“I don’t want to grow up” is not just a slogan for Toy’s R Us. It is the spoken or unspoken mantra of many invisible children hiding inside perfectly normal looking adults. These are the ones who look for others to save them from financial difficulty rather than get creative about making a living. The ones who leave their dishes in the sink for “someone else” to come along and clean up. Or maybe throw their towels down in the health club without a thought as to how it will disappear before the next time they visit.
Some have a lot of training in the art of never growing up. Their mother or father did everything for them or maybe they had a sibling who was “over-functioning” for them. Maybe they were “special” in some way: Athletes or just lucky (?) children who didn’t have to do much to contribute to their own existence and care.
These former children are our roommates, our co-workers, our friends, maybe even ourselves. Who doesn’t long for some powerful, rich, competent other who will take care of our every need without us having to do much. Most of us may have at least one under-functioning bone in our body, sometimes laying latent until our dream rescuer comes along.
Or maybe we are on the other side of the equation: Over-functioning for someone else and probably resenting it. Who loves doing someone else’s dishes or throwing someone’s rotten food away from the work refrigerator? Service to others is a true blessing of being human; but forced labor in the form of picking up the pieces behind someone who isn’t acting their age can be infuriating.
The costs of being involved in an over/underfunctioning relationship are high. From enabling addiction, losing one’s life savings to a lover with a great idea, or expending one’s precious life energy in the service of someone who is capable but not willing to take on life’s responsibilities. It is really worth taking a look at one’s motivations and fears that keep the patterns going for a lifetime or even for generations. As the saying goes: Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.