During my whole therapy I came across a term parentification. What does it really mean? And how does it affect adult life of these who have been through such a trauma?
Parentification is simply quickly becoming a parent once you’re still a child. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? There are two types of parentification, one is a physical one meaning you need to take care of a sick parent, for example a handicapped one; the second is an emotional one and happens when you take care of, in an emotional way, a parent who is incapable of handling their emotions. I am sure many of us have been through such situations, yet we do not realise it. However it has an incredible affection on our adult lives and the way we build relationships with others. I noticed, and it also concerns my example, that people who lived through parentification always know everything best, always have the best solution, always try to predict consequences of somebody else’s actions, most of the time feel insecure, and the worst is that they think they have the power to make somebody else’s life better by giving good advice. At least now I am aware of me not being able to have the best solution to every problem and I just don’t give my opinion when I am not asked. Everyone has their own way of living their lives and it is not possible to make anyone happy if they do not want to feel so.
The parentification that happened in my life was an emotional one. As my mother abandoned me emotionally when I was a child, I instinctively got closer to my father, and everything would be totally fine if not the fact that I became his partner while still being a kid. My mother was not able to handle her own emotions, be right next to him and create a partnership marriage. For me it is incredible how subconsciously we, as people, create toxic relation within the same family. Handling my father emotionally, while being a kid and later on a teenager, was too much. Listening to his complaints, to what he’s been through at work, comforting him, cheering him up while he was in a bad mood, in my opinion was really too much for a young girl. I think when people get married, both of them a man and a woman, are looking for partners in their lives. If it happens they do not find a partner relation with the one they married, they are looking for it somewhere else. That is probably why people cheat. In my family case my father could’ve cheated on my mother and find another woman who would fulfil his emotional needs, yet he didn’t do so. In return he found in his daughter, that is me, a potential to become his life partner and unconsciously continued it for about 20 years. That was the amount of time for me to realize it and change dependency between us. Amazing, isn’t it?
Another hard example from my life showing parentification, and the one I still remember, is paying the bills when being a seven-year-old girl. The technology was not that well-developed as it is now. Today what I do is just several online bank account money transfers and within a few seconds all of my bills are paid 🙂 However in 1990s in Poland, and probably in other countries too, to pay the bills you had to go to the post office. As everyone was getting their salaries by the 10th every month, you can imagine the queues there! My duty, as a kid, beginning of each month and after school going to the post office and stand there for about two hours to pay all of the monthly bills. Was that really a task for a seven-year-old? Now I know it was not. Now I know they shouldn’t have done that. What is more, during the time I was standing in the queue paying all of my parents bills, my father was sitting in front of TV smoking cigarettes and drinking tea. At least he was not an alcoholic 🙂 Thank you the universe he usually was drinking tea after work! 🙂
From one hand I know it was too much for me to handle, as managing a grown-up while still being a kid is not really a task to fulfill in the childhood. On the other hand it taught me incredible responsibility, but now when I observe myself I would even say too much of it as I keep demanding a lot from myself as well as I can be quite hard on me too. Anyway I am on a good path in changing that 🙂 I start being less responsible, give myself permission to make mistakes and not being perfect all of the time.
How was it in other people’s’ lives? How much parents demanded from them? How much of their unsolved emotional problems were put on kids? Are there people who had a great childhood with parents who knew what love is all about? In my case and in my childhood life everything was all about my parents, it was never about their kids. However now, when I am myself an adult, and try to live consciously, I am able not to repeat my parents’ mistakes. Becoming self-aware is the best thing that ever happened to me! 🙂
Why did I decide to go to a therapy and what is its result? There were three reasons for me to do so. The first one was the toxic relationship I was involved in with in and out for the past 20 years, the second was my friend who encouraged for me to do so by revealing his life story and a nasty divorce, and the third one was a new manager at work I couldn’t completely get along with.
So I searched the Internet for a good psychologist. At the beginning I did not know if she was good or not, yet I decided to give it a try. It’s been around three years I am going to the therapy and now I know it was the best decision I have ever made. Quite an expensive one though. The whole therapy and revealing the biggest subconscious secrets from your life to a stranger, and in the same time realising them yourself, made me more self-aware, more conscious, and more intelligent. I do admit at the beginning it was painful and I remembered many evenings after the sessions that ended up in tears. Anyway the pain was worth it. Now I am able to lead a very conscious life and the relationships I am building with others are more honest, sincere and real.
In my opinion not everyone had toxic parents, yet there are always things in our minds we are not aware of and in some cases they may lead our subconscious resulting in making decisions that hurt us. And later on we keep asking ourselves why did we do that to us?
I knew that I was always doing a lot of analysing and I loved thinking why things happen and what was the reason for them to happen, and the psychoanalysis helped me in putting all of my thoughts together and getting a result out of it. It also gave me knowledge how to analyse my dreams. Previously when there was a person in my dream I knew like a friend, or a parent, or an aunt, or somebody else, I always thought the dream was about them. Now I know it was always about me. These people were only symbols reflecting my subconscious. Once I learnt how to read them, I know what my subconscious wants to tell me. And I listen to it as it has an incredible power.
I was always interested in psychology, so thanks to the therapy I got to know how my brain works, read a lot of interesting books that helped me to understand the emotional part of human being that I was never really able to show because of my toxic mother and became smarter. I have also learned what my parents were through in their childhood. That made me realise the way they treated me wasn’t because they wanted to hurt me deliberately, but it was the result of their unsolved emotions along with their childhood issues. As a small kid I was an easy target to suck all of their toxic emotions as I did not know how to protect myself from these. Now I do and now I do not allow others to cross my boundaries. I do feel sorry for what my parents have been put throughout their early lives, yet I think they were not allowed to hurt me the way they did. On the other hand I’m grateful for what happened because it made me an amazing, strong and independent woman who knows how to enjoy life and is not afraid of living 🙂 It only proves the relationships we have with our parents are always difficult to judge and to be in. Now I’m trying to rebuild and learn how to create a healthy relationship with my father. I am aware I’ll never have a normal one with my mother, because it’s just not possible, and it will never be as she ended up mentally sick.
Coming back to the clue, in my opinion it is worth going to the therapy. The only factor that may stop you is the fear of getting to know the truth with the whole pain that goes with it. Once you deal with the pain, in return you get consciousness, honesty, self-awareness and then you can do whatever you want with that knowledge. I chose to be happy, to enjoy every day life and being grateful that even though my childhood was not a perfect one and my parents occurred to be weak human beings, I managed to grow up a wonderful person who loves to live, loves people and appreciates small things that every day life bring 🙂 Thanks to the therapy I am able not to hurt people the way I was probably doing subconsciously. And not to hurt the person I love the most – that is myself 🙂
I have been thinking lately how my way of travelling changed during the past few years. I am not counting the time when I was 19 and left Poland for 3 years to live in France, but the time when I came back, started my professional career at the age of 22 and started travelling. At the beginning it was just for holiday once a year, later on a few times per year. I remember my first holiday – it was Rodos, a Greek island. And an organized trip Crap, did I really do that?! Did I really buy an organized trip by a travel agency? Was I that lazy? Yeah, I did it I do not blame myself for that, it was just easy. I was young, did not have much experience in travelling, not mentioning traveling on my own, and wanted to go abroad. But ss they say – there always has to be the first time for everything. It came, a bit later on when I made some observations about traveling and decided how I really want to travel.
Travelling with an agency is simple – they organize everything for you and you do not need to worry about anything. My opinion now is that even though it is that simple, you might miss a lot. First of all – if you buy an all-inclusive trip you will not eat outside and taste local cuisine as you are provided with the food in the hotels’ restaurants, so what is the point of spending more money to try local cuisine? You have already paid quite a lot for you trip, haven’t you? Second of all – you will probably not move from the hotel. And again – you have paid already for accommodation, so what is the point of going to and exploring another place as you already have what you need. Third of all – you are so lazy to make an effort to organize a trip on your own that you make it the easiest way possible and just stay in one place the whole holiday. My question is – so what is the point of traveling if you want to stay only in one place, eat and drink just because you paid for it? You can eat and drink at home too, can’t you? 😉 These are the observations based mostly on myself. I used to travel like that a bit, luckily only a few times. It happened I went to all-inclusive trip 3 times in my life. I visited already 20 counties so far and some of them more than once. That means most of my trips were prepared by myself and for myself 🙂 In Greece I was 8 times already and I know it is not the end 🙂 So in general out of around 50 times I flew abroad, only 3 were all-inclusive. However my way of travelling changed so much over these past few years.
These all-inclusive trips are not such a bad idea if you know how to make most of them. However in my opinion these are usually used to go abroad, especially to a warm country, stay in a hotel for a week, get drunk every night, eat a few times a day, go to a beach, and have fun. And there is nothing wrong with that. Just it is not my style of travelling at all! I want to explore the place I am in, meet new people, either locals of foreigners; try local food; get on a local bus and admire the views; organize everything on my own – book the hotel I want to stay in, Airbnb or a much better option – Couchsurfing; eat in local restaurants, see how local people live and work there. Yet that way of traveling took a bit of time for me to learn. Now I mostly travel on my own. To be free. To feel free. To get the emotions travels give me – like getting lost and finding the way out, or making my brain work quickly in finding a solution no matter what might happen. And adventures always happen when you travel 🙂 People I meet on my way are always helpful and amazing. Those I met through Couchsurfing will stay in my heart forever as they teach me and show me that all of us, around the world are good, warm, and open-hearted 🙂 If I was only traveling through all-inclusive trips I would never experience such incredible places and meet such great people. It required a bit of courage for a lonely, young girl to pack one day and say to herself – ok, I am doing it on my own, I do not need a companion, we will see what world has for me to offer and hell yeah, I am going on my solo trip! 🙂 I do not even member now what country I chose for my first lonely trip, yet I gave myself a chance to do so and knew I could make it on my own. No regrets at all! The best decision I ever made! Now, when I want to travel I just buy a fight ticket, make a plan for my trip and off I go. I do not search for people to keep me company, the best company I am already in , and that is myself 🙂
I do remember, at the beginning, that I felt a bit ashamed to sit in a restaurant and have dinner on my own. As if I needed company, either male or female, does not matter who, but there had to be someone with me. As if I was not allowing myself to have a meal on my own, as if I would be judged by the society that I am a single girl nobody wanted to go on holiday with. So, I felt, there had to be something wrong with me, right? Now I know the only thing that was wrong, was my way of thinking. Everything is totally ok with me. I have right to sit in a restaurant and eat on my own. I have right to travel on my own. I have right to see all of the places I want to see on my own. I have right to be on my own! 🙂 I do not need others to make me feel good, because my mood depends only on myself. If I do not feel good with myself, no one will make me feel better, not even a traveling companion. Another thing I have learnt – how I manage my emotions is the key to my happiness. The truth is I never feel lonely while travelling – there is always nature right next to me, there are always amazing views surrounding me, there are always people around even though they are strangers, there are always thing happening 🙂 And I love walking around in a foreign country, admiring life happening there, enjoying every single moment, tasting coffee and food, seeing how people rush to work or relax by the beach. I think life is amazing, and the only thing you need to do is wanting to see it that way. Not being afraid of being on your own with your own thoughts is another succesful key if you want to travel alone 🙂 I stick to that. No more all-inclusive trips in such case 🙂 Just experiencing beautiful life happening around every single day!
Why I am travelling alone? Is it still such a strange thing to see a girl who travels on her own? Lots of my friends tend to admire me for doing such a thing. And for me it is not a big thing. I just want to do it, and I am doing it!
From the beginning now 🙂 I think it was my dad who subconsciously encouraged me to travel. I remember when I was young he was reading me to sleep “Gulliver’s travels”. It might have been that time my mind started getting used to the idea of traveling. When I was 19 I left Poland and went living as an au-pair girl in Paris for a few years. I need to mention I did not speak French at all then. I spoke English, yet those who know a bit of French culture will immediately figure out knowing English was not much of a help 🙂 I leant French there. Brave, isn’t it? As some may claim that going to a foreign country may be risky for such a young girl, I think it was just an adventure for a 19-year-old girl. It taught her how to manage in such a cosmopolitan city like Paris. It was 2002. In Poland capitalism was only 13 years old, and even though the capital and the country itself was quickly developing, it was nothing in comparaison to a 12 million Ile-de-France region. My 3 years adventure of living in France taught me only amazing skills, like: becoming very independent and more tolerant, counting only on myself, managing in all kinds of situations and finding out what freedom means to me. I am now not afraid of buying flight tickets and going abroad alone. I would even say I love it! What I love about traveling alone is that I do not need to compromise on anything. I go to places I want to see and visit. I do not need to ask anyone for their opinion or plans for the trip or for the day. It may sound egoist, and yes I am aware of it. Yet I prefer to travel alone than in a bad company. Most of us know how hard it is to find a good companion, especially when it comes to traveling. People have different needs and expectations. In my life there are only 2 people I am willing to travel with – my father and one of my girlfriends. The reason I can fly with them is that they know some unpredictable things and situations will happen and they do not panic then. They are both chilled out and relaxed, they love enjoying life, so if we feel like sitting in a café and drinking some, we just do so. Both of them do not care about money that much, so we are not counting penny for each meal in a restaurant or each souvenir that we buy to know how much we have left. Of course we are being reasonable and not wasting money on stupid things, just enjoying every single moment of our journey. Rest of my friends do not travel the same way I do, so there is no point going anywhere with them, as it would be only waste of my energy.
What does the travelling alone give me? Lots of positive emotions. Facing challenges. Proving myself I am invincible. Crossing my boundaries. Realizing I am amazing. I love the feeling of getting on a plane, then landing in a foreign country and the story begins – finding myself, asking for direction, searching for places I want to visit, tasting different food, enjoying sunsets and sunrises, admiring landscapes, listening to the sound of sea, ocean and wind. Feeling the universe, understanding it, being grateful for such an opportunity of being where I happen to be. This is what I get when I travel. All range of positive emotions. And people I meet on my way are amazing too: couchsurfers, pedestrians, other tourists. They are always helpful and always making me smile.
Many times, here in Poland, I heard my friends saying that traveling alone is not such a common thing, especially for a girl. I keep wondering why? Are women afraid of doing so and being alone? Are we still thinking only by having with someone around our life has a meaning? Are Polish women still brought up the way they need a man to take care of them, as they are a weaker sex and need protection? Really, are they? If so in my opinion they are missing a lot. Especially their freedom, as they have resigned from it in order to get a false sense of security provided by men. I am aware I am a grown up, does not matter a girl or a boy, as an adult human being I know I am responsible for myself. No one else! At least that is the philosophy of life of a Polish girl who travels alone 🙂 And loves doing it! There are so many amazing places for me to see and I cannot wait to buy another ticket after my 8th Greek holiday this year I am starting soon 🙂 I am sure the moment I come back I will be googling some other flights to places I have never been before. In my opinion we are living in such amazing times and the world is so open to any of those who are willing to take the most of it. And I am one of them 🙂 I want 100% of this world! I know the opportunity is there, just waiting for me to take it. So why would I be like most of Polish girls waiting for their price charm to arrive, when I have millions of flight routes to choose from and still at least 100 countries to visit! I may be egoist, I may not be adapting to society by not having a family and kids, yet I am happy in every single day of my life as thanks to my travels I am such and my open-minded person that has so and many plans for the future! Not only these concerning traveling of course 🙂
What really couchsurfing is about and what does it mean to me?
In brief it is hosting strangers or being hosted in somebody else’s house or apartment in a foreign country. I started using the website and getting to know its community 4 years ago, 2014 to be exact. I tend to host people as I do not travel that much. I am working professionally and am allowed 26 working days off in my country – that gives one and a half month overall. I think it is a lot anyway. Till now I invited to my flat around 70 people from different continents. A lot, I know. And each of them brought something interesting into my life. I do not mean gifts, but emotions 🙂 Some brought just their presence, some their smiles, some their incredible life stories.
I do not remember each of the person I hosted, however there are some that I still have in mind. Especially my couchsurfing love story that really happened 🙂 I know in some cases people use the website for the sexsurfing. Well… their choices, I know I do not need to agree to such behaviours. My aim when starting using the website was to meet international and open-minded people. And I try to choose only those. When a person sends me a request I do not accept them immediately – I look at the profile, I look at the way the request is written, I look at the pictures of the person and then listen to myself and my intuition whether to accept them or not. In 99% of the cases my intuition was right – I chose people who brought real positive energy into my life. There happened only one that treated my apartment as a hotel Apart from that nothing wrong happened. Really?! Some would ask – nobody stole anything from your apartment? Nobody hurt you? Nobody cheated you? Well.. NO 🙂 I stick to my opinion about people that they are good, and maybe that is the reason I attract and invite to my life only these. The best is yet to come – I even give them the keys to my flat! Crazy, isn’t it? The times we are living in, when you only hear bad things happening around the globe, there is a Polish girl who hosts strangers and even gives them keys to her flat 🙂 And still nothing bad happened to her! And I am even 100% sure nothing will in the future. First of all, because I choose people I want to host carefully. Second of all, because these who do the couchsurfing are intelligent and respectful. Third of all, because you can learn so many interesting things from them and expand your knowledge about the world without leaving your flat. It just required logical way of thinking and the state of mind allowing yourself to be free.
My love story from couchsurfing was unpredicted and unexpected. You never really know who enters your flat 🙂 So there was this Korean guy that was supposed to stay with me just for 4 nights. And we got on so well that he stayed for 4 months overall. He is not living with me anymore, he has his own plans in life for the time being and he has the right to do so. Who knows, maybe in 10 or 20 years we will be together again? 🙂 The most important is what I learnt back then about relationships. That these can work out, that people can live together without creating negative atmosphere around them, that it is possible to build love between two people if both are trying. I also learnt that if I did not allow myself to feel so, I would have locked myself from such positive emotions and experience. So one day he left, could not stay longer in the Schengen area and had right to continue his life somewhere else. I was not angry at all back then, just a bit sad. I know as a grown up I am the one responsible for the way I feel and my mood depends only on myself. He is not the one to make me feel good. I am just grateful I was able to live what I had with him. And my memories about these 4 months make me smile. We are still in touch, still calling each other from time to time, still caring about each other. Each month he is in a different country, yeah – a real traveler 😉 Previously I was thinking that if you love someone the person has to be right next to you and with you. I now know it is not true. You can love and care about someone who is far away. Anyway I am not waiting for him to come back, I am living my own life as it is, dating others, building relationships with other people and hosting new couchsurfing ones. This Korean guy was just such an amazing and positive story that happened to me unexpectedly during the whole hosting experience. 🙂
There are others I still remember. Like a Cuban guy that was on an exchange program in Spain and decided to travel around Europe while being here. I do remember him as I had big doubts before accepting him. First of all he was new on a website, that means he had no references, second of all he was 19 (!!!), third of all he was a man. And I did not really know if I wanted to host such a young guy I knew nothing about and had no idea if he was reliable. I am over 30, so I thought with such a young person I may not have much in common. However I told him honestly about my doubts, and got in return such a sincere response that I decided to accept him. No regrets at all! We spent an evening talking till 3 in the morning about everything! That is the couchsurfing experience I love 🙂 And imagine now he is working in CNN as a journalist. It was a few years ago that we met. He grew up and started his professional career 🙂 We are still connected on Facebook, still in touch, still remembering what we experienced together and still thinking maybe one day in life we will meet again. I would love so 🙂 He is only one of my amazing couchsurfing experiences. There were so much more, but if I wanted to describe all probably the article would be 90 minutes long 🙂
I usually host people. I do not use the website the other way round that often. However I started doing it recently and the experience I got was of course, there was just no other option, incredible! Lovely people I met, as they hosted me, in Portugal, Morocco, Taiwan, South Korea and Norway 🙂 The ones I hosted were: Greek, Finnish, Chinese, Indonesian, Iranian, Syrian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Taiwanese, Angolan, Algerian, Peruvian, Romanian, American, Colombian, British, Egyptian, Canadian, Russian, German, French, Spanish, South Korean, Portuguese, Swiss, Tunisian, Filipino, Australian, Argentinian, Singaporean, Japanese, Mexican, Cuban, Italian, British and even Polish. Now when I look at the list of all of these people it amazes me! What amazes the most are the positive emotions they brought to my life as well as a bit of their culture, their lives, their stories and their freedom 🙂
When I discovered couchsurfing community I thought that in order to get something, you need to give first. So I started from giving, that is hosting. At the beginning I did not really know what to expect and who to expect. As the proverb says – expect the unexpected 😉 With some time I have learnt that when it comes to accepting people there are my rules in my place, however when I am being hosted I need to accept the host’s rules. Fair enough. If you are flexible, chilled out, like meeting new people and while being in a foreign country you prefer to see it through locals, the website is the best place to be.
I am going to continue my couchsurfing adventure. I am going to trust people as I was doing till now. I am grateful to whoever invented it that I have such an amazing possibility to meet foreigners, spend time with them, get to know their life stories, share my observations and sometimes even meet them again in another country 🙂