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.
I could forge a new relationship with them. I could nurture my own needs to become a healthy adult.
I had to stop being the rescuer in my relationship, thinking:
I can fix this
Now was the time to save and love myself.
Boundaries were key to this. Setting strong ones and sticking to them.
Walking away from abuse and never going back. No matter how hard this was and how much it hurt.
I was the Gatekeeper and Protector of my emotional needs now.
Learning how to detach from my parents was crucial too. And not slip back into the familiar, dysfunctional roles of the past.
Establishing new ground rules for our relationship to work. Saying no to them sometimes.
And now here I am. I’ve broken the cycle.
I somehow managed not to become an emotionally immature parent myself.
Loving me first allowed me to nurture my own children’s needs. I was able to raise them into healthy men.
This post was inspired by my recent reading this brilliant book: Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to heal from distant, rejecting or self-involved parents. By Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD
Are you the child of an emotionally immature parent? How is affected you as an adult? Let me know in the comments below.