Childhood Emotional Neglect Discussion Page
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I’m sorry that I can’t answer individual questions on this page. But I have found that CEN people benefit greatly from sharing their CEN experiences, goals and challenges with each other. I hope you will participate in the general discussion, which is filled with insightful, thoughtful comments and responses.
Dr. Webb –
I apologize for the length and the timing – right before the holidays.
I am 65. I grew up, basically, as an only child. I have (had) two sisters but they were in high school when I was born and one recently passed away. I was raised on a farm outside a small town in the Midwest. My father (deceased) worked in a steel mill for decades and our farm was a work of the heart for him in trying to keep true to his rural upbringing. My mother (also deceased) was a stay-at-home mother. I enlisted in the military after two years of college and recently retired after 43 years of combined federal service. I never wanted for anything and was never physically abused – just a lot of hard work on the farm. I was not present when my father died but co-signed my mother’s removal of life support when she passed away about 10 years after him. I was not particularly close to my mom. I was closer to my dad but he was a “matter of fact” guy without a lot of outward emotion. I grew up to be a “matter of fact” person with a pretty long “fuse” who works at not being overly emotional about things (NOTE: I answered YES 16 times on your questionnaire). These qualities have stood me well (I guess) during my career. But, I often wonder if I am too “numb” to certain things.
My wife (of 40 years at this time) lost both her parents within a year in her early teens. Her mother from cancer and her father from a heart attack. Her oldest sibling (brother) contracted polio and was already wheel-chair bound when she was born. She has two older sisters. She lost her brother and oldest sister a few years ago over the period of about 18 months. None of these deaths were “pretty” as it were. Only her brother’s passing (actually while at work in his 70s as he was quite the survivor) was “peaceful”.
She experienced a lot at an early age and I understand it BUT that does not always make it easier to deal with. She has been diagnosed with several conditions: GAD (officially), major depression (officially), C-PTSD (officially), BPD (unofficial), CEN (unofficial), HSP (official). She and our one son (32) love each other but don’t see eye to eye on many things. Specifically, spending time together and at holidays and family milestones. She is obsessed with spending time with him (my opinion) and our relationship is not enough.
I never placed an extreme amount of emphasis on holidays or family events (birthdays and anniversaries) but I never forget them and I try my best – I just don’t do them very well apparently. I do not know why. Nor do I like all the socialization and commercialization surrounding them. I didn’t even want to have a retirement ceremony after 43 years – I just wanted to shake hands and do hugs. Lately I have come to despise them as my wife does and is very vocal about it. I understand her childhood was chaotic but I can’t seem to wrap my head around how important these things are to her. She has had several therapists, only one of which seemed to really help but that one had to end her practice unexpectedly for family reasons and the parting did not go smoothly. She also was on medication briefly but, right now she says she is done with all that because she is tired of being the one that needs to change.
I try to make every decision based on how she will react/feel and I have no hobbies/outlets of my own really since I feel guilty doing things without her. I sometimes feel, maybe in error, that I am trying my best but to no avail. I am not trained or equipped to deal with this and sometimes, I admit, I feel like I don’t want to anymore. She really is hard to please long-term and when things do not go the way she expects/wants she can become (in my opinion) a petulant child that is angry, sarcastic, vindictive and mean though I really don’t think she means much of it – it was how she got attention as a child. She also will constantly bring up issues over the span of 50 years which I refuse to do. And the number of things that can “trigger” her (I hate that term, sorry) appears nearly infinite so these issues are always just below the surface. Maybe I am like the parent who doesn’t want justice as much as he wants peace.
I have tried counseling in the past but, admittedly, have been unable (or unwilling?) to find a compatible one and commit to it long-term. I have also been told that we need “couples counseling” and without her there it really won’t help that much.
There is, obviously, much more to this and, admittedly, it is one-sided. Bottom line is that I am seriously evaluating my life decisions (marriage and having a child) and I don’t want to be. I also have a chronic condition (Crohn’s) that makes me fatigued, forgetful and, sometimes, irritable because of constant, underlying discomfort so that doesn’t help though I have learned to adjust to it.
She really is a great person if she would let herself be so. And she does try but, she is so wrapped up in negativity, guilt, feeling outcast and regret (in my opinion all or mostly self-imposed) that it affects her relationships, her physical and emotional health and makes her want to “throw in the towel” when she is in the depths. And I really don’t know how to fix it or how much of her current condition I am responsible for or have made worse.
There appear to be some CEN counselors in NC per your website but the closest is about 90 minutes away. I am willing to travel if it may be beneficial.
Any insight from you or the community??