Monday, April 28, 2008

The Disease of Invisibility

In order for a child to grow into a healthy self actualized adult, a number of emotional stages of development must have been accomplished.

Perhaps there is no greater need for a child but to feel 'seen' psychologically.

As a child growing up in the care of two adult children of alcoholics, I felt very detached from those who raised me. I felt invisible both physically as well as psychologically. When I fell, I was told my bleeding knees did not hurt, and often my cries for attention went ignored. When I danced wildly at the age of three in the hopes of feeling seen, and perhaps paid attention to, my parents ignored me, or shamed me into believing that craving attention was 'bad'.

What then does a child of 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 do, when their little hearts are starving for human affection? Where do all those feelings of wanting love go?

My mother was one who busied herself constantly with cleaning our home. Her disposition was anxious and her aura was cold. My mother was not warm or inviting and in fact, I often felt I was an intruder when in her presence. My father was a workaholic, whose obsession with money often made me fear our family was poor and near destitute. My parents relationship was one that felt more obligatory than loving. Often when my father upset my mother during a phone conversation, she would refuse to defend herself, and instead did her best to keep my father calm. In so doing, she taught me that her feelings were irrelevant in relation to his, and so it was that the enabling mindset in me was created.

Blind to her own self, my mother too smiled when she felt like crying, and silenced her self when she felt like screaming. Her tendency to enable my father, gave birth to the sense that other people's feelings were more important than my own. In the presence of my father especially, my mother consistently tended to his emotional whims as if a puppet on a string. The denying she did of her own self, rooted in me very much the same sense of invisibility.

My mother could never have known she was infecting me with the same disease she had been infected with as a child.

The Disease of Invisibility had been born in her many years before the disease had been passed along to me in my own life.

My mother, so blind to her right to own who she was, to hear her own voice, to expect to be respected by the others in her life, to love her self from the inside out, could never have known that through the disowning of her own right to know her true self, she guaranteed I remained a stranger to my own unique self. She could never have known that through the care-taking of others and the abandoning of her own needs, she inadvertently severed the lifeline that was my birthright that connected me directly to my own source.