Jan
10

Conflicting Feelings of Rejection when the Abuser Withdraws

By

Emotional abuse, sexual abuse,

Hope in the Darkness of Rejection

All abuse, whether it is emotional and psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or spiritual abuse, is abuse and that these articles that I write on Emerging from Broken apply to ALL kinds of abuse.  I intentionally make a connection between depression, dissociation, multiple personality, eating disorders, addictions and other mental health struggles and abuse. It is my experience that my difficulties and struggles were birthed in how I learned my value or rather my lack of it. The following article is not just about mother daughter dysfunctional relationship. It is about ALL dysfunctional relationship. How it starts in childhood, how it goes from there. How it ends up in coping methods that although necessary for survival, become self destructive.

The subject of not wanting the abuser to leave me and wondering why they did is SO complicated! For me, one of the things it has to do with is compliance and how much of my life that I spent trying harder for them. The deeper that I look at the roots of my belief system, the more that I can figure out where things got off the track.  First of all there are the tons and tons of mixed and conflicting messages that we get both from right sources and wrong sources. They all kind of go into the same pot and they mesh with each other. Remember the story of how when my mother declared that it was my fault that her boyfriend came in my room in the night to sexually assault me because I had a crush on him. Well because my self esteem was already so damaged that I believed her, I added that self blame to everything that ever happened to me before that event. Then there were a few things in my past where I was not such a perfect child, like the time I faked the nightmare for attention, and when a child is a mere child, it doesn’t take much for things to get really mixed up in the memory, the mind and then in the belief system. The grid that we try to process things through, gets damaged.

I had to look at the “foundational foundation” to start with.  That is the belief that we need and depend on whoever our caregivers are for our very lives, protection, security, the things that children need to grow into healthy adults. And when something happens that alters those basic needs, we have a problem.  We get this split belief about love somewhere along the way and we start to believe that love is something that it isn’t. My mother taught me my value, she taught me the version of LOVE that she believed, but it isn’t real love. So I think that what she is doing is love, and I used to say “I know she loves me, I know she is doing her best”.. but today I know differently.  She doesn’t love me at all. She uses me to make her feel better about herself. But it doesn’t work and it isn’t good enough and it hurts me every time.  Where is the love in that? Part of my recovery was realizing what love is and what it is not.  

When I told my mother that I was not willing to have a relationship on her terms, she finally asked me what “my terms” were. I told her that from now on she could no longer say that I had a crush on her boyfriend when I was just a kid and that was why he came in my room in the night. AND I told her that I was sick of having to prove to her husband that I liked him. I guess my terms were too high.

She was silent. She did not respond to any of the “terms” I stated. Then she told ME to think about our talk and get back to her and I said no mom, you can think about it and get back to me. I could write a whole other blog post about how everything was always up to me but that particular time I had given her MY terms, what the heck was I supposed to think about?  That was the last time that we spoke.

And the message that I got from her withdrawal was that I was not worth her trying for. If I was going to draw boundaries and demand equal value then forget it. She said NO. The message was that I was only good for kicking around. If she had to respect me, then she didn’t want to be bothered with me at all. And that message meant to me that I am NOT worth it. After all the years of loyalty and compliance. After keeping my mouth shut about her boyfriends ~  I wasn’t worth her effort. I had never stood up to her all those years. I didn’t dump HER. I put up with all of the degrading in front of the whole world. I stood silent when she told men they could sleep with me because I was on the pill even though I was only a teenager! I didn’t even tell the family therapist (we had to go because my brother got arrested) what was really going on in our home or how she treated me. I let her take me to bars as a man magnet when I was 17 and I never said a word; I followed HER one sided definition of love and loyalty and I kept thinking that one day it would pay off ~ AND she dumped ME! It was incomprehensible! This was just the most unbelievable “thing” for me to try and comprehend. I was such a GOOD VICTIM and it was all for NOTHING? Because when it came right down to it, I was not worth her effort.

And it feels like rejection, because IT IS REJECTION.

As the months went by I felt more and more shock and disbelief as these truths sunk in. But something else was happening. I realized that I didn’t miss the abuse. I didn’t miss having to constantly do damage control and make sure SHE was okay. I didn’t miss having the joy sucked out of every single exciting moment in my life.  I didn’t miss the put downs, the insults, the sexual innuendos or the family problems that she caused with her gossip and trouble making. I didn’t miss the anxiety.

And I started to grow. I started to come out of the fog in a much bigger way; I had so much more clarity about the truth and realized how many lies about myself that I had accepted.

This whole story does not just apply to parents; I had a couple of boyfriends who fit this same pattern. Oh and a few friends too. And employers…………. well you get the picture.

Please share your journey, struggles or victories or whatever you need to share for your recovery.

Exposing Truth one snapshot (or two) at a time

Darlene Ouimet

Founder of Emerging from Broken

Related Posts: The little girl who Cried Wolf  ~ Belief system development

Sexual Abuse ~ Devlaued, Discounted, Unprotected

More on Mother Daughter Dysfunctional Relationship (and the comments)

                              

Categories : Mother Daughter

114 Comments

1

mm that real re-enforces the research and learning i have been doing at uni. to me reading and researching how child learnt things and who was responsible for the training or continuation of the conditioning that emotional and neglectful parenting leaves behind has made me more determined to speak out. to the academic world, and even generally, it is rare to get first hand accounts backed up by the theorectical and socialogoical contexts that they understand and can relate to the topic. the researchers are slowly steartignto back up what you are saying darlene and that brings how that one day they will find a way of getting the help to the child as they are going through abusive situations, rather than leaving them to suffer the torment of going through what we had to. the whole child protection arena needs an overhaul and the sooner they use people who have overcome and understand how to disassemble the process in a way that is accessable to any person. ooo wouldnt that be nice. things are changing, i can see it in how abuse is now being taught, wel by my tutors anyway, and with the dominoe effect it should reach an awful lot of lifes

2

“The following article is not just about mother daughter dysfunctional relationship. It is about ALL dysfunctional relationship. How it starts in childhood, how it goes from there. How it ends up in coping methods that although necessary for survival, become self destructive.”

Darlene; I do not have the words to express the validation I am receiving in this post. Validation that I was conditioned and trained to be susceptible to the other imbalanced relationships I was in. From intimate relationships to (what I thought were) friendships. Then in the typical systems that we turn to as in employment, religion, the mental health system. I was trained to tolerate being treated as though I didn’t matter. I was conditioned to be a follower, not to speak up and when I did speak up about abuse, I learned quickly to accept when others told me whatever problems there were it was my fault. And…if I tried harder, was somehow “better” or different – anything except the real “me” that was buried in the pain. And in each instance – no matter the relationship – when I started to grow and find my voice, I was rejected, dismissed, ignored and in general shamed for daring to no longer tolerate being treated as “less than”. And – once I got through the shock, the hurt, the anger at being rejected, I also found that I it was really nice to not be living in that place or doing that endless dance to somehow be “good enough” to finally be accepted and respected as having value simply because I exist.

“She doesn’t love me at all. She uses me to make her feel better about herself.”

This statement says so much and once I understood that no matter who the abuser is; it ALWAYS come down to this.

Thanks Darlene; each post here at EFB I find so validating of both my pain and my progress:)

3

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dr. Kathleen Young. Dr. Kathleen Young said: RT @DarleneOuimet: Conflicting Feelings of Rejection when the Abuser Withdraws ~ explained http://shar.es/XFo48 […]

4

Hi Carol,
Yes, I have hopes of furthering this work too. It might not be the easy way, but it is the way that worked for me and for so many others. I tried so many other things in the past before I started to do this deep foundational work. The therapy world, at least in North America, does not change quickly. They want to do all sorts of research etc and it takes years to develop and accept a new model of therapeutic process.. but that won’t hold us back. =) I agree that the whole child protection arena needs an overhaul. It is exciting that you are studying and researching all of this! We (all of us) can make a difference!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Susan,
Thank you for this post. I might take snips of your comments and post them all over EFB facebook for the next two days! This is like having a re-cap or a summary! Everything you have posted back to me is also validating; it is like you are mirroring back my communication; saying yes that you hear me, that this was also your own experience. Thank you Susan. I hope that all the readers read this comment when they read this post.
And I don’t miss doing that “endless dance” either. Freedom rocks!
Hugs, Darlene

5

I also wanted to add to Carol; you said: “one day they will find a way of getting the help to the child as they are going through abusive situations”. I really appreciate what you have to say on this issue and the kids in the systems. It is vital that this stuff be addressed and its nice to hear that you are seeing that slowly this message is reaching the powers that be.

Darlene; lol! please do share and post however you like! You do such a wonderful job of articulating the process that set me free…I am honored to be able to contribute to the conversation!

6

Great post Darlene! I could do a post of all things I don’t miss having made some distance and some boundaries, and looking back I wonder at how unreal it seems that to me it was ‘normal’.

I was so afraid when I stopped the communications from my end, that when I started writing and when I started taking care of me and my guys they would be angry, they would be furious, they would call to yell and howl. But the silence has been both baffling and deafening and somewhat comforting. Am I being let go? Could I be free? Even if no one else understands how that feels, the lack of fear is exhilarating!

7

It has taken me such a long time to recognise abuse – normally after it’s happened. My boundaries have to be broken over and over again, my self esteem trod so low, and people not show me respect time and again (whether I am able to receive it too is another question). I look back on my life and there’s the imaginary version I lived in, my real self took refuge there, and then there’s what really happened. Eventually in one relationship I engineered a situation that would mean closure, because I had no emotional power, I did it in other ways where I did have power. I had finally recognised the truth that the relationship was bad one, bad for me, and hurting me over and over, so I broke it on purpose. I wish I had had emotional intelligence soon so I didn’t have to engineer, or manufacture my life, but taht was all my front self could do. My front/false self had to make it up, had to ‘think’ emotions that I ‘might’ or ‘should’ be feeling – because I didn’t know. When I did get emotions they were so huge and unwieldy I was led whichever way they went. All the negative emotions I had were always reflected back at me even if there cause were the actions of someone else. It took my beginning to value myself, be gentle on myself and stop fighting me to be able to cherish myself enough to stop destructive relationships and begin good ones. Really I’ve had a long time out of not pursuing people.
I used to always go round friends houses and be really attached to them – my life consisted of their life – I didn’t really know how to have, create or sustain my own. Anything I was doing that was supposed to be about me, was something I had ‘thought’ I ‘should’ do, I didn’t after all know what I wanted because my feelings were a no go area. Eventually I started to recognise I was exhausting myself on this merry go round and ask myself questions about why I felt so bad all the time around ‘friends’, always felt hungrier for affection after I left – it was because they weren’t nourishing friendships and when they were I didn’t know how to relate and would inevitably do something stupid. If only people could see they’re dealing with a wounded child and in so many ways a disable one; emotionally and psychically. People see me and they see an adult who can sometimes express themself well, or appear confident. But of course I had no apparent fear about any situation I put myself in, because I had become an expert at not feeling – it’s amazing what you can do when you’re like that. yet truly I was terrified from dawn till dusk, and everyday was a battle. Not the battles with giants of childhood but the battle to stay ‘normal’ or just simply here.
So isolating for me became a way forward, into myself, granting myself the freedom from suffering and for love, and I’m still learning that now. Love for me with someone is great blessing that I hope to be fully unprepared for at all times

8

I HAVE NO VALUE… that is the message I got from every act of abuse.

Child neglect and abuse comes with a big bag of mixed messages. None of us could have survived our infancy, if we weren’t being nurtured in some ways. If we were never fed, never clothed, never given shelter, we couldn’t have physically survived childhood.

So the nurturing, what there was of it, imprinted itself on our fragile, developing psyches as: LOVE. I am being fed, this is LOVE. I am being kept warm in the freezing weather, this is LOVE. I have been given a bed to sleep in, and a home to live in, this is LOVE.

When those same care-givers neglect us and abuse us, verbally, emotionally, physically, sexually, we receive the same message: I am being beaten, this is LOVE. I am being yelled at, cursed at, and verbally put down: this is LOVE. I am being sexually violated, this is LOVE.

When we grow up and go out into the world looking for relationships, we look for the skewed definition of LOVE that we were taught from infancy on up, because that is all we know, that is all that’s familiar, that is what feels like HOME. Just like the penguins who are born and raised on an iceburg ~ it may be barren and icy cold, but it is HOME SWEET HOME.

Several years ago I read a book entitled “WOMEN WHO LOVE TOO MUCH.” I saw myself, and my whole history of abusive, unloving relationships, portrayed, and EXPLAINED, in that book. I read the book several times, highlighting passages that particularly resonated with me, until I had most of the book highlighted.

Then one day I read a notice in the newspaper about a therapist-led support group for Women Who Love Too Much. I started going to that group every week, and wow, it was so healing, so affirming, and eye-opening.

During one of our weekly sessions, a perfectly beautiful and charming young woman, who had zero self-esteem, summed up her story about living with a man who verbally abused her, cheated on her, hit her, and sponged off her financially, by saying: “I don’t understand it. I do absolutely everything I can think of to try to please him. I cook his favorite foods, I wear my hair the way he likes, I dress to please him, I go along with what ever he wants to do, all to please him…. and yet he doesn’t love me! But he, on the other hand, never does anything to try to please me. He cheats on me, he yells at me, he criticizes me constantly, he takes money from me and never pays it back, he hits me… he leaves for days at a time, and never bothers to call or tell me where he is or what he’s doing… but, regardless of how horribly he treats me, I love him so much I can hardly stand to be away from him for even a moment! WHY IS IT that he won’t love me, no matter how hard I try to make him happy in every way possible… yet I love HIM with all my heart, regardless of how horrible he treats me?”

The therapist replied: “You learned it when you were growing up. You learned it from your parents. You learned from them to love the unloveable, to forgive the unforgiveable, and to accept the unacceptable. It was either THAT, or, KILL YOU PARENTS.”

Every one of us gasped… it was like a bomb had gone off in the room. “WHICH DOES HAPPEN,” the therapist continued. “Children do sometimes kill their parents. When you were a child, you had a choice to make… love them, or kill them. Your relationships in your life today are the result of the choice you made when you were a little girl. You forgive the unforgiveable, you accept the unacceptable, and you love the unloveable, because that is what your parents taught you to do.”

9

Hi Shanyn,
I can relate to the fear you speak of. I was terrified ~ almost sick to my stomach with the fear of standing up to my mother, and to anyone else for that matter. I think deep down I really believed (as I did as a child) that if I was left, I would die. I would literally die. There is so much more to this then I wrote in this blog post. I think that even in standing up, I still wanted the outcome to be different. I didn’t want it to be the way that it was, but I had to stop being squished that way and take my life back. I was surprised when I realized one day that in drawing my boundaries, and in being rejected, there was a freedom from anxiety that I NEVER foresaw! And yes, it is wonderful. I am going to write more about that part soon!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Louise,
It took me a very long time too ~I even grieved that lost time for a while. I love your comments. You have really said a lot of great truths in them.
My real self took refuge in my imaginary life too. I can really relate to that. And another thing that your comments reminded me of was that when I started recognizing the abuse AFTER it happened, was the step before I saw it WHEN it was happening; and that was the step before I began pointing it out WHILE it was happening. I did not walk away from all abusers in my life. Some of them (my husband for instance) was willing to listen to me and do his own work in our relationship and he learned to value me as an equal partner in our relationship.
Thank you so much for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Lynda,
(Please understand that I am responding to this comment not to make you “wrong” but because I have some red flags about what the therapist told you and I think this is a great example of how words can harm us so badly, especially from authority figures like therapists. )

Interesting story about the group therapy. I dare say that few children ever consider the choice of killing parents because of the fear of being alone without parents equals the fear of dying to most of us. I like what the therapist said when he said ~”You learned from them to love the unlovable, to forgive the unforgiveable, and to accept the unacceptable.” that is true, that is what we learned, but I would say that the choice was more like accept it or DIE ourselves.
The therapist also said to you ~ “Your relationships in your life today are the result of the choice you made when you were a little girl.” We all know what the word choice means and so psychologically, that statement puts the blame BACK on us for the abusive relationships that we endured both as children and as adults. I did NOT have a choice as a child. In no way did we have a choice. I never once thought about killing my parents when I was a child, I never once thought about choice. I dreamed of being loved, rescued, and of running away, but I did not think I had a choice. When someone implies that I did, that is very dangerous, and though stuff like that made me go OH YA.. I get that!! eventually deep down it made things somewhat worse.

Thank you so much for sharing this story! It highlights a very important part of how my past became so mixed up. I might write a post about this whole thing.
one last thing ~ the woman in the story ~ she didn’t have the right definition of love ~ not even close. And that is a whole other blog post too!

Hugs, Darlene

10

YOu are right, Darlene. I never ever thought ahout killing my mother. It was unthinkable. I wanted her to LOVE me.

But, when the therapist said that… and the therapist was a woman, by the way, in her 60s, and had been practicing psychotherapy for many years…. when she said that most shocking, UNTHINKABLE thing, it resonated with me in this way: BECAUSE the desire to kill my parents was never there, BECAUSE that was so utterly unthinkable to me, despite the fact that BOTH my mother and my father were murderously violent when I was growing up… because their dying, or me killing either of them, was so out of the realm of me being able to comprehend even thinking about, then it said to me, “Well NO WONDER I’ve had 4 failed, unloving, abusive marriages!! If my choice as a child was either a. love the unloveable and accept the unacceptable, or, b. kill my parents???!!!! — then I had no choice at all, I had no choice (until I got healthier) but to accept abuse in my relationships.”

BTW, I absolutely agree with you, the young woman’s definition of LOVE was NOT love at all! It was the skewed, crazy, sick definition that she.. and I… was taught by our care-givers when we were growing up.

11

Also, Darlene, I have this to add about what you said about our ‘choice,’ or lack of it, as children. You said: ”The therapist also said to you ~ “Your relationships in your life today are the result of the choice you made when you were a little girl.” We all know what the word choice means and so psychologically, that statement puts the blame BACK on us for the abusive relationships that we endured both as children and as adults.”

I do understand what you are saying, but the therapist’s words didn’t come across to me that way at the time. Not at all. Maybe you would have had to have been there, to hear her tone of voice, and read her body language. She was not, in any way, shape, or form, BLAMING any of us for being abused. On the contrary, it seemed to me that, by making that shocking statement: “Your choice as a child was either to kill your parents, or learn to love the unloveable” ~ she was in effect telling us that WE HAD NO CHOICE. We HAD to learn to accept abuse, because the only other choice was so unthinkable for the vast majority of children.

12

Another en pointe blog post, Darlene. This is the part you never ever read in the self help books.This is the part I bet alot of us never explored with a counsellor.

The silence has been deafening here as well.

When I stopped cooperating in my abuse; or rather, staying around for it, showing up, or trying to explain, ask for explanations; but just left the arena,everything came to a screeching halt. I should not have used the term ‘cooperating’;I didn’t cooperate knowingly, ever.

But after a certain point I realized my very presence in these peoples’ lives was then and apparently would always be, abusive to me.

I realize that my life is better without pseudo family, pseudo friends; but when I took my energy and efforts out of the situation and there was nothing; no efforts on their parts; no explanations, apologies, no conversations, no….interest at all in me, I was very shamed again. That is how I felt right or wrong. I felt the shame of that rejection by my ‘own’.

It must be some kind of in bred primordial human feeling; being rejected by your ‘group’ is akin to being sentenced by them to go away and die…literally this is how I feel my family feels about me.

But its also freeing. Scary too. My ‘safety net’ is only my belief in a Higher Power who cares for me.

I am not sure that a child’s only two options in an abusive environment are to either ‘love’ or ‘kill’. That’s a new one on me.I just think we adapt without thinking because adaptation is instinctual, not intellectual when we are little.

I have been at home sick with the flu for 4 days. And we have massive snowstorms and ice here. I have received ONE CALL. Lol. from the man whose ‘friendship’ I have recently decided to call it quit on. He called he said, because he was snowed in and was ‘bored’. Well you can’t get any more honest than that!

I have alot of work to do to even begin having an emotionally healthy life. lol. I keep feeling like I am doing something wrong.I feel really out of step with almost everyone I know.

Anyway, this is a great post Darlene. You really get to the guts of the matter. Thanks!

13

WOW DARLENE! I could have so written this … everything you wrote is what I also experienced and struggled with even before I ever ‘met’ you. Once I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and realized that my mother fits the profile perfectly, everything started to make sense. It made her rejection a little easier to accept and for me to know without doubt, that the abuse was not MY fault.

Although I was not sexually abused, I did get called a ‘whore’ in so many words … and everything else you said is also what I experienced with my own mother. I remember that last time I saw her – which was when she broke the straw on the camel’s back by disrespecting me in my own home at my son’s birthday party (almost 11 years ago now.) I lost it and stood up for myself … later I get a letter from her demanding that I apologize to her … me apologize to her?? For what?? I was so angry because she failed to see that how she treated me was wrong and cruel.

All my life I was subservient and obedient in efforts to earn my mother’s love, to make my mother love me – but no matter what I did, nothing worked. Anything I did was just never enough. Like your mother, my mother too does not know what love is – and because she made me think love is earned, she ultimately just sucked the life out of me – she was like an ’emotional vampire’ which also sucked out all my confidence, self-worth, etc. Like you I thought to myself, ‘I did all that … for what?!’ She took and took and gave nothing back.

When I first cut her from my life I felt terrible, I felt like the awful daughter she portrayed me to be. But as time passed and my heart started to heal – like you, I didn’t miss the degradations, humiliations, and I sure didn’t miss the shame, the false guilt! I eventually learned that I was free of her, and that felt good. I no longer suffered the anxiety about visiting her either. Although now, just thinking about running into her causes me anxiety!

When she was in my life (and even during the duration when she wasn’t) I repeatedly told her what would need to happen for us to reconcile … she had to admit to me and know that how she treated was wrong and abusive and that she was REALLY sorry. Well, I never got that. Oh wait, that’s not true … I did get one ‘I’m sorry’ once just after I told her I didn’t want her in my life anymore, and it went like this … “I’m sorry BUT …” That ‘but’ lead to how it was really my fault. Any apology that has ‘I’m sorry BUT’ is no apology. She shifted blame … again.

Learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and realizing that my mother fit the profile PERFECTLY was a huge emancipator for me. HUGE! I now know that the abuse it NOT my fault and there was and is NOTHING I can do to fix it. I know that my mother cannot see what she is doing wrong because in her mind she can do no wrong. It is what it is, and I have come to accept that. I also know that I AM NOT THE CRAZY PERSON!! 🙂

Great post Darlene … I love having met you … it feels good to know someone who had been there and who knows what its like having this kind of a mother. Thank God for you!

14

PS~ Maybe it’s because I really am “over-sensitive,” as I’ve been told many times by abusers in my life… but when I read your first sentence replying to my comment, telling me that your reply wasn’t intended to make me “wrong” ~~~ I felt, and still feel, WRONG?

I think I need to go away from here for a while, this is getting too intense for me.

15

Lynda ~ Being ‘over-sensitive’ is not a bad thing. I want to share with you what my therapist shared with me. Being ‘over-sensitive’ is not negative, its actually a positive. My therapist explained that it is over-sensitive people who are more acutely aware of their surroundings, we see things that others tend not to see … even now, where you are right now, in the process of recovery, is because of being ‘over-sensitive’ – don’t let people put a negative connotation on it … it’s a gift!! Over-sensitive people are also quite insightful … I have come to embrace it as a gift! 🙂 HUGS!

17

Having just posted I sat for a few minutes and started feeling angrier and angrier.

I think of the years that I was had and showed- concern, for my family. The times I worried about them, in their various situations, sicknesses and all. Some were major situations; some were not, but I was always on the other end of the line calling and checking.

For the last two years, since our mother died, I have been essentially a non person to them.We have not received even one call or message saying ‘how are you; everything ok with you?’Actually the beig freeze personally bween my sister and I occurred after I confronted her a few years ago for saying I was ‘mentally ill’ and had ‘demons’ and was ‘abusing mom’ and my daughter, in emails to her friends.

I accidentally found those emails on her computer after looking for family genealogy files on her computer, with her permission. I found score of files in her ‘documents’ with my name on them. They were copies of our emails and emails she and her friends had exchanged regarding me.

The things she said were so hateful and, to me, so unlike her in real life, I was reeling when I read them.I literally fell on my knees. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.
I don’t think I have fully recovered from finding out how much she hates me. Hate isn’t the right word. Willing to trash me, at the same time she was encouraging me to confide in her – what’s the word for that?

I have to get past this deep feeling of this kind of rejection; it colors everything I do now, in that I am so very cautious about people.After the heady ‘I don’t have to take this anymore’ there’s this ‘what next?’ feeling.

Right now I am recovering from the flu and I think being sick the last few days I remembered the good times in my childhood, before it all went haywire.I remember my mother reading Winnie the Pooh to me when I was sick and memories like that are still precious to me; even with the other subsequent really negative memories.It makes me really sad for my whole family.

Anyway, these are great posts and groundbreaking work, Darlene, Susan, and so many others!

18

Elizabeth, I really like what you said: “I am not sure that a child’s only two options in an abusive environment are to either ‘love’ or ‘kill’. That’s a new one on me.I just think we adapt without thinking because adaptation is instinctual, not intellectual when we are little.”

THAT’S why the therapist’s declaration hit me so hard… because it was so unthinkable, because I couldn’t even IMAGINE what she said, about abused children killing their parents. I couldn’t imagine it then, and I can’t imagine it now. The therapist’s words validated me for having gone thru a string of abusive, unloving marriages, because when she said: “Those were your two choices,” my reaction was, “Well then I had NO CHOICE, but to learn to accept abuse and call it love!”

But your take on it, Elizabeth, makes much more sense to me than what the therapist said. “..we adapt without thinking because adaptation is instinctual, not intellectual when we are little.” YES! Now THAT makes PERFECT SENSE!

I feel better now. Hugs, everybody. Hugs, Darlene <3 <3 <3

19

Lynda & Elizabeth – very well said … I like what Elizabeth said too.

20

Oh Elizabeth… the same sort of thing happened to me, with one of my sisters, just 3 months ago! My sister was new to the internet and new to facebook. She accepted my friend request, and we posted sweet loving and humorous comments back and forth on each other’s walls, and I was so thrilled to finally have the opportunity to get to know her, and her to get to know me, now that we are grown up… I haven’t lived in the same house with my sister since she was 7 years old, and I have lived several states away since 1974, so we really didn’t know each other.

Then, my sister, who obviously hadn’t figured out how to do the privacy things on facebook, posted some comments back and forth with a friend of hers whom I don’t know, and in those comments my sister was telling her friend that her older sister Lynda has PTSD and is weird and is “no big loss.” Then a niece of mine, the daughter of another sister, who has seen me just once in her life at a family reunion 10 years ago, and whom I had sent some loving affirming emails to when she was unwed and going through her pregnancy while working and going to college, this niece posted on my sister’s comments that she would not friend me because I give her “bad vibes.” And all of this stuff was showing up in my newsfeed, I wasn’t going looking for it, it was just THERE. And it hurt me So Bad…

I’m so so sorry that happened to you, Elizabeth. Why people have to be so damn cold and cruel and heartless, I will never understand.

Hugs-Lynda

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Lynda,
Please understand that I comment the way I do through the “lens” of what is BEST for everyone ~ I wanted to clarify how sometimes those statements like the ones the therapist made can be damaging. NOT that I thought YOU took it the wrong way or that the therapist was wrong. I really really did not mean to make you feel corrected or uncomfortable OR defensive. I thought your story was such a great example of how even therapy can be damaging depending on WHERE the person hearing the statement is “at”. There is no voice infliction in the blog comments. I was only thinking about the way I could use this as an example of how things can happen, how things can be heard and taken the wrong way. I am not sure how to explain this but many times in my life I have been given excellent advice, but because of my damaged belief system, I heard it all wrong. I was trying to point out (in case others heard this story and it made them feel wrong about their choices as children) that we do often hear things very wrong. I pick apart quotes all the time, the quotes themselves are wonderful ~ but I pick them apart to show how I beat myself up with them. Does that make this a bit more clear? We are not all at the same stages in our recovery, so I try to be really careful about the way things are “taken”. I really do not want to devalue your presence here in any way.
Hugs, Darlene

Paulette,
I love what your therapist told you about being over sensitive being a gift. Thank you for sharing! I agree; it isn’t negative! I also know that survivors are super aware, even HYPER aware, because we had to be in order to survive.
Thanks for posting!
Hugs, Darlene

I am going to answer the other comments now!

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Lynda, I am so sorry this happened to you.I recall your mentioning it before, also.

I think this kind of thing happens when we are seen, or perceived, as that ‘OTHER’ person. The person already on the ‘outside’, whether we ourselves realized it or not at the time.

That to me is the difference between a heated spat, or argument with passion; and the indifferent slice and dicing of someone who doesn’t matter in their eyes anyway.

In my sister’s emails there was no ’emotional’ room or space for her to amend or take back what she said, or any indication that she was peeved or irritated with me.It was on the order of what you hear in middle school ‘dissing’, or gossip anywhere; just as careless, just as detached, just as dismissive.

Without an emotional connection,and some basic respect, and it became obvious there was not a connection really, there was no way to get past this. There was no starting point for healing this.

When I confronted her my sister said, ‘oh but you were acting so weird back in 2000 when you drove here!Thats why I thought you had demons!’
I said: ‘I was being stalked by mom’s man friend; Remember? And he followed my dau. and I! Remember?’

Oh yes. She remembered. And she remembered she refused to let us stay at her home for a couple of weeks pending me finding an apt there in her town.And she remembered saying ‘mom is not going to help you financially if you move out of town.’

These things that happpened to me and the things that happened to you will never be changed.

Knowing that the lack of fundamental caring, empathy and respect was what allowed these people to act this way is huge. The fact that they were people I cared about makes it very painful.People who respect and love others just don’t do this to people; even people they are not close to. Ignorant and emotionally vacant and dormant people; yes.

So my big hurdle is: getting over my hurt;remembering I AM worthy and valuable… And learning to only be in close contact with emotionally present and nurturing people. Casual contacts are different, but I have a lot to learn about expectations of other people and identifying who IS and who ISN’T emotionally safe.

For example my male friend who only called me because he was snowed in and bored, was much warmer than usual. Usually he leaves voicemails only when he knows I am at work and can’t answer the phone. Never calls to talk. Yet expects to eat dinner once a week at one of the two restaurants of his choice, then tells the cashier to split the check. Doesn’t want to go to museums, movies, outdoor mkts…This might be quirky and amusing if it weren’t so obviously dismissive.I refuse anymore to cooperate in being so un-valued.Oh yes, he’s put me on his dr.’s contact list to call if he gets sick. this relationship is simply an extension of my own family dynamics…No wonder he calls us a ‘good fit.He is an advanced degree counsellor with extensive experience in the A&D field.He knows dynamics when he sees them so he isn’t ignorant. There just has to be more to life than people like this.

I have alot of work to dooooo!!!

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Hi Elizabeth,
That is a good point about being rejected by our “group” is like being sent away to die. It really does feel that way, and what I found through this process is that I HAD to find my way through all of this so that I could establish MY OWN value, and own it. Not the value that they placed on me, but my real value that in a way they KEPT from me. We really believe that our family is right about us, because it (the whole belief system) develops so young. When we are rejected, it is very hard NOT to think it is deserved, because we believe that they know better then we do. This whole thing is really key but it is also not a quick stage to get sorted out or get our heads around.
I went through the angry stages several times, and they were necessary in the process. Finding those emails must have been devastating… finding proof in writing about how she felt about you would have been horrific. To be so disregarded, and to be set up like that. (encouraging you to confide in you)
Elizabeth, (not to minimize what you have been through in any way at all,) I want to encourage you by saying that I finally got past that when I was really able to find my value, for me, the real me, and to define myself. This was not quick but I did it and reached that place by doing all the same things you are doing now. I totally had that “what’s next feeling” for almost a year. It was another part of the process for me.
Hang in here! Thank you for all you have shared, for your courage and your honesty!
hugs, Darlene

Lynda, (and Elizabeth too)
These kinds of stories are horrible. People can be so heartless. I caught my mother talking about her sisters that way, but at the same time she totally sucked up to them. That whole thing is like a sickness with people. ~ it is like some sort of survival of the fittest; I call it a pecking order in sick families. My mother had to trash everyone to keep the focus off her. Those comments speak volumes about the person making them. It really is about them and not about us.
Today I know that my whole family thinks I am a nutjob. BUT I have a lot of credibility. This website is extremely high traffic ~ in fact in the top 1% of all websites. I did the content edit on a book about dysfunctional relationships for a therapist because I am so gifted. I get interviewed by mental health professionals… so who is the nutjob?? I know they are wrong about me, but I am not so sure about how stable THEY are.
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Paulette!
Yes, the childhood survival methods come with us into adult hood when the caregivers in our childhood did not allow us to mature emotionally. We don’t even question them! We learned what it expected of us “or else” and we live to avoid the “or else” never considering that life might be easier and fuller if we take our chances with the “or else” LOL
p.s. I can not recall a time when my mother said “I’m sorry” when it was not followed by a BUT.
Thanks for your fabulous comment!!!
hugs, Darlene

Elizabeth,
Something that I realized in all the sibling stuff is that when siblings are raised by dysfunctional parents, the children start to “compete” for the attention. We are all aware that our parents could turn on us at any given time. Some parents only pick on one kid at a time. They only need one of them to restore their order or their value.. so some of the siblings get off easy. This is all known to everyone subconsciously. It was really obvious in my husbands family because Jimmy’s father took turns being really nasty and disappointed in just one (adult) kid at a time. I remember when he moved off Jimmy and onto his brother, and we joked about it! I said it was Jimmy’s turn to be the golden child! I didn’t have a clue how much truth there was to that statement! But here is what I also realized. When kids are afraid that their turn will come… they go to great lengths to make sure it doesn’t come and if that means turning on their own siblings then that is what happens. My brothers stuck up for my mother too, but the truth is that she was as sick with them as she was with me, they mostly wanted me around so I would take the worst of it.
This is another huge subject, but there it is for today, in a nut shell.
hugs, Darlene

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I used to use sarcasm to put you down to make me feel better about who I was. Thank God that I woke up one day and heard what I was saying to my husband and I clearly saw that I was being disrepectful to him and was teaching my children to do the same thing. The way that I treated him was very much influenced by how I felt about myself. When I started feeling better about myself, I started treating others better too. When I stopped hating myself and started treating myself with love and respect, I was able to do the same with my husband and children.

I can relate to what everyone says about their mother-daughter relationship except my mother wasn’t my main abuser. What she did was passive-agressive and harder to pinpoint. Darlene, when you describe your dad, you could be talking about my mom. I have to put my dad in the position that most of you are putting your mothers. With my mom, it was more about neglect than outright abuse. She was emotionally not there in my life. I was her protector which is reversed of how a healthy mother-daughter relationship should be. She didn’t protect me from my dad or my uncle. In fact, it felt like she pushed me into their open arms. She never questioned anything that my dad said or did.

Because I saw my mom shut down her feelings, I learned to do the same. Because I saw my dad in all of his raging glory, I learned to do the same with my rage. Both were the only way that I knew to deal with feelings. Both are extremes and neither healthy in the way that I learned them. I could rage or I could stuff my feelings. There was no middle ground. There was no balance. I did the same as an adult with my husband and children until I learned to do differently. My children were teens when I got into 12-Step programs and started learning what healthy feelings were.

Looking at my own issues and things that I did that I regret helped me to understand my parents a little better. I like the quote by Maya Angelou about doing better when we learn how. Don’t think that I am excusing either of my parents or myself from taking responsibility for our actions, I am not. I absolutely hate it when someone says, “Well, he was sexually abused himself as a child so he went on to abuse other children.” That is bull as an excuse. There are so many others of us who were sexually abused and we don’t go out and abuse children.

Killing my parents was never a choice that I would have thought of as a child. Fear of loosing either of my parents is one of the reasons that I kept quiet about the incest until I was in my 30’s. I was afraid that my mom would get a gun and shoot my dad. I was afraid he would be dead and it would be my fault for telling and my mom would be in jail. I didn’t want to be responsible for breaking up our family. At the same time, I used to wish that my mom would take us kids and leave and divorce my dad.

Growing up with a dictator dad and a passive-agressive mom had me believing that I had no choices. My dad totally ruled my life until I left home at 19. He made all the decisions in our house. None of us were allowed to have jobs, including my mom until I was a senior in high school. We weren’t given spending money or encouraged to do outside school activities because that would give us some control over our lives. When I left home, I ran away because I knew it was the only way that I could leave and my dad couldn’t make me come back.

I had no idea what choices were. Even though I was sexually abused by my uncle and my dad, I was still incredibly naive about sex and about what made a healthy relationship. I was sexually abused by my very first boyfriend because I didn’t know how to say no and I didn’t know what was appropriate and what was not in a relationship.

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Darlene, I really DO understand, and I thank you for what you are doing from the bottom of my heart. I don’t know HOW you are able to do it, I really don’t. You answer every comment, you never belittle or devalue anyone in the slightet way, and when you disagree, you do it only for the greater good of all your readers, and you never disagree in a disagreeable way.

My reaction was just sensitive because I am feeling sensitive right now, and with good reason… I am getting in touch with a lot of deep buried pain. It’s a lot like going thru major surgery, but withoout any anesthetic. Sometimes surgery is necessary to heal, but it still HURTS. I posted some things a few hours ago around 3 in the morning, on your blog post, “More on Mother Daughter Dysfunctional Relationship,” and, while those posts were ultimately healing for me, I hope, they were also very disturbing…

Darlene, if I knew how to do it, I would delete my comment about what the therapist in the Women Who Love Too Much group said. But I don’t know how to delete it, or if it is even possible for me to do? Please feel free to delete it, if you think it would be for the greater good to do so.

I am glad I posted it tho, and saw the reaction, especially what Elizabeth had to day, that really helped me so much, to see what that therapist said in a different and I think a healthier light. What the therapist said had disturbed me very deeply, because truly, I had never even dreamed of the thing she said! But on the other hand, I did fail to try to stop my mother the last time she ran into the kitchen and grabbed a butcher knife and held it poised over her stomach and screamed “I’m going to plunge this knife into my guts and kill myself if all you kids don’t be quiet, you are all driving me crazy!” She did that several times, when I was 12, after dad was put in the psych hospital for almost killing our mother. Each time our mother did that with the butcher knife, me and my 4 pre-schooler siblings would run over to her and cry and beg her not to stab herself, promising to be quiet and good. Then she would put the knife away until the next time. But that last time that she did that, we all just ignored her. I guess my little sisters and brothers were following my lead, but we all just kept sitting on the carpet in front of the tv where we were in the living room when she had come flying out of her bedroom into the kitchen, which was open to the living room, and pulled the huge knife out of the drawer and screamed her suicidal threat. It wasn’t premeditated, my decision to do and say nothing that time… I just COULDN’T. I just couldn’t deal with it again. I didn’t conciously think “I hope she does it, I hope she kills herself, we would be better off without her,” but I must have thought it subconciously, I don’t know. All I know is that I couldn’t deal with it any more, so I just sat there and stared at the tv screen and pretended I didn’t hear or see what mother was doing. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her get a strange look on her face, as she realized that we weren’t going to beg her not to kill herself, we weren’t going to promise to be quiet and do whatever she wanted to keep her from stabbing herself. Then she put the knife in the drawer, went back into her bedroom where she stayed 90% of the time in those days, and she never threatened to stab herself with that huge scary looking knife again. INSTEAD, the pilot light started going out on the whole house furnace in the middle of the night while the 5 of us kids were all in our beds, and the thermostat was being turned up as high as it would go, and when my mother realized, after several failed attempts, that she couldn’t over ride the safety shut off on the gas furnace, then she was going to drive us all of a cliff, to kill us, so she said, when she finally unloaded her guilty burden by confessing it to me.

AND, deep down inside, I always wondered if she had switched from threatening to kill only herself, to trying to kill us all, because we didn’t beg her that last time, not to use the butcher knife on herself?

I think that is why the therapist’s words hit me so hard. Was NOT TRYING TO STOP MY MOTHER FROM STABBING HERSELF, THE LAST TIME SHE THREATENED IT, the same as wanting to kill my mother? And was THAT why she tried to kill us all after that, because we hadn’t tried to stop her last suicide attempt, or threat?

It makes my head ache to think about it.

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Not only did my mother NOT protect me from my father, but when I did manage to tell her about the incest, 5 years after he died, she didn’t believe me. She said that I had “gone Hollywood” that I’d “jumped on the band wagon”. She made sure that people I loved and needed thought that I was victimizing her. I became the liar and the “bad guy”. This, of course, made HER the “good guy” by default. On and off for many years, she didn’t speak to me. I told the truth about the abuse and I told the truth about her. I had committed the ultimate crime! I paid for that crime by becoming the scapegoat and by being abandoned. Looking back now, I can see why I never tried to tell when I was little. Look what happened when I told as an adult! That just confirmed my childhood fear that if I told, I’d die. I really would have died if I’d been abandoned as a child like I was as an adult! I started a blog about my journey. Please check it out and share your thoughts; http://youmeantheskyisntblue.blogspot.com/

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I am also feeling ultra-sensitive right now because I’m having some weird hormone issues. I will be 58 on May 2, and I thought I was all done with menopause, finally, back in August. But on Christmas Eve my period started again. It was very heavy for about 3 days, then stopped. Now here is is just 19 days later and I am almost hemorraghing. However you spell that word. My little dog Lady won’t leave my side, either, she seems to be worried about me. One year ago this month, my doctor ordered a uterine biopsy for me, because it was so unusual for a woman of my age to still be having periods, and because my periods had gotten so heavy that I had become anemic… which is really strange, considering that I have hereditary hemochromatosis, which is iron overload disorder. So, during the week it took for the referral for a biopsy to come thru from the insurance company, we got the unexpected notice that we were in default on our mortgage and about to lose our house. It was unexpected, because my husband, who handled all the bills then, had forgotten to pay for 2 months, starting in December when we had a freaky trauma-triggering thing happen where we were driving down in the southern part of the state, near the Mexican-US border, and suddenly the border patrol stopped us and ordered us our of our vehicle at the point of M-16 assault rifles…. VERY TRAUMATIZING, especially for my Vietnam Veteran husband! We were made to kneel down in the snow, our dog was barking frantically in the truck, while we were frisked, then handcuffed… it turned out they were on the hunt for a heavily-armed man who also drove a white dodge ram longbed truck. As soon as they realized their mistake, they let us go with apologies… but it so shook my husband up, that he forgot to pay the mortgage that month! Then the next month, we went to the hearing in federal court for my husband’s appeal for his veteran’s disability due to his severe PTSD. I sat beside my husband in the courtroom and listened to him tell in detail how he thought he was a murderer who had committed war crimes in Vietnam!!! I sobbed so hard, I thought he was going to be arrested for what he was saying! So then, with the mortgage so behind, and my husband spending the money on fishing equipment, that was his ‘escape” from it all, suddenly we got a notice from the mortgage company that we had to pay several thousand dollars in back payments, interest, fees, and we didn’t have it to pay.

So we lost our house, and in the upheaval of all that, when the approval for my uterine biopsy came in the mail, in the middle of our moving 200 miles away, I just ignored it, and I haven’t been to see a doctor since. And now, I am a little scared.

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Lynda, I for one hope that Darlene does not delete your post about the therapist’s comment. Reading your latest post, I remember the last time that my dad made a suicide plea of his own to my brother, sister and I when I was in my early 30’s. My dad was drunk and wanting to see my mother. My brother called me and asked me to come and see what I could do with my dad. He also called my sister. My husband and I got in our car and went to see what was going on. I refused to call my mother and have her come to talk to my dad. They weren’t divorced yet but had been separated for several years. In my mind, I could see my dad shooting her with the shotgun that he had tied to his wrist and then shooting himself. My dad was a mean drunk who liked to argue even more when he was drinking. After spending several hours talking to him and achieving nothing. I finally told him if he wanted to kill himself to go ahead but he wasn’t hurting anyone else. We all left. I don’t know what he did do but like your mother when you called her bluff, he didn’t kill himself. If he had, I wouldn’t have blamed myself. The difference between your story and mine is that I was an adult. You were a child. You were not in control of your mom killing herself. Sometimes when we are so stressed out and so tired of dealing with abusive parents, we can begin to not care. If your mom or my dad had killed themselves, it would not have been our fault. They were both adults. You were just a child, even at 12 years old. The responsibility was not yours. I feel sorrow that you and I went through so much of this when we were children.

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Sometimes I think that the Universe has tattooed a huge “KICK ME” sign on my soul. 🙂

Just kidding… actually, even though it was so scary and hard, it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to us, losing that house I hated, because it was a ranch style house, just like the one my mother tried to gas us to death in, and this move to our charming little 1930s bungalow that we will be able to easlily pay off in 5 years, living right next door to a couple our age who also have PTSD like us, he also is a Vietnam Veteran, and his wife has trauma issues from past domestic abuse… WOW. It started off so awful, but ended up so good. But I do regret not getting that biopsy done a year ago.

Anyway, I wanted to say to Elizabeth, what you wrote in an earlier post: “It must be some kind of in bred primordial human feeling; being rejected by your ‘group’ is akin to being sentenced by them to go away and die…literally this is how I feel my family feels about me.” …………….YES YES YES YES YES YES YES.

I’m so glad you are ALIVE, Elizabeth. I need you!!

Lynda

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wow! i feel drained now! just from reading, relating and reliving.
i start cognative behavioural therapy on thursday……..apprehencive and not sure what to expect.
what i have read here has confirmed to me that i have work to do on my beliefs and thought patterns, that my conditioning is buried deep as it still affects my life. 32 years have passed since my childhood abuse and yet i still allow people to abuse me. well enough i say! i must find the strength to put a stop to it and find my voice. hopefully the therapy will help me do that. i have had counselling before, but obviously the wrong type because i tell my story and come away drained, but feeling that it has made no difference. no work has been done to change my thought patterns. i’v just been left raw!
i’v always blamed my abusers for the pain i was/am in, till recently i didnt realise how much damage my mother had done.

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Thank you, Patricia. I too feel such sorrow for what we went through as children. But I also feel tremendous Hope and Joy for the strength and the healing we are able to achieve today!

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Hi Patricia,
Thanks for sharing your story ~ we do learn so much from our parents. And thanks for highlighting that as a child you were afraid that your mother might kill your father. These are real fears and worries that we live with as children.
Thanks for being here.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Lynda,
I would actually rather not delete your comment because I still think it is a great example of the way things can be said and how differently they can be understood by people. Thanks for posting and for sticking it out when things got uncomfortable here! Thank you also for posting even more of the story ~ this stuff really sheds light on the way things really have been for so many!
Thank you for all the nice things you say about me too. =) I have been trained well for this work ~ I was the executive assistant to a brilliant therapist and the director of client relations and I learned so much about how we survivors think and how we hear things. I try very hard not to offend or hurt anyone. We have all been so hurt already.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Gennie
Ya.. this blog and the comments can be really intense. I really understand what you have said here.. therapy is draining, but it is especially draining if we don’t get to a point where we think it is helping. And about the abusers ~ all of it did damage to me, and it all went into a big frame of reference that became my belief system… and that was the grid that I put everything through for the rest of my life until I found a way to sort it out and replace the lies (about me) with the truth. So sorting out just part of it, (like the abuse on it’s own) never really worked because there were other things that went with it. Complicated yes… but very worth doing the work.
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Gabrielle,
This is an incredibly damaging thing that happens to so many survivors of incest. I am so sorry that this happened. We pay for what was done to us over and over. Until we sort it out enough to take our power back and say stop.
Thanks for being here!
hugs, Darlene

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To Darlene, and all the readers who aren’t posting, and to everyone who has posted here: Carol, Susan, Shanyn, Louise, Elizabeth, Paulette, Patricia, Gabrielle, and Gennie, who wrote “wow! i feel drained now! just from reading, relating and reliving.”

YES IT IS very draining. I feel utterly drained right now, too, from everything I’ve written, and everything I’ve read.

I hope all of you here will take EXTRA GOOD LOVING CARE of yourself right now. We can only take so much, even when it is healing.

If anything I have posted has hurt anyone in any way, I am deeply sorry. That is never my intention. Like Darlene said: “I try very hard not to offend or hurt anyone. We have all been so hurt already.”

Blessings~
Lynda

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Certainly not, Lynda, you have said nothing tht has offended me. I see myself here as part of a group who all have an understanding of emotional abuse and our difficulties and sore spots.Most of the time, after I post, I get this ‘ugh’ feeling, as if I have said something wrong, out of line, embarrassing etc….I know its a shame attack. Even so, nothing you have said has disturbed me at all or seemed out of line. I am glad you post so honestly.

Darlene you said something again about the competition between siblings in a dysfunctional family.I know from my readings that the roles assigned in a dysfunctional family are never about who the people really are; they are roles acted out and reinforced by the family.

A previous counsellor referred to the bonding of a child – even an adult child, to his or her parent in a dysfunctional family, in which the child is afraid to make the parent mad, or stand up to the parent,as a ‘trauma bond’.The targetted child takes the brunt of the abuse, but sometimes roles are shifted for one reason or another.

I can quite easily remember my mother haranguing my dad- not one of us- kids and thinking ‘I hope she doesn’t get mad at me’. And I can remember betraying my dad, when I knew she was having him followed because of his affair, and didn’t tell him at her request.I can remember pretending to hate him so she would love me.

So in our family we all betrayed each other. I was as much a part of it as the others. So the things that have so hurt me about my sister’s behavior towards me are part of the same family legacy.

Awhile ago, I looked on my niece’s FB page, with new eyes. I saw no references to her mom-my sister- no pictures of her mom,excpt for one or two in a group;no Christmas pictures with her in them, no recent birthday pictures of her own kids with my sister in them.

My sister has a FB but doesn’t use it.

What I did see was a post from a friend of my niece’s referring to my greatniece’s having ‘cookie day’ with my niece’s step mom.My niece says ‘Yes, their ‘cookie day’ before Christmas every year with ‘Grammy’ is a tradition they love.’Something pulled at my gut.

I am pretty sure my sister is still dealing with the competition for love in the family.I feel really sad and I feel really judgemental for saying the things I said about my sister even though they are true.I think there is still alot of pain and sadness in my family and the games are going on.

Now I am not so angry at my sister; I’m just sad for everyone.I cant fix anything.I’m an outsider certainly in their rekationship; I don’t particularly like my niece’s stepmpther- EX stepmother I should say.She was very unsupportive of my niece when she was molested, basically told me she had been ‘asking for it’.There’s a whole other world of family drama that went on and goes on in their part of the family.

I have cornered off and fanned this hurt between my sister and I as if it were one of the major hurts of my life; and it was but it was never about me; it was how she fit herself into her surroundings in order to be approved of by the people who influenced her most- her ‘daily life’ people.

Now I believe I see more evidence that she goes through the same marginalization that she put me through, that we put our father through….and on and on.I wouldn’t be surprised if every member of this family walked a tightrope with most family relations.

Its very very odd to see my niece’s FB with so little references to her mom, who I know cares for her children everyday after school and everytine my niece works on wknds.Or she was as of two years ago.

One of the dangerous things I have done emotionally however,in the past, is to empathize inaccurately or over empathize because I love someone. I don’t want to get hurt that way again.

I just feel realy sad. Life would be so much easier if you had an emotional monitor for all these people. I don’t want to judge these people I loved so much wrongly.I don’t want to gloss over my actions and make them the quintessential ‘bad guys’.Its confusing.There is so little that is black and white about people. You want to temper the unknowns with love and understanding.Right there is where I get tripped up.

My mom I will never figure out.I think the rest of us got caught in the crossfire for generations to come.

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I just read everyone’s posts – and Lynda – nothing you said was hurtful. This is why I love Darlene and her site so much! It’s like group therapy. Even sharing our truths set us free, so we can move on into healing. I love how there is no judgment here – but there is openness and understanding … because of this site and all who post on it is one of the reasons I’m sure that my healing has progressed as fast as it has in the last 6 months!! Of course, seeing a therapist helps as well – but the ladies here, with comments shared confirm to me that we are not crazy!! And so awesome that this is one place we can find empathy and encouragement … we are so blessed to have each other, ladies!! {hugs}

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Elizabeth… wow I really NEEDED what you wrote here. Needed especially what you wrote directly to me… I was feeling very raw and stupid and crazy for posting so much, so many intensely painful things, all the shaming, that UGH feeling you mentioned: “as if I have said something wrong, out of line, embarrassing etc….I know its a shame attack. Even so, nothing you have said has disturbed me at all or seemed out of line. I am glad you post so honestly.”
Thank you, Elizabeth!! And ditto from me, about your posts, your posts help me very much, and nothing you’ve posted ever struck me as “wrong” in any way.

AND, the other things you wrote in your above comment… YES I KNOW exactly what you are saying. All those family dynamics you talked about, it’s all so twisted and tangled up and convoluted, this one bonding with that one by pretending to be against the other one… and on and on it goes, like a square dance, with everyone changing partners every so often, but the dance steps are always the same, even with the different partners. When you are caught up in the whirl and flash and excitement of the music, it all feels so intensely personal, but if you can step back out of the picture and look at it from the outside, you see it for what it is~ a lot of spinning around and going nowhere.

Of course my sister, the one who posted those hurtful comments about me on fb, not realizing they would show up in my messages, she has spent years trying to bond with our mother, by dissing me. After I saw her hateful comments and emailed her to tell her that I could see them and how bad it had hurt me, my sister, with not one word of apology to me, posted about it on her wall, and said “I asked Mother, I bet you were wondering how long it would be before something like this would happen.” That callous statement meant, of course, that she and our mother were in agreement that any kind of contact with ME was just asking for trouble! But I was NOT the one who was posting hateful derrogatory things about anybody, SHE was! How long before WHAT would happen… how long before she, my sister, would do something Ignorant and Bitchy? But of course that was not what she meant. She publically posted mean things about me, and when I saw them in my messages and on my newsfeed, I was hurt and angry and let her know. But somehow it was all MY fault!

So yes, the bonding between my mother and my siblings over their mutual dislike of me is still going on… decades after we all left the nest.

Now I worry that my mother will die before telling the truth… she claims to be a born-again Christian. Her life revolves around her very fundamental church. If her Christian conversion is real, where is the repentance? Where is the CONFESSION? All I want is for her to tell my siblings the truth for once, before she dies…. the truth that YES, she really did try several times to kill us all, but couldn’t override the safety shutoff on the furnace. The truth that YES, she did confess that to me when I was 12, with the warning that if I told anyone she would go to prison and the 5 of us kids to separate foster homes. The truth that I had a breakdown at the age of 14 because of the hell of worrying day and day, night after night, that we would all be killed by our mother, etc, and the truth that NO, I never ever in any way shape or form tried to hurt anybody, nor threatened to, nor wanted to, my mother made all that crap up, basically projecting her own homicidal/suicdal tendencies onto ME, and she did that to convince her new husband, my sweet fatherly stepdad, and my little siblings, and all the grandparents and uncles and aunts, that she was perfectly justified in having me committed at the age of 14 when I suddenly began dissociating and hearing voices due to the terrible horrors my parents, mother especially, had put me through… I just want her to tell the truth! I often think of calling her, and having a recorder hooked up to the phone, and getting her to admit to all this over the phone, and then make copies of the tapes and sending it to everyone in the family so they finally KNOW the truth, they will hear her admit in her own voice…. and who CARES if phone tapping is legal or not, this is my life and reputation she has ruined, my relationship with my family that she has stolen from me, for the past 44 years.

I think about it, and i have the equipment to do it, since I used to work at Radio Shack. But I never do it because… why bother. Why bother? Would my siblings suddenly go, OH Lynda, we are SO SORRY for shutting you out of our lives all these years, please come back into the fold where you belong and let us love you? Yeah. Right. No, they would most likely just hate me for forcing them to know the truth about our mother. Better to have a crazy big sister, than a homocidal mother.

AND I still have motherly feelings towards my “little” sisters and brothers, too. I EVEN FEEL GUILTY THAT MY NOW-50-YEAR-OLD SISTER HAS TURNED OUT TO BE SUCH A COLD HEARTLESS JUDGMENTAL BITCH… I felt like her mother, when she was 5 and I was 12. She was so adorable and I loved her more than life itself. I think, How could that sweet little girl grow up to be so hard and uncaring and cruel? She seems just like our mother! And then I beat myself up because I think that if I had been strong enough to live close by as she was growing up, instead of moving thousands of miles away to save my sanity, maybe I could have influenced and taught my little sisters and brothers how to be loving and thoughtful and compassionate and kind.

She may be my sister, and she may be 50, and she may be a hateful bitch… but I still love her. I still remember the wonderful sweet precious little girl she used to be, and I blame myself for not being there to help keep her sweet and good.

You are a gift from God, Elizabeth. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Lynda

38

Thank you, Paulette, I just now saw your comment. So, you just read all the posts… are your eyes as blurry as mine? I feel like I’m about to go blind. I’m going to have to break down and get glasses, or maybe contacts. I can barely see the screen right now.

Good night, all, I’m going to go rest my eyes.

39

Darlene, it has only just occurred to me that because we were so de-valued, we wanted acceptance from anywhere and didn’t even stop to think that getting value from a source that doesn’t know how to value doesn’t have any value in it! Being rejected by a person who rejects for a living isn’t actually a big deal but we thought it was because we gave them the power to accept or reject us. I mean, if a pitbull growls at me, do I think, “this is a nasty beast” or “Oh dear, what did I do wrong? Why can’t he apologize and be nice?”

I know I am simplifying things but right now it is working – I am beginning to see how absurd it is expecting a non-loving, non-empathetic person to fill us with love and give us empathy. They aren’t capable of it, they don’t think like us, and they don’t care if they hurt us. The only time they care is if it benefits them. So why should I even waste one breath crying over them? As someone once said, “Don’t cry for those who make you cry.”

I am not suggesting that we deny ourselves the grieving process. There is a lot to mourn over. But at the end of the day, the past is the past – it doesn’t define my future. OK, I made a HUGE mistake in falling for the wrong person and my life is still a mess because of it. But why should I beat myself over the head for it – others can, but I don’t care what they do. I’ve still got a lifetime ahead of me. It took me years to get to where I am, it may take years to slowly detach but it is happening, and happening quicker than what he is expecting!

Lynda, your sister is the way she is because of the environment she grew up in, and the choices that she made, and probably a genetic component as well. You were not the perpetrator of abuse. Being kind to her may not have done you any favors anyway. You may have lost your sanity AND lost your relationship with them. You did what was right, and no one can blame you for that. NOTHING takes priority over your sanity. If you could, you would have done something to help them. But why does the responsibility for things to be right fall only on you? No one else cared any less, and they probably still don’t care.

40

Wow everyone, this is such a great discussion; I am honoured to host it here! There is so much healing and validation in these contributions.
Thank you all!

Krissy,
You make so much sense! And sometimes the bottom line is simple, it just doesn’t seem simple to GET there. That is partly because we are searching through such a murky fog that started in childhood.
thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and another great contribution to this post!
Hugs, Darlene

41

Krissy… my God, you are BRILLIANT. I am just blown away by this.

I want to print it out and frame it!

42

I like this so much, I just posted it as my status on facebook:

?” Being rejected by a person who rejects for a living isn’t actually a big deal but we thought it was because we gave them the power to accept or reject us. I mean, if a pitbull growls at me, do I think, “this is a nasty beast” or “Oh dear, what did I do wrong? Why can’t he apologize and be nice?” ” ~Krissy on ”Emerging From Broken”

43

wow, blurry eyes, my gosh this has covered a lot of ground. most of it resonates with. me but i differ in some ways. with me the answer was to find out what the effect on a child was and see what i could see in myself. i persued my recovery and have tried to be open to other ways of coping. to me that was logical, i have looked into parenting skills and listening skills and found the awareness of the ways and wherfores of, why i was the way i was and why it has and will take so long to undo the damage done. i read and learnt what was developmentally correct and how the environment a child lives in alters every aspect of that child, biologically , mentally and behaviourally. as i grew and changed i began to see the lies darlene tells us about, and how i was to blame in her eyes for all her woes till i moved out of the family home and when ever she has contact with me eventually.well after trrying gently to get her to ses that i have my own version of the past and her telling me that it never happend, when i jolly well know it did, doesnt help. this caused a massive row and we havent had unavoidale contact since. i wont be blamed for things i have no control over, and sometimes that includes my behaviour now. just because i want to behave in a set way does not mean that i can always achieve it and im sorry for that but i am doing what i can. i now leave others to deal with how they handle things and will not stop doing or saying what i am just because it upsets people. truth is the truth and i say it the way i see it and that is not a comfortable thing to be on the reciving end of. their problem not mine.
thanks darelene, your posts have helped me gain this mental freedom, or excuse for my bad behaviour as someone called it, and now i just have to do the traing side of actually believing and livin it.

44

Hi Carol,
We all differ in some ways, that is why the comments are so valuable! We all have slightly different paths ~ hopefully ending up in the same place~ to freedom and wholeness. To taking our lives, our power and control over our own lives back. To become who we really are, to live fully! All I know for sure is that this is the road less taken ~ the things we talk about here and the lies we expose, but this is what worked for me and set me free!
You sound great and I love your contributions here…
Hugs, Darlene

45

This is an amazing article. Why? A. It is insightful, it is brave, and it is utterly from the heart, the gut. And B. It is incredibly well written. I linked this post, and thereby your Blog to the Blogroll on my site. Please feel free to peruse my blog as well, the address is: http://www.finallygrowingup.com and please feel free to leave me a comment with your honest opinion of the content. Yet somehow I can’t imagine you leaving any other type of opinion at all. 🙂 Be well. Mordechai

46

I have been reading and following along in my email inbox the past day or since this post went up….the only thing that I could wish for is a big “like” button on each comment!

The discussion here has been amazing; I see healing and insight….and growth happening in each note. This venue truly is like group therapy with a healthy give and take, not a place of rumination and resentment but a place of growth and self discovery. I feel blessed to be a part of such an amazing community of over-comers as we share our truth and support one another through our journey’s.

Hugs for everyone!

47

Welcome Mordechai, to Emerging from Broken,
Thank your for your compliments and for sharing my blog post with your readers.
Hugs, Darlene

Susan!!
Congratulations to us my friend! Your comment is the 4000th published comment on emerging from broken! (yes I said four thousand comments) And the contents of your comment could not be more fitting!
Thank you so much for being part of this! I am blessed to have you as one of my fellow travelers!
Hugs, Darlene

48

Susan,

First of all, WOW, on yours being the 4000’th comment. It seems very right that it was yours.

This is such a journey, this blog and these comments.

I don’t blame myself for my sister’s experiences and whatever pain she has gone through, however I see that everyone in a dysfunctional family system does his or her best to keep it going by playing their roles.Throwing other people under the bus in some way kept us from feeling shame, guilt confusion, and fear and sadness.

As adults when we seek help in understanding what has happened to us- when I did that; it was a revelation. I wanted to round up my family and have everything fixed for everyone. I thought they’d be as excited to know it was a family system dis-ease, as I was. Not to be.

I do have some experience in trying to ‘fix’ tings by saying…’oh! I’m sorry! No, it was all my fault!Let’s be close again!’

That is not wise or healthy; no more than it is to try to pet a wounded or lonely animal. You might think because YOU feel compassion, it MUST know you are harmless and it won’t hurt you.But that is not necessarily true.In fact if I think I am capable of that then I have overestimated my ‘power’. And I have had a habit of lowering my boundaries deliberately, thinking surely, someone who really care won’t hurt me. Its been a very expensive practice mentally and emotionally- just so unwise.

That is not where my power lies.
It lies in learning what I need to do for me; and at the times I feel sad-OR selfish in my own recovery and what that requires,I know nothing I do for me takes away, or ‘steals’ anything from anyone else.My getting better does nothing hurtful or harmful to anyone else.I’m not guilty regarding someone else’s pain.Unless I have deliberately inflicted pain on someone else; or been neglectful of my responsibility towards that person. Alot determines if that was so, and what that might be.If that is true, apologies/amends are in order.But I have always had a skewed idea of what these were, as I felt responsible for SO many things.

Kids, yes. I have some guilt- some very cringing feelings- there about the way I raised my daughter in the mess we were in.There was not alot of emotional space for her that was good and happy, there was ALWAYS so much tension in our home. I was so drained from ‘defending’ from my mom, I was clenching my teeth many many days.There is nothing I can do about that now other than be very honest with her, continue my recovery, and encourage her to get GOOd counselling- IF she can find it.

For now I realize that retreating to recover, and no one wanting to reconcile hurts very much and I thank Darlene for bringing the topic up.It was something I always thought about but was too embarrassed to bring up to a therapist. I just pretended to be moving on, about it,but secretly hoping I didn’t HAVE to move on. It does hurt even if some think it shouldn’t.

Right now I’m feeling very sad again.Even if it was a dysfunctional family, it was the only one I had, and I helplessly loved them because they were ‘my’ people. May be its my non acceptance still of the way things were, but sometimes I see things differently than I do at other times.Mentally exhausting and a very old pattern.

But there was no family leader who led us all to a safe place, and people died when they needn’t have.So in away I am symbolically looking at a house burned down; with just a foundation I am cleaning up and repairing I hope.

I value every comment here. I read them over and over and always see something new. This is a treasure house of ‘soul’ food.

49

Elizabeth, you keep amazing me more and more, every time you write.

You said:
“As adults when we seek help in understanding what has happened to us- when I did that; it was a revelation. I wanted to round up my family and have everything fixed for everyone. I thought they’d be as excited to know it was a family system dis-ease, as I was. Not to be.” ~~OH, ME TOO!~~

You said:
“…That is not wise or healthy; no more than it is to try to pet a wounded or lonely animal. You might think because YOU feel compassion, it MUST know you are harmless and it won’t hurt you. But that is not necessarily true. In fact if I think I am capable of that then I have overestimated my ‘power’… ~~SO PROFOUND~~

You said:
“Kids, yes. I have some guilt- some very cringing feelings- there about the way I raised my daughter in the mess we were in.There was not alot of emotional space for her that was good and happy, there was ALWAYS so much tension in our home. I was so drained from ‘defending’ from my mom, I was clenching my teeth many many days.There is nothing I can do about that now other than be very honest with her, continue my recovery, and encourage her to get GOOd counselling- IF she can find it.” ~~DOUBLE-DITTO~~

Elizabeth, You Rock.

50

Correction, Elizabeth, I should have said “Triple-Ditto” about the parenting guilt, because I messed up with Three.

51

I really love how honest you all are about your experiences. One of the most difficult thing for abused victims to do initially, is to realize that what was done to us was wrong. More than that, it wasn’t any of our fault.

I grow up in a stereotypical Malaysian Chinese family. All this while I had believed that it was a “normal” family, and my experiences were normal. I don’t remember much of my childhood, but my mother started to “neglect” me when my younger sister came about. Though I can kinda understand why she did that (my sister was sick for the first few years of her life), I couldn’t comprehend as a child. Everything was my fault. If I quarrelled with my sister, it’s my fault, If I made my mum angry, it’s MY fault. If I say what I need, it’s MY fault. I remembered growing up being absolutely terrified of her screaming and chasing me with needles (it’s a wonder that I don’t grow up with a phobia of needles). I turned to food for comfort and my mum would call me “ugly pig” for more than 10 years, and said that she’s ashamed of me because of my size – in public. I began to fear even adult women – even my teachers, because I didn’t want them to scream at me or abandon me. I was never allowed to wear dresses ever since I was 10, never allowed to have long hair since I was 5, and I can count the number of times I wore skirts in a period of 10 years. Reason: Mum thinks that fat girls look uglier in them (or rather, fat girls are not fitted for them).

When I went to highschool, I was bullied and demeaned to an extent that I felt like I had lost my mind. Of course, I also believed that the bullying was MY fault. I remember coming home (almost) everyday after school, locking myself up in my room and cried myself, often to sleep. I would do the same at night. I had nightmares and night terrors (which seldom happens in teenagers), and I was so fearful or my bullies that I didn’t want to go to college after that.

I never thought that any of these was a problem. To me it was simple: I was treated this way because I deserved it. Something is wrong with me and it’s MY problem. In fact, I didn’t even think that what happened to me was even abuse. I mean, I wasn’t even physically or sexually assaulted!

I started therapy when I took up a psychology degree, and have been in therapy for 2.5 years (with different therapists, of course). I did my “main work” with a clinical psychologist who for the first time, made me feel comfortable and accepted. I could not believe how could someone genuinely love me. It did take a long time for me to realize that she really did care, not just trying to be “professional”.

I considered myself to be at the end of the road of recovery. And to those of you who are still struggling, KEEP FIGHTING. There is an end to your pain.

52

Jasmine, as I was reading your story, I could almost FEEL how very crushing that would be to your spirit, to go through the verbal abuse and bullying you describe. How amazingly strong you are, to have survived it with your spirit so beautifully intact!

53

Lynda,

It took me a long while to realize that verbal/psychological abuse can be just as damaging as physical/sexual abuse, and that was really the beginning of my recovery! There are still times when I believed that what happened to me in the past was my fault, but the rational side would start to be sensible.

Very often, what abuse victims go through is what is known in psychology as “self-fulfilling prophecy”. Because we were demeaned and mistreated by the people who were expected to love and nurture us, we then believe that everybody else will react likewise. Hence, instead of approaching people in a “normal” way, unconsciously we begin to act in ways that will cause others to treat us like we’ve always been treated – like trash.

Just for example, if you’ve been sexually violated, you might dress skimpily, or sleep around with men. On the other hand, you might avoid romantic relationships altogether, or get attracted to people of the same sex. In other words, you draw the kind of reactions that you expect.

Why do we react in such ways? Possibly, it’s because it’s something that we’ve grown to be familiar with. And as skewed as it is, familiarity keeps us in bondage. We’re afraid of change, afraid that if we change things might get worse. At least this is something that we know will NOT change.

For many years, I was “socially inept”. I do things to push people away, and I withdrew myself. As a result? yes, I felt even more rejected and the bullying only intensified.

One important aspect of therapy for abuse victims is what we call :corrective emotional”, in that the therapist creates a new template for clients. My therapist did that by letting me know that she accepts me for who I am, and will not leave no matter what happens. She showed me that I;m worth caring for even though I didn’t pay her (I was a student in the university). That brought about tremendous changes in my belief system. I began to react towards other people differently. Of course, this whole process is painfully slowly and challenging.

Eventually, I even had enough space to deal with my Mum. To all of you who have tried to talk through your pain with your Mums, I salute you. Fortunately for me, my mum began to stand. Of course, again, it wasn’t easy. I had to deal with her defenses for a period of time, but each time I assured her that I just wanted to know how things got so bad…and I do not intend to blame her. When my attitude towards her changed and I was congruent with what I said i.e I did not blame her, she started treating me differently. Today, she is the one asking me to eat when I struggle with disordered eating.

It takes a lot of patience, yes, but press on.

54

Hi Elizabeth,
I can really relate to what you said! I had this excited feeling about what i was learning too, and couldn’t wait to tell my mother! There is freedom! I wanted to tell her “I know what happened to ME and now also to YOU. ” and I got to the point where I knew that she too was a victim of the system….. but she didn’t want it, she wanted to stay in that system. Too scared to come out of it maybe. Oh well, I had to decide that that wasn’t going to hold me back.
I really understand how lonely it feels to lose our families even when we realize that they were killing us.. it is a terrible feeling. It took a long time, a lot of work and processing and a lot of reinforcing my own value before I feel the way that I feel now.
Thank you for sharing all of this Elizabeth! Your honesty and courage is such a beacon to so many readers. (and like I said, there are hundreds of readers that never comment so the comments make more of a difference then you will ever know!)
Hugs, Darlene

Hello Jasmine,
Thank you for sharing your story from tragic and horrific to victory! This is such an encouragement to so many who are in so much pain. You articulate the journey so well. And I am glad that you came back and posted your process too. You shared so much of exactly what my process has also been and YAY that your mother was not the same as mine in that she wanted to work things out and listen. It gives everyone hope when we hear these stories ~ my mother did not listen to me, but my husband did and now we have a wonderful relationship. Not everyone turns away from the option to do the work.
I am really glad that you are here,
Hugs, Darlene

55

Wow. I am overwhelmed. I was so empowered by your last post, Darlene, that I was very excited to read this one. When I read it, I felt sick to my stomach and ashamed and all of the “old” feelings, so I went away for a few days…and look what happened while I was gone! Wow!

I am still sick to my stomach and still ashamed and all of those things…mainly for taking a few days’ break. I am still feeling all of those feelings and would like to explain why, but first want to address many of the comments here that really resonated with me.

Louise, your comment way back in #6: “My boundaries have to be broken over and over again, my self esteem trod so low, and people not show me respect time and again (whether I am able to receive it too is another question)” AND “I used to always go round friends houses and be really attached to them – my life consisted of their life – I didn’t really know how to have, create or sustain my own. Anything I was doing that was supposed to be about me, was something I had ‘thought’ I ‘should’ do, I didn’t after all know what I wanted because my feelings were a no go area. Eventually I started to recognise I was exhausting myself on this merry go round and ask myself questions about why I felt so bad all the time around ‘friends’, always felt hungrier for affection after I left – it was because they weren’t nourishing friendships and when they were I didn’t know how to relate and would inevitably do something stupid. If only people could see they’re dealing with a wounded child and in so many ways a disable one; emotionally and psychically. People see me and they see an adult who can sometimes express themself well, or appear confident. But of course I had no apparent fear about any situation I put myself in, because I had become an expert at not feeling – it’s amazing what you can do when you’re like that. yet truly I was terrified from dawn till dusk, and everyday was a battle.”

Your second paragraph is where I am now and feel like I always have been. I am glad to know I’m not alone. But would like to show the compassion towards myself that I am a wounded child. Also you said something about your “front self” THINKING emotions, but the real ones were too big to handle…this has been my experience my whole life. In fact, I’ve been feeling some very real ones since I’ve been coming to this page and my reaction is frequently to run away.

Lynda, I have read all your comments here and I love that you are so honest and share so openly and I have not been offended by anything you have said here or have ever said on this blog. But I want to address for a moment something you said in comment #13, where you felt, however briefly, WRONG, because of something Darlene said. When I first came to EFB, I shared something that got a strong reaction from Darlene…don’t remember what it was exactly, but it was a similar kind of situation, where Darlene was protecting the mental health of her general readership, disagreeing with love. But I felt admonished, chastised. After a few days of sulkily reading along and lurking, I realized that my reaction was about ME, not about Darlene at all. It was my all-or-nothing thinking. I was never allowed to be “wrong” in a good way. Being corrected was always a fearful, frightening thing, because the punishment almost never fit the crime. And in the many months since that I’ve been sharing here and getting to know Darlene, I’ve realized that HERE, we can disagree and still be safe.

Patricia, Comment #24: “I had no idea what choices were…” That is an incredibly profound statement, with which I identify completely.

Gabrielle, Comment #26: “jumped on the bandwagon.” I postponed my recovery for many years because I was afraid that’s what I was doing.

And finally, Darlene, your response to Jasmine is the perfect opening for what I wanted to say about my initial response to this post: “my mother did not listen to me, but my husband did and now we have a wonderful relationship. Not everyone turns away from the option to do the work.”

As I shared in my comments to the previous post, I received an e-mail from my mother, indicating basically that she had read the post on mother/daughter dysfunction and was willing to talk about it. (Actually, she didn’t say WHAT she had read…) I asked her what prompted it and have not yet received a response. I felt threatened at first, then angry, now ignored and abandoned (a very familiar feeling) and am questioning myself as to whether or not I am just being stubborn for not wanting to talk about this with her. I have a little experience – a LOT actually – with her telling me she wants to talk about it and getting more of the “I’m sorry, but…” that people talked about above. I am simply not ready, not strong enough in my own “rightness” yet to talk about it with her and feel like I can stand my ground. I’m not sure I ever will be, and quite frankly I’m not sure I even WANT to be. I’ve spent so much of my life trying to make her “feel better,” trying to make her happy, and trying (AND FAILING) to give her what she wants, that I pray for freedom from it. Real freedom. And I don’t trust that I will ever have that while engaging in a relationship with her. Does that make me one of the people who is “turning away from the option to do the work”?

So I’m still confused and ashamed and sick to my stomach. But I’m also still grateful to be here.

56

Upon reading recent posts, how true it is that with emotional/verbal abuse (and in my case by my mother with Narcissistic Personality Disorder) … when we are growing up we think our families are ‘normal.’ I so agree with Jasmine on that point. Growing up I always felt like I was on the outside looking in – perhaps its because I never had that mother-daughter bond with my mother. So when I got into my twenties, it was easy for me to see my family more objectively. When I got into my twenties and watching how other families treat each other, namely how other moms – loving moms – treat their daughters and that’s when questions starting tweaking my mind. I began to realize that how she treated me wasn’t right but could never figure out what it was. I felt hated and despised by her.

I resigned myself to the belief that when I have children of my own that I would finally understand how she treated me and I fully expected that her behaviour toward me would finally make sense and that then I would have this profound respect for her. But … THAT didn’t happen – what stepped in was hurt, anger, confusion. I could not understand how someone can say, ‘I love you,’ and then look at you in utter disgust and hate. I was so confused. When I learned at that time that this was called, ’emotional abuse’ – I was thrilled to find out it had a name – but I always felt like some of it was my fault, until about 5 months ago or so when I learned about NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). When I came across the term, I looked it up and found 2 or 3 resources I felt I could trust. The profile fit my mother COMPLETELY – it was like someone wrote about my mother. And then the truth came forth – the abuse was in NO WAY my fault. This knowledge has allowed me to seek the healing I should have sought YEARS ago – and its given me the freedom to finally move on.

As it stands now I have no contact with my family – their choosing. No one wants to talk about it or hear about it, so it still leaves me on the outside of my family, I am, more than ever, standing on the outside – but no longer looking in. I’ve turned around to look to the horizon … healing and wholeness awaits there and its a much lovelier view than looking in at a family who chooses to ignore that which is broken.

The abuse stops with me … and I am so thankful that it probably helped that I didn’t marry til my late twenties and didn’t start having kids til I was 30 … as I have gone through a healing process, but kids are saved from the abuse I suffered. (I took a Christian parenting course when my first kidlet was 2 yrs old – it was one of the best things I did as it covered the heritages we pass down to our kids.)

I know I’m not a perfect mother – but I know I am WAY better than mine was. I have never called my kids names, or put them down or devalued them. I could never look at them like I hate them. I’ve worked very hard to not manipulate or guilt my children into things. It is amazing what we learn from abusive parents!!! These things are hard to break because they are so ingrained – but thanks be to God as it is He who has given me the power to break those chains and to love my kids to the best of my ability.

If I pass anything on to my kids – I hope it is faith in God first and foremost – but also a heritage of love and respect for oneself and for others – especially family, but not to the point that they let themselves be walked over and trampled. It’s been hard raising my kids different from how I was raised because how I was raised, was all I ever knew. Thank God my husband interjects in these areas, because like I said, he comes from a whole different family dynamic. God really looked out for me … my life and ME could have turned out very differently.

With that said, its all a process … I am sure I’ve made mistakes and still will, but at least now I know what is harmful and what isn’t and I can live that.

Breaking the chains!!!

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I’ve gotta blog about what I just wrote!! WOW! Ladies, thank you all for your posts – reading what others have to share really does help throw open that which was sealed shut!! HUGS TO ALL!! ? 🙂

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Lisa,
Once again I could write a whole blog post to respond to your comment! AND I might because you brought up something VERY important at the end ~ the stuff about your feelings of not trusting your mother when she “offers to talk about it”. This is such a process and something that really helped me was giving myself permission to take care of me first and I kept reassuring myself that I was NOT being one of those people that didn’t want to “do the work” by deciding that. As I have told you, my mother is the queen of “I’m sorry but” and I don’t trust her anymore either. The thing is that I had to come out of the fog BEFORE I could really have a fair conversation with my mother. I had to have a clear understanding of what my boundaries were and should be and how they had been violated, I had to learn what choices were, and what LOVE and RESPECT are, BEFORE I could really face the relationship with my mother and come out feeling like I was taking care of me. So to answer your question ~ NO ~ feeling the way you feel right now does NOT make you one of the people who is not willing to do the work.

P.S. Jimmy and I had a hell of a road to walk to reach where we are now. He tried every single tactic he could think of to NOT change. He liked being the king of our world. He was in control, why would he want to change. He will willing but it took a LONG time. I had to be very clear about what my boundaries were with him too because when ever I “gave him a break or cut him some slack” he slid right back down to the “I am the king of you” way of acting. This is no different then how my mother is, except that she said NO to going through the process.

Like I said, I could write a whole post.. but this will just have to do for today. You are doing fantastic Lisa. You have no reason to feel ashamed of anything and sometimes it just takes time to realize that before those feelings go away. I found new feelings through this process, like self validation and worthiness. Those shame feelings are like a default mode for us too. They will eventually be replaced.
Hugs, Darlene

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carol; I just wanted to say…I learned much like you did and approached my journey in much the same way. I read, I took college level psychology classes and did my own research to understand why I was the way I was; what happens to a child who is abused and neglected? And like you describe, I discovered there was nothing “wrong” with me, it was my experiences that were not “normal”. I believed that I could learn how to do this life differently and have found that EFB is a great place to do just that. thank you for sharing your experience and journey here. 🙂

Darlene! #4000?! Well that deserves a w00t!! I am grateful to be a part of this wonderful community and grateful for the open and honest sharing going on! Thank you too Darlene! I feel fortunate to be sharing this part of my journey with you and all the wonderful souls here at EFB!

Elizabeth! What a kind thing to say! I feel fortunate is about all I can add here! I love your wisdom and am grateful that you share your experiences as we all learn and grow together! The relationship issues are probably one of the most difficult aspects of this journey as we not only face the grief of facing our past, but the potential loss of those relationships with those not yet ready to entertain their own healing and resisting ours.

Lynda; I am blown away by your wisdom and insight. Its as if we have traveled the same path in a different universe sometimes:) Your notes on the family and our kids….so right on target with my own experiences. Thank you for your shares:)

Jasmine; I’m so happy to meet you! And your comment: “In fact, I didn’t even think that what happened to me was even abuse. I mean, I wasn’t even physically or sexually assaulted!” This I have seen over and over as folks buy into the idea that their ongoing distress has no source if they were not physically insulted in some way. I love your contributiont and validation of these issues. Its not the degree of abuse or oppression that matters. Its what we came out of it believing about ourselves.

Paulette; I love your energy and your insight! You add much to the discussion! Thank you! And I have to agree with Darlene; in our closest relationships sometimes we have to heal in order to hear them. Understanding that we are each on our own journey and will find healing in our own time and in our own way…sort of helped me to not expect too much too soon from family. This also helped me to know it was ok to stand my ground when they try to pull me back in.

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You know what, I’ve known the existence of this blog for months and I do regret only playing a part now. Better late than never, haha. I don’t have the time (yet) to read every comment, but I will as soon as I can.

Susan, one of the saddest things about abuse is that victims are always led to believe either that what was done to them was “insignificant” and/or what happened was THEIR fault. These beliefs kept many from seeking recovery. Some experts say that verbal/psychological abuse can have more lasting scars than some physical abuse. Simply because the scars aren’t visible, doesn’t mean it’s any better.

Darlene, my relationship with my mum did involve a lot of hard work. I’m sorry that it didn’t work out for you….but I do understand that it takes amazing courage to talk to her about it. DID is the rarest form of mental disorder, and it must have traumatized you so much for it to get to such an extent. And yet, for you to have come so far in your life…is truly astounding!

All of you girls are amazing. Whether or not you’ve recovered, in recovery or thinking about recovery, it doesn’t really matter…because there’s always a place to begin.

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I am overflowing right now with positive thoughts and good feelings, thanks to everyone here. I don’t know how to put it into words… just, THANK YOU. Thank you Lisa, thank you Paulette, thank you Susan, thank you Darlene, thank you Jasmine…. everyone, thank you.

Jasmine, the things you said in your earlier post about the self-fulfilling nature of abuse… absolutely, that is what I’ve come to realize, too, that is the story of my life. Taught from infancy that I was of no value, I took that belief about myself into my adult relationships, and it was like I was wearing a Kick Me sign.

I was feeling very low, a couple of months ago, when I went on a massive internet search for HELP, and found this blog, and Susan’s. My PTSD had been so badly triggered by my sister and niece posting hurtful things about me on facebook, that I was thrown right back into my old mindset of believing I was worthless and less than and not worthy of love, kindness, compassion, or even basic common courtesy. Then I found this blog, and you wonderful women, and began to read and read and read until my eyes started going blurry… and I also wrote and wrote on post after post here, and the validation I received from so many of you was so healing.

Today I took my picture outside in the sunlight, and I can hardly believe my eyes, it’s the best picture that I’ve ever had taken of me in my entire life. That’s amazing because in 3 and 1/2 months I will be 58! The reason that picture looks so good is because I look so happy and at peace… something very rare for me. I credit this blog, and you wonderful women, for that.

I took a picture of myself on the day that my heart was so badly broken when I saw my sister’s hurtful messages on facebook. I look so miserable in that picture, which is exactly how I was feeling. I took my picture that day because I felt so awful, so less than, so nothing, and with my c-ptsd, when I feel like that, I feel in a weird way like I am invisible, or not me. So sometimes I take my picture to let myself know that I am still here… I didn’t explain that quite right, I don’t really know exactly how to put what I mean into words, but I have a feeling that many of you who are going to read this, will understand exactly what I mean.

Tomorrow when I’m not so tired, I am going to post on my “Coming Out of the cRaZy Closet” blog, and I’m going to post the two pictures, the miserable one I took back in early October when I felt like I wanted to die, literally… and the happy, peaceful, confident picture I took of myself today.

I haven’t been writing in my blog for several days, because I’ve been writing, and especially, reading, here. Time for me to get back to my writing, it is therapeutic too. But I won’t be leaving here, this is a godsend and a lifeline.

Oh, I almost forgot, Jasmine, what you said about DID being so rare… I know that it is considered rare in the psychiatric field. My dad had that, he was diagnosed in the 1960s, back then it was called Multiple Personality Disorder, and was considered the rarest psychiatric diagnosis, as you said. However, I suspect that it really isn’t very rare at all. I’m speaking as a layperson, I haven’t had any formal training in this, but I’ve read lots of books on the subject over the years, and, in my lifetime I have met a great number of women and men who seem to have some form of DID… and I believe that I did have that, too, in a certain form, back in the 60s when I was misdiagnosed with Schizophrenia. I suspect that DID is really just part and parcel of complex-ptsd. In fact, Dr. Judith Herman, the Harvard Clinical Psychiatrist who wrote the definitive book on C-PTSD, entitled “Trauma and Recovery,” addresses the commonly dissociative element of many cases of c-ptsd.

I just finished rereading the book Sybil, which was published in 1973. I related to it in a lot of ways. I also saw how it was all caused by extreme childhood trauma, the personality divisions, or dissociations, were defensive mechanisms to escape her intolerable childhood. Her mother was even crazier and more abusive than mine. whew. The book tells the story of how “Sybil” was in therapy, psychoanalysis, for years before her DID came to light. I suspect that a great many of people who have some form of DID are never diagnosed, either because they never go for help, or if they do, they keep the DID hidden from their therapist, and in many cases, from themselves.

Anyway, rare or not, I absolutely agree with what you said, Jasmine, about the amazing courage and strength it takes for anyone to overcome DID ~ and then, to be so public about it! I applaud Darlene with a standing ovation! And another standing ovation for everyone else who is posting here, for your great courage… I applaud you, and again, thank you.

Lynda

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Hi Lynda,
Isn’t the picture thing amazing! I see the difference in my photos too. I see a new LIFE in myself now, a new light. I hated my pictures in the past. I think part of it for me too is the self acceptance that I have now. I look back on the pictures that I would not put on facebook several years ago. I was so self conscious about “who knows what” and today I look at those same pictures and I think ~ wow ~ they are lovely! Not emotional pictures, just regluar photos like me riding my horse or just being outside but my self esteem was really fragile then. I have trouble explaining it too!!! LOL
Thanks for all the lovely things you wrote here.
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Jasmine,
I am glad that you decided to join in the conversation too! Your contribution is wonderful!
Something I have learned from doing this work is that all abuse originates from emotional / psychological abuse ~ this is a really big topic but just quickly ~ I think when the abuse is legally liable it is easier for the victim to be empowered to healing somehow. I think that is part of this issue, it was harder for me to really stand up for myself when it came to emotional abuse, because I was so convinced that I deserved it and that I was actually unworthy. Like I said, a huge topic that I might expand on one of these days!
Hugs, Darlene

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So true, Darlene. Because those scars are hidden to the physical eye, we tend to believe that they are either non-existent, or worse, that we made it all up.

If it does help anyone to know how devastating emotional/verbal abuse can be – I was severely depressed, struggled with disordered eating and was psychotic ever since my childhood (though the depression started out way earlier). To make matters worse, if you think that mental disorders are a taboo in America…wait till you come to this part of the world (don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to minimize any of what you’re going through :P). I never knew the existence of “psychologists” here until I came to study the course itself. The whole time when I was so depressed in school, no one bothered to tell me that something is wrong and I needed help. I always wondered if things could have been different if I had gotten help earlier.

I was so badly traumatized by all the abuse that my clinical psychologist took EIGHT (out of 12) weeks just to gain my trust. I was so scared that she would leave me or yell at me or hurt me. And yet, deep within every fibre of my being was screaming for help. Thank God that she has such patience and competence – she kept believing that I will make it one day. I broke her record as her longest client in therapy (trust me, she has lots of clients before) – 34 sessions instead of the original 12 to 20 weeks.

We all know that it’s mandatory for those with schizophrenia/schizoaffective d/o to take anti-psychotics. For life. Again, due to the huge stigma, I flatly refused. My therapist discouraged it as well, but when I started to hallucinate disorganized-ly (see, I’m even making words up myself. But don’t worry, it’s not due to schizo :P), she got worried and started to encourage me to see a shrink. We also know that there is no “known” cure for this disorder – though there are accounts of “miracles”.

I didn’t take a single pill, but through some miracles and a lot of unconditional positive regard that I had received from my therapist, my hallucinations lessened and I don’t really hallucinate anymore. It surprised even my therapist.

Oh yes, it takes plenty of resilience. Professionals admire at my resilience, but I think it’s simply because I BADLY wanted to recover. Partly because I plan to do my postgraduate studies in clinical psychology and I do not want any of these to become a hindrance.

So if you ask me, yes, there is hope after abuse. Not everyone will treat you like your abusers do. Sometimes, we just have to give others (and US) a chance.

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Jasmine … I love what you shared: “one of the saddest things about abuse is that victims are always led to believe either that what was done to them was “insignificant” and/or what happened was THEIR fault.” Did I ever get that!! That the how she ‘treated’ me was insignificant – always getting the message to ‘just suck it up’!

I tried for years to reconcile with my mother – but its impossible. She doesn’t think she’s done anything wrong and her sister tells me that they were never abused … so it leaves me nowhere. Even if my mother was abused elsewhere by someone outside the family, I will never know even though this kind of abuse tends to get passed down.

My family has no idea what I’ve struggled through to overcome my mother’s abuse because no one has ever asked because none of them want to know. I grew up not being able to rely on any of them and now its very evident why. Mothers with NPD are like that – controlling to the point that they even control and manipulate sibling relationships. It’s too bad that my siblings and my father are too blind to see it.

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Hi Paulette,

Abuse comes from an imbalance of power, manipulation and control. This is why victims are always treated with contempt.

I’m sorry that you’ve been unable to patch things up with your mother. It’s sometimes difficult to understand whether she herself has been abused before, because it’s possible that her own parents/guardians have treated her just has she has treated you. If this is the kind of environment that she has been brought up in, it is HER “normal”. Of course, then, she will not think that what she has done to you was wrong. In fact, one of the most powerful defense mechanisms is to think that this is all normal. I know, because my mother never thought that anything was wrong with her childhood – though most of my maternal aunts/uncles need psychological help. Last month when I talked to my eldest aunt, she revealed a rocky childhood that my mother had considered “normal”. Sometimes, there’s just too much shame behind the abuse that nobody wants to ever talk about it.

What I’m trying to say, is, that abuse is pretty much a “generational curse”. It’s been brought down to our children and grandchildren unless someone along the line sees its problem and find healing. I’m glad that you did, Paulette…because it does have to stop somewhere.

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Jasmine … I so agree with you!! And that is exactly what I’ve come to believe about my mother, and her sisters for that matter! And I do believe it to be a ‘generational curse’ and yes, I am very glad that God woke me up to see it for what it is – so I can prevent it from passing down to my future generations. And for that I feel intensely blessed!! 🙂

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Jasmine, I can vouch for what you are saying. I have a feeling we come from the same part of the woods!

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One thing about abuse is that abusers are not “born” to abuse. Yes we might be genetically vulnerable towards some psychological traits including psychopathy, but it is the environment that pulls the trigger. Hence, I do believe in the “passing down” of abuse. Abusers were once victims themselves, whether they realize it or not.

Having said that, it is still no excuse to abuse others simply because that was how we were once treated. It is possible to draw the line and stop this dreaded vicious cycle once and for all.

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Jamine – SO TRUE!

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I just reread all these comments. I always earn so much from what everyone writes. I’m having a difficult time with my ma at the moment as she’s very mad and rants at invisible people and yesterday she woke me up by sitting on my bed telling me I had to be ‘ready’ and to pack my bags, because she was going to do something BIG – she thinks our neighbours are cartel and have been remotely torturing her, and she often shouts about how criminal they are and she’s going to kill them in horrible ways. It’s a bit like living with a volcano.
Anyhow today she said that it would be good when I finish writing because I’m no support to her whatsoever – I had just said to her that the knickers she thought had been stolen were ‘just knickers’ and I was angry at her for being mad. She then said she didn’t like living with me and I was no good whatsoever and never support her.’
I shut the door on her. A minute before I had been happy, I got up earlier I showered I joined the human race. Two minutes after she’s been like this I want to get drunk and die in a ditch. Or at least the thought of a ditch is appealing than being here in this situation any longer.
I can’t figure out why all my will goes when I’m with her, it’s like fighting a lost battle, and is exhausting. Such a situation and I have literally nowhere to turn; no support group, no income, no job, I can’t drive as I got stuck here when my Dad found he got cancer, crashed the car injured my ma and then I stayed and died and I’d had to cancel my test again. I don’t speak the language, I can’t get help for her, she won’t take the drugs the doctor recommends as she knows what they do having run a rest home.
Whichever way I turn there’s a wall. I stayed as to me it was a positive option for everyone and our dogs here too. BUt now it is NOT a positive option for me now I can recognise the psychological barrage and push and pull to some extent, I am so drained because of it. Like she’s my kryptonite.
It’s hard trying to invent options out of thin air, but I will keep doing it, but somehow I need to invent an option where I can go somewhere safe for me to start my own life over by myself.

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I meant I always ‘Learn’ something from what everyone writes and that my dad died, not me. And that I stayed because I was so fragile at the time I didn’t care about my fate so I would have ended up on the streets I reckon before long so this was the lesser of two evils. Now the street looks appealing

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Hi Louise,
It is obvious that you are in a very tough situation. Thank you for sharing this with us, sometimes just talking about it helps us come up with solutions. I wish I knew what to say that might help.
Please hang in here with us and keep sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

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What, exactly, is spiritual abuse? If it’s what I’m thinking, that would explain a lot of confusion I’ve had in the spiritual realm. Confusion that got so bad I quit going to church, at least for now.
I didn’t know you could be abused spiritually, but it doesn’t surprise me.
I’d just like more information on what people think spiritual abuse is.

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I’ve been through spiritual abuse – in my case, spiritual abuse is when you are going to a church where a pastor manipulates truth to manipulate the congregation to perform or act a certain way. This ‘truth’ may be just part of the truth or a total falsehood. In my husband’s and my case, our spiritual abuse in the church we were going to was classed as a cult (Word of Faith Movement) – the lies and deceptions were INCREDIBLE. We left there – running more like – we spent well over a year just getting well grounded in God’s Word – and God’s Word alone, before we went looking at church fellowship again.

Our God is not a God of confusion. 🙂

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Lousie, I admire you so much for being there to try to help your mother. But it sounds to me like it you are having a similar experience that I told you about, that I went through with my schizophrenic brother. I brought him to live in my home, I was so sure I could help him, or find help for him. I thought he was probably misdiagnosed, as I had been. My brother lived with us for over a year, and I searched for any resources I could find to help him, but nothing worked. He, also, refused his medicine. Then he would go on rants and yell to me and my children, who were little then, that we were “all going to die.” Finally I felt like I had jumped into the ocean to save my drowning brother, only to be pulled down under with him. For my own sanity, I had to give up and let him go. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. It still hurts me to remember it. BUT, if I had it to do all over again, I would do the same thing, knowing that the help he needed was beyond my ability to provide. I had no shortage of love and concern for him, but that wasn’t enough.

I hope you will get yourself into a safe place as soon as possible. You are so precious. As a mother of 3 grown children, I can tell you truly from the bottom of my heart, that if I ever got that mentally ill and dangerous and impossible to live with, I absolutely would NOT want any one of my children to try to live with me and put themselves through the kind of hell that you are going through. If I ever got like that, I would want them to take care of themselves, first and foremost. That is the heart of a true mother, Louise. Even if the mother is too ill to articulate it or to think that way, you have told me that she was a good and loving mother to you in the past, so I have no doubt that if she were in her right mind right now she would beg you to save yourself.

Hugs – Lynda

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Vicki, my dad was a very strict fundamentalist minister when I was growing up, and he used his interpretations of scripture to force his family to do what he wanted us to do. He and my mother both did that, it was a form of dictatorship, backed by warped and out-of-context Bible verses. I consider that to be one aspect of spiritual abuse.

Another is hypocrisy. Going to church and pretending to be so saintly, and demanding holiness from everyone else, loudly condemning all manner of sin.. but in secret, beating your spouse, beating your children, verbally abusing your family in the privacy of your own home where no one else can see, even sexually abusing your children.. I experienced some of that, too, at the hands of my publically super-religious family.

When my present husband and I first were married in 2004, almost immediately he began demanding that I do everything he wanted me to do, and because the Bible says that a wife is supposed to submit to her husband. I was 51 when we married, I have a tested iq of 156, but suddenly I wasn’t supposed to have my own thoughts and my own opinions and make my own decisions, I was supposed to defer to him, and let him dictate everything! I told him: 1. A man wrote the verses that says a wife is supposed to submit to her husband, not God, in my opinion, and 2. That same section of scripture that commands wives to submit to their husbands, ALSO commands husband’s to die for their wives. SO, I told him, IF YOU AREN’T DYING, I’M NOT SUBMITTING. Period, end of discussion.

Shortly after we married, my husband went to a 9-week in-house program for Veterans with PTSD, and that literally saved our marriage. I was not going to stay, if he didn’t treat me with equality. Now, he does that. He is still a Christian, as am I, and we both agree that of all the many verses and commandments in the Bible, there is really only ONE that is important, and that ONE, if you observe it, will ensure that you are also obeying all the others. That all-important, all-encompassing commandment is LOVE. Love God, and love others AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF. Not more than you love yourself. Not instead of loving yourself. We need to love ourselves, and out of that healthy self-love, flows genuine love for others.

Love isn’t supposed to hurt. Anyone who says they love you, while they are hurting you, are liars. And that is the worst spiritual abuse of all, in my opinion.

Lynda

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Louise,

I personally think that the issue of spiritual abuse is one of the most heinous – sometimes as bad as the abuse that we grew up with. I’d experienced “spiritual abuse” in two churches throughout my teens and college, to a point where when I entered uni in another state…I was just so ready to quit church. I think it was my resilience that kept me going…and the fact that God has done so much I couldn’t deny His existence.

In the first church, I was blackmailed, gossiped about and ridiculed because I joined the youth group of another church. They tried to offer me various ministerial positions with the hopes of making it difficult for me to leave, and I smelt the rat.

I was really happy in the other church, or so I thought. I didn’t noticed that I was being unfairly sidelined because I was “weird” – I was just so thirsty for acceptance and attention. Then 5 years ago, something happened. In short, someone went behind my back to lodge a complaint to the youth pastor’s wife – whom I adored, but refused to come forward to speak to me herself. Meanwhile, there was a lot of pressure over something which I felt was my personal choice. When I began to explode, I was “dragged” into the youth pastor’s house. My mum heard me screaming over the phone and that was when she knew that something was wrong. She accompanied me to “talk” to the pastor’s wife, only to hear her screaming at me. The thing was that the initial matter has got nothing to do with anyone else – it was solely personal blog post. Later on another person tried to “help” to talk to me, but then I got suspicious because she knew way too much. The next thing I knew – lies were being spread among my other friends. Thankfully, there were some who knew what really happened, and knew they weren’t true. They then told me that the person who started it was the daughter of the person who tried to help me. What’s more, she proudly confessed that she was the first person who reported me. I was enraged, but till today had never confronted them in person. What was interesting was that they knew that I had suspected them and started to avoid me. The next thing I knew, the youth pastor’s wife asked me why did I blame the “wrong person”. They wanted me to “leave the past behind” and forget what happened. They could start “afresh”, but of course I couldn’t. People in leadership positions have used their authority to damage my dignity. I needed a closure. I needed to know what really happened. And they wanted to make sure that I never knew.

The whole time, I was severely depressed. I had respected all of them so much, even treated the youth pastor’s wife as my own mother when I didn’t have a good relationship with my own. I tried so hard to patch things up by talking through things, but they didn’t want to even talk about it. One day when I tried to talk about it again, the youth pastor came (he never interfered), and told me to “call when you want to come to my house”. I was devastated, because that meant that I wasn’t wanted anymore. No one had ever had to call before going to their house. We just went as we wanted. I was “disowned”.

It took me a long time to let go. I even told my new pastors that I’ve been badly wounded so don’t hurt me again or I’ll leave. Thankfully, they had never given up on me. They treated me with dignity, even when I was difficult. Even my therapist was threading on eggshells as I knew that she is a pastor’s daughter – she was careful not to touch on spirituality unless I brought it up.

Oh yes, spiritual abuse can be damaging alright. But you’re not alone 🙂

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Jasmine, what a horrible experience you went through. You are so amazingly strong to have survived all of that. And now you are in another church ~ you truly are brave. My husband and I were ostracized in the church that we were going to when we first married in 2004, because we did not hide the fact that we had both been divorced, more than once, before we married. We keep saying that we are going to try going to another church, but neither of us has felt brave enough to actually go to one. I applaud your courage. Maybe we will be able to follow your example.

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Thanks to everyone who shared and answered Vicki’s questions about spiritual abuse!

Paulette ~ Just wanted to add that spiritual abuse is when anyone takes the bible or religious teachings and manipulates them for their own gain or for the purpose of power and control. This can happen and does happen outside of churches, in bible studies, and even in prayer chains. This is a huge problem in our society.

Lynda ~ You bring up one of the most misunderstood teaching in the Bible. It is so important for people to find out what the Bible really says. This is a good example of how abuse works. Only PART of the scripture is taught or preached (by whoever ~ I have seen women teaching it to other women) in order to guilt or force someone to do things the way that they want but not the way the bible actually lays it out for us.
Thanks for sharing!

~Jasmine, you also present great examples of spiritual abuse. I had similar experiences to what you shared except that I was an adult with kids of my own. I want to add one thing for the sake of the other readers~ you comment about being ready to quit the church but the fact that God has done so much for you that you couldn’t deny His existence. In my case going to church has nothing to do with acknowledging Gods existence. That teaching has been used against me in an abusive way so maybe I am sensitive about it. One has nothing to do with the other. I am far more spiritually healthy without the church.
Thanks for being here and for your contribution!
Hugs, Darlene

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So true Darlene … I got a book years ago, not sure if its still in print or not called, “Overcoming the Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” … I forget the author though – great book.

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I agree, Darlene, I too feel that I am much more spiritually healthy without the controlling, cliquish, judgmental church we used to go to. However I hope we can someday find a church that isn’t like that, for the friendship and fellowship.

What you said about women teaching other women to be submissive to their husbands, per their misinterpretation of out-of-context scripture, I experienced an extreme of that many years ago. I was married to a man who was active-duty military. My husband’s commanding officer invited us to his church, where I met his wife, who then invited me to a weekly Bible study for women at their home. I went one time ~ the topic was on the wife’s “duty” to submit to her husband in all ways. The woman who was leading the Bible study, the wife of my husband’s commanding officer, said that PERFECT submission meant that a wife should do whatever she knows her husband wants her to do, even if he doesn’t tell her to do it. For example, if a wife asks her husband for permission to buy a new dress, if he hesitates, even for a split second, before giving his permission, or if he sounds the least bit unenthusiastic in granting permission, OR if you know that your husband is worried about money issues, then, EVEN WITH your husband’s verbal permission, the truly submissive wife will NOT buy that dress.

Basically it came down to mind reading… the perfectly submissive wife was supposed to be so perfectly attuned to her husband’s every whim and desire, that she would intuitively know what he wanted her to do, and do it.

Someone brought up the question: What if your husband was a non-Christian, and he wanted you to join him in sinning… drinking and drugging or wife-swapping, for example? The answer, believe it or not, according to these Stepford Wives, was that it didn’t matter whether your husband was Christian or not, you were commanded to submit to him at all times and in all things, even if it meant that you were required to sin! The guilt of your sin would be on HIM, not on YOU, as you were simply obeying the commandment to mindlessly submit to your husband. In doing so, your non-Christian husband might eventually be “won” to Christianity, by the perfect loving submissive example that you, as a Christian wife, were setting.

I…. yi yi. I never went back.

Spiritual Abuse, even when it is done out of ignorance, with good but misguided intentions, is very dangerous. That “check your brain at the door” mindset is how religious zealots are created, human robots that can be programmed to fly jets into tall buildings->>>>>>>>>> or to line up like sheep to the slaughter and drink from a vat of poisoned koolaide….. simply because some sociopathic egomaniac says it is “God’s will” for them to do so.

I will not associate with any person or organization that tries to deny me the right to use my God-given brain and conscience to make my own decisions.

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Lynda ~ just read your last post – that woman really did take submission to a whole ‘new’ level!! Scary!! We submit to our husbands as far as its godly to do so – submitting does not include partaking in sin with him. I’m glad you didn’t go back. It’s amazing what gets taught in some churches. And they get away with it as so many are not as well-grounded in God’s Word as they should be. I’m so sorry you experienced that!

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Hi Lynda,
I wanted to highlight something about what you said when you wrote this;

“Spiritual Abuse, even when it is done out of ignorance, with good but misguided intentions, is very dangerous. That “check your brain at the door” mindset is how religious zealots are created, human robots that can be programmed to fly jets into tall buildings->>>>>>>>>> or to line up like sheep to the slaughter and drink from a vat of poisoned koolaide….. simply because some sociopathic egomaniac says it is “God’s will” for them to do so.”

This is very true but not just about spiritual abuse. All abuse is about the misuse of power and control. Abusers really want us to “check your brain at the door” that is how they get so much control. In my life, (past now) I drank tons of poison Kool-Aid ~ and most of it had nothing to do with church or spiritual abuse. This is one of the important foundational beliefs that it is necessary for us to realize. We CAN take our brains back in order to get our lives back. (in what ever order that happens! LOL)
Thank you Lynda for sharing your comments!
Hugs, Darlene

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You wrote:

‘And the message that I got from her withdrawal was that I was not worth her trying for. If I was going to draw boundaries and demand equal value then forget it. She said NO. The message was that I was only good for kicking around. If she had to respect me, then she didn’t want to be bothered with me at all. And that message meant to me that I am NOT worth it. After all the years of loyalty and compliance.’

This hit the nail on the head for me when it comes to a significant relationship I’ve had with someone for the past 5 years. I’ve already done a great deal of work on childhood issues, but sometimes, new things are uncovered and/or revisited as we travel through life and have new experiences. Intellectually, I know my worth and value. Something I did not know I had as a child. Yet, my present experience is creating a clash of the titans war inside of myself as my conscious mind that knows I have worth and value clashes up against the deeper and more unconscious ghost of the past that is now waking up and crying loudly in terror that she has no worth. (the child within)

The grown woman can accept that the abusers rejection of me is not about ME at all. It’s about him. But that terrified, abandoned, and deeply hurt little girl inside is remembering and feeling what she felt so many years ago. That she was used but unwanted. Unloved. Then discarded.

It’s as if I am currently walking the fine line between the light side of myself and the shadow. I can hear and feel the shadow of the little girl inside more strongly then I can hear my adult at times. My current challenge is in the integration. Letting her cry out loud enough so she is finally heard without me having to numb the pain in some way. Or shut her up somewhere in a closet so I cannot hear her.

I have been rejected by my abuser. This has shined the spotlight on a deep and dark inner fear. That maybe it’s true. Maybe I really don’t have any worth after all. And now I have the opportunity to face this fear fully. Head on. I am in the grips of spiritual warfare.

But I am strong. I have worth far beyond my abusers imagination and estimations. He cannot see past his own nature.

‘When a pick pocket sees a saint, all’s he can see are the pockets.’

Diamonds are made from an intense amount of pressure and heat. So for those of us that have gone through the storms of life and have withstood the intense pressure and heat of various abuse. Know that you must be one helluva diamond and your worth is beyond measure.

And so is mine.

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Tender Hope ~ You tugged at my heart-strings and you so eloquently said what I have often tried to put into words and you did it! I was abused by my mother who very, very much shows all symptoms of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Used, abused and discarded. She doesn’t think she’s done anything wrong. She refused to respect me and own up to anything she did to me. The following is what is so going on on the inside of me:

“Intellectually, I know my worth and value. Something I did not know I had as a child. Yet, my present experience is creating a clash of the titans war inside of myself as my conscious mind that knows I have worth and value clashes up against the deeper and more unconscious ghost of the past that is now waking up and crying loudly in terror that she has no worth. (the child within)”

My mother too cannot see what she does or who she is – she very much treated me like “When a pick pocket sees a saint, all’s he can see are the pockets.” They only see what they can get out of you or use you for. My mother wanted worship and ever trying to earn her unattainable love!

And I have embraced this:

“Diamonds are made from an intense amount of pressure and heat. So for those of us that have gone through the storms of life and have withstood the intense pressure and heat of various abuse. Know that you must be one helluva diamond and your worth is beyond measure.”

I hope you don’t mind if I quote you on my facebook page these last two quotes I quoted. Thank you.

http://breakingintobeauty.wordpress.com

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Hi Tender Hope,
I would say that the biggest part of my process has been about “owning my value” ~ learning that no one gets to define me or decide my worth. I also had to face it head on ~ facing that fear that it might be true (this belief all my younger life that I had no value. that they might be right). but they are not right. It is very hard to be rejected by the abuser that you have tried so hard with. I tried so hard to be what they wanted and in the end it wasn’t good enough. Not at all good enough.. that is somewhat of a blow especially since I let them define me! I let them decide who I was by my compliance and when they rejected me, I felt so “lost”. But today I am not lost at all..
Thank you so much for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Paulette,

Thank you for your kind words. I’m happy that my sharing met a similar need or place in you. I wholeheartedly believe it’s an integral part of our healing process. As we share, we are mirroring and validating each other in the ways we may not have received from our parents. We cannot truly tap into our own power unless it is adequately mirrored to us by another; like the finger pointing to the moon.

Speaking of which, as I was remembering the finger pointing to the moon analogy, something occurred to me. I got in touch with a huge pocket of anger earlier this week. Anger that has been brewing and festering but I’ve been keeping a lid on it for the most part. Towards the significant person in my life. I have spent so much time wanting this person to sincerely be remorseful enough for the things he’s done to want to change. That when he says he is sorry, that it would be more then just the lip service it has been. While he turned around and continued to do the same things.

Its as if I have NEEDED him to do this or I cannot be ‘ok’. Well, if I continue to hold my breath waiting for that to happen, I will probably die before then. I have to truly get to the point where I simply ACCEPT that I cannot change this man or change what has happened with him no matter how hard I try. No matter how badly I want that to be the case.

I’ve spent the majority of this past week in a sort of ‘rage’ as I’ve allowed myself to feel the depth of my anger at the injustice and lack of respect I have received from this person. It needed to happen. It has also been very exhausting! haha

However, I’m also now coming to a point where perhaps I can finally take my eyes off of him as being the MOON ITSELF. And instead, now recognize him as merely being the finger who is now point to the moon inside of me. I now need to step in and do for myself what I have been wanting this person to do for me. To give me.

What do I so desperately want and need him to give me so badly right now? And can the adult part of me turn around and give it to that wounded little girl inside? The one who needs it?

That is what is now coming up for me. And thank goodness I don’t have to do it alone! 🙂

Thanks again for sharing. 🙂

======================

Hi Darlene,

So true and it’s such a challenge at times, isn’t it? Most of us have been defined by others are entire lives! haha Once we start stripping away all these labels and false beliefs, it tends to make us feel really vulnerable and scared inside at times. Basically, we’re losing our ‘identity’, even if it was a false one. That’s why having some sort of support group is so important. Other people really can act as a bridge to help us shift from one false identity until more of our true selves emerge.

This was such a great post Darlene.

Hugs back.

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Tender Hope ~

I know exactly what you mean! I needed my mother to be my mother – but its not in her to give, she is incapable of it – she can’t even recognize it. The pearl I’ve learned is this: “No matter what you say or how hard you try, you cannot make someone love you.” This also applies to the fact that you cannot make someone into who you want or need them to be … so yes, we are our own best advocate – and its not easy. I find it hard and scary sometimes … but knowing I have a community of overcomers here in this forum makes it much easier to bear as I find courage and strength here. I love how I finally feel as though I’m not alone, that I won’t be judged here, that its a safe place … and that is healing in itself.

I’m so glad we crossed paths! And thank you Darlene for providing such a place!!

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Tender Hope!

This is a profound share. I quoted you on the EFB facebook for this; “As we share, we are mirroring and validating each other in the ways we may not have received from our parents. We cannot truly tap into our own power unless it is adequately mirrored to us by another; like the finger pointing to the moon. “ This is such a profound truth.
You also wrote the following:
“However, I’m also now coming to a point where perhaps I can finally take my eyes off of him as being the MOON ITSELF. And instead, now recognize him as merely being the finger who is now point to the moon inside of me. I now need to step in and do for myself what I have been wanting this person to do for me. To give me.
What do I so desperately want and need him to give me so badly right now? And can the adult part of me turn around and give it to that wounded little girl inside? The one who needs it? “

All you want from him is acceptance. You want love. You want to be seen as “good enough” the way that you are. That is what we all want. Unconditional love. Fair treatment. Equal Value and respect. That is what we need to do for ourselves if we are to break free from the prisons we have lived in for so long. That was and is my process.

Thank you for your honesty and your depth.
Hugs, Darlene

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I agree that people should value themselves, but I also think we don’t live in a vacuum. If we did, living in solitary confinement would be no problem.
In fact, my doctor (psychiatrist) said that love is one of the four basic necessities. Out of food, shelter, clothing and love.
IDK how that will be received, usually I don’t like being disputatious, but everyone who’s ever said they don’t need someone has always had someone in their lives at the time they mentioned it.
My mom’s dead though, so it’ll never matter in my case. My biological mom is dead too, and she died the same way she lived. As a victim, w/ everyone in the family feeling sorry for her. Except me b/c, by then, I’d already seen so much domestic violence-as no more than an EMT-B (B for entry-level EMS worker)-that I was sick of the attitude and no longer cared.
Seeing the woman who’d murdered two of her kids and sent one into hypoglycemic shock combined w/ her attitude about how she wasn’t even wrong to be that way was the last straw for me.

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Vicki –

I’ve been feeling EXACTLY this lately: “everyone who’s ever said they don’t need someone has always had someone in their lives at the time they mentioned it” so at least one person agrees. I’ve been experiencing a great deal of frustration about this very subject and didn’t know how to express it. But you did it perfectly. Thank you.

I agree with those who say they’d rather be alone than be abused. And more power to you. For sure. But being alone ain’t easy either. It has it’s own set of huge issues to address.

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Hi Lisa and Vicki
I have always noticed that it is easy for people to say certain things when they are not in the situation themselves! LOL
In the past I always felt torn between wondering which was better, just being alone or working on relationship. Today I think that life is work and that things get easier all the way around when I take care of me. I had to change the way that I thought about so many things. I had to stop thinking about everyone else’s needs all the time and start thinking about mine too. I had to relearn definitions that I had been taught wrong my whole life ~ about love, about relationship, respect, and so many other things. Learning how to take care of myself, and how to have a relationship with myself has been the most best and most healing thing I have ever done. It has spilled over into all my relationships and made my life richer.
Thanks for sharing ladies!
Hugs, Darlene

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Vicki, Lisa, & Darlene,
I lived alone from age 47 thru 51, a total of 4 years. During those 1st 3 years I was doing a lot of dating, mostly dating men I had met in AA… NOT the best dating plan; as my daughter told me, “Mom, I know there are more fish in the sea. The problem is you are fishing in a toxic pond.” She was so right.

My problem was that I had no self-esteem whatsoever. I had severe Complex-PTSD, but didn’t know that was what I had, I just thought I was “crazy.” I was miserable, I was desperately lonely, I didn’t have the emotional or physical strength to stand on my own two feet and support myself, I’m talking about financial support and mental emotional support. I was facing turning 50, and terrified that I had to find a man before I was completely “over-the-hill.” I was so desperate and needy, that all the healthy men ran the other way, while the abusers basically got in line. I went from one A-hole to another A-hole during those 3 miserable years, each degrading relationship leaving me even more broken and needy. By the time my big 5-0 birthday rolled around, I was so much emotional pain that I literally couldn’t take it any longer. I was just waiting for my long-drawn-out divorce to finally be over, so I could take my divorce settlement money and divide it between my 3 grown kids ~ I didn’t want my estranged husband and the woman he was living with, and is now married to, to be able to keep everything. I was going to give the money to my kids, along with a letter to each telling them how sorry I was for being such a total failure, and then I was going to kill myself to end my miserable life. I didn’t tell anyone about my plan, because I didn’t want anyone to stop me.

Shortly before my divorce settlement came thru, someone who saw how miserable I was, even tho I was trying to hide it, recommended a book called “LOVE IS A CHOICE.” I read it and was struck by the compassionate, respectful, non-judgmental, HOPEFUL way the author portrayed a woman in the book who had been thru mulitple failed marriages just like me. The author, Paul Meier, MD, founded a nationwide network of mental health clinics. They used to be called the Minirth-Meier Clinics, now they are called the Meier New Life Clinics. Anyway, I called the tollfree number on the back of the book, and told the counselor who answered about my suicidal plan. He said, “Come here instead, we can help you.” A few days later when my money came thru, I went to the clinic where Dr. Meier himself works, in Richardson, TX.

I had to pay cash, having lost my medical insurance in the divorce. I feel very very fortunate that I had the cash I needed, to get the help I so desperately needed. After a full battery of physical and psychological tests, Dr. Meier himself told me that I had PTSD. He told me I was NOT crazy, as I had been told all my life, first by my abusive mother, and then when I was misdiagnosed at age 14 with schizophrenia and institutionalized, a stigma I had carried all my life. Dr. Meier told me that having PTSD after my lifetime of extreme trauma, starting in my crazy childhood, was perfectly normal, just as it is normal to bleed after being stabbed. With the therapy at the Meier Clinic, by the time I left there, I liked myself for the first time in my life, I had hope for the future, even tho I was 50, and I felt confident for the first time ever, that I could live on my own and support myself and be ok. For the first time ever, I felt sufficient in myself, I did not feel like I HAD to have a MAN in my life.

I moved to a new state and started a whole new life, where I did not know a soul. I got a job and did it well and enjoyed it. My divorce settlement money was gone, but I was supporting myself. During that year I stayed all by myself, I did not date, and for the first time ever, I got to know who Lynda is, when it is just ME, and no one else to twist myself into a pretzel for. I learned what I like to do and who I want to be, with no one there to put in their 2 cents and get me all confused, you know? Life was a big adventure during that year. I did make friends, mostly women, and spent some time with them now and then, but most of the time I stayed alone, and I did not let anyone get too close, when they tried to do that, I respectfully backed off.

Near the end of that year I met the man who is now my best friend husband. I love being with him, and I never want to lose him. I don’t ever want to have to live all alone again…. but, I really did enjoy that 1 year of being all by myself, very much. I learned so much, I grew so strong, I learned, as I said, who Lynda is, when there is no one there to push my buttons, when I’m not reacting to anyone else, and I;m just simply acting, for me. I went for long nature walks, I walked thru the malls when the weather outside was too hot or whatever, I went to Alanon meetings… NOT AA meetings… I tried out various churches, and always left when a single man started heading my way at the end of the service. I joined a couple of single groups at two large churches, to get to know the women, and shied away from the men. I went to a weekly support group, therapist-led, for “Women Who Love Too Much.” So yes, I was around people, but I did not have a relationship with anyone, I did not date, I did not get close to any one person, male or female, and most of the time I was alone. I ate out often, and always alone. It felt like such a victory! I took a tram ride to the top of a mountain on Mother’s Day, and treated myself to filet mignon, at the lovely restaurant at the top, and I was alone, and I loved it! The young waitress looked like she felt so sorry for me, but I was revealing in my new found ability to be alone, and be peaceful, and HAPPY. Yes, it is possible, and yes, it is very FREEING.

However, as I said, I would not want to have to live alone again. BUT, if that happens… my husband has had 2 heart attacks already, and he weighs around 300 pounds, and he is diabetic, and had very heavy exposure to the carcinogen, Agent Orange, when in Vietnam, and he is now 62… if it happens that someday I am again alone, I know that I will be all right.

THAT is the difference, Vicki, Lisa, and Darlene. Before my healing, I could not bear to be alone. Now, I know that I can be alone, and be happy, and serene. I know, because I have done it before. However I do prefer to NOT be alone, being with someone who is kind, loving, respectful, and who makes me laugh… having someone to talk with, to share life with, to develop a history with… it is wonderful! There is nothing like it!

But I will never again degrade myself by living with a disrespectful, narcisstic, unloving, critical, abusive, JERK. Truly, living alone… BEING alone, after I finally learned to LIKE ME…. is preferable by far to living with someone who hurts me. Yes I would rather live in a cardboard box under a bridge, than with another hateful abuser. But I had to do a lot of healing before I came to that point.

Hugs,
Lynda

PS~ This is very important,too, I think. I became a Christian Believer in Dr. Meier’s clinic. It was in no way forced on me, but after a lifetime of being mostly agnostic, due to all the hypocrisy and spiritual abuse I went thru in my childhood with my minister father, in the Meier Clinic I saw a loving and respectful and genuine Christianity modeled, which is what drew me to Christ. Therefore, during the year that followed, I never felt totally alone, as I felt that Christ’s love was always very near. Also, I read a lot, and that helps me feel connected with people, with the author, anyway. Finally, since my new best-friend-husband introduced me to the joys of living with a fur-baby, meaning a companion dog, I intend to never live without a dog again. So in that sense, I will never be alone.

Still, as something I read once about a little boy who was afraid of the ligthning storm at night, when his mom came to his room because he was crying, and she told him, “Honey, don’t you know that God is always with you?”, the little boy replied, “I know, but right now I need someone with skin on.”

Being aware of the presence of God is very nice, and it is also very nice to have a sweet “fur-baby” — but there is nothing like having someone with skin on! So I agree with what Lisa and Vicki was saying in that sense, that it is much better to have someone kind and loving, than to be alone.

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Lynda, I can’t tell you how inspiring your story is. I too read Love is a Choice and have always loved Paul Meier’s works. Can’t say that it gave me any revelation toward my abusive marriage though – I had no idea.

To come across someone who went through all that childhood abuse, then 2 abusive marriages, and recover like you have, shows me (like Darlene’s story does) that there is hope. And like you, I have a faith in God that is quietly anchoring and profound, although there have been times when I have wondered why believers don’t always “get it”.

Whenever I am tempted to think that I am such a jerk for finding myself in this mess in my forties (I have “wasted” 25 best years of my life, although nothing is really wasted), I see that you were 50 before you found yourself on the healing journey. And not only that, but to find your healthy partner after that – Wow!

I found your blog too and I must say you look wonderfully vibrant and healthy. I think I was expecting to see a more “grandmotherly” person!

It has only just occurred to me as I read your comments about complex PTSD that perhaps that is what is troubling me. After being in a long-term domestic violence marriage, the trauma bonding is so strong. It seems so hard to detach, not because I have any feelings of love, but I feel like I am owned by him and cannot break free. Still, I never ever thought that it would have been possible for me to leave him, and I did. It is still very messy, like trying to disentangle knotted cables. The trauma of dealing with him drives me crazy though. And that feeling of not being able to cope alone – like some massive failure will happen, either physically with health, or the house collapsing, or going under financially, etc. It’s like do I really want to find out what life is going to be like when he finally withdraws? Or if he never fully withdraws, can I cope with constant and never-ending harassment? I don’t know and that is scary. But maybe it is just all PTSD. Although I have seen a therapist, we haven’t looked deeply into that yet. So maybe we need to.

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Krissy, I am so happy for you that you are on this healing journey!! It’s not an easy journey at times, but neither is it easy to continue living in misery. At least when you go thru the sometimes painful process of healing and growing, you know it is leading you toward something far better, whereas the pain of living in unhealed misery is leading you nowhere.

For me, life truly began at age 50! It’s never too late, I know a woman who didn’t start healing from her abusive childhood with a narcisstic, sadistic mother until she was in her 70s.

Thank you for your compliment on my blog picture. That picture was taken just a couple of weeks ago, on January 13, to be exact. It is unretouched, and close-up, and I had no makeup on except for eyeliner and mascara. I will be 58 years old on May 2. Honestly, Krissy, I look better today than I believe I’ve ever looked in my entire life ~ and I give most of the credit to my inner healing. I feel so wonderful inside, that it just has to show on the outside! I’ve never had any kind of cosmetic surgery or chemical peels, can’t afford it even if I wanted it. I do use skincare, that I get from Skinactives.com, I use their DIY active ingredients, as I’m allergic to so many things, it is good to be able to mix my own stuff that won’t make my skin go crazy. I also take a grapeseed extract every day, which is a powerful antioxidant, and I drink a lot of water and I stopped smoking in 2001, all of which helps. But I still believe that most of the improvement in my outward appearance, is due to the improvement in my inner being. Just a few months ago I had something happen with a sister of mine that triggered my PTSD pretty bad, for a couple of weeks. I took a picture of myself at that time, and I looked like hell. SO, what’s on the inside, good or bad, really does have a way of showing on the outside. I credit this wonderful blog-community of Darlene’s, for helping me bounce back so quickly from my little relapse in early October of 2010~

Krissy, since you like Dr. Paul Meier’s books, you might be interested in his latest collaboration, entitled “You Might Be a Narccicist If…” With all the havoc that utterly self-centered, abusive narcistic people wreck in our lives, that is one book I am definitly going to buy and read right away.

Another book that was a great help to me in recovering from what I now call my Relationship Addiction, was written back in the 1980s, entitled “How To Break You Addiction To A Person.” I can’t remember the author off the top of my head, but it is a must-read, if you do an internet search for it on Amazon or thru some of the book-swap websites, you should be able to find it.

Another invaluable book for me was “Women Who Love Too Much.” I know it is still in print, and still very timely, altho it was written in the 1980s I believe.

Finally, the definitive book on Complex-PTSD, a book which made sense of my crazy life, is the landmark book by Harvard Clinic Psychiatriest Judith Herman, MD, entitled “Trauma and Recovery. Dr. Herman actually coined the term Complex-PTSD in that book. It is very pithy and scholarly and not easy to read, but well worth the effort. I have read it several times, as I have all the books I’ve recommended here, except for Dr Meier’s latest, which I have yet to read.

I actually have had 4 failed marriages. Three of them were very abusive, I was physically beaten in my first three marriages, as well as verbally abused, and cheated on constantly in the first two marriages. The fourth failed marriage, the longest lasting, was not abusive either physically or verbally… a little bit verbally… and he never cheated on me. But he did not love me, did not like me, did not respect me. He was attracted to me physically when we married, and he was something of a sex addict. I was a great deal younger than him, and when I began to get older, specifically when I became a grandmother at the age of 3, and at the same time I started getting a few lines on my face and put on a little weight, he told me he was no longer physically attracted to me. And he stopped talking to me, I mean he wouldn’t talk to me at all. After 8 years of the silent treatment, I finally left, feeling guilty for leaving when he wasn’t hitting me or cheating on me… but I just needed love so badly, that I couldn’t stand to be in a loveless marriage any longer.

So I am very much like the Samaritan woman at the well, whom Jesus encountered. An outcast in every sense… yet our Lord met her with compassion and kindness. He did not judge and condemn, as he did the phony religious judgmental holier-than-thou Pharisees. He simply, matter-of-factly said, “You have had 5 husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.” And then he offered her the gift of eternal life!

My Best-Friend-Husband Stan was also married and divorced 4 times, before he and I met and married. He has severe PTSD from Vietnam, where he was a 19-year-old US Marine sniper…. trying doing that, as a kind and caring young person with a heart, and remaining sane. PTSD in all its forms is very hard on relationships. Stan and I are together and HAPPY today, because we BOTH finally got help for our PTSD.

Unlike Christ Jesus, who accepted the 5-times married Samaritan woman with open arms, the vast majority of Christians, when they learn that Stan is my 5th husband and I am his 5th wife, turn their backs on us. With our histories of “mental illness”, we have a double whammy against us…. OH, and that’s not to mention the fact that my husband ownded 10 Adult Bookstores in the 1970s and 80s, before he became a Christian and literally gave away all the money and everything he owned, because he was ashamed of how he had aquired his milliions! (I wish he would have same at least a million or two for when he met me, tho!)

So we don’t fit in with the sinners, and we don’t fit in with the saints. We DO fit in with other survivors, though. I just wish we could all get together for a face-to-face group therapy, wouldn’t that be awesome!

When I was turning 50, going through my 4th divorce, and branded since age 14 with all kinds of “crazy labels,” the song that kept going thru my head was the deeply depressing dirge: “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me.”

Girl, if I wasn’t HOPELESS…. NOBODY is!

BIG HUG,
Lynda

97

Ugh, I wish I had proofread that before I clicked send. Lots of typos, sorry, I hit wrong keys and miss keys too easily on my new netbook’s TINY keyboard. I won’t try to correct all the typos but for one, I became a grandmother at age 39, not age 3, duh! My eldest granddaughter is now 18 and in her first year of college… I’m so proud of her…. and I still feel like a teenager myself, go figure~ 🙂

98

Lynda, I have Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery. The rest I would love to have but cannot order on Amazon because it is linked to ex’s credit card.

4 abusive marriages and you have recovered – what a miracle in itself.

Does that mean you have 4 people who harassed you and gave you a hard time when you left? Right now, my abusive ex can’t let me go and keeps sending emails. His latest email says that he will no longer accept email communication and whether I like it or not, insists on face-to-face communication. He says that the kids will pick up on my bitterness, animosity and lack of respect for him. He also will not accept me leaving things for the kids outside his house if I drop the kids off, or outside mine if he picks up the kids because it shows disrespect for him. He now wants to collect all his things from the house, but wants a discussion and will not accept me bringing them over and leaving them outside his house. He says I ignore his emails and what he wants is a face-to-face discussion about our older kids who don’t want to see him. He wants me to be friendly to him and communicate with him about how our kids are doing at school.

Darlene and Lynda, how in the world can you go No Contact with someone like that? I am afraid if our mediation (in separate rooms) doesn’t work, he will show his emails to a judge as evidence of him pleading for communication for the sake of our kids and me ignoring them.

99

Hi Krissy,
I don’t know enough of your situation to discuss the finer details of the relationship problems that you have with your ex. and there are certain questions that are out of the scope of what I do here on this blog. Actually, I have been trained professionally NOT to give directives, or advice.
So all I can say that is that in my experience with “no contact” there must be a legal agreement in place that he would have to follow. If there is no guide lines set in place by a third party, he can keep manipulating. Here in Canada, that can be done with the police and the finer details can be set in place by a lawyer or court system. When there are kids involved, I have seen it done where all communication is in writing. There is NO verbal contact between parents. This is to protect the mother from manipulation or from being sucked into the fog of a controllers system. The younger kids sometimes have a communication book that they take from the fathers to the mothers with them for certain communications when a father is so dangerously manipulative. But this has to be set up. The older kids have a choice about contact after a certain age and the father has to accept that. That is the only way that I know of.
Hugs, Darlene

100

Darlene, thanks for that. I guess that is what the mediation on kids is for, if the whole process doesn’t break down because he doesn’t agree. And that’s where I will be in trouble, because I cannot afford a lawyer anymore and if he shows all his writings to the judge, it will seem that he is reasonable and I am showing animosity by ignoring all his communication. He has gone from being a cruel dictator to a kind one. It is easy for people to see and condemn an outrightly nasty person, but a judge will not see the abusiveness or control without knowing the entire background. He now knows and adopts the language of domestic abuse experts so he knows what to say and what not to say.

The system seems to favor parents who get along and communicate for the sake of the kids and he has read all the booklets on it and is trying to prove that he can do that. My problem is proving domestic violence: it’s my word against his. I’ll keep standing my ground. The PTSD makes me seem very cold and aloof because I avoid him, proving his point to others about my “bitterness”. If I could, I would move far away and start again but I can’t do that with young kids because if he took me to court, no judge would allow that.

But this journey is worth it, because it is my inside that is growing stronger all the time, and that is the most precious thing I have. The peace from knowing who I am is something nobody will ever be able to take away.

101

Well, I must be in a unique position or something b/c I’ve NEVER been w/ an abusive man. It’s always been the opposite in the two cases where I had a man.
I don’t have any problem w/ being alone. I don’t even have any problem w/ the fact that eventually we all die. I work on the life squad and see it on a weekly basis.
What I DO have a problem w/ is people trying to tell me the brutal murder of my daughter’s dad, by an act of terrorism, is “part of life.” As if that means we’re supposed to go “OK. This shit’s totally normal. A PART OF LIFE.”
Well I say BS. It’s part of a rotten choice some freakin’ idiots made, and he died as a result.
I have to deal w/ what happened. I damn sure don’t have to go around believing that his barbaric death, that we-and the rest of a nation, that’s largely uncaring about it now, saw happen as it occurred-and believe it’s “a part of life.”
Even though that’s not about my personal abuse, although it IS about being mistreated, I can still relate it to my individual abuse, b/c that event cause me to get complex PTSD.
And people will still insist that I’m CHOOSING to be upset to the point of having complex PTSD. That I wake up in the morning and, lacking anything better to do, say to myself “Gee. How can I CHOOSE to be upset and make everyone around me miserable?”
Give me a break. The idea that I’m choosing to upset them is so arrogant as to be completely unbelievable they could think it. But some, or lots of, people think that about my complex PTSD.
And these are people who also saw what happened that day, which is why I commented that most people obviously don’t really give a damn what they saw, b/c they just compartmentalized it out of their brains. Not needing to have a response to it, they could safely do so.
I couldn’t. And I also couldn’t compartmentalize out the horrible images I saw in the paper of things on fire in Iraq, not while my favorite brother was IN Iraq fighting Bush Jr.’s deceptive little war-as it turned out-and could have become one of the casualties at any second.
But I was also chastised about being upset about that.
IDK if I’ll be chastised here, I’m just taking a chance that you guys aren’t as insensitive as certain Army Personnel-men and women alike-have been about this issue.
Doesn’t anyone think seeing all that is going to affect a family member, or does everyone assume our hearts were made in hell or something? That we have no feelings at all and want to see all that garbage plastered across the front page of the paper every single day for 3 months straight?
I think society at large can be abusive, and news media is leading the pack half the time.

102

Hello Krissy,
I’m sorry I haven’t been on here these past few days, we’re dealing with a big plumbing emergency under our house, the main sewer pipe broke and I’ve been cleaning up a veritble lake of raw sewage from our crawl space. I need to suit up all in rubber and plastic head to toe and get back down there, there’s still much more cleanup for me to do, and my sweet hubby can’t fit under the house or down the trap door access, he is a big guy. I’m taking a coffee break right now and reading these latest posts here that I missed.

The situation when you leave an abusive marriage with young children, is very hard, very complicated. Darlene’s advice is right on. But when you have no money for a lawyer, as I didn’t, it makes it that much harder. In my case, in trying to escape my most physically abusive ex, that was my second, I lost two of my children for several years. He abducted them and took them to another country. He had money, he was making lots of money in the construction of oil rigs out in the North Sea, then in Saudi Arabia. He didn’t bother with the courts and mediation and lawyers etc, he just took the children and left.

I can’t even put into words how devastating that was to me. He was brutally violent, and I feared he may have hurt or killed the children. Years later, when I got them back… a long story…. I learned that what he had done was kill me… he told them I was dead. So coming back to me was a shock. They are now 36 and about to turn 40, these two of my three that were lost to me for so long, and to this day our relationships are strained. We were super close before.

I can’t write about this anymore at this time, too painful. Just be careful, Krissy. My heart and prayers are with you right now.

Lynda

103

Dear Vicki,
I am in a rush to get back to the sewer mess, also my head is a bit muddled after writing to Krissy… I just want to say that your latest post here moved me very deeply, and when I am able, I want to write more about the things you said. You are so beautiful, brave, and bold.

Lynda

104

There is no way I could read all 103 comments … but this blogpost really resonated with me, having had a mother like Darlene’s mother. I experienced those very same things with my mother … and its a painful reality when you find out that you’re just not worth fighting for. I too was a compliant and loyal daughter too until I got into my twenties, realizing that nothing I did earned any merit with her; furthermore, I spend years trying to earn her love only to find out that her standard of perfection was just too high to attain. Then when I became a Christian at 26, I changed and once again became the compliant, loyal daughter and the abuse continued … in fact, it even got worse … to the point I couldn’t take it anymore. My mother denied that she had done anything wrong in how she treated me. Respecting me was out of the question. Since coming out to the rest of my family with the full details of the abuse, they have all rejected me as well with their ‘we don’t want to talk about it and we don’t want to hear about it.’ Surprisingly, it was a relief for me … no more tippy-toeing around on egg-shells and enduring the tension in the room when with my family. And it feels good!

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Thank you so much, Darlene, for this website. I am in this same process with my mother, and just had the most hurtful discussion with her yesterday. I have been her verbal punching bag for years, and the moment I push back, I am called selfish, a bad daughter, and disrepectful. She is near a nervous breakdown and everyone in the family has noticed. She is so concerned with controlling me and my husband that she refuses to take a look at herself. Not anymore… this website is proof of what I have felt all along.

106

Welcome Carli
What you say here is exactly what I am talking about. I am glad that you found hope and validation in my work. Welcome to emerging from broken!
Hugs, Darlene

107

Hi everyone,

I really resonated with Paulette’s comments on being over sensitive. I agree, although for me personally, l would like to add, that being oversensitive, is both a blessing and a curse. And l was told, and lm sure l’ve been told on several occasions, that l have great insight re: depression and the like and know where help is available. I never saw this as insight, l always thought everyone knows and looks inside themselves.

On a positive, being ultra aware (or perhaps neurotic is a better word), l find that lm very compassionate. Maybe its just being keenly aware and easily affected by other people and environments, good and bad. Though, it certainly has its downsides, where l find myself reacting automatically.

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Kylie, being sensitive is a good thing! But I agree about blessing and a curse. My Mom always told me I was “too sensitive.” Like…. being sensitive is a bad thing? On the other hand, she is just as sensitive, but vehemently denies it.

109

This post reminds me of a passive aggressive self absorbed insecure narcissist I dated for six months. I walked away from him, but I felt like he walked out on me emotionally. The experience left me scarred emotionally for about two years! I had never dated a guy with all that going on.

110

DXS, yes my mother used to say that too!

What l find hard even to this day, is that my mother didnt recognise my mental health issues. Instead, l was made out to be the bad child. Read somewhere in this blog about being the ‘scapegoat’, which is what l was. I definately wasnt always good, but l had a lot of self esteem and insecurity issues, which is funny as l still have this today. Seems in my growing up era, it was easier to just punish a child without looking deeper at the real issues. I have no contact with my mother and sister. Ive had to live separately as l cant deal with thier judgemental attitudes. I have to find my own validation, my own self worth and bring up my own children the best way l know how. 🙂

111

I read what your mother did to you and I cry for you. I am so sorry she did that to you. I am so sorry your mother wrecked your childhood.
YOU are an amazing person!!!
PS. In your first sentence you need to change WEATHER to WHETHER.

112

Hi Janet
Welcome to EFB! Thanks for you note and for the correction.
hugs, Darlene

113

This is amazing. I too have experience this from my father as well as my inlaws. The withdrawal is supposed to entice us to beg for forgiveness for what THEY did. It is unbelievably manipulative. Crazy making. For my inlaws, its been 6 YEARS of silence. My husband’s whole family has fallen off the face of the earth. All because my MIL wont recognize her words and actions. WOW!~

114

Very interesting article.

Makes me realize how after 35 years of trying with my family, that the final rejection by my family 12 years ago was like a heavy, unwanted, parting gift for me to carry away.

The “gift” reminded me that in the end (with my family) that I was unworthy of and impossible to care for or love.

So while there was relief to not be the human punching bag any longer, there was a lasting sting, reminding me of what they think of me.

And it echoes deep inside me that if my family doesn’t and can’t love me, then no one will.

That comes in part from being told that “no one will ever love you like your family” over and over, and believing that the way they acted was love.

Reading this article helps me understand why the pain didn’t all go away as fast as they stopped talking to me 12 years ago.

The fog of why I feel the way I feel is lifting, and thank you!

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