It shouldn't hurt to grow up – but sometimes it does
Do you feel stuck in the past? You are not alone
The relationships within our family powerfully shape who we are and how we feel about ourselves. Betrayals in family relationships can have a number of consequences:
- A belief that relationships are unsafe
- A belief that you do not matter
- A tendency to blame yourself
- Difficulty managing emotions
Psychotherapy can break the cycle of abuse in families and teach about healthy and successful relationships
A troubled past may be affecting your life in one or more of these ways
- Relationships – difficulty getting close to someone or sustaining a connection with them.
- Self-esteem – you have a negative view of yourself that is hard to shake. You have a hard time believing that you matter to anyone or that you are powerful.
- Self-sabotage – you are your own worst enemy – you tend to destroy the things that you value.
- Impulsiveness - you feel flooded with emotion and make decisions without thinking it through.
- Boundaries – you find that people either walk all over you and you have difficulty saying no, or that you have very rigid ideas and need to control people and situations.
- Difficulties with sexual intimacy - problems with a lack of desire, difficulty trusting relationships, shame about sexual desires, promiscuity: these are some of the common symptoms.
- Depression – you suffer from periods of depression or anxiety that you suspect relate to your past.
- Perfectionism – you have difficulties accepting that you can make mistakes. You may procrastinate due to needing to get things perfect. You find it difficult to be satisfied with anything.
- People-pleasing – you tend to focus on what others need and deny your own needs. This can result in feeling used and resentful.
- Anxiety – you may suffer from general anxiety or panic attacks. The world seems unsafe and you expect to be hurt and a target for other people's hostility.
Facing your past takes courage
When you work on healing from an abusive or dysfunctional family it is important that you go at your own pace with gentle encouragement to come to terms with what happened. You may not have spoken to anyone about some of the things that happened to you, or you may have received a hurtful response when you did. Perhaps you are afraid to open up to someone again.
If you were abused sexually, physically, emotionally or spiritually you may have a sense of shame about those experiences. Shame keeps us stuck in silence and pain. It is important to identify shame so we can let it go. Sharing these painful experiences in a warm therapeutic setting will begin to lift the burden. Healing trauma takes time.
When we have an understanding of the ways our past interferes in our life now, we gain awareness of our wider choices and learn how to break the cycles of our family dysfunction.
I first came to work with Delyse when I was struggling to find better ways to communicate with my partner. I also wanted to explore some past relationship patterns with my family members to develop greater clarity about what belongs in the past. Delyse provided a calm, gentle and wise approach to the issues I brought forth. She was superb at being present when intense emotions were evoked within me, and she had a way of helping me to untangle beliefs that were only serving to keep me suffering. Delyse was also able to teach me about seeing things as they really are, and learning to accept what is. Furthermore, she would often recommend books that were relevant to my struggles which I found to be very helpful. My time with her has allowed me to disengage more from old thoughts and beliefs. I find that I am less reactive and more inclined to be gentle and understanding with myself when I either experience intense emotions or conflict with others. I would highly recommend Delyse as a counsellor!" B.A. Clinical Social Worker.
Here are some of the experiences that clients have had
- Demanding and critical parents
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse – any kind of physically painful punishment is both unnecessary and abusive
- Physical intimidation – yelling, hitting and breaking objects when angry with you
- Scapegoating – parents who clearly favoured one child over the others
- Shaming your choices and feelings – humiliating you for your emotional expressions and describing you as stupid. Belittling your choices and desires
- Witnessing continuing hostility – violence and arguing
- Threatening abandonment – if you ______ I will send you to _____
- Intrusiveness – lack of privacy and a sense of being watched
- Over-protection – constantly checking up on you, wanting to know everything, transmitting a fear- based approach to life
- Inconsistency - the rules are constantly changing and if naturally confused by this you are criticized
- Emotional fragility – your parents respond to challenge by getting upset, then use guilt to shut you down
- Addiction – dealing with the chaos or absenteeism of an addicted parent
- Using children as a weapon in divorce
- Adoption trauma – separation from birth parents and your adoptive parents having difficulty dealing with your differentness
- Mental Illness – dealing with the inconsistencies and the absenteeism of a mentally ill parent
- Hostile communication – judgement, belittling, humiliation, sarcasm, contempt, verbal attacks, ignoring, negativity
- Debating everything with you – as children you could never win the debate but were expected to try
- Anxious, fearful or unfulfilled parents – wanting you to do things that they are afraid to do, feel incapable of doing, or live their dreams
- Abandonment – one or both parents leave the family or have inconsistent contact
- Cult or religious abuse – systematic sexual, physical, and psychological abuse involving groups around ritualized events
To make an appointment
- 608-402 W. Pender St, (Homer/Pender)
- Suite 223, 1628 West 1st Avenue (near Fir)