16 thoughts on “4 Ways Childhood Emotional Neglect Can Take a Toll on Your Physical Health

  • June 9, 2019 at 11:58 am

    I think that I could probably feel my emotions, if I could only find my emotions. I feel dead inside. I feel nothing. I lost my mom, dad and Godson within six months of each other and I’m a stone. I don’t feel anything about the loss. I’ve been working with a therapist for quite some time on this and it seems to be futile. I guess I’m just a dead person who will never feel or grieve. I guess I’m just a freak!

    • June 9, 2019 at 12:09 pm

      Dear Donna, I’m sorry you’ve gone through this. You are not a freak at all. Your brain is protecting you from your pain. Is your therapist CEN trained? Doing the Break Down Your Wall exercise will allow you to access your feelings a little at a time. You can do it.

      • June 18, 2019 at 9:45 am

        Hi Dr. Webb
        what book has the break down your wall exercise? My single mother was type 1,2 and some type 3 neglectful parent. I can empathize with everyone else feelings but my own. I guess that makes me a good friend sibling employee daughter and wife. (On third marriage ). But I am consistently afraid to express myself to others. And i suffer from back, fibroid, thyroid and fatigue issues. I’m TIRED of being in pain. Your blog has really hit home. In fact my fibroid pain went away when I read your signs of neglect!
        I’ve worked a 12 step program and with a therapist for 4 years. So there is some joy in my life but something was still missing. ..ME! Thank you.

    • June 15, 2019 at 6:02 pm

      For most people (me included) it is difficult to handle one situation of grief, I can not immagine three of it.

      I know how it is to feel like a stone. But I learned the importance of self compassion. Not to be judgemental to myself.

      To admit that you feel like a stone is helpful because it shows where your problem is. To judge this feeling like “I am a freak” or “ I am cold hearted” (my case) is destructive because it offers no motivation or hope, because in your head you “know” already what you are.

      It really helped me to see my situation of grief with more comprehension, patience and kindness towards myself.

      Donna I hope you don’t give up on your healing. My best wishes to you.

  • June 9, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    I am reading the first book and have the second to follow. I certainly see the effects on me, but also see what my parenting could be affecting my son. Both are distressing. My son is 29 and has 2 boys of his own. He deals with depression as did I and is married to a narcissist. Worried.

    • June 9, 2019 at 4:52 pm

      Dear Bev, in my second book, Running On Empty No More, you will find many answers for how to change your relationship with your son, and help for deciding whether to talk with him about CEN. Just remember, Emotional Neglect is not your fault, and all of the effects can be reversed.

      • June 16, 2019 at 7:40 pm

        I feel CEN is the root of my emotional problems and how I deal with others. Parenting was just glossed over in my years of therapy. This is what I needed all along. Now it makes sense and I bought a second set of books and sent them to my brother.

      • June 17, 2019 at 8:11 am

        Excellent, Beverly! Follow the CEN healing path and it will make a big difference for you. And hopefully for your brother too!

  • June 10, 2019 at 3:45 am

    Thank you for this insight, and for your first book, I’m learning so much from it. I have come to recognise that I do not feel strong emotions, even in quite extreme circumstances (i.e. death of a loved one). My way of trying to feel, since I was an adolescent is through self harm, and risk taking, including dangerous sports. I also cold water swim, and have done for years, without realising until recently that it is only when exposed to such extremes of cold that I can actually feel something. Does this pattern of behaviour make sense?

    • June 10, 2019 at 8:44 am

      Dear Tim, yes it does make sense. Very much so. Your feelings are there inside of you, and it’s important to chip away at the wall that blocks them. Do the Identifying & Naming Exercise every day, more than once if possible. You can heal.

  • June 11, 2019 at 12:58 am

    I feel too much and its overwhelmingly intense and I don’t know what to do with it but disconnected in some areas

    • June 11, 2019 at 7:31 am

      Dear Jennifer, those feelings are messages from your body. Try to write down what they are, naming each one individually. Then think about what your body is trying to tell you. Please see a therapist if it feels overwhelming.

  • June 12, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Families who don’t notice what their child is feeling miss getting to know their child on a deeply personal level. So they sadly remain unaware of who their child really is. I have seen, over decades of treating Childhood Emotional Neglect, that if your parents don’t see you, you do not learn that you are worth looking at. You grow up to be unaware of your own needs, and deep down you don’t realize that your needs even matter. You then are vulnerable to eating or sleeping too much or too little, drinking too much, or engaging in other behaviors that can harm your health.
    I finally came to the realization…that niether of my parents “know me”. I am 50. That makes me cry, because at 50 I am discovering….I don’r know me. I have lived a life – some of it amazing – but all of it under the auspices of someone elses idea of who, what and how I SHOULD BE.
    All my hopes and dreams vanished. I have been diagnoised with ….a lot….but the one that really hit home and stuck and somehow I can’t get out from iunder is LEARNED HELPLESSNESS. Adding to that, I have trauma compounded by trauma be it physical, finacial, emotional or social I fail at protecting my self. Known as a fearsome advocate of others I have failed myself repeadtly. Now, at 50, I am no longer able to power through daily headaches and chronic back pain but I would still try to accomplish something if it were not for the ever present brain fog.
    I have blamed a lot of my disconnectedness (disassociation) on my parents, saying they taught me that my body will lie to me…..I have to go potty…no you don’t! I’m gonna throw-up. No you won’t. I’m still hungry. You have had plenty. I ‘m tired. Not until you finish your (bible)reading. And when my body won…and I pee’d on my step-dad and puked all over mom’s car….I got in trouble. I don’t remeber the peeing incident, but I heard about it plenty.
    The last conversation I had with Dorothy (mother)was in the middle of a grocery store. I felt like I was twelve, I felt too skinny, short, my hair felt tight as if it was in pig tails…but there I was, at 49, pleading, crying almost sobbing, “when is it my turn?when will i be impiortant to you?” and then angry tears and accusatory ” If I was Janelle (best friend) or Carol (daughter given up for adoption) would you have done it by now? Would you? Would you?” and in true mom form….what was i expecting???? true to her form she locked eyes with me with this look she has perfected just for me, often she will include the words, but even if she doesn’t the expression clearly states, “You disgust me.” She didn’t say that in the grocery store, she picked something more fitting…considering….she said, “Grow up.” and walked away.
    Usually, it is “grow up and take responsibility for yourself”. In my head I have these high-five -BLAM, in your face conversations…where I say stuff like….”Me? I was the only responsible one in the hosue from second grade on….” “Ha, ya sure. Can you remind me which day you taught me that- you know …being responsible…for ones self….” There are a lot more I actually wrote ….if you wanted a better kid, you should have been a better parent…to my dad this past week.
    The fact is I was a great kid – to which my mother actually laughed and said “you?”- but yeah…until I wasn’t. Top of my class, high school reading skills in the 4th grade, polite, knda nerdy…i was the “weird kid” and the most the tiem the teachers didn’t know waht to do with my famiies religious do’s, don’ts, can’ts….mostly I don’t remeber much of my childhood.
    I have given Dorothy the benifit of the doubt and diagnoised her with mental illness, it explains a lot and allows me to have, not much, but some empathy. My biological father has pretty much skated through on “good guy” status my whole life, and then I moved in, I was 48. It was supposed to be an open-ended, temporary living place for me. Today, I honestly wonder if I will make it out of here alive. and then I wonder, why would I. And then long pause as I ponder that word – want – I gaze at my life as I type this – it looks like the t.v. scene a huricanne or flood or fire. not one sliver has been left untouched by this force of destruction. The well mastered persona of pleasant, helpful, concerned skillfully , masquerading the necessary arrangements of the narcissit, that is my father.
    I just needed a place where I could “get my feet back under me”. Recovering from a illness, loss of my pet that I loved and treated like my child, loss of my job, where I lived…I just needed to get my feet planted on firm ground again. The car I arrived with caught on fire while I was driving my replacement vehicle was just stolen. The cash I had litterally starved to sock away ($2,000) gone out of my room. And, Shyla, the little dog that was going to give me reason to smile again – dead.
    And still, I bring this to a close becasue I can hear my dad pacing. It is almost 3pm. It is past time for me to start cooking dinner, rather, his dinner. Becasue when I let him treat me like stipid help or his crazy drug addict daughter, when I let him be superior and condecending, less bad shit happens to me. By the way did I mention that I am 50.
    You probably know, that at some point I felt like I was writing too much, but then figured it doesn’t matter ‘cuz ain’t nobody gonna read it anyway….
    Thanks if you made it this far!

    • June 13, 2019 at 9:36 am

      Dear Somebody, much of healing ourselves involves putting our parents in their proper place in our minds and in our lives. I hope you’ll be able, at some point, to see that you are #1, and only you can treat yourself that way. All my best to you on your journey.

    • June 16, 2019 at 3:29 pm

      Dear Somebody, This could have been written by me. I’m 47 and am just becoming aware of how my childhood has affected me and influenced my choices, most of which were misguided and unhealthy because I didn’t know any better. A part of me feels like it’s too late. A part of me is desperately fighting to change the future. The fighting part is winning by a hair and that’s all you need. That sliver of motivation to overcome the helplessness. Please get help if you’re not already. It works. You matter. WE matter. Sending you love and support.

  • June 16, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Good timing for a stressful year for me.
    I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis in 2016
    (systemic inflammation).
    I never really had many emotions until I quit drinking 30 years ago at the age of 36. The first couple of years of sobriety were mind-blowing. I began to recognize when I was feeling and give it some kind of name. The WHY of my feelings have taken a lot longer.

    It was still hard for me to “allow” my feelings let alone process them. Gradual improvement through the years.

    It’s only been in the last 5 years or so that I’ve felt safe enough to share some feelings with those close to me. Even my husband of 28 years….I’ve finally been able to share some new emotions. I Shut Down so easily rather than deal with some situations. I’m grateful that this husband – my 3rd – doesn’t try to fix me or control me. Now if I Shut Down it doesn’t last very long and I can explain it to him. He just rolls with it and at least I’ve always been vocal about how much I love the people that I love.

    I recently realized that many triggers put me in REACT mode and I am so proud to finally have feelings….I can be ?? Irrational ??

    I just found the responding vs. reacting concept and haven’t found what creates the quick reaction mode.
    I’m beginning to believe that I’ve been reacting to other people my whole life and have never been true to myself.
    Who would I have become with a different family and different childhood?
    Do I make any sense?


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