A Letter To My Son’s Therapist: Sorry, Not Sorry.
To My Son’s Therapist,
I do not pay you to placate my son. I do not pay you to be his best friend. I don’t pay you to “be on anyone’s side,” not mine or his. I send him to you because he needs to talk, or I need help with something.
Autism, ADHD, Aspergers, blah, blah, blah, they are all a real bitch. And, frankly, we need some help. Hell, it’s 2014, who doesn’t?
I found a way in my budget and schedule to bring my kid to you over the past 3 years, because I thought you might be of the right frame of mind to be reasonable with someone who is otherwise quite UNreasonable about 90% of the day, not just from ASD/ADHD, but because he’s a raging, pre-pubescent, hormonal mess half the time, too.
I sat there today and listened to my kid say some pretty crazy things today. Like, shocking, weird, and completely untrue things. I also told you about some very not-so-great things he’s been doing, too. And after I shared my side, I listened to him unleash on me, in such a bizarre fashion that I half expected his head to spin 360 degrees around like he was in the newest version of The Exorcist.
I sat there and sobbed and you seemed impervious to it. A second later, you told him to apologize to me, which he did.
Great, right? He apologized. You. Are. A. Miracle. Worker.
See, the problem with apologies is that any one can say them, any one can fake their way through it. And, in my house, we do not throw apologies around like Mardi Gras beads to anyone who gives us what we want. We apologize WHEN WE REALLY MEAN IT.
You seemed so pleased with yourself that he readily apologized. Really? How long have you been a therapist? That is what made you happy today? You know what, he’s apologized in front of you before, and at home, under similar circumstances. And the crazy thing is, he goes right back to doing the same things. I no longer ask anyone in my life for apologies, and I don’t like it when others do either, because I honestly believe it should come from a place of sincerity and totally unprompted. But okay, he apologized. Bravo.
The part that really burned me tonight, besides the fact that I was vilified and dragged through the mud first, by him and then you, was that you then TOLD ME TO ACCEPT THE APOLOGY. Guess what, I am not 5. I am a grown up, 40 year old woman, who’s been a mom for almost my entire adulthood. I’m not new here. And not to be an ass about it, but you aren’t the boss of me.
You seemed floored that I said I was not going to accept the apology yet, because I wasn’t ready. I didn’t say no because I was throwing a fit or anything, but I just wasn’t ready. I also wasn’t really sold that the apology came from a place of the heart. Sorry, I call B.S. because I’ve been in the Mama Club a long time and I can call a bluff when I see one.
Here’s how it went down:
“I need you to accept his apology,” you said.
(really, lady, I mean, really?)
“I’ll gladly accept the apology when I am ready, but my heart is not there yet. I didn’t even want an apology; I didn’t ask for that, because I know it will do me no good in the end. What just happened was rough, and I am just not there yet, I am just going to ask you to respect that,” I stated.
What you said next was…odd.
“But I need you to accept his apology now because I am here now and I need to see it happen.”
To which I replied, “I don’t pay you to give my son what he wants or what you think will smooth it over, like a Band-Aid. I also don’t pay you to make you happy, like you’ve just solved this problem with a quick fix. That’s just not why I am here, to make everyone happy, especially if it’s a lie.”
You seemed quite shocked by my forthrightness and honesty. But lady, why does that not make any sense to you? I’m still beside myself. Forcing my kid to apologize and then forcing me to accept said apology is just not good medicine for anything that’s broken. It’s not a cure and it’s in no way anything for him to build upon.
You know what’s partly wrong with so many people right now? They all expect to get exactly what they want, when they want it. And they seem to think that no matter what means they go to get it, is okay, as long as they get that thing they want. Whether it’s an apology, a job, a free meal, a get out of jail free card, an A on their kid’s report card, I have been present to more horrific examples of people acting like complete buffoons because they think strong-arming people is how crap gets done, with zero thought about how that makes the person on the other end feel. But awesome, because they win, with no accounting for the loser.
Tonight two different people wanted their way: both you and my son. Sorry, I just couldn’t do it; I can’t send that message to my kid. If my kid is the last person on earth someday who is kind, nice, patient, and knows how to truly be disappointed, BECAUSE THAT IS PART OF LIFE AND HE CAN SURVIVE THAT, I am good with it.
Let’s start by both him and you being disappointed tonight. I think you are gonna be okay, and I am hoping that in some little way, I am in both of your heads, gently albeit strong-willed, letting you know that it is okay for me to know my limits, say no to things I am uncomfortable with, and that no matter what co-pay I pay for visits, I have some kind of say in what goes on in our appointments.
Maybe I am wrong, but it is a chance I am willing to take, and I am going to sleep really well tonight.
That Mom Who Says Those Things
P.S. My son is gonna survive this, and in his own time, he will apologize to me when he really means it. I am okay with waiting for that moment and it will mean so much more.