Friday, August 13, 2010

Grief, Guilt, and Counseling

Don’t you hate the feeling of indulging in a decadent dessert after you promised yourself you were going to diet and lose those extra pounds you’ve recently added to your physique? The feeling of heaviness, not just from the extra calories, but from knowing you did something you told yourself you wouldn’t do. That creeping feeling in the back of your mind is called guilt. We have all felt it at one time or another in our lives; that tightening in our stomach, that tinge of sadness and remorse. It’s a natural feeling when we do something our conscience tells us not to do.

“Guilt is anger directed at ourselves” –Peter McWilliams

Last week’s episode of Teen Mom showed Tyler’s feelings of guilt a few months after placing Carly for adoption. He didn’t want to do anything fun, like go to football games or out with his friends. He told his mom that he felt bad. He said that he was a dad, and he felt like he should be home, rather than out and about enjoying his youth. He said it best by mentioning that he didn’t feel his age. He felt like he needed to be grown up and responsible.|

In Season 1, we saw Catelynn grieve Carly’s adoption by talking about her and attending the birth mom retreat. We always saw Ty as the strong one, the one standing by, hugging and reassuring her when his girl was down. Unfortunately, Tyler didn’t have his own opportunity to grieve until now, almost 9 months after Carly’s birth, and he doesn’t have anyone to be the strong one for him to reassure him that everything will be ok. Part of his grieving process is feeling guilt and sadness and distrust towards Catelynn.
How many of us felt that way after we placed our own children for adoption? I know I can personally say I did. For awhile, I felt that I shouldn’t go out and have fun with my friends. I didn’t feel my age. I felt like I was mentally 10 years older than most of my friends, if not more. I felt like I needed to stay home and take care of the child I already had, focusing on him and becoming a better person for the both of us. I got a better job with more responsibilities and set hours. I finally put my foot down and stood up to my son’s “dad”, setting ground rules for him coming to visit. I went back to school full time and worked my butt off until I was burnt out. No breaks. I did what I had to do and was on a mission to prove to the world I wasn’t the screw up they thought I was… until I realized that I was the only one who thought I was a screw up. Then I was able to relax a bit and enjoy life.

Placing a child for adoption is a big deal. As a birth mom, we have carried our babies inside of us, feeling their every move, kick, and hiccup for 9 months. As birth fathers, they have been there and supported us (or at least, some of us) while we went through every emotion, mood swing, and late night craving. While some of us have gone through the adoption option alone, some have gone through placing their children for adoption as a couple, and it is one of the things that can make or break a relationship.

During this week’s episode of Teen Mom, Tyler and Catelynn decided to attend counseling together to deal with their issues with one another. Since I watch Teen Mom online, I notice the streaming comments about the episode on the right side of the screen. More than once, I saw people say negative things about therapy. They said that only crazy people go for counseling or that they must be really screwed up if they thought they needed couples therapy. Other people commented and said that it’s not worth it and to just move on. My perspective: I am HAPPY the pair is seeking couples counseling. Counseling is a GREAT THING!
In my opinion, therapy is the most effective means to maintaining a healthy and sane life. I don’t just say this because I work at a counseling agency myself, but because counseling has helped me to overcome many things that I wasn’t able to get over by myself. I never thought that spilling my guts about so many things in my life could help me feel so much better, but every week I went in to see my therapist always felt like a heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders when I left. While having friends and family and outside sources of people to talk to about your problems is a good thing, there’s nothing better than the unbiased opinion of a therapist to help you seek the answers that are within you, and if anything, just listen to you while you vent about whatever it is that is bugging you that day.

I have learned a lot about myself through individual counseling. I’ve learned how to properly process my feelings and how to react towards them as positively as possible. I have learned how to identify different behaviors and why I act or say or think and feel the way that I do. I have been able to share my family issues, my feelings towards the adoption, my relationship, my job, my friends (or lack thereof), etc. I still struggle, but am glad to know that it’s all normal (according to my therapist). Whether it’s individual or couples or a group setting, I recommend therapy to anyone, especially as a birth parent.

1 comment: