The Absent Mother

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Parents don’t have to hit or terrify us or even use cruel, mean words to leave scars. This seems difficult for people to understand. I could say well they didn’t beat me but wouldn’t that negate my feelings of loss and abandonment. I would be invalidating myself. It was very painful to reach up to my mom only to be pushed aside like I wasn’t important enough. It was painful when she left me in my crib for far to long and all alone. It hurt when my cries went unanswered. The truth about all this is when a parent fails to guide us or protect us or give lots of affection this is neglect. They may just fail to fulfill their important role as a parent. This too is neglect.
Emotional neglect is invisible. It’s hard for a small child to seek out help when no one sees that there is something wrong. It’s hard to see because if a parent is doing some good things people might just look at them as good parents all the while not realizing that the child is in dire need of affection. We can understand that neglect is often associated with not attending to the childs physical needs (food,clothing,shelter), but emotional neglect goes unrecognized.
It is not that people intend to be emotionally absent. Maybe they have a hard time being present in general or making emotionally contact with us. Generally we’re talking about people who are emotionally shut down like my Mom.
I do understand though that it is possible that a parent is busy taking care of someone else. It might be someone who is mentally or physical ill. I can’t say my mom worked too much because she didn’t have a job. Sometimes its just that a parent might not have had a good role model when they were a child. They could be acting on what their parents did to them. It can be generational. But regardless of all that the wound is invisible.
We don’t look down on a parent with these issues. They don’t look like an abusive parent. But it is still wrong and it leaves permanent scars. That’s really sad.
I read somewhere that not only is emotional neglect harmful, there is evidence that it is worse than physical or emotional abuse. A child tends to cling to an abusive parent rather than be abandoned. What a young child can least tolerate is being left alone or feeling invisible. That was me as a child. It’s a type of abuse that is hard to get protection from because I’ll say it once again, its invisible.

It’s true that we can’t change what happened, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make up for much of it. Healing from neglect isn’t about blaming but understanding what happened, how it impacted us, and most importantly what we can do now to help complete our own development.
Linda

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The Caterpiller Incedent

 

 

I woke up in a good mood and I hope that it stays this way. I have therapy today. I always have a bit of anxiety in thinking how its going be. The last visit we started to open up a new memory. Its one of the most painful and frightening experience of my childhood. I wont talk about it right now. Perhaps after it is processed, I will. In this way I wont trigger myself by writing about it. There always seems to be this apprehension in opening up. Its like when people have a fear, like a fear of spiders. The reality of facing that fear is so incredibly difficult even to just think about. I have a fear of caterpillars, drowning, and being in a small space where I can barely move. My therapist said she can even help me with these fears using EMDR also.
I have no memory of the caterpillar event that caused the fear. I only have what my parents tell me. They used to joke about it all the time. Its seemed that it would often come up in conversations with my parents and other adults. Even as an adult I had to hear them talk about it for a laugh. I don’t think that its funny to laugh at a screaming baby covered in crawling caterpillars. Everyone was off a ways playing basketball. I would think that if my mom checked on me more often than I would not have been literally, as they say, covered. I guess it was one of those years when there were nests everywhere. Well although I have no memory of that event I am terrified by caterpillars. If one gets on me, you better believe I would undoubtedly scream. It’s weird how this little larva is so small and I am so big in comparison and could crush it in an instant. Once I am past the fear of caterpillars than I can truly appreciate the results of such a creepy crawling thing because it turns into something so beautiful, a butterfly. Perhaps my past abuse was the larva of my life. The cocoon is the work that I am doing right now in therapy and soon the presence of a spectacular beauty, the butterfly. I hope that this butterfly, me, will be able to fly anywhere and glisten with strength that can open up doors to new beginnings.
Linda