Your feedback on the weekly messages is so appreciated. Not only does it let me know that you find them helpful, it lets me know what interests you. One of the most frequent comments I receive is that you appreciate the messages that come from counseling sessions; that they timely and provide valuable answers. This week I share another one; it deals with the connection between self-love, self-care, a love relationship gone wrong, the inner child, along with jealous physical child. Sound intriguing? Read on. *smile*
Georgia, a lovely lady in her mid-40s, called because, as she put it, she felt really stuck. There were a number of issues that she could not seem to resolve no matter how she tried. Yet, the most pressing was the issue with her 26 year-old daughter, Melody (not her real name). Melody, an only child, was in Georgia’s words, chronically needy and jealous. She had no intentions of sharing her mom with a man. Try as though she might, Georgia was unable to stop Melody’s jealous behavior, and said she felt almost hopeless of ever finding someone to share her live with.
After many years as a single mom, Georgia’s hope was restored when she met Ernie. Ernie, a recent widower, seemed the perfect guy. They fell in love and after only a month of dating had decided to get married. Of course, Melody didn’t agree and drove a wedge between them. Realizing that trying to stay would only cause more tension, Ernie ended the relationship and walked away. Frustrated and heartbroken that her daughter had come between her and another chance at happiness, Georgia was finally ready to make whatever changes were needed.
Melody and the Mirror
As I explained to Georgia, our physical children are perfect mirrors for us on many levels. In this case, Georgia’s daughter is showing her how Georgia’s inner child feels; about the condition of their relationship. When viewed from that perspective it was clear that Georgia’s inner child felt she wasn’t getting the love and attention she needed. Furthermore, because there was such a lack, she didn’t want to share what love she did get with someone else (Georgia’s boyfriend).
As I explained, this is fairly common with single parents and their kids. The reason is that the parent has to play the role of two parents. This means having the energy to give that two parents would have given. It can only work if the parent does enough self-care. Self-care is self-love in action. It means taking time for you. It also means setting limits with others, saying no when you need to, and speaking up to get your needs met. Using the metaphor of a love bucket, self-care is how you fill that bucket. As you know, you can only give from your bucket so many times before you have to return to the well.
This is hard enough for a man and even harder for a woman. Why? Women are taught to be nurtures but only to others. Nurturing the self, filling your own love bucket, is being selfish and as society has taught us, that is not okay.
Back to Georgia and Melody, Georgia had been taught to fill the buckets of her alcoholic parents in order to get what little love she could from them. She was so busy filling their buckets (and alcoholic parents have buckets with holes that demand constant replenishing) that she couldn’t take time to fill her own. She continued in this way as an adult. Always looking outside herself for love, she pursued one man after another only to have them walk away. She blamed her daughter but the reality is that they innately sensed she needed more than she could give.
The Man and the Mirror
Another reason the relationships didn’t work is because she kept drawing a man who perfectly mirrored her own neediness. Unable to fill her own bucket, so to speak, she was looking for a man to do it for her. Since the soul is always looking to grow, it will not draw someone who is not a perfect mirror. This means that Georgia kept drawing men who also could not fill their own love bucket. Perfect example was Ernie. He had just lost his wife and was looking for someone to fill that empty place inside him. Now that Georgia understood the mirror concept, she clearly saw why Ernie had walked away. It wasn’t because of Melody; she was just voicing what Georgia’s and Ernie’s inner children were saying. There isn’t enough energy in anyone’s bucket to make the relationship work.
The solution was for Georgia to focus on self-care and begin filling her own bucket. As she does, her daughter will learn to do so as well. Georgia will know that she had reached an adequate level when she no longer needs a man, but draws one who doesn’t need a woman. And when this happens, Melody will support the relationship.
In closing, if you have a needy child who comes between you and your partner, instead of blaming your child, look inside and see if your level of self-care needs a boost.