Dad: flies into rage, screams at us, eyes wide, trying to be both angry and as terrifying as possible. Yelling. Swearing. Looking for someone to blame.
He feels: rage, like he is personally wronged by the pipe, like just when he couldn't take any more (his chronic mood), this happened, personally, specifically to him.
He wants: no idea, he is fucking crazy.
Mom: scared of father but also sees humor in the situation. Scared of potential violence in scene. And yet, it is kinda funny, water is spraying everywhere, there is a slapstick element to all of this.
Mom says, "I think the shut-off might be in a pipe that is in those vines outside the front door."
Dad roars: "Oh yeah? HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO PUT YOUR HAND IN THAT FUCKING...FUCKING...SNAKE PIT?" (We had recently discovered that there were snakes in the area we had moved too and all around the house.)
Me and Mom share a look and almost get the giggles. Though he is our personal torturer, he is sorta ridiculous.
Me, age 13 or so: I am scared of John's (not his real name, but I in my mind always refer to my father by first name) rage, but also trying hard not to laugh because that will just make it worse. It's scary. He turns violent quickly. He's probably sorta drunk.
I feel: afraid, hate this situation, hate my father. I want: for him to just go away and leave us alone and never come back. I want out of this crazy life, where everything is scary and something as simple as a broken pipe is the scene for major drama and angst.
I want: someone to just act like a fucking adult and handle things. For my mom to leave him. I want to be able to laugh at this without being afraid; it IS funny.
My brother, age 10 or so: watching horrified yet also appreciates the humor. He wants: to go to a friend's house and get the hell away from it all. Not sure what he feels specifically - like fear or anger or whatever.
Things I notice about the drawing after doing it:
- the way it is the three of us huddling away from John, it was always like this.
- that I am between my mother and him - I didn't do this deliberately, but it is true, I had to take the brunt of his rage and the adult role. I was the focus of his negative attention more than anyone. I fought back while she ignored or avoided.
- my brother is sort of an afterthought - his usual place in the family.
- and I guess I did write in there, without thinking, "I want out of this crazy life..." I think that thought had appeared long before this age though. I should do a younger one. Similar scene, age 3.
Which way is your father facing?
The first thing I notice about the drawing is that it is asymmetrical. It is not balanced. In this instance the placement on the page could be important. Here are the usual interpretations of page placement:
So masculine features dominate and controlled behaviour with depression and insecurity. You actually even go so far as to do what is called ‘Paper basing’ You run out of space on the bottom of the page and have to squeeze things in
Paper basing - Generalised insecurity, depression - from HTP test
“I had to take the brunt of his rage and the adult role” and your mother and brother did not.
This is an example of the masculine features. There maybe a tendency for you to ‘wear the pants’ in relationships particularly with men.
This would equate to early decisions like “Don’t be a child” or “Don’t get your needs met”.
Your father looks like something out of the terminator movies and heavy sharp lines are often associated with aggression. This could be you perceiving him as angry or you are angry at him or both
An early demand of your life script is clear:
“Someone to just act like a fucking adult and handle things”
“Stop yelling at me and just give me a hug, hold me”.
“therapy fantasy just to have someone hold me when I cried...as no one ever really did. Just once.”
If this script early demand still remains unsatisfied in your life today then this may mean that you have trouble self soothing and provides clear goals for a treatment plan.
Second there may be a contradiction in you and why there may be problems in relationships with males, which is why I asked you before if your new counsellor was a male.
One part of you will want to take the dominant male control position in relationships and yet your early demands are to be passive and be taken care of by others. If your father’s face is projected by you onto your therapist then these contradictions in wants in the relationship may manifest.
I am not suggesting you look for a female therapist, indeed I suppose the best scenario would be a male therapist who has the focus and ability to handle a complicated transference relationship with a client.
Other Early Decisions could be:
“Everything is scary”
“I want out of this crazy life”,
Before you have talked about a possible Don’t exist decision.
S: “And yes, I could imagine, not quite my father telling me it would be better if I were dead...... And also that anything I might want was useless. I was going to be what he wanted me to be, period. Nothing of my needs or wants was relevant, and, in fact, whenever I expressed them, I was harshly punished (ie hit with iron when I stated that I didn't want to go to the special education program in second grade). Maybe that's a kind of "don't exist" command.” (end quote)
Your statement - “I want out of this crazy life” - is an interesting one and raises an interesting question about the suicide decision (Don’t exist)
The seven usual suicide decisions are:
If you don’t change I will kill myself
If things get too bad I will kill myself
I will show you even if it kills me
I will get you to kill me
I will kill myself by accident
I will almost die (over and over) to get you to love me
I will kill myself to hurt you.
They are all active statements (decisions) about killing, being killed or dying. Your statement is not this as it has a passive quality - “I want out of this crazy life”. It does not contain any statement about killing self or dying. Some however do argue that there can also be passive suicide decisions and this would be one of them. Others one hears are, “I just want to go to sleep and never wake up” or “I just want to leave and get away from everything for good”. My personal view is that they do not constitute suicide decisions (The don’t exist injunction), however it is an interesting distinction to make. It is probably safe to say that the more passively worded the early decision statement is the less likely it will result in a serious suicide attempt.
The other thing about the drawing is the odd combination of emotions. There is the whole funny humorous feelings mentioned by you and mother. Then there is the scare (horror) and anger feelings also mentioned. An odd combination to say the least. Usually if one was feeling strong fear then that would clearly dominate over any humorous feelings. I would be interested to discover how you manifest funny, humorous feelings as an adult.
Other drawing interpretation points are:
Stick man - those who find interpersonal relationships distasteful
Paper basing - Generalised insecurity, depression
Feet long - need for security and to demonstrate virility
Profile - withdrawal and oppositional tendencies.
Hands absent - Reluctance to make intimate contact
Centrality: who are the central figure(s). These are seen to have the predominant power in the personality of the drawer.
Placings - who is between whom and who is in the middle
Alliances - Who is allied with whom and who against who.
Action relationships. Are the various people engaged in some way. Conflict, acceptance, withdrawal, eye contact.
Size. Accounting for developmental expectations who is the large and small ones.
These of course provide the relationship templates that you will take into life. When you get involved in or start to feel part of a group of people then these templates will tend to manifest. Your Little Professor ego state will be endeavouring to re-establish the same kinds of relationship dynamics from the past (drawing) onto the group you are involved with in the here and now.
The angry, scary father figure. The emotionally impotent mother figure who you sort of end up looking after rather than the other way around and the aloof peer figure who wants to move away and feels scared.