What could stand out, if a man was to take a step back and reflect on his life, is that he has felt responsible for his mother for as long as he can remember. He could see that this doesn’t just relate to her physical wellbeing but also relates to her happiness.
Therefore, he will feel the need to make sure that she is in a good place physically and mentally and emotionally. By being this way, a lot of his energy is going to be directed towards her.
If he is not doing things for her, he is likely to spend a lot of time thinking about what he could or should be doing for her. Also, he could spend a fair amount of time worrying about if she is ok.
With so much of his time and energy being directed towards his mothers, it is not going to be a surprise if his own life ends up being neglected. His life is either going to be nowhere near what it could be or it could be a complete shambles.
Spread Too Thinly
Yet, if his priority is to make sure that his mother is ok and to please her, this is to be expected. He is likely to be a heavily watered-down version of himself and this will mean that he is not going to be at his best.
Ultimately, he can be there for his mother or he can be there for himself; he can’t do both. This is not to say that being there for himself means completely turning his back on this mother.
A Massive Difference
Both he and his mother are adults, and to be more precise, they are individuals, thus, he is not responsible for her physical or mental and emotional wellbeing. Moreover, he is her son, not her mother or father.
So, just as he is responsible for his own physical, mental and emotional health, so is his mother. He can look out for her and do certain things, but there is only so much that he can do.
One Step Too Far
Due to the fact that he is so focused on her needs, he might rarely realise that he is crossing the line. This will prevent him from realising that although he is her son, he is acting more like her parent.
He then has his own life to live but he acts more like an extension of his mother. Her needs are the priority and his needs are of secondary concern, and, as a result of this, his life ends up being greatly diminished, if not totally destroyed.
Something Isn’t Right
Behaving in this way is likely to be what feels comfortable and seen as the right thing to do. This is why he will behave in this way; if it didn’t feel right, there would be no reason for him to do so.
However, as behaving in this way is not serving him it shouldn’t be what feels comfortable or be seen as the right thing to do. Along with this, his behaviour is unlikely to be serving his mother as it will probably prevent her from taking responsibility for her own life or getting the right support that she needs, that’s if she is unable to cope by herself.
Going Back, Way Back
When it comes to why he feels responsible for his mother and neglects his own life, it is likely to be due to what took place during his early years. At this stage of his life, he may have been seen as an extension of his mother and as someone who was there to fulfil her needs.
In all likelihood, she would have had two types of needs: adult and unmet childhood needs. It is likely that this took place unconsciously, with her not even being aware of what was taking place and the damage that was being done.
His mother might not have been close to his father or his father might not have been around, and this would have played a part in why she had unmet adult needs. As for her unmet childhood needs, there is the chance that one of her caregivers also used her in the same way, thereby causing her to be in an undeveloped state, to close her heart and to be unable to truly commit to another adult.
If his father had been emotionally available, he would have played a part in what allowed him to start the individuation process and to slowly leave his ‘mothers world’. This would have allowed him to go from an enmeshed, symbiotic state and to gradually develop a strong sense of himself.
Fed To the Wolves
Having a mother who unconsciously and perhaps, at times, consciously, saw him as her possession and a father who couldn’t be there for him would have meant that he was abandoned. Even when he wasn’t physically abandoned, there wouldn’t have been anyone there to look after and protect him, to attune to his needs – he was totally defenceless.
How he was treated day in, day out would have overwhelmed him and stopped him from being able to go through each developmental stage and to emotionally grow up. He would have come to believe that his needs were bad and his survival would have stayed attached to his mother.
The trouble is that at this stage of his life he would have been egocentric, which would have caused him to take everything personally. This, in addition to being mentally undeveloped, would have stopped him from being able to question what was going on and to see that his parent/s had issues and that there was nothing inherently wrong with him or his needs.
Now, as an adult, the experiences he had and the meaning that he made all those years ago will be defining the thoughts and feelings that he has and his behaviour. For his life to change, what is taking place at a deeper level will need to change.
If a man can relate to this and he is ready to change his life, he may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can be provided with the assistance of a therapist or healer.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.