Q: If a child has had not one, but two emotionally unavailable parents, what is the outcome usually like for the child as they grow up?
EE: Nothing good, is the short answer!
The long answer I can give from my own experience, but I don’t speak for everyone in this situation.
The outcome is grim.
My sibling is as emotionally retarded as both of my parents and this is clearly why they all get along so well. I am a huge mess of emotions and deep thoughts with feels spilling out all over the place and as such, was a big threat to the status quo when we were growing up.
Because my mum refused to engage with deep emotions unless she had no choice, she made it her mission to punish, shame, belittle and frighten me into keeping mine hidden, purely so she didn’t have to deal with them. And as we all know, little kids have big emotions.
My dad stopped maturing emotionally sometime around the mid-teens and any big displays of emotion confused him deeply. They were both on the same page, basically.
AN Example of Emotionally Unavailable Parenting:
We had a kitten who was killed on the road outside the house. 8 year old me was devastated and continued to be devastated long after the one allotted hug from my mum. My parents couldn’t understand why because in their mind, I’d been comforted and now it was time to get over it. But I couldn’t. There was nobody to talk to about how sad I felt, about my guilt at not having been there to save the cat (kids blame themselves for weird stuff) about the terrifying reality that someone (hey, pets are people!) you love can be there one minute and gone the next, about what happens after we die… all that stuff that would, in an emotionally healthy family have been talked out.
Everytime I attempted to express grief, it was shut down. Both my parents’ weapon of choice was abject shame and I was yelled at for being obsessive and attention-seeking enough times to give up. So I became slightly obsessed by my own grief, to the point that one afternoon I decided to go and dig the cat up and see for myself what happens after death. It wasn’t pretty and I caught hell for being ‘ghoulish, morbid and weird.’
As an adult, I can understand that emotionally unavailable parents are a product of their own upbringing. My mum grew up being lauded for her stoicism while her emotionally in touch younger sister was used as an example of how not to be. And boy, did history repeat itself.
My entire childhood was about me being wrong for feeling everything as deeply as I did. Consequently, I’m a somewhat self-absorbed adult with excess empathy, a deep sense of shame, low self-esteem and zero self-belief. I’m hardwired to despise everything about myself and frankly, it sucks.
My sibling? Well, their entire childhood was about being the golden child to me scapegoat. Consequently they are a confident, assertive, successful, covertly narcissistic, hypocritical, deeply inauthentic adult with breathtakingly snobbish views about anyone they consider beneath them.
.I cut them out of my life last year and have yet to feel one moment of regret.
This may have become a little rambly, so I’ll bring things to a close.
In my experience, children who grow up with two emotionally unavailable parents either tow the party line and become emotionally crippled themselves or grow up unable to shake the feeling that there is something inherently wrong with them for feeling as much as they do.
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