Monday, April 11, 2011

Therapy - Part 3. And acupuncture.

A few other main points from my first therapy session:

Grief--expressed & unexpressed.  I need to work through the obvious grief of losing my Dad, and everything that that complicated relationship involved, but also the unexpressed grief of a childhood I feel like I never had. 

I matured very early.  I am a first-born.  I got good grades & stayed out of trouble. 

Which apparently meant that my parents didn't need to parent me after the age of 11.

I had a boyfriend who was 6 years older than I was when I was 12.  My mom met my dad at the same age--he was 6 years older than she was, too.  He went away to the Army, though, and when he came back she was 16 years old.  They got married when she was 17, and had me when she was 18 (they were married before they were pregnant--and she still got married that young).  She did finish high school, even though she had a baby her senior year.  So, to them, I guess, my dating an 18 year old when I was in middle school was no big deal.

Only it WAS A big deal.  I mean--DUH.  This is the BIG box I keep locked up, and I'm not going to go into it all here.  But, I blame my parents and especially my mom for what happened. 

I never realized or thought about how I didn't have a childhood.  How I basically parented myself from a tender age.  Even when I was 20 and I needed my parents to make grown up decisions on my behalf (more on that later), they didn't.  They left it up to me.  And they shouldn't have.

Which brings me to the next point: I'm going to be the mom of a 12 year old in two years.  I didn't even realize this was an issue for me, mentally.  But it's a huge one.  I have no idea what good parenting of a teenager should look like.  I only know what I will NOT let happen to my daughter.  And there's the rub--I will likely over protect my teenage daughter (and son, but he's only 5).  I don't want to mess her up by going too far the other way.  So, we are going to work through that, too.

Flexibility/Inflexibility-- I have a hard time switching gears.  I see the way something is to happen, and if someone throws a monkey wrench in our plans, I don't adjust very well.  It takes a lot of time for me to change my expectations. I can get there, but give me time and let me get there in my own way.  This is hard on the people I live with (or travel with, which I found out in 2009 when we went to St John with 3 other couples--thank goodness the adult drinks were plentiful, because I'm much more mellow with a few bushwhackers in me).  But, it's also hard on ME.  This is one of those under the surface issues, I think, that doesn't stick out like a sore thumb (as the above issues do), but is very important for me to work out.

My second therapy appointment was just as revealing.  The biggest issues we discovered was this: 

My dad used to belittle my mom a lot.  He was smart and prized intelligence over everything else.  He had very few friends (and for most of his life, none at all).  I was smart; I had a perfect 4.0 in high school and got a full paid scholarship to college (thank God, because my parents hadn't saved any money for me).  I watched my Dad talk to my mom like she was a bug; I often agreed with him. I sided with my Dad when I was a kid.  But I couldn't really say why, when Julie asked me why I chose him over Mom.  I thought it was because I blamed her for the non-parenting parts.  But dad is just as responsible for parenting as mom, so why not blame him too?  Because, Julie said, if you'd have not sided with Dad, could he have withdrawn his love from me?

Bing bing bing!  Correct answer, smack in the eyeballs.  As a 40 year old adult, I did the same thing.  I did NOTHING to my dad when he was sick to make him upset with me.  At least, I did as little as possible to not appear to give him everything he wanted. 

And you know what happened? About a month before he died (he'd been in the nursing home for a month already), one night when I went to visit him but only had about 45 minutes, when it was time for me to leave and I said "I love you Dad," he shook his head NO.  He could still move his head and his eyes enough to communicate pleasure or displeasure.  He clearly was telling me "YOU DO NOT LOVE ME. If you loved me, you wouldn't have put me in this nursing home.  It's YOUR FAULT I'm here." 

I'm not making this up or assuming that's how he felt.  He told my sister he thought it was my fault, because I was in charge of his finances. 

So my childhood fears were realized, when I was 40 years old.  He did exactly what I'd been trying to avoid my whole life--he withdrew his love from me.  Now, we sort of reconciled, and he apologized that night (he sent me a text message from his computer, because my uncle made him).  And the rest of the times I saw him he never did that again.  But he damaged something in me very deeply.  And it still really hurts. 

Anyway, the kicker is this--I often behave like my dad towards my husband.  I never, ever realized it before.  I can be passive aggressive, with little stuff especially, and make Mark feel like a child.  It's one of our biggest arguments, how I treat or talk to him like a child.  I respect him on so many levels, but there is a part of me that thinks he's an idiot about basic things, and it comes out a lot-- like my dad did to my mom.  Not the same, but enough to see that I am transferring what I got from my Dad to my husband.

The questions my therapist had me write down after that appointment were: "What price, what consequences, have I paid by turning toward Dad and against Mom? What role has that played in my adult life?"

She discussed the concept "repeat to complete" regarding my interactions with my husband.  I don't fully understand what that means yet, other than I'm reenacting what I saw in my childhood, in my adult life.  And, she said, I now have an opportunity to heal and NOT repeat what my dad did.  I can bring out another outcome, and break the cycle.

I am seeing their nurse practitioner tonight at 6 p to discuss my medication issues.  I will let you know what happens after that appointment.

Oh, the acupuncture.  Holy moly.  That was awesome.  First of all, it's done in a spa-styled room, so I was automatically relaxed.  Second, I felt the energy in my body "pull" to the very first needle he inserted in my lower back.  I knew nothing about acupuncture before I went, other than the doctor and his brother are good friends of my husband.  Dr. J explained a lot to me before hand, and I read a flier in the waiting room.  So I had zero expectations. Feeling the energy in my body come to a tight little point was bizarre.  It hurt some, when the needles went into soft spots like my waist, but mostly I didn't feel anything other than the energy concentration on some needles.  The needle in the middle of my stomach hurt the worst, and there's even a bruise now.  The session lasted about an hour.  He did a series on my lower back for immunity, and another series that's called a GAM treatment.  You'll love this--GAM stands for Great American Malady.  Yeah, I think we all know what that treats. 

I'm going weekly for at least 6 weeks.  I cannot wait to go back.  I felt relaxed and energized afterwards.  It transferred into my entire Friday night and even some into the weekend.  After last week, you'd think I'd have been in a ball for two days.  But I wasn't.  I did OK. I still didn't eat very well, and didn't exercise.  BUT I am not in the toilet today, even though it's been raining since late last night and hasn't yet stopped.  I am going to the gym after I finish this, before my appointment at 6. 

Whether it was the acupuncture or my hormones behaving or some other cosmic force, I don't care.  I'll take a semi-stable day like today for what it's worth--gold.

P.S.  No weight today. Just got in a hurry & didn't weigh before my shower.  I was 185.6 on Sunday, which sucks, but wasn't surprising.  I could lose 4 pounds if I'd just cut out the carbs, which I'm gearing up for.  Really, I am.  I can feel a change coming.  Plus, my husband told me today he wants to start eating an almost vegetarian diet (like his brother in Colorado is doing), and that's a huge deal.  If we can both get on the same track, it will be a very good thing to have his help and support.


Vickie said...

what I thought most as I read is how your perception in reading other bloggers will now change - hugely. you will start to see people being caught up in the food/fat dance (as a means of avoiding or whatever) and realize they are not even looking at the real issues. The food and the fat are just the parts they can see.

I had no parents from about the age of 3-4. I had a roof over my head and was fed, but no parents. My brother never did either.

prepare yourself that your sister might not like any of this. and you should probably not assume that she has any interest in addressing her own issues. in fact, I would encourage you not to talk to her about any of this - you will be too fragile for a long while as you sort out which way is up and learn to apply.

Please write about what your therapist has you do to CATCH yourself (tone and words) as you retrain yourself in dealing with your husband. A lot of this (has got to be) pure habit. This is an area where I struggle too. (First because my husband often IS oblivious and second because he is male and just doesn't think the same way.) I have gotten much better over the course of the last couple years simply because I am no longer miserable with myself. And when I am EVEN, I do better with others too. I have also learned to speak preventively. Example: sunday, warm sunny day, I said to husband -
girls were out in sun for 30 minutes (tanning and reading) and I told girls to either move chairs to shade or get on sunscreen as I do not want to be in ER that night. girls chose to go in house (I knew within about 5 minutes of half hearing that whole exchange husband was going to ask them why they were in on a sunny day . . .)

I have learned to communicate better (rather than lying in wait for what I know he is going to say and then reacting with eye roll) - I explain in advance. Sounds trivial, but has made a huge difference in making things positive.

debby said...

Hi Laura, it sounds simplistic, but I think the child sides with the parent who is picking on the other parent because it is SAFE. I had a similar situation as a child, although a little milder, and that is what I thought about myself as I read your post. I had never really thought about it in those terms before.

Glad you're doing this work, Laura.

The acupuncture sounds fantastic!

Admin said...

Diet and Exercise are so important for everyone. It must start with the kids when they're young. Sometimes they're happy with Turbo Fire Results exercise programs.


Jill said...

Okay, first I am pissed that Google Reader didn't tell me you had a new post up! Every blog I read is in Reader, so I rarely check the actual blog anymore - lazy, I know.

Secondly, I just deleted a whole big ranting paragraph about how your parents let you date an 18 year old boy when you were 12, because I don't want to upset you further. But man, that is some serious shizz right there. As far as Sophie goes, it's better to overprotect than underprotect. Maybe when she's older, you can tell her your story so she will understand why you won't let her date until she's 35. ;)

Finally, I am so glad you are doing this work Laura. I think this is going to be amazing for you. It might be a little painful while you are going through it, but you will get through it. I feel like I want to send flowers to your therapist just for helping you already!!

I hope you are having a good week! xoxoxox

Vickie said...

happy birthday !
(do I have the right day?)

Laura I. (G.G.) said...

It sounds like you are doing really well, Laura! Your therapist sounds awesome. I keep hearing good things about acupuncture and want to try it out. Right now most of my therapy seems to be of the boxing variety:-) Crude but effective--a good outlet for the negative energy inside.

I read some of what you say and it sounds like we had very similar backgrounds in some ways, and very different in others. I got the overprotective parenting because of a younger sister who died as a baby--it can be just as damaging--just different.

You'll figure it out. You AREN'T your parents, and aren't doomed to make their mistakes:-)

I agree with Vickie's observation about the foot/fat dance being a tool for avoidance (unconscious). Learning how not to avoid is so difficult, but so important, but I think learning to live consciously (really) is so worth it, despite how hard it is to change.

E. Jane said...

I'm so glad I found your blog (via Vickie). I will be coming back. Very good post, and very relevant in my life, as well.