Monday, October 29, 2007

Therapy 101

In case you’re all dying to know how my first therapy session went, I won’t leave you in suspense any longer. It went about as well as I could expect—leaving me, brimming with emotion, wondering just how many sessions it will take for me to “rewire” my reactions so that I can cope with all the crap that has happened to me and keeps coming my way.

What I learned in the first session wasn’t all that surprising—I have low self esteem stemming from how my parents raised me. You see, when you constantly discourage your kid from being what they want to be and constantly call into question all of their decisions, and even go so far as to proclaim that they must love a food that they have repeatedly sworn they hate, the kid starts to call into question everything they feel. They start to mistrust themselves. The kid ultimately develops a very low self esteem. That kid, desperate for their parents’ approval, becomes an overachiever and to the outside world appears to be quite a success. The kid becomes keenly observant of the people around them in their quest to obtain parental approval and therefore make tons of friends because of their ability to listen and dole out helpful advice. In the meantime, their own emotions get bottled up until they become such a burden that the kid can no longer deal with them. Therefore the kid becomes depressed and prone to anxiety attacks. Throw in some major life issues to deal with, and the kid can no longer function without seeking therapy. I’m so textbook it’s scary.

I’m not here to blame my parents, but I’ve known forever that their brand of parenting wasn’t--and still isn’t--very helpful for a healthy self esteem. Whenever I expressed interest in something, I was told--oh, you don’t want to do that--or I was told why I shouldn’t do that. This pattern has continued right into adulthood, as I faced infertility and was told by one of my parents that I shouldn’t do fertility treatments, and if they were faced with the same issue, they would choose to be childless.

All of the mentors in my life have recognized my self esteem issues and have asked me how someone as successful and smart as me could have such a problem. Well, I’ve always known the answer to that. I didn’t need therapy to tell me. What I need to know is how to fix it. Because I’m not going to repeat this pattern with my boys. Period.


Anonymous said...

Gosh Emmie, I was raised in much the same manner, at least from my mom. I realized many years ago she is sick. So these days I simply pity her if nothing else. Thankfully I'm not inherently like her so have no doubt my son will be reared making his own decisions and traveling the journey of life in his way, faltering and all. Your parents, like my mom, are not likely to change, so best you can do is change your reaction to them. You may have been conditioned one way but I trust you certainly can work to rewire that by attuning into your internal dialogue and focusing (as tough as it may seem) on your positives. And I've already encountered many and we have yet to have met in person. Thinking of you as always and sending hugs your way. ~Lisa

hope548 said...

I guess sometimes the biggest things we learn from our parents is what kind of parents we WON'T be! I'm glad you have started therapy and I hope it will be very helpful to you!

Em said...

I've been doing some therapy and we spend a lot of time talking about my relationship with my parents. It has unopened a lot of stuff...and I consider I have a pretty good relationship with them! One of my best friend's sister-in-law had HELLP after the home birth of her son.