Posted by: Marie | September 19, 2012

(714) Reconciling dichotomies – Part 6 of 6

Post #714
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]


Me: I keep thinking how you said that maybe my dad didn’t remember what it felt like to be the one being hurt . . .

How could my dad not remember what it was like to be hit? I remember clearly . . . how could he not remember?

Edward: It is very possible that he didn’t remember . . . maybe he buried those memories as a way to avoid the pain of remembering. Humans have an incredible ability to do that.

The Blooming by Martin Chen

His lack of remembering would have caused him to be less than empathetic around the pain he was inflicting on his own kids. My guess is that he couldn’t allow himself to remember how painful it had been for himself – remembering his own childhood pain would have not allowed him to take out his anger on his kids – and he was desperate for relief from the anger – and he knew no other way to get relief from the anger.

He probably was locked in a vicious cycle.

Me: I suppose . . . maybe his culture didn’t allow him to go to people outside the church for help . . . and the people inside the church probably didn’t have a clue how to help him . . . they were probably locked in similar cycles.

Edward: You are probably correct about that.

Can you be angry with your dad for being that ignorant?

Me: I still think he did the best he knew to do . . . how can I be angry with him when he was doing the best he knew to do?

I really believe he did the best he knew . . . I don’t think I can ever be angry with him for that . . .

I can be angry at the situation . . . because the situation goes back for generations . . . but I don’t think I can ever be angry with him.

It would be like someone being angry with me for being so slow to make notable progress in my own healing journey – for being stuck like I’m now stuck. That’s not reasonable – I’m doing the best I know to do. If I knew better, I’d do better.

I think he deserves the same consideration.

If I have to be angry with him in order to heal, then I’m screwed because that is not going to happen. I don’t think I can be angry with him . . . it would be like being angry with a child for spilling milk . . . the child didn’t do it on purpose . . . he was just doing the best he knew to do. The child is young . . . immature . . . and even mature adults sometimes spill their milk . . .

Maybe that’s it . . . maybe I see him as an emotional child . . . I do think he was emotionally immature. How can I be angry with someone who is an emotional child?

I guess I can’t be angry with someone unless I believe he made an informed, deliberate choice to be hurtful. I don’t think my dad’s choices were deliberate. I don’t think he knew better.

I don’t know how I can move forward in my own healing since I can’t be angry with my dad . . . I don’t think I can make myself be angry with my dad. That’s what I keep running into . . . my inability to force myself to feel anger towards my dad is where my frustration with this process is coming from . . .

Edward: You don’t have to feel anger towards your dad. If you don’t, you don’t, and that is okay. We will find a way through this together. I’ll work with you – I’ll adapt my therapeutic methods in order to accommodate where you are with things. Where you are is where you are – you don’t have to try to force yourself to be in a place you are not. That’s not your responsibility. It is my responsibility – it’s my job to change my process to accommodate your process. That’s what you pay me to do – and I’m good at doing it.

Me: (grinning a little bit) Okay . . . good point. Thank you for saying that.

Edward: And, thank you for telling me that you feel you won’t be able to move in that direction. It helps me know how to shift my way of doing things so I can better serve your needs.


That brought us to the end of the session. I packed up, we hugged and I headed down the stairs and out into the sunshine . . . and into the maze of tree branches strewn all around.

Since my mom is in Seattle, I swung by her house – her house is only a ten-minute drive from Edward’s office. She has some big trees in her yard and I needed to see if any of the trees had smashed her house or put a big hole in her roof . . .

But, no . . . when I got there, her property was unharmed. I stood in the back yard and listened to those huge trees cracking and groaning . . . but they seemed to be holding themselves together well enough, at least for the moment.

I went inside her house to make sure her plumbing and other services were doing okay . . . everything looked fine. Then, as I was getting ready to leave, two huge branches fell out of a tree and landed on her back driveway – and they made a tremendous amount of noise as they fell!

A man rents one of her outbuildings and he uses the back driveway to get to his building. So, I needed to move the branches out of his way.

I struggled to drag the smaller branch off the driveway – and, finally, I got it moved off the driveway. But the bigger branch was probably two times my weight . . . I couldn’t budge it. So, I left it. The renter guy is stronger than me – and, in a day or so, the ice will melt off the branch and it won’t weigh as much then. So, I left it for him to move – not that I had much other choice!


  1. That was an interesting point to get to – about forcing yourself to feel angry.

    The question I have is whether you would feel ok with being angry with your father if you did find anger arising.

    • That’s a great question, Evan!

      I believe I would be okay with that . . . I think it would give me the fuel to better express the pain I still experience as a result of his actions. I wish I felt anger towards a particular “bad” person for that part of my historical trauma . . .

      – Marie

  2. My guess is that anger is part of the feelings you numb. Perhaps it isn’t directed to anyone particular; which would make it trickier to express

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