The Parent Inside

Last night myself and my partner went to couples Counselling.

On the way home I asked her if she knew who this quote was by, 'Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Some people are just better at hiding it than others.'She hadn't heard it, then she said this; "That's true to be human is to suffer and feel pain. But in childhood we develop strategies to deal with that suffering, some strategies are more successful than others."

So whilst I genuinely applaud Mr. Smith for his insight there's a whole lot more to this. 

The truth is that some people are better at coping with their struggles than others. This, as my partner so rightly says, will in part be due to the strategies we learnt as children, which will consequently be relative to  our environment, family experience, socioeconomic situation and perhaps even genes.

If I may offer an example.

I recently watched Anh Do paint and interview Dr. Charlie Teo on his new ABC show. Dr. Teo is a very successful neurologist. He spoke openly of his childhood maltreatment. Which was in all honesty not dissimilar to mine. He had an absent and violent father. One sister and a mother who I think he described as his rock. 

Despite Dr. Teo's childhood experiences he  has, in the eyes of our society, thrived. Where as I continually struggle to survive. So where do we differ. Fortunately my partner was on hand to offer me a few more reality checks.

Dr. Teo was fortunate to have a mother who offered him the security and support all children need. His sister also modeled some strong qualities. My unfortunate mother and sister were equally decimated by my fathers rule of fear. My mother, through no fault of her own, was unable to protect me, unable to support and be present to my struggles. I didn't have a dominant positive influence inside the family home.

The strategy I predominantly employed to try and avoid my fathers wrath and violence was to dissociate. I don't believe this was a learnt strategy, it was one that was existed due to the lack of brain development. Again even at this very early age I can see I had no learnt strategies to cope with the stresses in my life. When my fathers rage bubbled the alarm (amygdala) in my head would sound, but the operations room (pre-frontal cortex) was empty.

The other point here is when that alarm is constantly going off its almost impossible to process information.

According to my partner and my couples counsellor (and my personal counsellor,) children that were deprived of the basic skills and resources that promote 'coping' strategies, will as adults need to learn to parent themselves. 

Last night I reflected to my counsellor that learning to parent oneself is a massive task, he replied "it's virtually impossible." Yet I have no choice. I wish to function and cope, to thrive and enjoy life has always been my goal. After the challenges of the last few months I'm a little closer to that eventuality. 

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