This is something I could write a book about… seriously. And I think I’ve only just begun to deeply understand it.
A lot of times when people are emotionally abused, they don’t realize that it’s happening. At first. They may feel terrible, but especially when the abuse occurs in childhood, it can be seen as “normal.” So then pain, disappointment, cruelty, all become expected of other people. Other people who are supposed to care about you. Love becomes equated with pain. This is a dangerous form of crosswiring.
Emotional abuse can take more subtle forms, like undermining, gaslighting, or emotional manipulation that isn’t realized until you mature. Whether extreme or covert, emotional abuse literally changes the way people look at the world and how they function. They might:
- Live in fear
- Expect pain
- Have low self esteem
- Not trust their own judgment
If this sounds like you, all hope is not lost… but the first step of actually acknowledging that this fits for you is sometimes the hardest … and then teasing apart what is your responsibility and what isn’t. For example, no child deserves to be mistreated. It’s not your job as a child to forge a relationship with your parent. THEY are supposed to model appropriate connection and emotional regulation for you. If that doesn’t happen, that can spell trouble and mismanaging emotions and relationships into adulthood.
I don’t believe any one thing causes anxiety, but I do think that having been through emotional abuse exacerbates it. An example could be inconsiderate things built up over a period of time, like vacuuming right outside your door at 8am when you’re sleeping and jolting you awake. These things take a toll and shake up your nervous system so it can be hard to relax and focus. I’m noticing this right now as I try to focus on dissertation. I know much better things are to come for me, and this rough patch will be over and done with very soon… but it’s still hard to allocate responsibility where it is due and I’m realizing more and more how little other people’s treatment of me has to do with me.
~*~ Natalie ~*~
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