I have not written in a long time. Meanwhile I have contacted 60 hospitals treating traumatised patients, lost another long term friend very suddenly and both came with ugly revelations. But I am a person who has an uncanny ability to see a silver lining in every terrible thing that has happened to me and this ability has not left me.
I think for the first time in my life there is now no one I communicate with on a daily basis. I’m well and truly lonely and it’s given me time to think and understand some things. My biggest lightbulb is that my biggest problem was not that I was abused. Rather I have been emotionally neglected. Pete Walker has linked the pain coming from emotional neglect to a scenario that made me understand A LOT.
He said all (human) children are hard wired to know they should not be alone, they rely on their parents to defend them from predators, nuture them and keep them warm asf. So the fight for the parents attention to a young child (Walker cites the age of six) is a fight for survival. I’m pretty sure the idea that we are safe from my often invoked saber tooth tiger regardless of our elders actions or inactions does not compute yet for our brains.
Emotionally it’s still being left to fend for oneself when young = being in mortal danger.
So the pain I’m dealing with does not come from abusive messages such as I’m not worth the oxygen I breathe or whatever else verbal abusers say. My pain comes from not being acknowledged to exist at all. By the very people who are responsible for my existence. Which in a way is akin to not actually existing. To me it feels more brutal than killing me. But that might be overdramatising things and I’m not a fan of measuring my own pain against other peoples pain. Pain is pain. I just feel a need to verbalise my own, make me realise what happened. I’ve not even been worth my parents time to insult me.
This leaves me in a funny place. Neglect is much more sneaky than abuse. “When someone asks what did they do to you?” all I can say is “Nothing.” Because that’s what happened. Nothing. Regardless of whether I was admitted to psychiatry, was lovesick for the first time, had a letter with my very high IQ test results or won the local science fair. Nothing happened. The amount of green apples in the house was more important than that. How do you talk about this? Are there words to explain how it feels like to compete with inanimate consumables for just a moment of support or at least attention from the very people who made you?
My very reason to begin to write was to find a way to express myself. I now think regardless of which language I’m writing in, there is no way to express the horrors of what I felt. They are once again ignored for people do not want to face the fact that things like this happen. I’m even bold enough to think that’s the same for ALL languages spoken by humans. This is well and truly beyond words. The only silver lining in this is that I gained some skill in writing at least.
The silver lining to this situation as a whole looks much brighter in my mind tho. I am nothing if not a good learner. It’s true that I never learned how it feels to have support. I never learned how to identify good friends from people who just use me. I don’t know how to ask for support and have healthy boundaries. I never knew or learned a million things my parents should have taught me. But I can learn now. I will always carry scars and some open wounds might never heal at all but I can improve because I’m grown now and I refuse to just sit in shock still and wait for someone to pick me up to fend of the modern day predators. More often than not those are located within ourselves than outside anyway.
So my way forward is clear now. I have suffered and am suffering from a wound in my psyche which many people do not understand because such things are not visible and such knowledge is uncomfortable anyway. But I will need to find people who understand how to heal from this, who cheer me on and give me the attention and support I should be worth even if I don’t believe atm that I’m worth it. So sadly having lost two close relationships might have been what was needed because the first step is to let go of destructive people.
Which means I need to overhaul my idea of who is destructive and who isn’t. Which is a very tricky business.All the advice I got so far concerning this was about how people make me feel. Which sounds good in theory until we remember that I was emotionally neglected. You see my parents and I had an unwritten contract. As long as I left them alone they’d provide a minimum of material goods to me and not be mean to me.
As a child that sounded like a good enough deal to me. I was never one to stand up for my myself and scream and shout for more. I think my parents made me understand very early on that I won’t get it because they are blind to some of my needs and utterly unable to provide what they can not see is lacking. Like any good survivor I have inherited this blindness to my own and others needs.
Emotional neglect is much “easier” to do when you have silenced emotions of everyone involved.
Emotions have the task to tell us when one of our needs is not met. When we are left alone we feel lonely, when we haven’t eaten for a while we feel hungry, when someone says mean things to us we feel hurt. When people take advantage of us we are angry. To survive in a surrounding drenched in emotional neglect is all about forcefully not having any emotional needs in first place. If you do not feel lonely, hungry, hurt, outraged… As a child you have an intrinsic understanding that you rely on these people for survival in every way imaginable. So you better make this relationship work somehow.
Sadly I have always been very brainy. I understood on some level that asking, screaming shouting, accusing, drawing borders, negotiating or expecting any version of consideration simply would not work. My parents do not work like that. So I pretended to fit in. I’m a good actress. I had to be. And perfectionism gives you a certain drive. They never knew anything was amiss. I just took what they had to offer and pretended I was contend. I wasn’t. It was their duty to see and adress that and this is where they failed me and themselves. They are paying now by having lost all meaningful contact with their child and not even understanding why. I could not explain it to them because in order to preserve their life as it is they must not understand.
So here I am not knowing how I feel about things. I barely recognise hunger and I know only a few stolen basics about hygiene, budgeting (I do not spend money at all, neglecting myself just as always) and nothing worth mentioning about interaction with fellow species members. I will have to learn all of this too. For the non emotional stuff I’m rather hopeful. There is google and through that I have learnt quite a bit about cooking already. But figuring out how to use google for things I don’t understand is much harder. I don’t know what I’m looking for yet but if the past is any indicator, given enough time I will find it anyway. And I will learn. 🙂