By Olga Gibbs, an author, a creative writing coach and a writing mentor, studying for her Masters in Creative Writing, with a background in adolescent psychology and mental health, with years of experience working with young people in therapeautic and supportive settings.
Working with people, no matter the age, through their parental attachment and abandonment issues has always been the hardest for me.
The moment when one realises that his or her parents haven’t loved or wanted him or her… It’s world-shifting.
Suddenly, the rug is pulled from under their feet. Everything that they knew suddenly becomes lies. Their understanding of their world and their place in it comes off its axis, and begins its free-fall.
We love our parents with all of our hearts, without reservations, without looking back. As children, we open our souls and hearts to them the moment we are born. Our parents is our sunshine and our night sky. It’s a horizon of our worlds. Our world does not exist without them.
As children we never wonder if our parents feel the same, if their parental love matches ours. We don’t care about it. Our love to our parents is so absolute and colossal, that it can survive without returned love.
Only years later, once we’re older, we look back and analyse our lives, looking for a reason for our own failed relationships, our our acceptance of abuse, our low self-esteem, only then, shining light onto our past, bringing forward childhood memories, we realise that we were never wanted or loved.
This understanding is a huge trauma on its own, without the realisation of the past neglect, abuse or rejection.
Our parents are our safe harbour: the place where we should be able to wait out storms in our lives, where we would be “mended and made better”, where we are loved, sometimes becoming the only place where we are truly loved, sometimes becoming the only love we experience in our life.
But many of us don’t get that safe harbour.
Many of us denied that unconditional parental love, and watching healthy relationships of our luckier friends with their parents, we begin to wonder. The jealousy comes through too, the desire to attach to someone, anyone, burning strong for the rest of our lives.
That desire to be loved, which is rooted in our childhood, could be more dangerous than our other past traumas. It can become a starting point of a string of self-destructive behaviours, abusive relationships, failed marriages, our own poor relationships with our own children, self-loathing, substance abuse, depression and more.
And one day a mental health professional would bring that question forward, asking questions, whilst gently probing the subconscious, investigating the level of our denial.
That is the hardest part of my work and this was the hardest work for my self-discovery I ever had to make: to accept that I was unloved and unwanted.
This idea of parental rejection is life-changing.
It sours our lives. It damages us. It could break us, because it brings with it one inevitable question: “What is wrong with me that they didn’t love me?”
That question begins to spin in our minds on a loop, echoing on repeat in our empty hearts and broken minds, and at that point, I wish everyone had a support around them, a support who’d affirm one single truth: Nothing is wrong with us. Nothing is ever wrong with a child. Children are born perfect and godly. It is the parental sole responsibility to love their children: love to their best ability, love with all their hearts.
But that first step is the scariest and hardest: to accept that you were never loved. It is life-altering, but it’s the step we’d have to take, to confront the monsters of our past, silencing them, putting them behind us.
Self-help books from Olga Gibbs:
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