Emotionally Unavailable Mother: What Are The Consequences Of Having An Emotionally Unavailable Mother?
While some women want to be mothers and go onto fulfil this need, there are others who have no interest in being a mother. They might end up channelling their nurturing abilities into another area of life instead.
However, just because a woman decides to be a mother, it doesn’t mean that she is able to give her child (or children) what it needs in order to develop into a healthy adult. If they were to check the DNA of the child and the parent, they would see they are connected, but that might be about as far as the connection goes.
So although the mother might look like a mother and even act like one in public, it could be another story behind the scenes. Yet to say that she acts like mother in public might not reflect reality, as her behaviour in public could end up raising a few eye brows.
The child could be at an age where they don’t know any different and their mother’s behaviour is therefore normal. If one is older, they are also going to have the option to reach out for support (something a child is often not able to do), but they might feel as though they are unable to do anything abbot what is taking place.
The Impact of Abuse
What this goes to show is how much of an impact abuse can have on one’s life and while the years may have passed, it could still be defining their life as an adult. This is going to come down to the fact that although one’s physical shape will change as they get older, it doesn’t mean their inner world has changed.
How they feel and think could match up with the feelings and thoughts they were having as a child. This could mean that one’s self-image is more or less the same and it hasn’t changed even though one’s physical body has.
When a child is being abused by their mother, they are likely to take it personally and this is because their thinking brain has not been developed. They haven’t got the ability to detach and to use rational thought. Also, to see one’s parents as being bad at this age would put one’s survival at risk.
So it feels a lot safer for one to see themselves as the problem and to idealise their caregiver. At this age, one’s hands are tied and there is not a lot that can be done. When one grows into adult (and if the abuse is too much for them to bear, they might end up taking their own life), their survival could still be attached to their caregiver and this can stop one from getting the assistance they need.
For so long, there has been immense pressure for people to respect their parents and while respect is important, it can mean that one feels the need to deny what happened to them. Putting their parent’s wellbeing before their own then becomes the norm and one then ends up suffering in silence.
And when it comes to mothers who are abusive, it can be hard for one to even speak up about it, let alone reach out for support. This is because they are often seen as the nurturers and men are often seen as the only ones who are capable of being abusive.
It is relatively easy for physical abuse to be noticed and this is because there is the chance that there will be external evidence (that is unless one is able to cover the marks up). Emotional neglect on the other hand is not as easy to notice and this is due to the fact there is unlikely to be any physical marks.
However, if one is aware of how someone can react as a result of experiencing neglect, they might be able to notice what is taking place. This can also apply to a child who is currently being neglected and to an adult who is suffering from the consequences of being neglected as a child.
A child can be neglect as a result of their mother leaving them, but their mother could also be in the same room. The defining factor is whether she is emotional available or not. This could be because one’s mother is caught up in her work, has mental and emotional problems or perhaps she has experienced a loss in her life and is unable to be a mother.
If the mother ended up being emotional unavailable later in life, it might not cause as much damage as it would have done if she was emotionally unavailable in the beginning of one’s life. This is because one is going to be stronger as the years go by and this inner strength wouldn’t have been developed before.
In order for one to develop a sense of self and to therefore be in touch with their needs and feelings, personal power and to know where they begin and end, they will have needed to have had an empathetic caregiver. This would have been someone who validated their feelings and needs, and this would have allowed then to develop boundaries and a sense of personal power.
Yet, if one’s caregiver was not emotionally available, there is the chance that one’s sense of self didn’t develop. What is likely to have developed is a false self and this would have been what allowed them to survive. One’s true self ends up not being able to see the light of day and one is likely to feel invisible.
So although one is an adult, their emotional development is unlikely to match up and could reflect how they felt as a baby or a child. They could have trouble knowing what their needs are and what they feel in each moment and it could be normal for them to let other people walk over them or step into their personal space and this is because they haven’t developed boundaries.
If one was to get in touch with their feelings, they could feel incredible rage and this will be the result of them being ignored by their mother. And along with rage, could be the following feelings: rejection, abandonment, shame, fear, hopelessness, helpless, guilt, terror and grief.
What happened during these early years is going to be something that one wants to put being them, but they could find that the people they are attracted to remind them of their mother. And this is because what happened during these early years would have ended up being associated as what is safe.
So the people in one’s life look different (they might even have a physical resemblance), but one ends up feeling and thinking the same. This is therefore going to mean that one behaves in the same way. One could find that they only feel safe when they avoid attention and that they feel uncomfortable when they receive it.
As a result of this early neglect, one is going to have a lot of unmet childhood needs to grieve. One is going to need to be patient and persistent; as this is not going to be something that changes over night.
However, just because one didn’t get what they needed to get as a child, it doesn’t mean they are a lost cause. As an adult, they will need to grieve their unmet childhood needs and to receive the positive regard they didn’t receive as a child.
This process can take place with the assistance of a therapist or a healer. Not only will they hold the space for one to face and release their emotional build up, they will also provide the positive regard that one needs.
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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.