“True empathy comes as a byproduct for having empathy for myself”- not in the case of a child and her mother. The child has complete empathy for her mother, naturally. It is only when the mother returns empathy to the child, that the child feels empathy for herself.
The mother is like a mirror for the child, if the child sees empathy reflected back to the child, then the child knows what it feels like, how it feels to experience empathy toward oneself.
What happens when the child doesn’t receive empathy from her mother, is the child focuses on that mirror, waiting and waiting for empathy to reflect back, and then, as the child becomes an adult she looks for other mirrors, “giving what I think the other person needs, not what I need.. to maintain the connection”.
Only the most powerful mirror a person will ever have is her mother when the person was a child. Not having received empathy/ love during childhood from her mother.. she keeps searching and searching it in other mirrors, but other mirrors during adulthood are so very weak and questionable. A positive reflection can be intense but temporary.
So instead of living life, seeking adventures, enjoying the moment, we are stuck in front of The Mirror (mother) and/ or we venture as women to other mirrors, waiting, searching.
“So yes, it’s possible that she consciously chose to deny a memory I described to protect her image”- to protect her image, the mother often denies her child the image of empathy.
If you let this sink in, you will no longer be stuck in front of The Mirror and you will interact with men not as substitute-mirrors, so to speak.