Are Wounds Of The Past Still Impeding Your Life Today?
Have you been harboring a grudge against one or both of your parents for messing up your childhood? Has the lingering pain eaten away at you for years and kept you from fulfilling your potential? Do trust issues due to past neglect or abuse have you trapped in a safe but miserable cocoon, preventing you from getting close to others and making emotionally intimate connections? Perhaps you feel pained about being adopted, wondering why you weren’t good enough for the parent that abandoned you. Or maybe you’re hurting about a sibling being the favorite in your family. Or it might be that you’re dealing with awful feelings about surviving while another sibling died. Maybe you tried and failed to save a parent from addiction or mental illness.
When you see your friends’ children being cared for in a way that you never were, you may feel envious, angry and aggrieved. Witnessing the way your colleagues, neighbors and friends rely on their parents can stir up a volcano of emotions in you. You get triggered in the hot spots that echo your childhood and family of origin experiences that haven’t been put to rest. It may also seem like you’re dealing with the same problem(s) over and over again, with little to no reprieve. Do you wish your past would stop haunting you so you can put to rest the ongoing fear that you are fatally damaged or unlucky and will never have a good life?
Whatever your experience, it’s likely you had to grow up too fast and lost out on important parts of your childhood. Maybe you don’t really know who you are or who you should be. You might go back and forth questioning if you are destined to repeat the fate of your family, however undesirable, or if it’s possible for you to create a different identity that feels more acceptable to you. Either way, it can be painful and hard work to figure out how you want to be in the world.
While everyone has some issues related to their upbringing, you may have deeper wounds that sap your zest for life and companionship. You may struggle with ongoing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, eating disorders, OCD, perpetual problems with intimate relationships and feelings of low self-worth. You might feel you are doomed because you cannot exercise your parents or your past from your mind, despite your efforts to escape. You might want to keep the pain away, yet the harder you try to run away, the hurt of family of origin issues sticks to you like glue. You might fear that you’ll always be trapped carrying the “bad” part of your family, especially if you are dealing with an addiction or mental health disorder. And while you might not want to identify with your family or be anything like them, you may feel destined to struggle, with no way forward or out.
Understanding Family Of Origin Issues
We all come from two parents, whether they were present while we growing up or not, and no family is perfect. And, whether our upbringing was good or not, as adults, we have to deal with what we were given as a child.
Our families of origin create the environment in which we grow emotionally, socially and physically. The way you were nurtured determines whether you will function well and have healthy relationships as an adult. If you were pushed to be perfect, or had to hide in order to avoid criticism and judgment, it’s likely you experienced emotional stress and trauma. If you don’t address issues from childhood, including abuse, affairs, addictions and betrayals, you are in danger of reliving the same patterns and suffering the same wounds on a repeated basis. You may be deeply afraid of being like your parents, especially if they harmed you. You might also fear inheriting mental illness or abusive behavior that has gone on for generations. Alternatively, in your own relationships or parenting, you may be desperately trying to do the exact opposite of what you learned in childhood, but continue to feel unworthy, overly anxious or incompetent no matter what you do.
While there is no easy way to ignore or dissolve the ghosts of the past, there is help and hope for finally resolving family of origin issues in a healthy and supported way. An experienced, skilled and compassionate therapist can help you explore, address and resolve the issues that have plagued you with guilt, shame and fear for years.
Family Of Origin Counseling Provides You With Insight, Healing And Relief
You cannot change how you were brought up, but you can understand and begin to accept your early life experiences as you create a self-identity that acknowledges your past and honors your unique qualities. In safe, guided family of origin therapy sessions, I can help you fit the pieces of the past and present together in a way that makes you feel more in charge of your life, despite what you went through as a child. Rather than allowing your past to continue to cause you pain, you can identify, draw from and build upon the resiliency and strengths you developed in order to survive, and use them to your advantage today.
In sessions, you will have a safe space in which you can process the raw and stinging emotions that plague you—beginning with mourning what you wished you had but didn’t. Family of origin counseling offers you a place to express your bitterness and jealousies, rage and guilt about who and what you come from. Instead of running away and trying to shed your family of origin experiences, you can begin to settle, make roots and create your own family that is nurturing and supportive.
If you are estranged from a parent, sibling, grandparent or another family member and are conflicted about it, family of origin counseling can help you work out the knots so that you can relate appropriately, have your inheritances met, say goodbye before a family member passes and give yourself the connections you always wished for. You can begin to make choices that support your values and are in alignment with who you want to be today. You can also understand the difference between what you need to be aware of versus what you need to be afraid of, which can be particularly impactful if you suffered abandonment, abuse or neglect as a child.
As we work together, you can have whatever emotional experience you need to without fear of “losing it” or facing judgment. I’ll offer support and help you figure out how to take responsibility for what is yours and separate that from that which is not yours to carry so you can let past hurts go and move forward. As you create these healthy internal boundaries, you can understand that you are not doomed, and it’s okay to let go of the need for control. You can finally give yourself permission to be your true self.
You still may have questions or concerns about family of origin counseling…
Everyone has family issues. How do I know if I really need therapy?
While everyone has issues that can be tied to their pasts, we all cope in different ways. For some, childhood experiences may not significantly impede their ability to function well as adults. Others struggle for years before seeking help. Until dealt with, family of origin issues are likely to keep arising and interfering with your adult life in destructive ways. In family of origin counseling, you can get to the underbelly of your childhood issues. You can clean out the patterns and beliefs no longer serving you, finally heal old wounds and move forward with more confidence, poise and calm.
I’m afraid of what I might uncover during therapy.
It’s normal to fear exploration when you don’t know what unbearable emotions might get unleashed, especially if you’ve been working hard to keep them at bay for years. While your past is a part of you, it’s like scar tissue. Although it will always be there, it doesn’t have to disfigure or define you. In sessions, I can help you heal the trauma that lingers. Through this powerful work, you can digest the experience of your upbringing, take what you need from it, eliminate the rest and move on with your life.
Will I be able to maintain a connection with my family or will I feel estranged from them after family of origin counseling?
A big part of this work is forgiveness, especially self-forgiveness and compassion. After going through the therapy process, you will likely have a better, more compassionate view of yourself. You can feel differently once you see all the pieces that were at play, develop the understanding needed to accept, forgive and empathize, appreciating that you are not at fault and couldn’t have changed anything. From that place, you can effectively integrate your past into who you are today and make decisions about how to move forward in the relationships you have with family members. It’s different for everyone, and what is important is that you make choices that come from a healthy place and resonate with your authentic self.
You Can Make Peace With The Past
You can let go of the pain of the past, align with your values and live with increased balance, serenity and joy. I invite you to take the next step and call my office at 310-985-2491 to schedule an initial appointment. I also provide global coaching in managing family of origin issues. Your healing and happiness is an investment that matter.