ACoAs: Loneliness in Childhood (Part 2)

neglected children 

how harmful neglect can be!

PREVIOUS: Childhood Loneliness (Part 1)

SITE: NEGLECT (effects & related factors)

REMINDER: See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.

CATEGORIES of Loneliness (L)
Internal / emotional isolation: comes from insufficient or inappropriate attachment, originally to parents & other caregivers. Even securely attached children, when separated from their parents, express separation distress such as crying, searching for the parent, having a tantrum or being withdrawn. As adults, it’s the distress of being separated for too long from romantic or other deep connections.
External / social isolation: the L. experienced when people lack a wider social network, not feeling part of a community, not having friends or allies they can rely on in times of distress

Transient, or state: L. that’s temporary, caused by something in one’s environment which can be relieved relatively easily & quickly (replacing a pet, temporary illness, a short trip…)
Chronic, or trait: L. that’s more ingrained, part of a person’s lifestyle & therefore not easily relieved (feeling L. whether alone or with others, being afraid & mistrustful of others, full of S-H….).  It doesn’t matter what goes on in their environment, the experience of L. is always there.

RESEARCH over the past 15 years concluded:
— that an ongoing pattern of abandonment (Ab.) loneliness poses a serious threat to a person’s mental health & social functioning. In adults it has been linked with depression, alcoholism, obesity, & suicide. In children it’s associated with being victimized at home & by peers, leading to severe shyness or aggression.  (MORE…)

Consider the Ab. loneliness of….
…. (T) not having anyone to teach, guide, set an example – of how to do things
…. (E) always being alone with your emotions, especially the painful ones
…. (A) not having anyone to do things with, play with, enjoy the good things in life

Consider the Ab. loneliness of….disintegration
…. watching them self-destruct, & you can’t stop them, no matter how hard you try, but you keep trying anyway, & always feel like a failure
Consider the Ab. loneliness of….
….. having to play ‘god’, be responsible for the adults, for their day-to-day physical needs, & sometimes for their very life – or ‘just’ their emotional survival.  You need then to stay alive, to stop hurting you themselves, so they can be the parents you need – but it never works!

Consider the Ab. loneliness of….
…. hiding family secrets, present & past.
SPOKEN – “Don’t let anyone see those bruises”, “Don’t tell anyone daddy’s in jail”…. that brother Johnny’s in a mental hospital or a drug addict, sister Suzy’s a prostitute, that daddy isn’t really dead…

UNSPOKEN – don’t ever bring up the drunkenness, fights, neglect, beatings, incest…. that goes on behind closed doors. And then there are the secrets you somehow intuited but didn’t have any facts about, but found out about years later – like about a sibling before you who died, that Grandpa killed someone, mom was raped, grandma cheated on her husband….

d. FROM SHAME   lonely child
Consider the Ab. loneliness of….
…. having to hide yourself from everyone, especially outside the house – because you’re soooo bad that you can’t let anyone know the ‘real you’. If they got to know you they’d hate you just as much as your family does – & that would be too much to bear. (see post on Self-Hate)

Consider the Ab. loneliness of….
….. having to hide our family from the rest of the world, because they’re drunk, crazy, dirty, raging, seductive (with everyone) or just not there to make a home you can bring others to. You’re ashamed of them & where you live, so you stay late at school, in the library at a friend’s…. or lone, anywhere but there

Consider the Ab. loneliness of….
…. never being able to trust the very adults who are supposed to be taking care of you – parents, siblings, other family members, babysitters, school & religious leaders. They’re unreliable, mess with your mind, are sexually inappropriate, cruel, stupid, crazy, drunk….
They’re too busy with their own concerns – having a good time, working, ‘using’, cheating…. to be there for you.
No one is honest about how they feel or what they really think. No one is direct & clear. You never know where you stand.

NEXT: Loneliness in Adulthood – #1


4 thoughts on “ACoAs: Loneliness in Childhood (Part 2)

  1. Thanks for writing this post. Neglect in all of these different forms was a huge part of my past. I always figured that since it wasn’t overtly abusive that is was not a big deal – yet I carry the consequences. Now I see why. It’s seriously damaging.


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