I recently worked with a client who is desperate to find a primary relationship, but has settled instead for a collection of broken, damaged secondary relationships. This man, “Dave”, always has people living in his house sucking his energy. A very successful businessman, he is a nightmare in the relationship arena, and surrounds himself with people who need to lean on him. See him as being the alpha of the tribe. On the surface, it looks dynamic, but underneath, it is appalling.
Digging into his past, there is so much dysfunction in his early childhood development it startled me, and I’m not easy to startle any more. In working through the steps of the ANCIENT CHILD with him, he found it impossible to imagine a world in which he was not surrounded by emotional cripples. He can’t be alone. Pointing out that the healthy woman he wants to attract into his life would not be interested in living such a life merely causes emotional dissonance.
A healthy relationship is composed of two healthy people. You can have a functional co-dependent relationship, but I’d hardly call it “healthy.” He craves the kind of relationship I have, without being willing to deal with the fact that Tananarive would never consider his lifestyle. Not for a moment. And cannot absorb the implications of that.
- He has not accepted that his parents may have meant well, but were terrible at their job. Terrible. Abusive
- That abuse damaged his core sense of self. That means that at the base, he believes he is an ugly thing. He cannot live in the silence, has to have a noisy, distractive emotional environment. Otherwise he might have to face himself. The primary connection to his own heart is found in the silence.
- The secondary connection to his “Child” self grows out of the primary connection. Disrupt this (or the emotional balance that this represents) and you create a horrible situation where you try to work, and give, and struggle and shine enough to be “worthy” of love. This creates the illusion of success–tons of external achievement, and a hollow internal world you fill with noise and surface relationships.
No matter how much you achieve, what you do, how loud the crowds cheer, you cannot be content. If you can’t be alone, you can’t really be with another person, because you’ll constantly be afraid they will leave. If you don’t love yourself, you are controlled by the people who surround you–they can threaten to withdraw their affection if you don’t perform to their standard.
Children do this all the time. “I hate you!” works well with parents who need to be buddies to their kids. When adults use the same dynamics, it is painful to watch.
Give yourself the love you need, the silence you need, the peace and support you need. If you want to find someone to watch your back, first learn to put your back against the wall.