On the Outside

 

I feel like I’m on the outside, looking in.

Whoever I’m with, I don’t feel I fit in.

When I’m with other people I may look fine, but I don’t feel fine.

The first item on the Emotional Neglect Questionnaire (ENQ) is:

– Do you sometimes feel like you don’t belong when you are with family or friends?

I put that question first in the ENQ on purpose. Because it is one of the most centrally defining qualities of a person who grew up with Childhood Emotional Neglect.

At first glance, it doesn’t make sense. Why would a person carry around a pervasive feeling of being out of place? Of not fitting in? Of being on the outside, looking in? Especially when among people who love you? It is a difficult to identify, difficult to name feeling; yet it can hold tremendous power over a person. It can make it hard to go to a social gathering, and difficult to stay very long. Perhaps you get irritable when you’re around other people and you’re not sure why. Perhaps you’re good at putting on a show to look like you’re having fun, but only you know that actually, you are not. Perhaps you are actually looking around at other people laughing and talking and appearing comfortable, and wondering what you are missing.

In over twenty years as a psychologist, I have heard many lovely people describe this feeling. They each use different words, but they all have one common factor which links them: they all grew up in a household with Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN).

CEN happens when parents fail to respond enough to a child’s emotional needs. When you are a child whose feelings are largely ignored, you receive an indirect, but very powerful message from your parents. That message is, “Your feelings don’t matter.” I have seen time and time again, that when children receive this message, they automatically adapt. They push their feelings down and away so that they will not bother anyone. This may help the child survive, or even thrive, in a household that is not friendly to emotion. But in adulthood, it becomes a problem.

Your Emotions and Your Relationships

As adults, we need our emotions. Emotion is the glue that connects us to other people and the spice that keeps things interesting. When your emotions are pushed away, it’s hard to feel the emotional connection that binds people together at a party. It’s even harder to experience the spontaneous, happy synergy that occurs when people are truly fully present with each other. So instead, you are like a baker without yeast. You are operating without a key ingredient that everyone else has. And you feel it.

If you find yourself identifying with this, please remember that while the “On the Outside” feeling is a real feeling, it is not a real thing. The people you are with do not see you that way. They don’t see you on the outside. They don’t feel that you don’t belong. They want to connect with you and enjoy your company.

The best thing about CEN is that it can be overcome.

4 Tips to Overcome Your On the Outside Feeling

  1. Become more aware of your “On the Outside” feeling. Notice when you feel it. Take notice of the power it has over you. Keep it in the back of your mind at all times. Remind yourself that it’s just a feeling.
  2. Once you’re more aware of the feeling, its source, and its power, start to fight it. Force yourself to go to social gatherings, and constantly fight the feeling while you’re there.
  3. Tell someone (your spouse, a sibling, a good friend) about this feeling. Explain the source and your struggle. Ask that person for their support at family functions, parties, and other gatherings.
  4. Address your CEN. It’s important to attack your CEN from all angles. One of the best ways to do this is to start working on accepting and feeling your own emotions more. The better you get at this, the weaker your “On the Outside” feeling will become.

Childhood Emotional Neglect is invisible and difficult to remember so it can be hard to know if you have it. To find out, Take The Emotional Neglect Questionnaire (ENQ). It’s free.

Becoming more comfortable with your emotions is a key part of this process, as well as learning how your feelings (and you) fit into relationships with other people. If you find yourself mystified or daunted by this, you can learn much more about how to use your emotions to enrich, enliven, and deepen your relationships in the book Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships.

Once you realize what’s wrong, you are on your way to recovery. You’re on the path to a more connected, more comfortable, and more fully satisfying life. You don’t need to feel on the outside anymore.

Jonice

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Graziella - September 4, 2021 Reply

This makes me feel better that I’m not alone. I just accidentally read this article while browsing with no purpose due to boredom. It strucked me right away as I continue reading. I knew I have been that person inside of me for long time since high school/college and also have been trying to practice on emotional recognition and awareness just even recently for just about a year. It’s hard because in my mind, I want to enjoy and be happy but at the same time, this emotional turmoil keeps it holding back. I hope and pray it will be understood and accepted by the people who we expect to love and be there for us. Thank you for this helpful information, Doctor, not only for me but also for my kids.

Jonathan - August 10, 2021 Reply

I need help with this please.. I’ve been like this for so long .. who can steer me to a person to help me?

    Jonice - August 11, 2021 Reply

    Dear Jonathan, there’s help throughout this website. Also, you can contact a therapist near you who’s trained in treating Childhood Emotional Neglect. See the Find A CEN Therapist List on the HELP tab of this website.

    Jonice - August 11, 2021 Reply

    Dear Jonathan, there is a lot of help and info throughout this site. Also, check the Find A CEN Therapist List under the Help Tab. There’s probably one near you!

Steven - July 17, 2021 Reply

I am 50 now and never new there was a name or a thing for how I feel when I’m around other people. It (CEN) describes me too.Thank you.

carlene - June 23, 2021 Reply

This was actually kind of hard for me to read. I’m almost 40 and have been struggling with this for so long. My whole life, it feels like. I’ve always chalked it up to social anxiety but it’s different! I think there are some aspects of my problems that are more anxiety related but reading this was like ringing a bell. The feeling of not belonging, of being a spectator, feeling like even if I want to be involved, I shouldn’t intrude.

Gosh. I knew when I first read about CEN awhile back that I definitely had it, but this throws it open so much more. Thank you for the work that you do!

Carmel - June 21, 2021 Reply

Thank you so much Dr Jonice for all your insight and help. It is appreciated,,,,,,,,,Carmel

Ren - June 21, 2021 Reply

I bought your audio book RUNNING ON EMPTY NO MORE. I have listened to it several times and I have been fallowing you through EMAIL messages. It has been most helpful to me because I’m not comfortable in face to face session nor group sessions and right now money is a big issue for me. Nonetheless your book and EMAILS have been so helpful in making me more aware of my needs my wants and validations. One day I found myself in a situation where someone who I respect and look up to was not at his best and he seems to have these outbursts frequently mostly towards females. On this day I was there it was directed toward me. I was initially shocked . Feeling hurt and with so many things going through my mind, I was wondering what did I do or say or lack there of. I came up with nothing to my fault but even so it felt like a floodgate opened and everything from my childhood came rushing through and as I stood there paralyzed in tears I felt diminished as though I shrunk into this tiny size and I remember thinking what is happing right now and why. Opposed to holding my breath, blocking it out and going into hiding as I usually would do, I was thinking am I ok and what is it I’m doing right now. I felt myself, I touched my arms my hands my chest my legs.(a pat down) I looked at my hands in the front and in the back. Nothing hurt or broken there . I felt tears pouring out I heard myself weeping uncontrollably and I realized I was really there present in the moment and though I felt so crushed and even betrayed I was whole and I was ok and I was in prayer. The gentleman had finally quieted down. I walked away and still sobbing and the shock it lasted several days . But he did call me later that morning and offered a sincere apology to me. It felt so so good to me. Though this gentleman still acts out this way not just to me but seems like mostly towards women in general, that I know of. I can say honestly since that day I have witnessed him trying to be better he is genuinely trying to correct himself in the moment. I feel like he maybe having his own inner issues going on like myself. I know his mom left him as a very young boy and I believe it still hurts him along with some other issues that are his . Doctor I went off track here a little bit but what I really need to know is during that incident where I felt attacked and I felt like the scared helpless little girl from way back who didn’t understand what was going on and now that I’ve had time to think and process about that day, I’m thinking I had a breakthrough that day . Im mean I was really hurt confused and scared but also a sense of relief and like an aha moment. But also what I heard in your book came into play and I felt strength , courage and a peace within me. It literally feels like I have tools to help me protect myself. Would you call this a breakthrough? Will I always have to be cautious or feel fragile in these type of situations? Will usage of these great tools become instant and natural as breathing? As of now I still take deep breaths and remind myself to set boundaries and to live in my present moment feelings and emotions and to ask myself is this happening right now because of me or is this their problem and what is the proper way to react. I’m actually thankful for that moment I had with the gentleman because after all was said and done I felt empowered strengthened more aware of me and my thoughts and feelings and overall I’m more aware of me in my place and time. Do you call this healing recovery a start a strong start? I call it feeling good and whole and more like I want to be. PS I’ve always felt like I don’t belong. My Father was disappointed because I was a girl and not a boy when I was born and to boot I was an unexpected twin to my brother. Both my parents are narcissist with 6 kids all together everyone of us with issues only 2 of us seeking help. One deceased and the rest addicts and in denial. I can rememberer least two court order family counseling’s in different states . Well those were strongly controlled by my father so they went no where. Though both parents are narcissistic mom mostly the enabler but now that they have aged and dad is more dependent on mom it seems like their roles have kind of switched. I know my parents upbringing was also bad not because they were bad kids but because their parents were not good parents either. Narcissism’s must roll down hill. I do not like the narcissistic cancer that has attacked my family but I do love my family I do care for them I do know boundaries and these tools you offer Doctor are necessary for anyone in any type of relationship narcissistic or not. If only the whole world had this insight. If only we had a special day of awareness for this illness like mental awareness day. I have a dream that it could change the world for a great good. Narcissism does not know race or gender but I believe strongly that in time with knowledge awareness and tools it can be stamped out. A healthier world. What a beautiful thought. I want to be apart of that change. You are a part of that change. Thank you Doctor Webb

Nicky - June 21, 2021 Reply

I am going to hold on to this article, and keep rereading. The comments helped enormously, too.
I am still feeling wrapped up in a social event I attended a few nights ago. My husband said I looked like I was having a great time, as I was happily chatting to everyone, but inside I felt so out of place, insecure, invisible and as though I didn’t fit on. As if I was just playing performing a role.
I have read your book, Jonice, after having that ‘aha’ moment a couple of years ago when I first came across CEN. Knowing that there is a reason for these feelings helps a lot. I was actually making progress but since my dad passed away a couple of months ago, and also due to the fact that I am not living in my country of birth, and struggling a bit with the local language of where I live, this somehow exacerbates these feelings of not belonging, not fitting in etc..somehow, they’ve intensified a bit lately.
I often feel lost, rootless and restless, as if I am still looking for ‘home’ even though I am happily settled where I currently live, have a great husband and three amazing kids.
In social situations, I have to force myself to just ‘be myself’ and not contort myself to what I think others expect of me. I’m embarrassed to admit I’m 55 and still not where I want to be, in terms of self love and acceptance. But I’m at least aware now, and know I’m not alone in this feelings. Reading the other comments on this thread reminded me that we’re all in this together. Thanks for your great work, Jonice!

Lety - June 21, 2021 Reply

I relate very well to this article.
The feeling of not fitting in even though I am with people that love me (church).
I have a difficult time in social gatherings and carrying on a conversation for a long period of time.
I have been attending my church via zoom for 15 months now and today, while connected to our church meeting, I panicked and could not stop crying. The thought of returning to in-person worship sent me into a panick attack. I think that besides CEN I also have social anxiety.
I have read both Dr. Webb’s books and have taken 2 of her online courses and they have helped me tremendously with my CEN

    Jonice - June 23, 2021 Reply

    I’m so glad you have found my books and programs helpful, Lety. Now you can launch a separate effort to face your social anxiety.

Alison - June 20, 2021 Reply

Yes. This is how I have felt recently and also in the past. Like I don’t fit in and don’t belong. Especially with people my own age. Up until I graduated from college and a few years past that time I had friends my own age but then I started befriending people 20 and 30 years older than me. Because of my life circumstances now, I don’t feel like I fit anywhere. Maybe things will change soon. I’m isolated and don’t have many friends.

Kerry - June 20, 2021 Reply

I want to know if it’s possible to recover from so much neglect (inc early) that I’m not able to connect even somewhat closely with anyone. I finally got treatment for many things, but lost too many years heavily over medicated, and don’t have much trust. I’ve heard that problems from early neglect are permanent. I don’t want to be someone’s treatment experiment again.
Thanks

    Jonice - June 20, 2021 Reply

    Dear Kerry, I can’t imagine who told you the effects of early neglect are permanent. Not true at all! Research shows the opposite. I encourage you to seek a CEN-trained therapist near you.

Rebecca - June 20, 2021 Reply

When I first read about CEN a few years ago I immediately identified with this feeling, and began to work on myself. Now, after a year+ of so much isolation, I find it feels very uncomfortable, once again, to be around friends. I have reached out to my daughter about this in the past, but she still keeps me at an emotional distance. My husband is now in a nursing home. I am 71 years old and most of my life has been spent with a man who manipulated and tried to control me, and frequently verbally abused me. Being alone in my home is the greatest sense of peace and security I’ve ever felt.

Richard - June 20, 2021 Reply

I think one thing that can happen to people with CEN is that they become loners – perhaps finding they have become that way without it being a conscious strategy. And as the gap between how you appear and how you feel starts getting greater the harder it can be to talk about your feelings and the more tempting distance is. But sometimes there can be “cocktail” reasons why people make the painful but understandable decision to be loners. I myself was (indirectly but still powerfully) taught that my feelings did not matter. I was then sent to a boarding school and then continued to be there (even though I disclosed I had attempted to kill myself) until eventually I was sexually abused and had a nervous breakdown. I have read that those who are abused in this way quite often take the path of a loner with its securities but also its heavy heavy price. Therefore CEN can cocktail and be reinforced by other highly negative childhood experiences. For someone who was compelled to go to boarding school and had a rotten time the easier option can be to say that it did them the world of good and taught them to be tough (a bit like a country and western song) rather than admitting that it caused great emotional and perhaps even sexual damage. This form of denial can even take the form of the damaged person sending their own children there. With this and other forms of circular forms of neglect that go through the generations somebody needs to have the strength to say enough is enough. This experience of neglect and abuse messed me up and no child should have to go through it ever again. Meanwhile I am like everyone else in what hopefully is the final stages of this covid lockdown thinking what relationships I do have and trying to make them more emotionally honest without using anyone as an emotional doormat. I send my love and profound best wishes to those who have been through things like me or worse and perhaps are trying to do the same thing.

    Jonice - June 20, 2021 Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Richard. I’m sorry you’ve experienced so much harm, and I hope you’ll continue to work on healing so that you can become more connected.

    Stephen - June 25, 2021 Reply

    Well written Richard, sorry for your hardships. I have lived a different story but noticed similar patterns with CEN. Both of my parents had neglectful and abusive childhoods and they, and their siblings, have chosen mostly solitary lives as well and had multiple divorces and battles with addictions. I would witness my parents’ personalities change at social gatherings to ‘put on a show’, and then the second they get in the car to leave, ‘drop the act’ and complain about the whole event, and complain about how the other acted, and my dad would criticize my sister and I for either being too expressive or not interesting enough… so needless to say I had no idea WTF was going on and was very self conscious. I learned my Mom was sexually abused when I was a child and she was basically a self described “man-hater” (don’t like the term) and has no interest in relationships.

    I have felt on the outside a majority of my life and often look at relationships as burdens. I took the Myers Briggs personality test in high school and scored the highest in introversion at 100% preference. But I have been slowly changing my thinking. I recently looked at my middle and high school year books and had remembered the comments more fondly than what was actually said. Most of the comments were along the lines of “I don’t know you that well but you seem nice” or “have a good summer”, etc… not a lot of personal things to be said and by the end of senior year I had gone to school with a lot of the kids for 7 years! I sadly realize, now in my early 30s how disconnected I really was. I learned to live on the outside and now I’m not sure if I actually want to be alone or learned it as a coping mechanism. I wonder if there is a correlation between Avoidant or Anxious attachment and CEN? I am definitely Avoidant and wonder why people want relationships, especially romantic ones. I am becoming more open with my friends though, and guess what, they are still my friends! And we have gotten closer. I had a few betrayals in my youth by friends and parents so I became guarded, but the walls do more damage over time. I think my Dad may have sped up the cognitive decline by barely having any social life for the last 30 years. We aren’t the little defenseless kids anymore! I am 6′ 3″, 200 lbs but I still feel like a puny, scared kid. My Dad would scream and point his finger in my face for the littlest thing, literally zero patience and 0-100 anger. Once he screamed at me that I was a “F***ing idiot!” Over and over because I spilled a little birdseed when he told me to feed his bird… I would never resort to physical intimidation but I just feel terrified of conflict when I shouldn’t be anymore. I think it just takes a long time to unlearn these fear responses, especially when they were so important to survival as a child. I had to walk on eggshells around my Dad for fear of setting him off and had I not been so good at tiptoeing, I would’ve gotten a lot more verbal abuse. Now I’m an expert chameleon and people-pleaser and people I despise want to be my friend. It can definitely be exhausting. Heck, I still jump at the sound of a car door because I think “Oh sh*t! Dad’s home to yell at us”. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that, I still dread roommates and girlfriends coming home at the end of the day… so yes there is nothing more comforting than being alone and knowing no one is coming home; peace and quite and safety… and addictions… and decay…

Gregg - June 20, 2021 Reply

Still trying to get past the “outsider” feeling that I’ve had since I was a kid. I have been in therapy on/off for decades. Medication, too.

My wife regularly disregards my feelings, if she even notices them. She is a kid of an alcoholic too, but refuses counseling, personal or marital. As you can imagine, our sex life has been dead for years. (I suffer from chronic pain due to multiple blown discs in my back from a previous career. That doesn’t help.) I’m increasingly depressed and discouraged about my marriage and life. I have very few real life friends. My only sibling disowned me over religion and right wing politics. Therapy has had the effect of setting my wife and I on slowly diverging courses as I change and she doesn’t. Where they will lead us, I can’t say.

I feel there is no escape for me anymore except maybe journaling and enjoying my pets (dogs, cats, fish).

GWOR - June 20, 2021 Reply

No one has to go outside anymore .
One has to learn after many attempts & years of this mindless journey there is no outside as it is all inside you .

So to go to the inside first and feel about the self right there “ within one’s self first!” and trust the self because no one can guess moment to moment
what the other is thinking and acting as real or unreal or just carry on being played like a pull toy or like a toy being pulled outside never knowing the other’s narrative of control .

So by going inside from the wanting to be outside one learns to appreciate the love of self first within and inside that is all that counts your love within for yourself first before going outside now we’ll armed in all areas ..

And with much practice no matter the testing pathways chosen one learns and realizes one can go outside 24/7 because it all comes from you within the inside and this is why you count for you because you do in effect know your insides and see the outside now as an observer never allowing your inside’ s building to be entered from the outside by another and or others without your permission or why go outside in the first place to be there?

If all else fails raise your own “ drawbridge” and let the others fall into the moat because your castle of strength in all entities allows you to make that decision for you from your “within “ as you decide to go out on your terms .

Ismail - March 17, 2021 Reply

This is so shockingly accurate.
I was hanging out with my friends today, and just all of a sudden I felt strange and awkward, I felt I don’t fit in and that I don’t belong. I literally picked up my phone and typed “feeling out of place” and the results got me here.

I’m 24 and for my entire life I’ve been living with my family who live as if humans had no feelings. We always deliberately ignore out emotions and try to suppress what we feel.
It really hurts to know the reason being your insecurities and suffering.
Thanks for sharing this article..

Jen - March 13, 2021 Reply

I’m very glad I found this explanation for what I’ve been feeling. More so in the months of lockdown. Some times I will be hugging my husband or just simply sat at the table eating as a family with our children and I’ll get an overwhelming feeling I don’t belong there, or that it’s not my life. CEN is not something I had heard of before, but makes perfect sense to me now. I grew up in a large family who were part of a fundamentalist church. Emotions were not something that were encouraged and parents had too many children to provide adequate emotional support to each of us. I’m glad I now have some tools to deal with these increased feelings of not belonging and being in the wrong life. Thank you

rose - March 3, 2021 Reply

I kinda just found out that I have CEN problems because of my doctor and ive always known, but yeah anyways i want help but I dont know how to get it, I talk with people I try to get help but im to much work so they always leave in the end, im always crying and I dont know how to stop im not an adult yet im still 16 but I dont wanna feel so broken inside forever, o one ever listens to my opinion at all they tell me to shut up necause they think I feel nothing but its not that I dont feel I just dont know what emotion im feeling whenever I feel something, my family my friends strangers dont just show me my feelings dont matter by neglecting them they literally tell me my feelings dont matter and I dont know how to respond to that, Ive already read her book done what she suggested on this website and in her book but its not working and I just dont know what to do about any of this, i just want to be normal I wanna make friends and do something but I dont know how to when I feel like my feelings dont matter I have a hard time telling anyone how I really feel because I dont know what im feeling or how to tell them so im just left always crying silently or out loud thats all I can do and I wanna be able to do more I want to get better but how?

    Jonice - March 4, 2021 Reply

    Dear Rose, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. At 16, do not worry, you have plenty of time to heal your CEN. But you could use some help, I think! I suggest to tell your parents you need someone to talk to; There’s a whole list of therapists trained in CEN work on this website and they can help you. You could also ask a counselor at school to talk with you. There is help available, but I know it’s hard to get it when you’re living in a family that doesn’t understand.

    Tim - June 20, 2021 Reply

    Hey there, Rose. That sounds like a really screwed up dynamic for sure, and I’m not surprised that you’re really struggling to change anything right now when the people around you are actively tearing you down every time you try to reach out. One of the primary requirements for internal change and growth is to feel safe, and right now it sounds like you don’t have anywhere to go that feels safe.

    You’ll have some more options to address your need to be safe when you become an adult in the legal sense, so even if your parents won’t support you if you tell them that you need somebody to talk to it doesn’t mean that there’s no hope even if it does mean that you might have to wait a bit to have access to more options. It sounds like your going to have a lot of work ahead no matter how things play out…I hope you don’t give up on yourself.

    There are a number of reasons I can think of as to why people might tell someone that their emotions don’t matter, and none of them come from a fundamentally healthy place. Regardless of where it’s coming from, people who tell you such a thing are saying far more about themselves than they are about you, and you don’t have to internalize their lies just because they want you to.

    Good luck on your journey. You’re worth far more than you can possibly believe right now, and despite your experiences to date there are decent human beings out there who will care about what you’re feeling because they care about you. By all means be cautious who you share your heart with, because not everybody can or does care, but don’t give up hope.

Ken - January 16, 2021 Reply

I am 59.I am aware that I am a child of emotional neglect. I am a RAF veteran and social worker. I moved to Scotland Inn 2002 with my Scots wife. However, since 2014 because of all the Referendums, I realised I do not belong here. The isolation causes by Covid is not helping. I don’t know what to do. I want to move back to England and the sooner the better. However, my wife would disagree and she down plays any discussion.

Calista - December 29, 2020 Reply

My tears keep falling when i finally knew what was happening to me. I always feel that i don’t belong to this family they always ignore what i am saying and also my opinion.

    Rahul - January 4, 2021 Reply

    I too feel same way.My family completely ignores me.I do feel excluded,ignored and isolated along with loneliness.But now i am seeing some changes as i started to ask myself what am i feeling more.It will help you too.

    Daniela - June 20, 2021 Reply

    I am so sorry! I have felt that way before, even by people who love you, family, but they also were treated in the same way, but it does not take away that it’s hurtful when someone acts like we do not or cannot have feelings of our own; even if it is not said, but implied? It is very strange but it does get better with awareness. I am 31 and I also have a counselor who has helped me, talk with her once a month now, and did the course with Jonie Webb, I know every person is unique, sending light and love your way.

Gel - October 2, 2020 Reply

I am glad to find this article, its the first time I was able to understand what was I’ve been struggling about throughout my adolescents years, I just thought I cannot fit in. I’ve grown at a very emotional neglecting environment since I was a child, my mother whose favorite is my younger brother never fail to upset me. Even my grandmother never missed an opportunity to make me feel I was not good enough. My father can’t even help me and I grew up in an environment where emotions seems to be lacking. I easily get jealous of my classmates who have a nice family wishing why can’t I have those. I guess it goes to show that I lacked the warmth that a family should have, both of my parents have always been strict around me. I don’t know if it’s because I was a girl, but I never received any kind of emotional support from them even when I was doing good in school. Then it kind of hit me when I started working that it doesn’t really matter anymore. I grew introverted over time, preferring to be alone instead of joining others. I think I’ve started also to disconnect from my family around that time. I never bother. It’s so sad that it continues to affect my life. I can’t connect to anyone. What scares me too is I tend to give all emotions when a person shows a bit of warmth to me only to leave me after.
Just wanted to share my story here.

    Jonice - October 4, 2020 Reply

    Dear Gel, now that you can see the problem, I want you to know that there is help for you and you can feel better. I encourage you to contact a therapist on the Find A CEN Therapist List under the help tab of this site. You deserve support and guidance to heal what’s causing your pain.

    rose - March 3, 2021 Reply

    I understand your story I do the same I give my all when a person shows just a little but of emotion towards me and end up broken afterwards when they leave because they think im to much, i know how that feels i also feel disconnected from my family I would stay outside playing with others kids hours after I was supposed to go home but my family never noticed their always like oh rose how was your nap or how was the book you were reading i grew apart from my family I used to be so extroverted but not anymore I grew introverted over the years I also get jealous that everyone has a good family and think why cant I have that ive asked myself this over and over and never can get an answer how can my parents tell me they love me when they cant even remember what i was doing but they know exactly what my siblings were doing all day they never notice when im gone so i started running away a lot because i wanted them to notice me and see me but it never worked so i just became a loner everywhere i went because no one ever even noticed me in school or at jome everywhere i went i was invisible to them so i became inbisible and then i just stopped caring about life or anything after that cause i figured im invisible and im a nobody who would care so yeah.

Summer - June 21, 2020 Reply

I have had this feeling my entire life, and I am just now finding a legitimate description for it. It hurts so bad. I want things to change, but it may be too late now. I am trying to hold on to hope…

    Jonice - June 22, 2020 Reply

    Dear summer, it is absolutely never too late! If you feel left out, the key is to look inside rather than outside. You will likely find the answers there.

John - May 12, 2020 Reply

I am reading these comments with mixed feelings.
I have struggled with social isolation my entire life.
I just turned 69! So, what to do, keep trying therapy? My mom, who thought she was perfect,
managed to destroy all the kids she gave birth to.
Dad was an alcoholic, and she tried desperately to
hide it from anyone who would get close. From her own mom, who died not knowing they had
separated, to her sisters, brothers, kids, neighbors, friends, etc etc. It was all about image.
None of our feelings mattered, and were constantly struck down to the point of complete
and utter compliance. The result: If you know family dynamics from ACA; a lost child, killed in
auto accident, an alcoholic brother and sister, and
my own sex addiction, chronic anxiety, and the
feeling of not belonging.
I was five years old at my first day of school when
I was at the drinking fountain and there were two
children, a boy and a girl talking beside me. I had
this overwhelming feeling of despair and distance.
I didn’t know what it truly meant at the time, but
I have revisited that day in my mind many times, now realizing it was a defining moment for a lifetime of pain.
Anyone who has felt this must address it as soon
as possible. It is at your core. You didn’t cause it.
But, you are damaged goods and need a good cry and hug. Find a good therapist who specializes in addictions. It could be the best investment in your life you ever made. Be well

    Jonice - May 15, 2020 Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, John. Wishing you all the best!

Rochelle - May 11, 2020 Reply

How does one fight the feeling of being invisible when you’ve never been “seen?”

I have no idea what being part of an in-group might feel like. My whole life, people have told me I’m wrong to want what I want and to like what I like.

I learned long ago that if I wanted friends, I had to give them something first. And keep giving. And if I run out of things to give, I also run out of friends.

Today, I have a dog and a husband. I don’t feel “seen” by my husband. I’ve got evidence that he isn’t seeing me, for instance, I lost a bunch of weight and he didn’t notice. He did notice I bought a bunch of new clothes since the old one didn’t fit any more, but that’s because he usually pays the bills every month, not because he noticed I was wearing new garments.

I laugh when people “occasionally” feel like outsiders. I live on the outside and always have.

For those feeling lonely, it is possible to rid yourself of this feeling. Simply stop expecting other people to fill you up. They won’t, and that is what causes loneliness.

We don’t need church, family or friends in a modern society like we did as hunter-gatherers. I stopped expecting anything from anyone unless I put in effort to earn whatever it is I needed from someone else.

Basically, I get joy out of giving my time and attention to others. I don’t expect any time or attention in return as that always leads to disappointment.

If I assume that no one is going to ever lift a finger for me without some kind of motivation. That way, when someone does do something nice and unexpected, I’m grateful.

No one owes you love. You have to earn it.

    Andrea - October 1, 2020 Reply

    Oh wow! I can completely relate to this – all the comments, I am living a shit life today! I am 43 years old, alcoholic, ptsd and several additional mental illnesses. I have been desperately searching for help- regularly for the past 3 years when all my past hardships crept up and overwhelming took over me. The ones that I’d buried for 40 years, because “I’m a survivor not a victim”, I “don’t need to deal with the trauma, I can only move forward not backwards”! Unfortunately, I’ve been defeated. I can’t find anyone to help me because I’m such a “complicated issue”, I’m in SSI disability and Medicaid and honestly, I’m too old to matter, when there are younger people that need that help! Unfortunately the worst part of the whole situation is that my poor children have suffered. Not abused or “neglected”, but due to my lack of their EMOTIONAL IMPORTANCE, my lack of affection. And this is what is truly the heartbreaking outcome.

      yoyo - January 3, 2021 Reply

      Help yourself. You could do it.

    Stephen - June 25, 2021 Reply

    “Never been held in anyone’s arms,
    When you’ve never been moved it’s really hard to move on”

    -Eyedea and Abilities “Smile”

    Amazing song about trauma and life and a path forward.

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