Mar
16

Emotional Healing and Busting through Brainwashing

By

 

Busting through Brainwashing

Have you ever gone on a ride at the fair? I am talking about one of those scary ones like the roller coaster that flips upside down.  I get this fear inside my belly, this wonderful horrible and yet irresistible fear. The fear is there because I am afraid the ride will crash, that when the roller coaster goes upside down the cart will just fly off and fall to the ground… but then I tell myself that this ride runs hundreds of times a day, thousands of times a week and it hasn’t crashed and I reassure myself that my fear is not real.  So I take the risk…

 Have you ever gone to a natural hot springs for a dip? I have been to several of them.  In the winter, the steam rises into the chilly air; sometimes there is snow around the outside of the pool area. If there are people lounging and relaxing in the pool, I automatically trust that the steamy water is not going to burn me.  If I dip my foot in the water, and it feels too hot, I know that it is just because my foot is cold. If the water WAS too hot, all those other people would not be in the water, so I just quickly get in, and suffer the few minutes that the water “feels” too hot. 

 But what would happen if the water was too hot? What if I got all the way in and I started to burn and scream… because it really was scalding hot. Continued….. I would ask myself why I just blindly trusted that I could go in that water. (Even though I know that I trusted the water temperature because other people were already in there)

 What I am getting at is that I blindly trust that the ride is going to be safe, and that the water isn’t going to burn me based on the fact that others are in it and they say it is fine. They seem safe so I trust therefore I will also be safe.

 Abuse works on a similar principle. When we are children, we have no choice but to trust our caregivers. They tell us it is fine. Even when they do things that are not fine, they lie and tell us that we are okay.  Eventually our definition of okay is wrong.  We tell ourselves that we are okay, not knowing what okay is. We want to trust the adults in our lives. Not to trust them is even scarier then what we are living in. We learn a false normal.

The fear that I had about going against the adults in my life was trained into me.  I was taught not to stand up to them in any way. I was taught not to ever challenge their views, and to blindly accept that they were right.  (or else) In my young mind I believed that it was too dangerous to stand up to them. I had this very familiar scary feeling like I had about the roller coaster, but I had learned to ignore that feeling.  Think about it. These are your parents, teachers, aunts and uncles and grandparents; they are ADULTS. Just the size and strength of them alone is daunting to a chid. The fear was real then and I carried it with me into my adulthood.  It was not a choice, it was a solid belief.

There were physical AND emotional fears. Rejection hurts. I had had lots of it and was far too intimately acquainted with it to it to want any more of it in my life. I would do almost anything to avoid the sting of rejection.  My fears of rejection were a big part of the problem when it came to my emotional healing.  But what I learned about rejection is that had to realize that I had been rejected my whole life. If I didn’t matter then, what difference would it make if I still didn’t matter? This was one of these weird things that I just had to take a closer look at in order for my fear of rejection to lose the power it had over me.

What I had to realize through the process of emotional healing is that they can’t do to me NOW what they could have done to me then, if and when I draw my boundaries now.  I am not so powerless anymore. I can actually keep myself safe now and I have educated myself about all forms of abuse.  I know that when they tell me it is alright if they treat me like nothing, that they are wrong. I am no longer defined by them as “nothing.” I know that they are wrong to treat me as less important than they are. I know they are lying when they say it is all in my mind. I am not crazy.  I know I have a brain of my own. I am not stupid.  I know that I am not lying about what happened to me in the past.  I know that I was not taken care of, and I know that I no longer need them to protect me or stand up for me.  I can do that for myself now.  

I had to learn to trust a different source; one that actually offered some hope and real solution towards my emotional healing.

 Please share your thoughts:

Darlene Ouimet

related posts: how blame, guilt and shame get misapplied to self

want me, need me? relationship dysfunction by Shanyn Silinski

52 Comments

1

At what point did we all realize and own the fact that we do have a brain and are not stupid? At what age? As a result of which straw breaking the camels’ back?

2

“We learn a false normal.” This is a very powerful statement.

I have an almost pathological fear of being rejected, and subsequently, ridiculed. I would rather risk losing a potential friend or lover (who could be very good for me) than tell them how I feel and risk them not returning my feelings and sometime down the road, using my feelings against me. These fears keep me alone because they keep me from responding “normally” to both everyday and extraordinary life circumstances.

I am realizing – literally, at this precise moment – that this fear is a direct result of what I experienced as a child, both at home and at school. I was bullied and ridiculed mercilessly in school, and when I went home, I was told by my mother that I “brought it on myself.” My mother also laughed at me and led me to believe I was stupid and ridiculous. And I took that in. I truly do believe it. And it is so difficult undoing that and trying to react to life in what is considered a “normal” way. And people tell me…”just be yourself.” They mean well when they say this. I know it. But it is counterproductive advice when your “self” has always been so wrapped up in what other people think and feel and has never actually been defined by you.

Combine the pathological fear of rejection with an equally severe self excoriation tendency, it can get pretty painful in here.

3

One of my fears, one that has become my phobia as an adult, is for my personal, physical safety. I had erroneously come to believe (and still struggle with this deeply) that my family of origin was the only safety I had in this world. If I could just get home. If I could just get home, I would be ok. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, to be away from my home meant I would be subjected to all kinds of horrors, only hers were a dream and mine were real. But just getting back home was only an illusion of safety, as it wasn’t the family that made me safe, they actually were not protecting me at all; it was making it to, and hiding behind those walls of the house, the locked door of my bedroom or bathroom, it was this that brought the only sense of safety I would ever know.

Even as an adult, when I would experience any kind of trauma, whether physical or emotional, I had this need to just get home, get back to my family of origin, because in my child’s mind I believed they were the only safe place in my world. I just want to go home. But they weren’t that safe place I needed, it was being behind those walls that gave me a few moments of the feeling of having found safety. These feelings of safety very soon dissipated and the anxiety would build again. No, this was NOT the safe place that I long for. And the cost of keeping it that place to run to was high, I had to deny my own authority over my own life and continually give that power over to them in order to make sure their umbrella of safety was always available to me. To go against them in any area would be to have them remove the welcome sign and leave me totally without shelter from life’s storms or monsters.

So now that I am faced with confronting and accepting THEIR role in my abuse, I am struggling with that same fear that I will be left outside and have no place of safety to run to when I need it. When the child in me is afraid and feels as if she ‘could just get back home and things will be ok’, and then finds that what used to FEEL like that safe place, my family, is no longer there to run to, this is where I am getting stuck. Where I am getting paralyzed in the process of healing.

I understand in my adult mind that this safety is only an illusion, that it has ALWAYS only been an illusion, but even the illusion was at least SOMETHING I could hold onto, it allowed me to emotionally survive horrors. And now I have to let the illusion go. ALL OF ME has to let it go. My family never has, nor will they ever be, that safe place for me. Only I can be that for me.

4

Hi Sheryl;
I was in my early forties when I realized that I had a brain and was not stupid OR crazy.
Ya… there was absolutely a straw that broken the camels back! One too many depressions!!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Lisa,
This is wonderful that you are having this realization! That is a turning point. I believed that I was crazy, and over dramatic. I believed that I exaggerated things, especially trauma. And I agree with you about the statement “just be yourself”. My response was (once I began in recovery) “and who the heck is that?” That is the thing, right? We didn’t really know because I had never been empowered to BE my self.
Thanks for being here Lisa. You are not alone in this comment or these feelings!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Carla,
Excellent comments. I can totally relate. I can’t even contribute to what you have said but I have to repost the last part because it is so profound!

You said “I understand in my adult mind that this safety is only an illusion, that it has ALWAYS only been an illusion, but even the illusion was at least SOMETHING I could hold onto, it allowed me to emotionally survive horrors. And now I have to let the illusion go. ALL OF ME has to let it go. My family never has, nor will they ever be, that safe place for me. Only I can be that for me.”

And that is the whole deal right there… Only I can be that and do that for me. Ya
Hugs, Darlene

5

“We learn a false normal.” Did that ever hit home! Great post, Darlene!! My whole family is a ‘false normal.’ There is lots of manipulation and guilt-trips and my siblings still buy into it. They, of course, view it as their ‘normal.’

6

Hi Paulette,
Yes, we all learn this whacked out version of Normal. It is not right, not healthy, not love ~it is false normal but that is our reality. Part of the fog busting for me was realizing that! My whole family is false normal too!
Hugs, Darlene

7

Darlene, Sheryl, Lisa, Carla, and Paulette:

This blog post, and these 6 comments, are the most powerful that I have read on any blog yet. I am usually so wordy, as you all know, but I can’t add anything to this except: WOW.

Lynda

8

For me the straw/s that broke the camel’s back was seeing the inconsistency of behavior around me finally, and that what I had come to believe about others and myself wasn’t true at all.

Prioritizing on emotional health is not always a convenient thing to do, (especially when our lives are trapped in rituals, traditions, social “requirements”) but for me, the rewards are great, so great that I had not expected to acheive it in this lifetime.

9

Darlene; this post is so so powerful! I am running out the door but had to stop by and say a resounding YES!This is where I began to really find my own power – in realizing that there was nothing wrong with me but that it was my life experiences that had set me up to be vulnerable to the many forms of abuse based on power and control; those relationships that told me that something was wrong with me and if I’d just shape up then everything would be ok.

I’ll catch up and read more later; wishing for everyone a really great day!

Susan:)

10

Susan,
Isn’t that the truth??

“those relationships that told me that something was wrong with me”

11

The “straw” broke the abuse system apart for me was that I finally saw it for what it was, a scam. It didn’t make any sense anymore. And I started finding pieces of it all over the place in my life.

12

Lynda,
Let us know how your day went today!

13

Very powerful post and comments! Yes, when we are told by our families in every way possible that there is something wrong with us, its hard to overcome, especially when we have learned ways of coping and reacting that just lends more fuel for their opinions.

IE: my depression lead to them saying. ‘yes, see, I told you she was lazy.’ And emotional reactions, such as fear and crying: ‘See, we knew she was ‘over reacting’ and ‘cries over nothing’. and expressing anger: ‘see, we knew she had an anger problem’….Every reaction to being discounted and treated as unworthy or defective lead the people in my family to piling on more emotional discounting and emotional abuse. Of course they had/have the luxury of being seen and seeing themselves as near perfect- in their words ‘normal’, because I was there to provide ‘contrast’. As long as I was seen as the problem, no one ever sought to heal the family dysfunction.

When I asked my sister to be supportive of my daughter during a time we were having trouble in a church situation, my sister said ‘ It wouldn’t do any good.’ This was ten years ago, when I asked her to call my daughter every now and then to make my daughter feel she was interested in her and had family support.To this day she has shown no inerest at all in my daughter individually, as a person.

I can only assume my sister’s comment was because of her belief that my daughter and I had ‘generational curses’, which my sister told me later, or my sister just believed/believes that nothing she could say or do would counteract my daughter being unfortunate enough to have me for a mother. 🙂

after mom got cancer her house burned and she had to move while her home was being renovated.When time came to move back to her home I asked my sister for help. She sent me an email which said:’ I guess i’m supposed to just throw out my plans for the weekend to do that?’I showed my then counsellor the email, who suggested I ask my sister why she felt it was ok to talk to me that way.I did, and also said ny counsellor suggested I do this….My sister said ‘Tell your counsellor I’m just an insensitive pig’ or words to that effect. A very challenging statement to me and to my counsellor.

After mom died, I handled every aspect of dealing with things. My sister never bothered to drive the 2 hours to help me deal with mom’s house, dealing with mom’s things,handling any of the paperwork…etc.I had just dealt with living with mom 24/7 in the last 7 months of her cancer, going to the hospital, dealing with drs, insurance…etc.I was drained in every way.

When I asked my sister for help with some of it, that the stress was getting to me-she said ‘Just don’t FLIP OUT until you get it all taken care of.’ (Caps mine).When I think of the utter coldness and cruelty in that statement, along with many other things she said and did ( or didn’t do) I’m still shocked.

Yet everyone around her thinks my sister is the sweetest most loving person, as opposed to me- the sister from hell….

Someone had written the characteristics of personality disordered people; the things the say, the way they twist your words.I realize that the why’s are not as important as healing, but it helped me to realize that this could be the reason why nothing I said or did regarding my family changed anything about the way they treated me.They jut went to some lengths to try harder to hide some of the cruel things they said, and tried harder to be nice to me when around others. It was really very strange.

I worked many many years trying to be ‘ok’, in my family’s eyes. Finally it was obvious the harder I tried the more the bar was raised.So on a deep level I realize for myself, it was not about me.There was always going to be very deep flaws in me according to my family, and nothing I said or did would ever change it.

What I can change are the reactions I learned in my family;The anxieties, the I can live each day being kind to myself, and enjoying the simple profound things in life a sunset, animals, nature, meditation, without this awful feeling of wondering where the next painful even was coming from. It has taken a long time to feel safe to trust people.Even now I see many people in life who seem to feel better about themselves by pointing out the faults of others. I don’t want to live my life on the giving end of that, or the receiving end anymore.

Thanks Darlene, for this venue and every comment here helps all of us!

14

Elizabeth,

I love these:

“Of course they had/have the luxury of being seen and seeing themselves as near perfect- in their words ‘normal’, because I was there to provide ‘contrast’. As long as I was seen as the problem, no one ever sought to heal the family dysfunction.”

“I can live each day being kind to myself, and enjoying the simple profound things in life a sunset, animals, nature, meditation, without

this awful feeling of wondering where the next painful even was coming from.

It has taken a long time to feel safe to trust people.Even now I see many people in life who seem to feel better about themselves by pointing out the faults of others.

I don’t want to live my life on the giving end of that, or the receiving end anymore.”

Thank you!!

15

Hi Sheryl,
Yes, this process is not easy, but so worth it. Exactly.
Hugs,

Hi Susan
I love what you said so much I posted it on Emerging from Broken on Facebook!
I have to highlight it here, it is so much my own truth:

Susan Said “This is where I began to really find my own power – in realizing that there was nothing wrong with me but that it was my life experiences that had set me up to be vulnerable to the many forms of abuse based on power and control; those relationships that told me that something was wrong with me and if I’d just shape up then everything would be ok. “

Hugs, Darlene

Hi Elizabeth!
Your comments are wonderful, like healing balm because you really know that they were wrong. You know it is about them and not about you. You know that they are not interested in change and that is so so hurtful because it also means that they are not interested in changing WITH you………. and that is very hurtful. Thank you so much for sharing.

I especially love this, and HAVE to highlight it:

Elizabeth said
“I worked many many years trying to be ‘ok’, in my family’s eyes. Finally it was obvious the harder I tried the more the bar was raised.So on a deep level I realize for myself, it was not about me.There was always going to be very deep flaws in me according to my family, and nothing I said or did would ever change it.

What I can change are the reactions I learned in my family;The anxieties, the I can live each day being kind to myself, and enjoying the simple profound things in life a sunset, animals, nature, meditation, without this awful feeling of wondering where the next painful even was coming from. It has taken a long time to feel safe to trust people.Even now I see many people in life who seem to feel better about themselves by pointing out the faults of others. I don’t want to live my life on the giving end of that, or the receiving end anymore.”

YES YES YES
Hugs, Darlene

16
Renee-A Ressurected Spirit
March 17th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Hi everyone,
Just recently I wrote on here about my brother saying how he hated my daughter even calling her a F— B—-. It broke my heart. I have been having relationship problems with her since she was 12-13yrs. Yesturday I finally told her I am no longer willing to constantly chase her and beg her for a relationship. I know this means saying goodby to my most precious grandaughter. Im doing this because through my healing I do not need any more rejection even if it is from someone who is a part of me. Those that commented about my brother and him being so dysfunctional, it’s funny he has no Idea that the girls in the family were severly sexually abused. For some reason he has always thought that our dysfunction was from alcohol and physical abuse. He was never around when the sever abuses happened and ran away for good when he was 16. He joined the Coast Guard and rarely came a round. What he said to me was way out of line. He over stepped my boundaries and I plan to confront him. I have always looked up to him. I could only trust two of seven brothers, and he was one of them.
If I were just beginning my journey or even half way into it I would have felt rejected, emotionally shattered, and crushed to the point I would have thought it was all my fault that he said that about her. Well thank God I am far from my beginning journey. Ladies your were absolutely right no matter what she had done “if she did any thing” he had absolutely no right to say those things to “her” mother.
Thank you for supporting me and keeping me in perspective.
Renee

17

Elizabeth, I’m happy to see you on here. I’ve been thinking about you lately, wondering how you’re doing.

I really relate to what you said: “….when we are told by our families in every way possible that there is something wrong with us, its hard to overcome, especially when we have learned ways of coping and reacting that just lends more fuel for their opinions…..IE: my depression lead to them saying. ‘yes, see, I told you she was lazy.’ And emotional reactions, such as fear and crying: ‘See, we knew she was ‘over reacting’ and ‘cries over nothing’. and expressing anger: ‘see, we knew she had an anger problem’….Every reaction to being discounted and treated as unworthy or defective lead the people in my family to piling on more emotional discounting and emotional abuse.” That’s the story of how my whole family, led by my mother, has treated me all my life.

Sheryl, you asked about how my day went, I assume you mean how did my dr. visit go, I was supposed to see my dr. today… well now it is yesterday that I was supposed to see her… and learn the results of my uterine biopsy. I missed the appointment, so I don’t know the biopsy results yet! Long story on how I missed the appt, won’t bore you with the details, but in retrospect, while it seemed unavoidable at the time, my husband and I wondered if subconsciously we may have sabatoged the day and screwed up our timing so that we would miss it, since we were both feeling so nervous about learning the results? We both want the hanging in uncertainty to be over… but not if it’s bad news!

My husband and I both have severe PTSD and we both have a big problem with getting places on time. We’ve figured out that anxiety of some kind is usually at the root of our not being on time, or not being able to show up at all. It’s so much easier to just stay in our little cocoon… or “bunker down,” as they call it in my husband’s Vietnam Veterans Suppport Group. When I’m feeling very anxious, I don’t even like to leave my little bedroom. And then I think that my mother was right, that I am “lazy”….

Lynda

18

Lynda,
I can relate to your day! Bill Henderson has a book on many alternatives that you can use (after losing his wife to cancer–he did a LOT of research)to get rid of cancer nad rebuild your health. These are simple things and not that expensive. I is Cancer Free, third edition. We do the yogurt/flax oil breakfast every morning, and I make fermented green tea that we drink all the time. (that is not in the book.) He has six things to do if your have cancer nad then the maintenance doses for those six things if you don’t have cancer. Also, my facebook friend, Dave Frahm, in CO, wrote a book this year on the cancer pattern, how it starts with the thyroid, etc., and (I haven’t read this book) HE lost his wife to cancer a while back. He is a naturopath. He might be a good source of info.

19

Hi Renee,
I am sorry that you are having this struggle with your daughter. I know that must be very hard.
Thanks for sharing, it is always good to get it out.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Lynda,
The story that you tell about not wanting to leave the safety of your home, and how the process of thinking that through leads you right back to believing that your mother was right, that you “are lazy” is SO common! We all do that. It is a very powerful and healing thing to be aware of. Thanks for sharing it!
Hugs, Darlene

20

Wow, and I’m angry. Its funny how the anger comes in waves, subsides, and returns at times.

I’m angry not only on my own behalf but I’m angry that when my daughter and I needed help and support in the midst of things, and things were coming at us from all directions, my sister could hang up the phone, or just get in the car and drive home after her 3 or so yearly visits. We just lived 2 hours apart.

I’m angry that in order NOT to help address the physical and mental issues my mother was having, she downplayed them by telling people I was crazy, imagining things, in order not to deal with her share of the responsibilities of caring for mom. So if I was ‘crazy’ why there was no problem to deal with, right? My mother was only too happy to play along and took advantage too, telling others that I was being mean to her, trying to ‘put her away’ etc…

Mom was giving my sister over 10,000 per year for years, I found out after she died. My sister has a white collar job making over 50k per year.I was on disability because I had debilitating depression and some physical problems.So basically mom was paying my sister off to ‘not interfere’. Then mom told the church elders she was worried about my daughter because I was not going to church, and this started another years long round of hell.

Yes, I realize now the love and caring in my family was fake, an illusion, and just for show.There was also some abuse in the family that I strongly suspect but cannot prove and I think this was partly the reason the whole thing got so bizarre and convoluted.Every few months I had another confusing weird situation on my hands.My only option was to have moved to a shelter and I wish I had done so.I did move out with my daughter when she was ten but we were still harrassed by church people. Then it was just irritating; later I realized it was much more serious.

Its hard to believe- and that is why I couldn’t believe it at the time fully, but my daughter and I were caught between the church, my sister and my mother, and every way I turned for help things got worse.

My mother needed help, no doubt about it, but everytime I got frustrated and tried to disentangle myself some and try to let my sister take some responsibility, mom upped the ante, either by accident or on purpose..?. To this day I will never know if she set her own house on fire. We had just had a disagreement a couple days before when I had told her I was backing away, and to STOP getting the church elders involved in trying to make my daughter go to church.

I will always regret having my daughter in that mess, where for many years I trusted mom and my family to be supportive.I have no ther choice now but to see my family as a group of snakes in the grass, all revolving around a very sly sick woman who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted.I can’t stop loving my mom, but I think she was very very sick long before her head injury, full of rage and vengeance, The thing was, she wreaked her havoc on people who loved her and trusted her, and so has my sister.

I told my sister a few years ago that until she got some counselling and looked at the issues we were going through at that time at least, with a professional, that I could not have a real relationship with her. She wrote her friends emails saying I had told her I wanted ‘nothing to do’ with her, and made herself the victim in the situaion. I didn’t know mom was paying her off at that time.I dealt with this over and over, having my words twisted around.

So I am done with my family. I have to be. Its not up to me to pull love out of them. If there is any in them its up to them to show it.

And I’m not holding my breath.

Great blog post Darlene.

21

Years ago I read a book on how family systems worked. It discussed functional family systems and dysfunctional family systems. The family systems assign roles for each member. In the dysfunctional family system those roles are rigid. Once the child is appointed that role, they are stuck with it and it never changes in the eyes of the other members of the family.

In my family, I was appointed the family hero and the family caretaker. I got good grades and the family could be proud of itself through my grades. I was the first in the family to go to college. I was the one that everyone, including my parents, came to to solve their problems and to give advice to even when I was a child. I was responsible for taking care of the house which nobody bothered to teach me how to do so it was never clean enough or orderly enough for my dad. I was also responsible for the behavior of my brother and sister who were younger than me. I was supposed to keep them out of trouble.

My brother was the middle child and also the lost child. He didn’t get much attention at all from my dad. When he was little (2 years old) he drank some kerosene when we were visiting my grandparents and almost died. It affected his lungs which didn’t pump enough oxygen to his brain so he grew up being a slow learner in school. That made my dad ashamed for some reason. He bullied my brother if he paid attention to him at all. Usually he ignored him. Later on, when he was about 3 or 4 years old, he ate some rat poison and again almost died. My mother always believed that an “aunt” (the woman who lived with but never married the uncle that later sexually abused me) gave the rat poison to him. I was told this “aunt” was crazy and I was always scared of her as a child. My mother always favored my brother over my sister and I. I remember that my brother always got new clothes to start to school every year while my sister and I always got hand-me-down clothes from my aunts – my dad’s younger sisters.

My sister was the one who was assigned the title of family rebel or scapegoat. She was the one who got into trouble at home and at school. She was the one who always rebelled against responsibility. Mom would tell my sister to do something around the house and my sister would disappear and my mom would pass the house chore on to me as the oldest to do instead. I remember getting angry with my sister a lot when we were kids because I would have to do my job plus hers while mom sat around drinking her coffee which I made and smoking her cigarettes which I had to retreive for her each time she wanted one.

The book that I read early on in my 12-Step programs that explained the family systems was problably one of John Bradshaw’s books. Two of his books helped me so much. One was Healing The Shame That Binds You and the other I think was called On Family. Because of these books, for the first time, I saw how dysfunctional my family was.

22

Hi Elizabeth.
This stuff hurts doesn’t it? It really cuts. I still get angry sometimes too. I feel ripped off sometimes. I am not sure if I would have felt jealous about your sister getting the money, or if I would have realized that she got paid for her compliance… and wished that I would have gotten paid for mine or felt like I must have been not as compliant, or why was I the scapegoat for all this….. or all those things all at once. Oh wait.. I did feel all those things.. LOL.

Your comments really show just how this whole thing goes down in dysfunctional families. That is how they operate. In my head I can still hear my mothers voice saying “OH DARLENE…… ” and all the things added to the end of that statement. That she didn’t want to hear about it. That I was going to make her have a breakdown, that I was causing her so much pain, that I didn’t respect her or love her… when all the while she didn’t think about what she was doing to me. The rules didn’t apply to her? and realizing the truth about all that is how I began my journey to freedom from the dysfunction that was my life. Just like you are doing.
I am so glad that we have met and connected on this journey.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Patricia.
Thanks for sharing your family experience with the whole dysfunctional family system. Your family system, (your role in it) reminds me of that same “ripped off” feeling I was mentioning to Elizabeth. I am gald you are here too.
Hugs, Darlene

23

I have permission from Sherie to post this comment that came in through the Emerging from Broken facebook page:

Sherie wrote: “Yes, and losing myself in my abuser’s life, until I was only an extension of the abuser, like faulty furniture you can’t seem to keep from letting people sit upon, so if had to keep apologizing for how I let everyone down by being broken. Then I’d get berated because there was something wrong with me, but I never quite knew what. So more and more of myself would get chipped away to keep from being so disappointing and shameful- making it more and more likely that I would be targeted for more. At the same time, the idea that someone else might be faulty or unacceptable in some way was alien. Default in my head was set to say that of …course… I was the one with a problem. Didn’t occur to me for quite a while that the only thing ‘wrong’ with me was that I had no clue who ‘Me’ was. Where did I begin and the Other leave off? To say I had few firmly defined boundaries was an understatement, grin.”

24

Patricia,
Thanks for these books!

These roles seem ineveitable in families that refuse to, for lack of a better word, “grow up”?

25
Renee-A Ressurected Spirit
March 21st, 2011 at 11:23 am

Elizabeth,
Last week I really had a hard week. I have 7 brothers (1 I don;t count because he did horrific abuses) i mentioned one of my brothers who said some things that were horrible about my youngest daughter.It hurt me so much because I loved him and trusted him. He thanked me for “broadcasting it” (on here by the way) then said we all have issues, “like stop your whinning”. He said he grew up with no one to support him. He grew up a lone. I feel there is no sence in telling him about the abuses I went through. He can’t handle it. He told me that I took it as if it was all about me. My family lives on the surface. We can’t function any deeper than that. Those that got away with “just being a lone” or “got the belt or a switch” can’t handle any thing more than that. Why is that? I don’t feel my abuses are the “worst” than those family members that were abused in different ways than I was. Yet when abuse is mentioned I am whinning. Weird why do they think like that? I have a brother that Idolized an uncle that was a pediphile. He knew about him, yet he tries to make him sound like a hero in the military. I think it is sick.
I went through to many years of counseling, days, months,years, of implimenting what I learned from counseling and applied it to my life. I crushed the seed of fear and work every day NOT to slip back into that whole the abusers made for me. I am proud of myself and give myself the power and grace to be ME. I may have lost someone I once respected and loved, yet I have you, sibilings that understand what it has taken me to get here and the love of one daughter and three grandchildren, I think im going to be fine, all three of us!
Renee

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it is so important that we learn to handle, hang in there and no give in when the Cognitive Dissonance starts as we detach from our abusers. The CD just shows it’s part of their brainwashing… took me about 4 years to get over the last sociopath I met. I didn’t get over my NMother’s abuse fully until about a year after she died. That’s when I realized the abuse for what it was.

The other thing that is hard but VERY NECESSARY for our healing is that these abusers NEVER feel compassion, remorse or pain. They DO NOT really feel “bad” for how they treated us and what they did. They may play at it to suck us back in but they could CARE LESS. Inwardly they feel entitled and ultimately correct. We need to stop trying to “make them see what they did” or to extract an apology from them. We need to forgive ourselves and cut the covert evil from our lives.

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Barbara:

What you said: “….abusers NEVER feel compassion, remorse or pain. They DO NOT really feel “bad” for how they treated us and what they did. They may play at it to suck us back in but they could CARE LESS….. We need to stop trying to “make them see what they did” or to extract an apology from them. We need to forgive ourselves and cut the covert evil from our lives. ‘

YES YES YES.

Lynda

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Renee-A Ressurected Spirit
March 21st, 2011 at 3:38 pm

That is true.
My mistake is that the abuser convenieced me, he turned his life over to christ and had a new life. Like 5 years and so I thought I could trust him. My 3 yr old daughter wanted to spend the night with “uncle and antie. I said yes. Later I got this sick feeling. My mom said I was being over protective. WRONG, he brought her back the next day, I felt something off. Yes, her abused my precious beautiful baby. No matter how they are dressed, no mater how many bible verses they know, no matter how refine they are they are still evil.
Renee

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Lynda, when you wrote about being late, about the anxiety and (sometimes) totally unconscious choices we make that leave us late to or missing appointments, that is definitely something I can relate to! And feeling like I’m re-affirming that “lazy” label when I *do* hibernate or withdraw, even during times when I’m consciously choosing the withdrawal behavior as a healing, self-protective measure, like times when I’m needing to be gentle with myself. Causing my own anxiety levels to grow because of underlying anxiety and dysfunction -awfully annoying when you realize you’ve been sabotaging yourself, you know? *grin* The next step is to try to catch myself in the act in enough time to keep my appointments!

Every now and again, I am struck by the amount of ways I just don’t function in a way that allows me to thrive. Yet. I’m definitely in a process though, and realizing that I am, in reality, creating my very own healthy world instead of making myself fit into someone else’s world, that was a big step forward in my mind.

Also, thanks for cross-posting my earlier comment for me, Darlene!

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Renee-A Ressurected Spirit
March 22nd, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Lynda,
I was the opposite. With two babies in towe I would go into the grocrey store look at my watch and say to the girls inside, We have 45 minutes to do the shopping. I always allowed for a diaper change, or a potty break. Each time I got back to the car I looked at the watched and yahoo! 45 minutes! I did that with every thing. I made it a challenge that was just mine. Me against time. It took a while yet I began to feel in control of me and my life. I have relaxed since then and once in a while I maybe late and I hate it! I miss that challenge, it allowed me to take on other tasks more easily. I had fun doing it to! I think back and it brings a smile on my face. It meant nothing to any one but me. It was something that we made a game out of it. I just wanted to share that with you, it’s ok to take a challenge and turn it into something JUST you know about and make it a game.
Renee

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@Sherie, I like what you said: “…I’m definitely in a process though, and realizing that I am, in reality, creating my very own healthy world instead of making myself fit into someone else’s world..” Yes, that is such a huge step forward. That’s what I’m doing, too, I just hadn’t thought to put it into words like that. I am also trying, like you, to catch myself early enough in the self-sabatoging to make it to my appts. on time. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes not. But overall it’s getting better, for both my husband and me.

@Renee, I like your game idea. I will try that. I have to confess I don’t have high hopes that I will be able to succeed at that game as you did, but it’s worth a try. I just seem to have no sense of time passing at all. It started way back when I was 12, when the worst traumas happened in my family…. I went hysterically deaf for a short while, until I saw that my mother wasn’t really dead, my dad hadn’t really killed her… but everything still seemed so unreal, like I was in a horrible nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. It got so much worse when, shortly after that terrible night, my mother went into a deep depression and tried to gas us all to death. Those 2 events, coming so close together, just kept me stuck in that never-never land of feeling like nothing was real, life wasn’t real, I wasn’t real, everything had that dreamlike quality, where there is no true passage of time, everything is either speeding was up or going in slow motion. I couldn’t sleep much at all due to the stress of all that, for about 2 years I just slept in small catnaps thoughout the night, and then all day I walked around like a zombie, only half-awake, which of course increased that unreal, dreamlike feeling. Then after 2 years of being a zombie, I was put into the mental hospital at age 14, and there is no time there… meds twice a day, meals 3 times a day, but everything else is the same same same, nothing but a chair to rock in, a hall to pace, a wall to stare at, nothing else.

OK, I realize that these events happened… more than 4 decades ago! But in my mind it seems like my time-sensor was permanently knocked offline. It’s been years since I felt like life is a dream or a nightmare, and I haven’t felt like a zombie or like I’m walking around half-awake for many years, and I usually sleep pretty good at night…. with the exception of some days when I flash back and briefly, I do feel like nothing is real, all is a dream, but thank God that nightmare feeling doesn’t hang on and on like it did when I was a kid, it usually passes fairly quickly.

But still, TIME…. it just seems to elude me. Except for when I take our dog for our daily walk, we usually keep it pretty close to a half an hour. I do that by keeping track of how far we have walked, how far we have to go to get back home, so we don’t wear ourselves out, and I look at the time on my cell phone frequently to help with that. Maybe I can start there, Renee, and make that my “game.”

Thanks for the idea! The sun will be setting here in about 40 minutes, time to get my running shoes on and put Lady on the leash and head out the door… I’ll see if I can do the half hour thing without looking at my cell phone every few minutes, and try a different walking route too, so I don’t have it figured out that way, because I know on our regular route how far I usually get in 15 minutes, so it’s time to turn back.

I’ll let you know how it goes~

Lynda

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Not too bad, Renee… I was aiming for a 30 minute walk, and we got back home in 27 minutes. I did take a totally different route through town, so I didn’t have a clue that way, but I must confess that the setting sun was something of a clue! I will try it tomorrow earlier in the day, when the sun’s movement isn’t so obvious.

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Renee-A Ressurected Spirit
March 22nd, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Lynda,
It’s fun when you make a game out of it. I just worked on one until I felt like I was consistant then went for another one. I would’nt start with any thing that had an appointment, not until I got really good with simple things. The store, the mall, the neighbor, I used simple things to get me started. that way I could be late on my “time” and it would be ok because it was just me and my watch knowing what I was doing. Good luck
Renee

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Thank you! That last comment of yours really clarifies it for me. I’m going to have fun doing this…. especially, as you say, when it’s just on my time. No harm no foul!

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Darlene,

I missed this one but caught the link from yesterday’s post. Thank heaven (and you) for the links. This is a great post and way too good to have missed!

To Sheryl (comment #1), I married a BPD right out of my mother’s NPD arms. I kept having those unneasy feelings that I’m sure now are characteristic of growing up in/without appropriate love/attachments, and I kept getting treated for depression essentially. When the tension would ease slightly, I would stop treatment and try to return to “normal life”. After about the fifth or sixth go round in traditional allopathic treatment (with no lasting results), I stumbled on a ministry that taught about grace in the Biblical sense. Not the typical teachings I was accustomed to from my Protestant roots of submitting MORE or just having more sex to heal my marriage. It took almost two years of weekly ninety minute sessions before I could accept and barely risk whispering that I had a traumatic and not at all normal or healthy childhood. That was the beginning of real change in my life. I was hooked! Today, little by little, I slough off layer after layer of the old lies and fog (AND the F.O.G. of BPD) and I tell myself the truth. It’s been a battle at times, but worth every step I take into the light of recovery.

Kellie

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Elizabeth,

Your comment is so good, I have to respond. I too was labeled as a baby really by my family. No wonder I believed I was the problem! And the church added to the noise by telling me I had a “spirit of rejection” as well as generational curses. Well, I jumped through every frigging hoop they held out for me, but nothing ever changed. How, I ask you, can a person compete with those messages?! If its all “spiritual” or “generational”, so the implication is that I had little or nothing to do with the origination of my own rejection, what the hell am I supposed to be able to do to fix it?! Whoo! This gets me a little fired up! Parents and church family, in my opinion, “owe” us unconditional love. If they fail, it is not our fault! Its supposed to be unconditional! There is way too much excuse making and not enough action or risk taking on their part, and that is something we had nothing whatsoever to do with.

Sheesh!

Thanks for your great comment, Elizabeth. You move me.

Kellie

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Kellie, your religious upbringing sounds very much like mine. I, too, was told that I had a “spirit of rejection” as well as generational curses. I mean, I was told that, in those very same words. I, too, went straight from my N-mother’s home to someone with BPD or sociopathic or something… abusive is what he was. Unloving, unfaithful, emotionally unavailable, and physically and verbally abusive. It was the marriage that my upbringing had so thoroughly trained me for.

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All my life I’ve been waiting for something to happen, something that signals that I can start (a project/living/eating/etc.). It interferes in my ability to do anything (including eat and shower, as well as work). Even now, I should be working (I freelance from home) but instead there’s something inside of me waiting for a signal that I can start and immerse myself in the work I’m doing. Only recently have I realized that I’m not waiting for a sign from the universe that I’m on the right path. Instead, I’m waiting for permission from my mother that what I’m doing is ok.

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Dru,
I totally realate to that! I was always waiting for someone else too, but today I know that all my mother ever did was hold me back and today I empower myself and give myself permission! You can too!
Hugs, Darlene

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How do you know they are wrong? Everybody says they are wrong but what if they are right?

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Hi Heather,
Welcome. How could they be right? How could someone decide that you are unworthy and be right? Who could decide such a thing? The way that I busted through this worry was to go back and look at specific things that caused me to question my own value. When I realized where those questions come from, I was able to realize that “they” were wrong. I really hope you read more of this site and the articles here about this very subject. There are many of them. It takes time to change the belief system but it is possible.
Hugs, Darlene

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my family was never a place of safety.
how come at almost 40 I have never said those words?

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Hi Webby
Welcome to EFB
I have written a lot about this very question in this site. I am sure you will find some insight here,
Hugs, Darlene

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@dru
I totally know what you are saying.the waiting for a signal. the signal that never comes!!

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[…] see links in colour and bold print for related posts  Emotional Healing and Busting through Brainwashing […]

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Thank you Darlene for this timely post. I have recently hit a childhood root that has caused me to feel a deep sadness that I could not shake all my life. I’ve carried a pain so deep that it was ingrained to my whole being. I felt that I was the cause to all my parents problems, issues and basically I felt that I had ruined my parents lives for being born. I “felt” the truth all my life but was unable to express it due to lack of education and knowledge. I never stood up for my truth out of fear of being squashed down even further. Even as a adult I behaved like a wounded child and I understand why I could not move past my history of abuse. I never felt worthy of a life of my own because of what “I” did to my parents. Even though on a logical side I know it was their choices that led to them feeling the way they did, that didn’t satisfy the child that longed to be part of a loving family. How can a child feel good abour herself knowing that she is responsible for robbing her parents of a life they wished they had chosen. I always knew my parents didn’t really want to be parents by the way they expressed themselves and behaved. They think I wasn’t paying attention but I was. They lied their way through my life and covered up the truth with pretty things but I always knew the truth. I understand why I wanted to end my life and as rediculous as it sounds from an adult perspective, the child inside of me thought by ending her life she could un do the mistake her parents made by having her. This is a wound I am dealing with today and I am at a loss at what to say to my wounded child who carries this burden of feeling that she is responsible for all her parents wounds. I have surrendered this wound to God and trust that the healing will be received in time. Being able to have this site to express how I really feel has been my blessing. I feel very grateful for my courage to break out of this horrible, abusive cycle. It’s an ugly, ulgy trap that keeps people hostage..sometimes until dealth for some. I am determined to be one of the people who makes it out of this cycle and to discover the beautiful soul I know that is hiding within. I’ve never reached this depth in my healing before so I know there is hope and one day I will be completely free to honor the gift I truly am. Thank you all so much for all your sharing and for believing there is a better way to live. Namaste!

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I’m so confused. Coming out of the fog right now for me is yet another challenge. I’m so profoundly hurt that my mind cannot sort out what’s manipulation, what’s sincere, or even what the truth is. It is inconceivable to have let one bring me down so far to the point of doubting everybody else’s intentions. I’m back in a thick fog. And I wonder if I’m really made for this.

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Hi Celine
It is a challenge to come out of the fog; it certainly isn’t easy to sort all this out and I didn’t know how to distinguish ‘the truth’ at first either. The lies were way more normal for me and I was so used to believing them and living in them. I kept going and eventually things became more clear. There have been times where things seemed foggy again, but I never went backwards too far even when I felt like I did.
Hang in there!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Lora
When I first started to try to communicate with the child that was me, the child within, she would not even look at me. (in my minds eye) and I had no idea how to begin… so I tried to notice what I looked like, (I was little, dirty, messy, and abandoned looking and these were my feelings about me) and I tried to just ‘sit with my child self’ and just ‘be there for me’ in the way that I felt I would have liked my parents to be. It took some time but it progressed from there and eventually I was learning how to meet all my own needs.
Hugs, Darlene

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Thank you for sharing this. It is so challenging to be vulnerable sometimes and to still have courage to share. I appreciate your willingness to create space for those of us who can relate. I am still sorting out brainwashing, abuse, and manipulation that happened to me as a child. I am aware that there are many layers to my life~ physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental. As a 32 year old with a tenacious courage and commitment to succeed I have learned lots about healing my body and mind through herbs, digestive cleansing, and positive intentions. There is more, though. There are still memories that surface late in the evening and sometimes keep me up all night. There is still a tendency to feel utter confusion around my own feelings and experience. So here I am facing a new layer of the abuse from my childhood. Recognizing once more that my experience and feelings are valid. At least as valid as those of all else who are in my life. I have wanted to desperately to protect and to defend the positions of my parents~ even the one who was most abusive. How does this support me? It feels so wrong and uncomfortable to blame my father or to put any weight to the possibility that things that he did were wrong. There is such a deep seeded want to protect and defend him. Bizarre, right? Especially when evidence suggests that there was emotional and even sexual abuse happening. How can I sort out these feelings of wanting so much for what happened to be OK and not anyone’s fault~ and also wanting to see enlightened justice and my own healing. I have compassion for my dad, I guess~ awareness that he is a fallible person who was operating the best that he could in his level of awareness (as Deepak Chopra talks about). At the same time I have seen the pain that I suffer as a result of allowing myself to stay in a relationship with someone who has wronged me~ and whom I have never held accountable~ or confronted for those wrongs. Any thoughts or guidance here?

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Hi Naomi
Welcome to EFB ~ there is a ton of info on this site! There are over 400 articles with discussions on this website. (a ton of thoughts and guidance. 🙂 Meanwhile, I have compassion for my parents, just not at my emotional expense anymore. This is not about placing blame as much as it is about finding freedom through validating our own pain.
Glad you are here, you are not alone,
hugs, Darlene

(and stay tuned for my first book which is a collection of the work that I have produced here on the foundation of the healing process)

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Thank you, Darlene! “This is not about placing blame as much as it is about finding freedom through validating our own pain.” ~ I LOVE this. Thank you. Hugs back, Naomi

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My false normal was composed of this recurring situation: When I am pissed off at another “loving” action that ohe of my abusers (take grandma for example) have done, I was told the reason (by the trusty side kick son in law) as to why they have chosen to be the people they are today, that I should understand them. Hang on a minute, isn’t that a tactic that is used to make the abuse justified!? The funny thing is this is always their last resort when my anger has escalated towards the actions that I am supposed to, in their words, “understand”.” Yeah well I am done understanding! There’s only so much I can do until I realise that we are not really speaking the same language. No more sob stories. I received a lot of abuse from them, but will I allow my past, or present considering that these things still happen or will happen, to turn me into a heartless douchebag!? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

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