What we find prideful can serve as safe thought nooks during quiet moments. If experiences with love are fraught with mixed signals, then there won’t be many experiences in which to comfortably rest our reflections.
We might instead look for solace in concepts that are not grounded in reality, such as fantasy. In this instance, the imagery might be based on idealized worlds where pure love can be fairly earned and old debts can be paid off.
It would be common for children to rely on fantasy as a mental anchor in situations of ongoing chaos. But what occurs as we grow older? These fantasies may become more intense with knowledge of life’s transience, which may lead to postponed disappointment as people age. This is why it may be so challenging for us to accept loss. Long-held fantasies that were supposed to help us learn how to mend a broken early relationship also vanish when a loved one passes away.
These fantasies frequently involve mending a broken parent or fortifying oneself in an effort to achieve what we actually needed at birth: adequate base relationships that ease daily burdens and leave room for tinkering, exploration, and musing.
We might be able to think of the people in our lives during quiet times to help us feel at ease. We can feel emotionally at peace to a greater extent the more pure the thought. However, what if the relationship is complicated? What can we do to feel good about a difficult relationship? We take on the ownership of deficiencies. We hold ourselves accountable for everything that goes wrong. We take on the responsibility of mending a relationship while giving the other room and freedom to revert to childlike states. This can result in generational developmental flipping, where children are parentified at a younger age and then wait until adulthood to relive a passable childhood, shifting the parenting burden to their younger ones, perpetuating the cycle.
Herein lies the problem: in order to feel good about ourselves, we must accept the sad truth that our parents were unable to recognize and reflect back our value with any accuracy, and who may never have been able to do so. Although this may deflate pleasant thoughts about loved ones and experiences that keep us afloat during trying times, we must often tear down a structure before it’s able to be properly rebuilt.
Experiencing and accepting sad realities through exploration and honest data collection, without quickly resorting to gratitude to stall this process, will allow for a clean slate. This may represent the beginning of a dark period before a much brighter future.