Tuesday, July 5, 2016

C.E.N. It Has a Name

from "The Princess Diaries" movie, 2001

Is there anyone who hasn't been touched by emotional neglect one time or another?   Emotional absence is one of hardest absences we widows and widowers deal with.  (If you were fortunate to have an emotionally intimate marriage.)

But losing your best friend to death is just a taste of C.E.N.  Childhood Emotional Neglect.

It's more than that.  It's more than the occasional snub we all suffer from.   It's the warp and woof of childhood existence for many children.    Too many.  It creates the Invisibility Scar

If you never heard of it, here's  where I did. http://www.drjonicewebb.com/about-emotional-neglect/
 It's been one of the engines of my recovery.

Childhood Emotional Neglect.   It's inflicted by parents who never look inside their children to feel who is inside there and learn about who they are.  It's the 'Shush!' abuse.   Beyond the "Shush!" is the lack of concern that they're hurting their kids' feelings when they discipline them, critique them, hit them, invade their sexual boundaries, and use them for their own ends.   If you felt badly when you disciplined your kids, that's not you!  However, C.E.N. is inflicted by even well-meaning parents so uncomfortable with feeling their own feelings, they can't tolerate them in their kids.  Yet the parents who seem so nice.

This is what C.E.N. does:  It turns a deaf ear.  It lets every child's plea for care drop. The poor child learns C.E.N.'s lesson well:  "I shall turn a deaf ear to my feelings, too!"  And so, the little person inside them becomes invisible, and stops asking for the milk of human kindness.

In my last post, I declared independence from my Invisibility Scar.  Even after four years blogging, I wonder, "Will this be the post nobody responds to?"  Do you wonder that, too?  Every self-revelation I write here comes with a big helping of shame, instead of the joy of sharing.  I never had a mother, or father, or siblings who cared to hear how I was feeling.  My mother was sleeping on the couch, or typing away for her volunteer activities, when I arrived home from school. "Shush!"

I can't live the invisible life.

Two days ago here, I broke the code of family silence, sharing two snippets of what happened in my family when I dared to speak up.  On their own, these snippets are just insensitive tactlessness in action.   As an adult, I can inwardly say "Kiss off!"  As a kid, I took everything to heart.

Inside every sufferer of depression, anxiety, addictions, and what-not, is the little child who was never heard for who she was, and cared for when she needed sensitivity.

There is a way forward out of Childhood Emotional Neglect.  More to come about that.  But hopefully you don't need it!

Here's  poem written by Vivian, 21 years old.  Her alias is Flawlessly Tarnished in the poetry community, www.poems-and-quotes.com   She'd lost a friend, maybe the first real friend she'd ever had, when she wrote this.

Because you saw me when i was invisible

"by FlawlesslyTarnished

Because you saw me
When i was invisible
You gave me back some confidence
Made me feel like i was capable

No one could see me
For who i really was
But then again..
No one really does

To the world i was invisible
Nobody was my name
But you saw me for who i was
Though things just stayed the same

Somewhere through this friendship
I don't know how it grew
But through our talks and laughs
I somehow fell in love with you

Because you saw me
When i was invisible
Losing you as a friend
I am now incapable

When i had no one to turn to
You were always there for me
For comfort and for help
Whenever it could be

When everything had failed
And i was ready to give in
You were there to make me see
To assure me i could win

You made me feel secure
You helped me when i cried
And when i planned on giving up
You were there to help me try

Because you saw me
When i was invisible
You always helped me out
When i got in trouble

We been through a lot
And i know you don't care
That you've landed me here
In a place so unfair

Somewhere deep down
I wish you understood
But i know that you wouldn't
Even if you could

Because you saw me
When i was invisible
That's the quality
That makes you so lovable

You gave me reassurance
My self self esteem somewhat high
You made me feel so good
That all i need to do is try

You made me a promise
That you'd never leave my side
The worst part is that when you did
You didn't even say goodbye

All this torture that i hold
All the things that i been through
All the pain that you have caused me
I've still fallen so madly in love with you

One day you asked me why i cared
Why i thought you were incredible
It was simply because you saw me
Those times i was invisible. 



  1. Question: I've seen Childhood Emotional Neglect in some young kids I have known,though I didn't have that exact name for it before reading your blog. My mom seemed to collect them and shower them with attention. One little girl in the neighborhood would stop by after school when I was a teenager and I'd often see my mom rocking her like she did me when I was a toddler. She grew up and had such a high regard for my mother, said she saved her life. Did you have anyone like that in your young life, someone who gave you the affection missing from your mother? Someone who did see you?

  2. I believe your Mom probably DID save her life. Unfortunately I didn't have someone who did see the person inside me. I tried. When I was, say 5 or 6, I reached out to a neighbor's mother, hoping she'd listen. I was crying, and trembling with fear and hope, I revealed "My Mommy doesn't love me."

    "Of course she does" she said "All mothers do."
    ... If only she had listened with her heart, asked "Why do you feel this way?" and scooped me up her arms...

    Your Mother was a special woman.

    I didn't reach out again until college, when my boyfriend, who was supposed to give me a ride home for the holidays, stood me up. I didn't go home; I couldn't face their insensitivity with my broken heart. So I stayed at the empty dorm and called the college therapist.

    So began my lifeline to people who care for a living. Only recently have I realized that caring women care without being paid. So you, Jean, have much in common with your Mom :-)

  3. There are lots of people around who care. It was just your misfortune not to run into any when you needed them most growing up--another relative, a neighbor, a teacher, etc. But that is all behind you and now that you understand what happened, you can forge forward giving yourself the love that was withheld from you years ago.

  4. ((hug))to me. Forging ahead,,,I'm going to break my INVISIBILITY mold, and share life on 'pond's edge' with you. Regular schedules are not my thing, but I'll start...

    drumroll ^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-^~-

    Yikes! I have no idea if I'm interesting or boring!!!

  5. LOL "If you build it,they will come." In other words, grasshopper, if you find yourself interesting, others will too.

    My dog sets my schedule. 10:00 AM, 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM he wants my undivided attention to do his bidding. I swear he can tell time.