Self-Love and Navigating the Waters of Grief By Carrie H.


efb grief watersPlease join me in welcoming Carrie H. and her debut article on Emerging from Broken.  Carrie writes in a brilliant style filled with emotional honesty and compassion both for herself and for others who understand the grief we feel when we find it necessary to draw a boundary with our own families of origin. I am honored to have Carrie as a guest writer on Emerging from Broken.  ~ Darlene

 Self-Love and Navigating the Waters of Grief  by Carrie H.

 When my husband found out that his father was dying I asked him how he would make it through.  How would his sister make it?  How would his mother make it?  “Our love will hold us together”, he answered.  Wow, I thought. I watched as he and mom and sister held each other that day.  The day they knew one of their family members was dying.  In that moment I realized that love was absent from my own family of origin.  In my family, love did not tie us together, which was why getting through a dark time seemed so difficult from where I was standing.    

 When I pointed out the Truth to my parents and sister, that there had been verbal and emotional abuse, I was abandoned.  I had visions of us healing together as a family – that’s what loving families do – but I’ve had to let those dreams go over the past few months. 

 Their reaction to me revealing the dysfunction merely proved the dysfunction.  Instead of looking at their own behaviors and their role in our family dynamic, they chose to point their fingers at me and to blame me for their pain.  You see, once I stepped out of “The Matrix” – which is what I call their faulty belief system regarding love – they became very uncomfortable.  I told them that there was an elephant in the room that needed to be addressed.   I held up a mirror and they ran screaming.  In regards to the elephant in the room, my sister wants to pretend it’s not there.  If we don’t look at it, it can’t be there, right??  My father, always the spiritual bypasser, admits it’s there but says life is “just an illusion” so we are “one” with the elephant.  My mother says I’M the elephant. 

 I realized that the only way my family would accept me was as their scapegoat, as the one who caused them pain.  There is no other definition that they CAN accept because if I am okay, then why would THEY be in pain?   So one by one, I’ve had to say goodbye to my family members.  (Or more accurately, THEY have said goodbye to me). 

 First it was my mom, who sent me an email titled “The Elephant” in which she told me she had to let me go. Then there was my father, who is still in my life to some extent, but will continue to defend my mom’s actions and talk about how “sad” it is that I’m not talking to her anymore.  My father, a man who justifies his imprisonment by hiding behind spiritual quotes that were spoken by those who were, ironically, free and finally, my sister, with whom I still have a relationship albeit an inauthentic one.  “I would never do what you’re doing to mom,” she said.  You see, asking for kindness in a family of dysfunction is always met with an insane reaction.  What I’m DOING to them is asking them for respect.  

 So as my husband grieves his recently deceased father, I grieve my family as well.  I grieve the mother I never had, I grieve the father who I once actually thought of as a hero, knowing that he will never come to my defense and will live out his days in the lie that my mom is somehow the victim in all of this.  And I grieve for my sister, who remains entangled in the web of manipulation and guilt that defines the love I grew up with.  But here’s the thing – for those of us who grieve the living – we grieve alone.   My family looks lovely from the outside, a perfect picture with years worth of photographs to prove that we are “okay.”   Only those who have gotten very close know that those pictures are just a bunch of tangled lines.  Only those who have looked closely at the eyes in each photo see the sadness hidden beneath fake smiles. 

 My husband knows his father loved him, in the true definition of love.  He carries that love in his heart.  It binds them together in life and in death.  Alive or dead, his father has always been with him.  For those of us grieving those who have never loved us – truly loved us – how do we make it through?  It’s like love is the boat that my husband is on and it carries him through the waters of grief.  Sometimes the waves are intense but he is always in a boat.  I’m in those same waters but without a boat. Sometimes I get pulled under and come up gasping for air.  I have my husband and my son’s love, of course, but I don’t have the love of those I’m grieving. 

 I grieve the childhood I didn’t get, the childhood I THOUGHT I had, the actions I thought were love, the person I thought my dad was, the relationship I thought I had with my sister, the hope I had of my mother changing, the dream I had of my family healing, the future I thought we could share together, and the love I’ve never received from my family.  For those of us who grieve in hiding, we must build our own boats.  We must learn to love ourselves in the way our parents never did.  It will take work and strength to construct that boat but by the time it is built, by the time we are loving ourselves unconditionally in a way that was not modeled to us in our families, we will have a boat so strong, so sturdy, that the waves it will carry us over will be merely ripples lapping at our sides.  And we will ride in these self-constructed boats across the seas into freedom.  Freedom from the lies we were taught about ourselves, freedom from the faulty love we grew up with, freedom from the sadness and pain that came from our realizations. 

And once we reach that shore, the shore of freedom, we will be the lighthouses that can give hope and direction to others who are boatless in the stormy seas. 

 Carrie H.

Please share your comments with Carrie and I. We would love to hear from you and please consider sharing this post on social media sites too. So many will find comfort in the way that Carrie shares with such deep emotional honesty. Hugs!!

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Categories : Family



That is amazing. Awe inspiring, and so so true. This type of entrapment and dysfunction exists to some degree in all families. The person always punished is the one who “rocks the boat”, the boat that is being navigated by mentally ill parents. The person who suffers is the one who is strong and brave and doesn’t accept things the way that they are. The matriarch or patriarch always use their power to silence those in the family who may expose their mental illness. They don’t want to change and they are not strong or brave enough to face their mistakes. They use manipulation to keep things as they are. There is always some type of dysfunction, disorder, or inappropriate behavior that is hidden, lied about, ignored, enabled, and even fueled in every family. My opinion is that only the mentally ill say to themselves “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Otherwise that saying should be illegal. The truth is that you can’t teach a family new tricks.


Thank you for sharing this Carrie H. Apologies as well, that may seem strange but my unfiltered reaction to your story was selfish.
I found myself thinking about my siblings and family who rejected me at the age of 4 because they could not deal with my perceptiveness, direct honesty, and refusal to lie for them to others in public. I went further down my story comparing and competing with yours until it struck me that was what I was doing.

I get that your family has rejected your efforts at repairing the damage, My siblings, I’m 5 of 6, all of whom did less well than I, a dubious benefit of the adults in the family rejecting me so young and literally dumping me off on the county, They tend to react in the same way to me if they don’t try to openly manipulate me by pretending at being nice to get close so they can ask for something. Mercurial anger is lying in wait if I say no. I’ve been guilty of it myself when I was younger before I managed to meet people who demonstrated how to be different to me just by being themselves. That’s a trick BTW since the damage inflicted leaves a lot of us so marked that “normal” people don;t let us too close and we continue on seeing the same poor examples of how to be form similarly damaged people. Well that was my experience of life, still is really.


WOW! This is a powerfully, beautifully written article with so much in it! Thank you for sharing. I feel very validated by reading this. All of my own feelings and thoughts about grieving my family that I cut off and the definition of healthy vs. unhealthy love etc etc. are explained in this article! I always feel very happy for those who had the family where they received healthy love and had each other and I love the hope there is for those of us that did not have that, but by rebuilding and relearning and reparenting we can experience it too. It isnt too late and life is not over to experience this. This is beautiful and filled with wisdom!


Very well written and beautifully expressed. You painted a picture that is familiar to me and validating. You included hope in the process – building our own boat. Thank you for sharing!


This article is so beautifully written. I have never been able to express myself that clearly. I grieve for the family I never had and at the same time thank God daily for the new family I have in my husband and children.

I could only wish that my mother and sister would get a glimpse of the damage they are doing to others. But that is never going to happen and I am learning to be happy within myself.



This is so beautifully put, Carrie; and it’s so true, we can make our own boats to carry us away from the dysfunction and lies. Thank you for this. I never had a caring, loving family either, and when facing grief, lines were drawn and separate areas were constructed for everyone based on unilateral judgements of how much they had a right to know and what right to grieve they had; I was on the bottom of that totem pole, and only thought worthy of a few moral platitudes while the ‘real emotions’ were shared and expressed elsewhere.

Anyway, I’ve heard those words before, “I could never do that to my mother!” when speaking in terms of asking for respect, for equal love, recognition and for them to take responsibility for what they have done to us and change. Of course all of that is doing something great FOR ourselves, and is not too much to ask the person who gave birth to us. It is very sad that people want to remain in that web of lies. My father was also a spiritualist who believed he was above it all but actually was very much so a person stuck in toxic mud and seeking to blind himself and others with it.


Chris, I have been reading some of your comments recently and you come across to me as someone very perceptive and intelligent. I am so sorry that you suffered and were abused and mistreated the way you were! You did NOT deserve that and you still do not deserve the disrespect. I understood well what you wrote in your comment about “normal” people not letting others too close who were damaged and in my experience, that used to be the same for me. Now it is quite different because once I realized the lies that had been spoon fed to me and beaten into me during my childhood, I have seen the “normal” people very differently. In fact, I was and still am, more normal that most of them! I finally realized that. I see things for what and who they are these days and because I insist on being respected and treated with value, and I also give that to myself now, it has actually caused what seems like a miracle in my life! The miracle is that others treat me with respect and those that dont, I actually dont mind not having any relationship of any kind with them! People who want to “one-up” or engage in some sort of competition with me because of something insecure or game-playing that is going on inside of them and not me, I dont pay any attention to now. I feel normal and I am free to choose these days who and how I relate to others instead of feeling like a sitting duck for someone to devalue and disregard me. Two years ago I only dreamed of this. I could see and percieve it in others, but never thought I would actually become “normal”. It could be the corner of the world that I live in, but most of the people I used to think were more normal than me have shrunk in my estimation and I now simply view them as ordinary humans who are fighting to be seen and heard and valued in their own way and many times they resort to childish and unfair behaviors to do so. Many times manipulation, trying to put down others and even verbal and emotional abuse are results of this. The ppl I choose to be around now are truly caring and nice to me. They arent perfect, but they are very tolerant and kind and our relationships are give and take. I am not the nurturer and listener only for them. Respect is at the foundation of relationships now. I think ppl who challenge others by asking why they arent smiling or cutting them down because they dont look like they are having a good day are simply displaying the unfiltered and childish way of trying to feel superior or something like that. I think it is great that you are sharing your experiences because they are so valuable! I appreciate them!


Thank you Carrie for writing this! So honest. I don’t know what to say.

It got me wondering, and I was already doing this before your post, what would I feel if my mother and the others I am now estranged from had been the ones to explicitly say “I no longer wish to speak with you”? Rather than me doing it.

I mean they do only want to speak with me as long as I don’t talk about “the past” or attempt to get any kind of apology for the crap they did to me. Or ask them for better behavior in the present. That’s like the mouse asking the elephant for change (we find out in the end of the story that the elephant is really scared of the mouse, I don’t know what that means either).

I have rejected their attempts at controlling me and their wrong perceptions of me and their mistreatment of me. I think somewhere Darlene has a post about rejecting rejection but I still feel as if I would feel even worse if on top of the whole thing I was also rejected in a way similar to the way I have gone about it. And I don’t know why that is, because they already rejected me by their actions when I was there. I want to say “take heart”.

I also take very major issue with the misuse of so-called “spirituality” to abuse others. Very major. Right into the next life if necessary:)


Thank you for your article. I can resonate with all that you said and I am still having snippets of dysfunction although I have spent most of the past 25 years estranged from family. My eyes opened to my mother when my own children were born and I chose then that they will never know their grandparents and I stuck to my word. This has been the biggest pain in my life but I had to protect my precious children and i would do it all over again if I had too. Some people are shocked when I tell them and judge me harshly but I choose not to listen for they have not walked in my shoes. I was willing to forgive but every time I gave of myself, more was taken. In the end my mother is the one who is alone and now my siblings are beginning to see the light so their is hope that I will have my family back one day. This situation is so common. I could not think of anything worse than have my own children reject me. I would be looking to myself to determine what responsibility do I need to take to change that. I would do all the work in the world on myself to at least try to resolve things. I had to let go of that expectation of my mother because she is the weak one, who has poisoned everyone’s life with her lies but thankfully one by one we are waking up. It is truly liberating and brings peace to one’s life. I hope you have inspired others to find peace in their lives and create their own family, whether within a relationship, children or just wonderful friends. Families do not have to be who you
are born too. Thank you again.


Wow! These comments are so amazing. I’m glad that my writing speaks to so many. We truly are not alone. Karen T – You are right, those who rock the boat make everyone else uncomfortable. Their comfort depends on keeping us broken. Chris – I’m so sorry to hear about your experience but glad that you were strong enough to break free. Seems like the healthiest people in a dysfunctional family are often the ones in greatest conscious pain. FinallyFree – I’m glad my words help validate your experience. I have been validated so much by this website and the comments as well. Hobie – Thank you. Linda – I too have found family with my son and husband. I’m glad you have as well. 🙂 Caden – It sounds like we have a lot in common! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Alice – I like your idea of the mouse scaring the elephant. We all have the power to point out the truth and that terrifies those who are living in a lie. I’m glad none of us are being silent any longer.


Sharon – Thanks for your comments. You are so right that family does not have to be blood related. In fact, not allowing relatives to mistreat us is an important lesson in self-love that we can teach our own children.


Wow…I’m still crying & very moved over this piece. This is something I can relate to. In fact, just earlier today, I was thinking of how it feels like I’m in some sort of prison because I know I can’t share this with just anyone. I knew I wasn’t alone in this but, people don’t really talk about this type of grief…ever. You have described my exact feelings. Thanks for writing this.


I am building my boat with the family I made. I am struggling right now with the grief, the unrequited anger… Trying to channel the energy of it for good, but it is hard sometimes. Finding myself looking outside of myself for pacification. Maybe that’s the problem… I don’t know how to receive or ask for the love I need. I love that I am building that boat with my kids. It is that loneliness, that swimming alone feeling that’s always been there, that feeling of not having the sanctuary and safety of love.


Chris you said it so well. I have always felt “marked”. Normal people would never reengage with me. When I was in my teens and 20’s I thought it was physical ugliness. Later because I have always been way too emotional I thought I just was a bad person. Now I know that abuse marked me. Made me feel and act less than. I work daily to change this.
Alice. When I first spoke back to my mother in 1994 I was 40. She had been nasty on a weekly basis for a year and finally used Christmas to really wound me. When for the very first time I wrote a note saying her treatment was nasty and I wasnt taking it anymore, she didnt speak to me for 3 yrs.
After that I was very angry and hurt. Amazingly I went back for more never seeing that it was just more of the same.
My brother the GC wont discuss anything then or now and within the past two yrs jumped in shaming and blaming me. Do I feel guilty for two yrs now of NC. No. I was a throw away years ago and never saw it.
Thank you for this great article. Understanding these dynamics has helped me immensely.
Now I also see I have been in a dysfunctional marriage. That looks to be a much larger challange to rectify.


What a beautiful and inspiring article! My own mother thrives on the verbal and emotional abuse she has inflicted on me for 38 years. I have finally found the courage to sever all ties with her. Family or not, nobody deserves to be so brutally disrespected. You can’t change people and you can’t make them love you. When I finally rocked the boat, it was amazing how quickly my mother placed all the blame on me. She has not once ever been accountable for any of her actions or words. She manages to justify every disgusting word, thought or action because of her false notion that I am the problem. As long as she is living, she will continue to destroy others because she feels entitled to do so. What she doesn’t comprehend is that I am a good person, I have people that love me unconditionally, and more importantly… I am genuinely happy with myself and my life. I do not need her approval to live peacefully. The new found freedom I gained when I broke her chains from around my neck is a feeling I will never let go of. Not having her in my life is a gain not a loss.


Powerful, Carrie.

Can I please climb on your boat? I’m trying to build mine but it seems to have many leaks! We have clone-like families!

I just finished reading “les miserables” then watched the most recent film version of it and felt as if Victor Hugo redeemed me. Now your words validate me. Everything you say is true. Thanks, so much, for posting this.

If we keep our face toward the sun, the shadows will fall behind us.


Hi Carrie
Thank you so much for guest posting on Emerging from Broken this week!
When I first read your article it was the following paragraph that stuck out for me:

Carrie H. worte: “Their reaction to me revealing the dysfunction merely proved the dysfunction. Instead of looking at their own behaviors and their role in our family dynamic, they chose to point their fingers at me and to blame me for their pain. You see, once I stepped out of “The Matrix” – which is what I call their faulty belief system regarding love – they became very uncomfortable. I told them that there was an elephant in the room that needed to be addressed. I held up a mirror and they ran screaming. In regards to the elephant in the room, my sister wants to pretend it’s not there. If we don’t look at it, it can’t be there, right?? My father, always the spiritual bypasser, admits it’s there but says life is “just an illusion” so we are “one” with the elephant. My mother says I’M the elephant.”

Wow… “Their reaction to me revealing the dysfunction merely proved the dysfunction…” and that is exactly what I realized too. I had been fighting for years to defend myself and my feelings, fighting to agree with them so that I would be accepted, fighting with myself and reprimanding myself for not being what they wanted, not being ‘good enough’ and it was when I started to see things through a new grid of understanding that I realized ‘HEY wait a minute…’ maybe I actually have a right, or a point, or maybe I am not the only problem here… that is when the REAL dysfunction made itself much more obvious.

For me (looking back) it is all so obvious and logical but the fog starts when we are too young to see how logical it is.

Thank you again. I love your emotional honesty and I love the way you craft words!

hugs and love, Darlene


Thanks for the kind words people. I wish I could internalise all of what I found here instantly, but I can’t. I have to accept less than perfect as the best I can do and that it is OK with me now. It is not easy getting to that place.

I have also found that the people I have had recent contact with in my family are also dealing with a broken self and imperfect understanding of the world. It just happens that what they make of these problems leads them to take what I would call wrong action.
I heard an expression once and it made no sense at first. Then it seemed like it might and finally it did; “Everyone is doing the best that they can, always.”
I say this so hat those who haven’t yet can begin to let go of the resentment, you con;t have to give up justice or holding anyone to account but to let go and forgive is to stop allowing them rent free space in your mind. Forgiveness is not for the forgiven, It is for the Forgiver.

I had no idea that I was going there when I started. Have a nice day folks. 🙂


Hi Chris,
Everyone is NOT doing the best that they can always. It is so discounting to people when we are told that. My mother took me to bars when I was underage to pick up men. My mother blamed me that her boyfriend came into my bedroom and molested me. And she covered it up, which means that she KNEW it wasn’t her best. The whole way that I healed was by realizing that some of those cute little sayings were a huge part of the problem. The resentment left me when I validated that I had a right to have one. Forgiveness is a result of true healing and not a goal. It isn’t something we are just supposed “to do” so that you can be free. If that worked for you then I am thrilled, but don’t advise others that it is also for them. My family is also broken and it was when I said “SO WHAT?” why do I have to put up with that??? That I found the real path to healing.
Hugs, Darlene


+100 Darlene!
Those “cute sayings” have been the cause of so much pain for me over the years. I’m happy to say these days that I almost don’t give a flying f*** if someone suggests them to me as a workable solution. However I do still care enough to recognize how harmful, throwaway and dismissive they are.


Some of my favorite (I’m being sarcastic) cliches: it takes two to tango. (People say this to make sure you get some of the blame). Be the bigger person. ( it means you are expected to give in to the abuser) let bygones be bygones. ( a way of dismissing something that you are trying to deal with. Everyone makes mistakes. Yes, true, but people usually use this cliche to excuse away horrendous behavior; they not talking about forgetting to defrost the meat. That’s why I pay little attention to these cliches that seem to be used to give some undeserving person the upper hand.


Hi Amber!

Yes I’ve heard those ones too. Heinous. I’m agnostic but pleased to imagine a special place in hell for the idiots who content themselves with bleating out these little maxims with so little thought as to what exactly they are asking the other person to do.

Here’s a few more:

– “nobody’s perfect”
– “get over it”
– “move on”
– “your mother had a difficult childhood”
– “it was just the done thing at the time”
– “one of these days you’ll look back and laugh”
– “times were hard”


Alice, you had me laughing with the phrase “bleating out these little maxims”, but on the serious side, there’s something especially annoying about people using these well- known , but ridiculous cliches to gain the upper hand for themselves. You added some good ones to the list and I’ve had most of those used on me too. Notice how many of those cliches can be used to just sweep away accountability ( for the abusers of course).


Carrie, After reading your beautiful article my heart aches for you and all that you have been through. I recognize a fellow traveler on this
sea of pain. I too had similar experiences causing me to divorce my family for a time. I did not want my children exposed to the “stuff” that was happening in my family.

I, too had no real childhood, I was too busy helping watch my 5 siblings. Very long story, but one that understands yours.

May you continue to be blessed and awakened to the pure love and joy that comes with loving your own family.



Does anybody else notice that those maxims are never applied to our mistakes?

When an abuser loses their temper who is saying to them “nobody’s perfect” or “get over it”?

And why is our anxiety, depression, or confusion so much more offensive to some people than abusers use of violence? It seems like some people become very willing to feel sorry for someone who was abused as a child once they kill someone.

I’m not talking about everyone, but it seems like there are people who are much more willing to accept explosive rage from a victim, but not an expression of pain. If the pain was tended, the rage would be averted.

or is it just that some people have a way of getting sympathy, and some don’t?


I’m sorry for offending but to be clear, I never said any of the things I am being credited with.
I explicitly said in my post that one does not give up the quest for justice nor give up holding anyone responsible.

I don’t think people who are abusive sit around thinking up things to say in response to being questioned or challenged like “nobody’s perfect” and think to themselves “I bet that’ll throw em for a loop for a while” or maybe I’m naive.
I think they say things like that because it is the spontaneous idea that comes to them the first time they use it or they heard it somewhere else, and they go with it to avoid facing the issues in themselves that letting themselves be open to criticism would lead to. They aren’t being what they are because they sat around thinking on it and chose “Abusive Jackhole” form a list of ‘ways to be as a person’, as the course for their lives like you or I might choose a hobby or career. I think abusive people are even more damaged and afraid of the world than we are in the same and worse ways.
For whatever reason it happens (It seems to be a fear based choice to me) they became like they are as opposed to us being who we are which is not a fear based choice.

Again Sorry if I offended but that is not what I meant to do.


Hello Carrie and Darlene
I cannot add much now, I just want to thank you for writing and publishing this article. I am also doing a similar grief work now. Trying to build a boat out of nothing. It is not easy, but the miracle will happen 🙂
I am very grateful and sending my love to you (whatever love is, or whatever love I may have)
PS: Emerging from Broken is such a great site, and so helpful and encouraging, I adopted and see Darlene as a mother to me 🙂
Hope you don’t mind Darlene : )


Amber, Alice and Hobie, WELL SAID! I also laughed at “bleating”, but took it to heart, and Hobie in #26 I had never thought about it before, but you are so right! It does seem that way about explosive rage being more accepted somehow than expressions of pain and the anxiety and depression etc.


Beth – Thank you. Che’rie – You are right. This kind of grief is not talked about which makes it all the more lonely. I’m glad my words spoke to you. Jamie – I know exactly how you feel and I too am constructing my boat with my new family. Karen R – I empathize with you. The truth does hurt but it also sets you free. Stacie – So awesome that you have broken free and uncovered happiness. Love your words! T – My boat is not quite leakproof yet either but I’m working on it. .. I too related to Les Mis on many levels. Darlene – Agreed. Why DO we have to put with that?! We don’t!!! (And thank you for your comments about the writing. You have helped so much. Yes, the fog starts so early that we don’t even realize we are breathing it in). Amber – So true. I’ve heard the “be the bigger person” a lot. SandyO – Thank you so much for your kind words. Hobie – I agree. It’s a double standard. Chris – I do agree that abusers project their own darkness onto others to avoid looking at it themselves. But once we recognize that we have the power to say, “no more.” Thanks for sharing. Lajos – Thank you. This site has helped me immensely as well.


Chris, I think you might be on to something when you say that abusers might very well be repeating things they had already heard, perhaps had already been told? Children imitate the people and adults around them. Unfortunately some never get beyond repeating and rather than take that time to thoughtfully consider what these things mean, content themselves to continue repeating. We can talk about intent vs actions too if you’re up for it.

Amber, all of the things on that list bar one were things my mother herself said to me. And they were said in response to my serious pleas for her to understand how her actions had hurt me.

What I still don’t get is why other people would say these same things when I approached them for help, care and validation.

Carrie, I don’t know where I am in terms of grief. I feel as if that was all there was before and I fear its return too.


I don’t know why people do what they do anymore. When I was a kid being abused I knew there were the stupid people like my abusers whom it was not safe to use my mind in front of and normal people whom it was. I never really got to the point of being able to discern them easily as I was let in by good folks due to my young age and as my abusers told me they were keeping me until I was past that age when people freely taught children things they expected older ones to know or “figure out”.
Society has degraded quite a bit in the last 40 years. People are no longer openly conscious of perspective, levels of perception, and the fact that no one can read minds and thus to best understand one another we must track what another says and does and apply reason as opposed to trying to imagine what they are ‘really’ thinking or feeling.
Anymore people seem to assume they read my mind and then project upon me whatever is going on in their mind at the time as if I were a knowing and willing part of it.


Hi Chris
I apologize for misunderstanding. I understood what you wrote as saying that you now understood that all people do the best they can at all times and that not forgiving was not letting go. Thank you for clarifying . 🙂
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Lajos
Thanks for your note! I don’t mind modeling ‘a loving mother’ through this website and through the work that I do.
hugs, Darlene


Chris, I was thinking about intent this morning and how easy it was for my mother to tell me that because she did not intend to do me wrong then I must have chosen to feel wronged.

But the thing is that most people (I think) aren’t intending anything towards others in the first place, they’re intending things for themselves. So of course the excuse that their intent was not to harm you is truthful to that extent. But it’s not the whole truth.
Had my mother been more honest with herself about what she really intended for herself she might have realised that there was no way it was going to come from (mis)treating me any particular way to get it.
The other problem with using the argument that one’s intent qualifies one’s actions is that it rides entirely on the perception of the person doing the qualifying and completely excludes the person upon whom those actions had an effect. Invalidating them once an again.
I once asked my mother “But once I told you you were hurting me and asked you to stop, why did you keep on doing it if you didn’t intend to hurt me? Why, after me telling you what hurt did you not change the way you behaved?” That’s when the justification switched to all those other phrases I mentioned.


I’m not sure what exactly you are trying to address. When I think of the meaning of the phrase that ‘everyone is always doing the best they can’ I think best means that whatever it is they are doing, is the best they can do. Sure my abusers might have chosen not to ECT or rape or lobotomize me but they didn’t.
My abusers intended to make me retarded. There is nothing good about that. Yet I say what they did to me is the best they had to give the world. At the end of the day they worked out whatever they did in their heads and decided that doing it was the course they were going to take.

Sure they might have chosen some other course but they didn’t. I guess I internalise the idea that we all are doing what we consider to be the right or best thing for ourselves and thus whatever we do it is our best. Its a generalisation which I don’t know can directly apply when you are parsing the minutia of events.


I reread the article and was once again struck by how beautifully written and how much truth is in it! I also was impressed by the family of Carrie H. making and ensuring that she become the SCAPEGOAT of the family. I think it is so strange that abusers typically seem to have the scapegoat in the family , and focus all of THEIR dysfunction on that person. It doesnt end when the child becomes an adult either, and it seems that it becomes the only “importance” that the scapegoat is given in the family dynamic. I tend to lean toward the belief now that the scapegoat member’s only way of becoming truly free IS building the boat, as Carrie H put it so well. There is no amount of pleasing or changing or trying hard to talk things out because the role of scapegoat appears to be so vital to the survival of the sick and unhealthy unit of those kind of families. It also seems the older I become that it is a crazy and unnatural way to live, but so many are trapped in it! In my grieving, I did have to give up my family completely and choose to live a life without them. I may always have times where I bounce between the relief of being actually free and living my life the way I choose vs. being sad about them, but I will never ever put myself in the position again where they will abuse me in ANY way, so it is worth the price paid. To me it is anyway.


Hi FinallyFree, I was definitely the scapegoat in the family, and I know the reasons I was chosen. First, my biggest “crime” was being the girl child. My mother hated females…long story why…and I beared the consequences of that hatred. Also, my temperament was shy and compliant, but now I am pretty sure that I was groomed to be this way. I think the scapegoat not only takes the flack of the dysfunction, but because of the way the scapegoat is groomed, they often become the one in the family that is put into service. Their job is to meet other peoples needs. And as an adult, that person becomes the go to person for all the work and care taking, as well as to continue to bear the scapegoating role. I can see why many go no contact! I did it for three years with my mother, and then went to limited contact with some boundaries in place.

I like Carrie’s idea of building a boat. I’m getting mine started though construction will take some time!


Amber, it sounds like your boat is in the building process for sure! I am sorry that you were the scapegoat in your family! I think you are so right about the person as an adult becomes the go to care taker and also bears the brunt of the role they were forced into. I have noticed that too. I have a question, but if you dont care to answer, that is fine! I wondered if you would tell me more about your temperament as a child being shy and compliant, but that NOW you are pretty sure you were groomed to be that way? I thought that was an interesting sentence and I wondered why you feel that way now?


Chris, I think I’m stuck with this idea of “best”. To me it implies a choice. I’m sure I must misunderstand. Sure they did what they did for themselves. I agree with you on that. What on earth were they thinking? How is it even possible they didn’t know or didn’t think about that other person who bore the consequences? The child they had? I think it’s only possible if you either don’t consider that child as a person and or consider it as an extension of yourself.

What I got out of my mother by asking her why she persisted in the face of my demonstrating that she was hurting me were just these rationalisations that so many people use so glibly. And that’s what I’m trying to get at. That this “best they could”, “nobody’s perfect”, “times were hard” stuff is just more empty repeating. My mother would rather forgo a relationship with me today and keep saying and believing these things than listen to what I have to bring to the world.


Well said, Alice. I remember whenever I told my mother she was being hurtful she would just say, “go find another mother.” Those kinds of sayings are completely dismissive and invalidating.


I agree with Alice about the empty repeating! I heard more than my share of those sayings and in my family they were completely meant to put me back into the place they had created for me. It was an abusive and degrading place. I am not sure what brought up the “best” issue, but to me it is one of those! Being stuck in believing that ppl just doing the best that they can or the best they knew to do at the time is very invalidating for those who were terribly abused and used and mistreated, and my parents used to use that one quite a bit, especially after I became an adult. I do believe that my parents knew what they were doing was wrong and they chose to keep neglecting and abusing anyway. It was EASIER for them than facing facts and truths and learning how to find healthier coping methods. They chose to abuse and neglect just as I choose not to and have worked hard to change.


I went back over the comments and realized that Chris brought up “best” issues and I wasnt trying to put down anything stated! I found myself thinking deeply about many of the things written in the comments and this article because they touched my heart. I appreciate having a place to connect with many others about these topics! Thank you!


Hi Carrie, Thank you for writing this. What you’ve shared is my experience, also. It has been over two years now since I’ve had any contact with my family of origin and seven years since I’ve seen them. I’m past the grieving now and I’m here to tell you that once the pain subsides, you will rejoice in your decision to confront them with the truth. Life lived in truth is true freedom.



Hi Carrie, that’s horrible. Mine used to say “If you don’t like it, you know what you can do” (I never really did but thought it probably meant “get out”). There was also “If you don’t like it, lump it” and I still don’t know what it means exactly but I thought it meant “I don’t care whether you like it or not” but in that weird way where it’s still presented as an option (this was mom’s speciality). There’s a saying I love about the idea that a person will show their true nature both when they have absolute power and when they have none at all. In “civilized company” as she called it, my mom was quite straight-laced and deferential. I got her harpy crazy bitch moodswings, slaps and ridiculous “logic”.


Alice, FinallyFree, Anyone else who is interested or following this thread in a thread (I haven’t forgotten your post CarrieH:)),

I think you may not be aware of a state of being which I am going to try to describe. That state does exist where a person is not aware of the people they interact with or do things to as another person like themselves. They do not for whatever reason understand that the people they deal with feel in the same way they do. Nor can they conceive of their words causing the pain they do. The concept simply does not come to mind.
They might be able and even voluntarily use words that indicate they do understand, but they have not actually internalised the concepts and thus really do not understand and that shows in how they behave.
I know this because it was one of the effects of the abuse I endured on me. I discovered it in my early 30’s when I got sober and through that process I came to learn, by listening and the examples of people I met that I was unaware of how I affected others and that I was supposed to be.
At the time I did not know why because I was still unaware of the things I had lived through prior to age 7 or 8. But I was deeply ashamed of myself and felt defective about it for many years until I started remembering my earlier life.
It was a perspective everything and nearly everyone in my life had overtly steered me away from. The fact that US culture is very Spartan did not help correct for that and since I never had any close friends I never had any close conversations where I felt safe and might have learned.

That’s one way a person could possibly not be aware of something so obvious. I am so good at hiding my failings and using my good parts when I let down the wall and say something I am not believed. I recall vaguely people telling me things which pointed in that direction but because of whatever the source of the problem was I could not see that perspective. I was still living in fear and survival mode waiting for my parents to rescue me.
Even though I know there is a reason for it now and it was inflicted not congenital I do not know how it works. In my case it was a side effect of the defense mechanism I developed for the mental emotional abuse I endured.


To get at how I ma using ‘best’ think of it as a descriptor of an Ethos, a way of being, rather than a judgement as in ‘worse, bad, better, best’.


Facing Facts, This trying to find out if they knew what they were doing or were doing it on purpose or because they’re totally insane and ignorant or sick or were abused themselves. I think some people / kids /former kids who were abused try so hard to figure it out.
You know but is one doing so out of compassion? Because what would happen if one knew the truth? Am I just trying to take the heat off myself? Remove my own responsibility from events, because such denial could only be levvied at someone who was completely innocent? What are the other options? That I brought it upon myself? She’s argued that one already as well.
I think it wasn’t until I validated what happened and who did what to whom with Darlene’s help that I was able to get out from under some of these very black and white ideas about who I am.


I can’t keep up with all the amazing comments! I need to read tonight! Darlene, you need to have a retreat , seriously! I think it would be transforming and healing for us to get together as a in-person group! I’ve never heard so many stories and sentiments similar to my own.


Chris, your very interesting response came in while I was replying to Facing Facts.
It’s kind of ironic that I wouldn’t be able to get this right?
At the same time, perhaps it explains what I often felt around my mother, like she was an empty shell, no substance. Almost as if there was nobody there. Definitely different to what I felt around my father, a warmth and a presence. It was definitely a felt thing but I had no idea of this POV as a feeling.
Thanks for explaining it to me. I’m sorry you had to go through all that.


Alice and Amber, your cliches have me cheering! I don’t feel do darn alone! I recently confronted my enabling parent who used all if them on me when confronting the abuse I went through as a family scapegoat! I had to physically leave my family 4,000 miles away and I still get blamed for everything !


Oh my gawd, Carrie, you have spoken to me. My father is gone, just my siblings and I left with Mom. My siblings, who used to complain over and over to me about Mom, now side with her, due to “financial” entanglements, which I have kept myself out of. And pointing out the dysfunction just makes me more of the scapegoat.

All my life, I have seen the truth, but couldn’t say anything. I am saying it now.


A couple years ago, I briefly dated a guy who was so pure of heart, and I saw that love in his family. The purity was amazing, words meant what they meant, no universal decoder book needed. What a concept! This guy loved me purely. I knew I could never return that love, so I had to break it off. But my experience with that guy just made me see the dysfunction in my family even more.


Chris, I care about what you are writing because your feelings and thoughts and experiences are important and valuable and I am simply saying how I feel and believe too. I don’t think it is necessary to decipher and figure out about the abusers in order to heal and get free. Analyzing my abuser parents and figuring out the degrees of their thinking and their past abuse etc did not set me free at all. I finally could see the truth about the lies that had been told to me and beaten into me and one day those truths suddenly dawned on me and I stepped out and away from all of those lies and pain and abuse and embraced my truth and the reality of who I really am, and it had nothing to do with them or understanding them. Analyzing has it’s place, and you don’t offend me at all by anything you write! Not being aware of a different state of being is okay with me too now. Finding who I am and just being free to be ME is like a miracle I never get over being amazed and grateful for every day. I am so sorry at all you suffered by abusers! My heart goes out to you! Hugs and peace!


Everyone is NOT doing the best that they can always. It is so discounting to people when we are told that. …………And she covered it up, which means that she KNEW it wasn’t her best.

I posted this elsewhere on here, but when I was 12, I HAD to have an OB/GYN exam. Necessary. Mom didn’t prepare me for it, just acted like, “nothing major.” I was traumatized, and all she could do was scold me for being “rude” to the doctor and nurse. Her excuse? “well, your cousin had the same issue and when her mom told her, she refused to go.” THAT DOESN’T JUSTIFY IT! You don’t send a 12 year old to an OB/GYN without preparing her for it. What my mom did was an act of cowardice, and it has taken me years to admit how much this affected me.

After not speaking to her for a year, my mom called and wanted to talk. We talked about this, and I was ready to forgive her until she said, “well, I shouldn’t have lied to you, but it would have been ok to [do that to one of my sisters].”



FinallyFree, re: your message 40, I wrote a whole long response last night but it wouldn’t post. I think the server may have been down. I will have to condense it here as I have to go out soon.
Yes, I was a quiet and compliant child but I remember a spark that I had as a young child of about four. I had an adventurous streak and enjoyed exploring hings and I was very curious. I hung out a lot with m older brother and we loved exploring our neighborhood and nature all sorts of stuff. But through my mothers dislike of females and punishments and being hit with a strap by her, and also my fathers suffocatingly strict rules for his daughter, I became less confident, shy and withdrawn. By the time I got to kindergarten at age five, I felt unworthy, not confident and became shy and compliant. My classmates pushed me around, and also teased me because my mother never cared if I was clean or had decent clothing and my hair was always a mess. So my confidence and self with plummeted further.
I always thought that shy and compliant was my personality, and attempts to be assertive and outgoing didn’t seem to work. I just thought that was the way I was wired. I had forgotten that there were earlier times when a different persona shone through.
Last year I started reading this blog and some self help books and I started questioning things. Was this really me or was I forced into being this way by a punishing and critical mother and an overly strict father. I started exploring this and coming out of the fog. I believe now that I was molded into being compliant and feeling unworthy which caused me to lose confidence in myself. One day, as an adult I was on a trip to Venice and wandering the narrow streets by myself and I had such a feeling of joy. It felt familiar to me. I attached it to a feeling I had long long ago when I was an adventurous four year old. This was the real me shining through. But what happened to that girl? She was pushed down and suppressed, criticized, hit, punished, told she was inferior for being a girl, her needs were unmet, mother was not interested in her except when she could be of service, she was blamed when there was any disagreement between family members.
Only now I am connecting the dots and the puzzle pieces are falling into place. The adventurous young child is surfacing more often now, but still not as much as I’d like. I still feel pushed back by other people, but atleast I am starting to do my own pushing back.

Hope this helped Splain my comment to you, Finally Free!


Should have been “explain” in my last sentence. Hate spellcheck! 🙂


Carrie, I love your comment in the article about grieving for the family you wish you had. That is definitely where I am at the moment and getting better all the time. It is very sad but I am working on building relationships with people who value me and with whom I enjoy spending time. The dynamics that shift within my own little family as a result of my work are gratifying and sometimes difficult. My sons and I were recently trying to get ready to leave on a short trip to join my husband who was already at the destination. I tried to approach this in a more relaxed, less controlling way. One of my sons said “Wow, Mom, you seem like you’re kind of lazy this morning.” Lazy, for me, means not cooking a full on breakfast before we left, not packing the car by myself, not ensuring that each child had every little thing that could add to their heart’s desire while in the car and not taking care of the dogs or packing their things. I just looked at him very mildly and said, “Well, you know you are always telling me just to let it go. I guess when I let it go someone else is going to have to pick it up. I am not willing to run around all morning and be exhausted once I finally get in the car while you guys relax. It’s my vacation too.” To his credit, he pitched right in and helped me get everything done.

As for the conversation on intent. My husband’s mother is quite the verbal abuser and we have been NC with her for about 7-8 years now. She was a great one with the “I didn’t say it… well, maybe I did say it but I didn’t mean it. I only want the best for you, I love you and blah blah blah.” My husband and I decided a while ago that INTENT DOESN”T MATTER. Your words and actions are what matter. Your words and actions belong to you as a responsible, accountable adult human being. The intent doesn’t mean a thing. At least that’s how we live our lives now. Minor, petty example: one of us is running late, our cell phone has died somewhere along the way and we are stuck in traffic. The other one is calling, worried. When we meet up, the late arrival might say, “I didn’t mean to worry you.” However, we still say we’re sorry for causing unnecessary worry or inconvenience to the other person by not making sure the phone was charged or whatever. We at least try to validate that we caused the other person worry or upset. We don’t just say “I didn’t mean it” and expect that to suffice. The bigger the issue, the more important it becomes to validate the other person’s feelings, in my opinion.

I love the boat analogy. I feel like it’s important to actively paddle for the shore, not just drift around and hope to make it to the shore. I guess that’s the piece of imagery I’d like to use after reading this beautiful article. The image of all of us strongly paddling toward a better life and enjoying our power to do that.


Jane, I loved your approach to intent.

Carrie, I’m sorry to not contribute much to the discussion on grief. Your writing on it was compelling. I


hit the send button too fast! I wanted to say it’s like I’m done fed up with being sad over it all but I know there’s some left, stuck there that I can’t get to.


Finally Free said, “I don’t think it is necessary to decipher and figure out about the abusers in order to heal and get free. Analyzing my abuser parents and figuring out the degrees of their thinking and their past abuse etc did not set me free at all.”

I think my intent got lost in the things I triggered with the initial comment in which I mentioned the conceptualization that “everyone is doing there best, always”
The point of taking that POV toward others is to help one let go the anger and forgive so the anger does not consume you. Forgiveness does nothing for the forgiven and it lets the forgiver have some inner peace.

Some mistake forgiveness for release from responsibility, it is not.
I was not trying to get people to examine the motives or reasons of the abuser. That’s a trap, no one can know the inner life of another.


But Chris, (I would like to mention that the first time I addressed this with you in this comment thread, you denied saying what you are still saying here now) it doesn’t help anyone get over or let go of the anger when they are told that everyone ‘did their best’. Saying that discounts the right to have anger and anger is part of the healing process. If we could just jump from ‘abused’ and go straight to ‘healed’ there would be no need and no point in having a website like mine. It is in validating the right to have anger, (and all other emotions) that is healing. Being validated and validating my rights was the only path that really really helped me on this journey. Seeing that certain people did not in fact do their best at all, was validating to the deep down pain that I had, but had been told I had no real right to have.
hugs, Darlene


Darlene Ouimet, You baffle me.
How does seeing that the offender did the best they could take away your right to be angry about what they did?
I brought up an idea for letting go of anger because I assumed everyone understood that anger was self-destructive. Sure it can feel good, but in the end it is harmful. Holding on to anger is like taking poison to hurt someone else. I really do not understand how you are connecting the two ideas. Letting the anger go so you can feel better does not let the perp go from their responsibility nor does it mean you should not continue to try to get justice or any of the other just renumeration for the harm done you.
Is it possible you are conflating anger about what was done, with anger at the person who did it?


The key to letting go of anger (for me and for every client, survivor, or fellow student of the truth that I have ever worked with) has been to validate it first. I don’t hold on to anger at all but it didn’t go away before it was validated. Saying that everyone has done the best that they could do, Invalidates the right to HAVE anger. It defends the abuser, saying that they didn’t know any better and therefore they did their best.
This is not about holding on to anger, it is about validating that damage was done and anger is justified.
hugs, Darlene


Amber, thank you for explaining! I am very sorry that your mother was so hateful. I can understand why you lost self confidence while in the kind of family/household that you had! I think you are very brave and am happy for you that you are at a place of being able to connect the dots and able to rediscover the adventurous child inside! It sounds like the person that you really are is emerging from being broken! 🙂 What type of activities would you like to do now as you are pushing back the resisting feelings from others? I love it that you are pushing back and being yourself!


FinallyFree, although I am starting to learn to self validate, I do also love the validation I get from others, and I appreciate the validation from you in your message 66. Yes my mother had big issues about females. She felt her mother ignored her and instead focused on her sister ( who had been abandoned by her husband) and her sisters two daughters. Supposedly my grandmother gave away my mothers things to her nieces ( my mothers cousins) and spent most of her time over there. I understand my mothers feelings of being neglected, but that did not give her the right to turn her hatred and resentment of females on to me. My mother in her child raising years had closets full of clothes and got her hair done every week, but she wouldn’t bother bathing me more than once a week, my clothes were hand me downs, including twenty year old cast offs from my aunt! My hair was not styled and always looked stringy and uncombed.

I’m really just starting to rediscover the adventurous child. I am emerging but still have a ways to go yet. What activities do I like to do now that I’m emerging? I love to go new places…still like to explore., I’ve taken foreign language classes ( my mother talked me out of this when I was in my teens), and I went back to college for a degree in a field that my mother had also decided for me way back that it wasn’t right for me. I want to travel to foreign countries (gotta keep saving up for this) but also enjoy going anywhere new, even if it isn’t far away. I love being near water. It calms me! I love being near the ocean or a stream or in a pool as I love to swim. I also love animals especially dogs. I would love to play the piano again. That was destroyed for me when I played from ages nine yo eleven because my father would get extremely angry if I played a wrong note. I couldn’t take that stress so I stopped. So thanks for asking about what activities my emerging persona likes to or would like yo do. I appreciate your kindness validation and support. Now let’s hear about your dreams for when you build your boat!


Chris, I dont enjoy going back and forth over words and meanings. I am not trying to deliberately misunderstand you or to cause you not to feel validated. I simply get tired of going round and round with ppl when I am seeking to do something else on this site. I think what you are looking to do on this site is different than what I have been trying to do. I obviously believe that Darlene is totally correct about anger and “best” issues because I have seen it in my own life personally! I used to be afraid of being labeled by my family as “angry”. They loved to use words to provoke me. I realized one day that I actually was not an angry person, but that they each had anger problems/outburst problems and were attempting to project it onto me. Realizing that set me free in that area. They spoke of anger frequently and it made them feel pretty good if we ALL were angry people in the family, especially me, so that they could justify treating me badly. Now THAT made me angry when I realized it. That was just one step toward getting entirely free, but I did not forgive them at that time. I did have to validate my anger in myself, and have it validated in order to let it all go and heal and to forgive them. I hope this somehow helps you to know that I do understand what you were saying. My abuser parents did not do their best and to try and accept that never helped me at all! To get angry at them, to realize the truth about how I did not deserve to be abused and neglected or rejected helped me tremendously .What I realized and what set me entirely free was that I could have been any child at all with my parents and they would have abused me. I was not the issue for them, it was their sick thinking that was the real issue. They didnt love me because they couldnt love any other child either. I was used by them to dump on. All of what you have written has been answered in truth by me, others and Darlene about those issues and I dont really want to go back and forth with you on them anymore, respectfully, okay? Peace and hugs! I also still believe that YOU deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in your life and that what happened to you was horrific and terrible and you did NOT deserve that! I feel for you!


You still haven’t explained how knowing the perp was doing their best makes being angry about what they did invalid, in a way that I understand.

I would assume we are all angry at what was done to us and not the reason why the person doing it, did it. I’m guessing but I’d bet a fair number of us are also angry at the persons who did it to us. That is two different things.
I have no idea why I was abused except that they seemed to take great joy from it’s effect on me. If I knew it a deeper reason behind the abuse it would not change what was done or how I feel about what was done. Nor would it take away their responsibility for what they did.

As I see it, it should have no effect one way or another on your anger about the abuse, if the perp was broken in one way or another.


People are putting words in my mouth. This was one of the worst mental abuses that I was subjected to as a boy and yes I am angry right now.

I would just like to say this last thing.
If I did not write it down then I did not say it.
And what I have written fits in the context of itself and whatever it is in response to.
Most of the responses to me are talking about what is going on in their minds and not the exact words I used. If you chose a meaning and went with it I am not responsible for that. If you had thought about it then asked me questions to be sure before asserting my meaning for me, you would be a least lot closer to it.
In the end I get to say what I mean, only I get to say it. NO ONE ever gets to tell me what I meant or mean.
I did not say what I am accused of you all invented it in your minds.



Amber, I can relate with you on several things you wrote! The neglect you experienced was not fair to you and I hope you now are able to fix yourself up and enjoy wearing clothing you choose for yourself because you deserve to! I love hearing that you are building your boat and sailing into the water you love! I love water too and love taking walks through parks and by the water. It may sound silly, but I dont think I could live without water. We live in a small town that is built around a bay, so I get my “fix” as frequently as possible. It recharges my energy. I think it is great that you have so many dreams and possiblities ahead of you. They are worth fighting through all of this to obtain them. It sounds like fun to play the piano and take up a new language and explore new places close to home, while saving for an exotic trip! I love to be outside and take walks in new neighborhoods, or by the water, or to garden. I am learning and exploring with my gardening over the last few years with new bushes, flowers, landscaping etc and it has been so much fun. I also just bought a kit to learn how to “sprout” my vegetables. I used to be paralyzed from doing new things, but now I am not and I feel I am making up for lost time. My boat has been sailing for awhile and I am learning and enjoying my life as much as I can. Thank you for wanting to know! Do you have a dog now or are you wishing you could some day? I have a cat who is like a dog. We rescued him and he follows me outside on short walks and into the garden. 🙂 I do believe that grieving my family when I cut them off has definitely contributed to sailing my boat over the last couple of years. It is a process for sure, just like trying to rediscover the adventurous side of you again. I am excited for you!


Amber, I so relate to what you’ve written in reply to FinallyFree (post 57) as I’ve had exactly the same experience and have become more conscious of it recently, questioning why- when I started out as a beautiful, clever, happy child- I’ve spent most of my life feeling deeply ashamed of every aspect of my being. I’ve gone through this process several times before and each time around there’s something new to be learned. The systematic breaking down of a child’s spirit through outright abuse and cruelty (at 5 y.o. I was left on the side of a highway in a foreign country because I couldn’t contain my happiness and joy at being on vacation with my family) is something my parents should feel shame for, not me. Like you, I’m trying to get my authentic self back and it requires going through some horrendous memories, but it is good to put it all in the perspective of a child who depends on acceptance in order to survive. It really is an evolutionary process and we can all be proud of ourselves for contributing to it in such a positive way!
Much love to all,


Finally Free your home town sounds lovely! I live just a few miles from the ocean, so it’s easy to get there. You seem to be sailing along nicely in your boat, and doing things you enjoy. And I love the idea of a cat that is like a dog! No I don’t have a dog right now, but I did for 12 wonderful years. Perhaps there could be another in the future, but in the meantime people in my neighborhood know I love dogs and bring theirs over to visit.

Finally Free, yes, I am now able to give myself some of the things I didn’t get as a child. ( I sometimes think my mother deprived me of certain things because she wanted to feel that she had better things than another female. She was making it up to herself for having her stuff given away to her cousins by her mother. So she turns around and deprives me! That stinks! As for me, I would never take my mothers deprivation out on my daughter. I can give myself what I didn’t have as a child and at the same time, my daughter is bathed, hair is clean and styled and she has nice clothing and hopefully a far less stressful household to live in than I did!)

Yes, we are in a process. I’m still discovering things as I come out of the fog, and am starting to understand that it is okay to feel my feelings, including anger over mistreatment by various people. My hardest thing is standing up for myself. I have started to do it, but as I’ve said in other posts on this website, I’m still very uncomfortable when I do it. I feel out of my element. My heart beats rapidly and I know my voice shakes whenever I try to stand up for myself. And I get nervous and sometimes jumble up what I want to say. This seems to be my biggest remaining difficulty in emerging. Standing up for myself. Dealing with disrespectful people, which there seem to be less of now but there are a few. I think that when I learn how to navigate this (in my boat!) I will feel like I have reached the other side.


Here is your original comment “I heard an expression once and it made no sense at first. Then it seemed like it might and finally it did; “Everyone is doing the best that they can, always.”
I say this so hat those who haven’t yet can begin to let go of the resentment, you con;t have to give up justice or holding anyone to account but to let go and forgive is to stop allowing them rent free space in your mind. Forgiveness is not for the forgiven, It is for the Forgiver.”
Those are your exact words.
Perhaps you can explain where the misunderstanding is because I am a little lost about your response at this point. Maybe I don’t understand what you actually meant?
I am not saying that you can’t believe that statement about ‘best’; I am asking that you don’t direct it as a solution or path to healing to others here because for most of us, being told that ‘they did their best’ is discounting to the victims of abuse in the context of the types of abuse we are relating here.


“You still haven’t explained how knowing the perp was doing their best makes being angry about what they did invalid, in a way that I understand.”

I’m trying to get this. Chris, let me know if this sounds clearer. Knowing they were doing their best *doesn’t* make being angry at their actions and (mis)treatments invalid.

However the oft-used argument to shut someone’s anger down is exactly this one.”They did their best, so you shouldn’t be angry at them”. How on earth does that work? I’m not very sure. But it sure worked on me for years.

I wasn’t allowed to be angry at them. I was punished for it.
You know, maybe its a way of getting rid of the evidence? If the family looks alright… “but wait there’s this riled up kid, surely all is not that well with the Smiths?” Or maybe it’s the fear of the consequences?

And I don’t actually think that anger is that bad, it’s the actions that result from it’s misexpression that are (to me) the problem. My mother would slap me if she was angry (and not necessarily just “at me”)
Suppressed anger (apparently) is just as bad (apparently leading to self-destructive behaviors, depression, etc). So feeling anger but not misexpressing it seems to be what I’m aiming at. I think there is appropriate anger.

So while it perhaps sounds weird to say “I’m happy to have my anger” I am.


Elsie, that is awful that you were left on the side of a road in a foreign country. And at five years old!! I’d be terrified as an adult if hat happened; it must have been absolutely horrendous to have this happen as a child. And because you were displaying happiness? What is it about our parents that they can’t deal with our happiness? My mother hated when I would be laughing and happy. She would tell me I was silly, or accuse me of being selfish, or try to guilt trip me by talking about how hard her day was ( usually because she had to work or do things for her selfish ungrateful children) if I was happy she did what she could to ruin it. She decided to burst my bubble and did exactly that. She turned a happy, curious child into a nervous, timid, fearful compliant mouse.
I am very happy that we have this website to share our experiences and journeys. We are not alone, and there are so many ideas and validation here. Best of luck on your journey Elsie. 🙂


Amber, I totally relate with the rapid heartbeat, shaking voice and being nervous and uncomfortable when standing up for yourself! I feel for you! It has definitely been a process for me personally to feel more and more comfortable, and not to feel silly for getting excited and proud of myself when I have managed a difficult situation well. I could never confront anyone about anything until I had my daughter who is very sweet and quiet and sometimes needed her mother to help steer a situation in another direction , such as at school. Even now I don’t enjoy confronting, but I feel self confidence that I will be able to cope if necessary. My heart still usually races at first, but what has been helping me is that I literally take a deep breath and then I look down and then up into the persons eyes and slowly begin to say what I think I need to say. It gives me a chance to collect my thoughts and not give a knee-jerk reaction. it also seems to make the other person stop. I thankfully don’t have many interactions like this!

I am so happy for you that you live close to the ocean and can get to it! There is nothing more beautiful than sparkling water on a sunny day ! I am glad for you that you were able to have a dog of your own for so many years .I am sad that your dog is gone, but it sounds like you have many little “friends” to enjoy still!

It is great that you do give yourself the things that your mother never gave you. My father remarried after my mother died and she literally always had a walkin closet stuffed with her clothes and things and I had to sewholes in my socks etc. It amazes me that your bio mother would treat you like that! How hurtful! I hope it is somewhat healing for you to treat YOUR daughter with love and care and treat her with respect and give her a much happier life. I love what you wrote about how you provide her with clothing, baths, and fix her hair etc! That is wonderful that after all you suffered that you generously give to your daughter. I know it seems like it should come naturally, but since it wasn’t modeled for you, it makes it seem even more special somehow.

This has been wonderful to share and connect with you! Thank you!


Dear Chris,

I have to say that this direct quote really doesn’t sit well with me. I guess it’s a trigger.

“I did not say what I am accused of you all invented it in your minds.”

When that kind of statement is made, I feel completely invalidated and further communications becomes very difficult.


Elise and Amber, I can’t imagine shutting down my daughter and punishing her or leaving her alone on the side of the road because she expresses her joy/happiness! It doesn’t seem uncommon for abusers to do this, does it? In my family, I would be playing and happy and suddenly there would be a punishment given to me for something I did or didn’t to. I learned very early on to try to stay out of the presence of my parents while playing. It didn’t help, but I did try to sneak my happy times. Did either of you do that too? I am so sorry about Elise being abandoned by the roadside! Like Amber wrote, it must have been horrendous !


Hi Carrie & Darlene,
Thank you Both for being you and helping Us – “Lost Children” with your words and the wisdom you’ve both come to gain on your journeys to Happiness and being Whole.
I can’t read fast enough and by the time I’ve written something somewhere else I stumble across exactly what I wrote but not as elegantly as this article…
There were times when I was little when I wondered if I was adopted… that’s how alone I felt.
And even though my dad chose not to get “in the way of the MNPD” and inadvertently became abusive, too, He Loved me, I felt it, I knew it to be true, but at the same time I also came to realize that MNDP was insanely jealous of that relationship. My Husband now calls me by my Dad’s nickname for me and I absolutely Love it!!!!
I’m beginning to become Happy Genuinely Happy for the first time in such a long time.
Ignore is Abuse…


FinallyFree, one thing I do is to defer dealing with the situation until I have the chance to think about what I want yo say. I do this for a couple of reasons: When someone demands something that takes me by surprise or they insult me, I many times freeze up and can’t respond. I also find that feelings can get in the way of me thinking of the right response on the spot. So I give myself the chance to think things out and calm down and then re approach the person. I would love to get to where I can instantaneously think of the right response. I did that once and it also involved my child. My son who was not that good at sports was standing by his baseball teammates when I came to pick him up from practice. The boys were teasing him about his lack of sports ability. AND, the woman who coaches the team was standing right there and did nothing about the teasing! I was livid! No timidity, I laced right into her about standing around watching the kids bully my son. I remember asking her if she felt this kind of behavior was acceptable from these kids. And why she did nothing about it. She actually dodged my questions and changed the subject to parental involvement at practices. When my son and I got into the car I asked him to tell me how he felt about playing this sport and he said he didn’t enjoy it. It wasn’t just the bullying he wasn’t interested in playing sports. So I said that if he didn’t want to do it anymore we would take him off the team. I also reported the coach. So there’s something about mistreatment of our children that brought out the mother tigresses in us, FinallyFree! Somehow I don’t do nearly as well standing up for me, but I intend to keep working on it. As for my daughter, I can’t imagine doing what my mother did to me, depriving me of things that she complained she had been deprived of as a child. Shouldn’t we be trying to give our children better lives if we can? And you’re right that good mothering was not modeled for me. But I tried to see the things I didn’t like that she did and then did them better for my kids. My son once asked me how I knew what to do as a mother after having such a crappy role model ( by the way, he resented her lack of involvement with him as a grandmother) my answer to him was that I decided to wing it and raised him on love. Thanks again for your very validating and encouraging comments. I feel like I made some wonderful friends on here!


Amber oh my Gosh. Ive always been the scapegoat but also the family servant. I am the only that got the chores, the problems to handle, had to be the “helper”. It was my job since I was about 7. My mother hated girls too. im the oldest with just younger brother GC. No one came to help me move or anything.
Great points! Thanks


Karen R, you must be my twin! I was the scapegoat and the servant. I got the problems to handle because my mother thought my two brothers should be off living their lives. I don’t have a life? And of course, “it is the daughter’s duty” to do the care taking or dirty work that no one else wants to do. And when I needed something? Good thing I learned to just rely on my husband and myself. So, you see we are soul sisters Karen!


Amber and FinallyFree, thank you so much for your kind words and validation, it means a lot to me.
It is so amazing how much alike our experiences are. I’ve been reading this blog for a while now and the articles and posts have helped me so much in coming out of a crazy-long period of depression. This community is really very special. Thank you Darlene and thank you to all who contribute!!


I have discussed my past with everyone here on different parts of Darlene’s website. It has been so helpful in so many ways. Amber especially has been able to relate to some of the things my mother did to me over the years, up to and including a black eye she gave me at age 37.

Anger comes and goes, depending on what happens or is said. No one in my family wanted anything to do with me until they found out that my husband and I were probably the most able to take care of my mother. They all thought I should be able to “forgive” my mother after my father died. I should have “closure”. What they do not understand is that the abuse she dealt to me was far worse than the incest my father committed. My mother and sister could live in a cardboard box under a freeway for all I care.

Now, my sister’s girlfriend is accusing me of lies concerning my sister stealing drugs and jewelry from my brother’s house during my father’s funeral. It seems like the anger recedes and then comes back strong with all of the gossip that goes around and around. It is exhausting. The PTSD, anxiety symptoms and heart problems just keep getting worse. Yes, anger is damaging, but it is there. And my mother, weeping and continually saying “but what else could I have done?” only makes everything worse. Did she do the best she could have done? I don’t believe it for a minute and all the cliches in the world cannot excuse her behavior or that of those who continue to stand by her.

Sorry…bad day…I just needed to vent a little.



Darlene, I haven’t gone back to the very beginning on the discussion about people (abusers) always doing their best. This is what I have to say. I was in a very, very bad place last fall due to a number of circumstances. I felt beset from all sides. My Mom had been in the hospital, and the crisis did not bring out the best in my siblings, suffice to say. My boss quit suddenly in a blaze of drama. Her responsibilities were laid at my feet. My husband got a new job that happens to be in a different city and he had just transitioned to spending most of each week there. I was a mess. I was not coping. I was on line early one morning trying to get some help to understand what was happening and how I could handle it without checking out as a parent. I had already done a lot of work and a lot of reading and I had already been to a counselor and all the advice I had been given up to that point told me I had to forgive my abusers. They all told me I had to let it go. This site is the only place I have ever found where I was given the freedom and the space to work through all of this at my own pace, in my own time. I have utilized Darlene’s services on a one to one basis and she has never pushed me. She has offered suggestions and support. Just the other day, I had an “A Ha moment” regarding something Darlene and I had discussed a couple of months ago. There is no easy fix for what the people on this site have gone through. This site is a refuge and a place of peace and validation that is sorely needed by so many of us. Only now, after many months and a lot of work and a lot of prayer and a lot of distance from the situation, am I beginning to get a glimmer of the fact that most members of my family are very, very limited people. That doesn’t mean I want to let their toxic BS back into my life and it doesn’t mean that I forgive them. I am angry again just typing this. It’s sad that I have felt so downtrodden all these years that I needed someone to give me permission to be angry and to go through the healing process, but it’s true, so thank God this site is here!!

Have a great day, everyone.


Thank you for sharing this Carrie H.,

This is where I have currently found my self in this journey of overcoming!

“I had visions of us healing together as a family – that’s what loving families do – but I’ve had to let those dreams go”

Wow, wow, wow, thank you so much for sharing. This really hit the nail on the head! I am currently in a “Celebrate Recovery” (12 step program Bible based – Rick Warren)to overcome “Hurts,Habits,and Hang ups.”

It feels good to be in that boat knowing that I am leaving this shore and heading for the shore of that lighthouse you mention! I will cross all tides, ripples, and waves to get there!!! I can’t see it yet but I can feel it’s presence!


I have not posted for awhile. Just wanted to say “Wow, just wow, Carrie H.” This whole article is an example of how it happens. How we, the abused, finally see what’s happening. She said she was looking at her husband’s family and it was so different from hers. (There was love.) This happened to me in highschool, I questioned why my good friend would go to movies, out to dinner, or to the mall with her parents. They seemed to enjoy eachothers’ company. That was my first inkling that something was amiss with my FOO. As I grew older and had my own kids it progressed to my NM having dinners and get togethers that we weren’t invited too. Eventually I started hearing family members say comments that my NM would say about me. (Never good comments about me.) I think her disdain for me grew with each passing year. No one wants to believe that their own mother doesn’t love them, but it was so. Now that I am 2 years NC with her, I am glad sites like this have helped me see the light. When Carrie H. told her family about the Elephant in the room it’s so sad that in order to cleanse themselves, they made her the Elephant. I am not the Elephant, neither is Carrie H. It was my NM who set the whole system up so it is her!All of my family has left me now to take poor, sweet, little NM’s side. I just grieve a bit that I didn’t find this all out sooner. At least I know now that I can’t make her love me…



I am also in “Celebrate Recovery” and I’m finding a lot of support there. I believe that each particular group has its own personality and may or may not be helpful for different individuals, but the concept is great!

I’ve struggled a little through lessons on forgiveness in Celebrate Recover, and finding supportive places where that is NOT PUSHED helped a lot. I stayed with the Celebrate Recovery group in spite of that struggle for everything else that they offer and within the group I have the chance to work through the issue.

This website and the facebook page give us room to acknowledge our anger and allow us to find forgiveness or not in our own time. I feel like that has been the single most significant thing that has helped me move forward in my process of healing.

Maybe one part of Carrie’s original post is that there is freedom in recognizing that the healing and validation we crave (and it’s human to crave it) isn’t going to come from the dysfunctional family that caused the damage in the first place. It’s a dream that’s really difficult to let go of. But letting it go gives us the room to find healing and validation elsewhere and allows us to “build our own boat”. And that’s wonderful!


Hi Jane,
Great to hear from you! I was just thinking this morning about the whole “permission” thing. I too was given “permission” from an outside party to be angry etc. and that was a very key thing for me in the healing process. That was one of the reasons that I started this website; to create permission for others and it is a huge tool in the coaching process that I used as well.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

Everyone, thank you all for the support and validation you have all expressed about what I am trying to do here on this website. I would love to answer every single comment but I run out of time every single day. 🙂 Please know that I read almost everything!
hugs Darlene


I love your “summary” about this post by Carrie and about this site!
hugs, Darlene


Thank you Hobie for sharing, love your comments.
I had some serious struggles with the forgiveness part myself for a long time but I now have clarity on what it is and what it isn’t. The dysfunctional origins wanted me feel as though I hadn’t forgiven them, when in reality I have. It is the reality of letting go of my dysfunctional dream!
“I had visions of us healing together as a family – that’s what loving families do – but I’ve had to let those dreams go” ~Carrie
Also thanks for reminding me about the CR site on my way to check them out now!


Thank you Ann!

I’ve begun to look at forgiveness as something that comes more as a result of healing. Maybe a result of some parts of the process of healing, because it can be healing in itself also.

Most important though, I think that we are given the ability to forgive as a gift from God when we understand what someone else’s sin cost us. In abuse situations we’ve been trained to minimize that cost and even overlook that cost many times. When we’re pushed to forgive too soon, we are very likely to forgive in a way that isn’t really authentic or helpful. At best, it’s incomplete.

To recognize that the dysfunctional system that caused the damage isn’t going to provide healing and letting go of that dream is a facet of the process of forgiving.


FinallyFree – I agree with you that the Scapegoat’s role is vital towards holding up the dysfunctional family’s image. It’s like that game Jenga and the Scapegoat is the block that supports the whole tower from falling. Once the Scapegoat leaves, everyone topples down. kelly savoie – “I’m beginning to become Happy Genuinely Happy for the first time in such a long time.” – awesome 🙂 Linda – Hugs to you. Ann – Thanks! I’m glad we both can feel that shore of Freedom 🙂 Melody – You are so right. It’s a “system” that has been set up to revolve around the abuser. Thanks for sharing. Hobie – Well said!


Amber. Thank you for sharing that. My mother is very manipulative and never makes demands outright but she always let me know what she wanted and slyly made it “my idea” or suggested sweetly how everything would be done (by me!). Shes a puppetmaster. When I would fall for it Later I would feel stupid.
Growing up she kept me isolated. Simple. Nothing was explained or taught about life. Just cooking, cleaning and her chores. How to keep Dad happy. Never make waves or say anything to upset him.
By the way my GC brother had no chores and was the most wonderful child in the world with the implied or sometimes in my presence comment of unlike Karen who is blah blah blah always a bad comment.
Everything was deniable. Taken wrong. Heard wrong.
Im so glad to be NC but its all taking time to process.
But they will never be a part of my life again. Hugs to all who are going thru this process. At least we know now. At least we know.


Karen R, my mother had those puppet master skills too. Pull my strings and I move the way she wants me to. But she also had this script I was supposed to follow. I was supposed to say the right lines and do the right things but without seeing my mother’s part of the script. I was expected to GUESS what it was that she wanted and would be in deep trouble if I guessed wrong and read the wrong lines. This continued well into my adult years. She is gone now. Prior to that, I had a no contact period of three years with her and then limited contact. By then I was able to push back enough and have some boundaries, atleast enough to have a limited relationship with her.


I just want everyone to know that I’m reading all the comments even though I may not have time to respond to them all. 🙂


To Amber, Darlene, Carrie, and everyone here,

My love to you all. I see myself in each and every one of you and want to thank you all for listening patiently. I know that I repeat myself. It is difficult not to. There is something every day that triggers memories and 65 years does not seem to make it all go away.

My husband says to thank you all, that I have made greater progress since I found Darlene’s website and have become able to talk about things without fear of someone being judgmental. My heart goes out to everyone who has had to suffer through the things we all have. But the validation I have found here has helped me to feel better about myself and has given me the strength to speak the truth and not feel guilty…that it was NOT MY FAULT. It was my mother and father who were to blame and did not deserve those titles.

My prayers to you all and hugs to everyone,


Linda, thanks for your beautiful message. It is so good that you have found a place where you can express all your feelings. It sounds like you have found a lot of validation and support here, as many of us have. Please repeat your story as much as you need to. Sometimes we need to go over our story many times. I find that I discover new layers when I do reruns on my own story, and it brings deeper levels of understanding and those discoveries are leading to more healing.

have been following your story for close to a year now. Please know that I am always cheering you on and wishing you healing for the horrendous things you’ve had to deal with. Stay strong and keep healing. And keep talking as much as you want to. Love, Amber


I’ve struggled with PTSD for decades because of childhood abuse and my family made fun of my symptoms. They never once said I was doing the best I could. Why do people give all the understanding, compassion, and empathy to the abusers? The reason this website has been so helpful to me is because it is so different from the culture we live in as here, the understanding, compassion, and empathy is for the victims of abuse and not its perpetrators.



Pam, making fun of people is such a vile and sneaky form of abuse, especially when it is about symptoms caused by abuse! It is a cruel attack on someone that can always be denied, “I was only joking!” and put back on the person who’s being attacked, “You take everything too seriously.” It needs to be seen for what it is: emotional abuse. It can be very harmful and I applaud you for dealing with it in a positive way! Big hug,


Ann and Hobie, thanks so much for your great comments on forgiveness (92&93) Ann, you blow me away when you say that your family wants you to feel as if you haven’t forgiven, when in reality you have. I’m going to be thinking about that all day today, I am sure. You make me realize that I am turning to them again for validation as to whether I’ve adequately forgiven or not!! Oh my, this is a process. Each and every little step helps, though. I don’t know if I will ever get to the point of complete forgiveness or not and it’s not something I am even really thinking about right now because I do know, Hobie, that it wouldn’t be authentic at this point. And that’s OK.

Pam and Elsie, my family does the making fun and then denying thing too. And then tells me I’m too sensitive. Limited contact is working for me right now. Every time I open the door just a fraction, though, they try to push through it.

Blessings to all.


Today I have the feeling my siblings/family are at the home of my niece celebrating her birthday. If so, I was not invited. I feel a combination of intense rage and intense grief.

Then I will be included to some other family function – how do I act then? Like everything is OK? It’s OK to include me sometimes but not others?


Light, my heart goes out to you. I am also sometimes included in family functions and sometimes I am not. I was just doing some reading this morning in a book by Melody Beatty, who wrote Codependent No More. This book is called The Language of Letting Go and it is a daybook with an entry for each day of the year. It was a gift from a friend of mine. I just read this passage: “No matter how dark, how uncomfortable, how unjustified, how surprising, how “inappropriate” we might deem our feelings, resisting and repressing them will not free us from them… all that we’re really called on to do is accept our feelings by feeling them and saying “yes, this what I feel.” A really great yoga instructor once challenged our class to just go ahead and feel what we are feeling in any given moment. It is a tough thing to do. She compared feelings to waves on the ocean. They are going to peak and then they are going to go away. And that is true. I am sorry you are going through this today. I know from reading your other posts here that you are a very cool person and if you lived in my city I would take you out this afternoon and we would just say “the heck with them!!” I am with you in spirit, though! I think it’s great that you can identify and express that you are feeling rage and grief because I still struggle sometimes with just identifying what I’m feeling.


Hi Linda
This means a lot to me! Thanks so much!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Pam!
Thanks for your comments! That is such a good point about no one ever saying that YOU did the best you could and the bottom line is that the PTSD was caused by them in the first place! Wow ~
Thank you for validating what I am doing here as well. That is the best part and the hardest part of EFB; that it IS different. 🙂
hugs, Darlene


Pam and Elsie, people making fun of others is a real trigger for me. My mother always made fun of my looks and other things as well. She did her best to define me as ugly including not caring if I was clean or had combed hair or decent clothes, and of course calling me ugly. She called me ugly the day I got braces on my teeth at eleven. She called me ugly in my teens when I had to wear glasses for a few months. Later on she would comment that I had big hips or tell me I was fat. And in school, kids laughed at me because I was messy and my clothes were odd. That reinforced the ugly feeling.

I really get riled at people who say nasty things and then say they were kidding, or even worse, throw the problem on you by saying you are too sensitive. They take NO ownership for their abusive mouths.

Interesting point Pam about people never saying that you did the best you could yet I’m sure that when they mess up they claim that they did their best. And we are the ones that are expected to keep trying to reach perfection.

Light I am sorry that your family does that to you; including you sometimes and not inviting you other times. That is awful. Says a lot about what kind of people THEY are. Is there something you could do for yourself today? I find that can be helpful and also writing my feelings down. I write page after page until I feel better and sometimes while Im writing it helps to figure out how to handle things. Like Jane, I’m with you in spirit.


Amber “Interesting point Pam about people never saying that you did the best you could yet I’m sure that when they mess up they claim that they did their best. And we are the ones that are expected to keep trying to reach perfection.”

Bingo! Also the “It takes two to tango” thing but where the demand for effort is put wholly on you.

I had to let go of a friend after she had made fun of me on the same distasteful topic for days on end. When I told her it really hurt and that I didn’t find it funny she got mad at me and told me that was how her family treated each other so it was ok and I shouldn’t be upset. No apology.

I’ve been doing more reading on forgiveness and I wanted to say that the “emotional/psychological” definition of it seems to be a fairly recent development. I haven’t forgiven my family in the sense that they have never apologized for anything.

When it comes to this more personal emotional /psychological version, I feel it really has nothing to do with them, or anyone else for that matter. Otherwise we’re just trying to command feelings in people which is exactly what my mother did with me.

I’m much more in favor of feeling whatever is there per the yoga instructor. I actually think that if kids were taught how to do this rather than being punished for crying or being angry or having their feelings mislabeled and invalidated then they would be much better able to avoid misexpression as they go through life.


Jane, what a nice compliment about me being a cool person in your eyes! I am smiling :). Thanks for inviting me to our virtual get-together! I’ll have to check out that book.

Thank you to both you and Amber for your support and kind words and being with me in spirit. You both are lifting me up on a down day. I know I wasn’t really “on topic” with the conversation on this post. I hope to contribute more when I’m feeling better.

I had a therapist years ago who helped me identify how I felt. I would venture a guess (I was pretty out of touch with myself) and he had an uncanny knack of knowing when it wasn’t how I really felt. Reading these words might make it sound like he was invalidating what I said….but he was right all of the time when he suggested an alternate feeling. He always accepted the real feeling once we got to it. I had so much fear and shame inside of me.


Darlene, The validation I received here changed my life and I’ll always be thankful for you and your work. After all, a lot of us have to learn how to be angry at what happened to us before we can even begin to “let it go”.

All, There is one thing that abusers do their best at and that is covering their butts so that they can go on inflicting the pain in others that they are addicted too. They are no different than any other addict except that while all addicts inflict pain on the people around them, abusers are addicted to the pain they inflict. Does anyone really think an addict, in the throes of their addiction, is “doing the best they can”?


For those of you who went low contact, or your family started to not consistently invite, or you stopped consistently attending:

Did it get easier with time?


Light, It not only gets easier, I’ve begun to rejoice in my decision. My life was so narrowed beneath the cloud of fear, obligation, and guilt they kept hanging over my head for most of my life. I lived in darkness beneath that cloud, not knowing how good the sun feel. Now I know and I rejoice in that warming light. I also, celebrate the fact that I am no longer enabling them in their addiction to abusing others. None of this could happen if I were still in a relationship with them.



My darling Amber,

Thank you so much for your consistency in supporting me. I know so much how it is to have a mother that did everything in her power to make her daughter as unattractive as possible, either by neglect or overt methods. She tried to make me fat by forcing me to eat everything she put in front of me to the point of vomiting and then making me eat again. Then she would stand me on a chair in front of others and point out how fat I was…I looked back at pictures and I really was not that fat, but I have had eating disorders for most of my life.

Then she would cut my hair off and put in tight permanents…whatever was most unattractive. My clothes were castoffs or made from feed sacks…back in the 50’s feed sacks were cotton with flower patterns on them. She had a closet full of nice clothes and was always dressed beautifully. She had a tiny waist and wore size 5 shoes. I had huge feet according to her..I wear a size 6. If I got one new pair of shoes per year, they came from Good Will or a garage sale.

I developed early but she refused to buy me a bra until a teacher called her and said that I was improperly dressed. The other children at school always avoided me and as a teenager I was totally isolated, partly because of how I looked and partly because I was never allowed out of the house except to go to school.

I want to thank you for always having kind comments. Everyone here is absolutely wonderful. I can talk about things I have never said outloud, much less committed to “paper”.

To Light and those who wonder if it gets easier with time to go without contacting your family, I have found that the roar that is my mother’s voice in my head becomes quieter the longer I stay away. I have not had a consistent conversation with her since 1996. The only time I have seen her was at my father’s funeral last May. Before that, in December 1997, I almost died from a heart arrhythmia. Her only concern was that we weren’t coming for Christmas.

I have many physical problems from PTSD, eating disorders, a heart arrhythmia, anxiety, etc. Everything that goes with being beaten, choked, hit, rape, sleep deprivation… It is too hard to write some of this down. The only person in that part of my family that is even remotely concerned is the one brother who also has health problems and whose wife has cancer. We still go to visit them. They are the ones who took care of my father’s funeral and then suffered with my sister stealing drugs from my sister-in-law and jewelry from my 13 year old niece.

Strangely enough, I am the one they call a drug addict. My mother claims that I stole drugs from my grandfather. My mother has been asking me to get drugs for her since I became a nurse and my drug addict sister asks me and my sister-in-law for drugs constantly. My mother has stolen sleeping pills from my sister-in-law. But I am the drug addict? I guess because according to my mother I am selfish, greedy, a liar, fat, ugly, no one would want to marry (I must have cast a spell over my husband of 43 years)…the stories just keep growing with time. And since my grandparents and father have died, there are fewer people to say what is the truth.

I am rambling today. But there is so much here that brings things to mind. Thank you all for patiently listening. I wish that we could all meet at some point, but perhaps that is why I can tell the truth. I freeze up with strangers and my panic attacks get worse.

I know that this is expensive for Darlene to keep up, but I thank God every day for what she has done here. I also want to thank everyone here for listening to me. I found this website last year when my father died and when I was most in need of a place to vent.

I have been able to again contacted my father’s sister who actually believes me. She and my grandparents kept my mother from stopping me marrying my husband. My mother lost her slave the day I met my husband. We married six weeks later and I have felt blessed since.

I never see my sister and seldom see my other brother who follows our mother’s every demand. When we were asked to come to our family reunion that has taken place every year for over 70 years, my mother told him to “disinvite” us. She did not want me to tell my “lies” to the rest of the family. As if I would air our dirty laundry in public. I do not do that. She does. Somehow she is trying to convince others that it is my fault that my sister stole the drugs and jewelry. I don’t know how she makes that rationilaation, but that is her narcissistic need to destroy her oldest child.

Now my sister has convinced her son (my nephew) that I did something to make her steal. I am evil…my sister’s “girlfriend” has written the most evil letters to me, my mother and my sister-in-law. I think that my mother, my sister and her girlfriend all deserve each other. It is the most toxic insane environment that is almost impossible to explain here.

To me families are made, not born. Blood is not the final definition of a family. Because my husband and I have more money and are probably more able to take care of my mother than anyone else does not make me become a dutiful daughter. They wanted nothing to do with me before. Why should I care now?

I do not care. I used to hate that phrase, but I am beginning to truly understand the meaning. I really DO NOT CARE. Yes, probably, underneath it all, I care simply because I see families that really love and care for each other. I am probably envious. But I also see what my little family is and I thank God every day for them and the ability to know the difference of how I was raised compared to how I have raised my children.

My love and prayers to everyone and thank you all again,


Thank you, Pam. I have pulled back even more since Christmas and in many ways my energy feels freed up.

To all: My “story” is that, yes, I’ve always been scapegoated on some level. I was always “less than” in some way. At the same time, my siblings emotionally parented me while my mother stepped back from her duties. At one time, my siblings really really loved me. I adored them and I adored their children. I was always visiting. We had good relationships though I was the one mostly going to them.

Then, when I hit my 20s and the SHTF and my father’s sexual abuse came into the light…and I had all kinds of feelings and memories about that, with my mother not validating me, with my father still pulling stuff even though he apologized, with their control issues… siblings saw my irritation and withdrawal and they sided with my parents. Even with my father. I also started wanting more in terms of my brothers initiating with me to have it be more balanced. As I became an adult, my sister seemed to grow increasingly jealous of me and any little “social goodie” I might obtain from family members. She seems like she wants to sabotage this as much as possible and she has.

Throw in chronic pain and illness, a very horrific recovery from a surgery where I cried from pain every day and was even more irritable while I stayed with my parents because I didn’t have anywhere else to go….things went downhill from there.

So, for me, at one time I had my sibling’s love…many happy early memories…and now it’s gone. Something about becoming an adult and requiring more relationally seemed to turn siblings away.


Wow, that describes my relationship with my mother, stepfather and brother spot on. On the outside looking in we had everything, little did they know the lies and pain that made up my childhood. Thank you for putting it down so eloquently.


Linda re: your comment#113, you are very welcome, and please know that I appreciate all your support and kind words too.

I wonder what your mother and mine hoped to gain by doing things to make us feel unattractive. Sounds like both your mother and mine had closets filled with clothes for themselves and yet we got hand me downs. And that comment about your feet being huge?( By the way mine were already an eight by the time I was in sixth grade).what was her purpose for saying that? And my mother’s “ugly” comments to me. For some reason they seemed to want us to feel unattractive. It’s as though if we look and feel good, it somehow brings them down. I think my mother always wanted to be the most attractive woman in the room. She was a very pretty woman. But she had a lot of difficulty with aging. I remember if she got a wrinkle on her face she would try to stretch it and put tape over it thinking it would go I grew into my preteen sand teens her “ugly” comments got worse. I believe that she did not want an attractive daughter. She didn’t want anyone to detract from her or be a reminder to her that she was getting older.

She did not realize that life is not a competition. If she had felt confident and secure about herself as a person, there would be no reason to want to bring someone else down. And all her work to put her daughter down did not bring her up in any way or make her feel more secure. She was on the wrong trail and going way off course. It’s a shame that others are put through such pain because of people like this.

Linda you and I are both very fortunate that our families of marriage have been loving ones. I hope you have been able to give yourself some of the things you missed out on early in life. I’ve been working on doing some of that now.


Carrie, reading what you wrote here was exactly as if I had written it myself, it reflects my situation so well. Thank you for helping me to feel I’m not the only one who went through that.



Yes, my husband spoils me. I am proud to say that he is a retired Navy Captain (full colonel in other services) after serving 36 years in the Navy. He is also a retired federal agent and many other things. With all of this, over the years he has bought me jewelry, clothes, shoes and insists that I be pampered by getting my nails and hair done.

We can afford all of this. Both of our sons have graduated from college and are doing very well. I don’t want to sound like I am bragging. We are grateful that we are also able to help others. There are many older veterans that we help as well as being members of organizations that help others in need. We try to give back as much as we have received.

With all of this, my mother and sister have become more and more insanely jealous. My mother says the only reason my husband stayed in the Navy for so long was to get away from me. He hears through the family grapevine the things she says. He thinks she is insane. What she does not understand is that the absolutely only reason she and my father ever saw my husband and sons was because of me. They want absolutely nothing to do with her or my sister and my one brother who bows to our mother.

She does not seem to understand that they hear what she says about others and when they found about the incest that was the end of anything they wanted to have to do with either my father and especially my mother and sister. Children hear what is said and insulting me or my husband prevented them from wanting to claim my parents as their grandparents.

She does not even remotely understand the pain she has caused others and when they saw the black eye she gave me at age 37, there was no way to cover up the things she had done to me all of my life. Growing up, she had choked me to the point of passing out, hit me, yanked out my hair…all of this from as far back as the age of three. She threw me down my grandmother’s stairs when I was four. Of course, it was always my fault. The sex was my fault. I am selfish, greedy, and especially a liar. She does not seem to understand that there were witnesses to most of what she had said and done. Why she did not hit my brothers and sister I don’t understand.

But I don’t really see any love they have for her. They want me to take care of her only because we are financially able. As I said before, just because I am her biological daughter does not make me want to help her. I do feel selfish that she is dumping on my one good brother and his wife. my father did not even have insurance to cover his funeral and my mother was not going to. My husband and I paid for half of the expenses. My brother and his wife paid the other half. My sister and my other brother did not contribute a dime. But my mother gave them furniture, cars and other things my parents had pawned to give them money. For my sister and her girlfriend that went for drugs.

I appreciate so much everything you have to say. I think our mothers could have been sisters. The more they think they drag us down, the better they seem to feel about themselves. I told you about dressing up for the funeral and she thought we were trying to show her up.

We have lived in Washington, D.C. and other places where my husband has served and always dress that way. The governor of Texas and the vice president of TAMU (my husband’s university) were classmates of his at the university. Several generals he has served with, judges, senators and many others overseas in high places are friends of his. We go to formal events and have to dress accordingly. My husband will tell you that he things I am beautiful and wants me to “fit in”. I don’t think I am…I don’t see it in the mirror. But he loves me. Please do not think I am bragging. This post is written in the context of what we were talking about.

My mother and sister are jealous and for what reason I don’t understand. Being in competetion with your own daughter does not make sense. I think my daughter-in-law is gorgeous and we are as close as mother and daughter. My granddaughter is beautiful and we love her dearly. My mother’s mother always loved me and made beautiful clothes for me, none of which I was allowed to wear except in her presence. I got beaten if I said anything that my mother thought was me saying something. For a very young child, this is very confusing and it was years before I could look in a mirror. I still have a hard time today.

But you would think 65 years would be enough time to pass for her to grow out of this insane jealousy, but it just grows worse with time.

But to Darlene and everyone here, thank you again for your listening and your validation. The improvement in the last year has been amazing.



This describes my situation also. It is so sad for me. I cry all the time. Accepting it feels like admitting that I’m not loved, never was & never will be.


Hi Mary
It is horrible to be stuck in between the truth and freedom! I have been there too. Accepting it might mean that you were not loved “BY THEM” but it doesn’t mean that you will never be loved. Accepting it, although horrifically painful, led me further into the truth about them, and the REAL truth about me, which is that I didn’t do anything wrong, their rejection isn’t about me it is about them, and I am worthy and deserving! Hang in there. I hope you will continue to move forward and away from the lies that are the bigger source of all that pain.
hugs, Darlene


Linda, I hope you wont mind if I comment on what you wrote in #118 although it was meant for Amber. I was moved by what you wrote and wanted to say I am so sorry for all you have gone through over the years. A black eye and you were 37?! That is shocking! I feel very sad that you had to endure all of the sexual, physical…and every other kind of abuse.
It is despicable that mothers treat their daughters that way. I am also sorry about the jealousy that you have endured. It creates a situation where you arent even “allowed” to have bragging rights when important, impressive, and wonderful things happen in your life. I am so glad that you are bragging about your husband and children! I think it is very important to be able to share the good and special times in our lives and if people/family were healthy emotionally, they would want us to have those great moments and tell them all about it, and they would be happy for us. Jealousy is so disgusting to me and I really appreciate that you shared about your wonderful husband and how much he loves you and takes care of you and how you are free and able to pamper yourself in the ways you love and even need to! I also wanted to validate you about the clothing you wear to formal events. I grew up “needing” to wear formal clothing many times because of the way we lived and the places we went to, and now I am married to a man who haa a job where it is necessary to whip out a few nicer suits of clothing and dressing up is required and not an option. I am very comfortable with that because that was my upbringing, but I have gotten the comments over the years that are very negative/jealous. If you think of it, we ALL have to dress for something and wear the “uniform” of our lives, no matter what description that is. You deserve to be able to look in the mirror and not feel terrible, but feel gorgeous! When a mother is so jealous that she will actually go to the lengths to abuse and degrade her own daughter, it is horrific. My heart goes out to you and I send you a virtual hug today! It does sound like you have a wonderful and loving family and I am happy for you for that! 🙂


To Finally Free,

Thank you for your comments. I like to feel that I am talking to everyone here. Yes, I am so proud of my husband and sons. My husband has a Master’s Degree and has done too many things to list here. My sons are both Eagle Scouts and have Baccalaureate Degrees in Business. Both are successful and my youngest is also a pilot and flight instructor.

I was found to have an IQ of 180 when I was younger, made State at the Spelling Bee at age 12, but was not allowed to go further because it would have meant having to leave home with someone else to compete. The Mont Blanc fountain pen that I was awarded was thrown away by my mother…she did not want to let success go to my head.

I did manage to go to the local nursing school and have an Associate’s Degree in Registered Nursing. The only reason I was allowed to go was because it would have looked odd for me to just stay at home.

I had graduated in the top ten of my high school class of 900+. I found out when it was too late that I had been awarded a full scholarship to MIT. My mother told the counselor that it would have been a great hardship for me to leave home. Doctors and others have asked me for years why I didn’t go to medical school or something besides what I did. I had medical students in my biochemistry and anatomy and physiology classes. I was tutoring them. Doctors put young residents under my supervision in ICU/CCU.

My mother took every paycheck I made while I lived at home and gave me an allowance. I had been cleaning house, cooking and taking care of my brothers and sister since I could reach the sink and stove. I was born on the back porch of my grandfather’s farm house and I picked vegetables and cotton from the time I could walk.

But every dime I ever made went to my mother. I was her slave and was treated no better. I could never say that before I found Darlene’s website. My husband met me at work at the hospital when he came in with some friends whose wife was a nurse I worked with. He said three days later he wanted to marry me and we married, against everything my parents tried to do, six weeks later.

It was a leap of faith, 43 years ago, and I have not regretted a moment since. Not because of what my husband has bought me, but because of the love he has given me, which is like a wine to be drunk up voraciously. My sons love me and all have protected me from the insanity that was my former home.

The black eye was a mistake my mother made and tried to lie to make it my fault. I had not told my husband about the incest until that day, 15 years into our marriage. She said that if I told, he would leave me. But he did not accept her excuse. She said that I had always been clumsy, fat and ugly and didn’t know why he wanted me anyway.

We left their house immediately and he sat me down and asked what really had happened. I told him everything. He said that he had always suspected something like that, that he had never liked my parents anyway. I was never left alone or stayed at their house again and after 1996, we never saw them again. We would have not seen them from the day we got married if he and the boys had had anything to say, but my mother’s voice kept me in submission and Stockholm Syndrome kept me in my parents’ clutches for a while longer.

It takes a long time to overcome the things that happen to us when we are young. I am still a work in progress. I am 65 and the PTSD, heart problems from anxiety and stress, eating disorders and pain syndromes from the injuries that my parents inflicted on me still haunt me. The nightmares, etc. are still there, but are getting better as the distance from my mother is growing.

But I do have a wonderful family and I thank God every day. I believe in prayer. My younger son had had a problem with a couple of his jobs when he finished flight school. Then he found one with a good company, great pay and benefits and marvelous people to work with. He told my husband that “mom has been praying again. I can tell because I have everything I want”. I laughed, but it is true.

I had prayed for death to get me out of my parents’ home and I was answered with a loving husband and family. I am not religious in any conventional sense. We are not members of any particular congregation. But we do believe in something more powerful than ourselves and both of us have experienced wonderful things in our lives.

My mother brags about going to church and how great a Christian she is. My husband and I went to our old minister who knew her to tell him about the incest. He also said that he had always knows that something was “off” about my family, but without direct evidence there was nothing he could do. My mother was incensed that I went to him and “lied”. But my father had told everyone by then that what I had said was the truth.

If he could admit it, how could I be lying? Now he is dead, but the tale has been told. She will go to her grave with what she has done on her conscience.

Thank you for the hug. Everyone here is wonderful.

My hugs back to you and all,


Linda, I appreciate that you have shared so freely. I did have to hold back some tears while reading. You express yourself and write beautifully! It is wonderful that your husband entered your life when he did and that you have created such wonderful home for your children/family. I am so sorry that your parents took your innocence and childhood and trashed it and even today you are still haunted by it all! I am happy that despite them you were so intelligent that you parented differently, and have not allowed the abuse to define who you are. That seems evident from the way your sons have turned out and the choices they have made, and the way you are dearly loved by them and your husband, daughter in love, grandchild. You might have been robbed by them of person fulfillments while you were younger, but you have evidently shone brightly in your own family. Your mother lost out and yes, she will go to her grave with the lies and the understanding that she behaved like a monster.


To Finally Free,

I love the term “daughter in love”. I lost a baby girl when my oldest son was about two. My daughter-in-law has long dark hair like mine when I was young and she and my son look like brother and sister in their toddler pictures. My husband and I look like brother and sister in our toddler pictures, too.

I am always telling my son’s wife that she is the reincarnation of the daughter I lost. She calls me mom and we feel more like mother and daughter.

But we get along better than most in laws and I love her very much. She has heard my story from my son and me and I can talk to her about anything. My mother has no idea of what she has missed. She has never met my daughter-in-law or her great grandchildren…her very great loss.



Linda, your son’s wife sounds like a true gift from above to you! I am so happy that you have such a close relationship, and how fun that she resembles and fits right in with you and the boys and your husband! I cannot imagine my life without my daughter who has brought such joy, healing and fun into my world. You two must have such wonderful and special times together! I cut my parents off a few years ago and I think of your situation as I do my own…in the sense that your mother, like my parents, gave up the right to know about me any more, or to see me or my daughter. It is a consequence of their abuse/neglect. Your mother has a very great loss indeed, but that is the consequence. You deserve much more than the dirty crumbs from her table!


I had an interesting trigger situation yesterday. My husband and I took our daughter back to college and we stopped at a store on the way home ( three hour drive roundtrip), and decided we would each have some fried chicken which is a real treat for us. My husband wandered off to find some lemonaid while I ordered the chicken. The woman behind the counter for some reason misunderstood what I was asking for and several times tried to give me baked chicken instead of fried. I repeated myself and asked for fried each time. Then my husband walked over to us and I explained to him but suddenly he said loudly, go ahead and have the baked chicken. I felt at this time frustrated and embarrassed so I declined any of the chicken and turned away. In the car, I tried to explain how I felt about this situation and my husband repeatedly interrupted me with little comments, and finally, ” have a few bites of my chicken”. By this time I was sooo frustrated that I badly tried to explain AGAIN how I felt…that it wasnt about the chicken, but my husband still tried to turn the conversation back to the food. I ended up yelling; he yelled and then we spent the rest of the trip home with only the radio filling the silence.
I thought about everything because I was shocked with how I yelled and was able to recognize that something was being triggered, but I didnt know what it was immediately. I never used to be able to process my feelings, much less recognize a trigger, so I did find it interesting.
I realized as I sat with my feelings and gave myself permission to feel them and understand them, why I was triggered. I know how to do this now!
I spent my entire growing up years, and most of my adult ones not being heard. Not being listened to, validated, and heard, shuffled off to my room for a new punishment . I used to feel that I was always in the way, and of course that is because my parents and family treated me that way. Nothing I said was valued or respected usually, and I grew up not sharing feelings or anything to do with ME because I knew I wouldnt be heard. I married a wonderful, hard working, sweet man who has a tendancy from time to time to blow off what I say and not hear me. He works a lot and is very active by nature and quick to go go go, so we have had this issue arise before. I realized yesterday that he had slipped back into that pattern over the last month or two, which has been very busy with medical issues and events in our household, and I was not speaking up for myself again because of the busyness. I was trying to be understanding about it all. It affected our communication and relationship until finally I was so frustrated at feeling not heard or validated. I didnt know that it had been building up. It is very interesting to me nowadays to catch all of this and make the necessary adjustments and force the time to talk if needed. Thanks to Darlene and God using her and this site for so much healing! We have talked it all out and he apologized. It feels great to process.


A little off subject, but I’d like to know what is a good way to tell people I’ve gone no contact with my mother, for those who don’t know what “no contact” means.

Thanks, and blessings to all of you.


Hi Cindy,

At first, it was difficult for me to say that I was not speaking to my parents. The questioning and judgmental looks always started. With the lectures and accusations. That was 30 years ago.

It becomes easier with time. Especially with all of the information out today about child abuse. Now if someone asks, I simply say that I stopped speaking to my parents years ago. I usually don’t even get questioned any more. If either of us gets asked why, we simply say that I had a horrible childhood. If they want to know what happened, we give the short version…I am an incest survivor with a mother who knew and did nothing.

It is amazing how attitudes have changed. There are some who are interested. There are some who are uncomfortable and it is not mentioned again…it is as if the conversation never happened. There are some who are judgmental…we simply go our separate ways. Neither of us is close to anyone outside our little family. We have a lot of acquaintances, very few close friends.

But we find that there are many people with similar backgrounds. I still have panic attacks talking to people, but my husband has my back. I never have to have that conversation alone and he literally does not care what other people think…something my mother and sister never understood about him. I and our sons are his world. He cares for no one else. I could wish that everyone here.could have someone in their life like that.

But to answer your question…the truth seems to work. Just say that what is in your heart, that your mother hurst you too much when you talk to her and it is better for you to. Not talk to her. I an not giving advice. It should never be more than you are comfortable with. All of us are so different in what we can handle.



Sorry for the bad grammar. I turned off the spellcheck because it kept changing my words. Now I miss some of my grammar errors.

Love to all


Hi Cindy
Something that I noticed really changed for me was that when I knew in my heart that I was not doing anything wrong or mean to my mother, when I really validated my pain and heard myself, that was when I began to be able to say to other people that I did not have a relationship with my mother with confidence and that was when people began to respond to me differently. When the boundary is drawn ‘in the heart’ it is amazing how much people hear what I am saying differently. It isn’t malice that caused me to draw this boundary. It is love. Love for me and love for her.
I like what Linda said too. Once people know that there is a reason for the break, how they take it is up to them but I know that anyone who knows what love really is, would never judge me for standing up for myself as an equally valuable human being.
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks, Linda and Darlene, for sharing so much with me. All of it touched my heart. I was just looking for a way to phrase that I went no contact with my mom in a simple sentence, but I got so much more.


This is my family to a tee. I have had to let them go with love because no matter what I say to them or what they have done to me, they all defend each other and will never even admit the things they have done to me and my children. I have wonderful people in my life who are family to me and who love me and who care when I’m hurting. Even affter my child passed away they continued to treat me like I was unworthy of them or their love. Why would I even want that kind of love? It is a long and painful process realizing your own family would rather want you out of their lives than try to work things out, but it is the truth. They need me to be the scapegoat for all their dysfunction. I cannot do that for them anymore, therefor I am useless to them. So be it……….


Hi Sherry
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
I started to ask myself that same question; “why would I even want ‘that kind’ of love?” and I started to realize that it ISN’T actually love. And it is very painful to realize these things but at the end of the pain comes a freedom so amazing. 🙂 Finding out that I wasn’t born to be a servant to the dysfunctional needs of others was wondrous! Thank you for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Had something so interesting happen that I have to share…
I lost Two Pets this past weekend :-(…
I’m Grieving & Staying away from depression, just sad…
I know how, when, & where to grieve according to what my Intelligence is telling me what is supposed to happen in these situations… I am learning a new skill and it doesn’t involve a catastrophic loss, like husband, child, sister… So when I do experience a catastrophic loss in my life I won’t curl up in a ball and never want to get out of bed ever again… I’ve had a Chronic Depression and I know intellectually that if it had happened before I started this Journey that I would have ended up in the Hospital there would have been no end to the therapy, meds, and whatever else..
My Life would have crumbled…
Finding this site and being able to apply all of the things that are stored in my brain to situations has been so illuminating and FREEING!
I’m Still Sad 🙁 I taught my kitty to shake a paw and my dog is the mother of my puppy ‘pebbles’… They are in Heaven and are Happy and FREE!!! I’m supposed to be Sad 🙁


Hi Kelly
I am sorry for your losses! I know how that feels. I am still missing my beautiful collie dog who passed about 2 years ago now.~ But you are so right; you are supposed to be SAD! 🙂 Feelings and allowing them is such a huge part of the healing process!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Linda [128] “But we find that there are many people with similar backgrounds. I still have panic attacks talking to people, but my husband has my back. I never have to have that conversation alone and he literally does not care what other people think…something my mother and sister never understood about him. I and our sons are his world. He cares for no one else. I could wish that everyone here.could have someone in their life like that.”
I LOVE that you wrote this… I found someone just like your husband and because of my awful background and my thoughts of be undeserving, I almost Destroyed the Best Thing to ever happen in my life and all of my chaos…
I am his world, He cares for no one else, & he doesn’t care what other people think or say… He has listened to every word I’ve mentioned about my life as a Daughter of a MNPDM. He supports me in every little change I make. I almost lost him and didn’t know what I was doing… I know now and am working especially hard on Us as well as me! My Husband Has My Back, Too!


Thanks, Darlene, I had one person say they were sorry for my loss yesterday on the phone with IT person. Not one other person cared or said one caring word and I could care less….
I thank you for your kind and gentle words, they really mean a lot to me!!!!
Kelly (I can feel your hugs, thanks)


Awesome post Carrie H. thank you for sharing! I can sadly relate to a family that wants to stay dysfunctional and points the finger at you for standing up and doing what is healthy and right. In your sharing you have let those of us who have experienced this know that we are not alone. You have helped others who have not experienced this have a glimpse into what it looks like and perhaps won’t be so judgmental or listen so willingly when they hear negative talk from dysfunctional family.


I’ve had to deal with mourning parts of my family as well. My sister chose to side with their father, my stepfather, the man who physically abused us for years, sent me to the ER, and continues to verbally terrorize her and my brother. My brother just chooses to forget. Both call me selfish and petty for refusing to believe their dad has changed and forgive him. He only apologized through a court-ordered letter that was more about how terrible I’d made his life by getting him thrown out of his own family. I told him I didn’t do that. He did. He hurt us for years. He held me down by the throat and pummeled my face into an unrecognizable mess. And I don’t forgive those who feel no remorse. But my siblings blame me and my mother for the dissolution of our family and even their father’s temper problem. So what more can I do? I unfriended my sister on Facebook after she made a huge deal about my stepfather’s birthday and then didn’t say a word about mine. We haven’t talked since. My brother got the Hell away from all of us as quickly as possible, moving to the exact opposite end of the country. Now it’s just my mother and I. She was bad too when I was young, but she’s apologized and is making amends. She’s genuinely changed. Everyone else just wants to point fingers in the wrong directions.

As for my extended family….they’re victim blamers and didn’t speak to me for eight years after the incident except to tell me what a loser and a screw up and a terrible child I was. But they still hope to see me for Christmas! My mother for some reason doesn’t understand why I don’t care if I never see any of them again. I’ve already mourned my loss of them along with what semblance of a father I had when they told me how I’d destroyed a good family by going to the ER and not lying about my injuries.


Carrie thanks for that message! I have been building my boat for a very long time. I do take long breaks though because sometimes it just gets so overwhelming. I feel so uncomfortable with my family of origin that I don’t spend much time with them and I know if they knew how I really feel we probably wouldn’t speak at all. I feel like it’s a waste of time to tell them how I feel. My father is dead after drinking himself to death. My mother is in such a deep denial she will never change. My sister moved out of state to leave it all behind and my brother has been sober for many years and is healing but he is so full of anger and “honesty” that he just isn’t very pleasureable to be around. My sister, brother and I were all sexually abused by the same family members and no one did a thing to help us. My parents were in denial about their own abuse therefore, making their children the perfect targets. I grieve too for the family I should have had. I am just trying to be the best mom I can be and hopefully I can show my daughter a different meaning of love.


I like your analogy of building our own boat. Your story is mine….. although I am sure the details would be different. I did not talk to my parents for 4 years. I am still working on my boat and I have major boundaries with my family. But now I realize that noone can hurt me (now)without my permission. When I was a child I didn’t have that option. I have to recognize that too. I see them as also shipped wrecked people trying to work on their own boats. It is sad that broken people can have children and that those children don’t have a solid vessel to grow in. I am glad I exist and that I was cared for enough to be the living, breathing, person I am today. Also it led me to get into God’s boat and I might not have otherwise. I can be thankful for what my parents were able to provide for me, even if it wasn’t perfect. As a parent now myself I know they worked hard everyday maybe even harder than people who didn’t have broken boats because(we)are in “survival mode”. Yesterday my son said something to me in counseling and I got very defensive. I realized that I hated when my Mom would do this. Granted he was being disrespectful and was mad at me. Still I had such a rough morning (weeks) that I just wasn’t in a good place to handle his criticism properly. So I got defensive. It could be that when you confronted your Mom that she was not in a good place to receive that criticism. Think about somebody in survival mode. Is it possible that your Mother is in a botched boat as well?


Hi Debbie
I know that your comment was meant for Carrie, but since this is my website I wanted to welcome you and to respond. Something that really helped me to heal was to stop looking at my mothers broken boat. That is how I excused her and therefore invalidated myself along with her invalidation of me, for so many years. Of course my mothers boat was broken. Of course she herself was in survival mode, but so what? Today I feel sorry for my mother, just not at my expense anymore. My feeling sorry for her doesn’t change the fact that she insists on ignoring my request for respect and to be regarded with the same value she expects me to regard her with therefore my only choice is to have a boundary. Carrie (and most here) is not writing about one single incident where she asked to be heard.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Maggie
Welcome to EFB ~ people tell me all the time that their family or siblings blame them for not having a relationship or for not ‘forgiving’ when the person who did the damage doesn’t even try or admit to the crime! It’s crazy! Victim blaming makes NO sense.. (except through the grid of denial) As you have stated, it wasn’t YOU that destroyed the family!
Yay for your mom making amends! That is awesome and that makes a huge difference! I don’t understand why she would not understand why you don’t want to see the rest.. she can’t make amends for all of them!
Thanks for sharing.
hugs, Darlene


I would love to hear any comments you may have since I really value your take on things!
Jenny 🙂


Hi Darlene – It struck me as an important point that you made in your last sentence to Debbie (143). The single incidents that most of us write about here are usually part of a life-long pattern. The incidents we chose to share are either the worst we experienced, or the best example of what was typical.

When people seem to defend the people who abused me on the basis of their brokenness, it comes across to me as if I have no right to acknowledge the reality of their behavior, and therefore I’m not supposed to treat the injuries, or protect myself from further injury.

That’s where the “So what?” becomes liberating. That’s the space where I find the energy to face the reality & pain and heal. Beyond that space I can find compassion for the brokenness that caused the abusers to behave as they did, but I STILL have the right to protect myself it the pattern doesn’t change.


Thank you Darlene. This is all so hard. My parents invalidated me my whole life and still do. I do not hold them accountable or even point it out anymore. I have given up. I justify that they “know not what they do” but if I am honest I know that they do know deep down inside. The more I have my own life the more I just don’t care to fight them on it anymore. I can’t say it doesn’t effect my life, how I see myself, how I carry myself in the world. I still have a lot of work to do. I tend to give way too much. Understand way too much. I am working on giving to myself. Balancing love for others with love for myself, I think I can do both. It has been unbalanced for so long though that I see what you are saying.


Hi Hobie
Yes, exactly! And it struck me too as I wrote it. For years I learned to separate incidents; it was part of how I survived NOT to see them together. (like I saw my mother hitting me with the hair brush separately from when she hit me with a belt or I saw her hitting me for being too loud ‘differently or separately’ from when she hit me because she had a headache.) Realizing that there was a lifetime of discounting treatment and seeing it ALL on the table helped me so much to realize that I HAD something VALID to be upset about. 🙂
Thanks for your comments.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Debbie
Excellent insights, thank your for coming back and sharing that. 🙂
hugs, Darlene


Hi Jenny
It is horrific when children are not helped. I am sorry you had that kind of childhood.
I built my boat, perhaps not with the intention of sailing away from all the dysfunction but in the end that is how it served me! I wanted my family to finally hear me and I wanted for all of us to heal.. but that isn’t what they wanted and they have a choice too. The difference today is that my choice doesn’t have to be related to theirs. I am empowered to choose what is best for me today.
hugs, Darlene


To Kelly,

I am so sorry for your loss. My mother, father and sister have been sadistic in their treatment (or neglect) in their treatment of animals. When I was sixteen my little brother fell on a kitten I loved. It’s back was broken and my parents let it suffer for two weeks dragging its back legs until it died and simply threw it into the trash.

Another beautiful cat I had I took with me when I married. My sister cried to my mother about how much she had loved it and how cruel and selfish I was for taking it with me. Relunctantly I took him back. He died in his cat pan from kidnay failure. Into the trash he went. To this day my sister laughs for making me believe she could possibly care and how I am so gullible for letting her take something I loved.

I have a little cat that was left in a nest by it’s mother behind the barn on someone’s farm property. The mother had left the nest and she was the runt, but the only one left alive. They brought her to me when she was two days old. She was born on my birthday 15 years ago. She has been through everything, including cancer five years ago. She is a survivor, suffering through surgery and chemotherapy. She plays like a kitten even though she is 15 years old.

My husband loves animals, too. We have had many pets over the years. To help himself with the grief of losing them, he builds wooden coffins for them, carving their names in the top. He loves to do woodworking. Then we bury them with pomp and circumstance. Even our sons do that.

I do have to tell a humorous story. About twenty years ago, I was with my husband when he was stationed with CENTCOM in Tampa, FL. One of my cats passed away and the boys, who were teenagers, decided in their infinite wisdom, to bury her in Tupperware! They didn’t want to use their dad’s electric tools when he wasn’t there so they came up with that brilliant idea.

Somewhere, there is a cat buried in something that will not “biodegrade” for thousands of years! We commended them for their wonderfully good intentions but explained the error. Of course people are buried in things that don’t crumble to dust so I think that perhaps they were not too far off. It is just generally an accepted practice for pets.

My sons are very loving men as is my husband. You are very blessed in having a loving husband. Yes, when we are so blessed, we need to nurture that relationship. The one bad patch we had is when my past collided with my going through menopause. The mood swings with my symptoms of PTSD almost destroyed both of us. He still loved me, loved me so much that he was frantic that I had totally lost my mind. The doctor had put me on the wrong hormone for perimenopause and it became a nightmare for both of us. Enough said. Everything in that area is fine now.

In 2011, my husband went through two surgeries for prostate cancer and kidney cancer. He is fine…did not even have to go through chemptherapy, but, as a nurse, of course I was thinking the worst. I was so terrified that I would lose him. Of course, my family did care one bit, except for my father. He called several times, saying how concerned he was and how sorry he was for all of the things he and my mother had done.

Oddly, the absolutely only love I ever felt came from him. It was perverted, with the incest, but in his own way, he loved me. I did not understand that for years, but my husband said that he could see it and always wondered if it had not been for my mother throwing me into it wholeheartedly, the incest would not have happened. In her own way, she abused him also. When he beat me, it was after she began it and then instructed him in what to do after she was too tired to continue. Thirty years of distance makes everything clearer.

It is difficult to explain and yes, it is as sick as it sounds. But that was my life. Again, my sympathy for your loss. I am so glad that you are blessed with a wonderful husband. It is the little things that make life worth living.



Sorry, that should have said, “NOT an accepted practice”. lol



I really need to read my posts before I hit the “submit comment” button. The last paragraphs were about my father. I think that sometimes I have a mental block when talking about some things.

My love to all,


I have similar background n have had the same thing happened . I dont understand .? why reguardless at 50 im learning to build my own boat 🙂 and begin to respect me after a lifetime of every kind of abuse possible ..I think its now about time xo


OH. MY. GOSH!! Carrie H. – did we come from the same freaking family unit?!! When I confronted my family too about my mother’s abuse – this is what happened to me. NONE of them wanted to address the elephant in the room – they couldn’t even see the darn thing! I too ended up abandoned/disowned. I now consider myself orphaned. So funny that you refer to waking up from ‘the matrix’ – I have often joked the very same with my husband about that, about my family or origin. I can’t remember if its the blue pill or the red pill that pulled Neo out of the Matrix, but the one that does, that’s the one I felt I ingested … and then I saw just how deep the rabbit hole went and it was DEEP!! They basically told me in so many words that I was a liar – pretty rich considering my abusive mother’s lies – either incredibly embellished or insanely fabricated and had even been caught in them. One she was caught in she said, “So I lie. So what?!” And yet they call me the liar. (Shaking my head.) That was four years ago – at the time it was devastating, but now I can see what an amazing blessing it is to be free of it and that my children (now all in their teens) were protected from that. (My abusive mother hasn’t been in my life for14 years and her enablers haven’t been in my life now for 4 years.) Being free from the abuse, manipulations, gaslighting, humiliations and degradations and debasings, eggshell-walking and accusatory glares, is nothing short of wonderful!!


Oh Carrie in my deepest sadness today your sharing the pain of loss, especially:
“I grieve the mother I never had, I grieve the father who I once actually thought of as a hero, knowing that he will never come to my defense”
I see I am not alone. That is a deeply sad idea for me the loss of parents because I was disowned at such a tender age. And yet there is hope in your story. YES we can build our own boats. YES we can move beyond the fake and the false and although it may always hurt if we think about it, we can get stronger and happier as we go. Thank you for inspiring me to continue on being that wonderful loving mother to my son. Its just so sad the loss you described. My loss is pretty massive. But I can give my little boy true love as much as I practice I get better at it…and he will grow with a lighter heart knowing he is safe.

Hugs from Anna


Linda & Amber – Thanks for sharing so much. Anna – I’m glad to have helped you feel like you aren’t alone. The comments here prove that as well! Mary – You’re right it is so very painful but like Darlene said, their rejection of you is about THEM. Sherry – “Let them go with love.” Exactly! Kelly Savoie – So sorry for the loss of your pets. I know how much that hurts. Mandy – My hope in writing this was to let people know that none of us is alone. I’m glad my words spoke to you. Maggie – I’m so sorry for your losses but awesome that you are defending your spirit. Jenny – Exactly. Your daughter will be raised in the true definition of love. Debbie – Yes, my mom is definitely in a botched boat and I feel compassion and love for her. But my boat can’t hold both of us. For now I will have to love her from a distance because every time she gets near my boat she tries to poke holes in it. Lynn – Awesome 🙂 Rise – Yes, we took the red pill. Now we get to see how deep the rabbit hole goes… Anna – Thank you. Hugs to you as well. <3


I just stood up to my mom in a small way, and I’m shaking. She is organizing passover dinner tomorrow night, and wants me to come early and help set up, and I said no. I am already bringing two dishes and extra chairs. I asked if my dad could help set up and she said he can’t because he “doesn’t know what to do” and he’s coming late from work. What I see wrong here is that she’s automatically expecting me to help her, though my dad is perfectly capable of it. I would just like to be a guest at this dinner, like all the other guests, not an indentured servant. If I was hosting a dinner, I wouldn’t expect her to help. It’s too much to ask of my dad to come home early for once and be there for my mom (or anyone), so it’s expected that I’ll step in and save the day. Or should I say night.

I’m proud of myself, but I’m not looking forward to my mom’s reaction in person. I expect she’ll try to make me feel guilty.

And thanks, Darlene, for making this site! I’ve commented a few times already but I wanted to express my gratitude because this is a place I feel comfortable talking about my experiences and seeing how others have dealt/are dealing with the same thing. 🙂


Hi L
Thanks for sharing. I know those feelings well ~ not only was I afraid of saying no, I spun out on the feeling that I had no RIGHT to say no to anything and I went round and round questioning myself about what kind of person I was if I did say no… ahhh, so good to be out of that spin now!
Thanks for sharing, let me know how it goes!
hugs, Darlene


To Darlene and L,

All of the things I post here I have still have been able to say aloud except to my husband and sons. My sister-in-law said that she was amazed that I did not go for my mother’s throat at my father’s funeral. I told her that in spite of the fact that my husband was there and I was full of anti anxiety medication, my heart was beating so fast that I thought I was going to pass out.

Just hearing my mother’s voice caused me to start vomiting and my hands were shaking violently. I tried desperately to not let her see the effect she had on me. My husband stood between us and my sister-in-law kept her in the other room. I cannot hear her voice without turning into a small child again and I am 65 years old! How can someone have that much effect on your whole body?

I pray every day that no one here has anyone with that much control over them, but I know that most of us do. I was just naive enough to want to believe that I would grow up and forget, but I don’t think that will ever happen. I just hope and pray that it gets better.



That should say I have been UNABLE to say aloud…I get anxious even writing things down…..



Linda, my mother’s voice still echos in my mind, especially her demeaning and discounting comments, and she has already passed over to the other side. It’s incredible, the stronghold she can still exhibit even though she is no longer here. When I feel her control and imagine her voice, I talk back to her now. I tell her, no Mom, I am not ugly. Mom I’m going to do this my way, Mom, you treat me like I am unloveable but you are wrong. I am loveable and worthy and just because you didn’t appreciate all the good things about me doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. I bought into your lies long enough. But no more.
I hear my mother’s voice blaming me and trying to induce guilt. “It’s all on account of you, Amber” was a favorite of hers. No Mom, I’m not taking the blame anymore. Why don’t you look at yourself and see what’s really going on? And I hear her telling me “It’s a daughters duty to do…..fill in the blank…for her mother”. Hey Mom, let’s hear about how much of your mother’s duty you did. Yeah, that’s right. It was okay for you to be mean and neglectful and selfish, and because you saw me as some inferior being I was still expected to be of service to you. Uh uh. I’m seeing all the manipulation and lies now, I’m discovering my real worth. Too late to tell it to your face, but I am doing everything I can to pull away from your influence. Your stronghold on me is loosening. I’m becoming my own person. I’m starting to emerge, Mom!


To Amber,

I feel as if you and I could be sisters in another life. My heart goes out to you and my good wishes go to you always.

Love and prayers,


Linda, as always I wish you the strength and courage to heal from all you have endured. Your loving family of your husband, sons and daughter in law are a wonderful blessing in your life.
I think it is great that you can open up on here. We need safe places to be able to do this. I am always ready to listen to you. Sending you healing thoughts and strength. Amber.


Linda, looks like our messages crossed! We were writing at the same time. You’re right ; we must be soul sisters! 🙂 🙂



I know it may sound crazy, but I have always believed in “soulmates”. I think our souls have been around forever and will continue long after our bodies are gone.

I know in my heart that my husband and I have been together always and will always remain. I also believe that many of us have been together in another life. Not the typical Christian belief system, I know, but my husband and I have always felt that in spite of people saying that they do not believe in God and are trying to ram those beliefs down our throats, there is a higher power somewhere that we will know and understand when we pass on.

My love to you always…thank you, Darlene for this wonderful website.



Linda and Amber,

I wish you both courage in your journeys! Every day we are becoming more aware and more ourselves. 🙂 I’m sorry that you both had to deal with such cruel mothers. 🙁

Update on my standing up to my mom situation…well, she didn’t guilt trip me like I thought. It feels too good to be true. I suspect she’ll remember it for another time…

I really tried to pay attention to the atmosphere at the passover dinner tonight and listen to how people were relating to each other. I tried to be respectful like a normal person, but it got tiresome because it wasn’t returned. Maybe that’s just me hoping that they’ll mirror my behavior, which I’m pretty sure is hopeless. I noticed I felt very lonely and was barely spoken to other than about practical things. My mom didn’t ask me how I was, but she did ask if I had brought the dish I said I would bring, and then a minute later my uncle impatiently did the same as I was unloading the car, just barely arrived. I got a dubious compliment from my mom’s friend (“your hairstyle is interesting”). My grandma made my choice of top about her (“I showed you that style months ago and you said you didn’t like it.”) SO what? I’m not allowed to change my mind??? I was also talking to my 7 year-old cousin (son of aforementioned uncle) who told me he recently had a stomach flu. I told him that I was glad he was better and he replied with surprise something along the lines of “You’re glad that I’m better? I like when people are glad that I feel bad.” It’s heartbreaking – I can already feel my uncle having a negative effect on him. I have talked with my mom about her brother and how he just oozes with tension and anger. I asked her why she thinks that might be. She said she doesn’t know, maybe it’s because of “his” childhood. Which was also her childhood that she’s not claiming and not accepting that it affected her too. She has also said in the past that I’m like her mother (anxious, prone to panic attacks, “weak stomach” b/c of anxiety) and that these things are genetic and tend to skip a generation, aka my mom. Um, hello, no. You’re part of the chain too. That’s why you control. But she doesn’t get it. And OH. At the end of the dinner people were thanking my mom for putting it on and talking about how my dad helped, my brother helped, I helped, how we’re all such great people because we helped my mom. I guess that’s what you call grooming.

I also asked my grandma (dad’s mom) about her mysterious sister tonight. She’s been mentioned in passing a couple times before. They’re estranged. My grandma blames the conditions of poverty around her sister’s birth for her “bad personality.” My grandma is known to manipulate, lie, and steal so I actually suspect that her sister might have done right by herself by cutting off contact.

Ugh. This is almost too much. I’m supposed to move back in with my parents this week because I can’t afford my apartment anymore. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it for long. I tell myself that it’s an opportunity to face them, but I don’t know. It might be too much. I’d like a therapist again, but I don’t have insurance right now and I’m not making a lot of money. AHHHH. Half of me wants to scramble to find another job and half of me wants to be still and trust and let the next step come naturally at the right time, which is not to say I don’t still want to make more money, but I have a feeling if I give myself the space, the money/solution will come.

On an unrelated note, I’ve noticed that I’m probably one of the younger people here (26). Any idea why this is, Darlene? I’m curious.


Everyone: Please consider making a donation to this website, if you are able. Darlene rarely asks, but I’m sure her need is ongoing. It’s tax season here in the U.S.A. so one’s income is in the forefront. On another page on this website Darlene mentioned that she broke even this past year with EFB, and that she wishes she could do more here (write more, respond to more comments) but she has taken on more one-on-one clients to help contribute income to her family. If we all contribute, even a small amount, we could give back to Darlene and to this community. Donating is easy – the donation button is yellow and on the right-hand side of this page.

Darlene, you do a tremendous service and I have been helped so much by your kind words and thought-provoking entries along with the support of your readers. Thank you Darlene, and everyone!


Dear Light.
Thank you so much for this shout out and endorsement. The whole ‘donation thing’ is hard. I hate to ask but I hate to have to pay the fees out of my own pocket too; I work full time on this site. I think that people have trust issues when it comes to donating, and with good reason! We have all been taken advantage of very often in our lives. So I understand that part. I also think that people think I must get thousands in donations because the site is so busy, but I just did my taxes and although my expenses were covered, ($200.00 per month in expenses) I didn’t get extra (like to supplement my income or anything like that) even though I often get a donation of 100.00 or more about every second month! I have about 8 to 10 people that donate regularly, and between those larger donations and the repeat donators, that is where the majority of the support comes from. The whole money thing is hard because people don’t see this as “my job” they see it as ‘a blog’ and I understand that too.. but the more that I work in my private coaching practice, the less I can do here… and my passion is about the message so I want to be able to do more here but I have to eat too! Another thing that makes this hard is that when I do ask, which isn’t often as you noted, it offends some people and makes them LEAVE the site, and I absolutely don’t want anyone feeling like they can’t be here if they don’t donate!!! So.. there is just no easy way around all this!
I really appreciate your note today Light! (and your support!)
Hugs to everyone, Darlene


You are very welcome, Darlene.


My god, you are talking about my family in this article. And I have now realized, *I* was the


Dang, didn’t get to finish. I was the scapegoat. I didn’t think my family had a scapegoat, but I have now reailzed it was me!


Dang, didn’t get to finish. I was the scapegoat. I didn’t think my family had a scapegoat, but I have now realized it was me!


I’m moving out of my apartment in the next couple days, and into my parents’ house (deep breath). I asked my mom to help me take some boxes over there tonight and she said she and my dad would be here around 9. That was after I invited them to have dinner together first, but she said, no, they have food at home they need to eat. So, food comes before me. My mom is always asking if I want to come over and until recently I did a couple times a week or so, you would assume because she wants to see me, but when I invite them out, nope. Excuses. It’s 9:45 pm now and she’s just now leaving, and without my dad because he just woke up from a nap and needs to eat first, like a cranky child. Again, food comes before me. My mom was going to wait for him to finish eating, too, before they came, but I just told her if my dad doesn’t want to come, that’s fine (then she was being wishy-washy about coming because it was getting late – her fault for not being here when she said she would). My dad already made it clear that he’s not available to help me move on the weekdays (because he has to sleep and eat, apparently). I had forgotten about how much he sleeps. Stays up all night doing nothing because he “can’t sleep” due to his “age,” then takes a nap for most of the evening after work and is nowhere to be seen. Then wakes up and continues doing nothing all night long. Lather rinse repeat.

I plan to tell my dad and mom how all this makes me feel when I’m over there tonight unloading boxes. I don’t expect any apologies, only more blame and shame, but at least I’ll say my truth.

This site is my solace right now, and I’ve donated a small amount. I can see myself donating more later. Thanks again, Darlene.


Well, I did it. I told my mom that I felt disrespected when she was running late and didn’t call (and had plans to be even later) and I would like for her to let me know when she’s running late in the future. This is what I heard back:

1) She didn’t know that we had an “appointment.” I put appointment in quotes because she said it in a mocking tone. Well, “I’ll be there 9ish” sounds like a set appointment to me, and a shoddy one at that. She was here around 10, and probably would have been later waiting for my dad if I didn’t call.

2) She doesn’t understand why now, “out of the blue” I’m bringing this up. The family has always been like that, and I shouldn’t expect them to change. It’s not personal and why can’t I just learn forgiveness? (truth leak?!?!? If it’s not personal then why is there a need to forgive?), she says. She gets mad at other family members for being late all the time and it’s all normal. And my dad doesn’t like it either, she says. I even remember a time my mom had words with her brother for being an hour late AGAIN. But when I say hey, I’d like this to change and I think it would benefit everyone, NOPE. You’re crazy.

3) I told her I often feel unsupported and I feel afraid to tell her my feelings because of how she’ll react. She turned that around to be my fault and made it about her. She said she “loves” (man is it painful to put that in quotes) me but basically implied that she knows the best way to comfort me (making me see the other side of the situation so I’ll stop feeling whatever I’m feeling) and that’s what she does and she’s sorry (not really) if it doesn’t work for me.

4) “I’m sorry but actually I’m not really sorry at all.”

5) She’s “worried” for me about how I’m going to keep and make relationships with people if I’m so “strict” with them. This “my way or the highway” approach is not going to work for me, she says.

6) She tried to throw in my face the passover dinner from earlier this week. Yes, I was half an hour late. The precedent was that everyone in our family is late all the time, so I was acting according to that. But anyway, I called ahead of time to let them know. Surprisingly, I was the last one there. I don’t know how that happened. She also exaggerated the amount of time I was late by like an hour. I even apologized for my half hour of tardiness during our conversation which was SO NOT THE POINT but I did. That silenced her for a couple seconds. So she is allowed to feel disrespected, but I am not.

7) My dad and brother were in the other room, pretending like nothing was happening. My brother even walked between us while we were talking in a doorway. So weird. I think I have done the same. Now I realize how strange it is.

8) She wanted to give me a hug after all that, which I declined. Talk about mixed messages.

And that was just talking to my mom. I haven’t talked to my dad yet.

I don’t know how I’m going to live with them. I just don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m praying to God, the universe, something out there, that I’ll find a way to find a comfortable living situation soon.


Oh, and I also keep feeling like maybe if I had been a little calmer during the conversation, or had framed it a little differently, then she would have reacted positively. But hell no, I was calmer than I’d ever been before confronting her, and there was no reasoning her out of this one.


Wow, L, lots to deal with. I visited my Mom after N/C for a year. At first I thought it went well and she tried hard to understand me. But now I’m feeling the same, “now that we talked, my daughter will snap out of it and be like the rest of us.” I always felt this from my Mom. I will NOT “snap out of it.” There is no “it” to snap out of. Mom asked me if I can “put it behind us.” No, I cannot. I was left emotionally damaged, and I have to deal with it and cope with it.


Good for you DXS, for not backing down. That’s half the battle, and very tempting at times.

I just talked to my mom on the phone tonight like nothing happened. I couldn’t sleep well last night thinking about our conversation and worked tonight so I just have no energy to fight with her. The best way to deal with this right now is to just accept what I heard last night, and treat her as a roommate for however long that she is one. Since I need a place to live and do not want to constantly argue, I’m going to lay low, do my thing, keep working on myself, spend a good chunk of my time out of the house while I figure out a way to get some money and geographical distance. I feel this is my best option at this point.


It’s hard to try to build a boat when it’s been drummed into you that you’re lucky to have a fine boat and your lack of a boat is all in your head. You’re not drowning – your parents are the ones who suffered from almost drowning. Look at your nice boat! You always had a nice boat and here we are, your parents, barely hanging onto the side of the boat you have been given and are so ungrateful for.

So I find they throw rocks at my “boat” trying to tear it down – my mom especially – telling me my feelings aren’t legitimate. She shared horrible memories of unspeakable abuse she says she experienced with myself and all my siblings. My brother was only 7 years old and he was told detailed, graphic stories of rape and brutality. We were the lucky ones who had a childhood. So I do feel guilty because if she did suffer those things it makes sense she’d be messed up and it’s not her fault…. We were told we never loved my mom and didn’t care about her (not at all true)… We were told over and over how we needed to be prepared to leave as soon as we hit 18, as I guess my mother couldn’t stand to look at us (except for my brothers who still live with my parents in their mid to late 20s and suffer guilt for even thinking about leaving my mom (!?!) ) …of course no assistance with determining how to prepare – only that we needed to figure it out. I guess take our beautiful boats we never deserved and get the hell out of there….

My mom did the whole send me to school dirty and unkempt thing, cut my hair off because she said she didn’t want to mess with having to take care of it….I wet the bed all the time until I was around 12 – I think I wet the bed at times in my teen years as well – and from the time I was little she didn’t want to be bothered. Told me to get a towel and do it myself. I would go to school smelling because we didn’t have a shower so a bath would take too long I guess (?) I dunno. She just told me to clean myself up….yeah I don’t know how that was supposed to that but it didn’t work. So I was the kid who was left alone at school or made fun of, I guess. I was shy, compliant and passive. I really never rocked the boat. I couldn’t because I had to hide my “boat” as it was undeserved.

I have been in therapy for over a year now and still am embarrassed of my need or want to be there, as though I am undeserving. My instinct is to stay hidden and it’s like I can’t even figure out what one does to come out of hiding. I feel fragmented – like I never know which part of me will show up. I can’t seem to control it and it scares me when I’m watching myself be a way that doesn’t seem like it’s me. I can’t talk about the most mundane things in my past as the words get jumbled and won’t come out right or sometimes not at all. I blank out, shut down, disappear inside myself too. But my life was so much better than my moms life. I should be grateful. That’s what I’ve been told since I can remember anything. My mom recently told me that I can get my son to do what I want by shaming him. I was shocked that she was so blunt! She said, “you know what works? Shame him!” ……..

I feel guilty posting this here because I’m convinced I’m probably an entitled whiner. I just know feeling like killing myself or self-harming everyday is not good….and I remember the same thoughts when I was as young as 10, maybe younger. The nightmares. If I could just be free of that, I’d be good. But I have a boat and this boat, I’m told, is good enough. I’m trying to see about rebuilding it, if I can allow myself to justify it and then figure out how to get started…


L, I feel for you. Having to live with your Mom after all you went through. Tough. You feel like you have to suck up again, like a little kid.



You’re very brave, and not a whiner whatsoever. I wish you the best of luck in building a better boat for yourself. I know you can do it. One day, you will have it!


Yes it’s very tough. I woke up this morning in my parents house. I lied there for a little bit, then went to the bathroom because I felt like I had to throw up. I ended up only gagging. I know why I have these reactions now, the same ones I had as a child. It’s not me who has a weak stomach like my mom always said, it’s the environment that I can barely stomach.

Then I went to work, and something amazing happened. A supervisor, a very loving, bubbly and caring woman, asked me how I was. I said ok. She asked why, and I said I just moved in to my parents house. Apparently she has an abusive history of her own. While she was telling me about it, I broke down crying (at the front of the store where I work!) and she took me outside to talk. I told her what was going on and she completely empathized with me. I actually felt like she was listening. She decided to let me go home (well, to a park or something) early and told me I could vent any time. On my way out of the store, a coworker who had seen me crying gave me her number and told me to call her at 6 when she got off work. Now I have at least two people who are actively reaching out.

I should add that in the past couple of days I was praying, asking the universe for a helper, a guardian angel, since I had no one. I think these people are them. This is why after months of not being able to get a job, this one practically fell into my lap a month ago.

Wishing the best to everyone today,


Carrie, I am so greatful for your words and to Darlene for recommending that I check her website again for some words of wisdom. I have had many confrontations with my mother over a thirty year period and it nearly ruined my marriage. This Christmas and Easter was spent without my parents and my brother and his family. Your story is very similar to mine. My mothers narcissistic behaviour and her emotional manipulation and abuse was exhausting. It got worse after meetng my hubby, getting married, and having my 3 children. My brother thinks I am a horrible daughter for abandoning my parents, especially my Dad who has dementia. I tried to be a good daughter. I did everything I possibly could to be there for them. It was never enough for her. I couldn’t do it anymore. I am 51. I have lived with depression since I was 14. I live my life, minute to minute, day by day. Good days and bad. She never understood.
It was always about her. I have a wonderful husband and 3 wonderful children. They are my life. We are not perfect. We love each other anyway. Thanks for your words Carrie.


As for the boat…how do we build it? I could have used one today. This was a difficult Easter .
I grieved my family all day today. Hubby’s parents are elderly and are more comfortable being home. We visited them yesterday. I feel so much love when I am with his parents. They love their children unconditionally. They are not a perfect family, but the love is there no matter what. My hubby has 2 siblings and there are some issues with one of his siblings. My in laws don’t go back and forth, treating their children like “the flavour of the month”. My mother thrived on my brother and I having disagreements or issues. It gave her power over us. All we have left now is hubby’s sister. We spent Good Friday with her and she had Easter with us. It was great but inside I was hurting. I am so thankful for her. She has been there for me and for hubby and our kids.
As I read your words again, I am reminded that I have to be strong and accept what never was. I have to take care of me first, then family, and my boat will keep me afloat. All the best to you Carrie…thank you so much for sharing.


Hi Nadia
Building the boat IS the process. 🙂 and acceptance comes as the fog lifts; the more clarity I got about the actual truth, the more I saw and understood that it wasn’t my fault, the more whole I became.. It takes time and it takes courage but YOU are worth it.
Thank you for sharing with us here. 🙂
hugs, Darlene


Hey Everyone!! I just published a new article on the front page! It’s about when family tries to get info on you even though they don’t seem to care anymore and the conflicting feelings when that happens. Here is the link
“When people use facebook to spy; Dear Stalkers”
It was originally published back in February but due to a glitch with the server it was only there for about 6 hours! I have included some of the original comments that also disappeared. Hope you will comment and share that post because it went viral the first time with people relating to it. There is a huge need out there for people to find validation when they are in this situation.
Thanks, hugs, Darlene


Dear Carrie,
wow I loved all that you wrote ,I saw my family in your words .I am so sorry for the pain your family has caused you .you didn’t deserve any of the mean treatment you got .you written your pain in the words that I could step in your words and feel all of your pain. my mother has been dead now 3 years and I still have the emptiness my mother left me is still here.


Hi Carrie,
Wow, your story resembles mine in many ways–from being the “scapegoat” of the family to our sisters and their use of textbook manipulation strategies in attempts to control and make themselves feel better about themselves. A difference in our stories is that you’re more close with your Dad, and I was very attached to my Mom. (I’m male, and my name is also Cary.)

I almost always felt my Mom had my back. She died first. Then, without being attached to the outcome, my Dad’s and my relationship began to heal. I had watched some Oprah episodes in the past, and decided I didn’t want to wait until after he died to make amends. I silently worked on myself through sleep, meditation, and intent. And although he was as lost as I was from the passing of my Mom, my Dad got to where he was actually telling me he loved me several years later…before I even said it!

Of course, my sister got jealous after my Dad died…acting as if I was the one who was the evil one who’d manipulated him into liking me and spending time with me. (She lives out of state and didn’t come visit very often.)

Currently, neither of my siblings speak to me. After my father’s death, I took a stand: I filed a lawsuit and took them to court a year after he passed. During this time, my sister, who is quite vocal, got extended family members to side with her while I forgave (and even silently thanked) everyone for their involvement, practically every day.*

It initially took two months to decide whether to take a stand and file or not, ultimately discerning with the help of my counselor that if I didn’t, the patterns would show up in my life in other ways with future scenarios. Second to my Mother’s passing, standing up for myself was one of the scariest, gut-wrenching, and physically exhausting things I’ve had to face. I did it with the help of my attorney, the court system, and a spiritual counselor. I wasn’t employed, so money from my parents will was being used to pay expenses.

I just remembered that my dog who was my best friend died on a Monday. That Friday, we were in court. My attorney cried when she heard the news.

Like you, I thought I had a great childhood. As each parent died, I saw more and more how the selfishness, controlling nature, and fears of my siblings began to surface.

Honestly, I’m not sure why I came to this page. I don’t identify myself as a victim, yet I am (and have been) working at loving myself more in attempts to begin seeing my own self worth. I also catch myself falling into fear mode now and then, and as recent as yesterday, I was wondering what’s going to become of me and my life.

You see, I’m feeling stuck, like I can’t escape. I was feeling this a little bit in my twenties, and again more strongly these past ten years…since the passing of my mother. I’ve been going through the motions, existing, but can’t seem to get past the clutter or state of disrepair of my home, and my own physical energy levels (let alone be able to reach a place where I can thrive). I’m single and went through each parent’s passing while being single, and buried myself away from friend support in the cave of my room.

*I just realized I haven’t forgiven or thanked myself for the role I played during the 2+ years of legal proceedings. I do like your analogy of the boat, and read it several times with tears in my eyes. Sorry if relaying my story has been a bit disjointed and all over the place. There’s evidently more self-exploration for me do and to heal.

“For those of us who grieve in hiding, we must build our own boats. We must learn to love ourselves in the way our parents never did. It will take work and strength to construct that boat but by the time it is built, by the time we are loving ourselves unconditionally in a way that was not modeled to us in our families, we will have a boat so strong, so sturdy, that the waves it will carry us over will be merely ripples lapping at our sides. And we will ride in these self-constructed boats across the seas into freedom. Freedom from the lies we were taught about ourselves, freedom from the faulty love we grew up with, freedom from the sadness and pain that came from our realizations.

And once we reach that shore, the shore of freedom, we will be the lighthouses that can give hope and direction to others who are boatless in the stormy seas.”

Thank you.


I also wanted to say that I’m grateful for any observations or other feedback you or Darlene may be inclined to give.


L – So glad you were able to stand up for yourself. The mixed messages you continue to receive are just part of the crazy making process. Keep standing in your truth. DXS – Yes, they love to say “snap out of it” which again places the blame on you. It helps to remember a lot of it is projection so that they won’t have to look in the mirror. Starsalign – You are NOT an entitled whiner. Asking to be treated with love and respect is your RIGHT. Nadia – Thank you for sharing. I think we begin to build the boat by stopping the lies and no longer seeing ourselves from their eyes. I find that my self talk often reflects how I was spoken TO and it isn’t kind. Catching those unloving words directed at ourselves is key. (I’m still working on it every day). Karla Reeves KY – Yes, we must become our own mothers and treat ourselves the way we deserved to be treated as children. Cary – Thank you so much for sharing. Once we realize the truth about our family it is very painful to watch the masks fall off. You already mention that you realize you need to thank yourself for the role you played in your years of legal proceedings. Being kind to yourself (thanking yourself) IS part of the boat building process. There is a great quote that Brene Brown has. She says, “Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” It sounds to me like you are in that process right now. I am there too. Sometimes you may feel stuck. I have these days as well. Just keep loving yourself and slowly but surely your boat will get built and eventually you will climb in. Thanks for coming to the site and sharing your story.


There is a new post in honor of the “Mother’s day Season’ on the home page! Inspired by how many of us had or have difficulty with the issue of buying a card ~ the post is titled “The Dreaded Mother’s Day Card Purchase” ~ it has an awesome discussion going already!
Hope to hear your thoughts there!!
hugs, Darlene


Open a window or take a red matrix pill. I find myself married to a sex addict at 39, recovering from a hysterectomy I never wanted, wondering where did I stop believing I was worth anything. Only to realize I’ve never felt that. Looking into what kind of personality marries an addict I’ve seen so many parallels to my life. Through marriage counseling I’m owning being emotionally neglected and abused all my life, adopted, abandoned, broken. I still felt accountable for my choices until typing this sentence, and then asked myself how could be I be if I didn’t know any different, or any better?
I don’t know what future is, one where self esteem is more than a foreign concept, where love feels less like self inflicted torture and more like I don’t know what. My only reason why is despite it all; the lack of love, belief, support, faith, it is my past, and not my child’s future. He deserves better than what I had. He has a right to be happy.



I read your post and this sentence jumped out at me!
“I still felt accountable for my choices until typing this sentence, and then asked myself how could be I be if I didn’t know any different, or any better?”

I don’t know how many thousands of times I asked myself a similar question: How does anyone make a choice that they don’t know that they have?

It’s true! I got so stuck trying to take responsibility for something that I wasn’t responsible for!

Good for you! Good for your son!



A really well written article and mirrors exactly what i went through in the sense of me naming the elephant in the room and they all ran screaming- i now feel like an outcast – my voice was not heard but silenced by them. How could i upset my mother like that bu confronting her, but she knew the secrets and hid them , she tried to pretend that she did not say the things she said such as ‘it would kill her sister if i told about what my uncle did to me’ or ‘they are our friends’ when i spoke about the neighbour raping me, and of course they focused purely on the old man who abused me from 8-12. that was the main focus , but dont mention the abuse that happened within the family. It makes me sick to the stomach thinking about this- the victim is the person who is made feel bad because when my father told me my mother ‘would never say that’ or ‘my behavior made this happen’ (i was 13) they might as well re-assault me all over again and hold hands with the abusers. I am alone now, but with my 3 wonderful kids, the parents are moving away now (they lived in next town but when i exposed the abuse they knocked on my uncles door to warn him and then put their house up for sale) COWARDS!!! Running away from the truth while i had to live with the pain of this every single day of my life and struggle with failed relationships because I did not know what true love was.

Carrie – it is lovely how you describe your husbands family and the love they have for each other because even with death love soothes the pain. My family were ‘fake’, my mother would stand rigid with fright if i hugged her, it was cold and unloving- money was no object- just dont make me love you was her motto- she never once had a cup of tea in my house or sat with her grand kids to try and get to know them- just shoved money my way to shut me up!! I hope that you can get love from the husband who knows love , I think that is a huge positive for you- it is my dream to someday get married and meet someone who vibrates love and compassion , I am only learning this now at 43 lol but the biggest challenge i face is loving myself because abusing myself feels more ‘normal’ if you get what i mean.


Marie – Yes, there is an excellent quote. “How we speak to our children becomes their inner voice.” Catching that voice and re-mothering ourselves is key. I am glad you have your children and their love. Thanks for sharing.


Carrie H. has a new Guest Post!!
[…] H. first guest posted here on Emerging from Broken in March and her post “Self Love and Navigating the Waters of Grief” was a big hit. Carrie writes with passion and beautiful emotional imagery and I am excited to […]
Looking forward to the conversation there!


Hi Everyone
I just published a NEW post by Carrie H.
This new one is called “Defined as ‘the problem’ by the Age of Four” and like this post Carrie’s NEW post is beautifully expressed.
Hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!
Hugs, Darlene


I wonder if I will ever get there. It’s still so new to me. I’ve been allowed to talk about, okay not talk about, but it has been acknowledged that my Mother’s second husband was abusive. That is only because he abused all of us including my Mother. She and her golden will even acknowledge that I got it far worse because I “dug my heels in” or some such nonsense.

I’ve learned since finally figuring out what has been wrong for my entire life that I was treated worse long before my Mother’s second husband arrived on the scene and am still being treated badly thirty years after their divorce.

Even when I was allowed to bring up the subject of him, it was not about what happened to me, it was about my Mother and how she wished she could have made her mistakes with men without hurting anyone else. There was probably an entire evening of drama and tears and sobs coming from her.

Then it quickly went to anything I said was punishing her, she had said her apologies and the discussion was over. She was clear she would not be walking on eggshells around me so….I am still walking on fire.

I still have this fantasy of leaving the book “Will I Ever be Good Enough” in her door and her reading it and seeing herself. This would be followed by therapy and healing and then I would have a family, a real one this time. It is a bitter sweet dream because I am slowly coming to the realization that this is never going to happen.

marquis (female)
May 27th, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Love it! I pointed out the abuse to my lousy parents and was told my sister brainwashed us, always gotta be my sister never their fault! Called every name in the book and it was my fault for “ruining the family,” yet my dad uses that shit all the time about “destroying the family.” It was already destroyed when they were kids and when they got married on day one!

I’ve seen real love in other families it will never be my family which I’ve told people this all of my life abuse is not love and by spewing that dogma to other people is the reason why you see people out there still going after abusive relationships or staying in abusive family relationships. OMG, nobody wanted to hear that the amount of people spitting fire at me cutting me off about that, however; they did agree about women staying/finding abusive relationships with men but never works that way in family relationships – wow, we really do live in a dome in this world especially in America!

Let’s see, almost 30 yrs old, does it look like I or siblings will see real love? Never, only if it “pertains to my parents’ strings attached and narc negotiation games.” That is something people never understood and told them ‘you don’t know professional liars like how I know them. You think a person who told you a white lie is bad? A narc makes them look decent like they told you the truth; a compulsive and professional liar is a whole another story!’

” Their reaction to me revealing the dysfunction merely proved the dysfunction. Instead of looking at their own behaviors and their role in our family dynamic, they chose to point their fingers at me and to blame me for their pain.”

Agreed. Actions speak louder than words and saw nothing that was remotely loving from my parents and people have told to “look deeper behind the mistreatment,” and I did it still proves they don’t give a shit. Has anything changed? Was there a sincere apology about the truth as to why they did what they did and what went wrong in their childhoods? Nope, that explains everything to me. Yep, my parents chose to point their fingers at us, causing blame towards us, and how they are “innocent victims.” I see absolutely zero responsibility/accountability on their end, even people and ex-therapist agreed with that (most) yet still said it’s not about them taking responsibility – it’s about us survivors taking the responsibility. Of what?!? What did we do to cause this abuse is what I keep asking people and nobody has an answer every time I ask that question!!

Finger pointing, name calling, blame games, betrayals, their entitlement issues, etc I saw more evil and terrorism than anything else, where’s the unconditional love? Where’s the intimacy (no, not incest talking about closeness and love)? Yea, a lot of people shut up after I said that. A roof over your kids’ head is not something that’s “owed to you as a parent,” that is something you are suppose to do when having children. Seriously, child development needs to be a requirement for everybody whether they wanna be parents or not – any signs of abuse strip their parental rights! May be we can lower the amount of unfit parents/families/caretakers out there. I knew as a kid growing up that they never loved us, I wasn’t an idiot I knew what was going on – all of us and people say that isn’t true, no, it is true. I am very intelligent when it comes to stuff like this, if I lived in denial, wouldn’t I believing what everybody else says that it’s true they loved us regardless the mistreatment?

My parents seem to be done with their children as I am the last one to be finished with! My sister’s 2 daughters don’t exist at all to my parents, brother doesn’t seem to exist neither does his wife, 1st born half sister doesn’t care yet she is still being used by her real dad’s family and abused, etc. My mom said recently that she feels 1st born daughter (half sister to me) is probably dead because my grandma (mom’s mom) won’t tell her the truth about her but when did she ever go back to the South to help her daughter out? Never did, she put her daughter into my grandma’s lap and made her raise her child she never wanted. What kind of parent does that?! Oh, nobody wanted to hear that! My mom said I was a great mom to her, then why does she/your children hate both of you? Great parents are not hated by their kids.

Nobody in this lousy-ass family speaks the truth on anything. They have absolutely no remorse yet still don’t get why their own children hate and don’t want anything to do with them – how could you be that clueless? My idiot parents turned into their own parents: mom turned into her mom (not sure about her dad) and dad turned into his mom (not sure about his step-dad but his real dad is a Klansmen that’s all we know), so what more proof do people need?

“For those of us grieving those who have never loved us – truly loved us – how do we make it through? It’s like love is the boat that my husband is on and it carries him through the waters of grief. Sometimes the waves are intense but he is always in a boat. I’m in those same waters but without a boat. Sometimes I get pulled under and come up gasping for air. I have my husband and my son’s love, of course, but I don’t have the love of those I’m grieving.”

I agree, how did we make it through? Mine was destructive before I met my boyfriend. I have his life, but never the love from my parents and that’s the loss that still hurts. I still don’t have a set of real parents or better yet real role models. However, someone I worked with at the bookstore volunteer treats me like a such a real human being that nobody else ever has. He told me how he hates violence, he truly believes in being kind to others, etc the man is 78 years old. He talked about the love he had for his parents and how they loved him.

I’ve been grieving for years even when I was a kid none of my old friends could understand why I was always depressed or looked depressed in the face daily. One ex-friend told me that’s no excuse to be such a downer, you’re not the only one suffering. I was hot when she said that, true, I wasn’t the only one suffering, but I am only ONE PERSON. It wasn’t like we were talking about a multitude of people, she asked me why do I look like a downer? She also said I need to stop dwelling on the issues coming from someone who never had parents like mine needed to shut her trap! She had no business lecturing me when she needed to take a look at some of the things she was doing having a new man every month, what does that say about her?

Honestly, I still get teary-eyed when I see loving families and have to turn my head because it makes me irate when I see something I could never have. People never understood why I walk away from that or conversations about their families – it has nothing to do with me not my family I don’t need to participate in those conversations!

“I grieve the childhood I didn’t get, the childhood I THOUGHT I had, the actions I thought were love, the person I thought my dad was, the relationship I thought I had with my sister, the hope I had of my mother changing, the dream I had of my family healing, the future I thought we could share together, and the love I’ve never received from my family. For those of us who grieve in hiding, we must build our own boats. We must learn to love ourselves in the way our parents never did. It will take work and strength to construct that boat but by the time it is built, by the time we are loving ourselves unconditionally in a way that was not modeled to us in our families, we will have a boat so strong, so sturdy, that the waves it will carry us over will be merely ripples lapping at our sides. And we will ride in these self-constructed boats across the seas into freedom. Freedom from the lies we were taught about ourselves, freedom from the faulty love we grew up with, freedom from the sadness and pain that came from our realizations.”

The “parents” we have are not parent simply two people who created children, did a shit job in raising us, treated us like slaves/maid servants, such extremely poor role modeling, etc are just simply two lousy idiots who are only “married” by a legal piece of a paper, but there’s no real love at all there just two idiots licking each other’s wounds and both enable each other. God, the amount of people screamed at me, called me names, told me I will understand once I get older, etc but sorry, that’s the cold hard truth about them and that’s reality – not the white picket fence! I thought we could get family counseling when I was in high school and my parents screamed at that the usual we are a great family and mom said stop telling white people our damn biz!!

They always kiss each other’s asses, one said I never said this and the other does the same thing, then calls each other liars and then one of them says I did say that but and misconstrues it to their own screwed up way of thinking.

So much for that. I am working hard towards my freedom since I have a job and not enough to move out, but I am striving hard I have a photo collage online of an apartment and being at peace that’s my motivation. My “parents” won’t know what hit them when that day comes and I want to be on my own sooner and hopefully I will have everything lined up and ready. Hmm, I thought people were gonna build me a boat and I can paddle away, I guess that isn’t the case anymore and like my ex-therapist told me you have to be your own hero.


I feel that I’m close to plunging into the waters of grief. I don’t want to, but I have to in order to make it safely away from them. I’m getting off this desert island and getting myself to shore, to join civilization. It’s becoming clearer and clearer what’s really going on and what I never really had.

Regarding this quote: My family looks lovely from the outside, a perfect picture with years worth of photographs to prove that we are “okay.” – See more at:

Last week when I spent a few nights away from my “family,” I came back to find that my “mom” had put a few photo albums outside my door. She was trying to prove that I was “loved” and always will be. It was just a punch in the stomach. Just another lie.


my brother and I have been nc with my mother for the past 11 months. This site has helped me to navigate the different emotions I have been feeling along the way. Those first few days I felt as tho I was barely able to put one foot in front of the other. Today I have a very different view of things. From the age of 5 I was told by my” loving” mother that I wasnt smart, I was over weight, I would never amount to much and there were people out there who were indeed better than me and I would never be on par with. This as a child!
its no surprise my brothers and I grew up with no self esteem and a poor view of ourselves. I spent the past 40 years at least, believing that I wasnt as good as others, that people did look down on me and yes my mother was right. What a bunch of hog wash and brain washing that was. To control children by constantly putting them down. Beating them and telling them how embarrassed we make our mother is just disgusting. I have thought in recent days about confronting her but then I realize it will not produce the results I am looking for. She will just deny it and try to turn the tables on how terrible my brother and I are for sticking up for and with each other and walking away together from a lifetime of hurtful jabs, barbs and snarky comments that she delivers with a sense of entitlement to do so. My mother has displayed many emotions but love is not one of them. Now in her final years she is finding herself with only my one totally messed up youngest brother and without her other children, grandchildren and great grandchildren do to the choices she has made. My mother has always said “I will make my own mistakes and live with the consequences so just leave me alone” She is doing that now….I am not the person she tried to make me into, nor is my brother. This has her in a tizzy and she has said good bye to both of us and her grand children and great grandchildren. She has gone as far as to change her will. So its official now we are out of the family. On an interesting note once the will was changed she decided to start commenting on things her grand children are posting on face book…. out of the blue just like that….I was furious but then I realized thats who she is
and she is indeed living with the consequences of her behavior.
thanks for letting me vent


“I realized that the only way my family would accept me was as their scapegoat, as the one who caused them pain. There is no other definition that they CAN accept because if I am okay, then why would THEY be in pain?”

This is wonderful. It explains why my mother never liked me.

She got knocked up at 18 disappointing her critical judgmental parents, and married my unenthusiastic father who later became an alkie. There was no money for many years and she had this baby who seldom slept and who cried alot and actually had NEEDS. She’s never been one who could cope with problems (altho she thinks she’s very deep, wise and competent and is quite a know-it-all).

So she was in pain, and she couldn’t blame herself (she’s perfect, dontcha know), and couldn’t blame my father upon whom she was financially and socially dependent, and couldn’t for some reason be angry at her punitive, judgmental parents–so she blamed her pain on the baby who was more trouble than she expected. Her pain was because of me, therefore, it could only follow I caused her pain and I had to be controlled, squashed and manipulated. She was just trying to manage her pain.

Poor mom, right? No. Selfish, immature, cruel, damaging, dysfunctional mom.

She’s had 50 years to work it through, and never did. Denial, squashing, blameshifting, invalidating, stonewalling, demeaning, and manipulation has always worked–and she’s not giving it up. Even though she knows how she hurts me, even though I’ve cut off all contact with her. She chooses her dysfunction–and in fact has escalated it (because my noncompliance and cut-off has increased her pain/humiliation).

She’s been told that there’s a better way, one we can find together in therapy–but she chooses her dysfunction over her only daughter and 2 of her 3 grandchildren. She’s lost half her family (we are a small family) but she will not budge.

The only person who will be with her in her old age will be my brother–and he was raised the same I was. He’ll do the conventional thing: call once a month, show up for a couple hours on or near the holidays, provide superficial social support–and NO emotional support.

She’s going to be very lonely.


Hi Uniquecyn
Welcome to EFB!! Sounds like you have found the right blog! Glad you are here,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Kathy
Welcome to EFB ~ Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am so glad that you have your brother; it really makes a difference to have just one person that stands by you and validates the truth. (for the other readers, this works fine even if this website is the only place you find that validation!) Thank you for sharing the clarity you have found about your mom.
hugs, Darlene


I realize that my childhood and the rest of my life has been in a state of mourning, which continued until after my father, stepfather, and my mother died. My entire childhood was dwelt in sadness and isolation from anyone who would care. Because my mom lived away from her family and I had no contact with my biological father and paternal family, my entire family consisted of my older brother who had nothing to do with me, my Narcissistic mother who was negligent and abusive, and my abusive stepfather. There was really nothing but loneliness.
Somehow, in my sadness, I managed to ferret away the central core of my being, preserving it until such time as it could be free. My central core remained trapped until my mother died. She suppressed me in every way, even stating to me, ‘that I could not live in the truth until after she died’. And, it was true, I didn’t really begin to embrace the truth fully until after she died. She had so much power over me, that she was capable of separating me from myself and my life.
This is the comment that stood out the most to me. Grieving my missing family as a child kept me in a chronic state of grieving and depression. Now, that my mother died, I am free and the final grieving is over!
“ … I grieve the childhood I didn’t get… the actions I thought were love… the hope I had of my mother changing, the dream I had of my family healing, the future I thought we could share together, and the love I’ve never received from my family.”


Hi all, I’ve been reading this website and Darlene’s e-book for a long time but this is my first comment. Like everyone else here I am SO immensely grateful for this website and everything that Darlene shares. I’ve been in therapy for two years after chronic depression from the age of 9. In therapy I have found a way out of my victim role and I have connected and started a loving dialogue with my inner child. Fantastic progress. I’m also finally angry at my parents and am able to acknowledge that “yes, I was abused”, verbally, emotionally and psychologically. Now I read a lot about the need to grief in the process of recovery. Grief the abandonment and rejection. I must still be in very strong suppression because I don’t feel any sadness or grief in relation to this. The thing is I have read a lot about how people experience that grief and I’m honestly so scared of how it might hit me. I understand that I will have to go through it short term in order to feel much better and whole in the long term but I’m just so worried about what it is going to do to me.

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