Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Think about how you were treated by your caregivers. Now think about how you treat your partners. What similarities do you see?"

Well obviously I am not the foremost authority on how I treated my partners, they would be. And also when talking about my partners everything is in the past tense, though I may be primed to repeat those patterns into the future.

So my parents were present for one thing. My dad took me to all my basketball games for my entire basketball career. We generally ate together, with almost no exceptions. They took an interest in my schoolwork, and generally did everything they were supposed to do.

The only thing that wasn't supposed to happen, (including things that should happen but didn't) was mum using me as a cheap therapist, and expressing her pessimism. Also they waited way too long to divulge the 'family tragedies' of which, the most tragic aspect was that their value system regarded them as tragedies. Mum put the wrong emphasis on what went wrong in her chiildhood - focusing on the symptoms and not the actual problem. (ie. her family of origins dysfunction, rather than her parents error in partner selection).

Dad was never engaged visibly in these sessions with my mum. I suspect they occurred in part because he wasn't present. Dad is a solitary man, who disappears into projects. He is also self reliant, having said that he would sooner die than ask for help. He solved problems on his own and with little consultation.

In the treatment that had the greatest effect on me, Dad was actually quietly off ensuring everything was fine and seen to, while Mum was being loud about everything being not fine and about to fall apart around us. I know I don't think of my parents as competent. Particularly in matters political, strategic or to do with bullying.

I see a similarity in how I've treated my partners there. I imitate to an extent my father. Although I will ask for help, and ask the advice of my partners (even post relationship) and look to them for reassurance when plagued by self doubt.

But I know I have a pattern of withholding my concerns, insights, opinions on them. From them. Assuming they will be hurt by them or cannot handle them. I try to devise solutions or contingencies for my partners independently and without informing them directly. As in to be a reassuring figure, but to take 'everything will be fine' as a matter of faith.

I am dismissive of my partners capabilities to identify or address their own needs. I make a bold assumption that if they possessed this competence problems wouldn't arise for them. Even though believing myself to possess these competencies it isn't true of my own life. I am still plagued by interpersonal problems.

I also know I find it incredibly hard to believe that my capabilities are best spent in partnership with people capable themselves. It feels intuitively wrong to me that somebody of my privilege should seek out somebody privileged. Even though my ex-partners have at times come from equivalent privilege to me. If they do not have problems for me to address, I see myself as having no value to them.

My past relationships have consisted of alternating parent-child dynamics. Where either I am playing a parental role to their child, or I am playing a child role to their parent. Rarely do I think we relate as one adult to another, except in the post-relationship relationship.

This has been helpful. Next question.

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