19 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of a Couple With Childhood Emotional Neglect: Olive & Oscar Part 1

  • July 26, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    This is a good article! I particularly enjoy the vignette format, with your interpretations of what’s really going on in this relationship. This is very helpful stuff, so thank you!

    • July 26, 2020 at 8:15 pm

      Dear Deborah, I do think Olive and Oscar are a good example of the confusion that so many couples’ experience. Thanks for your comment!

  • July 26, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    This resonated so well with me. As a woman in her 30s with a parent whom I strongly suspect is on the autism spectrum (Aspergers), the dynamic you described above parallels the frustrating and exhausting communication I have with her. I believe this reflects differences in theory of mind, her tediousness with details (like missing the forest while getting hung up on a tree’s height or color) and difficult executive function (buying light bulbs has become a month-long battle of dissatisfaction.) I really try to be helpful, and listen to my emotions but they are constantly misinterpreted and dismissed – I wish she would first ask why I feel a certain way rather than just jump into an assumption. When I kindly explain to her, she tells me I’m wrong (she believes her views are the right ones most of the time) and I’m missing a piece of crucial information. It’s exhausting and the effect, when I drive home, is one of guilt, frustration, and overall gloom, and takes me a couple hours to a couple days to recover. And I am truly trying to stay positive. She also chides me for things that I like and want to share with her – that’s another thing is I can’t just sit with her and enjoy things. I only feel validated from her maybe 5% of the time. I really try to find validation within. I try to have outlets to express myself. I read your first book and that really hit the nail. Please contact me if you think you could use some insight into the adult parent asperger relations and communications, as there is not much research or anecdotes on these types of situations. I need to find more folks in my shoes and like myself; we could all support one another. Thank you for your time. Anyone else who can relate, please chime in. 🙂

    • July 26, 2020 at 8:18 pm

      Dear Liane, when it comes to CEN, the cause is far less important than the effects. I encourage you to focus on yourself and how this affects you and also how you can protect yourself from the pain and emotional harm this is causing you.

      • August 1, 2020 at 5:48 pm

        Thank you, that is some good perspective.

    • August 9, 2020 at 2:29 pm

      I can totally identify with what you are feeling. My mother / family are not autistic, but I experience the same dynamic in my family. I struggle to do exactly what Dr Webb asks – to find ways to protect myself from the emotional destruction this behaviour causes. I honestly dont know what the answer is apart from limiting contact with them. I have concluded I cant ask direct questions like “why did you say this / do this” as I don’t see them as capable of being honest with me, its like playing a life long game of wackamole with them, with the finger of blame, accountability, and / or responsibility for everything, including their behaviour that has been harmful or destructive to me, being pointed directly at me. I remember having an argument with my mother about some of her incredibly poor choices related to my care and her response was to angrily claim she was the victim, not me. No amount of logic, reasoning or calm discussion can be productive when people are so adamant in maintaining black is white, up is down, and left is right. Its like they think that I’m responsible for their bad decisions, failures, and problems they’ve had in life. It is absolutely exhausting, not to mention bs crazy. The only reason I think they have for being involved with me is to emotionally feed off me in some way, almost like they get some twisted need of their own met by projecting all their enmity onto me. My biggest sin as I see it with these people I think has been being too kind to them and way too tolerant with this kind of behaviour. At the end of the day, the biggest question for me that goes unanswered is: are these people acting maliciously and fully intend to cause me harm, are they just clueless / profoundly unconscious people lacking knowledge, or is it some combination of the two? I just cant frame the problem any other way.

  • July 26, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Hello Jonice.
    That scenario of Oscar and Olive fits my last relationship to a T .
    You must have looked over my shoulder or changed their names .
    If only I had known this sooner !
    What a fool I have been I let this end my relationship even though I knew how in love I felt we were as a couple .
    I initially blamed her and after many weeks of counseling I saw my part in this disaster .
    Your work is so revealing to me I have always felt something was wrong with me but never understood what !
    I know I am a great guy. With loads of love to give ,I’m a people pleaser trying to get
    Love and care o have never had and I know it was from CEN .
    It’s so revealing you work is so important I hope others can get it and save them selves the disaster I have gone though ending the relationship I loved so much.

    • July 26, 2020 at 8:20 pm

      Dear Kenn, you are no fool at all. CEN is so invisible and yet so powerful. Now that you are aware, you can move forward and do your next relationship differently.

  • July 26, 2020 at 8:09 pm

    I can’t thank you enough for helping me. I always kept feeling worthless but not. I needed something that I didn’t know about. After your two books, I have never been so relieved and full of what’s important to me. I can never thank you enough. It’s a huge difference from where I was, and I feel safe and secure about my future because you helped me get whole. God bless you and your important research and ongoing help. Thank you 🙏 It’s helped my marriage as well.

    • July 26, 2020 at 8:21 pm

      Dear Cheryl, I’m so happy that you found so much help and answers in my books. Keep up the good work!

  • July 27, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Hi Jonice
    Both me and my husband were emotionally neglected as children. I have poured my emotions into him and the children in our marriage and received nothing back (and looked for nothing)!!!. I understand at last Why I’ve put up with so much. I have woken up thanks to Awareness of CEN.

    • July 27, 2020 at 11:21 am

      Dear Cath, I’m so glad you’re aware of CEN now. There’s so much you and your husband can do to heal! Stay tuned because the story of Olive and Oscar will show what the path to healing looks like.

  • July 28, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    Oh my gosh, just like Deborah mentioned in the comments, the vignette format, with your interpretations of what’s really going on in this relationship, was perfect! I actually read it to my husband and he listened (and heard) it because of the way it was written. We were both totally able to see ourselves in the scenario and my husband wanted to know when the next part was coming out!

    This morning my husband asked me what time I’d be home from work and I told him 6:30 pm. He said something like, you’ve been getting home later lately. I told him that I thought he liked it when I got home later as it gave him time alone and he said that I was making assumptions like Olive…that he likes it when I come home and we can spend time together. What?!!

    Thank you SO MUCH for this article. It has already brought about a change for my husband and I. We were able to laugh together about how we are Olive and Oscar and how we are so like them. Seeing it happening in another couple make it so we could actual “see” it!

    • July 28, 2020 at 3:45 pm

      Dear Ina, it’s wonderful that the vignette and commentary format was so digestible for you and your husband. That’s helpful feedback! I will post Part 2 soon! You can read Olive and Oscar’s whole story, including how they overcame all of the distance between them and changed their communication style in the book Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships. If you can get hold of a copy of that book you can read through it together and do the worksheets together. All the best to you both!

  • July 29, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    My parents are exactly like the two in the vignette. I am 43 and when I go visiting them, I leave with the feeling of void. I feel cheated as they insist on me visiting them, but when we are together, there is no way we can have a meaningful conversation. It`s so frustrating, as if they are not available, as if they are ghosts.

    • July 29, 2020 at 4:07 pm

      Dear Mirela, this sounds like Emotional Neglect, and it is indeed very hurtful for all involved. I encourage you to learn everything you can about Childhood Emotional Neglect to see if this is what you grew up with and how it may be affecting you now. Visit my website emotionalneglect.com to learn all that and more.

  • August 4, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    The Olive and Oscar story perfectly describes the history of both me and my husband as products of CEN. Our relationship became so dead and unfulfilling over 40 years. I could never understand why and always misinterpreted our relationship. When I had cancer (without his emotional support) and then afterward my teenager had intense emotional problems, I began to realize I could not live like that anymore and tried for a year to approach him. But then he died and I was left hanging with all these feelings repressed, undiscovered and unsaid. Since then, I have been a recovering dysfunctional for almost 3 years and through extensive self reflection and study of personality disorders gradually came to understand my feelings and true inner self. Watching your videos and reading your emails has really clarified things even more. My mother and sister are also products of CEN and don’t know it. We NEVER talk about how we feel emotionally. My poor kids grew up with it too (we passed it on unknowingly). But now I am a new person. And your information helps me to continue to refine my understanding and to help me improve my relationship with my grown up children and help them address their emotional issues, and become more aware. Thank you so much for your insight!

    • August 4, 2020 at 6:13 pm

      Dear Loved, this time in your life is a true gift. You are getting the chance to discover yourself and express the real you, and that will have a wonderful effect on your children. None of this is your fault! And you are doing great things. Keep it up!

      • August 5, 2020 at 1:51 am

        Thank you so much !!!! I want to share your information with so many others!!! May God bless you in all you do!


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