Good morning, everyone. Well, I am feeling better and am back to work. Actually, I don't start until 11 am so I have a few minutes here to type away before I go run my group. Thanks all for your concern. I was feeling pretty miserable yesterday, I must say, the rest did me a world of good. It also made me realize that I do need time for me; I've been a caretaker for far too long.
"Just remember, you don't have to be what they want you to be".--Muhammad Ali
The above quote just about says it all, doesn't it? So many of us spend our lives trying to fit into someone else's model of what they want from us. We don't appreciate the 'real' us, not just the job that we do. We don't recognize and cherish that unique, loving, person that resides within. Many of us grew up in dysfunctional families and took on roles that have been with us since childhood. Children who grow up in such families tend to take on roles...survival roles. The result is, we usually have a twisted, distorted view of who we are. For those who grew up with siblings, you can see the roles that you and your siblings took on to survive. I was an only child, so at times in my life, I was each of these roles. I was cooking meals for the family a 9, being left alone to fend for myself all summer long at 10, a good student in school when I wasn't acting like the class clown. By adolescence I had become very shy and socially isolated...loving my books and television more than I care about having friends.
The Responsible Child/Family Hero is the child that who takes over the parent role at a very young age. You are the good child, the child the parent's look to to prove that they are doing a good job. You are used to taking care of everything. As an adult, you can be very controlling and judgmental. Although you are successful on the outside, inside you are cut off from your emotional self. You are compulsive and driven because deep inside you feel inadequate and insecure.
The Scapegoat/Acting Out Child is the child that the family feels ashamed of. This child acts out the tension and anger that the family ignores. In other words, they provide a distraction from the real family issues. This is the child who gets into trouble at school because he/she feels it is the only way they can get attention. They have a lot of self-hatred and can be very self-destructive. The truth is, these are the sensitive, caring ones, and this is why they grow up feeling such tremendous hurt.
The Family Mascot/Caretaker takes on the emotional well-being of the family. This is the child that becomes the family clown who diverts the family's attention from the pain and anger. As an adult, they are valued for their kindness, generosity, and ability to listen to others. Their whole self-definition is centered on others so they don't know how to get their own needs met. As a result, they often get involved in abusive relationships in an attempt to 'save' the other person. They usually go into the so-called 'helping professions' such as nursing, therapists, counseling, etc.
The Lost Child is the child who escapes by becoming 'invisible'. They daydream, read a lot of books, watch a lot of television...basically anything that helps them deal with reality by withdrawing from it. As adults, they are terrified of intimacy and often find themselves unable to 'feel'. They are very withdrawn and shy and can become socially isolated because that is the only way they they know how to feel safe from being hurt.
What happens is, that with this distorted view of ourselves, we are never able to see ourselves clearly. The result is that when we look into the mirror, we fail to see the miracle of us. Many of the messages we have received throughout our lives has been negative, and, as a result, we tend to focus on our flaws, our disappointments, our inadequacies instead of loving ourselves. So, how do we do this?
Learn how to identify and express emotions.
Allow yourself to feel angry about happened to you.
Practice taking good care of yourself.
Begin to change your relationships with your family...if you can. (If not, do as I did. Both of my parents are deceased so I wrote them both a letter expressing my feelings and offering forgiveness).
You know, I did it again. I went in a totally different direction today than what I planned on. I had planned on talking about taking care of self, but I guess, our childhood family roles have large part to play in what we are today and what we feel about ourselves. I have found it rather striking that many beautiful souls had awful parents and childhoods. And now, before I begin rambling on something else I hadn't planned on getting into. Hope I didn't bore you all with some of this counseling stuff. I love my co-dependence group and tend to get carried away sometimes.
Not asking anyone to share their personal issues, but, to yourself, can you identify with any of these roles?