"The problem with this is that when you are not acknowledged, when you cannot see yourself mirrored in others, when they do not reflect back to you, like answering your questions or laughing at your jokes or responding to your greetings in an appropriate way, if your sense of self is not immensely secure, you begin to lose it.
And if you get enough of that kind of treatment from the significant people in your life, you begin to feel invisible, too…you begin to wonder if there is really anything to see, since nobody else seems to see it.
It goes deeper than that, even. Have you ever said something in a group of people and nobody even acknowledged you spoke? Have you ever asked a question and the person to whom it is directed acts as if you were not even in the room? Have you ever been in a group and what you have to say is not ignored so much as it is not even heard? Absent strong self-esteem, such experiences can make you feel disconnected, unbalanced…as if you exist only at their pleasure and the rest of the time you don’t. It makes you feel unimportant, devalued, diminished, invisible, shunned".
This is an excellent article about growing up as the scapegoat in a narcissistic family. They do render you invisible, voiceless like you are not even there. For me silent treatment and being unable to communicate was a given. The number of silent moments with my mother reached to the ceiling as I tried to reach out, and received only silence and anger in response. There was no true sharing, no being known.
One thing that happened to me when wanting to see more of family members is they would tell me, "We have our own lives" as if I was a bother or nuisance. It was strange how they always gave me this message to tell me to "go away". I always had my own life and community too. I was not bothering them to visit me every month, or even every year. Once you reach a certain age and place, you will stop asking and you know that going to empty wells is a waste of time.
There was always the message of get back in line, you are low on the priority list. For me it started very young. My very ill sister came first during my young years. Later my sick father's needs came first, but even when everyone was healthy, I was in the background, just there. One thing that happens if someone is a scapegoat in a dysfunctional family system, is the narcissist or narcissists train the others not to devote time to you. You are rendered obsolete to them.
I knew I grew up, knowing outside of my close friends, no one was really listening to me. My opinions were shouted down, my values, and who I was ignored. It was like a tree falling in the forest with some standing there shrugging their shoulders and going ho-hum. My narcissistic mother and sister shared nothing with me. I have realized "withholding" where a person shares nothing of their mind, emotions, and thoughts with you is an insidious form of abuse. You become an "outsider", unheard, unseen, and unthought of, and breaking this up or standing up to it is impossible. Demand to be seen, heard, noticed, and recognized as a human being and then you are told you are a bother, we are busy, we have our lives. You feel like a sap trying to draw attention from those who don't want to give it. As a child, you're kind of trapped, under their rules, you can only go seek out others so much, as an adult, you have to reach the point, and tell yourself, that there is nothing more I can do, I tried. Trying to seek the love and attention of people who do not have it to give, is very unhealthy. There were times as a child and teen I literally faded into the wallpaper. What does that do to someone in the long run?
Years later this would worse, as moving, distance, and money problems triggered some of my problems that are rooted in these early family experiences. When I left my small town community in 2007, it was grief, I felt like I had lost another family [which included a church and co-op I was close to] and I really HAD.
I know I will never move again, since I lost my last community, the grief was so great, I refuse to leave the friends and things I have now. I never had a family so I need to have a community to be attached to. I need roots. There is no way on earth I will ever let myself rip up the roots again. The last time took too far of a toll, I just recovered in the last couple of years due to new friends and opportunities. I have told husband I will not do it again.
I don't take loss well. I know inside I have a lot of grief. Too many people have been taken away from me via many circumstances. I suppose this is part of the human condition. It is never easy to "lose" anyone or to imagine what may have been. I think not really having family in this world or growing up in a family system where you are rendered as "nothing" can take a toll. Some of us survive and thrive via close friends who love us, we connect to communities--I know I did and have. Even then this early "lack of love" can take a lifelong toll on many others.
Some of us are not well-suited for modern life, and it's transient nature. There is a reason Bowling Alone is one of my favorite books. I have told one close friend of many years duration, that my dream life would have been one in the same area where I grew up in a place and stayed and had those roots I always have grasped for.
I hope one day I will have a feeling of belonging somewhere in this world. Even with the few family members I talk to now, it's long distance stuff--a few Facebook hellos, nothing "too deep". I do not expect anything more any more.
The blogger talks about the times she had to realize that people weren't ignoring her on purpose via her family baggage. That is something I worked through years ago. If your family has the default setting of ignoring you, this doesn't mean others with their responsibilities are too. Here one has to have grace and understanding for other people and unload the family mode, when dealing with others.
My friends and community groups etc, treat me decent but I know inside, there was this feeling of being invisible that stayed with me because of how I was raised too that I had to overcome. Narcs draw in attention like a iron fillings draw to a magnet. The times of being a "ghost" in the room with all the "look at me" narcissists who demanded full attention did take their toll on me too. I am a more shy person, who via my housebound times, avoids attention. Think there's a reason you don't see my mug plastered on this blog? That probably is part of it. I have very close friends but I know this developed a "going into myself" solitary outlook. I also know I love and value people very strongly. I never want anyone to feel alone or rejected.
Some of these effects may be lifelong, the feeling like you have had no feeling of belonging anywhere? This feeling of not belonging of being untethered? It's a hard one to carry in this life, that's for sure. How does one overcome this? My Christian friends tell me, this world is not our true home, and one day, we will be with God's family. All my friends, are "family" as it were to me, in this world. I know today people "see" me.