Although there is no such thing as a perfect childhood, that doesn’t mean that everyone is treated in the same way. There are going to be some people who were treated well on most occasions and there are going to be others who had the opposite experience.
In this case, one would have been treated badly on most occasions and this is what was normal for them. There is also the chance that one had a certain stage in their life where they were mistreated.
Perhaps one experienced some kind of abuse and/or they may have been neglected. When it comes to abuse, it is going to relate to what one received from the people around them. On the other hand, when it applies to neglect, it is going to be about what one didn’t receive.
There is then what takes place when one receives something that harms them and what takes place when they don’t get what they need to receive in order to grow and develop. Each form of abuse is destructive and while it will affect people in different ways, there will be certain consequences that generally arise.
As a child, one may have played up and got themselves into trouble as a way to get their parents attention. And although they might not have received the attention they wanted, it would have been better than being ignored.
This is not to place one form of abuse above the other; it is simply to show that not all abuse affects people in the same way. There is also what happens and how one responds to what happens.
However, what is clear is that child abuse can and does cause a lot of damage. There is more awareness around this area than there was in the past, but that doesn’t mean that child abuse is therefore on the way out.
It is often passed on from one generation to another and one reason for this is that the pain of being abused is often hidden. It is pushed out of one’s awareness and this can then set someone up to go from a victim to a perpetrator.
Years will have passed and one may have disconnected from how they felt when they were being abused, and yet the pain has stayed within them. So once an external trigger is provided for example, one can end up passing on their pain.
The ideal would be for one to reach out for support and to gradually process their emotional pain, but this often the exception as opposed to the rule. And this is partly due to the fact that in today’s world, emotional pain is generally overlooked.
During one’s time in the education system, they would have been given the chance to develop their mind and to learn about their body. Yet the same can’t be said when it comes to one’s emotions; as this is an area that is generally overlooked.
So unless one has a healthy relationship with their emotions or takes the initiative themselves, this could be an area that they continue to overlook throughout their life. And all the time one avoids their emotions, it is going to cause them to build up and the more they build up, the harder it will be for them to experience emotional control and to act consciously.
If it was a case of just getting in touch with the pain, processing it and then moving on, it would be relatively straight forward. But one’s mind can end up getting in the way and stopping them from getting in touch with how they feel in their body.
There is going to be how one feels about what happened in their body and then there is going to be what is taking place in their mind. And in order to avoid the pain, one may have created all kinds of stories and even created an identity that allows them to avoid how they feel.
The idea one then has of their parents or a parent, is then out of touch with the reality of what they were really like. Now, during the time of the abuse, it would have been vital for them to idealise their parent/s.
At this age, one’s survival is based on their caregivers and this means that they would have had to block out anything that put their survival at risk. If one was to face reality, it would be overwhelming and too much for them to handle at this age.
Time Goes By
However, just because one is an adult, it doesn’t mean they feel like one and this can cause them to maintain the idealised image that they created as a child. And while this stops them from having to face how they felt all those years ago, it will stop them from being able to move on from what happened.
The pain that has remained within them could cause them to abuse others and it could set them up to attract others who are abusive. It could also cause them to lose control of their behaviour, to have emotional problems and/or to have addictive tendencies.
So when one sees their parents as perfect, it will allow them to experience a certain amount of control when it comes to how they feel, this is the upside. The downside is that one will be living in denial and their relationships and/or their body will show them exactly what is going on within them.
If one was to drop their idealised image, they would open themselves up to how they really feel and this could be overwhelming (just as it would have been as a child). Here one could experience: fear, terror, rage, loss, abandonment, rejection, hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, shame and grief.
To face one’s emotional truth is likely to be more painful in the short-term, but it will enable them to live a better life in the long-term. This is not something that one should try to do by themselves though, and this is why external support is important.
A therapist, healer and/or a support group will provide a safe environment and the validation that one needs to face how they feel. This will be a time where one grieves unmet childhood needs. It is also not about blame, it is about one facing their emotional truth and moving forward.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.