Although a mother enmeshed man will have missed out on the love and nurturance that he needed very early on, it doesn’t mean that he will no longer have these childhood needs. No, these unmet needs will have stayed inside him and they will have a big effect on his life. However, even though this is the case, there is a strong chance that he won’t be aware of this.
What he could be aware of is his need to please others; then again, this might not be something that he is aware of either. The norm in general, then, he will do what he can to please others and his mother, in particular, and this will be what feels comfortable. By being so focused on what is going on for others and estranged from himself, it could be said that this won’t be much of a surprise.
For him to realise what is going on, he will need to bring his awareness away from others and into himself. Two parts on the one hand, pleasing others is likely to be seen as the only way for him to survive. And, on the other hand, pleasing others will be a way for him to try to receive the love that he missed out on very early on.
A big part of him is likely to believe that if he does the right thing and does it for long enough, he will finally be loved for who he is. Two levels with this in mind, how he behaves will be a way for him to take care of his survival needs and emotional needs. Behaving in this way will probably allow him to survive, but, most likely, it won’t allow him to thrive.
Moreover, behaving in this way will allow him to receive ego love (attention, acceptance and approval), if not real love, but it won’t allow him to be loved for who he really is. Naturally, for him to be loved for who he is, he will need to reveal who he is. More pain so, no matter what he does for others or what they give him, he is likely to get a sense that something is missing and to feel empty.
Still, he might do his best to deny how he really feels and to carry on behaving in the same way. His need to behave in the same way will cause him to both suppress and repress what is truly going on for him. At this stage of his life, he simply won’t be able to acknowledge how he really feels.
Enough is enough nonetheless, there could come a point in time when he has burnt himself out and he can no longer behave in the same way. He will now be able to recognise that what he is doing isn’t working and he needs to do something else. Even so, this doesn’t mean that part of him won’t want him to carry on it the same way; it will mean that another part of him is just about strong enough to rein this part in.
This new, healthy part of him will know that the time has come for his life to change. Repetition compulsion perhaps through doing his own research, he will come to see that he believes that he needs to please others to survive and that he is looking for the love that he missed out on very early on. The fact that he is a grown man will be irrelevant; he will crave the love that he missed out on as a boy.
It’s over ultimately, his mother was unable to love him due to her own issues, not because there was, or is, anything inherently wrong with him or his needs. One thing he will need to do, to no longer create a reality where he feels unloved, is to connect with his unmet childhood needs and grieve them. Also, for him to truly let love in and to be loved for who he is, he will need to reveal who is and no longer hide behind a mask.
This is something that can be provided with the assistance of a therapist or healer.