I would like to share with you what I discovered that contributed to why I felt depressed in relationships.
I would also like to share with you how I began to take back my power in relationships.
Starting From the Beginning
In families where there is/are unresolved emotional/spiritual pain, sadness or secrets, shame and blame can be used to “shut down” family members. In dysfunctional family systems shame and blame are used to control and manipulate.
Three rules are often used to further control and manipulate each family member.
These rules are, Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust and Don’t Feel. Without being able to talk, trust and feel, shame and blame are used to reinforce. Reinforce the need to avoid uncomfortable and unwanted feelings. Shame and blame can also be used to control and manipulate.
Control and manipulate through a fear of emotional and physical abandonment.
In such family dynamics, family members are given or assume “roles”. These roles serve to contain the pain of uncomfortable and unwanted feelings. Such roles as the hero, mascot, lost child or scapegoat.
Instead of them becoming a separate person, each family member maintains their role. The role becomes the individual’s identity.
To maintain each of these roles the individual has to discard and disown parts of themselves. Parts of themselves so that uncomfortable and unwanted feelings do not have to be looked at, addressed and felt.
When such a dynamic occurs in a family unit the individual’s physical, emotional and spiritual development suffers harm. Instead of becoming and being an individual, enmeshment occurs and personal accountability diminishes.
Disowning and Discarding
Early in the child’s life, disowning or discarding occurs each time a trait, quality or characteristic displeases the parent or caregiver. Unconsciously the child learns through the parent’s eyes and gestures what pleases/displeases them. The child learns what they need to discard and deny to avoid being shamed, blamed and abandoned.
Unconsciously, the child becomes compliant to avoid the risk of negative consequences.
In the process the child begins to associate any quality, characteristic or behavior that does not please the parent as bad.
When the parent withholds affection or attention from the child, the child becomes conditioned to disown and discard parts of themselves. Disown and discard pars to avoid the threat of physical and/or emotional abandonment.
The child unknowingly begins to associate certain behaviors with specific responses from the parents or caregivers.
In turn the child blames and shames themselves for having those traits or behaviors. In the process of internailizing blame and shame, they “shut down” emotionally and spiritually.
As the child continues to develop they learn that repressing what does not please the parent is a way to avoid making Mommy or Daddy angry.
Repression – the unconscious exclusion of painful impulses, desires, or fears from the conscious mind}. Over time the child learns that in order to please his or her parents they must discard any trait, characteristic or quality that displeases the parent.
Depending upon the level or dysfunction in the family system, the child may begin to use active suppression to protect themselves from feelings of annihilation.
Suppression –the conscious exclusion of unacceptable desires, thoughts, or memories from the mind. As repression turns into suppression, denial becomes the operative mechanism to discard what is perceived as being unacceptable to the “love object” or parent.
Because the child learns to associate negative outcomes with specific qualities, characteristics, and traits, they may continue to berate themselves for having “those” unacceptable qualities, characteristics and traits.
While the child continues to develop – from an adolescent to a teenager — they may be unable to differentiate between what makes them valuable, special and unique and what they had to discard.
As the individual gets older and begins to seek to form intimate relationships, an interesting phenomenon occurs. The traits, qualities or characteristics once discarded (as they were growing up) are now admired in the new relationship. Initially, these traits are valued and appreciated in the beloved and then something horrible seems to occur.
The shame once assigned to those discarded parts of ourselves (once admired qualities) is now transferred onto the beloved.
Insidiously, the beloved is now expected to carry that shame for having those once admired traits. Instead of these traits being encouraged and nurtured, they are now viewed as a threat. If the two people stay together in the relationship, those qualities, traits, and characteristics will again have to be discarded.
Shame has thus again won in the squelching of those qualities. If this goes unchecked, creativity is often lost and thrown by the wayside of life itself.
Good News — A Way Out
In my experience, I have found that the solution to ending the cycle of displaced sadness resides in a place of honesty. As I look at the parts of myself that I have had to discard to maintain the (any) relationship I can make choices. I can discover parts of myself that I have discarded. I can make peace with myself.
I can also become aware when someone wants me to carry their displaced/unresolved sadness (shame). With this awareness, I can make changes.
Make changes by realizing that I can not “fix” anyone by carrying their displaced sadness/unresolved (shame). With this awareness I also need to evaluate if being in the relationship is good for me. If the individual in the relationship continues shaming and blaming me, I may want to end the relationship.
On the other hand, if each member in the relationship owns their displaced sadness, the relationship can begin to heal. Instead of continuing to be shamed for the once admired characteristics and traits, the individual can begin to celebrate. Begin to celebrate those characteristics and traits.
As the individual begins to own the discarded parts of themselves, they experience personal empowerment. When the individual owns their power, their relationships become healthier.
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