Series Three: Blog Ninety-Six
Mothers are a powerful influence in the emotional development of every child. The emotional stress and strain that a mother engages while the child is in utero impacts emotional development significantly. Environmentally, children absorb the emotional experiences of their parents. A child depends upon mother for self-validation, mirroring acceptance and value, predictability, security, understanding, physical, emotional safety and to know that they matter. There is a myriad of other needs that a mother is responsible to fulfill for a child. Obviously, motherhood requires immense partner, familial and social support in order to provide these childhood needs.
When childhood necessities go unmet, metaphorically, the lack of developmental provisions resemble a chunk of Swiss cheese with the holes representing scrambled unmet needs. As a child physically develops into adulthood, they attempt to reach outside themselves to meet those needs through a cocktail of experience including achievement in career, performance in relationship, excessive pleasing behaviors, addiction, etc. However, you cannot fulfill a developmental need within by reaching outside through life experience. You become like a little kid who can’t get enough sugar. There is created a hole in your soul that can never be filled from the outside in.
Frequently, people subconsciously look to a romantic relationship to fill the emptiness created by unmet childhood developmental needs. They depend upon the romantic partner to fulfill those unmet needs. The rationalization is that my one half + your one half equals a whole. However, 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/4! You have less, not more. This is because the attempt to meet core developmental emotional needs through another is impossible. Another person cannot fulfill those core needs no matter how hard they try. Those needs can only be addressed within you.
In relationship, when two people recognize this and work toward developing healthy self-parenting skills, they learn to enhance each other’s sense of wholeness. Through healthy individuation one learns to look within to recognize and address core developmental needs and then engage relational fulfillment by sharing emotional and life experience.
The attempt to look to someone else to fulfill core developmental emotional needs is a common dilemma for addicts in recovery. It is subtle and often is pursued subconsciously.
In the course of conversation with a partner, a misunderstanding occurs. For the addict, it is important for the partner to understand motive and intent as well in the words they used to express themselves. However, the partner has their own lens and interpretation of what they heard and experienced.
When an addict feels misunderstood and judged, subconsciously the partner becomes the parent or mother that could never be pleased. Without awareness the wise mind adult empowers the child within to navigate the adult misunderstanding. The child within is not capable of working through adult misunderstanding. So the addict gets stuck trying to address an adult relational issue from the viewpoint of a child. It’s no wonder it never works! It is prevalent that the empowered child from one partner triggers the engagement of the child within the other. So, you have two little kids trying to address an adult problem, looking to the other to be the mother to care for their emotional needs. Is it a surprise that the results are abysmal? It is all too common for addict relationships to get stuck right here!
In the end, the answer to the question of who’s your mother, comes back to you. You are! You will need to fire your biological mother as your emotional mom and not look to your relational partner to give you what you did not get from mom. You must hire yourself to be your own emotional mom. It’s the only way enriched emotional intimacy will be realized in your life.
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