The Unheard Invisible Child; Being Seen and Finding my VoiceBy
Eventually, at some point in my childhood, I accepted the fact that I was not heard and not going to be heard. I did not consciously accept it, but it was an effective part of the grooming process and I came to understand that it was “just the way it was”. I think perhaps I believed that when I was “older” or when I was an adult, I would have “my chance” to be a part of the world and finally have a voice.
When I grew up however, nothing changed. I had been taught compliance and subservience and I didn’t step out of that role just because I became an adult.
I wasn’t heard so I stopped expecting to be heard. I was not “allowed” the impact that I saw other people had. I had to listen to what everyone else wanted, but I was not given that same consideration. My opinions rarely had any impact. I sought out friends who were similar to me in their own victim mentality and found fellowship with them but I continued to have bosses, parents, boyfriends who communicated that they were more important than I was. Once again with those types of people in my life, I stopped trying to be heard. I accepted that I was not going to be heard and that my voice didn’t really matter. Not having a voice and not being heard had become “normal” to me.
That was the beginning of my depressions; that kind of “acceptance” was really like a kind of “giving up”. It was a giving up on me.
My childhood relationships taught me not to expect much from relationships in adulthood. No expectations equaled less disappointment.
Keep in mind the false definition of relationship that I had learned; I still thought that if I did what the other person wanted, then I would be loved so I kept trying harder to achieve love by “compliance to others wishes” And other people lived by this false truth too, enforcing my belief that I could “prove love” by compliance to their wishes however it was never enough.
Accepting that I wasn’t heard was a big problem when it came to my personal journey. Not being heard and accepting this “lesser value” had a major effect on the way I viewed myself and on the health of my self esteem.
Not being heard and not being allowed to have an “impact” on the people that I believed were important in my life, is a common part of growing up with emotional neglect and psychological abuse. (And a part of every other kind of abuse.)
It is a very big part of the grooming process to be taught that (my) opinions, feelings etc. are not valuable. It got me “out of their way”. It got me to the compliance and obedience stages that they wanted me to be at. It got me “respecting” and sometimes even “worshiping” the very people who were causing me the most harm. I didn’t question or oppose anyone as long as I accepted that my voice didn’t matter.
In the emotional healing process, I realized that in not being heard, I had also become the invisible child. Accepting that “I didn’t matter” defined me as unimportant. Not important enough to be heard made me feel invisible. Does a person who doesn’t matter, really exist?
Being the invisible child had its good points when I looked back through the grid of “survivor mode”. Being invisible seemed to be the right choice if I was going to stay safe. I realized that being invisible had served a purpose for a long time in my life, and when I began emotionally healing, being visible was frightening.
I had to look at this conflict within myself.
Once I started to heal, being invisible and not being heard became a fear trigger that I didn’t always recognize or understand. Being invisible was invalidating but being visible didn’t feel safe. I found my voice and was finally using it but I was not used to being so visible. It didn’t feel “comfortable”; being heard and being heard (visible) was really unfamiliar.
Once I began to heal and validate my right to be respected, loved and my right to have equal value I found that I reacted to people who ignored me as though I was insignificant. I wanted to fight against being regarded as insignificant. But at the same time, being invisible was the only way that I had felt safe in the past so it was somewhat of a “default mode”. I had always lived by the thought that “if ‘they’ don’t notice me, ‘they’ won’t hurt me”. When I took my life back, I wanted to be seen and heard. I had something to say and I had a right to say it. I wanted to have some impact on others but at the same time I was afraid of the rejection that was forthcoming whenever I had tried to have a voice before! It was complicated to realize both these thoughts/beliefs were operating simultaneously.
I would say that learning to listen to myself and giving up on being heard by the people who silenced me in the first place was foundational in my healing. Finding my voice did not mean that I had to be heard by those that refused to hear me.
It was through looking at the history in my life that I was able to see all the aspects of these fears and overcome them. There was a reason that I was so shut down. I was groomed overtime to “accept” that I didn’t matter; my voice was not important and my needs/wants were invalid. Overcoming that false belief was only the first step on the road to emotional healing. I went on to realize that “invisible” had become something I hid in. Invisibility felt safer than visibility. Invisible no longer served me because I no longer needed to live in “survivor mode”.
Embracing equality and owning that equal value was for me too, was part of how I finally found, validated and reclaimed my voice.
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There is freedom on the other side of broken,
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