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Anxiety about Raising Children in Era of Mass Shootings

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  • #378125
    Charlie
    Participant

    Thank you, Anita! Hope you have a restful night.

    #378127
    anita
    Participant

    You are welcome, Charlotte, have a good, restful night yourself. I will be back to you in the morning.

    anita

    #378147
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Charlotte:

    You shared regarding visiting your parents: “the heaviness that surrounds them gets to me. I worry about their mental and physical health- my Dad has gotten himself so worked up about my sister’s boyfriend that he’s landed himself in the hospital a few times thinking he was having a heart attack”-

    – even though your sister’s boyfriend was not in your parents’ lives when you were growing up, I imagine that they were very upset about this or that other person who was in their lives at the time. Maybe your mother kept fueling your father’s anger, maybe the two kept fueling each other’s anger and agitation, and you got caught in the cross fire, absorbing much of their agitation, which may very well be the origin of your anxiety.

    “I still do yearn to live closer to them a lot of the time”- living close to them, (1) you will not lower their agitation, (2) they will heighten or maintain your agitation.

    Maybe you are so used to their agitation, that when you are in their presence, you don’t feel agitated or anxious, but later, after visiting them, your anxiety may be intensified. You wrote that you feel heaviness when in their presence- that can be the feeling of anxiety being pushed down, replaced by the feeling of depression.

    anita

    #378187
    Charlie
    Participant

    Thank you again, Anita! I do think you are right. I don’t remember my parents being agitated so much by other *people* growing up, but that being said, they were always incredibly stressed out by their high-powered lawyer jobs. They very frequently took it out on me. I do think I absorbed a lot of their agitation, which is probably why I often feel triggered or agitated. I work very hard to not repeat these patterns with my son though.

    What you said about my anxiety being pushed down while I am with them only to come to the surface makes a lot of sense too. I suppose I should spend less time with them? I usually only see them one or two weekends a month.

    Also, I’m wondering when you think a person can finish therapy? Therapy is really expensive for me as it is not covered by insurance, and I am taking a break from the working world. Is it something I should expect to continue for a really long time? Or is their hope for someone like me (with general anxiety) to realistically stop therapy after a little while?

     

    #378194
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Charlotte:

    You are welcome. Talking about safety and politics, the verdict that was just announced a little while ago, is good news as far as the country being safer, some justice was delivered today, and violence in the streets was prevented.

    You asked regarding your parents: “I suppose I should spend less time with them?”- it would be best if you spent no time with them because each time you spend with them functions to maintain your anxiety. On the other hand, guilt about not seeing them at all would increase your anxiety as well.

    “When you think a person can finish therapy? Therapy is really expensive for me..”- therapy should not be forever, especially if the person does not have unlimited funds. Healing from long-term, significant to severe anxiety, from personal experience, cannot be complete, meaning, no matter how much therapy you have and how much healing is taking place, there will still be unwanted anxiety to live with.

    “is there hope for someone like me (with general anxiety) to realistically stop therapy after a little while?”- after some time, yes. My therapy lasted 2011-2013, but I continued what I refer to as the healing process, or the healing journey ever since. You can commit to this every day journey as well!

    anita

     

    #378198
    Charlie
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Thank you, and thank you also for noting the positive news we received about the verdict today. Obviously there is still a lot of work to do to make our country safer, but things are looking up today 🙂

    That is really valuable advice to hear about therapy. It has been helping me the past 6 months (since I ditched the wacky previous therapist and got a better one), but I definitely don’t have unlimited means and wonder how much more she could realistically do for me. Perhaps when I think I’m nearly ready to stop, I can talk to her about ways to maintain my healing?

    The only other big reason why I would find it really hard to cut off my parents is because they do help a lot with my son when I am with them. They never come visit us themselves, but it’s almost worth the drive and the risk of increased anxiety for me to just have a few extra hands with my son every once in a while. He has a lot of energy, and otherwise we wouldn’t ever have any help (my in-laws being in England of course). Do you think it is possible for someone like me to eventually stop becoming so upset by their issues and continue to still be in their presence at times?

    Thank you so much, Anita! And sorry that I digressed so much from my original post 🙂

    #378201
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Charlotte:

    No need to apologize, it is fine for you to move away from the topic of your thread. A topic should not restrict the original poster from addressing any other topic that comes to mind.

    You asked if you should talk to your therapist about ways to maintain your healing when you are ready to stop: yes, more accurately,  talk about ways to continue your healing. There is no end to the process of healing, an end that is followed by heaven or nirvana, or any kind of happily-ever-after. Healing is about dedication to the never-ending process.

    You asked me if you can stop becoming so upset by your parents’ issues while in their presence: I don’t know, but you may have the answer. I am sure that you already tried in more than one ways to not become upset by their issues: in what ways did you try, how many times/ for how long, and what were the results of your efforts?

    (I will be back to the computer in about 12 hours from now).

    anita

     

    #378213
    Charlie
    Participant

    Thank you, Anita. I will talk to my therapist after another session or two about ways to continue my healing without her help. If I have unlimited resources, I would stay with her, but it’s just not sustainable to continue indefinitely. Do therapists get offended when people a client stops seeing them? I am a bit of a people pleaser, so cutting cords can be uncomfortable for me.

    Regarding my parents, usually I just try to go someone alone when I am feeling overwhelmed by them, or try to change my thinking. And if I’m ruminating over something they said or did in bed at night, unable to fall asleep, I take CBD. It’s doesn’t always work, though. I’ve also spoken to my therapist about accepting myself and who I am and being aware of my parents’ critical voices that have gotten into my head over the years. I’ve recently started painting and drawing a bit every day as being creative always seems to help. If there is anything else to keep in mind or try, I would so appreciate any insight you have. Thank you!

    #378220
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Charlotte:

    You are welcome. When you talk to your therapist about ending the therapy, don’t end it on the same day. Tell her first that you are considering ending therapy because you have limited financial resources. Then ask her: if we continued therapy, what will we be working on next/ what needs to be the focus in the next 3-6 months of therapy? Listen to her answer. If her answer is unclear or too vague, ask her clarifying questions. Do  not make any decisions right there and then, set another appointment, and let me know her answer.

    You asked if therapists get offended when a client stops seeing them: therapists are trained to not get emotionally attached to clients (as well as being trained to deal with clients getting emotionally attached to them), and to keep an objective assessment of the client- not taking the client’s words and behavior personally. So, she should be okay. Depending on her work schedule, if she does not have enough clients, she may be upset about losing projected income, but it would be unprofessional for her to express such concern.

    When you tell her that you are considering ending therapy for financial reasons, it’s probably not the first time that a client has told her that, and she should have a professional response ready for you, one that does not guilt-trip you in any way, shape or form (that would be dishonestly manipulative and very unprofessional), one that is instead honest, empathetic and respectful.

    Regarding your parents, the ways you tried to not become so upset by their issues are: (1) leaving when overwhelmed by them (did I understand this correctly?), (2) changing your thinking,(3) taking CBD, (4) being aware of their critical voices, (5) painting and drawing.

    Can you elaborate on # 2 and 4, in detail?

    anita

    #378233
    Charlie
    Participant

    Thank you so much for your insight, Anita, on how to end therapy! I will ask her about this (i.e. what I need to focus on now if I want to end therapy in 3-6 months) next time I talk to her, but it won’t be until next week at the earliest, because my therapist just told me she has covid and needs to take time off to recover. I will certainly circle back to you with her response. I really appreciate your help.

    Regarding my parents and #2 and #4…. my therapist advised me to change my thinking by reminding myself that their problems are not my problem, that I am safe, I don’t need to depend on their love anymore and certainly don’t need their approval, I am enough as I am. She also tells me that I can focus on caring for my son Raphael the way I wish I was cared for, it it will be like me going through childhood again and caring for myself in a way. So when I feel triggered, I try to remind myself of these things. I can’t say it always helps, though. When I feel badly, reminding myself of these things doesn’t always pull me out of my funk, but I try.

    Regarding #4, My therapist noted to me once that I seem to feel guilty about simply being born. My parents (who both grew up poor but did very well in their careers) always told me I was a privileged brat, that I had it so much easier than they did, that I never have any reason to cry, etc. If I ever cried about anything as a child, they would tell me to stop and would mock me with something like “oh boo-hoo you, let me go get my tiny violin.” So I think that is where my permanent state of guilt stems from. I feel bad for being born more privileged than many, for being a stay-at-home-mom right now, for spending money on myself, etc…. all kinds of things. But I’ve been trying to hear that critical voice in my head (which my therapist said sounds like my mother and father’s voices) and redirect it.

    #378240
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Charlotte:

    You shared that your parents grew up poor, and because you did not grow up poor, they often told you (when you were a child), that you are “a privileged brat”, that you have it “so much easier than they did”, and that you “never have any reason to cry”. When you did cry, they mocked you, saying something like “oh boo-hoo you, let me go get my tiny violin”.

    As a result of the above,  you felt then and still feel “bad for being more privileged than many”-

    – If your parents grew up poor, maybe their parents did not tell them that they were privileged brats who have it much easier than they did, boo-hoo, etc. If so, your parents were more privileged than you, as children, because it is a greater privilege for a child to be afforded the right to cry when hurt and upset, and to grow up free from being guilted and mocked than it is to be given expensive clothes, toys, etc.

    * Reality is, your parents were probably emotionally mistreated too, as children, and as parents- they transferred the mistreatment to you.  But thing is, their misfortune was not a lack of material items and opportunities, but the emotional mistreatment that they received from their parents.

    “I feel bad for being born more privileged than many”- but you were not born more privileged. It’s not true. It is not a privilege to be born into emotional abuse that gave birth to that “critical voice” that keeps the abuse going in your head, as an adult.

    * Regarding the two paragraphs that follow, I will elaborate on them at a later time:

    You shared that your therapist advised you to think the following (I will use the first-person pronoun): (1) My parents’ problems are their problems, not mine, (2) I am safe,  (3) I don’t need their love anymore, (4) I certainly don’t need their approval anymore! (5) I am enough as I am.

    She also advised you (I am paraphrasing here), to shift your focus from the unsatisfactory unit of you & your parents, to the unit of you & your son and make the latter unit satisfactory.

    anita

    #378268
    Charlie
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    I really appreciate your insight, as always. I think you are right again. My parents, I think, essentially must believe that money and things bring happiness. They don’t say that in words, but like you said, they obviously thought that giving me *stuff* should make me keep my mouth shut and do whatever they want me to do, like go to law school for instance. They have also become more and more materialistic since they’ve gotten older. For instance, they now have nothing but mean things to say about the city of Philadelphia. Back when I was a kid, they were very proud of where they lived. I guess money can really change people then? I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the last paragraph too, but yes, you summarized that advise from my therapist very well! Thank you, Anita! I hope you are having a nice day 🙂

    #378276
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Charlotte:

    You are welcome and thank you for your appreciation. I will reply to you further when I am back to your thread tomorrow morning. Have a good afternoon/ evening!

    anita

    #378284
    Charlie
    Participant

    Thank you, Anita! Really looking forward to it. Have a happy and relaxing night 🙂

    #378312
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Charlotte:

    Your therapist advised you to think that your parents’ problems are not your problems, and to shift your focus from what happened between you and your parents, to what is taking place between you and your son, “it will be like me going through childhood again and caring for myself in a way”.

    The problem is that you are angry at your parents. I see your anger as valid, but putting aside the validity for a moment, your anger is your problem because you are the one experiencing it.

    I can feel your anger in this sentence, in your yesterday post: “they obviously thought that giving me ‘stuff’ should make me keep my mouth shut and do whatever they want me to do“. You shared earlier: “If I ever cried.. they would mock me with something like ‘oh boo-hoo you”, etc.

    – there’s a lot of anger in you ever since you were a child, having been mocked and mistreated by your parents. When you visit your parents as an adult, knowing that they never adequately addressed the wrong they inflicted on you,  issues never resolved-  you push your anger down, you smile at them, I imagine, making small talk.

    Little girl Charlotte is not gone, she is very much a part of you, and she is very angry at her parents. You can’t take angry little girl Charlotte to visit her parents, and make her smile, make her be nice to the people she is so angry at, and expect her to be okay.

    You can’t take her anger away by focusing on your son because first, her anger is between her and her parents, and it can therefore be resolved only in the context of her and her parents, not in the context of her/ you and your son. Second, this anger is hurting your ability to focus on your son.

    anita

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