The Emotionally-Neglected Child

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I’ve been reaching deep down into my past to uncover some unpleasant realities that have had a harmful effect on many of my relationships throughout my life.

First, let me say…I was, for the most part, a happy child and was certainly well-loved by my family. So, it’s difficult for me to admit that I was emotionally-neglected, even in a not-so-overt way by my loved ones. However, it’s something that has just surfaced in my individual counseling sessions so I’ve been diving into these long-buried feelings.

I recently finished Dr. Jonice Webb’s book “Running on Empty,” which covers Childhood Emotional Neglect, or CEN. The entire time I was flying through it reading the different scenarios or “vignettes” as the author calls them, I thought to myself, “This is so me!” This is a large, complicated topic and I will admit that I am not a trained psychotherapist so don’t take any of this as advice. These are just my reflections on a very small aspect of this issue and it’s an integral part of the work that Brett and I also are doing in couples counseling.

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A Letter About Life and Loss to the Old Me

On the advice of my support group leader AND my therapist, I’ve been tasked to write a letter to the “old” me. I’ve been struggling A LOT lately with my emotions. I’m easily angered and frustrated these days. I had a meltdown the other day when I couldn’t figure out how to get the allergen protector back on the mattress after I washed it. It was ugly.

My therapist thinks this will help me process all of the emotions that I’ve been feeling lately and that I won’t be as hard on myself as I tend to be. I’ve been super procrastinating on this assignment because I know it’s going to cause the waterworks. I’ve decided to write the letter to the “me” on my wedding day, back on Feb. 15, 2008. Here goes…

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Dear Christina,

Today is going to be one of the happiest days of your lives. You’re going to be surrounded by people who love and care for you. People who will do anything for you and just want you to be happy.

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“The Child in Time’s” Benedict Cumberbatch Talks About Grief

Benedict Cumberbatch is my favorite actor out there right now. He’s starring in the BBC/PBS adaptation of Ian McEwan’s book “The Child in Time”, about a couple who loses their young daughter and the subsequent aftermath on their relationship. While it isn’t about pregnancy or infant loss, the film’s main themes, including grief and relationships after loss, transcend any loss of a child.

Take a look:

P.S. Just fore-warning everyone now, get me a box of Kleenex and leave me alone during this one.

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Giving Up Control

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I’ve still been seeing my therapist every two weeks or so for the past year. Earlier this week, I had my regular session and it was one of those moments that made me go, “hmm.”

Let me step back for a second.

My brother, John, has been staying with Brett and I for almost a month. He recently won his disability claim after nearly four years of waiting and appeals, and living in a several different homeless shelters in Wisconsin. It’s been a stressful and emotional time for him so his therapist recommended that he come out to visit us for a month or two so he can figure out what he wants to do with his life. He recently said to us as we were sitting on the back porch, “This is the first time I’ve felt safe in a long time.”

We moved to Massachusetts from Wisconsin almost seven years ago now. This is the first time he’s been able to see where we live. It’s nice having him here and to catch up with him again, but it’s been anxiety-ridden for me and a definite shift in our regular routine.

Particularly, it’s bringing to light a lot of “hidden” anxieties that I have. I’ve always felt safe with my older brother. We would go on amazing road trips every summer to Disney World from the time I was in sixth grade through my junior year of high school.  But, after my adopted mom passed away when I was a sophomore in college, life changed drastically for both of us.

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A Special Announcement

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I’m excited to announce that I’ve joined the writing team at Still Standing Magazine as a regular contributor. I’m working on my first posts now, which will start to appear later this summer.

I am really humbled to be joining a wonderful and talented group of writers from all over the world. I hate that we’re all connected by such a tragedy as losing a child. I hope that I can share some of the things that I’ve learned and that I’m still learning in my grief process since losing Emmett over a year ago.

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In other news, I also wanted to share that Emmett’s Sole Mates raised nearly $4,000 to benefit The Massachusetts Chapter of The TEARS Foundation and was the third place team for fundraising total. We fell just short of our $5,000 goal but Brett and I are truly amazed at all of the love and support we have received from family and friends, far and wide who made a gift in honor of our sweet baby. If you would still like to donate, you can! Just click here.

The walk was held back on June 25 and it was a gorgeous but emotional day. Overall, the chapter raised more than $43,000, crushing their fundraising from last year’s inaugural walk. As one of the walk committee members, it’s so inspiring to see a community come together to be able to help provide supportive services to those in need.

I also appeared with several of our other chapter members on a local TV show as a panelist discussing pregnancy and infant loss as well as the walk. You can still watch it here:

Finally, it may seem quiet over on Facebook this month. I’m taking a hiatus from the social networking site as part of my self-care routing for the month of July. You can still find me Tweeting or Instagramming if you want to see what I’m up to these days. But, I shall return to the land of Facebook again in August.

Career Goals

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Brett and I were talking last night about career aspirations. I’ve been struggling with working from home the last year. I work for a virtual company (which I honestly love my colleagues) but I just don’t see them frequently. We generally only talk on conference calls or virtual meetings. If we do see each other, it’s once, maybe twice a year. Many of my clients are scattered all around the country so I also don’t have a lot of face-to-face contact with them. I do have a few clients in the Boston area but it’s a pretty well-oiled machine that I don’t have to drop-in very often, except for maybe some trainings here and there.

I try to work a couple of times a month from Starbucks or somewhere remotely just to have some sort of interpersonal communications with others. (If you see me, I’m that annoying person who’ll comment on the book you’re reading or ask you about the pretty colored beverage you ordered, just so I can strike up a conversation.) Because of this, I have been searching for new opportunities where I can work outside of the house because I can become so isolated and hermit-like just staying at home. There are times where I’ve gone 2 weeks without leaving the house.

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