It is my firm conviction that the number one reason people are unhappy in life is because they refuse to believe that when they were kids their parents either flat-out didn’t love them, or loved them in a way that was so deeply tweaked it amounted to the same thing as not loving them.
It’s also my belief that the reason people refuse to accept the truth that when they were kids their parents treated them awfully is grounded in the fact that as very young children they instinctively grasped how terribly vulnerable their parents not loving them made them.
We spend the first years of our lives utterly dependent upon our parents for virtually everything we need to survive. If they don’t choose to give us what we need, we perish. I think that’s a basic fact of life that all humans understand pretty early into the big game o’ life.
And so children born to crappy parents do virtually the only thing they can do, which is to immediately, absolutely and without question convince themselves that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, their parents really are good, caring people who really do love them.
Having parents who really do love you = an outstanding chance of you surviving.
Having parents who obviously don’t love you = you probably won’t make it.
That’s not much of a choice, is it? And so most (and I would even argue all) children “decide” that, come hell or high water, their parents, no matter how much information they’re getting to the contrary, really do love them. In the choice between what is true, and what needs to be true, what needs to be true inevitably wins.
And so children born into unhappy families begin to build their lives upon a lie.
And as surely as one day follows the next, children who are forced to build their lives upon a truth they can’t possibly face turn into adults whose lives are built upon a truth they can’t possibly face. And so as adults people who had unhappy childhoods continue their suffering: they’re angry; they’re forever imagining themselves victims; they’re easily upset; their relationships don’t work. In short, they have no idea who they are. They don’t know who they are, because the core truth of who they are was lost in the lie they had to live — which is to say, very often, in the person they were essentially forced to become — in order to as effectively as possible deal with the threatening dynamics of their dysfunctional family life.
Adults who are lost and unhappy in life have a simple, terrible choice to make. They must either accept the fact that their parents didn’t love them — which is tantamount to utterly and completely rejecting their parents — or they must continue to live lost and unhappy lives.
They either toss their parents off their shoulders, or they continue to sink with their parents strapped to their back. That’s the choice waiting to be made by every adult who was raised in a psychologically unhealthy family.
And what people almost always choose is continuing to go down with their parents strapped to their back. And they make that “choice” for a perfectly understandable reason: it’s still in their mind — it’s still in their heart; it still defines the psychological paradigm of the only life they’ve ever known — that rejecting their parents means they themselves must be rejected. They’re continuing to operate within the context of their initial, original paradigm — and all too dearly paying the price for it.
If you are unhappy in life — if no matter what you do, say, think, or believe, you’re still dogged by this feeling that something fundamental just isn’t right with you or your life — then do yourself a favor, and give some thought to the idea that you have or had Genuinely Lousy parents. That maybe it’s not you. That maybe it’s them. That maybe it’s always been them.
That maybe the reason you’re so burdened is that you’re carrying around weight that doesn’t, or shouldn’t, belong to you.
If you’re regularly dogged by a sense of unhappiness or anxiety, just try on the thought that your parents were awful, that they were in no way emotionally or psychologically prepared to have children.
Go ahead. Give it a shot. In the privacy of your own mind, really reject your parents. Scream at them. Blame them. See them for the sorry, ill-equipped losers they were.
Banish them from your heart.
Walk away from them.
Let ‘em die.
It won’t kill you. I promise.
As the one and only Jesus put it, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”