A day in the Life of Darlene ~ Recognizing the Origin of Self Blame


Overcoming self blame by seeing where it comes from“It wasn’t just that I didn’t know what I was feeling; I was also afraid to acknowledge my feelings in case they were wrong. Survival for me had become about making sure that I didn’t do or say the wrong thing”. Darlene Ouimet

This morning my husband needed me to pick him up at one of our hay fields where he was dropping off his semi in preparation to haul some hay. The ground is covered in several inches of snow here and the last couple of days have been mild and the snow is very heavy, wet and slippery now. He pulled into the field in the Semi and I was driving the pick-up truck close behind.  I was trying to ‘guess’ where he was going to park the Semi with the good intention of picking him up to avoid making him trek on foot through the snow.  I advanced into the field and he held his hand up to alert me to ‘stop’ where I was. I felt uncomfortable.

He seemed to be driving the semi in random patterns and I jumped to the conclusion that I must have gotten in his way when I drove into the field. I assumed that he was trying to back the Semi up to the haystack, but he couldn’t because I was parked in between the Semi and the stack. I tried to get out of the way but I realized it was really slippery and I was starting to get stuck in the snow. On top of that, I didn’t know exactly where to ‘go’ now and I didn’t want to make things worse, so I just stayed where I was.

I became aware of my old default mode coming up. My old default mode operated under the belief that I could never do the right thing and that I always did something stupid when I was trying to help. I felt my face get a little hot. I imagined that my husband was frustrated that I was in his way and that I should have known better than to follow him into the field before he backed the Semi up to the hay stack.  

The old self talk started and it was even mixed with the new self-talk and went something like this: “Shit. Why do I always do the wrong thing? Well why does he always expect me to read his mind? I was only trying to help. And now I have parked in his way and I think my truck is stuck! I hate his hand signals. I hate trying to guess where I am supposed to be. I am the only one in this whole farming community who never caught on to what everyone is trying to do in the field or how to stay out of the way. I bet Jim’s mother would have known where to park. No wonder I hate farming. No wonder I hate bringing supper to the field… It’s not my fault that I can’t read minds…”  

And then my NEW way of sorting things out kicked in. I reminded myself of where this whole insecurity thing originated. Living in a dysfunctional family system I was taught or rather ‘expected’ to mind read for the sake of survival. I was constantly trying to figure out what other people wanted me to do by constantly guessing what would keep me the safest out of fear of the consequences of making the wrong choice. Anticipating what someone else wanted was something that had been taught to me through the actions and attitudes of others. Saying or doing the wrong thing could get me punished, rejected or beaten. And the rules of engagement were NEVER clear.

The anxiety that came up in the field was what I call “a leftover from the past”.  I was worried about doing the wrong thing because of the consequences in the past when I did the wrong thing. Furthermore, when I did the wrong thing in the past people used it to prove that I was stupid. They rolled their eyes and made frustrated sighing noises. They acted like I had ruined their day just by being in it. And I thought they were right! I felt like a burden and I berated myself for never doing anything right. Living in that system it is only a matter of time before a person is afraid to make ANY move for fear of making the wrong move. I was frozen in the fear of reprimand, humiliation and rejection.

Realizing that I had slid back into my old default mode, I started to relax and did some positive self-talk.  Jim finally parked the Semi by the entrance of the field. I put the pic-up truck in gear only to find out that I was indeed stuck in the snow. I felt stupid again for a brief second but then assured myself that it could happen to anyone and it was ‘no big deal’. My husband Jim never actually gets mad at me for anything like this so my fear is ‘in truth’ unreasonable and totally rooted in the past and in my childhood survival mode.

Jim had to slug through the snow on foot to reach where I was parked and as he took over the driving position from me in order to get the truck unstuck, he explained that he kept getting stuck in the Semi and that was why he was driving in random patterns all over the field. J

I had never considered that option…..

The Truth was that HE was having problems in the snow and his driving all over the field had nothing to do with where I parked or with anything to do with me at all.

Sometimes even today my old default mode comes back. And my old default mode was always to shine the flashlight on ME and to never consider that the problem had nothing to do with me. The whole exchange, the whole event and all the assumptions and fears happened in my mind. Realizing where this faulty thinking originates always helps me to set it straight and set my thinking back to the truth.  Instead of just feeling ‘stupid’ it helps me a great deal to process where those thoughts come from originally.

Please share your thoughts. Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever find yourself totally willing to jump to self-blame or self-reprimand? Have you ever had an entire event happen mostly in your mind and jumped to all the wrong conclusions because of the way you were regarded in the past? Have you thought about where this default mode originated and if that survival mode still serves your best interests today?

Just a little snapshot of a day in the life of… me ~

Darlene Ouimet

Related posts ~ The quote used in this post comes from the article “Why I didn’t know how I felt about anything”

Categories : Therapy



Sounds pretty familiar. Even after long years of recovery, easy to get caught. Difference now: can discern the patterns and question the feelings. Yay.


Excellent post! I think in a self-blaming way very often. I’m still working on learning a ‘new’ way of thinking. It’s not easy going & it’s nice to see the way you worked yourself out of it, Darlene. You are giving me hope that I can change too!


LOVE this!

“Furthermore, when I did the wrong thing in the past people used it to prove that I was stupid. They rolled their eyes and made frustrated sighing noises. They acted like I had ruined their day just by being in it.”

Right out of my past. WOW, made me laugh and smile! OMG

I just spent three months living in the city where I was born and lived till age six. I haven’t lived there until now. Going back brought back so many memories and impressions, for which I have not had words. I had to go there to finish a school program that I started somewhere else, but that school was abusive to me, so I found another school to take my credits and I finished! At the new school, I am living near my only sibling, who knew I was there but avoided me like the plague. We never saw each other. She only asked about me to know how much or what to say to our parents over the holidays. She lied when I asked how our parents were for their anniversary, by saying that they weren’t at her house. I told her that our mother said they were at her house. Yeah, she had to get out of that one by saying she didn’t remember!! I do NOT take on their lies about me from the past. We are moving to this city now, and it is MY home; it has nothing to do with my relatives. My three cousins and their families also have nothing to do with me. They all live there, but it is a big city. It is my home.


I think what Karen Rabbit just posted is exactly how I feel! The main difference “can now discern the patterns and question the feelings”. Very well put! Thank goodness for that! I never was able to do that before. I used to be so hypersensitive to what everyone around me wanted from me and then I would also feel very stupid frequently. It is a blessing and almost like a miracle to me to have reached the place of recognizing all of it once it happens! 🙂


Also, I hear the blame voice every time I work in the kitchen because this is the way my mother treated me when I was working in the kitchen under her direction. “Can’t you do anything right?” was a routine question. I didn’t face this while married to my abusive husband for 20 years. It is with my healthy husband that I am able to face each issue as it is allowed to surface.

My dad’s voice is a voice that rambles in my head daily in other ways. He is constantly told to shut up nowadays by me. Once I recognize it is him, I tell him to get lost.


~Do you ever find yourself totally willing to jump to self-blame or self-reprimand? ~ This is the theme of my life. I say I’m sorry so much my hubby is tired of it. I feel as if I have to carry the brunt of burden for every thing that goes wrong in the world. Go out to eat, the food isn’t good…I apologize. My hubby gets sick…I apologize. My son’s wife left him…I apologize. On and on it goes. I am working on it but it is such a hard habit to break. Every thing that ever went bad for my mother was my fault and I carry that around with me to this day. And even if I break the habit of apologizing, I still always feel responsible when things go wrong.


Hi Karen
Yes YAY!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Cheryl
Yes, there is so much hope! I don’t have many days like this one but when I do I can always find the root of the self talk and change it back to the true truth.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Kate
It is so great to make these connections; everything starts to make snese in the whole ‘puzzle’ of my life and it went such a long way towards setting me free!
Thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Diane
Yes! recognizing it and how it all began.
Hugs, Dalene


Yes, and although in my mind it is still often my default mode (40 something years of accepting blame for everything is a hard habbit to break) I rarely ever let it go farther than my mind and I usually catch it quickly if I find it leaking out my mouth. I can always sort it out in my head though through that process of looking at the actual truth and where/how I learned to accept blame. It’s a process for sure. (Being able to catch and turn it around was later in the process.)
Hugs, Darlene


“Anticipating what someone else wanted was something that had been taught to me through the actions and attitudes of others. Saying or doing the wrong thing could get me punished, rejected or beaten. And the rules of engagement were NEVER clear.”

I couldn’t have said it better. I totally catch myself doing this in my relationship… anticipating what my partner needs and when she notices I am not being honest, or I am being kind of inauthentic (because I am engaging this old trying to guess behavior) she’s like “Why do you care how I will react?” And that gives me space to think, like, why do I?

And that traces back to survival fear.

So it’s a daily process… and we are all getting SO MUCH BETTER! Thanks for being real and sharing this, I respect you so much for being so candid.



Been there, done that, have the T-shirt!!!!…..LOL

Okay, it’s really not funny. Yes, I’ve been in the exact spot. I think so much of it has to do with the inconsistency of having been raised by two parents who were totally capricious in their day-to-day parenting. One day a behavior might be overlooked by them, or even laughed at, and the next day the same behavior might come with a slap, a beating, or a horrendous verbal assault.

I never feel that I know what to expect in this world. And I think that is due to my upbringing.

I like how you reminded yourself of what was taking place. I try to do that, too, Darlene. You recognized where those old thoughts were coming from.

I’m always walking on eggshells in the world. No wonder I’m worn out! I am trying to figure out what people want, what they are thinking, what they’re going to do next, what their facial expressions mean, whether or not they’re angry…..and on and on and on. I’m constantly in survival mode, I think. Gee….I wish I knew how to help myself get rid of my hypervigilance.

I like that you’re finding success at changing old patterns. How encouraging to me! Thank you, Darlene.

Kind regards,


Hi Kylie
Great additions to this post in your comments!
Thanks for being here!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Marore
A huge part of the fog for me was rooted in that whole “one day I got hit and the next day nothing happened” stuff. This was all about the behaviour of the abuser and it served them well to keep us guessing; as long as we were always focused on trying harder we would never notice how dysufnctional the family system was. (although I thing that for them it was a belief in entitlement; that they could act any dang way they wanted to act whenever they wanted to act) The way out of my reactions to this was to SEE it for what it was and where it came from. That is how I learned to catch myslef.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Your comments reminded me of a book that we are reading called, Wired For Love, How Understanding Your Partner;s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflist and Build a Secure Relationship by Stan Tatkin, PsyD

Chapter Four is where I am now: Becoming Experts on One Another:How to Please and Soothe Your Partner

This ability stems from understanding your partner’s childhood hurts, the types of things we discuss on this site


Yes…This default mode of thinking it’s my fault happens automatically, when I make any mistake. It could be with baking, painting or putting my foot in my mouth. I can spot it now & turn my thinking around by saying to mysef, Am I really responsible for this? & Is this really a big deal?….Most of the times, it’s over little things, like messing up a baking recipe (forgetting some ingredient). Default mode is self blame & reprimand (beating myself up…negative thoughts & judgement of self being stupid) I’ve been mindful of these thoughts lately & I can talk back in a positive way like I’m far from stupid & I will make mistakes. One incident came to mind, after reading this post. About 3 years ago, I went outside to move my car for the snow plow. I lived in a condo, so I had to move out of my parking space to have it plowed. I drove to the side of the parking lot with the intention of letting the truck plow the spaces, however, it wasn’t until my husband coming out & yelling at me to move elsewhere & pointing where to go. Well this was triggring to me, since my father woud yell at me, if he thought I was doing something wrong. I did tell mysef I wasn’t in the wrong spot but now I felt embarassed over my husband yelling at me in front of some of my neighbors…I was furious inside my car & drove into another area. While, I was doing that, my husband was yelling again saying, “You almost hit the neighbor’s car!” The neighbor was backing up as I was driving up. I do remember thinking what am I doing wrong now. His reprimanding & yelling had me feeling angry & anxious. I knew he was out of line. When I got out of the car, I told him not to yell at me. He started in again, in front of the neighbors. I walked away into the house to avoid a scene. When he came in, I told him I was embarassed by his yelling. Again, he reprimanded me about my driving. If he had left me alone, I would not have been so anxious & the truth was he blew the situation out of proportion. That feeling of anger & sadness of how I was treated stayed with me for days. That was a major trigger from my past. This is when I became much more aware of my husband’s abusive behavior. His anger is an issue that he wasn’t wiling to address at that time. He has been mindful of it in the ast year & has started going to therapy with me. we are talking about his anger & using the assertiveness formula, when communicating with each other. I’ve been doing it & I deserve the respect and equal value in our marriage. I took a strong stance & told him that he needed to address his anger & that I was sick & tired of it. Then, I said, if things don’t change, I’m done. Sounds harsh yet not near as harsh as his anger has been. I set my boundary & I’m asserting myself everyday now. Not just getting defensive or reacting to his anger. Wow!…This post got me thinking about my thought process with mistakes, how I was treated by my husband & my FOO. Sigh…..!!!


Sometimes I project how others(from my past) have reacted to circumstances on those present in my life now. When they call my full name at the Dr. office…I get the feeling that I’m in trouble. If someone yells, I flinch. I recall hearing as a child, “if you don’t like it there’s the door.” Who says that to a child? So when I hear people saying like things to their children at public places, I cringe and want to tell the adults to stop. I wonder what they talk like at home.


This often comes up for me, though starting to really catch it and be aware of what is going on is really new right now. Having lived through my early years with people incredibly hypercritical, who spared no opportunity to lash out at me taught me a lot of self-blame and reprimand. I also relate to anxiously trying to anticipate other people’s moods and feelings, tiptoe around everything and assume it’s my fault what other people do. It’s hard to change this dynamic with some people, especially when they won’t openly communicate with you.


Darlene, Does this ever happen to me? It was the way I lived for almost 50 years. As a child of alchoholics, I was constantly trying to read my parents moods and trying not to say anything that was cause them to go off. As the family scape-goat, I was always blamed when they did go off or if there was any problem in the family. I carried the blame for the problems our family had for most of my life and they probably, still lay the blame on my doorstep.I don’t accept it though and that is probably the best part of being where I am today. I’m happy with myself and relaxed about the decisions I make even when those decisions are mistakes. Most people don’t react like my parents and it is really great to be less self-involved.



I have this every day of my life. I have been aware of it for a long time but have not been able to heal myself. Mostly it has to do with how much my mom rejected me as a child, and so I believe that everyone will reject me. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t make any sense. I used to try to reach out to my mother as a child and I was always rejected. I came to believe that everyone would reject me. As a grown woman, I am afraid to call people on the phone. I imagine all of the worse scenarios no matter how much I really want to talk to that person. If I do find someone I want to do hang out with, I am too nervous to make plans- or when I do make plans, I drop out of them. In addition, when someone is nice to me or friendly, I can’t handle it- I can’t endure it, it’s too uncomfortable. I want to run away because I don’t believe I deserve it. I am suspicious and waiting for them to say something cruel to me. Then I hide from them, just like I used to hide from my mother. I stop speaking to them even though I want to be close friends. I suffer intensely from loneliness every day because of this.


“…my old default mode was always to shine the flashlight on ME and to never consider that the problem had nothing to do with me.”

My ex husband knew that about me, that I had the tendency to take all of the blame and assume things were my fault. So he played upon that and cheated on me several times and beat me up because he knew he could ‘explain it away’ in such a manipulative way that it made it seem like it was my fault.

If anything was my fault, it was that I was willing to accept it was all my fault.


your quote from a previous blog entry hit me hard – it still scares me to read my thoughts in someone elses words! Always thinking I am to blame is a constant of mine that I am only just starting to try to challenge – not so successfully really but I will get there. Thanks for putting it into words for those of us whose voices still struggle to speak. It helps.


Hi SMD/Sonia
Great examples of ‘roots and triggers’. When we are treated a certain way as children, it is only natural that we accept the same treatment from others when we are adult. (and many people become both victim and abusive depending on who they are around; my mom was abusive/controlling to me, but a victim to others like her husbands and her own mother)
Thanks for sharing your example! This is exactly what we are talking about! Yay for setting boundaries!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Judy
I can relate to that example at the Dr.s office! And it reminds me of when a police car is behind me too. I have never been in trouble with police but I realized that I reacted in an extreem way, (fear and even shaking) whenever ANYONE in authority was near me, so sure that I was ‘going to get it’.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Caden
Being aware is all we need to start! I found that the more I was aware of what my mind was spinning on, the more I was able to do self care and self talk to lovingly make changes towards being able to stop taking the blame etc.
I had a lot better luck with the new people that I have met and meet now than I did with anyone from the past. The people in the past were so used to the compliant me that they were unwilling to accept me any other way. (which hurt but the truth set me free)
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Pam
This is such a root problem for almost all who have lived with dysfunction! In my early work I talked about this a lot; how I was really brainwashed to always look at myself for where the problem was and try to fix it and adjust me. AND one of the biggest things I realized is how exhausting it is to constantly have to read minds and adjust myself! uggg. don’t miss that at all!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Julie
It was key for me to go that step farther to see that I didn’t deserve any of that treatment or rejection as a child. I had to change the core belief that was instilled in me, that the way I was treated was ‘my fault’. That is really what this whole site is about; seeing the beliefs caused by the messages in childhood, seeing how they are lies, and working to change them back to the truth.
About your ex ~ ya, they do that! People come along and see the vulnerability, and use it against the vulnerable person. This is about them trying to validate themselves by defining someone esle as ‘less valuable’ and it is a very dysfunctional relationship system. Glad to hear he is your “ex”.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Becca
Welcome to EFB
I am so glad that this helps. Thanks for sharing
hugs, Darlene



LOVE THIS! “Furthermore, when I did the wrong thing in the past people used it to prove that I was stupid. They rolled their eyes and made frustrated sighing noises. They acted like I had ruined their day just by being in it.” WOW.

I just talked to my Dad yesterday and it was just more of the old crap. I think I got it in my head that maybe it was just my Mother who was sick and that my Dad would come through for me and do the right thing. He did not ask how I was or about my family. He was too busy trying to tell me “my Mom’s and side of the story” Within a minute he was blaming me for everyone in the family having a problem with me! When I said to him, “Dad, I haven’t seen or talked to you in over 4 months, don’t you want to see me and my family?”, he said, “I’m hanging up, and this time I am unplugging the phone.” For the first time, I did not cry and call him back. I cut my losses. Then he called me back and tried to get into it again. What a waste of my time and energy. Talk about “ruining MY day”. But I didn’t let it ruin my day, I got busy and just carried on. Now I KNOW that my family of origin is toxic for me, and I have to just let it go. It’s been horrible for my self esteem to even talk to them!
Thanks Darlene!

Kate: I so get what what you mean!



Hi Elizabeth
Isn’t it interesting; your said “Dad, I haven’t seen or talked to you in over 4 months, don’t you want to see me and my family?”, he said, “I’m hanging up, and this time I am unplugging the phone.” He was hanging up because you didn’t accept what he was dishing out. And he was ‘unplugging the phone’ and then the fact that he called back goes to show that he EXPECTED you to call back, ( and therefore proving that you could not stand your ground) but when you didn’t HE called you and started it up again. I think you got to him Elizabeth!
YAY for not letting it ruin your day. That is fantastic! YAY
Hugs, Darlene


All of these comments really do resonate with me.

So much of my pain and loneliness stems from the feeling that I am not (and never can be) likeable or lovable. And where did I get the idea that I was not likeable or lovable? From both of my parents.

Sadly, I struggle every single day with the rotten belief system that I have had since my earliest memories of childhood. (Why would a five-year-old little girl already be convinced that she is unlikable and unlovable???)

I strive to get to a place in which I do respect myself and do like and love myself. I think I’m better than I used to be, but I really do have a long, long way to go.

My mental “default” button is set on “weird freak who can’t be liked or loved.” I get so angry that I’ve been brainwashed, and that the brainwashing seems to be so very deep inside of me. It’s as if no matter what I do, or how hard I try to convince myself of my worth and value, I still feel intrinsically worthless and like a “bad” person.

I will keep working, though. I can see where I got these skewed ideas; it’s just not easy for me to switch from a belief system that’s been with me for decades to a belief system in which I am actually a person others might be able to love!

Thanks to all of you for your contributions. I really do get a lot out of what you write.

Kind regards,


Elizabeth….I am so sorry that your dad treated you this way, but you really handled it in a way that was empowering for yourself! It is so hurtful to wake up one day and realize that the PARENT that you hoped and longed for and believed in to protect and stand up for you when you are in the right…bails on you. I really feel for you! I feel that I “woke up” one day and realized that I had idealized my father to the point where I made excuses for him all of the time. Right before I cut my parents off there was a situation very similar to yours….I was in the “wrong” with my “mom” and the family about several things and my dad once again did and said nothing in my “defense”.(isnt it pathetic that family can be so dysfunctional that we need someone to defend us when we are arent doing anything wroing?! ) When I spoke with my dad, he began by telling me that my “mom” was angry….which was never anything new to hear….and he never tried to hear my side or defend me. I realized that it never ever changed with him….with them…and that I would never be treated any differently. I happened to also watch a show on tv right after I became aware of all of this with my dad, and it was Naomi Judd and her mother’s relationship being highlighted at the time. Naomi was 65 years old and still dealing with such a mean, ugly behaving mother….still trying…still hurting. I realized that was similar to ME….and if I allowed it…I would be 65 before I knew it and nothing would be changed. I cut them off immediately after that and felt such a tremendous relief. I was also very sad because I loved my dad…even after everything he did and did not do for some reason. I think he did try in a fashion to show he loved me, but he was very passive in some ways, emotionally unavailable , and abusive and my “mom” wore the pants in that family. UGH! I feel this way when I think of my “Family”…..let them feed off of each other with their unhealthy ways and patterns of behavior…and leave me out of it! I never wanted it to end up the way it has, but my choices were to endure it endlessly for the rest of my life, or to get free. I got free! It took me a LONG time to , though. I am middle aged! But it feels great now and I am happier than I have ever been.
I think it is awesome that you are calling your dad’s bluff now! Good for you! It seems like you are catching on to his games and not allowing yourself to feed into them. 🙂


Every time I come back to this site I am astounded by how obvious it is that what happened to other people as children was wrong and unfair and unjustifiable, and every time I try to apply that knowledge to what happened to me I find myself making excuses over and over about how it was different for me and my parents because . . (insert reason why they had the right to treat me like dirt)

I was neglected pyhsically, medically and emotionally by both my parents and my one grandparent for my whole childhood yet my mother spent hours in the evenings making cakes and scones for work colleagues, often making six or eight dozen scones or cakes to take to work, while my brother and I went to school in dirty clothes, ourselves unwashed because there was no hot water, with broken shoes.
And I worry as I type this that no-one will believe me – I fear that people will just think I am laying it on thick to try to get pity because i am just feeling sorry for myself because i am weak and lazy and selfish. And I feel like this whenever I begin to try to ell the truth about how it was for me as a child.


I meant ‘tell’of course . . But I want to say thank you to everyone and especially Darlene for making it possible for me to even try to think this stuff . . .you are amazing and clever and unique and years ahead of your time . .thank you


Hi Marore
These are excellent comments and insights. The message that you are not likeable is a lie. There was an in-between place for me; a very painful place where I saw the messages that I had been given, but I was not yet able to change them. That was a horrible time of ‘sitting with the pain’. I didn’t ‘convince myself’ that I was in fact worthy but rather I came to realize that the message that I wasn’t was a big lie. It was a coming back to the truth more than a convincing myself of the truth.
Hugs, and thank you.


Hi Di
I did that too! I thought that it was different for me, I thought that perhaps I was ‘the one kid’ that really was a problem, I thought that I was that one kid who’s parents didn’t really ‘intend’ to do anything wrong. I thougth I was seeking pity, I thought I was pathetic for even wanting to re-visit this stuff and ALL of that is/was part of the brainwahsing that we are trying to break trough. I felt selfish too, but I tell you from the bottom of my heart, when I finally saw the truth and validated the damage, I began to heal. I don’t care WHO believes me anymore. I know what happened. I was there. 🙂
Hugs, Darlene


I don’t know if it helps but I really understand. What you wrote above could have been me writing the words.
This site has really helped me to know however, what happened to me. Yes, I am angry at all the wasted
years as a doormat to my family and in the workplace. All the anguish and anger that I held myself to blame for my badness. I don’t know if I can ever act and be normal in the true sense, but at least knowing
what happened to us is a starting point. I too feel like the freak that doesn’t know the right way to interact with others. But at least we are not blindly living in the FOG anymore. And to me thats a good thing even
if I still get that relationship stuff wrong I feel like I have some tools to fix it. I hope that makes sense.
Take care.


Hi Everyone!
Our very own PAM W. has contributed a new guest post about “Judgementalism ~ A cloud of Disapproval and Condemnation”
You are going to love her insights! I am looking forward to the discussion there!
Hugs, Darlene


Oh Yes. Try to do what is right (as I think) and it turns out wrong/not what the other person meant or wanted…..Second guessing – used to do it ALL the time, don’t do it so much now…. I gave it up when I was too ill to care and have made big efforts not to get back into it..I think one of the effects of complex PTSD is that I struggle to conceptualise when it comes to relationships with my friends/family – my thinking tends to be very concrete. People around me are learning they have to say what they mean with me.. they now realise that inferences or subtlety is lost on me.. I don’t get it. Now that I understand that I am less hard on myself


Hi Libby
That is awesome that you are giving yourself a break and not being so hard on yourself. I found that a big part of the way I was controlled and manipulated by others was that they didn’t communicate clearly leaving me guessing. That way, they could always blame me for ‘misunderstnading’. It was all part of the fog storm.
thanks for sharing,
hugss, Darlene


Does this happen to me? You betcha!! Probably the weirdest thing though is that my mother created the need for reading minds and feeling guilty when I didn’t and then both parents were upset when I apologized “too much”. Well I apologized “too much” because neither of them would ever act like you were forgiven. They stayed quietly mad or never said “i forgive you”. It is rather funny when I look back at it now. They must have felt guilty.

I still try to read my fiance’s mind, get anxious, and apologize for everything under the sun. I’m hoping it wears off with time. Thankfully he is a sweet, patient man.

Does anyone else feel like this gets worse with stress?


Di I feel the same way and for what it is worth I believe you about your mother. I’m sorry you came second to your mother’s co-workers, you didn’t deserve that.


Hi Meg
It took a few years for me to have enough clarity and self awarenss to make changes in this area. (stress certainly does make it worse) As I became clear about where this originated in me and how I had learned to do it as a survival method, I became aware of when I was doing it and could stop myself from doing it. I had to learn some self talk methods, but there is hope!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone~
**I have published a new post today; some of it was inspired by the conversations going on this past week. Here is the link: “When Friends and Family say Mean and Hurtful things”
Looking forward to the feedback/conversation on this one! It’s ‘a bit of a rant’…
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,

Yes, what you described in your post makes perfect sense. Its all this stuff that depression is made of.

Darlene, wishing you a very happy Christmas for you and your family. Thanks for all your posts. I do read them and try and learn from them.



Hi Kylie!
Thank you and Merry happy Christmas to you and yours too!
Hugs, Darlene


The opening quote has put to words what I have been trying to for a few days. I just couldn’t articulate it so well. I was often told I was selfish because of how I interpreted everything to be about me – as in my fault. It further solidified the beliefs that I was just in the way and any endeavor to speak about my needs/wants /hurts was just too much and over dramatized. I struggle a lot with the mind reading this but in a different way. I can’t take people on face value, especially my husband. I’m often hearing what he is saying and interpreting the opposite, usually a negative about me or what I am doing.


Hi FragmentedHistory
For me a huge ‘fog’ developed in my life because of the accumulation of all the b.s. and mind games that I lived with. Coming out of that fog is the process that set me free. I had to speak about my hurts etc. in a safe place for a while so that I could come out of that fog and see the truth and the mind games etc. I had to find a way to look at what happened to me without the baggage of trying to see where it was my own fault. The real truth (not the false truth that they had forced on me) is what set me free. There are tons of articles in this site about how I came out of that fog.
Hugs, Darlene


What a relief to read this post! I’ve struggled with self-blame and self-doubt for what seems like ages. It’s such a process to catch myself in it. And then it also seems that I somehow attrack people who are more than willing to ALSO shift the blame onto me and not accept any responsiblity for their own behaviors. I want to be the kind of person who is not afraid to admit to having a made a mistake without fearing others will see this as a weakness to use against me, and how to deal with it when it happens. I think I can maintain my integrity by being honest, but not accepting whatever someone may be trying to ‘dump’ on me, but it takes work…I usually get all riled up before I come to this conclusion when I’d just like to be able to identify it for what it is as it’s occurring, but unfortunately I’m not yet there. It was really nice to see that I’m not alone on this!


omg this happens to me all the time….. thank you for such a good explanation of what is going on in my head so that I can recognize what is really happening!!


Hi Helen
I am gald that this resonated with you in a helpful way!
Hugs, Darlene


I am so glad I found this site ( ;


Thanks for sharing that with me. Your opening quote resonates with me so much. It’s relief to read it. Thank you. I do that a lot too. Whenever anything is wrong and I’m involved or nearby, I think it’s me. I make myself wrong. I’m getting quite good at not mind reading – i.e. I don’t rush to people’s help unless they ask me.
I agree with Di when she makes the point that “every time I try to apply that knowledge to what happened to me I find myself making excuses over and over about how it was different for me and my parents because . . (insert reason why they had the right to treat me like dirt)” I swing in and out of it wasn’t all that bad to they didn’t mean it to there must be something wrong with me – I am mad, bad. I have now started working with children who suffer with self esteem issues and had lots of therapy – all my family have been threatened by this. They belittle my work, the challenge my methods, they bait me with ‘their point of view’. One of my sisters said I’m so selfish and it’s all about me. How dare I upset and say that about my parents after everything they’ve done for me. I’m the scapegoat and so they load the gun and I fire off all the feelings. I have so much anger. Not surprising really. I know all this – at some level but still emotionally it absolutely breaks my heart. I recently moved back in with my parents to support building up my own business. I went back thinking it would be different. OMG why did I think that? Still I want to believe that they love me and I’m not that bad at all. It has been worse and I’ve slipped. I’m in therapy and getting help again. I don’t tell them that. I have to manage it so I keep them at arm’s length but engage with them so they don’t know I’m upset. It’s exhausting. I am going to move out soon and I’m very scared of being on my own. I think I will be lonely but actually it’s quite lonely being a member of my family. I feel like an outside looking in. This time I’m not so angry, I’m sad. Very very sad. I’m so glad I’ve found this website. Thank you Darlene x


Hi Lisa
I went between sadness and anger for a while! Both were new for me. To feel SAD for myself and the child I was was uncomfortable but so validating! I needed to validate what happened to me. It was a big part of my healing.
And then anger; I needed to feel that too ~ Anger about what happened to me, anger that I had not been loved in the true meaning of the word love. The action part of love. Anger that I had been blamed for what had happened to me.
This was all very important.
thank you so much for sharing!
This is all so very important in the healing process
hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I’m there right now.
Afraid to make ANY move.
I’m so confused.


Hi Nikki
Keep reading. There is a ton of information here about how I got through all this and came out, whole and ME, on the other side.
Hugs, Darlene


I do this every single day. I find my mind wanders over situations that may have occurred minutes, hours, days, weeks ago and go through a process of trying to understand the “whys” so that I can figure out my next move. I find myself constantly thinking about others and how they view me, whether something I said, didn’t say, did, didn’t do had the right impact or not. I’ve become a horrible mind reader and I tend to blow things out of proportion and overreact to situations that had nothing to do with me…but I find that I oftentimes cannot stop. I too find that this stems from my childhood and trying to predict what my parents felt in order to avoid criticism, rejection, indifference or anger. I really appreciate this post as it is another step for me towards breaking free.


Loved your post. It reminded me of a time when I was growing up (21 now) when after my parents split up my siblings started treating me like an outcast. At that time they were the only people my age that I interacted with and they never missed any chance to make me feel second rate.

Come to think of it, its evident now how I became so unsure of myself around my peers. It always feels like I must do the perfect thing at any time if I want acceptance. This stuff drains you, and you cant be ever happy. Hpe I can find a way to get over this somehow.


Hi Gnew
Welcome to EFB
Yes, this stuff is exhausting! I gave up on wanting acceptance from the people who always made it clear that I wasn’t going to get it from them. Dealing with this is a process, but that is what this whole site is about!
Glad you are here.
Hugs, Darlene


Boy, can I relate. If I’m working in a “group” project, and something, ANYTHING goes wrong, I immediately jump to the conclusion that I messed it up. After all, everyone else is smarter than i am, so obviously, I caused the problem.

This is from a family dynamic of…. when I try to explain my feelings and point out the truth, somehow it’s flipped around and it’s my fault.


I have no idea what you are talking about…;-) I’ve learned to laugh at myself more now when stuff like this happens. The best part is when I catch myself when I do start the negative self talk. I love that a part of me loves me so much that it kicks in when things get out of hand.

Every time I do give myself positive self talk, I also say yes, more of this, I love when you keep things light. I focus on the treatment I do like and I find it shows up more. Turning this all around has been an undertaking and I feel so grateful that I found all these helpful support systems.

I still have down days but I am finding I’m bouncing back faster because I have a new belief system that supports me.

Always love your sharing Darlene, you have helped my journey greatly!


I never had to go out to a field covered in snow to feel like I was in the way – I felt that way in my own kitchen when I was making dinner almost every night for decades. My husband would come in to the kitchen to keep me company, which is actually a very sweet and loving thing to do, but if he stood in front of a drawer or cabinet where I needed something, I felt like I was “putting him out” to ask him to move, and yes – felt like I was the one in the way! Never mind that I was cooking for the family.

And he really never minded moving, and didn’t get angry with me. I never understood why I felt that way or how to change it until I started reading this stuff here in the past several months.

My “new thinking” is starting to kick in more often, thank you! I just need more practice 🙂


Hi Hobie
That’s awesome! That is how it was for me too! The awareness grew as I grew as long as I was willing to keep going forward.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Lora
Thanks for sharing ~ this is lovely stuff!
hugs, Darlene


you know, I just had this experience really recently. As I’ve distanced myself from my FOO, I’ve intentionally tried to create another support system for my family and myself. We have a group at our church with whom we go out to dinner every couple of months or so. We always try to find a new place with a little different twist each time, maybe someplace off the beaten path. It’s fun. The kids all usually hang together at someone’s home. We had talked about a date in September and it came and went. i saw one friend and I mentioned the date that I had saved on my calendar and she was a little vague in her response. I immediately decided that my husband or myself had done something to offend on our last outing or that one of our kids had done something wrong at the home they stayed at while we were out. I felt hurt and like an outcast and like I had no idea what had gone wrong since the last time we were all together everyone seemed to have a great time. I found out only recently that the dinners had sort of come to halt because one of the members of the group had reached out in an inappropriate way to another member’s spouse. I don’t know the details, but the point is that the dinners had stopped and it had nothing at all to do with me or anyone in my family. Those childhood messages that we are always in the wrong are pretty powerful, aren’t they? My friend was vague in her response just because she didn’t want to spread rumors or gossip about these two people, not because of anything I’d done at all. This is a really cool group of friends. Everyone just wants to support the couples involved and not turn the whole thing into something prurient. Which reinforces that I do know how to choose friends wisely.


I made Thanksgiving dinner yesterday for a few friends, along with my husband & myself. I had to congratulate myself when my husband seemed to be moving toward the sink where I was busy with some part of food preparation, and I calmly ASKED if I was in his way, prepared to tell him he’d have to wait for me to finish my task!

It would look like and old habit to ask if I was in his way, but I used to just assume that I was in the way, stop what I was doing, and leave the kitchen while foaming over with resentment that I didn’t fit in my own damn kitchen!

So the thought that I am in the way will probably still come up for me. How much better is it to handle it by asking the question instead of making an assumption and getting angry about it? And I recognized that I was the one who had withheld permission to have priority in my own damn kitchen, and I could give myself that permission.

And my husband had no problem with the question. I think he didn’t need to do anything at the sink anyway.

The whole day remained so much more peaceful from that one significant shift in perspective!


Darlene, a great example as always.

Do you ever find yourself totally willing to jump to self-blame or self-reprimand? Yes and Yes.

I should have know better to do or not to do a certain things. Even when it is evidently sb else’s fault. My sister loves it, it is so convenient, when I finally just say with a smile: “let’s just forget it you are right actually I am the only one to blame, I should have….”
And than she’d go “see….”, “you NEED to learn this and that”, “you should….”, “why didn’t you”….it is endless.

The only thing I NEED to do is stop blaming myself when it is not my fault. DO I read other people mind and intentions? They do not come with a warning sign unfortunatelly.


“I immediately decided that my husband or myself had done something to offend on our last outing or that one of our kids had done something wrong at the home they stayed at while we were out”

Sb is in a bad mood, I must have done/said sth wrong.
It is never “what the heck happened to them?”
It is me



About not being likeable: I learned it was bs once i moved from home.
I am very likeable and I am sure you are as well.
My mother does not know me even a bit and does not even want to know me: I was LABELED as “Selfish, rebelious, mean, unpleasant, ARROGANT, QUARRELSOME (no Mom I do not have to fight with other people the way I do with you), APODICTIC (apodictit according to you means not following your orders), SNOB (oh I am sorry I chose to be a vegetarian and ear things other than you do), WEIRD (for whatever reasons)”


[…] A day in the Life of Darlene – Recognizing the Origin of Self-Blame […]


I used to have to deal with this on a daily basis …I would wake up and hope and pray that she was in a good mood….theI would try to read her mind and try to figure out what my expectations were for that moment…after school was worse. I was always afraid to come home late in case she had stuff to do and needed help. She would never ask….I had to read her mind…according to her I should have known. So I would do anything around the house! just to make her happy. I never knew if it was enough. It was so confusing. I just wanted some guidance. It was a mind game with her. It was exhausting…I never knew what she wanted and. I always had to be on Standby…it was horrible.


Sorry and thank you are the two words I was taught to use most often. It is so deep rooted that the first thing I did when I was coming out of anesthesia after a surgery was say sorry and thank you to the baffled doctors and nurses. I am always “sorry, its my fault” and “thank you, you are great.” When others are apologizing to me, I dont even let them finish because I have very little respect for myself. It has gotten so bad that sometimes I am blurting out thank you to people for just talking to me and they look at me like I have lost it (it is all probably in my head) and then I feel the great urge to say sorry!! 🙂


Feels like you are reading a page right out of my life! I do often find myself playing out entire situations (fights or seeming rejection) completely in my head… to the point of self harm sometimes and when i do finally regain composure, i find out this is not the case at all…The thoughts i assumed they were having or feeling were in fact the opposite. And sometimes i even take it a step further and feel suspect that they’re only saying that to placate me… or just so they can be right. I have a hard time deciphering whether this is due to past experience or fear. Im only new to your site but I’m learning so much already! Thank you is the understatement of the year!


Hi Sarah
Welcome to EFB ~ Great to have you here!
hugs, Darlene


Ok so how the hell do we start the healing. My self esteem is so low right now and I keep fighting it but it’s unbelievably low.i can’t believe that my past is so present even in my forties!!!


Please please please… That’s all I ever try to do with others. Please people, show friends and others how good and helpful I can be then they ll value me.. Recently I’ve had a few people angry with me and complain and all I could think of is that I’m a good person and never done anything wrong to them so why are they like this? What do I need to give to please them?blood? But why do I want to please them????? My who life is based on trying to please people I know, be completely selfless and make people happy!



I’ve done so much the same thing for my whole life, and I’m 58! I FINALLY figured out that there are some people who can’t see me as the person I really am. For them, there is no selfless enough. I am struggling in the process, but I’m giving up.

It’s a matter of saving my own life.

Read anything and everything on this website, at whatever pace you can handle. There is so much wisdom and encouragement here. You’ll probably realize soon that you’ve started healing already because you found this place.



I always assume my husband is mad or irritated with me – he is on the quieter, less expressive side. Well, growing up with a father who WAS moody and attention seeking, I had to always guess what was wrong-usually assuming it was me.
This makes so much sense. Thanks.

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