“Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of its filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfies one want, it doubles and trebles that want another way.” Benjamin Franklin
Since I was a junior in college at Valdosta State University, I have been in therapy of some kind with some therapist either male or female. It works for me and is extremely liberating, especially when I feel that my cup has run over.
The cup of emotion and turmoil has reached capacity and spills over the top. The only way to empty my cup so that more emotion and turmoil can fill it is to verbally spew it all out in a therapist’s office. I once believed that it took a special person to bond with for me to be able to unleash my demons, but as I have gotten older, all I need is a warm body and a face to look at as I talk.
Therapy helps with my anxiety, my depression, and dealing with reoccurring traumatic memories. During EMDR therapy in 2006-2008, I imagined a box to place the photographs of those traumatic memories into so that they were figuratively contained there. In addition to the memory box, I also envisioned a warm, safe place to go for relaxation and for calming during panic attacks and times of extreme anxiety.
During that process, my EMDR therapist recognized that I had created my safe place around an actual physical place. I took myself back to my twelve year old self. I wore khaki shorts, a braided belt, and penny loafers. My heavily hair sprayed hairdo moved slightly in the breeze, and I stood or sat on the bank of my grandmother and my grandfather’s pond in Roddy. I sometimes skipped round little pebbles, but mostly, I sat there with the sun on my face. This visual worked so well for me that after leaving that first day, I had lost feeling in my legs and feet because I was incredibly relaxed.
1 Timothy 6:10
My therapist warned me that my safe place shouldn’t be an actual place. I didn’t really see the harm of hanging out at the pond that year in 2006. The first nine years of my life were the most serene, loving, happy years of my life. Everyone I ever loved was still alive, and I could go “home” whenever I wanted to go. However, my safe place has become a serious emotional impediment to me in 2020. My daddy is dead, my grandfather is dead, and my grandmother is dead.
December 24, 2019, the greedy one sold my homeplace to the one who must have it all. I shall never step foot there again. Losing my safe place has ravaged my mental health. I am off kilter. I sob every day. I cry with the sadness of a young child with hiccups and deep chest heaving moments. I sob on the way to work each day. I sob on the way home from work. I sob while I bathe. I sob in my dreams. I sobbed all the way home after therapy last night.
I panic in the middle of the night, and all I see are ambulances and fires in my dreams. All of Roddy is on fire. Ambulances scream and zoom passed me. I am so young that my hair is still naturally blonde. I run down the path between their house and mine. The house is empty. The house is dark. The house is dead. I stand in Grandma and Papa’s driveway and cry for my daddy to come get me. I can see all his farm equipment and his truck, but he’s gone. He cannot hear me.
The pecan trees are ripped up and snarled heaps of roots, branches, and leaves. All that remains is me and this horrible grief. Then, I try to close my eyes and focus on some semblance of order, but then the rage over takes me. I run to the barn. I call Daddy and Papa, but I cannot even get to the back of it because there is so much undergrowth and spider webs that I cannot even get inside.
I continue to run around the barn to the back. If only I could climb the stairs and get a better look to see them. I could find them up there. The cattle corral is rotten and jagged. High grass covers the pasture, and cockleburs’ tear at my skin. The cows’ dead bodies are bloated and stink. I gag and head back to the house. I knock on the back door. It won’t open.
These dreams reoccur over and over each night. Each day, I drive every where EXCEPT by Kirkpatrick Road. I go through Yonker. I drive through Chester. I drive dirt roads home. Roddy means nothing to me anymore, yet I live there, wedged somewhere between my nightmares and my reality.
I understand now why my therapist warned me not to have a safe place that actually existed outside of my fantasies. Sometimes, I really believe I will never heal. It’s like my soul connects by deep cord coming to the ground off Kirkpatrick Rd, Roddy Georgia.
Does money and accumulation of property and power equate to happiness? Does it equate to integrity? Does it equate to prosperity? Does it equate to isolation? Does it equate to destruction of family bonds?
I have no clue how I can even rectify this damage in my heart and my mind. I heard my husband tell somebody the other day: “I think my wife’s about over it.” Well, my fakery must have drastically improved over the years.
I still make payments to my lawyer for helping me fight to save my homeplace, my safe place. My only regret is that I let him talk me into not going to court. I would have rather risked every penny I will ever have or will have ever made than live with this devastation. A few months back, I heard a rumor that the greedy one had died.
My reaction to it shocked me. I screamed at the top of my lungs. I drove my truck really fast with such thoughts of anger. I thought: he hasn’t even had time to spend the damn money that was worth more than my 200 year old homeplace. I felt sad for the person I used to believe he was.
The little girl, Jennifer, missed the big, strong uncle who I once loved. I missed the one who was loyal and wasn’t a self serving drunk. He was the one who loved his daddy and his mama. He was the one who called me “Sugar” and let me spend the night anytime I wanted. My heart ached for the uncle who drove to Roddy just to go fishing with Papa and Daddy.
I missed the one who let me play in the minnow bucket and always said, “Sugar, what you want from the store?” He would always buy we a little snack when I stayed over in Eastman. Now, he is simply the one without “a damn sentiment.” He’s just the one “who wasn’t ever close to Jimmy anyway.” A man who will turn on his own kin is certainly lacking scruples. Whatever he uses to justify his web of lies and deceit is meaningless to me. The rumor was false, but I still grieve the one I once loved. That person who I loved died a long time ago, probably sometime in the last eighties.
“He who is greedy for unjust gain brings trouble on his household, but he who hates bribes will live.” Proverbs 5:27
When will all this upheaval to my ability to sustain and to maintain proper mental health end? Simply, I must find another way to center myself. Eventually, in my personal therapy time (not my shared therapy time with other family members) I will broach this subject. I will search for other coping mechanisms. I will grieve my losses, or they will grieve me. There are some subjects that I have never mentioned in the last two years of therapy. The situation with my safe place, the lack thereof, nor my serious continued grief of my grandparents and my father have yet to be mentioned.
I don’t like to break weak in front of men. They smell weakness, and they exploit it. Somethings cannot be spoken of without tears. Tears in public make me appear weak. Ironically, I divulge so much intimate information in my blog, yet I cannot show emotion in public. Contradictions–they do exist.
Last night in my two hour therapy session, I spoke of commitment. I explained that I made a commitment to my husband, to my children, to my students. Commitment remains because feelings and thoughts are fleeting. Thoughts and feelings cannot be trusted. They are skewed and selfish. I made a commitment to myself last night that I will grieve as long as I must, but I refuse to succumb to it. I can be the one to break generational curses. I can be the one who forgives and overcomes. I shall be delivered, eventually. My safe place will become a spiritual place; a place of living waters.
"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:38
Therapy, like life, is a work in progress. It’s been over twenty years since I started my “in therapy” journey, and although I have become accustomed to it and become quite good at it, I am far from free of “stuff” to talk about and to clear. I have been blessed to have such wonderful and supportive therapists over the years, and I should have known that Chris was the “one” after we stepped inside his therapist’s office for the first time. A man who goes to therapy is a man after my own heart. 😂 Tonight before bed, I am sure he and I will discuss this post. He probably will want to know how I managed to turn a post about therapy into a long post about family strife and heartache.
Somehow I have to unwind the relationship between my therapy and my safe place. I hope Joey is ready for that discussion in January. Readers, I encourage you to work through your issues as best you can with a therapist, a good friend, or a higher power. We owe it to ourselves to leave this world better than we found it. I commit to a better me in 2021. Bless her, the woman I really want to be. Lord, help me forgive the “hired hand” and to focus on the “good Shepherd” instead.
11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,” John 10: 11-14
Jennifer Greene-Sullivan 12/17/20