Have you ever felt alone in a crowd?
Felt like a misfit even when the world seems to cheer you on?
Woken up early just before sunrise from a disturbing dream and been unable to shake off the emptiness?
Have you ever wondered about the pointlessness of your very existence, or what the point to all your striving is?
Do you get too close to people very quickly, and then get disappointed even quicker by them?
Do you feel inadequate no matter what your achievements are, and feel the need to keep proving yourself over and over?
Do you feel angry, sad and scared all at the same time and take it out on those closest to you? And then hate yourself for being that way…?
Stop. Inhale. Exhale… deeply.
And know you’re not alone. There are many others who feel just like you, and the reason for your emotional ups and downs may be, unsurprisingly, buried deep in your childhood.
The Child Within
Freud said that all our personalities are shaped by the time we are four years. Which leaves an awful weight of responsibility in the hands of parents. Who, let’s face it, is nowhere near perfect, and are shaped by their own experiences, cultures, thoughts, and influences… many of which are not conducive to positive child-rearing.
And the little helpless child is thus often neglected or becomes a social accessory or a base to build up parental dreams… all of it leaving the defenseless child, who is without recourse to any other reference points or support, scarred and traumatized, and who then internalizes all this pain. From late stage bed-wetting and thumb sucking to self-harm and suicide, the spectrum of the suffering of the child within can be broad and extreme.
The Adult Now
Abused children eventually grow up and eventually leave home, but they carry that internalized pain around andit expresses it in a variety of toxic ways. They will become attention-seekers, thrill-seekers, hedonistic at one end of the spectrum, or they may be introverted, withdrawn and afraid at the other end of it.
Some may jump from one end of the spectrum to the other depending on the situation. But all of them will be hurting deep inside, often without even realizing it. The uncomfortable feelings from childhood have been normalized. And yet they know, somehow, just somehow, that they are not quite right within themselves as they lock up the suffering child into a cycle of silence and pain.
The Voice Within
There’s a part of every human that just knows right from wrong. And while denial is a much more comfortable state to live in, one can’t help but tune into that persistent nagging voice inside us. That voice which tells us perhaps our parents were/are not all they are cracked up to be. That the ‘happy families routine’ we strive to create with them somehow always goes awry. And that friends, no matter how loving, don’t fill that empty space in our hearts.
As children, it’s impossible not to love our parents, or want validation from them, and as adults, we can waste an entire lifetime trying to give ourselves the childhood we never had. And this happens by the simple act of never acknowledging that we had it bad as a young child. This lack of acceptance keeps us imprisoned in the cage of pain that was built for us years ago when we were unable to build anything for ourselves.
The Actions Now
But we CAN build for ourselves now. That’s the beauty of being an adult.So stop. Inhale. Exhale. Deeply. And recognize that much as we may love our parents, they are, ultimately, just like us. Flawed and prone to terrible mistakes. The worst one of which was not loving us the way we wanted and so desperately needed. Again, there’s a spectrum.
The odd spank, the harsh word, the denied request, or the scolding… these can be forgotten. But if one, or both, of our parents, put their needs before yours, were critical in the extreme, neglectful of our desires and talents, violent or otherwise abusive… then we are left feeling all those awful feelings we described in the beginning. And that is no way to live life.
Changing your pain to peace will be a life-long process, especially if there were narcissistic influences within the family set-up. And a little soul-searching will help you see that there is no reason to tolerate abuse just because it comes from family members.
One of the worst things to happen to society everywhere is the assumption that family should be loved just because they are family. This is a complete fallacy for simple rules of decent human conduct would mean they need to earn our love and respect, just like everyone else has to, and vice-versa.