Blog / News from Bob

I’m the Elder Now

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Date : October 14, 2017

When I think about the men and women who were mentors or role models in my life, I feel sad and regretful. My father died when I was fifteen and I am sixty-six now. He and I were going through a difficult period that many teens and their dads go through. My relationship with him was also affected by the brain changes that occurred when he experienced TIAS (small strokes). His behavior and mood became erratic.

After my dad’s death, I encountered adults who were my teachers and bosses at work. I don’t know what I was looking for or if I was seeking connection, validation or love. I was guarded and didn’t trust others and the relationships I had with these adults caused a deepening lack of trust.

My mother was going through her own grieving process and couldn’t be there for me.

I had bosses who tried to teach me about the reality of life. One boss told me that I should strive to be an assistant manager of a movie theater like him. The theater door man whose job was to sit on his ass and take tickets from customers advised me to follow his tired footsteps.

Mostly I felt that adults saw me as a disabled child because my father was taken from me at a young age. All this pity resulted in no reaching out or empathy. Perhaps they got the message from me that I was not interested in their help. I’m certainly not ruling that out, but no one seemed to make the extra effort to care and that contributed to my low self-esteem, anxiety and endless angst.

I was lost and wandered around in a fog much of the time. I needed intense healing, but had no awareness of what I needed and didn’t trust anyone’s advice.

My male teachers were mostly indifferent to me and just let me float in and out of class. My speech teacher had a reputation of being a notoriously difficult grader and my whole grade was based on a fifteen-minute speech that I got a B minus on. He noted that I did a respectable job on the project, but never served as a mentor or seemed really interested in my life after the class was over. Again, I had no idea of what I needed or what I expected from adults in terms of closeness.

My English teacher in tenth grade was a woman who took me aside one day and told me that she believed that I could be a solid B student. I remember dismissing what the teacher said because she didn’t say that I was an A student. I guess stating I was a B student made me feel if the best I could do was a B, there was no sense in trying. For some reason this was a deflating experience, not uplifting.

My high school grades were mostly in the D-F range. My tenth grade Spanish teacher invited us to her apartment after school hours. During school hours she yelled at me one day and I kicked a trash can across the room. I was suspended from her class for a week and she was fired at the end of the year.

I was a cook, server, dishwasher and all-around utility guy in the local restaurant. I worked there almost three years. There were two male bosses who hated each other. They tried to convince me I should be loyal to only one of them. This experience felt like I was a child in a high conflict divorce except these men were business partners who despised each other. At times, while screaming at me for some infraction like giving back too much change, they told me that they considered me a son. I didn’t consider them as fathers. They were both liars, thieves and hardcore racists. I lived on cigarettes and Coca-Cola while working there 30-40 hours a week while attending high school making the minimum wage of $2.25 per hour.

After I left New Jersey for college in Kansas, I never thought about them with any sense of warmth or fond memories.

This lack of role models led me to depend totally on myself. While I was extroverted, had many friends and talked to them about personal issues, I didn’t feel that they could really help me deal with confusion, loneliness and worry.

Then I met Lavya Meadows who was the mother of my wife Gail. There were tense moments when she and I engaged in power struggles, but I knew that she had my back and not only loved me, but thought I was smart. She told me that she knew I would be a good partner for her daughter. She was the first adult to demonstrate unconditional love. Before I met her, I had no idea what that term meant. It means loving someone without caring how or if that love will be reciprocated.

I am now an elder and want to help younger folks feel good about themselves. I want to be there for my nieces, nephews and other young people seeking my wisdom. I want to tell them how amazing they are in a sincere way; not empty platitudes. I want to be a beacon of non-judgmental guidance. I want to help them discover their own truths. Their truths may not be mine, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I remember older people telling me when I was a boy that they knew more than I did because they had been alive longer than me. I don’t believe this myth and never want to utter those words. I believe that younger folks know things that I am not aware of. I want them to feel free to challenge me on any issue. I want to shower them with unconditional love.

Click here for information about Redemption of the Shattered: A Teenager’s Healing Journey through Sandtray Therapy.

Written by

Bob utilizes his life experiences as well as professional ones to connect and assist with clients. Bob holds a Masters Degree in Social Welfare that he earned at the University of Kansas in 1979. His California License number is LCS 11087.He has been featured in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Miami Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The Hartford Courant, Natural Health Magazine, The Library Journal, Grand Magazine, Lee’s Summit Journal and Womansday.com. He is an expert on the Oprah/Dr. Oz owned Sharecare.com and he is a frequent contributor to the highly regarded Mentalhelp.net.

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