Monday, 19 January 2009
THE LOST DECADE
I had a very interesting comment left on my site recently. It was anonymous and it said, I'm paraphrasing.... how come you said you were a wanted and loved little girl and the same time had alcoholic parents.
I did leave a comment back, but I want to expand on it here, as I thing it's worth mentioning, as it ties in as usual, with my therapy practise.
So yes I was a wanted and loved child. My parents were both young and very naive when they met at 21, and they married at 25, without having had any other really serious relationships. They were very much in love and I was a honeymoon baby.
Prior to my birth thay had chosen my names, I was always going to be a girl in their eyes(this is hundreds of years before scans obviously.) The name they chose for me, meant, worthy of love. 22 months late along came my sister, they had chosen the boys names for her and they were quickly changed to accommodate a girl. My sister was very ill not long after birth and had to be baptised in hospital. But she obviously pulled through. But because of this my sister has never had the same confidence and feeling of well being about her that I have, and in Freudian terms suffers from separation anxiety because of her start in life.
So we were a little unit of four, with very traditional values, the father going of to work in the office, and the mother staying at home. The little girls bathed and ready for daddy to come home at night to read a story.
It was quite idyllic in some respects. But my father, as I have said before was working in the family business, which he hated, so when he came home at night my parents would start the evening with a glass of sherry to unwind. This of course over time grew in it's amount, as his unhappiness increased.
He changed his drink to whiskey, which made him evil and mum started knocking back Pernod. Around the same time I became adolescent and the trouble started....
My parents were entering their 40s, which are very much the lost decade. Insofar that when people are in their 20s they are building their jobs, homes and families, which they go on to consolidate in their 30s. But by the time they reach their 40s, people start asking ... is this all there is? This is when broadly speaking many women go back into education, to get the degree they have always wanted. And men need a dose of magic fairy dust and start affairs to find the magic of sex again.
This need in men is because men get validated through having sex, women get validated by being given affection. By the time people have been married for 20 years or so, sex sometimes is history. And men suddenly realise that they are lonely for that validation. So that when someone comes along that shows an interest in them, they can become completely infatuated and be 'in love' or in sex as that's what they are getting to make them feel alive again.
So this lost decade in my parents coincided with my teenage years. My parents did not know how to handle my burgeoning sexuality and so I spent a great deal of time at this age being punished for one thing or another. As it was sometimes easier to be angry with me, than it was to own what was going on in their own lives.
The drinking then started taking over, but in an odd way from most drunks. My parents would have a drink before lunch then my dad would go back to work and my mum would go and sleep it off. When he returned from work they would drink more, but only before dinner. Never with, of afterwards, so by the time they/we sat down to eat they would be well oiled. It's no wonder at this time that my sister and I would take our meals into another room and watch TV. Because they drank like this, they never learned how to be civilised with drink, as in a glass of wine with a meal. They always drank on empty stomachs. They had strict rules about how much they drank.
So by the end of my fathers life he had a bottle of wine before lunch and a bottle before dinner, unless he had visitors and then it would be more.
When I was 17 my father had a nervous breakdown whilst we were away in Majorca and from then on in, we as a family had to deal with his diagnosis of manic depression. My mother also throw a few wobblies in her time, but never as badly as dad. My parents never had the choices available nowadays to help with mental health issues, they were trapped within the confines of no care.
Most of my client group are people in their 40s, and they don't understand why suddenly when they have money in the bank, time on their hands, as the kids are not as needy of them, that they are simply so lost. They have gone from being their parent's children, to their partner's spouse, to the their children's parent to what?
And this is when they arrive at my door, and have to work through finding a new meaning in life, that wasn't available to them before. I see this very much as part of our spiritual awakening, as this area of life suddenly holds promise in a way that retail therapy never did. Or put another way, this is the time that people go from giving everything to everyone around them and start learning to give to themselves. To put themselves first, as if they don't they feel used and abused by the world, because they are treating themselves as a doormat by not mattering .... and guess what treat yourself like that and what happens???
All of this goes back to one of my earlier hypothesis, that the stories may be different, but the feelings are the same. My husband's mid life crisis happened early, when he was 38 when he went off with another woman. I have always been lucky I haven't had to change my job, but I did go to prove I wasn't academically stupid by training as a psychotherapist when I was 44. I rest my case..... what do you think?