I know I’ve been talking about family for a couple of weeks now on Twitter and you are probably wondering who am I to talk about troubled or painful family situations versus nurturing families. Most people who become therapists are searching for answers for their own life. They typically promote things that have worked for them. I am no different in this way. It has been years and years of therapy sessions of all different styles until I finally got relief from the style of NLP I learned myself.
The thing I find most interesting is the clientele you attract in a therapy practice, and actually everywhere in life, are mirrors of yourself. For a long time I’ve been struggling to try and figure out the connection between sexual abuse and verbal/emotional abuse because I came from a verbally/emotionally abusive family and I seem to attract many people that have experienced some type of sexual abuse or trauma. This week an article in my own newspaper caught my eye and all of a sudden the connection became very clear.
The full article link is here so you can read it for yourself: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2012/09/understanding-relationship-sexual-and-intimate-betrayal-as-trauma-ptsd/
It’s taken a while to be able to talk about my own experience of family. And, I still find it hard to talk about it publicly in this domain because to me it feels like I’m not justified in saying what I’m saying – like I’m complaining and no one will believe me anyway. However, my job as a NLP practitioner is to listen and have people that come to see me or work me really feel heard for who they are and want to be.
The quote from the article I want to discuss is the following:
“…as we have long known from work with abused children, being made to feel wrong when you are right – having your accurate reality denied – is a solid foundation upon which much trauma is built.
Is it any wonder that when betrayed spouses [individuals] finally find out they’ve been right all along they sometimes look like the crazy one? The simple fact is this: as survivors of interpersonal trauma, it’s perfectly natural for the betrayed person to respond with rage, tearfulness, or any other emotion when triggered by something as simple…”
A number of years ago I was living in San Francisco and my mother, an untreated Borderline Personality Disorder sufferer in Winnipeg, Canada begged me to come and visit her. Upon my arrival I was completely ignored. I was there for just the weekend. Any attempts to hold a conversation with my father resulted in him yelling and attacking followed by him cracking a joke at my expense highlighting my (according to him) stupidity. This particular attack was for being interested in a relatives work. That was the first and last time I spoke to him on this visit.
The rest of the weekend consisted of my mother socializing with anyone she could, in every situation, but me – the person that it was so important that I drop everything in my life to come for visit. I even endured a dinner at a restaurant where not one word was spoken to me and I could not eat a single item because I was allergic to the entire menu.
For my entire life my mother and my family had ignored me, my needs, my allergies and even that I was person separate from them. There are stories about when I was a baby and I cried, the dog would go crazy and bite my parents to do something. Unfortunately the dog was given away when I was 4.
It didn’t matter how much psychological work I did on myself to try and accept them, work with them, and rise above. I could have a conversation with my mother about how her behavior and neglect had a direct impact on me and within seconds she would turn around do it again as if we didn’t even have the conversation.
On this particular trip I held my temper, I just observed. I was just trying to be in the space. Trying to find some way. I arrived home only to receive a phone call from my mother about how happy this trip made her and how well it went. I just broke into a rage. I yelled so loud for so long (2 hours) people in my apartment thought someone was being killed. In my past I had lost it with other people, and then felt ashamed. In this experience, I felt great – Like, I had maybe gotten through. Then I got a phone call from an old family friend that I has been like a secondary mother to me. My mother apparently told her friend that I was crazy.
I know in my Twitter posts (therapeuticnlp) I talk about the possibility of creating healing families from troubled families. But I also know in the case of my own sometimes there are factors, like mental illness that prevent troubled families from ever being healed.
In the case of my mother she exhibits Borderline Personality Disorder behavior. For me, this means I would develop physical sickness to be around her and anyone that would support the dynamic she creates.
Recently there was an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger on TV. Leslie Stall had asked him a question about his infidelity with his housekeeper and he responded that once he does something he doesn’t look back. In other words, he doesn’t think about his mistakes and he doesn’t learn from them. There are people in the world with no conscience, no guilt for their behavior, no moral compass, no remorse or shame. They are sociopathic in nature. My mother happens to be one too. Whatever trauma these people endured during their childhood was so terrible that their brain does not allow them to look back and learn from their mistakes. It has disastrous effects on the people in their family. And, the only solution I have found for those that suffer at the hands of these sociopaths it to cut off ties from these people.
In my own experience; I found I developed family around me as friends and cutting off my primary family allowed me to heal a great deal and allowed me to attract and marry into a nurturing family that is nurturing to me and understands what it means to provide it for me.
This choice was right for me and offered me a great deal healing as a result. You need to choose what is right for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Tracy Joy is an NLP practitioner, author, and speaker in Vancouver, Canada. She is an international business expert in the area of human systems analysis and thinking change. If you have brain questions, send them Tracy and she’ll answer them on this blog. She can be reached through www.TherapeuticNLP.com