You are currently viewing First session: “I want to start my life over but I can’t”

For a while now, questions have been bothering me and I’ve been reluctant to go to therapy. I manage to analyze a certain number of elements of my life, but it seems that I am in a perpetual repetition. I can’t find peace with myself, even if, despite the chaos, I have managed to develop strategies that allow me to have a path and a correct social place. I lived in Algeria until I was 22, I did part of my studies there, then I continued them in France, where I became a territorial civil servant.

Robert Neuburger: Is your family still in Algeria?

Ali: Yes, except for one brother who lives in Belgium. For my part, I got married in France fifteen years ago, and we divorced six years ago, just before the birth of our daughter, who was not expected because my wife took months to realizing that she was pregnant.

Robert Neuburger: Your daughter never knew her parents together, then?

Ali: No, and that is part of my anxiety, even if, for the moment, she is doing very well. I keep her every other weekend and I often pick her up from school.

Robert Neuburger: And currently, do you live as a couple?

Ali: No, at the moment I don’t have anyone and that’s part of my anxieties. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t make my dad’s mistake again, which caused a lot of mess. In my childhood, my mother having been driven out of the couple by my grandfather for obscure reasons, my father immediately married a second wife. But my mother refusing the divorce, he took her back to the house, where she took care of me and the household chores. They weren’t supposed to have intimate relationships, but when he had his first child with his second wife, he also had one with my mother: my brother. There have been rumors that my brother was from a different man than my father. Which is wrong, my mother always said, but the result is that my brother has become very emotionally disturbed. It marked me a lot.

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Robert Neuburger: He manages?

Ali: Hardly. I had to hospitalize him in psychiatry on several occasions and he is angry with me. But I have to take care of him, like my mother, who now lives alone in Algeria. When I got my baccalaureate, my father asked me to take care of it. As I had respect and fear towards him, I obeyed. With my brother, we have developed two different strategies: I am in search of peace, stability, and I have not cut ties either with my father or with his daughters from the second marriage, whereas my brother has cut with everyone.

Robert Neuburger: Do you find your place when you go to see your family in Algeria?

Ali: Not easy. I spend two weeks there a year, in turn at my mother’s and my father’s, and each is angry with me when I am at the other’s. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to redeem the affection of my father, who was never affectionate, by helping him financially as well.

Robert Neuburger: Do you also help your ex-wife?

Ali: Yes, and then relatives… My wife always reproached me for “being Abbé Pierre”. But when I was a teenager, I had a lot of help from outside. People have reached out to me, at school or in associations. Whenever I was unhappy at home, I found a cocoon elsewhere where I was considered and loved, especially since I was brilliant at school.

Robert Neuburger: So there is this serious family issue, with this misinformation about your mother. Apart from this situation which marked your life, did you encounter any other difficulties?

Ali: I haven’t had a stable love life. I think I’ve always been in a kind of emotional dependency in my stories. I have never been able to build a healthy relationship where there is balance. For a long time, I thought I didn’t like it.

Robert Neuburger: What happened to get you divorced?

Ali: My wife locked herself at home. She didn’t want to work, spent her time in front of the TV. And then, we had known each other as students and I needed to obtain French nationality to take competitive exams. That’s why we got married. I think it skewed things for her, when I loved and supported her from the start. Today, our daughter is my ray of sunshine, but I invest myself a lot with her and I think that some women consider that I don’t leave any room for them.

Robert Neuburger: This is the problem of blended families… What would you expect from therapy?

Ali: Find someone who will help me find a way, enlighten me. I am ready to invest myself in the long term because I love life, I want to be well to accompany my child. However, today, I live in almost permanent stress. At one point, what weighed on me was that I had always been a role model, both in the family and in the village. I no longer wanted to have this role, but to follow my personal path. I think my “abbé Pierre” side, wanting to save everyone, is playing tricks on me. I see that I want to start my life over and can’t.

Robert Neuburger: You have a fairly strong caregiver profile. On the one hand, it gives satisfaction, but on the other, it is heavy. Especially since it’s not really a position that you have chosen. It could have been your brother’s.

Ali: I would have liked my mother to rebuild her life. I have always considered, as for my half-sisters, that she could both be a mother and live her life as a woman, self-determine without suffering the weight of tradition. I get a lot of gratitude from them for that, but…

Robert Neuburger: … the trap is there: to make oneself exist only as a helper.

Ali: Exactly. And if there are times when I am sharing, there are others when I really want to be alone. But I am more and more melancholic, with sometimes the desire to do nothing more. I wonder if it’s depression.

Robert Neuburger: It’s a bit like the reverse of the helping position. There are times when suddenly we say to ourselves: what about me? Which isn’t a bad question… To me, it’s very clear that if you were to do any work, it would be analysis; on the one hand, because in the analysis, one is faced with oneself, and on the other hand, because when one listens to you, you listen to yourself at the same time. »

A month later

Ali: “I have the feeling of having lived this session in an almost total letting go, because the words of the therapist spoke to me and helped to give myself more. My regret is that it was not longer! We were only able to tackle certain tracks. I could have gone on for hours, because talking about myself is not a difficult exercise for me. I contacted an analyst as advised. »

Robert Neuburger: “Ali’s problem is widely shared, and in particular by those who have made a profession of helping, such as therapists… It is clear that he did not choose this position of helping, but that it gave him transmitted by the family context and, as far as he was concerned, by the fact that he felt privileged by his successes, first at school, then professionally. This makes him what I call a “designated caregiver”. There are many others who occupy this place for various reasons: consequences of parental conflicts, having a disabled brother, various traumas in the family… Ali now realizes that his position as a caregiver was not the result a choice on his part, but was due to particular circumstances. The fact of understanding this puts him in front of an existential crisis whose effects are to destabilize him, but also to put him in a favorable situation so that he asks himself essential questions about his identity supports and his future. »

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