I'm 26, and feel the need to sort and process my childhood. I grew up in Norway. I have always felt a bit low, passive and lacking self-confidence growing up. I was polite, kind, and quite normal; I was okay at sports, good at music and school. I feel I wasn't able to accomplish even 10% of what I wanted to do. I felt stopped.
My first question has always been, "What's my problem? Why am I not able to accomplish more?" I've been undergoing treatment for anxiety and depression for the last 1.5 years, so that subject is already being treated.
The second question has been, "What's wrong in my family?" As long as I can remember, something felt wrong. I feel I'm getting close to answering this. My parents were very good at some things, not at others. They were good at caring for us financially, our physical health, and our intellectual development.
I feel that they were less successful at being "there" for us emotionally and socially. The things they could easily understand, they've sort of been there. But once it became difficult, they came with all kinds of apologies, but never tried solving the problem. It was simply forgotten.
I've never felt openness to discuss anything that really matters, only school, economy, practical and material things only, never more than that. The most consistent topic was "how was school today?" (asked by my mom; my dad didn't participate much in this respect.) However, my mom was very interested in the superficial stuff; she just wanted to hear that everything was okay, and that I did something fun with my friends. (The truth was, I found it hard to communicate with others in my class.) I needed her to listen to what I talked about, not ignore me or get tired and leave, then just forget about the topic like I never talked about it. So I started to not talk. I avoided the question. I started to say "Great!" ironically, or just barely answer at all. I had nobody to talk to.
And my father wasn't there. He went down to his office almost all day. And if it were something he wanted to be a part of, it was very specific topics. He wanted to tell me about mathematics, or he wanted me to go to football training and speed skating. Never wanted to talk, or establish a proper two-way connection with me.
Actually, that goes for both. Lot of them, little me. Not much communication, and if there was some, it was one-way. From them to me. And that stopped me from talking quite quickly. I felt inside me, are you not gonna listen? And so it went.
I've been talking to my parents about my feelings about the family growing up. They sort of simply didn't/don't accept my version of the story. I can count on one hand the times my mother was a tiny bit open, but it never went anywhere. My mom listened to me (kind of stony-faced), but didn't really engage. I felt that she believed everything she did was perfect, and she wasn't open to hearing anything else. I had proper hopes for someday establishing honest communication with my mom, maybe in 10-20 years, maybe confirming some of my feelings, but then she got cancer and died two years ago..
My dad is worse. He gets defensive immediately, derails the conversation, twists things I say, often interrupts me telling me "how it was", seems unable to talk about relational difficulties at all, and defines my subjects as "useless" and "meaningless". He has a small set of things he thinks is important as a parent, and the rest he strictly and firmly doesn't want to think about. This is very difficult for me to deal with.
I've concluded that for some reason both my mum and dad failed in some important parts of parenting, namely the emotional and social support of me and my siblings. My father did what he felt was important to do, but the emotional and social part that I needed, being me growing up here in this place, he feels he had no responsibility to provide.
I feel that I see this in other families as well, and that it's somehow accepted by many parents here in Norway. It's a one-way communication, and you're not responsible for being totally present as a parent, like emotionally and socially, and the more abstract things.
Are parents supposed to be emotionally and socially present and supportive, or is it enough that they are physically and materially supportive and generally just kind?