Childhood emotional neglect

Sometimes I wonder how come my mother has not to this point understood that she has done something wrong. It is not that her recognizing her mistakes is necessary for my healing- no I have managed to take our relationship to the level where I have no expectations on her. Hence, surprises can only be positive. She seems to be able to also relax in the environment where she is not supposed to be a parent, but can have a contact me from time to time with no strings attached. The reason why I cannot understand my mother’s denial is that to my mind some things just seem plain wrong and there is no way someone can think it is normal. However, this feeling, of course, is deceiving, as five years ago I did not find anything wrong with my childhood either. Only now have I started to grasp the full effect of my mother’s actions or non-actions for that matter.

So lets start from the obvious- you do not leave a baby alone for hours and hours. OK, I can understand to a degree when you leave baby home while you are going to the store, but my mother was going to doctors alone, going to city administration alone and she was doing all this in a belief that I will sleep 3-4 hours anyway. Lets continue- You probably will not let your four year old use public transport alone or make your 6 year old go shopping for you or demand from your seven year old the kind of cooking skills you never thaught her. The list of age inappropriate activities is just endless and it took first my ex boyfriend to point out to me, that actually these things were not normal. In my mind I was happy for always having been so independent. Little did I know what was the sideeffect of this independence- feeling that there is noone to be trusted in the world. Feeling that people will let you down in crucial moments and you will have to manage alone anyway. I did a lot of projection in my relationships, seeing them to be doomed from the beginning. How would a twenty year old me have known, that it was just my mother’s behavior I was seeing in my boyfriends?

I found an interesting division between children who were victims of emotional abuse and those who were victims of emotional neglect. Apparently those that were neglected become overly compliant, attuned to others needs etc- this is their way of getting the attention and love they never had. These children that were emotionally abused however become attention seekers who try to compensate their inner emptiness with constant achievements and do not mind stepping over some borders. If one were to ask, I probably lean more to the second option- I think I was always a little bit narcissistic. Taking into account other people’s wishes and needs does not come easy to me. To a degree I even envy all these childhood abuse victims that tell stories of being used and being too nice to people, because all I am left with is the knowledge that I brought abandonment to myself by being a bitch. Anyways, the idea behind aforementioned distinction made by Jonice Webb, is that even though both, emotionally neglected and emotionally abused children have to a large degree same problems, they have chosen to react to those differently. So I learned to achieve a lot ever since I was a child, I leared that it was a though world out there and I somehow had to be visible. Apparently it is common for the abused children to mistake attention and admiration for love. I think that truly describes some of relationships (luckily not the current one though). I guess what every emotionally abused child secretly wants is to be seen and accepted separate from her achievements. Can you imagine my surprise then when my current boyfriend confessed me his love just out of nowhere. In my mind I had done nothing to deserve it. I was not even good enough person for it. I had yet to convince him with some achievements that I was actually worthy of his love. His confession was ulitmately what brought me to therapy, because after first person in my life showed me some unconditional love, my walls started falling down. I was shocked as to how alienated from everything I was. However, more about the beginning of my therapy and my emotional abuse in the next post.


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