The Unheard Invisible Child; Being Seen and Finding my Voice



Freedom and Wholeness

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.

Please share your thoughts through the comment form about losing or finding your voice or whatever stage of that process that resonates with you. Remember that you may use any name you wish if your privacy is a concern. Only the name you use will be public on this site. The optional URL spot is for if you want to share your blog or website.

There is freedom on the other side of broken,

Darlene Ouimet 

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing



170 response to "The Unheard Invisible Child; Being Seen and Finding my Voice"

  1. By: Melinda Posted: 24th June

    This speaks to me, especially at this time in my life where I am going through a terrible bout of depression again.
    Because no one truly cares about me, I feel hopeless and utterly lost.

    I am still the “invisible child” at 34.
    I have no voice, no feelings, no thoughts, no wants or needs that matter to anyone.
    I feel alone in the world…I’ve always felt this way and there is nothing I can do about it. This is the only place I feel safe to share my pain, because you understand.

    I’ve had a few times in my life where I felt like things could get better, like I could find my voice and be the person I was meant to be.
    But now I don’t believe that will ever happen.
    When you have been stifled and silenced and suppressed and squashed your whole life, how do you find your way out? How can you ever be free?

    My needs and wants, my feelings, have never mattered to anyone.
    I even recall somebody referring to me as “It”…not as “she” but “It”.
    That was just one of the many ways people have reminded me that they don’t even see me as human. I am of no importance to anyone.

    When I married my husband nearly 10 years ago, I thought that finally I would feel loved and secure and happy.
    He is a great guy…kind and hard-working and a good provider.
    Many women would be lucky to have him. But after 10 years of marriage, I feel unhappy. He doesn’t want children and he knows that I’ve always wanted a family. He won’t even talk about it, which makes me feel that once again, my feelings are unimportant and all of the decisions are up to somebody else.
    Our sex life is nonexistent because he rejects me. I was 23 when we first met (he was 37) and now ten years later, I’m not so thin anymore.
    I’m not obese by any means, but I am overweight/chubby and unable to lose it. I used to want a family of my own more than anything but he doesn’t seem to care.

    Being invisible, for me, means that people just don’t care.
    They don’t care about what I want or what I need. They don’t care if their actions hurt me. They don’t care if I suffer. I have never been allowed to simply be me and live my life on my own terms and be happy. I am not heard; I am not truly seen.
    Maybe I never will be.

  2. By: Eiman Posted: 31st March

    I can relate to this, I became so silent I never talked to anyone even in my school.

  3. By: SN Posted: 25th October

    Thank you for publishing article and by doing so shadding light on something I thought was just me being spoiled and ungrateful kid. It is so helpful to read comments and realize you are not imagining things but rather you have feeling that are valid even though noone wanted to validate them. I am 36, highly educated, traveled half of the world, spiritual and intellectual in every sense of a word, but yet only now I am realizing that I have been emotionally neglected by parents and that I have allowed my husband and community to do the same. I am now working on finding strenght to speak up for myself, working on my marriage (as this new voice of my brought confusion to my husband and much work is needed in changing dynamics of our relationship). But, one day and the time I am taking this as next phase in my life and every time I find courage to speak for myself I am scared like a little child yet feel so powerfull when I do it. I am glad God has brought this awakening to me as I found many times after big strugles in life there were people in my big circle of friends who had similar strugle and I was able to help them after I lived through it. So, I am starting to become visible and will soon help others do the same.

  4. By: Marge Posted: 3rd October

    Oh My God YES!!! I have been on my own journey and had some vague idea that my parents running roughshod over my ideas, my feelings, and most of all my pain had some profound effect. The old doormat routine stopped working. But being visible, and reaching my potential is devastatingly frightening. I continue to fight to move forward.
    You described the conflict perfectly. Now I have something solid to reflect on and digest. THANK YOU!!!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th October

      Hi Marge!
      Welcome to EFB and thank you for sharing! Glad you found us!

  5. By: Lillybee Posted: 16th September

    It felt like I was reading an article about my own life. I have always been told how to think and feel by multiple people and its only now, in my 30’s, Im finding my own voice.

    Im also used to being invisible and im starting to be seen, which is hard to adjust too, but I don’t feel im fighting myself so much anymore.

    Thank you for a great article:)

  6. By: Darlene Posted: 10th September

    This has brought a lot of insight for me, thank you.
    I was brought of as the second child in a family of four children. The oldest a beautiful chatty girl, me , an adorable cuddly girl and finally the wanted boy came along.
    I was taught to be quiet, invisible, and to not have wants/desires. That I was not good enough to deserve to have wants/desires.
    Late in my 14th year I had a report card that came out where I had made a C in math, with mostly A’s in the other subjects. My parents were angry and ashamed of me again. Later that day they left to run an errand and I thought, through tears, how much better off they would be if they did not have to be ashamed and worry about me and my awfulness. I packed up and ran away. I was gone for 4 weeks— how I don’t know now. I was so young. I ended up back with them. Life was worse for them and for me. They were more ashamed, I was more shamed. I ran away again about a year later and when dragged back my parents sent me to boarding school. This was my punishment. This is what they now proudly tell people, in front of me, “fixed me”. “We had to send her to that school to straighten her out”.
    WOW! My life did change, a huge turn around. I was heard, accepted, and was no longer invisible. I learned how to make, have, sustain relationships with my peers (girls and boys) and teachers. I learned what respect truly was/is. Yes, I was sent to boarding school and yes it was the best thing in the world and yes indeed it did “straighten me out”, but not in the way my parents think.
    Now as an adult of age 45 I have begun to enlighten my parents and stop the invisibility. Firm but not winded and grounded in that I am a professional with a world of people that respect me and seek my opinion. Occasionally, when I don’t visit them every three to four months when I do go they fall back into the old pattern. I have to bring them back each time. The behaviors are very ingrained, more entrenched.

    Thank you for your article.

    • By: Pamela Posted: 25th October

      I read your message and i wondered. Is she telling my story 🙂 however, where I grew up there was no such a thing as boarding school and in order to “fix me” my parents took me to years and years of therapy with psychologists. The psychologists would tell my parents that I didn’t have any problem and that the problem was with them.
      I grew up with a older sister, the role model, the nice kind and intelligent girl. I was different, th opposite. My parents didn’t know how to deal with me… so they tried to get me fixed with the therapy.
      It was too hard for them to
      Understand that I am simply different

  7. By: Joyce Posted: 20th August

    I grew up in a big family, I was #5… Married at 17, Mom at 18, Husband was a bully, like my sister. My sister really made sure that Imwas invisible. My father called me Princess due to a near fatal seizure that required a touch and go situation. My sister to this day says she is writing a book” The Princess, the Boys(our brothers) and ME(my sister) ..
    She has been passive-aggressive with this kind of behavior until this year when I put my foot down to,yet another family member that I will not take blame for things I had nothing to do with.
    My second marriage, after 4 years, was to someone who was goaled oriented. We met in college. Little did I know what I Thought was a caring kind man to my 5 year old and I was actually just a very damaged alcoholic who I knew if I worked hard through nursing school and became successful he would quit drinking!!! My next 31 years produced three people who degraded, bullied and ignored me… Never took an interest in me, what I did to,provide for them.
    As long as I did for them, picked up the slack at home and paid the bills. Well, I walked out! Learned new boundaries.
    Started to enjoy things that I always wanted to do. No one cares that I did this. Their father walked years before I did, and they bend over backwards for poor Papa! I am trying to understand …. I am learning to enjoy my own company.
    I am in therapy, trying to learn what is wrong with me that these kind of people are related to me……..
    My friends would never do such hurtful things to me……. Ugh!?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st August

      Hi Joyce,
      You have found the right place here! Welcome to EFB
      Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: DXS Posted: 18th January

    Gin, I can relate. Some people will call up a customer service number and instantly announce themselves. I won’t. I keep my name to myself, because I fear, “oh, it’s HER….”

  9. By: Michelle Posted: 18th January

    I can relate to everything that was said here. I can see that the protective behaviors that I developed when I was growing up are behaviors that I do not need anymore. But I still want to be seen. I still want to be heard. And I want to be heard by those who didn’t do that for me in the past. My mother, my sisters.I want them to hear what it was like of them to put me in a box and not care about my hope or dreams. I want them to know that what they did and are doing was and is wrong and it was and is hurtful. I know in the end they will tell me that I am a baby.

    How does one mange the need to to close that door?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th January

      Hi Michelle
      Welcome to EFB ~ We all want to be seen and heard but the solution is not in being seen and heard by the people who rejected or defined us in the first place. I was able to close that door by seeing and hearing myself. There is a lot of support with that on this website. 🙂
      Hugs, Darlene
      p.s. you also might get a lot of info through my e-book on the right side bar.

      HI Gin
      Keep looking into where it all began. When I really looked at the reasons for my distress and where the originated, I began to realize the way out of the reasons that I had shut down in the first place.
      hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Gin Posted: 13th January

    I have a perfectly fine name. It isn’t the name itself that bothers me. It’s when it labels me. Naming suggests I exist and I hate that feeling. Without a name I have another way to be invisible. This is one of the things that I’ve started thinking through. I get so uncomfortable when people call me by name, so uncomfortable in fact, that I try to avoid calling others by name. I think I assume they hate it too. But I don’t think that is correct. I actually think most people want to be called by name– or something like their name. I can’t even begin to explain the depth to which being addressed by name makes me want to hide… I wish this wasn’t true.

  11. By: Amber Posted: 18th August

    Lynne, I had to learn to disregard other people’s advice like to get over the past or forgive and forget or move on and all the other things they say. When you think about it all these things seem to be more in their best interest than ours. They may not want to listen to us talk about our pain, or they may feel guilty about something they did, or they may want something they did to stay hidden. When people say these things, I never feel it’s with my best interest in mind. For a while I was also caught in a couple of false belief traps in regard to people using these cliches. I was used to doubting myself and my thoughts after being invalidated and told that my ideas were stupid, so when someone would say you can’t change the past so move on, I falsely believed that that person must be right because I didn’t trust my own judgement. And there was the compliance and people pleasing aspect too. ” If I don’t listen to my friend’s advice She might get upset.” I had to break through these walls before I could do what was best for me.

    It sounds like you are doing well in cracking through the false beliefs you were groomed to accept. Yes, I too found that it was simultaneously informative, beneficial and liberating; and also very painful. I felt deep grief in facing that my mother was not interested in me and my life, and that time after time, I had sacrificed my own needs and wants so that she could fulfill her selfish desires. It very often felt like the roles were reversed and that I was the parent doing what was best for the child who was really my own mother. I felt great pain from having missed out on so much, but most of all from realizing that there was no love from my mother. I was a useless inconvenience to her as a child, and a vehicle to be used to meet her own needs ( a one way street of course) as I got older.

    I’ve never been to a therapist. My feeling is that I would want something very specific and I would not want to be reprogrammed as you found was common in your experiences with these professionals. I’ve read numerous self help books and tried things like affirmations in the past. By far, the most valuable advice and guidelines have come from this website, and now, Darlene’s ebook. It is the first time I feel I am on the right path. It honestly feels right, deep down inside me. And it has already been very beneficial to me.

  12. By: Lynne Posted: 18th August


    Thank you for your encouragement and friendly words. I, too, felt like I’ve had to do more in any relationships because of feeling so unworthy of any time or attention from another. I have attracted controlling, bossy, bullying type women for friends who have viciously turned on me when I didn’t do or think what they wanted me to. One “friendship” I had with a woman for 25 years (off and on at her whim) where I was always made to feel at least one down to her. I always felt judged and that her life was so much better than mine. I was always to wait until she wanted to invite me to come over too. The few times I called her to see if it was “okay” for me to come and visit she was abrupt, cold and off-putting. I put up with it I think because I was desperate to not be dismissed or “fired” by her again. I finally did some things she didn’t like (purposely I believe) so she would finally get it over with and “dismiss” me for good as I could actually feel it coming. I didn’t feel sad that she just quit responding to my emails, etc. and never called anymore. I really didn’t feel like I was missing anything anymore. I think I was relieved.

    I do believe that I deserve mutually enjoyable and respectful relationships. I just feel so isolated and tired and don’t know where to look. I’m overwhelmed by the breakneck speed with which the realizations of the false beliefs that have I been programmed with to believe keep coming up. It’s been very beneficial and simultaneously grief-inducing. I feel like crying everyday for the losses. For the injustices done to me and for only now, at age 54, finding all of this out. I’ve tried everything under the sun to find a way out of the depression, fear, pain and loneliness. None of the “professionals” to whom I’ve paid so much money have come close to the core of my problems. They wanted to re-program the way that “I” erroneously viewed life (being “negative”). I had to stumble upon EFB (which I’m eternally thankful for) and begin reading in order to finally find out how to heal. I’m sorry for rambling on so much. It’s just so overwhelming right now.

    And you’re right on that it has to come from within and that it takes a lot of going back to the past. The same past that I’ve been hit over the head with (figuratively) by others to “get over” or “let it die” or “you can’t change to the past, so move on!” But that’s where all the keys to healing lie so I must go back whether anybody else likes it or not!

  13. By: Amber Posted: 18th August

    Lynne I always feel a special bond when someone on here writes about being compliant, doing what everyone else wants, and in return, gets the short end of the stick. I feel that bond because that was my life; daughter of an uncaring, emotionally and physically abusive mother, and very restrictive, perfectionistic father. I was groomed to serve others and not to make trouble, and to be agreeable to everyone else. My wants and needs were not important to anyone and I grew up lonely, bullied, unkempt, fearful, awkward and painfully shy and submissive. I feel I lost myself due to the way I was groomed. So I feel a special kinship with you reading your story because of so many similarities, not so much with the specific family dynamics, but the treatment and messages received from our family treatment.

    Like you, many of my earlier friendships were unequal. I was the doer and the other person was the taker. I felt something was the matter with me and that much more was required of me to earn (or buy) a friendship. It didn’t just happen for me the way it seemed to effortlessly happen for others. In fact in fifth grade I even gave a girl a dime to be my friend. I actually felt I had to pay for a friend. It was all wrapped around my self worth or I should say the lack of it. Others deserved friends. I had to earn them through giving in or buy them! I was also a magnet for bossy, bullying type women; the kind that you have to agree with them, and never have an original thought or they would fly off the handle and turn on you and drop you as a friend, then viciously gossip about you to others. These women look for submissive types to always side with them and to do their bidding.

    You certainly can be loved for yourself. I am still in the process of discovering this and I have found that Darlene is spot on in that it comes from within. I am part way through the process she describes in her blogs and book. Never had it occurred to me that what I was groomed to believe might actually be false. It takes a lot of self examination and going back to the past, and I am seeing that a large part of what I was raised to believe about myself was false! I am not inferior, my role in life is not to be a servant to others, I am not ugly, there is nothing wrong with me. I do not have to participate in unequal relationships or accept disrespect. And I don’t have to purchase friendships. I have many good qualities ( some of which I was put down for as a child and falsely thought they weren’t good), and for just being me, I deserve friendships that are mutually enjoyable and respectful. These realizations have come to me through. Untangling the maze of false beliefs I grew up with and I am anxious to see what else I will discover as I continue. I can tell you that you are deserving of love and friendships and that you are not beneath anyone. I hope you will continue the process. It is not an easy thing but what I am discovering is certainly worth it. Best of luck, Amber

  14. By: Lynne Posted: 18th August

    I was raised to be compliant and to do what everybody else wanted. Most of my 54 years of life I’ve not been in control of my own life. Being the youngest of 5 kids, my voice was never considered and I suffered significant emotional, spiritual, social and physical neglect. I wasn’t prepared to be able to function in the real world and didn’t know much about how to interact with other people. I’ve spent my whole life going along with what everybody else wanted just to be loved and considered. What did it get me? More abuse, not validated, used/taken advantage of and alone. I didn’t know that I had any choices because I was programmed to ignore myself in favor of taking care of everybody else. When I tried to speak up about the abuse and invalidation to my family I just got more of the same. My older sister told me to let the past “die” and that I was expecting too much to be invited to see her more than once every three years. This is after pursuing reconciliation with her and other siblings after over 25 years. I was the only one trying though. The three oldest siblings have always kept in touch but when our “father” dumped me when I was 15 in favor of his new wife and her 9 year old daughter, I guess it was their cue to do so as well. And they did. But I’m not supposed to be hurt or ask why they did that. I don’t matter to them. So, I’ve gone no contact with most of them. My other sister has always been emotionally and physically abusive to me and has been troubled her whole life as the “black sheep” of the family. Suddenly she’s welcomed by them with open arms and I’m chopped liver. It’s because she tow’s the FOO’s dysfunctional family line that my “father” (not hers-different dad) was this fine upstanding guy. So, now I’m all alone. But, I guess I always have been. I’ve also left so-called “friendships” where I did all of the work and was expected to act certain ways in order to be acceptable but never my true self. I feel so empty, afraid and alone in the world. How do you bridge the gap of being totally alone in the world (except my two daughters) and make new friends (real ones) and find REAL love (between equals and loved for my true self? I don’t think I’ve ever been truly loved for just me. Am I asking too much? This spot I’m in right now is very painful but I know there’s no going back to the way things were. That was excruciatingly painful. I know God loves me but I want to experience healthy relationships with other people too. This is just so painful right now. If it weren’t for my daughters and my sweet kitties I don’t know if I’d be able to keep going on. Is this temporary and a part of the process? I can only hope so…

    Thank you for listening.

  15. By: Anne Posted: 8th July

    Wow.. Blown away by your insight and ability to put this into words.
    Congratulations on the deep work and growth you have done – I am so happy for you :).

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 11th July

      Hi Anne
      Welcome to EFB ~ Thank you, I am so happy for me too!
      hugs, Darlene

  16. By: R. Posted: 6th March

    Reading this article was a major breakthrough for me today. I once again ran into a situation where there was some oversight at work that made me feel invisible and unrecognized. I realize the anger that I feel is not actually an over-reaction (though that’s what I am sometimes told if I reveal how I feel). It’s an indication that I am healing and that I am no longer going to accept this kind of treatment. I don’t have to push it down any more. Now I finally understand why this is one of my hot-buttons. It happens whenever I feel I am not getting credit for something, or when recognition is given to someone else but I was ignored for doing the same thing. Of course I realize that other people should get recognition and deserve it, but I can’t help feeling my blood boil when I see it happen after I have been taken for granted time and time again. Maybe knowing the source of my anger will help me deal with this situations more rationally, without it messing with my head and self-esteem.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th March

      Hi R.
      Welcome to EFB ~ Anger was a hard thing for me to even begin to allow but it was a big part of my process. It was self-validating for me to get angry at the things that happened and the ways that I was treated. Once I allowed anger and looked at it’s origin and triggers (journaling helped) the fear that I had of anger went away. The magic was in doing what you are doing and validating that there was something to be angry about in the first place. Then the triggers didn’t trigger in the same ways.
      hugs, Darlene

      • By: NB Posted: 4th February

        I resonated completely with your words. Thank you for expressing what I had yet found the ability to express. I have relationships that I am perpetuating negatively as a result of my unresolved feelings and I feel hope that my path of unraveling the negative feelings will allow for a positive and concrete new path. Thank you for your role in my and other’s healing.

  17. By: Margaret Posted: 14th February

    Thank you for reading and replying to my comment. I am trying to push on through a difficult situation these days. It helps to know there are many others in the same boat though, of course, I’d rather they weren’t .

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