The last project we worked on in the mentoring group actually took about an hour. It was kind of intense.
It started with everyone closing their eyes and being asked to remember a time within the past 2 years when we were happy. A time when life was good and things were great at work and with our families. We were then asked, "Now remember a time when that happiness went away. Something cause the good feelings to go. What was it? Who was there?..."
Here was my first time accounted:
I was actually pretty happy last year. I got baptized and felt very spiritually awake. But I do remember crying last year -when I was 24. It was last fall. I was in Texas with my family because my Aunt was getting married. We had spent most of the day setting up the wedding chapel. It was around 6pm. I was getting tired. The family (my dad, my step-mom, my other aunt, my uncle, my cousin, and my sister) were discussing dinner plans.
They decided they wanted to go to a bar for dinner and drink it up. I started feeling really depressed. My thoughts ran something like:
-I just want to relax and go back to the hotel.
-If I suggested it no on would listen to me.
-I can't believe they want to booze it up.
-I feel stupid for having an issue with them drinking, but it's just like last time where I'm the weird one out and everyone else is on the same page with drinking.
It was eating away at me and I was on the verge of tears. I was deciding in my mind what I would do. The bar wasn't that far from the hotel so I figured I'd just walk over to it so I wouldn't disrupt the rest of the family from going forward with their dinner plans. The car stopped and I tapped my dad on the shoulder as we left the car. I told him my plan to walk to the hotel and he said, "You can't walk alone at night to the hotel." He rolled his eyes and said to get back in the car and he would drive me back. The my step-mom said something like "Great you're ruining dinner, now he's going to be late eating with the rest of us. It's so selfish and inconsiderate."
Then I got in the car and dad drove me back to the hotel. I cried on the way over. My dad asked me if I was having "girly issues" and I shook my head. Got to the hotel. Dad asked if I would be ok and I nodded. Went to my room and cried.
Later when my sister came back she said it was a dry bar and the alcohol level was minimum. I felt stupid acting the way that I did but at the same time I accepted that there were underlying reasons why I felt that way. I didn't hold the moment against myself, I just wished that in the future I'd handle something like that better. I felt like something was wrong with me.
The Second Account (A time between the ages of 12-20 when something ruined your happiness):
Between the ages of 12-14 my life went to hell. So it was honestly hard for me to focus on just one moment or instance. My mom and dad would argue a lot via phone and then mom would stomp upstairs to my room and yell at me. "You're dad's an a**hole!" "You know he doesn't love you right? He just wants to get back at me." "Why is he so stupid?" "Why do you care about him?"
Then of course there were the other times when she would come up and say things like, "Why can't you be more social like your step-sister? She's always going out and doing things with friends. There's more to life than just getting good grades."
From these occurrences I came to the conclusion: Mom was negative and mean and needed to be avoided at all costs. I then increasingly spent more and more time isolated in my room alone. I also decided my dad was a hero for going out of his way to spend time with my sister and I despite having to deal with our mom. I decided mom didn't know dad and couldn't understand why I cared about him.
I also decided (after a couple failed attempts of talking to the family therapist) that there was nothing I could do to change the situation. I was stuck in hell and "in the middle". I was too big of a coward to stand up to my mom because her anger frightened me too much. I felt alone. I withdrew more. I became that much more quiet.
The 3rd Account (a time between the ages of 7-12 when something ruined your happiness):
This technically happened twice by 2 different people.
#1 My dad had a guy named Tony staying at his house. Tony was in his later 30s. My sister and I would often play around and try to include him. One time when my dad was elsewhere, we were trying to play with Tony. Tony mentioned a couple times that he wasn't in the mood to play, but we weren't really listening. Then he suddenly grabbed my arm and said, "Knock it off!"
It scared the crap out of me. I was about 7 years old. I then went out of my way to avoid Tony. I never played with him again.
Then again when I was 10, my sister and I were playing with our 2 step-brothers Anthony and David. Anthony was 12 and David was about 15. At one point while we were playing together, David got tired and shoved me aside and said, "I'm done playing! Go away!"
Again it startled me. I then decided it wasn't safe to play with David. In fact that was around the time I decided to "grow up" and stop playing around all together. I would then tell my sister to go play with somebody else because I wasn't in the mood anymore. She was 7 at the time.
From these instances I concluded: Guys in general -but especially older men were not playful and could be harmful. I decided it wasn't safe to be "free spirited" around guys or newer people. I decided playing around was immature and should not be done.
The Last Account (A time between the ages of 3-6):
I was about 3. I was at the beach with my dad and my sister. I was playing in the surf when suddenly a big wave came and carried me out to sea. I remember being tossed around a lot and swallowing a lot of water. I thought I as going to drowned. Then the next thing I remember I was lying with my face in the sand on the shore. I got up crying and ran to my dad. His response to me was, "Well what did you think was going to happen."
I think I unofficially decided that the people you think are going to protect you, might not. The world isn't as safe a place as you'd think. New experiences can be dangerous. I was stupid/naive for trusting the world and not "knowing better".
At the end of this session we were asked to list the "Character" we had created for ourselves. The names we had called ourselves throughout the years.
My names have been: Coward, stupid, naive, immature...
The of course after the session I remembered a whole lot of other names that I've called myself before:
- "Interesting But Insignificant"
Our new objective for next meeting is to come up with new, positive Characteristics to call ourselves.
New names I (have called and) will call myself: