…defined as when one disadvantages themself in order to do harm to an adversary.
Do you ever outgrow the parent/child dynamic? I wouldn’t know. I’m so focused on my parents’ approval, it defacto places me in a childlike position. I’m trying to “grow up” and do things based on my own sound reasoning but it’s so hard when I have so many years of this ingrained behavior. I’m still a figurative teenager trying to find myself and hear my own voice. But sometimes wanting something is not enough – you need the proper tools to execute it.
Now to be clear, my childhood was a good one and priveleged in many ways. I had no worries, two loving parents and an adorable younger brother to whom I was very close. But as with any family there were issues and disappointments, but in the larger scheme of things they seemed minor.
I’m becoming aware these days though of how the seemingly little cracks and imperfections, if left unaddressed, can grow into bigger fractures. I always thought that one day you magically became and adult and that your parents just had to accept you and that criticisms ceased. But that’s the naivety of youth speaking. A true adult relationship addresses, discusses and attempts to resolve conflicts in the interest of harmony – not indulging in avoidance. But I am a confirmed and dyed-in-the-wool non-confrontationalist and one who is also stunted with the adolescent need for total approval from her parents.
Rather than hear criticism or any form of negativity I’ve indulged the desire for feelings of peace and approval at the cost of familial relationships. I’ve especially avoided phone calls or discussion of the small grains of discontent, allowing them to tumble into lovely pearls of conflict. I’m beginning to understand however that even just the simple act of acknowledging an issue is enough to bring inner peace – the peace of having done your part and at least tried.
I will never be able to bring peace to my parents all the time, take away their worries, satisfy their desires – and the years of effort have meant sacrificing bits of myself to attain satisfaction for them. I’ve begun to feel pitted and scarred, tired and bitter. This is not me, but it is my doing; I’ve been so busy trying to discover what would be most pleasing to my parents, that I’ve neglected to seek out the same for myself. I’ve cut off my nose to spite my face; I’ve shut those closest to me in deference and defense but actually ended up hurting myself. So I’m still a teenager… Just learning that it’s not my parents who have been the bad guys but me.
I’m angry with myself and frustrated to be learning this so late in life. But the upside is that with awareness can come change. I pledge to be more selfish and vocal about what I want and need – and hopefully in that vein to find what will bring true personal fulfillment. And I also pledge to stop hiding from my parents, as much as it might mean have to hear things that I don’t like.
It just so “anti-me” to try to be more self-centered.