Can you think of a time that you felt really misunderstood by one of your parents or early caregivers?
A time that you felt really lonely as a child?
Did that leave a trail in your life that kept you from being happy?
When I was 10 years old, I had just had an argument with my mom and I had run up to my room to seek shelter in my bed.
Both of my parents had followed and sat on my bed, my mom behind my dad.
My dad asked me what was going on and I said, through my tears:
« My mom doesn’t understand me. »
The look on her face confirmed to me that she didn’t.
That disconnect with my mom had a profound impact on my life ; it left me feeling confused about who I was and made it really difficult for me to have satisfying relationships with almost anyone ! That in turn kept me feeling empty and unhappy.
Can you relate?
There are a lot of self-help methods nowadays that make great promises but they never seem to allow for the possibility of deep wounds, the kind that broken parental bonds are sure to bring.
Yet, I am living proof that one can heal from even the deepest of disconnects and I am so passionate about this now because through forgiving my mom, I was able to enjoy a very peaceful relationship with her and was able to care for her through her cognitive decline and enjoy many small moments of connection. Moreover, as she passed away, recently, the peace I had found with her allowed me to take the loss in a way I wouldn’t have dreamed of.
In my case, it took 15 years of therapy over the course of a 30-year journey. I don’t recommend that lengthy path even if the view from the top is priceless.
If I had known, way back when, the things I know now, here is what I would have done and here is what I recommend for you if you are struggling with feelings of disconnect in a relationship that is very important to you.
The key to all this is incredibly simple yet can be incredibly difficult:
- take responsibility for your own needs
- take the other person as they are.
You might think I’m crazy!
I’m telling you! Find a way to get your needs meet in other ways than hoping for that other person to change and grant them the right to be who they are. I’m willing to bet it will give you access to some great benefits such as:
- a wonderful and deep love relationship,
- a strong open relationship with your children,
- many meaningful friendships,
- and work that you feel passionate about.
Here are the three steps:
- Start by becoming intimate with what you need, emotionally. Familiarize yourself with that and become aware that it is your need, even if it seems like it was that parent’s job to fill that need, it is still your need.
- Find in yourself the grudge you are holding and wonder out loud what it would take for you to let go of that grudge, to forgive. Once you know, see if you are willing. Often we think we cannot forgive, that it would let the other person off the hook. If you think this, think again!
- Identify one similarity and one difference between you and that person. Then observe that you have the right to be you and the other person has the right to be themselves.
Once you become good at those three things, I bet you will have a much better life!