Am I on the right track?


(Europe)

I used to stay with my grandparents when my parents were at work, and this went on like this until I started school. My grandparents were great people, and I deeply loved them. The thing is, my cousin used to live with them, too. The reason why my cousin was living with my grandparents was basically because both of his parents were terribly irresponsible people: They refused to take care of him after their divorce, so my grandparents took him in and raised him as if he was their own child. The problem here -and I was not able to make this connection until very recently- I believe this led me to believe that the grandparents' was the place you go when your parents do not want you anymore. So I spent my entire childhood believing that my parents did not want me. Every morning was a fight: I cried, I screamed, I ran after them when they were leaving for work; because I was so sure one day they would just stop coming back for me... Of course, my parents did their best in order to make up for their absence during the weekdays: We went to child plays, circuses, parks, zooes almost every weekend; but unfortunately, I have never actually enjoyed any of it. I know this part is going to sound extremely paranoid; but I thought that we were going to those crowded places beacuse they could not bare to be alone with me, and I was always scared of getting lost in the crowd since I thought they did not care about me enough to look for me...

The situation got even worse when I was a teenager; because my father developed a gambling habit, and -needless to say- my mother was not too happy about it. They went into this period in which they fought almost everyday, and the word of divorce was around the house all the time... My mother have always said that I was an incredibly mature child for my age, so she started to confide in me with all of their marital problems which led me into this phase that I have developed a very strong resentment towards my father.

My father eventually quit gambling, and we started to work on our problems as a family, but this did not happen until I went away for collage; so the distance between me and my parents (especially my father) has never closed entirely. I can see that they are trying really hard in order to make up for the past, and to be honest and objective, they have done an awesome job in the past couple of years ---giving me everything I could hope from a healthy, properly-functioning family. The thing is I have never told them how I felt during my entire childhood, mainly because I was so sure hearing such a thing would devastate my mother... But now, I am starting to believe that I will never get over these issues if I do not confront my parents about them. Moreover, I am afraid that these issues are affecting my current life in a very negative way. I very often find myself coping with the problems that you described in the "internalizers" part such as depression, other-centeredness, care-taking and approval-seeking. Yet, at the same, I was also told that I came across as a cold, reluctant to commit and connect person especially by the people that I was in a romantic relationship with.

I honestly do not know if any of these would make sense to anyone else... I am also not sure whether I should see a therapist or my family and I can take care of this problem on our own...

Nevertheless, I have been reading and researching about psychological issues for a very long time in order to help myself, but never before have I encountered an article which I related to this strongly. So thank you so much, you have already helped me a lot!

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Jun 08, 2012
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I can understand
by: Jenni B.

I just wanted to say that I could relate to your post in a variety of ways. I didn't grow up in a situation that mirrored yours, but I can definitely understand where the feelings you had as a child came from. Regardless of whether or not your parents had sent you to your grandparents house because they "didn't want you" or not (which I believe that "not" is the case here), the fact is that is how you experienced it. Children's beliefs come from the observations they make about their surroundings, so it makes sense that you would feel this way.

I do know from personal experience that those feelings you carry around as a child stick with you unless you can work through them. Even if you know logically as an adult that the beliefs you had as a child were inaccurate, the feelings related with those beliefs stick with you. I've got a few of my own similar feelings I'm trying to work through now.

My advice to you, if you want it (and I'm no professional), is to talk to your parents about how you felt as a child. It's a hard thing to do; I've had to ask my parents some uncomfortable questions about my own childhood. I was always afraid to because I didn't want to hurt their feelings, or make them believe that I thought they were bad parents. In fact, I believe they were great parents. But what I found was that they were more than willing to talk to me about their point of view from that time period in order to help me process some of those old feelings. It sounds like the effort that your parents have put into healing their relationship with you, they would be receptive to talking about some of this stuff. I'm a firm believer that open, honest communication is the key to a successful and close relationship - even if that communication is sometimes difficult.

There are no rules on the best way to approach this. You have to do what feels most comfortable for you. If you think that having a therapist there to help you reveal some of these feelings to your parents will help, then by all means, go for it. If you'd rather try to work things out for yourselves, then that's a possibility, too. Personally, I went to counseling by myself to help sort through some of my old feelings and really understand where they were coming from and how they affect me now. My counselor gave me some great tips on approaching the subject with my parents, which gave me more confidence to do it. You could also try just talking to them on your own, see how it goes, and then decide if you need to get a counselor involved. Either way, it seems that these feelings from your childhood are still significant to you and still affecting your current life, so I wouldn't just ignore them. Good luck!

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