I recall when my mom and dad split, my mom was beside herself. She was a stay at home mom with six kids. After 17 years of marriage the person who had defined her for almost half her life was about to walk out the door and into the arms of someone else. She was scared and at that time was the only one she knew in this situation. She had no one to turn to. The church had turned their back on us, her family while supportive did not know how to comfort her. The friends my parents shared stopped coming over and now avoided walking by our house so as not to be in the uncomfortable position of having to talk to my mom and pretend like they cared.
So with no one to turn to she turned to her kids. For months and years after her break up and subsequent divorce we became her therapist. She would cry, yell, spew anger and unload all of her issues on to us. The oldest was only 15 at the time. I recall going with her to pick up a pizza for dinner. When we arrived it was not ready so went back out to the car to wait because there was no place to sit in the tiny pizza joint. So there I was in the back seat of the car listening to her unburden herself on me for what seemed like hours. I was 13. I had no idea what to say. No idea what she wanted me to say. No idea what to do, all I knew is that I wanted out of that car, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had been here before and I did not like it. From then on I avoided being alone with her at all costs. Leaving the house, holing myself up in my room for hours on end and trying to put as much distance and as many siblings between her and I as possible.
Years went by and I still found myself, well into adulthood, avoiding being alone with my mom and she had no idea why. So now as I see clients who are obviously having a very difficult time dealing with overwhelming sadness, bitterness, resentment and anger I tell them to look to their kids for comfort. Revel in their innocence, bask in their laughter, get lost in their hugs and relish the blissful ignorance of childhood. Allow them to be children, don’t force them into your issues, don’t allow your anger to cloud your judgement and drag them down with you. Instead use them as an escape from it all, make them your island of sanity where you go to be a kid again, enjoy every last minute of it. Before you know it they will be adults, the innocence will be lost and you will be the one they turn to for comfort.
In the meantime if you still need therapy I suggest giving chocolate a try, it’s a lot cheaper and oh so yummy.
“my family is my strength and my weakness”