Was your childhood marked by loneliness, abandonment, or sadness? Did you suffer abuse? Are you still suffering? Our childhoods are fundamental in shaping how we relate to ourselves and others as adults. If we are not shown love it may be that we do not develop the capacity to love ourselves. If our parents were unable to contain their anger or anxiety we too may grow up exhibiting the same behaviour. If you sense that your childhood is holding you back from the life you want or you fear that it is affecting your relationship with your partner, friends or children, then it is time to examine it.
Understanding cause and effect can go a long way towards healing us but it may be that new tools need to be learned. It may be that the real healing happens in the letting go and not in the understanding. If you are ready to make a change, to confront the past and live the present, get in touch. Don’t waste another day living in the past.
Boarding School Syndrome
I have a special interest in what is known as Boarding School Syndrome. Associated symptom include issues with intimacy, substance abuse, avoidance, depression, difficulty in discussing feelings, an inability to talk about feelings, a history of broken or troubled relationships and work-related problems.
For those that suffered at boarding school there may have been and still may be a lot shame about the pain they felt and feel. How is it that others apparently found the experience a happy one and flourished? What does that say about those that struggled, that still feel a certain dis-ease. Appearances can be deceptive, as we often present as self-confident, whereas in fact our self-sufficiency masks defence structures that conceal the reality of our experience from ourselves and others.
When we are sent away at an early age there is a sudden loss of our primary attachments, which can cause enduring developmental damage. In addition if we experience bullying or sexual abuse, the new attachment figures are experienced as unsafe, which serves only to compound the situation psychologically. We may have felt we had to conceal this suffering from others at all costs with the result that today we struggle to remember the trauma and its effects are lost even to ourselves.
For men there is already significant societal shame around vulnerability. Boarding School Syndrome can feed into this. Would you like to experience vulnerability without feeling shame, or be able to discuss feelings without experiencing dread, confusion and anger? It may be that your work, health or relationships are in trouble or you just feel a certain something is wrong and you can’t put your finger on it but would like to address it. If you are male or female, still at boarding school or still living with its consequences then get in touch. The real shame comes from ignoring the pain.
Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. In her work she asks: “How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?” Her work is an inspiration and can be found here.
William Pullen B.Sc., M.A., MBACP (Accred)
William Pullen practices psychotherapy in West London, UK. He specialises in individual therapy for adults and young people dealing with such issues as depression, motivation, anxiety, life changes, relationship problems and addiction.