Bestie, let’s just be honest about some things. Remember when we were little and you said, “I will never do that, like my Mama…or my Dad.” How many of the things you said you would never do…are you currently doing or have you done at some point in your life?
Our families are a window into why we do many of the things we do today – especially in our relationships. Take a look at the picture on your left. This is my mom, dad, and me. At first glance, you may immediately pick up on the fact that I was tall and my dress was a little too short, LOL. I loved the Alice in Wonderland dress I was wearing. I loved the way it twirled when I turned around. It made me feel like a princess. At this point, it was too short for me, and my mom would try to hide it, but she was not successful because I always managed to wrangle it from the “donation bag” before she had an opportunity to take it to GoodWill. Sounds like your typical seven year old right?
Besides that, what do you see when you look at this picture? It looks like a happy, nuclear family doesn’t it? The people in this picture, like all humans have flaws. While my parents were amazing, I witnessed many things a child should never hear or see. When you are emotionally healthy, you can take a look at your parents and identify both positive and negative traits in them. If there was toxicity present, you can name it, and do the work towards healing your past. When you have co-dependent traits, you have trouble seeing things the way they really are and will tend to distort reality to make your adult self feel more comfortable with the pain you saw and experienced as a child. For example, you will find yourself saying things like, “It wasn’t all that bad. I had a great family. They just didn’t know any better. They were doing the best they could.” Additionally, you may highlight all the positive things from your childhood and block out the negative aspects. As long as you do that, you will delay your healing and ultimately delay the enjoyment of having a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship.
On the positive end of things, my mom was chic and stylish. She knew how to pair her clothing with the right scarf and bag. She could glide in a pair of high heels in a way that made men swoon and could give any supermodel a run for their money. Additionally, my mom was patient with me, silly, my biggest cheerleader, an excellent cook, loved to take long drives while listening to music in her car and taking long walks to the store in the rain. Like her, I am patient with my children, silly, my children’s biggest cheerleader and I love to take long drives and listen to music in my car. Unlike her, I am sugar and think I will meet in the rain (at least that’s what she used to say) and I did not get that fashion sense at all (depending on the size of the heel, I look like a baby giraffe who just learned how to walk).
My dad was analytical, funny, an amazing baker, loved science, could create beautiful masterpieces with bold acrylics on a canvas, build things like cars, houses, and model planes with his hands, and sing loudly in the basement with his earphones and favorite records. Like him, I ask a LOT of questions and have to know the “whys” about things. I love to bake cookies, cakes, and pies (oh, my!). I majored in Chemistry my first year of college, feel at peace decorating cakes, love to master the art of building things with my hands, and I love, love, love to sing loudly in the house and the car. My children do not appreciate that one, LOL.
On the negative end of things, they both had compulsive behaviors they developed to help them cope with life. My dad smoked a pack of cigarettes daily, dabbled in the use of illicit drugs, cheated on my mom with many women, and abused her physically and emotionally.
My mom compulsively smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, could be distant at times, worried aloud about money all the time, and did not take the best care of herself despite having a medical condition.
Growing up, I promised myself that I would not do the things I saw them doing. You may have made a similar promise to yourself. Like me, have you noticed that you do NOT do the things they did, but you do other things to try to bring comfort and make sense of your world? What are your compulsions? I do not smoke or drink in excess but I used food to comfort me. I started engaging in risky sexual behaviors as a teenager and young woman to try to find the love I thought was missing. Throughout my life, despite how much or how little money I made, I have worried about money and how I would make ends meet. Finally, I have survived horrific forms of abuse throughout my life. This is one of the compulsions that has been the most pervasive.
I promised myself when I was a little girl, that I would never end up with a man like my dad. I did…over and over again.
If you took a hard look at your mom and dad, would you be able to freely admit their positive and negative traits? To take it deeper, how have those traits, both positive and negative, affected you and your relationships today?
If you find it difficult to move forward and have healthy relationships, it may be because you need to go back and take a deep dive into your past and heal the traumas you went through in your childhood. Look at your parents with a different viewpoint. Celebrate their strengths, name their weaknesses, and identify those patterns in your own life. When you do this, you will take the first step in having those mutually satisfying relationships you’ve always dreamed about.
Ready to take the first step? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your first name, last name, and email address and I will send you information about our FREE, online Relationship Group. If you are a woman (age 16+) and would like to fellowship with other women trying to have great success in their relationships, this group is for you! We have both Christian-based and non-secular groups. What’s important is that you take the step today!
Looking forward to seeing you soon!