Can I Make It a Good Journey?
Everybody has their family car. And every car has lots of stories, and everybody develops positive things in their car as well as negative things in their car. And the goal in understanding this concept is to help you understand better who you are, how these dynamics developed, and how they serve you in your life. Or how they do not serve you.
Tolly: We have a special guest joining us today, Bethany Diedrich, a former student of Ellen’s in the University of Michigan graduate social work program. And Bethany is also my fiancé. Today, we’re going to be talking about Bethany’s life and the cars in Bethany’s life.
Ellen: Hi Bethany. So since you know about the car metaphor already, I’m going to ask you first for a general description of your family.
Bethany: So my family growing up—my first “car,” until I was 10—consisted of my dad, my mom, myself, and my younger brother, Tyler. Then, my parents divorced when I was 10 years old . . .
Tyler was adored by my dad. And the thing is that, when I was born, my dad really wanted a boy, and they didn’t find out my gender ahead of time. So, I came out a girl, and the story I’ve heard from my family is that my dad was so upset that he cried. Then, when Tyler came along, he was so happy to do boy stuff—to go to baseball and football games and hockey and all of that.
Looking back, I think it was really hard on me. And I sort of took that out on Tyler by fighting with him. And, Tyler, despite all this attention from my dad, just adored me. He wanted to do everything I did . . . but I wanted to be a tomboy. I wanted to do the things that boys could do to get that attention from my dad and to feel worthy or like I was enough.
Ellen: It’s fascinating how the parent’s perspective could be so different than the child’s, different than each child’s perspective in the car. Meanwhile, you were watching your father dote on your brother and this wasn’t having a great impact on your brother, but it was having a great impact on you!
Bethany: That’s absolutely what was happening and it made me feel like, “How come I’m left out?”
I got so much attention from my mom, but I really wanted that attention from my dad, because I didn’t get it. So, I would try to learn the things my dad was doing around the house—like when he was building things—just to be with him and help him . . . that way he wasn’t too busy for me in that moment.
Ellen: So, you were looking to get attention from your dad however you could. And unlike your mom, who knew you and gave you what she knew you liked, with your dad, you took on the role of figuring out what he was thinking about, what he might like from you, and then you tried to do those things in order to get what you needed from him.
You had two very different experiences from each of your parents.
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Topics included in this podcast:
family systems, family therapy, divorce, blended families, family of origin, sociology, psychotherapy, counseling, therapy, family healing, generational healing, family dynamics, control, codependency, authenticity