The effects of divorce on a child (in later life)
What is the influence of unconscious emotions on our everyday life? Can experiences in the past that seemed solved or not emotionally charged, influence our daily behavior? How are our emotions made? What do our past experiences and the predictions we make about our life have to do with each other? In this blog I will explain how seemingly unrelated experiences can cause detrimental everyday emotions. The effects of divorce on a child in later life, part 1.
Procrastination and anxiety
I have been working with a student. He’s about 23 years old and as many students he finds it hard to concentrate on studying. In his case this is severe, and he procrastinates whenever he gets the opportunity. However, this is not the only symptom he called my help for. He also suffers from social anxiety. He finds it challenging to mingle with his student friends. In fact, he does not have a lot of friends and experiences loneliness. He spends many hours playing online games to distract himself and he isolates himself.
He worries a lot. About almost every aspect of his life, as he puts it. He spends nights worrying about others, about what they might think of him. Also, about not studying and what girls might think of him. About how he does not fit in. He is emotional and feel sad often. Worry seems his ‘go to’ state.
As we are talking about all these things he says: ‘I spend too little time with my parents.’ ‘I feel I am not spending enough time with my parents, and I feel guilty about that.’ As he is speaking, he becomes more emotional and says, ‘I fall short’. As we are talking and probing deeper into the emotions, he says that he finds it really hard to divide his attention between his parents. You must realize that he hardly sees his dad. Even though his father keeps on trying to connect with him in various ways. After the divorce he basically grew up with his mother.
The emotions swell and then I ask him, ‘In what memory are these feelings embedded in?’. He stares for a minute and cries out loud. ‘I had my throat tonsils removed as a kid. I remember waking up from the operation. This was just after the divorce of my parents. I was about to go home and saw both my parents at the end of my bed. Still drowsy I wanted to jump in both their arms. Then I realized I was supposed to go home with one of them and not both.’ He asked, ‘who’s turn is for me to stay with?’.
He realized then that it was his father’s turn, but his mother said, ‘just come home with mum, I will take care of you.’ He hardly could do anything else but make that detrimental decision to go home with his mother. He still recalls his father’s face and ever since he hardly has had contact with his father.
The feeling of ‘falling short’ has been an enormous part of his life. He feels he falls short as friend, as student. In his intimate relationships and towards his father whom he hardly sees or speaks. But who keeps on sending him messages about that he misses him. Strangely enough, falling short, to his dad never seemed a real problem…
Past projects our future
In how we construct our sense of reality we build conceptual realities. Conceptual realities are templates about core aspects of our life. Concepts are ideas about what love is, success, connection and so on. And also, about what ‘falling short’ means. These emotional concepts form templates in our unconscious. Whenever a feeling occurs that can be traced back. Back to a crucial experience that formed the basis experience of that concept. The past will project our future and so we relive the meaning of that concept in our everyday lives. Without consciously knowing about it.
Are you curious about how the story ends? Keep an I on my blog for part 2 of ‘The effects of divorce on a child’. You can also drop me an email if you are interested in one on one coaching or the training for couples to rewrite your past emotional concepts that get in the way of your loving relationships today. Send me an email.