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Needy of constant emotional attention

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  • #367565
    Tanya
    Participant

    Gardening is great exercise for older folks. Next time go help them.

    #367567
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jen:

    If you want to be helped, calm down as you read this post, take a few slow, deep breaths, and pay attention. You can’t be helped by reading these posts quickly and superficially. You have to read these emotionally, letting ideas stay awhile in your awareness, taking time to consider them.

    You gave this “typical example”:  motivated by your sincere concern for your parents’ health, you suggested to them to exercise with you in the morning, and they both agreed. You woke up in the morning intent to make the agreed- upon plan take place. Excited, you went to their room, calling them to exercise. They both said “yeah, just 10 minutes”. You later called out to them a few more times, and every time, your mother “politely said just 5 minutes, just a little while”, but she never kept her word regarding the exercise and never told you that she will not be able to exercise with you, or anything on the matter, and the planned exercise didn’t happen.

    In other words, Jen, your parents ignored you. Your mother kept politely making promises to you (“yeah, just 10 minutes… just 5 minutes, just a little while”) and politely, she didn’t keep her promises to you. She didn’t tell you that she and your father will not exercise with you because she didn’t think about, or she didn’t care about you being all excited about the exercise, and then waiting and waiting and then being disappointed.

    If she went  about the day not thinking about how you were affected- then she ignored you. If she thought about how you were affected, and kept ignoring you, then she didn’t care.

    “the problem is me being so affected by mom dad’s attitude”- no, the problem is their attitude: ignoring you and not keeping their promises to you.

    “So this is a typical example.. This is what always happen, something miniscule will trigger me.. my parents didn’t respond to something that I was doing for them only”-

    – please pay attention to the following: how do you break a rock? One way is with a hammer, it is  a quick, loud and violent way to break a rock. There is another way to break a rock: a very slow, quiet, peaceful-looking-and-sounding way, a beautiful way to watch, and that is water breaking a rock. Imagine a peaceful river, the clear water flowing over rocks. You don’t think of the water breaking the rocks, but that is what happens over many years, the rocks erode.

    If your parents beat you up or starved you, that would be like putting a hammer to the rock. That’s not what your parents do. They politely, quietly and peacefully ignore you, politely, quietly and peacefully break promises to you.

    It’s peaceful for them, but not for you, because you are the one being broken. You are trying to look peaceful/ calm about it (“I haven’t said one complaining word and I am calm on the outside”), but understandably, you are not peaceful/ calm inside (“It’s only the internal part that is now left but it’s so hard. Please help”) because inside, you are breaking.

    You want to “actually, really, emotionally happy by myself”- you can’t be happy when you are ignored, especially when you are ignored by people you love so much.

    Your parents, to me, “sound” like nice people. If I met them in real life, they would probably be polite and gracious, peaceful and pleasant, and by  being in their presence, I would think how lucky you are to have these nice, gracious, peaceful and pleasant parents. I wouldn’t know that one way they keep their peaceful state of mind is by not bothering themselves with .. unnecessary troubles. In the example you gave, which you said is a typical example, they didn’t feel like exercising, and they didn’t plan to exercise with you. They also didn’t feel like telling you that they don’t plan to exercise because they didn’t want you to express to them anything unpleasant for them to hear. So, their solution was to ignore you. They just kept the exercise out of their mind, as well as thoughts about what you may be feeling. It is easier for them to ignore you, and that’s why they ignore you.

    It is not a surprise to me that you are “needy of constant emotional attention” (title of your thread. That need was born out of being ignored, again and again… and yet again, year after year. And like water eroding a rock by flowing over it again and again, year after year- they eroded you.

    You wrote to me earlier: “I read everywhere that these things have their roots in childhood and I kept thinking and just finding anything, but Anita, it’s just not that. I honestly had the most normal childhood. I lived with both my parents, they literally revolved their life around me… My parents were always emotionally also present.. I was a very loved child… They have loved me more than what I saw all over in my surroundings.. people around me with actual dysfunctional families”- parents who repeatedly ignore their child, and break promises to the child are not “always emotionally also present”. What you saw other parents do (parents in those “actual dysfunctional families) may have been similar to the hammer breaking a rock, loud, noticeable, undisputable.

    When you look back at your childhood, when you have a good day at home, with your parents, it is like watching a peaceful river, seeing the clear water flowing over rocks, all a beautiful setting. Yet the rocks break, little by little, every day, year after year.

    In closing: you know how it feels to be ignored, you know it too well. No one likes to be ignored. You ignored much of what I wrote to you before, and you may ignore the content of this post as well. It is your choice to do so and it is your right. If you ignore it, that’s okay, but I will not post to you again repeating yet again what you choose to ignore, if that is indeed your choice.

    anita

    #367570
    Tanya
    Participant

    I don’t know if my advice was helpful but the last post is spot on. This is the perfect opportunity to face struggles and feelings from childhood you must have experienced. Now you are an adult and on the right track just by feeling so uncomfortable. Don’t lose your calm or give up. Becoming aware is healing. This can give you opportunity to change and move forward.

     

     

    #367623
    Jen
    Participant

    Dear Lily, Tanya and Anita,

    Thank You so much for your Inputs.

    I’m really sorry Anita. I re-read your posts and realized that I was so wrapped in my own pre-conceived notion of what the problem is and was so hell-bent on finding a quick-solution that I did in fact unintentionally ignore a lot of your advice. It was my bad. Really sorry.

    Hehe, I’d gladly help them Tanya but the issue is that I felt bad when they just didn’t care about my effort to do something good for them only.
    Upon reading your comments a couple of times, Anita and Lily, I realize that I wasn’t wrong, you’re right. I was ignored and justifiably mad. Probably it was slow and gradual like the river analogy Anita used and thus, I didn’t notice it and saw myself as being too touchy. I don’t think I’m still entirely comfortable with realizing that my parents ignored me but it is definitely getting in my head slowly. Anita I also feel then that I don’t have very good examples of parents around me that is why my parents seemed like better than the rest, making me the problem.
    the reason I don’t want to express my annoyance Lily is that it just makes me feel weak. I don’t want to show that I am so affected by what someone else does, I want to develop an attitude of let go and I am self-sufficient so I am restraining from the approach of expressing my annoyance.

    There are a few things going in my mind and few things I feel and want to do ahead. It’ll be very helpful to have you all’s thoughts on these.
    – I am slowly reaching to the conclusion that due to my childhood experience of not being loved in the way I wanted, being ignored etc. which has continued till date, I have developed <b>codependency and anxious-attachment style. </b>I read about both of them after reading your posts and all the characteristics of this attachment style fit me completely. I now want to take steps to move out of it to a more secure attachment style and greater independence.

    – Yesterday after I read about my attachment style, I did one little thing as my step 1 to move out of it. As I’ve earlier said, given my way I would love to be surrounded by my loved ones all the time. I faced this problem in my relation too, I used to want to be with my bf all the time and now, I really like spending as much time as possible with my family. When they don’t respond in the same way, I feel bad. So I have this habit whenever I am at my parents’ home. I will go to their room repeatedly. So I’m working on my work-stuff and every 1-2 hours, I’ll just go to my mom for 10-15 minutes, talk to her, chill with her and then get back to work. In a weird way, it energizes me. I have often felt bad that it is generally me only who goes to her, seldom does she come to my room to check on me though she receives me very well when I go to her and now I want to get out of it. So yesterday, I stayed in my room only. I didn’t once go to her room. I did my daily routine, spoke to her well when she asked something, cooked a meal and everything, just I didn’t go to her room for emotional fulfillment. I tried being on my own. It was difficult. Initially I was fine, then when I saw that my parents are not even questioning why I am not coming today, I felt very angry as if it doesn’t even matter but slowly I told myself that this is who they are, I have to learn a lesson from them and better myself. Slowly I felt more comfortable. I think slowly slowly, I am trying to practice detached love. Maybe I am overshooting guys, but I really want to achieve that Zen like calm and emotional peace. I have loved a lot for a long while and have seen that nobody gives a damn really. The moment you express hurt, you’re the bad person so I’d better look after myself so that I never feel hurt. I am hoping that I meet people who are more loving but I want to prepare myself for even people  who aren’t. Staying in my room, being by myself since a day is surely a little difficult and I feel angry here and there over my parents’ oblivious attitude to it but I also feel powerful. I can’t wait to reach to a day when I love my family and all but I don’t need them around me all the time to be happy.

    Please let me know your thoughts. This is really helping me and I really want to become emotionally independent.

    #367624
    GL
    Participant

    Hey Jen,

    Lovely to see that you’re progressing from “this sucks” to “this isn’t about me”. And I will reiterate, you do not have healthy boundaries with your parents.

    As you’ve written, your mother made it (almost) her life’s mission to care for you. But that taught you, a Cancer Moon (and Sun?), to love someone, is to take on responsibilities for their well-being. Well meaning and all, but it’s another way of thinking that as long as you can “help” the other person (because they have a problem), then you should try to help, irregardless of what the other party really want. In other words, you taking on “others’ problems” makes it “your problems”, so when things don’t go as you’ve planned in trying to fix said “problem”, then you feel bad. But was there even a “problem” to begin with? Because what might seem like a “problem” to you might not even matter to the other person, but you yourself are the one fixated on thinking that it’s a problem.

    The narrative of you trying to cajole your parents into exercising with you is a perfect example. They wanted to garden, but you believed that it was better for them to “exercise” so tried to called them back to your plans, the one that you painstakingly create for your father’s sake. But did you asked what they actually wanted to do or did you planned what you think might be beneficial for them? But how is it your problem that your father might be putting on weight? Some weight can be expected with age and if your father is perfectly content with himself even after you’ve expressed your concerns, then all you can do is respect his decision.

    It is not your job to make sure that they are at a good weight or healthy, that’s their job. They are grown adults who can take care of themselves, unless they are besieged with a disease like Alzheimer or had asked for help in the beginning. If it’s neither scenario, then after you’ve expressed your concerns, you need to respect their decision and their choices. If they want to exercise by gardening, then let them. And remember, they are so used to placating you that it’s probably difficult for them to tell you “no” outright. Per your narration, your mother felt guilty for not being enough of a mother for you. That translated into her compensating a lot for much of your needs growing up; trying to help you out when you were probably able to solved your own problems yourself. But she is still human and can only be human. And now, there’s no healthy boundaries between you two.

    You unconsciously expected her to give in to you because you feel that you need to care for her health per your reasoning and she probably did before. But she does not have to and you were the one who chose to do what you did. You were the one who decided to take responsibility for their health by asking them to exercise with you, but they also have the right to refuse you at any time. If the two “five minutes” weren’t enough to tell you that it was better to just go ahead without them, then you could have asked if they just wanted to stay where they were. Why did they and you have to follow your plan to a T?

    You’re managing your parents, or at least you’re trying to. But as you’ve witnessed, you can’t control what another person does. You can give them choices, but they don’t have to choose your choices. And what do you even get out of managing them?

    You probably have a mindset of “I have to make sure everyone is okay” or something similar along those lines. That’s heavy. Taking on responsibility for other people is heavy. That leads to thinking that you have to do something to make sure “everyone” is alright, but by your decisions. It’s also for your sake that you do this because if they’re okay, then you’ll be okay. Managing them to make sure they’re okay so you’ll be okay makes the whole situation centers around you because it’s about you being okay so that means they have to be okay or else you won’t be okay.

    That’s unfair to your parents because you are making them “be okay” so that you’ll feel okay yourself. So in the end, they are still responsible for your emotional well being which means little has changed from your childhood. Positive thoughts aren’t going to help you further on because the issue stems around boundaries, which neither you nor your parents seem to have. So the best advice for you now is that you should move out to create physical space from your parents and look for a counselor to work with on your personal boundaries. You lack personal boundaries and staying in the same space as your parents is not going to help you.

    This will not be easy and it will make you uncomfortable. But if you wish to be able to love yourself regardless of other people, then having healthy boundaries is one of the things you need.

    #367627
    Lily
    Participant

    Dear Jen,

    what GL wrote reads quite sensible to me.

    I too got the impression that your parents did not really want to exercise. I am sure you only meant well and wanted the best for them. But at the end of the day, they are grown ups and have to make decisions for themselves.

    At the same time, I find it strange how the communication goes down. That your parents don’t express to you what they want, instead they chose to ignore you. And that you also don’t ask what happened. Everybody seems to just try to avoid the confrontation.

    Could it be that they are people pleasers who can’t say no? Maybe they don’t want to hurt your feelings and so they say yes to you. At the same time, they disagree (for example don’t want to exercise) and instead of telling you no, they just don’t do what they promised. Of course, it feels horrible to get ignored (I have experienced it too) and I can understand that you are upset. And it is o.K. to feel annoyed.

    My suggestion is still to have a more open communication, if it is possible. At least for me speaking out more and asking questions to understand the situation, has made me feel more empowered. Of course, people don’t always want to communicate or change their behaviour, but at least then you know where you stand and can act accordingly. And for me it feels satisfactory to at least have spoken my mind, even if nothing changes.

    But you said that expressing your annoyance makes you feel weak. Your goal is to become more self sufficient and to let go. On one hand, I think it is a good idea to learn to self soothe and become more independent. Especially since you seem to struggle with this. It looks like a reasonable goal for you, as you seem to depend a lot on the attention of others. On the other hand, I don’t think it is a good idea to keep all of your feelings bottled up inside. It is also o.K. to call a friend to vent sometimes (as long as you don’t overdo it) or to tell someone that you did not find their behaviour o.K. I think it is good to have a healthy balance there.

    One sentence that stood out to me: “The moment you express hurt, you’re the bad person so I’d better look after myself so that I never feel hurt” I don’t think you become a bad person for expressing hurt. And it is a bit unrealistic to never feel hurt. The question is more, how to deal with it. If someone really hurts you, then I think you have every right to tell them that their actions hurt you. And to feel upset, angry and hurt. But at the other hand, if you get upset over very small things, it is also good to learn to cope and look after yourself.

    Your goals are to become more independent and develop a secure attachment style. Maybe it is a good idea to focus on yourself more instead of others and learn to love yourself. Learning to understand yourself better. Again, a therapist can be helpful (if it is a good one).

    Things I find helpful for learning to love myself:

    – Journaling. To just write down your thoughts unfiltered, everything that comes up in my mind. It is called “brain dump” or “free writing” I believe. By giving your thoughts so much room, you will be able to learn more about yourself. With time, you might also be able to see patterns. What comes up again and again? What do you want to change in your life? It helps me to structure my thoughts.

    In a distressing situation, it can also help me to calm myself. I can let out all of my negative thoughts unfiltered and without upsetting anyone. After I have calmed down I can plan my next steps.

    You could also do a self love journal, where you write down things that you love about yourself everyday. You can list the most simple things, like “I am thankful for my arm”, things that we sometimes take for granted, like a healthy body. Or you could write down things that you are proud of, little accomplishments.

    – Hobbies. Do you have hobbies? You could try out some new hobbies, it is always fun. Maybe you can find out that time spent by yourself can actually be enjoyable. What did you like as a child? Or what did you always want to learn? Maybe you want to learn to play an instrument, or learn a new language. Do sports or create some artwork. It feels good to try out new things and when you get better and better, you could also draw confidence from that.

    Those are some ideas and thoughts, I hope it helps a little bit! Take care!

     

    #367646
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jen:

    You are welcome and I accept your apology. My motivation in bringing up to you that you ignored lots of my previous posts to you was to hopefully stir you in the direction of paying attention and considering what I write to you. This morning I spent hours reading every word you wrote in your previous thread and in this one. Lots to re-read and make notes of. The following two posts are based on today’s study of your threads, and on my almost 5.5 years daily experience communication with perhaps thousands of members on this website (on record here and available for you to look at), often for 6-8 hours a day, with the goal of learning and understanding more and more.

    In this first post to you, I will tell you what I believe in and what I don’t believe in:

    1. I do not believe in astrology (“my astrological birth chart..”).

    2. I don’t believe that a baby is born with a character. I believe that all babies/ young children are very sensitive, and I believe that children’s characters are formed in childhood, over a few years when children are most sensitive and vulnerable to their parents/ caregivers (“I think it’s just my character.. overly sensitive”).

    3. I believe that a baby/ young child whose love and care needs were adequately met by one or both parents- and without traumatic events happening such as war and violent crime, etc.- does not become an overly needy, clingy, anxious child and adult (“my love and care needs were more than met by both my parents”).

    4. I believe that no parent is perfect, and most are far from perfect; this is why most people are anxious in life, to one extent or another; you may think that other people are calm and happy because you see them calm and happy, but you don’t see them at all times. Therefore, I am not motivated to rip apart every action that a parent did and finding faults in it.

    When a child becomes an overly needy and clingy adult, as is in your case, it is not an occasional fault in a parent’s behavior that is responsible, but a consistent behavioral pattern on the part of a parent, over a period of months or years, that is responsible (“If one is determined to find a flaw in someone’s love, one can find 100 flaws in even the perfect love. So if I start ripping apart every action that my parents did, I will find one or two things that were not right”)

    5. When a parent expresses to a child too much of his/ her anxiety, anger, sadness, possessiveness, over-protection- the parent harms the child, making the child very anxious, overly clingy and emotionally over- dependent on others.

    But there is no such thing as too much love, or a parent expressing too much love (“the only conclusion I always came to was that mom and dad have loved me so much since childhood that I never learnt emotional independent”)

    6. It is not possible for a young child to make the mistake of perceiving and feeling that she is unloved/ inadequately loved when in the care of a consistently, although imperfectly, loving parent. A young child does not have previous life experiences to cloud her vision of what is really happening. What she feels and perceives – is really happening.

    Later in life (in later childhood, adolescence and adulthood), after months or years of the real-life experience of being unloved/ inadequately loved, it is this childhood experience that clouds the person’s vision of what is really happening.

    7. Children are heavily invested in believing that their parents love them, no matter the circumstances. When a child is unloved/ inadequately loved, she makes believe in any and every way possible, that she is loved. Believing otherwise is too threatening. Therefore people of any age resist the idea that they were really unloved/ inadequately loved by their parents (“I don’t think I’m still entirely comfortable with realizing that my parents ignored me”).

    8. An adult with a significantly troubled childhood keeps re-living that troubled childhood as an adult, in significant ways. I will elaborate on this in my next post.

    9. You mentioned “codependency and anxious-attachment style”- these are categories of behaviors, categories that are helpful, but not every codependent person is the same and the variety is endless. Same with people with this or that attachment style. Also, a person with an anxious-attachment style is rarely always consistent with this style. For example, having read your previous thread, your attachment style with that man was a combination of anxious and avoidant. I will elaborate on this as well, in my next post.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by anita.
    #367651
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jen:

    Back in November 2017- January 2018, almost 3 years ago, you shared that you were at the ending phase of “a 6 year long distance relationship with maybe few meetings.. we have met maybe only 3-4 times… It is true that our relationship has gone for a long period without much meeting, maybe once a year or twice… it is also true that many times when we’ve planned meeting, it hasn’t worked out from my side due to various work/ family reasons”-

    You shared that during this relationship, the man you referred to as your “partner” didn’t even remember how you looked, repeatedly asking you for details of how you looked. You shared that at one point he showed up outside your workplace and you refused to meet him, and that you cancelled meeting with him for various reasons.

    – this is what I meant by the avoidant attachment style I mentioned: a woman whose only boyfriend for 6 years is long distance, a man she has met in-person only a few times, not remembering exactly how many times, is a woman who .. is avoiding an in-person/ in-real-life relationship.

    In the following, replace the boyfriend with your mother/ father, and change some details, and you get a description of your life as a child: “he hurts me so much that his extremely late sorry (s) don’t really undo all the pain I go through every time he’s busy with stuff… I don’t feel loved or valued nor appreciated… he was always, always my priority… I will not contact him in his office simply because I’ve better odds at dying in the process than him talking to me… Finally, really upset I called him one morning, he didn’t answer… I called multiple times, texted that I can’t take it anymore, talk now, he still didn’t answer… all his ‘busy’ stuff are all excuses, all a manifestation of him not valuing me enough… I’m nowhere in his priority list…

    “I really still want him, just that I want him to understand how his behavior is hurtful and having failed at making him understand, this silent distancing is my last shot… I’m everyday haunted by the thought of what if in the next 2-3 months of no contact, he forgets me… if I really go away from his life, like disappear, he won’t wait or look out for me… I keep checking my phone to see if he’s still there for me or not… I have this fear that if I go radio silent, he might just forget and move on.. he loves be because I’m there, the day I leave and disappear, he’ll be over me… Is there any chance that he may be there for me months later…

    “It’s like my head and heart is stuck with this man, I feel as if I’d rather get little love from him than get a lot of love from someone who’s not him… A man who couldn’t realize things and value me in 6 years, will never do so. I’m only banging my head against the wall… that keeps my hopes running that he is giving me 20% love in general but is actually capable of 100%… basically he’s stopped reaching out to me on his own. When I reach out, he’ll show that he’s sorry, he’s sorry, he’ll sound really disturbed and say that he wants me but doesn’t call/ text me on his own… he’s stopped contacting on his own and I’m literally on the brink of losing even his calls and texts… I’m  literally sinking… as if all life has been sucked out of my body. The initial crying period was better, now I’ve crossed that and gone to the numb phase. I don’t cry anymore… I’ll stay awake all night. I can feel my heart beating so loudly all day. It’s like something’s stuck in my throat all day. I think about him all day.. My body feels uneasy all day. I’ve lost motivation to do anything.. I feel drained…

    “I behave with people as if everything’s alright and I’m surprised at my ability to do so… earlier I was so transparent that a fight with him would be imprinted all across my face.. but now I laugh and talk to people and they buy all  of it when I know I’m crying on the inside. I feel like somebody pierced a dagger into me and left it inside and now I’ve to live life with that dagger inside me all my life without letting anyone know… sometimes I feel like slapping him, slapping him constantly until all my pain gets vented out…  nothing seems to change the gut-wrenching pain I feel.. I feel dead from the inside… the only time I genuinely feel happy is when I  imagine that even months later he will not move on, we will meet then and he will maybe change in all these months and love me again”.

    Regarding your parents, you wrote in your first and second threads: “I’ve always been overly attached to my parents and even today and have had constant fear of losing them… constantly worrying if they’re okay whenever I’m or they are away… if I am visiting my parents and my mom is going out with friends, I will call her once and after a few hours and just ask her if she’s having fun.. My mom generally doesn’t do that. So if I am out with friends even for a long time, she won’t call me ever.. sometimes I’ve told mom that you love my sister more.. I felt mom showed her more love and start feeling less loved… My mother definitely has a more service-oriented way of loving as compared to me whose needs are more verbal and physical love… as I sat in my room, she was speaking on the phone… but not once did she come to my room.. as if she’s forgotten..

    “I got more annoyed.. me being so affected by mom and dad’s attitude.. I am annoyed. Why am I annoyed? because my parents didn’t respond to something that I was doing for them only.. I feel I shouldn’t do anything for anyone or love anyone this much…. I’m working on  my work-stuff and every 1-2 hours, I’ll just go to my mom for 10-15 minutes, talk to her, chill with her and then get back to work. In a weird way, it energies me.  I have often felt bad that it is generally me only who goes to her, seldom does she come to my room to check on me though she receives me very well when I go to her… when I saw that my parents are not even questioning why I am not coming today, I felt very angry.. I feel angry here and there over my parents’ oblivious attitude.

    “Had this been a year ago, by this time I would have said that I’m annoyed about, would.. created an argument or even if I stayed quiet my facial expressions would have given it away… I don’t want to show that I am affected by what someone else does.. The moment you express hurt, you’re the bad person so I’d better look after myself so that I never feel hurt”.

    Do you see the parallels, Jen?

    anita
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    #367679
    Jen
    Participant

    Dear GL, Lily and Anita,

    First of all, Thank You so much for your valuable inputs. This post is a little long so please bear with me. I am also poor in writing in organized manner so I hope you all can understand what I’m conveying. I read and re-read all your posts and have concluded the following from it:
    a. GL, I agree that I don’t have healthy boundaries with my parents. I would go a step ahead and say that I don’t have healthy boundaries with any of those whom I really hold close, whom I see as ‘mine’. This, so far in my life has included my ex-bf (2 years ago) and my parents only and as Anita very rightly showed, I had the same problems with both. So yes, I feel the same that I don’t have healthy boundaries. I think but my solution has to come more from the mind and heart and not just physical distance. I think that will just be escaping as every time I’ll be around a loved one, I’ll have the same issues. Besides, I anyways don’t live with my parents, I have my own place in a different city and have come to them only during COVID but even from afar I had an unhealthy bond with them and the same hurt would play on, i.e. instead of feeling bad that I only go to their room and they don’t come to me, I used to then feel bad that I only mostly call them.
    b. GL, I also agree that I am taking undue responsibility for people that I love and also that I want them to be okay not for themselves but for my sake as I am so attached to them that I won’t be okay if they’re not okay. As a small example, when I came down and saw my dad had gained a lot of weight, my thought was what will happen to me if something happens to him, I won’t be able to take the pain of losing my father. So it is coming from a place of emotional dependence. I have to realize that we are all responsible for ourselves and should focus more on my well-being and be willing to help my loved ones if they want but not go around taking unwanted responsibility for them or wanting them to be a certain way for my emotional stability.
    Thank you for making me see this.
    c. Lily, you are bang on that ‘I depend on the attention of others’. I thrive on it, it makes me feel happy, it makes me feel good. On the flip side, not getting attention makes me feel horrible. It is not good, I know and that is why I want to get out of it. Thank you for all the suggestions of activities to become independent. I am doing journaling since a year and a half, it has helped a lot. I also do have many hobbies and will try to focus more on them. As far as open communication issue is concerned, you are very right in what you said but I am having a little bit of difficulty in explaining the way I think about it. I’ll think about it a little more and get back to you.
    d. Anita, firstly a big big thank you for taking the effort to go through my threads, study them so well and put it out here. I am very grateful. All that I concluded from the posts-
    – I agree that I need to stop looking at others’ lives and seeing them as emotionally sound and feel bad for myself. You are bang on that I don’t see them all the time and also, I don’t see what’s going inside them. So I will stop doing that.
    – So, what I understand from your post is that there was some kind of persistent behavior on part of my parents that made me feel uncertain, unloved, clingy in childhood and the same thing has carried on and become more prominent in my adulthood. It was slow and gradual (your river analogy) instead of something obvious like hitting/broken home and that is why maybe, I am not able to see what exactly it was. But there was something. Probably ignoring on some level. I will think more about it to figure what it could be.
    – So today, I am a grown up girl who due to her childhood experiences feels emotionally unfulfilled, unloved, uncertain and insecure on the inside.
    – As a grown-up, now that emotionally insecure pattern is playing in all my close relations. Again thank you so much for making me see the clear pattern in how i felt in relationship and with parents. I can actually use the words parents and bf interchangeably and all the complains remain the exact same. In both of my only close relations, I have felt uncertain about the other person’s love, have wanted more from them and mostly, wanted constant reassurance of their love for me. There is certainly a strong parallel there. I can see your point about attachment style not being fixed. I was avoidant with my ex bf as much a I was anxiously attached. Thank you for making me see that.

    So, after concluding all that, I can identify the following issues that I currently deal with and have to solve, rather than following pattern. This will also tell you how I think and you can help me through I hope:
    – I have grown up to be a very emotionally dependent person. I can survive by myself or with little love but I need a lot of it to be ‘happy’.
    – At all times in life so far, I have chosen one person to be ‘mine’ and I have dumped all my emotional needs of love and affection on them as I am incapable of giving any to me. 1st it was my parents, then my bf (interestingly when I was with my bf, I didn’t really care about being loved by my parents), since two years when the relation ended, again my parents.
    And now, I have to come out of it to become emotionally independent and develop healthy boundaries. Am I understanding it right?

    #367691
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jen:

    You are very welcome. I am impressed, and have been impressed for a while, with your thinking: intelligent, analytical, logical, insightful, organized (!) and solution oriented. I am also impressed by your willingness to look into what is unpleasant to look into, and by your intellectual honesty (willingness to let go of what is convenient to think in favor of what is true).And I am impressed by your attentiveness, appreciation and grace with all who replied to you on your thread.

    In your most recent post, you wrote regarding attention by others: “I thrive on it, it makes me feel happy, it makes me feel good. On the flip side, not getting attention makes me feel horrible”, and you wrote: “some kind of persistent behavior on part of my parents .. made me feel uncertain, unloved, clingy in childhood and the same has carried on.. It was slow and gradual.. I am not able to see what exactly it was. But there was something“-

    – I will try this morning to describe that something, that persistent behavior on part of your parents that made you feel uncertain, unloved and clingy. I will travel back in time, through your words (the quotes in my last post), to your childhood and see what I can see. Some things I am certain about (that you did not receive anywhere close to the attention that a child needs, for one), and I will be guessing about other things, bringing up different possibilities,  because I wasn’t there and don’t know. I will refer to your mother only, for simplicity sake, but your father is included:

    Little girl Jen was okay a lot of the time, but she was also hurt too much of the time, scared, and uneasy. Alone and uneasy, she spent a lot of time waiting for her mother to come to her, to come for her, to look for her and to find her. She waited so many times,  for what felt like eternity: when will Mother notice I am alone, when will she come looking for me… Afraid that her mother forgot about her altogether, little Jen is rushing to her mother: Here I am, here I am! Remember me, here I am! Little Jen keeps reminding her mother that she  is still there, that she is waiting.

    Often little Jen is afraid that her mother is not even there, that she disappeared; so she rushes, looking for her mother, to make sure she is still there. Little Jen has this “constant fear” inside, fear of losing her mother, “constantly worrying” if her  mother is okay.

    Little Jen feels hurt, she feels pain, she is scared and sometimes she is angry at her mother for forgetting her yet again. Little Jen doesn’t know the words yet, but she feels not “loved or valued nor appreciated.. nowhere in (her mother’s) priority list”. Sometimes little Jen’s hurt shows on her face but her mother doesn’t see. Sometimes little Jen’s anger shows on her face but her mother does not see.

    Little Jen does not understand: her hurt feels so intense, her anger, her fear.. so powerful within her, yet her mother does not see. It is as if little Jen does not exist at all.

    She needs her mother like a very hungry child needs food. Like all children, little Jen needs her mother’s loving, gentle touch, to calm little Jen’s unease. Like all children, little Jen needs to hear her mother’s loving, gentle voice, and comforting words, so to calm that unease inside. But there is so little of touch and affection. Her mother is reserved, unemotional, not a touchy-feely mother (“My mother definitely has a more service-oriented way of loving as compared to me whose needs are more verbal and physical love”).

    Little Jen’s attention is on her mother, intensely focused on her mother, thinking about her, waiting  for her, looking for her. She keeps chasing her mother for attention, for loving attention, but she gets so little of it. So many times little Jen is looking for her mother, for the little love she can get from her, but her mother does not look for little Jen. She doesn’t seem to need little Jen.

    Alone and lonely, not knowing if her mother remembers her, or if her mother disappeared,  little Jen feels (not knowing the words, at the time) “like somebody pierced a dagger into me and left it inside.. the gut-wrenching pain”, “my heart beating so loudly all day.. something stuck in my throat all day… My body feels uneasy all day”,  “literally sinking.. as if all life has been sucked out of my body… I feel drained.. dead from the inside”. She cries a lot but there is no one is there to wipe her tears with gentle hands and caring eyes. She cries and cries until she is numb. She stays awake at night.

    anita

     

     

    #367712
    Jen
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank You so much for the appreciation. I am certain you wouldn’t have felt the same about me had this been 2-3 years back and reading that I am able to think a little objectively now, is one the biggest compliments I could receive currently.
    I read your post a while back and tried thinking as far back as I could about any possible persistent parental behavior that I could look at which made me feel all that you mentioned in the post. I couldn’t find much, then again I don’t remember much about my life up till I was 11-12 so maybe there were things that I don’t remember. Most of the things I know are things that my parents have told me. But going by what they’ve told me and whatever little I remember, I could find this one factual thing that was present that could have made me feel unloved. Again, I have no recollection of what it actually made me feel at that moment, if anything at all, but looking back, it might have been a cause-
    1. My mother is a perfectionist and she has spent her life observing and perfecting me. Today, conventionally I am a bold, intelligent, beautiful girl and I owe it in entirety to mum but my mom has constantly corrected and shaped me since childhood, sometimes scolded me when I wasn’t putting in effort. I used to slouch a little and walk, she kept telling me to walk straight and stopped only when I did, she made me exercise and eat well for a healthy weight (I was very thin) and good height. I used to blink my eyes a  lot, she would point out every time I did and made me stop doing it. I was a very shy kid, she wanted me to be bold and confident so she would ask me to go talk to new people when I didn’t want, would ask me to stay upstairs and go down for 5 minutes when I wanted her to stay, would ask me to go on stage at concerts where other girls were dancing with the singer when I didn’t want to. She wanted me to be  bold and beautiful and she put her life to it. Maybe that made me feel not good enough and imperfect? I am not sure. (But Anita, wasn’t it good? My mom worked hard to make me the girl I am. Would I rather be a shy, slouching, anorexic girl? Isn’t tis better than being a mum who didn’t care to correct her children and let them grow up with not so good habits, just in the name of making them feel good enough as they were?)

    That’s all I got now.

    A little on the current scenario:
    As I said, since 2-3 days, I’m staying mainly focused on myself, interacting with parents and everything but I am not actively going out looking for their love. It is so strange, there is so much to do in a day, so much self-care, so much exercise, so much reading that I am able to fill my day with, I’d thought I’ll get bored without my loved ones around me all the time but It’s not like that. It is new and sometimes a little uncomfortable BUT I am feeling so strong Anita. I am already feeling that I can be happy without anyone. I am feeling secure. I am less scared of losing anyone because I feel I can learn to be happy on my own. Yes I love my parents, friends, I am still playing board games with my parents when they call me for it at night but I am just as happy not going to their room every hour. Now I am also not feeling bad that they are not noticing my restraint that much, 1st day I felt annoyed, then I told myself that why am I thinking like this, the motto of doing this is not to get a reaction from my parents, that would mean I am still dependent on external attention, the motto of doing this is to be emotionally independent. I have also ordered yesterday a book on Zen emotional detachment. I also read a few articles on emotional independence on this site. I am feeling quite good.
    Am I on the right track, Anita? I think I am but also tell me what you think.

    P.S. I will be delighted if you can recommend some books on ‘self love’, ’emotional independence’ and ‘detachment’. It will be very helpful. I love reading and understand things best when I read them so any book recommendations will be very nice.

    #367720
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jen:

    You are welcome. First, to the last part of your recent post: I am glad to read that the experiment of the last 2-3 days has been working well for you, “not actively going out looking for their love”, that “it is new and sometimes a little uncomfortable BUT I am feeling so strong”. It is good to read that you are so very motivated to become emotionally independent (as much as that is possible for a human/ social animal who naturally and necessarily depends on others).

    You ordered a book on “Zen emotional detachment”, you are looking to read more about “self love… emotional independence and detachment”; you asked me if you are on the right track, and to recommend you books.

    I don’t have any books to recommend even though I read so many. I don’t remember any because it’s been years since I read a book. What I do read is people’s stories right here on these forums, have done so for over five years, and I interact with people every day regarding their stories and mine. This has allowed me to re-learn in the way that works for me, which is what I am still doing.

    I believe that yes, you are on the right track, but I want to caution you: I was on the right track many times, motivated and excited, only to find myself on the wrong track yet again, and again. Reading and practicing some emotional detachment, self love, and emotional independence at this point will make you feel very good at times, as it has in the last 2-3 days, but it’s not enough to heal a significant emotional injury within you since early childhood.

    To heal, it is necessary to understand what happened in the years you remember so little of. This second part of my post will not make you feel good, I am sorry. If you choose to read, consider and reply, calm down before you read, take breaks, take as much time as you need.

    “I don’t remember much about my life up till I was 11-12 so maybe there were things that I don’t remember”- certainly there were things you don’t remember, long, long years of things. Children experience emotions intensely and vividly. The reason so many of us don’t remember is disassociation. When children feel too intensely, they separate their awareness from their emotions best biology allows. This separation is the reason for not remembering.

    Without memory, we go by what we are told happened back in time (“Most of the things I know are things that my parents have told me”), and often what we are told happened to us, is not what truly happened to us. We may get the correct facts regarding external life events, but we often don’t get the correct facts regarding our internal life events, what we thought, what we felt; how we experienced life subjectively.

    And so,  we are left trying to figure out what happened like detectives trying to solve a mystery. And like a detective, I will point you to something you may have never considered:

    You wrote: “I used to slouch a little and walk… I was very thin.. I used to blink my eyes a lot… I was a very shy kid, she wanted me to be bold and confident… But Anita, wasn’t it good? My mom worked hard to make me the girl I am. Would I rather be a shy, slouching, anorexic girl?”-

    – Young children are naturally bold and confident. How did you become “a shy, slouching, anorexic girl?”  What happened to the bold and confident little Jenny???

    Elaborating: remember the analogy of the rocks in the river, being eroded over time by water flowing- think of a bold and confident little girl eroded over time and becoming a shy, slouching, anorexic girl.

    Eroded, you felt then and you still feel (when you do) “like somebody pierced a dagger into me and left it inside and now I’ve to live life with that dagger inside me all my life without letting anyone know… I behave with people as if everything’s alright and I’m surprised at my ability to do so.. I laugh and talk to people and they buy all of it when I know I’m crying on the inside”-

    – who placed that dagger inside you and told you to .. to hide it, to pretend it’s not in you; who did an excellent job teaching you how to pretend the dagger is not there, so that indeed “they buy all  of it”?

    “I was a very shy kid, she wanted me to be bold and confident”- you were not born a “very shy kid”. You were a bold and confident before you became very shy. Seems to me that you became very shy because your mother Constantly Corrected you (“my mom has constantly corrected.. me since childhood”)

    It is this Constant Correcting that fits “persistent parental behavior” (“I read your post.. and tried thinking as far back as I could about any possible persistent parental behavior.. I couldn’t find much”).

    “She wanted me to be bold and beautiful and she put her life to it… wasn’t it good?.. Would I rather be a shy, slouching, anorexic girl”- she trained you to appear bold and confident, and she did an excellent job. I am sure you prefer to not appear shy, slouching and anorexic, but I know that you also prefer to not be these things inside (“I laugh and talk to people and they buy all of it when I know I’m crying on the inside”).

    “Isn’t this better than being a mum who didn’t care to correct her children”? – children need loving guidance and gentle correction; they do not to be observed and perfected as if they were born broken and wrong (“she has spent her life observing and perfecting me”).

    My closing words for this post: to heal from a significant childhood injury, or a series of injuries, it takes what is called a multidisciplinary approach. It takes reading helpful material, practicing skills, such as emotional regulation skills; it takes insight into those forgotten years of childhood, it takes understanding who our parents truly were or are, and in that understanding we begin to understand who we truly are. It takes changing our relationships with the people who injured us. This healing process takes many months of persistence, endurance, patience and commitment to learning.

    Within this process, sometimes you feel good, then the good feelings go away and you may think: I must have been on the wrong track before, because I no longer feel good. But being on the right track and staying on it means that you have to endure the bad feelings and keep going. Emotional healing is possible, but when an injury is deep enough, healing cannot be fast or easy.

    anita

    #367733
    Jen
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I think what you’re saying is right. I will think more about it but this is what I can figure so far so that I know if I’m thinking in right direction or not.
    I also feel the constant correcting was at the root and was the persistent parental behavior. Its fits also because what I feel today is related.
    When my mom constantly corrected me= I felt not good enough as i was = I felt I was not desirable and good= I felt that I am not worthy of love= I doubted my loved ones  love for me and depended too much on it to tell me I am good enough as I was made to believe that I wasn’t.
    Cut to today, same thing happens,
    when I don’t receive constant assurances of love- i immediately start feeling and doubting my loved ones love for me.
    So I think due to my childhood persistent correction, I grew up to be unsure about myself and feeling like I am not good enough. Is that right?

    So basically, what I have to do to heal is to identify that my feeling of inadequacy is not natural and thus not true but something that was an unfortunate and false result of my childhood happenings. I have to tell and remind myself that I am more than good enough and that I confident and desirable and once, I begin feeling that truly from within, I will depend less on external validation and not be constantly needy of emotional attention (title of my thread). What do you think?

    #367736
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jen:

    I agree with everything you wrote. I will elaborate on some of what you wrote, but not correct anything because nothing needs correcting.

    “When my mom constantly corrected me= I felt not good enough.. not desirable and good.. not worthy of love= I doubted my loved ones love for me and dependent too much on it to tell me I am good enough as I was made to believe that I wasn’t”-

    – imagine this scenario: a young child in kindergarten, for the first time,  draws a picture using color crayons, blue and red and yellow. For the young child these colors appear magical, and when she moves the crayons on the paper and produces those colorful, circular lines, she believes that she is creating magic, a masterpiece, a beautiful one-of-a-kind creation.

    She brings her masterpiece to her mother believing wholeheartedly that her mother will be as delighted to see this beautiful masterpiece as she is. Not  for a moment, does the child imagine any other reaction.

    The child proudly and excitedly presents the drawing to her mother. Her mother looks at it, sees the lines going in circles, no  particular, discernable shape, and she does not at all look delighted. She looks unhappy. The child is in disbelief: what happened/ what is wrong? She asks with no words.

    Next, her mother puts away the child’s rejected masterpiece on the kitchen table, takes a blank, white paper, color pencils and a ruler, and proceeds to a table where she shows the child how to draw a house with straight lines, using red for the roof. She then shows the child how to fill in the roof with red, keeping inside the straight lines. Next, she places this new drawing on the refrigerator while the old drawing is nowhere to be seen.

    For her mother, a perfectionist, the drawing was .. too imperfect. She felt that she needed to teach her child how to create a less imperfect drawing. For the child, it is a painful day when she learned that she is not special. She learned that who she is-  needs to be corrected. She feels hurt and shocked, surprised in a very bad way. She is likely to forget that day so to forget the pain, but she will not forget the lesson she has learned: she is not special, and she is not  good enough to deserve her mother’s delightful reaction/ approval/ love.

    *Of course, it’s not a good idea for an adult to draw circles with crayons and present it as gifts to co-workers in the office, for example. Somewhere along the way, the child needs to learn that her masterpiece is .. well, not a masterpiece. But such a learning/ correcting needs  to be done in an age appropriate way. For the first months, the reaction of the mother to her child’s first drawings should be nothing but positive (zero correcting): oh, this is beautiful, I like the colors, I like how you put the yellow here, and the green there. The mother should be able to define the beauty of the drawing in the context of the age of the child, and really see the beauty in that context.

    Later on, as time goes on, in school and at home, the child will be taught drawing skills, and learn if she has the desire and talent to become an artist or draw/ paint as a hobby or whatnot.

    The Fall from the child’s early belief that she is so very special, one of a kind, producing masterpieces etc., should be a gradual fall, over a long time, while being provided with gentle guidance and learning new skills.

    Being corrected too soon, and frequently, results in this: “I grew up unsure about myself and feeling like I am not good enough”. Figuratively, you produce straight lines and color inside the lines, but your self esteem is a mess and the feeling inside is bad.

    “I have to tell and remind myself that I am more than good enough.. begin feeling that truly from within”- this telling yourself and reminding yourself that you are good enough, that kind of work is done in the context of long-term Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It is what the short-term “positive affirmations” are about: repeating the words, feeling them, until you believe them (positive affirmations are not enough to produce the result long-term).

    Keep posting, Jen. I like communicating with you, enjoying your intelligence, clear thinking and courage to explore different possibilities.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by anita.
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