Jan
22

Demonstrating Appreciation in Relationships

By

equal value, emotional healing

“The best way to keep relationships happy, healthy, and supportive can be summed up in one word: appreciation. What you appreciate, appreciates. When we demonstrate our appreciation for the support we receive from others, it reinforces that behaviour and deepens our connection to them.”   Marci Shimoff

This is a beautiful quote. I tried to live my life by these types of quotes in the past, never realizing that they were extremely conflicting for me. Today, this quote works for me in the relationships that I have now but in the past a quote like this actually caused internal, subconscious, harm.

Without realizing it, I was trying to appreciate people who were treating me badly. I didn’t think that I deserved support; I don’t think I even knew what it was so I didn’t see that key part of the quote. Instead, I kept trying to see the positive in abusive people and overlook the negative. That was how I viewed quotes like this one. I thought it meant that I should just ignore the mean stuff. But trying to overlook someone’s ill treatment of me was the same as agreeing with them that I wasn’t really worth being treated properly.

Trying to appreciate a person who devalues you is conflicting;  it’s like putting a band-aid on top of a severed limb that requires surgery, stitches, recovery time and then rehabilitation. 

I am one of those people who fought against depression all my life.  I was bi-polar, likely from a very young age and depressions were connected to my dissociative identity disorder issues. I began seeking solutions in self help programs, seminars and self help books when I was eighteen years old.  I started in 12 step meetings when I was eighteen too.  And for reasons that I could never understand, no matter how much I tried to work those steps, they too were like a band-aid when I needed surgery.

In the past when I read a quote like this one by Marci Shimoff  I tried to focus on appreciating the people in my life that were devaluing me, defining me as not good enough, controlling me and squishing me into the ground.  I tried to concentrate on how wonderful they were and thought that if I was more appreciative ~ which in a victim mindset means more compliant and more subservient, that they would finally reciprocate and appreciate me.  This was all part of my victim mentality which whispered in the deepest part of my mind and belief system, that if I could just find the magic secret recipe for how to make them LOVE me, that they would stop hurting me and love me.

Today I understand and appreciate quotes like this one. I had to get the victim mentality (that I lived in and survived by) sorted out and set right first though.  I had to clean up the old foundation ~ which was rotting and full of gaping life sucking lies and build a new strong and sturdy foundation before quotes like these could serve me.  Trying to implement positive thinking quotes in the past added to my already low self esteem. Subconsciously I just jumped to guilt, shame, self blame and failure thoughts.

Having realized my own value and truly embraced it has enabled me to appreciate the people in my life today from a more truthful and equal viewpoint and THAT has deepened the connections. Appreciation is no longer a one way street. Now that I know my own value, it is easier to appreciate others for who they really are too.

Please share your thoughts about one sided appreciation or about how this article resonates with you.

Darlene Ouimet

Marci Shimoff ~ Is the Best Selling Author of “Happy for No Reason” and “Love for no Reason

Also see ” Keys to Living in the Present ~the passwors is “the past”

Categories : Self Esteem

39 Comments

1

I had to learn to try to have some perspective in looking at my reactions and feelings. Many times I reacted with guilt or shame and viewed the person I was interacting with as the source of the ‘problem’. Sometimes interactions with that person were painful and a scource of hurt. Sometimes I react with shame or guilt or feeling ‘less than’, though and it has little to do with the source I thought it was.

It might be the way I am feeling that day that causes me to react with shame or guilt. I might misinterpret something said or done.

I found I cannot always trust my ‘feelings’ ALL the time. I have to give it some breathing space and see if I am reacting to my inner goings on or what is going on with another person and I.Eventually it does get sorted out whether its comfortable or not.

Because so much was ambiguous in my environment, I usually believed if there was a problem, it was me. And still have a hard time NOT coming to that conclusion.(I must have done something ‘wrong’ for them to have ‘rejected’ me, or not reciprocated’…) Its not always easy for me to ‘read’ other people, as well, so that is a problem.

Now, however, if I have an appreciation for someone else its easier all the time to honestly express that without expecting anything in return; an apppreciation, an agreement; whatever. That feels really good to feel free to do that.

Growing up, my mom/family frequently told me I had an agenda when I said or did something. It made me confused about whether I really did or didn’t have an agenda; and made me distrust my own motives beginning at an age were such things were really beyond me. I was too young to understand.I never really got too far beyond that confusion.

After observation, and some time, and questioning; I can eventually tell when something is being reciprocated or not.So much of this healing is accurately interpretting cues and practice at social skills; and getting beyond my fear of getting hurt and fear of being AWARE that something is a potentially hurtful situation.

I find I am not very good at letting go of people who are not healthy for me somtimes. Their familiarity has felt like ‘caring’ and its amazing how little I have sttled for to just look like I’m having a ‘life’. Hmm. Again, great blog post Darlene and even more food for thought.

2

Darlene,
I am so thankful to have stumbled accross this site, to be honest I’m not sure how I ended up here but THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE…

I am thrilled with the content and have been alone on my jouney.. My husband is amazing but he is male and they feel and filter different than women.. in my opinion.. I have been through counselling many years and am a survivor of sexual assault..

thank you for your insight and sharing, it really does help all of us doesn’t it.

Appreciation. you hit the nail on the head.. When I find myself going down a dirty emotional path I know its time to write my thankful list..

So much to say,but I have to get back to reading what you and others have said, it really is wonderful to connect with you.

THANK YOU SO MUCH,
PEACE TO YOU,
Lee

3

Darlene, such quotes are beautiful, but I don’t know why people don’t explain that it was never meant to apply in abnormal situations. It’s like the golden rules for better communication or relationships – they just don’t work in toxic/disordered/abusive/pathological relationships.

I think such quotes always have to be taken with the understanding that you also don’t throw pearls before swines. And that there are swines around.

Maybe it is the meaning of the words that need to be clarified. To appreciate a supportive friend means to give weight to gratitude and communicate our heartfelt thanks. But that same word “appreciate” means something else in practice when applied to a toxic person. We can “appreciate” by recognizing that the relationship is not healthy or happy and cannot be made such by any action on our part. We can appreciate the fact that we are healthier without that relationship.

Isn’t it the same whenever someone talks about love or honour? The way we show love to someone who is loving and someone who is abusive is totally different. Funny how people who quote verses in the Bible about love don’t seem to remember that Jesus treated Pharisees quite differently from the ones who loved Him.

4

Darlene, can you delete my above comment? I feel it was too ‘off topic’ and would like to compose another more appropriate comment. Thanks so much!

5

Hi Elizabeth,
Great comments Elizabeth! So much of what you have written is my story too. I think that is why I keep coming back to the conclusion that believing in my own validity is a very big key to healing. It seems so much easier for me to see things from a clear and truthful viewpoint (and reject what people say my motives are or who I am ~ when I know that I have equal value to others. Thank so much for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Lee!
and welcome to emerging from broken!
I am glad that you find this article helpful; that it resonates with you. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Krissy
EXACTLY!! I am really passionate about this kind of thing. I love your contribution here today. That is exactly what I am talking about too.
About the Bible.. I studied word origins (Greek and Hebrew) for 8 years. When I moved on to study the abuse of power and control, my bible studies came in very handy. I found out that some of the biggest misuse of power and control came from twisting the bible.. and people twisted the bible teachings so that they could get their own way. Even big bible product companies did it. It was shocking really but again, all about the misuse of power for the purpose of controlling others.
Having said that, I should add that I know this quote from Marci is NOT meant to be abusive in ANY way and is not intended to be manipulative at all. I love these kinds of books now that my head is clear and they helped me so much on my journey after I got the “guilt and shame” stuff sorted out.
Thank you for sharing!
hugs, Darlene

6

You write so right on so beautiful you touch my heart in every writing.
I have found I have to give love to myself appreciation before I really truly mean to give to another person. Just something I have found through the years. Thank you for your writings you do for us. It is very helpful.. Hugs to you

7

“Appreciation is no longer a one way street. Now that I know my own value, it is easier to appreciate others for who they really are too.”

Darlene; this was sooooo my story too! I’d sought help for the relationship difficulties I’d had in my original abusive family, my abusive marriages (2) and my adult siblings…..and ended up so very confused when the focus was ONLY on my “attitude”. I was taught in counseling, therapy, 12 step programs, the church…that if there was a problem in my relationships it was because of ME. Not that I was being abused and didn’t know how to set boundaries or that my anger might have been justified. No; I was taught to love and appreciate others and that my “complaining” about my relationships was focused on my trying to change THEM. Which is normal in this pattern of dysfunction – we DO try to make life ok by doing something to make others love and appreciate us, we learn to try to change others to be ok because that is what I was taught relationships were all about. It was only when I started learning that I did not have to accept being treated this way in the past and could give responsibility back to my abusers that I was able to begin to learn about and to see myself as worthy of being in an equally balanced relationship instead of relationships where it was always my job to make it work – no matter the cost to my own sense of self.

8

Thank you Angela for your lovely compliments!
I have found this truth also and it is very freeing to realize it now.

Susan!
You make some very good points and contributions here! Thank you!
I just finished writing a new article that relates to something in these comments. I am going to highlight the other side of this whole equation!
Hugs, Darlene

9

I am finding this so true in my life…I have tried to force myself to appreciate what I have instead of focusing on what I don’t. And I see the value in it. I do…Why always focus on the negative?

However, I don’t think I’ve ever had a normal relationship…family or friend in my life. Normal isn’t the right word. Healthy. Equal. Those are better words. Even in my best friendships, I still feel like the supplicant. Like the other person knows better and I must be wrong if I disagree…not because THEY are doing/saying something to make me feel that way, but because I assume it because of my lifetime of bad patterns.

Right now, what resonates most for me is my job situation. I hate my job. I work for a non-profit organization and I love their mission and what they stand for, but I hate my job. It is a truly toxic situation for me. And I am constantly being told how grateful I need to be that I have a paycheck. And believe me, I am….without a paycheck I wouldn’t have a place to live, so I am grateful for that. But I’ve been in this job for 16 years and every time I start to feel slightly better, I think I need to get out of it, but I feel completely trapped. I live paycheck to paycheck. The idea of looking for another job after all this time in this one is exhausting.

I used to love my job. The reason I loved it was because I made myself indispensable. I worked 14-15 hours a day and made myself ESSENTIAL so they would never get rid of me (see? Even when I loved it, it wasn’t for the right reasons). I knew when I started that I would never move up in this organization, no matter how hard I worked. And now I’m frustrated because I’m starting to realize that’s true and it took me 16 years to realize that all my hard work and dedication was for nothing. And now I’m not even busy at work anymore, so there isn’t anything good for me there. I spoke up about something at work the other day, and I was literally “shushed” like I was a child.

I hate my job.

But I need it. I can’t quit. So I’m stuck in that “appreciation” trap as we speak. And I do wonder if I’ve stayed so long because I really do believe that this is the best I deserve. I certainly don’t want to leave it and get trapped in another situation just like this one…one I hate just as much. I’m thinking of another cliche: the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. It never occurred to me that no devil at all might be best.

And I have thought about changing careers. But I’m not qualified to do anything else – I am an administrative assistant – because I don’t have a college degree. In fact most other AA jobs nowadays require a degree before they let you in the door, regardless of experience.

I know I could send myself back into another 30 years of debt by returning to school, but it doesn’t seem very likely, considering my level of drive and desire. I want to feel better, I want a better job, but I don’t want to work hard for either one. I’m too damn tired.

Another rambling post…and I know it’s off topic, but this is what came to mind on this topic for me. I’m so tired of everyone telling me how grateful I should be to have such a great job. The truth is, they should be grateful to have me. But they never will be. And that’s just the way it is. And trying to change that is like shouting at the rain because it’s wet. Pointless and stupid.

Anyway, thanks for letting me “vent.”

10

This is a profound blog. I commented and then looked at my comment and thought, ‘no, that’s not right,’…This is probably one of the most emotionally confusing concepts/situations in my life: relationships with others. I don’t know how to do them. I don’t know what a healthy one looks like.

I am learning what an unhealthy friendship is/looks like, and feels like, but then after I say: ‘I’m worth more than this, and I’m outta here’, I second guess and third guess whether my perceptions are accurate..and I think,’Well, maybe I’m being too picky, or hard on someone…Maybe I am expecting too much..maybe I’m misreading the situation…’

I can really drive myself crazy.Sometimes its like my head is literally spinning. One day things seem clear to me and the next I am confused – Its always about these relationships that involve me questioning my self worth at some points.

Lisa B.- you nailed it: I feel like a supplicant in some relationships too. I bow to someone else’s wishes or assessment of me in order to have SOMETHING.As if I’m not capable of/ worth having more.Its as if this is better than nothing. I don’t let myself see how dysfunctional it all is at times. I did this thousands of times in my family.Its SO frustrating.

Then I go back to- ‘Well maybe they have a problem but maybe I have a worse problem. Maybe I SHOULD feel grateful to have this friendship/relationship.

I then find myself trying to EMPATHIZE with the people who don’t value/appreciate me! Then I feel sorry for them. I feel mean being critical of them…I make excuses for them. I try to be nicer, more understanding…What a tap dance I do, trying to avoid the truth, the hurt and the hard work of learning to spot these people and learning to be the kind of person who avoids the putdown artists and the indifferent.

Its because these kinds of people feel familiar and comfortable at times that I get into these things. I’m in them flailing around just as I did in my family.

I just went through this ‘friendship’ with someone who was indifferent to me, except as a dinner companion, -at HIS choices of restaurants-someone who, when I felt ill after eating at the salad bar and said I needed to go home, said ‘But Liz, I had hoped you would accompany me to my support group meeting.’

I looked at him and said ‘I’M SICK!’. HELLO!

I have a score of stories about him. But I kept thinking things would be different. Aw, poor thing, he’s emotionally repressed because of his past. I can understand that…he doesn’t mean it.Over and over I ignore the signs that I’m not appreciated. Why? I think I’m worth more but life isn’t perfect? We all don’t get perfect friends, relationships etc? That is what I tell myself.

Turns out he isn’t interested in women or sex. He’s not gay, but he doesn’t like women except to apppear in public with them, and to just have them around to eat dinner with sometimes. But there is no interest in my life, my feelings,anything to do with me. Oh and to be on his contact info at his dr.’s office in case he gets sick.

I feel like our ‘friendship’ was a farce, like I was his cover. I’m so confused.I’m still in the process of extricating myself from this. When I don’t understand people I get thrown off balance.Why would someone want you around but not want to have any emotional connection with you? or really anything to do with you as a person?

Whose purposes are being served here? What am I getting out of this? A nurturing mutually enjoyable situation? No way.I don’t know WHAT the heck this is.

This is the pattern of emotional abuse. You are ignored, demeaned, and then when you ask for changes things ever so slightly change or you are given excuses, or you are told you are out of line and shamed.

I have been in a holding pattern like this all my life, in suspended animation, waiting on other people to change, show they care, trying to make things and other people change by caring ‘enough’ about them.And some of these people have let me know it IS my problem, not theirs.But that isn’t true.

What am I afraid of if I get these people out of my life? Afraid I’ll hurt their feelings? Afraid of being more alone?Afraid I really don’t deserve more?

Here’s the danger for me: to stay around people who do not appreciate me, connect with me, or respect me, my self respect begins to erode. I’m embarrassed at allowing myself to be disrespected. After awhile its not ‘funny’ anymore.I can’t joke about it anymore. I hide what’s going on because I am ashamed at being treated like dirt. I am ashamed of taking crumbs. I can’t pretend it doesn’t matter anymore.I just can’t go there again, and once it happens it keeps happening. To be ‘unconsciously’ devalued by someone, who doesn’t ‘mean’ to, is every bit as hurtful as it happening deliberately.

I can handle just about anything but indifference. Indifference horrifies me and almost immobilizes me and I’m not sure why.

Thanks Darlene for another great post. I feel like I need a roadmap here. lol

12

Elizabeth,
Second guess and third guess… yes that is how it goes and the first step to breaking through that is awareness. This whole comment describes exactly the thinking processes that we go through when we have not really grown up being empowered to be the unique individuals that we are, but instead we have been made to feel that we should always try harder and coming to the conclusions that the problems always lay within our own defects. No equality in relation to thinking about ourselves. You are right on with this comment. You have defined exactly the same things that I had to define for myself before I could go through that scary tunnel of finally deciding that I deserved MORE in my relationships. I was really afraid to be alone. I was really afraid that “they” were right, that I didn’t deserve any better then what I had… but I kept going forward anyway. And I have never looked back (except to write about it) and I have never been sorry!
Thank you for these wonderful comments!
Hugs, Darlene

Lisa
One of the things that came to my mind when I read your comments is that the biggest change that I had to make was in regards to how I viewed myself. It was about owning my value, and believing that I had the same value as anyone else. It was about realizing that I am right just as often as someone else is. When I was able to change the way that I felt about ME, everything else followed. 5 years ago I was a housewife and mother. There is nothing wrong with that at all, but that is ALL I was. No other identity. No interests separate from my family. I felt like I was just there for them, that I existed to do laundry, clean house and cook. Period. (and I felt extremely guilty and ashamed that I wanted MORE out of life.) I still do all that stuff but I have other interests now too. I also take care of my needs now. I think about myself now and I model self love to my family.
About the work thing ~ it is all the same stuff; it is just another thread of it. We don’t figure anything out until we begin to talk ~ so ramble away!
So glad that you are here,
Hugs, Darlene

13

Wow, some mighty profound thoughts and insightful comments here. Not sure how I found your blog, Darlene, but it’s what I call a “God-cidence.” I’m currently on deadline for the third book in my Setting Boundaries series (Harvest House Publishers). This one is called; Setting Boundaries with Difficult People. It focuses on the more toxic relationships we have with friends, neighbors, co-workers, bosses, siblings, spouses and ex-spouses, and relatives. (The first two were Setting Boundaries with Our Adult Children, followed by Setting Boundaries with Our Aging Parents). The comments on this thread are so applicable to what I’m writing now. Yes, appreciation is critical, as is valuing our own sense of self. It blows me away to see how much positive growth can occur when people begin to identify the role they play in the dramas in their life. This ability to do the profound (and often painful) introspective work toward healing and health can be so empowering. The posting you shared and the comments by your readers have blessed me. Personally, I’ve often found myself on the gerbil-wheel of confusion in relationships because I spend so much time apologizing for who I am. Like a shy person would beat themselves up for being quiet, when it’s just their nature to be shy. Sure, we are all different, but when it comes down to it there are only about four major personality types, and I’m one of those assertive, take-charge choleric types. Sometimes I just rub people the wrong way. Some people will never appreciate me and trying to please everyone can get exhausting. I related to Elizabeth when she said some days she can drive herself crazy. Sorry to ramble, I just got to thinking about how much our own personality type, character type, factors in to how we relate (or don’t relate) to others in our world. Combined with unhealthy boundaries, old tapes, and nature/nurture thing. “Emerging from Broken” what a powerful thing. Thanks, Darlene for your transparency and wisdom. – Allison B

14

Hi Allison!
Welcome to Emerging from Broken, it is great to have you chime in. Yes this work can be extremely empowering! One of the things that I focus on here is “breaking things down” because I had to get really bottom line in order to dig my way out of the deep muck that I was in. I put all things aside and looked at just one thing at a time. I spent a lot of time in the past apologizing for who I was too, and so I stopped doing that and looked closer at the how I came to do that in the first place. Once I figured that out, I was able to go forward and look at the other things that needed to be looked at.
I appreciate your input and comments, and hope that you share more of your insights with myself and the readers here soon.
Hugs, Darlene

15

“Setting Boundaries with Difficult People” – I’ll be buying that book!

16

no pearls for the swine!

17

I want more in my relationships than just being a requisite warm body in the booth across the table. In thinking about the past; the roots, I understand that I was given a ‘role’ to play in the family. I played that role just like everyone else did. We none of us ever got too close to one another. Our roles kept us separated emotionally from one another.Each of our roles communicated with everyone else’s roles in the family. When someone got too real they were shamed, ignored, or shelved. My role was to be the funny, then later crazy fractured one so that everyone else looked better by comparison…and they did.I also took on taking care of my mom,in different situations.That was me, ‘here to please, and look how well I limp along, as the family failure’.

It doesn’t take too much reading, praying and opening your heart to understand that a role is something false. Its an imitation.Unless its played willingly, its a prison, too.

I have the opportunity to stop playing parts in other peoples’ plays.

Its probably a good thing to be going through this very odd scenario with this man friend of mine. It is an extreme version of my family dynamics. More extreme.More breathtakingly arrogant, and more carelessly indifferent.

When someone doesn’t see you as a separate person, with a brain, a heart, an emotional self; when they want you around but they don’t even know who you are really; what makes you laugh, cry, what makes your heart joyful, what you believe…When they want you around but they want nothing to do with YOU, who you ARE, why DO they want you around? What do they want? What do people want with you when they don’t want YOU?

If my heart is not fuller when I’ve been around them; when I don’t feel a chuckle or a connection on some level, then WHY am I around them? What am in this for?

Life is busy. I have limited time to spend with people. I don’t want to spend it feeling like I have failed somehow; like I have to try harder; like I have to ‘figure’ someone out, or figure out where I’ve gone wrong with someone…I want to spend my time enjoying life. I have more grieving to do but I don’t want to spend more time feeling sad and alone, and confused.It takes the time it takes to heal.

I’m tired of feeling so isolated.I have such a hard time trusting people,and my assessments..but its getting better.

Last weekend I watched some magnificent migrating Sandhill Cranes at their breeding grounds. 1000’s of them. I got to see a presentation of some incredible eagles and hawks up close, which had been too injured or human imprinted to go back to the wild.

I won’t go into my imagery regarding the similarities of wild birds and us ’emerging from broken’ humans but I was sure thinking about it. But it was something that had my attention and had my heart while I was there and I want more experiences like that.I felt a peace. Something has changed. I was quiet enough to feel the peace. I didn’t just talk about being there I WAS there. I’m healing.

If I focus on me; and not what is going on with these other people I stay more centered. I am MY anchor; not someone else.When I was thinking about this man friend I had and what was going on with him…I got confused.Really crazy feeling. But I already know when you try to figure out things that are crazy, you will feel crazy.

The questions I have about what they want from me are valid and reasonable but the main questions are: How do I feel in this situation? Am I comfortable? Is the relationship making me feel stronger, happier, more loving;Is it feeding something healthy in me? Am I connecting to a kind and compassionate person?Do I feel safe with them? Do I feel heard? Does something in me say YES when I think of that person?

When who I am is an inconvenience to someone else- when I am essentially being shown I don’t matter, and I don’t feel SEEN, much less appreciated, unless something is wanted of me, I need to be getting away from that person.

If the price of being free is being totally alone then I’ll take alone. I will not be put in someone else’s sick self serving prison again.Its important to be aware of other peoples actions and words but it is more important to practice trusting my SELF and my feelings, along with what I have learned.

18

I’m sorry. I don’t understand how you got people who devalue you to appreciate you. I never did, and I wish I could leave them altogether, but it’s not as easy to do to family members.
This past Christmas, every member of my family made a point of telling me how I spent time w/ a friend instead of family. People who didn’t care one whit about how I spent Christmas until I spent it w/ a friend and not them.
Every single family member played a game about being upset that I spent Christmas in NYC w/ my friend, and I really don’t know how to respond to games. I mean I never apologized, like they wanted me to, and the situation went downhill from there.
I’m afraid having these members of my family doing this is going to make this guy go away too. The last guy couldn’t deal w/ my family, b/c he wasn’t used to a family who never tells you what they really feel and plays games instead. Trying to force you to have the responses they think you ought to have.
The guy got tired of it and left.
Now I’m afraid this guy will do the same thing since they’ve already started on him w/ their damn, stupid games.

19

Hi Elizabeth,
This is a profound comment. Wow and it is exactly right ~ even the questions in the body of your comment are the exact same questions that I asked myself on my way out of that familiar old prison I had lived in for so long. I love your insight, that a role is something false. When you asked “why do they want you around” I came to realize that when I was a puppet on a string for others in my life, it seemed to feel their own suffering identity. It seemed to restore their order as though having that much control over another person gave them some value. It is a pretty sick system when you get looking closely at it. AND you are right, there is no comfort in looking at the reasons that THEY have for the way they behave. I love your list of questions to yourself. You wrote “The questions I have about what they want from me are valid and reasonable but the main questions are: How do I feel in this situation? Am I comfortable? Is the relationship making me feel stronger, happier, more loving;Is it feeding something healthy in me? Am I connecting to a kind and compassionate person? Do I feel safe with them? Do I feel heard? Does something in me say YES when I think of that person?”
THOSE are the important questions, those hold the keys to relational health.
Thank you so much for this amazing contribution to this article!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Vicki
Most of the people that used to devalue me, still do. I didn’t get them to appreciate me, what I did was I set my boundaries ~ If they wanted to treat me like I was nothing, then I would not be around them. I am no longer willing to accept that kind of treatment.
The people in my life today who used to devalue me that are still a part of my life are the ones who were willing to listen to me about the imbalance in our relationship. This is a decision and awareness that is made by two people. I told my husband that the world didn’t revolve around him and that I had equal value and a right to my dreams, my interests, my hobbies, and that he didn’t get to decide what I should do with my time and all of our money, etc. That I wanted a partnership. HE had to make a decision then. He had to decide if he valued the relationship enough to meet me half way. and he decided to listen to me. My goal was not to get him to appreciate me, it was to emerge from the prison I had lived in being all things to all people and become ME and live as me. If he had refused to see me as equally valuable to himself, I would have walked away. It really became that bottom line for me. I was dying and I had to make a choice to live or die ~ FOR ME ~ not for him.
I hope that this helps make this article a bit more clear Vicki. None of this is easy. I had to take risks and some of my family does not see me anymore. But because am so fully alive now, that is okay with me today.
Hugs, Darlene

20

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21

Darlene, your bottom line is exactly the same as mine. Back in 2003, the year I turned 50, when I took my settlement money from my last miserable divorce and, instead of paying cash for a modest home to live in for my old age as I had intended to do, I took that money and checked myself into a renowned mental health clinic, sans health insurance, which I’d lost in the divorce. There at that clinic after a full battery of tests I learned that I am not “crazy,” as I had been told since my childhood that I was. I learned that I am NORMAL. I learned that I have PTSD, and that PTSD is a normal response to severe trauma, just as bleeding is a normal response to being stabbed. Then I began to learn, for the first time in my life, that I have worth and value, just because I exist. I went into that clinic, horribly ashamed of being ME. I wanted them to change me, if that were possible, to make me acceptable and worthy. Instead, I learned that I am acceptable and worthy exactly as I am. I am not perfect, but neither is anyone else, so it’s ok for me to be imperfect, it’s ok for me to make mistakes, my imperfections and my mistakes do not lessen my inherent, God-given value.

For the first 50 years of my life, I hated myself, and nothing hurts worse than not liking yourself. Nothing! I hated myself, because I believed what I had been told growing up, mainly by my mother, that I wasn’t loveable, wasn’t likeable, that I was crazy, lazy, stupid, and bad. So I didn’t like myself, and for that reason, I accepted all kinds of abuse and ill-treatment. It was what I was used to, it was my “normal,” and it was all I thought I was worth. I was so broken, and so “needy” due to my brokenness, that no healthy man was ever attracted to me. But I was a prime target for abusers. And each failed, abusive relationship left me even more broken and scarred.

NOW, I would rather live all by myself in a cardboard box under a bridge, than with any other human being who does not treat me as an equally valuable person. You said it so well, Darlene, when telling about your marriage: “If he had refused to see me as equally valuable to himself, I would have walked away. It really became that bottom line for me. I was dying and I had to make a choice to live or die ~ FOR ME ~ not for him.”

I made that same choice because I, too, was dying. I literally could not bear the pain of my life anymore! It was Do, or Die. When I made that choice, when I took that stand, and made my declaration that I would not be in any kind of a relationship with anyone ever again who did not treat me with equal value — I lost a lot of people out of my life. But that’s ok, because I gained ME. I also gained peace, serenity, love, joy, and hope. Now I wouldn’t turn back the clock and become that cowering sniveling insecure broken woman/girl I used to be, not for all the “friends” and “family” in the world, nor for all the riches in the universe.

I am Lynda, and I love being me.

22

Lynda, I relate to your post here. I felt so bad for many years hating myself and destroying myself cause that is what I knew I did not know how to stop. I feel so much better but I am still learning and a work in progress. Some days I am grateful for how I am and I could say I would not change a thing in my life that happened to me because it made me who I am today. But then some days I feel like my whole life is a mess cause of my childhood abuse and cause of my adult pass of drinking and drugging and hurting myself and putting myself into abusive relationships with men. Some times I feel I did something to deserve it and being punished but I do not believe that God punishes. But some times my head takes me there. I then have to change my thoughts to God to Love and all positive cause my head is a dangerous place left alone. So I have to call on God and other people who have been here in the same situation as I have. When Got Diagnosed with Lupus I felt ok now I really must of been bad or did something in a past life to have this come to me. having Lupus is having your body fight you like a war and it is like my mom when I was a kid hated me and when I got older she told me how she would kill me. Now with Lupus my body is slowly killing me so I felt so bad and feeling like a victim and that was in 2004. So it shows this is all a slow journey of healing. I have some great days and weeks and months and some not so great. I am so glad this website is here I get so much out of this Darlene, I send it to friends and post it in my Lupus groups just because you talk about self esteem even if people were not abuse they can get so much out of your words. Thank you so much. Hugs

23

Hi Angela,
I am sorry that you are going through all this. Emotional healing can really help with physical healing so please keep sharing. I am really glad that you are part of this community too.
Thank you for sharing my blog with others.
Hugs, Darlene

24

Darlene,
Thank you it seems I get to a point I think I am over it then something happens or a memory comes then I feel I am not over it. I am seeing more and more how I am healing and growing but there is always something more to feel emotions and heal more and grow more so it is a work in progress for me what do you think? We all may be at different places in healing and I feel it is an on going process it has been this way since I have gotten into recovery.. Thanks for all your work you do to help us. Hugs Angela

25

Angela, I was just talking about this with someone else, how the work of emotional healing can seem like having surgery… you know you are going to get better after cutting out the cancer or the infectition that is killing you, but the surgery itself is traumatic, and you have to recover from that, before you can get completely well.

I find that the healthier I am emotionally, the healthier my body is, and the sicker I am emotionally, the sicker I am physically. It really isn’t suprising, when you think about it, the mind and body are connected as one, and what affects the body affects the mind and vice versa.

There have been times when I have literally felt like I was a dead person walking, I was that weak and sick and exhausted. Yet when I went to the doctors and they ran thousands of dollars worth of tests, although they found some things wrong, low thyroid, and anemia, they said it wasn’t severe enough to make me feel as horrible as I was feeling. I know now that most of it was my emotional traumas catching up with me, my Complex-PTSD.

I know that Lupus is a very real physical illness, and it is like you said, your body’s immune system attacking your own body. I know that stress, emotional as well as physical, will make your Lupus get worse. I hope you listen to your body, and rest when your body tells you to, and not push yourself too hard all at once, in your emotional healing or in anything else. I agree with Darlene though, the more you are able to heal emotionally, the healthier your body will be.

Take Care,
Lynda

26

Thank you Lynda and Darlene,
Emotional healing is important. It feels like poison that is for sure.
The surgery Lynda I am having is knee replacement on both knees. Not cancer was not sure what you meant when you said cancer. Unless you were referring to the stress emotionally meaning like a cancer. I am finding when I rest I pray more and write more and even on line more cause I sit in my recliner when I am on the computer so it is helpful to rest that way and still be able to keep my mind busy and help others and find help with all of you. Thank you.
Hugs Angela

27

Oh, Angela, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that you are actually having surgery done! What I was talking about is the process of getting better, emotionally ~ when I dig down to the roots of my emotional problems, and uncover painful traumatic memories, and bring them out into the open, I often feel worse for a little while, rather than better, because remembering snd telling about my traumas, is painful, just as surgery is painful. But, like surgery, it is also helpful, to get out of your system the emotional poison, similar to cutting out a cancer or a deadly infection via surgery… or in your case, replacing worn out knees.

I wish you all the best with your knee surgery. I will probably be a candidate for double knee replacement myself, eventually, the way my knees are hurting… yet I love to run every day with our dog Lady, I can’t stop running just because of my stupid knee pain! I may be almost 58, but I am about 11 or 12 at heart!

Hugs,
Lynda

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Thank you Lynda,
I thought you may of meant that. I went through a lot in my past but so many of us have so I always try to remember my blessings. It is just as easy to count my blessings as it is to count the negative.:) I am feeling a lot better mentally. I am 46 and I went as long as I could stand it waking cause I said I would never have surgery I was going to do all I could do to not have it but it has come to a point where I have no choice unless I want to be in a wheel chair the rest of my life which I don’t want to..I have had arthritis since I was a kid my mom did not believe in doctors but I remember hurting real young my knees would hurt I thought it was the dancing but now I see I must of had it way back then the arthritis. Plus the Lupus and fibro don’t help any lol But I am in remission of Lupus so I thank God. If you can still run then you may not even need surgery. It is great the you run.. It keeps you in shape..
Hugs to you.. Angela

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Elizabeth, I so understand everything you write. I am not quite at the point where I know my value yet, more I know I am not of no value.

Darlene, 2 years ago I heard a quote on a tv program something along the lines of, God asks you to see beneath the surface, I tried so hard to apply this to the person who was hurting me the most, then as this persons actions made no sense, I finally got it, see beneath the surface means exactly that, to see what lies underneath how a person is behaving, well on the surface everything was seemingly nice and kind and honourable, I finally saw what was beneath that and it wasn’t pretty. I stopped listening then and am still trying to undo the damage done to me so I can reach the point where I can say I am okay.
Bless you for your wonderful blog and to all the people who share on here. beezy

30

Hi Beezy
YES! Oh that is so true, I never thought of it that way before. That is great! Thanks for sharing!
I am glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

31

I wish I had all day to read these comments….there is a lot of healing being spoken even in the comments. I find myself thinking, “wow….I’m like that too!!” How many times did I allow people to just walk all over me, look at me with disgust, ignore me and continue on as if I wasn’t even worth a spoken word. Then I would walk away full of guilt and shame for existing. Thanks to everyone who comments, it’s good to feel like someone has been where you have been.

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Hi Amy
I am glad you are here and I am glad that this is resonating with you!
Hugs, Darlene

33

I have had such a hard time reconciling myself to all the self help psychology out there for exactly the same reason.

There really are so many quotes that are completely wrong or if not outright wrong, they are misleading.

A lot of self help stuff out there depends on everyone being cooperative nice people, and you simply opening up to that, when in reality it is a jungle out there, and you need to have firm boundaries that may require total disengagement with some people for your own self protection.

34

This article was eye-opening for me because I do the very same thing.I do believe that when we are taught to respect a parent that is abusive, we also see to it that we try to appreciate them in hopes that they will see us for who we really are, and love us… But unfortunately, this becomes a life-long habit of believing that we aren’t worth anything and that we must prove our worth through downgrading ourselves into a subservient position, which includes forgiving the abuse to the unhealthy point of accepting the abuse and believing you are doing good by by accepting it. Thus, the pattern is continued in present relationships, and the self esteem thus cannot rise up, for we cannot see who we really are. The willingness to accept ill treatment in exchange for some sort of attention which we misinterpret as ‘love’ is a devaluing of our souls and worth.

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Hi Julie
Yes, that is what this entire website is about! Finding out what love really is and what it is not played a huge part on my journey back to me! Thank you for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

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I was looking for sites about appreciation & came across this one. My spouse is always putting me down & degrading me. Tells me I’m crazy, worthless & not a woman. Today we got into an argument on our way back from my having a spinal injection & he says I don’t know how to show appreciation. When I told him that I always thank him for everything he does whether it is taking me to my doctor or taking me to dinner he said that isn’t how u show appreciation. He says the way to do that is to clean house everyday & make sure his dinner is on the table when he gets home & give him sex whenever he wants it. I am disabled & cannot work or do things I use to do & it’s extremely hard for me to keep up with the cleaning the way he expects. For example as soon as I returned from the spine center today I had to spend 3 hrs cleaning just so I didn’t have to listen to him screaming & degrading me. I was suppose to be resting & not doing anything for at least 24 hrs but I didn’t listen to the doctor & did what my partner wanted. Is this normal? He says it is & is constantly saying there is nothing wrong with me but I’m lazy & nuts! Please help! I’m running out of options!

37

Hi Pat, just read your post and I feel so bad about the way you are being treated. First I just want to tell you that you came to a great site. Darlene is wonderful and has helped me so much over the past three years. I’m still a work in progress but I see relationships so differently now. Growing up I was put down a lot especially silly by my mother and I grew up thinking that trying to earn love by doing chores around the house and squashing my own needs was normal. Now I realize it is not. Love is NOT a one way street where one person is doing all the giving ( in hopes of being lived in return) while the other does all the taking. That was my relationship with my mother through childhood and adulthood. It was wrong, but it took this site to get me to see the truth. And it affected other relationships in my life too. I never felt good enough and felt I had to give up myself and do for others to try to get love.
Pat, I think that by questioning whether what your husband says is ” normal”, that you have taken the first step. It sounds like something seems very ” off” to you about the way you are being treated. You went to the doctor and had an Injection, and the doctor told you to rest. But your husband expects you to show ” appreciation” by doing hours if cleaning instead. I can’t tell you what to do ( we are not supposed to give advice here, but to share experiences that could be helpful) but there are some things you might want to think about. I played a subservient rifle got most of my life. But I finally came to realize that many things were unfair. Many times I got stuck doing things because Im the female. Like holidays for instance. Being the only female on both sides of the family where my spouse and I only have brothers, I would get stuck cooking every holiday. For a while my husband didn’t understand. He would just ask who else is gonna cook?there are no other women. I finally said I am not gonna be a slave so everyone else can have a happy holiday while I am getting exhausted with cleaning , cooking, serving and cleaning up. We started going out on some holidays once my husband looked at it from my side and saw the unfairness. Ask yourself if the situation was reversed and your husband wasn’t feeling well, would you expect him to mow the lawn, take out the trash, do work around the house etc. are you supposed to carry the load of chores just because you are a female? Is it a two way street in your house where understanding of both your needs and his are considered, or is it just you who is supposed to work around the house and give while he takes? Does he have a sense of entitlement because he is a man? Is it all about him and his needs? How are your needs and wants regarded?
What I have learned, especially from Darlene is that love should be a two way street where both people are considered equal in value and it’s about what is best for BOTH. Just some things to keep in mind when you are thinking things through about your relationship. I wish you the best.

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Pat, please excuse the typos in my post. Spell check has their own idea of what words to put in! But I think the gist of my message came through!

39

Hi Pat
Welcome to EFB ~ How does he appreciate you? He expects you to clean when the DR has advised you not to? Where is the love in that? Just because he says that you are lazy, etc. doesn’t mean that you are. Love is not all about one person doing and being who the other wants. It is mutual and it is respectful.
I am glad you are here,
hugs, Darlene

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