I think everyone struggles to a greater or lesser degree with ‘being seen’. None of us come through childhood unscathed in this way. There will always be someone who failed to recognise something of what was going on for us.
As adults this still happens, but as adults we are better able to understand what is going on. We see our needs and we see the lack of appreciation of where we are, and we find ourselves reacting.
I find it interesting to watch my own reactions. Four categories of response of have been identified – we can become more needy and create drama; we can respond by proving ourselves to be successful; we can respond by laughing it off and becoming the joker; or we can withdraw. For better or worse my own response is withdrawal.
As soon as I suspect that someone is not able to attend to me, I pull back and batten down the interior hatches. Over the last few weeks I have seen myself do this with two friends. The problem is, that neither of them really understands that there was a problem. As an adult my knee jerk response doesn’t really get me anywhere. I need to at least engage enough to assess whether they can really step up or not. I need to give them a chance to understand why I have withdrawn.
And yet to do so, I have to fight every fibre of my being. My instinctual self-protection is just to walk away, and yet to do so I would lose so much.