Thursday, September 5, 2013

Insensitive to Boundaries…Idealization of Another!

I have written before about the importance of boundaries and the insensitivity “US” Adult Survivors, have toward them. It is a seldom talked about topic but one that I must convey again, not only for others, but most importantly for myself!

How I relate and operate is a by-product of my childhood abuse. It should never be an EXCUSE though. To keep repeatedly violating and operating in unhealthy unbalanced ways with others is wrong! I recently, tonight mind you, had a situation brought to my attention by a dear friend AGAIN. This is a dear friend and someone, whom I continually overstep my boundaries with because of my own selfishness, wants, and needs. Do I respect this person? “Absolutely!” If they truly matter to me, then why do I disregard their requests and the affects my actions will have on them? “Because they meet a need that I am so self-absorbed in fulfilling!” They are respecting me and not trying to hurt me! Why can’t I abide within my friends comfort zone? “Because I am needy and selfish and only want to feel better!” Why do they have to keep reminding me over and over again, that I have crossed that imaginary line, which they have so clearly drawn in the sand for me…? >“It is because I am needy and trying to subconsciously, fill that gaping hole!”

I am a sufferer of idealization for the most part. I don’t have all the characteristics but I have a few of them. This was my “Monster” growing up as a child. For those of you unfamiliar with the terminology:

“Idealization it is theory where an individual is unable to integrate difficult feelings, specific defenses are mobilized to overcome what the individual perceives as an unbearable situation. Another defense that helps in this process is called “splitting.” Splitting is the tendency to view events or people as either all bad or all good. When viewing people as all good, the individual is said to be using the defense mechanism “Idealization” which is a mental mechanism in which the person attributes exaggeratedly positive qualities to the self or others. When viewing people as all bad, the individual employs devaluation: attributing exaggeratedly negative qualities to the self or others.

In child development, idealization and devaluation are quite normal. During the childhood development stage, individuals become capable of perceiving others as complex structures, containing both good and bad components. If the development stage is interrupted (by early childhood trauma, for example), these defense mechanisms may persist into adulthood. (Wikipedia).”

In order for me to feel safe as a young child and secure in my frightening world, I applied this psychological defense mechanism known as “Idealization.” Idealization refers to the process of assigning only “positive” attributes to a person no matter what and virtually viewing them as being “all good”. It is basically putting that person on a pedestal an expecting them to meet unrealistic, impossible needs! As children, we naturally idealize our Parents and in reality view them as all good, all knowing, all powerful and absolutely, infallible and incapable of doing any wrong.

Idealization is not just unique to children, as adults, we will often idealize our romantic partners or friends, at least initially, and only see their positive qualities while ignoring the negative ones. Others may point out what they see, but their opinions are quickly discarded. You have heard the saying, “Only a person on the OUTSIDE can see the inside.” However, for children, especially those that have been abused, this process is not an option; it is an essential part of being a child. It ultimately does not last a lifetime because the older the child gets to adolescence, the less idealizing he does toward his parents and the more critical, rebellious, and independent he becomes. I know this is how I developed as a child but yet I still sought our people who could fill that vital role as “Nurturing” person in my life!

“Through the process of idealization, young children set their parents up on a pedestal seeing them as perfect godlike creatures. This makes the child feel safe and secure. Having a godlike creature to protect them means no harm can come to them.” John Bradshaw, M.A.

Instead of setting my parents on pedestals, I set my friends. My parents were infallible, and did not meet my needs! My friends, - they would protect me! Those that showed love, compassion and support were my ultimate heroes’! I could see no wrong with them or in their actions, where others could! I would not listen to them either, having to find out the hard way’ (Which I often did), that that person was “Using Me”; or “They were selfish and not a good friend” or that they were a “Fair Weather friend!” One that enjoys and likes to be around you when things are good, but quickly discards or dismisses you when you are struggling or having difficulties. I would learn the hard way and it would break my heart repeatedly. I sought out in “Friends or Relationships”, that brought into my life that which was lacking in my parents! To feel Loved, Valued, and needed!

As a result of this learned behavior…I have awful…, tremendously awful boundaries! I have amazing boundaries when it comes to me and what I will tolerate and feel comfortable with, but when it comes to others – I am ridiculously selfish! My choices were limited in to whom I could gain love and self-esteem from. I only had my friends and I felt worthless and powerless toward my father, with my mother being, “Emotionally Unavailable!”

As children we are really incapable of blaming our abusive parents and their abuse of power, betrayal and trust and therefore we blame ourselves. I am constantly having to say, “I am sorry”, either to a friend, co-worker or complete stranger. Why must I always be sorry? It is because of guilt and the shame I carry with me from childhood?
I have and emotional wound! At times, I wonder if it will completely heal. I seek after those that fill the void of that wound and repeatedly overstep boundaries trying to fill that void! I am learning, healing and growing in my knowledge to overcome the past corruption that has infiltrated my adult life. I ask for patience, love and compassion as I steer through these treacherous waters.

As I dear, dear friend texted me tonight;

“You do have boundary issues, and I hope one day you won’t, just like, I hope I to not have the issues I face. I guess sometimes we just have to put our old habits aside and give way to new ways of doing things.”

Well said, M.P.! Love you LONG TIME! ;)

"Shards of Glass" CW Seymore

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