April 22, 2021 at 5:35 pm #378538
Thank you, Anita, for this insight! It is incredibly helpful, as always. Sorry for the delay in responding – it’s been a busy day chasing my son around. You are very right that I pretty much only have small talk with my parents. They’ve never been able to have a deep conversation with me, and they continue to show no interest. It’s all very superficial conversations, and yes it does make me angry. They have never once apologized for anything, and it hurts. But I still can’t fathom cutting them off completely. They are seem to be (so far) very different with my son and love him a lot. He is their only grandchild. And when I am with them, they do help out with him. Even though I will probably never have a warm and fuzzy relationship with them, I don’t really have any other close family. My sister has her life, and my in laws are thousands of miles away. Is there any other way? Or do I just need to work on being at peace with who my parents are and be compassionate with little Charlotte?April 22, 2021 at 7:11 pm #378539
You are welcome, Charlotte. I will be back to you Friday morning. I hope you have a good night!
anitaApril 23, 2021 at 9:17 am #378557
“they continue to show no interest. It’s all very superficial conversations, and yes it does make me angry. They have never once apologized for anything, and it hurts”- this is your current experience with your parents, same as it has been throughout your life. When you visit with your parents, you are hurt and angry. This means that part of you, the hurt and angry part, does not want to be there with them.
“But I still can’t fathom cutting them off completely.. my son.. is their only grandchild.. they do help out with him.. I don’t really have any other close family.. Is there any other way? Or do I just need to work on being at peace with who my parents are and be compassionate to little Charlotte?”-
– I understand your great difficulty with the idea of ending all contact with your parents. I don’t expect that you will, nor am I asking you to do so. Instead, I am pointing to a reality that is not okay and can not be made okay by rationalizations (thinking in ways that are not true to reality, so feel better here and there, but overall, you suffer):
Little Charlotte is hurt and angry. She is not okay with you taking her to see her parents and making her sit there, smile, and be nice to the people who never apologized for hurting her so badly. She remembers them telling her when she was hurt, “oh boo-hoo you, let me get my tiny violin”. Little Charlotte wants to get a giant violin and hit them on the head with it!
You tell her to be nice, you tell her that the visit will not last long, that the next visit will be not be the next day, but a week or two away. You tell her that they are good to your son, you tell her to think positive thoughts while she is there, maybe you tell her (I don’t know, possibly) that better not cut contact with them because they may cut you off their will-
– but none of what you tell her changes the fact that she is hurt and angry and doesn’t want to be there, it only cements her hurt and anger further.
When the visits with her parents end, you take Little Charlotte home, and she is still angry that you took her to see her parents and that you will make her see them again and again. She is angry that she never gets to have justice, which is, that her parents acknowledge that they hurt her, sincerely apologize and make amends to her!
Maybe you tell her that if she will be a bad girl if she has no contact with her parents, and if you do, she is tortured with hurt, anger and guilt.
“do I just need to work on being at peace with who my parents are”- if there was a way for you to be at peace with who your unapologetic parents while having contact with them, you would have found a way.
“do I just need to.. be compassionate to little Charlotte”- Little Charlotte is not going to be made to feel okay if you take her out for ice cream, or buy her a new toy, not if you keep disregarding her feelings.
What to do then? Talk to Little Charlotte, let her tell you what you need to know.
anitaApril 23, 2021 at 10:53 am #378563
Dang, wow, thank you so much Anita. This really hit the nail on the spot. You also made me chuckle a little when you said little Charlotte wants to get a giant violin and hit them on the head with it! Haha, this is very true! I also really like what you said about how rationalizations will not make things ok. That’s always what I seem to be doing in my head – rationalizing things – and it only ends up making me feel guilty, pathetic, or like something is wrong with me in the end. I don’t even know how to begin talking to little Charlotte and actually hearing what she has to say…. it’s hard to hear when there is all the other noise in my head if that makes sense. But I’m definitely going to read about how to get in touch with ones inner child and really try to work on listening to her.
I don’t think I have any other follow up questions right now, but I’m going to ponder this more and also will gather my thoughts about the other issue and will be posting again soon. I always really value your insight. Thank you so much, Anita!April 23, 2021 at 11:23 am #378568
Dear Charlotte (and Little Charlotte):
You are very welcome. Take all the time that you need to ponder and gather your thoughts, and post again when you are able and willing.
anitaApril 24, 2021 at 9:52 am #378631
Thank you so much, Anita. I certainly will! Your wisdom and insight is so appreciated. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!April 24, 2021 at 10:06 am #378632
You are very welcome, Charlotte. Thank you for your kind words and for wishing me a wonderful weekend- I wish you the same!
anitaMay 2, 2021 at 5:50 pm #379083
Hi again, Anita!
I hope this post finds you well. I just wanted to pop in to update you on something we discussed in this thread. I mentioned to you that I do not have unlimited funds right now and that therapy is pretty expensive, and I asked how to approach phasing out therapy eventually to you. You suggested that I ask my therapist what I should focus on in the next 3-6 months, if I was to end therapy sometime within that time frame. I asked her this on Friday and she essentially didn’t answer; she said this is a question for me to answer, not her. She said only I can know what I need to work on and how many sessions I need. I wasn’t sure what to make of that? I was kind of hoping she could give me some food for thought. Thanks so much for your insight!
CharlotteMay 2, 2021 at 7:51 pm #379090
Your post finds me well, thank you: today I went on a hike on a county trail, with other hikers sharing the paths, and true to the most recent CDC guidelines, announced by the president, people fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks outdoors (except in crowded gatherings like sports events). Fully vaccinated, I did not wear a mask when crossing paths with other people, and it felt good!
As far as your therapist saying that what you and her were to work on in therapy for the next 3- 6 months, if therapy was to end within that time frame- is all up to you and none of her choosing is a disappointing answer. Soon after I started my first quality therapy experience, after a few sessions during which my therapist learned about me, he gave me a printout with clearly stated objectives for my therapy and how he intended to meet those objectives, within the work we did together. Later in therapy he edited and updated that printout. When I was about to end the therapy, he presented to me what he thought was most important to work on in the time left.
Interestingly enough, it just occurred to me, my therapist at the time moved across the country to New York and lives and works, last I read, somewhere outside NYC.
anitaMay 5, 2021 at 5:48 pm #379250
I’m so sorry for the delay in responding. These past few days ended up being a lot busier than I anticipated! So glad you were able to be outdoors, without a mask, enjoying the scenery. I bet that felt very freeing! I am fully vaccinated now too and am finding that being unmasked with other vaccinated people very refreshing too.
Wow, it sounds like you had a pretty incredible therapist. I have only ever met with two therapists…. the first was really bad, and my current one seems worlds better but also gives some disappointing advice, as you have pointed out. Is it just me, or is it really difficult to find a quality therapist like you had? I am also wondering how you felt when you were stopping therapy? Were you nervous about stopping? I am worried that I will be afraid to stop the professional relationship and will continue even when I am not getting much more out of it.
Thank you, as always, Anita. So sorry again about the delay. Hope you have a great night!
CharlotteMay 5, 2021 at 7:44 pm #379252
Don’t worry about when you reply, take all the time you need. Whenever you reply is okay with me. I will be back to you with more in about 12 hours from now.
anitaMay 6, 2021 at 9:54 am #379272
“Is it just me, or is it really difficult to find a quality therapist like you had?”- it’s not just you. I first looked for psychotherapy when I was very young. It was decades later that I found my first quality therapist, and I didn’t know what quality therapy was until I personally experienced it.
“I am also wondering how you felt when you were stopping therapy? Were you nervous about stopping?”- my last session with my therapist was a day or two before I left the state I was living in at the time. When I left therapy and the state, I was equipped with lots of handouts that my therapist gave me during more than two years of therapy, lots of notes that I took during therapy, including homework assignments- lots of material to re-read and further process, plus audios of guided meditations and the saved email correspondence I had with him in between sessions.
When leaving, I carried with me a lot of what the work we did together, and I still communicated with him online for some time after my departure, and so, it was not a traumatic separation. Most importantly, I continued what I refer to as the healing process, part of which is my very participation here, in these forums.
anitaMay 7, 2021 at 3:44 am #379324
I will write more in a few days (I am away with my son for a few days so it’s been a busy travel week!), but wanted to pop in and say thank you so much for your response. I am writing in my journal after every session, so I can refer to it in the future after I leave therapy too. I do really wish my therapist gave me such a detailed plan, as yours did. Even when I ask her what she thinks my biggest challenges are, she tells me only I can answer that. Not the most helpful! I’m glad to know it’s not just me running into these walls. Thank you so much for your help as always, Anita! You are amazing and we are all so lucky to have you here!
CharlotteMay 7, 2021 at 5:50 am #379330
You are welcome and thank you for your kind words! You asked your therapist: what do you think are my biggest challenges? She answered: only you can answer that. Her answer would have been okay if she right away added a question for you: what do you think are your biggest challenges? or, what do you think is your biggest challenge?, even better, if she gave you a homework assignment to list your challenges from biggest to smallest, and then, go over your homework assignment in the next session.
If she answered: only you can answer that, and left it at that (?) that’s an irresponsible on her part, especially knowing that you are considering ending the therapy, and time is running out.
Have a safe and fun rest of your travel week!