“What about me?”
“You need?” I need!”
“Nobody appreciates me!”
“Look at everything I do for you and what do I get?! Nothing.”
Does any of this sound familiar to you? If you grew up with an emotionally immature parent it might. And I hesitate to say “narcissistic parent” because that diagnosis gets thrown around way too much by arm chair psychologists who’ve never cracked open a DSM, let alone spent the many years of clinical training required to accurately diagnose someone. So, if it seems like narcissists are having a moment, they are. There are many people sharing advice, words of wisdom, and narcissistic abuse survival guides with little to no clinical training and I’m cringing as I type. But, I digress.
In my own experience, both clinically and personally, adult-children parent with the longing and expectation of getting their emotional needs met. And by “adult children” I mean adults who carry childhood wounds and may not be fully emotionally developed. Empirically, they look like adults. They may even act like adults in certain situations. But within them lies a very hurt and angry child. And this hurt child can do awful things to those around them — especially to their children.
Adult children see their children as both a burden and a means of getting their needs met. Although logic may tell them that their children can’t fill those empty places within them, their underdeveloped emotional bodies override this. And I’m making a big assumption, that adult children have that sort of self awareness, right? Many don’t. And without this awareness, without this knowing, a wounded inner child with unmet needs can destroy lives. That’s because wounded inner children can be cruel, compassion-less, self-centered, volatile, violent, and entitled. And the aphorism, “hurt people hurt people” provides little relief or a path forward for those suffering. Although, I see these words bandied about quite often to explain away acts of violence and even wars.