The Validation Vacuum

When a child does not grow up with a validation that they are loved, there is created, within the soul of the child what I call a “Validation Vacuum.”

This hole is deep within, and the child learns to hide this black hole from others as best as he or she can, over time. This child grows up with the knowledge of the hole, but is not necessarily able to articulate what the hole is. If it happens young enough in the child’s life, for example, at birth, the child doesn’t know any different and believes that it is normal. If the child is able to adjust, or self-pacify, or somehow balance, such that the outside world has no idea what he or she is suffering, the child grows to believe that that is his or her “lot in life” as if straws were drawn to select this special child to house the validation vacuum, and the child seeks out other ways to distract him or her from the ever-present pain.

If society is lucky, the child will seek out self-soothing methods that do not attract too much attention and do not impose upon the society in which the child lives. If the society is not so lucky, the child may seek out more aggressive methods of getting attention for this vacuum, and at the minimum suffer from psychological disorders such as “borderline personality disorder” or even, if severe enough, schizophrenia, and the like. Anger is not an uncommon response if the child is unable to self-soothe and is looking for that which he or she feels entitled to and has lost. Sometimes behaviors and disorders such as reactive attachment disorder may be the direction that the child goes, after experiencing a catastrophic “why me?” response when realizing that other children are not like him or her and do not suffer from this validation vacuum.

It is not uncommon for the child to believe that objects are more important than human life. Not all human life, just his or her specific human life. When the parent does not spend time telling the child, and more importantly, helping the child to “feel” loved, he or she will assume that they have no value to the household and will make every effort to try to please the primary caregiver in order to somehow earn the love that he or she so desperately needs.

If the child realizes that this effort is futile, he or she will envelope themselves inside their very being, creating a facade that is safe to show the family and the outside world, but attempting to accept the fate which besets him or her, including that objects have more inherent value and so much be treated with more respect that even the child themselves. When that doesn’t work the child will again retreat within themselves and pull the facade over their pain to hide it from the world around them. The eyes, however, still continue to peer out through and in spite of the facade.

The child will grow into adulthood and depending on how he or she approaches this validation vacuum, may choose negative patterns of behavior or extremely positive behavior patterns, attempting to make up for the validation vacuum that exists within by ensuring that no more validation vacuums are created in the world around them. This is, obviously, an insurmountable task, and often times this can lead to depression or the triggering of a bipolar disorder within the adult who strives so desperately to correct the world, and thereby, like some magic hocus pocus, correct themselves.

Is there a hope for the child who has suffered from a validation vacuum? By all means, there is hope! The best way is to love that child, affirm that child, validate that child, and even if that child is now an adult, do it anyway and help the child to learn that they don’t have to live with a validation vacuum, but can learn, through time, patience, and especially love, that the switch can be found and the validation vacuum may be permanently disabled.

3 comments… add one
  • Ruth

    This is so well said; so gently stated! And you are right–there is hope. Our God-given ability to return to joy never grows old, no matter how old our body is. Thanks, Deborah, for writing this and sharing from your heart!!

    • Deborah
      Twitter:

      Ruth, Thank you for your comment and feedback. Even in the midst of pain, be it emotional, physical, there is a hope and it must be a God-given, because it is when we reach that limitation that we realize that what we are seeking is truly beyond our own capabilities and it is that much more precious to us because of that reality. hugs, Deborah

  • Deborah
    Twitter:

    Ruth, Thank you for your comment and feedback. Even in the midst of pain, be it emotional, physical, there is a hope and it must be a God-given, because it is when we reach that limitation that we realize that what we are seeking is truly beyond our own capabilities and it is that much more precious to us because of that reality. hugs, Deborah

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