“The Childhood Need for Protection Isn’t Just Part of Childhood” Comments, Page 1

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14 Comments (6 Discussion Threads) on “The Childhood Need for Protection Isn’t Just Part of Childhood”

  1. Hi Evan,

    My independent streak is at the far end of the pole matched at the other by desperation to have someone to depend on. The two ends are very far apart, it’s a long walk between them. Meeting in the middle at interdependence hasn’t happened yet, but I have have had fleeting moments where I at least got close.

    The ironic thing is each end of the continuum holds the other hostage. So no real dependence and only an illusion of independence. Lucky for me my active imagination has allowed me to visualize for years what interdependence looks and feels like, right down to seeing the sofa my interdependent friend and I are sitting on, what season it is, the time and day of the week when I realize what I’ve worked for is finally happening. The vision has been obscured and denied many times, but has never left. It may very well be one of the most important things that has sustained me.

  2. Hi Barbara, I hope you hold to the vision. Interdependence is not promoted in our culture much, which makes it difficult I think. Thanking you for your comment and hoping that the you are getting closer to that meeting in the middle.

  3. A very interesting topic; One that has often been on my mind these past few years. I am an intensely independent woman, and extremely responsible. I also always step in to take responsibility in situations where it is needed (and even some where it is not). I am unsure whether this trait came by nature, or, I am more prone to think, due to neglectful parents and a childhood spent unprotected. In retrospect I believe I was not wholly unprotected, nevertheless, I perceived myself to be.
    Most of my life (I am now in my 40’s) was spent in complete control of myself and my situation. A few years ago, I entered into a relationship with a man who is very strong, emotionally and mentally, and a very dominant personality. I expected to be repelled by this controlling aspect of him, but actually found myself attracted to it.

    In the years since, and with the deepening of our relationship, and much more importantly, the solidifying of trust, I have found that “letting go” feeling you spoke of; The letting go of responsibility for myself. Not all the time, of course, but when we are together.

    I believe that until I met him, much of my emotional resources was spent on protecting and being responsible for myself, not leaving much for true introspection and growth. I am not dependent now, not hardly, I am still who I was before. It is not the passing of protection to another, but rather a sharing of the protection with another. Knowing that I have backup, that I can rest sometimes from that task, and still know I am protected. I cannot truly describe the feeling, but the first word that comes to mind is “safety”, although I am unsure safety from what. Regardless, that feeling has given me a strong base from which to grow, to truly know myself, to feel.

    It has had a major influence in my life. It has enabled me to grow, to learn myself, to feel more confident and strong.

    1. Hi Rose, I really like the way you put that, “It is not the passing of protection to another, but rather a sharing of the protection with another.” This puts it very well.

      Many thanks for your comment.

  4. Hi Evan — I can definitely relate to that sense that I’m not supposed to ask someone to take care of me, particularly being male. But in the past the result has been that women have wanted to take care of me and I’ve fled from that, feeling infantilized and defensive. I’ve been getting more okay with the desire to be nurtured recently, I think.

    1. Thanks Chris, I definitely think that this is more of a problem for those of us of the male persuasion.

      Finding those that I can relax with and be nurtured by is something I’ve been pretty lucky with I think. I’ve had a few relationships where I’ve been able to learn to do this.

      Thanks for your comment.

  5. I can identify with that feeling of exhaustion over facing the prospect of taking responsibility for myself. I was sexually abused by my father while my mother was emotionally absent and looked the other way. I was utterly alone.

    Since the abuse and neglect informed me I had no value (apart from sex), I worked hard at pleasing others in an attempt to earn my value. I tried to be the perfect child by obeying and doing extra housework and whatever else I could find to do. I also had to be hyper-aware of mood changes in an effort to head off attacks. I had to take responsibility for myself at a young age and lost my carefree childhood.

    One of the ways I dealt with my fear of responsibility as an adult was to grieve my lost childhood and to incorporate things into my present life that nurture play and sillyness.

    Also, as a child, I was ill-equipped to handle the job of trying to protect and care for myself and I failed miserably. I had to deal with the fear of failing again by acknowledging that I was only a child and that I assumed a role I never should have had to. I released a lot of anger and accepted the truth that personal responsponsibility is a gift. I still have a long way to go, but these gave me a good start.

    1. Hi Christina, thankyou for telling a little of your story. It seems that you have done remarkable things – I know, from my friends, how incredibly difficult it can be to do what you have done.

      You have my unbounded admiration. Many thanks for your comment.

  6. Hey, Evan –

    How interesting . . . this is exactly the main issue I’m dealing with in my therapeutic journey right now.

    I’m learning to allow my therapist to protect me as I turn loose of my hypervigilence and turn inward to bear witness to the pain of my own childhood memories.

    I asked him to take on the job of being hypervigilent on my behalf. He accepted the responsibility. I made sure he understood I wasn’t just asking him to placate me by pretending to watch . . . I needed him to actually watch – very carefully. He assured me he understood what I was asking. He named off the threats for which he would be watching – that is when I knew he really understood.

    It has been strange to turn over that responsibility to another. But, it has been working. And, it is the first time in my entire life I have felt protected.

    How about that!

    – Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

  7. Reading this has brought tears to my eyes Evan. Thank you. This is my struggle too. So good to find validation of the need for protection even as an adult – especially for those of us who didn’t have sufficient as children, and have had to find our safety in our own independence. It is a scary business indeed when, for reasons beyond our choosing, we are faced with the loss of such prized independence. It is heartening to read what you say as I continue to wrestle with my own anger and grief and fear, as life becomes increasingly limited by progressive physical incapacity. In amongst this, too, is my increasingly clear awareness of the lack of emotional and psychological safety and protection in my childhood (let alone physical), and the sorts of behaviors that are rightly called abusive. I simply can’t do it all by myself any more, and I don’t have a great deal of experience of trustworthy relationship, so the future looks quite intimidating at times. Your awareness and commitment are encouraging. Thanks again.

    1. Thanks May, it is delightful to know that my stuff makes a difference.

      Physical incapacity must make harder what is already something very difficult to do, especially without the experience of trustworthy relationships.

      I’m very glad that I have been encouraging to you and thank you for your comment.

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