Even if our (step)-parents are no longer alive, the body remembers our experiences with them, and our psyches can be stirred. With Mother’s Day recently past and Father’s Day upon us, these days often evoke comfortable and uncomfortable feelings (regrets, guilt, resentments, disappointments and even anger).
Why not approach these (and any) days as consciously as possible.
Take a moment to get grounded, take a couple of deep breaths, and think of one of your parents. What comes up? Do a body scan and see what your body tells you? What lingers deep inside or perhaps, right on the surface about how you feel and think about each of your parents?
In dealing with any hurt, anger and resentments, some good reflections to consider include:
- What are your expectations (there will be some!) from your parents?
- What need are you hoping to receive?
- What are these expectations based upon? (E.g., that’s what moms are supposed to do, It would be nice.)
- Are the expectations rational? Do they make sense based upon the history of their behaviour/abilities?
- Look at any past/current disappointments – as disappointments are based upon unmet expectations.
Resentments are usually due to blaming others for something we did that we did not really want to do (not set a boundary) or that asks us to do something (set a boundary) that we really do not want to do.
The result is us brooding and projecting anger onto others. Clear these up! Look at underlying reasons and beliefs that drive each resentment (e.g., If I don’t then what will people think?).
If we hold any anger towards our parents write down the reasons and specifics. If it happened as an adult, take ownership of your part in it.
If we are angry about what happened to us as a child, process the anger and no doubt, pain and sadness, around the incidents. Name and mourn the losses – the emotions need to come OUT of the body. This stored pain is toxic, and as discussed previously, leads to a myriad of physical and psychological dis-ease.
Know that most children, despite ‘good enough’ parenting, will emerge from childhood with pain, losses and negative adaptations (or learned conditioning or wounds or baggage). Get a clear picture, once and for all, of your parents. Make the lists: ‘thank you’ for and ‘you could have done better.’
Note any resistance that exists in making the lists. Feel the feelings which emerge as you do this and go over and over until the feelings are no longer uncomfortable (neutral). This will take time to process each ‘cut’.
Going further with the emotions arising from the ‘could have done better’ items, identify what you learned (the narrative) about yourself (e.g., I am bad, I am unlovable, I am not creative, etc.). The work now is to re-parent yourself (e.g., make new and stronger positive neuropathways!) by stating the truth (e.g., I am good enough/OK, I am lovable, I am creative, etc.) over and over and over again.
Listen for any, “Yay, but …” that what to argue with the new truth. Clear these up as well.
As long as we (including our inner child!) know and believe the truth about ourselves, and are cleared of past resentments, anger and guilt, the unpleasant memories and current dealings with parents will not haunt and trigger us.