This becomes a paradox. On one hand, they genuinely want their children to succeed. On the other hand, they feel intimidated seeing their children more beautiful and more successful than they were or are. They may feel betrayed as the child becomes more independent, considering how much time and energy they had sacrificed for the child. Parents who are not self-conscious may out their resentment and envy in dysfunctional ways. They may give their children back-handed or sarcastic compliments, subtle criticism, or even more direct attack and scorn.
Generally, parents are their children’s first role models. However, when the supposed role models insult us for our accomplishments or put us down, we begin to develop low self-esteem and hate ourselves. As adults, we may feel very guilty or ashamed of our successes in life. We may even sabotage ourselves, stay average, and purposely underachieve.
Carl Jung explains that nothing has a stronger psychological influence on children than the unlived lives of parents. Although it does not make up for how they behave, most competitive parents at a point in their childhood were victims of deprivation. They find it difficult to give positive feedback to their children because they never had it.
How do we release past trauma?
All that has been said so far may be disconcerting.
It is possible that you had hoped and you were disappointed but kept hoping regardless. Or that you were hurt and betrayed but still believe in love. It is possible to feel confused by the several trains of emotions that you have for the family that could not understand you.
From the point of view of human evolution, the bond we form with our parents or caregivers is one of life-or-death and so, the idea that these people we totally depend on can fail us or that we can disappoint them is terrifying. We have historically suppressed the anger or resentment we had for our parents because that was the only way to survive.
Despite becoming adults, a lot of us still have an estranged relationship with anger.
We find ways to rationalize or justify the rage we feel because we feel threatened by it. We say “they did the best they could” to downplay our pain.
Most of us do not feel safe enough to handle our rage and spend so much of ourselves trying to drown it. We may binge eat or numb ourselves, becomes aggressive to ourselves, or fall into depression. Sometimes, the bottled-up rage in us explode unexpectedly, and we sabotage our current relationships with those we love.
Anger is a universal energy. It needs to be acknowledged and released from our system.
Anger is not the same as blame.
There is a hidden belief that comes with anger: “someone must have done something wrong”. This follows that “if no one did something wrong, then it must be me. I must be at fault”.
In truth, blame does not have to follow anger.
Want to know more about how toxic family dynamics can hamper your life? Read How To Heal From Childhood Trauma When Its Hampering Your Mental Health
We may consider separating our parents’ toxic behaviors from the people they are from a spiritual perspective. Perhaps we can try and understand that their dysfunctions come from pain that they inherited. We can see them as ill-equipped humans rather than ‘our parents’. They are fellow people affected by a universal, inescapable pain body.
We can also try and remember that although the pain we feel feels very personal, we are independent of it.
Sometimes, we are only sharing part of a collective, universal human suffering, some of which was only passed down to us.
Our trauma does not define us.
We are not our past.
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”― Mother Teresa
Signs And Symptoms Of Complex Trauma (C-PTSD)
What Happens When We Bury Unspeakable Truths
1. We become dissociated and feel dead inside
Cumulative trauma has the power to force our childhood into foreclosure. Our true self is the part of us that is free, spontaneous, and fully alive. But having been emotionally abandoned by our caretakers, we have also learned to bury our true selves.
Such disconnection comes not from one single traumatic experience, but an accumulation of painful emotional memories— when our enthusiasm was met with coldness, our passion misunderstood, our feelings silenced or our actions punished. The innocent, most alive part of us- our Soul, our True Self, or our Inner Child- is forced into hiding.