Obessing about the past
25 year old mother of 2. Raised in emotionally unstable, divorced, blue-collar home. Father never home. Mother emotionally cold and perpetually angry. Both with very bad tempers. Have a bachelors in business. Married 2 years. Husband is a welder with 7th grade education, bad temper. Constantly battling depression and negativity. Low-energy. Have always had bizarre dreams coupled with exceptionally vivid imagination. Easily distracted and low ability to "stick it out". Very neurotic! Been in therapy but felt like I was not taken seriously.
I've read other posting and picked up on the bit about the past wanting to repeat itself. This applies to me because I can't seem to break free from my past. Even though I have no contact with my step-father or his family, I still am plagued by mental images and dialogues of our very dysfunctional lives together. And I want it to stop! I haven't spoken to them in almost 10 years now. It's gotten so bad that I find myself speaking out loud the dialogue that's playing in my head. I'm sure my hubby's concerned about my little outbursts. I really would rather obsess about my kids and our lives together, not a terrible past. I would like some practical advice.
I just got done writing a response to almost the exact same question. Why do I repeat? Therefore I am reprinting what I wrote to them to you as well. However, I also wanted to respond a bit more personally as well.
There is little worse than feeling unloved by one's parents or being mistreated by them. A child desperately needs that love. It is also extremely hard to not feel you have gotten justice. When either of these things occur we tend to get fixated on trying to complete and resolve the problem.
It is also possible that when we have been unhappy or mistreated for a long period of time that our neurotransmitters, brain chemicals, can be severly affected. If this happens then often talk therapy alone will not change the obsessions and negative thinking. I would suggest getting a complete workup to rule out any chemical component before you address what I have written below. I wish the best for you.
Human beings learn in numerous ways such as mimicry and observation. One of our most important ways to learn is through the Concept of Mastery. If we are having a hard time mastering a task we tend to become obsessed with the task until we complete it to our satisfaction. Once it is learned however it ceases to be all that special. Think of a baby trying to pronounce a new word and figure out how to use that word. They become fixated on that word and will use it over and over again until one day they just seem to lose interest. This is Concept of Mastery.
Repetition Compulsion is Concept of Mastery gone awry. The difference is that with a Repetition Compulsion there is a critical bit of misinformation or lack of information that makes it impossible to master the task. When I first learned how to use the web I kept typing in the URL as I was told and kept getting the same result-cannot find page. I repeated my movements exactly over and over again. I became fixated and could not resolve the issue until a friend peered over my shoulder and added a decimal point.
When a child feels unloved or abandoned by a parent, whether or not that parent really acted in this way, a child will take on the shame and blame and become convinced deep inside that they are unworthy, unlovable, and that their needs will never be met. This sets up a dual goal of wanting to finally prove that they are loveable by attaining that love and paradoxically by trying to find a person or situation that will prove they are unworthy. It creates a blind spot and a self-sabotaging system that reinforces our early negative beliefs.
An example is a woman who took emotional care of her father, but felt that the love was not returned. Consciously as an adult she would realize that the fault lay with her father. Subconsciously she would tend to blame herself. Therefore, the tendency would be to go after a man who in one way was unavailable and would disappoint her and yet would look good enough at first where she would be unaware of the similarity with her father. No that does not mean that she really wanted to marry her father. It only means that she had to continue to be disappointed in love and find herself at fault. The tendency would be for her to take care of his needs and neglect her own.
The way out of this dilemma is to fix the blind spot. No child is unworthy, unlovable, or should be unable to get their needs met. Either the situation or the parents were unable to get this point across. As an adult we need to realize this fact consciously. However, this still leaves the old pain and the old subconscious beliefs. I would suggest finding a qualified psychotherapist who is skilled at both NET-Neuro Emotional Techniques and EMDR- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Being an expert in Family of Origin treatment and Hypnosis would also be extremely helpful. These are powerful techniques that can truly make a difference. No one is doomed to the past.
Jef Gazley, M.S. www.asktheinternettherapist.com
This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.For more information visit: http://www.asktheinternettherapist.com/