As a school assignment, we were to give a presentation about the reasons why we wanted to be a therapist. I, of course, decided to write a monologue about my life and how it led to me being in a classroom learning skills to become one. However, as the weeks progressed and my monologue became more personal, I decided that I was not ready to share. Instead I gave a presentation using family photos that showed a glimpse into my personal life. I concluded by saying that I wanted to be a therapist for my family. Funny, how I almost convinced myself that this was the truth.
Through the process of looking at my childhood, adolescence, and adult life, I discovered just how much of my past I had been running from. I do hope everything makes sense. Thank you.
In order to understand why I want to be therapist, I had to reflect back.
I thought of when I was a kid and how I constantly heard my mom get yelled at by my dad.
I remember how she just stood there, took it all, and begged him to stop drinking.
I thought about when my dad drank, his anger, and the pain I felt when he hit me and my older brothers.
I remember my older brothers, the drugs they took, them getting locked up, and taken away.
I thought about how alone I felt, the bad thoughts in my head, and how scared I was of someone finding out.
As a child, I wanted to escape my family.
But those thoughts of hanging and drowning myself became unbearable.
Instead, I decided to separate myself from my family. That way their problems were no longer mine.
My older brother wasn’t schizophrenic. He faked all the voices he heard in his head. And just for attention, he lost those twenty pounds. Barely slept. Never showered. He stunk so bad from not cleaning himself after going to the restroom that my dad forced him into the bathtub, yelled at him, and threw water on him until he was clean. Slowly his screams faded. He never learned his lesson.
My other brother, I hated him. His promises and his lies. The last real conversation I had with him was when we were both outside staring at the clouds and he turned to me and told me that things were only going to get worse from there on. This was before the meth. Before he got locked up for breaking into an empty house to sleep in when my dad finally decided to kick him out. Before the drugs messed with his head so much that he could barely speak in complete sentences.
At the age of fourteen, I convinced myself that they deserved it. We stopped talking soon after.
Years later when both were deported, I was too focused on school to care. And when one of them went missing, I was too concerned with moving to San Francisco to pursue a degree in a field that helps people that he never crossed my mind. And when I graduated, I was too obsessed with finding the right job that I had forgotten to visit the remaining one. And when I got the job, I was too stressed out to notice that he needed my help.
At the group home, I worked most days and long hours. Heard all these tragic stories by clients. I thought I was making a difference.
Then one day, a client ran away and I ran after her. I didn’t mind her cursing at me or the fact that I was running into traffic. I needed to save her. We ran far until she eventually got tired and decided to lie on the grass. She turned to me and asked why I didn’t just leave her. Nobody wanted her and nobody cared. I stood there silently. As she began to cry, I thought about how alone she felt. Her life full of pain. How much she reminded me of my older brothers. All her life she struggled with abuse. At the age of eleven she started using drugs. At thirteen she was arrested. And at fourteen she was sent to the group home. Before she ran away, she was told that she needed to stay there a few months longer because she was caught using drugs again. She told me she felt stuck and just wanted to be home and see her family. As I looked back at her, I finally said that I cared for her and the only thing that mattered in that moment was her. She began to cry again, but a few minutes later she stopped. A staff came and we were able to get her to return back. The next day she thanked me for running after her and to let me know that I was fast as hell. I smiled. Weeks later she relapsed and months later she ran away again. I will never know what happened to her or if I ever made an impact.
So why do I want to become a therapist?
Because of the guilt. Because I convinced myself that if I help others, it will ease the pain of not helping my older brother’s. But it won’t. And I will continue to search for that missing void in my life. And it will hurt. But in time, I will learn to let go. Learn that not all the things I experienced were my fault. I know that’s not the healthiest reason. Or a good one. But that’s the truth. And perhaps, that’s what that assignment was all about.
Here’s a link to the audio version of my post. Thank you for all the support.