The coffee spoon hits the cup’s walls while my mother frantically moves the spoon in circles in order to prepare my first coffee. It seems so magical to me and so transcending! This is it! I am finally big enough to drink coffee, big enough to sit with my mother and act like an adult!
A year ago I decided to slowly move from 2 coffees a day to one and then to none. The less I drank the black elixir that followed me since I was about 16 years old, the more I realized something. It was not the coffee taste I enjoyed most, but the feeling (or more realistically) the illusion of being heard and taken into account.
The moment my mother decided I could drink coffees with her represented a turn over in my life, something I would realize years later is happening, when a dysfunctional family system is in place.
Suddenly, I became her confident, her best friend, her shoulder to cry on. She would tell me her life story and how unhappy she would sometimes feel. She would sometimes laugh remembering amazing moments from her career, but mostly it would be about how her relationship with my father would bring sadness into her life. Instead of her talking directly to him or going to see a therapist, she decided to turn to me.
My mornings have become this never ending situation where I would listen, empathize, even cry of sadness for her. Even though, deep down I felt it was not my role to do it, I assumed my existence was due to her and I had to somehow pay her back all the effort of growing me.
The less coffee I drank this last year, the more I remembered those instants where I was the parentified child. Those moments where, in full adolescent phase, I had to take care of an adult’s incapacity of dealing with her emotions in a healthy way, rather than the other way round.
As an adult myself, I realized how suffocated and burdened I felt during those years and promised I would find a way to stop this toxic cycle.
I had an imprint given by my dysfunctional family and had to break the pattern in order to reconstruct healthy habits.
My mornings are now filled with journaling, meditation and matcha tea. They are also filled with gratitude towards the specific things that I experienced, that determined me to see the facts, want to work on myself and build a healthier relationship with the important people in my life.
Do you feel you have also been a parentified child? How did you move on?