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Re: I'm seeing my therapist differently Annierose

Posted by Dinah on July 1, 2010, at 11:16:48

In reply to Re: I'm seeing my therapist differently Dinah, posted by Annierose on July 1, 2010, at 10:55:15

Hmmm.... Let me think out loud. I'd welcome anyone's comments.

First, I have to say that in my family being a daughter did not mean being taken care of. Well, not exclusively anyway. In my husband's family, mothers fed and fathers advised and kids were expected to do well at school and be polite and honorable people. In my family, being a daughter meant caring for my parents as well as being cared for. I knew Daddy was there for me if I needed him, and that after a fair amount of yelling and fussing, he'd come through for me every time. And mother took good care of me, especially when I was young. But being a daughter also meant being helpful. My parents were volatile, really didn't like each other, had very few outside sources of support and no therapists. Being a daughter meant mediating between them, helping regulate *their* moods. Distracting or cheering or reframing things. Listening to them. Taking on a fair share of the work around the house. Daddy did a lot, but I took care of comfort for them as much as they took care of comfort for me.

So being a daughter to me doesn't mean what it might mean to others. During Katrina, I listened to the radio constantly and I knew my therapist didn't. So I called him whenever I heard something that might be helpful to him (and since it was helpful to him, he didn't mind). I took care of him to the best of my ability, but in a helpful daughter sort of way.

Being a daughter certainly never meant to me that I thought my parents were wonderful or all knowing. I knew my therapist's flaws pretty well.

I think that maybe one way of being a good parent is showing your kids, as they're ready, that you aren't just a parent. That you're a person just like they are. That you have faced or are facing the same issues they are. Certainly there are wonderful parents who go to their grave with mom being mom and dad being dad. Maybe mom and dad fail with time, and the roles are reversed. But mom and dad never stop being mom and dad. That was true with my father. And in a different way I think it has to be true with my mother.

But I've seen and I've read about families where there is a time when the kids have this epiphany that mom and dad really aren't just mom and dad. That they're Ward and June, with their own lives and dreams and thoughts that have nothing whatsoever to do with the kids.

Something my therapist self disclosed about his life and attitudes led me to that epiphany about him. Maybe it wouldn't have if I weren't ready. Or more probably, maybe he wouldn't have said what he did if he hadn't seen I was ready. And suddenly my therapist/mommy wasn't just my therapist/mommy. Not my wonderful therapist/mommy and not my flawed therapist/mommy who caused me all sorts of problems by letting his real self in the room. Suddenly, in an instant, he was like... well, not a friend precisely. But a fellow traveler maybe? Someone whose eye I would catch and share a moment of... mutualness?

The problem is that that moment hasn't really reversed itself. And while it may be healthy by some abstract standards of what adulthood or therapy clienthood might mean, I'm not sure it's in my best interests. I think it's helpful for me to be a daughter. To have a therapist/mommy. I think I can face the world better and deal with the world better if I have that to come to. I think a therapist/mommy can help regulate my emotions better than a fellow traveler can.

Why does healthy have to be judged according to some ideal of what a person of my age should be? Why can't it be judged in terms of my functioning as well as I can function?




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