You’re too sensitive, too emotional.
Or dismissed with:
I can’t change who I am.
A child can’t see this for what it is. A parent who grew up emotionally stunted.
Perhaps they were from the: ‘children are seen and not heard’ generation like mine were? Their own childhood needs were never met and so they are incapable of nurturing yours.
There is no emotional intimacy.
Someone you can tell anything to. Express feelings and emotions you have and feel safe with doing so.
Instead, you suppress them. Deny them.That’s how I felt as I grew up.
This can lead you into dysfunctional, even an abusive relationship in adulthood. I know that now.
I learned to become a ‘people pleaser’. To morph my behavior to keep the peace.
To ignore my gut instincts. If I felt shame or upset, my mother told me I was wrong to feel that way.
As an adult I was a chameleon, spouting opinions that weren’t my own. Taking on those of others who were more confident than me.
I told them what I thought they wanted me to say and hear. I was always someone I was not. Forever hiding, in fear, they’d find me out.
I didn’t even want to go into the relationship with my ex. I knew it was no good for me. But, I lacked the confidence to say no.
Besides, I had this fantasy in my head:
If I can love him enough, then he’ll become the man I need.
The one who could fill that hole I had inside me.
I attracted needy people like him. But, I liked the role of rescuer.
I can fix this
That’s what I thought. My friends believed I could as well.
I took responsibility for both sides of the relationship. Even after abuse, kept trying to make it work.
I’m not the only adult child of an emotionally immature parent to do this.
We create this story in our heads. A fantasy, that one day our unmet needs will be met.
We believe the cure for our childhood emotional pain lies in changing ourselves enough to affect this outcome.
If only I am attractive enough. Self-sacrificing enough. Famous. Rich enough. Then I’ll be happy.
Anything other than:
I am enough
Which is the healthy way of thinking?
In a relationship, we think:
If I change my behavior. If I love this person enough
Then I can turn them into the one. Get that happy ever after we crave.
The trouble is, we find safety in familiarity. So, seek safety in an emotionally immature partner. One who is like our parent(s). But, who’ll never meet our emotional needs either?
It took me years to understand this.
I was also sick of who I’d become. The chameleon, the people pleaser – anyone but myself.
I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I hit rock bottom.
I saw the real me for the first time. I was a frightened little girl. Desperate for love and approval.
I ripped that fantasy I had out of my head. My ex-was never going to fulfill my needs. I had to stop projecting this impossible dream onto him. That he was the one who’d plug the gap inside.
He’d shown me who he was all along. I’d denied the reality.
I saw my emotionally immature parents for who they were at last. Trying to do the best that they could, informed by how their own parent’s parents raised them. But, failing to fulfill my emotional needs.
I loved them, but I didn’t have to like everything about them. I could separate myself as their child.