Tuesday, May 08, 2007

TO WRITE: Oh, Those 'Parental Units'
Whether you feel your parents are the guiding lights in your life or people who cast dark shadows -- or, most likely, something in between -- there's no denying that parental relationships are crucial to shaping who we are. Think back to your growing-up years: How did you experience them, or the other person or people who raised you? Nearly all of us can point to both happy and painful childhood events. And what of your current relationships: Are your parents living? Do you have regular contact, rare contact, no contact? Do conversations mirror those of childhood, or have they evolved in some way?

These reflections can be eye-opening for anyone, but perhaps especially to people coping with depression. If you feel like it, consider the relationship, if any, between your parents and your difficult moods. Some people believe there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship; others find their parents their greatest support. There's no good or bad -- our parents are only one part of our lives and, as adults, we have already moved on considerably to shape ourselves, and we'll continue to change and grow.

WARNING: This can be an intense topic. Remember the "flip-out" rule -- if it feels too scary to go there, just don't go. Write on something else this week.

Play with this...
Choose one parent or guardian. Take 20 minutes of continuous writing to describe your past and present relationship with that person. Try to incorporate at least a couple of specific stories of events. Also consider how you might like to improve your view of that relationship today -- could you recognize your separateness and release some frustration or pain, for example? Can you feel thankful for any part of your interactions? You may want to share what you've written with a safe friend, partner or therapist. Remember: We are always evolving and becoming stronger as adults.

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