They have to Let Me In
My family is planning a gathering for the first week in September, a week which also happens to feature my sixtieth birthday. I do not believe there is a connection, because one main reason for the reunion is my brother Tom’s presence amongst us, all the way from Hawaii, with his wife, Reiko. Many people enjoy family get-togethers, and look forward to them for the most part. I enjoy them also, but I do not always look forward to them.
Much depends on the environment, in which the festivities take place, and whether it’s one of those confined, everybody-jammed-against one-another situations. It also depends on whether or not I already know the people gathering. In the case of this upcoming event, I should know the participants, because they are my siblings and respective partners/kids.
However, this particular occasion is different because it will be the first time the family has gathered since my diagnosis of MSD. It shouldn’t make any difference, right? I mean, they have to let me in; I’m fourth in the line-up. But what about others who will be there, who may not feel all that thrilled about having someone there who has, well, you know, mental issues? Everyone knows that all families have a few of them, but mostly they don’t draw much attention, unless they go off. You don’t even usually see them, because they're off in some back room.
Now, Annie says there is no reason to think that anyone will have a hard time with my being there, but she also says she understands what I am experiencing. When I think to myself that I have only talked to half of my sibs about my diagnosis, I then wonder exactly what it is I am looking for. The answer is, I don’t know, except that I cannot help thinking that there are reservations out there that have nothing to do with dinner.
When all is said and done, though, I would just settle for knowing that there was no serious degree of discomfort being experienced by anyone because of my presence. I have already made it clear to a couple of my sibs that I have to feel there are no red flags, before I could consider it a go. The only time I can do that is the morning of the event. I cannot tell in advance what kind of impediments may be present; maybe some day I will gain that ability.
For now I have six weeks to figure out how to deal with this whole arrangement, but I also have a session with Dr. Mark on this coming Thursday, so I can ask him for some guidance. One of the most influential parts of the cognitive behavioral therapy, was the section on self-talk, and negative patterns of thinking, including that of making assumptions about what people are thinking, when you have no way of knowing.
These examples of negative self-talk represent the most logical place to begin, because already I am making assumptions about what others are thinking, that are based on nothing more concrete than my own cottage cheese brain. Keeping in mind my success rate with cognitive therapy in the past, gives me a firm foundation upon which to build my current social stage. Therefore, I feel there is a good chance that I will be able to work out the logistics, so that I can not only attend the event, but that I can actually enjoy myself.