Q I seem to over-react to those slushy TV and internet images and sayings about happy loving families. Don’t they realise or care how hurtful these are to those of us who had a miserable childhood with mean and nasty parents?
On one level I think good luck to them with their happy family, but on another I feel envious and wonder how much different my own life would have been if I’d had parents that I felt loved by and who I wanted to visit and spend time with.
It’s not a major problem – I just wonder why I haven’t got over it and why I get a pang of sadness and anger in my gut and heart when I see or read these things.
A It’s not surprising that you have a deeper visceral response to these messages which are so different to your own experience.
Our subconscious mind is where we store our early memories, and it’s closely related to our ‘out-of-awareness’ bodily functions. It’s our bodies that are the first to be impacted by emotional (as well as physical) trauma. Anything that reminds us of that will be felt in the body before we realise it with our conscious mind.
Knowing the reason for your feelings will help the ‘adult’ you to soothe the pain that your ‘inner child’ feels. Sadness at what you did and didn’t get as a child, anger at they way you were treated and how powerless you would have been to change anything back then.
It’s never too late to re-parent your inner child – I call it ‘Care & Repair From The Inside Out’ ©.
You can adopt your own inner child and treat her now in the way that she needed all those years ago. The pain will subside when you replace it with love. You can’t still expect love from your parents, but you can have a purer type of love – unconditional and reliable – from yourself to yourself.
If you have difficulty finding and loving your inner child then you may have a bit more work to do in this area. That doesn’t necessarily mean months or years of therapy! (See below for some free help I have available for you.)
I’m guessing that your parents are still alive (as you mentioned visiting them) – and you have a choice about the type of relationship you have with them in future.
Think about what is best for you as an adult, and most importantly, for your inner child… and follow your heart.
You can heal your emotional wounds and in time these ‘happy family’ images and messages will have only a neutral response from you. You’ll still see them but you won’t be ‘hooked’ by them, and your old wounds won’t be activated.
One good thing to come from this is that you know how it feels not to have loving parents, and this has probably helped you to be more empathic and loving to any children you come into contact with.
Awareness is the first step towards change… and you’re now getting there!
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
www.maxineharley.com Where you will find FREE e-booklets and other free resources designed to help and inform you on your journey of self-knowledge and development.