Narcissistic Mothers Can't Teach You to Love Yourself & The Consequences of Emotional Neglect PART 1
by Lisa A. Romano
Today we're going to be talking about the consequences of emotional neglect, longing and the reason why narcissistic mothers can’t teach you to love yourself.
The Longing in Children of Alcoholics and Narcissists
Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) and narcissistic parents never escape the longing we feel for a parent who was capable of truly seeing us. This longing is tied to feeling abandoned by those we loved, knowing no matter what we did it would never be enough to change our parent's behavior.
“We have lived our lives aching for a connection to those who were in denial of dysfunctional family dynamics.”
I wanted to talk about this idea of longing because I think it is a universal feeling that so many of us experience when we come from:
- Alcoholic homes
- Narcissistic homes
- Homes where our parents are addicted to gambling
- Homes where our parents are addicted to drugs
When parents are addicted they're unable to attune themselves to their children. So children are then forced to attune themselves to their parents which is backwards. When this happens children become hyper-vigilant. They're paying attention to everything that mommy says, everything that mommy does, every move daddy makes, every sound daddy makes, and children are forced to become hyper-vigilant. So now rather than paying attention to what's going on inside of them, they're forced to pay attention to what's going on outside of them.
We Need To Feel Like We Belong
Why is this? Because all of us come here with…
“...an absolute need to feel like we belong…”
…especially to our tribe or to our family. And when our parents aren't able to attune themselves to us, we feel disconnected. The problem is when we grow up feeling disconnected from parents who are unable to meet our emotional needs, psychological needs or physical needs, what ends up happening is we internalize this inability to connect and we think it's our fault - that's where shame comes from. So if you came from a home that was emotionally neglectful, if your parents ignored your emotions, if your parents made fun of your emotions, if you struggled with some type of feeling chastised, victimized, or even abused by the people that were supposed to love you, that you may not have ever felt like you were enough to gain their approval, or you were enough to gain their love or you were enough to feel nurtured and so shame is the byproduct of feeling like we're unable to gain a connection to our parents. And this sets us up for really toxic situations in the future because what's happening is our…
“subconscious mind is being programmed to believe that we're not enough.”
Our little minds just assume that it's our fault that we're unable to get nurtured, it's our fault that we're being chastised, it's our fault that we're being ignored, it's our fault that our family is falling apart, it's our fault that our parents are fighting, and sometimes, really sad, we have parents, siblings, even extended family members that make us feel like it's our fault that our parents are fighting or it's our fault our parents are drinking.
I've heard clients of mine tell me that their parents have said to them:
- “Well, it's your fault that I drink.”
- “If you weren't such a little brat then I wouldn't drink.”
- “If you didn't say ‘this’ then I wouldn't go out until all hours of the night.”
This really messes with a child's emotional setpoint. It messes with the child psychologically, actually inflicting a child with a sense that they have some control over their parents' drinking, which is absolutely absurd. But you know what, imagine if you're that adult child that has been programmed to believe it was your fault that your parents drank or it was your fault that your parents fought. Imagine the shame that you would feel, the guilt that you would feel thinking that you had some power in control that you did not have.
Confronting Your Beliefs
Unless you confront these beliefs they run rampant in the subconscious mind and that's why I rely heavily on the idea of reprogramming the subconscious mind, and that's why I am someone who believes that we have to see the holes in the wall.
I know there are other people out there that say, “No you don't have to focus on that you just have to focus on what you want”, I don't necessarily agree because I think that's almost like bypassing what's really going on. I think that…
“in order to truly heal I have to know what's causing the deficit within me”
…I have to know where the shame is coming from, I have to know why I feel the way I feel, I have to know why I'm codependent.
Why do I keep twisting myself into a pretzel to try to be good enough for someone who is avoidant?
Why do I keep chasing after people's approval by people who make it very obvious they want nothing to do with me?
Why do I hang on to toxic relationships?
Why do I keep thinking that I'm going to be able to fix my alcoholic husband?
Why do I think I'm going to be able to be good enough to get my mother to stop drinking?
Where does all of this come from? It comes from the way we have been programmed to think and perceive as children. Remember, you needed to be attuned to, and if your parents had an addiction, if your parents had a personality disorder, if they were emotionally immature, if they were overwhelmed by their life experiences, it’s not their fault.
If there were many children in your family - in other words you were one of seven or one of six or one of five, mom's a single mom and she's working three jobs, maybe dad or mom has passed away. They’re trying to keep a roof over the heads of their children, trying to maintain tuition for the children, just trying to keep things together.
Our parents struggle too, and oftentimes they are in situations that are outside their ability to control it. But when you're a child, regardless of what's happening outside of you, you always assume it's your fault and that's where shame comes from.
In the next part of this blog, I will outline the further consequences of growing up with this family environment and the importance of seeing and understanding the holes in the wall in front of you so that you are able to fix it.
Until next time, Namaste.