Therapy is a key component of life for many individuals who struggle with the pressures and stresses of life. I left my old therapist several months ago as I felt I had outgrown our relationship. Sadly, there is no “one size fits all” in therapy and each professional is a bit different. Each specializes in their own area. While my old therapist was extremely helpful with my panic disorder, I needed to branch out to address the abuse issues that I have. By no means does this actually suggest I told my old therapist this. Ha! In fear of hurting her feelings, I simply went several months without creating appointments and then started looking for a new one.
Andrea, my new therapist, is completely different from my first. She’s a bit more challenging, I guess you could say. My old therapist would just listen, give her opinion occasionally or also tell me about her experiences. Rather than just listening, Andrea asks me questions about my statements, feelings and observations in order to make me think and explore why I feel the way I do. I’m told this is how therapy is supposed to be.
Last night we focused mainly on my father. It started with a conversation about my feelings regarding the exes, and my therapist interrupted to tell me that she didn’t think that deep down these relationships are what truly upset me. She felt there was something else and asked what it is that troubles me the most when I think of any of these relationships. I explained that I’m constantly wondering if I somehow caused these men to behave the way they did, if there was something innately defective within me. She stopped me once again and stated: “I don’t think you wonder that at all. I think you actually believe it.”
It was hard to hear that from someone I met a month or so ago. I’ve been open and honest in every session, so I’m not sure why I was taken aback by it. May be it was how straight forward she was. That’s where my childhood came in.
She asked me general questions that most people can answer. She wanted to know about my dad’s family.
“How many siblings did he have?”
“I don’t know”
“You don’t know? How?”
“I didn’t even know my father had siblings until I was 16. A sister called looking for him asking if he was home. I asked who was calling. She said his sister, and asked who I was and said she had hired a private investigator to find him. That was the first and last time I heard of them.”
“What about his parents? Did you ever know them? Were their pictures on the wall?”
“No. He never spoke about them and I don’t even know what they would look like.”
“Did you ask about them? You had your mother’s parents. Did you ever say…hey dad, where are your parents?”
“No. I didn’t really notice it. My brothers’ dad’s family lived across the street and I called them my grandparents. My brothers called them grandpa and grandma so naturally I did as well. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized they weren’t technically related to me.”
I never really noticed how little information my father actually shared with us, and looking back, it only helped in my feeling alienated from him. He truly was a completely stranger. I didn’t know a single thing about him other than he loved Pepsi, Marlboros and Wheel of Fortune. I don’t know where he came from or who he really was. Clearly something big must have happened with his family. You don’t estrange yourself to the point of needing a private investigator without a huge rupture.
My mother knows nothing. She thinks that my sister might have more info, but my sister NEVER speaks about my father. In fact, none of my siblings that I share a father with speak about their childhood. I’m the only one who does. When I try to talk about it, they button up completely. OR, if I ask anything in message form, they just don’t answer. It’s infuriating when I’m trying to reconcile things.
After discussing my siblings and what I know of their relationships with my father, my therapist is pretty sure we all had rather abusive and/or unhealthy relationships with him. She asked me if I thought if my siblings acted differently, if they did something different during their childhoods, if he would have been a better father. All of this, the whole sessions, was to get to that point.
I know there is nothing I or my siblings could have done to change my father’s behavior. I know we weren’t causing it. I get that. It’s in there intellectually. No one causes another to be abusive. BUT my psyche says otherwise…if that makes sense. I know it, but deep down, there’s that little lie at my core. That little theme that if I did A, B or C, I wouldn’t have gotten the abuse. If I acted a specific way, I wouldn’t have been hit. It’s deep seeded, and I have a feeling this isn’t the first conversation on my father that we’ll have. Rather, it’s a long series of sessions to come.