…continued from last post
I am really reluctant to write about the second half of the session, about my family. I am so torn – they were great looking after me, they postponed their holiday plans to do so, my sister also visited me very day, and I am very grateful. They are very good at providing physical help. Of course in therapy, we look at the dark side. Which is there also.
E. So I was at my family’s after the hospital. They were great.
E. They are so functional in a lot of ways – everything works really well. My father did well in his career, made lots of money, they have a nice house. They try to help people – they had a friend staying there from out of town whose son had just had an organ transplant, the same time I was there.
E. And no one is yelling, it’s peaceful for recovering. I guess…. well, my father is anxious, so he tries to control things.
R. Like what?
E. Like…the food. What we eat. There is so much fuss about the food. There’s never like one vegetable, like a bowl of broccoli for instance, it always has to be part of something else, with sauces. It’s all a lot of work. So my mother kind of runs around all the time, trying to make everything perfect.
R. Perfect how?
E. I don’t know….just perfect.
R. So they displace their anxiety onto the food do you think?
E. Yeah, that’s exactly it. They do.
R. Uh huh.
I can’t stand writing the rest of it. Hmmm….It’s hard to criticize my family when they really tried to help me, and did help me. But….they also drive me crazy. They’ve landed me with a personality with parts that are pretty well split off – that’s pretty bad. I ask Ron what he thinks about this.
R. In some ways your family has a lot going for it, they have a lot to give. But underneath all that functioning, is something different. They actually don’t have available the nurturing qualities that children need to thrive, or that people in pain need. In those cases, they really don’t know what to do.
I think about this for a while. I don’t know what to say about it, but it makes a kind of sense to me. Because it’s not obvious what’s wrong with my family, beyond that nothing is ever discussed.
E. They never discuss anything that’s not to do with the physical details of their life, schedules and such. Nothing is ever dealt with. And my mother in general doesn’t talk. For instance, one day she went out to her volunteer job, and I was home all day on the couch. When she came back, I asked her how her day was, and she said alright. She had nothing whatsoever to say about it – just went to make some tea and do her crossword.
I don’t get into this at the time, but my mother just doesn’t talk. I went through my childhood with rarely a word from her. You really have to prod her to get her to say anything much. It was difficult because I didn’t learn what you could talk to people about until I was grown-up. It’s one of her qualities which I don’t understand and hate.
At the same time, she wants to do well. She cooks without complaint, and takes care of people physically as best she can, always. She’s like your original ‘good girl’, always striving to do the ‘right’ thing.
Back to the session.
E. But do you think it was enough to cause parts?
R. Probably not. The trauma you went through did that. But the combination of the trauma and this kind of family was damaging. Probably, if it hadn’t been for the trauma, you would have been more like your family – functional on one level, and not whole underneath. Because of the trauma, you see what’s going on in a way that they are not able to. Or perhaps you were born with a different temperament.
E. Huh. Maybe.
That about wraps up the session. The kid had the fur blanket wrapped around her, so he folds it up in a ridiculous messy way, and I joke about that and Ron smiles.
I don’t feel deeply upset by this session. Just talking, no falling into deep emotions this time. I am uneasy talking about my family, of two minds – they are both good and damaging. Ron points out at one point that even in the same sentence, I’ll swing from one way of looking at them to another. It’s true. I have trouble focusing my mind when I try to think about them.