want my child to have better, but jealous...

Old 01-04-2009, 08:21 PM
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want my child to have better, but jealous...

I'm an ACOA, perhaps not fully recovered, as I come face to face with my own worst memories, as I strive to be sure my child has a better life than I did, growing up. And he does. I'm an involved, engaged, caring parent, as is my husband, who is an alcoholic in recovery.

We've worked really hard to be sure our home could be as stable and loving as it could be. We're planning a big 5 year old birthday for our child, but the trouble is, I'm jealous. Jealous that our kid gets the love and attention from mommy and daddy that I didn't.

I find myself feeling so resentful that he has what I didn't get. When my parents forgot my birthday, largely ignored me, left me alone, and were so neglectful. We're really blessed with a great kid, who brings genuine smiles to us, and deserves a great life. But when I was that age, 4 going on 5, I had some really painful experiences, that still haunt me, and I haven't been able to let go of the hurt/anger. I'm working hard to be sure my child doesn't experience what I did. Which is making my jealous of my own child!

Has anyone ever felt this way? How did you cope? Please help!
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:44 PM
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When was the last time you threw a birthday party for YOU? Or got a sitter and took yourself out for dinner and a movie? Locked the bathroom door and ran a bath with vanilla candles and YOUR favorite music? Here...I'll explain:

Do you keep a journal? I have for quite a while, and a great therapy exercise was to (painful as it was, briefly) write down the things I was jealous of in other people, things they enjoyed that I never had. And believe me, my jealousies were many, and powerful.

I had a long list. Birthday parties, learning a musical instrument, swimming lessons, quality time, going to college, hugs when I hurt myself, you name it, I didn't have it.

And then the hard part: Scheduling those things for myself....kind of like Julia Cameron's "artist dates," I had to regularly schedule time to try to catch up on all of the things I'd been deprived of in my neglectful, abusive childhood.

I gave MYSELF swimming lessons. I sent MYSELF back to college. I asked a loved one to arrange for a birthday celebration for me! (it was a little embarrassing at first, but heck, tough times demand tough action!) When I wanted to make myself feel better (from a physical or emotional pain) I stopped saying, "Oh, for heaven's sake, just grow up. Everybody cuts themself. Everybody has bad days." I treated myself, in other words, the way you treat a child like yours.

The biggest thing? Happiness. I was jealous of people who were happy --- even people I WORKED TO MAKE HAPPY -- because I wasn't. I was in a dead end relationship with an alcoholic, very stressed and unhappy, and I was desperately jealous of people who could just happily go through their day, well taken care of and free.

My point is this: I don't believe we get rid of that jealousy by just giving and giving and giving more to others, even your own child. I think we solve it by giving to ourselves the things we crave ourselves, from time to affection to a new life. Personal counseling was critical for me to devise this plan for myself, and my jealousy of others has gone wayyyyy down over the time I've been practicing it.

Think about it...I'm sure it can't feel good to be jealous of a child, and maybe this would put some of your old ghosts to rest finally.

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Old 01-05-2009, 08:31 AM
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Recently I had a bit of a family crisis involving my nephew. He hasn't had a terribly good life. The situation he was in was remarkably like a situation I was in at just about his age. I was trying to help him, but had a horrible time divorcing my own memories and feelings from his current problems. His problems were not my problems, no matter how similar. What he felt was not what I felt.

It sounds like you may be projecting your own inner (and unfulfilled) child onto your own child - thus the envy. The "why couldn't I have"s.

I envy dogs. Dogs live in the right here, right now. Often, when I find myself slipping into old hurts, I look at my dogs and remind myself of why they're so happy all the time - they don't harbor grudges, they don't worry about yesterday or tomorrow. I try to focus myself on the right here, right now. I try to let go of what was in the past for a moment, and concentrate on what is in the present.

You can not change your past. You couldn't change it when it was the present, and you definitely can't change it now. Like you, birthdays are difficult for me. I changed them. I found a way to make my birthday something special for me that didn't involve any old triggers. Perhaps you could do the same with your son.

Another idea would be to have a (secret) double-birthday party. Throw him the birthday party you wished you'd had, then partake in that party like you were one of the guests. Pin the tail on the donkey, eat too much cake, play video games even if you're bad at them (especially if you're bad at them, nothing boosts a child's self esteem like beating their parents at something!). Nothing says that just because you're the adult, you can't play also. Remind yourself that your parents couldn't (seriously, in their cognitive functioning state, they really couldn't) give you what you wanted, so you're giving it to yourself - a little late, but better than never.

Try to remind yourself that how you got to where you are now is not nearly as important as what you're going to do from here. We can't change the past, we can change the future. It is no longer your parents who have control over what you do or how you live in this world. It is now entirely up to you.

As for recovery, I don't think recovery is a destination, I think it's a journey. I don't think anyone is ever "recovered" - we're always working on it.

Wishing you the best for your son's birthday, and I'm very proud of you that you are working so hard at breaking the cycle. It takes much more effort to swim against the current than with it.
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:32 AM
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No I have never felt jealous of my child.

Sounds like you still have a lot of hard work ahead of you to help you deal with some of those unresolved issues. You do not want to inadvertently harm your child with that kind of negative emotion.

Have you considered private counselling?
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Old 01-05-2009, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by ddot View Post
I'm an ACOA, perhaps not fully recovered, as I come face to face with my own worst memories, as I strive to be sure my child has a better life than I did, growing up. And he does. I'm an involved, engaged, caring parent, as is my husband, who is an alcoholic in recovery.
It sounds like you haven't fully acknowledged your losses and grieved them. Every thing that you do for you son reminds you of your losses.

Talking this all out with a therapist might very helpful in getting past this. Sometimes we just need someone to hear our grief and validate it.
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:09 PM
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Our children are a common trigger for flashbacks of childhood abuse. Intrusive thoughts are also a common symptom. Obsessing about thoughts we feel guilty about is also a symptom and keep the thoughts going.

I'm working hard to be sure my child doesn't experience what I did. Which is making me jealous of my own child!
Working hard to make sure your child doesn't experience what you did is a huge step and it sounds like you have a lot of action to back it up.

I don't know all your details, but if your jealously is just a thought that doesn't harm your child just recognize it as an intrusive thought. If your jealously interferes with your parenting go talk to someone who can help you sort it out.

If your child is triggering painful memories it would not be uncommon to project some of your emotions onto your child who is triggering the painful memories. You may not be able to face all that pain yet. In my experience I had to face it all as a wounded child and was terrified as a child would be terrified. Once I faced it and remembered it I could look at it as an adult and it seemed much smaller. All my memories were triggered by my circumstances. Your trigger right now is your child. It won't always be that way.
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