A child can’t. So they usually end up using many different defenses to try to shut away from the emotion. It’s way to difficult to bear for someone that age and if we could invent a machine that could force a child to feel the emotions that would come with neglect it would be torture.
So children compartmentalize by stiffening up or distracting or behaving a certain way. Some withdraw into their own little worlds and don’t say much as they risk being seen by others and hence by themselves. They can’t chance the emotions they’re blocking themselves from.
Then they grow up.
And they (we) continue with the same defenses, mostly unconsciously. A well worn, ingrained habit that seems so normal you don’t know it’s a part of your behavior. You might call yourself shy, or quiet, or introverted as a way to rationalize why you stay isolated.
The way out is by talking. Then relating and then talking some more, then relating again – hearing others talk about the same things. Done over years that process actually is the way to process that unbearable emotion.
Honesty is your way out and getting to live a normal life.
“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” ― Lois Lowry, The Giver
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