I remember reading ‘Family Secrets’ by John Bradshaw and in this book he said, “it was and is your parents’ actually lives that educated you: not what they said, but what they did”. I took this to mean that what my parents did was far more important than what came out of their mouth.
This was something that I had saved on my phone after I started reading the book in 2014, and, after thinking about the impact that my parents had had on what my relationships were like as an adult, I started to think about this quote again. However, I didn’t just think about how what they said to me wasn’t as important as how they treated me, though.
What also occurred to me was that how they treated each other was just as important as how they treated me. The idea that I formed of myself was partly defined by how my mother treated my father.
Also, how my parents treated each other played a big part in my idea of what both men and women were like. Their relationship was incredibly dysfunctional, so they didn’t serve as good role models in this regard.
Full of Conflict
I don’t know what the term is when it comes to the opposite of a soul mate relationship, but this term would have fitted them perfectly. There was no harmony, respect, love or connection; there was just fighting, arguments and drama.
My father was generally very passive and did what he could to try to please my mother, while my mother was generally controlling, cold, and emotionally unstable. After putting up with her control for a number of weeks, my father would often lose it, and then the same pattern would play out again soon after.
Needless to say, they were both totally oblivious to the effect that their behaviour was having on my sister and I. Through being around these two people - day in day out, year after year – I ended up coming to believe that men were weak and had no value, and women were cold and controlling.
And as I was a man and had identified with my father, it meant that I was weak and had no value. This view was compounded by the way in which my mother treated me – I was generally treated in the same way as my father was.
The Power of Self-Awareness
It was then not much of a surprise that I would go on to have a poor relationship with women and myself. A big part of me had the need to avoid women and it was common for me criticise myself and to feel absolutely worthless.
Thankfully, I ended up getting into self-development and looking into why I was experiencing life in this way. This then gave me the chance to do something about what I had picked up and to gradually redefine myself.
So, reading this may have made you think about the impact that your parents had on how you came to see men and women, along with the idea that you have of yourself. No matter what happened during this time, you now have the opportunity to transform your life.
In a lot of cases, the people who brought us up didn’t have a clue what they were doing, and were simply wounded children in adults bodies. For whatever reason, they ended abusing their children in a way that was similar to the abuse that they experienced.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, 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.