Posted by: Marie | August 14, 2012

(689) Family connections – Part 1 of 3

Post #689
[Private journal entry written on Saturday, September 10, 2011]

I woke up late this morning . . . it was 8:00am and the sun was shining brightly. I had a hard time going to sleep because my brain continued to race for a couple of hours after I [literally] climbed into bed at my cousins’ house. So, I guess it is no surprise that I slept late.

I figured Caleb and Nell would have been up for hours by then . . . but, when I stuck my head out the bedroom door, they were just starting to get up and around. They were just as surprised as I at how late we had all slept. I guess we were all tired and needed to sleep!

Angkor Wat by Martin Chen

They both set about preparing some breakfast . . . homemade blueberry and wheat germ muffins along with fresh cantaloupe. I offered to help, but they invited me to just sit at the table and enjoy a cup of coffee. It only took them a few minutes to prepare the food and soon we were sitting down to eat. The food was very yummy!!

I had brought a couple of plastic liter water bottles with me filled with water from my house because water from other areas can really upset my stomach . . . and I was drinking from one of those bottles at breakfast.

Nell mentioned that she had found a really neat glass water bottle with a silicone sleeve from a company called “Life Factory”. The bottles are free of BPA’s and other harmful chemicals.

After expressing concern about my drinking from reused sport-drink bottles, she offered one of her Life Factory bottles to me. She said that she has dropped the bottle from chest-height onto cement and it didn’t break . . . so, she said they were not as fragile as one might think. I really appreciated her gift!

As we were eating our breakfast, I asked about their experience with parenting their four amazing children . . . I told them that I was interested in their experience because it seems to me they did a great job and I wanted to know what they believe they specifically did so well.

Caleb didn’t say much – true to his quiet nature – but Nell had plenty to say. She talked about how they had created space for each of their children to explore their talents and natural interests – how that had been easy to do since the kids had been home-schooled. She said the farm setting allowed the kids to experiment and play and create with very few limitations.

I asked about the discipline they had used . . . if they had incorporated spanking into their punishment. It was interesting to me that they answered differently . . . that they remembered history differently . . .

Nell felt that she had handled most of the discipline because she was with them more than Caleb was (due to home-schooling). She didn’t want to ask Caleb to do the punishing when he got home from work because she didn’t want the kids to dread seeing their dad come home. However, Caleb remembered her waiting for him to come home to handle it. The finally decided they would just have to agree to disagree on that bit of history . . .

Nell said that, when she did spank them, she would give them three swats on their bottom with her hand and then they would sit down together to talk. She said she was always controlled and never explosive.

She also said that she had to customize punishment for each child because one child might be defiant while another might be tender-hearted . . . she might have to engage in prolonged battle with one while the other might dissolve emotionally with just a cross look.

I shared with Caleb and Nell that my dad had required me to be totally compliant . . . even my body language had to be compliant. When he was punishing me, I couldn’t look him straight in the eyes, I had to keep my eyes and head downcast or I’d get hit again for being defiant. And that, if I was unnecessarily dramatic and cried longer than he felt was reasonable, he would hit me again for that.

Nell asked the reasons my dad had for punishing me. I told her that, when I was younger, the reasons were usually along the lines of making too much noise in church or not cleaning my room. But, as I got older, he would punish me for being rebellious.

Nell asked in what ways I was rebellious. I told her that I sometimes would sneak away from wherever I was supposed to be to go make-out with boys – or to try to get the attention of boys. She asked why I would do that.

I told her it was because I was so desperate for male attention and approval that I was willing to tolerate punishment and disapproval from my dad in order to have access to males (kids and adults) who might give me some scrap of attention.

I told her that so much of my therapy has been directed towards resolving that desperation to be seen and heard and approved of . . . to fill that need with my own internal resources and by developing healthy relationships with people.

Nell asked me what my therapy looks like . . . what happens in a session . . . what kind of homework I do in support of the sessions . . .

I told her that the work I do outside the sessions . . . work like reading and writing . . . creates the space in my mind and body and soul for healing, but that the actual healing happens mostly within the sessions . . . within the context of the relationship Edward and I share.

For example, there are times I go into a session feeling hopeless or angry or distant and I expect Edward to push me away because I’m not being an “ideal” client – because that has historically been my experience of men. But, Edward doesn’t push me away. He consistently shows up in a compassionate and loving way and assures me that our relationship is still strong.

Nell asked why I thought Edward would push me away at those times. I answered that it is very hard for me to believe that a man wants to be in a close relationship with me when I am being less than “perfect”.

Caleb had been listening to this whole conversation without saying a word. However, when I made this last statement, he said, “That’s your dad’s voice . . . that is your dad’s voice echoing in your head even after all these years.”

I nodded my head in agreement.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


Responses

  1. Caleb sounds like a smart guy

    • It is hard to know what he is thinking until he speaks . . . which he does rarely. But, his energy is so gentle and compassionate, which says so much!

  2. I was wishing Nell and Caleb had not used any physical punishment with their kids.

    I like how Nell is so interested in the details of what you describe, asking questions about it, even though these are difficult subjects to talk about. Must have felt good to be listened to like that.

    • Hey, Ellen –

      I understand your wishing they hadn’t used physical punishment . . . but, given the culture they were raised in (military and church), it was almost a given.

      You are right about Nell’s style of listening . . . you have her full attention and curiosity. I was amazed at her ability to come up with thoughtful questions!

      – Marie


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