As a therapist, I’ve begun picking up that her “messed up” terminology is referencing the emotional neglect she’s experienced.
Raised in a home with dad as a cardiologist and mom, a radiologist, Alexandra was essentially "raised" by a nanny. Well, not one nanny. Being an only child, she wanted constant companionship and physical touch and seemed “clingy, needy and emotionally exhausting” to an outsider. Over time, every nanny would leave because they found her to be “too much”. Incredibly talented and socially suave, Alexandra used her outspoken personality at school, made friends easily and impressed her teachers with her wisdom and creativity. Though she was well liked, and wore a smile on her face, she felt empty on the inside.
“It’s the isolation that hurts deepest. Pain is pain, but if I broke my arm and so did someone else, at least they can understand the pain. I have this pain of a “cold feeling”; I once tried explaining it to my friends, but they looked at me like I spoke a different language. I felt stupid, so I just shut down and put my energy into working.
“What is it”? I ask one morning, as she shifted suddenly, her body tensing up and her forehead tightly crunched.
Alexandra had been gaining awareness and insight into how her body and the external shifts were most often expressing and communicating something from the inside.
“I know. I know. I think its something about disconnect. I’m so successful at work but am a failure at love and relationships.
I’m dating this guy and I like him but every time I try to speak or express my real feelings, everything comes out wrong. I know how to operate in the business, world, but when it comes to people, how I feel or who I am, I hit a road block. It’s like all things suddenly black out.
It’s like I’m a stranger in a world of normal people. I don’t have a heart that beats like other peoples. Mine is numb, almost frozen. I just didn’t get the script on how to love others”.
What Alexandra is describing is a wound related to emotional neglect from her younger developing years. Adults sometimes don’t know they have neglected to learn some life + relationship skills until things start getting confusing. Here, as an adult, Alexandra is struggling with love, intimacy and a true sense of self esteem.
What is emotional abandonment?