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My Story, A Cautionary Tale

My name is Allison and I am a working mom of two daughters in a quiet town in California. For most of my life l have hustled for my worth as described by Brene Brown. I perfected, people pleased and achieved, but the cost was high.

I excelled at work, fitting in friendships and keeping everything running efficiently, but I kept feeling like something was missing. Like I was just going through the motions.

Turns out, I had Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN), defined by Dr. Jonice Webb as "A failure to notice, attend to, or respond appropriately to a child's feelings. Because it's an act of omission, it's not visible, noticeable or memorable." This is often passed from one generation to the next where parents, usually due to their own trauma, aren't able or never learned how to validate and empathize with their children's emotions and needs.

My Mom's older sister died right after she was born so her Mom and Dad were understandably grieving and not able to be present for my Mom during her youth. Also both her parents were strict and authoritarian, not showing their feelings. My Dad's parents grew up in the depression + both world wars and did not know how to validate nor empathize with him. This was normal for past generations where many were focused on just surviving and the neuroscience of emotional intelligence hadn't been discovered yet.

It makes sense that they treated me similarly, so I learned to repress dark feelings like shame, fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, and uncertainty. I hid them behind thick armor, as Brene Brown describes in Daring Greatly. Instead, I would think about feelings, but avoid actually experiencing them, to the point where I no longer had access to them. They were messy, inefficient and scary, why experience those?

This is a cautionary tale with a happy ending.

I was a