Need to find someone to support me dealing with unresolved issues
August 12, 2023 10:47 PM   Subscribe

I (M56)have standard, don’t seem that bad to me, issues from what I have slowly come to accept as a mostly neglectful upbringing. Things like fawning, people pleasing, anxiety behavior has been just who I thought I was, and I’ve just accepted the limitations it brings. But it’s costing my partner (F49) in our day to day interactions, and I need to find a way to improve my communication and relating. She has been very helpful showing me how things have gotten to where they are, and where it comes from. But I can’t keep relying on her. So I’m hoping to find a form of ongoing support so I can stay with it, without it weighing on her shoulders. Has anybody in a similar situation found a good way of finding someone? Or made some mistakes others can learn from?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This is absolutely what therapists are for.
posted by Grandysaur at 11:00 PM on August 12, 2023 [24 favorites]

My family used to be therapy skeptical, and I'd grown up with the idea that it was for "serious" issues only, but once I started reading self help books and researching stuff online, I talked to a friend who'd started therapy who changed how I thought about it. They said casually, "I've just got some stuff I want to work on," and that suddenly made it seem so much more reasonable and approachable. Working on all this stuff with people who've trained in these issues gives you a safe and supported space to start unpacking and understanding yourself better. Especially with working on interpersonal things and Cptsd, because it can be a safe place to practice being vulnerable or otherwise interacting with someone. Look up the different kinds of therapy that are out there so you can better find the one that works for you if you seek it out (eg. People-centered, trauma informed, psycho dynamic, dbt, EMDR, CBT...)

There are a number of books and articles out there on fawning, like ones by Sam Dylan Finch or Pete Walker.
posted by Geameade at 4:26 AM on August 13, 2023 [2 favorites]

The someone is a therapist.

If you want to do some groundwork while working through the sometimes tedious process of finding a person with availability and all that, go to amazon and search "anxiety workbook" and take your pick from any well-reviewed option. Most of them will be oriented to one of the most prevalent talk therapy modalities - CBT, DBT, and/or ACT - and you'll recognize the techniques once you get in front of a therapist. Pretty much anything you pick will improve your life and ability to self-reflect, introspect, and process your emotions in a mature way. The way you describe having to be led to this place by your partner suggests that you will be starting at 101-level skills and onboarding basic vocabulary, and you will save yourself a good bit of time and money obtaining those from book-learning before spending therapy money, which you can use to focus on advanced topics.

Taking a wild guess, you might also specifically want to read Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents.

I would advise not getting too hung up on finding a therapist who takes your insurance. Do your due diligence finding out what's covered, just be unsurprised when it's 3 or maybe 6 sessions, and/or not so much a "copay" situation as a bit of a discount. Most therapists will have a cash rate that works out roughly the same without the limit, and most HSA/FSA plans can be used to cover behavioral services.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:38 AM on August 13, 2023 [1 favorite]

Nthing a therapist

“How to be an adult” has been helpful for me, and all of Harriet Lerner’s books are centered around being in relationships- familial and romantic - while also respecting your own needs.

If, like some of us, you are so used to people pleasing that you sometimes find it hard to know what *you* value, want and need, journaling might be helpful.
posted by bunderful at 7:18 AM on August 13, 2023 [1 favorite]

Regarding your day to day interactions, and until you begin working with a therapist, there is This Cartoon that may help to frame the situation you are in. It is not meant to minimize or oversimplify the challenges. It is drawn from the book series "SOS Help for Emotions".
posted by forthright at 7:45 AM on August 13, 2023

In addition to therapy, take a look at Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families. There are a variety of formats and topics.
posted by dtp at 9:27 AM on August 13, 2023

Great advice here already. Yes, do interview a few therapists and commit to 5-10 sessions with one who you get along with well. It can be weird (it was very weird for me). It can be amazing (it has been life-affirming for me). As you get ready for the process that comes after, it can be more helpful than you might expect to engage in an exercise like this atlas of emotion. I'm a little younger than you, but until I started therapy I didn't realize how stunted my vocabulary for emotional content could be. Men haven't historically been expected to learn these things or even exposed to the materials needed to become fluent in speaking about how you feel. It can feel like learning a new language, and in itself that can feel like making strides toward addressing the situation that brought you here.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:14 AM on August 13, 2023

To start building your list of therapists to contact, Psychology Today has this find a therapist/counselor/psychologist tool.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:23 AM on August 14, 2023

Adding to the suggestion of therapy. I personally do traditional talk therapy and EMDR, both of which have been helpful.

I also cannot recommend enough the YouTube channel "Crappy Childhood Fairy", created by Anna Runkle. She is not a therapist, but someone who experienced childhood and complex PTSD (CPTSD), and has been working on herself for 28 years. Now she creates videos with a variety of topics designed to help others. I really think some of these may resonate for you, especially ones about limerence, neglect, and trauma responses.

In all truth, this channel (along with others; please DM me if you'd like more recommendations) has been more therapeutic than anything.

Here's the link to her channel:
posted by Jangatroo at 8:36 PM on August 16, 2023 [1 favorite]

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