You are not meant to suffer silently.

Since its Father’s Day on Sunday, I have been getting a lot of letters on deep seated pain about daddy issues, parent absenteeism, abandonment, and parent-child reconciliation. I don’t want to minimize the role our parents play in who we become in our adult relationships. There are many reasons why it is that we pick the wrong types. I’d like to give you the easy answer, but the truth is there isn’t just one factor.

The reality is that your parents can’t be blamed for your past failed relationships. You decided to select who you dated. I’m not here to tell you that they didn’t contribute to the choices in who you selected, why you selected them and/or why you tolerated things you may not have normally tolerated. Your parents provided you with the basics: life. That’s the only thing they owe you. The rest is entirely up to your own design. They provided the context for how you function. You take that blueprint and create your life schematics. The best thing you can do is go through life recognizing why you made the decisions that you did. If it was due to an absent parent, address it with that parent or parents. They also have reasons for their decisions. You have tried to reason out the rationale for their decisions for years and, in the final analysis, that is hardly ever their reasons. The reasons that exist in your mind are reasons you created to cope with your pain, hurt, the incomprehensible or the unfathomable. They tried to deal with their decisions the best way they could. Listen to their rationale. More than likely it was never intended to hurt you or not show you love. All of our decisions are based on selfish reasons (meaning they are benefiting some aspect of what we are and think we need/want). Try to avoid thinking that they owe you more than what is realistic. That may further imprison you or arrest your growth. Once you have identified the aspects that caused you to make the decisions you made, then you are able to move forward and understand the painful experiences you have had. We all have things that cause us pain that keep leading us to reproduce pain. That’s the irony. Sometimes it is conscious, other times its subconscious.

Today begin a different practice. Start by recognizing your parents’ limitations. They didn’t intend for you to be brought into this world to suffer. They may have been in their own personal version of torture. Any human life brought into this world is a gift because it’s something the world needed. You are not here to suffer silently. Sometimes we love in search of ourselves, to fill a void, to feel again, to feel needed, simply to have companionship, etc. In every case, ask yourself what this relationship really represents in your life and to you.

What are some of the things you can do to help reconcile some of the causes of your pain?

 Step 1. Gratitude list

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Make a list of all of the qualities you admire about your parent(s). The one (or both) that affected you the most. It could be that they provided you with a home, clothes, food, toys, your education, etc. Anything that made your life comfortable.

Step 2. Defining moment

Once you’ve completed that list, I want you to go back and think of a moment in time that you were grateful that they were there. It could be taking you to your little league practice, that they pushed you to excel in school, that they both where in the delivery room, they took you to get your driver’s license or your first car, the day you had your own child and gained a better understanding of the choices a parent makes, etc. Anything that contributed to you at the time or to who you are now.

Step 3.  Reflection

How does it make you feel? That feeling is what you should feel when you are in a healthy relationship.

Happy Father’s Day and thank you mom & pop!

29 thoughts on “You are not meant to suffer silently.

  1. wow, I’ve also had a very troubled relationship with my father and have always openly blamed him for everything. I know it makes me sound like a bad person but I had reasons to. Though I agree that in the end, it is best to look at our own selves for answers. It couldnt have been all good, could it?
    Anyways, thanks for checking out and liking my blog, http://typicalindiangirl.wordpress.com/

    1. Thanks TIG for sharing your experience with us and the inquiry. I didn’t mean to represent this very difficult, painful, and complex process to seem as though it was easy or all good. Life is about how you cope with difficult aspects of life. Of course, the type of relationship, like a parent, is harder to resolve because of: 1) how the relationship modifies throughout the years or 2) how the lack of the relationship and unexpressed emotion alters throughout the years.
      Blame, shame, guilt are raw internalized emotions. They need to be released before you can externalize and experience growth. All of these features are complex and require me to write a book about it 🙂
      Looking forward to reading about your dating and life developments!

  2. This is a great topic to discuss! So many people I know have daddy issues, my boyfriend and myself included. Mine left the country when I was eight and has been locked up in prison for 16 years. I went through the bitter resentful phase a few years ago, but I eventually let it go and realized I was in control of my life and happiness. You’re right…there comes a time when you have to stop blaming parents for all your failures and unhappiness. Sometimes it makes me feel better to accept that maybe I didn’t have the best parents in the world. They probably just did the best they knew how. To gain something from all this, I tell myself I’ll try to avoid making the same mistakes if I ever have children.

    1. A good friend of mine once said to me “you don’t dislike paraplegics and they have a handicap, right? So, why would you not look at your parents’ inability to provide you with what you needed as their handicap.” We have to let go to grow. Parental love is a form of love, not the only form of love. By focusing on what was owed to us in life, keeps us further away from it.
      I’m sorry to hear of the absence of your own father, but you have been able to find a partner that will not abandon you or your children. We all have our limitations and obstacles. I am a firm believer of when people walk out of your life they have provided you with all that they could.
      You will absolutely be a different parent than the parenting you received. You are able to see his limitations and obstacles objectively now.
      Everyone, please check out Manda’s blog: http://shoegazeandcats.wordpress.com/ It is an honest perspective on society, relationships & dating!

      1. Thank you for all your kind words! I’ve enjoyed everything of yours I’ve read so far, and I’m sure that many people will benefit from posts such as these.

  3. Thanks for this post! Many people do blame their parents. Dr. Phil always talks about identifying your defining moments, to understand how you become who you are. You definitely reiterated that point, and added the bit about being grateful for whatever they did do for you. No one is perfect, and parenting is difficult (from what I hear ;))

    1. Thanks for finding it helpful! You are so right it is difficult and very painful to deal with because of the nature of the relationship. They provide you with life, but we have to design the rest. Thanks for your thoughtful comment and the follow! Looking forward to reading yours!

  4. I’m really not one for the whole “take responsibility” concept, though I, paradoxically, think it’s important. I think people do want to own their issues and take responsibility, but it’s just hard to see how that’s done for a lot of people. And the bigger issue is the inherent contradiction to life, “You’re not in control of everything, but you are responsible for everything.” Whaaaa?

    I rather choose to ask, “What now?” Your parents screwed you up? Okay, they could’ve done better, but you could’ve done better on that math test in 4th grade. What now?

    Ultimately, focusing on how your parents screwed you up is one of the unfortunately misguided ways people go about asking the wrong question: “Why?” “Why am I so screwed up? Why didn’t things go better? Why can’t I be happy? What caused all of this (i.e., why is this happening?). It’s the wrongheaded search to gain insights to where one’s screwedupness comes from.

    But that’s like a heroin user asking why they like heroin. Figuring out why you lie heroin (that it pushes certain euphoria chemicals to your brain) won’t help you not use heroin one bit.

    The real question is “How?” How am I going to do better? How can I not do the same screwed up things I’ve been doing? How do pay attention to certain factors and not others to maximize my potential and not miss obvious cues? Those are all growth statements. Why is, more often than not, a fools errand.

    I figured this all out years ago when working with AIDS patients. You never ask them why they have AIDS or how they got it. It doesn’t matter. They’ve got it regardless. What matters is the future and what they can do to live the best most healthy life possible. And that’s all about what to do and how to do it.

  5. Thanks, Elias, for your brilliant comment! I’m in complete agreement with you. It is about how one resolves their cognitive dissonance so that one can experience optimal growth. You were fortunate enough to have learned this lesson earlier so that you were able to design and actualize your maximum potential. For many, the process is subconscious and it erodes their sense of self and arrests their growth.

    As a clinician, researcher and scientist, I credit all of my growth and inspiration from my clients. I continue to dedicated my life’s work to ameliorating conditions and improving the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS. I am the type of person that hates to see people needlessly suffer. (It’s the reason I blog 🙂 )

  6. I see the point you are making but unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way. We are all products of our environment and our past is the major player in the environment that shapes us. The errors our parents make can be in some cases extremely harmful and without the tools to repair them we are doomed to repeat that cycle. We do not expect our parents to be perfect but they do have a duty of care to their children.

    I don’t want to feel like a victim but it has taken me a long time to realise that the self-esteem problems that have blighted my life are due to a critical lack of emotional support from my father since childhood. We crave approval from our parents; we want them to feel proud of us and in turn we want to feel worthy of them. Yet when we are subject only to their disappointments – even when our own achievements in life exceed that of the parent expressing the disappointment – we become entrenched in the notion that we will never be good enough. This is now the norm and we do not see it as a problem.

    As adults we absolve our parents of the responsibility because we become our own worst critics. Blame – in fact – becomes immaterial because it seems the natural order of things to punish ourselves for our perceived failings. Our parents never praised us, we only disappointed them so therefore we are not worthy of praise. After all, if even our parents aren’t proud of us then what right do we have to be proud of ourselves? We continue to fail – at work, at school, in life, in relationships and we assume it is because there is something wrong with us. It isn’t a case of not wanting to be better or wallowing in being a victim, it is that we cannot even identify that there is something wrong in the first place (as is the case with a lot of mental health issues).

    1. We are products of our environment, but that environment evolves. What you describe is you holding onto vestiges of a former self while functioning as the current self. We evolve as does our trajectory change as a result of that evolution. Simultaneously, our environment is changing. The key to all of these processes occurring are choices that we make.

      All I want to highlight is despite what we can attribute to our parents, in order for us to be on a path to wellness is identifying & isolating the sources of pain that cathects us. Seeking validation is an illusion. It’s self-defeating. As we exhale our last breath it won’t be “I wasn’t ever proud of you, son/daughter”. I respect that we go through a lengthy emotional process to deal with what our parents might have caused us because of their own limitations. They knew as much as we did and in some cases less. We give them a lot of credit 🙂

      Parents use different methodologies to motivate their children. Mine would be disappointed because I got a 97% instead of 100%. They thought that was going to be an effective motivating tool. For me, in retrospect it was. At the time, couldn’t believe that my parents were so hard on me. They were shaping me for excellence and the highest standards throughout all of my life goals. Perhaps that’s what your parents were trying to do. We all have issues, it’s about how you perceive them. I just want you to look at it from a different perspective 🙂

      1. I get where you are coming from; I’m just disagreeing. My father projected his insecurities and failings onto me and for many years I punished myself for my apparent failings – no matter how well I performed, no matter how good I became at something – it was never good enough. Perhaps he was also “shaping me for excellence” but the difference was, as a child he did not show me the pride that would have permitted me to identify when I had achieved it and so as an adult I kept pushing to attain perfection and punishing myself when I failed to achieve it… not recognising my achievements for what they were.

        Many years of my adult life I have been dysfunctional in terms of relationships with friends, potential partners and others I interact with because I never believed myself worthy. I didn’t think it was a problem – after all I was a failure and didn’t deserve the things that everybody else took for granted.

        There is pushing your child to succeed as any good parent should do but sometimes it crosses the line into psychological abuse.

        I think you’re getting the wrong end of the stick. This is not about blaming others for our past and then wallowing in it, always using it as an excuse, but about realising that we as individuals are not responsible for what has screwed us up in the first place – removing the self-blame that maintains the destructive cycle.

        It is true that some get stuck in the “my parent(s) screwed me up” stage and they need to be helped to leave that stage but some of us need to get to that stage before we can move on – to remove the cycle of self-blame and self-loathing. Does that make sense?

        1. It most certainly does. We are describing the same thing:) The point was to identify and remove the destructive cycle. To have you describe and release some of that cathexis is part of healing. Most of us go through exactly what you describe and it seems that you have gotten to a tremendous point of self acceptance. This is the key to what needs to be in place prior to establish a healthy relationship. You are learning and getting ready for a relationship with the renewed you. You won’t recognize what you were attracted to before because it will no longer have utility for your needs/wants.

          You won’t need to be on hold for “Little Red/ubergeek/msx s” of the world. Once you find yourself and your compliment, you won’t be satisfied with people that keep you in a place of unworthiness. You are no longer that. It might have been a comfortable place, but the Little reds of the world are reminding you that seek greater and that you are worthy. You are seeking permanence, CUCH, yet you are attracting aloof.

          You’re on a different trajectory already. You are smart to put out on your blog what you are (based on assessments), so that you will attract that.

  7. You are Gorgeous! I will let this and our conversation resonate and look forward to sharing with you! You are a gift to me and all who you touch! 🙂 The post is very powerful and very much on the money. Thank you for sharing it! 🙂

  8. When I was 15 years old I didn’t talk to my mother for 3 years, due to incidents that occurred about that time; and I’m sure subconscious feelings of what I mentioned elsewhere.
    After the 3 years, I decided to accept my mother as my mother, the good with the bad. Unfortunately, 15 years later in a slow developing; with many slips and falls, basically a similar incident happened as before. Unfortunately, this time I didn’t have my father to turn to. I was left for the wolves.
    I didn’t cut my mother off immediately again, but months later, when I found out, my sibling was having issues, and was supporting them, with at least 3 times the support; I had been receiving.
    She wasn’t upfront about it, I basically am not stupid, and knew who was keep my sibling in their home.
    After my life of 33 years of this kind of treatment, it began to ruin my day, just talking to my mother for 5 minutes on the phone. Not that our conversations were more than cordial, but it was all of the background lies and actions going on, that would; in a manner make me sick to my stomach.
    I was already in a very hard place in life, and having your mood constantly ruined just simply by answering the phone, wasn’t going to help me, project the attitude I needed to fix my troubles.
    So I quite answering the phone. I’m not going to lie. I don’t feel a bit like a hypocrite and guilty that I have not explained myself plainly, but on the other hand, she isn’t that stupid. She knows what she’s done, and was doing at the time. If she can’t see it, well spite her nose then.
    Since I have stopped accepting being treated as a lower class citizen by a parent, my life has gradually got better. I found strength to walk away from a lot of toxic relationships, and the people in my life over all treat me better.
    Some people say, if a male doesn’t honour his mother, he won’t treat his lover right. To that I say: Bullshit. I’m friends with most of my exes, and not one of them, have ever discouraged anyone from dating me. In fact some of them, encouraged others to date me.

    1. “Since I have stopped accepting being treated as a lower class citizen by a parent, my life has gradually got better. I found strength to walk away from a lot of toxic relationships, and the people in my life over all treat me better.
      Some people say, if a male doesn’t honour his mother, he won’t treat his lover right. To that I say: Bullshit. I’m friends with most of my exes, and not one of them, have ever discouraged anyone from dating me. In fact some of them, encouraged others to date me.”

      This is the most brilliant move! Thanks for sharing your insights and story with us! I really appreciate your courage and honesty. It is refreshing and inspirational!

      I agree that if you reconcile aspects of your past that doesn’t help you evolve as a better version of you, the better of you are. A toxic relationship is a toxic relationship independent of who the actors are.

      Glad you found a method that made you happy!

  9. I’m so glad I read this. When I get caught up in and stuck in emotional pain I tend to forget that I make the choices or I don’t make the choices. I think it was easier to blame rather than take a look at myself. I need to be reminded that I’m just a dumb ass! Which isn’t a bad thing! One of the lessons I learned about the relationships I choose is that it’s something I know. But that doesn’t mean I need to have it. Knowing pain may cause me to stay in a relationship that is painful… But it may also cause me to run for the hills! The answers are always before me. I just need to be open to what’s being shown to me. Thank you for speaking… I heard what was said & I’m grateful

    1. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and support for my work! I know how hard it is to cope with past relationship failures. But, it is so enriching when we can look at the past and not repeat it again. I, thank you, for having the courage to share your insights and being an inspiration for so many.

      I am so happy that you found my article useful and of service for you! I hope you have a great week!

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