Got thinking this morning about how much better I am coping with my family responsibilities for aging parents since finally going for counselling when I was 50 years old. Obviously it took me long enough to go and get assistance but I am so glad I did.
My childhood was one of mixed messages and resulting confusion. My parents really did the best they could but they are simply 2 people who would have fared better if they had not had children. Parenting was too stressful for them, although they tried their best with the role.
When my husband attended a seminary with a very good counselling programme I decided it was time to become a client and see what I could do about some of my problems. It was amazingly beneficial just to hear a counsellor say that it was understandable that I would be confused after some of the things that happened growing up.
I know I have written about this before, but in the past few weeks I have spent quite a bit of time with my parents and it has been just fine. At a time in their lives when I could feel particularly resentful about the time and effort it takes to assist aging parents I feel free to help them, rather than obligated; free to see them as themselves and me as myself, instead of being overly aware to the point of emotional disability of our family connection. I am simply no longer emotionally invested in a painful relationship. We don't have to tippy toe around each other any more in fear of setting off an emotional fire storm.
To be able to see my parents as 2 senior citizens in a place of needing help that I can give them is a very freeing experience. I truly do want to help as much as they will allow me to. It is a privilege and not a drudge.
It is amazing what a few months of counselling with a well trained someone who can confirm some things for me about my own right to my own feelings, and help me direct them into healthy expressions that benefit not only myself but my whole family, has done to improve life. After years of unhappiness I stand amazed at the changes in my own feelings and how those have brought healing to me and subsequently into the lives of my parents as well.