Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Grateful Witness

I just scheduled our eleven-year old daughter Katie's last appointment with her therapist. She's made such an improvement this year that he sees no reason for her to continue cognitive therapy on a regular basis. I feel like we need some sort of graduation ceremony to celebrate.

It's been an enlightening journey. My own mental health care as a child was pretty shitty. I never graduated from therapy. I'm a therapy drop out. I'd go for a bit and then I quit going after I felt like it was unhelpful or pointless. I tried several therapists for over three decades, but I never felt like I was getting the help I needed. 

Seven years ago, after much self-help reading (Dr. Harriet Lerner's books are the best, but all in all Dr. Linda Bacon's book, Health at Every Size, saved my life) and introspective, expressive blogging, I quit seeing my latest in a long line of therapists. Not because she thought I was ready to go it alone, but because I couldn't justify paying her thousands of dollars when I felt more relief from expressing myself on my free blogger account.

Still, I've never had the feeling of closure from therapy that my daughter is about to experience. I'm so happy for her. And a tad jeal--no, not jealous. Wistful. But mostly, immensely proud.

It's not perfect, but our society's treatment of people with mental illness has improved an incredible amount in my lifetime. Surely my daughter's journey will be filled with ups and downs, but her sights will hopefully always stay focused forward. I remain, as always, a grateful witness.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

My Dad, the Cat Guy

I took my 90 year-old dad shopping for some pants this morning. When I arrived to pick him up, I was greeted by his pet cat.


This is the man who told my sister that he could never move in with me because of all my pets. I only have three dogs and one cat. I'm not like some animal hoarder or something. It's so annoying. I don't even want the old man to move in with me--I was just being nice when I offered, so my sister wouldn't get stuck taking him in. Again. And still, it hurts my feelings that he won't graciously accept my offer of our spare bedroom. 

I was just kidding when I said he had to share the room with our cat. We don't confine our feline to any small space. She comes and goes, inside or outside, as she pleases. As most cat lovers know, what pleases Kitty pleases the whole family.

Dad's no cat lover, but when I pulled into his driveway and saw the cat on his front porch, it made him look like he's at least kinda a cat guy. When the eff did Dad become a cat guy? This is the man who, when I was a teen, allowed us to have a cat who wasn't allowed anywhere but the basement. Although I don't recall his actually saying it, it was just a known fact: dad hates cats.

"I thought I knew you," I said inside my head. "Who are you and what have you done with my father?"

I got out of the car to help dad walk down the steps from his front porch. The cat ran to me and let me pet it. A friendly cat! I may or may not have squealed in delight.

Me: "You have a cat?! How on earth did that happen?"

Dad: "Well, it's Joyce's cat really."

Joyce is my dad's housemate. She gets her way a lot more than I recall my own mother getting hers back before they finally divorced after 22  years unhappily married.

Me: "Well, it's rubbing its head on your legs, so I think it thinks it's your cat, Dad."

Dad: "Yeah, it likes to get hair on my pant legs. It stays outdoors, but we feed it and all."

Me: "But how? I thought you don't like pets."

Dad: "Well, it just showed up one day after the neighbors moved out. It kinda goes between our house and the other neighbor's house."

Dad shrugged. 

Like he's just some kind of shrugger, now. The grumpy, temper-tantrum throwing guy I grew up with has mellowed in his old age. I like this guy, after all these years. My dad, the cat guy.