25 thoughts on “Are You Struggling in Your Adult Life? 4 Common Patterns

  • April 6, 2017 at 10:14 am

    All of the above was and still is true for me. I realized at a very early age that my relationships with my parents were not right. I worked very hard to raise my own two daughters and my son to feel loved, supported, even celebrated, for who they were. It pains me to see that they struggle in their adult lives with various issues, despite my best efforts. On my worst days, I blame myself for passing on the family dysfunctions. On my best days, I struggle to help them find their path. It’s a difficult way to live.

    • April 9, 2017 at 11:15 am

      I can very much relate to your comments, having had similar experiences. I still suffer from terrible guilt that I repeated a lot of my parents dysfunctional behaviour, despite vowing not to, and inflicted some of the same problems that I suffered from as a child on my own children. On a good day, I can recognise that there were some areas where I did OK and that, unlike my parents, I have worked on my own self-development since and so am in a better position to support them now. But it is difficult, and I think that my feelings about my own failings as a parent get in the way of my dealing fully with my childhood issues.

    • April 16, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      Seems to me like you are trying very hard not to recreate the past, with your mama. I sure wish a lot of this dialogue was written to for and about Men!We need this as much as the Ladies do!!Good going ,, sounds like you are a really caring Woman!

  • April 6, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    All of the above – I think my parents were immature and did not really know how to be a parent. Throw in bullying and you have someone with a strong sense of self protection – trying to feel safe.

  • April 7, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    WOW! This blew my mind! It is me up and down. How am I just seeing this spelled out at 51 years old. I always thought I was just a chicken and wouldn’t try things. I knew I wanted to always play it safe, I just didn’t realize why. I totally see this. My father didn’t approve of anything I ever did. And I was a super good, calm, quiet child. Very sensitive, like this says. But I was belittled and still am in every conversation I have with my father. I cannot think of the last time my father asked me a question about me or my life. He just makes up assumptions that are totally false and says that I am worthless. I am the sole caregiver to an adopted daughter with brain damage. ( didn’t know this when I adopted her) I have PTSD from the trauma she has inflicted on me. My mother has now passed away. All I could think of from the minute she passed, with me sitting there beside her, was that I was so glad she was finally away from him. Finally, he wasn’t telling my Magna Cum Laude, Doctorate, tenured college professor mother how stupid she was. Now, after years of not being able to leave my horrible, emotionally unavailable spouse (of 24 years), I am divorced and having to get help from the Narcissist father again. What a miserable life I have lived with these too. And yep, ended up with an emotionally unavailable boyfriend( now 5 1/2 years) that I desperately want to break up with and just can’t! You have spelled me out to a TEE! AGH! And to top it off, I have never set ANY goals in life! Never! I always felt it was better not to fail, yet again.

  • April 8, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Wow. This reads like the results of a personality test that I never took. Sad to know that, but also very revealing.

  • April 9, 2017 at 9:26 am

    The real question, is, since the problem seems to have been so keenly identified, what is the best therapeutic approach? CBT, psychoanalysis, Jungian?

    • April 10, 2017 at 7:35 am

      I’m neither a therapist nor a psychologist but I think that the best therapeutic approach would be to work with someone who is really well-versed in attachment theory and child development and understands how adult behaviors have their roots in childhood experiences. Since most of these behaviors are unconscious, the key is to see whether your reactions are really responses to the present or, in fact, are reflections of the past. Best, Peg

  • April 10, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Thanks for this thought provoking article. I kind of smiled when I read the comment from the 51 year old–I am 70–I still have these feelings of inadequacy that sad to say, my mother instilled in me, and even though now I have a wonderfully supportive husband; I do honestly know that my marrying a narcissist the first marriage was a result of trying to escape the not-measuring up that my Mom managed to let me think all during my childhood years. One night, recently, I let myself think about all the things I disliked about her. Maybe it was fate that lead me to read this tonight; maybe I need to start realizing it wasn’t my fault!

  • April 12, 2017 at 9:05 am

    Peg, your blog is amazing and I just want to tell you how much this and so many of your posts have helped me find clarity. Your clear explanations really give me a solid base to work from in identifying and resolving decades-old negative behaviour and thought patterns. Thank you so much.

    • April 12, 2017 at 10:59 am

      I’m glad to hear that my work is helpful though I am sorry, as always, that you need to tread it. Best, Peg

  • April 12, 2017 at 11:07 am

    YES, this is so me, too!! It was kind of a relief to read this. I have four older sisters that I have never been able to relate to. They very seldom make any effort to contact me or stay in touch with me. I’ve never known if I’m the problem or if it’s them. At 58 I have given up. I can no longer handle the guilt of feeling like its all up to me to stay in touch with them. I can call or email and get the one response back and then never hear from them again. Three of the four are very close and stay in touch all of the time. The other sister and myself are kept out of the loop. Is happening because all 5 of us have felt unloved and our emotional needs not met?

    • April 12, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      Bonnie, Sibling relationships are very complicated. It’s actually more likely than not that you all had different relationships with your mother, depending on the age difference and “goodness of fit.” It’s only when a mother suffers from an undiagnosed mental illness or struggles with unacknowledged addiction that sometimes (not always) siblings feel the same way. Peg

      • April 12, 2017 at 2:21 pm

        That makes a lot of sense! Yes our mom did have different relationships with each of us. Myself being the baby of the family, I asked my mom one time if maybe my sisters were jealous because I did get more one on one with her. She told me they would get over it!! I don’t think they did. 🙂

  • April 12, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    I am wondering if the same impact can result from overly strict teachers in early school years even if one or both parents are loving?

  • April 12, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    I was enjoying this article until the reference only to daughters

    I am guessing, as a male, I should just suck it up and deal? That, as a male, I never suffered from depression, doubt or withdrawal?

    • April 13, 2017 at 10:54 am


      I was thinking the very same thought that you voiced, as I read through both the article and the comments. It seems that were I a woman, a child, or anything but a man, that the hurt feelings and painful thoughts that I have could be helped. But since I was born male, then, my only option is to bear and deal with anything and everything that life will toss at me, expecting no help from anyone at any time. Maybe that wasn’t the author’s intent but if you saw it too then maybe it’s just another in the mixed messages of this life that I’m expected te be able to decipher but cannot.

      • April 13, 2017 at 12:21 pm

        Again, this blog is devoted to mothers and daughters. No snideness is intended. See my comment to Big Soph as well. Peg

    • April 13, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      This is a blog about mothers and daughters; hence the focus. That said, sons/men suffer too but in some of the same ways but with meaningful differences. Best, Peg

  • April 13, 2017 at 12:37 am

    All the articles in this magazine seem to promise in the headline that it will list the problems people have, but then after the list not come up with any kind of help or, sometimes, even fail to show how anyone qualifies for being in that category. I keep subscribing to this because I am an incurable optimist and still believe reading the same types of articles will bring different results. I will have to stop this subscription.

  • April 13, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    I’m also 51 and still trying to figure it all out. It is helpful to see others have the same reactions/experiences, but I also hate that it’s so predictable because of things that happened over 50 years ago. I was told gleefully by my parents that I used to rock on my hands and knees, chant in a repetitive way, and crash my head against the headboard of the crib. I thought it was funny. My sister did it a little less than I, but also did it. When I was about 25, a doc I worked with told me that it meant my parents weren’t paying enough attention to me. Then it wasn’t so funny anymore. The comments you made in this blog apply to my life. As an athlete, when I got close to being the best, I would sabotage myself and not work out to get to the top (competitive gymnastics, softball, and rugby). When I stopped competitive athletics, I got heavier. I joined an eating group and lost a good amount of weight. I was asked to speak in future classes. When I received so much positive feedback, I sabotaged myself again. Growing up I did not (and still don’t) feel love from my mom (divorced and dad was only partially in the picture – also is bi-polar and has his own issues). She was never pleased with anything even though I wa a good kid, no trouble, straight As, etc. She’d find something I wasn’t good at to criticize. Geez, I can go on and on. I do work with a great therapist who is a wonderful reality check. She helps me not live as a victim, but as someone who tries to be emotionally aware that I’m not perfect, I’m great as the person I’ve become, and I CAN achieve goals (she helps give me little steps instead of big ones to accomplish them). I went all over the place in this post – just writing as I think. Good luck in the struggle everyone. Just remember you are wonderful and you CAN take charge of your own life. Figure out a way to get around those obstacles!

  • April 13, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Would you suggest a self help book. I have the above symptoms and have passed them on to my 2 daughters.

    • April 14, 2017 at 9:16 am

      I will be publishing a book in the coming months with strategies. You may also want to read my book MEAN MOTHERS which explains the problems broadly. I also have a Facebook page where we discuss these issues. Best, Peg

  • April 13, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    I’m 48+ and I feel all this describes me. I’m in a 29-2 years relationship/marriage with an emotionally unavailable husband who since our reconnection after the two year separation can share his thoughts with others (women) but not with me. He doesn’t want to talk to me about changing things or working on our relationship, “just see what happens” “maybe his feelings for me will come back” he says times 5 years now. I want to be there for him but I’m probably emotionally unavailable to him as well as our two teenager sons. No substance or physical abuse, compassionate, hard working, just unavailable. Maybe just psychological frost bite?? I wish I knew what to do for me, for him and for our children

  • April 15, 2017 at 10:06 am

    This is the story of my life. I’m enlightened. Thank you so much for the article Peg, once again you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    I’m 66 and I’ve carried a pervasive sense of not being good enough, being flawed, being a bad person all my life. Family and extended family have scapegoated me. It was never my sister who did wrong but fingers would automatically point at me. Sister was the golden girl and the one who sucked up to my parents and rest of family members. Though, she is a born liar, theif and is insanely jealous and envious. I was for her and our parents the perfect scapegoat for all the ills in the family.

    I have never forgiven them and neither will I. I was the child that was sytematically abused… verbally, emotionally and physically from early childhood. The damage they have caused to a young growing girl has been far reaching right into my adulthood invloving two selfish to the core, bullying and controlling husbands who are now ex. This also involves adult friendships of whom most turned out to be just like my mother and sister treating me exactly like them. The saddest thing though is that it took too long to end toxic realtionships in my life because I was brainwashed to believe that it was me… that something is wrong with me and the anxieties that I’ve lived with has driven me half mad trying to figure out what it is about me that is so very bad. So, I always worked harder and harder to please others because I was totally unaware that because of all the chronic abuse that a lot of damage had been done to me.

    I’ve had a very painful life through carrying a faulty belief system which has worked against me in every relationship. The overriding feeling is that I am a FLAWED person… I’m bad and worthless. The chronic blaming and abuse has really done a number on me. At this age, can I ever get through it? If only there was a magic wand.

    Thanks again Peg. Please keep on writing because you give so much to the rest of us by way of clarity. You help us to make sense of a very distorted view of ourselves because through no fault of our own we have been used and abused.


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