Dating Reflections of Your Mother (& Father) Part 5 – Includes Free Unsent Letter Workbook
Posted Jul 30 2010 3:20pm
So over the past few posts I’ve been talking about how we often date reflections of our fathers and mothers when we have unhealthy love habits that have us being involved with unavailable people who offer the least likely prospect of a committed relationship and people who seek to take advantage and abuse our boundaries, assclowns. In part four I covered off four big things that I’ve learned through my own personal experiences that help you gain perspective and move on. In the penultimate post in the series, I focus on two big subjects and at the end of the post there’s details on how to get your free The Unsent Letter Guide.
6. We have to grow up. I had to stop being the five year old that couldn’t comprehend her father not visiting the hospital or in later years, just not being around, or disappointing me. I had to stop being nervous of my mother, put up some boundaries, and stop being a teenager scared of being criticised and at the same time seeking validation and approval – that confirmation that I was loveable and doing things ‘right’ at last.
I went back to university when I was 23. I wanted to prove that I could do a degree, that I was the good and loveable daughter my mother wanted and not a disappointment or a failure. I finished my degree and waited for the amazing feeling to arrive and the sense of accomplishment. My mum uttered words that I’d wanted to hear for so long – she was proud of me and coupled with declarations of love, I should have been skipping around with validation joy. Instead, I felt nothing.
The fact that I felt nothing only made me feel worse. I was so angry with myself initially because I really wanted this ‘feeling’. One day it suddenly occurred to me that the reason why I didn’t feel anything was because not only had I done the degree for the wrong reasons, but it turned out, I no longer needed or wanted the approval and validation I’d yearned for – I had to validate and approve myself.
If you’re trapped in a cycle with your mother or father, one of the primary means of getting out of it is growing yourself up. That’s nurturing that child within you but at the same time pulling it into the present day so that you can own your experience, claim your power back.
Often in my adult interactions with my parents, I haven’t been my actual adult age and instead I’ve become a nervous teenager. In speaking with various readers, they were all the same too becoming moody, petulant teenagers, fawning five year olds, or having screaming rows that reduced them to feeling like they were having a tantrum.
I’ve said it many times – if we want a situation to change, it’s our own change we have to deal with because we cannot control other people. I’ve drawn the conclusion that my mother has been ‘her way’ for 53 years – if she’s comfy that way and happy with the results, I’m not going to ride her ass like Zorro and ask her to step out of her comfort zone. Likewise my father can get all nostalgic about when I was a little girl that literally hung off his coat tails in admiration.
However, my reality is different and I’m not comfortable playing roles that they’re comfortable with me playing so I’m going to be me and if our relationship can evolve out of that, great (it has with my dad), but if me having boundaries doesn’t work for them, I’m OK with continuing to raise my adult self without them around me.
Hold up your end of things by making sure that you don’t make it any easier for them by playing the role and acting like a child.
We’re all too old to have the level of expectation that we do from either of our parents. We can’t get that time back and quite frankly, much like when you try to tell a Mr Unavailable or assclown the who, what, where, when and why’s of where you’re at and what you think, you are wasting time – you could talk till you’re blue in the face but people see and hear whatever the hell they want to see and hear. Stop trying to control people’s opinion of you – they should be more worried about your opinion of them.
7. Make peace. I had no idea how angry I was with both of my parents, until I went through the recovery process from my illness and it was explained to me that I really needed to clear the anger and forgive. Forgive what? I thought. But even starting to think about some of the long buried memories had me feeling like elephants were standing on my chest and that my head was being squeezed between some clamps. I wanted to run from the room. But I stayed and actually, acknowledging that 1) I was hurt, 2) I was really bloody p*ssed off, 3) I had a right to be hurt and p*ssed off, but 4) my parents were and are not infallible and that 5) the anger and hurt was derailing and debilitating me was a wake up call.
I won’t lie – there was no complicated process for me about letting go of my anger. Until I acknowledged that I was angry and hurt, I didn’t actually realise that I was carrying around the burden.
Imagine all the things you’re p*ssed off with them about, all the things that hurt, that frustrate, the disappointments. Now imagine each and every individual thing is an item of clothing – how much of this stuff can you walk around with before you feel hot, clammy, overburdened, laden down, trapped, weighty, defeated, difficult to walk, difficult to breathe etc?
Much like when I’ve talked about letting go of excess baggage and getting down to hand baggage, there is really only so much stuff you can hold onto. You can try and carry all of this stuff with you all the time, but what is the point?
This is not to say that many of these things are not hurtful things that happened to me that don’t raise an occasional grit of the teeth from me, but they do not have power and effect in my present day or I keep it to the minimum – my parents may not have emotionally schooled me that well, but as a grown adult, I’m responsible for all of my relationship insanity with assclowns and Mr Unavailables.
Take each and every thing, inspect it, ask yourself how it changed your perception of you, give it some perspective and make peace withyouabout it.
When I went through some of my stuff, like remembering buying my mother a gift at the Christmas fair when I was 14 and her laughing like crazy at me (you cannot make this sh*t up!) and ridiculing it, I actually hadn’t realised how that memory had stuck or how much it hurt. If you’re curious, it was a wooden crafted ornamental thing…
Thinking about it from the perspective of a 14 year old insecure teen desperate for her mother’s love, approval, and just one day where she wouldn’t critique me, the rejection stings. I felt very hurt because not only did she laugh at me, she compared my gift to my brother’s and kept bringing up the gift long into my twenties. I felt like an idiot, but I also felt like some sort of idiotic black sheep that not only couldn’t please her mother but couldn’t even manage to get a gift right. Every year after that, I felt panicked about buying gifts and spent silly money trying to please her, scared each time of her reaction. Even when she started to compliment my gifts, I felt wary. It took me a long time to stop worrying about giving gifts to anyone. I thought it was the money not the thought that counts…
But thinking about it when I was 28 or 33 now, with some perspective and experience behind me, I realised how ridiculous and uncaring it was for a mother to treat her child in that way and it’s actually laughable. I doubt she even realised how it came across, not then, or the many years that she continued to bring it up, but the incident reflects on her, not me. I thought about the gifts or just things I’d done for people, not because I expected something but just because I wanted to, and I knew I wasn’t an idiot or unworthy. Her reaction just isn’t your ‘average’ way of reacting to being given a gift and while she didn’t have to do cartwheels, it was ungrateful and unkind. By the same token, I realised I had to stop taking it to heart and either give whole-heartedly or not at all and over the years, I’ve got better, stopped spending lots, and actually went with less is more. If she didn’t like it, tough.
I’m sure some of you are thinking – ‘But I’m angry! How can I move on?!’. I’ve talked about the power of the unsent letter before on the blog and have also written about it in my ebooks and I’ve put together a mini ebook and work sheet, The Unsent Letter Guide which explains how you can write out your anger to help you move on and make peace with tips and a handy worksheet for you to use as a prompt. There’s no sign up to anything, just download here . All I ask is that you let me know how you get on or if you know someone that needs a good vent, pass it on.
Back for the final part 6, with some more tips.
Note – You’re downloading a zip file which contains two PDF files which need to be read in a PDF reader. If for some reason, you have any problems downloading, use the contact page and I’ll get a copy over to you. You are downloading the files to your computer – not reading the files online. If unsure of where you have downloaded it to, when you open it do a ‘save as’.
Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl is a no holds barred guide to emotionally unavailable men and the women that love them and will provide all the missing clues to why you date the men that you do. Also check out the rest of my ebooks in my bookshop . For personal advice or analysis of your relationship/situation, check out my consultation service .