Define: “Okay.”

I see a shrink twice a month to tell me that I’m essentially, okay.

This is simply a place for understanding and objectivity. I can be depleted, poorly-wrought and hypercritical of myself and everything around me. I can be exuberant, curious and steamed for cosmic suppers with John Milton, Christopher Hitchens and Frank Herbert (my choice companions) in which this particular therapist delights in shepherding. It’s been just over a year that I’ve been visiting. To what end? Defining ‘okay’ vs. ‘not okay’ and refusing to negotiate over the latter.

Truths are always insultingly simple.

I’d seen two shrinks prior to this one and both were either out-of-touch or disinterested to the point that their professional suggestions were mere breathing exercises. I felt insulted on both accounts. I believe that therapy is solely designed for a person’s experience in vulnerability and I get rather indignant in the presence of cellphones. Having undergone those two trial-sessions, I was particularly skeptical for my third approach. When we discussed my desired outreach into hypnotherapy and her scholarship with incomprehensible toddlers, I assured myself that the third was the charm and yes, I was doing the right thing.

Define: “Not Okay”

My original commitment for help was a series of life-events that largely revolved around my daughter. I am an unwitting mother. I think more mothers need to admit that we’re all ill-equipped for progeny. Bonding with like-minded people is the only way to survive the narcissistic sociopaths done incubated and terrorizing every waking hour. At that time, the middle of 2015, I didn’t think I was going to survive and the ‘ideation’ of truncating my life was more than prevalent. My daughter suffered. My mother suffered.

Even thinking of suicide made a hypocrite of me. I was a devout social Darwinist; survival of the fittest in our society required tenacity, self-education and a bit of actualizing for any measure of success to be fruitful. Feeling as though I were playing a hand of Texas Hold’Em and short a card wasn’t enough, an unplanned pregnancy left me reeling in a world of predictable outcomes… none of which I liked. I liked her father just fine and we made an odd pair of dallying idealists, but once his skin was shed and my scalping begun, I was literally pulling my hair out by the roots. Words failed. Violence prevailed. My black-eyed, blonde-haired child was the impetus for many things, but her welfare at his hands made a zealot out of me and my intuitively-driven parenting. He was removed. I remained and I was not okay.

For the sake of her not having an identity online before she is able to consent, I’ll refer to her as Ophelia. Ophelia was deviously determined at an entirely unacceptable age. I recognized her aggression as my own and saw spite as the cause for all of the things she’d destroyed as a baby-toddler. I still see it in her. She’s more creative about her impulses these days, but she is no less stubborn. While this kind of determination is remarkable in an adult, shepherding a child with these traits is nothing less than a battle of will. On a daily basis, a fifteen-month old toddler was outwitting me and sapping any strength remaining from health-crisis after health-crisis with my only living parent.

I was losing that battle in 2015.

Thusly, therapy turned into play-dates in her office with a garden-bench filled with sand. The therapist is unique in her field. Her specialty with traumatized youths and their despairing parents make for insight I sorely needed, but her own breed of curiosity offered neurological explanations as well. She spoke of self-care, grace and forgiveness. She continues to tell me the exceptional circumstances that created Ophelia were largely despite my “better” self, the rationale self. That all of this was necessary in order to provide the best possible care to a terminally ill mother and in turn, re-purpose my care-taking when the time came.

Which is true. Bringing Ophelia into my haphazard, desperate universe breathed life back into ‘magic grandma.’ It also posed the single most important question I’ve asked myself: what of ‘legacy’?

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