Too late to help my mother

When it comes to getting and staying on the road of happiness, you may be ignorant, so was I.

You may be frightened, so was I.

You may be depressed, so was I.

However, I was more tense and anxious than suspicious and depressed.

I bit my nails until my early teens and my palms would sweat at the damndest times till I was about thirty.

At best you may be bored, so was I.

Or you acted out your role and never felt much of anything. I was there too.

You may know that you are not happy but do not know why. I felt that way too.

You might be carrying around with you two big secrets, either “I am not loveable and/or I am not good enough.” They were my secrets and, by the way, the secret thoughts and feelings of most people that enter my process.

You might feel there must be a better way to live, but do not know the way. I was there too. My mother was there too. I found the better way. I was too late to help my mother.

My mother never did find the better way.

As she lay slowly dying she said to me, “Life is either a joke or cheat. I’d like to think it was a joke, because I’d hate to think I was cheated.”

As she was being buried, I shed two tears, one for each thought.

I thought, “I’m sorry mother that you died before you lived. You existed and struggled for 77 years, but you never lived. You never enjoyed life the way nature (or God, if that is in your belief system) meant it to be. You never enjoyed life the way I know now life to be. You were cheated”.

I shed a second tear as I thought, “I am also sorry you never got to know me, I’m really very lovable.”

Written by Daniel Casriel, MD

Daniel Harold Casriel, M.D., born in New York City on March 1, 1924, was an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and writer. He was a past president of the American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians. He founded the Daytop treatment centers. Casriel died on June 7, 1983 at the age of 59 from a form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). After graduation from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine at age twenty-five, Casriel began his residency at the Kingsbridge Veterans' Administration Hospital. Less than a year into his residency, he was drafted and sent to Okinawa where he served as an Army psychiatrist. Beyond shaping the field of addictions treatment and psychotherapy, Casriel profoundly influenced the launch of relationship education. His intensive couples workshops for Lori Heyman Gordon's Family Relations Institute in Northern Virginia provided the framework for what emerged into the range of PAIRS' relationship education seminars and trainings that have touched millions of lives. Casriel popularized the theory that the "emotion of love" comes from the anticipation of pleasure. Based on Casriel's theory, "bonding," which he defined as "the unique combination of emotional openness and physical closeness with another human being," is central to sustaining healthy, intimate relationships. Casriel taught that symptoms of bonding deprivation include: "illness, fatigue, depression, rigidity, constriction, isolation, and the range of anti-social behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, gambling and sex addictions." Casriel considered bonding a biologically-based need similar to the need for food, water, air, and shelter, yet unique as the only biological need people cannot meet for themselves.

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