While both her son and his mother will be adults, he can have the need to essentially save his mother. It then won’t matter if he is not a doctor or a therapist, for instance, as he will do what he can to resolve all her issues.
Now, this could mean that his mother is deeply unwell and has all kinds of challenges, or it could mean that, like everyone else on this planet, she has challenges. Still, he will have taken it upon himself to change her life.
This could be something that he is aware of; then again, this could be something that doesn’t even cross his mind. As a result of this, he won’t be aware of the fact that he is trying to rescue his mother.
What this is likely to show is that behaving in this way is so normal that it doesn’t even stand out. Thus, it is likely to be what feels comfortable and seen as the “right” way for him to behave.
He will be an individual, with his own needs and feelings, but, it will be as though his sole purpose is to take care of his mother's needs. Consequently, a lot of his time and energy will be spent on her.
Most of his life force is then not going to be used to build up his own life and to be there for his partner, that’s if he has one; it will be used to build up his mother and to, hopefully, transform her life. If he doesn’t have much of a life, it is not going to be much of a surprise.
When he is not going things for his mother and trying to make sure that she is ok, he could feel very low and even depressed. But, instead of tuning into how he feels and looking into why he feels this way, he could just find a way to cover up how he feels.
His feelings will be there to shed light on the fact that he is neglecting himself and therefore, his feelings are not “negative”. Also, if another person was to point out that he is neglecting himself, he could become defensive and deny what they say.
By being completely focused on his mother’s wellbeing, she is going to exert a lot of control over his inner world. He could spend a fair amount of time feeling anxious and fearful, due to him being totally plugged into what is going on for her.
If he is not in her company, he could often be on the phone to her or messaging her. He may find that he can only relax and feel at ease when his mother is doing well and this might not be very often.
In general, and behind the facade that he presents to the world, he could typically feel exhausted. And, sooner or later, he could end up having a breakdown and no longer be able to behave in the same way.
If this was to happen, he could end up being overwhelmed with guilt and shame and experience fear and anxiety. This will have taken place because he has been neglecting himself, but, he will have a strong need to go back to how things were.
A Dysfunctional Dynamic
Someone doesn’t need to be a psychologist to see that he is behaving in a way that is not serving him and to realise that he is not responsible for his mother. He needs to be responsible for himself and his mother needs to be responsible for herself.
As things stand, he is wasting his own precious life and life force and she is acting more like a child than a fully grown adult. If she is unable to truly look after herself, then she will need to find the right support, not to expect her son to always be there for her.
The big question is: why would he have the need to save/rescue his mother? A man caring about his mother’s wellbeing is one thing, it is another thing altogether for him to be so focused on her that his own life is ignored.
The reason that behaving in this way is what feels comfortable is likely to be due to what took place very early on. His early years were most likely a stage of his life when he was conditioned to neglect himself and to focus exclusively on his mother’s needs.
Instead of his mother fulfilling his needs, she would have used him to fulfil some of her unmet adult and childhood needs and, if he didn’t do this, he may have been disapproved of, punished and/or abandoned. He would have come to believe that his needs and his self were bad and that the only way for him to survive was to be there for his mother.
He would have become very in tune with his mother's needs and lost touch with his own needs and feelings, his true self. Not receiving the nutrients that he needed to receive to emotionally develop and separate from her would have caused him to stay in an emotionally undeveloped state and to continue to remain in an emotionally enmeshed state.
A False Sense of Empowerment
His mother would have probably been very needy and not very resourceful, and he would have been brought up to be her surrogate spouse. She may have had one or a few personality disorders.
He would have been emotionally abandoned by her and perhaps by his father too, but playing this role would have probably caused him to feel special, important and powerful and to see himself as the “chosen” one. This would have played a part in what set him up to believe that he had the ability to rescue his mother and to make her happy.
Behind the facade that he may present to the world and his mother, in particular, of being strong and capable will probably be someone who feels powerless. But, as he wasn’t allowed to be a child and had to be a parent from a very young age, how else would he feel?
A big part of him - this can be seen as his child self - will still see his mother as being essential to his survival. His need to be there for her and to rescue her is then going to be driven by his fear of losing her and how this would cause his life to come to an end.
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 25 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.