When your childhood turns out to be a lie
The shock of Tom (49) when he finds out that his father is not his biological father. He is then thirty-one years old when he hears this from his parents. A moment where his life is already turned upside down. He is then in the middle of a divorce and in the process he is also doing some heavy training in the armed forces. In this already difficult period, this news gives him a big slap in the face.
Although the ground sank beneath his feet when he heard this news, it also felt to him like confirmation of what he had been feeling all his life. He felt different from the rest of the family. His younger brothers got along well, but he was always a bit left out. At the time, his mother had become pregnant through an extramarital affair with his biological father. After that, biological father was out of the picture and his mother’s husband had decided to raise Tom as if he were his own child. The marriage between his parents, however, was not snappy. His father was often away from home and drank too much, his mother was very preoccupied with herself and very dominant toward the children. More than once there was a strange man at his mother’s house when his father was away. Tom therefore preferred to be outside, rather than at home in a situation full of tension and ambiguity.
Anxious to be recognized
In his youth, Tom was often very hot-tempered and angry. It was not clear to him and his parents at the time where his anger came from. When he was angry, he was often punished and sent straight to his room. Now he can see that his enormous anger was an expression of frustration. Tom, because of his sensitivity, unconsciously felt all too well the tension in the home, the lie of his parents’ marriage and his mother’s domineering behavior to perpetuate those many lies. Every time he expressed the frustration with his anger, he encountered a lot of misunderstanding, resistance and also rejection from his parents. All this made Tom doubt himself. Unconsciously his anger caused him to lack self-confidence and he started pleasing his parents. As a result, he ignored his own feelings and focused on others, tiptoeing around them and adapting all the while. This was the beginning of his great desire for recognition from others. This desire got worse when Tom felt that his parents had to send him to a LOM school unjustly. That was a place where he absolutely did not feel at home.
Tom never really felt comfortable and safe with his parents either. When he finally made enough money on his own, he fled the parental home and went to live on his own. Relatively young, he then enlisted in the armed forces and went for the toughest military training. He eventually managed to join the special forces by sheer force of will and has been deployed several times. On the job front, he seemingly prospered and his willpower took him to great heights. The desire for recognition was the fuel for that willpower. Whereas at work this had a seemingly positive effect, privately it got him into more and more trouble. He went from one relationship to another, cheated a lot and developed a sex addiction. He was constantly seeking recognition in an extreme way.
Disregarding Reds flags
The shocking news that his father is not his biological father gave him a big slap in the face, but again, did not keep him awake. It only increased his pattern of fitting in and his desire for recognition. It took him so far from himself that a year after his divorce he was living abroad with a woman he had fallen madly in love with. By then he barely saw his children in Holland, had had to sell his own home at a great loss, had surrendered his uniform and barely got to work abroad. Despite the many “red flags” he received those two years abroad, he ignored them all and continued to do everything he could to get the woman’s love. In the end, the relationship turned out to be one big lie and he returned to the Netherlands penniless, confused and intensely sad.
Once back, he lived temporarily on his mother’s boat and could not let go of his confusion and sadness. He had completely lost himself. In a fit of tremendous confusion, he jumped off board with some heavy weights attached to his body and let himself sink to the bottom….
The drive to keep living
His will to live fortunately proved stronger. In the depths of the cold water, he had managed to shake off the weights and resurfaced coughing and screaming. Once back on board he broke down and all his grief came out. For days he gave in to this grief. He did not want to die at all, he did not want to feel this rejection, the pain and confusion anymore. When he had regained some sense of himself, he decided to make short work of his past. He applied back to the armed forces and was hired, paid off his debts, bought his own house and saw his children again. Slowly but surely, Tom rebuilt his life.
Although he was doing much better, a deeper pattern of Tom’s behavior remained unseen. Still unconsciously using his sensitivity to adapt to his surroundings, he was much concerned with the outside world and too little with his inner world. Consequently, in the relationships of the past few years, the old pattern of cheating resurfaced. As much as he wanted to, all these relationships eventually ended because of this. In the breakthrough session he does with me, Tom becomes aware of what he does when he is afraid of being rejected. Just like a child who used to be with his parents, he then does not speak up, doubts what he feels and needs, avoids confrontation and tries to deal with his negative emotions in other ways. As a child he learned to trust his feelings and to stand up for himself. It is a pattern he has unconsciously continued all these years since then. The fear of rejection makes him reject his own feelings, emotions and needs. As a result, he ignores the “red flags,” sails on the other person’s course, not his own, and keeps getting into situations that are not good for him. That is the mindfuck. With the modified behavior, he ends up experiencing the very rejection he is unconsciously trying to avoid.
The road to recovery
The way out of this pattern is for him to stop doubting his feelings and take his own needs seriously. He is allowed to stand up for himself, express himself and say what is on his mind, without the fear of being rejected. He is no longer that little boy from back then, but a big adult guy who is allowed to take charge of his own life. He is allowed to let go of those who turn out not to suit him when he is just being himself. He can trust himself to attract those who do suit him. This applies in the area of love, but also in friendships, with the family and at work. It requires a total change in behavior, in which his loyalty to the other begins with…. being true to oneself.
In this true story, Tom’s name is not his real name and in doing so, some details have been omitted. However, I did receive approval to publish part of his story.
Michiel van der Pols
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