The Loneliness of CrazymakingBy Dr. Margaret Paul
December 31, 2006
Naming the painful feelings of loneliness and helplessness that occur when you are at the other end of crazy making behavior help you manage it.
When you grow up in a crazy making household, as I did, you don't know that it is crazy making. As a child, you have no way of knowing that your parents may be projecting on to you their own woundedness. You have no way of knowing that they can't see who you are because they can't see their own true soul selves. You just know that their behavior doesn't feel good. You might not have a word for the feeling that feels so awful - you just know that it feels so awful that you need to try to do something about it.
What you were likely feeling was loneliness and helplessness over their behavior. You might have been aware of feeling alone, empty, afraid, abandoned, isolated, anxious, agitated, confused, sad, and angry. These are some of the emotions we experience when we are very lonely and helpless - when we want to feel a connection with our parents or other caregivers and we can't because they are not only not available to it, but they are blaming us for their unloving behavior. This is the crazy making - treating us in unloving ways and acting as if it is our fault that they are behaving the way they are.
Crazy making takes away a child's sense of safety - of being seen, heard and validated.
Because it created so much inner pain, we all learned ways to protect against the intense loneliness and helplessness over others that will always result from crazy making. Each of us chose different strategies, or a combination of strategies, to attempt to have control over getting the love and connection we needed. Some of us chose to become caretakers - good girls and boys attempting to do everything right in the hopes of warding off the blame. Others chose to act out with anger and temper tantrums in reaction to the crazy making. We might have learned, as we moved into adolescence, to adopt the same judgmentalness and blaming behavior that we grew up with, becoming crazy makers ourselves. Or, we might have resorted to resistance - shutting down or procrastinating in our attempts to not be controlled by the crazy making. All of our protective behavior had the intent to get love, avoid pain, and feel safe. We became addicted to our protections as a way to avoid the loneliness and helplessness of disconnection and crazy making.
At some point, if we want to grow into loving adults and have loving relationships, we need to become aware of crazy making - our own and others.
We need to become aware of when we are saying one thing and doing another, when we are being dishonest and manipulative, when we are projecting our own unloving behavior on to another, when we are turning things around and putting it on the other person, and when we are blaming another for our own feelings and behavior. And we need to be aware of when another is behaving this way with us.
I have discovered that if someone is crazy making me and I don't attend to it and name it, I will feel agitated. My agitation lets me know that I have not taken care of myself in the face of crazy making behavior. I've found that if I just say, without blame or judgment, "This feels crazy making," then I feel fine. It's not another person's crazy making behavior that causes me to feel upset, angry, defensive, or to resort to caretaking. It's my own lack of naming it and getting hooked into it as a result of not being aware of it.
No matter how crazy making another person is - blaming you, accusing you, lying to you, resisting you - you can maintain your equanimity if you become aware that it is crazy making and name it out loud. This is challenging if you grew up with crazy making, but when you learn to do it, your inner child will feel safe and happy!
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Begin each day with setting your intention for the day. What do you want? Do you want to walk in love, peace and joy? Do you want to be present in the moment, connected with yourself and in oneness with Spirit? Do you want to be kind and compassionate? Creative and productive? Open to learning each moment? Think about who you want to be and set your intention for the day - out loud.
By Dr. Margaret Paul