Upside down

“You look tired,” I tell him.

“I am,” he says.  “I woke up early and couldn’t go back.”

“Something bothering you?”

He nods.  “My son.”

“How is he?

“Still in the hospital, but getting out tomorrow.”

“You’re worried about him?”

“No,” he says.  “I’m angry at him.”

”Why?”

”He’s in pain, and a shitty mood – which is understandable – and he takes it out on me.”

“And it hurts your feelings.”

“Yes.”

“But he’s sick, so you hold back, and then you wake up thinking about it.”

”Right,” he says glumly.  “And I know what you think.”

“What do I think?”

“I’m being a big baby.”

“Actually that’s what you think,” I say.  “I’m thinking this must be hard for you.”

“Why?  He’s the one in the hospital bed.”

“And you’re the one getting triggered.”

“Triggered,” he repeats.

“Sure.  Isn’t this how you felt as a kid?  When your parents hurt your feelings and you couldn’t say anything?”

He exhales.  “Yes.”

“You’re forgetting something I know you know,” I say.  “Something we’ve talked about.  That there’s no really such thing as a…”

“…grown-up human being,” he finishes.

“Right.  It’s the Kid inside you that’s getting triggered.  The one who came out of childhood convinced that your parents’ unhappiness and anger meant there was something wrong with him.”

“Huh,” he says.  “So I’m confusing my son with my parents?”

“Your Kid is, yes.”

“That’s fucked up.”

“Yes and no,” I say.  “Sure, it feels upside down.  But it’s not uncommon.  Parents with unfinished business with their parents often transfer that stuff to their kids.  If you were scared of your parents’ anger you’ll feel scared when your kids get mad at you.  If you felt unloved by your parents you’ll worry that your kids will stop loving you.”

“But I know my son loves me,” he frowns.

“Sure, your Adult self knows that,” I say.  “Your Kid still worries that he’s defective and unloveable.”

“Yeah,” he sighs.

He looks relieved. 

“Does this shit ever entirely go away?” he asks.

“Not entirely,” I say.  “We carry a Kid inside until we die.  But we can learn how to listen and understand and take better care of him.  And when we do that he doesn’t get triggered nearly as often.  And eventually he settles down and lives in a quieter place.” 

 

 

 

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2 responses to “Upside down

  • Eunice

    Thanks Steve, I’ve been angry and I know I’ve been scared. But, I’ve also been dealt with: PARENTAL ALIENATION and that really sucks. But now, I have grown children who can make decisions for themselves. I’ve really learned alot from you, previous posts and this post. Keep up the great work!

    • Steve Hauptman

      Thanks, Eunice. You have my sympathies; Parental Alienation is a bitch. But I find that, given enough time, kids tend to gravitate towards the healthier parent, not the more manipulative one. 🙂

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