Archive for Family
Carrie H. first guest posted here on Emerging from Broken in March and her post “Self Love and Navigating the Waters of Grief” was a big hit. Carrie writes with passion and beautiful emotional imagery and I am excited to publish her second post. Please help me welcome Carrie back with her second contribution here as we light the path to emotional healing by shedding light on the empowering truth. ~ Darlene Ouimet
Defined as the Problem by the Age of Four by Carrie H.
When I was very young, maybe three or four, my mom asked me to carry some glass bottles up the concrete steps leading up to a neighbor’s house. On the first trip I dropped a bottle and it shattered. My mother was very upset with me, but she let me try again. This time, I was so nervous that I would drop the bottle that it slipped through my fingers and broke. She was furious. She yelled at me. I don’t remember exactly what she said but it made me feel like she thought I had intentionally broken the bottle just to upset her. There was no way to prove that wasn’t true. It was the first time I felt trapped behind a lie about myself that I couldn’t prove wrong.
It was the first time I felt like I was screaming into the wind and my words were carried away. It was the first time I felt like I was placed into a box; a box with glass walls that gave the illusion of freedom. A box I couldn’t escape, yet couldn’t prove was there. No matter how hard I tried (and still try), I couldn’t escape that box. How could I possibly prove that dropping the bottle was an accident??? How could I possibly prove I wasn’t unkind? Eventually I adapted to being trapped in that glass box labeled “unkind” and “selfish” and I became comfortable. So comfortable that even I stopped seeing the walls.
Until one day I stumbled upon them.
I realize that I’ve been trying to prove that wasn’t me my whole life. The little girl who broke a bottle on purpose. The selfish person who would intentionally hurt another. But it turns out that my family won’t see me any other way. I’ve left the box but they won’t see me unless I climb back in. I’ve tried so hard to Read More→
Note: this post was originally published February 18th 2014 but due to a server malfunction it was lost in cyberspace along with about 25 comments from this post and 25 others from other posts! I am including some of the comments that I saved in email at the end of the post so please read through to the end.
*also: for those of you who don’t know, facebook has a feature that allows me to choose if I want to allow people to subscribe to my posts and status updates, and since I have a really big readership here and not everyone wants to publically follow the emerging from broken facebook page, I allow people to follow the status updates on my personal page.
When People use Facebook to Spy; Dear Stalkers
I was surprised to see how popular my “dear stalkers” status update on my facebook page was. I thought that the ‘back story’ might make for an interesting update here on the emerging from broken website.
When I first noticed that my mother’s husband was subscribing to my status updates on my personal facebook page, I was a little shocked. I couldn’t figure out why the hell he was openly following me when my mother (his wife) isn’t even interested in speaking to me. Why would they ‘follow me’ and subscribe to my personal facebook status updates?
The day before I noticed he was following me, I had confronted a cousin that I have not spoken to for YEARS for sharing a picture of my daughter on her page. I have not spoken to her for at least 12 years and I noticed that she had subscribed to my status updates on my personal page and for over 3 weeks she had been clicking the like button for everything I posted, but she had not sent me a friend request, messaged me or spoken directly to me. I thought it was really odd. But when I saw the share notification from facebook that she had shared a picture I posted of my youngest daughter getting her cast changed in the hospital, (my daughter had been in a car accident a couple of weeks earlier) I thought that was downright creepy!
So I went to her facebook page and asked her why she was sharing my pictures? She responded with “because your family does care about you”. You know the old saying “they have a funny way of showing it?” well I worded it this way; “So you are sharing these for my family? You’ve been liking my status updates for weeks but you’ve never talked to me? No one in my family has even asked about any of my kids for years ~ is that what you call “caring?”
(I don’t call it caring; I call it spying and information mongering.)
She didn’t answer the question but proceeded to tell me all the family news!??? (News such as who had surgery, and who died and how she doesn’t talk to most of ‘them’ because they are only interested in themselves. (Have you ever noticed how much these people are so willing to throw each other under the bus in order to convince you that they are on “your side”?)
I stopped responding to her in that conversation on her status because suddenly the whole horrific dysfunctional family thing came rushing back and I remembered why I stopped talking to all but one cousin on my mother’s side of my extended family YEARS before I drew the boundaries with my mother.
The very next day I got the notification from facebook that my mother’s husband Read More→
Please join me in welcoming Carrie H. and her debut article on Emerging from Broken. Carrie writes in a brilliant style filled with emotional honesty and compassion both for herself and for others who understand the grief we feel when we find it necessary to draw a boundary with our own families of origin. I am honored to have Carrie as a guest writer on Emerging from Broken. ~ Darlene
Self-Love and Navigating the Waters of Grief by Carrie H.
When my husband found out that his father was dying I asked him how he would make it through. How would his sister make it? How would his mother make it? “Our love will hold us together”, he answered. Wow, I thought. I watched as he and mom and sister held each other that day. The day they knew one of their family members was dying. In that moment I realized that love was absent from my own family of origin. In my family, love did not tie us together, which was why getting through a dark time seemed so difficult from where I was standing.
When I pointed out the Truth to my parents and sister, that there had been verbal and emotional abuse, I was abandoned. I had visions of us healing together as a family – that’s what loving families do – but I’ve had to let those dreams go over the past few months.
Their reaction to me revealing the dysfunction merely proved the dysfunction. Instead of looking at their own behaviors and their role in our family dynamic, they chose to point their fingers at me and to blame me for their pain. You see, once I stepped out of “The Matrix” – which is what I call their faulty belief system regarding love – they became very uncomfortable. I told them that there was an elephant in the room that needed to be addressed. I held up a mirror and they ran screaming. In regards to the elephant in the room, my sister wants to pretend it’s not there. If we don’t look at it, it can’t be there, right?? My father, always the spiritual bypasser, admits it’s there but says life is “just an illusion” so we are “one” with the elephant. My mother says I’M the elephant.
I realized that the only way my family would accept me was as their scapegoat, as the one who Read More→
This week I got an amazing comment on the post “The Grooming Process of Discrediting Children and the Cycle of Abuse” that caused my mouth to drop open. I said to my husband Jim “listen to this!!” and I read the comment out loud to him. As I read it, I looked up and saw his eyes open wider and I knew that he heard exactly what I had heard and that he was having the same reaction to it that I had had. This comment is so typical of the types of verbal abuse that children hear that it could have been from the verbally abusive parents play book. It was almost painful to read it. When I was finished, Jim said “holy shit… I can HEAR it, I have heard it…I have been there.”
I read it over again and I knew that I wanted to share it with a larger audience so I have asked Tim for his permission to share it as a main article. I am thrilled that he has given me his permission along with his blessing! So many adult children of abusive parents don’t realize how common this type of ‘lecture’ is and don’t realize how many others have experienced so much of the same type of tearing down. This verbal battering goes on and on and the reader who has been there or has ever witnessed it can HEAR it in the writing.
I had the urge to highlight certain parts, make other parts bold and do a little editing, however (aside from adding a few periods and questions marks) I decided to let the reader have their own interpretation and reaction to it without my emphasis. I am really looking forward to the comments on this one. ~ Darlene
Here is what Tim wrote;
“Here is the sort of verbal theatre dis-played by my parents showing a mark getting made;
“Don’t do that, it’s horrible, you don’t do that, why did you do that? don’t pretend you don’t know, excuse me, how dare you I won’t let you try to begin telling me you don’t even know what you’ve done, because you do, don’t you, of course you do we’ve all told you about this before, haven’t we, in fact too many times, isn’t that right? How many times do I have to tell you people don’t do that, do they, how many people have you seen, none, that’s right so why do you keep doing it ~ other peoples children wouldn’t they would never do anything like it would they, no, so why do you why do you always do it you’re the only one at school like this they tell me they do, your school unless, that friend of yours…. maybe that’s where you pick it all this up from is it, it is, is it? why do you hang around people like that you know other people have been asking me why you decide to behave like this, you know that right so what are we meant to do say what do we tell them, when you won’t tell us that’s a horrible thing to do there concerned, were all concerned about you and we don’t know what to do if you won’t tell us what the problem is are you going to say something now, well, we’re waiting you know Read More→
This time of year is particularly difficult for survivors of dysfunctional family dynamics and abusive relationships. When the world appears to be celebrating the joys of warm family love and the longing to be together, it’s hard not to feel the pain of not being loved unconditionally especially if that includes the members of your own family of origin.
A commenter on the emerging from broken blog said something this week that struck me as one of the hardest things about having lived in a dysfunctional family where relationship and love were taught and modeled the wrong way. When love and acceptance is communicated in a false way, the resulting damage can inhibit our self-esteem from growing in a healthy and positive way and cause us to feel responsible for the failure in the relationship. Her comment was about her new realizations since the passing of her mother. I could deeply relate to her realization that she wanted to be missed. It was particularly devastating to me when I realized that I wasn’t missed. The truth was that if I wasn’t going to comply and function in the relationships in the way that I was taught and groomed to, then I was dis-missed. A huge part of the healing process for me was in the process of understanding how this ‘dismissal’ was not my fault but rather it was related to my strength and a sign of healing and taking my life back from those who believed that they owned me.
Here is the comment from this precious reader:
“I was estranged from my mother for 15 years or so and she died last month. It is sad knowing she is gone, but it has allowed the passing of a deep rooted sense of hope of reconciliation from her that was never going to happen, and the realization that I wanted to be missed. It is hard to shake the shame of rejection by those from whom we expect unconditional love and that parental bond that can find superhuman strength when needed! If our family won’t love us, how do we convince others that we are worthy without the need to justify ourselves at deeper levels than words?”
I remember feeling this same way and having those same questions. That if my own family didn’t ‘love me’ how could anyone love me? I wondered who would or could love me. I remembered that I thought it was up to me to convince others, including my own family that I was worth loving. But the truth is that 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→
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 a new year Emerging from Broken!
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→