I NEVER REALIZED
how much my infancy shaped me!
PREVIOUS: Inventories – In the Beginning-#2
See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.
2. NURTURE (cont)
a. Wounded mother
All children are vulnerable to the feelings & expressions of their first caretakers, and will be severely affected by a Wounded Mother. Even if she tries to hide it, every day the infant absorbs her fears, worries, anger, overwhelm – as well as joys, interests, attitudes & reactions she may feel.
For many ACoAs, she was one or more of the following:
Presenting : –– demanding, ruthless, controlling
— self-hating, overwhelmed, with severe abandonment issues
— drunk, self-absorbed & narcissistic
— generally anxious, especially of parenting responsibility, often having to do it alone
— distant, emotionally cold, perfectionistic
— passive, flaky, irresponsible
— rageful, verbally, physical & emotionally abusive
— un-nurturing, unsympathetic, judgmental, cruel
— use child to make up for her own lack of love
— demand child be perfect, self-sufficient & NOT need much
b. Developing Child : At birth, the nerve cells in a child’s brain are not fully developed, growing & expanding continuously until about age 25.
The brain grows in complexity & therefore ‘intelligence’ – according to how much stimulation it receives. This includes a colorful & interesting environment, being talked, read & sung to, and any kind of beneficial movement – touched, held, massaged, played with….
• Because babies imprint (like ducklings) onto caretakers via emotions & the 5 senses, all helpful and hurtful events stay with us forever, some even after much ‘work’, in modified form.
For ACoAs, the wounding experiences need to be inventoried & slowly detached from as much as possible, but it’s not fair or realistic to expect them to all disappear, if only we “did it right”!
PS: We know now that we never have to stop learning & growing – that brain plasticity is possible even into old age, if a person practices new & difficult tasks. In childhood it’s called Developmental Plasticity, which depends more on the effect of the environment.
🔸Early impressions – Infants don’t have verbal language, only emotional & physical signals for communication. They’re highly impressionable – hungrily absorbing all the sights, sounds & touch they’re exposed to.
Each child also has its own maximum threshold for how much activity it needs or can tolerate. Dysfunctional homes force on us too little or too much
🔹Not enough stimulus (of the right kind), so that some areas of the brain don’t form certain necessary pathways, leaving it deficient in whatever type of reasoning or understanding that were affected. This can cause the child to be sluggish in body & mind, always anxious, &/or lacking** fundamental info that will be needed later on to live a ‘normal’ life as an adult.
(**Some antidepressants, as well as Recovery activities, can build missing areas of the brain which were deprived in childhood)
• Being neglected is as deadly as being over-controlled – such as being left alone too much, not nurtured, attended to, guided & included, OR allowed to do whatever the child want. We never get to learn boundaries, options & discipline.
It’s not unusual for ACoAs to have chunks of basic life know-how actually missing (lack of software), to the point of not having a clue about things other people take for granted – common sense, quick responses to crazy situations, the right things to say when confronted, making small talk….
🔶 This is different from info we do have but are not allowed to acknowledge and use. And neither of these states implies being stupid (faulty hardware), but only suppressed & can be reclaimed, or missing & can be filled in. REMINDER :
NO under-functioning ACoA is lazy or stupid, just TERRIFIED.
Some causes creating this debilitating fear :
• isolated, neglected & abused
• not being nurtured, taken care of & validated
• not provided with healthy role models to copy
• being given incorrect & insufficient information about how to function well in the world
PICTURE: “This child was left unattended for a whole day at a Chinese state orphanage. The makeshift play chair was more like a prison.” ~ Paul Myhill
NEXT: Inventory – Beginning #4
2 thoughts on “Inventories – In the Beginning (Part 3)”
I want to express my deepest gratitude for your blog. As the oldest in a dysfunctional family I have read so many books, enough for a Phd. I have intellectualized my feelings my whole life. Your blog is more informative than any Bradshaw, Miller, Black book out there and you are not charging a penny. God bless you for your knowledge and for helping us heal.
Thank you for letting me know. I read a lot too before I attended Al-anon where I got the foundation for all I know.