The biggest danger, that of losing oneself, can pass off in the world as quietly as if it were nothing; every other loss, an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. is bound to be noticed. Soren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death
Have you ever noticed yourself or someone changing over time but not for the better. An example might be of someone having too much to do while not being able for it. Perhaps there has been a loss in the family and the person struggles on and on ‘keeping the show on the road’. No –one in their circle seems to notice not even the person themselves although they may have an inkling and brush it aside like they do their needs and feelings. It could be said they do not value themselves. They take on other people’s responsibilities. This often happens to mothers as caring is their main role in the early years of each child’s life. Years later they still pick up the socks, wash the clothes arrange their life so that they are available to their little child now a twenty something year old, who may never have had to shop for their own food, wash, dry, iron or put away their clothes. The family forget that this is a person who has set herself aside to perform a role for a time. The role changes as time goes on. As the child gets older mother needs to balance caring in favour of her ‘self.’ When that doesn’t happen the self can disappear. Not as in a car accident when someone changes overnight and maybe locked in their bodies but a gradual erosion takes place.
You might ask how does this happen? You might say it would not happen to me.
While growing up parents or circumstances for whatever reason may not have been able to meet all their children’s’ needs. The severity to which this takes place and the enduring length of time it happens over affects the emotional health and well being of the children. The children put childhood aside become hypervigilant always scanning their surroundings to pick up any signals of a threat approaching. They put aside their needs and feelings as no-one who might calm them, reassure them when they are scared is present. Yes parents may be there but being overwhelmed themselves with their own struggles they cannot give the child the support it needs at times of distress. Sometimes it is not safe for the child to say what s/he feels and needs as they get punished for that too. They quickly learn to forget about feelings, it is dangerous to feel and so develop a way to control others always in an effort to keep safe and get love. This is how they keep safe in their world.
The child becomes an adult bringing all those feelings of being responsible for others happiness with them. – I must not say no to anyone; they will not like me if I do. I must not ask for what I want as I don’t want to be a burden on others. If I do this / that I can make you happy, I am in control. It is all that the adult knows about how relationships are. Behaving this way does not make for good relationships. Imagine what it is like to be the one who has to set aside their needs all the time and not be aware of it or if they are aware how do they conceal it.
Good relationships are good for our health. We need a healthy diet, enough exercise to keep our body moving and adequate sleep / rest. We need friends that support us emotionally too. It is most important to learn self-care skills and come to realise it is not selfish to do so.
Self Care is becoming aware of your physical, emotional, spiritual and relationship needs and then taking FULL RESPONSIBILITY for getting your needs met.
Unfortunately it is not that easy as most children when adult make relationships that mirror their early ones with family and so maybe endanger themselves as they work towards regaining a sense of self. Partners sometimes find this challenging.
It is important to get help with this – Psychotherapist Roscommon