Have you ever noticed that the bad experiences we had in childhood seem to repeat themselves in our adult relationships, or work environments?
Why? I wondered, did I keep finding myself in the same bad situations, responding the same way, and experiencing the same results.
My theory is experiences that replicated childhood situations - unconsciously hooked me into the hope of resolving my childhood issues. The problem was that I hadn’t developed the tools to cope with my core wounds.
All adults find themselves in environments and/or relationships that are unhealthy for them at times. It seems that people who grew up valued - in nurturing homes - respond differently than abuse survivors when they are betrayed, devalued, or mistreated. Nurtured individuals respond from a place of strength, self-love, and self-worth. Their internal image rejects mistreatment without much ado. In other words, they don’t argue, engage, or plead to be treated better. They set clear, respectful boundaries. They are more invested in their own value than they are in the need for the relationship, the job, or validation.
I, on the other hand was in familiar territory when I was mistreated. I accepted poor treatment. Not intentionally, but by arguing, pleading, and trying to change the circumstances. I didn’t guard my boundaries or even understand what boundaries were. I was more invested in the relationship, or the job, or having my value validated, than I was in my own worth, because that is what I internalized as a child.
Most often, I understand concepts intellectually, long before I internalize them emotionally. It can be years before healthy concepts make the journey from my head to my heart.
For instance, I knew intellectually that I wasn’t responsible for the actions of others – but emotionally – deep down, I believed what I learned as a child. When met with blame – I felt responsible unless the blamer agreed that I wasn’t responsible. Until I built a new foundation of self-love, self-respect and self-care, I continued to respond from a wounded heart - rather than a self-loving heart.
I was very impatient with my healing. As soon as I understood concepts intellectually, I wanted my feelings to align and be done with it. I was disappointed in myself whenever I responded the same old way, because intellectually I knew better. I had to be gentle with myself, and self-compassionate. Healing takes time.
With patience, and a great deal of healing, my heart did catch up – I started responding to familiar hurts in a new way. I developed the quiet resolve to reject that which was harmful to me and to build a foundation of self-love, self-respect and to safeguard my own well-being.