There’s a group of children, however large or small, often forgotten as they grow, who have been abused. They show no visible scars. They do not have any horrifying stories of shattered glass, balled up fists, unexplainable bruises, or rides in the back of police cars. We forget them because of this. They forget themselves because of this.
It makes sense, in a way. Emotional neglect begets emotional neglect. Not everybody is built to be a parent. These children parent themselves.
To provide for a child is easy. They need food, water, shelter, clothes. Similar to dogs if given all of the basic essential tools for survival, most of them will appear to figure out the rest for themselves.
Some parents believe this is all a child needs. Others believe they have birthed some hyper-intelligent, super emotionally evolved being. Both are incorrect. This child is being neglected. This child is being abused.
Food and shelter are not enough. We needed guidance. We needed to be shown how to love, what love was. We needed to be shown it was okay to be happy and hopeful, not apprehensive and afraid when something good happened. Children need to be taught that anxiety does not equal a life well lived, nor does it equal time well spent. Nobody is born understanding how to control their anger, but we are born with an innate understanding to mimic those around us. Who are we to argue with following the actions of a caregiver?
Difficult, detached, tired parents raise difficult, detached, emotionally irrational children and wonder what we are doing wrong. Why we are so difficult. How we don’t understand to behave.
Then we grow. The divide deepens. Some of us never understand how this neglect impacts our lives. We seek negative attention. It feels right; normal. We seek it in the most intimate of places, making it dangerous. Why shouldn’t we? Nobody bothered to tell us we shouldn’t, nobody bothered to show us any different. We bring these broken people home for dinner and our parents wonder, again, how we don’t make better choices. Why we pick such losers. What makes us attract such train wrecks…
Because you took this little engine that might have, and made sure she couldn’t.
Some parents do not only neglect you, they cripple you with this neglect.
If you are lucky, you will realize what has happened. You will face this neglect. You will free yourself from it. Detach yourself if need be. Speak up about it, if that is what helps. Many parents, perhaps all, will act victimized. No parent wants to be the cause of such bereavement, but they are. Do not let their grief be yours to carry. If it was not their fault, neither of you would be there.
Speak loudly. Air your grievances. Make your voice heard, finally. Say everything you need to say for the child you were, the adult you are, and move the fuck on with or without them.