Why Do I Hurt Myself When I Don’t Want To? Five Steps For Getting Rid of Your Parents’ Behavioural Pattern

They’re pulling you under the water... You know it… You can’t breathe… But it’s probably fine. After all, that’s how your parents behaved. At the end of the day, all your previous partners treated you this way… Because they could. Because you didn’t stop loving them when they did.
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It’s a strange case. In a moment I will certainly hear a sigh; the sigh of you giving up on a woman. However, her story isn’t as rare as it may seem.

She’s the mother of four children. Her husband doesn’t help her. On the contrary, he hectors her for all he’s worth. How come my dinner’s not on the table? Why is the little one crying? How can you complain you’re tired—you don’t go to work, you don’t graft like I do: you’re on ‘holiday’!

Occasionally there is shoving, attacks, a slap in front of the children. A despot. OK, there are such people. The question is: Do we need people like that by our side?

“I know that I’m hurting myself by staying in the relationship. I know that I could have an easier life. Even the children keep their distance from me. They can’t appreciate me if I don’t appreciate myself. I don’t want to be without him though,” she blurted out. “I don’t want to do it to the children. I don’t want them to grow up without a dad.”

She had read my book. She knew what her relationship lacked and that she would never have it with her partner. She accepted it. She probably wanted to calm down, so she came to see me.

However, meeting me isn’t easy. I don’t say nice things. I say what a person needs to realise, no matter how unpleasant it is.

I told it to this woman in the form of a memory.

Of Two Siblings

It was decades ago. She cut him off. He hit her – the way he had seen his father hit his mum when he punished her.

As a small child he had seen the tension between his parents dissolve afterwards. It solved problems: His mum went silent and his dad cooled down.

So why is this woman leaving me without any understanding? She doesn’t respect it either?

Why am I alone again, when hitting a woman is normal?

She twitched in bed. She heard the light switch in the hall.

After a moment, through the bedroom door, she smelled cigarettes, drink, and again, the cheap perfume that only “they” have.

She could tell him that she wasn’t having it. She could threaten to leave. But…

How can I do that to the children? They need a dad.

And how can I do it to him? If he comes home, even in the middle of the night and from other women, then he probably needs me, then he probably loves me, he can’t do any better.

When she was small, she had felt differently for a moment. She had sat with her mum, stroked the wounds from her beating, and asked: “Mum, why don’t we leave?” And her mum had given a brave smile and said: “I’m doing it for you, my girl.”

Over the cot she straightened the blanket covering her sleeping daughter: “I hope you have a different life to the one your granny and I have had… I hope you have the strength to escape while there’s time…”

She gathered herself so that she didn’t lose the strength to open the door and went out to her staggering husband with five energetic words. The same way her mum had done.

The words out of her mouth were: “Do you want some food?”

It was normal for her parents. So how could it be abnormal for her?

That’s the way two children, a brother and sister, with the same parents live in their relationships. They experience what it is to adopt a behavioural pattern.

When a child is born, they don’t have established values. They learn by observing the people around them. What they see becomes normal. In other words: what they see is normal for them.

Children certainly don’t perfectly obey their parents. However, they are perfect at one thing—imitating their parents. Repeating their behavioural patterns in the same situations.

The son became the same brute his father had been. The daughter became just as scared as her mother. It’s a shame that they didn’t see the same parental scenes when they were older. Perhaps the son, now with a mind of his own, would have become the precise opposite of his father; and the daughter the precise opposite of her mother.

We’re Doing It For The Children…

Parents often say “we’re doing it for the children,” when they don’t appreciate themselves in their relationships. They don’t understand that the example they set their children places an indelible mark on them. I’m not sure whether they don’t know it or don’t want to know it.

“My life is not important, the devil has taken it,” they say resignedly following a call for any positive change. They don’t realise that they’re not only destroying their own life: they’re destroying their children’s lives, too.

“Are there no women that regard a beating as normal?” asked the disappointed, lonely brother.

“Are there no men that don’t cheat on women and beat them?” asked his just-as-disappointed sister. She didn’t really want to hear the answer. She knew they existed. The only thing stopping her meeting another man was the fact that she had one by her side and was frightened of the breakup.

Fear. That was her argument. A paradoxical argument. She was not frightened of what she experienced daily and what hurt her daily. She wasn’t frightened of what she knew—she was prepared for that. She was frightened of the unknown. If what she was experiencing was terrible, what if what she hadn’t yet experienced was even worse?

That’s how fear works.

How to Overcome Yourself

“Petr, how can you overcome yourself?” she asked. How do we not get hurt any more if in the corner of our soul we feel that it’s bad, but we can’t help ourselves because we’re too strong an opponent for ourselves?

How do we give the children an example different to the one our parents gave us?

How, in a negative life, do we find at least one positive idea on which we can base a positive action and subsequently a positive result? From where do we take hope, if we are living in hopelessness?

How do we explain to our children that they should do something we are not capable of ourselves?

How do we step out of our own shadow?

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