The sofa post

She’s an emotional bonsai, bent out of shape by painful childhood experiences, angry and anxious to the point where those chronic feelings threaten her current relationships.

Yet when I suggest we address this in therapy she says, “But that’s not fair.  None of that was my fault.  Why should I have to get therapy for what they did?”

She’s right.  In a fair world, the abusers would bear the responsibility for abuse, not the victims.

But we don’t live in a fair world.

We live in a world of cause and effect.

And in that world it’s essential to distinguish what we can control from what we can’t.

Or, put another way, between blame and responsibility.

Say you come into my home and toss a lit cigarette onto my sofa.  The sofa blazes up.

That fire’s not my fault.

But do I say, “Hey, I didn’t cause that” and watch it burn?

No.  Unless I want to end up sofaless, I take responsibility for extinguishing it.

Surviving your shitty childhood is no different.

4 responses to “The sofa post

  • twelter001

    My favorite metaphor in my practice is the one about drinking a Pepsi surrounding blame and responsibility. I tell the client that he/she is at a party drinking a Pepsi. They put it down to go to the bathroom. They come back and take a big hit only to discover that there is a cigarette in it. They have a choice: they can fist the cigarette out of the can and continue drinking it or the CAN GET ANOTHER FUCKING PEPSI! This one slows them down to the crawl of acceptance.

    • Steve Hauptman

      Yes. Unfortunately not everyone believes they deserve a fresh Pepsi. And some, even when they get one, promptly set out to find someone to drop another cigarette in it.

  • cvc74

    I have been following you for some time now, and have waited for a post this to surface. This is me in a nutshell. It is ruining my relationship with my Mom whom I am currently estranged. This post helped me realize that I need to seek therapy, not to heal the lack of relationship with her, but for my own healing so I can move on with or without her and start to be happy without all the anxiety, guilt and pain. Thank you. Celica Date: Fri, 7 Nov 2014 01:56:15 +0000 To:

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