My Family Hates Me And I Feel Alone
“I’m so sorry your father and brother hate you,” my mother said as she wiped away tears from her face. “It’s just not right.”
She was talking about my older brother who had recently gone off to college. She knew he hated me because I made fun of him all the time. But what really got her upset was how my parents reacted to his disdain for me. They didn’t try hard enough to hide their feelings or offer any kind words of encouragement when I came over.
They acted as if they were ashamed of me. My mom even refused to meet my gaze. The truth was, no matter how much I teased them, they loved me more than anything else in the world. It hurt me deeply to see them so unhappy with me. I felt alone and unloved.
When we’re young, we don’t know why our parents are angry at us. Sometimes, we feel misunderstood. Other times, we think they’re being unfair. Either way, as adults, we can look back on these early experiences and see exactly why a parent gets so mad. However, sometimes we have trouble understanding the real reasons behind our parent’s behavior.
Our parents’ anger may seem irrational to us when we’re children. For example, maybe Dad doesn’t understand why Mom refuses to give him money for dates with the waitress at the local diner. Or perhaps Mom objects when Dad takes credit for work done by his partner at his day job. As far as we’re concerned, these things aren’t important. What matters most is that we want to please our parents. So, instead of arguing with them, we ignore their complaints.
The problem with ignoring our parents is that eventually, we start to doubt ourselves. When we get into an argument with them, we wonder whether we’ve been wrong all along. By denying our mistakes, we begin to question our own worthiness. If we continue down this path, we’ll grow resentful toward our parents and stop trusting them completely. This will make it difficult for us to be honest with them. Eventually, we might become afraid to talk to them altogether.
Unfortunately, many grown children end up following this exact pattern. Instead of learning how to deal with their parents honestly, they resort to lying and dishonesty. Many adult children find themselves isolated and alienated from their families. Some avoid contact altogether. Others find ways to manipulate their parents. In extreme cases, some turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their pain.
How does one go about healing such deep wounds? First, we need to recognize that there’s a problem. Next, we must identify the underlying cause of the problems. After we gain clarity, we should use whatever tools come to hand to fix the situation. Finally, we have to take responsibility for our lives and accept the consequences of our choices.
Let’s say that you’re having difficulty getting along with your spouse. He tells you that he feels ignored and unappreciated. You tell yourself that you’d love to hear him out, but he keeps going on and on without pausing for breath. Your husband finally stops speaking and leaves the room. His absence makes you realize that you haven’t given him sufficient attention. Then, you remember that he often complains about feeling taken advantage of by his boss. You decide to call your manager and ask him to address your husband’s concerns directly.
In another scenario, let’s suppose that your little sister has always been jealous of you. One day while you’re both watching television, she comments that she wishes she could be as pretty as you. You respond by saying that you wish you could be as smart as she is. Unfortunately, your sister reacts angrily and begins to cry. Her reaction leads you to reflect upon your own jealousy of her. Now, you’re worried about your own sense of inadequacy and worthlessness.
Both scenarios above involve something called transference. Transference occurs when someone projects onto another person thoughts and emotions that belong solely within himself. Our minds tend to do this automatically whenever we experience conflict. For example, during an argument, it’s common for us to assume that our partners hold negative views about us simply because they point it out.
Transference is also known as projection. Projection occurs when a person attributes his own negative traits and behaviors to others. For example, if you feel self-conscious about a new haircut, you may project your insecurity onto your hairstylist. You might assume that she thinks you look ridiculous.
Although transference and projection are normal phenomena, they can lead to dysfunctional outcomes. If we allow our projections to persist unchecked, we risk becoming trapped by them. To prevent this from happening, we need to learn how to manage them effectively. Fortunately, there are several strategies that can help us break free of our projections.
First, we need to examine our reactions. Are they rational or emotional? How do our projections affect our daily life? Do they keep us stuck in unhealthy patterns? Once we’ve identified the source of our unhappiness, we can choose to change our perspective. For example, if you feel insecure around your hairstylist, you could imagine that you’re meeting a woman who admires your natural hair and wants to share that vision with you.
Next, we need to acknowledge those parts of ourselves that we’re trying to deny. We need to embrace them fully. Why? Because we don’t truly value ourselves until we can admit unpleasant truths about ourselves. Otherwise, we’re hiding part of ourselves from everyone.
Finally, we need to develop healthier coping skills. For instance, if we repeatedly judge our appearance based on the opinions of strangers, we could seek professional counseling. Counseling offers a safe space where we can explore our issues openly. There, we can receive feedback from trained professionals who can guide us toward positive solutions.
We shouldn’t expect our parents to magically transform overnight. Healing from childhood wounds requires patience, persistence, and lots of love. With time and practice, however, we’ll gradually overcome the barriers separating us from our loved ones.
Copyright 2011 Karen Friedman Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved. Article may be re-printed as long as the content remains intact and unchanged and link remains active.
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