I've been thinking about the project of therapy
Parents will fail us. Its practically a given and not something to regret. We will fail our children in some way, if we have them - its part of the job, to grow resilience and autonomy. Show me the offspring of parents that perfectly and immediately meet every developmental need and I will show you a hothouse flower that cannot trust themselves to survive outside of that cushioning.
And it's not just parents. Friends, teachers, faiths, government, the environment, even our own body. The world will in some way let us down. It's part of being alive in this corporeal form.
That is not to say, however, that the myriad of accidental failings are without cost. They often hurt and provoke the development of primitive defences to mitigate that pain. Primitive, precisely because they are new and unrefined. Some parents fail us so enormously, and repeatedly, sometimes in ways that we can only conclude are deliberately about us, that those defences are similarly catastrophic. These 'schemas' - or the way we relate to others and the world - may temporarily ensure our survival, but usually become our downfall.
We go through the world expecting and re-creating the same scenarios over and over - increasingly hating the results, often blaming others for our suffering. Finally the avoidance of pain that such defences were designed to ensure no longer stack up against the costs in terms of depression, substance abuse, failed relationships and deep sense of discontent with Self. A crisis occurs. That's when we seek therapy.
In therapy we can bring those failed defences - often layered with lifestyle and character, beliefs and values - and enact them again without judgement. Except this time there is the chance to get a different outcome. Through the therapist entering into a genuine but non-collusive relationship we are compassionately confronted with what we do. The holding up of a fiercely loving mirror to our way of relating gives us the chance to try again differently. To examine the pain that we fear so much and see it in the context of the distress that resulted from its avoidance. And to try again - to risk opening that wound to clean and heal it differently.
Not an easy thing. Takes skill and courage. But ultimately more worthwhile than any other project.