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By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.
The child you once were is still very much alive,
although feeling orphaned, abused, and neglected. The child is still dwelling inside you
along with all its hopes and honesty of emotion. You already know what your inner child
looks like. It is wearing your original face, the one that you yourself wore before your
denial, disease, and life experiences ravaged it almost beyond recognition. Your inner
child has been kept in the dark for so long that it has forgotten what it looks like
itself. Only you can hold up the mirror of your recovery to this child and remind it of
who it really is.
Recovering your inner child and restoring its original
face is your job and the only foundation for becoming a real human being. A real human
being is a totality and a balanced expression of all its aspects. In losing touch with our
inner child and forgetting its face, we became emotionally handicapped and sought the
artificial limbs of dysfunction to feel complete.
have a few ideas, ideas about why you find some aspects of your relationships so painful,
confusing--even overwhelming, and oftentimes unworkable for you. Let me warn you, these
ideas have absolutely nothing to do with the imperfect circumstances of your life or the
oftentimes insensitive actions of others. No, were not going to focus on the
externals--all the craziness on the outside that contributes to your state of emotional
and spiritual dis--ease. Instead, lets focus directly on you--your internal world
and your unconscious mechanisms for sabotaging the well-being of your relationships. For
it is these mechanisms, activated by the dormant disowned emotions from the unresolved
conflicts of your past, festering in your unconscious, that create much of the chaos and
disharmony in your adult relationships.
should you buy into the idea that these unconscious mechanisms are the culprit for much of
the sabotage that goes on in your relationships? Why should you entertain the idea that
your disowned emotions and unacknowledged unfulfilled needs of your past are the true
saboteurs of your relationships today? Afterall, you know what you know--and here I am
challenging you to focus on what you dont know, what you cant see, what you
cant wrap your brain around. Im asking you to buy into an idea--an idea that
you cant touch, taste, smell or see--an idea about the power of what lies on the
fringes of your conscious awareness--disowned emotions and unfulfilled longings created by
the immaturity and neglect of others.
you do know is that your relationship isnt working the way you want it to. But you
have explanations, justifications, and rationalizations to place between you and the
truth. Perhaps youre an expert at making everyone in your world wrong, building case
after case against any and all of your perceived antagonists. Or maybe you use blame as a
magical elixir to separate yourself from the emptiness and loneliness that engulfs your
soul from all of your unfulfilled longings and unmet needs. And if blame doesnt
drown out the pain, there are other means at your disposal--drinking and drugging, serial
relationships, compulsive sexing, soothing yourself with food, making the quest for
success the lord of your existence--all effective ways to drown out the aches and pains
caused by your invisible demons. Forever trying to fill the emptiness, drowning out the
longing of your unfulfilled needs, yet in the end, only managing to sabotage your best
the importance of focusing on you and your unconscious mechanisms of sabotage. To the
degree you have not experienced fully your past as a child, youll attract and/or
create similar experiences from your past in your life today. If you continue to avoid or
disown the experiences of your past and the emotional impact they have exerted on your
life, youll make it next to impossible to recognize what you feel as you repeat the
experiences from your past as an adult. Its axiomatic: its your lack of connection to your disowned
feelings and the lack of awareness about the unresolved conflicts of your past that blinds
you to the truth about your futile attempts to heal the emotional wounds and fulfill the
unmet emotional needs from your past by (re)creating similar experiences in your life
theres a way out of this vicious cycle. Theres very little complexity to the
solution. Reclaim your past. Bring into conscious awareness and personal experience all
that hurts, all that has gone unfullfilled.
distasteful as that might sound, theres no getting around this aspect of your
spiritual path. One element of emotional healing and spiritual evolution is unmasking the
link between what is happening to you now and the experiences of the past they so
provocatively mirror. Seeing the link between your disowned emotions and the here-and-now
drama that engulfs your relationships will enable you to recognize how past experiences
repeat themselves in your life today.
Are you beginning to see the importance of (re)claiming your past? The disowned feelings
from the wounds of your past are locked safely away in your unconscious. And
its your unconscious thats the fertile ground for the primary source of
your discord and unhappiness with the people in your life. The primary source Im
referring to? The demands you make upon the people
in your life--the demand to be loved in a perfect way and that this love should be handed
to you in all of its perfection.
lets not get sidetracked by defending and justifying these demands--debating whether
theyre appropriate or not, realistic or not, deserving or not. Its more
important that you invest your emotional energy in unmasking the original source of these
sabotaging demands and the impact they have on your adult relationships.
better understand the burden that the demand for perfect love places on your
relationships, you must first understand the genesis of the demand for perfect love. So,
lets first look at the story behind the unfulfilled longing and unmet emotional
needs from which arises the demands for perfect love.
too often a child receives insufficient nurturance and love from their parents. The pain
that arises from the deficits created by inadequate parenting, neglect, or abuse requires
proper wound care. If these emotional wounds go untreated, the child, as an adult, will go
through life unconsciously crying out for what went unattended to and unfulfilled in their
childhood. As a consequence, the adults ability to love maturely will be
so many of us, despite whatever amount of exploration we have done into our unconscious
mind and emotions, frequently minimize or overlook entirely the strong link between the
traumas of our past and our current difficulties as an adult. The reason being that
so many of us settle for merely understanding with our mind the theory of our woundedness
rather than personally (re)experiencing the link between the wounds of our past and the
problems that manifest themselves in our adult life. In
order to heal your original emotional wounds and satisfy your unfulfilled childhood
longings, you must develop fuller awareness by combining personal experiencing with
conscious reasoning. In so doing, youll be better able to heal your wounded parts by
unmasking and resolving the overwhelming feelings of emptiness, fear, pain, and grief.
easy to see the importance of blending personal experience with conscious reasoning. When
combined, conscious reasoning and personal experiencing activates as well as illuminates
the very emotions you never allowed yourself to be aware of fully. As long as the hurt,
disappointment, and unfulfilled needs from your past remain unacknowledged and
unexperienced, theyll remain unresolved and seek to be expressed in indirect
ways--ways that inevitably sabotage your relationships. Even if these disowned
resentments are merely understood without being (re)experienced, youll continue to
be enmeshed in the never ending burdens they bring to your life. But by recognizing and
experiencing your deeply hidden hurt and resentment, healing can begin in the guise of
forgiveness, letting go, and freeing yourself from the toxic influences these resentments
represent in your life today.
how are you affected by the disconnect from the things that did and did not happen so many
years ago? As long as youre unaware of the conflict between your longing for a
perfect love from your parent(s) and your resentment against them for not providing you
what you so richly deserved, youre left with only one way of coping with your pain
and grief--using your adult relationships to remedy, correct, and/or master the
unconscious internal conflicts, the disowned emotional fallout, and the unfulfilled
longings from your past.
you see how this way of coping with your original pain and grief might manifest itself in
your life? Quite simply, so many of the patterns of behavior you act out today are your
attempt to reproduce the situations that were the original source of emotional wounding.
Why, you might wonder, would anyone want to recreate the painful and unrewarding
experiences from their past? That brings us right back to what I said above--this is your
best attempt at remedying, correcting, and/or mastering, the painful experiences of your
as strong as the compulsion to remedy a past situation by (re)creating it may be, it is
equally unconscious. And the outcome of your futile attempt is the same every time--the
reservoir of unacknowledged, disowned feelings lies dormant within your unconscious, still
waiting to be acknowledged and expressed.
just how do you (re)create these situations from your past that were the source of your
original emotional wounds? In its broadest sense, through the interpersonal dynamics you
create in your adult relationships.
To demonstrate how your adult relationships are used as a means of (re)creating unresolved
wounds and resentments, lets focus on a specific relationship--your choice of love
partners and the drama of the dance that unfolds between the two of you. Consider for a
moment how the dance created by you and your partner might begin within your unconscious.
you either choose and/or selectively attend to in your partner those aspects of the
parent(s) that fell short in providing you a mature love. As well, on the other side of
the coin, you seek in your partner aspects of the other parent who had come closer to
meeting the demands of your emotional needs. Its within the context of this
unconscious attribution of characteristics to your partner of those characteristics you
most closely associate with your parent(s) that the dance of (re)creating in the
here-and-now interpersonal experiences that replicate the experiences of your past. Sadly,
this is the blueprint for each futile attempt you make at correcting, remedying, and/or
mastering the wrongs of your parent(s) with your adult partner.
the compulsion to correct, remedy, and/or master the wrongs of your past that drives you
to attribute characteristics of either or both of your parent(s) to your partner. In so
doing, the process of (re)creating similar scenarios from your past begins. Heres
the logic that takes place in your unconscious that enables the drama to perpetually play
the child in you has yet to let go of the past, then you have yet to fully come to terms
with the experiences of your past. Until you fully come to terms with those experiences
and the resultant unfulfilled longings created by those experiences, it will be impossible
for you to fully understand, accept, and forgive what happened to you. Because these
issues remain unresolved, the child in you will continue to recreate similar conditions
from your past in your adult relationships in a never ending series of vain attempts to
win out and ultimately master the recreated situation rather than succumb to it.
you see what the point of this never ending dance is? First, let me tell you what the
point is not. Its not about creating mature love between you and your partner.
Its not about creating harmony in your adult relationships. Its not even about
resolving the here-and-now issues that remain forever unresolved between you and your
partner. No, at its deepest level, the drama is about one thing and one thing only--not
losing one more time. For losing out means being (re)victimized yet again. Unfortunately,
the entire strategy is unworkable because what the child in you sets out to correct,
remedy, and/or master never can come to realization.
are two aspects of recreating the past in your here-and-now relationships that strike me
as tragic--the futility and destructiveness of it all. No matter how tragic the
circumstances of your past might be, it is an illusion that you were defeated. Now if you
can agree with me that no matter the actual horror of your circumstances, the idea that
you were defeated is an illusion, surely you can see that theres nothing that needs
to be or can be corrected, remedied, and/or mastered.
a moment to consider what the illusion is that you are attempting to correct. The illusion
is that the lack of love, no matter how tragic that may have been as a child, continues to
be the tragedy that your unconscious believes it to be all these years later. Im not
minimizing the horror that parental neglect and abuse can be. And let me be even clearer,
Im not saying that the neglect and/or abuse didnt happen. Im only saying
that theres a larger tragedy happening in your life today--sabotaging your emotional
and spiritual well-being by (re)creating the traumas of your past.
asserted what I believe to be the tragic and illusory nature of the choices you make
today, let me reiterate the following. In most respects, the process of (re)creating
scenarios from your past and/or viewing events of your adult relationships through lenses
tinted by disowned emotions and perceptions from your past is an unconscious process. And
since that is the case, you must be wondering just how to undo the power of your
the focus on you and take it off of the imperfections of the people in your life. The idea
is to keep digging within yourself. Reclaim the emotions that remain outside of your
conscious awareness. Put an end to buying into the distorted perceptions that the past can
impose on your way of understanding the people in your life. Give up your misguided
attempts to correct, remedy, and/or master events of the past.
continued deeper exploration, without your willingness to walk into the pain you have
disowned for so long, you leave yourself in a never ending bind. You unconsciously choose
a partner with aspects similar to those of your parent(s). Equally so, you unconsciously
imbue your partner with characteristics of your parent(s). The bind that both of these
choices create? Its a set-up for both you and your partner. Youll continue to
feel as deprived of the love and emotional and physical safety that you were deprived of
so many years ago, yet youll hold your partner responsible for your feelings of
deprivation. Youll attribute your feelings of deprivation to the shortcomings of
your partner--shortcomings that will oftentimes mirror the shortcomings of your parent(s).
(re)experiencing this deprivation, provokes one thing and one thing only--a stronger
resolve to get from your partner what you couldnt get from your emotionally and/or
physically unsafe, withholding, or unavailable parent(s). Do you see how the tragedy of
your past is compounded by your solution in the here-and-now? Do you see how destructive
it can be to demand of your partner that they rewrite your personal history? In placing a
burden on your partner to heal the wounds, right the wrongs, make the past better today by
loving you in a perfect way, you are merely amplifying the pain from the wounds of your
what is there to be gained by viewing the discord in your relationships as a product of
this unconscious mechanism of sabotage? What is there to be gained by not only
understanding your past but (re)experiencing the pain and longings of that wounded child?
Quite simply, bringing an end to the vicious cycle of self-sabotage you have created for
yourself today. Liberating your relationships from the burdens placed upon them by the
child within that is seeking relief from and retribution for the wrongs of the past.
Freeing your partner to love you with all of their immaturities, you need no longer
personalize the events of your life as the tragedy you believe it to be. Letting go of the
belief that this time, things will be different, will empower you to get out
from under the ever-increasing disappointment you experience when it never is different.
I hope youre beginning to see the path I outline for you can forever change the
mindset from which you view the actions of the people in your life. Become aware of the
link between the there-and-then and the here-and-now now. Uncover the folly of your feeble
attempts at correcting your past. Reclaim the disowned experiences of your past. Leave
behind your childhood hurts by grieving the many losses you experienced. Begin to view
your actions and reactions through new understandings created by reclaiming your disowned
feelings. Relieve your partner of the demands you make upon them. Start to create a
relationship predicated upon the provision of love as an adult rather than redressing the
wounds of the unloved child. Discover the power of giving love rather than expecting and
chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your
children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs
free. Learn how
to in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. Recovery book series.