She was terrified of her Dad growing up. He was a successful business man and would often come home stressed. When stressed, he was unapproachable. He would come home from a long day at work and go straight into his room in a mood.
So as a little girl, Georgia (alias) learned that it wasn’t a good idea to bother him. When she would muster up the courage to approach her Dad, he would often get angry.
As a result, Mom became the person she would go to for comfort, and Dad was someone she feared.
Through a conversation with Georgia, we connected that the way she related to her Dad was impacting every relationship in her life. Georgia found it really hard to make the first move in relationships or to share how she really felt with people.
If a friend, a man, or a colleague reached out first, Georgia would be responsive. But if they didn’t, she wouldn’t engage for fear of being rejected or not liked.
This dynamic also impacted her love life. She was dating and hooking up with a man who wasn’t ready to commit to her, even though she wanted a relationship.
In fact, this man was dating other women while dating Georgia. Georgia knew he was dating others but because the companionship felt so good she would tell herself, “You’ll just have to accept it.”
After we connected that her fear of her Dad was impacting her life I said to her, “You’ve got to reconnect with your Dad and receive the emotional support you craved as a child.”
Georgia said, “I’ve tried this. Four years ago I was in therapy and I talked to my Dad, but he just denied that he was ever the way I had described to him.”
I said, “I’m going to show you a way to get what you want with your Dad. The first step is to become the child. You’re often talking to your Dad as if you are the parent. Acting like the parent is how we protect ourselves when we didn’t feel emotionally supported as children, and that’s pretty much every person.
When you approach him as if he needs to understand, realize and change or apologize, that won’t get you what you want.”
Georgia agreed that she had been approaching him this way. She said, “He did apologize eventually but it didn’t feel as good as I thought it would.”
I said, ”Exactly!
Although it’s nice, what you want isn’t an apology. What you wanted now and as a little girl is his love and attention. To acknowledge you and to be there with you in your emotions.
To have that experience with your Dad it’s going to require you to be the child, his daughter, and let him in on how you really felt, what you needed, and how you aren’t blaming him, but need him now.” We crafted a whole conversation for her to have with her Dad to release this pattern she had been stuck in.
Georgia was scared. She barely spoke to her father and was terrified of him.
She mustered up the strength, after we moved through some fears, to have what I call a Courageous Conversation.
After the conversation with her Dad, which lasted 20 minutes, Georgia told me it was the best conversation she had ever had with her father. He really heard her, acknowledged what she was saying and gave her that emotional support that she was looking for.
This blew her away. She didn’t think he was capable of this level of connection.
That same day she had talked to her Dad, the man she had been dating wanted to have drinks with her. Georgia said yes, and on that night Georgia told him she didn’t want to keep their relationship in the same state. She said she deserved more, and she let him go.
This was amazing!
After experiencing that level of connection with her Dad, it healed something inside of her.
I call this raising your Emotional Bar.
Meaning, when you’ve filled yourself up with love from the source that you really needed it from, our parents and family, you can no longer accept less love from others. You have a new norm. What was tolerable in love before because you were getting “something” becomes not enough.
This is what Georgia experienced.
Pretty profound right?
Does her story resonate with you?
What did you learn about yourself and what you might be tolerating in relationships?
Let me know in the comments below.