Let’s start with a few questions about your own personal experience with social distancing during the pandemic.
Are you having strong feelings that you feel alone with? Are you wondering what you’re supposed to do with all the feelings you’re having?
Are you feeling hemmed-in, hurt, harmed, helpless, irritated, annoyed, or otherwise overly affected by the people you are sheltering-in-place with?
Is spending more time with your partner or spouse raising some problems and/or questions about the relationship?
Is all the home-time with your kids magnifying behavior problems, making you doubt your parenting, or leaving you feeling at-sea about what to do?
Are you concerned about your parents but avoiding calling them?
Do you wish you were able to speak up and state your feelings and needs but find you don’t know what to do or how to do it?
As the Pandemic, complete with dire reports of illness, death, sheltering-in-place and social distancing drags seemingly on and on, I have been receiving thousands of comments and questions, most, but not all, from folks who have Childhood Emotional Neglect or CEN. I’ve been thinking about how some of my past blogs address the exact questions you may have during this extraordinary and incredibly challenging time.
Since my specialty is focused on how Childhood Emotional Neglect affects adults, let’s start with a topic that is front and center to the pandemic: your feelings and how you are managing them.
As you know, this is an extraordinary and intense time in our world. Guess what that means? You, and the people around you, are likely to have extraordinary and intense feelings.
If you grew up with CEN, it’s unlikely that you were taught how to tolerate, name, understand, manage and express your feelings. Yet there truly are ways that you can learn all of those things.
The articles below will help you.
Another question I keep hearing over and over is about how to get along with the people you are sheltering with. Are they stepping on your toes? Are people getting irritated? Are you, or they, getting fed up and drained?
This is a perfect time to work on your boundaries!
Speaking of feelings and boundaries, few relationships in life challenge you in those two areas more than your marriage.
Even further, if you suspect that you and/or your spouse grew up in an emotionally neglectful home, there’s more likely to be some emotional distance between you. This makes it far more difficult to work as a team, support each other, and address conflicts directly during this time of being trapped together.
Additional Resource: See the book, Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships With Your Partner, Your Parents & Your Children for much more help for dealing with CEN in your marriage. See the link below in the Bio below the end of this article.
Even families that love to be together are getting too much of a good thing these days. Being trapped together within your circle of safety, there are all sorts of challenges. No matter your children’s ages, you are likely faced with boredom, behavior, and emotions all more intensely affecting your household.
If your children are grown and gone you are presented with other challenges with them right now.
Under the coronavirus glass, whatever issues exist in your kids (all kids have them, by the way), are likely to become exaggerated, more visible, and more painful.
If you have Childhood Emotional Neglect, then you face extra challenges as a parent. You may be prone to over-focusing on your child’s behavior and under-attending to their feelings. Yet your children’s feelings offer you an amazing avenue to help them behave better.
Do you wish you could have a closer relationship with your older or adult child? This pandemic is a wonderful time to start taking some steps toward that. I included an article to help you with that below.
All across the world, emotionally neglected adults are worrying about their parents. What if they get the virus? Will they survive it? Are they taking care of themselves?
Many dutifully call to express care and interest, and perhaps to issue warnings. Some cannot bring themselves to check on their parents as often as they believe they should. This is the classic trap of the emotionally neglected with their parents.
Your Voice: Assertiveness
Growing up in a CEN home teaches you to ignore your own feelings and needs. This makes it very difficult to know what you want, feel, and need, much less speak up and express it.
CEN has a way of making you feel that your desires, your feelings, and your needs are unimportant. It may even feel wrong to have them.
Right now, in this current situation, we find ourselves in, we must each take responsibility for getting our own needs met. Learning how to speak up for yourself is an important key to building boundaries, repairing your marriage, and being an emotionally attuned parent.
I do not want to end this pandemic without reminding you of something really great: the useful skills you developed while growing up the way you did, with your emotions ignored.
There is a way in which this kind of upbringing teaches you some valuable skills, amongst the challenges we’ve talked about above. These are strengths that you likely have that will help you through this crisis — if you use them well.
I believe you can. And I also believe that you will.
Childhood Emotional Neglect is often invisible and unmemorable so it can be difficult to know if you have it. To find out, Take the Emotional Neglect Test, linked below in the Bio. It’s free.