Wellness Wednesday: Connection … when you grew up without it

Your relationships in your family of origin prime you for relationships in your adult life. If your emotional connection with your parents/family (or lack thereof) left you confused … you will likely have a confusing time in your adult life with relationships, at least at first, until you work through some of your earlier connection/disconnection issues.

What it boils down to is intimacy. How did your parents treat you when you were upset? Did they try to stifle your emotions? Did they accept them for what they were? Did they seem overwhelmed by your emotions and not know what to do? I think for my family, it sort of fell into the latter. That can lead you to close up, think you are “too much” for people,  and you start to think that the best thing to do is tuck emotions away to deal with on your own, alone in your room. This works fine and dandy for a lot of years until you try to have an intimate relationship with someone and you realize you don’t know how to. Or what can even be worse, is that you are capable of experiencing a deep level of intimacy and want that with someone who just currently isn’t capable of going there. This can happen for a lot of reasons, but one main one is that they probably haven’t worked through some of their old “stuff” and messages that they received about themselves and others from their family.

There is always a dance when you start a new connection, of finding out how someone gives and receives affection… what is meaningful to that person. However, if you still haven’t taken an honest look at your own intimacy patterns/history, you may miss the dance completely.

Ask yourself

What was I taught about relationships when I was younger?

How were displays of emotions handled? How does that affect me today?

Am I able to express my thoughts and feelings to people I want to be close with?

Can I make my wants/intentions known?

What does “being close” mean to me? And am I willing to speak someone else’s “love language” even if it’s uncomfortable at first?

For me, I am hyper aware of when I feel like I am putting forth too much effort in a friendship or relationship. I’ll withdraw. I know this stems from feeling as though I needed to read my father’s mood and cater to it when I was younger. It was an unspoken expectation that when he was happy, you would be happy, even if he said something awful to you the day before. So in my adult life I really have to be aware of when past energy is triggered … because people in my life now likely don’t have the same expectation that I read their moods and adjust my behavior/life accordingly, even if I feel like they do sometimes. I withdraw from people if I start to feel used. Rest assured, if I’ve been angry at you in the past for feeling unheard or not thought of, I’ve definitely considered not speaking to you again. Old behaviors. Sometimes they don’t serve you well– recognize when you’re present connections trigger issues from past ones.

Random… but this song has my heart lately. I’ll have to learn to play it on the piano… and see The National in concert. Word.

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