I had therapy session #2 yesterday. It got a little emotional which I wasn't exactly ready for. I think I tell myself I'm okay and "over" stuff when I guess its pretty evident I'm not. I associate most of my issues with my father. But, it was interesting to learn I have maybe more issues or resentment towards my mother.
I explained a lot of scenarios to Zoe (the therapist). She's good in the way that she lets me talk for about 45 minutes of our session and the final 5 she gives me her input. Its never a, "you have to" do this or that kind of talk but more of a, "what you're telling me is...," and, "what I'm hearing is...." kind of scenario. So the final five minutes wasn't so much of the, "your dad's an ass," as it was, "you're resentful and angry at your mother for allowing him to do that to you. You need to stop helping her and start helping yourself." Wow.
She went on to explain that as children we aren't supposed to be the ones helping our parents. (At least not til they are old and sickly.) Not to say it doesn't happen but parents have children to raise and help them. Usually, if a child is "helping" a parent prior to that its because the parent isn't strong enough to do so on their own. At the point where a child realizes a parent needs help, its usually too late or the parent is so set in their ways they won't change. I have to agree, at least in my situation. My mom isn't suddenly going to see the way my dad treats her/us. And even if she does, unless she suddenly gets a Superwomen personality, she's not going to do anything about it. Zoe suggested I stop focusing my attention on "fixing" my mother and moving on. She said I need to fix me.
I told her I was fearful that I would turn into my father and Brian's kids (and my future kids) would resent me. I told her I'm always wondering if they are okay or are pissed at me for disciplining them, even though that doesn't keep me from doing it. She gave me about a few scenarios and I told her how I would/do handle them and my feelings behind them. She told me to stop and think when I have a moment where I want to ask the kids if they are okay. In reality, I need to be asking myself if I'm okay because all I'm doing is placing my anxieties on them. She said I'm trying to trick myself and at the same time the children will respond in the way I'm acting towards them. I know that from my job. If we as medics don't act all excited around kids, they tend to stay calm or calm down. I guess I never thought about it in my real life.
She asked how I felt with punishment/discipline since that was a big part of my life. I told her I know that punishment can only be so bad. Like in my personal experience: I couldn't go out for a school year. I found plenty to do in my house. I was allowed to babysit and I made all kinds of money. So, when Brian and Nancy decided to ground Brandon twice for lying, I agreed at first. But once week 2 started, it got me thinking. Brandon wasn't upset. The punishment didn't really bother him. So I went in his room and had a chat with him. He acknowledged his punishment wasn't bothering him. He couldn't watch TV. That just made him start playing with Lego he didn't touch for months before. I tried a different approach. I asked him what really happened and why he lied. It came down to his teacher would give his homework (notebook) back to him early in the day and he'd stick it in his desk, ultimately forgetting to bring it home with him. He was afraid to tell the truth, fearful he'd get in trouble. The punishment for two weeks (actually three total) didn't make him remember or make him want to stop lying. We thought of ways he could remember him homework, without putting the responsibilites on his teacher. (He wanted to ask his teacher to hand him the notebook at the end of the day.) For the remainder of the school year, we didn't have a problem.
Where am I going with that story? I was told all my life my dad was just like my Pop, and I'm just like my dad. I believed that. I believed my punishment was justified because thats how my dad was punished. But it never, ever solved the root problem of whatever it was I did wrong. Zoe said a lot of parents were "trained" to punish their children by their own parents. She said it takes a strong parent to sit down and listen to their child's concerns because they may be uncomfortable. So while I started to fall into the "easy" trap of punishing the kids, I decided to think back to how I would have wanted it to be with my parents. Zoe confirmed that our behavior, although learned, is not set in stone.
We discussed my relationship with Brian and how we communicate. I feel its improved over the past few weeks because I confront him with my feelings before they become a big deal. She told me to be aware to not bombard him with, "You need to....," or "you always do...," or "you," anything. She said I have to work on saying, "I feel...," to get my concerns across. However, Zoe warned me that even though I'll be less accusatory by saying, "I feel...." its not going to make Brian feel any better. I'm still telling him something I don't like and he's apt to get defensive. She said, and I've learned, its going to be hard to stand up and say something that bothers me and then have Brian (or anyone for that matter) still get a little mouthy to me. She told me ways to stand my ground without being a bitch. I gotta say it feels so much better. I had to do that three different times at work last shift and I felt so relieved after. I stood my ground, I made a decision, and I stuck with it even though it may have pissed someone (or three people) off. At work, I'm in a position of authority. She told me to remember that and be firm when I have to. For my personal life, I have to remember to stand up for me but be mindful of the relationship as well. I have to remember that everything isn't about me, but that I need to look out for me instead of trying to worry about everyone else.
I kind of already knew this but she suggested I work on a schedule for consistency. She told me to basically have my meals set in stone. If its not X time then I shouldn't be eating. Pretty straightforward. I need to make a list of things to do for a day and my day should revolve around getting those things done, not sitting and sulking. I agree.
So, the last five minutes of our session is a bit overwhelming but blunt. I agree with everything she's said, so far. And as far as being a co-worker's MIL? I'm cool with it. She knows that aspect of my life and can relate to it, so its almost like I'm talking to a friends mom in her living room.
Overall? Its working. Thank God.