…And how I am working on them
In life we have a habit gravitating towards the familiar relationships. Some are conscious and some are unconscious.
Conscious – is he attractive? Is he romantic? Is he adventurous and religious? Is he financially stable? Is he reliable?
What we don’t realise though is how the unconscious needs are usually things that we didn’t receive as children: a sense of belonging, a sense of fulfilment, safety and security or emotional attachment.
So as adults we are drawn towards what feels comfortable and familiar. Or repeating a familiar cycle and nurturing a familiar relationship i.e. an adventurous relationship with your mother or father who is emotionally unavailable.
And we’re black, right?… So a lot of the unmet needs especially emotional availability were prevalent in our generation of parents that were playing economic catchup.
So, if you grew up in a home where healthy emotional boundaries were not set or implemented, you will feel stifled, neglected or feel a sense of abandonment in your relationships at the first sign of boundaries being set or the need to connect.
So I want to bring you into a little corner of my young world. 15 year old Olwethu.
At the age of 15 years old I started working. And when I think about it now, I didn’t have the vocabulary for it then, but this was my way of carving my own path of financial security and independence. My mom and dad’s relationship was never okay when money was an issue. The arguments I’d hear most… the thing that would tear my parents apart was not my father’s infidelity (and trust me, there’s was much about it to fight about), it would be the finances and how money wasn’t channeled correctly or a lack thereof.
Life seemed fun when we had money. There were no arguments or there’d be no angst. So, I think 15 year old me thought she was the solution (It would have to be addressed much later in my life). I vividly remember many instances where I’d get my pay-check and secretly give it all to my dad so he could have petrol in the car and buy things for the house or for my mom. This made things lighter in the house – it made us feel like a normal family. Like the families on TV. I got away with more too, like movie dates with friends could go on past midnight and my dad would pick me up – I was practically a little adult.
I realise the impact this had in how I related to people and the kind of relationships and friendships I had and how I sought and fulfilled my conscious needs, and also how my unconscious needs were a point of pain. I sought complete perfection from people that couldn’t offer it because… well… people are human and are simply not perfect.
So in my journey of healing and therapy, there are things I had to address and bury to never try dig up again:
- The need to have needs that my father should have fulfilled, fulfilled
- The need for validation that the relationship that was financially transactional between a father and daughter was toxic, especially for a 15 year old.
- That adventure, fun and love starts with financial means (yes money is important but it does not close all the loops).
- That my parents didn’t love me.
These patterns did not mean my parents loved me any less. In fact I know they love me oh so dearly. My parents did their best with what they had. Having children and growing up, I have realised that they actually really did. It is just that their own unconscious patterns were passed on over to them by their own parents. This is why we all need therapy. The generational traumas are real.
We all have unmet needs we pass onto someone else. We all have glimmers of wanting to make someone else responsible of our unmet needs.
But how can we be intentional in not making our children bear this brunt?
- We need to recognise that we are all broken and we are doing the best we can with what we have.
- Change your mindset from “I’m so hard to love” to how abundant you are and how love flows through you. You are love. Children can pick up on this and at their ages of development, it is important for children to feel emotionally reassured by how you project love.
- In order to feel fulfilled and to even think of fulfilling the needs of our children, we need to feel like we have the power to exist freely and direct our own lives. We also need to instil this autonomy into our children. If this need is not fulfilled, it could be a sign that some aspects of your life may need more control or clearer boundaries.
- In order to maintain my self-esteem, I know that I have a strong need for accomplishing things of value.
I make a list of my achievements to date – my awards, my qualifications, my work achievements and accomplishments, getting healthy, or the fact that I survived a whole pandemic and kept my family alive.
What are the skills and strengths that got you through that period of your life? Make a list of them and remind yourself about these things regularly.
Now list what more you would want to achieve and set some new goals for yourself. I aim to do 2 courses a year in the tech and digital space in order to up-skill myself. This really ups my self-esteem.
- In order to know what your needs are and where your breaking points could be, you need to step outside the noise, block out some time in a day and digest what the world around you is feeling like.
A nice long bath or a walk or even some time out to meditate works to nice check in with yourself and how you are feeling – our mental and emotional health need us to take space and time out to register and learn from what we are going through. Cruising through the discomfort never ends well.
I have realised that in identifying what needs balance at every stage of my life, I gained my power and also gave power to my children in being able to model a journey of boundaries and meeting needs from within. It’s so fulfilling when my some asks for time to nap or think when they are dealing with trying to process a struggle. The anxiety of this pandemic has also been pretty heavy and leaving us feeling helpless and experiencing many imbalances in our jobs, relationships and environments. It is important to check in with ourselves and reflect so we lessen the burden for our children to have to reparent themselves past their own and our traumas.
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