I’m a novice blogger. I make lots of mistakes. Navigation, set-up, blogging etiquette… but I’m having fun and learning.
I was commenting on, I think, tinpot’s post about kids treated like dogs. And half-way through, I lost it. I was inspired to respond, so I will. Again.
I am commenting on over-involvement by parents.
Some parents, especially those who had very little involvement by their parents, vow that they will not do the same to their kids. And they become over-involved. Now many parents will ask if you can ever be too involved in your kids’ lives… the answer is YES.
Although I am no expert in any formal way, I have worked with a lot of young (and older) people struggling with addiction. Substance addiction and process addiction. Eating disorders [EDs], sex and love addiction and gambling are some of the process addictions.
I have found that a huge percentage of addicts have been crippled by over-involved parents. Their natural tendency as children to discover their world and make mistakes has been thwarted by ‘caring’ parents. What the ‘caring’ parent is actually doing is a kind of abuse. Parents are breaking natural boundaries. It is a kind of rape. And the kids are left extremely damaged.
Their natural inclination to separate and form a healthy ego is mangled by guilt and shame of wanting to move away, in an emotional sense, from parents. They are left feeling ungrateful, selfish and worse. Their ability to trust their own instincts is crippled, often resulting in dangerous choices as ‘they can’t be trusted’. How can they be OK if they desire to reject the parent? Especially the parent who has spent so much time and effort ‘protecting’ them.
This very often leads them to turn in on themselves. Many become cutters and self-mutilators, many develop EDs, and many become addicts.
Now I’m not implying that all EDs, addicts etc have over-involved parents. I am saying, though, is that many of the EDs, especially, I have treated have such parents.
It seems their experience of their parents, and very often the mother, is as devourers. Their mothers eat them up. Swallow them. Chew them. And the only way to retain any sense of self and independence is do it first. A lot of anorexics and bulimics present with this issue.
A parent’s basic role is to nurture. Love is nurture. Feeding is nurture. And the only way a child can stand up to the parent’s over-involvement is to reject that basic ‘nurture’.
“You feed me, I reject you by not eating/over eating/vomiting because the ‘love’ I experience from you is creepy. I cannot articulate why it feels so wrong, but all I know is that it is wrong. And I must be bad for believing that my parent is wrong. I need you to change but I dare not say that. Because you love me so much.”
The conflict is plain to see – and heartbreaking.
It is also beautifully inspiring and awesome to watch an incredibly damaged, and often broken, person find healing. This is called recovery. And very many do recover. But many don’t.
This is a life-long battle and in moments of extreme stress, emotional vulnerability, tiredness etc they fall back onto old behaviour for a while, but most pull themselves back and keep on keeping on. In beautiful, courageous and life-affirming ways.
I salute you all, you stunning, brave, awe-inspiring people.