Not all abuse is physical. Neglect is a form of abuse. Childhood emotional neglect is an experience shared by millions of children and adult children around the world. Parents who were not taught how to be emotionally intimate, have a mental health disorder, are addicts or alcoholics, or are otherwise compromised in some way hold back their emotional connections. Childhood emotional neglect usually means someone has not received the kind of emotional attention and intimacy as a child they were in need of. Feeling heard, acknowledged, and validated is essential for a child’s positive development and growth. Additionally, a child needs to not only be met in their emotional states but responded to with emotions as well. Not receiving emotions from a parent is crushing to a child who isn’t old enough to understand the complexities of holding back emotions.
Emotional Neglect Has Two Messages
However, they quickly develop the same habits. Emotional neglect transmits two primary messages, according to Your Tango: your feelings don’t matter and you don’t matter. “Children whose emotions are not noticed or responded to enough receive the subtle but powerful message that their emotions are invisible and irrelevant,” according to the website. As a result, children feel that they are a burden and find ways to hold their emotions back, mostly by pushing them down.
The consequences of childhood emotional neglect can be toxic and long term. In some cases, severe neglect can manifest into mental health disorders like borderline personality disorder, depression, or anxiety. Coping with emotional issues takes time and therapy. Many people never uncover their difficulty with emotional intimacy nor do they ever receive a diagnosis or treatment to work on their issues. Here are four of the ways neglect can be toxic for an individual.
- You Believe Your Feelings Aren’t Important: You don’t speak up for yourself, you are blind to manipulation, and you rarely volunteer to voice your opinion. You believe your feelings are insignificant and if you voiced them they would either be ignored, or cause someone to become upset.
- You Believe Your Feelings Are Bad: Even if you were to voice your emotions, you’re sure they would come out the wrong way and would probably be the wrong feelings.
- You Believe You Are Not Important: It probably wouldn’t be worth sharing them anyway, because you are not important. Anything having to do with how you think or feel has little value.
- You Believe You Are Bad: You might think you were a mistake and aren’t sure why you are alive. There is something so inherently wrong with you, that no one can even seem to explain it.
These thoughts are toxic, harmful, and inaccurate. Living with these thoughts every day can lead to self-harm, substance abuse, and mental illness. If you or a loved one are struggling to cope with childhood neglect, call Avalon By The Sea today for a confidential assessment and information about how our programs can help you heal. 1 888-958-7511.