Penumbra Penumbra

Hoping emotionally neglectful parents one day change ...

1 year ago |

The morning after the flight in a Cafe nearby

I think, it is impossible to live without hope; yet, at the same time, me being hopeful has usually resulted in harming me.

One of the most recurring examples is the hope that one day my parents will reach out to me emotionally the way I needed it all those years growing up, that one day they will understand. The truth, however, is that living with such hope has always left me ruined. The latest example is me recently visiting them: on the way back as I gave my luggage, I was negligent and didn't pick out the laptop to bring it into the cabin with myself and my bag is a cheap one for sport-clothing, nothing enough to protect a laptop inside it while being thrown under lots of other luggage.

My parents were in such distress, they even took on themselves to ask the lady behind the check-in counter to bring back the luggage, but to me, it was already too late and not worth the hassle. I know, the laptop costs quite a lot and it was their money, but their reaction went under my skin; and my ignorance for what will happen to it went under their skin.

All wrong things regarding my financial dependency on them, at such age as I am, aside, there is something really deeply disheartening in interactions like these. What is a laptop worth? Its true worth is only due to what is one doing with it. Yet, to my parents, the price tag in the store is the only way to measure the value of something, even the value of their children perhaps.

Lots of unkind things have happened to me in the past, but my parents were never there for me, and even if they were, their distress wasn't even remotely the same, even if it was, it wasn't visible, and even if it was visible, it never pushed them towards taking any action.

I lost my front teeth playing sport on asphalt. No, I wasn't the kind of kid so crazy for the sport to do it even on the surfaces that if you fall, you will likely hurt yourself a lot. But I had to play football because it was the school's sport session. Did my parents ever care that children shouldn't play on asphalt? I can't recall. Did they punish the school for forcing us to do so? At least they didn't tell me about it. Later on, we finally found a dentist who could work with the teeth but a few years later she moved away, and I wasn't ready to trust anyone, my parents simply after bringing me to one or two lesser qualified dentists give up on ever encouraging me to visit a dentist until it was too late ...

Front teeth are one of those things that are not so readily purchased from a store, so perhaps my parents never really thought about how much it is worth.

That's just a visible physical defect, there have been really terrible, emotionally painful events in my life, but my parents were absent; and if they weren't absent they acted so as if they are not recognizing it, and if my reaction was so bold so it was impossible to act so as if one is clueless about its roots, they acted so as if it is just something worthless. Again, emotional well-being is not something you can purchase from a store, so to them, it just has no value. Other than, of course, when other people remind them of how valuable it is. And so by the end of my visit, they reminded me that indeed it was a successful visit and even if we argued and fought, it allowed me to "blow off steam," "recharge" and etc. In fact, it did none.

The most important thing I was talking to them was: "my life is fucked," and their response was to act so as if they haven't heard it.

My mother's justification was that it is hard for her to accept that all their efforts has lead me there; but to my knowledge, pretending that I'm successful while I know my life is fucked, is only going to make it harder to ever rescue my self, if there be anything worth to be rescued.

One of the last message from my mother –translated by me:

Hi why don't you answer

my dear give me a call or a message

whatever has happened is not a big deal

you have to make such experiences

I don't know, whether such response is of any benefit to the expression that "my life is fucked," but at least, there is an acknowledgment about you happening to be unhappy with the result.

That degree of ignorance and at the same time the hope of us being a family really destroys every piece of self-worth inside me.

One takeaway for sure:

Mental and emotional well-being if not more important than materialistic ones, are at least as important.

and if such a statement required "belief" in the past, nowadays we understand the brain to be where emotions and thoughts reside, and so they themselves aren't something "immaterial" as previously understood.

It's natural to think that the only way to fill that emptiness inside of you is to finally receive the warmth and connection from your parents that has been denied you. In truth, although that may be a streamlined "fix," there are other possible ways that will work just as well, and in some cases, even better. If you already understand how Emotional Neglect works, you already know that your emptiness is partially a result from your feelings being pushed away. One key way to fill your empty space is to go through the process of recovering your own emotions, valuing them and listening to them.

Another way to fill your emptiness is to begin to loosen any rigid self-protective walls you still have. These are a product of your childhood, when you needed to protect yourself from your own emotions and your own emotional needs because they were not welcome in your childhood home. Now that you're an adult you no longer need that wall. [...]

Jonice Webb goes on to state that "you are surrounded by people who are willing to fill your emptiness with their love, warmth and care. Is it your spouse, your sibling, your cousin, a co-worker or friend? It's important to do your best to let those people in. [...]" and here is where I disagree with her the most; especially, because if you do come from excessive Emotional Neglect environment, you will probably always fill your environment with people who treat you similarly, being it a spouse, sibling, cousin, co-worker or friend.

What I do agree with Jonice Webb is that as an adult, you do no more need your parents' willingness to have your emotional needs heard, or met.

And the strongest point of disagreement between Jonice Webb and me is that I do not believe you can recreate the self-worth that you haven't had since childhood solitarily. It only happens through what I call "mirroring effects," the shortest description for which being:

Value is co-created in the exchange of doing things that manifest your inherent value, these are recognized by a lover and that recognition itself is recognized

Regardless of whether you side with Jonice Webb or me, about one thing you should be sure:

If you have been waiting that a fix of your relationship with your parents will enable your recovery from lack of self-worth, and other side-results of childhood emotional neglect, your life is not necessarily without hope and way-out. Only because you're parents' treatment of you each time shattered that hope to endless pieces, it doesn't mean, it doesn't exist. You might just need to change the reference point for your hope ...

References

  • Webb, Jonice. Running on Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships with Your Partner, Your Parents and Your Children. Morgan James Builds, 2018.