So, when he is around others, he could typically be focused on their needs and be completely out of touch with his own needs. Consequently, it will be normal for him to play the same role around others; a role where he does what he can to please them. In general, however, he could do what he can to please his mother.
A big difference the people in his life, along with his mother, could describe him as someone who is easy-going and even “selfless”. It can be as though he is only too happy to be there for others and to be their rock. In reality, how he behaves will have very little to do with what is actually going on for him.
There is a strong chance that most people won’t know what his needs are or how he truly feels. Both ways he could more or less always create the impression that he is fine and that he doesn’t have needs. There could be moments when he actually believes that this is the truth, due to him being totally out of touch with himself.
During these moments, he is going to be out of touch with his needs and feelings. This is likely to mean that he will be out of touch with his body and that his attention will be primarily in his head. The seat of the self what this illustrates is that his true self will be found in his body, not his head.
For him to express who he is, then, he will need to have a good connection with his body and feel comfortable expressing his self. But, while this is what should be normal and how he should live his life, it won’t be what feels comfortable. What will feel comfortable is hiding his self around others and focusing on their needs.
Nothing new he could see that this is how he has been for about as long as he can remember. It is unlikely that he will consciously choose to lose touch with his true self around others and to hide behind a mask. Most likely, this is something that will automatically take place; it can be as if he is possessed by someone or something.
Like an intruder, this false self will just take over and outmuscle his true self. Deeply powerless by living this way, he could often feel frustrated and angry, yet he might do his best to avoid how he feels, and believe that he has no control over his life. He could be sick and tired of living a life that is not in alignment with who he really is.
Still, if he was to imagine being in touch with and expressing himself around others and his mother, in particular, he could end up feeling extremely uncomfortable. This could be a time when he will come into contact with guilt, shame and fear and anxiety. Inner conflict if this is what takes place, it is not going to be a surprise that he hides who he is around others.
What is clear is that a big part of him will believe that if he was to fully show up around others, his survival would be under threat. Therefore, on one side, he will have the need to express who he is, and, on the other, he will have an even stronger need to hide who he is. Living a life that is largely an expression of his false self won’t be fulfilling but it will be seen as the only way for him to survive.
A deeper look if he has been this way for as long as he can remember, it will probably show that what took place during his formative years played a big part. This would have meant that she wouldn’t have been able to truly be there for him and to give him the love and nurturance that he needed to grow and develop in the right way. A clear message he would have soon learned that in order for him to survive, he had to ignore his own needs and feelings and to focus on his mother’s needs and feelings.
Doing what she wanted was the way for him to avoid being mistreated and/or left. This would have caused him to believe that both his needs and his self were bad. Playing the role of a surrogate spouse would have allowed him to survive, but, naturally, it would have meant that he stayed in a developmentally stunted state and his true self would have gone into hiding.
Replaying the past many, many years will have passed since this stage of his life but a big part of him won’t have moved on. The truth is that he can be in touch with and express who he is and not only can he survive, but he can thrive. For him to know this at the core of his being and to freely express himself, he will need to question what he believes and resolve his early trauma.
This is something that can be provided with the assistance of a therapist or healer.