From A Certain Point Of View

I've started seeing an IFS practitioner because I found the book I read about it so useful, and even though we've not properly started yet I've already found it useful. Something they said in our first session that's really stuck with me is that it can be true both that your childhood was (if you look back at it as an adult) 'objectively' really good, but also that it contained a great deal of difficulty for you as you encountered it as a child. I don't know why but that's not really a way I'd thought of framing it before, and I found it very helpful.

I had, if I look back on it, a really wonderful childhood. I had loving and supportive parents, I grew up in the countryside and got to spend lots of time outside, I had good friends and a big, wonderful extended family. I did well in school, I did lots of interesting projects; wrote things, drew stuff, made films, started businesses, learned instruments. I know plenty of people who had legitimately very difficult or traumatic childhoods, and I would not in any way attempt to compare my experience to theirs.

But also, by virtue of being a child, large parts of my childhood experiences were complicated by my confusion, emotional immaturity, lack of understanding of world and self—and also by the thousand petty indignities and difficulties that are part of normal life. I can see, looking back, that I found certain situations intensely distressing because I just didn't quite understand what was going on, and often wasn't able to process my feelings in a healthy way.

It's very easy, when put like that, to see how both those things can be true, but for some reason it was something I'd struggled with before! I think a lot of people might have this for therapy: I had things pretty good, no Big Bad Stuff, what am I moaning about?—but even if things were fine in retrospect, that doesn't mean you didn't subjectively experience things at the time in a way that might have seemed different.

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