Thursday, August 10, 2017

Childhood Trauma: Invisibility – Part 2

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



Since first writing about invisibility, a few other noteworthy causes have occurred to me.

Prior, the concerns expressed could be more so described as ones in which a child draws a conclusion of self-invisibility based on seeming implications of regular, painful experience.

It’s important to be aware that there are also reasons why a child might deliberately take on invisibility.

Intentional Invisibility

Consider one instance (of a variety) in which parents strike their kids. Whether parents do so periodically believing that such treatment will curb misbehavior or they do so abusively on a daily basis matters little to the extent that the trauma still takes hold. These kids may purposefully take on “walking on eggshells”-type behaviors.

A few examples are:
  • Stealthy walking, as in stepping with the balls of their feet and little if any heel-to-floor contact.
  • Walking with intent focus on where to step or not step on squeaky, wooden floors. Regardless of how indirect a path may be, it’s memorized and walked precisely, even in the dark.
  • Opening snack bags, rummaging through closets, etc. with great attention on details such as to how best to move things around with the least possible sound and, if the items are put back, with an appearance like nothing had ever been moved.

In an effort to leave as minute a “scent” as possible, children becomes acutely aware of self and surroundings. Everything is measured and remembered in an attempt to become and remain as small a target as possible. In situations that might be considered "non-abusive" by most accounts, the weight may still be heavy enough that these stealth techniques will be used for everything, not just what the children think they could get in trouble for. The fear is all-pervasive.

Another reason a child may choose invisibility is due to parental interrogation. (Think: “control dramas”) The way this works is that one or both parents ask questions—a lot of questions. They want to know the who’s, what’s, where’s, when’s, why’s, and how’s, often of things that have no importance/relevance, things the child probably doesn’t or can’t know (or doesn’t even care about), and of which the child may prefer to keep private. Whatever answers the child gives, the interrogators are always hungry for more information.

The issues potentially taken on due to interrogation are diverse:
  • A sense of worthlessness. “Nothing I say is ever good enough.”
  • A fear of life, strangers, friends, the world at large, and any- and everything else. Commonly, the source of the questioning is fear, as if the more that’s known, the less chance of danger the child can be in. (Which is true to a minimal extent, but of course not helpful when questioning is fear-based and damages a child’s psyche.) To a child, it seems that if “mother and father know best,” then the fear must be legit, life must really be unsafe.
  • Powerlessness/loss of control. It’s very difficult to feel empowered about one’s life, to be confident in one’s choices, when such things are repeatedly put into question and then rejected in some way and/or questioned to the point of deflation and disinterest.
  • Guilt. The suspicion-based nature of interrogation comes across to a child as though he has done, is doing, or is going to do something wrong. When a child is constantly put on the spot and knows that he will be hammered if caught lying, any want to be “self-centered,” spontaneous, different, etc. diminishes for fear of giving “incriminating evidence”—i.e.: answers that may be clean and honest but of which the parent may for some reason deem wrong and criticize or punish him for.
  • Belief of zero privacy. It’s hard to have a personal life when it’s constantly being pried into. Yet allowance of prying is effectively a must since lies, half-answers, and non-answers are met with judgment, punishment, anger, and so on.

A third and final issue to mention here is nosiness. This one is similar to interrogation but with somewhat varied characteristics. Whereas interrogation is usually about a power struggle between “captive” and “captor,” nosiness is most commonly a trait expressed across diverse social and personal situations.

Parents may nose information out of children for purposes of gossip, due to feelings of inadequacy and a "need" to "know," and so forth. Although there are issues such as repressed anger, criticality, and self-rejection underlying nosy behaviors as there are with interrogation, its expression is not necessarily as overbearing or as potentially explosive.

This does not mean that the resultant trauma is necessarily lessened. The child of these conditions will still carry plenty of guilt, a feeling of constantly being spied on, and so on. Making one’s self invisible appears to be the best option to escape it all.

Self-Denial and Self-Destruction

To be invisible, one must take on self-sabotaging behaviors. For fear of being judged, criticized, pried into, for fear of simply being seen or heard by having any unique, personal agenda whatsoever, self-sabotage serves to keep a person under the radar. What is learned at home becomes reflected in every situation and experience abroad.

Scaled as appropriate, the subconscious mentality can be likened to the following: Dad can’t hate on me for living my dreams and making millions per year while refusing to buy him a mansion if I keep shooting myself in the foot every time big opportunity arises. Or, I can’t be criticized for dating an “imperfect” girl if I just don’t date anyone at all.

In the latter instance, for example, the child will grow into an adult probably never ever thinking, “I’m invisible.” And so he will go on, potentially to his grave, without ever knowing love or the affectionate touch of another because he still lives in subconscious fear of being physically, mentally, and/or emotional attacked by his parents. Yes, he may come near to relationships, but he will unwittingly destroy them before they solidify. Alternately, he and another may “fall in love,” but much too his surprise should he be told, his “love” is based not on true love but the dissatisfying “love” that guides him to a partner his parents would approve of.

Terribly upsetting, distorted, and self-damning though it is, this is the misery that invisibility and self-sabotage can and does wreak. It’s so outrageously insensible, but the weight of trauma on the inner-child's mind makes it look like the definition of brilliance, like the hurt consequent of self-sabotage is vastly better than the hurt potentially felt when choosing integrity.

Clean-Up

As noted a moment ago, what is so significant to realize about these and all traumatic issues is that they don’t magically fade away at childhood’s end. They start as core issues, they linger subconsciously while distorting perception of every aspect of life, they continuously drive self-denying and -destructive behaviors, and they cause greater and greater difficulty with age as layer upon hurtful layer of unintegrated experience gets stacked on top.

I cannot stress this enough. After what I’ve gone through in my own life, it’s so important to me to clearly share this series of posts about childhood trauma in an effort to prevent such negative experience and suffering to come to others.

What we have within ourselves, conscious or subconscious, we pass on to our children. Although each child of any two parents will play the programming differently—sometimes very differently—somehow, someway, they still pick up on all of it. I cannot imagine having children of my own and putting them through what I’ve gone through. To me, healing is absolute priority.

It is my sincerest hope that others—parents and parents-to-be, especially—use this information to their advantage, for the betterment of self and all, for the sake of providing our children with vastly brighter upbringings than the upbringings of we for whom traumatization is or had been the only life we’d known.

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