Something that was strongly frowned upon was crying, growing up. Just the mere sight of my blotchy, tear-streaked face, would send my father into rage. My mother was definitely of the ‘suck it up, your fine’ mentality, whenever it came to being overly emotional about anything. As a result, as an adult, I have struggled with allowing myself to express my emotions in the moment. I have struggled with what I like to call ‘emotional constipation.’
Upon reflection I have been able to discern how childhood issues have effected me as an adult, and my ability to function in relationships with the opposite sex. It’s constant self-work, being comfortable crying or expressing sadness or anger.
I think that when people think about those that have childhood hangups, they assume that it has to be something very dramatic. However, all of us have been impacted by our parents in a variety of ways. If you come from a family where there was a lot of yelling/verbal arguments, perhaps witnessing a heated argument or getting into a heated argument is a trigger for you. Or if you come from a family where there wasn’t a lot of talking, maybe you find it difficult expressing yourself. Whatever it is, it’s there, and ignoring it doesn’t work. Eventually it creeps into your adult life. TRUST me. Everyone, and I do mean, EVERYONE, has ‘stuff’ from childhood. It just looks different and manifests itself in different ways, depending on the person.
The question is, how do you go about addressing it? When it’s brought to your attention, how do you go about remedying this part of yourself?
Is it better for you to continue through life emotionally broken and entertaining toxic relationships because you don’t wanna deal with the reality that is you? Or do you wanna fix the problems and work on healing, leaving room to foster a healthy relationship? I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m not trying to go into my 30s dealing with the same issues. I know way too many broken children trapped in adult bodies TRYING to find love. You have to fix yourself first. Or at least, entertain the idea that there is self work that needs to be done.
I posed a question on this topic to a friend of mine, asking what lingering childhood issues had trickled into adulthood for her. She attributed her past difficulties fostering healthy romantic relationships, to issues surrounding her upbringing:
“I did not have healthy romantic relationships present around me growing up – so I never had an example, and created a prototype in my mind. I defined what I thought I deserved and the way that I should function in my relationships on my own. Unlike my friends, I did not find comfort in people who had traits that mirrored those of my parents. I grew up in a household with domestic violence, so I vowed to be nonviolent and find a partner that could create that space with me. My mother became consumed with trying to find a man, I did the opposite, I focused on school work and prided myself on being independent. My mother was really emotional and sensitive – I was the opposite, I am logical and chose my relationships based on whether or not we fit – I never tried to make relationships or friendships that did not fit work. So all the things my mother and father were not – made me everything I am.”
I would just like to add, if you are in a relationship, these childhood issues can come up in different ways. If you are fortunate to have a supportive and open partner, you can help each other work through these struggles. Self-work can work in a partnership as well.
Navigating your 20s is very difficult for a lot of reasons. Student loans, job market, trying to find your place in the world. It’s difficult but can be the most transformative years of your life. It’s the perfect decade to work through these lingering issues and problems in order to move to a more positive, fulfilling space. Many of my fellow singles don’t realize that self-work is part of the love journey. Before you get into a relationship, examine your baggage. If you want the best for yourself, for your partnership, for your life, self-reflection is a critical step. It matters in so many ways, and the sooner you get to that pivotal moment, the better.
Stop denying your truth. It may be hard to face, but moving past your childhood hangups is extremely freeing, and will ultimately lead to fostering healthier and more fulfilling romantic relationships.