Jan
25

Controllers and Manipulative People don’t Question Themselves

By
abuse, control, misuse of power
On What Authority?

Controllers, abusers and manipulative people don’t question themselves. They don’t ask themselves if the problem is them. They always say the problem is someone else. This was a huge problem for me when I went into therapy because I was very willing to convince my therapist that the problem was me ~ I believed it so deeply. I went to therapy because I thought I needed help changing. I had tried everything I could think of, and now I wanted a professional to tell me how to change so that I could be acceptable to certain people in my life. I was fortunate that my therapist realized that I had been so devalued my entire life that I believed all those lies I had been fed about how I was the one that needed to change. He was accustomed to this type of victim thinking and he resisted my insistence that the problem was me.

One of the most productive, powerful and freeing things that my therapist and I talked about was the fact that “controllers” “abusers” and otherwise manipulative people never question that the problem might be them.  That concept stopped me dead in my tracks and caused me to think about the people in my life that had I had tried so hard to change for.  I scanned my memory for clues or indications that I my therapist was wrong about that fact. I think I wanted the problem to be me. I had learned to accept it and I was used to trying harder and If it wasn’t ME then that meant they had to change… and I had lost faith in that possibility.

It turned out that my therapist wasn’t wrong. Abusive and controlling people do not ask themselves if they are being abusive or controlling. What they do is demand changes from other people. They excuse their behaviour by blaming it on the defects or shortcomings that they have decided someone else has.

I could not ever remember a time when someone who devalued me, or someone who told me that I had a problem or that I was the problem had ever stopped to question themselves. The people who told me (usually not in words) that I needed to change somehow had ever looked at their own behaviour. I could not remember a time when one of those people had ever taken a look at themselves the way they thought I should take a look at myself! The only time one of the people in my life that mistreated me ever hinted at some sort of personal change, apology OR regret, was usually when they had a personal manipulative motive for doing so. Like if they were afraid to lose me as their victim or afraid that I was catching on to the one sided relationship. 

I spent a lot of time thinking about this revelation. It was eventually one of the major truths that helped me to see that relationships are not meant to be one sided and that I should not have to carry the entire burden of each relationship. The success of relationship does not depend solely on ME. Abusers do not ask themselves if they are abusing. When I realized this truth; that the controlling manipulative and abusive people in my life NEVER looked at themselves while they constantly pointed fingers at me, I turned a new corner in my process and entered a brighter and healthier pathway.

Please share your thoughts about this subject. Don’t forget to subscribe to the comments since this blog always generates amazing discussions.

Exposing truth, One Snapshot at a Time;

Darlene Ouimet

Emerging from Broken

Final note: Later on I realized that some people, my mother for instance, changed and adjusted for other people, just like I did for her, but she didn’t for me. That was the beginning of my understanding that there seems to be somewhat of a “pecking order” in dysfunctional family systems and in dysfunctional relationships. The key for me was to decide that I would no longer accept my place in the pecking order.

Related Reading ~Demonstrating Appreciation in Relationships

Categories : Family, Therapy

111 Comments

1

Oh, I just love that you brought this up! I recognize this pattern now, but I sure didn’t when I was in it. I was too busy defending myself or trying to change to be acceptable to him to ever notice that he wasn’t acceptable to me. Thanks for opening this discussion. It’s so needed!

2

wonderful blog Darlene! This was the key to it all for me…the starting point…the big AHA moment. Gotta keep aware of it or I fall back in to what have i done and how do i fix it?! As far as the controllers having been controlled…check out Alice Miller ;) I think maybe they are acting out the power someone else took from them? Also, that they probably learned that behavior and choose not to see it as negative, for that would tear down the beauty of the one who passed it to them…and tear down their own feelings of love and security for that person. That’s what it did to me…turned my life upside down…to see things for what they were and then try to make changes in my life (not in me) to turn it right-side up…a place it had never been before and a place that didn’t LOOK as beautiful as it was supposed to, but is full of painfully achieved and sometimes painfully maintained freedoms.

3

oh…and it was also very hard for me to realize and admit that one of the biggest motivators to me in this journey…i saw myself headed for the same fate…trying to control people and situations as if somehow that would mean I was okay…that I did okay. I did not want the same fate for my children as for myself…but I felt helpless and lost…and I didn’t know why I was so unhappy, I just new I was. Unhappy and scared…for me and for my kids. Life seemed so out of control and somehow I was supposed to control it and make it all okay…but how…I was sure I was a failure…

Letting go…what a huge relief.

4

mmm this makes some sense, as i get told i am this or that and i understand i am brash and loud and outspoken about abuse n how it has affected me. i totally get that this makes people uncomfy but i came by my personailty after years of fear and rejection but those who society expected to love me and protect me from harm. they do not understand the work it has taken to get where i am or where i started from.
yesterday i was once agian told i am racist by the woman who is the manager of a local settign. she said she knew i didnt intend to be racist but it was that i just was. i asked her to tel me about how i am racist as i cannot change what i do not see and she started to go on about how her father was afraid to be himself, erm not my problem and she never did tell me how i am racist

5

Hi Christina!
I never noticed it when I was busy trying harder either. In fact I remember being a bit taken aback when I first heard and tried to absorb the concept. There were so many people in my life by then that didn’t seem to see anyone but ME as the problem that my mind was flying all over trying to figure out who to think about first. And it took several reminders before I stopped the automatic acceptance that everything was my defect.. that I was the one with the problem.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Wendi,
I intend to check out Alice Miller ~ everyone tells me that I would LOVE her work!
Abuse is a cycle that is passed down from generation to generation. The problem that I had (because of the counselling and books that I read before I found ‘this’ model of recovery) before was that I ALWAYS considered the abusers and controllers “reasons” for being how they were. I had that problem in equal amounts with the problem of accepting that I had to change. Of course someone took their power and tore them down too. That is what I am getting at when I posted about my mother at the end of this post. All abusers were victims first, before they became abusers. BUT it was imperative for me to forget all that until I did my own recovery work because every time I thought about how bad a life they had, I stopped being upset with them and tried to “love them enough” that they would see my value. This is the crazy cycle that we learn to live in. Round and Round it went. (and I was in danger of becoming a control freak with my kids too, expecting them to “restore” me like it had been expected of me…) I am SO glad that I started to look at things in compartments so that I could break free of the cycle and as you said ‘letting go… what a huge relief!)
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Carol,
This is a great example of how people do this judgement thing! Thank you for sharing! When you asked her point blank, she could not come up with the explanation! Turned out to be all about her stuff…
Hugs, Darlene

6

Darlene, what an amazing truth! It was always my fault and I too spent so much time and effort trying to change myself to not be the problem. The more I protested the more they blamed and never admitted to any responsibility for their behavior. Thank you for putting this into words that will help save others from getting on this ‘treadmill to nowhere’!

7

I could so relate to this entire post, Darlene. Your statement, “The success of relationship does not depend solely on ME … When I realized this truth; that the controlling manipulative and abusive people in my life NEVER looked at themselves while they constantly pointed fingers at me, I turned a new corner in my process and entered a brighter and healthier pathway.”

Realizing this truth was HUGE and set me free in a big, big way. Knowing that the success of the relationship does not solely depend on me was so freeing. Even when my husband and I were talking about my family only a few days ago, I said, “Why is/was it always up to me to fix the relationship with my mother?? I am so tired of always having to be the one who has to fix what’s broken!!” And it’s true, trying to ‘fix’ a one-sided relationship is unhealthy, and its downright EXHAUSTING!!!! I am so glad to be free of it all.

8

Wow Darelene, I am glad you found a good and trustworthy therapist. I do believe this of all abusers of all kinds. They are never accountable and cn go decades blaming others and never looking at their own behavior and never once think it might be them.
But to ad to the victim mentality thing I have to say that I am on another page at FB and I was shocked to read the leader of that group this morning defending abusers and trying to understand their pain and feeling sorry for the abusers. I did not say anything since I know they are not healed. You cant talk that way and be healed. It is the language of victimization and denial. I am glad what is coming from this group is so healthy.

9

Darlene – I am crying… I can hardly see the screen… but they are tears of thankfulness for your most timely validation. Thank you from this heart.

10

Hi Linda,
Thanks for your comments; I love your expression “help save others from getting on this treadmill to nowhere!” Indeed!!
Oh and one more thing to add to what you said here; when I stopped needing them to hear me, and needing them to validate the truth, that was another huge freedom thing!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Paulette,
EXACTLY! Why is it up to only one half of the relationship? It is downright exhausting all right!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Pinky
I am sorry to hear that there are people leading others in defending abusers. I know that abusers were also abused first, but in my case I found my freedom from dissociative identity disorder and chronic depression when I stopped feeling sorry for the abusers. I feel really strongly about putting my recovery first. I actually do feel sorry for some of the people who abused me and devalued me in the past now, but not at the expense of ME anymore. (In other words, I let no one have any excuse to abuse me or disrespect me anymore ~ )
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Susa,
Thank you for your validation! I am so touched that my writing has touched your heart. I long to assist in the validation of hurt hearts because someone helped me with that too. It was so healing for me and I love to pass it on.
Thank you for being here Susa!
Hugs, Darlene

11

Excellent blog Darlene. you know I question every action I take and every move I make I have done this for so long it is second nature to me, this is why I have started noticing something about myself that bothers me .. I have been in such a defense mode for the past two years I caught myself the other day doing something that I thought I would never do. I have an automatic soap dispenser in my kitchen which comes in handy when having to cook etc. it runs off of batteries and I always shut it off after using it (its not very hard to turn on and to turn off) well the other day I noticed that my husband had left it on and I asked him to please shut it off simply because the sensor on it is very sensitive to movement and I was afraid that it would be triggered to dispense soap when not needed with every movement that went by it in the kitchen. My husband started questioning me on this .. I wasn’t rude when I asked however he questioned me on this and wanted to google it to see if it would run the battery down as well as dispense the soap automatically just by sensing movement … I got upset with him and popped off “yea go ahead google it I am always wrong” now there was no need for an argument over soap however that just went all over me. He got offended and I pointed out to him that in times past that when I would tell him something he would doubt me and then ask his dad or some one else and in times past I kept my mouth shut but it would infuriate me how he made me feel as though I did not know what I was talking about.

well needless to say he did not google it and the argument ended there, but every since then I question myself with such questions like “Was I being abusive towards him?” “What was he hurting to just look it up?” and on and on the questions go … I wasn’t trying to be a “Authority figure” however I was tired of being made to feel as if I was some sort of idiot. I have also noticed that the last two years I have taken a lot out on my husband some of it was to do with him and then some of it wasn’t really. I am trying to monitor myself closer simply because I do realize how defensive I have gotten …

Honestly after going through years and years of emotional and mental abuse and feeling so knocked down to the point it lead me to the nervous break down I had in 2007 I have been hell bent on standing up for myself that I have grown to have a zero tolerance to a lot of things which to be honest makes my temper almost like a hair trigger … I have just reached a point in my life where enough is enough.
Yet at the same time I do question myself, my motives, and when I am in the wrong I do apologize however I just don’t know how to get off the defense mode some days I am so tense it seems I might just explode and some days I am relaxed without a care in the world so it is getting better however I always question myself.

12

I can relate to having the responsibility of ‘fixing’ the relationship. The main way I was supposed to fix it was to lower my expectations.

13

Well, for not questioning themselves they sure always feel like EMS and police need or demand an explanation from them. B/c, every call I’ve been on w/ the abuser present has had said individual explaining shit to us I don’t care about, b/c I don’t believe a word they say.
One guy said his 10-year-old daughter was lying about him sexually abusing her, “b/c the girl’s mother set it up that way.” According to him, the mother was just trying to take the daughter away from him, b/c “the mom’s a bitch.”
And he found a dim defense attorney to defend him.
It’s positively astounding to me.

I don’t like letting my family know anything about me, b/c I know they’re going to laugh or make fun of me. When you can’t even be happy that a person got a one-year degree in health care, and you call it “something any idiot could get,” you’re not going to inspire me to want to tell you anything ever again.
The reason I stopped telling them anything is exactly b/c of, not in spite of, knowing they’re a lost cause.

14

Nik ~ I liked your comment and I think its a good balance to question both sides. I have been where you are where I’ll have these ‘control freaks’ about things that matter nothing to anyone else. I have seen that often times it is sometimes me and sometimes also the other person. To only question ourselves or to only question the one who offended us can put us in a danger zone. Of course, to properly process the situation, its best to talk to the person who offended you about it, in a nice way of course. This is best if its doable, sometimes its not always possible – you can’t fix something the other person doesn’t want to fix or acknowledge.

I find that if we are able to step back and look at the scenario objectively is when we see things more clearly – with more clarity. I have also learned to not let people manipulate me as to how I should feel or react about things either. I have always been terrible at confronting, and still hate it, but will do it if I have to.

15

Wow, story of my life. When I saw a therapist, I thought everything was my fault. I wanted to be changed, so my parents and my ex could be nicer to me. I thought I was doing something to cause the behavior. It was a relief when my therapist said, “Honey, it’s not you. It’s them. Your depression is just a symptom of your family”. Being put down SO much caused me to feel that I was worthless and had to please my abusers.

16

Thanks Darlene, I needed this today. This makes me think of the mistaken idea that no matter how bad my mom is, or anyone else, I just have to be the “mature one” and not let it bother me, I just have to be the one to be “big enough” to give them their way, or to initiate reconciliation, and why do I have to be so “stubborn and immature” and insist on my way… Bull! That was just setting me up for more abuse! Just like Nik described with the soap… I used to wonder and worry if I was putting that kind of burden or guilt trip on someone if I made a simple request like that just because I was bugged by a minor detail in the kitchen. But meanwhile, the other person was asking me to go against my conscience, to do things that were major inconveniences, to twist my entire self into a pretzel, and then go, why are you doing that, I never asked you to do that, you’re making a mountain out of a molehill, I never said that, and if I did, I wouldn’t have meant it that way. RIGHT. And for someone like that, really, why is it such a big deal to let you have a small detail the way you like it? Because THEY are the control freak who doesn’t want to give you even THAT much say. (Nik, I don’t mean to apply that to your husband, it’s just that your example made me think of that whole dynamic.)

17

Fantastic post and oh so true!

Abusers are so entrenched in their entitlement & delusional thinking they never question their behavior. Plus, if you even once try to question them or HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE – you will be destroyed one way or another.

18

Amy ~ My words EXACTLY!! Why is it that we are the ones that have to suck it up, that we are the ones that have to twist ourselves to suit someone else?? No one else would do that for us!! And then yeah, the excuses we get, ‘that’s not what I meant’ or ‘I never said that/did that,’ and then the way they’ll twist things around to make things our fault – that one always makes my eyes roll.

Barbara ~ I can relate to what you said as well – anytime I confronted my mother I got, ‘that’s not true’ or she’d turn things around to make me look like the liar or idiot. And then because I confronted her – the abuse came on even heavier – some way, some how, I got to ‘pay’ for it.

19

Hi Nik
When I went through the process of taking my life back my husband and I had lots of these kinds of struggle. It took a while to sort that stuff out too. He was used to me always letting him be right and actually I didn’t ask him for much. He hated “confrontation” but his definition of confrontation was anything that made HIM uncomfortable. We had a lot of these kinds of situations. Him wanting to prove that the battery wouldn’t run out is what I call a rabbit trail. (going down a different path from the point) and so often the situation goes a little deeper then the one we are talking about. The point was that you want him to turn the soap dispenser OFF. That is pretty much the bottom line. You don’t want a mess from soap coming out when it is not supposed to but he tried to make it only about the battery. He may have been right that the battery wouldn’t run out that easy, all for the reason of not being the one who was “wrong”. That is what I would react to. That I had to be the one that was wrong. He couldn’t just say “sorry I must have forgotten to turn it off”. In my case with Jimmy, he had this way (in the past) of always putting me slightly “under” himself and that was the bigger issue for me. I had been “under” everyone all my life. I thought I was stupid all my life. I started to realize how smart I am and I was shocked, but he felt threatened. His motive wasn’t bad; he wanted me to look up to him, depend on him, but it has gotten unhealthy. He had started to make me question myself all the time with little things like that. Jim had to do his own work to realize that I could be with him because I wanted to, not because I needed to. I was the only one in our relationship that questioned if I was abusive too. In fact it was Jim that my therapist and I were talking about in the conversation that I was referencing in this blog post. He was emotionally abusive/controlling. He didn’t want me to have my own mind, because it scared him.
The difference for us was always in the motive. I was not trying to make him wrong… I just wanted the dang soap dispenser turned off. But because he saw it as me making him wrong, he had to make me the one that was wrong. (his father did that to him, and that was the root that he had to work out himself.) This is a huge subject, so please keep in mind that this paragraph is just a tiny bit of the big picture. We worked things out and today those soap dispenser things are not such an issue.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Vicki
Yes, abusers always have a story and like I said it is always pointing the finger at someone else and very very often, they do get away with it.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Lurker,
Welcome. I can relate to that for sure!
Glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene

20

Hi Amy,
It really helped me to think about this stuff in terms of “motive”. What was my motive? What was their motive. The controlling people in my life always told me what my motives were and I believed them. They also told me that their motives were love based and I believed that too. I had to sort out my definition of LOVE. The thing is that I had to look a little deeper. It turned out that when I did look deeper, I realized that my motives (most of the time) were about the higher good and not about control. I wanted to have harmony in the relationship. I wanted to be treated as though I had some VALUE, but I didn’t even think that I did have value so finding the starting point was hard at first.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Barbara,
Yes, entitlement is a great word; so many operate from that standpoint. They are “entitled” to act a certain way because they are “men” or because they are “the parents” but what does that have to do with anything REALLY?? In that system, someone has to be less then someone else and relationship dies.
Thanks for being here!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Paulette,
I am pretty sure that my mother (who came from the exact same system that she passed on down to me) didn’t try to work things out with me when I finally drew a boundary, because she couldn’t conceive of a relationship system based on love and equality. She believed that she was either the one in control, or the one being abused. I got sick of being the one that was always wrong, always causing trouble, never good enough. My motive was for love and equality but those were foreign concepts to her. (and I only use her as one example) I insisted on learning those concepts so that I could stop the cycle in my own family. I stopped paying. (so did you)
Thanks for being here!
Hugs, Darlene

21

I grew up believing that I had to do everything absolutely perfectly. I was taught that by my mother, who criticized every little thing about me, incessantly… when she wasn’t ignoring me.

I loved school ~ it got me out of my crazy house ~ but even going to school was a torture for me in a way, because I started each new year with the solemn vow that I would not make one single mistake on any of my tests or assignments that year. Then, when I would get the first paper back with a big red X mark on one or more mistakes, I always felt crushed, like I had failed the entire year. Even getting a grade of A- wasn’t acceptable to me, it had to be a solid A, or better yet, an A+.

I was the skinny, shy little girl who was always trying to figure out how the adults wanted me to behave, so I could behave exactly that way. Most of all I wanted to please my impossible-to-please mother. As I’ve said here before, my mother often told me, “I love you, of course, because you are my daughter. I just don’t LIKE you.” She said this with a smug smile on her face, as though she was very proud of herself for managing to love such an unlikeable person. My mother, the Saint, that’s how she came across each time she told me she loved me despite not being able to like me.

I asked her sometimes, why she didn’t like me, hoping I could change or fix whatever the problem was. “It’s just YOU, it’s just the way you are,” she always said. Sometimes she would add, “It’s the way you think.” She really had me believing that she somehow knew what I was thinking. So I tried really, really hard to either make my mind go completely blank, or else think only sweet, pure thoughts at all times.

How do you fix “It’s Just You” ~ ?

My mother used to tell me these mom-isms: “If you want to have a friend, you need to be a friend.” “If you want love, you need to give love. Whatever it is you lack, you need to give it, and it will come back to you. You reap what you sow.” That, and you make your bed and lie in it.

So I learned to Give and Give and Give, out of my neediness. I learned that everything wrong about me and my life was my fault, because I was reaping what I had sown, and I was making my bed and lying in it.

I haven’t lived in the same state as my mother since 1974. I have seen her only rarely for brief visits over the years, and haven’t seen or talked with her at all since 2006. I will soon be 58 years old… and STILL my mother’s critical, fault-finding, know-it-all voice lives inside my head! I hear it many times a day.

The worst traumas of my childhood were the times my mother tried to gas us all to death. If she had been able to override the safety shutoff valve on the whole-house gas furnace, my 4 younger sisters and brothers and I would have died in our sleep in the winter of 1965-66.

As terrible as that was… when I was 12 years old and my mother confessed to me what she had been doing, that the pilot light hadn’t been going out all by itself, she was putting it out on purpose, and the thermostat wasn’t being turned up as high as it could go by one of my little siblings, as I had assumed was happening, because the heat wasn’t coming on and the house was getting cold… as terrible as that was, when my mother explained that she had the right to take us all out of the world, because she had brought us into it, and that she would be doing us a favor in killing us, because life was so hard… as terrible as that was, hearing my mother’s warning that if I told anyone what she had confessed to me, that she would go to prison for the rest of her life and the 5 of us kids sent to separate foster homes and would never see each other again, a fate worse than death, to my little girl mind… as terrible as that was, being made my mother’s Confessor because she needed to unburden herself, and she didn’t dare tell anyone else….

As terrible as that was, I realize from reading the things that others are posting in this blog, that even if the extreme hadn’t happened, even if my mother had never confessed to trying to kill me, and all the rest of us…. I would still be just as damaged by the killing words and killing attitude my mother had toward me as I was growing up, and into my adulthood, the words that told me loud and clear that I was not likeable, not loveable, not worthy, not OK.

When you look in the mirror and don’t like the person you see, you are the most miserable. All the riches, fame and fortune, talent and beauty in the world, can’t make up for not liking yourself. Oh all the pain I have experienced in my life ~ NOTHING HURT WORSE THAN NOT LIKING MYSELF.

I came out of my childhood home so broken and needy, that no healthy people were attracted to me. So all of my relationships were with abusers. I went from one abusive relationship to another, and each one left me more broken, more scarred, more wounded, and less capable of having a healthy relationship. I didn’t know what a healthy relationship of mutual respect and equal give and take, was! To me, a normal relationship was me trying desperately to please someone who could not be pleased.

When I became so depressed that I wanted to die to end my miserable life, I went to a professional therapist looking for help, poured out the story of my life, with my string of broken marriages and broken relationships, only to be told, in so many words, that the common denominator in all those relationships was ME, therefore I HAD to be doing something to PROVOKE all those men into verbally abusing me, beating me, and cheating on me. THEN I was handed a bill to pay for this medical “service.” I remember thinking, as I wrote out the check, “Now I know how a man must feel when he has to pay to get F-d.”

The day finally came when I decided that if I had to be homeless and live in a cardboard box all by myself somewhere under a bridge, I would rather do that, than live in the nicest house in the world with another human being who didn’t see me as a human being with equal value. So I left my nice house with the husband who didn’t love me or respect me… and began my journey of self-discovery, discovering along the way that I LIKE ME. Now I don’t NEED a rescuer, I don’t NEED someone else to validate me. I validate me, I am enough, just as I am. I have God-given inherent value. I am Lynda, and I Like Me.

22

And….when I began learning to set boundaries and ask for what I needed….the abuse escalated as they started giving me “change back messages” or in other words “don’t rock the boat, we need you to be the scapegoat and will not tolerate you being anything else”.

Pecking order….I also noticed this and how it played out in my own journey. I’ve often heard that victims of abuse identify with either the aggressor or the victim and will repeat this in their life over and over, taking the role they most identify with. But what I wasn’t told and didn’t understand was how this role would change based on who one was interacting with. I noticed that my abusive siblings will abuse their own children (an me) but when someone who is viewed as more powerful enters their space they then become the victim. This is an interesting dynamic I’ve noticed in many arenas….the abuser is the abuser until they become the victim – then they will return to their victims and become the abuser again. This then plays out to the next generation. I’ve also noticed how this can play out in families as the abusers become aged…their victims will become their abusers. Interesting dynamics and how its passed from one generation to the next until someone learns how to step out of that cycle/dynamic and refuses to partake in it any longer.

23

Darlene ~ If I could reach through this contraption and hug you, I would! {hugs}

24

Lynda ~ I can’t believe your mother would say she loves you but doesn’t like you! Who says that?! What you shared reminded me of things I had forgotten as a kid. For the most part, there is so much stuff I have chosen to forget, I think so much is just too painful to remember all of it!

Our family lived overseas when I was a kid and it was my mother who wanted to move us back to Canada because she told me she didn’t want me getting tangled up with some Chinese guy {eye roll}. I wasn’t even interested in dating! (I was 14 1/2 when we moved back from Singapore.) I loved school there – it meant I wasn’t at home and I thrived in the strict learning environment. Although strict, my teachers treated me as someone very capable and my marks were always in the As and Bs. I wanted to stay there and board for the next three years and there was no way she’d allow it! We moved back to Canada to start grade 10 – huge culture shock. No respect for teachers which also meant no respect for students. She put me in the general program because she was convinced I couldn’t do the matric! Huge blow to me when she wouldn’t put me in matric … my marks plummeted and I struggled all through high school to care about getting good grades. Getting ‘beat up’ (emotionally & psychologically) at home made me feel I was a below average person and it showed in my school work. I had big dreams (I wanted to be a vet) which was squashed by my mother’s genius ability of communicating that I wasn’t smart enough and that I would not amount to much. I know on her end, she would say she tried so hard to push me into the ‘bigger, better thing.’ She tried to get me to go into Commercial Design once because of my artistic ability, but I lacked the self worth and self confidence for it. I truly thought I wasn’t smart enough and she got so angry with me when I didn’t pursue the dream she wanted for me. Controlling parents!! I ended up being an Insurance Agent (Auto & Home) and she would actually disagree with me about what is covered or not – me, the licensed agent. When I proved her wrong she took offence and the cold shoulder and hateful looks endured. I often felt that she hated that I was more knowledgable than her and so refrained from sharing anything like that with her as she would proceed to tell me I was wrong.

And the mom-isms – I got those too. I also got ‘blood is thicker than water’ and she used that one to assure that I always put family first no matter what – which meant putting up with everyone’s crap just because they’re family. I refused to do that – I was dying inside doing that!

My mother too took on the roles of either the ‘saint’ or the victim. I am sure its still that way – it drove me crazy because it was all so fake, superficial even!

Through therapy, I am finally getting my mother’s voice out of my head!! It’s about time! I still have not arrived to the point that I like ‘me’ in a complete way. Although, I like who I want to be – and I like how I have changed and healed thus far and have gained confidence in myself again. I like how I discovered that I am smarter than I ever thought I was. I have gained so much wisdom which I call my pearls – wisdom I would have never have gained had I let my mother still have control. If my mother was still in my life I would be one very confused and downtrodden person.

With my physical appearance – this I don’t like at all. I look at myself in the mirror long enough to do hair and makeup and that’s it. Since I’ve gained a lot of weight, especially in this past year, I HATE looking at myself in the mirror. I detest how I look even though I’m the one who got my body looking this way. But as I continue with therapy and healing, I am hoping to overcome my compulsive eating and gain a whole new view of myself that is healthy in every way!

My mother hasn’t been in my life for over 10 years (almost 11), I was 34 years old at the time. It was better to live without her than allow her to stay in my life and have my hatred of her grow stronger. It took a lot of work to not hate her – I can’t say I love her either. I guess you could say I feel indifferent toward her.

I’m glad I had the courage (with my husband backing me) to omit my mother from my life those many years ago. It not only saved me, but has saved me from repeating the abuse with my own children and that is the greatest reason of all in overcoming abuse – its not passing that on to your kids!!

Big hugs to you Lynda!!! I’m so thankful that God saw us worthy enough to show us we were of great worth to HIM!! Look what He’s pulled us out of! He took us out of the mud and mire and placed our feet on a rock. :)

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You are right, Paulette, what kind of a monster would say to her child, “I love you, I just don’t like you.” It has only been in recent years that I’ve come to see how cruel and abusive that was, to be told that over and over as I was growing up. Before, I always thought the problem was ME, that if I were only better somehow, then my mother would be able to like me.

I wasn’t allowed to have needs or wants as a child, either. I remember all the way back to when I was so little, I was sitting in the child’s seat of the grocery cart. The store where my parents shopped near our house had pretty dolls and other enticing toys lined up above the grocery shelves, all over the store. I was punished by my parents if I stared longingly at a toy. I had already been told not to act like a spoiled brat by asking for any of the toys. So I didn’t ask, but then I was punished because, my parents said, just looking at the toys was the same as asking!

It was the same with the gum and candy and soda machines, at the front of the store. I couldn’t ask, and I was punished if I even LOOKED at those machines, or at the horse in front of the store that you put a nickle in and it would give you a ride.

As I got into my preteens and teens, my mother complained that she couldn’t afford to feed a “great big growing girl like you.” I tried not to eat, and I was so skinny that sometimes total strangers would tell me I needed to put some meat on my bones. But my mother said to me, when I was 12 and 13 and my breasts began developing, “You can’t be starving, not with those huge breasts you have growing on your chest.”

I used to make my own tampons out of toilet paper, because I didn’t dare ask for anything that would cost money. I spent most of my life honestly believing that I didn’t deserve anything, that other people deserved the food they ate and the clothes they wore and the space they took up on the planet, but not me.

My mother’s only sibling, my aunt Beverly, who came into my life just 13 years ago because she was estranged from my mother and our side of the family for many decades, is one blood relative who very lovingly and frequently affirms me, and tells me that she believes 100% all the traumas and astrocities that I’ve told her happened in my childhood. My aunt is a light and a great blessing to me. She is beautiful and brilliant and very self-confident. One thing she doesn’t understand though, is why I took my mother’s put-downs and verbal abuse to heart. “Why did you ever give your mother any credence for anything she said… when it is so obvious that she is not right in the head? Why couldn’t you just blow it off as crazy rantings from a crazy woman?”

The answer, of course, is that my mother and my childhood was “normal” to me, because it was all that I knew. My mother was the adult, she knew everything that I didn’t know, she could do all the things that I couldn’t do, and what she said and what she did was RIGHT, because she had brought me into the world.

When I was around 9 or so I was standing in the church parking lot, waiting for my parents to come out, when an elderly woman came up to me and told me that she felt so sorry for me, for having the mother that I did. “I can hear that crazy mother of yours screaming and yelling at you kids from a block away,” she said. I remember that I stared at her in shock… my mother, crazy? My mother, WRONG? It just didn’t compute, because it was all that I knew.

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Lynda ~ this was so true of me too … because I grew up with it, it was ‘normal’ to me. I’m glad you had a family member who sided with you that way. My mother’s sisters could not believe the things I’d tell them about my mother and they’d say things like, ‘You must have heard it wrong,’ or ‘Maybe she didn’t mean it like that.’ To which I replied, “Maybe … but not when she does it over and over and over and over again!!”

It took me a long time to realize that how she treated me was wrong and that it had nothing to do with me. I remember how much I cried when I discovered the term ‘emotional abuse’ and read up on it. Even finding a name for how she treated me was emancipating because it said that it was not all my fault. It took even longer to realize that none of the abuse is my fault. NO ONE DESERVES ABUSE.

I do have a few relatives on my dad’s side though who have been around my mother enough to believe me which is so validating. I’m amazed at how much you remember about your childhood. There is so much I’ve blocked out – I remember so little about mine, just flickers here and there. I don’t remember birthday parties, I don’t remember most Christmases. I do remember one birthday (not sure if I had a party) but I was turning 12 and I finally got my first and only Barbie doll (they just come out with the bendy legs) – I had her two days before my little brother busted out her knees. I remember that because I had been wanting a Barbie for 2 years! I don’t remember ever having an affectionate mother. I just always felt like I was on the outside looking in. Weird eh?

Now I know that how she treated was abuse, I also know she will not change … and I know I made the right choice when omitting her from my life – it was the best decision because it saved me.

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I forgot to share too about how incredibly emancipating it was for me to learn that the abuse wasn’t because of me or because of anything I did … the abuse was her fault, not mine. I learned this only 5-6 months ago. I just had to say. :)

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yes…
and when you no longer accept your place in the ‘pecking order’ there’s no plcae for you!

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Hi Lynda!
I don’t know what people are thinking when they say this kind of stuff to kids! WOW. I love you but I don’t like you?? What the heck does that MEAN???? My mother tried to teach me that stuff too, but she didn’t understand it enough to teach it to me, (if you want to have a friend ~ be a friend) so I never understood it either. This was all the kinds of stuff that I had to relearn in this process. What is love? what is like? What is respect? what is equality? What is a friend? Those were the things that I had to learn the TRUTH about. Those were wonderful things to learn about that finally set me free!

Thank you for the inspirational stuff at the end of your comments! yes, I don’t need anyone to rescue me anymore either! I like ME too!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Susan,
oh yes, the old “don’t rock the boat messages” I know them well, I am guessing we ALL do!
About the cycle of abuse and the pecking order stuff ~ that is very interesting isn’t it. I took formal training regarding that whole system. I came to the same conclusion as you. Someone has to refuse to partake any longer..and in the systems I was in, that someone was me and there has already been a pretty big ripple effect.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Paulette,
I love what you shared with Lynda. I just wanted to comment that I am sorry you had your dreams squished like that. In my process I went through a big anger stage at how squished that I was, that I was SO smart and never was encouraged to go farther with an education, and that I was always regarded as so dumb.. But today I use my brain all the time and I feel very fulfilled and empowered by my OWN choices and my own actions.
Hugs, Darlene

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Lynda and Paulette,
It is how we view normal. It is normal to us. That is why so many people are so stuck. They go to therapy, but they can’t talk about the childhood crazy because they are not even sure that it was crazy! They tell the therapist that they are having marriage problems, OR that they are having problems with the kids.. depression, can’t sleep , drinking problems.. and they don’t actually realize the roots of all of it because we were taught the wrong normal. We were taught the wrong definition of love and all those other words I mentioned before.
Thank you both for sharing your stories.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Michelle,
You wrote that when you no longer accept your place in the pecking order, there is no place for you. This happens a lot, but I know lots of people who had a better experience. When I stood up to my mom, she walked.. but when I stood up to the pecking order with my husband and his family, when I stood up to the family system in my NEW family, my husband didn’t walk. He actually listened to me, (well it took some time and lots of standing firm on my ground!) but in the end, we made it through and we are equals now. Standing side by side, NOT with me serving his every need and putting myself last. I just wanted to share that sometimes the relationships don’t get thrown away. And there are poople that share on this blog who have worked things out with their parents too! It is too bad though how often that isn’t the case.
Hugs, Darlene

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[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BRAVE KIDS VOICES, Darlene Ouimet, Darlene Ouimet, Maz Stone, Splinteredones and others. Splinteredones said: RT @DarleneOuimet: Controllers and Manipulative People don’t Question Themselves but blame everyone else http://t.co/i23m4NO [...]

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I finely stopped defending myself because I knew it wouldn’t change anything at all. When I began therapy I also was told it wasn’t my fault. Wow try and tell that to the abuser, I was beat up for speaking the truth time after time until I knew if i didn’t get out of the relationship I was going to die. My husband now is the first and only person in my whole life that has looked at me and said YOU DIDN’T DO ANYTHING when we have had fights, I have to tell you I almost hit the floor. I can’t tell you how much I thank God for this man, cause it was the truth and thank God he saw himself for what he was. The only bad thing is his mother does not like me and has been abusive toward me and it sends me over one, I can’t stand to keep my mouth shut to lies and games, I have a burning in my soul to expose to make it all stop. I have looked at myself many times and still check myself and when I am out of line I will always tell that person I am sorry, and if I don’t the Lord will bring it to me and so than I will do as he says. Thank you for posting real things that most people will not even talk about.

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I was punished by my parents if I stared longingly at a toy. I had already been told not to act like a spoiled brat by asking for any of the toys. So I didn’t ask, but then I was punished because, my parents said, just looking at the toys was the same as asking!
Wow just so bizarre what must be in some peoples heads? really I have no idea. I did not realise I was from an abusive home until I had my children.
My daughter was only a few months old and my mum was visiting at my house. My daughter cried due to either being hungry, nappy change etc. My mum turned around and said watch out for her she will try to break your will power ?????? My daughter who is now 14 was not even 2 months at the time I had no idea what I was doing but I knew what my mum said was not normal. How could a person think a baby of 2 months could break a persons will power how did that even enter someones mind. A baby who needs protection and caring cries to communicate I thought what the hell did you do to me when I was that age for your response to be that. She would say things like I hug my children to much, I talk to them and they do not understand. My mum saw children as manipulative and controlling. I started working part time at a early age due to my mum would not allow me certain things like female hygiene products. I was not allowed any choice in my clothes. No choice even in the people I had as friends.
My mum would never ever look at herself ever it was everyone else never ever her for things. I am still working out what in my childhood is not normal it is very hard to see as there is no place to look and go ah okay well there that is not how things should be.

I remember a time when I was in last year of primary school, I felt sick and had pains in my stomach acute ones. My mum said I was faking it and sent me to school. I got to school and feinted in line, the school called my mum and I was taken to a doctor. She made sure she told me that I had better have something wrong with me. The doctor said I had appendicitis and to take me to the hospital. So instead she decided to take me to another doctor to get another opinion as our GP must be wrong. I remember getting out of the car and crawling into the doctors surgery I had bitumen rash and had tears pouring out of my eyes. The whole time she said get up you lazy so and so there is nothing wrong with you. I went into the doctors surgery the nurse or someone helped me up and the doctor saw me right away. Said I had acute appendicitis and ordered a ambulance and I had to go into surgery as soon as I arrived at the hospital. I had my operation, woke up and no one was there other than a nurse. I asked for my mum she said she will be back later. My mum called on the phone and said oh well there you go your appendix wont trouble you anymore and that was it. I had the teacher from my class visit me in hospital, my sisters and some other kids parents not my mum or dad. I was in hospital for a whole week. Not once did my mum say I am sorry I was wrong for what I said to you I feel bad for not believing you. No nothing.

I do not at all put it down to past experience for her or poor parenting skills, or that she was crazy. She was just a nasty person and by choice. I had no idea how to parent so I read books asked people did courses, not because I thought I was bad just because I had no idea and I am still learning. I have stuffed up as a parent but I always acknowledge it. I could never ever put my children through anything like that ever.

Thank you for the post Darlene. This is a big one for me.

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@Lynda wrote this in one of the comments above ‘I didn’t dare ask for anything that would cost money. I spent most of my life honestly believing that I didn’t deserve anything, that other people deserved the food they ate and the clothes they wore and the space they took up on the planet, but not me.’
I actually have this belief right now that I’m not. That I take up too much space, that I’m a burden to things, even take too much air. If I could make myself smaller I would. Can’t figure out where from though. I have so many rootless feelings, lost somewhere in all that fog, I can’t connect the dots.
My mum was very bad today saying about how she didn’t like living with me and I was unsupportive. I know it was because I challenged her mad OCD and paranoia about some thing she thinks have been stolen by people she thinks come in our house (which they don’t) and she counts everything. My saying ‘They’re just blah blah blah’ (usually knives, forks, clothes – whatever she’s picked to freak out about) didn’t help and I got an earful. And then my happy mood went and I felt I’d rather be drunk in a ditch and hoped it was cold. That’s what my ma does. I don’t understand.

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Lousie, dear, you are so very precious. I have known you only a little while, thru your words, and already I think of you as a special friend.

I tried medicating my pain with alcohol, too. I can remember being drunk, feeling myself start to sober up a little, and panicking because I wanted to stay drunk. (shudder) In the end, the only thing that drinking ever did was get me into more trouble. It was like trying to put out a bonfire by pouring gasoline on the flames. I lost my inhibitions when I was drinking, which had the same effect in my life as driving a fully loaded 18-wheeler tractor-trailer truck down a steep mountainside, with No Brakes…. disaster!!

When I was in my mid-30s I started going to AA, which helped me to get sober and stay sober. (But DON’T do like I did and look to AA as a dating service. Trust me on this!) Now, I haven’t had an alcoholic drink in over 21 years, and I don’t miss it at all. A nice cup of hot chocolate is so much better than alcohol.

Hugs,
Lynda

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Clare, I feel such an ache in my heart for the little girl with appendicitis whose mother believed was faking… and then didn’t even visit during the week you were in hospital.

How wonderful that you had the wisdom to get books and take courses on parenting. Wouldn’t the world be a much more wonderful place, if all parents cared enough to do that?

You talked about the insanity of my parents punishing me for looking longingly at the toys in the grocery store, telling me that looking was the same as asking. It gets even crazier than that… on an Easter Sunday, long ago, the first Easter I remember, in fact, my parents took me outside and told me that the Easter Bunny had hidden candy and eggs all over the yard. My mother handed me a basket and told me to go find all the candy and eggs. My dad was standing by with a camera to record this special occasion. I still have an old black and white picture of myself that was taken on that day, I’m wearing a frilly dress over a wide can-can slip, the kind that was popular way back in the 1950s. I’m wearing a little hat and I have white gloves on my hands, and I’m standing in our yard, holding an Easter basket. Such an idyllic picture…. but what the picture doesn’t show is how angry my mother got, because, when I was sent out into the yard to gather the eggs and candy, I saw a big, yellow, stuffed toy Easter Bunny wrapped in clear celophane under a tree. OH, I wondered, is that for ME? But no one said anything to me about the toy bunny, I was told only to gather up all the candy and eggs. So that is what I did…. WHILE STUDIOUSLY MAKING MYSELF NOT LOOK AT THE BIG TOY BUNNY, for fear that I would be punished for looking longingly at something that I wasn’t supposed to ask for. As I ran around the little yard, gathering up the candy and eggs, carefully NOT looking at the bunny, with my dad snapping pictures, my mother suddenly exclaimed in a loud, angry voice, “Look at that, Ronnie, she doesn’t even WANT to bunny. We spent all that money, and she doesn’t even CARE.” So then I was the ungrateful spoiled brat who didn’t appreciate the surprise gift my parents had bought me for Easter.

In my childhood home, there was NO WAY to win. It didn’t matter what I did or didn’t do, or what I said or didn’t say, it was always taken the wrong way.

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Clare, what you went through with your appendicitis… my little half-sister Kristy went through the exact same thing, when she had acute hepatitis. Kristy was about 10 or 11 at the time. I was around 24 or 25. I lived several states away, but had gone to the area where my family lived for business reasons, and while I was there, I stopped by to visit my mother and stepfather and my younger brothers and sisters who were all still living at home. That morning, Kristy told our mother that she was sick. She looked sick, pale and glassy-eyed. But my mother told her to quit being such a big baby, and made her get on the bus and go to school with all the other kids. But soon after she got to school, the principal called and said that Kristy was very sick and needed to go home immediately.

My stepfather was at work, and mother didn’t have her own car, so of course I said I would drive to the school and get Kristy. Mother rode along, fuming and fussing all the way about Kristy faking just to get out of school. We got Kristy, and returned home. The poor girl looked even worse than she had when she’d gotten on the bus earlier that morning.

While our mother went into the kitchen to fix lunch, I knelt down beside my little sister, who was stretched out on the sofa, and put my hand on her forehead. She felt like she was burning up. I prayed for her, softly, so that our mother wouldn’t hear from the kitchen and get mad at me for taking Kristy’s “faked illness” seriously. As I was praying, Kristy began to cry. “Lynda, I’m scared, I don’t want to die!” she whispered frantically. “I don’t know why mother never believes me when I’m sick, but she never does. This is the worst I’ve ever felt in my life!” I told Kristy that our mother had never believed me, either, when I was sick as a child. I only ever saw a doctor, when my dad would take me.

I could see that Kristy was very sick, and after she said she was afraid she might die, I became afraid, too. I made up my mind to take Kristy in to see a doctor right away. I was determined to do it, regardless of what our mother said, but I also hoped to avoid having a big argument with her about it. I remembered that “not wanting to waste money” had always been my mother’s main objection against taking any of us to see the doctor when I was a child, so I went into the kitchen and told my mother, “I realize that it may be nothing, but Kristy does look very sick to me, and I’m worried. I will feel much better if I can take her in to see the doctor, just to make sure she is all right. I will pay the doctor’s bill, so you don’t need to worry about that. I know how hard it is to make ends meet when you have so many children to feed.”

My mother rolled her eyes and sighed theatrically. But then she said, “All right, if you insist. I’ll ride along, too, but FIRST I am going to eat some lunch, I am starving.”

Reluctantly, I went back and sat next to Kristy, holding her hand, praying, hoping mother would hurry with the damn sandwich she was eating…. ALWAYS, in my childhood memories, her needs and wants came FIRST, before everyone and everything else. I was too worried about Kristy to eat the sandwich our mother had made for me. Anyway, finally she was done, and then I loaded Kristy into the back of my car and drove as fast as I dared to the medical clinic.

By the time we got to the clinic, Kristy could no longer walk. Mother and I had to literally carry her between us into the clinic. As soon as the receptionist saw Kristy, she rushed us back to an examining room, and got the doctor in the middle of his examination of another patient. After a guick examination of Kristy, Dr. McDonnell said, “She has a surgical abdomen. You need to get her to the hospital in Springfield immediately.”

I asked the doctor, if this was an emergency, shouldn’t we call an ambulance? He said, “We don’t have time to wait for an ambulance.”

I drove the 30+ miles from the clinic to the hospital with my emergency flashers on, and my foot pressed all the way to the floor. Kristy came very close to dying, we were told later; she got to the hospital just in the nick of time.

If our mother ever said she was sorry, I never heard those words.

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Michelle ~ WELL SAID! So true!

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Darlene – pertaining your comments to me above – I feel the same … no longer around my mother who took me for an idiot, I can look forward to striving towards what I’d like to do without having someone blabbing around me telling me its a bad idea or giving me disapproving looks! And about the stuck thing – I am amazed at how I’ve been able to pinpoint my stuckness. Even my therapist can’t get over how I know where I’m stuck – she actually told me she thought I was intelligent – now, there’s something I never got told growing up!

I struggle with anxiety/depression and I am hoping that with therapy I can overcome them. My youngest sister is also on meds for depression. I asked her once, “I know we get told that its low serotonin in the brain, but has anyone ever wondered what lowered it? Perhaps serotonin gets depleted because of something that happened to us – something had to have caused it don’t you think?” And then I hear your story Darlene, after going through therapy and getting past depression – I think that proves my theory – but so many folk don’t want to deal with whatever issues they have and choose the way of meds (which aren’t bad and they can be helpful – but its not always the only way.) ,,, I wonder if I’m right on my hunch too that MS is environmental. LOL! :)

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Claire – I was like you in that I didn’t see the abuse as ‘emotional/psychological abuse’ either until I had kids – that is when it became super apparent to me. So many of your experiences brought some nasty memories to mind that I had forgotten about … but, oh my, oh my, … I do love knowing that I’m not alone!! And how awesome to be able to share here with other women who no longer feel alone. So awesome!

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Darlene, I am a bit confused here. You see, all the years we were together, ex never admitted that he was abusive, controlling or manipulative. When I was told I was at fault for not keeping strong boundaries, I thought I would slowly start confront. The abuse escalated because obviously he didn’t like being challenged or losing control. When he had no choice but to see a therapist (after getting in trouble with the law) he was so good at manipulating that even they couldn’t see it whenever we had joint sessions.

After he lost me, he would once in a while admit the abuse. He still protested at being called controlling, and even more irked at being called manipulative. But lately, he has admitted it and says he hopes I can trust him to be less manipulative and controlling. Of course he is trying very hard to get me back, so maybe he is reluctantly having to show compliance.

So maybe while your article is generally true, sometimes abusers do admit it if they feel they have nothing more to lose and everything to gain. I guess the yardstick for me is not lip service but action. He has apologized countless times but has not shown that he can refrain from abusing or manipulating for a sustained period of time. Even after he last admitted to me that he had been abusive, the very next day, he was viciously tearing me apart to my friends.

The other giveaway, according to Lundy Bancroft, domestic violence expert, is whether they can describe in detail the way they have been abusive and admit that they did it to control their partner. My ex will make a glib statement apologizing for his abuse, and add that he was probably more abusive than he can recall or is aware of, which shows that he is saying he doesn’t really know in what way he was abusive. How can you change what you are not aware of? Yet he will swear he has changed.

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Hi Diane
Thank you for being here and sharing. As you say, most abusers will not even consider that a change needs to be made that has anything to do with them. I too am always willing to look at my side of the fence because the bottom line for me is to have better relationships. Real relationships.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Clare
You have brought up several really good illustrations in your comments. Thank you. The questions you asked were questions that I ended up asking too… as a society even, we have been taught all this stuff about manipulative babies, and that we can “spoil kids with love” WHAT?? I really thought about this too and I decided it didn’t make sense also. I heard all that same stuff. That I talked to my kids way beyond their understanding.. but I didn’t care. Kids are PEOPLE.. we live in a world where so many don’t realize that kids don’t become people when they turn 21 or whatever. I have such a huge passion for this particular topic I could write a whole book just about that!
My heart hurts for you about your hospital story. What a terrible thing to happen to a kid.
Hugs, Darlene

Louise,
The feeling or belief that we don’t deserve or that we take up too much space is very much related to why I write this blog. Realizing that I felt that way was one of my beginnings. Finding the root of that belief and changing it to the truth was so freeing, so empowering, that I had to tell the world. NO ONE is a burden ~ no one should be made to feel that way. This feeling, this low self esteem was at the root of all my mental health struggles, depressions etc. and when I found out how I had come to those conclusions is when I was able to change those beliefs!
Keep hanging in here!
Hugs, Darlene

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Lynda
Thank you (and everyone on this blog who shares actual stories with details) for sharing your stories about Easter and about your sisters emergency trip to the hospital. You might be surprised to know how many people read this blog that have stories like that, BUT they never knew that anyone else had a story like that OR they didn’t really consider that such an event was severe neglect and abuse. These kinds of comments are empowering and really make a difference to so many. You lived a nightmare. There is no way to process that stuff ~ to understand or make sense of that stuff when you are a kid! And we grow into adulthood with all that confusion, and until we expose it the way that everyone does in here, that confusion is dominant.
Thanks for being here
Hugs, Darlene

Paulette,
When digging into the roots of all this stuff actually worked and I found myself FREE of depression and dissociative identity disorder, I am SURE that (at least for me) the low serotonin levels were caused by the mistreatment, lack of value, abuse etc. that I had no help dealing with as a child. All that stuff just layered on top of each other, and things inside of me got progressively worse as I got older. So as far as I am concerned, the only way out of it is to face those issues. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! LOL
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Krissy,
I am not sure why you are confused. I read my article over again and I don’t see where we differ. Not many abusers will look at themselves , that is true. Confrontation usually does make the problem escalate. Also true. I agree that lip service means nothing. And yes, most abusers are very skilled at manipulating the therapist too. (that is where a very skilled therapist comes in handy) Maybe you could clarify why you said ” while maybe your article is generally true.. ” and which part of it confused you?
Hugs, Darlene

45

@Lynda thank you so much for your kind words I feel the same way. It’s amazing this site, and the people here. Wow!
Also you wrote ‘I lost my inhibitions when I was drinking, which had the same effect in my life as driving a fully loaded 18-wheeler tractor-trailer truck down a steep mountainside, with No Brakes…. disaster!’
I recognise this pattern in myself big time. I’m not a drinker, I never buy alcohol but if I’m with people who drink I find it hard to say no and then I get in trouble – truck-mountain-nobreaks etc… I haven’t figured out how to not do that yet. Perhaps that’s why I’m not with a lot of people now, especially not my generation of drinkaholics. Also I WANT to drink and smoke and I see that as a self destructive I-want-to-hurt-myself pattern as a result of having my selfesteem attacked or whatever

@Darlene reading how you figured it out is so encouraging. I am at the point where I’ve reduced the hurting myself stuff to just sleeping and now I’m beginning to wake up better everyday and the more I learn the less I want to sleep/hurt myself and the more I want to be/live. I can see how it all has to do with self esteem and I’m starting to see how in my daily interactions with people, the triggers for my low self esteem, or my wanting to sleep etc. It’s really soon but it’s giving me confidence. Thank you

46

Darlene, you said that you could never remember a time when someone who devalued you stopped to question themselves.

My first reaction to that was, “Well, that’s how it USED to be for me, but it is not true lately – he is confessing that he may need to look at himself.”. Ex fitted everything you described of your mum – all the blame-shifting, refusal to acknowledge responsibility, etc. But he has surprised me by suddenly admitting even being abusive and controlling. And finally, he even reluctantly said that he hoped he could be “less manipulative”. I couldn’t really explain it, because if the general gist of your article is true (that they don’t ask themselves what they are doing wrong), then maybe he is not so much admitting it as using everything to desperately haul me back.

I just wanted to write my thoughts to see if you agreed with my conclusions and I am happy that you are validating them.

47

Thanks Lynda, Paulette and Darlene for your kind words.

I use to always question what I had done wrong, however when it came to my kids and what members of my family said and some toxic friends I had collected along the way made no sense like none so far off base I just had to question and go against what was said. This is what helped open the doors for me to see how things in my life were not normal.

I just don’t get how and never will understand how some people could even be like this or think in this way. You are so correct Darlene when you say Children are people to. I do wish there was a way for more people in society to realise this. This has also been a huge passion of mine and a subject I relate to. I wonder if a parent was not controlling or manipulative and saw a child as a person would abuse rates drop around the world? I am not saying it is everything but I feel it makes up a large portion of abusers and what is in their heads.

I it good to read other peoples coments and relate to other women and people from around the world.

48

Darlene, I think the low serotonin levels were due to elevated stress over a long period of time also.Elevated adrenaline surges from repeated fright or anxiety does apparently deplete us physically and thus affect us in every way.

By the time I had gone through this cycle of fear,
fog and anxiety over a period of years I was literally worn out.

If the people who were manipulating things in my environment had sat down, said ‘I see you are upset over things; what are you upset about?I am sorry for x,y, and z, and here’s why I said or did this or that’, and ‘what can we do to foster understanding and clear things up?’……I would have been able to begin to trust and feel safe with them.

But those people did NOT do this. Those are the things I MYSELF said to those people. Because they were not trustworthy, I actually gave them MORE fuel to be abusive.

I bent over backwards NOT to be judgemental of these other people. I was in program where I was taught and told on a regular basis to look at MY part of any situation; not someone else’s.

Unfortunately this was not helping any of us in that program to learn to think for ourseves or empower ourselves.The more things distressed me or disturbed me about the others in my environment the more I was advised to look at MYSELF and ask for my own ‘character defects’ to be removed. There really was nothing in the program which addressed domestic violence, but people in the program were attempting to use it to address EVERYTHING about our lives and relationships with others. As a result of the misinterpretation of many aspects of this program, I look back and see many abused people were told lies about themselves both in and OUT of the program AND in some churches.

Self empowerment meant ‘self aggrandizement’ to many in the program; even though there were very many controlling individuals who were telling abuse victims a load of crap and setting themselves up as authorities about other people and their lives. Does this make sense?

I also wanted to be a good Christian, and even though the denomination I was part of was not ‘user friendly’, in that it was harsh, judgemental, and authoritarian, I looked into other religious groups but the ones I explored had in them more authoritarian judgmental people. I was like a magnet for abusive individuals.

So I was in an abusive environment in the home, in my personal relationships, in my support group relationships, in my church relationships.Every way I turned I got the message: ‘You are not important. There is something fundamentally wrong with you. We are right. You are wrong. You are weak. We have power and truth.’

This included some so called counsellors.Because I had already been labelled as ‘flawed’, I acted hesitant, I WAS hesitant about what WAS the truth,and my hesitancy was interpretted as weakness and stupidity and evidence of BEING flawed. A never ending cycle.

In the end I was afraid I would never be able to trust anyone and I hated the fact that sometimes you have to trust other people. Being placed in situations where I needed to trust others put me in a high anxiety state.Still does.

And no; not one of the people who took advantage of me, or abused me, or discounted me, ever explained, or apologized.Apparently that is not a culturally approved thing to do, either in a church, or a family, or in any group I have been in….escept that there were a number of people who felt I myself needed to apologize to THEM, when I did or said thing they simply did not agree with or approved of. These were not things I had said or done which were abusive to them.This was for going in a different direct from them in my beliefs and actions.

As I have said I was stalked by a man with a highly questionable background who several people knew, and not one of the people who knew the background of this man helped us; and in addition not one of the people who didn’t have literal facts about his background but knew I was afraid of him, helped us or listened to me.

My child and I were left to fend for ourselves in a horrible ‘house of mirrors’ kind of situation, in which every person I turned for validation, and support AND a safe place to stay for awhile,ignored me or said I was crazy, AND ignored me. The fact that nothing worse happened to us is only due to the fact that that this crazy man didn’t want to do anything worse to us, or didn’t have the resources to do anything worse- NOT because anyone helped keep us safe.

My changing locks frequently,after I moved, and being very aware of leaving places where he appeared frequently, AND staying away from places I knew he was- like MY former home – which I had to leave-and MY mother, helped as well.Maybe there was divine intervention too. I certainly prayed for it.

I am not saying that these people never questioned themselves; but if they did they never let me in on it.To this day, no one- NO one- has said ‘I was wrong. I am sorry.Please tell me how you feel, how you are doing.’

I was friends with a woman for decades whose father is a preacher- Her father played a big part in trying to keep my daughter in a corrupt church situation, despite my confiding in him about what was going on in that church. His daughter- my old friend- had left the church decades before. When I told her what was going on with her dad, trying to pull my daughter BACK in the church as lately as two months ago, she said ‘ All I have done is to try to be your friend. I am sorry things have turned out this way, but you know daddy..’

She was coming to town for the last several years to visit ‘daddy’, but never called me when she came. I also have strong feeling she was telling ‘daddy’ alot of what I had confided in her….Oddly her FB friends page is full of church people who have been rather rude to my daughter and I while my daughter attended the local church affiliated school here.

As recently as two months ago her dad, the preacher, our family friend for 50 years, had come into my daughter’s workplace and said he wanted my daughter to come and visit him and his wife; because ’50 years of family ties should not be lost’. He didn’t invite m or mention me. He had met my daughter maybe five times in her life, having dropped her and I like a hot potato in 2005/6, when I took us out of their weird church denomination.So now mom has died he’s back, after the next generation.

I made the decision to remove her from my FB, and my life- altho she had removed ME from her life long ago. I made the decision to distance myself from what family I had left and family ‘friends’. Not difficult as all of them had stopped speaking to me almost three years ago.I am Not WAITING ON ANY APOLOGIES from any of these people..lol.

Here’s the bottom line. All these people MAY have questioned their actions and their motives,however since they have not ever had a rational compassionate reasonable discussion with me about their actions, how would I know this?

It cannot matter what they think either way. I don’t run after people for explanations.Everyone of them has access to phone, mail, email, computer, just like I do. Its a waste of my time and energy to think of them except to review what happened, how it affected our lives and to try to prevent these kinds of situations from occurring again.

I don’t care what they think anymore.I don’t care if they dislike,hate, or like me…it just doesn’t matter anymore.Several people truly went out of their way to do things which drastically made a negative impact on my personal life. Others were indifferent bystanders. I lump them all together because they are none of then worth my time trying to sort them out anymore.

There is someone now in my life who wants me to be his ‘female companion’; i.e.; wants to put me on his dr.’s contavt list whould he get ill or incapacitated; you know, if he needs a ride to the dr, or hospital,or if he breaks his ankle…And he would like to have dinner once or twice a week at one of his two frequented restaurants on his side of town;That is all.He doesn’t want anything else but he’s dangling more in front of me as if he thinks dangling the ‘carrot’ will keep me around for these things that make HIS life more convenient.

I see I need to ‘redo’ the way I come across and take the ‘USE ME’ sign off my forehead.lol

49

Hi Krissy,
I think that we have to look at each case individually. I can’t say that abusers don’t change, my husband did. BUT it was a long process and as you said earlier, I believed it by his actions NOT by him saying that he changed. If someone has to tell you they changed, that proves nothing. This is a huge subject. My husband changed several things at first ONLY with the motive to get me “back” but when that didn’t work he had to really look at himself. My husband eventually accepted that he had to look at himself, and he thought just admitting he was controlling me was enough. I didn’t settle for that though. Then he had to look at himself. I could write half a book about all this.
Thanks for coming back to clarify Krissy,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Elizabeth
As always Elizabeth you articulate this so well. I also realized that I was the one who was always trying to understand and work things out etc. And I made all the amends; I totally misunderstood that concept, not just with 12 step but with the bible as well. I was never taught the concept of equal value in my world and so I never even thought that I might be entitled to it. I was angry about this stuff too when I realized all of it, but it was just part of the process; the journey.
SO glad that you are here and sharing the way that you do.
Hugs, Darlene

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Darlene, per your reply to me on Jan. 27 @ 9:04am … I agree with what you said wholeheartedly!! I’d stick to that logic as well! I think abuse and or not dealing with stuff will decrease serotonin in the brain. If trauma can cause illness, it makes sense then that it can cause decreased serotonin levels.

51

You know, theres a level of disconnection between people that really strikes me as very odd in the experiences we all write about. Its as if the abusive people are so disconnected from the consequences of the things they say and do where it affects others; its almost as if they are emotional zombies: the walking dead.

Is it disconnection from their own feelings and emotions as human beings, or is it they justify their actions by viewing their victims as evil, deserving of mistreatment, or are they just indifferent and totally selfish?

I did learn alot in my 12 step program. I think I became a better person- although much of it was overkill and made me take too much responsibility for things.But I became aware of looking at my own motives for what I did and said. Uncontaminated with guilt and other peoples’ interpretations, that concept has helped me tremendously.

When I go after something I want, or want to happen, and it involves other people; and I withold facts, or information from those people;and that info might have a bearing on how they see things, I am being dishonest.

When I criticize someone else or shame them because it defuses my own anger or anxieties, I am being unfair and dishonest.

It has been a long journey trying to get clear enough in myself about what is going on with me, so that I can understand what is going on in my life. I am a slow learner.But I hope I learned thoroughly enough so that when I take the major step of labelling- YES, labelling someone else as ‘abusive’ or ‘manipulative’ that I have a sense of knowing this is true- that I am not just being reactionary.

I STILL, as Darlene alluded to, feel sorry for some of these people who were so mean and weird to me- not all the time but alot of the time.

I like it that Darlene pointed out that we may feel sorry for them, but not at our own expense. That is the line to be drawn.I have to come first- not their feelings; not them.

They are taking care of themselves, and more….Its ME I need to worry and care about, and care for; not them.

52

Clare ~ I think you might be right about the abuse. Instead of parents thinking that they ‘own’ their children and so thus abuse and manipulate to control them to do their bidding, parents should realize and be taught that children are people too – they should be respected as individuals and treated as having value. It is not the end all, but it would be a beginning. Kids deserve kindness as much as the next guy. There is no reason to be mean or cruel, even when disciplining – being calm and assertive is enough. Yelling and freaking out just diminishes any respect the kid would have for the parent while at the same time, it changes the kid.

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Darlene, I so hope you will someday write that book you mentioned – when you are finished with responding to our never-ending comments!!

I wonder what the difference was between your husband and your mother – why one was prepared to change and one wasn’t. I don’t want to believe that people can’t change. It is definitely near-impossible for some, because their brain wiring is so set due to years of dysfunctional and distorted thinking. For most, they simply don’t think they need to.

At what point did you believe that your husband was genuine when he wanted to change, and how did you find it possible to hang on for all that time, without being too traumatized and having to detach for your own good? I mean, with our toxic parents, we break off contact because it is obviously one-sided, even if they are beginning to change because we just can’t expose ourselves anymore. The trauma doesn’t have to be due to brutally physical abuse; continuous verbal abuse for a long time has an equally traumatic effect, as many have shared. Those affected have every right to stay away even if the abusers say the “right” things about looking at themselves and admitting their abuse. Sometimes I wonder why some can hang on, put their boundaries and see the eventual change (I must admit, I have only come across three cases worldwide, including yours) and others like me are too traumatized and have their trust so broken that it really doesn’t even matter now if the change was genuine (not that it is) – I don’t think I could ever really share my life with him again.

Elizabeth, what you said really resonates with me too. Thanks for sharing!

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Krissy,
I think that I hung on because I saw some “try” . He took a lot of steps back, yes, but those little forward ones gave me hope. This is such a huge area to address, much to big to attempt in a comment or even in one post. I used to work in this area, and I found it discouraging, so I don’t like writing about the marriage stuff just yet. I might make some recordings about it one day.
You asked what was the difference between my mother and my husband.. well I don’t know. I used to try to figure that out, but it is in their heads, it is their “stuck and unstuck” so I can’t really say. Jimmy realized that he was doing what I said he was; that our life together was all about him, that he was in charge, that he was the king and that my dreams had to align with his. That the kids felt like they were also just pawns in the game. There for his purpose and to support his wishes. Our individuality was squished. and he finally saw it. And he saw that his father had done it to his mother and to him as well. And he wanted something better for himself (that was key) and then for his family. He did it for him finally, because he saw the freedom that I had. He saw me blossom and thrive even though he was still a mess. I became me, I owned my own identity and he wanted that for him too.
That is my “nut shell” version!
Hugs, Darlene

55

“Controllers and Manipulative People don’t Question Themselves.” This is true even when they murder their victims.

I just saw on the news that a woman in Florida was arrested a few hours ago for killing her 13-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter. She told police that she killed them because they were “mouthy.”

I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut right now, like I always do when I read or hear on the news about a parent killing, or trying to kill, their children. I didn’t know these teenagers, but I know how it feels to have mother who is trying to kill you.

The only “mercy” was that the police said probably neither of the children saw it coming. I hope they didn’t know what was about to happen.

The news article I read said the woman’s neighbor’s and friends “couldn’t believe it.” She seemed so loving to her children, and so proud of them.

People who know my mother couldn’t believe it, either, when I was finally able to tell about her trying to gas us all to death, trying night after night to override the safety shutoff on the gas furnace, then confessing to me that she was going to drive us all off a cliff, when she gave up on the gas furnace.

I feel like curling up in a tiny ball under the covers and staying there. I am grieving for 13-year-old Powers Beau Schenecker and 16-year-old Calyx Powers Schenecker. And I am grieving for 12-year-old Lynda Lee Robinson, too.

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Lynda,
I hear you and I grieve too. I often see these stories of examples of just how far abusers will go to have control. There is no love or equality in that system. It is very sad. Thank you for sharing this.
Hugs, Darlene

57

I have been in many abusive relationships…. I thought I was over that and found the ‘right’ man for me. He is kind, gentle and then the ‘silent treatment’ (I have never experienced this before) started.
He gets angry at things that I have NO idea what the problem is and it can go on for days.
He is currently in that frame of mind, so I looked up ‘silent treatment’ on the net and found out it is a form of manipulation/power and control.
I want to make the relationship work, but I don’t WON’T be in this mess all the time…. not knowing what is going to set him off.
It is so childish.
Merri

58

Merri, Welcome to Emerging from Broken,
Yes the silent treatment is a form of psychological abuse. One of the things that really helped me in my own marriage, (this was also something that my husband would do) was the realization that his behaviour was not my fault or my responsibility. And I stopped trying to figure out “what was bugging him and why”.. I told him that his silent treatment bothered me; he blamed it on me; I refused to take the blame. It was hard but in the end he had to make the choice to either have a real relationship with real communication OR not.
That was what happened with that, in a nut shell. Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

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Meerri – Oh, I am so familiar with that treatment – and its manipulation at its best! And they won’t tell you what’s wrong – we’re just supposed to be able to read their minds!

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@Lynda – yes I did that the other day e: curling up in a ball – wait that was today. I think I’ve been doing it everyday. Am half healing in sort of blocks of capable and not so capable!

@Darlene I love your comment re silent treatment :) Makes me smile in a beaming way, that you had ‘the realization that his behaviour was not my fault or my responsibility. And I stopped trying to figure out “what was bugging him and why”..’

You know I’m having the same ting in s different way, or recognising people pushing and pulling me, or squashing my enthusiasm and taking the wind out of my sails and I don’t want to let them do it anymore, I want to refuse to let them drain me. I want to tell them either they buck up and let me or I won’t be there… like I’m trying to set boundaries – and communicate them. I’m not very good yet at the communicating – comes out a bit irrationally sometims. Other times I know I’m irrational, my ma walked into my space one day when i was working and I froze up tight and was about to erupt in a vesuvian fashion and then she picked up a plate and walked out – lol At which point I realised I was being disproportionate and unrealistic somewhere

61

Meerri ~ YES YES YES, the “Silent Treatment” is controlling, manipulative, abuse.

My last failed marriage was exactly like that. After my severely abusive childhood, then going into a marriage at 16 and being beaten severely more times than I can remember, probably at least 100 times, cheated on many times, verbally abused many times, then at age 21 I went into another marriage and was again beaten, again cheated on, again verbally abused…

When I was in my late 30s I married an older man who was so kind, and loving, and I thought I had finally found my Prince Charming. Then, a couple of years into our marriage, he started with the Silent Treatment. I would beg him to tell me what was wrong, but he just kept clammed up, saying he didn’t have anything to say to me, that he had already said everything during our first 2 years together, and now he was out of words.

He wouldn’t talk to me AT ALL. Years went by, and he might say a total of one sentence per week. This was an educated man, he had a Masters Degree, he was a retired Air Force Officer, so he knew how to have conversations… and he still did, with OTHER people, but not with me! We used to go to a weekly 12-step support group together. I looked forward all week to that meeting, because while we were there, my husband would talk… not to me, but to others, and I was that hungry for the sound of his voice, that I lived for those weekly meetings.

I told him, OH did I tell him, how badly I needed for him to have conversations with ME. I told him that of all the things he did for me… he still did things for me, like he always had, like bringing me tea and things like that… I said I would rather he stopped doing all of the other considerate things he did for me everyday, and just do one thing only: Talk to me, for at least a few minutes, every day, about anything that might be on his mind, anything at all, I didn’t care, just TALK.

I needed it like I need air to breathe…. my mother often went days without speaking to me…. I just needed to hear his voice, to know I wasn’t all alone. But every time I told him how badly I needed to hear his voice, he smiled a tight little smile and said, “I don’t have anything to talk about.” That one sentence, “I don’t have anything to talk about,” was the most he would ever say to me in the typical day, in our last 8 years of marriage!!!!

I finally left. I just felt so alone and unloved and abandoned. Just the fact that he wouldn’t even ATTEMPT to have any kind of a conversation with me at all, hurt me, when he knew how much it meant to me. But I felt so guilty for leaving him! I mean, I was used to EXTREME abuse, you know? I was used to my mother trying to kill me, I was used to my father trying to molest me, I was used to my exes cheating on me with other women, my first ex, who I didn’t know was bi, also cheated on me with men. I was used to being beaten, to having my neck almost broken, to getting my ribs broken and my nose broken and my jaw broken and having a miscarriage, I was beaten so badly. I left my other marriages because if I didn’t, I was sure I was going to be killed.

But to leave a man who never raised his voice to me, never raised a hand to me, never ever cheated on me… to leave a man just because he refused to ever talk to me! That wasn’t right, was it? I thought I was awful for leaving just because my husband hadn’t even tried to have a real conversation with me in 8 years.

Since then, since I left that marriage in 2000, I have found a whole world of healing. I have learned, and am continuing to learn, that I have worth. I have learned that yes, 8 years of Silent Treatment is ABUSE. If he had been a deaf-mute, that would be different, if he had been brain-injured or had a stroke, that would be different. He could talk, but he refused to talk…. to ME. So finally I left, and he let me know afterward that he was glad I left, that he really had wanted to end the marriage long ago, but he saw me as so broken and needy by the PTSD I had ~ altho we didn’t yet know that was what I had ~ that he figured I would end up homeless if he left me. So he stayed, even tho he didn’t want to. He stayed, even tho he did not love or respect or like me. He stayed, but he punished me for his unhappiness, by refusing to give me the one thing he knew I needed most ~ conversation.

I only wish now I hadn’t wait 8 years to leave him!

Lynda

PS Meerri, every person and every marriage is different, I am not advocating that you leave him, I am only telling you my personal experience with the Silent Treatment.

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Silent treatment that is what my parents use to do to me growing up on a daily basis. It is one of the most controlling severe forms of emotional abuse.

I grew up watching both my parents say they are giving each other the silent treatment at various times, my parents admitted doing it and they felt they had valid reasons for doing it. To me it was hate they were expressing and anyone who uses this horrible tactic . No form of relationship needs to have this in it at all. It is used by people to punish people it is covert and hard to put a finger on. It is about controlling a person and giving them some form of attention on them adding to their authority of control. The people who do this are insecure and afraid of being abandoned so they more or less abandon you. I could never live like this or even know people who are like this. I grew up with it.

This form of abuse is crazy making and so harmful. This is where I would draw the line in a relationship. I have experienced it in my past relationships and even with friends.I have never and will never experience this with my husband, working on healthy relationships even though we had no idea when we first married both of us had this growing up none of us liked it.It is so soul destroying, it is like being killed slowly from the inside. It takes away important time in a relationship, to me it made no sense to do this. Why use the silent treatment if you liked and respected someone. If someone has an issue with something someone does tell them at least they know and have a starting point to work things out. If they refuse to talk or find it difficult they need to be able to communicate and express themselves. If not what is the point waiting and hoping they will get better? I do not see the point in wasting precious time. Life is wonderful and there is no need to be silent about issues. This is one area I wish they would cover in high schools in health so that people know this is not on and how controlling and abusive it is.

This is just my experience and view.

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[...]  Controllers and Manipulative People don’t question themselves [...]

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Hi Louise!
Good for you for beginning to set boundaries. It is okay to be in the process. We can only make a beginning and small changes lead to bigger changes! I got better at it as time went on and as time went on, I got more clarity too.
Keep hanging in!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Clare,
Thanks for this comment. I wish that there were courses in high schools about all abuse tactics and relationship dysfunction! Imagine the difference that could be made if there was light shone on all this confusion when we were young!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Lynda,
something that you comment reminded me of is how when a controlling or abusive person “realizes” that the tactic they are using is having the desired effect, they use it more. It is as though they are saying “I know this drives you crazy.. so I am going to really lay it on” it is as though that is what makes them feel better about themselves… like they are saying “if I do this thing that makes you crazy, and you still stay with me, then that proves you love me, therefore I am lovable” So much of abuse has to do with the abuser getting their value defined in a sick way.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

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So many things to think about reading through this post and comment. I wonder how many of our abusers could be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Because they are nasty in such similar ways.

Interesting discussion about low serotonin. For years I lived under my mother’s put-downs and attempts at control and just though, Well, that’s just her. Just gotta take it because she is so set in her ways she can’t change.

Did not connect it to my suicidal depressions until one fine summer day two years ago when I was lost in a suicidal fog washing dishes (still had a house to run, badly as I did it) and my mom drove up the driveway and honked her horn. I had forgotten to ask my daughter if she would be willing to go grocery shopping with her grandmother (grandmother needed help to reach the groceries off the shelf because she was using a handicapped cart). So I quickly asked my daughter if she would be willing to do that, and she agreed, bless her heart.

But she needed to use the bathroom first, and I ran to the door and yelled out to my mother that she would be right out, she needed to use the potty. It turned into a longer bathroom visit, and I ran to the door again and yelled that she was working on it, just hang on. My mother yelled, “I don’t have all day to wait!” and zoomed back down the driveway.

I saw red, literally. I yelled after her, “You can’t wait five minutes for your own granddaughter, you [ ] [ ]?!” She didn’t hear me, she drove so fast, too bad if my other children were playing in the driveway. My older children, who were with me when this all happened, were in total shock that I could use such language, especially to my mother, but I felt so relaxed that I felt like slumping onto the floor.

I went back to washing the dishes, and realized that my suicidal ruminations were gone. Vanished like a fog in bright sunshine. My AHA! moment was that I was angry at my mother, not irritated, not exasperated, but enraged. I’d stuffed the anger until it turned back on me. Recognizing that, if I start getting depressed, I ask myself, who am I angry at and why. That has stopped depressions before they really got going. I still have SAD, but that just might be brain damage from the decades of anxiety, repressed anger, and fear.

No, my mother cannot believe that her words and behavior have anything to do with how people treat her. Through OSA, I’ve gotten the courage to institute minimal contact with her. She never, never questions whether her treating me like a moron has anything to do with my not coming over on a schedule like I used to.

No, it’s because the church I attend has told me not to communicate with her anymore. You see, I am so brainless that I must be under someone’s control, and since I don’t have a husband, the church has got to be it. She’s told several people this.

What is she trying to accomplish with this? I can’t figure it out. Does she really believe that people aren’t going to tell me her weird theories? Or does she know that her rumor-mongering is going to get back to me and hopefully shame me into working for her again? I’ll never know.

My eldest daughter goes to help her now, and I still do too, though, of course, it’s not hours per week that are better spent with my own children. She is very nice to my daughter, but she can’t hide completely her more unpleasant traits, so my daughter still believes me when I tell her that she’s been abusive. My daughter can handle it, but I tell her if grandmother gets too much for her, not to feel guilty about not going anymore.

It is true that my mother is disabled, she needs a walker and she’s got shoulder troubles, but if she did not find so much fault people would be glad to help her instead of going to her house once or twice and then never coming back.

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Darlene,

Once again, another great article! You put into words so much of my own experience. It is very comforting to know that someone in the world understands.

One thing I wanted to mention was the cycle of abuse that I was in regarding my first marriage. There are three stages: 1) Blow up, 2) Make up (also called the Honeymoon Phase), and 3) Tension building. It works like this.

1) Conflict or fight — some sort of cataclysmic event in the relationship where tempers flare. Ugly words are often exchanged, and in some cases, physical abuse takes place.

2) Make up — the abuser feels sad about the way he/she has treated you, and seems to take responsibilty for their wrongdoing. Many times, the abuser will promise never to do it again.

3) Tension building — basically, this is the time where you are waiting for the next blow up. I called it “waiting for the other shoe to drop”.

I was in my first marriage for almost 14 years, and I started to see the pattern after about 10 years or so. I had no way to define what was happening, and certainly no way to stop it. The reason I mentioned this is because,

to the untrained mind, the second stage, Make Up, may appear as though the abuser is admitting they were wrong. But, nothing could be further from the truth.

It can be tricky to recognize the difference. In an abusive relationship, it isn’t really an admission of wrongdoing when all is said and done. For me, my ex-husband usually came back at a later time and explained that he would not have done/said those things if I had been a better wife or if one of our children was behaving better, or some such blame-shifting. The explanations were always similar but there was enough variance in between cycles that it made it difficult for me to identify the pattern while I was still living with him. I came to realize, finally, that he was never really taking responsibility for his behavior, and continues to this day to blame me for everything that has ever gone wrong for him or me or any of our kids since we married — now, almost 20 years ago!

Well, the joke was on him, because, after a lot of soul searching, and several years of therapy, I realized that I may HAVE problems, but I am not THE problem! I continue to try to see where I am responsible for things and where I am not. It isn’t difficult for a person like myself to want to take all the blame. I actually think this is a backwards way of trying to gain some sort of control. We don’t think of ourselves as controlling, but the need for order and even-ness in our lives can drive us to it anyway. It’s a natural response to chaos. However, the false belief is, if I am in control, then I can change the situation or the abusive person who continues dumping on me. I have never liked the phrase, “Let go and let God”, but it seems to apply to a certain degree in these situations.

Anyway, again, I really appreciate your insights, and I am comforted and encouraged by your sharing.

In Peace,
Kellie

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Hi Kellie,
I worked in seminars about the misuse of power and control in abusive relationships. yes.. there is absolutely a definable cycle.
Realizing that the abusive controllers or manipulative people in relationships never question themselves was a big win for me, because I ALWAYS questioned myself. I was always willing to bend and change for the sake of peace in the relationship, but there was no peace to be had as long as the person with the real problem didn’t want to look at themself. It was very interesting to look at all this through a more truthful grid of understanding!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

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Darlene ~ I’ve always questioned myself as well, still do. I think its healthy to question yourself, but not to the degree I do – right now, it is getting better – but I used to question EVERYTHING I did and EVERYTHING I thought! My abuser though, never did question herself – she was always ‘right’!!

Kellie ~ I love what you shared here – I could so relate to this even with my abuser being my mother!! Oh, the blame shifting … and the chaos and need for some control was incredible. I used to have HUGE control issues trying to control any chaos in my life, only to discover that real life has chaos. It was very hard work overcoming the control stuff. I know now what my triggers are and have to stop myself and realized that the thing I’m trying to control is far beyond my control (in most instances.)

Even now, my family has no contact with me as I’ve come to realize that they have all used me as the scapegoat. Even still, THEY expect me to fix my family by fixing my ‘relationship’ with my mother by letting my ‘still abusive’ mother back into my life – all in the name of peace in the family. It is not up me to fix it and I won’t. I will not be everyone’s fall guy anymore – I will not let them use me as the ‘source’ if being or fulfilling of my mother’s happiness. I am not responsible for my mother’s happiness. Peace at the expense of abuse is not peace!

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Darlene/Paulette,

I have learned a great deal from Jeff Vanvonderen’s work. He describes the peace we are “preserving” in the abusive relationship as really a TRUCE, and not true peace. This was a great revelation to me. As the abuse victim, we are usually the ones who try to maintain that truce, as the other party really hasn’t made any sacrifices or given up any ground to find that “peace”, and also has not truly been held accountable or had to face any real consequences for their behavior. This obviously perpetuates the cycle of abuse until the abuse victim decides that he/she is valuable and worthy of being treated equally in the relationship. Obviously, we have all made that decision, but I thought I would mention the concept here for others who may not have thought of it this way before.

You ladies are super!

Kellie

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In reading One of the other posts it felt like they were using my words.. The more I protested the more they blamed and never admitted to any responsibility for their behavior… My ex and I agreed to have a non monogamous relationship. I agreed and things worked ok. Until the new love. I was trying to go slow but before I knew what hit me I was the outsider, the bad guy.

This wasn’t what we had agreed to, but the more I talked about it, the more I was berated for being Jealous, oh he’s just jealous don’t listen to him. Then I’d have one or the other cancel a date with me, so they could go be with each other. I had never minded sharing, I enjoyed seeing them happy around each other, but when I started being excluded and blamed and told it was my fault they were excluding me it hurt.

If I acted like I was happy, I could be around them together, but I still didn’t feel validated or heard. I know about jealousy and insecurities, one of the things you do to get over them is to face them. If a partner feels jealous its their responsibility to work it out with the other to ally any fears or insecurities. The one that feels left out, asks for a little extra time together, to get back to a place of feeling secure with each other.

So now I doubted myself, I was told, I’m selfish and mad/hurt/angry/sad/depressed/jealous etc. so she didn’t want to be around someone like me. And I still did kept trying, thinking I’d find the right words to explain why I felt she should validate my needs and concerns. I asked for help to feel more wanted and loved and for more together time.
The reaction I received shocked me deeply. I was told in no uncertain terms that I knew she was poly and how dare I try and control her, she could do as she pleased and she didn’t have to listen to me or spend time with me if she didn’t want to and besides, I was just jealous because someone wanted her and to pay attention to her. I was jealous because it wasn’t all about me.

I couldn’t keep the tears away. And When she saw that she started mocking me. Here I had two women and I didn’t know how to be grateful. I was being greedy and jealous and immature. I felt such complete shame and humiliation at her remarks.

I was ashamed for letting myself need her. I was being told that I wasn’t allowed to have needs or feelings or ME validated. I was berated for wanting to feel loved and wanted and included when it was all my imagination/fault.

Its been a year since that happened. I finally realized that part of me was waiting for her to stop punishing me. It was like when I was a child trying to appease a parent so they won’t hit you. I realized I was waiting for her to give me back my approval. And I realized this IS how it is. There wasn’t some magical wand that was going to turn me back into a prince in her eyes. This was the new reality.

I had been disgusted with myself for begging for crumbs from someone who didn’t have time for me. The relief was immense. I had been driving myself crazy for a year hurting because my innermost self believed that I was bad and I deserved this treatment, I deserved to be punished because I was a failure. I can’t remember the last time I felt so free. The sadness yes it was still there. Its hard to watch someone you love walk away, no matter the reason. I don’t know whats next, But I am thankful for that key to my emotional bondage.

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Mac,

I’ll be the first to admit that, while I support a person’s right to choose a polygamous lifestyle, I don’t even begin to understand the reasons behind polygamy. I also understand that different people and families adopt such a lifestyle for widely varying reasons. My comment isn’t really about polygamy, but I thought I would say that up front so I won’t be misunderstood as judging that lifestyle choice.

Here’s what I want to say to you, and I think this applies to every living human being. I like the saying, “If you’re not happy without a million dollars, you will never be happy WITH a million dollars.” In other words, genuine happiness is not something that can be achieved by acquiring something; and the something does not have to be money or stuff. It can be a relationship, a job, a certain physical appearance, a meal, you name it. A person MUST find peace inside themselves if they are ever to have true peace and a shot at happiness. I hope you will continue on your journey of loving and approving yourself and I believe you will see the pieces of your life beginning to fit together better as you do.

Peace,
Kellie

73

Hi Mac,
Like Kellie, while I whole-heartedly support the right of consenting adults to conduct their private lives in any way they choose, I personally would rather have no relationship at all, than a polygamous one. To my way of thinking, a poly relationship is doomed to be troubled ~ sooner or later, someone, if not everyone, is going to be hurt. Just my humbl opinion! It seems to me that spicing up your sex life with polygamy, is as senseless as setting the house on fire because you’re feeling a little chilly ~

Having said that, Mac, there is a lot in your comment that I can totally relate to. This part in particular:

“I was ashamed for letting myself need her. I was being told that I wasn’t allowed to have needs or feelings or ME validated. I was berated for wanting to feel loved and wanted and included when it was all my imagination/fault.” ~OH WOW do I ever relate to that, Mac. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, wore it out, used it as a dustcloth…

I also related strongly to this part of your comment: “I finally realized that part of me was waiting for her to stop punishing me. It was like when I was a child trying to appease a parent so they won’t hit you. I realized I was waiting for her to give me back my approval. And I realized this IS how it is. There wasn’t some magical wand that was going to turn me back into a prince in her eyes. This was the new reality….. I had been disgusted with myself for begging for crumbs from someone who didn’t have time for me.”

AGAIN, been there, done that, got the t-shirt… etc.

I’m glad that you are seeing the light and feeling FREE. YES, you… YOU, MAC… you DO have the RIGHT to feel your feelings. You DO have the right to be treated with Equal Respect, to be Validated, and loved, and wanted. That knowledge is truly the key to being set free of the PAIN.

I’m glad you shared here, Mac. Be good to YOU, you deserve it.

Lynda

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Hi Mac and welcome,
It is hard to separate the events in this situation because as you say, you went in with your eyes open. I can see how you came to the conclusions that you came to with all your self esteem issues slapping you in the face and other the people actually get to tell you that you are all the things that they told you which is so much like it always was for me in all my past relationships. Thank you for sharing your breakthrough moments and transformation thoughts! That is awesome!
Hugs, Darlene

75

Darlene,

This is the crux of narcissism isn’t it? The heart of it is that lack of ability to look inward and see their true selves. I am not so certain that it is because of abuse. I see it as how they choose to deal with the traumas in life that we all face. I don’t believe either of my parents were abused. My grandparents were wonderful people and I think I would have been much worse off without them. My parents may have been spoiled (my dad was an only child and my mom the baby of 6 siblings) and I know they both went through some tough experiences. I like you, am too quick to accept responsibility and think that I must change. As the child of narcissists, I have what they lack. I also lack what they have. I think the answer is in stopping being a part of someone else and finding a balance of healthy narcissism.

76

Pam,
I tend not to look at diagnosis anymore. It gets in the way for me. The thing about abuse is that we can never know what happened to other people and we can never know where it came from. The abuse is not always in the home. Emotional abuse is harder to pin point. I had a teacher who absolutely made it clear to me that I had NO value. It was a very damaging part of my childhood and I got very sick. The Doctor finally figured out what was going on and ordered my parents to take me out of the class. I was molested by a babysitter. AND my parents did their fair share of damage, BUT everyone thought they were wonderful. My best friend from childhood was shocked when she found me and read my blog. She never knew any of it and she was my best friend from very young until we moved when I was 12 but we kept in touch till we were 17. The key for me was in figuring out what I had come to believe about myself and my value etc. People say “forget the past” and lord knows how I tried, but when I went back to the past, I found my answers. It was all about how my value was never established. (in a nut shell)
Hugs, Darlene

77

My son says they are just jerks.:0)

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Darlene,

I’ve had this issue going on with my mom for a long time. She wants to be very close but yet she tries to control every aspect of my life. She is constantly manipulative, controlling and selfish but yet I’m the one always apologizing. Feeling guilty for things I shouldn’t feel guilty about. I want to live my life better while maintaining a healthy, happy relationship with her. Problem is, I live pretty close to her so it’s going to be hard. Any suggestions on how to break the cycle? Any books that help with controlling, manipulative people?

79

Hi Stephanie,
For me, breaking the cycle was about finding out the reasons why I was so powerless and unable to stand up to the misuse of control and power. Most of this blog is about that. Having said that, Alice Miller “The truth will set you free” is a very good book on this subject of facing your own history with parents. I have not read any books about controlling parents, but Patricia Evens has a good one about controlling partners and I saw a lot of my mother in that book. The key for me was changing the way that I responded to them. there is a lot of info about that in this blog.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

80

I can identify with this post. My family has had a similar pattern. The latest was when we had my daughter and asked my family to wait until we’d had some rest before visiting the hospital. My entire family showed up early and fought with my husband outside the hospital room. To this day, my husband is the only one who admitted that he even SAID anything. Magically, all the other family members were just bystanders (and appalled at everyone else)! One even told my husband that I was to blame … even though I wasn’t there … because I was so picky and wanted things to go my own way all the time. WHEN I HAD JUST GIVEN BIRTH! I don’t think they’ll ever admit to what was really wrong. They are all saints in their worlds. I love my non-saint husband.

81

Chloe!
Your comments are so true! As though even though YOU just had a baby, you were not entitled to have it go the way you wanted? My mother didnt think I was entitled to have my wedding the way that I wanted. My mother didn’t think that the Dr. should have more authority then she did when I had my second baby. Oh my goodness, I can really relate to your comments! My family has never admitted to what was really wrong, but I don’t care anymore. I am free now!
Thank you so much for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

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Don’t even get me started on my wedding … every time the attention is on me and I make a decision they don’t like … fireworks. It has been really helpful for me to start to see the pattern. I still get super upset but the more I can see it as THEIR pattern the more I can choose a different one.

83

I hear you!
I started to write a blog post about the birth of my middle daughter already… you inspired me. I will write the wedding one later. I have writen a lot of posts about what we are talking about. Have you looked at the category for family or the one for mother daughter? There is lots of dysfunction stuff in those categories.
Glad you hare here!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Darlene

Thanks for such a wonderful article. I have a question about those who got manipulated by other people.
When you got manipulate, you will start doing things or making decision that it is so clear to everyone IT IS WRONG but you still feel “nothing” about what you have done.
I think manipulator can cause somebody to do something that go against the very basic of moral value and still feel OK about it.
Am i right??

85

Hi Chris
I am not sure what your question is so I can’t answer it. Can you clarify?
Hugs, Darlene

86

Hi Chris
I am not sure what your question is so I can’t answer it. Can you clarify?
Hugs, Darlene

87

Well, that sure describes my mother. She was so confident in herself, and her opinions, never questioning herself because everyone else was always WRONG. Especially me, because I was at the bottom of the Totem pole in her pecking order. Her confidence and unwavering belief in herself was so convincing, I was left with this uneasy confusion… am I wrong to feel this way? Am I as bad as she thinks I am? Am I as bad as she WANTS me to think I am? Am I that stupid? Clumsy? Untalented? Unattractive? Incompetent? Slow? Unworthy?

She could always yell louder, slam things harder and stare me down until I finally caved in. This tiny little 5 ft. tall “giant” of a woman whom I feared well into adulthood… I’ve always been unable to maintain eye contact with people and especially her. Recently I tried looking her in the eyes and she stared right back, without blinking. I’m a middle-aged woman and she’s quite elderly and she still won. She never looked away, or even blinked. Just a steely-eyed stare. If only I’d known how truly insecure she was deep down, how wrong she was and how I would never, EVER, win her approval…. how different my life would have been. If only.

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Hi Drained.
I totally relate! My mother is 4ft 11in. I realized the fear I had was the fear that I had as a child afraid of being thrown away. When I stood up to my mother without that fear, she couldn’t take it. It is exactly as you say ~ deep down she was SO insecure. All her nasty treatment came out of that place in her. But we know now and now is all we have. and my now is a million times better then back then was! It is not too late!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hello- I found your web page when I tried to type in the search- “why do nice people question themselves?” Because this is the kind of person that I am and have always been- And I saw your article and it spoke to me. I am a 25 year old young woman. I was severely bullied and psychologically abused growing up in school, by teachers, my peers, and even some adults. I was a very shy girl, but always a nice person. I suffered a long time from the trauma that happened. Part of my suffering came from the fact that I always blamed myself, not others for the cruel treatment. I always thought something must have been wrong with me, or that I needed to change in some way. For years, I questioned everything about myself and am just starting to realize, years later, that maybe none of it was my fault. As I grew older, I encountered even more cruel and abusive people and I slowly started to realize that they never do question themselves, they are always so confident and sure and put the innocent or good people down. I was always very blessed to have a loving and kind good mom and dad and family to help me through-they always tried to explain this to me in so many words, and it did help me to heal, but always hearing from someone else helps too.Thank you for your post and honesty. I am so glad that you were able to have a greater understanding of what happened to you. So many people can invalidate and from that comes suffering and usually and ironically, its the sweet hearted people that suffer and try to make things better.

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Hi Alexc
Welcome to Emerging from Broken. It is wonderful that you had supportive parents ~ many of the readers here did not have that.
My whole world changed when I realized that it was not actually my fault no matter how much the abusive people twisted the story and always forced me to look at what was “wrong with me”. This was the beginning of freedom for me!
Hugs, Darlene

91

Great article, and great responses. I am so embarassed about having been narcissistic that I have not conjured the courage to come clean about it until now. It has been a hard journey, but I think things are getting better because I recognize that the fault is on all sides, in my case. I am glad that I see through manipulative people, but I am ashamed to admit that I was no better by being narcissistic.

Background: I was brought up in a home chock-full of master manipulators/narcissists. Though I was one of their scapegoats for their button-pushing, there’s no excuse for my choice of behavior, only shame and sorrow. If surrounded by dysfunction, then are you likely to imitate it and wrongly presume that you are a victim and only a victim. It’s a double-edged sword, and I see that now.

Still, it’s been a tough climb out of the a**hole crevasse. It’s like being a recovering alcoholic and living inside a brewery. Because I am barely getting by, I am financially captive to living with a manipulating schrew who has expressed that she hates me and will not accept the blame for her own bad choices. Anything I do in order to ignore her (or tell her off about her b.s.) is twisted around as a deliberate offense. She’s an expert at blame displacing. She plots and schemes to manipulate me so that she does not have to face her own garbage. She denies, berates, rationalizes, curses, threatens, brings up old irrelevant sh*t to hurt others, and when these don’t work for her, throws a tantrum like a hormonal 13 yr old. She knows that the jig is up and she no longer has power to push me around, so now she’s pulled out her toolbox of manipulative devices. Any achievement others make, she has a nasty derision (she calls it THE TRUTH) about it while over-inflating her contributions. When faced with an indisputable or evident truth she implodes and calls others “stupid.” When she needs something and tries to sweet-talk you into doing it, she won’t take “no” for answer–she’ll just tell you what a *bleep* you are for giving her what she wants. My only redeeming power until I leave is to deny her reinforcement and not play her games. I want to keep my dignity and self-respect. All I can do is give her enough rope to hang herself (LOL. Not really, but you get the point!) It’s funny that she makes friends easily. She’s one of those phony people who abuses their charisma and makes people feel important long enough to use them up and toss them. The trick doesn’t work on me anymore. I no longer accept being used, put-down or bossed by anyone, and I can take directives from people if their intentions are pure and reasonable. Things don’t always go my way, and I can live with that. I just want peace, not power.

The uphill climb continues…

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Hi Igby
welcome to EFB!
Something that helped me a lot was to look at the way I became with others through the grid of understanding what happened to me in the first place. NOT to excuse my faults, but to understand enough to give myself a break when it came to being able to heal. It was a balancing act with my kids but I had to do it. I had to see where it all started in order to stop repeating any of it. I had to see where I was devalued and dismissed (and stand up to that) and at the same time see if and where I was devaluing and devaluing MY kids and stop doing that too.
That was the process for me and although it was complicated, I was able to stop the abuse in my life and stick up for my kids and make amends to them for the emotional abuse that I had allowed to happen in thier lives. (some of which was also perpatrated by me!)
Hugs, Darlene

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Thank you for responding, Darlene. I am happy to read from other people who are recovering doormats who choose to take control of–and responsibility for–their destinies. :-)

God knows that a lifetime of damage is going to take repeated, conscious reinforcement to reverse. I just woke up one day and decided that the status quo was nothing but b.s. that rolled downhill on me, and that I didn’t have to take it. Dr. Phil says that we teach people how to treat us, and he’s right about this.

Sure, the consequences are fierce: one of the other comments reads that people are quick to remind you of your “pecking order,” and I understand that 100 percent. The minute I stood up to the abuse, I get a chorus of naysayers telling me “not to grandstand,” “stop making trouble,” or–my favorite–”You just don’t know when to leave well enough alone!” (What’s well enough for them is NOT just and dignified to all parties involved, however.) I have learned to distinguish the difference between a trouble-maker and a person speaking out against bull. Are they are just comfortable with the way things are, and is my rocking the boat challenging their self-serving cowardice and complacency? Did my mother, who took so much crap from my father and her family, just pass the same mental disease onto me? If so, the worst thing that could happen is that they hate me for stepping out of the cell I’ve tolerated for too long–as if that could be any worse than being a scapegoat. I’m over what they think. I believe if people want respect, it has to be reciprocated. Why the hell is this so complicated to some people???

Thanks for listening, and I am open to any advice anyone has to share. This is, after all, a process in the works.

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Hi Igby
The way that I see it today is that my parents passed the dysfunctional belief system on to me. And you are right about the worst thing that can happen. It happened to me and it turned out to be the best thing.
I have written many posts about some of the things you mention here. Keep reading! Keep Sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

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Darlene,

I can’t thank you enough for your website! This is probably the 3rd time I’ve replied to one of your articles (but under a different name this time for my own protection). I first saw a quote from this article on FB and came to read it in full because I could tell I would relate to it. “Abusive and controlling people do not ask themselves if they are being abusive or controlling. What they do is demand changes from other people. They excuse their behaviour by blaming it on the defects or shortcomings that they have decided someone else has.” The person that I see in this statement is my mother. I’ve shared about her in other posts where I had to come out twice about how my uncle sexually abused me – because the first time wasn’t enough. When I told her about her boyfriend sexually abusing me, I got told to keep my clothes on (basically) and he lived with us for another two years and it wasn’t until after he left that I got any therapy. By that time, my therapy was for more for my mom’s well-being that my own. Many, many years later, she accused me of trying to seduce her boyfriend (now husband) by leaving a pair of panties on the bathroom floor after I had showered. When I reacted with disbelief, she dropped the subject but by then the damage was done.

I’m quite certain that she thinks she DESERVES to be respected and forgiven. In recent years, I have come to realize that this treatment was abusive. Before, it never occurred to me that this wasn’t ‘normal’. I just didn’t know any better. Because of my enlightenment, I’ve chosen to distance myself from her. I’m finding that I do better when I don’t have to worry when she calls and says, ‘I need to talk to you’ or ‘I have a question’. These have always been followed by something horrible – like after the second time I had to come out about my uncle: I need to talk to you. That was when she manipulated me into participating in a ‘family meeting’ whereby I was grilled by another uncle in front of her and my grandmother about details from my sexual abuse. Thankfully, an aunt rescued me from the situation. The ‘I need to ask you something’ was followed by the accusation of trying to seduce her boyfriend.

I can also relate to the ‘pecking order’. I had two older brothers (one passed away years ago). The only thing that seemed to matter in our house was their well-being. It seemed to me that all decisions were based on how it affected them – from what we had for dinner to what we watched on TV. My mom’s happiness has always seemed to depend on the happiness of the men in her life and, I’ve come to realize, that translated to me that I wasn’t worth my weight in gold to what any man (including my brothers) in her life was worth.

In any case, I know she knows that she ‘didn’t do her best’ as you put in one of your articles. She recently called my brother and I together – one of those ‘I need to talk to you’ meetings. She had us convinced that she was dying of cancer or something, telling us that her doctor told her that she needs to talk to us. Turns out that she was having heartburn and felt like we were paying more attention to our dad than to her because we were spending so much time with him. She went on to tell us what a bad man he was because he used to beat his mother – something we should know, according to her. She wanted also to ask us for forgiveness for being such a bad mother. Of course, her tears turned my brother (for the moment). All I could do was tell her that I think she did the best she could do with what she was dealt and that’s what me and my brother were doing. I don’t think she got it – she was too busy working on my brother. By the way, my dad was dying and that’s why we were spending ‘so’ much time with him – in fact, he died about 2 weeks later.

She apparently has cried to other people about the way I have detatched from her and I have had several people private adminish me for the way I treat her, telling me that I will regret it when she’s gone. I have just told them that a)until they have walked in my shoes, they have NO right and b)I have had 3 therapist tell me that they are surprised I have any relationship with her at all – I’m doing the best I can. Recently, she shared some picture from somewhere else on my Facebook wall that said something along the lines of how people make mistakes because they are human and should be forgiven. I just ‘hid’ it so I didn’t have to look at it.

Thank you for helping me to realize that I have REAL feelings and REAL expectations.

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Hi Lisa
It is fine for anyone here to change their name. :)
I was outraged in reading your comment about how you were questioned by your uncle about the details of the sexual abuse. These types of things just add to the damage in a HUGE WAY. Telling you to keep your clothes on communicates the message of blame (on you) too. Telling you that your panties on the bathroom floor was somehow connected to why you were sexually abused communicates more blame on YOU. I am so angry about stuff like this I could just spit. (an expression here for anyone that has never heard it)
When people say that other people ‘deserve’ to be respected I ask for clarification. (asking what does that mean and ask them to explain it) DESERVE? I deserved to be protected. Not listening to a child about something this serious and finding a way to place blame on that child is not something/someone worthy of being respected!
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Everyone!
The subject of “respect” comes up so often that I decided to write a post about it. I had such huge misunderstandings about what respect was. ~ My new post is published here: “The definition of respect, do disrespectful people deserve to be respected?” http://emergingfrombroken.com/the-definition-of-respect-do-disrespectful-people-deserve-to-be-respected/

As always I look forward to the conversation!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Darlene, I so love your article! It brought some life back to me because I was just in the same situation. I went through 3 years of doubting myself and changing me for him. I began to think I was always wrong and I became scared to talk to him about things because I didn’t want to be out down. I had to end my relationship because I wanted my life back and I needed to fall back in love with me! I became so stuck to the fact that I thought I was the problem, I lost myself in trying to fix me when I wasn’t the one that needed fixing. So I became uncomfortable with you I had become and I had to leave the relationship to find myself again. So good article it was so needed for me!

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Oh my, Oh my, Oh my….I could not relate to this article more. I have been a patient in many a therapist office and I could never understand why they couldn’t help me to change, to be an acceptable person. Oh Lord, I can’t believe the connections I am making reading these posts. I don’t know about anyone else who frequents these posts, but because of the large dysfunctional family I grew up with and continued to participate in over most of my adult life, I did have personality problems of my own. Namely, rage. I am a rager. I always knew the rage was wrong and it was spurred on by massive amounts of hurt feelings I have stored up inside me. I became aware that my rage was unacceptable behavior about 20 years ago. I did extensive research and got therapy on several occasions trying to understand the rage and “fix” it. I really had very little success with conquering my demons. If anything, I just learned to stuff my emotions even more, because I was so afraid of losing more than I had already lost in my life. Because I was always willing to admit my rage was an issue, my family has used it as a tool to beat me over the head with it till I was so down on myself, I really could find not one good thing about myself. I’m just starting to “emerge” and while the enlightenment is mind boggling and wonderful, I can’t help but feel used, defeated, and stupid. This is not an easy thing for people to see in their lives. I tried very hard for years to “get better” and I consider myself pretty smart….I cannot believe it took me so long to understand the what this “dysfunctional family system” is and what it has done to me. What it has robbed from me. Oh, I pray that the Lord will be gentle with me as I “emerge from broken.” I am scared. I’m scared that my family will pull me back in. I’m afraid of being so alone in the world. My manipulators and abusers would NEVER look at themselves. I always wondered why I was the only one of my siblings who had any self awareness. I long ago learned the word dysfunction and know all about the roles in a dysfunctional family such as hero, scapegoat and lost child. I always thought I fit into the lost child role; actually I still do, being the 9th of 13 children, but I never dreamed I was a scapegoat, but I am. Because I dared to admit my short comings….it was a tool for them to blame everything on me….Oh God help me.

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Hi Angie
Welcome to EFB!
Excellent insight! I had to fall in love with me again too ~ in fact the biggest key and the biggest gift were self love and self validation. It was because I thought that I was the problem (and I had been convinced from so young that I was the problem) that I was so lost.
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Connie
This is a very insightful comment. Thank you for sharing your insights. I too realized that my admissions were used against me.
Coming ‘out of the fog’ is overwhelming and there are so many feelings that need to be felt such as the ones you are explaining here; this is part of the self validation that goes such a long way to healing. It isn’t so much that you were ‘stupid’ as you were brainwashed. I felt used too and in truth I WAS used. I was defeated. But then I took my life back. and that is what YOU are doing too.
Hang in there! It gets better.
hugs, Darlene

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Hi Darlene

It was so bizarre reading your article – ‘sullen’ was also my nickname at home for years,my mother would complain about it without any thought of ever asking me why, exactly as you described… there is such comfort in knowing others have felt these things too, although how sad that it is more pain that brings that comfort.

Thank you for your website.
I recently had a breakdown and felt ‘broken’. It was the most apt word I could find to describe it to people. Then, a breakthrough – from the pits of my helplessness I found the courage to be completely honest with my mother – and this led to her admitting that she had never really felt any love for me and my two siblings. It was such a painful admission but brought absolute validation for all of our issues and disorders and finally gave us permission for our inner rage and despair. She has since returned to her usual ways of behaving, and of course, does not really seem to care about her lack as a mother, but at least we have a new, truthful foundation from which to rise now, and I fully intend to create a new future for myself – having always blamed myself for it all, I can now know that there was nothing ever wrong with me.
I am blessed to have children myself and know the total joy of being able to love one’s children…. surely one of life’s greatest things.. and I do feel such compassion for my mother as a person who has never been able to feel her heart swell with that special kind of love – what a lonely and dark existence. I am for sure, the lucky one.

with love and gratitude to you,
Maya

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Jan 1, 2013

What a great article. I lived through some extreme family dysfunction this past holiday season, and something really clicked for me as too why my family was so broken and why I find myself at 52 years old with no friends, no husband, no job….just totally shut-down. I have a rage issue…so do many of my 10 siblings, however, I am the only one who admits it, and I am the only one who has tried to understand it; albeit, I’ve never really been able to figure it all out. Well, after one of my sisters totally ruined the holidays for everyone by jumping up from a holiday table, calling everyone names and traumatizing the children, I decided it had to be addressed, so I wrote a lengthy email telling her how inappropriate her behavior was, and while I was at it, I called out a couple of my other sisters about their constant berating of others in the family behind their backs. I was shocked when everyone in my family started hurling insults at me blaming my rage issues for all that is wrong with this family. That it “Did me did no good to confront these people.” “You can’t change anyone but yourself.”
No matter how many times I explain to my family that I am not trying to change anyone, I was simply pointing out that I WILL NOT BE SUBJECTED TO THEIR ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR ANY LONGER. I became so frustrated that my family was being so cruel as to take another family member’s bad behavior, turn it back on me and use it as a tool to make me feel even more horrible about issues I ALREADY KNOW I HAVE. They actually tried to make me out to be insane, while elevating themselves above any accountability. They seriously hoped that I was sick enough (as sick as they are), or stupid enough to just accept their blame and shame for something that had nothing to do with me or my issues. And to cap it all off…no one has even heard from the sister that caused the scene on Christmas eve. As long as they had someone to point to (that would be me), then the real culprit gets off scott free.
Because I am one of the few in the family who is willing to accept and own my issues, it has been used to beat me over the head time and time again so to take the light off acknowledging their own rather extreme issues. My mother talks to me like I went to a store and purchased my rage issues. Like somewhere in my life, I chose to be a person riddled with unresolved emotional baggage. It has only been through this recent incident with my dysfunctional family, and finding this great website that I am now starting to understand that my rage is born out of things that happened to me many, many years ago, and exacerbated by years and years of living in a large, dysfunctional family. Toxic family really. When I was a child, I was a piece of furniture. I was never talked to, validated or protected in any way. I was barely fed, clothed and sheltered (even though we moved every 6 months), but nothing else. Not one of my emotional needs were ever even addressed. The reservoir inside of us that holds the hurt feelings we either can’t acknowledge because we are only a child, or don’t acknowledge because we are incapable of doing so as an adult, that reservoir was filled to capacity probably by the time I was 5 years old. After that, the hurt feelings I continued to endure spilled over into the reservoir that holds angry feelings I couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with. And finally, when the angry reservoir was all filled up, the RAGE reservoir started taking it all on; the hurt, the anger and the rage. After a while, it’s more and more difficult not to rage when your feelings are even slightly hurt. It’s hard not to rage when someone makes you even a little bit angry. It’s hard, but I still have not gotten so bad that I would do what my younger sister did on Christmas Eve. I wonder how she is excusing herself for traumatizing children and ruining the holidays for the entire family. If this does not get her to take a look at herself, nothing ever will.
FINALLY after trying to figure this out for the last 10-15 years, I believe I’m getting a handle of how my rage issue started, and what I need to solve it once and for all. I really wish I could get my mother to understand this. She has received a fair amount of therapy through out her life, and I never dreamed she would have such a hard time understanding that I did not create my rage issues. I feel as though she should be throwing a party with relief knowing that at least one of her 9 daughters has seen the light and may have a chance of cleaning up some of the garbage that fills her soul. I don’t get it. Any suggestions?

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Hi Maya
Welcome to EFB
I winced when I read your words. That must have hurt, but as you say I can see where it would also validate where the broken began and that it really wasn’t you!
Thanks for sharing this,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Connie
I was shocked when I realized that my mother doesn’t ‘want’ to ‘get it’. I thought that she would want the freedom that I found too and that she would want to face the truth and be set free, just like I did! She just wants to keep defending herself and her choices etc. and I feel sorry for her. I always felt sorry for her; the difference is that now it isn’t at my expense anymore.
Hugs, Darlene

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[...] Controllers and Manipulative People don’t question themselves [...]

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I wrote a bunch of stuff but deleted it because a family member would know I wrote it. I and a sibling are sadden due to the devastation a manipulative person has done. Our family will never recover and many family members don’t even know they were and are being manipulated. The person that entered my family is very skilled at manipulation with the intent to obtain my parents property. The manipulator convinced my sibling that they were ENTITLED to my parents property and that they earned it. Although they were able to do a lot of damage in every aspect, a little road block was put up by my parents and it is causing them some pain. (Fyi… Manipulators don’t feel the pain they inflect on you. They only feel the pain that is inflected on themselves.) I use to wonder how they could sleep, but have since learned that they have no remorse and have no trouble sleeping. Currently, the manipulators are in the process of working around the road block which from what I see they will accomplish. I read that if you have contact with a manipulator that YOU need to get professional help. Now I see why they say this. I’m now trying to figure out how to move forward. Do they make a pill to block all the bad these memories? Where can I get it? Oh, I’m not one that needs boos or pills (let me take that back… I have to have my hormone patch and sometimes double that when coming in contact with my family). Well I have to stop. Appreciate everyone opening up and sharing. I really needed this website. You all take care now.

but as much damage that has been done to my family, I can’t imagine going thru what some of you have suffered. I am now trying to cope with only seeing one member of our large family and I don’t even want to see that sibling. It brings back all the pain. This has recently consumed my life due to dealing with my parents

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My mother is a manipulator, and so is my father (I think partly because of my mother) and I grew up in a fog, and have gone through depression, anxiety, and social problems because of it all. I always knew there was a mystery to solve, however, and I have a drive to persevere. I have more manipulators in my life than real people. I am now hyper aware of non genuine people. I feel for all of you who have been tricked by manipulators. It really has made my life unbearable at times, and this is not how life should be. My journey has brought me to wonder now- has my mother ever loved me for real, or is it impossible? I am fearful of the answer, but as ALWAYS, I will see the truth and hit it head on. God bless you Darlene for putting this article up.

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Hi Amanda
It is sad to realize that although some of these parents said they loved us, they didn’t act in the definition of love itself. It was huge for me to realize what love really is ~ mostly so that I could give that to myself and then to others. The false definition of love kept me feeling sorry for these manipulative people but not at my expense anymore. I was fearful of the answer too, but it set me free to move forward.
hugs, Darlene

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Darlene,
Thankyou so much for this article , it is incredibly healing being able to find someone to relate with and that has found their inner empowerment , being able to read everyones letters is helping me to not feel alone in this and to reach for my empowerment , thankyou everyone for sharing! Goodluck and God bless you all

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Hi Faith
Welcome and thank you for your note!
hugs, Darlene

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