Back in Individual Therapy

It wasn’t as awkward seeing my therapist today as I’d feared it would be. She’s been away for three weeks over Christmas and it has been tough trying to deal with things on my own. I’m so glad she’s back.

I told her about the small overdose I took on Christmas Eve, and about how seeing my family at Christmas was a monumental effort as usual in the category of Acting Like Everything is OK.

What really got us talking was when I brought up what my sister said on the way over to my parents’ house on Christmas Day. Basically, she admitted that our dad used to get very drunk each year on Christmas Eve (he drank a lot the rest of the time too), and that this was upsetting. She even gave the example of the time he started crying and wandered off (I had to go after him) and we were all really worried.

This may not seem like much, so let me explain the significance for me. My family never admit that anything has ever been wrong or difficult except for my behaviour. There is an unspoken agreement that I was the cause of conflict as a child and that other than that things were fine. My sister saying this is an admission that not only were things not always fine, but also that my dad’s drinking was an issue and that his behaviour had a negative effect on us.

This has brought up a lot of confusing thoughts for me. There is a battle going on inside me about who I am and what happened when I was a kid. What feels true is what I’ve been told all my life: that I am bad and worthless and the cause of anything bad that befell me. What I am thinking now though is starting to question those feelings and beliefs of badness. My sister saying the above is the first evidence from someone else in my family that things were not right, and not just because of me. That’s huge.

My therapist said there was a shift today in the way that I spoke about my childhood and my family. I spoke more from a personal perspective and was more emotionally engaged. She was more able to understand what things were like for me growing up. It hurt very much to speak about things that way, but it is reassuring to hear that she feels I am making progress.

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10 thoughts on “Back in Individual Therapy

  1. It’s hard when you’re the “designated patient” of the family. I lived that same dynamic–not with alcoholism in particular, but other mental health issues in the rest of the family. When you grow up being blamed for everything, you take that on, and it’s hard to get rid of that way of thinking about yourself.

    But the fact that you can allow the thought that you might not be bad and everything bad might not be your fault is progress. My experience is that we have to know things like this intellectually before we can believe them on a core level.

  2. It does sound like you’re making progress. 🙂 Trying to be on your own side when your family isn’t is not easy.

  3. I come from a very similar childhood. Today, my parents have a picture perfect image of our dysfunctional family. This difference of (unspoken) opinion is one of the most difficult issues I’ve had to deal with. Recently, I came to the realisation that, yes, perhaps I did cause them a lot of trouble in my early teens, but they definitely created what they got….there was fault on both sides, I guess This chalk and cheese opinion is what keeps me from spending any time with them. I can never make peace with them over the past, but I am trying so hard to make peace with myself. Hopefully, everything else will fall into place in time.
    You are processing so much through this therapy. I hope I can be as courageous in my own MBT

    • It sounds like you blame yourself a lot too. Remember you were just reacting, trying to survive a difficult situation. Children can’t be held responsible for that. (I wish I could take my own advice!)

      Thank you for the compliment. I don’t feel like I am being courageous at all, I feel so tired and withdrawn at the moment. I’m sure you will work hard in therapy, based on how determined you seem from your blog to work on stuff. Remember there’s no wrong way to do therapy and your journey is just that. X

  4. My mother kept up the appearance of a happy family literally until the day she died. If I didn’t want to come to visit it was “my fault”, she had never done anything to hurt me. Took me a long long time to realize that verbal abuse is still abuse, and that it was OK for me to refuse to participate in it. I may have been born trans* but I wasn’t born to be abused.

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