Maybe it is the expectation that this time things will be better. We hope that maybe this time, things will once again feel like they used to feel when were were kids. Or maybe its the hope that this time, we have figured it out, because we now have the tools to combat the emotional manipulation since we expect it to happen. Or maybe it is because we are now competent adults who shouldn’t need anyones validation to feel ok.
Whatever the reason, we are never truly ready for it when it happens. Because no matter how much we know, no matter how much we understand why it is happening, the fact that this type of abuse keeps happening and the way that we feel in that moment can just take your breath away. We are back to being a child with no power over the wounded, damaged adults that we so desperately need to be ok. We will do anything to fix them, to make that feeling of powerlessness go away, we are ready to sacrifice it all, namely ourselves, just to make the messy, painful feelings inside stop.
Well this strategy, of sacrificing yourself, your feelings, your needs so that the parent feels better provides only temporary relief, if at all. It may give that particular moment some peace, but it will eat you up inside. And I am not talking about small little concessions that we make to make an aging relative feel heard, or a special needs sibling feel loved, or a parent in law feel welcome. I am talking about the emotional sacrifices of self made in order to quell the interpsychic needs of the narcissistic and/or wounded parent. Unfortunately all our sacrifices, negotiations and concessions will never really work, they will never fix whatever it is that is broken, because it was never ours to fix. But we keep trying, God knows we keep trying!
So perhaps, this time, we stop trying. Perhaps this time, we allow everyone the space and respect to be who they truly are, without trying to fix it or make it better. Perhaps it is time to stop betraying our own values and our own selves, in order to please someone else, who, frankly could never be pleased by anyone but themselves. Perhaps this is the year that we give ourselves the gift of letting it be, of allowing ourselves and loved ones to be the incomplete, imperfect human beings that we all are. Perhaps this year, we can find acceptance and even gratitude for what is in front of us in this very moment, instead of what we so dearly wish it could be.