This is What Happens When You Combine Therapy and a Family Dinner

Published February 17, 2015
We sat at the dinner table, my husband and two of our children. My husband was joking around when he said, “you’d still be in the bayou if it wasn’t for me.” (By bayou he meant New Orleans.) I didn’t say anything. “And you wouldn’t have anything to write about.” (It’s true - he’s given me plenty of heartache. Oops- I mean, material.) “What would you be without me?” I played along. “I can’t imagine what my life would be like without you.” “A lot less therapy,” my son said. We had a good laugh over that one. “My poor mother,” I said, “she thought it was because of her.” But the truth is I sought out therapy because of me. I’m a believer. It’s simple really. I’ve learned so much. Like the time my typically good-natured 14 year-old son was fighting with all of his siblings and my therapist said that his bad behavior was making it easier for him to separate from our loving family. She assured me that what he was doing was developmentally appropriate. With this understanding, I engaged with him in a way that was sympathetic, not punitive. Like the time I learned that while my husband could be overly assertive, it was my job to find my voice and practice agency. Like the time a friendship veered off-course, and I discovered I couldn’t change anyone but myself. What I’ve learned in therapy has been invaluable. I treasure every insight realized and every nugget of information acquired. And it's good to know, when all else fails, in the words of Robin Williams, according to Freud, "if it's not one thing, it's your mother."
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