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The Death of Peter Pan


Hoagy
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Forgive the dramatic title but it seems appropriate.

 

I've just come from a session with my therapist where I think I made a breakthrough. You might recall from my previous post that I've long had difficulty understanding what is holding me back from finding love and contentment. Something within myself.

 

Ever since I can remember I've always felt like an outsider, always on the fringe of 'normal', a square peg in a round hole, and so forth. And that has always suited me. I like being different. I like being the rebel and I've made it part of who I am. I've always resisted conforming and being like everyone else. I especially didn't want to 'sell out' and become like my parents - middle class, middle of the road, safe, conventional and boring. I always tried to stay around 20 years old because that was the time in my life when I was happiest. When I was 20 I had a great deal of freedom. No longer at school (very strict discipline) but not yet tied down by marriage and a mortgage. They were Halcyon days that I didn't want to let go of. I was scared of growing up. Consequently I developed a kind of Peter Pan mentality ( ).

 

But if I want to be married, to own a house, have children - all the stuff I believe will make me happy - then I have to conform, don't I? I have to grow up and accept responsibility. This only just hit me in session today like a slap with a wet fish. It's also been a wake up call. I'm in my mid-40s now and I hope it's not too late.

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What a breakthrough!

 

Can I ask your current age?

 

It's often thought that we maintain a certain psychological age our entire lives. Which can be great, if we feel like we are 35 when we are 55. But for you, recognizing that you still feel like a 20 year-old can keep you from truly growing up and having the things you ultimately want in life.

 

I'm so proud of you, and I don't even know you, lol! As a woman who has dated her share of Peter Pans, I thank you.

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Conforming and being responsible are not the same things. Conform to what, I might ask? Your marriage, home, children will not be the same as those of your parents. There are different ways to be unconventional and yet still be responsible to your children, a good partner to your spouse, and having a roof over your head. You can be creative with your life and follow your joy, and be responsible for those who need you to be. Explore different ways people have homes without mortgages, freedom and marriage, an interesting life and children....

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So interesting. To me, growing up represented freedom. It meant being able to have more control over my environment and life. It meant more options.

 

You created this idea in your head about what growing up means. You've seen it as a loss. Loss of autonomy , and I get this idea you see it as a trap. Why do associate growing up with selling out? And what is selling out to you?

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But if I want to be married, to own a house, have children - all the stuff I believe will make me happy - then I have to conform, don't I? I have to grow up and accept responsibility. This only just hit me in session today like a slap with a wet fish. It's also been a wake up call. I'm in my mid-40s now and I hope it's not too late.

 

Paying your bills on time, living within your means and having a steady relationship are not "confirming" - its joining adulthood. Finally deciding to be an adult in your 40s will be a tough road - but its now or never

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Don't get me wrong. There have been jobs, I have paid my bills and taxes, and there have been relationships. I got stuck at 20, not 12. It isn't that I didn't want to marry and have kids. I just always thought I would do it when I was older and more 'mature' - when I properly felt ready. I got older biologically but not emotionally and 'ready' never happened.

 

I'm working on the theory that I got stuck because something happened in my mid-20s that was very traumatic. It was a tough time for my family when we weren't even able to think about making plans for the future. When it was over we all tried to deal with it in different ways. I dealt with it by locking those memories in a box which I kept in my mind attic and never looking at them again. Then I turned the clock back a few years to a time when I was happier and life was simpler and I never caught up again. If I'd had counselling at the time then maybe I'd be further forward now than I am.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm currently reading 'Problem of the Puer Aeternus' by Marie-Louise von Franz. Probably you're familiar with the book if you're doing Jungian therapy? If not, check it out, it analyzes the same issue you mention. I think you've made a huge step forward recognizing it in yourself and I'm wishing you luck with the work you'll have to do in that direction. I think I'm in a similar boat.

 

Also, I wanted to point out something. The title you chose sounds like a typical Peter Pan/Puer Aeternus/Little Prince's archetype life statement by itself. Preferring to die than to simply grow up, c'mon. :saturn:

 

Anyway. Good luck again and know you're not alone but the path is yours to walk. :strawberry:

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