I don’t want to analyze my parents anymore

I was thinking about therapy the other day. My therapist and I have drifted apart over the past six months or so. We had been doing phone sessions, which was great because it allowed me to eat while talking to her, and also load the dishwasher. But eventually, even those became complicated, with her new job schedule and my relentless morning sickness. And, without any formal farewell, we became unhooked and slipped apart.

The dishes have suffered. I’ve been trying to decide if I should make an effort. If I should reach out to her, or find a new therapist.

It’s often hard to explain to myself exactly why I maybe should, because therapy is often vague like that. I used to get annoyed at listening to my own problems. And then I’d have to talk about that. Which is awkward. The whole thing is awkward. Once my therapist said to me, laughing, “Kate, you overthink everything!” I liked her for that.

But when I think about therapy now, the part that frustrates me is really more about storytelling than anything else. Actually, a friend of mine who is a successful storyteller, like, as a thing, not just as an expression, said something about how in therapy she feels aware of the things she has to leave out to tell a certain story about her life. There are all of these contradictory, complicating details. There are all these details that are really the beginning of a totally different story or interpretation.

(source)

The truth is, we all need to tell ourselves stories about our lives all the time. It keeps things manageable. We get this sense that we have some idea of who we are. We sort out characteristics and assemble something that comfortingly resembles a personality. People, like dogs and chimps and probably caterpillars, too, like the reassurance of identifiable patterns. We pat ourselves on the back for being a person who consistently hates the taste of licorice—it’s a clue! Have you ever notice how proud people sometimes seem of their little weirdnesses? Oh, I NEVER wear periwinkle! It makes me nervous about buying people gifts, because what if I am forgetting one of their major quirks? What if I get them something in periwinkle by accident?

 

One of the things that’s so frustrating about trying to explain Bear, or anyone I really love, to other people, is that I always have to leave so much out. And as I describe him, I feel myself narrowing his character into something simpler, more consistent. But I love him for a million other tiny details, a million more quirks and other, bigger things, that might render his character confusing in the telling. He is deliciously bashful/he is quietly cocky—these realities blur and blend and twist each other into different shapes all the time. I love him in this indescribably big way, like water sloshing over the top and seeping into everything. My love is sloppy and undiscerning an all-encompassing. Sometimes I am horribly afraid that he will die and I won’t be able to preserve even the imprint of him—of my love for him—because I won’t be able to ever recreate the infinite complexity of the particulars—he’ll just be a faint fossil outline. I am not smart enough or observant enough or a good enough writer to preserve his wholeness, or even close.

And I think that all of this is why I don’t feel like analyzing my childhood, or my parents, sometimes. Even now, as I approach parenthood myself. I feel a little gross when I do it, like I’m always getting something obviously wrong. Like all I can remember about Louie C.K.’s show was this one joke and a loud farting sound. I’m translating poorly into a language I don’t speak with enough fluency for nuance. Thank god for fart humor, I guess. Really, I’m thankful. But there needs to be more.

(classic! source)

Especially growing up so unusually, like I did, outside of school, I sometimes don’t know how to make sense of myself.

I had a wildly free childhood, bursting with innocence, where I spent hours in the woods, following the stream, pretending to be the heroine in an epic tale. There was something untouched, holy, fantastical about it.

I was sheltered, but that’s OK.

Or should I be a little resentful at how unprepared I was, to face the other girls my age in college? How bowled over I was, by their different definitions of friendship, by their lightning-quick once-overs, their unspoken rules, the awful, intimidating ways they had fun, the foreign ways they were cool, the effort they made for beauty that I didn’t understand but soon understood painfully well—all the more painful for not having known it before.

My innocence was complicated, growing up. I was sexually confident. People don’t associate that with innocence. I was proud of my mind, and I operated in the adult world without too much trouble. There was something badass, unapologetic about me, then, I think. Something helpless and fragile and embarrassing, too. Something brittle about my aggressive self-confidence. Something charming about my bluster. Something frighteningly earnest or refreshingly upfront. I don’t know.

Why did I grow to hate my face enough to cut it open? How did I let myself slide into perpetual self-criticism? I remember telling myself a very hard-lined story about the way I looked: bad. And I needed to be proactive and try to fix it, and then life would be better in so many ways. I would probably just start winning things, because people would want me to win, because they’d be rooting for me, because I’d be prettier. See? Logic!

Later, I told myself a story about my childhood, and how all that naïve, dorky self-acceptance had left me naked and vulnerable to the eventual onslaught of beauty rules and subtly ruthless social ideas about femininity that left me shredded, bloody-faced, shivering in the cold of my own sudden, fundamental failure. I mean, I am literally writing a memoir about this. It’s definitely a story I’m telling.

But it’s not a totally simple story, either.

And when I let it be un-simple, I don’t know what to blame or thank my parents for.

I’ve tried, for a while, to figure it out. My parents are, after all, fascinatingly, dramatically flawed. You know, like people are. They might make easy targets, if I were to start firing angrily. And I can get angry, thinking about the stupid things they did or didn’t do. The ways they missed some important point.

But right now, as I waddle towards the beginning of parenthood myself, I find I am less interested in solving them. I look around, and it seems like everyone is weird in one way or another, and plenty of people had strange upbringings that set them apart in certain ways. And ultimately, most of us just don’t know why we are exactly the way we are. It’s too intricate and our lives are too sprawling and we are too influenced by too many things to keep track of.

As time shrinks, and I am swept nearer to the edge of parenthood, I don’t want to waste another moment trying to figure myself and everything else out. It’s never right enough to justify the angst. Instead, I feel almost lavishly forgiving. I forgive my parents. I forgive myself. I forgive the world for being extravagantly confusing and big.

It’s kinda all I can do, I think.

I want to start motherhood open-hearted and nonprescriptive and wide-minded. I will, of course, tell myself plenty of stories along the way, but I want to also remember that every time you tell a story, you don’t tell a lot of other ones. And those stories are often just as true, just as real. Maybe, at least, I can pick one where I look good in all the colors I like. Where I have a cool face. Where I am open-ended, unsolved, still fresh and learning. I figure we’re all always like that, anyway, the whole time, until we die.

 

(a periwinkle dress. source)

*  *  *

I don’t even know what to ask. This was such a meandering post. Do you feel you get something out of therapy, if you go? Do you like to analyze your parents?

Unroast: Today I love the way I can really appreciate other women’s beauty, sometimes, without being jealous. Or, maybe I’m a little jealous, but I’m mostly appreciative. Sometimes. It’s nice.

Giveaway results from the baking giveaway: The winner is Jodelle Brohard, commenter #53 under the post about sexy back hair. That’s just fun to write. Congrats, Jodelle!! I’ll send your email address to the giveaway sponsor and get you hooked up with some baking swag :-)

And here’s a cake pic! From reader Ashley (she blogs here), who says: Here is a pic of me, no make-up, hair not done, and probably wearing the clothes I slept in, going at my son’s birthday cake! I just turned 29, have been married 9 years and given birth to 6 kids in the last 6 1/2 years, no twins.  I figure I am more than entitled to make my cake and eat it too. ;)

I LOVE it!!! Send me your own cake pic — kate@eatthedamncake.com.

36 Responses to “I don’t want to analyze my parents anymore”

  1. Jana @ 333 Days of Hand Lettering responded on 15 May 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    my thoughts about this post:

    I did about a year of counseling. It was really helpful but the goal was an end not to keep going.

    I homeschooled my sons-I hope they aren’t feeling out of place at college. I’m sorry that turned out that way for you.

    When I started to be nicer to myself, I became happier.
    I hope you find that peace in your life.
    Jana @ 333 Days of Hand Lettering

  2. Kate responded on 15 May 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    @Jana
    Again, it’s not so simple– my brothers had a totally different experience in college than I did. And I had a totally different experience my freshman year and the rest of the time. Sometimes I honestly think it depends more on the person than the homeschooling.

  3. onebreath responded on 15 May 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    I think we often get caught up in thinking that somehow, with our parents, there is a different judgment involved. Like, with our friends or partner, we are able to see them as nuanced and precious because of all that is good and all that is quirky and all that is flawed. We love them for their many dimensions.

    Then somehow when we look at our parents, it becomes harder to see those shades of grey without it being something that needs blame or gratitude, rather than just the general strengths and weaknesses that make up a person. Their qualities have such a direct effect on who *we* are that we imbue them with a set of standards and proclamations we never would with others in our lives.

    Because of this, I can see how it’s intimidating to become a parent! Though at the same time, to me, it’s kind of reassuring, we will screw up, we will excel and we will be human, and our children’s interpretation will be skewed by the same biases we have. And that’s okay. I think. ;-)

  4. Jade @ Tasting Grace responded on 15 May 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    It sounds to me like you’ve really just done the principle part of healing and are ready to move forward. It sounds really healthy.

    I spent the vast majority of my 20s trying to sort out the pieces of who I am, where all the pieces came from, and how they fit together (or didn’t–and coming to terms with the fact that it wouldn’t all fit together like a perfectly coherent puzzle, because yeah, maybe I’m more than a 2D painting). And eventually I just stopped. Partly because I’d figured out most of what I could figure out, partly because I just got tired of thinking about myself all the time, and partly because I’d finally become okay enough with myself as I was.

    Alice Miller wrote about how parents inevitably fuck up their children. No matter how loving, there’s always something abusive or wrong. I hate that line of thinking because I don’t find it helpful at all. Sure, it helps to acknowledge how our upbringing has affected us. But I don’t find it helpful to wallow in it. Looking back at the past to understand the present is smart. Living in the past is not. Whatever happened to us in the past, it is our responsibility now to make the best we can of today and our future.

    I think part of growing up is learning to deal with the disillusionment that our parents aren’t the superheroes we thought they were when we were little. Their flaws don’t necessarily mean they’ve fucked us up, or that their love was inadequate. It just means we begin to see them more clearly as they are and must learn to love them with more acceptance and forgiveness. Maybe the way your parents sheltered you made it more shocking to join in with the other girls at college, and maybe that was really hard. But maybe there’s something wonderful about the innocence and boldness you had and at least now you know what that could look like and feel like, as opposed to everyone else who had it stripped away far too young to even remember anymore. Maybe there isn’t a right or wrong, there is just what IS and we deal with that. Or maybe they got some things wrong, but maybe they got a lot of things right too.

    Anyway, I think it’s positive that you want to start out motherhood fresh and open. It’s a new stage in life you’re entering, and I think, sometimes it just feels really GOOD to set down all that heavy baggage we’re carrying–especially if it has lost its utility.

  5. Deb in NZ responded on 15 May 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    It must be interesting to have a therapist on an ongoing basis, kind of like a wise friend who is paid to listen to you all the time. In the UK and NZ the whole notion of therapy seems to be different. It is only funded via a doctor if you are not functioning as well as you could, or suffering in some way. As soon as you are functioning better, the idea seems to be that the therapy should end. Of course I guess people can and do pay for therapists privately here, but I know it is never supposed to be open ended. I dont personally know anyone in long term therapy, except the mentally ill. I’ve often wondered why its so different in the States, where so many people seem to have their own therapist yet seem to be functioning perfectly well. How are these therapists paid for? Could it be a side effect of private health insurance? The UK and NZ have public healthcare systems.

  6. kate responded on 15 May 2013 at 11:49 pm #

    I don’t think therapy is about blame or what was done wrong or anger. Even though the process of excavating the emotions and the whys canbring up anger, its not the point of it. The point I found is really understanding, really accepting the past, not in the, I forgive everyone anyway way but in the accepting of the pain caused and the darkness and light in everyone, and the fact that we are still ok and lovable even though this parts of us are parent. For me, its about self acceptance of my reality, warts and all and the therapist is just a guide. From reading your posts, you seem a wise self aware individual and I’m sure you willfollow this path, therapist or no therapist. All in all, they are just a guide, you can find your own way anyway. They just aid the process. Though, I found my therapist invaluable. I found that There was a part of it that iwas just about committing and going to the places you need to go but when and how is your choice and timing is key.

    For me therapy changed my life and how I feel about myself and helped me understand how I want to and can live.

    Very very best wishes for your pregnancy, I love your writings. Thank you xx

  7. Val responded on 16 May 2013 at 1:07 am #

    “Where I have a cool face. Where I am open-ended, unsolved, still fresh and learning.”

    I’d go with that. That’s a true story, allows the past to hold its mystery and the future too.

    When I read this it came to mind when my oldest child first went to college. Suddenly, within a few weeks he was much, much nicer to me. I asked him about it and this is what he said:

    “Yeah, well I figured out all the parents are crazy. In fact, Mother, you’re not even the craziest one.”

    (He was homeschooled, then went to public high school, struggled mightily with the ways our family was not the usual–too many kids, etc. and so on.)

    Thanks for letting us be along with you. xo, love, Val

  8. morgaine responded on 16 May 2013 at 9:53 am #

    “We sort out characteristics and assemble something that comfortingly resembles a personality. People, like dogs and chimps and probably caterpillars, too, like the reassurance of identifiable patterns. We pat ourselves on the back for being a person who consistently hates the taste of licorice—it’s a clue! Have you ever notice how proud people sometimes seem of their little weirdnesses?”

    Damn. This is so, so spot on. I’ve been thinking about similar things recently, and you put it so simply and eloquently.

  9. Sarah responded on 16 May 2013 at 10:03 am #

    So yeah, college. I went to fairly normal, average public schools through my whole school career and still felt bowled over by all the other girls my age when I got to college. How did I miss so much???

  10. Angela responded on 16 May 2013 at 10:58 am #

    This is an incredibly thoughtful and meaningful entry… Thank you for sharing your story. My parents chose my elective cosmetic surgery for me at 17 – impeccably bad timing, if I say so myself! – and so many years later, I still consider it one of the great tragedies of my life. Even after a very normal, regular public school experience, college (and the students) still eluded me. Probably something to do with the surgery and something to do with the fact that I can’t, even to this day, understand cruelty.

    Anyway, my point is that you are so very not alone! And sometimes just that little thought helps.

  11. Kate responded on 16 May 2013 at 10:58 am #

    @Deb
    Oh, wow! This is interesting for me, too. It feels like practically everyone I know goes to therapy, and mostly just because it feels like a helpful aspect of living a healthy life to them. I guess it does have to do with private health insurance? People definitely look for a therapist on their plan, or work with a sliding scale practice, so that it keeps the cost down. So far, I haven’t heard of anyone paying a lot of money for sessions, actually. It seems like people my age can mostly find someone who costs around the average dr. copay, maybe a little more. But I haven’t exactly polled everyone to find out.

  12. Kate responded on 16 May 2013 at 11:01 am #

    @Sarah
    I’ve heard this a lot from friends who went to school, and it makes me wonder if college is often just a shock to the system– I think it depends a lot on where you go to college, too. They have different cultures. A friend of mine was telling me about her transition from a welcoming school to a very cynical, Ivy League college, where all of the students were supposed to act “worldly.” She adapted, but it wasn’t easy at first! And so many people end up going to college in a different part of the country than where they grew up. I think that makes a difference, too.

    I definitely always used to think that whatever about me that was weird was because of homeschooling, for better or worse– it’s easy to put that on the thing about you that stands out. Now I realize that’s probably not ever entirely right.

  13. Kate responded on 16 May 2013 at 11:02 am #

    @morgaine
    Thank you for liking this!

    This post is so messy and all over the place, but I felt passionate, writing it. I appreciate you “getting” it.

  14. Melanie responded on 16 May 2013 at 11:05 am #

    I spent so many years blaming my parents for all of my “stuff.” Then one day I just said, “I’m an adult. My life choices and paths are my choice and my choice only.” I began to realize my place in all of my decisions. I stopped trying to figure out my mother and father and why they did what they did, and just focused on the good and the things they helped me with. Because of that, I’ve gotten closer to them than ever before, and it’s nice. All of my therapists have been yes folks and very unchallenging. I need someone who’s going to say stuff like I overthing everything. Haven’t found one of those yet. I have a really great anxiety specialist I see every so often who is really helpful. I try now to only analyze myself and my reaction to things. It’s made life far more manageable.

    That is an AMAZING cake pic.

  15. Erin Lee responded on 16 May 2013 at 11:41 am #

    I remember the day I realized that everyone had an upbringing that was messed up in one way or another. It’s just life. EVERYONE has a story. Just because our family has been through a decent amount of crap, doesn’t mean my perfect-best-friend’s-family hasn’t had their share of crap, too. I have also had one of those realizations where you say, “yeah, I should probably go to therapy.” Haven’t gotten there yet, but at least I’m not opposed to it like a certain twin I know (hem hem, @Rapunzel!).
    I think it’s a really good… um, breakthrough? that you’ve ‘forgiven’ your parents and yourself. It’s something I haven’t gotten to yet. I don’t feel like I need to forgive myself, or maybe I already have on that front. IDK. But I definitely haven’t forgiven my mother for the excessive bullshit she raised us with. I just had that conversation with my older sister the Christmas before last, and it was the first time I realized that I need to forgive her, and that I am not in that place yet. Maybe someday… when I am older and more mature?
    Good luck if you find a new therapist! I bet that is a nerve-wracking thing.

  16. Ashley Boone responded on 16 May 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    My freshman year in college was tough. I was away from home, it started with a breakup, I had a hard time making true friends and being happy with who I was and how I looked. I started going to counseling and it seemed to help. She let me talk about myself, for as long as I wanted or needed. We talked about my classes and my ex boyfriends and my struggles making friends. When I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone else, she was there. I didn’t spend much time analyzing my parents, it was more of looking at now, maybehave been

  17. Erika responded on 16 May 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    I love that this post is “messy” because it’s absolutely perfect in its own way. It reflects what you are talking about: people, and relationships. I’ve also been figuring out stuff about my own mother and it is messy. My therapist calls it “muddling through.” And you’re right that it would be so much easier to simplify the story but nothing is that simple. But eventually I hope to tire of talking about it, accept it, embrace it, (“integrate it” she says) and move on…

  18. Ashley Boone responded on 16 May 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    *that would have been helpful

  19. Patricia Christianson responded on 16 May 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    Two things I learned from formal therapy–
    1. Each of us needs a Happy Place. Where do you let your mind take you when you need a break?
    2. Do not believe the automatic negative thoughts on that continuous loop in your mind!

    When I apologize to my oldest (now 25 years old, a piano teacher/house painter/coffee shop owner) daughter for regrettable things I did when she was a homeschooled child, she says, “Oh Mother! I never think about that! I never think about those kinds of things! Stop feeling bad! We all turned out OK!”

  20. The Furries & The Happy Club responded on 16 May 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    I think that the whole concept of going back in time in therapy has to be seriously reevaluated.

    Modern memory research is showing that our memories are extremely unreliable and that they change very easily and keep changing.

    So talking about the past has to be seen as a subjective interpretation in the present.

  21. San D responded on 16 May 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    We all go through life pulling our invisible train stuffed with baggage. It’s when we unpack the baggage and actually look at the contents that we realize some of it isn’t worth keeping anymore. My mother was a functioning alcoholic whose life wasn’t easy from the beginning and she chose to be comfortably numb. Early on (about the age of 10)I was able to separate myself from that reality and I forgave her. My father loved her and that was that. Since we moved every 22 months, our family unit was very tight, and would have become the only truth I would have known had I not realized I needed to branch out to look for other truths using other families as surrogates. My friends’ mothers became my go to mentors. I saw other realities. Some not so bad, others worse. I learned everyone has that invisible train. I also learned that forgiveness and love go a long way in healing yourself.

  22. Lorie responded on 16 May 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Save your money for now. If you end up like me, you’ll need lots of therapy when your kid(s) reach their teens and they tell you what a crappy mom you are. LOL.

  23. Emily responded on 16 May 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    @ The Furries & The Happy Club

    I think the approach just has to be right when talking about the past. It’s not about rehashing and trying to identify accurate factual information. It’s about understanding the background beliefs and habits we’ve acquired over our lives and whether we want to identify with them or change them. Sometimes we are struggling with things we don’t even realize, because of something we internalized early on. The memories aren’t about finding out the true story, its about making sense of your internal states. It’s about seeing what memories do pop up, because they sometimes reveal some factor that helps you to understand yourself better and heal on some issue.

    I used to hate when therapists asked me about my childhood because it seemed totally besides the point, and like they were hunting for clues they couldn’t possibly understand. When I finally found a therapist who worked well for me, I found that memories of my childhood where extremely relevant and coming to my mind when talking about current issues. He didn’t push me to think of them. It really made me think differently about why that practice might have started in the first place.

  24. Sarah S responded on 16 May 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    The right therapist makes all the difference. I was in therapy for several years post-divorce with obviously low self esteem, literally crying about not fitting into size 2 jeans (my body is happiest bigger than that) and sharing the need to exercise hours a day. He never once suggested I get screened for an eating disorder. When I started seeing someone specifically for the ED, she turned out to be incredibly helpful (I still see her once a month), giving me all kinds of tools to cope with life’s beautiful messiness.

    We’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how my relationship with my mom contributed to my problems, but I’ve always been careful to emphasize that no harm was ever intended, and my difficulties are certainly not her fault! I suspect she feels guilty (wrongly so — old-fashioned Catholic guilt she learned from HER mother), as she makes occasional comments about wishing she’d done a better job as a mother. I think she is awesome and did the best she could.

    Analyzing parental relationships CAN be a great tool in understanding behaviors (and hopefully undermining and/or forgiving the negative ones), as long as blame never creeps in.

    Speaking of meandering… I’ll just say this comment keeps in the spirit of your post’s theme! ;)

  25. Claire responded on 16 May 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    This discussion is fascinating. I struggled for a long time with very contradictory visions of reality, like I would hate something and love it and be indifferent for it….at the same time.
    The sentence that really liberated me : there is no such thing as logical contradiction when you’re talking of psyche.

  26. shawna responded on 16 May 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    I find that I tend to be harder on my parents when I’m not happy with the way things are going. When I’m feeling depressed, I blame my personality flaws and failed dreams on their inability to guide me in the right direction, or their suppressive effect on my sensitive nature. My father, in particular, has an opposite personality type, and I sometimes I feel that my awareness of my own goodness and worthiness was crushed by his dislike of me, which I felt at a very early age. But when I’m happy, and feeling like me, I’m glad for everything that made me who I am, including my flawed and loving parents. I forgive my dad for not understanding me. I feel more adult.
    I am glad that you have been experiencing a sustained state of forgiveness, it gives me hope for myself!

  27. Ariella responded on 17 May 2013 at 12:22 am #

    Being a parent is tough. Unfortunately the kidlets don’t come with an instruction manual and we can only do the best we can to try to stay in tune with our children and their needs. I took a very different course than what my parents did. My kids are around a lot of different people so I am hoping that they don’t feel “weird” We have a lot of homeschoolers they can play with and they are very active in activities. I took a more natural approach to parenting – extended nursing, co-sleeping, vegan, very natural in dealing with life, etc….. I was upset with my parents about a few things for a season but then I realized that they just did the best that they could with teh tools that they had. They are great grandparents. Without being raised by them I would not have become the person I am now. great thoughts as always!

  28. Robert responded on 17 May 2013 at 4:55 am #

    Yeah,ok,that was better.Good ideas; good writing.But really what is it with the self-examined life and being Jewish.Yeah right Therapy.Being English,I understand that the definition of good is the maximum benefit for the maximum number (to paraphrase).Therapy is so self-interested.In the words of Danny (Withnail and I) -”Its all politics man…”.Parents are allowed to be crap as long as they tried.

  29. Brook responded on 17 May 2013 at 10:27 am #

    My mom did the best she could with what she had. Mostly that was good enough. Occasionally it was not. None of it insurmountable. I was angry about things when I was younger, but eventually i realised that whatever had gone wrong (or right) was over and now anything going forward was about me and my choices, for better or worse. Those old things might effect my decisions and life, but they don’t get to have as much power as I had previously given them.

  30. Katharine Lilley responded on 18 May 2013 at 12:09 am #

    “I look around, and it seems like everyone is weird in one way or another.”

    I think that hits the nail right on the head, Kate. It’s like that lovely quote: “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”

    We love our loved ones quirks and weirdness’. At some point I think we learn to love our own.

  31. Kande responded on 18 May 2013 at 6:41 am #

    I don’t know if someone said this or not, but what I was relating to when reading your post, was that to me? It reminded me of how I feel when trying to describe a dream. I can describe me and my childhood well … and my growing up experiences – maybe because I am lacking in imagination so it’s easy for me to remember and stick to the facts. But dreams are nothing but pure expressions of imagination – and I have had some crazy vivid, entertaining, bursting with fantastic detail interesting dreams – full of complex emotions and thoughts – yet when I try to describe them it falls completely flat. ” So I was in this house – and then you were there, but you weren’t – and I made a sandwich! And ohhh … nevermind.” And yet in my head the richness of the dream is still resonating and the emotions and sights and sounds all seem so incredible I wish I could capture them into a novel, yet like the proverbial sand through fingers they just keep slipping away, just out of reach to recapture.

    So maybe? Your inability to capture those details are just a sign of you being a strong writer with a vivid imagination …

  32. Sugar Bowl: Week of 5/18/13 | Discharmed responded on 18 May 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    [...] I adore that blog, and I adore the latest entry about therapy, about forgiveness, and about our perspectives of our past and the experiences that shaped us (especially during [...]

  33. Mia responded on 19 May 2013 at 8:32 am #

    One of the things that’s interesting to do when you have children of your own is to remember what your parents were like when you were the age of your kids. Recalling that you are now the age your mother was when you were, say, 3 gives you some perspective on why your mother behaved the way she did. Sometimes it makes you more sympathetic to her. Sometimes it gives you the gratification that you’re doing a better job at mothering than she did.

  34. N responded on 24 May 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    My mother-in-law did a teensy bit of reading about psychoanalysis waaay back in the day and likes nothing more than to give her completely non-professional analysis of everyone she knows, and also people she barely knows at all (e.g. my family). Her stories are the extreme of what you’re talking about – so incredibly narrow and simplistic and one-stranded that it makes me not want to analyse anybody, ever!

  35. mark responded on 12 Jun 2013 at 7:58 pm #

    I am a therapist who uses early memories extensively in practice, and without going into details what is said about these early memories is extremely valuable to the individual first and to the therapist. The bottom line is that every single one of us is weird which is THE thing that makes us all beautiful. There is no normal, because if there was then none of us would ever be in that area. It is a collection of beliefs that as a whole become a norm, but we individuals pick and choose which ones to adhere to, and then get depressed and angry with ourselves by the aspects that don’t fit. It’s funny really. But where it becomes an issue, is not you, but in all of everyone else that chooses to highlight your difference while suppressing their own. Not me. I love the sameness in all of us, and that sameness is that we are all completely different. Absolutely love your writing!!!!

  36. mark responded on 12 Jun 2013 at 8:06 pm #

    BTW, unless your parents truly had psychiatric problems, and there are some of them, understand that your parents did the best they could with what they had available to them. If they knew better wouldn’t one think they’d do better?

    Therefore, no body gets up in the morning, looks out the window and says what a perfect day to be mediocre. We all do our best, every single day. Some days it’s 50% of who we are, some days it’s 120%, and we all know when we do either one. But on any given day, it’s a hundred percent of the way we are today. Keeping that in mind, forgiveness is easier. They were either really I’ll, which is to be forgiven, or they were ignorant, which is also to be forgiven. More than likely they weren’t that way to you to mainly piss you off, or screw you over.