The Search for My Parents
By Anonymous PsychAlive Member
I’m 41 years old and I recently learned that I’ve lived my adult years searching for my parents. Not the obvious ones I was born to, but their replacements.
My subconscious desire to have parents in my adult life has caused me years of discontent. The life of a child is helpless, scary and powerless. Functioning in an adult world as a child creates a never-ending misery of inequality, fear and paranoia. As a child, anyone can control and overrun you. If you don’t obey or conform to your parents’ wishes, you may even be rejected or exiled from your family. As an adult, of course, you own your life and destiny. But, if you remain a child in your adult life, you look at the world around you as dominating, controlling and dangerous. That’s a miserable life.
Where did I try to find my parents?
I found my father in a man I loved originally, and granted he had parental tendencies that nicely matched my childish ones. My desire to find fault constantly in myself worked well with his need to fix me. You cannot love a man or be attracted to a man if you are looking to for criticism and definition and parenting from him. Love is equality. I know that now.
I tried to find my mother in various woman friends, often times opinionated or outspoken. Or perhaps, in a woman’s tense, angry or distracted face, I would find the disapproval and hate, or worse the dismissal I felt from my mother. At those times, I would turn an equal friend to someone I had to be careful and afraid of. I would feel belittled and small. Or like nothing at all. And it was always wrong. We were always equal.
But oh how compelling it is to have a parent; so I kept looking.
I found parents, both male and female, in my friends. Admittedly, it was complicated because at one time I was a child with many of these same adults, but the reality is that over 20 years ago, I became not only an adult woman, but a successful, competent one. A very equal member of my family, friends and society.
I found my parents in the friends that offered me feedback or input about various parts of my life. I would react with fear and panic and dramatically push back on the information, or become upset and angry. An adult, in a room full of peers, hears information, processes it, and it’s not a threat. Because in the end, an adults can choose their path. They are not children being told what to do, or how to live, or being rejected, or disapproved of for making a different choice.
To hang on to this old identity with all my might, for many years, was so compelling. Why? All I can answer is this: remaining a child, although miserable, is further away from the agony of aging and death…and so the compelling draw is hard to let go of.
Recently a very dear friend reminded me about this unconscious desire to be a child, and it hit me. I never heard it that clearly. It’s ruining my life and making me unhappy. And I’m sick of it.
I’m 41 and have finally learned its time to stop the search. Of course, I still have my moments of childish reactions, but I’m learning to catch them, notice the almost physical feeling that comes on, and stop it before I engage. I will make mistakes, but I plan to forge forward as an adult, and search instead for equality.
Nonetheless, this leaves me very alone. And the aloneness leaves me anxious, and sad…but its real. And life as an equal, although painful, is fuller. And I’m ready for the challenge.
Tags: child to adult development, defenses, differentiation, parents