Here’s an interesting stat for you: One hundred percent of adults I see in therapy who feel invisible, have felt that way since childhood.
What about you? Do you ever feel invisible?
By invisible I mean emotionally and socially blending in with the furniture.
Do you ever feel as though nothing would be different in a given setting if you weren’t physically there? Like you don’t have much of an impact on people around you?
This could even happen in important relationships. Even among loved ones, do you sometimes feel as if you don’t matter?
If you feel easy to ignore, think about your early experiences. How visible were you to important others? How much did you feel you mattered back then?
As a child…
Did you have a disability? — If you had a physical or cognitive disability you might have received either too much or not enough attention.
If too much attention was paid to the disability, maybe you learned that who you were was less important than what was wrong with you. If you didn’t get enough attention, concern or help, maybe you figured it was because your needs didn’t matter.
Was there alcohol (or other drugs) in your home? — If Mom or Dad was drinking or snorting or shooting up regularly, it’s probably true that you missed out on a bunch of quality time with them.
When parents are lost in addiction, kids often get ignored, or worse. If this was the case for you, you might have decided to blend into the background and try to have no needs at all.
Did you have a parent who was ill? — Mental or physical illness could have had an impact on your parents’ time and energy. Maybe they weren’t able to help you feel seen and valued. Maybe you had to grow up fast so your needs weren’t a burden, or so that you could help out.
Were you different? — You might have come into this world with a disposition that felt out of step with other members of your family. In order to fit in, you had to bury those parts of your personality that seemed different. It was the only way not to make waves, and so you got used to hiding your real self from others.
Whatever went on in childhood happened at a time when you were forming ideas about yourself, other people and the way the world works. Those ideas might have been skewed, and they might still be affecting you today.
In next week’s post we’ll look at specific ways you might unconsciously be inviting others to ignore you.