“Being a low-maintenance child or partner (a nice word for self-neglect) is idealized as a valuable attribute.” – Charlotte Z. Cavatica
“It is common for people to say we all have a void that only God can fill. That is probably true but the emptiness I lived with and inside of was greater than any natural, inborn need for God. It was the void that nurturing parents are assigned to fill as they love, protect, and encourage their child. By this they teach their son or daughter who they are, and of their importance, and place in the world. I didn’t have that and though I managed to survive, I had no fully developed identity of my own.” -- Pam WitzemannThrough most of my life, I sought to hide, fix or "unbe" myself. Coming from an Southern Italian immigrant background, my role as a child and youth called me to adopt a highly charged, extroverted cover -- at least in theory. I mattered to others only to the extent that I reflected the resilience and tough-mindedness of a typical high school jock. So, somehow I ended up becoming a burden bearer instead -- obsessed with fixing other people’s problems.
Since I couldn’t rely upon my caregivers nor my immediate environment to meet my needs, I became as low-maintenance as possible, someone who focused his energy upon rescuing others. I derived great satisfaction from this learned behavior. I not only remember having an exaggerated fear of letting others down early in life, but felt acutely responsible for others’ feelings of disappointment or anger. This set me up to having huge boundary issues or a lack of them.
The idea of introspection is meant to release empathetic persons from the prison house of the past. However, I read this week that if our rumination leads to blaming(either ourselves or others), then we will remain stuck in the funk of our emotions. Doc Childr and Deborah Rozman state in their book, “Overcoming Emotional Chaos” the following key concept that I really appreciate and am seeking to implement:
“One of the most important things to release is faultfinding or blame toward yourself or another. Blame keeps spirit in retreat. To bring in more of your spirit, you need to take full responsibility for yourself and realize that you have the power to release judgment, resentment, or hostility. You do it for your own health and well-being if not for any other reason.”
Learning to keep blame in check is a hard lesson for me to retain as I did the blaming so automatically in the name of honesty and/or authenticity. Since I disliked folks who projected a pristine, I’ve-got-it-all-together persona, I didn’t want to fall into this phony category. So, I learned there are two extremes that need to be avoided: “Nicety” as well as blame.