Last week I shared about "Choosing Love".
This week, I want to share the other side of the story.
It proved to be a balm to many adult children who grew up feeling unseen, unheard, and misunderstood. If you missed it, you can read it here.
For the parents of adult children where the relationship is testing, my previous post would have cut really deep.
It may have triggered old wounds, made your blood boil... and conjured up a depth of pain.
This post is for the parents...I know you tried your best.
I know you gave your all.
You truly did love with ALL you had and more.
And.. there is a deep experience of feeling unacknowledged, unappreciated... ... and maybe even deeply betrayed.
It's a hurt and a pain that is confusing, deeply sad, and your heart aches.
I get it...So... where did it go wrong?
How was it that your love was not enough? (....and therein lies the heartache! Thinking that the breakdown had something to do with your Love not being enough).
It's the "disempowering" question that you're asking. That's not where you're going to find liberation.
This chasm between your child and you had nothing to do with whether Love was enough or not.
You gave. and gave. and gave.
It feels really personal. The rejection. The selfishness. "How could they do this - after all I've done?!"
I get it.
It really isn't a mystery on why relationships breakdown.
Including the relationship between a parent and a child.
As a parent, there are two places you will parent from Fear or Love.
MOST parents parent from Fear.
Parenting from Fear pushes your child away.
Parenting from Fear assumes "ownership" of your child. That "you own" them.
Parenting from Fear assumes "they owe you".
When parents parent from Fear, it's unconscious.
The breakdown of the relationship wasn't because you didn't do enough or your love wasn't enough.
It was because the pain you held within yourself tainted the way in which you Loved.
It was that you had no idea who your child is and you assumed you did.
You didn't see them. You saw them as you. You saw them through the lens of how you saw the world.
When this happens, the child never feels "seen". It is as though they never felt loved for who they are... and they had to be someone else to be loved.
....It's probably also your own story - from your own childhood.
In your world, no matter what happened, you hoped they knew how much you loved them.
Thich Nhat Hanh says; "Loving another, without knowing how to Love, wounds the one we Love."
No child wants to break-up with their parent, and no parent wants to break-up with their child.
When you parent from Fear, you are not enough for yourself.
You felt unworthy.
You felt not enough.
You felt there was something wrong with you.
You judge yourself.
...and inside of that unconscious pattern, you will have expectations on your child.
...and your child always falls short of these expectations.
And it wasn't just your child.
LIFE fell short of your expectations and everyone was to blame and be held responsible for your pain....and it was unconscious.
The perfectionism, rigidity, addiction to the drama and chaos or unconscious enmeshment that you own them - suffocated the connection.
This was how the relationship fell apart.
In your world, it was protecting them and wanting the best for them.
In their world, it is a constant barrage of criticism, emotional neglect, condemnation, blame, neglect and feeling never enough.
The shame and judgement got too much.
Your child didn't feel that you could love them for exactly who they are. They needed to be someone else.
I really do know, it was never your intention. I really do feel that you wanted to do better.
AND you really did the best you could with what you had and what you knew.
If you never knew how to be kind, compassionate, forgiving, present for yourself - you couldn't give that to your child.
And if you couldn't love who you were - you're always going to see something wrong or something to fix about another.
Children don't want to be fixed.
Children are seeking to be loved.
Parents who love from this place - were once children who never knew what it felt like to be loved.
...Because you too, grew up thinking that there's something wrong with you, and you needed to be fixed.
This is what we call generational trauma.
You parented how you were parented and assumed that is Love.
You learnt that Love is made up of:
The lack of compassion.
The successes (outside of you).
The validation and approval from others.
Some call it "Tough Love". Love is never tough. Fear is.
That's all you knew.
....and then you might tell me, it's complicated.
Love isn't complicated.
Love is really simple.
The breakdown in your relationship with your child isn't to do with Love.
It has everything to do with Fear.
What makes it complicated is you've never known how to meet your Fears.... and you were never Loved when you needed it most.
If you believe that Love is sacrifice - and you sacrificed everything, including your own happiness... you became a victim.
You may have stayed in an unhealthy and unhappy marriage, "because of them".
You may have put your dreams on hold, "because of them."
You sacrificed your happiness, "because of them."
...and because of this, you feel your child "owes" you - and it is unjust how this breakdown is playing out.
There was an "expectation" that your happiness was in their hands.
...If they really truly could make you happy, they would.
What happened was, they realised, this "wound" isn't theirs to own.
And nothing that they ever do would be enough. Because you're not enough for you.
So where to now? What now?...
It starts with accepting that your child never asked you to stay in a marriage or partnership where you were both suffering.
It starts with letting go of hiding behind being a parent on the reason why you're not pursuing your heart's desire.
It starts with letting go of an unconscious addiction to suffering and learning how to feel safe with happiness.
It starts with loving you for you.
It starts with really understanding that none of this is personal - even though it feels so personal.
It's time to return home, to you.
It's time to let your guard down. And soften your heart.
It's time now, to own your happiness.
To heal your model of Love.