Although you need love your childhood experiences can make it difficult for you to connect emotionally with other people.
You can feel:
- an outsider
- emotionally distant
- and worried that the people you care about may desert you
You may be:
- hyper-sensitive, thin-skinned and prickly
- easily bullied
- a perfectionist
- a people pleaser
- prone to self-sabotage
- predisposed to overreact
Do not use your parent’s increasing fragility as an opportunity to take revenge for how you were treated as a child. Your behaviour will be no better than theirs.
Behaving well proves you are liberated from the past.
As they age, the unpleasant characteristics of a difficult parent can become more pronounced.
They may try to make you feel guilty that you are not devoting enough time looking after them.
Reassure yourself you're doing your best and that however much you do wouldn’t, in their minds, be enough.
Not being available all the time doesn’t mean you are heartless.
It's difficult if your kinder parent dies first as the difficult parent may become more demanding.
Death of your horrid parent
It can be more difficult to get over the death of a parent you had a bad relationship with than one you loved.
If your parent didn't give you what you needed when they were alive, it can be hard to accept that there is now no chance of repairing the relationship.
Or you may feel relieved that you will not have to suffer at their hands ever again. Do not feel guilty. Their behaviour was not your fault.
Your initial feelings can be raw and overwhelming, but, as you recover, try to make peace with the past. Accept that it is too late to change anything with that parent, but you can learn from your experiences as you move on.