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It is easy to be sucked back into a dynamic that you thought you were out of and over. Situations and events can occur causing you to find yourself back in an old pattern that you thought you had broken. My event was my mother’s death and subsequent family actions and behavior afterward.
Having previously been a teen mother and wife to an addict in my first marriage, I had gone through counseling to save the marriage. I continued with counseling to get over it after the divorce. I wanted to move my life forward with as little baggage as possible.
The details of my event are my own, the commonality is in finding myself questioning how I was dealing with my grief as well as reactions to my siblings’. Realizing that I had changed and grown didn’t mean that my family/people in my life had, much less were they even aware that I had grown and changed.
My mother’s death left me not only sad, but with relief. Tack on the expected role in my family dynamic being one that I no longer fit within, it became a bit more than I felt I could deal with at the time. I returned to counseling, the emotional confusion between who I am and how others, specifically family, expect me to be – weren’t one and the same. Did you catch the key? I went back to counseling. I chose to take care of myself, and seek outside advice and counsel. I reviewed coping skills and gained perspective. I did what I needed to do for me.
My self-preservation, my strength, was in seeking counseling. Getting that objective opinion and advice as to what was I missing? In my counselor’s words – I needed time. I was pushing myself to move forward and handle everything at once and be done. Grief doesn’t work that way. You do bounce back and forth between stages as you work through it.
I also felt guilt. Something I didn’t think was reasonable, but after discussions with my counselor, I realized that the sense of grief came from two different directions. One direction was from the relief of emotions left from watching my mother dying of cancer. Knowing that she was no longer in pain and being relieved about this left a little guilt. The other guilt came from not having to answer to my mother for every action, both my own and others supposedly under my control. None of this made me a bad person. They were just emotions, and feelings are not wrong. Feelings just are.
The counseling ‘tune up’ helped me immensely and is still to this date. That is my point. Life will be life. Traumatic events happen, BUT we can progress/grow/get through them. Yes, even if they stir up dynamics and habits that we have outgrown, or bring up issues that were long ago resolved. It happens. When it does, a return to counseling is a good call to make. I highly recommend it.