Watching ROCKETMAN through the eyes and mind of a psychotherapist took me down the Yellow Brick Road from the get go. Not ever having a secure attachment from birth, Elton John pursues the love he was denied by both parents by repeating his past in the present by choosing lovers who were exactly like his narcissistic parents. This gave rise to a life of cross addiction in an effort to numb out the pain of never feeling he mattered. His self- destructive behaviors were a manifestation of feeling unlovable. He reinforced this self-fulfilled prophecy of feeling unworthy of being loved by choosing partners who were not unlike his parents—incapable of giving love. He unconsciously reenacted his family of origin in an effort to resolve his childhood wounds.
As I wrote in my book, I HATE THE MAN I LOVE, we unconsciously hire our partners to resolve our unresolved conflicts with our family of origin, then fire them for the exact reason we hired them. As Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking when we created them.”
In the first stage of life we learn the world is either friendly or hostile by the way our parents respond to our basic needs. This is determined by the mental and emotional maturity of our parents. If the level of parenting is poor, the child suffers from neglect, abuse or abandonment. The first stage of life from 0-9 months becomes the predictor of the future. It is the foundation of our sense of self-worth and self-love. If our needs are not met and we don’t experience a secure attachment, we become an object of self-contempt. This results in either addictive behaviors to numb ourselves or if lucky by some fate of good fortune or miracle, we sublimate our pain into productive behaviors.
There was a story on one of the news channels about eight children, all of whom were fatherless, from different fathers who lived on the streets of NYC. Their mother could not provide for their well-being, somehow managed to live without welfare, finding minimal wages, just enough to feed her family. As the story unfolds, all of the children with the exception of the oldest, a girl, were left to flounder on their own. The girl found refuge in books through the kindness and concern of her first grade teacher. She became her mentor through elementary school, so by the time she graduated from high school, she received a four year scholarship to Harvard while her half brothers and sisters were either addicts, dealers, or in jail.
There are many very talented, brilliant individuals who in spite of their dysfunctional families of origin manage to rise above their misery, abuse and abandonment. If we look deeply, we can find role models to help support their personal growth and development. In spite of their success of becoming healthy adults, they continue to find themselves in dysfunctional relationships reminiscent of their families of origin.
What does Elton John have to do with my book I HATE THE MAN I LOVE? Just about everything with the exception of worldwide fame. His beginnings formed his feeling of low self-worth, self-contempt, low self-esteem and the choices he made to validate his feelings of worthlessness. His fortune and fame was also his futility to find self-love. In order that he achieve his self-worth, he alone had to heal his wounded inner child as portrayed so exquisitely in the movie, ROCKETMAN. I would guess that either he, the writer, the director and/or the producer did some Inner Child Work in order to create the relevance in the movie. This of course could not have been done alone. He needed the help and support of therapy. Once he discovered his authentic self he was able to abandon his false self and disrobe his garrulous cover-up that shielded his wounded child. He no longer needed to mask his shame—the shame imposed by his loveless father and narcissistic mother.
The movie so clearly exemplified his journey from abandonment to self-love. Once accomplished, he was able to free himself of the shame that bound him and become the person he was intended to be.
Joan E Childs, LCSW is a renowned psychotherapist, inspirational speaker and author of I HATE THE MAN I LOVE: A Conscious Relationship is Your Key to Success to be released October, 2020. To learn more about how Inner Child Work can resolve underlying issues in your relationships, contact Joan.
For more insights on relationship counseling see one of my colleagues Paula Levine.