Yesterday afternoon was the first individual therapy with Paul since our two week Christmas break. It was nice to see him and felt even better to be getting back into our routine. After a twenty-day gap, my challenge was to get the therapy-head back in gear, so I used the session as a time of festive reflection.
One of the worst tasks at this time of year is sending special ‘Mum and Dad’ Christmas cards. We should forget and pretend by false messages portrayed in personalised cards.
It’s the same with festive telephone calls. We might not speak for twelve months, but somehow Christmas and New Year should be a time when the “children” visit or phone their parents. This may well happen in a happy functional family, but I struggle to partake in the make-believe.
In recent months, therapy has been unravelling a traumatic childhood with both parents at the helm. This year, it seemed two-faced and false to switch from feeling repulsed by their behaviour to pretending they are suddenly wonderful parents for Christmas time.
When I first started therapy, memories of childhood were very traumatic. Recalling them would leave me trembling uncontrollably in a shock-like state. I thought they were the root of all my problems and imagined painstakingly going through each one, searching for healing. There were posts in this blog that put considerable emphasis on a need to forgive the abusers before I could truly “move on.” I believed this needed to be the central focus of therapy. I do not know when that belief changed, but it did.
During this process, something quite significant happened, but it was so subtle, I barely even notice the change. Apart from my chronic rumination spontaneously ending – I mean completely ending – the guilt and self-blame attached to my parents, seems to have almost completely disappeared.
Yes, my therapy is still about healing from the past, but my parents are not central focus. This is about making peace with the memories and who I am today, but I do not necessarily need to make peace with them.
With all this in mind, I decided not to send my parents a card or to fulfil those traditional festive phone calls. Mum is your passive aggressive master and texts can be her most powerful tool. However, surprisingly, she seemed quite happy to receive a text rather than a call on the two most important days of the year.
I was not being a mean scrooge and neither did my actions carry a tinge of resentment. Something about it felt right. I cannot say it felt good because it is still sad… tragic… that we have come to this, but for the first time in my life, I was completely free of guilt and self-blame, and that did feel good… reeeeal good.
This year was about acknowledging and owning how I feel. For the first time in my life, it did not matter how other people might perceive me. Something about all of this feels as if we are right back at basics. Ready to begin