Friday, May 18, 2007

Today, a new idea: that children create for themselves the parents they need to keep alive their Dream of the Womb.

This is the idea: ( comments welcomed.)

A child is filled with angry resentment and directs it to one or both parents: “You made me this way!!” The child finds one or both parents inaccessible, rejecting and cold. The child withdraws into a secret, private world where the pain of isolation and emotional neglect is made bearable. Only by complete withdrawal from the parents can the child survive emotionally.

Meanwhile, the parents, faced with their child’s total withdrawal, find their child inaccessible, rejecting and cold. The parents withdraw into their own world and only when they are completely separate from the child is the emotional pain made bearable.

So on both sides of this family divide each party feels the same: rejected, unwanted and unloved. The parents see the child’s coldness towards them and they withdraw, feeling hurt and unloved. The child sees the parents' withdrawal and so the child withdraws still further, feeling hurt and neglected.

The pain that lies between them never leaves, never heals. The child lives in pain and the parents die in pain. The parents take their pain to the grave. For the surviving child, the death of the parents is a relief from this constant, unnamed, family pain.

This is a terrible tragedy. It is a travesty of what families are for: where is unconditional love, forgiveness and reconciliation in this situation?

But wait! Here is the same mother trying to reach her child, who will not meet her eyes, but is withdrawn and evidently in pain.

The child is saying: “What is there for me in this family?’
The mother is saying: "There is unconditional love forever, whatever you do and wherever you go.”

Here surely is healing! Here is the answer! Let us pour love on this situation and the family relationships can heal and grow!

But there is to be no healing in this family. Notice the child’s distainful silence and withdrawl. The love remains unacknowledged and the pain un-healed.

“YOU made me this way!’ cries the child, and the parents hold each other and weep.

We are told we must believe this child.

We are told that parents are vital to a child's emotional well-being. We are told that the quality of love between the parents and the child is to be unconditional if it is to enable the child to grow. The social policy of this country is built on a single idea: that family life fosters the growth of children and by fostering family life we help to make better citizens. We are told that emotional intelligence is about empathy and the ability to make good connections with people. We are told that children learn emotional intelligence from their parents.

This is wrong. Parents do not make their children. Parents deal in the best way they can with the children they are given.

Children are born, not made. In our desperate search for explanations for why so many families break down as love dies a silent and painful death, we have been grasping at straws. In a procrustean effort to fit our psychological theories to the facts, we still choose to believe, along with Freud, Winnicott and all the others, that the root of neurosis lies in the primary relationships made in the first vital weeks and months of life. This means what when children withdraw into silence and begin a painful path to self-destruction through eating disorders, addictions, self-harm, unplanned pregnancy, impossible relationships and all the rest, that we can blame the parents.

This is wrong, parents do not make their children. What moulds our children is their life in the womb.

For the surviving identical twin, the primal relationship was not with Mum and Dad, but with their inaccessible, cold and unresponsive other half: their twin. After a brief period of live interaction, one twin begins to die. The twin becomes withdrawn, goes cold and inaccessible and in time goes away completely. This tragedy is being re-enacted in familes all over the world.

Wombtwin survivors create the parents they need to keep their Dream alive.

I wonder: if this was generally understood, could this secret and mysterious pain be healed at last? I do hope so.

1 comment:

  1. Althea, this idea seems so right to me!
    Claudia

    ReplyDelete