On Rugs, Anxiety and Eating
One day I had two sessions in a row in which clients expressed fear that the “rug would be pulled out” from under them. One talked about how anxiety about things going wrong drove her straight to the cookie jar and the other shared that it made her go over and over things she’d done and planned to do to make sure things would work out. If you ever have constant fear that a rug will be whipped out from under you, read on. I also recommend that you read my blog Are You Often Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop.
When either Mom or Dad is poorly attuned to their child’s needs, there may be loss of consistency, stability, security and predictability. Sometimes this is due to parents being narcissistic or ill-suited to having children. They tire easily with and become frustrated from having to meet the demands of small dependent creatures. These parents think first about what they want, and second about how it may affect you. Mom keeps changing her mind about what school is best and enrolls you in one after another. Dad spends time with you when he’s in the mood, but other than that is barely in your life.
This dynamic happens often when parents have mental illness or substance addiction. Mom can be warm and fuzzy for a while, but when depression strikes her, you get dropped like a hot potato. You feel blindsided and wonder what you did wrong (nothing) to cause her to pull away from you. The magic carpet you were riding high on when the two of you were best buds, comes crashing down to earth. Dad can be in your life one day and not the next because he’s off on a bender. When you’re a child, it’s nearly impossible to understand that you did nothing to cause him to abandon you.
Children who grew up with this above “rug” dynamic develop two types of problems. One is that you consciously or unconsciously believe that something bad is always right around the corner and, since you couldn’t (developmentally) handle whatever it was in childhood, you’re sure you won’t be able to handle it now. Your granddaughter will study abroad but never come back. Your new beau will change their mind and take up with someone else. The truth is that as a mature adult, you can handle surprises and shocks now, as change and lack of control over others is simply woven into life.
The second problem is that you become afraid to enjoy life fearing that someone will come and whisk away your enjoyment. Please understand that you don’t always cause others’ reactions. Much of what people do or say to us has nothing to do with us. You’re resilient now and can bounce back when pleasure ends. If you’re blind-sided you can see what red flags you missed or simply chalk it up to life. It’s your rug now!