My Child Needs Therapy Because Of Me

Okay, I agree, this could be said by a vast majority of parents. Most of us need therapy ourselves, and thanks to our own parents, the couches are not likely to be empty for some decades. Everyone messes up one time or the other. However, the therapy in question is not a result of a major mess-up. It is a result of who I am.

I am a shouter. I am loud. Not only when I am mad. Always. You can hear me on the top floor as I wish a receptionist to have a good day. I do not do it on purpose, but when I feel in any way excited, the feeling boosts my voice and it is booming. It is in my blood, both of my parents have always been quite temperamental and even I used to mistake their grocery list discussions over the breakfast for god-almighty rows, as I crept timidly down the stairs from my bedroom.

Far From the Tree

Yet I am fine, I guess. Why I may be in need of professional help is a topic for another… nearly said “appointment”. Whatever, but loudness never seemed to be a problem for me, except occasionally when my friends asked me politely to lower my voice, otherwise our “secrets” would have been broadcasted to the entire neighborhood. I know how to speak low, I know how to whisper, but it always felt forced and unnatural, and even somewhat depressing.

My daughter, on the contrary, is silent and contemplating. I always thought she was rather shy and easily startled. As if she has been exposed to something disturbing on a regular basis. I had already been thinking of consulting a specialist for some time when I saw the picture my daughter had drawn, and it gave me an idea of what might be wrong. It showed a family of lions who had no ears. Yeap. Classic suppression. She did not want to hear something.

Then I noticed, that sometimes when I demanded an answer to why she did something irrational and destructive (cutting the new purse to pieces or ripping a head from the teddy bear), she would zone out and act deaf. In fact, she would act as if she neither heard me, nor saw me. She learned to walk into her own Narnia and wait for the storm that is her mommy to calm down. When I tried to get her attention back, there were times when she just stared at me with her shiny Bambi eyes filled with fear, as if she was waiting for the blow. It was so heartbreaking… I never even dreamt of spanking her, yet she acted as if she were expected just that. It never occurred to me that my voice was the thing that intimidated her in the first place.

Fairytale Gone Bad

The therapy sessions revealed her hypersensitivity to raised voices, screams, shouts, and even cheers. In a nutshell, to me, most of the time. I've heard of toxic mothers, but realizing you hurt your child with your voice, no matter what you say – that is just over the top.

I want you to get me right – I never meant to sound menacing. I certainly never used name-calling, sarcastic remarks, shaming or any other forms of emotional abuse. The mere volume was enough. She felt threatened whenever I raised my voice. And I did that a lot. Because I am like this. Loud and excitable. Naturally, she would zone out more often when I was somewhat displeased or upset. My negative emotions amplified with the sound of my voice and it was overwhelming, too much to stand. Hence her coping strategy – just block the sound.

Of course, we have been trying to fix things. While she was still young enough, I used to tell her stories that I come from a banshee family (thanks to Harry Potter these things seem plausible enough for the 21stcentury kids). That she inherited her father’s human ears, so I may sometimes seem unbearable to her, but I still love her very much.

Naturally, now I lower my voice as much as I can when speaking to her. Yet the damage has been done. That is what drives me insane.

Back to Reality

Maybe because of this, she has developed a taste for non-verbal communication. So, basically, I am also the one responsible for her texting addiction (and when I say addiction, I mean it). I know that texting is the preferable way of communication for kids nowadays, but seriously. It’s like she is repulsed by the idea of hearing the person on the other end. When the phone buzzes (and it is usually on silent), she lets out a heavy sigh and picks up hesitatingly. She freaks out whenever she must make a call herself.

Yet she texts constantly. She literally sleeps with her phone in hand, and with all the secrecy, at some point, I started wondering whether she was chatting with some older creep “who understands”. I have fixed that by doing a bit of snooping with some text message monitoring.

Yet the main concern is still with me: I cannot stand the thought that my daughter will be having life-long issues with loud noises, voices, phone calls, and sounds in general because of me. Now I see all those little things that complete the picture and I am so mad at myself. Everyone I turn to for help says it is not really my fault and that I must get rid of my parental guilt. Yet in my case, it isn’t irrational. These were my actions that caused her to be withdrawn and inattentive. I made her like this. I guess I am justified in holding myself accountable.

Silver Lining, Anyone?

The other day she said something like “the worst thing about silent movies is that they are not really silent” and that “stupid piano” is ruining everything. That is typical for her perception of the world. Then I recalled how I used to feel this way when I was her age.

I am getting used to the idea that who I am has shaped who she is, for better or worse. It looks to me now as if I have dimmed her light. Yet I hope that someday I will be able to look at it in a positive light, as if I have added to her idiosyncrasy, or boosted her creativity – you know, most artworks are only there because the artists were traumatized by their parents and tried to express the struggle.

Or is this way of seeing things just an excuse for us when we mess up our parenting, big time?

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