Therapy Thursday

I’d forgotten how difficult therapy can be. This is one of those weeks where I wonder if therapy is doing more harm than good. I am so down this weekend I can barely function. Aren’t I going to therapy to feel better?

I do know all the things about feeling worse before it’s better. I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder if just talking about painful things from an adult perspective helps. Last week, it seemed I broached some painful topics, but got hit with these disabling feelings in the days following. By next session, this stuff will have dissipated, and I’ll be set to start the cycle again.

The difficult things I talked about where my marriage and my son. I felt completely powerless in my marriage, like he had all the cards and I had none. Some of this was economic – I had no real way of earning a living, so he had the advantage of an income. That’s kind of huge.

The endless house building – renovations starting up at any time, the intrusive noise, dust and mayhem.

I didn’t even hit all the main pain points, now that I’m sitting here thinking about it. Maybe just mentioning the situation was enough to cause these feelings? I really don’t know. All I know is I feel horribly down.

The other painful subject was my son, his illness, being unsure what is causing it, is it physical or psychological (likely both). The chaos he grew up in. The way he chose my ex, J, and hated me, even as quite a young child. How now when we are together, we actually get along much better than in the past.

Ron suggests bringing him in for a session, to work on our relationship. I immediately hate the idea. I picture my son’s scorn that I go for therapy. Then I realize that even if I ask him to come in with me, he won’t do that. I’ve offered to pay for all kinds of things that might help him, and he won’t try any of them. Many times I’ve suggested therapy to him, and he’s always refused.

I don’t say this in my session, because I don’t remember any of this at the time, strangely, but the fact is, I feel hugely guilty about my failures as a parent. I am sure I did unhelpful and damaging things, without meaning to. I had no idea about attachment and connection. Although I tried to learn from parenting books, there really is no way of fixing your attachment patterns alone, IMO. I likely didn’t give him much more than my mother was able to give me.

That guilt weighs me down. I always feel Ron, who in general seems completely un-judgmental, does judge me about my son. He always blames parents, I’m pretty sure, with all his clients. Well, I imagine he does. And I agree, parents are often passing down a really unhelpful legacy to their children – it’s just natural to react to your own baby the way your own mother reacted to you. But the thing is, we don’t do this on purpose. We really really don’t. I know my mother set out to be a good mother also.

So this weekend passes with me being overwhelmed by maybe guilt and sadness. When I’ve been trying to feel more functional on weekends, with some success actually. The last two weekends were a lot better than usual in terms of my going out and doing things.

Likely I’m projecting this onto Ron. I just wish therapy provided some help in dealing, instead of just stirring all kinds of crap up.

At the end of the session, we talked about how I hadn’t missed Ron that much. I felt I’d built a wall between us that kept me from feeling his absence. Ron asked what did the wall look like, and I said it was a rough stone wall, but with gaps in it.

I mentioned that parts hadn’t gotten a chance to say anything, and that V had been prominent for a while. Ron said we still have five minutes, but really, there wasn’t time.

I think sometimes a lot of my emotions are held in parts, so when I try to do therapy as an adult, it never feels like it gets to what’s really going on with me.

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9 comments
  1. Sorry your weekend was so heavy. As parents, I think we can all say we wish we could have been better. I’m sure, even though you didn’t have all the tools (none of us do), you did better than your mom. We can’t change the past, only move to today with our kids. He knows you care about him, and it is evident in your writing. I think you should asked him to go with you, for you. If he chooses not to go, you are not to blame. Hope you have a great week!

    • Ellen said:

      I really don’t know if I did a better job or not. Some things are down to the kid’s own personality and tendencies I think, also. But I wish I had been a stronger person, that I’d left his dad sooner, and provided for him myself. Anyway. We can just move on today, as you say. He is now grown-up and so must find his own way.

      Thanks for saying he knows I care about him. I do care, that’s definitely true. It’s something at least. I might ask him to go with me when I see him again. I didn’t make it out there this weekend, so maybe next.

      Thank you DID. Hope you have a good week also.

  2. It sounds so hard to be a parent.

    I think if you can honestly say you did your best and did as right by your child(ren) as you knew how… you’re okay. Nobody is perfect and goodness knows that if you loved – they felt it.

    I think you should ask and say “I need you to come for me” and not make it about therapy for him. It’s actually quite true, and could be healthy. The worst he says is no ❤️

    • Ellen said:

      It is definitely hard. Better to have done some healing before setting out on that path. Anyway. I’m actually not sure love is enough – my parents loved me, in a way. They also did the best they could do I suppose. I needed more confidence and strength, and I just didn’t have it.

      I can try and say it that way, but he won’t come. I’ve tried to get him to therapy many times….He sneers at therapy. We think it’s great, but he really really doesn’t.

      Thanks for your encouraging words PD.

  3. I think every child has in time to come to terms with the fact parents make lots of mistakes. I have chosen not to be a parent myself as I didn’t want to pass any pain down. At times I feel sad about it.
    You are very caring and we are all only human, any harm you did, I am sure its natural to feel sad and guilty, its not easy. Toxic parents try to deny the impact of the abuse. I don’t think you are doing that. I hope you can be loving to yourself.
    As far as therapists going away… its really hard. My therapist is away for a month and I feel that when I have any contact via email she is invested in minimising and denying the impact on me to a degree. Its triggered all my abandonment stuff but I seem to be doing okay. I can only say if you built a wall, that probably a natural response. If the wall has some holes in it, that shows promise, don’t you think?

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, it shows promise. Thanks for the kind words EFDK.

  4. Both my boys appeased me and went to therapy…ONCE. They hated it (and that’s putting it lightly). They felt embarrassed, self conscious and as if something was wrong with them. I chose a family T that I liked and knew from my professional world. She is strong and outspoken and a total opposite of me, which I thought would be good. My current T smiled and asked why I thought it was good? I laughed and looking back, it didn’t make sense. Anyways, my kids do NOT want to go to therapy. Maybe when they are adults and all grown…but for now this is their normal. Luckily, my kids are really intelligent. They get straight A’s and sing in the choir and are just loving and kind. We all spend a lot of time at home which I could worry about it’s a choice. I forced my 16 to get his driver’s license. He told me I was ruining his life by forcing him to drive. I started to cry about how I’ve been ruining his life for the past couple years and that I was sorry and I wanted him to have freedom so he could get away. He said he doesn’t want to get away. He got his license in April and didn’t drive all summer. Literally his car sat in the drive. Now he drives himself (and his brother) to school everyday. He has his freedom if he so chooses. He chooses to stay at home which is fine.
    I don’t know, but I am rambling. Guess I just wanted to say that things will work out as they are supposed to. Worrying about it and trying to change things and focusing on everything that’s wrong probably isn’t helpful. Relax and enjoy what you can.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, worrying isn’t helpful. I know. But to be fair, your kids seem to be doing OK. My son is in his late twenties, and does nothing at all except go to Starbucks. He doesn’t see friends, has no girlfriend, cannot work or study. He doesn’t have a diagnosis, so gets no government disability. His grandparents are supporting him. He will not eat with them because he says he doesn’t want to go into the dining room – there’s carpet and he thinks there is dust.

      Would you not worry? This has been going on for quite a few years now. He is constantly trying to avoid dust, simply, and that’s it. Resists trying any alternative health practitioners, which I’d pay for. The MD has nothing to offer.

      Anyway. I did ask him about coming with me to my T, and he said no, as I knew he would. I guess he’s like your kids and hates the idea of therapy.

      It sounds like your kids are doing well, and I’m happy for you. Sometimes, like for me, things don’t work out, unfortunately.

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