This entry is about another aspect, another important storyline within what I call the Lost Decade. I had tried very hard to convince my parents that the time I lived at the house on Canton Drive was vitally important. Even though I was unable to explain it completely, in many ways because it impacted them and revealed some dark secrets about our family, I tried to do so while maintaining some integrity and not embarrassing them too much.
Soon after I had settled in at Palm Court Apartments, my folks were adamant that we begin family therapy. My apparently strange behavior at the time was a large part of what precipitated this decision. My parents were very upset with Leora at this time, too. My mother told me she blamed my sister for confusing me: that what they saw as irrational behavior from me was her fault. In retrospect, what seemed like a great idea was fraught with pitfalls.
The four of us would go to Barbara Baron’s office for group sessions and both my mother and sister could also do individual sessions with her. What might seem like a type of conflict of interest was presented as a means of sorting through a very complicated family dynamic. One of the things Barbara tried to get all of us to acknowledge, and get away from, is “triangulating.” To try to simplify that term, triangulating is when two or more family members play one family member against another. It is also a way of describing a way two or more family members team up against another. We had been doing it for a long time and breaking that pattern would take a great deal of effort from all of us.
After one of our early sessions, I remember going to dinner with my parents. My sister had some place to be that evening and did not go with us. Soon after we sat down, and we were still discussing what had transpired in that session, my Mother extended her hands toward my Dad and me and the three of us held ands. Neither of my parents said anything and this was not a normal gesture for us. Considering the context of the conversation, and what I knew and had shared with my Mother months before, I understood this gesture to mean we would and should work together and not let my sister instigate any conflicts between us. It was meant to symbolize the three of us should trust each other, and not let these bonds fail. What these early sessions revealed was how consistently irrational my sister is. How she consistently lies. How she consistently blamed the rest of us for what was wrong. How she consistently did everything to irritate us to becoming extremely agitated. We were supposed to remember how calm, harmonious, rational, and in agreement the three of us could be together.