Learning about Tracy
In walks Tracy, a 37 year old female. Tracy had initially come into my office to work on her abuse of marijuana. According to Tracy, she would use marijuana as a means to escape the many troubles of her life, particularly the issues within her relationships. The problem was that her using was getting in the way of her life- in her career, with her family life, as well as with her partner of two years. Tracy was ready to make some changes for herself.
In getting to know her, I learned that Tracy was raised in a single parent household in which her mother was not emotionally available- instead, she took on the role of “caretaker” for her mother, in addition to her two younger siblings. Through this process, she did not know how to be a child- this started at the age of 8, when her mother got diagnosed with cancer, and she took on the role of her mother’s caretaker. Although Tracy went to school, she would come home and immediately start doing all the tasks that her mother needed her to do- especially in feeding her younger siblings and helping them with their homework.
Now as an adult, Tracy has continued this pattern of not taking care of her needs. She has spent all her life taking care of everyone else but herself. According to Tracy, her partner Alex also complains that Tracy neglects herself and goes over & beyond for others. Alex is tried and frustrated in seeing Tracy treat herself so poorly. However, when it comes to her wants and needs, Tracy feels lost and unsure of what to actually do. Instead, she has turned to smoking marijuana as a means to escape. What Tracy didn’t know initially was that that 8 year old little girl who was neglected as a child has followed her into her adulthood.
A big part of Tracy’s therapy was to learn the different feelings that she has, but to also learn about her different parts….
Little Tracy, age 8 Addict Tracy, age 24
Adult Tracy, age 19 Artist Tracy, age 37
Lover Tracy, age 21 Depressed Tracy, age 12
Sister Tracy- current age 37 Working Tracy, age 37
Part of Tracy’s therapy was to learn about all her different parts. The goal here is NOT to eliminate any of her parts, but to start learning about her different parts and to start changing her relationship with them. For instance, the neglected “Little Tracy” who is 8 years old does not need to keep interfering with “Adult Tracy’s” attempts to self care.
“Adult Tracy” can start to learn what she needs and how to get her needs met without the wounds of the past coming in. She can embrace “Artist Tracy” and allow herself the space to be open and creative. One of the most important tasks, however, is to allow “Little Tracy” to grieve- grieve the childhood she never had and start to nurture that inner child that didn’t get to play.
One of my homework assignments to Tracy was to literally go and play- she told me that she used to like going to be the beach as a little girl, but that she didn’t get to play because she would have to take care of her siblings. Now, “Adult Tracy” took “Little Tracy” to the beach and made sand castles!
By learning about her different parts and how to nurture them, Tracy began to heal the wounds from the past and live a more present oriented life.