I meant to write this after my last counselling session but I definitely need to write it before my next one in a couple of hours.
I do like my counsellor, but she’s been too soft on me, letting me ramble without ever challenging me to stay on target. Last week we actually started to discuss that, with only two or three sessions to go before we finish.
I can see, not so much with my mother, but certainly with my father, how hang-ups are passed from one generation to the next. His mother was dumped by her parents when she was six so she brought up her son to never get too close to people, including her husband, in case they vanished. Self-reliance and independence were taught to the exclusion of building and valuing good relationships with other people.
In turn he passed this on to my sisters and I in different ways. We are all three marred with personal issues, with problems in forming relationships. My father’s attitude inadvertently led to my picking partners that were wholly unsuited to me.Thus, almost inevitably, I became a single parent.
I do not want my hang-ups to be passed on, with whatever variations, to my children. I said to 1son last year that as long as he didn’t end up in therapy when he was 40 I’d think he’d turned out better than me. I have spent an enormous amount of time over the years thinking how I felt when my parents acted in a certain manner and how I should act towards my children for them not to feel this way. I cannot relax and let them go with the flow feeling confident that they have a solid emotional foundation on which to build.
I want to break the chain that links the generations. I am petrified that my children are going to be as unhappy as I have been.
The trouble is that by not looking after myself properly, by not caring for myself and being able to look after myself and put myself first, what message am I then sending them? What example do I set?
I hide behind my children in therapy. I talk about them, what they are doing and what I am worried about. Last week my therapist said:
I know more about your children than I do about you.
I don’t talk about what I want for me. I don’t talk about where I want to be in 5 or 10 years, what I want to have achieved, what my dreams are, what my hopes are and how I feel about the rest of my life.
Last year my therapist stopped me from talking non-stop about my children. This year’s hasn’t and I need to make it clear when I start with a new therapist later this year that I need someone who can be tough on this issue.
But that’s not the point of this post. This is:
Given that I acknowledge that I need to put myself first, both for my own sake and for that of my children, how do I learn to do so?