“Putting up with abuse or abusive treatment is not love for the abuser. It is not love for the self. It has nothing to do with love at all. Finding out what LOVE really is went miles towards my recovery” ~ Darlene Ouimet
Long before I ever ‘emerged from broken’ I had this burning question about the obligation involved in loving my parents. I had been told/warned that it was a sin if I didn’t honor them, and I had honor and love all mixed up. I didn’t really understand what either word actually meant since I had never been taught the true meaning of those words. My real question was more about my right to ‘stand up to them’ and since I believed that standing up to them was not a loving action, that standing up to them was going against them which meant “noncompliance” I believed that love was putting up with unacceptable treatment.
Each year around Mother’s Day, I re-visit my belief system and the longings that I had in the past, the judgments that I made on myself and the roots of where they came from; In order to find out what love really is, I had to realize what it was not. I had to realize how I had been taught what love was and realize that that teaching was false and not based on truth or the true definition of love at all.
I had been told that love was the answer but I had not been taught what LOVE actually was. So I took my false belief about love and what I ‘thought’ it was, and I applied that false definition of ‘love’ to everyone in my life.
I believed that loving abusive people like my mother, until they could love themselves was equal to having a higher purpose. I believed that I was ‘the better person’ because I could take the abuse, mistreatment or disrespect and that would communicate that I could love unconditionally. I believed that accepting devaluing treatment in some way ‘proved’ my value; even if it only proved it to God.
The truth is that putting up with the abuse, disrespect and devaluing treatment only served to validate the way they treated me. It communicated my permission for them to treat me like dirt. How can that be love? Sometimes I wonder if deep down they were laughing at me. I wonder if they ever thought “What an idiot this girl is! No matter how nasty I am to her she keeps coming back for more; no matter how I treat her she ‘LOVES’ me!”
I don’t think my acceptance of abuse did anything to serve any kind of higher purpose once I entered into adulthood; I think it served to communicate that these people (like my mother) had rights that I didn’t have which is really what abuse is; compliance to abusive treatment communicates to the abuser that Read More→
If you have not already downloaded my complimentary Guide to Getting Unstuck on the Journey to Emotional Healing, please grab a copy of it now! There is a box in the right hand side bar here>>> just fill in your first name (or any name you wish to use) and your primary email address and you will be sent the download link. In this 9 page mini booklet I answer some of the most popular questions that I get here on the Emerging from Broken blog, privately through the contact form and on the Emerging from Broken Facebook Page.
Welcome to the discussion page for the Guide to Getting Unstuck on the Journey to Emotional Healing.
As you may notice when you read the guide, there is a common thread expressed through the most popular questions that I get asked. Behind the questions is the belief that the people who have been authority in our lives are ‘right’. That if the people that have authority in our lives say in words or with actions such as disregard or disrespect, that we don’t deserve better or that we are not worthy, then for some reason their opinion is not questioned as much as it is ‘accepted’.
This is because for most of us it was communicated to us from a very young age that ‘they’ know best and that ‘they’ are right and that ‘they’ are not to be questioned. This belief is linked to the belief that ‘without them’ we may not survive. As an adult I had to work very hard at realizing that I COULD survive; through facing the origins of my belief system and how it was formed I was able to see my own strength; I was able to take my life back and learn to love myself and take care of myself. I learned this by seeing the truth about why I believed that I was ‘less important’ and why I ‘accepted’ that my needs were less valid than the needs of others. Seeing the roots of why I believed this about myself enabled me to see that it was a lie and that I was just as worthy and valid as everyone else on this planet!
People in authority are not always right just because they are in authority. I had not considered that truth when I was a child and growing up because of my dependence on those people. Going against the adults and caregivers in my life threatened my survival and therefore my life. That was true then. Seeing that it was no longer true was a huge part of how I was able to take my life back and overcome the manifestations of trauma, abuse and neglect. (When I refer to the manifestations I am referring to the resulting struggles such as depressions, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative identity disorder, anxiety, eating disorders, low self-esteem and a few other common issues.)
There is another common belief expressed behind these questions; it leaks out through the questions how many of us had never been taught that we have the right to have boundaries and how habitual it is to accept that our feelings are not valid. I was taught that I ‘had’ to accept things the way they were. The funky part of that teaching is that many of the things I learned to accept were truly unacceptable but they were so normalized that I didn’t know they were wrong; in some cases the treatment was even Read More→
Narcissism vs. Narcissistic in Mother Daughter Relationship Problems
Someone on the EFB facebook page wrote (in a comment to someone else) that I say that my mother is a narcissist and that she was mentally ill. I have never actually said that. I have said that my mother has narcissistic tendencies. I don’t actually think that my mother is a narcissist OR that she is mentally ill. (I don’t give much weight to the way the ‘mentally ill’ diagnosis is used in our society. I recovered by realizing that my depressions were a result of ‘what happened to me’ and that they had become an ineffective coping method for me.) Having said that, my mother suffers from depressions and she has for years and for the most part she has behaved towards me in a way that communicated that she thinks that she is more important than I am. She is disrespectful when it comes to me and she reacts to me in narcissistic ways communicating that my needs are not as valid as hers.
Her actions towards me are very discounting but that doesn’t make her a narcissist. Those things don’t make my mother a narcissist simply because she isn’t the same way with everyone. If my mother is a narcissist, there is a lot of evidence that she is able to control it. At best I might say that when it comes to the way my mother regards ME, she leans toward narcissistic tendencies.
A true mental health disorder is not controllable. People who have a true disorder can’t turn it on and turn it off. They can’t convince other people that they are wonderful and then in the privacy of home treat their own children like dirt. It doesn’t work that way. True narcissists are not Read More→
What if My Mother or Father Dies Before We Resolve our Relationship?
“I used to worry that my mother or father might die before we ever have any kind of understanding or resolution between us. As I grew in understanding about the truth and got to the bottom root of all the dysfunction, I was set free from that fear.” ~ Darlene Ouimet
It is one thing for me to worry that my parents might die, but it is a whole other insulting thing when people ask me how I will FEEL if my parents die and they ask it as a judgement question; a judgement against me. It’s all in the voice infliction; the tone they use and I used to react to that tone in the way that I reacted to it when I was a kid. That tone was meant to snap me back to compliant and ‘respectful’ and it worked on me. My “guilt, shame and self-blame button” was very sensitized.
People share with me all the time how folks throw the following statement and question at them; “your father/mother is getting old and is in poor health, how are you going to feel if he/she dies?” My response to this question is; “what does his or her health have to do with the reason that I don’t communicate with my parents?” My parents had their whole lives to make a positive difference when it came to me. They made their choices, and apparently through the grid of how these type of statements are meant to be taken, my parents choices are acceptable but my choice NOT to put up with abusive and disrespectful disregarding treatment is NOT acceptable? That is insane. It’s like people are so brainwashed by this whole thing that they don’t even realize how stupid it sounds to be told to accept abuse/neglect/disrespect just because ‘they’ are ‘family’.
I wonder why no one ever asks parents estranged from their kids “how are you going to feel if your son or daughter dies?” Judging by the way my parents act, they won’t feel anything.
There are laws in place to protect children from some of the things that happened to me. Why are my parents exempt from those laws? Why is it up to me to put their minds at ease as they get closer to their final Read More→
I have written about how my mother accused me of flirting with her boyfriend’s when I was only a young teenage girl. I have expressed the pain of being accused of causing one of her boyfriends to come into my bedroom in the night and how it was communicated to me by my mother that I must have done something to send him the message that I wanted him to… and that I ‘invited him’ by some action that I wasn’t aware of. I have expressed the terror of “causing this to happen again” that I lived with for so long after that, because I was not protected or believed and instead I was blamed. And soon after that it was as though my mother saw me as a threat to HER after her, which makes sense if she really believed that I HAD done something to attract him even though I was an innocent teenager and a victim of his assault. By the time I was 15 my mother was accusing me of acting inappropriately with her men.
But there was another consequence to that event that I have not written about; my mother flirted with my boyfriends. It was very confusing to me when my mother expressed inappropriate interest in some of the boys in my life. She said inappropriate things to them. She acted in a way that confused me, embarrassed me and hurt me. I felt powerless and stunned ~ I can’t even express everything about HOW it made me feel when my mother did this stuff. I still don’t have the words.
The first time I heard the expression ‘Cougar’ as a description for a mature woman who goes after young men, I cringed. The though repulsed me and I felt creeped out. In my mind’s eye I felt like I was physically trying to push something away from me.
As is common for me when a new ‘reminder of the past pops up” I thought those feelings of disgust that I had had something to do with me…that perhaps I needed to check my actions in case I was acting like a cougar, but I quickly realized that if this expression had existed when I was a teenager, my mother may have been called a cougar. She certainly fit the description of one. That little fact was the actual trigger of my reaction to the word and concept of what a “Cougar” is. My mother may have been a cougar.
I started to recall the feelings that came up for me back then when my mother acted flirty towards my male friends. What a terrible feeling it was to feel ‘threatened’ by my own mother; to feel afraid that my own mother might Read More→
“When someone is unrelentingly critical of you, always finds fault, can never be pleased, and blames you for everything that goes wrong, it is the insidious nature and cumulative effects of the abuse that do the damage. Over time, this type of abuse eats away at your self-confidence and sense of self-worth, undermining any good feelings you have about yourself and about your accomplishments.” The Emotionally Abusive Relationship by Beverly Engle
Although this quote is aimed at the victim for the purpose of exposing how the self-esteem gets torn down, the first time I read this quote I thought of my mother and how much she said that I hurt her; she always said that I was the problem and that I did this to her ~ that I tore HER down;
“Darlene, you are so critical”
“Darlene, I can never do anything right in your eyes, I am always wrong”.
“Darlene, there is no pleasing you”
And overtime I believed that my words, actions and behavior (although I could not figure out what I was doing that was so offending) had eaten away at her self-confidence and harmed her sense of self-worth and undermined any good feelings that she ever had about herself and her accomplishments. I believed everything she said about me. I believed that I was the critical one and that I was the one doing all the damage.
When I became an adult she adjusted her accusations. She used a different voice infliction when she said things like;
“Darlene you always were so hard on me”. This was to remind me that I was “always” this way and always the problem.
“Darlene I have always been afraid that you would take your kids away from me and use them as a weapon against me”. She said this as a kind of reverse psychology or a warning that if I did it, she had predicted that I would do it because I am a mean and spiteful daughter who has always done mean and spiteful things to her. And I set out to prove that I would never do something ‘like that’.
This is the brainwashing; this is what happened that caused me to try harder with her and to try so hard to ‘understand her.’ I tried to reassure her, to soothe her and to be the daughter she always wanted.
And when I started to look at the way SHE treated me in this profoundly dysfunctional mother daughter relationship we had, I became aware that now I was saying some of the same critical type things about her too. When I started to look at the truth about how toxic our mother daughter relationship was, I felt guilty because I believed that I was being critical of my mother, and I had tried so hard all my life to prove her wrong about me! In the first couple years of my healing process I kept saying stuff like “well in all fairness to my mother, I was not the perfect Read More→
Recently someone wrote, telling me that because she stood up to her dysfunctional family and drew a boundary, she is now missing out on ‘the good things in life’. The first question that came to my mind was “what good things are you missing out on because you drew a boundary?” In my coaching practice, the homework would be: Define ‘good things’ ~ what are ‘the good things’? What do you feel that you are missing now, that you had before? Why did you have to draw a boundary in the first place?
And the answers to these types of questions are always very revealing. When I answered these questions for myself I found out some of the lies that I believed and how they were rooted in the shaky foundation of my belief system.
For most people including me, those ‘good things’ that had to do with my dysfunctional family were a fantasy. I ‘wished’ that I had a loving family. The reality of those ‘good things’ was something very different from how I fantasised it was or hoped that it could one day be.
Christmas dinner and family holidays or celebrations were stressful for me and this continued on with when I married into my husband’s family too. Every family thing I went to was a reminder of how insignificant that I was even when at the time I wasn’t able to articulate how those occasions made me feel.
The boundary that I drew with my father was different than the boundaries that I drew when it came to over (more obvious) abuse. A couple of years ago I told my father that seeing him was a reminder of how little he knew about me and how disinterested he was in me as an individual. The way he disregards me is a constant reminder of how little I matter to him. It has always been that way.
My father is passive abusive. His emotional abuse is very covert. Mostly he just doesn’t care, doesn’t listen when I talk to him, doesn’t know anything about me, my life or my kids because he doesn’t care to know and he doesn’t listen to anyone who tries to tell him. To the general public, (and according to my siblings) my father is regarded as this ‘nice’ guy and he is never violent, never mean and never hurtful with his words, but the truth is that his relationship style is dismissive and disinterested all of which is very hurtful. I spent many years in childhood and in adulthood ‘begging’ (in all kinds of ways) my emotionally abusive father to notice me. The fact that he didn’t was and is very hurtful. There is a very loud message that is delivered to me when I am disregarded. The message is that Read More→