On Re-parenting 

I don’t believe my therapist can, or should try to, re-parent me. 

I know deep down that the window for parenting has closed and it’s now up to me, and only me, to give myself the love and nurturing and attunement I didn’t get. 

I  should have gotten it, though. 

From my actual parents. The ones who conceived, birthed, and raised me. Two people who chose to have a child and then be unbelievably cruel to her. 

That’s on them. Yet it destroys me. 

And I think I rage against my therapist because her boundary with me on this reminds me, on a visceral level, of the unbearable neglect I was subjected to as a child. 

I will never ever get back the love, compassion, reassurance, kindness, or attunement that I so desperately needed. 

The anger is overwhelming. 

The grief is overwhelming. 

The pain is overwhelming. 

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30 thoughts on “On Re-parenting 

  1. Blooming Lily says:

    You should have gotten it from your parents. It’s not fair. It’s really not fair. I hear the pain, and in my own way, I feel it too.
    I do want to point out though while yes, eventually you will be the one to give yourself the love you need (as unfair as it is) – your therapist should still attune to you. Your therapist should not punish you. Your therapist should take your needs into consideration.
    That’s not re-parenting – that’s just being a good therapist, in my opinion (and I’m not saying yours is bad – but I’m just saying that while yes, are therapists can and should not fully reparent us, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be attuned and caring).
    I’m sending you all the love my heart can muster right now, Andi. This is excruciating.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Andi says:

      That’s a good point. And I think I feel very helpless and abandoned because it’s like she expects me to be able to give these things to myself and right now I just cannot.

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  2. Paper Doll says:

    I am sending you so much care and wish I could sit there and just be with you in this grief and pain right now. Regardless of how your therapist should or should not be handling your needs – this hurts. And that sucks. And that is not fair. And I’m here for you. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Cat's Meow says:

    This is so painful. I’m sorry.

    I am fortunate to have an extremely warm therapist who is comfortable enough with herself and dealing with intense emotions for her to be fairly consistently available to me. Sometimes she has days when she isn’t quite as much there as normal and when her dad was dying, there were more of those days than normal. She understands attachment issues and severe early trauma and recognizes that part of our work is Attachment Therapy.

    But even with all of that, it has been a difficult journey for me to allow myself to really feel her there. The early betrayals make it all but impossible to deeply trust another to not betray me when I am most vulnerable. Over and over we go through a process that has slowly allowed me to let her in bit by bit.

    At first, the process was extremely rocky. I would risk and reveal something and somehow it would go wrong. When I got home, I would curl up in a ball to cry and swear to myself that I would never trust her with something that deep again. We talked about it recently and how it’s unclear from a distance whether she was messing things up (which she says is entirely possible) or if I was just so sensitized that any slight misattunement as excruciating and impossible to tolerate. Or some combination. We have worked our way to something that works better for us. But I still have periods of feeling dreadfully alone and unable to connect.

    I just wanted to say that you are not at all alone in struggling with the desperate yearning for and simultaneous terror of attachment. It’s not something wrong with you. In fact it’s a miracle that you still have the desire to connect alive inside of you after such intense early betrayals.

    It sounds like this situation with your therapist has been terribly confusing and hurtful for you to experience. Whatever her intentions, your experience is your experience and in my opinion needs to be honored. I have no idea how much of what is going on is not hearing and understanding the meaning of the other or not saying things as clearly as believed or a bad match of therapeutic technique, or what.

    Whatever the case, part successful trauma therapy involves learning how to create attachments, figuring how who and how to trust, and experiencing a genuine relationship. It’s a lot more effective to do it all first hand with your therapist before venturing out into the world, because you can really look at the problems honestly. Or at least that’s the ideal, but it requires a lot of safety, security, and trust. Especially when dissociation is involved, because there will be parts screaming “don’t talk, don’t trust” even when others know that it would help.

    I hope that you can find this sort of safety with this therapist, because I don’t want for you to have to go through the agonies of separation and then everything that it takes to get to know a new therapist. But I really think that it’s necessary.

    Sending lots of warmth.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Sirena says:

    If you’ve never experienced good, safe, warm, secure parenting, how can you expect to know how to do it for yourself? If you’d never got in a car, would you expect to just magically know how to drive?
    It is possible to receive limited re-parenting, there’s plenty of therapists who are willing to do it. A therapist cannot and should not meet all our needs as if we were infants, and there is a lot of grieving for us to do about missing out on that safe childhood experience. But they can give us elements of reparenting.
    You are not in the wrong for wanting and needing this Andi. It’s very possible to get love, compassion, reassurance and attunement. Whether it is from this therapist remains to be seen. But it is out there and you will get it.

    Liked by 5 people

    • La Quemada says:

      I think the point that Sirena makes is so important: if we didn’t experience safe, secure parenting, how could we offer it to ourselves? So part of our therapists’ job is to show us what that looks like. And SHOW is important, for me at least. Sometimes when E just TELLS me “be nice to the girl,” blah blah blah, I get frustrated. What does that look like? I want to know. So yes, true, they cannot re-parent us. But their warmth and concern can serve as a model for how we might treat ourselves.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Kate says:

    Hi andi,

    Unfortunately I know what your talking about, I’m sorry your therapist isn’t meeting your needs right now. I second what cats meow wrote, sometimes I’m missing my therapist good intentions because of how raw and open this wound feels. So she’s trying and we are and somehow we keep missing each other. For us, the healing begins when she listens to my perspective and is able to say she’s sorry and when we are able to hear how she meant it in the first place. Sometimes reading your posts I get the feeling that you’re on your own a bit in trying to figure out what went wrong, why she said what she said etc. and I think that is on her, she is there to help you grow, to say the hard stuff if she has to but in a way that contributes to the progress. Just saying something without an explanation is hard, because for us, we tend to seek the blame on the inside.
    I don’t know if that’s the case for you to, but I would wish for a little more warmth and mutual understanding in your therapy. After all, it is your therapy. You are there for all of you, not for the sake of your therapist. And if your needs continue not being heard (within reason off course) maybe it is time for some serious conversations with her.
    The biggest gift my therapist gives me is being vulnerable, because from that place I learn I can be vulnerable to and it isn’t scary or will hurt me.
    Wishing you all the best

    Kate

    Liked by 2 people

  6. skinnyhobbit says:

    I agree with Sirena. The Schema therapy I’m in believes that “limited reparenting” within flexible boundaries of the therapeutic relationship is core. It doesn’t mean the therapist cares for us like we should have been as children, but it means offering empathy, compassion, warmth, attunement and SOME of our emotional needs where possible while guiding me to nurture myself. For some schema therapists, it means offering some form of agreed upon outside contact, transitional objects, willingness to touch, willingness to be emotionally present and close to the client, contact after termination even.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. liferolle says:

    So sorry to hear this. I understand as my therapist has not been very caring and I don’t know how to trust her with this deep shit. So proud of you for the work you do in expressing your selves and what you are going through. I pray your angels to wrap around and deliver peace. Hugs from luverley

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Anonymous says:

    Feeling the sorrow and pain. Wasn’t right or fair or what you deserved. You do deserve love, care, concern, and empathy. From yourself, from your wife, from your friends, and from your therapist.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. e.Nice says:

    Hey Andi. It wasn’t right or fair what happened. You deserve (and need) love and care and concern and compassion and empathy. Then and now. I am glad you can see the need to give those things to yourself; to treat yourself kindly and gently. However you also need this from others around you. From yourself, your wife, your friends, and your therapist. Hurting for you. Wish it was different.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hollienothing says:

    I know exactly how you feel and don’t think that anyone that has not experienced betrayal from the ones who were supposed to love and care for them while they were children can really understand the amount of pain and grief their is for not having the love of parents.

    I especially relate to your struggles with your therapist and the closeness you want to feel and don’t want to feel at the same time. My therapist told me last Tuesday that she will be retiring at the end of April. I have been seeing her for eight years and to say I am devastated is putting it lightly. It took me the first year to even talk to her about the stuff I don’t tell anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. joygravestock says:

    Andi…..as a therapist this post makes me feel very sad for you.
    Ive written a blog today on simply being in quiet presence and the healing reparation that may bring. For me that at times has been my own therapist, or latterly my husband, and my cats, and even my garden! I guess in our journeys to heal we can never make full reparation, and maybe finding good nurture from things that aren’t even people can help to fill us in part. In hope. Joy

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sonyo Estavillo says:

    I completely understand feeling neglected and not having the lack of love or proper parenting. My childhood was terrible to put in mildly and once I actually had a therapist that did nothing but cry throughout our sessions. It was strange and uncomfortable. I wasn’t even the one crying, it was her that would ball her eyes out. Needless to say, it’s hard to find a good therapist with the appropriate boundaries. It’s also hard to not feel a little pissed off that you didn’t get the same type of love and nurture perhaps others have. You might even say to yourself, where would I be now if I had “normal” parents with a “normal” loving home.

    At the end of the day, you are right you have to be your own parent now and give the nurture and love to yourself. But, it still sucks and I empathize and feel what you’re experiencing because I’ve been there. For the longest time I was terrified that of being a parent myself. I never wanted to put my child through what I went through growing up. Now, I’m finally a mom at 40 years old and my daughter is the love of my life. I was terrified that she would inherit my depression too, but she’s the most positive, happy, smiley toddler. Everyone tells me this too, compliments me on how happy she is and I can’t help but feel that maybe I have something to do with that. That maybe, I should pat myself on the back and give myself a hug. I’m too hard on myself and it makes my depression worse sometimes. But, we have to give ourselves positive reassurance when we are doing well. The fact that you are writing about this means that you are self aware and the fact that you are seeing a therapist at all means your headed in the right direction because you’re trying. Some people live in denial their whole lives and never take the effort to get help.

    Loved this post and look forward to reading more as I’m now following you. I write about depression, poetry, writing, self-help and etc. Feel free to check out my blog as well. lilpickmeup.com 🙂

    Like

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