It’s very easy to get stuck in certain relationship habits. It doesn’t matter what kind of relationship it may be, whether it is a parent/child relationship, lovers, friends or whatever. And it can affect other relationships, causing triangles, rectangles and other geometric forms of interconnected dysfunction.
And as we as human beings try to work through the reasons for certain relationship habits, we can evolve how we see the dysfunctions in those relationships.
Personally, as I work through the lessons involved in the dissolution of my marriage, I see that there are some reflections of other relationships – some of them foundational relationships (such as parents or siblings).
These songs I’m embedding in this post are, to a certain extent, examples of how my perspectives on my parents have changed over the years.
As a child, and well into my 20s, I felt much like Alanis Morriset in the first song. From my perspective, I could never be good enough to my parents or my grandmother. It felt to me that no matter what I did, no matter what choices I made, no matter what logic I used to define myself, I could never be good enough. It wasn’t until my 20s that I started to look at it from the perspective of her song. It was only in my 20s that I started to see that it perhaps wasn’t that I was wrong or bad, or making poor choices – but that my parents’ own issues and my grandmother’s own issues had impacted how they treated me growing up.
Sadly, in my 20s and well into my 30s, I blamed them for this. Kelly Clarkson’s Because of You and her Piece by Piece described in many ways my feelings directed at my parents. Because of You was more about my mother and grandmother, while Piece by Piece describes some of my relationship with both my father and grandmother (without the implied abandonment in the story of the song).
But blame is NEVER a good place to stop. If you end your analysis of yourself at blaming someone else for your choices and your perspective, you are ignoring the fact that you have a responsibility for those choices and that perspective. Fault may explain why something happened, but it doesn’t excuse your accountability to yourself.
Parents are human beings. They make mistakes, they occasionally make bad choices. But, just like us, they believe they are making the best choice of the options they have in front of them at the time they’ve made those choices. It’s easy to judge them poorly in hindsight. It’s easy to make them into a paper scapegoat for all of your own bad choices. And, it’s even easier to do so if they have not allowed their perspective of you to evolve any more than you have allowed your perspective of them to change.
Yes, my parents made some mistakes. Yes, I made some mistakes. I never chose the path of cutting, or attempting suicide, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have my own struggles. We all have our own demons in our heads. I’m still searching them out, and turning them into supports for myself instead of letting them destroy me. And yes, I still fail at times. I sometimes let those demons get a hold of my head for a while.
If you want a better life, you HAVE to change those voices in your head. You HAVE to learn to accept yourself as you are right now, and accept that you are a work in progress. You can’t let yourself stagnate in the blame and despair.
Learn not to project your demons onto other people. Just because someone might have a similar personality to a parent doesn’t mean that they are that parent. Just because someone makes choices that look like choices you made, does not mean that they have the same thoughts in their heads.
You get to choose. And not choosing, is still a choice.