It was hot and stuffy. The room was spinning a little, and I felt slightly nauseated and light headed. The thought occurred to me that maybe I was now all of sudden living someone else’s life, someone else was getting to live mine, and the universe forgot to notify me of the switcheroo. Kind of like some sort of a cruel joke, because my previous life had been pretty darn cushy….
I was in fact sitting in my very first group family therapy session the day after my child entered #treatment. I felt so #ashamed and #guilty, wondering what I had done in the past to deserve this now.
‘How could I have LET this happen?’ ruminated in my head.
Confusion, worry, and self-blame were occupying almost all of my brain space at that point, and it hurt worse than any physical pain that I had ever endured.
I began to listen, as best I could, to Steve, the therapist running the group meeting. He explained that 20 years ago he would have been sitting there, starring us down, trying to figure out which parent was to blame for this. What horrible, negligent things we’d done to land our children here. ‘But now’, he said, ‘we know better’.
‘It’s not your fault, but you CAN make it worse’, Steve said.
If it hadn’t been so inappropriate, I think I might have hopped up and given him a big bear hug right then and there. I could actually physically feel the difference, my stomach felt less disturbed, and I could actually see straight. Having someone who was supposed to ‘know’, who in my mind was credible, tell me it wasn’t my fault was relief beyond measure. It was at that moment that I began to realize that I just might be able to get through this all in one piece, eventually. Phewf!
My wish for you is that you somehow have a ‘Steve’ in your life, and that you will truly listen when they say that if your child is in treatment, that it is not your fault. I want you to feel the same sense of pure relief that I did. If this blog can effectively be your ‘Steve’, then I would be more than honored.
I believe that it isn’t your fault, and I want you to believe it too.
I realize that coming to terms with guilt may be harder for others than it was for me. But no matter your life circumstances, no matter what you have or haven’t done, no matter what challenges have come your way – I hope that you can accept, forgive yourself, or whatever you need to do in order to positively know that you aren’t to blame.
Unfortunately, until you can get to that understanding, you will be stuck in a very sub-optimal place. This leads us to the second part of Steve’s statement, ‘But you CAN make it worse’.
Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon: Parents of Kids in Treatment: The Ill Effects of Parental Guilt
Leslie Ferris is a Certified and Credentialed Life Coach
Serving the parents of kids in treatment
Connect with her via her website at http://www.phase2foryou.com