We are in a strange place right now. I think the tough talk with L has resulted in a shift. Not a seismic one, but one which suggests double scoops of ice cream at the cinema. A change which means she yells about her sister eating the chocolate bars meant for her snacks. (K’s defence that they lay untouched for, like , AGES, is understandable )
I am not sure where this place is, though. I wake in the middle of the night with a sudden realisation which I share with L over breakfast. In a further development of Harry Pottery analogies – Harry Potter and the Deathly Disorder: Help your Child Beat You Know What? – I tell L she is in the heavenly Kings Cross before going back to face the final battle. ” So, you need to be Harry, wielding the sword of Godric Gryffindor”, I conclude. “Actually , that was Neville,” adds K, helpfully. “Harry, Neville, whoever, you get the whole sword wielding stuff, though”. L nods, but still isn’t sure.
She is scared of leaving the unit, even though she often finds being there frustrating. This week is half term and while K and J sleep, L gets up, eats breakfast and leaves the house. I suggest she has a day off, but I think she is worried they want a reason to discharge her. On Thursday it is family therapy and it is suggested we have an adults only session. K is relieved, as is L. J argues to be allowed in, as an adult “I want to see Mum take that therapist down,” he complains, but is refused.
So the three of us, C, S and I sit once again in the chairs, facing the therapist. I imagined this in the angry days after the last session. But somehow telling this woman what I think of her doesn’t seem important any more. She starts off by referring to the last session, saying she and the team feel ‘curious’ about why my reaction was so strong. My hackles rise a little. But, calmly, I explain why I felt the way I did. C helps and tells her how distressing it was for everyone. She is defensive, she even denies having told me I had ‘issues’ or asking K why she didn’t prompt her father to be more assertive. “I wouldn’t have said those things,” she states, confidently. We all tell her she said exactly those things. Her face falls. She tells us she feels ‘told off’. I smile and tell her that isn’t our intention, we simply want to state how we feel.
But it isn’t a row or a fight. She listens and we listen to her. I talk about my world class capacity for self criticism and how, in fact, my reaction to the session was to help me realise that this really isn’t my fault. And S says something extraordinary. He refers to our marriage break up and how likely it is my sense of guilt was exacerbated by his behaviour towards me at the time and since. He apologises and acknowledges how brave I was and how it was absolutely the right thing to do and how much it has benefitted our children to have C in their lives and a happy mother. I thank him. C smiles.
The team from behind the screen come in and, as this is our last family therapy session we talk about how it went. The therapist is leaving and we wish her well. We thank the others for their input. It is a world away from the last time. But in so many ways and for so many reasons, we are all ready to move on. I just hope L is too.