Asking For Help
“Dr. Shapiro’s office.”
“Um… hello, uh… Dr. Shapiro, my name is Adele… I uh, I got your name from a woman who I go to church with and she says you help a lot with family therapy.” Adele began.
She was ashamed of what this stranger would soon know about her. She was scared to fall down the rabbit hole any more than she already had. She desperately wanted to hang up the phone and forget it all. Pretend that her daughters were wrong and that she was the victim of an awful injustice. But she knew she could not.
“Yes, that’s right. Are you and your family looking for a counselor?” Dr. Shapiro asked. She had been doing this long enough to recognize the sounds in people’s voices when they were broken. Something was very wrong. The woman on the other end needed help, badly.
“Uh… well it’s really just me that needs help… just me.” And then she burst into tears. She had not truly realized how alone she was until that moment and the worst part was that she was the reason. She knew she was.
Ending The Denial
“Adele, take a deep breath in for me ok?” Dr. Shapiro said calmly and she grabbed her calendar. “Let’s set up an appointment in the next few days ok?”
A weak voice responded, “Yes, please.”
They scheduled a time for the next day because luckily someone else had just cancelled. Adele felt awful but there was something new inside of her. It was a tiny ray of hope. This was the beginning of the end of all the pain. She slept poorly that night, thinking of what she would say to Dr. Shapiro and what she would think.
But of course none of the scenarios in her head actually happened. She walked into the cozy office and sat on a nice plush couch. She felt safe already and Dr. Shapiro began asking her questions, her tone was even, non-judgmental and soothing. By the end of their session, Adele had admitted out loud the abuse she had subjected her daughters to. She was surprised when Dr. Shapiro did not treat her like a monster.
She did not want the session to end because she was beginning to discover herself again but she had to face the world.
Weeks and months passed and she went regularly to see Dr. Shapiro. Her rage was replaced with understanding. It would not be right to say that she felt better or great after her therapy. No, she felt so many mixed things. But as she waded through all the memories and poor choices, as she faced the things she had done, she began to grow. She was able to recognize bad patterns in her thoughts and actions and she was able to stop them or turn them into positives. Her heart was always heavy with the burden of hurting her children. She always longed to see them but she knew that she had cause enough pain to lose them for life.
She wrestled with what to do. She wanted her daughters to know the changes she was making and that she loved them but she also did not want to cause them any more pain. It was often a topic of discussion with Dr. Shapiro who encouraged her not to do anything until she was 100% sure it was what was best for her daughters and Adele saw the merit in that.
A few years passed by. Holidays were difficult, especially after admitting her transgressions to her friends and losing some. But Melissa saw the changes in her and they repaired their friendship.
Then finally, Lily and Missy sent her a letter asking to meet when they came back to the area to visit their friends. Adele eagerly agreed but became very nervous. She had no clue what they would say or do. She did not know if they hated her. She talked with Dr. Shapiro and Melissa about it many times. They both told her to own up to her mistakes and not pressure them with any of her own desires. She took their advice and vowed to follow it.
As she sat across the table at their favorite restaurant, Adele stared at her beautiful daughters. They stared back and were obviously very nervous as well. Adele let them begin the conversation.
“Mom… we wanted to see you because we have noticed that you have respected our wishes for space. It took us both a long time to come to terms with what you did… and we didn’t know how to have a relationship with you if you didn’t change.” Missy began.
Adele just listened, not wanting to interrupt or miss a word.
“Yea, we… you hurt us so badly and for so long… I am still not sure what kind of relationship we can have…” Lily added. “But it seems like you are trying to change.” Missy and Lily looked at her and Adele spoke slowly.
The Apology And Healing
“It took me far too long to change but yes, I have been seeing a therapist for a few years now. She has helped me to face all of my mistakes and take responsibility for them within myself and with other people. I told the people in my bible study what I did… and the rest of our family… everyone who ever called you…” Adele trailed off holding back tears of shame and regret. “I am so sorry.”
Missy and Lily looked at her with pain in their faces.
“Mom… even though we don’t know what the future for us is… we still love you very much.”
A wave of warmth crashed down on Adele and soothed her broken heart. She prayed they would repair and respected the boundaries that her daughters gave her.
Little by little, their boundaries shrank and Adele had more with them than she ever thought possible. Though things were never as they could have been, she thanked god for the second chance she had.
Alexis Ali lives in New York and has a Master’s degree in Linguistics. She is a freelance writer of short stories and uses her skills to help others. “Adele’s Pattern” is her second short story series for us. Did you miss the first three parts of this series? Catch Part One, Part Two and Part Three and share with your friends across social media who might need to understand more about parental abuse and how to get help. [tweetthis]Read this very interesting story of redemption by an abusive mother! [/tweetthis]
Also, check out Alexis’ first short story series for us, “The Unfortunate Life of an Interesting Woman,” and her most recent non-fictional post, “The 2 Dreaded Questions Single Women Still Face,” here.