Archive for Family
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→
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→
Happy New Year! Welcome to Emerging from Broken 2013!
I talk about the belief system and how it is developed and how we are brainwashed into believing that the problem is us in the first place. There are specific abuse tactics that are used to cement this brainwashing which cause the ‘fear of consequences’ for going against the controller in a dysfunctional relationship. One of these tactics is ‘punishment’ or ‘fear of punishment’ and like so many other abuse tactics it is very often issued in a way that is hard for the receiver of that punishment to put a finger on it. Remember that the foundation is laid very carefully to discredit a child in an abusive or dysfunctional family and to make sure the child is always looking at themselves when it comes to where the problem originated or who it originated with. This part of the grooming process is usually rooted in psychological abuse although it is often cemented via other types of abuse.
There are many ways to punish people without physically hitting them or calling them names. There are tactics such as “the silent treatment” “withdrawal of attention” or “withdrawal of interest”, in other words “rejection” and those abuse tactics communicate a message very clearly, even if we are not consciously aware of that message. When we are kids and an adult uses psychologically abusive methods to ‘punish’, most kids understand the consequence of their action (rejection) but don’t always recognize the actual message with any clarity or consciousness. Then, the way that we learn this acceptance of the message without questioning it very deeply (out of fear of the consequences), is carried into adulthood with us, therefore as adults we don’t see the tactics we have already been successfully groomed to accept without question. But the fear of the consequences may be very much still in control of the now adult victim.
For example, the time my father-in-law took my 2 year old son out of the farm yard without telling me he was taking him. I freaked, thinking my baby crawled under the fence and was lost in one of the many fields or had been mauled by a cow or had been cornered by a coyote. We have literally miles of land. I jumped in my car to go get my husband and there was my father in law, with my husband in one of our hayfields with our 2 year old son. Without thinking (normally I would never have stood up to him) I told him to never take our child out of the yard again without letting me know. He got angry with me! He was so angry that he spat out that he would never take him again.
There was something about the way he said it though that gave me an erie feeling as though I was the one that had done something wrong. I agonized over that whole thing, justifying to myself that I was right, that I HAD to know where my son was, that I could not actually be expected to just “wonder” where he might be at any given time. But I was really scared too because I had dared to Read More→
I watched a show the other day where the in-laws were totally against the daughter-in-law and the whole family (the husbands parents and grown siblings) went on the show to publically gain validation that they were ‘right’ to be against her even though her husband was totally FOR her. They were all insisting that he couldn’t really be in love with her. And if they couldn’t conceive of it, then it must not be so. They dictated ‘respect’ to her. They demanded that she have respect for them but it wasn’t mutual respect, it was that one sided kind of respect. She was supposed to respect them even while they looked down on her and they were very open about their beliefs that their son had made a mistake in marrying her. These people ganged up on the woman (and it seemed to me to be because she had different viewpoints than they did) and never considered that the grown son/brother had a choice or could think and make decisions for himself. The married couple had been together for around 10 years and had two children but his parents and siblings refused to believe that he had chosen his wife and that he was happy with his choice! They insisted that his wife changed him, and that he wasn’t ‘himself’ anymore. They begged him to “come back”.
The grandparents were so disrespectful of their daughter-in-law that they justified disregarding the daughter-in-laws rules when it came to the children and they publically refused to respect her choices when it came to those children. These parents/grandparents thought they had a ‘right’ to do and say whatever they wanted!
It really reminded me of my life and the way my in-laws regarded me. And because of their actions and disregard, my in-laws lost their son and their grandkids. I was just someone who could cook for family dinners or christmas and holidays and do the mundane chores for their son so he could work more for them. I know they didn’t care about me or about losing me. They never approved of me in the first place; but I am pretty sure they didn’t consider that they might lose him.
When my husband drew HIS boundary, his family blamed me. (This is not so surprising when you think about it; abusive controlling people always blame someone else and never look at their own actions.)
BUT when I look at this through the grid of truth, the way that he was treated by them, why on earth didn’t they think he might draw the line somewhere? Looking at the way they Read More→
I have been sick for almost 2 weeks which has been very bad timing for the Emerging from Broken website as the holidays are the busiest time of year for comments and private emails. I have been unable to answer them all this year. By the time I began to recover from the illness I had, I only had a couple of days to get ready for Christmas!
So this post is going to be short!
There is this familiar note that I get about Christmas with dysfunctional families: The message that people try to tell me, but really they are only trying to convince themselves, is that we are powerless and that we have no choice when it comes to what we want. I am told that “they” (controlling, manipulative and abusive parents) are ‘alone’ and it would not be fair (to them) if we don’t visit on Christmas day, and what I hear in that message is that our happiness and that of our own children’s happiness should be sacrificed in order to make these abusers happy. I am not sure where the truth about “love” is, in that.
We are “taught” that we get what we deserve, and that we ‘reap what we sow’ but it is amazing how that same teaching is not applied to abusive, disrespectful or unloving parents. How did they get to be exempt from reaping what they sowed, or from getting what they deserved?
If my mother is alone this year, it is not from anything that I did against her. It was because I finally saw the truth; that I did not deserve to be treated the way that she treated me. I gave her a choice; she could stop treating me that way OR stop having a relationship with me. She chose no relationship.
I got a comment today on an old Christmas post preaching love and forgiveness and using all the ‘guilt and shame’ tactics that I write about all the time here in EFB. The writer reminded me that our children are watching us. This was a comment written to indicate that I am being a bad example to my children because of the way that I live my life today.
My children were watching me when I was being disrespected, disregarded and walked all over for years before I stood up to the abusers in my life. My children watched me accept treatment that I never deserved for one second. They saw me accept Read More→
Guest writer and fellow blogger Pam Witzemann continues to bust through the fog with the conclusion of her two part article about living under constant judgment and disapproval. Pam is a regular participant in almost all the discussions here in EFB and has her own blog; “Boomer Back-beat ~ Talking bout our generation”. As always I am looking forward to the conversation~ please contribute your thoughts and insights! ~ Darlene Ouimet
How Judgmental People define other People by Pam Witzemann (this is Part 2 of Judgementalism: A Cloud of Disapproval and Condemnation)
“Bad things happen to good people.” This is a truth that a judgmental person can’t accept. They view the world through a simplified black and white lens and in that world, bad things only happen to bad people. Unless, of course, something bad happens to the one who passes judgment. In such a case, a scape-goat is needed and children are convenient scape-goats. Judgmental people can’t accept the random nature of life and what they fear most is becoming a victim because victims are unable to control what happens to them. By raising themselves above all others and passing judgment on them, they are able to explain away the randomness of evil. By this, they maintain a delusion of control that makes them feel safe. Of course, bad things happen to all of us and that is where the scape-goat comes in. When things go wrong, it is because the scape-goat did something to invite evil in. Blaming, shaming, and punishing the scape-goat enables judgmental abusers to see themselves as good and above bringing any disastrous consequences upon themselves. It also, prevents them from recognizing themselves as abusive because in their simplified black and white view of the world, there are those who deserve evil consequences and those who don’t. In this world view, according to the abusers, victims are those who deserve what they get. Disapproval keeps victims in their place, accepting the consequences that only they, deserve.
“Water finds its own level“. Judgmental parents raise children who are condemned to self-doubt and they are likely, to become perpetual victims, who accept the treatment they receive as deserved. I was one of those children. The cloud of disapproval that I grew up under robbed me of the ability to validate my thoughts, opinions, and decisions. I lacked self-direction and tended to do whatever my friends or the men in my life told me to do. It made me an easy target for abuse.
In my twenties, I began to see myself differently but it took decades to see myself apart from my mother’s disapproval of me. The rest of my family of origin, especially my sister, adopted this view from my mother and also, used disapproval as a way to manage and control me. Even when I didn’t see my family often, that cloud hung over my head and every decision I made was accompanied by wondering if Read More→
I am excited to welcome my friend and fellow truth seeker, Pam Witzemann back to Emerging from Broken. Pam busts through the fog with this two part article about living under constant judgment and disapproval. Pam is a regular participant in almost all the discussions here in EFB and has her own blog; “Boomer Back-beat ~ Talking bout our generation”. Please help me welcome Pam by leaving your comments or by clicking the ‘like button’. As always I am looking forward to the conversation! ~ Darlene Ouimet
Judgementalism: A Cloud of Disapproval and Condemnation by Pam Witzemann
I could never please my mother, who was very judgmental of me. I grew up within a cloud of disapproval and condemnation that robbed me of self-confidence, healthy self-esteem, and the ability to self-validate.
“You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” That expression summed up my daily life in childhood. No matter what I did, I couldn’t please my mother. If I did something right, any praise I received was coupled with a reminder of how I’d messed up in the past. There were also, constant questions as to whether I would repeat any past wrong doing in the future. My mom viewed everything I did or didn’t do as a personal attack. She didn’t like me and I was pretty sure that she thought I was out to get her. I was my mother’s evil daughter destined to live a life that a mother could only, disapprove of. That was the life my mother chose for me and as a child, I was unable to see an alternative. I believed that I was a bad child, the black sheep, and I fulfilled what my mother expected from me.
“If you have the name, you might as well play the game.” This was the logic that guided me during my teenage years. When I was 13, my math teacher told me that I worked awfully hard at being bad. He was right because inside, I wasn’t a bad child but no matter what I did, my mother saw me as her evil daughter. Everything she accused me of, I eventually, tried on for size. She accused me of using drugs, so I did. She never accepted what I told her as the truth so, I learned to Read More→
Sometimes I get comments from people that are so filled with judgement that I don’t even consider publishing them. I am sharing the following comment with you today because it is a fantastic example of the judgement that is out there in the world about what we reveal when it comes to our dysfunctional family stuff. I didn’t publish this comment on the post it came in on~ I didn’t see the point in giving this woman a voice and her comment is so ridiculous ~ especially since it is from this total stranger who doesn’t know me, my story or my family.
This comment speaks volumes about her judgements; she really thinks that she knows my family history and sides with my father. She offers proof that I misunderstood my father’s intentions and decides that it is up to me to mend this broken fence. She absolves my father of all responsibility for the abandonment that I suffered at his hands.
And because this kind of lecture is SO common, and since we have been hearing this kind of stuff since childhood, it is easy to get sucked into this kind of judgement and “feel bad” for MY actions; or at least it might have made me feel bad 5 years ago. Today I was shocked. I thought “how the heck does this woman KNOW anything about my parents or what happened in my family or to my mother? Why does she think she knows anything about my father, his decisions, his actions or his intentions?
I didn’t publish this comment on the post where she left it because this kind of stuff heaps more damage on the already damaged reader. I am publishing it today to highlight a typical example of what survivors of abuse and dysfunctional family stuff hear all the time from Read More→