Childhood Emotional Neglect Discussion Page

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**This page is not intended to provide psychotherapy advice or professional services of any kind or to replace a clinical relationship with a psychologist or therapist. It is meant only to share understanding, information and support about Childhood Emotional Neglect.

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.

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Anonymous - April 15, 2019 Reply

I’m a teenager (16), but I’ve realized that I’m dealing with CEN. I know it sounds like I’m looking to blame my mother for all of my problems since it’s a teenager way of dealing with things, but I promise I’m not doing it purposefully if I am. I’m self-aware in the fact that I can see how my mother affects me. I’m highly sensitive, so being emotionally neglected has impacted me greatly. It’s tough to see my experience as valid because nobody understands how much emotional support I need, especially from those who “raised” me. From the outside, my parents look very loving, caring, providing, etc, but they’ve never provided me with the comfort I needed, which is what CEN is all about. I compare my situation to my friends who live in tough households, too, which obviously doesn’t help my feeling of being invalid. I do go to therapy, but I’m never validated in my experience and it makes me feel like I’m overreacting. My way of dealing with things is to just complain until I get over it, which may be unproductive. But right now, I’m having trouble getting passed the CEN since it’s still occurring. I have a sister and my mother always invalidates her emotions (behind her back, when talking to me and/or my dad) when she’s going through a rough time, which only makes me paranoid about what she says about me. Since I have so much built-up emotion, I can have an attitude, like most teenagers, but instead of dealing with it in a productive way, my mother always complains about me to my dad. My dad is very passive and never really sticks up for himself or his family, which makes sense with his childhood, but it only makes me feel worse. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

    Jonice - April 16, 2019 Reply

    Dear Anonymous, you sound like a very self-aware, thoughtful and introspective 16-year-old. I’m very sorry you are going through this. Please ask your therapist to read the book Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect together with you. This may help your therapist understand what you need. You can get a copy at your local library. If he/she is unwilling to do that, then perhaps they would be willing to read about CEN on this website as a start. All my best wishes to you!

Marion - April 9, 2019 Reply

I recognise that my siblings and I have CEN, however, we are all very different. My brothers and sister seem to be cut off completely from their emotions whereas, I am very emotional. I’m the one who ended up with depression/anxiety. My dad passed away suddenly when I was 10 years old. My mum brought us all up on her own having to deal with other problems along the way. Us children just had to get on with it and are all very independent. My mum’s also passed away now. I grew up being the good girl trying to please everyone and keep the please, whereas my brother and sister did their own thing. The problem I gave with them is that they have never validated my opinion, they turn the conversation to them and either criticise or dismiss me. Unfortunately I have never challenged this as I always feel I have to keep everyone happy. So I was wondering how do you heal from CEN when your dealing with rude, dismissive people?

    Jonice - April 11, 2019 Reply

    Dear Marion, you can’t change their behavior; you only have control over your own. So it’s a matter of getting confident and strong enough in your own skin to begin to behave as if you matter when you are with your siblings. Decide how much you are willing to put up with and then draw that line for yourself. I know it’s not easy! But you deserve to be protected.

Anonymous - April 1, 2019 Reply

Hi! Thanks for all your work on this matter. Reading your posts and content about it is so enlightening. So many years feeling so weird and finally there is an explanation! Please, could you post more about EN and handling mistakes, tolerance to frustration? It has to do with self steem but I would like to read more in detail about how to deal with mistakes (own and others’), perfectionism, etc. Thanks!

    Jonice - April 1, 2019 Reply

    Yes I will write an article about that. Thanks for the suggestion!

1234 - March 30, 2019 Reply

Dear Dr Webb, I have spent my life looking at books to help me sort myself out and pull myself together. There are so many things wrong with me and I didn’t know which self help book to start with first, none of them seemed to work and I was always left feeling more inadequate . Then I came across your blogs and have read your books avidly as everything you have written has rung true in some way in my life, including all the mistakes I realise I have made with my own children because that’s the way it’s done in my family. I don’t know whether I was relieved, distraught or angry when I discovered my childhood emotional neglect but the memories of the injustices in my past come thick and fast and without the filter I am shocked, angry and devastated looking back at how I just accepted so much . I was the scapegoat, never as good, clever, attractive, deserving as my brother. I spent my life being jealous of him but now having read your books I understand it wasn’t my fault that I was treated differently, that it wasn’t that I wasn’t any good, just liked less for no reason. The scales are slowly falling off my eyes, I am heartbroken when I look back at my childhood, angry, but understand now so much I blamed myself for wasn’t my fault. I can see now after nearly 20 years of marriage that my husband loves me unconditionally and can accept his love and this has made our relationship stronger. I am lucky he’s stuck with me this long, he really does love me unconditionally. I am still frightened of ruining my relationship with my parents as I know I never could talk to them about this as they would reflect it back on me and make me feel it’s something wrong with me. I can’t yet accept that they won’t ever give me what I’ve always craved but I can filter the worst of my mother’s comments and try not to let them hurt so much. We have just got a cat, something the rest of my family have wanted for years, I realised we never had a cat because I always made excuses because my mother didn’t approve of cats and I didn’t want to risk her disapproval . I still have such a long way to go but as I become more aware that my life choices have always been so as not to upset her, I am starting to think about what I really do want to do – I have no idea what my own wants and needs are but I am trying to find out. I just want to say thank you so much for changing my life, I had no idea that I could be ‘normal’ like everyone else and enjoy the things like other people do. I have never enjoyed birthdays as my childhood ones were always a disappointment and I felt so ungrateful but now I realise why. I am coming up to 50 and contemplating a party for the first time in my adult life, not sure I can face it yet but I am at least thinking about it. Thank you so much.

    Jonice - March 31, 2019 Reply

    Dear 1234, reading the story of your recovery from CEN has made my day. I am so honored and happy for you. Thanks for making such good use of my work. And keep doing what you’re doing!

Dana - March 19, 2019 Reply

Wow, just starting to read this stuff, never heard of it. I am still in a dark place, have yet to find my way.

L - March 14, 2019 Reply

I’ve felt deja vu reading every one of your comments. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone, and sad to realize that there are so many of us.

My father came out of the closet when I was 5. He left my mother, my two younger sisters, and me one August afternoon, a week before I started Kindergarten. My grandparents came the next day and took us to their house where they could take care of us the best they knew how. Probably my grandfather and definitely my grandmother suffered from CEN, which has been perpetuated through the generations. Toward the end of her life, my grandmother, whose own father was a physically abusive alcoholic, told me of a night when she locked the door to her room, not allowing my aunt as a child to seek comfort with her mother when she was scared, even as she cried and cried. At the time of the telling, my grandmother deeply regretted doing that. It was instances like this and lesser abrasions that led to serious emotional trauma in us all.

My mother’s CEN was compounded by the fact that her husband left her, and she has lived in a depressed state for most of my life. She was always there for us, and she did her absolute best; I don’t know anyone who has sacrificed so much for their children. Still, the depression left her absent, and echoes of her authoritarian father resonated in her punishments.

When Dad left, my 3-year-old sister experienced severe separation anxiety, preventing her from falling asleep until my mother did, no matter how late. She was so deeply affected that even MY emotionally-stunted family decided therapy was needed. Luckily, she was rescued from several CEN issues due to the intervention.

My baby sister was one, still a baby with a baby’s constant needs, which left me, five years old and able to dress and feed myself and showing no outward signs of distress, alone.

I rarely showed how upset I was those days. First, it was because I saw how overwhelmed my mother was with my two younger sisters. Later, it was because when I showed distress, my grandparents met me with, “Fiddlesticks! There’s no reason for you to feel that way!” and my mother didn’t gainsay them.

Now, I know it was because of her own trauma and (probable) fear of contradicting her father that made her not defend her daughter, but a five-year-old doesn’t understand these things, so I internalized the idea that my mother loved my sisters more than she loved me. Actually, that my whole family loved them and each other more than they loved me, and I was often left feeling like an outsider, wishing I could come inside.

Those impostor feelings extended to school, where I was bullied, but I quickly learned that to deflect most of the bullying, I needed to shine bright, so I made myself known. I shone, dangit! Lucky to have been blessed with musical talent, I took to the stage in theater, choir, anything that garnered audiences of attention. It worked, for the most part. I still experienced bullying, but on a much smaller scale than I believe I would have otherwise. Looking back, my continued love of being onstage was probably due in part to my CEN — all those people clapping, smiling, whistling, whooping, and giving me flowers and praise transiently filled that void.

I traveled and found yoga and did a lot of healing away from my family over the course of a decade, but I’m still working on how to fully penetrate the shadows. I struggle with unrequited love, and I feel like it may never happen for me. At the same time, I also When my therapist told me about CEN, I thought, “Eureka!” Reading CEN sufferers’ stories and Dr. Webb’s website feels like a blessing, and I’m excited to share these ideas and stories with my family.

    Jonice - March 17, 2019 Reply

    Dear L, I’m so happy to have offered you some answers and an increased understanding of yourself. You certainly deserve it. Keep taking care of yourself and focusing on your own feelings and needs.

Jeff Hutchinson - March 11, 2019 Reply

Dr. Webb,
Thank you for your work. I’ve been very fascinated about how it applies to addiction. My wife and I both work in the field of sexual addiction and have noticed anecdotally a lot coorlation between our clients and CEN. I have similar theories but have struggled to it a name to what I was encountering until I read your work. I am currently thinking of using my own story to serve as a model in a generational study to determine/understand the impact of CEN on my grandfather’s father, my grandfather, father, myself, and my children. I believe a ton of data could be extracted by determining what parent type each presented to be and what effect did that type have on their offspring. My goal at this point is simply knowledge and awareness for myself but I imagine it would translate over to clients very well. I would love to hear any thoughts you have one this. Once again, thank you for all you hard work.

    Jonice - March 12, 2019 Reply

    Dear Jeff, I have also seen a large correlation between CEN and addictions and, in particular, sex addiction. I hope talking about CEN with your clients can help in your work! Thanks for your comment.

Johnny - March 11, 2019 Reply

How does Marijuana affect CEN?
I’ve been supressing me emotions my entire life and i wonder if marijuana (which also supresses your emotions) makes CEN even worse for the person because i get extreme paranoia and anxiety on it. Its unfortunate but this only happened after my mom shamed me for smoking weed and she did it in front of my whole neigbourhood. I didnt know at the time I had CEN but that event with my narcissistic mother completely ruined smoking weed for me, which is unfair to me because why am i not allowed to have some fun once in a while? my mother used to call me a drug addict whenever i played video games at home, and now look i actually do smoke a lot of weed, you reap what you sow mom. But even then I can’t enjoy it anymore, I think im gonna have to give up one more thing my mother didnt like. (she doesnt like anything i do, the way i dress, my career, games,my sense of humour, the playfulness i use to have, pretty much anything i like, she literally ruined all of it.)

    Jonice - March 11, 2019 Reply

    Dear Johnny, I call marijuana the “drug of suppression.” It seems to make your feelings go away. Yet research has shown that it only magnifies those suppressed feelings, making them more powerful. it actually does the opposite of what it seems.

      Johnny - March 11, 2019 Reply

      Wow, thank you for that, you’re absolutely right Dr.Jonice Webb, I used to get this super cold feeling at night(night sweats) when I smoked weed, this was amplifying the feeling of loneliness and emptiness that Im trying so hard to fight. It all makes sense now.

      Hopefully going to therapy, quitting weed, and finding people and friends that understand me will help me get back on track to re-developing my personality and everything else i’ve missed out on.

        Jonice - March 11, 2019 Reply

        I like the sound of that Johnny! And I assure you, it will.

      "P" - April 18, 2019 Reply

      I too used marijuana to suppress my feelings. Growing up with alcoholism (hence developmental trauma), I “escaped” by going to friends houses as a child and smoking weed as a teenager. Self medicating didn’t work then (1960’s) and it wasn’t until later did I see how my escape route was like my mother’s only using a different substance. Is it true that we stop our psychological growth when we start “using”? At 67 yo, I’m still clawing my way out of the “victim state”. I need to turn my mind around and enjoy life. Thanks for your input.

        Jonice - April 18, 2019 Reply

        Dear P, yes from my experience working with addictions plus from research, it does appear that our emotional and psychological growth is stunted when we become addicted to a substance. I’m glad you’re working yourself out of being a victim. Keep at it and it will pay off!

Ernestine - February 3, 2019 Reply

I’m not able to contribute anything. Just reading that I have an opportunity to share something elicits tears, a closed throat and no
thoughts to share. Tabula rasa. It’s like I have a clean slate in my mind and yet there is so much emotional
pain within.

    Jimmie R. Morrison - February 8, 2019 Reply

    I’m Jimmie and I’m grateful for being able to share my experiences with you. My biological father died in the year 1967. That same year a surrogate father entered the picture. I was starving for what I call Masculine Emotional Input. I didn’t feel good about who l was nor what l could become. Most of the input came from my peers and no one in my family ever stepped to the plate to help me find myself. I grew up very self conscious and shy. I’m certainly an introvert. I had peers seeking to influence me to use drugs have sex skip school and steal. No matter who l went to about my problems no one offered me help unless it was unhealthy. I was stigmatized with the label of being gay which I wasn’t. Some considered me to be an imbecile. Clean up until l was about 18 years old l preferred to be alone. Walk to school alone. Walk home alone. I always thought there was something abnormal about me. Mom would always just say “Shut up boy!” I once got raped by a man as a six year old and no one cared to listen and l was feeling to guilty and ashamed to talk about it. I suffered from PTSD symptoms and depression for years. Today l have a college degree in substance abuse counseling because l can relate. Alcohol and Drugs were my way of coping with all this. I’m going back to school to try and get my bachelor’s degree. I seem to think that people were making fun of me through out elementary school as well as high school. Today l spend a lot of my time listening to others. Thanks for letting me share.

Shwetha - January 27, 2019 Reply

Forums like this are a real life saver. I didn’t know I had CEN until I read about it. I happened to read about it only when I really wanted to find out what that unexplainable, empty, depressing feeling I felt all the time was. I am so glad I now know about CEN because I spent my life feeling guilty for no reason or reasons like me being unlovable, that I created in my head. I am starting to accept this part of my life and try to bring out the best in me. It’s definitely easier said than done but I really believe that acceptance is the key. For a long time, I lived in denial and it did not help. It only piled up and made things worse.
Also, it is good to know that you’re not alone. However, it is something that I’d never wish upon anyone, ever. God bless us all.

Michael Sherbrooke - January 17, 2019 Reply

So in taking the questionnaire I scored 100%, I’ve also taken childhood PTSD questionnaires with similar results.

Growing up throughout my entire childhood I was a victim of extreme bullying. I didn’t finally have my very first real friend until the 8th grade and from kindergarten through my senior year of high-school I would deal with things like being pissed on by classmates in the locker room, being pushed against walls in the hall, called things like “ugly”, “retard”, or “faggot” all the time. There were even times when teachers or even the principle would become a part of such bullying. Then when I would get home from school, I’d have to deal with it from my brother and my cousins too. My Mom, try though she did, could never quite handle or help me with the emotional needs this created in my life as she was chronically depressed and suffering from CEN and emotional abuse herself. Sometimes I’d come home from school and the electricity would be shut off and my Mom would be heard sobbing behind the close door of her bedroom. When she was always so sad, the last thing I wanted to do was tell her how bad my day at school was. She wouldn’t have been able to handle it. It’s not that she never tried to support me emotionally either but I would always notice that when she did, all she could ever say was “I’m so sorry you have to deal with this” as she cried. I couldn’t stand seeing her like that so I eventually stopped trying to talk to her about my emotional needs and instead I would distract myself by focusing on hers. I became her counselor in a way out of a feeling of necessity. If I could make my Mom less sad, then home could be just a little happier.

While all of this was going on, I would regularly hear from other members of the family that I “complained too much” or always made “mountains out of mole-hills” or that no matter how bad I had it “someone else always has it worse”. This made me feel guilty about my emotions, like I shouldn’t have been feeling the way I did which made me a selfish person.

Then one day, after attempting suicide in the middle of math class surrounded by classmates chanting “DO IT! DO IT! KILL YOURSELF! KILL YOURSELF!” I wound up in a mental institution. This place that was supposed to help me would only serve to make things worse for me though. Instead of any real help, I would never feel like the doctor’s listened to me, instead option just to put me on a plethora of pills and medications for Bipolar Disorder, Depression, ADHD, Anxiety, and etc. If there were side effects, they would prescribe me with a new pill to treat those side effects. This resulted in a feeling of isolation and loneliness around other people, regardless of who they were supposed to be to me, at a very young age that has followed me everywhere ever since.

Despite always being told I was honest to a fault as a child and that no one believe I was capable of telling a lie with a straight face and everyone saying my brother was the opposite, I was still regularly not believe when I would tell the truth while my brother would lie through his teeth and still be believed at my own expense. This resulted in me regularly being in trouble for things I never actually did and no matter what I said or did, no one would ever believe me and when it would upset me I would be told to “quit with the fake tears” or that “no one feels sympathy for me”.

I would also find myself being punished for being the victim of assault at school. When another student would physically attack me, I’d just take it, not fighting back, waiting for someone to intervene and help me only to be punished just as severely as the student who attacked me.

All of these things I’m only just now identifying as things that have dramatically impacted my adulthood in various ways such as avoiding conflict by any means necessary, always putting the needs of others before my own even at the cost of my health, always finding ways to invalidate my own emotions, not being able to know whether people actually like me or just tolerate me, I even find myself completely devastated when faced with criticism over even the smallest of things. I also feel a sense of apathy towards friends and family, I don’t value people in my life at all the way I feel that I should. Having regularly been betrayed be people I was supposed to be able to trust too, I find myself completely unable to form any kind of emotional connection with other people now even though I really want to be able to.

As a kid, I always saw the good in even the worst people, but now as an adult, even if I still see that good in people, it’s overshadowed by the fear of the bad in them I now have. I don’t know how to trust or love anyone anymore, I’m too afraid to because I worry that a day will come when I can no longer see the good in anyone anymore if I do and that thought is the most terrifying to me.

CynK - January 14, 2019 Reply

Cynthia Kay – January 12, 2019 Reply
I am so glad to have stumbled across CEN as it “explains” me perfectly. I am 61 years old, divorced, very lonely and was subjected to CEN for 39 years until my mother died in 1996. I am also a HSP – double whamy! I bought the book right away – about a year ago – but . . . I’m scared to read it. I’m afraid i’ll see myself and feel worse or that the “fixes” won’t work and my depression will get even worse (already pretty bad even on 2 meds). Any ideas on how to overcome this? There are no CEN therapist within 200 miles. I’ve emailed a couple on the list and heard nothing back.

    Pedrovski - February 18, 2019 Reply

    Don’t give up hope, Cynthia. Besides Dr. Webb’s books and her online course, I’ve found that guided mindfulness meditation has done wonders for me lately. It has helped me deepen Dr. Webb’s visualization techniques and really make some breakthroughs.

    The classic (and free!) series to get started is at palousemindfulness.com

    In addition, I’ve discovered that another term used for guided meditation on the internet is “self hypnosis.” There are tons of audio materials under this category as well.

Laura - January 8, 2019 Reply

Thank you, Jonice, for bringing this form of neglect to light. It is validating to know that it was unacceptable to be left alone as a young child like I was, and for my feelings to not be acknowledged or worked through either. I am in therapy, and keep tight boundaries with my mother. I still have a long way to go to heal from the neglect/abuse, I still get very angry at her when she still spews her “advice” without even listening to me. I look forward to the day where my self validation and validation from others who are important to me and really listen is all I need. I can never dismiss what happened and still happens with my mother, but I hope to one day be at peace knowing that I am strong and I am healed, and that my feelings are ok to feel and won’t overwhelm me. I am finally making progress with binge eating disorder and emotional eating. I never realized that stuffing myself with food was a way to avoid feeling the feelings that I felt were so wrong to have, due to my mother’s reactions to them. Thank you for being a piece of the puzzle to wholeness! God bless you!

Tien - January 8, 2019 Reply

Hey guys, I’m just wondering if anybody has experienced complete numbness to their emotions and bodily sensations? I used to get butterflies, feel sad, happy and in awe but now I don’t feel anything. I still do things like cry when I watch a sad movie but I don’t register any physical sensation. I watch a beautiful sunset over an amazing rock cliff and I just think yeah that looks pretty cool. I got into a car accident and didnt feel ANY adrenaline. Has anyone been through this and gotta better? Any tips and tricks? I dont have depression or think life has no meaning, just numbness. Thanks in advanced 🙂

LS - January 7, 2019 Reply

I am so grateful that Dr. Webb writes about CEN. I grew up with an alcoholic father and in a chaotic household. My mom worked hard to keep it together but she had her issues as well. A particular pattern that plagues me is that I inevitably end up in relationships that are not reciprocal. I also feel unheard and unseen. I grew up with six siblings but the one that impacted me the most is the one with my brother closest in age to me (we were the two youngest). He was almost 4 years older and was a sickly child where I was an easy child to raise. My mom gave him much more attention while I feel like I was often left to fend for myself. My dad being alcoholic wasn’t much help. He’d side with me but he’d never really stand up to my mother. So I often felt like it was my mom and brother against me, a situation he was often gleeful about. So today I find myself dealing with people who don’t seem to hear or see me, in triangular situations often involving a narcissist and flying monkey or just relationships that aren’t reciprocal. It’s a long climb out of it but I do try to learn and take responsibility for my situation. My parents and brother have died, so I can’t get closure that way.

Matt - January 7, 2019 Reply

For a long time I identified strongly with being an introverted person specifically INFJ on the Meyer’s Briggs and that gave me some comfort. As I was looking at linking to specific blog sites about INFJ’s I also identified strong with being a highly sensitive person. Then on a highly sensitive person’s blog I got a link to this CEN test from Dr. Jonice Webb and I think I just cried after I took the CEN test. I went ahead and got the book and read it and might get her 2nd book too and almost took the course that she offered. I think I am looking into taking that course she offers later this year. I have been in therapy for a long time almost 10 years or more trying to sift through my feelings and my past history with my Dad who had a temper and yelled at us a lot as he lost his temper and my mom who just kind of neglected me emotional in a religion called Christian Science which naturally presents it’s CEN ways a lot. So that’s a little bit about my story and how I got here. I really identify a lot with Dr. Jonice and her work. Thanks for listening or reading if you got this far. Happy Monday!

http://mattsmotivationalmonday.com/

Carollyne - January 6, 2019 Reply

I feel very lonely and sad No friends I got upset at a 12 step meeting I was at and I got very angry and sad Felt very sad for myself I guess I usually not happy around people I don’t stick up for myself I just leave and don’t want to see the people ever again It all stems from my sexual abuse Afraid to speak up My older sister was very abusive towards me My parents died when I was very young Don’t remember them And then my sister being so mean to me I’m just sick of it all

    ZJ - January 7, 2019 Reply

    Hang in there. Take it one moment at a time. There are many others in similar situations. You are worthy of love and support.

gay - January 6, 2019 Reply

i think i was very much told , the other person is always more important than you ,, you dont matter others do , so do for them make them happy ,, thats the sauce to life…. really how bizarre, so i have done this in most relationships pay much more attn to the other persons wants , and well if mine get in there great,, but if not,, so be it ,,,,, i really find this has led me to accept very little ,, and expect very little , and when i dont get the little i think i deserve , boy do i get angry and fast… use to drink this away not so much anymore ,, a learning curve….. hard to keep in check but getting there…

Alexis Mills - January 6, 2019 Reply

I can’t remember a time when I was a child that my mother asked ‘what’s wrong?’ and then really listened to me, really heard what I said, and made me feel safe in the telling.
So many years I have been afraid to express my feelings, and have suffered with depression. I am trying to get to a place where I can express myself, free myself from the ‘stories of my life’. I am 61 years old.

Pedrovski - January 6, 2019 Reply

So I took the CEN quiz and scored 100%! My parents would have been so proud. That was really their only requirement of me growing up—get A’s in school—that and “don’t cause any trouble.” (The latter requirement was because my father was a Presbyterian minister and keeping up appearances was very important to my parents.) If I did that, they left me alone. Completely and literally alone.

My parents tried their best but they were both from horrible, broken childhoods, exacerbated from the unlucky circumstance of having grown up during the depths of the depression in the rural mid-west. I’m sure now, looking back, both were victims of physical and sexual abuse in their childhoods. They just didn’t know how to raise a healthy, functioning, loving family, having no role models themselves growing up. But they tried.

My homelife was very sterile and religious, in fact I can’t recall a single time when my parents ever embraced or even gave each other a peck on the cheek, let alone give any affection to their kids. My mother, fueled by “diet pills” (this was the ’60s, after all) kept a hospital-clean home and everything ran on a tight schedule.

I think I was destined for CEN from the day I was born—my mother used to proudly tell the story of bringing me home from the hospital (the second of two boys) and putting me in my own room from day-one to sleep in my crib so that *this* child wouldn’t bother her during the night, so she could get her sleep. This served as the metaphor for my upbringing of emotional and physical parental abandonment.

Have a problem? Pray about it. That was literally the only advice I was ever given. Emotional support? Pray about it. School troubles? Pray about it. Social worries? Pray about it. Rinse, repeat.

Ironically but not surprisingly, while my father doled out life advice to everyone in his church as per his calling but I never received any life lessons from either parents, ever, so I devolved into “the bad seed” (unbeknownst to my parents). Lying, stealing, cheating, vandalism, sexual assault, fighting, illegal firearms, drug dealing—just about anything short of murder was OK by me. I think back to the myriad illegal, sociopathic things I did in junior and senior high school (and was never caught!) and am simply horrified. And it was all about ratcheting up the excitement each time—my criminality got bigger and bolder at every stroke, even as my family moved around, I somehow always fell in with a particularly felonious crowd while maintaining my saintly facade (at least to the adults in my life) and dutifully excelled at school in all the gifted arts and science programs.

I even paid my way through college and grad school dealing drugs and bartending. Very entrepreneurial!

I did manage to get my act together and have had a successful career (monetarily and career-wise) doing advanced physics research at one of the top research institutions in the world. But I still suffer from imposter syndrome and host of other social and personality ills that read like (and are) the laundry list for CEN sufferers.

I rejoice at discovering Dr. Webb’s work, even though I only discovered it after 6-plus decades of fighting depression and personal misery alone. At least now there’s hope that in the final chapter in my life I can somehow experience a glimmer of happiness before it’s all over.

    Maria - January 7, 2019 Reply

    Wow, Pedrovski, I took a similar path as you. I am a “preacher’s kid”, Methodist. My Dad had so much time, 7 days a week, helping other people and didn’t see his kids. I scored 100% also on the test. I also pretended to be perfect but snuck out of the house with boys, drank to excess, and embarrassed my Parents by sleeping with a boy on church camp. When I became pregnant at 17, my mother was so upset she cut up her wedding dress (the she kept for me to wear when I got married). But, no one talked to me and helped me with my feelings or why I was doing this. I was an embarrassment. I too feel invisible and an outsider looking in. Now I am close to 60 and dealing with this invisibility and loneliness issue. I am starting to feel some real joy in my life. As soon as I started taking care of myself first and going through the program, I have experienced some real joy. I think the PKs have some additional issues to deal with. But I believe we are on the right path. Take care of yourself first. Let’s beat this.

      Pedrovski - January 25, 2019 Reply

      Thanks Maria. I really appreciate your comments. You’re right, I think PKs are a species unto our own. Both of my parents were so involved in the church that as soon as I was old enough to be left alone at home, they were gone all the time.

      I’m working through Dr. Webb’s program and have read her books and others on the subject lately. It helps intellectually but I’ve still yet to crack my wall. But I’m working on it.

T - January 6, 2019 Reply

I want a connection with my parents, it pains me, but that they do not want a “real” connection with me (radical honesty, active listening, expressing feelings, not invalidating my feelings)

My Mother only cared about public image, how the house looks, dressing us in pretty clothes, saying the right things and not saying the wrong things, shes a fake controlling OCD judgemental know it all overly emotional woman, and my Father is a depressed distant weak shell of a man who doesn’t even want to hang out with me

I don’t blame my parents, they’re just products of their genetics, their parents and family and society in general (there are a lot of other issues at play here, Ive spent many many years thinking about them, Ive always wanted to figure things out).

I care about them but I don’t love them, they lost my love and respect long ago, I stopped talking to them over a year ago, I dreaded every phone conversation and family event. I had to cut them off for me, I had to go my own path. It hurt and still hurts.

I want to help them, but how do you help someone who doesn’t think there is a problem? So all I can do is focus on me, but how do I move forward when I still ruminate about them? and still feel missing family connection to them? What a cruel world 🙁

    H - January 7, 2019 Reply

    Dear T, I so recognise what you write!
    Isn’t it bizar that constant ruminating about people that cost (and would cost) you far more then they ever gave (or will give)?
    Maybe it will get better when we actively create a new ‘family’. Good friends who treat us the way our biological family was and is supposed to treat us (but never / insufficiently will).
    I too really struggle. One of the most important thoughts that keep me going is “The best revenge is to live well” (as Jonice also quoted). And: my friends and dogs (and I) deserve for me to get through this. Hang in there!

Alexander Glenn Smit - January 6, 2019 Reply

Growing up I could tell that I was different than the rest. The one that was supposed to be my dad only worked and drank himself to sleep. My mom was physically there but mentally wasn’t. Sure me and my sister had clothes and at least food get by but we both were emotionally abuse. Course either parent was under the radar about it. I was sexually abused when I was around 7-9. Parents didn’t do anything about it other than pu the guy away for a short time. I was never held or anything growing up. Going through school, I always found that I was the shadow that everyone avoided, like I was a plague. Now people avoid me or is It that I avoid them. Either way, I have always fealt that I don’t belong anywhere, even now.

R J - January 5, 2019 Reply

Growing up as the daughter of a schizophrenic mother, and a father who drank to cope with the problems, I often felt like I did not matter. When I was 2 years old, my mother had a “nervous breakdown” (as it was known in those olden days) and I was sent to stay at my aunt’s house while she was in hospital.

It’s hard to imagine, as I look at my own 2 year old grandson, what it must have been like to have your mother (however preoccupied with delusions) suddenly disappear without a trace! In the early 1960’s, psych hospitals would keep people for several years at a time…..so the stay at my
aunt’s home extended for as many years as my mother was hospitalized……off and on for around 10 years. During this time, I would see my father on Sundays for an outing. For all intents and purposes…..I had been “abandoned” by my parents. I became the lost child.

My aunt had four children of her own by the time I was dumped in her lap. She cared for my physical needs, schooling, going to church,….but either didn’t have the time nor inclination to be a mother to a mother-less child. I became the lonely child.

I grew up with the distinct feeling at an early age that it was best not to be a burden or a pest to anyone. If I had kicked up my heels and angered my aunt, where would I go?….there was no one else willing to take me in. So I learned to fly under the radar, be invisible, roll with the flow, have no expectations, and generally shut my feelings inside. I became the invisible child.

As I got to school age, and saw how my peers lived, I was so ashamed of my living situation with my aunt. “How come you don’t live with your Mom and Dad?” was often the innocent question I would have to dodge, muttering something like….”my Mom is sick, so I have to stay at my aunt’s….” just to pass the danger zone. Thankfully, no one inquired further as to what “sick” meant. I became the shamed child.

As an adolescent, I had few friends….who could invite a friend over for a teen sleep-over when your mother is a zombie on heavy-duty psych meds, and your dad drinks himself to sleep each night? I had to put on a false front to the outside world, but had to hide what life was like at home. I learned to never talk on a deep level with anyone, don’t reveal too much of yourself, don’t ask/don’t tell. I became the loner teenager.

As an adult, with zero self-esteem, I married the first guy that actually noticed me and not the wallpaper. He was searching for affirmation just like me….so we ended up being two stunted people each growing resentful that the other could not fill up the emptiness within. I became the emotionally deficient adult.

I always felt I was on-the-outside-looking-in. I felt there was something wrong with me, because there was something wrong with my parents. I felt that I belonged nowhere, and to no one. In spite of the pain my experiences have caused me, it is a comfort to have a name for it…emotional neglect. Acknowledging this has happened to me is the first step.

Alex - January 1, 2019 Reply

All of the little things growing up were incredibly subtle, so subtle that I never realized what was wrong until my husband pointed things out to me. When I started thinking back to my childhood, I remember always trying to impress my parents and make them happy, instead of focusing on my own happiness. Heck, I even realized that I follow a sports team religiously and hope they win because it would make my father happy. I don’t think I’ve ever once thought about my own happiness, and now I’m an adult who is struggling to understand herself. I don’t know what I want out of life. I have no goals or anything set for myself. I feel lost and alone, even though I’m surrounded by people.
My parents were “good” parents. They fed me, taught me, and even supported my talents. But they just never seemed to care about my emotional needs. Whenever I cried, I can only remember my parents just staring at me. There were never times where they comforted me or hugged me to tell me it was all right. There were even times that when I made a mistake, I cried and begged for forgiveness. And to this day, probably 20 years later, they still never acknowledged any kind of forgiveness.
Your book and website helped me to label what was wrong with me, and I am taking steps to get better. That is one of my goals for 2019- to become a person capable of caring for herself.
Thank you for doing research on this subject. I’m sure you’ve saved countless people the hassle and frustration of feeling this way when we all felt that we were lost causes.

D... - December 23, 2018 Reply

I think this stuff relates to me…maybe Im wrong and just exaggerating, i dont know. Im noticing it more and more, especially at work. The people I work with think Im cold and dont respond in an affectionate way to the kids. I do my job fine, but theres a big difference between me and the others. If we go out socially, Im completely seperate from them all, even though Ive known them all over ten years. Reading about people feeling an emptiness in their chest. I have that. I didnt know what it was. It feels worse after Ive been with friends. I grew up with nice parents, had everything i needed. But for as long as I can remember I have just never been comfortable talking to them about serious stuff, afraid of getting in trouble, frustrating them or being told to stop carrying on and making a fuss.

    Aimee - January 8, 2019 Reply

    Sounds like you are early in your journey of recognizing CEN in your life. I can assure you that the way you feel detached from others, feeling that emptiness in your chest, and not being comfortable talking to your parents about serious stuff is COMPLETELY normal when it comes to CEN. I have those exact same experiences. I have been working for over a year on my issues related to CEN, but the issues you describe here are still a major struggle for me. You are not alone!

      D. - January 21, 2019 Reply

      Aimee…really? I wonder if im just being a wimp and weak…?

D - December 18, 2018 Reply

After being diagnosed – at 57 – with multiple issues (not all true).. I understand that I have Avoidant Personality Disorder caused (of course … partially) by CEN. My mom did her best, but she was running away too. I developed anorexia (undiagnosed or treated for 45 years – it wasn’t a “thing” back then), and severe avoidant behaviors (not drugs or alcohol – but might as well have been). Now, I have destroyed my hearing (am almost deaf) by bizarre behaviors. AT 58 – I now understand what has always been wrong with me. I couldn’t face the real world, so I created a fantasy world to live in. To the outside world (even my family) I was very successful. At home – I was destructive and running away as fast as I could. Now, I have no defenses and have so damaged myself physically and emotionally – I can’t recover. (Not asking for sympath.). My only wish is that I could explain what has happened to my family so they would know I never meant for this to happen or to hurt them.
We need a bigger conversation about mental health in this country … than just depressions / anxiety / suicide. We need to screen people early … teach coping skills … and stop pretending you can always fix things with psychiatric drugs. My family believes I am weak because I can’t fix this. Yes, I’m angry. I have destroyed my life and my family’s lives. When these things aren’t caught – they are like cancer.

Aisyh - December 11, 2018 Reply

I tried to find a CEN certified therapist in my country, Singapore, but couldn’t find any. What should I do? Stick to normal therapist?

    Jbradshaw - January 7, 2019 Reply

    I have a regular psychotherapist. He knew of emotional negelect. He told me of it. He is great. Best to ask when you make the first appointment if they know of the condition.

"P" - November 12, 2018 Reply

When I initially read Jonice’s book years ago, it hit home. I felt that growing up with alcoholism, my issues went even deeper. I have CPTSD and attachment issues. My husband had a different family situation, but suffered the trauma of his father passing away when he was 5 years old. So as much as I loved my late mother in law, she had a few years of really tough times. So I can understand how she wasn’t able to do much more. She was “treading water” with little or no family support. She also suffered from CEN (narcissistic mother). History repeats itself. I asked my husband to take the CEN quiz. He says he did but wouldn’t really discuss it at any length. I’m the touchy feely one, he’s the island.

dfk - November 11, 2018 Reply

It’s still hard for me and anyone I tell about my childhood to believe that having parents who simply didn’t talk to me unless they had to, would cause the problems I have. I felt like I had to do whatever they suggested I do, that I had no power or right to say I didn’t want to, or to speak to them about how I felt or about something that was threatening. I felt like if I didn’t live up to their expectations, I would have to survive on my own, even from a fairly young age, but they never told me that, I just assumed it. Neither parent was abusive in any way. One parent was very religious, and so I was expected to conform to all those requirements, but I again felt like I had no right to ever say no or question any of it, even if I felt humiliated or threatened. Is this childhood neglect I have described or something else?

    Jonice - November 12, 2018 Reply

    That is pure Childhood Emotional Neglect. And it causes significant problems. But it really can be healed!

Tom E. - October 31, 2018 Reply

What is the difference between attachment disorder and CEN?

    Jonice - November 2, 2018 Reply

    Attachment disorder is usually caused by an extreme absence or loss of a parent. CEN is a particular type of attachment failure that can be subtle but still does damage.

Rebecca - October 14, 2018 Reply

I’m wondering about CEN and comorbidity. I can’t seem to find information about it. I have CEN, but I also have a few other psychiatric diagnoses. It seems like there is so much interplay, so I’m wondering what the prevalence is and how it could affect the course of treatment. Thanks!

CD - October 8, 2018 Reply

Sad about our CEN but nice to know I’m not alone. My mom was very emotionally distant, my dad too. My dad has mellowed in his older years and is more engaging and sharing of himself. My mom had depression and a nonaffectionate husband so not hard to blame her. My dad grew up without his dad for years so again not surprised his emotions were walled off. They took care of us all financially and physically, which I am eternally grateful for, but none of us sibs interacted much with each other or knew anything about each other. I was several years younger than the other sibs. My parents never asked how school was, how my friends were, how I was feeling, or were very open to having friends or boyfriends come over. No hugs or I love yous ever expressed. No words of wisdom. No feeling that someone had my back. I didn’t realize how my symptoms and behavior were related to CEN until therapy years ago and this CEN info. Ive had no trouble making friends but deep down I don’t trust that anyone TRULEY accepts me or loves me and I don’t reveal much of my inner self. I feel on the outside of the group all the time, not worthy enough to be included in the group, and I dont make waves or assume that people think I count. Only a handful of people do I let in, including my husband, but i try not to burden him with my issues all the time. I am otherwise only superficially engaged with people, feel less than, inadequate, and not good enough ALL the time. I get jealous of other people that come from nurturing families, like I never get my piece of the pie of life like others do, nor am I “allowed” to. I have 1 child (wanted more but could not) and am worried all the time that she will be lonely like I was, even though me and her dad are the opposite of my parents. I wish I could overcome this and not let it affect my life so much. Im sure I un-purposely act distant and therefore push people away, thus cementing my own destiny of loneliness. But I am too scared to let my guard down and am pessimistic about ever feeling differently. I am still convinced that I am fatally flawed and defective instead of forgiving myself for being this way due to my upbringing. I am on antidepressants by the way which help me cope, but they can’t erase these ingrained feelings. I haven’t been able to find a group of common ground until this blog. Thanks for listening. It helps a lot.

    Jonice - October 9, 2018 Reply

    Dear CD, thanks for sharing your story. Please keep working at this. It will pay off.

      Chuck - October 9, 2018 Reply

      I’d suggest to everyone to learn about there temperament. This is what we all were born with at birth. See if you have a secure or insecure attachment. Although we are shaped early in life by our caregivers and our the surrounding we grew up with, we also need to address our human weaknesses as well. There are no perfect parents and we certainly don’t live in a just world. The only control is what we determine to be true for us.

    SJPJ - November 26, 2018 Reply

    Can relate to your post. So happy to have read this book. Makes so much sense to me.

    B - January 6, 2019 Reply

    Thank you for sharing. I recommend finding an EMDR therapist to help with the ingrained feelings and thoughts. If you “know” Truth but can’t understand how to “un-feel” the lies that haunt you, EMDR is a wonderful therapy.

Jessica - October 2, 2018 Reply

Hi i have a question i am pretty sure i suffer from CEN but mu siblings dont really seem to struggle as much as iam could it be that iam the only one effected or is it not possible for only one child to get CEN while the others dont have it

    Jonice - October 2, 2018 Reply

    Yes, it is possible. It depends on the birth order and gender and nature of the child. Take care, Jessica!

    Anonymous - December 8, 2018 Reply

    I relate to that a lot. My siblings don’t get where I’m coming from at all. I’m the last of 5 and while we agree on a lot of things about our parents, they don’t have the detachment I feel.

Odessa Higgs - September 22, 2018 Reply

In the middle-of-the-night dark,
a small girl stands like a statue
in a pink polyester nightgown,
pilled and itchy and second hand.
A threadbare blankey,
with green ducks in wide-brimmed straw hats smiling,
is wrapped like fighter’s tape around her small fist.
In a minute caress, the analgesic flannel
sweetly nuzzles, back and forth, the girl’s top lip
while the thumb, projecting from the wrappings,
hitchhikes into her mouth
in a desperate, hopeful suckling.
Maybe there is courage
in that thumb.

The cavernous room before her
is black and wide –
the hulking sofa shelters monsters
in its shadows,
she is sure.

She’ll have to pass right by it.

A ragged breath, an unborn sob,
stutters up from her chest.
She clamps her teeth down to kill it.
She clenches shut her little lidded eyes.
Go! Run! Now!
Her bare feet don’t move.

“…mama…”

She whispers to the dark,
blind and still.
Quiet, quiet.

She cannot go back to her own bed.
There had been a sound –
in the wall…
like… a click
or a scrape –
the herald
of some lurking danger
for which she had no words.

The jolt of rabbit-flight
had transported her here
in a flash of unthinking –
her feet had scarcely
touched the floor.

Now her little heart is thrashing savage,
an untamed bird that
hurls its fragile body
again and again
against the ribs of its cage.
Its desperate wings beat in her throat.
Her tummy fills with shed feathers
and a steadfast dread.

She cannot save herself, she knows.

“…mama…”

So urgent, so hopeful,
but far too quiet
for mama to hear
with the door pushed to
in the wide bed
in the closet-lit room
on the far side
of the monster cave ahead.

Too quiet
because this isn’t the first time.

And mama doesn’t want to get up again
to see a bad scaredy baby out of bed again
for no good reason at all.

So, until morning, there the girl stands –

a stricken little pillar
of tangled hair and sleepy eye
of bone and muscle,
brace and arch.

But such a good girl.
Such a big girl.

    Jonice - September 25, 2018 Reply

    This poem is so sad. Thank you for sharing it with CEN people Odessa.

Sara - July 16, 2018 Reply

My mom definitely experienced CEN herself. She has zero emotional intelligence. She is very weak, emotionally, and does not handle stress well. I tried to tell her how what she did affected me and she would cry or get upset. I was molested by two different men when between the ages 4-5 and I never got any emotional support even when she knew. I did not tell her about the second abuser because I knew it wouldn’t matter (yes at age 5). I remember myself being mature since then, relying on myself, and people would always point out how strong and mature I was for my age… giving people advice when I was just a kid. I remember giving hugs to my mom to make her feel good and not because I was the one that needed them. I was starved from having emotional support. My dad was just absent and emotionally, mentally and physically abusive and I just checked out with him to be honest. Today I am 24 years old and I have a palpable fear of men. My brother molested me and made me do things… I don’t blame him because he was young, and he was raped when he was younger. My older sister has borderline personality disorder and she makes zero effort to change her life. We’re 5 kids and they’re all quite messed up. I am just tired of holding everyone together… referring them to counselors. I am happy that they are somewhat okay, they’re not there for me. I thank God that I have Him. He helped me in so many ways and I must never give up. Girls admire that I don’t have much interest in guys thinking I have it all figured out and admire my physical appearance, but are oblivious to the simple thought of being with a man terrifies me. Even though I know that I am attracted to men, I have this mistrust and I just see them as pathetic. I know it is illogical, and I have been working with a trauma counselor that does EMDR but honestly I don’t see much change in that department. It is like my brain is stuck and will not yield.

I always seem to be attracted to older females that are attentive and strong and I cling on to them. Characteristics which my mother did not have. I just obsess over having their attention. How do I handle this? I am not even gay… I just hate that I am always looking for that next female for support. As soon as I sense weakness from a girl, I don’t want to be friends with her anymore. I read on another comments section MANY women struggle with this: mothers that emotionally neglect them.

The funny thing is I read A LOT and I am very proactive in trying to heal. I love helping others but it is so difficult to help myself. Trust me I try. Any feedback will be appreciated. Although I am 24, I feel as though I am a 100 years old waiting to take my last breath. Self compassion is not that easy but I try to tap myself on the back so to speak when I do something to be proud about… Although I am grateful for many things, and I have a positive mindset, often times hatred of others overwhelms me.

Peace

Danny - December 19, 2017 Reply

I hope that one day I get to personally thank Dr Jonice Webb. The years of private pain are unfurling and I’m cleansing myself step by step of this CEN affliction. It’s not easy, but knowing how to describe it, knowing the cause and looking forward to the solutions are helping immensely. I am not sure if I’ll ever be able to reconcile with my parents, and I feel certain that they’ll never fully understand. But I can move forward. Every day, it gets better. Thank you.

    Sara - July 16, 2018 Reply

    My mom definitely experienced CEN herself. She has zero emotional intelligence. She is very weak, emotionally, and does not handle stress well. I tried to tell her how what she did affected me and she would cry or get upset. I was molested by two different men when between the ages 4-5 and I never got any emotional support even when she knew. I did not tell her about the second abuser because I knew it wouldn’t matter (yes at age 5). I remember myself being mature since then, relying on myself, and people would always point out how strong and mature I was for my age… giving people advice when I was just a kid. I remember giving hugs to my mom to make her feel good and not because I was the one that needed them. I was starved from having emotional support. My dad was just absent and emotionally, mentally and physically abusive and I just checked out with him to be honest. Today I am 24 years old and I have a palpable fear of men. My brother molested me and made me do things… I don’t blame him because he was young, and he was raped when he was younger. My older sister has borderline personality disorder and she makes zero effort to change her life. We’re 5 kids and they’re all quite messed up. I am just tired of holding everyone together… referring them to counselors. I am happy that they are somewhat okay, they’re not there for me. I thank God that I have Him. He helped me in so many ways and I must never give up. Girls admire that I don’t have much interest in guys thinking I have it all figured out and admire my physical appearance, but are oblivious to the simple thought of being with a man terrifies me. Even though I know that I am attracted to men, I have this mistrust and I just see them as pathetic. I know it is illogical, and I have been working with a trauma counselor that does EMDR but honestly I don’t see much change in that department. It is like my brain is stuck and will not yield.

    I always seem to be attracted to older females that are attentive and strong and I cling on to them. Characteristics which my mother did not have. I just obsess over having their attention. How do I handle this? I am not even gay… I just hate that I am always looking for that next female for support. As soon as I sense weakness from a girl, I don’t want to be friends with her anymore. I read on another comments section MANY women struggle with this: mothers that emotionally neglect them.

    The funny thing is I read A LOT and I am very proactive in trying to heal. I love helping others but it is so difficult to help myself. Trust me I try. Any feedback will be appreciated. Although I am 24, I feel as though I am a 100 years old waiting to take my last breath. Self compassion is not that easy but I try to tap myself on the back so to speak when I do something to be proud about… Although I am grateful for many things, and I have a positive mindset, often times hatred of others overwhelms me.

    Peace

Sarah - October 26, 2017 Reply

This book is amazing! I knew I had it (not in same organized fashion) 27 years ago, through therapy with an amazing therapist while in college. Probably saved my life. Its been an ongoing process in life. The other amazing thing was to have a great martial arts school to continue self-growth and change. Parenthood in my 40s have bought much of this back into the forefront of my life. The book organizes everything so well. Another component in my upbringing was the physical neglect- never was touched, hugged etc at all. So there was literally no love or affection really at all. It was pretty complete. And my brain never got that computer processing parts. Very painful indeed and has affected me my whole life in one manner or another. Reading this book- actually found my therapist through this website has been so beneficial in dealing organizing thoughts. I think every professional therapist and those who provide services to people needs to know this. Looking forward to the next book.

Lynn - October 24, 2017 Reply

Its amazing reading stories of other people like mine. Growing up with my sister I remember always wanting a real Mom. My mother was cold and completely unavailable but only to us. She was loving and kind to her husband and friends. I assumed it was because we reminded her of her first husband. I can remember thinking at a young age why my mother had kids when she doesn’t like kids. My sister had it worse than me. She would cry and beg for Mom to love her and be interested in her. It was torturous to watch. Mom always told her she was overreacting and to stop seeing problems where there aren’t any. I wanted to do the same thing but after seeing her attempts always get swatted away I never tried. My sister suffered bad from this neglect. She attempted suicide in our bedroom while Mom was home. I was 15 and I remember hating my Mom that she couldn’t just warm up a little for us. Why couldn’t she say she loved us? Or hug us? Or at least pretend for us that she was interested. I was certain that she would be forced to love us after that but the only thing that changed was my sister going on anti-depressants. My Mom starting giving me looks of approval every now and then. I think she liked me being “strong” and not to ask for affection. When my sister left for college I knew I would be all alone in that house. I started doing sports even though I had no talent. I took on a job and held it through all of high school. To this day I still have trouble with silence in my home. I am 35 now and I know that is not normal. I now have 2 kids and I struggle with every day parenting because I feel I have no idea what to do. I want to be a warm and attached mother. But I feel overwhelmed. I make excuses for everyone around me but I hyper criticize myself at every decision. I feel immense guilt every mistake I make with my kids. I feel like I have this huge blind spot. As a kid I always felt something is wrong with me that I couldn’t put into words. Just that something was missing. It went away for a while but now that I have kids I feel like something is staring me in that face as a parent and I cant see it. As an adult I cant criticize my mom as a parent. I’m sure she had a non-conforming childhood. I still make justifications for her and downplay how it all affected me. My husband doesn’t know and I wont tell him. My relationship with my Mom is “weather talk”. I cant bring myself to talk about emotions or any weakness with her. I feel “wrong” or “dirty” somehow. I let it slip that I had 3 misscarriages while trying for my kids and she responded with “why didn’t you tell me?”. I couldn’t bring myself to say.. we don’t have that kind of relationship or would you of even cared to listen to it? I remain as usual my polite self. I cant even have a confrontation as an adult with other people because I avoided them at every cost. I don’t know why I always feel the need to put everyones feelings before mine. I can only keep it up so long before I start to shut down. Its a cycle I don’t know how to break. I can see I have areas I need to improve in. But its hard to change when it feels like it is a wrong fit. At least putting it down makes me feel like I’m not alone or weak for admitting that I did want my Mother and to feel like I was loved. Instead of feeling like I was “liked” a little more than my sister solely because I knew how to be invisible and not make waves at home.

    Paula K - January 5, 2018 Reply

    Lynn, Thank you for putting your experience into words. It was very similar to my own, and it validated my experience that I am not able to articulate as of yet. I feel I am just waking up to my own emotions/feelings and it is difficult to put them into words, but when I read your words, I knew I was not alone. Huge gratitude to you for posting this piece of your story.

name - October 5, 2017 Reply

Does getting in touch with my emotions mean feeling everything i have ever felt (and couldn’t label) at the same time in a very intense way? I don’t know how to stay sane.

    RT - October 11, 2017 Reply

    I am going through the same thing. I have only heard about CEN a week ago. But I did a lot of self reflection for the past 3 year and I have many pieces that didn’t fit together. But when I heard about CEN, things are coming together like a jigsaw puzzle. I been on an emotional rollercoaster since.

Debbie Stilson - October 3, 2017 Reply

Today, October 3rd, 2017, is the first I’ve ever heard of CEN. I’m just sitting here crying. I’m will soon be 63 and have struggled with all the feelings so many of you describe. I’ve lived my whole life thinking something is wrong with me. I just don’t seem to have any feelings, so empty. Today I feel such a relief. So relieved. Thank you all for sharing your stories. Thank you Dr. Webb for your research and the help and hope you are giving to people.

    Danny - December 19, 2017 Reply

    Debbie that breaks my heart to hear. 63, all these years you’ve struggled. I too was overcome with relief when I read about this. I wonder how many of us there are out there.

RSync - September 30, 2017 Reply

I would just like to share my story from my part of the world about how CEN has shaped my life.I grew up in a small town in India with in a slightly above low income household.My father was 27 and my mother was 17 when they got married.My mother didn’t wish to get married and wanted a life on her own but wasn’t presented with a choice and got married to a man she has resented from the first day of her marriage and has only grown to hate more with the passage of time.My mother was a beautiful girl/child who was forced into marriage with someone with less than average looks and not high social status and thus has hated my father and held him responsible from almost every bad thing in her life.My father was someone who himself grew up in with an abusive mother and a distant father who never got to knew what he wanted/felt.I was born when my mother was 18 and was trying to accept with the new life while living with my abusive grandmother and clueless father.As both of my parents had such deep rooted issues and struggled with their own lives I never got the attention a child needs at that point in life and I have been always seeking attetnion/approval/validation from outside.When I was 4 my sister was born and we moved out to a different home where everything became about my sister and I was left alone even more before.I would like to point out that my parents did provide all the financial , physical and medical care they could but emotiionally I was left either left starving or was ridiculed, made fun of , humiliated and deprecated .

My father had issues with his work and used to come home take me to an area behind our house and just shout at me for releasing his tension or built up anger.I was 3 when this started and went on till I was 5 or 6 years old.I don’t remember any instances of being praised verbally or even touched , hugged or shown affection towards when I was growing up as a child .I remember being surprised at finding out that not all of my friends grew up like that and were shown affection at a young age and internalized that there was certainly something wrong with me becuase of which I was left alone or shamed or punished for everything I did ,I was and couldn’t be GOOD ENOUGH TO BE LOVED .

All of this has led to me being confused about what I feel , intense self loathing ,self hatred ,subsatance abuse , low self esteem and unable to develop human relationships platonic or romantic and me living in a world of my own.I am 25 years old now and a huge amount of soul searching to deal with this hole in my life has led me to me this point. I sincerly thank anyone for reading this far and if someone has been going on a similar journey I would say that things do get better by a lot but the pain never goes away completely it you accept the pain and it becomes a part of you and makes you a better person.This was given to you and you didn’t ask for it and you ceratinly didn’t DESERVE this so please accept yourself and move forward there is a hope somewhere if you are willing to find it.

LostNmythoughts - September 8, 2017 Reply

I am writing because I have read many of your stories and they remind me so much of my own and how much I have learned. I just want to leave you all with a short version of my philosophy on dealing with parents that have been and still are less than, abusive, and/or emotionally unavailable. I am an adult now. I have struggled to find peace within myself. Every day I am learning more and becoming better. I grew up in a single parent low income household with my 3 siblings. I had an estranged relationship with my Dad. To hear him tell the story, he did not come around because of his fragmented relationship with my mother. I will admit that my mother is very difficult to deal with. She is frequently hostile, verbally, physically, and emotionally abusive. She is self-absorbed and recently stated that she “never wanted children.” She is also reportedly suffers from a mental illness. Perhaps bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, no one really knows. And I do not use and will never accept that as a reason for her mistreat. She was very emotionally unavailable. She was not supportive at all and constantly had negative things to say about me. I was straight A student, active in student government and was always praised by all of my teachers. However, that did not matter to my mother. That was not enough for her. She constantly complained about how I did not clean the house the way “she liked.” She constantly beat me for things that she felt I did wrong. Many times when I walked to school I would cry because she had scolded me for something minor such as closing a door too loudly or “getting in her way,” in the morning. At 16, I had an accident and spilled boiling hot water on the back on my neck. Instead of my mother being there to provide comfort and assist with my healing process she constantly complained that changing my bandages was making her late for work and she was tired of doing it. I was constantly left to watch over my siblings and cook my own meals as she was always too “busy.” My dad was never around and only came on select holidays. My mother favored my older brother who is now incarcerated. I am a first generation college student with two undergraduate degrees, first in my family to have a Masters degree, and I’m also a Veteran. I have a great career and I’m very independent, yet I am still learning to let others such as trusted friends and mentors help me when needed. Growing up, my mother was verbally abusive towards me. I heard phrases from her such as, “black bitch (I have the darkest complexion of my siblings), I hate you, you are ungrateful, go live with your grandmother, I can’t stand you.” She had moments when she acted to be “proud,” of me because I frequently had award ceremonies at school. However, her moments of “acting proud,” faded away and she was back to her cruel self. I attempted discussing this with her, wrote her a letter about it, she never would agree to counseling or own up to any of her abuse. This was very hard for me to accept when I was younger. I am older now, and I am at a point in my life where I am not interested in having a relationship with her at all. She has not and most likely will not change, and she does not have to. I know for a fact that I have grown. I have always been different in my family. I am semi introverted, enjoy reading, and love education. The majority of my support has come from school. I was always praised, appreciated, and encouraged there. I never received any of that at home. I have been fortunate to make connections with many people who are now my family. It was a struggle because I was resistant to help as I never received any as a child. But I have grown to know that there are genuine people in the world who care about me, my success and happiness. To me, relationships are EARNED not given. They are special, important, unique, and never to be taken for granted. I loathe society’s perception that regardless of who your parents are, “they are still your parents, and make amends etc,” that doesn’t hold them accountable for any of their abuse or mistakes. And is very unrealistic if there was an extreme disconnect like there was in my family. Being born is a favor no one asked for. Being around a mother who never wanted kids and treated me as unwanted, it is because of her and her mistreatment that life has been a STRUGGLE. Yes, I have learned to overcome these struggles and I am still learning each day. I find new ways to cope every day however, it is still a challenge. And yes, I had to learn and I am still learning that I have to accept that I will never receive a sincere apology nor acknowledgement. However, at this stage in my life, I don’t need nor do I want an apology or anything else from her. I value my peace, happiness and positive relationships. A misconception that my family has is the belief that I “have,” to speak to them. And I don’t. I don’t have to have a relationship with them. It is not necessary and I am uninterested in a relationship. I say my family because multiple members of my family are very unsupportive. They don’t get to dictate who I have a relationship with. I have that right and I am entitled to selectively choose who I accept in my life and who I continue to have relationships with. That is my right! I am entitled to that! This is one of the most valuable and important things that I have learned in my life. They don’t have that power anymore, I do. And I use it carefully. I don’t need them, they don’t respect boundaries and they have nothing to offer expect dysfunction and negativity. Many others may not understand this especially with the notions of mainstream media, but that is okay. I have learned that life is an individual thing. Your life is not for anyone else to understand. It is totally acceptable to live a life that others don’t understand. You have to do what is best for YOU. Because it’s your life, your sanity, your happiness and YOUR STORY. You write it the way YOU want. Once I realized this, and it did take a while, I became so much happier. I enjoy life, I love myself, and I have an amazing support system. I am passionate about education and I love learning it’s the one thing that has been constant in my life. I value physical fitness, my health, art, traveling, and I enjoy listening to as well as inspiring others. I am happy with the family that I created and it continues to grow. I refuse to remain in contact with those who are toxic. I hope you all find a point in your life where you stop, create the life you want, and enjoy it to the fullest! I hope you smile when you look back at the past because it’s no longer your dictator. It doesn’t control you anymore. Reclaim your autonomy. I know it’s easier said than done and my way might not work for everyone. I hope you find what works for you and makes you happy. 🙂 To those reading this, I am happy I shared my story with you, I hope it helped you and I wish you all the best. 🙂 You deserve to be happy and to be loved. You are special, strong, brave, and important. Be patient and kind with yourself. I am happy to speak with anyone because I believe in helping and giving back. I might not have all the answers, but I am defiantly willing to help. Email: kenni@csu.fullerton.edu

anon - August 8, 2017 Reply

Hello, everyone! I’m interested in finding out if CEN can lead to dissociative identity disorder. I guess CEN can lead to a lot of things and the possibilities are limitless, but i’ve never seen these two in the same sentence. I am always asked about trauma, but I simply can’t recall anything and now that i understood that this “thing” i’ve been feeling all my life has a name, and that there is such a thing as CEN even with good parents, but with a totally different language of love (mostly financial security) from what i’ve always needed, i feel like i am close to having clarity. Thank you.

    Trish - August 9, 2017 Reply

    I’m glad to hear you’re feeling like you’re getting to the core issues of your childhood experience. For me I have definitely experienced disassociation regularly as a child when my strong emotions weren’t managed, acknowledged or were shamed by my parents. Children need their emotions to be mirrored, validated & shown coping skills or plain nurturing & physical comforting to help process & resolve them especially at a biochemical level. I’m not sure what exactly qualifies as I dissassociative disorder but there is sure to be a link. Best wishes getting in touch with your feelings again.

    Helen-Jayne - October 21, 2017 Reply

    Hi I am new on here.
    I used to have a Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) – I was abused and neglected. So I want to tell you that yes Neglect can lead to DID. I had several individual personalities, each who had their own harrowing stories to tell.

Erin - August 2, 2017 Reply

I’m 27 and my life is generally good, but sometimes I get discouraged and sometimes I feel I’ve given up before even starting. I really want to make friends/reconnect with people here in my hometown, but when I try I feel enough anxiety that I’m relieved when I can be alone again. I want to get married one day, and I want my marriage to be a partnership of equals who share joyful beautiful meaningful things and support each other for the hard things. I want to have children one day, who will grow up feeling whole and lovable and allowed to be human. I am desperately trying to live a loving, wholehearted life.

I’ve been putting a lot of time, energy, and even some money into trying to teach myself how to do this. Two years ago I saw a therapist, and I am starting to learn to treat myself the way she treated me (ie, with acceptance and kindness). I’ve also been reading articles online and taking notes about self-acceptance, communication skills, recognizing and naming feelings, etc. I’ve been writing in my journal, doing thought records, being kind to myself, going to yoga class, trying to challenge myself to do things that cause me a bit of anxiety. It’s been working… slowly.

Because I now live in my hometown, I am spending more time with my parents. I sometimes go hiking, just me and my dad, and it’s great to connect with him a little more now that he’s semi-retired. But when my mum’s there, I become resentful and passive-aggressive, and say what she wants to hear, feel what she expects me to feel, am unable to relax and be mindful. I end up picking/biting at my lips (a habit I got over a couple of years ago!) and eating unhealthy foods, just to continue to portray only acceptable feelings and behaviours. She sits there and lives a wholehearted life, being so nice (which she is… except when she yells at you for feeling the wrong feelings, something she tries not to do but sometimes can’t help it because she just cares so much about you) while I watch myself running in the exact opposite direction. I used to be so proud of hiding my feelings, but now I’ve changed, and I can’t seem to tolerate going back to the way it used to be. Every time I visit, I leave feeling like I’m somehow crazy.

I am learning to hold these two thoughts in my mind: (1) my mum genuinely cares about me and wants to do her best, and (2) she has hurt me with her ignorance and lack of wisdom.
I am also learning to hold these two thoughts: (1) I am responsible for my feelings, no one else is, and (2) it is not my fault that I am hurting in this.

It’s beautiful to have found a website with other people who are going through something similar. I’m looking forward to reading some of your posts.

    Erin - August 2, 2017 Reply

    PS: the thing is, I feel like I’m ungrateful for posting on here. My mum didn’t neglect us at all – in fact, she was a stay-at-home mum and did creative activities with us, made us healthy creative lunches, and took us outside to play with bubbles, and all sorts of nice things. When we got older, she worked from home (self-employed) and made sure we knew she was available if we needed her.

    I was never left alone or neglected …just emotionally I felt alone.

    MG - September 27, 2017 Reply

    Hi Erin,

    I’m totally going through the same thing as you, except with my dad. My dad always was the boss in my household and I had to act a certain way or feel a certain way around him, the way he felt about things. I’ve only recently understood that I’m allowed to have my own feelings about things and they are allowed to be different than him. I love my dad dearly and he loves me a lot, but I feel like if things don’t go his way he gets upset, even if it’s like the waiter did something wrong that nobody else would notice.

    Recently, my parents came for a visit and I told myself that I am going to act how I’m going to act and if he doesn’t like something that’s on him. Whenever he is around I just get like super nervous, like I have to impress him at all times and I have to watch what I say or do around him. It’s very nerve-racking. I don’t think he knows he does this as I’m trying to get to know my mom better, she never had any opinions or advice for me growing up, especially when I wanted her advice, but he like answers for her when we are all together. For example: I asked my mom, with my dad there, that I don’t really know what she likes to do or what are her interests. My dad butted in and said she has lots of interests, and started naming off interests that were his, not hers. I looked at my mom and saw her shaking her head because they were not her interests.

    I guess what I’m getting at is I always leave wanting more information or closure or understanding when I’m with my dad but I never get it. He’s so emotionally unavailable and it’s only hurting me. At least I know this now and can make sure I don’t put myself down anymore.

Richard Trujillo - July 25, 2017 Reply

I am 54 and have just realized I have been suffering from CEN all my life. It basicly has destroyed my life. Of course I am a survivor and am not crying or placing blame. But my whole life it is like I have been an immature child trying to figure life out. Having no real sense of what I am supposed to do. I never got married or had kids. I am a great worker and have had many successes only to walk away from them because I feel trapped. My father didn’t talk with us kids at all. He sat in his chair and went to work. He never hit us and did provide for us but I never once played catch or heard any stories about his life. My mother just reacted to my dad by trying not to upset him. So we pretty much always went through her first. Dad was an only child and just didn’t seem to know how to deal with kids. My childhood felt like I was pretty much on my own. They never checked to see if I did my homework. Anything I was going through I just kept it to myself. I joined the Marines and got meritorious promotions etc. But then got out and had two years of heavy drinking. I went to AA stayed sober and learned alot but never learned how to feel what other people feel in life. My life has been a life of mediocrity. I thought I just didn’t care but reading the symptoms of CEN I was floored. But at my age it is too late.

    Emily - July 26, 2017 Reply

    Richard, it’s NEVER too late! Please don’t let that stop you from continuing on your journey of understanding. It sounds like you already have a giant portion of the work done as far as understanding how your childhood shaped who you are today. The next step, tuning into yourself and your feelings, is very do-able if you want to go there. In fact, it can and will feel quite comforting to actually notice and identify your unique feelings as your own very legitimate feelings. I hope that you decide to go there. Let Dr. Webb’s book be your guide, and if possible, find a local therapist who is either familiar with CEN, or open to read the book and learn about it as well. Flip to the back of the book and start using the extensive “feeling word list”–it’s amazing how many different ways there are to feel Sad, or hurt, or strong! I hope you decide to continue on the healing path it sounds like you have already embarked on–good luck!

    Linda - December 7, 2017 Reply

    I can relate to how you feel Richard. I am 43, never been married, no kids. Lots of quick failed, dramatic ending relations. My father never really talked to me, still doesn’t. My mother was always sad and found religion as her savior and focus. I was cared for in the monetary ways, food, shelter, etc.. but not emotionally. I have put my life through hell. I have been a constant emotional outburst. Then I hide from the world. I sabotage all my relations and successes. I have drank etc..
    I don’t know if I can change at this point. I feel I have missed all the opportunities. I missed out on being a mother, having a family, a tribe.
    Just last week I told my mother off, at 43, for the same negative feedback she gives me when never I tell her of my newest idea. I can see her filtration because I am constantly coming up with something new. I can never stay focused. It’s like I don’t know who I am. I have always supported myself but I have been a mess. And at this age it has caught up with me. The whole world is moving around me as I lay here alone lost in my head on how I accept this life of mine. I wish I was like my brothers, they did well for themselves. They handle their life and emotions well. I wish I could do over. I don’t know how to proceed. Life alone is hell but I don’t know how to live the other way either.

    Danny - December 19, 2017 Reply

    I get you man. You’re further down the road than me, but yeah, I’m nodding my head. Does it help that there are more of us out there? I’m new to this forum, maybe it can act as a support group, I dunno.

C - July 21, 2017 Reply

Hello, everybody. I suffered from CEN and so did my wife. In fact, her level of emotional neglect was so extreme and complete that it caused her to totally break down emotionally in childhood. I just wanted to describe her situation here in the hope of finding someone else whose life has been so severely impacted by CEN. She feels like she’s the only one on Earth something like this has ever happened to.

From the very beginning, the bond with her mother was very poor. Severe attachment issues. Her mother was very childlike herself and simply could not perform the role of a nurturing parent. The family broke up early and my wife was left alone with this clueless, helpless woman. The biggest problem is that her mother had no normal social life and led a more or less isolated existence. So as a kid, my wife never got used to being around people other than her mother. This caused her to develop extreme social anxiety to the point that she could not function at school. She couldn’t make friends and couldn’t even talk at all for the most part. It got so bad she ended up having to drop out of school entirely by the 6th grade. At that point, she essentially dropped out of the world, spending the rest of her childhood and adolescence at home alone with her mother. She didn’t get any further schooling at home or otherwise. She basically just stayed at home alone and watched TV all day while her mom worked. She had no social contact with anyone other than her mother.

I met my wife when she was 19 on an internet mailing list for people with social anxiety. When I finally met her, I was the first human being she’d ever had an actual conversation with other than her mother, which was a very surface relationship. So I was really her first social relationship. 20 years later, we are now married and the only thing that has changed for her is her relationship with me. She has remained just as isolated. As difficult as it is to believe, at 39 years old, she has still only spoken to and known one human being in her entire lifetime: me. As you can imagine, this highly unusual situation has made her a very unusual person who feels she can’t relate to the rest of human race. Other than being with me, all she’s ever had to do is sit and dwell on her misery in isolation. She’s never had a job, never finished school, never even talked to anyone else but me.

I’d just like to know if anyone out there has had a life even remotely similar to hers in terms of isolation and having her life and development as a person thrown off course so completely. All of this is a direct result of her childhood emotional neglect. Her mother simply didn’t teach her ANYTHING about how to be a normal person. Other than being provided (unhealthy) food and shelter, she may as well have grown up completely alone.

If you can relate to her story, please leave a reply below. I want to help her feel like she’s not alone in these feelings. I can relate to a lot of them. That is a big part of our bond. But I still don’t really know what it’s like to have been as alone as she was throughout her life. There must be someone else out there who can understand.

I’m going to be re-posting this over on the Childhood Emotional Neglect forum at forums.psychcentral.com if you’d prefer to contact me there. My screen name is mepc. Thanks for listening!

    Danielle - July 22, 2017 Reply

    While I had siblings in my life and neighborhood friends, I can relate to the severe social anxiety because I very rarely had actual conversations with my parents or any other adults when I was young. I became terrified of adults and especially authority figures.
    I was ok with kids when I was younger but during the teenage years, I totally withdrew. I still went to school, but didn’t have friends, and spent many years barely talking to anyone. I still feel like “why would anyone care what I have to say?” because in my family, it seemed nobody did, and it was better for me to stay quiet.
    I was able to work later and be fairly normal after I left home.
    Your wife is lucky in one respect. She has you, and you care. I would suggest going with her to stores or to a support group and very gradually getting her out in the world, so she can learn that most people are not going to hurt her or laugh at her. She will need a lot of encouragement, and hopefully can get some counseling, too, maybe even take some classes at a community college.
    I wish her all the best and let her know, above all, that it is NOT her fault

LG - July 7, 2017 Reply

After reading Running on Empty and a short course of therapy I have begun to realise the extend that I have been effected by CEN. I am one of eight (I am the third eldest) and my childhood was far from happy.

My mother had depression, OCD, anxiety and eating disorders and as a result she was mostly at home although we hardly saw her as she would sleep almost all day. My dad tried everything to make her happy buying her lavish gifts like a pedigree dog, phones, computers etc. and rarely ever spent money on us, even making us feel guilty that things like food were so expensive. Although they did give us food (most of the time), clothe us (hand me downs) and put a roof over our heads, there was never any emotion there apart from annoyance and frustration on their part.

I remember my dad hugging me once, well, I wouldn’t really call it a hug but a loose arm around the shoulder. My guinea pig (one of my only friends at the time) had just died from a heatwave. When we first got him I wanted to keep him in my room but my dad refused so the poor thing baked in a boiling hot shed in the garden because of my dad. It took me absolutely balling my eyes out to get even a limp arm around me which he quickly removed before going inside, leaving me to cry alone.

My parents certainly never said that they loved me, I remember once asking my mum what the best thing she ever did was. Her response? “Having you children”. I remember thinking, well that is strange because you certainly don’t act like it was the best thing that ever happened to you.

Because my parents had so many children it was hard for us to get the attention we were so desperate for. I tried really hard in school despite struggling in my early years, eventually I was getting good grades and I wanted my parents to see how good and smart I actually was. Whereas most children would dread the “parents evening”, I wanted my parents to go, but they rarely ever attended. One year I made my dad promise he would go, thinking this was my great chance to shine I organised all the appointments and sorted out the times with each of my teachers. What really happened is my dad ran off for three days after an argument with my mum.

My parents were never interested in what I was doing, I remember being really young and taking part in the christmas play and looking down in the audience with everyone else’s parents grinning and smiling at my classmates. I just remember feeling so sad that my parents were not there.

As there was quite a large gap in age (7-8 years) between me and my older sisters I was often left with the responsibility of looking after the younger four children. This put a lot of pressure on me to grow up and be like the favourite older sister (2nd eldest), who received a lot of attention and praise from my father.

Today, I struggle in so many ways. Thankfully I have a loving and caring partner who is willing to give me plenty of hugs but even then I struggle to open up about my feelings to him. I ignore my emotions until the “emotional vault” I put them in becomes so full it explodes in fits, leaving more guilt and shame in its aftermath. When I do receive praise the happiness quickly passes and I am left with only sadness that my parents were never able to see what others obviously could.

I am in the process of trying to identify my emotions and understand them but it is very uncomfortable and I am often surprised how intense these emotions I have been trying to hold back feel. I hope one day I can move on from everything that happened to me (or didn’t happen) and live a better life.

Thank you Dr. Webb for writing RoE.

Nobody - July 3, 2017 Reply

Hello,
If any of you would know about my life, you would be amazed how I’m still alive. Of course I ‘m not saying I’m the worst case out of all there is, I just realized how my life is pretty bad. The main problem and the only thing I’ve been struggling all my life is fear, I just live by fear. Probably a good thing I’m a female, if I was a man.. I’d probably be a serial killer. I just want to let everything out, because I have NOBODY to talk to or anybody that would listen. I’ll start from the very beginning, and you’ll be the judges.
As far as my memory goes and what I can remember, when I was 5 or 6 my mom left me to nanny’s cause she was working (I understand that). I stayed in that nanny’s house for about 2 months, she would beat the hell out of me for no reason, she would mock me by forcing me to eat pumpkins all time (this is why I hate pumpkins). I remember precisely how one day she got a metal and beat me with it, in my head (I still have that bump).
I loved it, I loved it so much that I was the happiest person on the Earth. Now the man she married (I call him my dad), he was a great person.. such a great person. There was always plenty of food, nothing was limited (considering that all my life before I stayed hungry). I was happy, I was so happy that I would say I was the President. I went to my new school, it was fine at 1st but then I got always bullied and it kinda hurt me in some way (that moment I didn’t know how to stand up for myself).
Everything was good for me, but mom and dad argued everyday, I remember how my mom would yell and yell at him, he would just apologize and go crazy because she made him crazy (I saw everything). My dad was a military worker and also worked for the navy, he was a very good person, he had to leave often. Those moments, mom became friends with our neighbors and left me to their house. She would go to UK to meet an old friend of hers for a fling, I knew this because when she came back she would tell all about it to her friend. Her friend was good, I liked her, she was nice to me, always fed me and she believed in God and tried to tell me how God is always there. She had 2 children, who were super nice to me. It was my 12th Birthday and it was the best Birthday I have ever had in my entire life, everything was like in normal families, parents, friends, cake and presents. Everything was good from there, Christmas, New Year and every occasions went well. But before my 13th Birthday mom went psycho and she said we were leaving (I don’t know why), I understood how my dad felt and I felt sorry for him. We went to UK, stayed at her sisters house (which had a pedophile husband). All those time my mom was married to my dad he supported mom and I financially, so she didn’t have to work. But I didn’t understand why she wanted to leave from dad, we had a very good life. From that moment I left school and never went back to school till this day. But before that, I guess she was super energetic, she leaved me at her sisters house for days and left God knows where. Her sister’s husband would come on to me while watching TV or using Internet, the funny thing.. I knew what it was. But before he ever did something her wife would notice it and just tell him to leave. Soon we had to leave from their house, I guess her sister knew he was a pervert. Mom rented an apartment, got a job and I stayed there always. It went like that for some time, then we would go back to dad. It was good, then after time she would leave again and again, in an year – 12 month period she would travel at least 4 or 5 times. Spending so much money on airplanes and everything. But most of all, sometimes my dad’s income wouldn’t last, and we had to sleep in airports, in some buildings, people’s houses.. as if we were homeless. It went on like that for years, back and forth, back and forth. My dad started working 3 jobs, even then it wasn’t enough. I don’t know why we traveled back and forth to different Countries, it made no sense. Apartments, hotels, airport terminals, people’s sofa, cars, are the places were mom and I spend times at and slept. We would get hungry and go around trying to find food or any change. AGAIN as I am an adult now.. WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?! We had a lovely home, a great dad, good income and she wanted that?! So in all of this, it comes back to her friend Gail.. she lets us in her home. Until this moment even thought I was somewhat abused, my mental health was fine. Everything changed Gail. At Gail’s house, mom and her are talking about adult stuff and I go to the kitchen and tried to make a coffee (it was a shared apartment), Gail would come to me and say ‘what the hell are you doing?!’ I would reply trying to make a coffee, she would stand there and tell me disgusting things, I don’t know if I can write it over here, but I’ll try to make it more nicely, she would say ‘you’re going back and forth the kitchen and the bathroom because you want men, you want their private parts, ah you little…, you want it so bad, look at you, you’re so pathetic, haha, you are so stupid, you think even those men would want you?! You are you ugly and fat, your… wants some…. well how would you want 10 men at the same time?!’ It was worse what she said, and mom would look at me and laugh at me, she laughed so bad and Gail too, I got very angry, I was crying and mom said ‘don’t cry, save your tears when 10 men will…. you, don’t show it to me, what you want some, want some?! Gail came closer to me and I got afraid and I started running, I ran to the bathroom and locked the door, she opened the door and beat the hell out of me inside the tub, she beat my ears so badly that I couldn’t hear, she spit on me, and called my mom. Mom came and said to stay there. I came out at yelled and said what have I done wrong, was getting a coffee a bad thing. They laughed, and I said I will die and I will kill myself. This is what they said ‘go ahead, you think we care?!, you can die, do it, do it now, die and die and burn in hell. Now the question is, what have I done wrong that time?! What was my fault?! That time my mental health changed, psychologically I changed, I started to become a new person. I hated everyone, I hated people and I hated myself, I hated God and I wanted to die all the time. I was only 14 years old.

If any of you wanna know how my mother’s insults are.. it’s very severe. It will make even a normal person sick and just wow. She talks very nasty. I tried once telling her that she made me sell my body.. she turns everything against me and makes it as if it’s my fault. She loves accusations, and she certainly loves making fun of me. Starting from my appearance to my personality. Before I never knew why, now I know it’s because she tries to make me feel insecure and bad so she will have power over me. I just hate it, how she keeps telling me everyday that my body is so bad, everyday, about my face, about my personality. And most of all.. she keeps telling me that she gave me a very good life that every child would dream of.
All in all, I love her in a some way cause she’s my mother. But I don’t forgive her and this doesn’t mean I don’t hate her. I just want to leave her, I wanna get out of this and never turn back and start a new life and erase everything.
Thank you for taking the time to read this very long story of mine.

    Ann - July 7, 2017 Reply

    I am sorry that you have been through such pain, you deserve so much better than all of this. I feel like you are making excuses for your mother, I believe the only way for you to heal is to remove yourself from this abusive relationship as soon as possible. If I was in your position I would stay with a friend or possibly seek out a woman’s shelter to try and start a new life. Do not let her know where you are or leave anything behind that she could use against you in the future. You are 25, around the same age as me, don’t let this woman control you no longer, you don’t owe this woman ANYTHING. Go and live the life you want to live! One of the hardest things I believe with CEN is asking for help, go find the help you need, and do it now.

Anonymous - July 1, 2017 Reply

Hi, Dr. Webb. When will your new book about CEN be published, please?

lvglawfirm - June 23, 2017 Reply

Your work was very impressive; I really appreciate the research part of it which made your article very rich and understandable. Overall you have done a great work.

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