg of worms, the why I can’t do it, not even for my own child. 

I’m not ready to write about it yet, partly because I became intensely aware that not all people who read things on the internet are, in a word, SANE.  Stir in anything about religion and the nutcases go off in an uproar. 

Besides, I have rambled on long enough today.