26 thoughts on “5 Ways Childhood Emotional Neglect Makes it Hard to Feel Loved as an Adult

  • December 1, 2019 at 11:45 am

    The five points given are all meaningful . Many of us lived them. And still do!
    The other side effect is this is about the house is not a home .
    Then their is reality .The outside world is very small .
    People sense that CENs are different like outsiders . It is easy to get labeled .
    A CEN wants to fit in, but the harder they try to fit in they are looked at “ just being different”.
    Comments like oh so & so is a loner or he/she does not like anyone .
    Small knitted communities and schools can be a stop sign to breaking in .One has to leave their area/ community to start over .Period !
    This is why after receiving my professional accreditation I chose to not work within any company or university teaching but to be the outside technical problem solver .However after a company death it was the death of me coming inside as GM of operations . People got nosey about my past . It cost me my pension after 15 years of dedicated service to increasing the business and client in-house problem solving providing solutions . It cost in other ways and most are not repairable as looking for closure can be more damaging and time consuming than letting it all go and finally saying, enough all ready and just getting on with today today not today’s yesterday’s! So I had to decide is it The Them or is it The Me. After years of rebuilding everything The Me won .
    Even after 15 years I still run into people at trade shows that like the feeling they are so superior and know the situation better than I had to endure for many years . And now I just ignore them because most are at that age they have less time on earth and I can not allow their prejudices to inculcate within me and because we are all of that aging group and forward is not my reverse and either is down under presently living in the now. .
    There reaches a point we must rewrite our own scripts to both life and living one .
    My only regret is the person who caused me to lose my pension and the financial effects of the loss to my family . However the upside was my children were at an age and went out and got part time jobs stocking food store shelves . Both excelled in areas of law, math & economics and engineering . These are the blessings that outweigh the losses of being a CEN who got most of it back as the teeter- totter of justice came into its own balance of abundance and rewards .


    • December 1, 2019 at 12:02 pm

      Dear Paul, thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad you were able to raise great kids despite such hardships. I hope you are working on feeling loved, as I’m sure you deserve it.

  • December 1, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    “Having experienced a watered-down version of love from the people who were supposed to love you the most, it is all you know.”

    Your sentence there fitted a big piece of the puzzle of my life together. I just realised that throughout my life, if anyone showed me the smallest bit of kindness, friendship, special treatment, I thought they were my friend or loved me. I’d only ever experienced the watered-down version of love from my mother so if anyone showed me anything more, I was overwhelmed and assumed they really liked or loved me!

    Thanks for enlightening me!

    • December 1, 2019 at 12:04 pm

      Dear Catherine, that makes perfect sense. I hope you will now move forward to require more from people before allowing them access to your heart.

      • December 1, 2019 at 4:36 pm

        I have been learning about and feeling my emotions for a while now and making progress. I have some local friends now! Not just internet ones.

      • December 1, 2019 at 5:13 pm

        That’s fantastic, Catherine! You are a good example of progress. Thanks for sharing!

  • December 1, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Hi Dr. Webb, I appreciate your quick reply and your comments.

    One topic “to just keep going “ after “ the roof fell in “ I was looking after two dying aging parents simultaneously about 150 miles away. The weather on the County Roads going deep into a farming plus growing residential area made travelling dangerous ; the black ice and slick Ivey roads as most of us are facing today as hazardous and deathly.

    The reason I took on this task as an only child the rest of the family half turned on me and the other were aging and had issues and events of their own both within and without the family and even keeping viable businesses now downsized and employing good people that needed a pay-check because of their lack of education, bad breaks over the years to complete in the new technical world from sophisticated farm machinery to operating computers.

    After many trips into this area of my birthplace , now without income and my reputation ruined I decided while going to two different hospitals each having their own areas of specialties to treat my parents now at critical mass it hit me when many of the students I grew up with their parents were now there as well just too much to handle .Then it hit me again , if I drive home after every trip sometimes twice a week my children will adsorb my me I grew up with a hell on earth.

    Coincidentally a geriatric specialist Dr.from England and his MD specialist and assistant in training ; the floor supervisor suggested I had seen it all with more to come at the clinic and asked privately could I separate this so I would not ruin my children’s growing up simply by osmosis .I realized after they were doing an on-site study of Q&A about how grown children look after their parents who suffered through growing up in pills , alcohol , violence and total neglect being left to live on a diet of hot dogs until I got out of high school to head off to college .

    My answer simply someone has to do it but then I realized it was my reserve regimental training that to this day keeps me upon the level and by the square because my senior officer at one time was my neighbour until we lost our home .

    Fortunately I was able to set limits but as I pointed out I did not know that some of staff in the company I now managed started to use all of this against me in their subtleties as a loser. Once released by the corporate head office my pension was cancelled by someone on site and not being informed I suppose I broke but had to make the trips home 150 miles away to give the only care I could muster.

    The positive points are I kept it all out of my home and quietly returned to education
    In a far away geographical area within the industry of laboratory, chemistry , biology and assisting in developing positions for graduating chemical engineers.

    Although there is an old expression Lions = 1 or won Christians =0 or loss I saw it the other way the lions finally got declawed and our family picked up the pieces and moved on with our lives and gone thanks we did not ever give up on each other or one another .

    The house then became our home again after many years of every conceivable type of wolves trying to blow it down. Fortunately they became breathless and we grew and grew noting the teeter- totter of life can return to balance after one sided weights of physical , financial, mental and ethical and spiritual are brought back into balance . There reaches a point we must must let the demons and monsters die and just get on with living or continue with the brakes constantly grabbing into the ditch .
    And closure is fine but one has to get on with it even if closure is a luxury to just give
    thanks to live today in the now.

    • December 1, 2019 at 5:13 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story and your observations, Gwor. All the best to you.

  • December 1, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you for these emails and sharing what you know with us. I always look forward to them because they help me so much. They not only validate EVERYTHING that I’ve experienced in my life but also put words to those experiences and how I have always felt. Now I know. Thanks to you, just knowing is a relief for me. However, I know I still have a lot of work to do. Blessings to you and all that you do!

    • December 1, 2019 at 5:15 pm

      Dear Dorine, I am so glad to be helping you!. Now it is up to you to do the work, just as you say. I’ll be here to help you along the way.

  • December 2, 2019 at 9:54 am

    Yeah this hits the nail on the head for me. I have read both of your books as well. I am working through this issue with a counselor. Thanks for your post.

    • December 2, 2019 at 9:58 am

      Dear Matt, I am so glad. Keep up the good work!

  • December 2, 2019 at 11:51 am

    Thanks Dr. Jonice for your dedication to the people who have experienced CEN growing up and as well your consistent articles on recovering CEN as an adult.

    Thank you!

    • December 3, 2019 at 7:56 am

      I’m glad my articles are helpful to you, Mho! Thanks for your comment.

  • December 2, 2019 at 9:34 pm

    They say you have to love yourself first in order to be loved by others right? But I’m not sure how to do this. I feel completely numb and disconnected from everyone and everything in my life. It’s like I can’t seem to cultivate anything that feels like happy or joy or love. And you may be right. Maybe I don’t even know what real love would feel like… I’ve read self help books and I’ve tried going to a few different therapists but I never seem to get anything out of paying a stranger to validate me. I always feel misunderstood and If they offer any kind of support it feels fake- my brain goes “they don’t really care- nor do they mean it- you are just paying them to say those things to you.” (Which might be truth- I really don’t know) how can I reframe this? Thank you

    • December 3, 2019 at 9:07 am

      Dear Jackie, have you been evaluated for depression? This is no way for you to live! I hope you will see a CEN-trained therapist (see the list all over the world on emotionalneglect.com) And have an eval for depression. You deserve so much better and more!

  • December 3, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    Wow, after taking this quiz, even though I’ve been to three therapist, I realize why I think the way I do, and why I can’t get back to sleep after I wake up in the night. It makes me sad to think I might have not raised my kids as well as I wanted. I have always questioned whether people really loved me. My dad left us when I was eight and never came back. My step father was a pedafile, and I thought holding me was what I always wanted, until the shame became overwhelming. I was too ashamed and unable to confide in anyone as I didn’t feel I could trust anyone. I was nine years old. My wife has been a Godsend, but still I have questioned even her love in my mind during times of depression. Depression seems to eased some since most of my family have passed away, but I have always felt cheated out of what I could have become. I have had difficulty commiting myself to a relationship with God.

    • December 4, 2019 at 8:46 am

      Dear Jim, I am so sorry you were treated in such harmful ways as a child. You were taught that you were not loved (or lovable). But you actually, clearly are! Now it’s a matter of adjusting your inside to match the outside. I suggest that you see a CEN-trained therapist from the Find A CEN Therapist List on Emotionalneglect.com. There is likely one near you.

  • December 7, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Loving one’s self – difficult as shovelling thick ice off the driveway
    And doable with heat and light and you doing you first

    Until one gets all of the muck or what they can live with loving oneself is next to zero and nothing .
    But there is a but , once you are able to tell people both verbally and non verbally to butt out of your life then you can try and choose one entity just one that you can get a handle on and call it yours . It may be the gym, music, yoga etc..

    At some point all the reading every self help book in the library just does not cut it .
    Just look at “ stuff “ you like to do and it can not be people doing you in. . You do for you first ….yes you do for you first …. and as you make say in the gym one mile of walking you did that for you . You control your own treadmill and no one tells you the speed or distance to set . After my spinal stenosis surgery I was told no problem live your life. Well not so good. So after all the BS and rehab not knowing about SSS recovery I started real slow on the indoor track oval one lap slower than molasses in January and graduated to the treadmill and then a miracle happened I can do this but slow it goes and went . And the miracle is this everyone in this gym is doing their thing for their self and now I as a 72 broken down no recovery person am walking again slowly and as I look around in this huge area everyone is there for their own personal reasons and you do yours for you as your reason .

    Just disconnect the crap and do one thing for you and when ready try another and it is not easy for me giving up golf, curling , skiing , my friends , my charities , and my core business but just to walk alone and say I am doing this for me and reading again and being my usual cantankerous self
    You may post your own physical and mental sign “closed until further notice “ because you need you more than you need them. And then you now have your first physical, mental, spiritual boundary WOW Oh what a feeling …priceless
    Just do it and you may be surprised how great you feel just caring for yourself first and down the road your love of self returns seamlessly without you knowing it and the magic of incoming warmth sure defeats the winter cold into a complete thaw.. Just You Do For You And Love it .

    • December 7, 2019 at 12:41 pm

      Beautifully said, GWOR. Thanks for sharing!

  • December 10, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    Emotional neglect and abuse is so potent. Jonice, I think your article is terrific! Very important. It links in with my research entitled: “Lives Unseen: Unacknowledged Trauma of Non-disordered, Competent Adult Children Of Parents with a Severe Mental Illness”.
    I will pass most definitely pass on your article on to clients and patients whom I think may benefit. Thank you again for writing about such a difficult to see issue, Suzette Misrachi

  • December 16, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    Spectacular article. I have one aim in life from here on and will do anything in order to achieve it… To reconnect with my true self so I can finally experience vulnerability, sensitivity, empathy, love, connection and friendship.
    I have read running on empty no more but still don’t know what it will require to lower the wall. I know safety is one of the requirements. It seems like I need a number of things to be in order in my life for me to finally feel that it’s safe enough to allow my true self or and about.
    Our Dr, do the therapists you have trained know how to help us lower the wall and they back in touch with our feelings self?

    • December 17, 2019 at 11:46 am

      Hi Richard, many of the CEN therapists on the list do have that training but some have only read both books and may not be totally able to help you break through your wall. I suggest calling them and asking. I encourage you to do what it takes to reconnect with your true self!

      • December 18, 2019 at 5:59 am

        Thanks for the response. I wasn’t able to find foreign based therapist (I reside in London UK). Thanks for further assistance and sorry to be a pain. X

  • December 17, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    Opening : Closure for the self first!

    Not all wishes are fairy tales and caviar dreams in closure . Most are fractured and many are broken and the person’s repair takes from the self is too costly to one’s own ongoing repair. Always remember the possibility the other could care less and will take over the conservation and yourself to destroy your first point to keep you in disorder while they walk away in order, recharged and now playing the winner as they still control you . The loss = bankruptcy of self : Why bother!

    Reading the comments : learning from others :
    One advantage of reading the comments is to get a feel/ mindset from others, and your replies and figuring out if all this effort to reconnect with others is energy well used because it is spent quickly like gambling without a full deck( brains) without much return on profit just more loss to one’s self first . Some people want to see your backside going out the door before you enter to “ have that talk” . Why bother to give them your power of reconnecting to steal from you which is their purpose to upset you .Why bother?

    Self first just reconnecting with the self
    Now I am sensing connecting with self first is VIP. And closure with family and others is getting farther away . Some people may be most fortunate to reconnect with others however reconnecting with self first and putting closure on the back burner may sound cruel as one must remember connecting with self and loving self leaves no unanswered questions because it is a one on one with self 24/7 365 . There is no middle man here just you & you .

    The Past Comes Into Light
    Recently I recognized a person from a deep dark draining past heading my way probably here from away for a home on home hockey game.
    Since myself had had a great talk with my self, no middleman here I asked myself is this meeting worth it and I took the other exit out out of the big rec & fitness centre .
    I then realized I had just set boundaries for me and got in the car, opened the windows and let the cold Canadian air blow it all away .Wow what a feeling of freedom! And to breathe the way I want to take a breath for self .

    Draining Your Gas Tank:
    Too many great people out there in the now to dig up relics of the draining and broken past to get the empty needle they want on your mind’s gas tank to be out of gas when interacting . Why bother?

    Is the past worth the crash it brings to reconnect to closure?

    Now as I check off those who betrayed me in a 20 year old dispute and pension loss some have naturally passed away however I found working on the self first allowed a new suit of armour in love for self first is greater than the closure needed to find whatever closure may be no more like an empty building of living in its own bankruptcy the gates now rusted , the useless broken chains hanging from the gates blowing back and forth whatever way the winds blows those gates will never see closure.. Many human closures are like gates useless if the wind controls the direction and you get hit with the hanging chains looking for your own closure.

    Be of your own mindfulness and walk on by bye saying bye bye this closure opening is more than enough for my permanent closure .

    Yes like the famous Staples button and my new battery operated NO button it just gets “easier”to press both and get on with living then reliving the lack of living and looking for closure in a bankrupt empty building where the security gates blow without order anyway they want too as the wind blows . What kind of order is that in one’s life of ongoing self renewal ? No anchors and locks here to stabilize the gates of your living .What is the value?
    Zero Profit & No Growth Why bother?

    Seeking new Outcomes and Incomes :
    It is about enriching self first in body, mind, spirit, and vocation without chains to you and anything that is going to stop you from growing and moving forward to your own profit and growth.

  • December 17, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    Spot on! Feeling loved, appreciated, & valued is very difficult for me. A 3.5 year relationship ended just 2 days ago (2 days after my 63rd birthday), and I’m determined to love myself completely in the absence of an “other”.
    While I know in my mind that I deserve love–that I *am* loved by my family, friends, and clients–internalizing worthiness in my heart is still a challenge.
    I am seeing a wonderful therapist who’s been very helpful.
    Thanks so much for this important work.


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