What is in your basket. What is in your basket? Family of origin issues.

What is in your basket? Family of origin issues.

What is in YOUR Basket?
 
Yvonne Sinclair M.A.,MFCC
This article explores our family of origin and the “stuff” we learned living with that family. We will look at the way our family taught us patterns of being with someone. We will explore how the dynamics of the family in which we grew up affects our current relationships as an adult.
 
I know, I can just hear you say, ”Excuse me!! I am NOTHING like my family!” Mostly, that may be true. Living with your family taught you behaviors and ways of expressing, or NOT expressing, in a way that may not have been so obvious. You may have said, I am not going to be that way, or do that.” Unless we give ourselves an alternative behavior we will revert to what we know and what is familiar when we are stressed or at our wits end. YOUR “STUFF””
 
I would like to start this Level with an exercise. Think of each person in your life….well in the whole world, each person has his or her very own basket in front of him or her. Each basket contains this person’s “stuff’ or personal issues.
 
Couples have a relationship basket and/or family basket also. So, here is how it works. MOM calls and says- you never call me, you don’t love me, I am the only Mother you have…..yada yada yada.” This means she is feeling alone, selfish, angry…we are not sure. BUT this is stuff in HER basket. She is throwing her stuff in
YOUR basket. If you are quick your lid goes SLAM and it bounces back into her basket WHERE IT BELONGS!!! You are not in charge of taking care of others feelings and/or Their “stuff.” This works for couples too. Your job is taking care of your issues. You may choose to take care of others stuff or them at times”, but this is still NOT your job.
 
Maybe your partner is a neat freak and you really are more comfortable with the lived in” look. Relationship baskets can become more complicated. You love your partner, you love being with your partner and it is really nice when they are happy….so maybe you give the neat thing a try. BUT it is really in your partner’s basket. You can add it to yours if you wish and it is definitely in the couple’s basket. I will explain that later.
 
Your basket contains your issues, things you care about, patterns of behaviors, personality preferences, learned behaviors, family of origin patterns,-that sort of thing. If you have codependent tendencies you may put others issues in your basket. If you are co-dependent your good feelings” come from taking care of others. You take care of others instead of taking care of your needs-routinely. That is the co-dependent tendency and not a healthy dynamic for you and others.
 
Relationship baskets will contain the issues that are in your relationships- the neat freak/lived in issue will be in the couple’s basket. This issue will be there to discuss, together, to come to some happy outcome for you as a couple. Parenting issues will be in a couple’s basket. Your parenting issues from your family of origin are in YOUR basket. Your partner’s issues are in their basket. MOM/or DAD’s need to control your life and tell you how to raise your kids…..those issues are where?? IN THEIR BASKET!!. SO, when they call to tell you there opinion of your parenting….you say… “I know you feel that way” this comment puts there “stuff” RIGHT back into their basket. This kind of comment is called reflective listening.
  
YOUR Family of Origin
 
We learn to be together in our family of origin, or the family where we grew up. The way anger was expressed, the way pain was shown, how stress was handled, communication patterns, respect or disrespect of others and their rights, honoring or NOT personal boundaries, all were taught without actually talking about them, in our family of origin.
 
We learn about anger and communication invitro..before we were born. We are aware of the outer world while we are being formed inside of our mother. What happens to our Mother while we are still in her uterus can have a profound effect on US. For instance, if a Mother has a life-threatening event while she is
pregnant, the child may develop Reactive Attachment Disorder after birth. There is a theory that if the Mother has a life threatening event during pregnancy the child may be predisposed to homosexuality. SO, we become who we are in a very complicated environment. Parents-genetics, family patterns, school influence, peers put in their part, the world at large, and our own personality and emotional resources-make us the “who” that we are today.
 
Our basket contains all of this. The contents in our basket is not permanent, by that I mean WE can change the “stuff” in our basket. WE are in charge of taking care of the issues in our basket. If we had abuse in our family of origin, or our growing up world, we can change how we are functioning around that with counseling and information. We can change our view of parenting with classes and reading about good parenting techniques.
 
The bad part of all this there is NO specific class for Relationships. No one to teach us to be together “right and functional.” We are at a loss on how to “do” relationship well if we have not learned that in our family of origin. Where do we learn to be a partner or lover? TV gives us all kinds of relationships to consider From SIMPSONS to LEAVE IT TO BEAVER…So we get to choose a style to try on. Maybe we spend a lifetime trying on styles of relationship. We need our own personal relationship dresser” to help us with what fits for US.
 
YOUR LITTLE VOICE
 
I am going to assume your family of origin was not “functional.” I will assume there was some abuse. So, if that was not the case, please absorb what you need or want and move to the next section, or you may read this with your partner or friend in mind.
 
PLEASE-do not take the statements in this section as criticism of YOU…I will give you alternatives to these behaviors. Remember, you can choose to change the dynamics you learned. I need to let you know been there, done that. Sometimes counselors can come across as pure- perfect- never been bad…well, I am here to tell you counselors are counselors for a reason. AND that reason is NOT that they had Leave it to Beaver” homes while growing up. So, hang in here with me okay?? I also need to tell you, I know it is easy to sit in my counselor chair and give you information about making your life wonderful. I KNOW it is not as easy as it sounds, but I also know it is worth the effort.
 
At the end of this Chapter there will be a list of abuse, Emotional, Physical, and Sexual. Sometimes when we grow up with abuse we think it is “normal” or usual. We feel all families behave like this. So, it is important to know what is abuse. If we educate ourselves on what are abusive behaviors, we can eliminate
that behavior and treatment in our relationship and current family.
 
Abusive families often have a need to look good. So the children will be taught things like….what happens in the family STAYS in the family. There are numerous books on dysfunctional family patterns. Find one that fits for your family patterns and get information on what is dysfunctional and what is healthy. The book I like to recommend is Maggie Scarf’s book, Unfinished Business. This book addresses our pattern of bringing our unfinished business from our family of origin into our relationships. She explores how we will pick a partner to continue working on unresolved issues from our family.
 
Remember, we don’t do this consciously. We don’t look around the singles world and say to ourselves “they would be abusive, or emotionally unavailable, or dysfunctional.” We are, however, more comfortable with a partner who has the same dynamics as ourselves. We may instinctively pick someone, to be with, who
has similar behaviors and functions.
 
Molest victims often will continue the abuse with self abusive behaviors; such as eating disorders, an abusive partner, or drug or alcohol abuse. Sometimes molest victims will identify with the offender and have the belief “this is how you treat someone you love.” These victims may then become offenders. Molest, unless the offender is a fixated pedophile, is not usually about sex. Molest is usually about power, control, or revenge, those type of issues.
 
BACK on track….you choose someone with the same family dynamics. Of course you don’t go out looking for someone to beat you, or to beat. You don’t go out consciously looking for a person from molest family dynamics to complete the pattern. You don’t look for someone, consciously, that does not respect personal boundaries. Your subconscious helps you with this. This is where changing your dynamic and healing from abuse BEFORE you choose a relationship is the best. If that has not happened, NOW is a good time. If you are with someone now who has the old dynamics, don’t despair they can also choose to change and be healthy.
 
One word about family equilibrium. Every family balances itself. It is called a family equilibrium. This is done by each person in the family taking their “role” and fulfilling their part to keep the family in balance. If parents are alcoholic, it may the oldest child’s “part” to be the parent. The members take a piece of the family “personality” pie. One child may be the hero, doing well in school and making a successful life. This child may want to be an artist and live day to day….but to keep the family balanced they do their job. Children are sometimes designated the role of the black sheep” doing the acting out for the family. One member may be a “lost child” keeping the anger or hurt for the family. Where the problem comes is that the roles are hurtful to the members. The children are not able to be themselves and fulfill what they want for their life.
 
One day a child (now an adult usually) will decide to change what they are doing and who they “are” for the family. They become themselves and stop playing their role. The family is now out of balance and the other members are stressed because someone is not doing their “job” for the family. The other members may escalate their behaviors to force the member who is changing to go back to old behaviors.
 
If one member changes then the family is out of balance and the members left have to change also. If you are the member changing, know the others will not want you to progress. They may not be ready to change and your being true to you is very uncomfortable for them. If you change they have to be confronted with change and the reality that you were holding up a place in the family that was designated to you. Maybe they don’t like their “job” and are not faced with the fact they could change. You are changing. They may panic about the need to change and if the time is not right for them, they will try to get you to go back to the old ways and keep the equilibrium. Stay strong, get validation with a professional, and listen to your little voice.
 
©Copyright 2012 by Yvonne Sinclair M.A., MFCC. All Rights Reserved. All material is owned and protected. Reproduction without the express written consent of the author is forbidden.

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