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Big can o worms!


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My tdoc Lesley has been talking with me about my family issues (the usual Mum and Dad stole my childhood with their unavailableness stuff, thus my abandonment issues and rage, that kind of thing) and she has suggested family therapy.

I mentioned this to my Dad yesterday and he started making comments about not getting the time off work (story of our lives!) and then when we got to the heart of it he felt that we could resolve the issues privately in our family without 'this Lesley woman interfering' and without 'being dysfunctional in some therapy room' (!) He suggested I write him and Mum letters and then we sit down and talk through the content instead. He says he will go if he has to but he doesn't want to.

Part of me is just plain mad that he doesn't want to invest just two hour sessions of therapy in our family. I don't feel it is a lot to ask. I also feel like I want a therapist there in case what I have to say causes them to be defensive and the whole conversation collapses into chaos. Yet I don't know if I want to drag resentful parents to therapy if they're gonna be arsey about it all. I've written the letters as per Dad's request but not given them out to Mum and Dad yet.

What would you do? If you were going to tell the butt ugly honest truth to your parents about how they have affected you would you do it at home or in therapy?

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Well, certainly you would feel more comfortable doing it in your therapists office, because you feel supported, your therapist is there, and it's neutral ground.

Conversely, your parents would be more comfortable in their home. The therapist may be viewed as someone on your side, ganging up on them to place accusations and blame.

I think having a therapist conduct the session would always be preferable. Having the session at the therapists office does establish a measure of control by the therapist.

Have you shown your letters to your therapist? I would strongly encourage you to do so before even considering handing them to your parents. A bit of guidance here is important. Just because your dad has agreed to talk with you doesn't mean that it is right unload both barrels at them and create more hate and discontent. It may take a re-writing or two.

Also consider that it may be better to take this one step at a time. Rather than hand your folks a laundry list of issues, addressing one or two at your first meeting may be best. It would help break the ice, keep the focus limited to one or two topics, and establish a rapport for further discussions.

Good luck!


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Wow, this is a hard decision.

But I think your father's resistance is key to some the issues you are trying to heal.

No matter which environment you choose to reveal your old wounds it is not going to be comfortable for them to accept.

What does your mom say?

And more importantly, what does your heart say to do?

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no parent wants to think that they caused their child's pain. my dad avoided it at all costs, refusing to read any book i gave him on borderline, etc.

and i eventually came to realize that he did the best he could and it was better for me to accept him as he is and to just not turn to him for emotional support. because no matter how many times i told him he was hurting me, he just could not understand why, could not understand why i was so emotional. so i worked on not letting his behavior upset me, worked on accepting him as he is (flaws and low emotional iq and all) and eventually it became easier for me to not be triggered by his invalidations and now we have a pretty good relationship. just one that doesn't deal with emotions or what i'm doing in therapy.

you had your childhood robbed from you. i had mine robbed as well. and i still mourn that, and it's really fucking unfair, but i can never change that. i have to do the "radical acceptance" thing from DBT and just accept that this is how it is, it is not good, but it is how things are.

you have control over your life. but you can not change the past and you can not change another person who does not want to be changed.

i'm not saying that it is pointless to work on your family dynamic. i am saying that for me, a person who struggled with an invalidating parent and spent many hours in therapy with him as a teen, the thing that actually made me happy and actually altered our dynamic from one of conflict to one of friendship, was to accept him as he is, warts and all.

my thoughts are with you,


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My Mum is all for it. My heart says that I want him to want to go, I don't want to force his hand and make him go if he is going to hate it and be hurt. I just fear for how close we can be in future if he won't hear what I have to say. Thanks Penny for the radical acceptance idea, something for me to think about.

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