31 thoughts on “5 Ways You Were Taught Self-Erasure – and Why It’s Wrong

  • April 16, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    I saw myself clearly in your article. Upon my father’s death the grief broke through the wall keeping me from feeling my emotions. It is now three years since his death all of which I have been in therapy with my psychiatrist. He has helped me make progress. It started with identifying what I was feeling. Through therapy we discovered Ihave much repressed anger from my childhood. Emotions were not discussed in my family. Sentiment was ridiculed and if my father became angry he used the silent treatment acting as if we didn’t exist. My therapist has helped me tremendously and we are still working together because I have a huge abandonment issue from childhood. I have become able to trust my therapist and feel safe with him but it took quite a while. He has assured me Therapy will continue until these issues are resolved and he will not abandon me. We are just starting to address my being Codependent and the need to figure out who I really am. Childhood issues are far reaching. I had two episodes of depression and have anxiety. My psychiatrist has saved my life.

    Reply
    • April 19, 2018 at 3:11 pm

      It’s really inspiring that you were able to work on your childhood wounds and heal. Talk therapy with a compassionate helper can indeed help tremendously. I’m glad to hear you’re life is slowly improving.

      Thanks for sharing!
      -Darius

      Reply
  • April 17, 2018 at 5:19 am

    I identify with every point in this article. This describes my upbringing in a nutshell. I am 46 now and it has taken many years for me to discover happiness and my self worth. I also struggled with undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder. I was finally diagnosed in my mid-30s and am now stable on medication and long term therapy. My father passed away about 15 years ago and I made my peace with him before he died. My mother is still alive and I learned to manage my relationship with her in a way that is healthy for me. I can love her and be with her but it is on my terms.

    Reply
  • April 17, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    I can see, not only myself and my upbringing, but also my husband’s family dynamic, as well. It is hard to be raised this way, but we were also part of a cult that reinforced this ‘training’ to the max. I have worked through much of this, but my husband refuses to confront anything that will show that his father was not a ‘perfect person’.

    Reply
    • April 19, 2018 at 3:05 pm

      Sadly, so many people have experienced something similar to one degree or another. Oftentimes the more severe and wanting the childhood environment is, the more blind to its dysfunction the person becomes. In many cases, the concept of Stockholm syndrome can be applied to one’s family situation, where the aggrieved party sides with the perpetrator and vehemently defends them.

      All the best!
      -Darius

      Reply
  • April 17, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Growing up as a child-caregiver to a physically disabled mother , the concept of self-erasure very aptly describes how a childhood of ‘adulting’from age 5 impacted my ability to develop a notion of Self. No hobbies..no play..responsibility after responsibility…essentially dependent on the validation that I get from pleasing and rescuing others, as I strive to satisfy an insatiable hunger that “I” am worthy. Although ‘service to others’ is an admirable motto I wonder about ‘joy’..what does that feel like?

    Reply
    • April 18, 2018 at 7:56 am

      Mistä of it true a great article. However, that is the nature of human Life on planet Earth, humans are imperfect. This imperfection within and without is a part of a Life of a human being. Instead of looking at it from a viewpoint that traumatized or conditioned children are doomed for the rest of their lives, I would rather look at it from a viewpoint of inclusion and diversity. Acceptance. Love heals, both self love and compassion for ourselves and our ‘traumatized’ Fellow human beings. When really focusing in our inner päin, it is reasonable to think that perhaps one can change the viewpoint? Certain way of thinking and thoughts lead to painful emotions. There are humans suffering in horrible conditioned all ovet the World What Will help them? What Will help us? Human kindness, an accepting attitude, and looking towards light in ourselves and design it in others For the World Will always be imperfect

      Reply
    • April 19, 2018 at 3:01 pm

      Letting go of the inflicted sense of false responsibility lets us feel free to explore our own needs, emotions, preferences, and interests. We can stop living for and concentrating on others and start experiencing the true joy of being a psychologically independent individual.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences!
      -Darius

      Reply
  • April 18, 2018 at 8:51 am

    Hi Darius,

    I’m so grateful for your informative posts and your website. I am learning so much in baby steps about how to heal. Thank you!

    Reply
    • April 19, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      You’re welcome, and thanks for your feedback!

      Cheers!
      -Darius

      Reply
  • April 19, 2018 at 12:10 am

    Yes I have all 5. Mainly from being neglected and never being able to “feel”. So how do I get better. I am in my 60s and still am so anxious and have to do everything perfectly. Also, I push away affection because I am afraid and do not trust that it is well directed affection. I feel sometimes it is to use me.
    So is there anything I can do to get better before I isolate everyone? Life is not fun and I wish I could be done.

    Reply
  • April 19, 2018 at 5:25 am

    I see myself in the whole article. I grew up thinking that my parents hated me, and my seven siblings. My dad would scream at us every single night, at the dinner table, that we were all selfish, egotistical, ungrateful, rotten kids, and that he wished he could just throw us against the wall and shoot us dead. My mum also constantly hammered the selfishness thing into us. We were constantly told to think about others before thinking about ourselves. This produced a lot of guilt and angst. I was even made to feel guilty for buying myself some nice underwear with my pocket money when i was a teenager. Spending more than a few minutes in the bathroom was also a no no. My dad was constantly guilt tripping my first sister and I, telling us that we were not helping our mother enough. We always did our best to help our mother as much as possible. We were abused by our father on all levels. Our mother was silently complicit, but she was also not very encouraging to us at all. We all grew up with mental illnesses. My three brothers all had or still have drug or alcohol abuse problems. My middle brother committed suicide 9 years ago. My father died in 1984, at the age of 54, but, by then, the damage to myself, my siblings, and our mum, had been fully done. All of us have had many struggles in our lives, although some of us are coming to terms with things more, as time goes by.

    Reply
    • April 19, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      I’m sorry to hear that this was your experience growing up. It sounds like it was a very stressful environment, and no child deserves something like that. Thanks for sharing this!
      -Darius

      Reply
  • April 19, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    Thank You ♡ You nailed it to a T!!! I’ve been writting in journals since the 1980s. Injuries resulting from a car accident in 2015 caused me to experience months of Repressed Memories. I was mortified as I was also remembering them. In 2016 I did what I set out to do in 1985 before my birth mother degraded me to the core & I as a 15yr old buried those memories for over 30yrs… In 2016, I went to my local police & have since hired a lawyer to proceed what I set out in 1985 to do… Get those damn pornographic photos & film of my 5,6,7,8,9,10 & 11yr old self out of that cellar wall that my birth mother & her then boyfriend buried there! I spent my whole life trying to forget a childhood I never could forget.. I was always told to ‘Move on’ ‘Get Over it’ and now I am 48yrs old & I wish I had always just let myself remember!!

    Reply
    • April 19, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      You’re welcome, Cathy. Remembering helps us understand our experiences better, which is vital for healing. Thank you for sharing your story!
      -Darius

      Reply
  • May 3, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Hi Darius,
    For me, all these points you describe in your article, sounds familiar. I grew up being treated as you described and I was very insecure and thought I was unlovable. I couldn´t believe that someone loved me, I used to dispise boys that were interested in me. Nevertheless, I married and I went to therapy for almost 20 years to rebuild myself, still doing it. The most painfull thing is the self-abuse when I do something good or when someone abuse me. For me, it has been very helpfull to know that there is not something very wrong with me, that has helped me to accept people affection and love. I still strugle with trusting someone enough to ask for help, I always think that I will be rejected and they will tell me that I don´t deserve attention or help.
    My parents use to say to me that I was too sensitive, too needy and I had to be stronger for not shed any tear. Now I know that they were the ones that couldn´t stand emotions and pain, so they never were empathic with me neither my brother and sister. Now, thanks to you and some other people that had written very clear about how child neglect marks us as an adult and it is really difficult to be happy or hopeful about the future. Thanks very much.

    Reply
    • May 11, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      Hi Mireya, you’re welcome!

      I’m sorry to hear that all these things apply to you. At the same time it’s good to know that you found ways to work on it and improve. It indeed helps a lot when you understand that there’s nothing inherently wrong with you and it’s not your fault you have these problems, and that you can work on them and grow. It’s not an easy task, but it does get better.

      All the best,
      Darius

      Reply
  • May 21, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Hi Darius- thanks so much for your insightful blogs, so great for validation. I’ve always felt something was wrong with me; never fit in, or felt comfortable in my own skin and know I’ve suffered from childhood emotional neglect. Interestingly, throughout life, I have had the ‘notion’ of being invisible; I knew I wasn’t but had the sense nonetheless; your term ‘self erasure’ ties into this directly. I’ve been working on this for awhile now, but continue with the sense of feeling invisible.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Your observation of parents being unprepared to parent strikes a chord. When I was about 12, my mother told me that when she told her father (my gruff old German grandfather) that she was going to marry my dad, she said he kissed her on the cheek. She said she almost fainted, because she was 23 years old and he had never displayed any kind of affection towards her at any time in her life. It’s the same way she parented my siblings and I. The behavioral expectation was that children are just smaller adults. Play was irresponsible when there was work to do. And there was always work to do. She wouldn’t run the vacuum when we were all at school during the week and the house was empty. She would wait until Saturday morning when the cartoons were on. The implication being, “How dare you have fun while I have to do this work! Go take out the garbage,. Go cut the grass! Go clean the bathroom! When you get that done, I’ll give you something else to do! She always said she would give us a ride to school if it was raining. But we were all afraid to ask. I learned not to matter or have needs. That was the behavior that was rewarded. Be independent and self-sufficient. We got food clothing and shelter. Love, had to be earned. I was mostly unable to earn it. No reward for perfect behavior or report card. That was the de facto expectation. Anything less required adjustment or punishment. The over arching lesson 50 years later is that I am I am unworthy of love because I learned from my mother that women have high expectations and I have mostly proven incapable of meeting those expectations. If I can be responsible and have a skill set that an employer values, I can live a quiet, trouble free life. I’ve lived in that shell as long as I can remember. 61 years old, never married. Never dated. A responsible, capable, (covert schizoid) invisible worker drone.

    Reply
  • July 23, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    My mother raised me that way. I happened to come across this terminology in a group on fb for people that identify as non-binary/agender. I was only able to realize thongs about who I was because my mother left us over a year ago. As soon as she left, I experienced a self identity crisis and started going to therapy. Now, over a year later, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve surfaced and have figured myself out enough to know exactly who I am and who I want to be, and I never would’ve done that if she hadn’t left, or if I hadn’t had the supportive family, friends, and boyfriend around me that I do. My grandmother and I have had countless conversations about how I’ve been raised, almost daily, and this term sums all of it up. I feel less alone now. Thank you.

    Reply
  • August 19, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    Hi Darius. This is a really important topic. It’s the messages (both subtle and overt) that we get in our earliest years of life that help us form our self-concept. So, if we’re indoctrinated with beliefs in how we are and what life is and what our relationship to life is in a way that’s repressive and limiting, we will lose so much of ourselves. We will have to hide certain aspects of ourselves away from ourselves and the light of consciousness, in order to fit the narrow expectations we’ve been given.

    And we will be like a sprout with no room to grow because of all the restrictions that we’ve taken for granted as normal.

    Luckily, there are practices like Shadow Work that help us get in touch with what’s been made unconscious. And we can engage in contemplation and therapy to discover and let go of limiting beliefs.

    Reply
  • October 19, 2018 at 6:32 am

    How does one combat the awful affects of child abuse? How do we work on developing a sense of self and value?

    Reply
    • December 13, 2018 at 9:03 am

      By running away as far away from toxic relationships as much as you can. It really helps. Trust me I know.

      Reply
      • February 28, 2019 at 10:50 am

        I totally agree with your comment as I have run all my life since the age of 9 when I had to go and live with my abusive mother. I was beaten so badly by her and always told I looked just like my father. There was no help from anyone although they knew of the physical and verbal abuse. I tried to commit suicide. I saw a psychiatrist with my step grandmother who made him aware of my treatment but nothing was done. I ran away and have always looked for security in others and never allowed myself to feel my inner child.

        I have never felt love and when I did have it I would make sure that I became verbally abusive and made accusations that where not true. So they would eventually leave.

        So how do I get better. I am in my 62 and still am so anxious and insecure. Also, I push away affection because I am afraid and do not trust that it is well directed affection. I feel sometimes it is to use me.
        So is there anything I can do to get better before I isolate everyone? Life is not fun and I wish I could be done.

        Reply
  • November 8, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Thank you for a very important article. You described the environment I grew up in aptly, except that rather than being judgemental, it was simply negligent. That and quite a few supportive and validating adults changed my trajectory. The result was that at an early age I learned that adults and authority figures were things to endure until they passed on. It helped that I moved around so no situation (except my very negligent, erasing mother) lasted more than a few months.

    Eventually I even learned to respect who I am, and not beat myself up about being who I am.

    As a result I learned to trust myself, and eventually even to set boundaries. Now if I find myself setting boundaries I can look around and figure out what is bothering me about other’s behavior and decide what to do about it. Sometimes I can actually give people feedback that allows them to grow.

    I am recently experiencing erasure at work, and it is wonderful to have a word for it. Being able to see why it is such a trigger for me is a great way to approach the issues.

    Reply
  • November 26, 2018 at 7:45 am

    I was divorced when my daughter was 3. I wanted to be a father, the mother had other ideas. My daughter and I are still in touch – she came back to live with me when she was 16, self harming and diganosed as suffering from neglect. Now she is back with her (I would say co-dependent) mother.

    She has been in therapy (that I got her to without her mothers knowledge intially) and may still be (now 20) – she is still in a difficult place and needs to know what is in this article – how can I help?

    Reply
  • December 13, 2018 at 9:01 am

    I can identify with this greatly. Thanks for a wonderful article.

    Reply
  • July 11, 2019 at 10:00 am

    “Such an adult may be clueless of who they truly are and how they truly feel…”

    This really resonated with me. The whole article did, really. I see myself in every one of those traits.

    Another thing that growing up under such circumstances does is suppress your ability to feel fulfilled or rewarded. When there is no reward for success, only punishment for failure, you quickly learn not to try very hard. As a result the reward system of your brain never fully develops, and as an adult you feel no intrinsic motivation to do anything. What’s the point of working hard if all it gets you is more work? I feel no pride or sense of accomplishment upon completing a task because there is always another task waiting.

    Reply
  • August 20, 2019 at 5:43 am

    Hi Darius. Every word of this article is so relevant to my life. I’m 49 now and an only child. My mother is 72 and my father is 79. My.mother has narcissistic trends as does my dad, although he never cared or showed any interest in me. They still mess with my head even though they live half way round the world. The only thing can do at this stage is have very little contact but I feel guilty even though I dont.like talking to them and hate being in their presence. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you
    Antonella

    Reply
  • August 30, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    My mother hated me, she told me often. She also told me i destroy everything i touch. Told me to leave home from as yoing as 11. Its an ongoing battle to eliminate these deadly embedded toxic beliefs… i have compassion and love for my mother, generations of normalizing verbal, emtional and physical abuse is evident withinmy family…. the worst thing is i feel i carry the curse of “i am not enough”, no matter what i do! Its so easy for me see when i have failed and so hard to see my success. Thankyou for this very specific article. I dont know people who can relate to my childhood and or society is like the past is the past get over it. I feel alone, confused, have nailed victim consciousness… i will read the book…

    Reply
 

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