I woke up this morning with a realization. It’s been sitting under the surface of my consciousness for years. I just haven’t been able to truly see it. Or, maybe, I’ve kept the blinders closed up so tightly to keep me from seeing it. To protect myself.
You see, this is the root of all my anxieties. And those fears only became amplified in my marriage.
It all starts with childhood.
I had a grandmother who used shame to control her kids and grandkids. Common phrases said to my mom and uncles were “I do all this for you and this is how you repay me?” and “Kids are seen but not heard.” She was very dismissive about the emotional state of her family, while at the same time doing everything in her power to make our family look pristine and perfect on the outside.
I had a mother who was so worried about how the world (especially her parents) perceived her, that the message her little boy learned was he had to be perfect in everything he did. He learned that perfection wasn’t for him, it was to protect his mother from the shame and judgment she felt if he didn’t meet the family’s high expectations.
Add a biological father who couldn’t manage his own shame and fear of judgement, that he disappeared from this little boy’s life. Instead of being the father this boy needed, he ran and shirked his responsibilities.
Mix this up with a step-father who was physically and emotionally abused by an alcoholic father and who was forced to grow up fast to support his family in his pre-teen years. This man built an emotional wall of rage to protect himself from his own demons.
All this little boy wanted and needed was to be nurtured and loved. He had grand fantasies of becoming a super hero to save the world. He had a kinship with Bilbo and Frodo, because they too, were small, and yet they were large beyond their means. He had a vision to fly a 747. Not just any airplane, but the BIGGEST one there was. It wasn’t because he was vertically challenged that made him feel small. He felt small because the people around him never saw him.
He only wanted to be seen.