This has been a painful lesson for me. The growing pains remarkable. For so long, I wanted someone to swoop in and rescue me. Fix what I was feeling inside…the lack, the pain, the insurmountable feelings of unworthiness seemed impossible to cure on my own. My father seemed the most logical person to fit the bill. The original wound seemed most able to be healed by the person who caused it…right? In a perfect world, maybe, but this yearning can have devastating consequences and lead us astray…holding out for a healing that will never come.
Pure apologies, not paired with excuses, can be wonderfully healing. But so many grateful grievers risk the opposite reaction, re-injuring the original wound. Many parents (some in the hospital on their death beds) can not give their children the love/repair they so desperately yearned for and needed. So we have to find another way.
While it is natural to want closure, one that makes peace with your parents, it is not healthy or healing to emotionally keep circling the drain. If you repeatedly hit a defensive, hurtful wall, you are only adding sadness to your soul, which will keep you stuck. It is like dating the same person who is not meeting your needs, and holding onto the fantasy that one more conversation will change everything. Adulthood actually happens when we can accept that we don’t need our parents to validate ourselves. Everyone would love to experience moments of grace and repair, but sadly not all parents can offer such respite.
When children have been verbally or physically abused, often repair isn’t possible if the pattern does not change, and the best path in some cases may be to limit contact with the abuser, or cut it off entirely. But even in less volatile relationships, when we depend on our parents to fill the holes, we set ourselves up to fail. We stay a dependent child: stuck, waiting, resentful, victimized, and chronically reactivating our childhood wounds.
We must figure out how to parent ourselves in a positive way. Then we can begin the hard work of self-discovery, constructing a separate self, and replacing the old critical internal monologue with a new and loving message.