Skip to content

Emotional Patterns We Learn From Our Parents

January 2, 2010

How much have you learned from your parents when it comes to love, relationships, and sex? Was their example positive or negative? Do you reenact the same patterns in your life? Those are just some of the questions I was asking myself over the holidays after spending a few days at home. 

Each and every time my mother has an emotional outburst, especially if it’s directed at me, I close up and wait for the storm to pass. It feels akin to hunkering down under a table during a particularly harsh storm. I don’t know how else to react. If I move, I might be pulled in and then who knows how long I could keep my cool. The last thing I want to do in those moments is cry or let myself be filled with anger. Instead I enter a trance like state where I shut off, close my eyes, and focus on my breath while letting it all wash over me. That’s how I’ve learned to keep my cool under pressure. I have the uncanny ability to keep my composure in the strangest of situations, even though inside I might be a rocking mess. Eventually it will pass, it always does and then everything goes back to the way it was. There’s no need to mention it again. 

Being exposed to someone else’s deep sadness, especially if directed at you, is a trying experience. How do you comfort someone when you’re the one that caused the unhappiness in the first place? That’s when I wondered whether I reenact this pattern in other relationships and to my great displeasure the answer was yes. To both roles. With most people and in most situations I shut off to protect myself emotionally and with a select few, I’ve let my pain hang out there, and I’ve asked the very person who is hurting me to comfort me in the same breath. 

I’ve seen it around me recently, in other people’s lives, when one person breaks up with another, the person who has been left needs comfort from the person who has left them. It creates an impossible situation that is difficult for both people. This process can go on for a very long time, which is why most break ups aren’t resolved immediately. It’s not obvious at first, but sometimes you use the pain you are feeling to show someone “Look, look how much I care”, but what do you do with all this information? What do I do to change how this type of situation is handled? No matter how I look at it neither role seems fair, whether you are the one that has hurt someone or the one that is being hurt, but both remain valid. How do you escape that kind of situation?  

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Wayne permalink
    January 2, 2010 3:47 pm

    Interesting subject Olga, and especially timely for me. I’ve been reflecting on some of these same thoughts recently. I think that almost every kid grows up thinking that they are going to be better parents than theirs, whether they think there parents are good, so-so, or poor rolemodels. The “I’m not going to be like my dad/mom” attitude is pretty abundant in cases where the parent is dysfunctional, but even where the child thinks the parent did a good job there is always room for improvement. In my case I had a father who maintained an outward, public persona as stable, capable, and loving while actually living with soime serious, and unadressed mental health issues, religious fanatasism, and abussive bahavior. My mom had her own issues, most of which involved covering for my fathers defects and trying to potray a public image of everything being okay. Rather than being the kid who said I wouldn’t be like my dad, I was the kid who chose to never be a dad. As far as romantic involvment and attitudes it gets even more skewed, lol. I believed when I was growing up, and well into adulthood, that despite everything else my parents at least had a loving realtionship with each other, and I tried to emulate that in my own life. As secrets will, theirs have come out in trickles and I now know that theirs was a relationship often as diferent in private as their public personas were from their real ones. I am still proud to say I have never cheated on a mate or partner, never even dating two women at the same time. This is an ethic which was drumed into me all of my life. But I HAVE been a serial monogamist, which tells me that I probably have some commitment issues I still need to look at. I WANT the storybook romance, with the modern attitudes of equality and shared roles tossed into the mix. But despite all of my learning about what I think modern women want, and my complete willingness to pamper and spoil a woman sexualy and in our private lives while acknowledging and celebrating her acheivements profesionaly and academicaly, I wonder if 10 years from now I’m going to be looking back with the same chagrin at my current bahavior and attitudes with which I do my “current” past?

  2. January 2, 2010 4:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Wayne.

    “I wonder if 10 years from now I’m going to be looking back with the same chagrin at my current bahavior and attitudes with which I do my “current” past?”

    Well, you can choose to look at that in a positive way. I would say, I hope you do (change, not feel bad about changing), otherwise there would have been no evolution and evolution is what life is all about.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: