I’M INVISIBLE TO EVERYONE,
& they like it like that!
Previous: The Scapegoat
SITE: Lost Child –> Invisible Adult
❧ LOST CHILD’s GOAL
Provide relief for the family by sacrificing their identity & desires to give parents one less thing to worry about
For Self: hide from chaos, physical & emotional abuse (under a table, in a closet, their room, nearest library), avoid being responsible for anyone else…. withdraw into a fantasy world, making themself very small & quiet
For Family: relieve some tension by not being another burden, provide family’s privacy by not airing ‘dirty laundry’, help family avoid facing serious problems by never mentioning alcohol, toxic roles or Recovery
BIRTH ORDER: 3rd or middle child
IN SCHOOL : Lose themself in school work, get good grades, don’t want to participate, called ‘space cadet’, geek, nerd….
FAMILY TREATMENT : Generally ignored, or considered a ‘blessing’ for not expressing needs. Last child parents will think to get help for
• Socially Acceptable : Pleasant when spoken to, quiet & unassuming, won’t call attention to self, have opinions but don’t express them, never make waves or demands
• Socially Awkward: Distant, ill at ease with others, especially uncomfortable when focused on, little or no expression of emotions. Hide out to not be a bother. Strong attachments to animals & things – instead of people, sometimes with one close friend but often none. May be confused or conflicted about their sexual identity & functioning
• are day-dreamers – buried in books, internet, religion / spirituality, creative mental pursuits, keep a diary, draw, listen to music, watch TV
• become addicts – use chemicals, food, porn…. to dull the pain
• can be bulimic or anorectic, or overweight
• deny getting upset, super-independent but depressed
• drift through life with little or no ambition, so may be under-employed or obsessed with one ‘big’ goal (realistic or not, productive or not)
• easily feel rejected while always staying aloof, ‘invisible’
• may try to get attention indirectly by getting sick, having asthma, allergies, or by bed-wetting in childhood
• give up self-needs & the possibility of asking for help or accept any offered, have poor communication skills
• follow without questioning, easily bullied & made fun of, avoid professional help
• unable or unwilling to initiate (passive), have hard time seeing choices / options, tend to lack direction, afraid of making decisions
FROM: “Why should I feel? It’s better if I don’t”
“If I don’t get emotionally involved, I won’t get hurt”
“I can’t make a difference anyway”
“Don’t draw attention to yourself”
TO: “I have a right to positive attention”
“I do make a difference, I am worthwhile & people will value me”
“II need to get emotionally involved to have meaningful connections”
“My emotions are an important part of my True Self”
EMOTIONS : depressed, fearful, hurt, lonely, rejected, sad, with suppressed anger. Express shame by procrastination, being the victim, feeling suicidal
COST TO SELF
Always feeling different, the outsider, don’t know how to get their needs / wants met including need for personal connections, have social phobia so stay ignored & unappreciated, hard to get credit for abilities
PARENTS CAN HELP CHILD
TO: be more social, use creativity & imagination, express emotions, feel important, useful & valuable
BY: giving private encouragement & praise, including child in family process, not criticizing, providing opportunities to be successful, validating anything positive
❎ Unsociable: the most obvious isolators, withdrawn from life to hide from whatever will hurt or make them uncomfortable – which is almost everything.
• terrified of intimacy, they often avoid connections all together
• are attracted to any solitary work or careers where they don’t have to deal with people
✅ ’Sociable’: if in a relationship they’ll be noticeably unavailable in many ways, pick controlling Heroes or unpredictable chaotic Scapegoats or Mascots
• If artistic, will be excellent actors, studying their parts carefully, glad to hide behind a facade
• Generally: when needing to make a commitment based on logical thinking, believe they have few options – because growing up they just went along with whatever was happening, instead of thinking thru possibilities or what they may actually want
• Without help: indecisive, can’t say NO, show little or no passion, fun or zest, slow to change & grow, always alone or promiscuous, die early
Adult RECOVERY NEEDS – TO
• become a team player, practice flexibility, take initiative, make decisions, notice & use available options
• reach out, deal with loneliness, face emotional pain, make a few deep relationships, give up victim role
• With help: become free to express talents, creativity & imagination. Can become assertive, resourceful & independent (not isolated)
• work well alone, self-reliant, quiet
• easy-going, understanding, patient, spiritually connected
• resourceful, creative, flexible, non-conformist, quirky sense of humor
• well-read, scholarly, good observer & listener
NEXT: Mascot Role
15 thoughts on “LOST CHILD Family Role”
Thank dog for all those strengths. So many of those statements rang true, a blessing for not expressing my needs! Not making waves. Withdrawing and taking pain somewhere hidden.
No now though, much therapy and TA training and I am nearly cured 😉
Thank God for Recovery. We are wounded, NOT defective!
This is my wife 90%, She has already grown in some categories quite a lot. She has not got an eating disorder or drug dependany but the social dynamics are spot on. She has admitted to most of these dynamics at one time or another, but refuses to accept that they are a problem, and that they have anything to do with having an alchoholic parent. She contradicts herself to maintaing the facade. How do I get her to take the ACOA perspective so that she can grow forward from the truth? We have been having serious intimacy struggles, divorce has been mentioned, she may leave me to avoid facing the truth and dealing with it as a problem. Help please
Thank you for writing. I’m sorry to hear of your pain. As you know, there’s no way to make someone face their damage. Everyone has to ‘hit bottom’ in their own time – if ever. In the mean time you can go to Al-Anon, even if you’re not an ACoA yourself & she’s not alcoholic. That’s how I got started in my Recovery. I don’t know if you have the support you need to take care of yourself, which has to come first.
If your marriage is salvageable, the only way for a shift is for you to change any part you’ve been unconsciously playing that has automatically developed between you. This is not a criticism or judgement, only a suggestion based on knowing how people function in relationships. Have you read ‘Games People Play” by Eric Berne, or “Scripts People Live” by Claude Steiner?
You can keep asking for what you would like & saying how her behavior affects you, using ‘I’ statements. If you continue reading this blog you will find many suggestions for yourself on how to live well. Ultimately that’s all we can do.
[…] https://acoarecovery.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/lost-child-family-role/ […]
Hi Louise, Thanks for the reference on your site.
Useful info. Lucky me I discovered your web site by chance,
and I am surprised why this twist of fate did not take place sooner!
I bookmarked it.
Reblogged this on My Beautiful Laundrette.
Can you recommend anywhere else I can read about the “Lost Child” role?
In addition to the suggestion at the top of this post – you can look at the bottom of the post “Toxic Family Roles, Part 2, July 2011. Don Wegscheider was the originator of the roles.
Thanks! FYI, the link at the top of the page is broken now, the new link is here:
Thanks LJC. I made the correction.
Thank you for what you have written, I relate to quite a bit of it – I don’t relate to the part where they are good academically, nor the suicidal part although about two years ago it dawned on me that I did not see suicide as an option when I was younger.
I don’t know what ‘need for a personal connection’ looks like and what it is for me, so I feel I can not get one.
Neither of my parents appear to have had an addition, although my mothers father was supposed to have been alcoholic. In later years my mother on occassion appeared to me to display narcissistic traits, and I think my brother does too.
Most of my life I felt ‘defective’ and this has basically disappeared in the last five of six years as I have taken on doing recovery work, attending Al-Anon, CoDA and SLAA Annorectic meetings. I am more comfortable in myself now, although being sociable and having friends seems evasive to me.
Thanks, Peter H
Thanks for writing. I’m glad you have gained self-esteem thru your hard work.
Once we have self-esteem – then we can risk disappointment & losses if we want personal connections, because we know it’s not our fault or unworthiness.
The up side is that if we choose well (not from the Wounded Child) then the benefits of good connections (relationships at any degree of rapport) – help us heal even more.