Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for March 8th, 2012

“I Am Deeper Than My Parents”

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on March 8, 2012

“I am deeper than my parents,” Thais tells me with tears and deep expression of gratitude. “My parents do not understand how they caused me so much grief, but I do,” she continues. “They were each involved in their own lives, doing their own thing, with little regard for my development. They will never see it that way, but that makes sense to me.” Thais’ narrative is interesting to me, not because of the content, but because she is willing to understand her childhood from a different point of view than  her parents have. This kind of mental separation is critical to adult development. Thais is beginning to see her life through her own internal eye, rather than swallowing the story that was told to her about her early developmental years. She is learning that the perspective of the storyteller informs the story. She is also beginning to understand that her parents do not have to agree to her narrative, but it would be nice if they could respect it. As an emerging adult she is beginning to understand the stresses and strains that were on her parents as she was growing up. This understanding has helped her to see why she felt so lonely and deprived during certain critical times in her childhood. This understanding also helps her to see that it was not that she was a “bad kid,” but rather that her parents had to focus on their own survival and so they became less attentive to her needs. This perspective helps Thais build her self-esteem in that she no longer blames herself for the negative feelings she had as a child. She also does not blame her parents in that her narrative allows for the idea that under stress, she can understand how her parents fell short. In essence, she has come to understand that flawed people, which we all are, become flawed parents, and so understanding and forgiveness are at play, along with compassion for herself for not getting the appropriate feedback about her developmental accomplishments. As such, her gratitude to me was a huge gift, in that it was the kind of gratitude which demonstrated how her personal growth has landed her in a much better mental space. Thais and I still have a lot of work to do, but it was a special moment of pause to reflect on how far she has come. Personal growth is a wonderful experience to witness and participate in. The words to describe this experience often feel lacking. Thais is remarkable in her ability to express this sensation.

Posted in Adolescence, personal growth, Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, Relationships | 4 Comments »

 
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