Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Effects of Transgenerational Patterns

Yesterday I received a frantic call from a gentleman with whom I have been consulting for a couple of months. His urgency was not for himself. Rather, it was for his twenty-something son. “Doc, I gotta get him in to see you as soon as you can schedule it.”

It seems that his son is living with a woman whose rage and violence against him are escalating drastically. For example, in one of their recent fights, she hurled a huge pot of spaghetti at him. And he woke up the next morning to find that she had stabbed a butcher knife through his pillow and cut up his clothes. The father’s alarm was certainly justified!

Since I have not yet met with the young man, I can only speculate on the contributors to violence in his relationship and his impotence to do anything about it. However, I know from the father that the older man grew up in a household where violence was the norm. And since the older man was the oldest of three, he bore the brunt of his parents’ frustration and mistrust that was expressed through rage and accusations. For example, one time when the older man was about 7 years old, his mother stabbed a fork into his forearm so far that it stood up by itself. Although not a daily occurrence the way the parents’ brawls were, instances like this were not all that rare, either.

The older man originally had sought my help to try to end his marriage to a woman who nightly gets drunk, swears at him, throws dishes at him, and berates him. In our meetings, at least a dozen times, he has shaken his head incredulously and said, “I don’t know why I married her. I can’t for the life of me figure out why I married her.” So I began probing to help him answer that question. When he began telling me his story, he was shocked and amazed when I pointed out that he had married a woman just like his mother.

Furthermore, because he had never resolved the abuse he witnessed and was the brunt of in his childhood, that pattern came down the generations to his own son. So it seemed normal somehow for him, too, to be with a violent woman.

Am I saying it is my client’s fault that his son is in this untenable situation? No. Absolutely not. But he does bear some responsibility for not having cleaned up the psychological mess his parents’ misery created in him. Unfortunately, in that both of his parents died forlorn and alone, he is unable to face his parents directly regarding his maltreatment. So it’s up to him to come to terms with his childhood traumas so his son can face and handle his own untenable situation. Then in both instances, we can see what can be done to improve their relationships or leave them.

Am I saying that the son will be unable to leave his relationship unless his dad leaves his? We’ll see. But I can tell you this much. It would be a whole lot easier for him if his dad were to lead the way.

When well-meaning people advise others to put the past in the past, this advice translates to “ignore it and hope it goes away.” However, the only way to genuinely put the past in the past is to turn towards it, face it, and resolve the feelings and thoughts surrounding it.

For those who would like some expert assistance to do just that, I am offering two weekend events to help people get unstuck in their lives and move forward unencumbered by past events, some of which have already receded into their unconscious mind. In this instance, what you don’t know will hurt you.

One will be held on May 15 and 16 in Ocala, FL, and the other in Minneapolis, MN on May 22 and 23.

The beauty of doing this work in a group is that participants will have the love and support not only of me, but also of the other group members to help each of them resolve their issues. Or at least they’ll get a darned good start at it. The primary reason that traumas go unresolved is because people assume they would have to experience it alone. The best part of working on tough issues in a group facilitated by someone with expertise is that finally, they don’t have to go it alone.

Won’t you consider please joining us? Spring is a beautiful time of year to give yourself a fresh start. Of course, if you want further information, feel free to call my toll-free number: 888-546-1580. I stand ready to help.

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