I’m 63-year-old male. I was abused physically and emotionally from a very young age by my father. He often whipped me with a thin pigskin belt as hard as he could while he screamed at me. When I cried he would whip me until I stopped crying. I remember the feeling of imploding when I had to do this. My mother tried to make him stop but he would lock us in the bathroom while the beating took place. I can still hear my mother screaming from the other side of the door for him to stop. When he didn’t whip me he called me names and told me I would never amount to anything. If I cried when he taunted me he would say they were “crocodile tears and didn’t mean anything.” My father died when I was 11 and as much as anything I felt relief.
My father loved my mother very much but she married him to get out of war-torn Italy. She told me years later “ she respected” him but didn’t marry him out of love. I was the only son and my mother loved me very much.
I have always struggled with relationships with women because of jealousy. I am hypersensitive to cues I think I’m getting from a women. If she doesn’t smile at me at the right time I take it as a rejection. It’s the intensity of the feelings I continue to have today that has made me wonder if my early experiences of my attachment to my mother and my hatred for my father influence my jealousy and lack of trust for women and at the same time my need for intense attachment to women. If so, is there help?
Thank you for sending in your email. It takes courage to begin addressing such important and difficult issues. Although your mother wasn’t able to help when you were being abused she became an emotional lifeboat when your father died. Your insight about your “…early experiences of my attachment to my mother and my hatred for my father influence my jealousy and lack of trust for women and at the same time my need for intense attachment to women…” is right on target.
There is a whole field of attachment psychology that has researched such matters and good therapists will be proficient in helping you unravel these mysteries. Here is an article about attachment from Psych Central’s Sharon Martin — and the ‘find help’ tab at the top of the page will help you find therapists in your area who can help.
Learning about how to unlock the chains of the past so you can have a more fulfilling relationship now is something the therapist you work with can help you through.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
APA Reference Tomasulo, D. (2018). Roots of Jealousy and Mistrust. Psych Central.
Retrieved on May 26, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/09/29/roots-of-jealousy-and-mistrust-2/
Last updated: 28 Sep 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 28 Sep 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.