I recently made another appointment with the therapist who works through my school. Hey, it’s free so why not? She helped me over the stress of having to do really well on my second set of exams, in only 3 sessions.
I had been feeling like I wasn’t getting the resolution I thought I ought to be getting after being separated for so long. Oh yeah, and the usual school stress, of course. So I made an appointment with the woman, with the vague thought that she might be able to help me find some direction.
A day before my appointment, I asked Christopher if he’d be interested in joining me. It wasn’t planned, but I thought maybe a neutral third party would help me be able to work out the best next steps. I thought having someone else say “Yup, this is too screwed up and you are best to work out an amicable parting” would help things. C said he would like to join me. I felt a bit like I was setting him up.
So, we get there and start talking with Luan (the therapist). Rather quickly after listening just a bit she starts talking about adult children of alcoholics and the descriptions were shockingly accurate. In ways it fit both of us. While I think C’s parents have issues with booze, that wasn’t a problem chez moi, so I was wondering why I was connecting to so much of what she was saying. She went on to say that while most of the literature is about children of alcoholics, really, it is any emotionally unavailable (seriously screwed-up) parenting.
Luan said that if you put 500 people in a room and only 2 of them were ACoA (to use a general acronym, regardless of actual booze), those two will find each other. Always.
It made so much sense for me. Part of what attracted me to C was that I knew he had been marginalized by his family in a different but similar way as I had been. We both had the experience of being last born and told, explicitly or impliedly, that we weren’t exactly wanted children. We both knew when our families talked about events, we weren’t a part of so much of it– our childhoods weren’t like our siblings. They weren’t all bad, but they were different. I thought we would be great for each other because we had this gaping hole in our background and together we could make our own safe spots. Walking wounded.
So much of our screwed-up-ed-ness was a sense of conditional love while growing up.
Yeah, you read that right. We didn’t get unconditional love. We didn’t get support — we got threats. Familial “you’re either with us or against us” and not, “you are still safe and loved even if you did just screw up in a very big way.” Shifting expectations. No security.
I reacted by trying, desperately, to be perfect. C took the other path and gave in to the failure. We both have trust issues, intimacy issues, but on some things he went one way reaction-wise and I went the other, like the perfect/failure example I just mentioned. Neither of us really knows how to be anything even close to “normal.”
So suddenly there is this whole new world to try and understand. If Luan is right (and reading the book she recommended makes me think she may be on to something) there is much more to try to grasp before we chuck this all away. She said she thought we might be able to come out of this intact, but that we both had to learn more about ourselves, and then each other, before we would know what to do next about “us.”
Not what I expected. And I’m not sure how I feel about it. But there it is.