Must he settle his accounts with his parents?

Is it better to explode at the risk of hurting , or to silence his reproaches at the risk of never solving the problem? Testimonials and expert advice to prevent the Christmas meal from turning into a nightmare.

Isabelle Taubes

Christmas is coming. With, among some of us, diffuse anxiety. That the old mechanisms - mostly leashed thanks to a number of subterfuges - are revived by family celebrations. That words, gifts, attitudes return us to our feeling of being unloved or smothered by love, jealous or excluded, overinvested or not recognized ... All these sorrows that survive our childhood and that sometimes arouse in us uncontrollable desire to say once and for all what we have on our heart.

"It was a Christmas night that I exploded, remembers Stéphane, 33. For the umpteenth time during the evening, Mom repeated how much my brother's daughters, whom she had covered with gifts, were cute, I was single, without children, I had a hard time in my job and the insolent happiness of my brother splashed everything I ruminated throughout the eve and on the 25th, I got up, decided to empty My bag, I told my parents that they always preferred my brother, that they did not like me because I was a failure but that I was a failure because they never had me loved ... Nobody understood anything, my mother cried all day, I apologized and we never talked about it again Since that day, seven years ago, everyone has been dreading Christmas. I would not do it, but that was the beginning of my analysis, that's a good excuse for that? "

In any case, it's a usual trigger, comments the psychot Isabelle Filliozat: "When we start therapy, we find all our buried emotions, all our fears, all our blockages. And we realize that it is to our parents that we owe it. So we have only one desire, to return them to the figure. But since we are not yet free from these emotions, our parents are in the best position to press the wrong buttons and reactivate everything. And we find ourselves in the skin of the little frightened child that we have been.

Child emotions that re-emerge

If this feeling comes up again at family reunions, it is because, the rest of the time, we silence the suffering child we have been. We grew up, we became parents ourselves, we built our lives ... And then we find ourselves projected, without notice, in this childhood whose scars are intimate and deep.

These imprints include resentment, anger, resentment and sometimes hatred.And we are not talking here about abuse, abuse or violence, but a slap at the wrong time, the repetition of vexing words, the position of pet in the siblings ... "There are injuries that digging holes that never close, explains the psychologist Maryse Vaillant.

What was only one venial detail for the one was fixed in the flesh of the other as a poisonous spine. outside abusive situations, when we have become adults, become old, emotions from childhood can keep us in a sort of greedy or bitter resentment for our parents. They have wounded us, destroyed us, missed us ...

And all our lives have been marked by their failures: it is the unsurpassable rock on which resentment stumbles. " "If we have the feeling that we must settle accounts, it is because there are, in fact, accounts in progress, that is to say that we are in debt, says the psychiatrist and family therapist Serge Hefez This feeling of debt is more and more exacerbated in the contemporary family

In the past, the family was used to transmit values ​​and rules for living well in society, and love was given moreover. Today, the family has become the place of love par excellence, its very meaning is to love oneself and to be loved, so the feeling of debt is no longer measurable because it is based on felt of the child that we have been. "

A dangerous suffering to express

In itself, insist the psys, this suffering is legitimate. But expressing it can be dangerous. Because the one who will put on the family table difficult memories runs the risk of hearing his devalued speech: "You exaggerate", "You say anything", "You invite". Worse: "Ask your sister, you'll see ..." "What happens to a child always makes sense in the child's reality," says neuropsychiatrist and family therapist Mony Elkaïm, "even if it's not adults or children. siblings

A 3-year-old child who loses his mother in the aisles of a supermarket for a few minutes before finding her at the corner of a shelf can live those minutes as the longest of her life. And having a grown-up feeling that his mother was never "caring" for him, but the mother may not even realize that the child was looking for her. "

Not to mention the denials of some parents, because it is unbearable to hear that they did not like their child when they did their best. To accept that dad and mom are not perfect is to take his place in a lineage, in a genealogy full of faults, where generations of parents have done what they could, as they could, with their own suffering and their own resentments.

Growing up, "it's about doing with what they are," says Maryse Vaillant.The acceptance of parental faults is one of the ordinary ways of maturity, one that allows one to get out of the cocoon of the first dependency. "Wanting to settle accounts, says Serge Hefez, is to behave like a little child. lends his parents the power and the power to make him happy. "

Especially since badly experienced settling of accounts reinforces the child's feeling of not being listened to, or even not being loved, since he exposed his suffering and was not heard.

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