This week, a few days ago actually, we worked on an abstract family genogram in one of our courses. In the past we had been working in groups but this week we worked independently. Part of our work for this class is to write up responses to our experiential exercises. The following is what I wrote in response to the abstract family genogram.
I was very relieved to be working independently for this exercise. I did not want to consider making up a fictitious family genogram with our family/ team groupings. Even though, from past experience in this class, our actual family dynamics could have emerged to some degree, I did not like to consider addressing these issues and dynamics obliquely as we would have done had we worked in a fictitious family grouping.
I was quite startled to have my inconsistent affect pointed out to me when it became my turn to process my family genogram. It is something I have encountered in personal therapy sessions but to confront it so obviously is something that kind of shocked me. It disturbed me to some degree as well because I felt or it became obvious to me how out of touch I was/ am with my true feelings. In a way I have kind of always disregarded them. Like, “Oh well. It is what it is. Don’t we all have messed up relationships with our families. No big deal.” And that is the attitude I displayed when discussing my abstract genogram. In describing it to myself I took on the attitude that I was “just messing around” when it looked as though my “mother” object was “bashing” me in the face, and chirped, in reference to the fact that my “sister” object was pointed on one end, “Yeah, my sister was the tool my mother used to bash me in the face.”
I was curious by the wording I used to describe my parent’s divorce. I started by pointed out the fact that my “father” object wasn’t secured in the same way as my other family members were to my central piece because “I was in Middle School when my father chose to leave the family.” I wasn’t really aware of my wording until it was pointed out to me later by my group members and the instructor.
Something else that really intrigued me was the suggestion I look up the symbology of teddy bears, an object that I’ve frequently used to represent myself. In doing so I found out a lot of information but I’m unsure of how it relates to me as representing myself in such a way. In an article about Experiential Play Therapy the teddy bear is described as a “self-object, a baby, security, familiarity, protection, warmth, regression, tactile, companionship, and supportive. In an article titled, “Gifting the Bear and a Nostalgic Desire for Childhood Innocence” it is stated, “Adult teddy bear culture, by the 1920s, privileged the toy as a redeemer of individual human frailty and of human social failings. In this same article the teddy bear can represent “transformative love” and ” a means for alleviating the alienated emotional self.” In this I can see an object that can be emotionally burdened by relieving the cares, worries, and ills of its possessor. In this I can also see an object that facilitates passive emotional communication. During times of tragedy the teddy bear is often given as a means to support and comfort victims. When gifted to the elderly or anyone really it is an effective means to avoid emotional and social communication. It is thought a teddy bear can communicate all of the complicated and, at times, uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that the giver cannot or will not express. It is a way to say, “I’m sorry” and substitutes companionship at the same time. It is a deferral of responsibility. What does this mean for me?
It was suggested, briefly, that I look for areas of “accountability” in my family and life experiences. Very often I have taken in the role of or perceived myself as being in the role of victim. Yes, I can see this as being true. Things happened to me and I has/ have trouble finding the strength to take on the responsibility of changing those things and changing how I react to those things. I have felt I have had very little control of these things and felt afraid to assume control. If I push back, I’ve felt, it will destabilize my world and in what then can I place my trust?