Week Five

Is this really week FIVE already?! It’s going by so fast that I appear to have lost all creative originality, when it comes to titling these posts! 😉 I’m now beyond the halfway point, despite missing the session last week. All I can say to summarise is that it is help. It is making a difference and that it is giving me lots to think about and consider. After that synopsis, I trust some of you will still continue to read on… 🙂

You can probably tell that I’m not in a low mood. For each of the past two weeks, my Mondays have been close to horrendous (at least, inside my own mind). I’m holding on to the positives right now because they’re cropping up all over the place. Maybe I’m now more accustomed to seeing and accepting them?

In the week that I missed, we apparently looked in detail at the ‘Threat System’, how it affects our thinking and noting the thoughts and behaviours that tend to follow. Hmmm, it doesn’t sound very pleasant, does it? I’m kind of glad I missed that one, even though I’m free to explore it at my own leisure.

Yesterday evening, we were talking about ‘Safety Strategies’, which might also fall under the category of ‘Soothing’. I spent the first half of the session pondering why I was really there, in the room. I felt very distant; as though I was only there to make a social appearance; as if I didn’t actually want to help myself. But then, after the ten-minute midway break, my thoughts and feelings lifted, hoisting my mood and enthusiasm with them, as we began looking at the well regarded Rules for Living.

This was somewhat familiar from the Anxiety Management course I did previously but, tackling it from the angle of self-esteem; I don’t know, it just seemed to resonate with me that much more. One rule (among several) that particularly stood out for me concerned blaming present problems on events of the past and I decided to work with this one in the class. My next example would’ve been a rule along the lines of a belief that ‘I should always be happy, or smiling‘.

As you might have guessed, I blame my parents in this rule (which is an all too common belief). We were advised that blaming someone or other people is not healthy and I can understand that. It doesn’t lead to any resolve. Instead, we’re encouraged to show compassion towards these people. In this example; to accept that they did their best. I can accept that in the case of my mother because I truly believe she did try her hardest given the circumstances and she has almost always been there for both my sister and I. Yet, I only believe that my dad could’ve done a heck of a lot more. He could’ve tried harder and this belief is only reinforced by revelations of abuse and threatening behaviour that my mother has only revealed to me in recent years since the divorce.

How can I show compassion to a man who caused so much pain? A man who starved us of our freedom. In a house where there was often the fear of what he might do next if I or we don’t do as expects.

My current strategy (although in its early stages) is to push him away; to keep him at a safe distance and it is helping to provide me with some much needed space. My family even supports me with this approach somewhat. I can feel safe now at times but I know he won’t go away for ever. I can talk to my mother but I don’t believe I would benefit from attempting to confront him (this was something I was encouraged to do by a counsellor the late last year). I have no evidence that suggests he would listen or even realise or admit to any wrongdoings.

I worry still that he wants and expects too much, just because he carries that three letter word (“dad”). If I try to be compassionate towards him, I worry that he’ll assume too much. That he’ll demand too much, when I would like him to back off, to let go and to accept (which is something I’ve recently come to terms with in another area of my life – and it does feel good).

Perhaps I misunderstand what compassion is… Would anyone like to share their understanding?

I may be wrong in saying this but I think Natalya once had some words of advice for me on this issue, with regards to not blaming or hating a parent who has hurt and/or upset you in the past. If anyone else has any words to share then please do. 🙂

Thank you all for reading.

(PS. Sorry, no day out, road trips or photographs this week! ;-))

8 comments on “Week Five

  1. Natalya says:

    I’m glad your low mood has passed!

    Regarding compassion: you needn’t tell your father you’ve found compassion for him if you do. You’re under no obligation to share that with him. Often, it is best to feel compassion for those who have hurt us and not let them know. After all it usually won’t help matters if the abuser has little empathy or insight into their actions and their effects on others.

    Compassion, in my understanding of it, is loving kindness toward ourselves. Once we have compassion for ourselves we can start giving it to others (friends, loved ones, neutral people, then our “enemies”). You can’t give what you don’t have though so remember to always show yourself compassion first and foremost! The key to being helpful to others is to help ourselves. I don’t mean that to sound self serving but it is being selfish in a positive way. We can take care of ourselves and not be self centered about it or egotistical. You just have to focus on loving yourself then it will be so much easier to love others-even the seemingly unlovable.

  2. What are ‘Threat Systems’? Sound really interesting.
    I accepted things with my family too, and just decided to let go of the rubbish I once felt, pent up, against them. I see that they are human, tried their best and I (nor parenthood), came with a ‘how to’ guide! This of course is easier said than done. I understand how you feel towards your Dad, such things aren’t easily swept away.
    I hope you can find resolution in some way, even if one day you can just tell him in simple terms how he made you feel. That is if he would or could listen, and accept this.
    Big hugs, and WOW to your amazing progress.

    • Hi Bex and THANK YOU! 🙂

      It’s actually ‘A’ Threat system. Alternatives would be to Sooth or… I forget the other one! It’s basically to do with how we react and feel in certain situations (emotions, physical behaviours, etc.). In the course, we’re encouraged to look at ways in which we can activate our soothing system more; taking time out for ourselves, not always putting others first and doing things that we want to do.

      Thank you, I hadn’t thought to consider the fact that parenting doesn’t come with a book… Perhaps I can find compassion (after accepting and loving myself) by looking at the situation more generally, instead of specifying it directly and personally to my parents?

      • Interesting, and no doubt highly effective, as I think you prove! I don’t know so much about the inner workings of CBTas a therapy, so I shall be asking you more questions I am sure!
        Yes, it helped me to realise this, my angst towards my own parents then decreased. Also, being more removed, physically speaking, helped too. Hope my little theory can help you too 🙂

  3. Cat says:

    Sometimes confronting parents achieves little, especially when they view the situation differently. It is hard to forgive someone who does not recognise what they did wrong.

    I wish I had some words of wisdom about compassion for parents. I am struggling on a similar journey. I think you first need compassion for yourself.

    PS Your Flickr pics are awesome

    • Yes, Cat, that has always been my fear; that it will only make things worse and that I could end up feeling ‘helpless’ (with respect to this situation) at the end of it.

      I just found Bex’s comment where she makes that point that parenting in general doesn’t come with a guidebook and so, I’m now wondering whether I can work on being more accepting generally, instead of keeping it personal with my parents?

      Thank you for the compliment! 😉

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