Although the past is in the past and can’t be changed, it still holds power over our present when left unprocessed. This is especially true for people who grew up in family systems where there was unhealthy caregivers. For some, this could have looked like very clear abuse and neglect. For others, you could have grown up in a family system that cultivated black and white beliefs that you do not agree with today. However, many clients I see also report more subtle behaviors- parents who were emotionally not there for them. I believe that parents generally do the best they can to raise their children but that does not mean that childhood was void of unhealthy loneliness and hurt, causing the now adult children to experience hardship when navigating their own life and relationships.
Adult children of emotionally immature parents talk about frequently feeling lonely in childhood with feelings of emptiness that continue today, even when surrounded by supportive people. Vulnerability and intimacy can feel intimidating in current relationships because it was not encouraged growing up. This causes some to feel like they have to now cope with struggles alone, don’t want to burden others with their problems, or that they have to put the needs of others before their own to ensure people stick around in their life. All of this leads to more loneliness and higher levels of anxiety and/or depression because as humans we are meant to connect.
Some adults of emotionally immature parents can feel dismissed in counseling because they can be living relatively healthy lifestyles. Counselors who are not insight-orientated don’t see a ‘problem to fix’. Not here. In my counseling space it is possible to heal from the past and build closer connections in the present. We can reduce the level of anxiety, depression, and guilt that you may feel. We can process where past experiences still hold power over you today and work to gain power back. We can also determine healthy boundaries within your relationships today, especially if the caregiver is still in your life.
I also greatly enjoy providing therapy to couples. Many couples that I see have grown up in households with emotionally immature parents. They were not modeled how to have a healthy relationship built on foundations of mutual respect, trust, friendship, and intimacy. I have helped couples who are looking for preventative support as they realize that there are areas in the relationship that could be better. I have also successfully supported couples as they navigate their relationship through a challenge or crisis, such as an affair. I truly believe that as long as both partners can engage in healthy behaviors the relationship can be stronger than ever imagined. I also offer workshops focused on providing preventative education for couples who do not feel like they need counseling, but want a closer relationship.
My office is an unconditional and safe space to talk. So, whether you’ve told your story before, or this is the first time, I am so excited to start this journey with you!
It is no secret that we all go through things in life—these experiences shape us in ways that can be difficult to understand, and sometimes we are not even aware of the impact they have left on us or have ingrained within us. These experiences can leave us interpreting our beliefs about the world, ourselves, and others differently. Our past informs our present, and when that past catches up with us, it can leave us feeling a lot of emotions—emotions we are not used to and typically do not want to feel or deal with. Sometimes, we need help navigating through in order to determine the most beneficial way forward to make changes in our lives. Nobody knows your story or your experiences better than you—you are the expert on your own life. I am simply there to assist in guiding or facilitating your journey!
The stigma that surrounds mental health is powerful—it can make the idea of counseling seem as though there is something wrong with you, when in reality, there is such power in realizing you need help and reaching out for it. Sharing your story in a confidential space may seem daunting, but ultimately, the process can lead you to greater self-awareness, self-esteem, and most importantly, a more fulfilling life. I know opening up to someone new is hard but going through life without addressing your struggles is even harder. I invite you to begin to share your story with me. The more you talk about the issues that have ahold of you, the faster you can lessen the power they have over you.