Shouldn’t I feel happier and more fulfilled? My life lacks meaning. Sometimes I feel like I’m on the outside looking in at others who are truly living. Why do I struggle so much with self-discipline? What is wrong with me?
Almost everyone realizes that what happens to us in childhood has an effort who we become as adults. The good and the bad: awards, accomplishments, mistreatment or abuse. It all has an impact.
But, there is another factor from childhood which has an equal or even greater effect than childhood events, like awards, mistreatments or abuse. This is a fact that people can’t see or remember. It’s invisible. It’s Emotional Neglect.
It’s a parent’s failure to respond enough to a child’s emotional needs. Emotional Neglect is in some ways opposite of mistreatment and abuse. Whereas mistreatment and abuse are parental acts, Emotional Neglect is a parent’s failure to act. It’s a failure to notice, attend to, or respond to a child’s feelings. Because it’s an act of omission, it’s not visible, noticeable, or memorable.
Emotional Neglect is the white space in the family picture; the background rather than the foreground. It is insidious and overlooked while it does it’s silent damage to people’s lives.
Children who are emotionally neglected grow up to have a particular set of struggles. Because their emotions were not validated as children, they may have difficulty knowing and trusting their own emotions as adults. They may have difficulty understanding their own feelings, as well as others. Because an important part of themselves ( their emotional self) has been denied, they may find themselves feeling disconnected, unfulfilled, or empty. I felt disconnected for years, not know where I belonged or even if I belonged. I filled that hole of emptiness up with alcohol and drugs. They may have difficulty trusting or relying on others. I felt different from other people; like something was wrong with me but not knowing what it was. I know now Alcohol and Drugs were not the answer. And knew there was a better answer.
Another way that parents can unwittingly emotionally neglect their child is to fail to give then structure and rules to live by, like consequences and discipline. I grew to know if I didn’t talk and stayed out of my moms sight. I could do anything I wanted, she didn’t care about me anyway. However, as a result, the emotionally neglected often struggle with self- discipline.
Whatever the level of parental failure, the emotional neglected have no childhood memories to explain their difficulties. So, to often, they blame themselves.
To this day, Emotional Neglect has been overlooked. Because it’s invisible, unmemorable, and the absence of something (emotional validation) it has been greatly overshadowed by more visible, but also worthy topics, like childhood events, abuse, or trauma.
Today I am doing better. I still struggle with self-discipline, I don’t talk much, I am just different than everyone else. I have had to come to terms with that. If I get upset with someone or something I have to walk away. I have realized that I am not my mothers sin, why should I live like I am. I am different but I am beautiful and comfortable with who I am.