While no one has a perfect childhood, when you have an emotionally fragile parent it not only makes your childhood difficult, it also carries over into your adult life. Whether your parent was depressed, dealing with past trauma, or was emotionally unstable to the point of leaning on you as a parental figure to them, these things shape our personality and our life.
In many ways, these behaviors break us down and cause us to develop reactional behaviors that aren’t necessarily healthy but were the only way our young minds knew to handle the tumulous situations that transpired as a result of our parent’s fragility. And while these things aren’t necessarily good for us, these parents weren’t doing this to us out of malice or negativity.
Like humans, they too were dealing with the brunt of situations that were difficult for them as well, and without the proper tools and support, it can be difficult to process heavy emotions and traumas, even for our parents.
If you had a parent like this, then you probably deal with the following.
1. Feeling like you should heal everyone’s turmoil.
While it is noble to want to help others, you cannot take on the pain and turmoil of everyone you know and love. But, when your parent leaned on you for emotional support, you may take this role and run with it into adulthood.
2. Saying you are sorry all the time.
When raised by an emotionally fragile parent, we end up taking the blame for everything. In turn, we will continue to apologize for every little thing, even when we have done nothing wrong.
3. Living in constant fear of the worst.
As a child of someone who is emotionally fragile, we often may experience during our parent go from one extreme to another. And while their happy times would fool us into thinking things would change, eventually something triggers the storm and things unexpectedly shift in life. Due to this, we may constantly wait for the other shoe to fall in life.
4. Struggling to make decisions.
Living with someone who is emotionally fragile, especially a parent, can make us feel as though we have no control or say in our lives because we constantly live in our parent’s shadow. Instead of being taught to make decisions with critical thinking, we may find ourselves stuck and unsure of how to choose.
5. Parenting everyone around us.
In a relationship between a child and their emotionally fragile parent, the roles are often reversed, and in turn, we end up being the supportive and guiding force in our parent’s life instead of the other way around. These behaviors and tendencies often follow us, making us the mom of our friends and younger family.
6. Fearing abandonment.
While emotionally fragile parents love their child in their way, they may end up unintentionally abandoning them at the times they need their parents most. In turn, they will always fear this.
7. People-pleasing to avoid confrontation or conflict (even when it is only perceived conflict.)
Having emotionally unstable parents can make us feel as though we constantly have to watch our words, because the slightest thing would set our parents off, and in many ways, their intense emotional reaction traumatized us which led to our avoidance of this trigger at all costs.
8. Inability to handle even slight stress
Watching our parents react to intense emotions plays a major role in teaching us how to handle our emotions. But, when our parents can’t handle stress, it is often the case that we don’t learn either.
9. We push people away.
When we grow up with our favorite person in the world constantly lashing back at us, and causing turmoil unintentionally or otherwise, we end up fearing people in general. We do this because if our parent did this, why wouldn’t a stranger?
10. We attract and gravitate towards people with toxic emotional patterns.
As we learn to accept the worst from our parents, and this becomes our normal life, we may later gravitate to people with similar behaviors, and legitimately toxic people.
11. We are deeply understanding and empathetic.
Through learning to accept unacceptable behaviors in our parents, we develop a deeply intuitive connection with other people and also are far more compassionate due to our growing love and compassion to our parent.
When things are always in chaos, we learn to believe this is all we will ever have. In turn, we end up causing chaos, because when things are going well, we don’t understand.