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Can anyone explain what would happen in therapy?

(17 Posts)
TreacherousPissFlap Mon 15-Jun-20 12:30:15

My childhood was a bit weird, though the few people I've ever spoken to about it have described it as abusive. I guess it's my normal so I've never really viewed it as such, though I suspect they're probably right.
My father (the main perpetrator) died a couple of years ago, no big deal as we had been NC since I left home at 18. I did however get a pang that I'd never been called to rush to his death bed and hear him profess his distress for the way he'd behaved, and apologise for the father he'd been like in the movies
I and DS are now DM's only family. She adores DS and he her. I do "my bit" but am constantly wary and I certainly wouldn't describe our relationship as close, though that's what she wants.
I struggle to imagine treating DS the way she did me, though I fully appreciate times were different, she herself was in an abusive relationship and was not a strong enough character to walk away (even to protect her children) The biggest issue is how she seems to have excised all the uncomfortable memories, and can paint a vivid picture of our rosy (if poor) childhood.
I don't challenge her on these memories (they're normally relayed when I'm not around in any case) because I can't truly see what the point would be in upsetting an elderly widow who cannot change the past.
So then I considered counselling but I'm afraid the aim of that will be to confront her. Does anyone know if this is likely to be the case or could I make it clear from the outset this is off the cards?

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Etinox Mon 15-Jun-20 12:43:27

It sounds like therapy would be very useful for you. The therapist wouldn’t make you do anything. You could start off by saying, I want to talk about my childhood and I think you might suggest I confront my mum but I don’t want to. She’d help you explore why you don’t want to, what would happen if you did and what alternate strategies could be useful.

Etinox Mon 15-Jun-20 12:44:36

Sorry- what would happen if you did
Should say, what you think could happen if you did...

Jetwashingsquirrels Mon 15-Jun-20 12:44:37

In my experience, counselling and therapy is more about helping you to work through your own feelings around an issue and deal with them in a healthy way. You would not have to do anything that you are uncomfortable doing and they wouldn't be 'coaching' you for a confrontation, they may help you work out conversations if you decide that's what you want but remember they are there to help you. Also as a side note the minimizing and glossing over of abuse is a very common tactic of abusers flowers

speakout Mon 15-Jun-20 12:47:03

In counselling you get to set the goals. You steer the ship.

Anne8850 Mon 15-Jun-20 12:51:26

I'm a therapist

A good therapist will work with you, listen to you, explore your feelings, your memories, your paths going forward. But it should all be led by you and at your pace. A therapist can't "make" you do anything you don't want to. If you feel uncomfortable you need to say it to the therapist, therapy should be client led.
Just please make sure you go to someone properly qualified

TreacherousPissFlap Mon 15-Jun-20 13:03:30

I've not done anything like counselling before, apart from a pilot session through work which I didn't find in the least bit helpful. If I'm able to set the agenda I may look into it.
I'm not even sure what I would want from it. It's just that odd things keep popping up from the back of my memory and it saddens me that was my childhood. I genuinely feel mostly unaffected by it, but I'm concerned that if I go poking around in my past it could unleash bigger issues for me as a result.
For example, I was talking to DH and the subject of The Naughty Girls Home came up. DH was aghast (his childhood was very different to mine) when I recalled how I had been left in the driveway of The Naughty Girls School with my suitcase at the age of about 7 and had to watch my father drive away. Perhaps memories like that are best kept tucked away?

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speakout Mon 15-Jun-20 13:16:11

OP just to give you an idea of what counselling may involve.

I was asked what I want to achieve- and I said I wanted to find more joy in my life.
I had weekly sessions for several months.
Most of the work involved was done outside the therapy sessions.
My counsellor helped me develop strategies, but always led by me.
We worked on boundaries, self prioritisation, and I practiced my new found skills in the time between sessions.

Counselling has really helped me. I have an ongoing situation with no end in sight, but I am far better equipped now to deal with things- and I have indeed found more joy in my life!

Durgasarrow Mon 15-Jun-20 13:59:55

Dear OP, in my experience, counseling is not about forcing you to confront another person. A good therapist will help you to find empathy for your confused and suffering younger self, who coped with your painful situation as well as you could, and help you to heal those ancient wounds and walk tall again. You will have more love for yourself and more confidence to face the world with openness, curiosity, and freedom when you are done. If you are like me, you will find that the relationships that seemed so frightening and overwhelming, like those with your mother, are less of an issue when you have that internal confidence. Make that investment in yourself, OP. You only have one wild and precious life. And you are worth it.

Lottapianos Mon 15-Jun-20 14:07:25

OP, a lot of people feel like you when they start therapy- a feeling that it might be useful, lots of trepidation, uncertainty about what you actually want from it, and a sense that there is a lot more going on for you below the surface. I was in therapy for a long time and I couldn't recommend it enough, so long as you have a properly accredited therapist who you trust

As others said, they would be your sessions, and you control the agenda, and would never be told what to do by the therapist. The therapist may suggest things, or challenge your thinking at times, but you are always in control. And yes,when discussing memories and emotions and experiences, things can get very painful, and feelings that you didnt realise you had can come to the surface. Therapy can be very hard work indeed. Absolutely worth it though, in my experience

contrmary Mon 15-Jun-20 14:19:46

Part of therapy is to confront your past - what happened then, how it affects you now and how to move forward.

That doesn't mean it is confrontational. A good (or average) therapist will challenge but not to the point a person withdraws or won't participate, that would defeat the purpose of being there.

It won't be easy although if you want to talk it through with your mother, the professional setting sounds best because if either of you gets upset, the therapist will know how to calm you down and get you talking again.

Vodkacranberryplease Mon 15-Jun-20 14:20:11

I've had psychodynamic therapy and found it to be a complete waste of time and money. They can't and won't help you change a situation and if the situation is ongoing obviously it becomes pointless.

But maybe sitting and talking to someone is what you need? It's usually at least 2 years though.
They definitely won't ask you to confront her etc. You'll be lucky if they say anything! They want you to talk and come to your own conclusions. It's about you feeling heard. Though I never felt heard as it just seemed so set up. Finish at x time etc. But that's just me maybe?

It depends on how you want to play it. There's different types and although they never really want to say I do x type you can probably tell after the first session. You have to decide if you want validation, just a sounding board, some strategies to deal with your feelings, a way to forget (or get over) it, or a second opinion on the why's etc.

Many won't give you an opinion or a strategy etc. But maybe that's not what you want?

There's EMDR too which is a short therapy for trauma which is good if you have specific events. It just reduces their impact on your emotions. I'm guessing 8-12 sessions maybe?

Some people love going to therapy each week, and of course it's nice to sit and talk about your feelings for 50 minutes. But it gets expensive over 2+ years too.

TreacherousPissFlap Mon 15-Jun-20 14:22:52

Thank you all, your experiences are really helpful.
The thing is (aside from a morbid fear of letting my own DS down) these memories have little impact on me. What my experience has done is made me resilient and independent, a strong person who people look to in a crisis. The biggest issue I would say is that I do not trust people. It doesn't bother me, I am just always aware that I need to ultimately be able to rely on myself if / when others let me down. I don't feel a burning desire to let lots of people "in" so it's not like I'm missing out because I'm lonely (for example)

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TreacherousPissFlap Mon 15-Jun-20 14:24:33

And I cannot put paragraphs in my online posts hmm

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Vodkacranberryplease Mon 15-Jun-20 14:24:50

@TreacherousPissFlap Memories are never best kept tucked away as they come out anyway - but if it's when you aren't in control of that timing it can be difficult.

I'm guessing you can't really open up to your DH? Being able to tell someone everything is probably a good thing. Just be careful not to get stuck there, the goal is to get it out, deal with it and be ok. I've had 3 therapists and they definitely vary. Be ruthless if one isn't helping.

TreacherousPissFlap Mon 15-Jun-20 19:13:25

vodkacranberryplease I could and do speak to DH. The problem with this is that he only knows today's DM, who is a very different woman to how she was 30+ years ago. He also had a blessed childhood so he has no point of reference for what I'm saying.

I also need to be extremely careful that DS does not overhear too much. DM is his only other relative aside from us and they are very close. It wouldn't be fair on either of them for him to hear my gory memories.

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Vodkacranberryplease Mon 15-Jun-20 20:56:09

Yes I hear you. I wasn't implying you can't speak to him, sometimes we want to keep the 'shit' out of our lovely lives. And they might not understand, it makes things tricky etc etc. Absolutely nothing wrong with that and that's what therapy is for. Cause you can tell them what you want.

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