The Human Magnet Syndrome - Excerpts - page 5

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CHAPTER 1 – The Passing of the Codependency Baton
As much as we would like to, we cannot avoid certain indisputable facts of life: we will have to pay taxes,
we will get older, we will most likely gain a few pounds, and we will always be connected to our
childhood. Sigmund Freud was right, we are, indeed, creatures of our past; affected more by our
formative years than by recent events and circumstances. Although genes play a significant role in
determining our adult selves, how we were cared for as a child is integrally connected to our adult
mental health and the quality of our adult relationships. Whether we embrace our unique childhood
history, or if we try to mute, forget or even deny it, there is no way of refuting its impact on our lives.
You may have had a childhood that was absent of major trauma, abuse, deprivation or neglect. As one of
the fortunate ones, you would have had parents who made mistakes, but who also unconditionally loved
and cared for you. Just by being yourself, despite your imperfections, you would have proved to your
parents that all babies are perfect and the gift of life is sacred. Your healthy but not perfect parents
would have been intrinsically motivated to foster your personal and emotional growth, not because they
had to, but because they believed you deserved it.
The only requirement to receive your parents' love and nurturing was to just be your genuine self.
Consequently, you would have become a part of a multigenerational pattern of emotionally healthy
children and become a balanced and emotionally healthy adult. If you chose to have children, you would
perpetuate the positive parenting "karma" by raising your own emotionally healthy offspring.
Unfortunately, this was not my experience.
Becoming a Trophy Child
The child of psychologically unhealthy parents would also participate in a similar multigenerational
pattern; just one that is perpetually dysfunctional. If one of your parents was a pathological narcissist,
you would have been born to this world with specific expectations determined by your narcissistic
parent. If you could figure out what these expectations were, and could deliver on them, then you
would have figured out how to motivate your narcissistic parent to nurture and love you. If you kept in
sync with your parents’ narcissistic fantasies, you would be the grateful recipient of conditional love and
conditional attention.
By molding yourself into a “trophy child,” you may have found a way to be hurt less, but it would come
at an unimagined cost. Although your “trophy-ness” might save you from the darker and more menacing
side of your narcissistic parent, it deprived you of emotional freedom, safety, and happiness. Relaxing
and enjoying the wonders of childhood would never be yours. Your comfort in sacrificing and being
invisible, would eventually coalesce into adult codependency, which would compel you to replay your
childhood trauma in the people with whom you chose to be intimate.
However, if you were unable to be your parents' "trophy child," you would trigger their own feelings of
shame, anger and insecurity, which they would project onto you. As the “bad seed” child who is
incapable of assuaging their narcissistic parent’s unconscious but huge reservoir of toxic shame, you
would likely be punished with deprivation, neglect and/or abuse. The nightmarish quality of your
childhood would require you to find the biggest psychological boulder under which you will permanently
hide your agonizing memories. Your lonely, deprived, and/or abusive childhood would lay the foundation
of a potentially permanent mental health disorder that would compel you to selfishly hurt others, with
limited or conditional experiences of empathy or remorse. Just like the parent who disfigured the
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