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Running on Empty

I love to read, but it’s almost always fiction. And in a fitting way, I believe this nonfiction book points to a good reason why.

It’s difficult for this not to be a vulnerable review. When you read a book on overcoming childhood emotional neglect, there aren’t too many reasons to do so. A questionnaire on the author’s website was put in place to ascertain whether someone experienced emotional neglect as a child. In a simultaneously surprising and relieving way, I answered affirmatively to almost every single question.

And although it supplied a potential reason for why I felt the way I did, it immediately induced a sense of guilt for all the things I had done (or hadn’t done) up until this point in my life. And that’s the crux of this entire book, helping people realize that it’s not what was done over the course of your childhood, but rather what wasn’t done that affects us as much, if not more. It’s so easy to focus on the tangible events from our past and attribute weight to them. But often, for children dealing with emotional neglect, it’s those things that didn’t occur that shaped us into the adults we are today.

It is tough for me to share these thoughts, because they’re personal emotions, things that have been suppressed due to all that has transpired (or not) over the course of decades. It might seem easy to get angry or assign blame for how things turned out (as both a parent and a child), but Dr. Webb does a fantastic job of putting that mistruth to rest. We can only work with what we know, and when what we know is passed down from one generation to the next, there is sometimes a blind spot to be revealed, such that the next generation has an opportunity to benefit positively from it.

I appreciate a deep thought, and there’s a quote in the latter parts of this book that really hit home. Emotional awareness is required to realize you’re emotionally unaware. As recursive and complicated as this subject matter is, and no matter how many layers of unfurling might be required to make sense of where to go next, Dr. Webb lays a path that makes it not only seem doable, but probable.

So, back to the point on how a nonfiction book explains why I typically read fiction that delves into deep emotion. Emotionally neglected adults crave emotion, but they don’t know how to recognize and process them. By reading and writing books that dive deep into elements of the human condition mixed with compelling emotion, my subconscious mind steered me in a direction to experience and investigate as many of those emotions as possible in a safe environment. It goes back to my theory on reading and writing fiction: we do it to navigate reality, not to escape it. It’s almost like my inner self knew and appreciated the contents of Dr. Webb’s book before I read it. And now, after doing so, I feel like I’m on a new path that I’m no longer meandering along aimlessly. Rather, I’m stepping one foot in front of the other with confidence.

This is admittedly a niche book, but I encourage you to read the introduction and see if you, like me, find yourself nodding your head in agreement like an overactive bobblehead. If you feel like you’re running on empty, the words between the covers of this book might just provide you with a saving grace that has the power to truly change your life.

Dave’s Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️


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