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Has anyone gone through Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN)?

For a while I realized there was something wrong with me. I mean, I've been diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety and Sex addiction, but I felt like I figured out some roots to all this. I couldn't figure out how to put it in words or what it was called though.

I notice whenever I'm in a very emotional situation I don't handle it how "normal" people do. When it's me and I feel overwhelmed with emotion, I hide it. Sometimes it comes at the most inopportune moments too, like during a song or a scene in a movie. When it's someone else, I don't know how to react. I see others reach out and try to calm the other person, give them reassurance. I just awkwardly stand there, unsure of what to do for them, feeling awful that I'm not doing anything.

I grew up with my mom and half-sister in my grandpa's house. My mom was a single mom and when she worked it was entry-level, low wage jobs. I'm not sure who this originated from exactly. If it was my grandpa's dad or my grandpa's parents in general or what, but my grandpa was not a very emotional man. At least... He never expressed his emotions. My family had an silent acknowledgement that we cared for one another, but we never said "I love you." I was never taught, told, or encouraged by them like my peers were. There was no sex talks or encouragement to get my driver's license. Of course I'd learned about these things in school, but those are far different and lack the intimacy of a parent.

When I would go to friends' houses and see them hug their parents, tell their siblings "I love you," it was weird and foreign to me. I didn't understand that. I grew up thinking that was abnormal, not realizing it was really my family that had the dysfunction.

I don't think I ever learned how to act appropriately. How to express how I feel in the right way or at all really. And something I've read in my findings about CEN that I'm afraid of now is emotionally neglecting my own children. I was in a relationship for years with their dad and he's told me time and time again how I'm not doing enough for them. He says I need to show them I love them. I do love my kids and I try to tell them I love them, but not all of it comes naturally and it makes me feel like a crap mom. All my mom friends reassured me that when my baby was born, I would just "know" what to do. But that feeling didn't ever come for me. I had to learn. I had to learn how to just love my kids. And I do, I love them and would never want any harm to come to them.

I feel so estranged and messed up. And I can't get any therapy for this because I can't afford it. Did anyone else grow up with CEN? How did you handle it? How are you handling it now? What should I do? I hope someone out there can help me... I want to get over this. I wish I could just give my sister a hug or tell my grandpa I love him and know that I mean it and not be scared or second guessing myself.
Category: Advice 8 years ago
Asked 8 years ago

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I grew up with parents who weren't emotionally available for me, after both having trauma from their pasts that they hadn't dealt with. Having trouble with intimacy with my parents has led me to have difficulty with intimacy with other people. I'm working on this currently. I have been working with vulnerability. I feel like the ability to connect with other people is only as good as our ability to be vulnerable. A good book I'm reading is "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown. Hope that helps a little :)
Answered 8 years ago

That sounds very similar to my family life. Growing up I was always told not to get emotional over anything. I always thought that I was alone, but when I went to group therapy many people admitted that they also felt this way. Expressing emotion is very therapeutic for me. I have become a lot more emotional lately which is causing tension in my family, but at least I'm not a robot anymore. One thing I found that has helped me is being completely open when meeting new people. I am quite good at this now, but showing old friends the new me is proving to be a lot more difficult.
Answered 8 years ago

Sell your TV and move in with an Amish family. There are no universal people, I think that many of our disappointments come from comparing our routine lives with the fictional lives of others. Life is what it is, you are what you are, we can tweak who we are to better our relations with others, or to improve our feelings about ourselves, but complete restructuring, I'm not so sure. . Also, there are people that have had beautiful childhoods that grow up to be imbeciles, and people with oppressive childhoods that grow up to be beautiful people, I'm not sure that attributing issues to ancestors is constructive, we can wallow in such quagmires. . Having been to several funerals lately, I found it remarkable that I never cried, and these people were very close. I've been to other funerals where the deceased was close to men that were there and the guys cried their hearts out. . C.E.N., I experienced that, so it's tempting to believe this is the cause, but I spoke to my mother. She related a story from around 1935 of one of my male relatives at a funeral that was not crying but she said he looked like he was about to pop. Apparently tears about funerals is not in our wiring. Yet I can be passionate about music videos, political issues, and a host of other things. . You seem to know what's expected in home situations. In social life, that would be referred to as decorum. Sometimes in social situations we need to represent ourselves as one way, for the benefit of our employer for instance, though in reality you may be totally opposite. Expressing love for your children is important, but showing love may be more important, concern about their activities, their friends, where they are and when they are there, their health, these are things they'll remember and things that don't require strong emotional feelings to have true meaning. . My oldest is 38, my youngest 27, and some in between. To this day we concern ourselves with their welfare, such as when bad weather threatens or we hear of crime near their neighborhood. Just text messages, nothing interfering, but I know they appreciate it. . Hope you take this as I meant it, as an explanation of my life under somewhat similar circumstances.
Answered 8 years ago

I was physically and verbally abused as a child. I was not ignored, which is what this sounds like. Tell your children DAILY whether you think it is normal or not, that you love them. That is what kids need most. To feel loved-as you obviously are seeing what it is like not having that. Every single day, when you tuck them into bed, and when you say goodbye on their way to school: Mommy loves you. Tell your partner this as well. People who weren't ignored as children need this terribly. You will receive hugs, kisses and lifelong love from them if you do. It will also help their self esteem. You need to get into therapy. Where do you live? I can help try to find resources for you if you want me to.
Answered 8 years ago

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