Every family is a little dysfunctional, right? Yep, but some are a bit more than others. So often when we think of child abuse, we think of physical or sexual abuse – genuinely horrible things that no child should ever have to suffer. Emotional abuse, neglect, and feelings of abandonment frequently get less attention but can start a path of destruction that affects generations to come. How can you pass down parenting skills and love you never received or felt? What happens when we are told we are stupid and will never amount to anything? What happens when parents are so incapacitated by drugs or alcohol that the children manage the household and end up parenting the parents? What happens when the narcissistic parent is let down or embarrassed by the child that doesn’t live up to unrealistic expectations?
The answer to every one of those scenarios is emotional abandonment and neglect. The fact that no one can see bruises or scars doubles the shame. If others could see marks, they would ask what happened to you. Instead, they ask what’s wrong with you? Why are you still so angry? Why is it always someone else’s fault? Why are you such a downer to be around? Why do you need to drink so much? Why are you so controlling? Can’t you get anything done on time?
If you have heard any or all of these questions from spouses, friends, family or co-workers, Childhood Emotional Neglect may be playing out in your relationships. Deep shame that develops in childhood is powerfully damaging to our sense of self and demands that we develop ways to move in the adult world that mask or control it.
Victimhood, rage, perfectionism, and using substances or behaviors to “numb out” are just a few of these masks. When we wear any of these masks, we are able to avoid taking responsibility for our challenges, feel powerful and in absolute control. Unfortunately, the fronts that we put up typically drive our loved ones away and make work and deep friendships difficult to impossible.
If this sounds like you or a loved one, there is help, and a professional therapist can help make sense of it and start the healing process. Don’t let another day of sadness, fear, and anger dominate your life. Call Today!