Neglect Is the Wound That Lasts the Longest

21 December, 2016

Neglect from our partner, from our parents in childhood, or even from society itself creates a wound that cannot be seen, but that we feel throbbing every day. Because it is a torn-up root, a broken bond that was formerly used to feed our emotions and security.

That being said, neglect is not only created by a physical absence. The most common neglect is emotional, where disinterest, apathy, and coldness rear their ugly heads. This is something that every child is going to perceive and that will, of course, end up devastating any adult.

It is often said that to understand what it means to be neglected, “one has to be neglected.” However, that is something that nobody deserves, because with each absence, we lose a part of ourselves, and no one needs to go through that suffering.

The psychological implications derived from an early experience of neglect are generally rather serious. Although each child deals with it differently, it is normal for there to be a mark left behind by trauma, and traumatic experiences cannot be cured with time, but only through properly dealing with them. An intimate and personal battle that many people are experiencing at this very moment…

Sinking Ship

Neglect: drifting boats filled with absences

The feeling of neglect can show up in many forms. We become drifting ships when, for example, we lose our job and cannot find any way to reenter the job market. We remain stranded, like a lost child abandoned by his mother at a young age, or like a man who one day comes home from work only to discover an empty house and the absence of the woman he loved.

There is an interesting page called “Abandonment.net” where anyone who needs to can express his personal experience related to neglect. For many people, it is therapeutic to be able to share these experiences, but in most of these testimonies, the primary thing to be seen is a trauma that took place at a very young age: the death of their mother or father, having an alcoholic parent, or having grown up practically alone…

The fact of suffering some kind of neglect in childhood is determining. So much so that experts say that it is like a second birth. If the first was painful but encouraging, the second implies having to be “reborn” in a world where we feel loved, where we must learn to value ourselves by suffering the cutting of that umbilical cord that ties us to a heart, emotions, needs that needed to be satisfied…

Black and White Girl Lying Down

Consequences associated with emotional neglect

When it comes to the consequences associated with a traumatic psychological dimension, it is important to keep in mind that there is great variability. Not everyone assumes and expresses their pain in the same way. Nevertheless, we could summarize it as follows:

  • Suffering neglect in childhood often leads to difficulties when it comes to establishing stable relationships in adulthood. It is common to be distrustful, to feel vulnerable, to go through periods of a certain apathy, where it is very complicated to manage emotions like anger or sadness.
  • When a person suffers neglect from a partner or from society itself, they can even end up “sabotaging themselves” by thinking, for example, that they do not deserve to be happy or loved, that they have no skills, that it is no longer worth fighting for their own dreams because there is nothing left to be done.
  • Codependency problems also show up, a need for approval and recognition, yet they end up giving too much of themselves to others, feeling later that what they got back is not the same as what they put in.
  • It is also common to suffer from certain “emotional reminiscence.” Sometimes, someone or something reactivates those feelings of neglect and their entire world is paralyzed once again.

All of these things are marks of serious post traumatic stress that must be dealt with.

Glowing Chest

How to heal the wound of neglect

The wound of neglect must be healed by paying special attention to self-esteem and, as such, being capable of forgiving, of freeing ourselves from that past like someone who cuts the string on a very dark balloon and lets it go. Obviously, though, that is a very difficult step to carry out.

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, for example, tends to be very useful for the detection and transformation of traumatic memories from childhood. It allows the person to free their mind and body and open their heart to offer proper emotional relief.
  • Experts in traumatic experiences, in turn, suggest the importance of learning to communicate emotional needs. Through words, the wounded person can connect with people around them who can help and support them, thereby establishing more secure relationships.
hands in the sun

Something as essential as learning to care for ourselves, prioritizing ourselves each day to disconnect little by little from the anger and resentment will allow us to stop being prisoners of yesterday’s wounds. Memory cannot erase the sadness of the past, but it can give it calm and peace like seeing a river flow by: everything happens, and though the coldest, darkest stones may remain at the bottom, the water runs clear and pure over them. We can start anew…