There is an idea out there, that all therapy does, is just blames your parents for all your problems. This post is to help you understand a bit more about this process, why it isn’t that, and what it really is instead!
Many psychotherapists (myself included) spend time rummaging around in your childhood. Many people think “it’s the past, just move forward.” But our brains don’t work like that. They are wired and re-wired as a result of our experiences! Healing from the wounds allows some re-wiring to happen, otherwise you find yourself making the same mistakes over and over again (isn’t that the definition of insanity?). If knowledge was the answer, the world would be a different place. Problem is, we have feelings, and knowledge itself doesn’t heal feelings. It’s a bit more complicated than that.
Playing the “blame game” isn’t helpful. Sure in therapy we understand what wasn’t taught, that which needed to be taught, what wasn’t given that needed to be given. What was done that was hurtful. What would have been more helpful and what was damaging, etc. ect. But we can’t stay there and the goal isn’t to just blame away. Because guess what. We can’t undo, or redo. But we can UNDERSTAND more. And blame can be lifted of yourself, and of the situation, but understanding can happen and compassion can be cultivated.
For people who describe their childhood as “mostly good,” there seems to be much resistant to go to these places. Almost like we are blaming parents or calling them bad or something. It is this dichotomous thought process that everything has to be black OR white. Just because you had an unmet need doesn’t mean your parents were bad, or that you’re weak, or overly sensitive. It is what it is. Understanding these needs are essential in undestanding these patterns that have been set in motion, these defensives that have been build. With knowledge and awareness comes space to create change!
Now, you might be saying, “Stacey, but I did have really shitty parents, and they are the cause of all of my problems.” No doubt, as a trauma specialist I work with a lot of people, who have had super shitty parents. In fact, knowing what some people have lived though makes me marvel at what we can withstand as a species. Some people test our strength through extreme sports. Some people had no choice but to withstand what was given and kept living.
No matter where you lie in the spectrum of childhood experiences, you can say whatever you want about your parents, but the goal of therapy isn’t to blame them for all your problems and to not just speak ill about them. In therapy we explore the depth of the childhood experiences, understand how the past is impacting current relationships and other problems, and move toward a place of understanding, healing, and wholeness rather than blame, hurt, and emptiness.
MOST people have a mix of wonderful and not so wonderful memories of childhood. Unfortunately, some have horrible memories and not many good memories. Working out the attachment confusion of an abuser also being your only source of love is difficult and fucked up really, but the points I’m trying to make are:
1. you didn’t need to have to have a horrible childhood to heal old wounds
2. despite how horrible it was, you are entitled to your story and it’s not the therapists job to bash – we support and validate you, but when we bring to the table some tough stuff, it’s not in the spirit of bashing, but should be in the spirit of understanding.
Hope this clears up any fears or confusion around this topic!