Dec
21

Self Validation for Emotional Healing from Abuse

By
emotional abuse, self esteem, self validation
the path to emotional healing

It makes sense if you think about it, that a child victim of any kind of abuse or a child, who has been devalued in any way, is likely to have a lower self esteem and self image. So if we go into adulthood with a lower sense of self, really believing that we are not as valuable as others, then it stands to reason that we will continue to accept the devaluing behavior that we have become accustomed to as children.

That is one of my most foundational messages of recovery from trauma and depressions and other mental health issues.

Realizing that our belief system is skewed in the first place, that we are not starting from a “fair” place when we are supposed to become mature independent adults, is an important truth to realize if we are to make a new beginning.

One of the most important discoveries that I have made is that so many of my problems as an adult had their foundation in the fact that I had been invalidated and discounted for so much of my life.  Because I had been invalidated (and also defined) by other people from such a young age, it stands to reason that I believed validation would come from others.  In other words, I thought that validation would come from somewhere else or from someone else because invalidation came from somewhere else. (Not from me)

A close relative of this problem is that we constantly hear statements indicating that we “should” be able to move on, and that our “issues” are the problem when in fact the ABUSE we suffered was really the problem that CAUSED the issues. There is a huge difference between these two things.

The key was actually in self validation.  I was angry at myself because I could not seem to make my life work.  I had trouble coping, I was messed up.  I had to realize that it wasn’t my fault. 

The pathway to freedom for me began when I validated myself. This was a process that can be looked at in stages.

A)   I was mistreated. Abused, Devalued.

B)   My belief system developed in an unhealthy way and it was therefore formed full of lies.

C)   I had to identify those lies

D)   I realized that I was not to blame for those lies or for the mistreatment.

E)   I had no choice in accepting the childhood abuse because I was a child.

F)    I also had to realize that I had carried my childhood acceptance of abuse with me into adulthood.

G)   I came to understand that I HAD to develop coping methods (what others often called my issues) as a child in order to survive.

H)   In realizing those lies and then validating myself I was able to understand why I needed all those coping methods.

I had been trying to skip the step of realizing that there were reasons for the way that I was and for why I had trouble and needed coping methods. I believed that I was a failure.

So the key was to go back and figure out where I was invalidated, AND what I came to believe about myself because of it and validate

A)   first the abuse,

B)   that it was wrong and I didn’t “deserve” it

C)   that it was not my fault

D)   that I was in fact valuable and worthy

This enabled me to make a beginning when it came to validating myself. It is important to validate ourselves because as I said earlier, we have not been validated by others in the ways that we needed to be validated and we have to stop thinking that others are going to finally give us the “stamp of approval” that we long to have.

We need to approve of ourselves, but we can’t because we never learned how and because we are stuck with never having been helped with dealing with the abuse, mistreatment or the way that were not valued in the first place. We have also been told all our lives (usually not in direct words) that we are the ones at fault because we can’t move on. I am referring to statements such as “are you still going on about that??” or “when are you going to move on?” or “that happened years ago”.  SO WHAT? When something didn’t get dealt with properly, it didn’t get dealt with properly! It has nothing to do with how much time went by, but we accept those statements as the truth.  Somehow we believe that the defect is ours. That we “should” be able to move on and very often we don’t even know that our depressions or other mental health struggles had to do with abuse, emotional disregard, and the way way we were not valued in the first place!

The abuse has been so downplayed that often we can’t even validate it ourselves!  For many, when they finally do tell, they are heaped with more guilt and shame or blamed for it in the first place. Some mothers will take the focus off the event and change the focus to HER feelings instead. Statements such as “how do you think I feel?” or “I can’t listen to this” are designed to throw us off and to once again make us think of someone else’s feelings before our own. They are invalidating statements. 

As with every other process, there is always more than one major issue that is in the way. We have been so accustomed to being the one to try harder that many of us myself included, got lost in a sea of making excuses for the people who devalued us in the first place ~ which makes it even easier to stay stuck in self blame. ***YES the people that discounted me had huge issues of their own, but SO WHAT? That didn’t change what happened to me. I am not suggesting that we have to stay in a place of placing blame on others; I am just saying that I had to stay there long enough to be able to validate myself.

I had to believe that I was worthy and valid before I could stop expecting someone else to tell me that I was.

Please share your own experience, struggles or victories with me and the other readers.

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

Inspired by comments from posts; “How do I recover from emotional and other abuse?”

 “that” Makes me Angry

Categories : Self Esteem

61 Comments

1

I am at the point now that I realize why I have been having such huge outburst of anger towards others especially my husband. Every aspect of my life has been trampled on and much like you have said here I look to others to validate me.. I am now at the point where I realize that others have MAJOR ISSUES and that I have been understanding to them however when it comes to me I am suppose to be the strong one and they don’t have to understand me. I am beyond sick and tired of having to be the one that has to be understanding. I am also sick and tired of being pushed. I am having to fight with all that is left in me to maintain some form of myself and I am two hairs from just totally walking away!

2

Nikki,
This is the stage where I began to validate myself. I was at the end of my rope; I had to get angry for a while in order to fully realize how much inequality I had actually accepted. I had to decide that I was done with that and that decision carried some huge fear with it. Jimmy (my husband) was one of the people that I had to fight ~ and I was angry that he didn’t try to understand me but that I HAD to understand him and further more he believed that he was always right. (long story there) But somewhere between this beginning of seething with the realization that this was what had really happened ~ and seeing the whole thing through a new grid of understanding ~ that was where my self acceptance began to grow and flourish and I was able to set healthy boundaries!
Hang in there! I love your comment!
Hugs, Darlene

3

nikki, i so get where you are at the moment.
after 18 yrs together i wouldnt care if my hubby left as i am so sick of the arguements where i get my behaviour slung back at me, i get i have problems and am trying to heal and change but my god your reaction to me is seriously not helping. why is not ok for me to snap but ok for him to snap back because i started it. my answer of ‘well you dont have to continue the arguement just cos i said or did something u didnt like. but no it still my fault for daring to say why didnt he do this or that instead being this or that way. he is holding us in the routine of the old ways with his inability to see how far i have come and that his behaviour will make it harder or easier for all of us whilst i am learning how to be in a way that doesnt mean i have to be verballly aggressive or pointing out faults. mmm he was the person who has given me the leeway to get where i am today but seems unwilling to go this last leg which would see me through relationships n family boxes and hopefully abit more flexible about physical contact n sex

4

SPOT ON for me darlene!

i used to [and still sometimes do] go from friend to friend, talking and searching for the validation you have spoken about here. i would sometimes be so devasted and depressed that i would see a complete stranger in the street and i would REALLY want to talk to them and ask them to help me. i was looking for validation EVERYWHERE. i hardly ever got it [validation] in those early days. it is so true when you say you have to validate yourself first, COMPLETELY and then you dont really NEED it from anyone else, however when you do get it from others its a bonus!

to be invalidated made me think I WAS THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM!!!! especially when my mother would say ‘you’re not exactly the innocent party here! -’ J*** was just trying to prove a point!’ blah blah blah blah BLAH BLAH BLAH! [and i would continually try to explain to her, try to help her]

it wasnt until i cut her completely off, that i was able to begin to heal and self validate fully. i had to get her way of thinking OUT OF MY HEAD. we were always so enmeshed with each other, even my OPINIONS on everyday things such as music etc were never completely my own because she was my inner voice. i am SO GLAD i am free from her today.

it also helped tremendously to hear of the judges remarks in court. he COMPLETELY validated me. he also commented in depth how my mother was neglectful and knowingly kept my siblings and I in that unsafe environment… [however J*** only plead guilty to one offence, and only because there was too much evidence, otherwise he would not have plead guilty to even that, i really struggled that he would not admit to everything, but i had to tell myself that it didnt mean it didnt happen, it just means he is a LIAR and his denial of the other charges just CONFIRMED/VALIDATED that! ] it was SO GREAT to see f.kface sitting there as white as a ghost waiting for his sentence to be handed down. and to finally have all my siblings support as well. SO GREAT.

i realize that not everyone is able to pursue their abusers legally, and get that kind of validation. but i had to actually BELIEVE what happened to me was wrong, was NOT my fault etc. before i could even CONSIDER pressing charges on him. so the validation in court was the ICING ON THE CAKE! and even when my ‘mother’ applauded after i read my victim impact statement [coz i put on an 'oscar winning performance'], that was confirmation that she is NEVER going to get it. does not WANT to get it. i no longer NEED her to get it. she may be my ‘mother’ but she only deserves the title birth mother now as far as i’m concerned. i dont care how sick someone is you dont treat your children the way she has treated us.

for anyone here needing validation, as darlene has so fantastically put it, you have to validate yourself first. “treat yourself as you would treat a loved friend in the same situation” some of the best advice i ever got!

YOU ARE WORTH IT. how DARE someone hurt you like that! and how DARE they trample you so far down that you cant get up because of them!!! they have no right. they have violated your rights. tell them to GO AWAY.

i hope inner peace for everyone.

5

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6

Hi Darlene,

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I really should have asked permission before using your quotes on my blog. I hope it’s ok that I did (wince.)

Anyway, I just love what you have to say. It’s so helpful to many who are suffering the aftermath of abuse.

Take care,
Beautifuldreamer

7

Hi Carol
One of the things that I noticed with my husband (of 20 years now) is that the huge changes in me, no matter how positive they were, they frightened him. Change just scares most of us. So I had to just press on, and sometimes I told him how unfair he was, and I made up my mind that even he wasn’t going to be what stopped me or got in my way of going the whole way forward. My healing was for me and I have never been sorry for the way that I insisted on it ~ with him OR with my kids. Today, everyone is so much happier including my husband, so even he is glad that I pressed on. Hang in there Carol!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Michelle!
I totally relate to what you have posted today! I can’t even add to it or expand on it. I love your passion about this topic!
Thanks so much for being here!
Hugs, Darlene

8

Darlene,

here you go again telling my story in your words :) Where I get stuck is in the believing that I am valuable and worthy….I mean I have finally accepted it on some basic level or I wouldnt even be bothering with trying to heal or thinking its worth doing at all, but its still SO easy to just blame myself and blame myself and blame myself whether its my fault or not, and when it IS my fault, its like WWIII in my head against myself. Im not a generally negative person and I see the positive and the good in everyone else in the world, but when it comes to me, it has to be like Nobel Prizeworthy before I even acknowledge it and even then its like “eh well…whatever” and I just geniunely dont think about myself or my wants or needs…ever. Then when someone points it out to me that I “deserve” this that or the other, I get angry that Im doing it again, and make stupid choices that cause more problems because they are emotionally based in fixing false beliefs rather than taking rational mature logical steps to address the issue (I do something like buy a $100 purse(and subsequently piss off my husband for spending outside of the agreed upon budget)to make me feel like I “did something” for myself, rather than something less material and possibly more lasting mentally (I barely even know what I would want/like/enjoy in the first place…so trying to figure all that out when I am mad at myself is like climbing Mount Everest)

So Im still using unhealthy coping mechanisms like shopping (it used to be sex, then drugs, then drinking, then shopping, then eating and so on) to deal with my emotions and Im just switching from one to the next to the next, when will I stop telling myself the bullsh*t that has been my lifelong mantra in exchange for positive life affirming words about my strength and courage and gifts and value to the world? Why is that so hard for me to see in myself, when in my head I know it to be true, my heart doesnt want to listen….and I dont know how to make it listen, other than to hear it from someone else enough times that I start to believe it.

Sometimes I do actually see the truth for what it is, and I think “Im freaking Superwoman” (for dealing with a physical disability, lifelong abuse and the effects of that, ADHD, two special needs kids,a husband with a chronic physical illness and depression, no family support (they are actually detrimental rather than even neutral or non supportive)and a caring for a grandparent with Alzheimers and all the other stuff that goes along with all that) but then I feel guilty because I feel like “well you are just doing the right thing, dont pat yourself on the back for treating people well…you arent THAT special” and then I get angry that I devalued myself one more time when I finally had a positive thought, and it just goes on and on and on and on. I still feel like I could have “done/said/felt/acted” differently in some way to make my family give a crap, make them love me and make me matter to them…I know that the overt abusers did it on purpose and I can accept that, but I cant do that with my family for some reason, their invalidation and neglect and lack of respect and nurturing and total disregard for my physical,social and emotional well being and all the other things that families are supposed to provide, I feel like they had a valid reason for that and I just dont see it or understand, and that I am in the wrong somehow for not knowing that they did the best they could and that expecting more from them is wrong and bad and I should just be happy I wasnt beaten on a daily basis like some people were….and writing this, I see the lies and the bullsh*t and how it was wrong and how I dont need to explain away anything and that even though it wasnt overt abuse, it was still abuse..and it still affected me negatively, no matter what the reason…but that disappears when they call or come visit or bring gifts or whatever and I dont have the strength to stand up for myself and do what I need to for me, and it makes me so angry at myself and just starts the whole thing over and over and over again.

When does the lies become lies for good, all the time, and not turn back into self abuse and negative self talk at the very first hint of positive attention from people who are supposed to “love” and “care” about you?

9

Hi All,
This is really intriguing, Darlene. I have been reading the anger series with interest and this does seem a very logical off shoot of it.
This is probably the biggest area of healing I have left to do, and to be honest I am a bit stuck.
I am noticing a pattern – every time I start to feel something ‘bad’ about another person – anger, feel hurt by them or sad about something they have done, or that I perceive – well, I deflect that. Either into anger directed at myself or I get overwhelmingly, paralysingly discouraged. Very similar to the kind of thought pattern that Amira describes above. I am *sure* this pattern is coming from vestiges of cripplingly low self esteem from childhood abuse, but I was wondering if you folks have any ideas. Do any of you have this problem? If so, how do you start the process of changing it? My current way of dealing with it comes very late in the piece, often after hours of self punishment and discouragement, but I really would love to start catching it at the moment of deflection, finding a way to assertively, lovingly respond to the person who has hurt me. This is a poem I wrote during such an episode:

Fool’s Lament

What a fool! I hear the bells
on the jester’s cap jangle their scorn.
You’d think these clothes would fit so well,
their once bright colours are faded and worn.
So why do they rub and chaff my skin?
Why do their seams cause sorrow within?

Beneath the smile painted on my face,
Do you see the grimace of pain?
Beneath the layers of gaudy lace,
Do you see the pitiful shame?
Why can’t I just accept this path?
Why can’t I just join in the laugh?

I wish that I could claim to be
skilled in wit and mirth,
to speak those lines deliberately –
As jests, they might have worth.
Though those who hear them are so kind
they can’t but have the truth in mind.

And so I stumble off the stage,
and swear once more to quit
But I suspect in my old age
I’ll still perform this skit.
What drives me to try to give like this?
What good can be within such mess?

Stop, fool. Take a look.
Who do you think you are?!
Who are you to judge the book
of good works? The Morning Star?
Look at those things through God’s clear eye
Don’t watch your pride, don’t feed that lie.

Take a breath and look once more,
You do not wear a jester’s gear,
not rags nor street clothes of a whore,
The truth He whispers, will you hear?
You’re clothed in linen, pure and white,
with rubies, sparkling in the light.

He bought you, child, and gave you life,
He gave you gifts and talents too
He made you a friend, a mum, a wife,
And fashioned good works for you to do.
So let your heart shine through your deeds,
your gifts of love to other’s needs.

As you use the skills He gave you
To freely give at His leading,
Don’t seek man’s praises, many or few
Don’t get sucked into misreading –
Only Christ sees the whole story.
Remember – it is for His glory!

10

Hi Amira,
One of the things that I noticed I was doing (in retrospect) was that I would do something so that I could get mad at myself. It was like throwing myself off the path ~ maybe it was fear of the path itself, fear of living in wholeness, fear of the unfamiliar territory and fear of the next breakthrough. (I always thought that the pain would kill me) So when I did something that I could be mad at myself for, (like a food binge or something my husband didn’t like) I could find a million things to beat myself up for anyway, so it didn’t take much for me to get stuck in one of those things.
Another thing was that I used unhealthy coping methods for a long time IN the process, but they were not self destructive ones and I acknowledged myself for choosing ‘better’ coping methods. (like sleeping in the day time or zoning on a book for 3 days straight.)
If you are not doing the self destructive coping methods you mentioned (sex, drugs, drinking) then you have made progress. Sometimes it really helped me to just acknowledge my progress instead of always looking for the “not good enough yet” points.
AND here this!!! ~ I had to learn to pat myself on the back for doing the RIGHT THING ~ I had to do that. It was a huge part of self validation for me.
The more I validated myself, the stronger I got. The stronger I got the more I stood up for myself.
Keep going forward Amira.. it does take time!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Zoe
I had this ~ yes absolutely. My belief was so deep that it was in fact ME that was the problem, that I actually deserved to be treated less then others, that when someone hurt my feelings I believed that I deserved it and I went into a big self admonishment mode. I HAD to validate myself and I had to catch myself invalidating myself before I could change it. Just keep trying to be aware. Once it happened for me it began to get easier.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem! I really love the conclusion. You truly have a gift!
Hugs, Darlene

11

thanxs darlene, it gets hard when i know he normally catches me up but htis time he really aint liking the more vocal and ‘i wont have that’ person that my healing is bringing about. my bluntness and outpokeness cause him alsorts of problems, which inturn cause us problems as i wont be quiet. stubborn is something i hear alot but it has stood me in good stead when no-one else cared i did, n i still do. got another appointment for group work in january sowe’ll see where that leds me. the fear of what i would find has been the one blinding thing that has held me back. especially when i was younger and it started to trickle out of the sub into the full conscious. how i have fought to get those memories, but then learnt they would come when i was strong enough and worked on the stuff i could. i think im about ready now, mmm doing it anyways.

12

Thank you Darlene for another powerful post and message. A lot of helpful info here. Thank you for sharing your voice. Blessings.

13

@Michelle, well done. I felt your words inside myself, and it was a warm and beautiful feeling. Thank you. Jan.

14

Hi Carol,
The road was pretty rough for Jim and I also, but we made it and I didn’t compromise my recovery or my truth in order to do so. I am thrilled to hear that you don’t plan to compromise either and that you are going ahead ~ READY OR NOT! You are such an inspiration Carol, I am so glad that you are a part of EFB!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi “Just be Real”
Thank you. Thanks for stopping by to say hello.
Hugs, Darlene

15

I have reeled around alot of my life believing that if someone ELSE said I was ok, or validated that what I said was ‘right’ or ‘worthy’, or ‘plausable’ then it was true.It was ok. If I MYSELF tried to be ‘ok’; or ‘plausable’ then it was NOT true, or ok..simply because I was the one who said it..I carried this over into therapists offices as well at times, especially when some really bizarre incidents really shook me up.Some of them were outrageous. I didn’t expect anyone to believe in me because everyone close to me had treated me as if I were crazy for years.

Some of them in the process of ‘trying’ to validate me made things worse and became another ‘parent’…One, this last year, actually told me the mosquito bite on my foot looked infected and to go to the dr.!

I believed I was ‘bad’ and did cause bad things to happen when I was little; now I understand its a child’s way of trying to have some kind of control over things. If I am ‘bad’ then thats a ‘real’ reason for the abuse, because then there is the potential for bad things to stop happening- if only I was good enough..Its so sad, yet kind of sadly heroic when you think about it.

Now looking back, I see so many people in and around our family were Not the loving kind people I so wanted them to be. In fact not very many of them were. Its a bit frightening to dismantle the foundations of your old belief system, when you were so heavily invested in it. Its not that those people suddenly became ogres or the manipulative selfish people they turned out to be overnight. Its that my vision shifted and I became AWARE. There is a sense of huge sadness, and a sense of betrayal. I was robbed in a very real sense, and so were some members of my family. I recognize that I played along and complied alot of the time because I Wanted to believe the false version of things because it was survival.

I just never expected it to go on and on and on.I am really angry about the garbage that has happened in the last decade.
I spent years believing in lies that made some other people seem wonderful when they weren’t, loyal when they weren’t, powerful when they really weren’t, weak when they were not-loving when they were not, and interested in me as a person, when they most certainly were not.

I tend to trust people I shouldn’t; and be wary of people who are trustworthy. Yet I seem to be able to spot players and dishonest people much better when its someone else they are targetting. I have a long way to go taking care of ME.

Its hard to admit or reveal to someone else that under stress I get floaty and miss key things said and done by others; I forget to do things; I lose things; Its hard to follow conversations;I feel disorganized and fragmented under stress to the point sometimes I wonder if I’m just going to lose it. I never do. I maintain, all the while inside my ‘knees’ are shaking as if there is nothing holding me up-The world doesn’t have much patience with adults who sometimes can’t maintain or who get mixed up balancing checkbooks, keeping things and life organized…I see myself faking it alot in order to avoid more disapproval, instead of asking for help with things, because I think I ‘should’ know how to do slot of things better.

I don’t think I have ever felt as alone as I do now.Its true this is the same old world we all live in but if I shift the way I react to it, if I realize that most people are somewhat benign, that there are some truly wonderful people in the world; that most of life is made up of how I perceive it, it will be ok. There is alot of garbage in the world. I don’t have to have my face rubbed in it for reality’s sake. I also don’t have to live in a fairy tale tower.

Now things are all changed or changing.
Family isn’t really ‘family’. Old friends aren’t really friends. Old lies are being stripped away, and I should be happy. I am grateful for truth but am I up to living this new life where other people don’t get to define me anymore or my life.Now I have to define these things.Am I up to it?

I understand a little more now how frightening it was for my daughter to have had other adults around her, in the family, in the church, consider me an outcast, a ‘sinner’, and a..’joke’.She wasn’t spared abuse by a long shot either. What was worse for her was loving me and being made to feel ashamed of that.Her ‘rock’ was my mother.And my mother and the church defined her perceptions of things.

I was angry a few days ago after she said I embarrassed her by trying to call her boyfriend at work during an icestorm trying to reach her; and she told me ‘everyone’ considers me to be a ‘joke’. The boyfriend’s manager and coworkers were all laughing and ragging her boyfriend about her ‘mom’ calling and worried about the ice.She told me a day or so ago the manager is a real ‘insensitive douchebag’…her words.

Now I understand she was reacting to her past- she had been hearing that mocking for years,growing up, from other people; and in a very real sense she was deprived of having a mom she admired and was proud of.She was robbed just as I was.Maybe she too, was at that moment, afraid of it all happening again.

This is a wonderful blog and the posts are always so gut honest. Thanks.

16

THIS IS THE KEY… Knowing that I am Equal in Value to any other human being. Believing that I deserve respect, kindness, and considertion, no less than anyone else.

I have been through a lot of trauma and pain in my life. But nothing ever hurt me worse than the pain of Not Liking Myself.

The foundation of my life, from earliest childhood, was built upon the damnable lie that I was not worthy, not good enough, not acceptable, and unwanted. “I love you, I just don’t like you.” My mother said that to me many times as I was growing up, with a self-righteous smug smile on her face, like she was being so saintly for managing to love someone as unlikeable as me. When the little girl I used to be would ask my mother, “WHY don’t you like me?” hoping to be able to fix whatever it was, she would say, “It’s just YOU, it’s just the way you are. It’s the way you think.”

The way I thought, thanks to my parents, was that I wasn’t good enough. I was NOT OK.

Eight years old, and I loved to read. One day my mother handed me the Readers Digest, and told me to read a certain article. It was a heartrending story about a little 8 year old girl… the same age I was then…. who had leukemia. The story told in great detail how good and sweet and loving and BRAVE she was, and how she endured her painful treatments and agonizing bone marrow tests, without one word of complaint. Then she got sicker and weaker and still she was nothing but sweet and loving and good and BRAVE, and still she never once complained. Then finally, tragically, at the end of the story, the little girl died.

I was horrified! That was my first realization, at the age of 8, that little children could get so sick, and suffer so horribly, and die!

When I finished reading the story, I was heartbroken for that poor little girl. Heartbroken, and SCARED. If it had happened to HER, could it also happen to ME?

My mother asked me if I had read the whole story. I told her yes, I had. Then she said, “I wish you were like that little girl.”

Years later when I was 26, I was tested and then biopsied and found to have cervical cancer. The biopsy report said that it was impossible to be certain from such a small tissue sample, but it appeared that my cancer may have spread to the endocrine system.

I knew that if my cancer had indeed spread to the endocrine system, that would be a death sentence. I was terrified, but also, deep down inside, I was thinking that NOW was my chance to make my mother proud of me at last, by showing her how brave I could be through this! I called her immediately, and told her what the biopsy report said. Her response was, “Oh, cervical cancer, that is so easy to treat, and so common, really it isn’t like having a REAL cancer. Almost nobody ever dies from that. It’s hardly any worse than getting a cold. People die from colds too, but very rarely. Anyway, I’ve read that only promiscuous women get cervical cancer.”

I couldn’t even get the right kind of cancer to please my mother!

I was 50 years old before I finally started validating MYSELF. Until then, all throughout my life, I had desperately searched for someone to give me that “STAMP OF APPROVAL,” as Darlene called it. But even when others DID approve of me, I invalidated their approval in my own mind, by telling myself, “They don’t really know me. If they did, they wouldn’t like me. If they knew I had been in a mental institution as a teenager, they wouldn’t like me. If they knew how many failed marriages and relationships I’ve had, they wouldn’t like me.”

When I was in my early 40s, I went to nursing school. The class of approx. 50 nursing students were almost all in their late teens, with just a couple of others who were also in their 40s, and one in his 50s. At the end of the first month, we were supposed to vote on a class president. No one ran for it, it was up to the students to nominate, and then immediately vote for a president, and other class officers. To my utter amazement, my class elected me President! I felt SO VALIDATED! But, it didn’t last. I was afraid I would fail, or do or say something stupid, that would make everyone regret voting me President. The day came when I actually stood up in front of my class of fellow nursing students and “confessed” to them that if they REALLY knew me, they wouldn’t like me!!!!

THAT came from my mother, also. When I was 16 and the 18-year-old boy I had been dating for less than 2 months asked me to marry him, I was so thrilled! Somebody loved me!! Somebody wanted to marry me!!! I told my mother the very next day, thinking she would finally see me as valuable. But what she said was, “He only thinks he loves you because he doesn’t know you. After he has lived with you a while and gotten to know you, then he won’t love you.”

Shortly after we married, my first husband told me he had only wanted a wife to avoid being drafted to Nam, and that he still wanted to date other girls, because he didn’t really love me and he was too young to settle down with just one woman for the rest of his life. I thought my mother’s prediction had come true. Especially when he started beating me all the time, the first time less than 1 month after we were married. My mother told me that I deserved for him to hit me. She said if I was a better wife, then he wouldn’t “have” to hit me.

Today, my family of origin still calls me “weird” and “crazy.” I’m not kidding, it was posted by one of my sisters on facebook 2 months ago. Then a neice, the daughter of another sister, posted that she wouldn’t friend me because I give her “bad vibes.” She doesn’t even know me, I live 1,000 miles away and have seen the girl once in her whole life, briefly, and that was 10 years ago. I haven’t lived near my family of origin since 1974, when the sister who thinks I am weird and crazy, was just 14. She doesn’t KNOW me, none of them do. But I am still the black sheep and the scapegoat, because I was institutionalized, by my mother, in 1967, before anyone in the psychiatric field even knew what PTSD was. I have been CRAZY in the eyes of my family ever since, despite all the doctors that have assured me over the years that I never should have been put in an institution, and that I never had schizophrenia, I have PTSD, which is NORMAL when you’ve gone through extreme trauma, just as it is normal to bleed, when you are stabbed.

As long as I agreed with my family’s opinions about myself, I made choices in my adult life that were harmful to me. I allowed one abuser/user after another into my life, because that was all I knew, and that was all I thought I was worth. It wasn’t until I learned to respect myself, and to LIKE myself, that I stopped allowing anyone to abuse me, or to treat me without basic common courtesy and equal consideration. I left all abusers behind, and that was when, deep inside, I finally began to HEAL.

By the way, when I read what my sister and my niece had posted about me on facebook…. and I hadn’t posted one thing negative about any of them, quite the opposite, so their hateful comments came totally out of the blue… I sent a message to both of them saying, You are not my sister, Karen. You are not my niece, Nicole.

My sister never responded to my message. Nicole did, she sent an email saying she was sorry that her comment had hurt me, and then she said, “But what you said, about me not being your niece now, that was worse than what I said.”

The girl is something like 25, a mother, and in college. Is she really that ignorant? Or am I missing something?

THANK YOU, DARLENE. THANK YOU, EVERYONE.
Lynda

17

PS~

I recently read this in 9 Dragons, a novel written by Michael Connelly:

“Happy is the man who finds refuge in himself.”

My new mantra!

Lynda

18

Hi Elizabeth,
I really appreciate how much depth you go into with your comments ~ this is VERY helpful to so many other readers; I am not sure if you realize that in sharing the way you do, you also share your progression of recovery. You share your insights and breakthroughs and it is very profound. (My husband has even told me that he has followed your stories and your journey and we both see such huge growth in you!)

You bring up so many valid and insightful points in this comment. This is a lonely journey. I remember one day when I realized that in a way, we do life alone. Realizing and accepting that was a relief and a freedom. My process and my journey is very personal. I love that I can share it with others, but the difficult times and realizations have felt really lonely. And although it is hard, it is okay too.

Thank you Elizabeth, for being here, for sharing so deeply and so honestly, and for being such a big part of this blog. It is wonderful to share the journey with you!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Lynda,
I agree and this is my message too. Equal Value. Equal Value is a foundational universal truth. How could it not be? And owning my value was one of the biggest concepts that enabled major forward movement for me.
I really appreciate your stories and insights here Lynda. As I said to Elizabeth in the comment above, this depth is so helpful to others. I learn so much from each of the people who share here and I feel like this has become a healing community.
My Mother said cutting things like that. I had to realized that they were about her, not about me. She was constantly putting me down ~ I wonder sometimes if she was afraid that if I saw my value I would see the way she viewed herself ~ as valueless. That she constantly put me down so that I would not notice that she was a pathetic abusive and mean bitch. I am not under the delusion that her own self esteem was high.
I love your comments Lynda,
Thank you,
Hugs, Darlene

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TRY THIS: Introduce You to Yourself

Here is one thing that has helped me greatly to learn how to care about myself, and respect myself, enough to have the courage to stand up for my rights, and even to LIKE, and LOVE, myself.

Several years ago when I was going through my last divorce, I was seeing a therapist who suggested that I keep a daily written journal about my feelings and thoughts. I tried, but I was too emotionally wound up during that time to write. The simple task of putting words on paper was beyond me. So one day, in total frustration, I decided to TALK into a tape recorder about the feelings and thoughts that I was in too much emotional turmoil to write. When writing was too hard, talking came easy. So I “journaled” into my tape recorder.

Later, I went back and listened to the recordings I had made, fully expecting to hear a ranting, raving, neurotic, crazy, emotional mess. That is what I expected to hear, because that is what my abusers had told me about myself ever since I was a little girl, anytime I was emotional about something: “YOU’RE CRAZY! YOU’RE NOT MAKING ANY SENSE! YOU’RE TOO EMOTONAL! YOU’RE OVERLY SENSITIVE!”

But, to my amazement, I didn’t hear anything negative or crazy or out of balance, at all. Instead, I heard a woman who sounded kind and caring and humble and thoughtful, someone who was sensitive, but in a good way. I heard a woman who sounded hurt, but with very good reason, someone who had been through a lot, and had a lot on her plate, and yet was doing her very best to overcome, and not let it destroy her. I heard someone who was honest, and introspective, and willing to do whatever it took to be a good, healthy, normal, loving person. To my shock, I heard a woman that I really LIKED, someone I would love to have for a FRIEND. WOW!!!

A couple of years after that eye-opening experience, I decided to be baptized in a new church. It is a very large church, so they have made it a practice to do a videotaped interview of every new church member, to show on the huge TV screens to the congregation immediately before you are baptized, as a way of letting the church members know who you are.

So there I was, standing in the baptismal water waiting to be dunked, when suddenly there I was, on the gigantic screen behind me, and on screens to either side of me, and on more screens in the back of the church. I was talking about myself, answering the interviewer’s questions about how I came to be where I was at that point in my life, at the age I was then, which was 52.

I looked at myself in amazement, and as I listened and watched myself talking on the giant video, I thought, “WOW! Is THAT really who I am? Is THAT really the way I look, and sound, and present myself to the world? Is that how other people see me??” And once again, I wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed by my demeanor or my manners or my way of talking, as I had expected I would be…. I LIKED ME!

I still struggle sometimes with low self-esteem. When my sister and my niece posted some deeply hurtful comments on facebook a couple of months ago, calling me “weird” and “no big loss,” it triggered all my old, lifelong feelings of hating myself. Because being devalued is an old PTSD trigger of mine, it temporarily put me right back to believing that I am “less-than” everyone else, as seen in the eyes of my family of origin. I heard that hateful, devaluing, judgmental, condemning stuff for decades, from the time I was tiny, mainly from my mother, but from others too, so those feelings of being inherently unworthy run very, very deep.

It helps me to remember: I know who I am! I live inside my head and inside my heart, so I know ME. I have heard my own voice, and I have seen myself, as if from the outside looking in, and I LIKE who I am. I am not less than. I am beautiful, in the unique way that my Creator made me to be… beautiful, in the Image of the Creator’s Beauty, and gentle, in the Image of the Creator’s Love. I am not my own workmanship, I am a one-of-a-kind handmade original, created by the greatest artist of all. Anyone who dares to treat me as though I am LESS than ANYONE ELSE, is a LIAR. I won’t listen to those ignorant, hateful, damnable lies anymore… especially not inside my own head!

If, like me, you are having a difficult time learning to validate yourself, you might want to try what I did. Talk into a tape recorder, or better yet, into a video camera, then introduce yourself to you. I believe you will be happily surprised!

Hugs,
Lynda

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Darlene,

I think that I am doing exactly what you said, using whatever I can to make me mad at me, and food is easy and available and socially acceptable, so thats what Im using, and have used for several years now, in place of other more destructive methods. Like Lynda, I have always known that nothing I can ever do will be “good enough” for my mother, and no matter how hard I try to make me “perfect” it wont ever happen….because what makes me “imperfect” is not fixable in any way, and I have lived with that knowledge every single day of my life (my “imperfections” resulted from birth trauma, so its literally been since birth), and ultimately knowing that truth, made me vulnerable for abuse from others and knowing that I wasnt “good enough” just made it easier to accept it, and never expect better.

I dont feel that way anymore, at least not to the extreme that I used to, I know now that my worth is not in what others think of me, but it is what I think of me that matters, and thats where the problem lies still, is I dont think Im “good enough” either, albeit not quite as bad as I thought I was before, so I guess that in itself is improvement.

Lynda, when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and various personality disorders and went to a psychiatric hospital the first time, thats when I “hit bottom” and thought for sure that “they” were right and I was and never would be “good enough” because I was broken mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and any other way a person could be broken, and learning that it was not true, was what allowed me to start to heal. I can relate so much to everything that you share. My mom told me when I was 13, that I should marry my then boyfriend (who was 19) and leave home….and so many other terrible things and for most of my life, I told myself that they were all a joke and she wouldnt really say things like that to me and mean them, but now, after decades of that, I know better, and I know its not me, and I know that nothing I will ever do will matter enough…and not trying to make “her” happy anymore has been very freeing in a lot of ways.

Elizabeth,
I think I am where you are in a lot of ways, the disorganization, stress responses, inability to balance the checkbook and all that, I am doing those things and trying to “function” in the real world, and failing miserably (in my own mind…whether thats actually true or not Im not really sure) and that just makes me feel “not good enough” continuously and its a 24/7 struggle to validate myself and my accomplishments and try to force that to change my internal monologue….and its all “in my head”, so it all looks normal and pretty on the outside, while inside Im “losing it”…and I dont feel up to it either, and its hard to feel “lost” in a world full of people because the shift isnt visible on the outside, and to try to make sense of things when its all a big jumble in your head and you arent sure what’s real and true and honest and trustworthy anymore because everything you ever believed in your life ends up being completely skewed, sometimes for the better and othertimes not.

I question every thought, word, action, sight, sound, taste, smell, feeling that I come into contact with, and that makes me “feel” crazy and bad and wrong and stupid and a zillion other things…I dont like admitting that to myself or anyone else either…because admitting that Im not as “smart” as I wish I was in every single way imaginable (thats the only pride I ever had in myself that was real, was my intellect) or that I am not as honest, kind, funny, loving, mean, ugly, fat, pretty, skinny, stupid, silly, whatever else, as I want to be throws me right back into “not good enough” except with ME telling me that, instead of someone else. Then I go and skip breakfast (something my nutritionist is trying to get me to do daily) or some other self destructive behavior because I feel/think that Im fat (or other adjective), and reinforce that negative self talk over and over and over and over….and then all of a sudden I have a second of true clarity and I see it all for what it is, and I know that Im not as bad as I think I am…so I know that its happening, just wayyyyy too slowly for my peace of mind.

Im starting to see me, for who I am, the “real” me, and Im not sure if I like it or not and I know that some people like it and some dont, and Im hoping that the more and more I see the truth for what it is and realize the lies for what they are (even the ones I tell myself) that the “real” me will start looking better and better. I just wonder sometimes if I am going to make it out alive, and if its worth it, then I come here and read about how others have changed, grown, cried, lost, laughed, loved and everything else during their journey to wholeness and balance, and I feel better, because at least Im on the right track and that it will happen, and I just have to have patience and keep working at it.

Geez, I write a book every single time I comment! LOL!

Thank you everyone :) You all help me see so many things I need to see!

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Lynda,

Thank you so much for that post, about talking into a tape recorder. I really think that would be good for me. Video I think would be more difficult, but talking is easy, just like you said.

It reminded me of this time my husband and I took a video and I saw me through the video camera (you couldnt see my face, but it was me) and I thought “oh wow, you dont look/sound as bad as you thought you would” (although it was after having a negative thought about my appearance that was visible) so just that little glimpse of myself in a positive light allowed me to like something in me, even if it was just a tiny part of who I am, its still something….and to know that its helped someone else and to think a more in depth look into myself in that way would be helpful is really something, and gives me a new focus point of a way to work on liking me a little bit more that I can use as a kind of “progress chart” of sorts :)

Thank you for that fantastic idea!!!

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Lynda, thanks so much for sharing. I had tears reading your story. My mother (who didn’t abuse me because I knew how to please her but abused my sister because she didn’t like her personality) devastated me when she told me straight out she didn’t like my daughter. I had never displeased my mother before and though I “knew” at a conscious level that her opinions shouldn’t have affected me, I did let them affect me and I tried hard to mold my daughter to what my mother would like. I invalidated who she was and my mother, who only saw her now and then, abused her through me.

I did not like what was happening and slowly I limited my mother’s influence over me or her by not seeing her much or not letting her spend a lot of time with my children even if I had to see her. I don’t think my daughter was too affected by her because they didn’t see each other all that much but once she said to me, “Gee, your mum is nasty.”

But I know she IS affected by how I invalidated her. And of course she is affected by the emotionally abusive atmosphere of the home. I have apologized but I just HOPE it is not too late for her to heal. That is why so many of my questions to Darlene are about how to deal with our children now that we have begun this journey. Her stories and yours really really help.

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Hi Lynda,
Thanks for sharing this process that worked for you!
Hugs Darlene

Hi Amira,
You wrote:
“I’m starting to see me, for who I am, the “real” me, and I’m not sure if I like it or not and I know that some people like it and some dont, and Im hoping that the more and more I see the truth for what it is and realize the lies for what they are (even the ones I tell myself) that the “real” me will start looking better and better. I just wonder sometimes if I am going to make it out alive, and if its worth it, then I come here and read about how others have changed, grown, cried, lost, laughed, loved and everything else during their journey to wholeness and balance, and I feel better, because at least Im on the right track and that it will happen, and I just have to have patience and keep working at it.”I

I had the same doubts and fears and it all worked out. Have faith in the process. YOU are feeling better ~ that is huge! The real me emerged and there is no comparison between my old life and this new one. I FEEL like ME… it is so hard to explain.
I wanted to mention one other thing; you said that you have an imperfection since birth ~ but even that is a belief! What the heck is a true imperfection?? Why do you believe that it defines you as “not good enough?” I strongly encourage you to look closely at this ~ what I call a “truth leak” about the origins of your self esteem issues. We all have them and most of us find a way to really validate ours. But I have never seen a person who’s so called imperfection is really valid as a reason for thinking he or she is “less then”.
Big Hugs Darlene

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This is an intense blog post.

Darlene, Lynda, Amira, Krissy, so many others; I read and re-read your posts and each time see something new.

All of my life I thought there was something wrong with me.I blanked out my family telling me there was something wrong with me for years. Until it was upfront and in my face. Then I realized, all those years I wasn’t really the funny wisecracking kid who ‘just had thngs happen to her’. That isn’t how they felt about me at all.I was apparently a walking threat to every family secret I stumbled on.

They thought I was so flawed they later told everyone our family knew how mean, crazy and messed up they considered me to be.No one ever admitted to my face thesse things. I found out from e-mails I found, letters they wrote and from other people the things they said.

But that’s over. They rewrote family history- the facts of what happened, who did what and who said what.They wrote the real me out of the family history, as being caring,compassionate; trying to stand up for my family, being there for my family at times it was my responsibility to do so. They sabotaged my efforts to care for and protect my mom after her head injury,(and she played a big part in this as well), they – including mom, sabotaged my efforts to protect my daughter, they stole my right to having my rightful identity as a thoughtful, caring and rational person.

They portrayed me to everyone around my family as selfish, irrational, abusive,controlling, dishonest AND AS THE ICING ON THE CAKE, unChristian, and even demon possessed, just in case they overlooked anything. I guess having generational curses covers anything else that might come up.lol.

THAT is not who I was. That is not who I am.

I was shamed and marginalized for witnessing my father being railroaded into suicide;and no help being given to him. I saw him being entrapped into web he couldn’t get out of.This was over 35 years ago.

I was shamed seperately for not acccepting their theologies religiously- neither my mom’s nor my sister’s- two very different theologies. Theologies which were at odds with each other, but my sister and my mom each saw me as ‘the enemy’.

I tried to get my mom into a safe living situation after her head injury when she was vulnerable to unethical people and their ‘suggestions’. I tried to protect my daughter, mom AND myself from a man with a crminal history who had become involved with my mom; I tried to get my daughter out of a church where she was taken on a youth trip where the only female chaperone left the group for the entire trip(with the blessings of the three adult men on the trip),and which the church did not inform the parents about-

I tried to be proactive and protective of and with a family who didn’t give a rip about me in the first place.So all of this was the ‘right’ things to do,but I did them because I loved my family.I wasn’t trying to rack up Brownie points here.

But in return, because certain people were trying to cover up their own neglect and actions I was labelled as ‘mentally ill’,etc.
When it hits you that things ‘happen’ not because of ‘bad luck’ but because other people wanted things to happen and then wanted events, people and motivations to be seen in a certain light, to cover their own tracks, its horrifying.

My own mother had some realization at the end of her life that she had been manipulated by her church leaders- but she had participated in their narginalization of me to help them keep MY daughter in their corrupt church. All the church leaders wanted from her was her money …AND her granddaughter, but her head injury, her negative feelings about me, and her religious ‘loyalty’ kept her from realizing this.

Now I realize I was seen as the person who had to be disabled and discreddited, because otherwise, if I had been effective in trying to take care of business in my life- MY life, and MY daughter’s life,other peoples’s goals and plans for us,would not have been achieved.

I am glad I came to this realization slowly. Otherwise it would have killed me, these realizations.

Because other people had their own agendas, and because other people were threatened by what I knew,and interfered terribly in MY life, I had to be cut off at the knees.

I am far far from perfect but I deserved to have an ordinary life within my community, with my daughter, enjoying her growing up years, like s many other people get to have.She deserved to have a mom who wasn’t constantly embroiled in just trying to get certain other people just to leave us alone.I get very angry when I realize what was done here.

MY life, my daughter’s life- our lives were made hell because of other freaking people who wanted something from us they would never have gotten from us willingly: control of my mom’s money- my daughter’s and my inheritance; and the church wanted literal control my then 10 year old daughter herself.My sister made herself extremely scarce during my mom’s last illness leaving me to do everything. If I had buckled under the stress, she would not have lifted a finger even then except to be there to collect her share of the inheritance.Just as she has since mom died.

How is it possible to have beeen a part of a family that cares so little for one another? How is it possible that I was there for them but they collaberated with outsiders to ‘X’ me out? For stupid and incomprehensible reasons?I will never understand them. I don’t want to understand them.

At my mom’s funeral my 33 year old niece’s husband approached my 19 yeaqr old daughter and told her how much my mom had disliked him.I was passing by and heard my niece state that mom had never liked ‘any of the men who had married into the family.’

My niece’s husband took the opportunity at Thanksgiving a few years ago, to tell- at the dinner table- how he haad loaned his ‘buddy’ $200.00 to ‘buy a woman’.In front of the whole family he says this. So no, I don’t think my mom liked him very much. I sure don’t.And this niece- my mother’s only other grandchild never once even called my mom for years before she died. Oh she drove the two hour trip here with my sister, once a year maybe after I stopped driving my mom and daughter up to their houses several times a year for years.

These are adults who make their own decisions and not kids.I am on FB with my niece but I never hear from her. I never get thankyou’s for Christmas gifts or birthday cards.I sound snippy and whiny, but really, what is the point in trying to ‘family’ with people who have made it clear they don’t want to be family. And I don’t really want to be around my niece’s husband. He is crude, abusive and creepy. Everything I don’t want to and don’t need to be around- nor does my daughter, who he eyes whenever he sees her, since she hit puberty.

I want and need to wrap some things up for closure on all of this. I have tried to understand and see others’ side in my family situation for too maany years. All this time no one- No one in ANY of these situations has felt the need to explsin, clear the air, attempt to make sure I didn’t misunderstand anything, or apologize.

So it just is what it is. As simple as that.I had a lifelong run-in with some real unsavory people. And some of them were faamily.and its over if I want it to be. Now its my decision.And I am done.They are as harmful to me as any other harmful unhealthy substance.Sad but true.No amount of sentmental wistful and wishful thinking will change it.

Here’s the kicker- none of the things that people did require counselling for a detached person to see how wrong they were, and evil some things were.I required counselling because I couldn’t see things clearly becauser I had been programed to think I deserved the abuse. So was my child.There were so many people involved in the things that happened and they meshed so perfectly that I will always wonder what really happened. This many separate people surely couldn’t have been involved in this without some kind of coordination. But I will never know.

This starts my new life. I am scared and shaky. But never AGAIN will I allow people like this in my life, knowingly. I will find out now what I can and cannot do, on my own.Thanks.

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Elizabeth,
Yes ~ a walking threat to the family secrets. (and they didn’t know how many of them that YOU knew because they don’t really consider which memories we have and which we don’t have.

They HAD to paint you as flawed because as long as they could keep the focus on you as crazy ~ no one would believe you IF you did reveal those secrets. They might have stolen your right to your rightful identity, but now you are getting it back.

I am thrilled and excited to hear you proclaim the truth ~ that is not who you were, and that is not who you are. YES and I am thrilled that this is the start of your new life! I look forward to sharing it with you!
Hugs, Darlene

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Dear Precious Elizabeth,
I know what an unbearably lonely place it is,when nearly everyone in your world believes lies about you. I know how unbearably hopeless it makes you feel, when there is nothing you can do, and nothing you can say, that will ever make them see, and believe, the truth. It’s like trying to swim against the tide.

I know what it’s like, because that is the nightmare I have lived since 1967, when I was 14. My story sounds so paranoid, so completely “crazy.” I know this! I know that if anyone else were to tell me a story exactly like mine – if I hadn’t lived through it myself, firsthand – I would NOT BELIEVE IT. If I were someone other than me, someone who hadn’t lived my life, and then I heard this story, I would firmly believe that the person telling it was delusional at best, a pathological liar at worst.

Which is why I almost never tell my whole story, because I don’t want people to start thinking that I am a paranoid, delusional, insane, pathological, liar. But after reading what you just posted here, Elizabeth, I feel encouraged to go ahead and tell the rest of my story. Here goes:

My mother was rarely ever motherly or loving to me when I was growing up, although occasionally, when her mood was exactly right, she actually was motherly and loving. But most of the time when I was growing up, she was benignly neglectful of me, if you know what I mean… she went her way and did her thing, whatever that was on any particular day, and let me go my way and do my thing. It was only on a few rare occasions, during my early childhood years, that my mother strike, seemingly out of the blue, with something overtly mean and hateful and extremely hurtful, by becoming either verbally, and/or physically, abusive. My dad was similar to my mother in this way… loving sometimes, emotionally absent most of the time, and abusive – extremely so – only rarely.

After my father came so close to killing my mother that I thought she was dead… he did this because, as my dad later told it, he believed my youngest brother was not his, and in my memory there is some evidence he may have been right about that, although it is no excuse to beat or murder somebody… my mother went into a deep dark suicidal depression, finally sinking so low that she tried, on multiple occasions, to gas us all to death, as I have already written about here. I thought the pilot light on the whole house furnace was faulty and going out on its own, on those nights when the house would get so cold and the heat wouldn’t come on, until finally I would get out of bed to turn up the thermostat, only to discover that it was already up as high as it would go, so then I would get my mother out of bed, to light the pilot.

As I have said in earlier posts, after this happened several times, my mother told me one day that she had to tell me something, because it was weighing so heavily on her conscience. Then she confessed to me that she had been trying on purpose to gas us all to death in our sleep, only she hadn’t been able to figure out how to override the safety shutoff on the gas furnace. She told me that she thought she would be doing us all a favor by taking us out of this cruel world, and, since she had brought us into the world to start with, she believed she had the “right” to kill my 4 much younger siblings and me, along with herself.

I was 12 when my mother told me this, and I believed her when she said that if I told anyone what she had told me, she would go to prison for the rest of her life, and the 5 of us kids would go to 5 different foster homes and most likely we would never see each other again. My family was everything to me! I loved my little sisters and brothers like they were my very own children. I had always been very maternal from the time I was tiny, loving and pampering my dolls like they were real babies. When my siblings were born, when I was 7, and 8, and 10, I was thrilled to not be a “lonely only” anymore, and had turned all my maternal love toward the real-live baby dolls. I never got tired of mothering them, so the thought of our mother going to prison, and then the 5 of us kids being separated for the rest of our lives, was a fate worse than death, to my 12-year-old mind. That is why I kept my mother’s secret.

But it ate at me, night and day. I couldn’t sleep at night, fearing that she would try the gas again, and every day when I had to go to school I was terrified that my mother would snap while I was gone, because I wasn’t there to keep my noisy and rambunctious preschooler siblings from fussing and crying and getting on her nerves, so I was very afraid that one day I would come home from school and find them all dead.

When mother started dating someone, became pregnant, and then married my stepfather, I was so relieved. Mother was happy again. She had a man to love her and to take care of her and the family. I had known my stepfather from the time I was 4, because he had been one of my dad’s co-workers. I knew he was a good and honorable man, the kind of man who would take care of my mother and my little siblings, no matter what. I didn’t have to worry anymore about being gassed to death in my sleep, or coming home from school and finding my whole family dead, especially not now that all but the youngest were also in school during the days when I wasn’t home.

The only problem that remained was the fact that, starting from the moment my mother had told me her horrible secret about trying to gas us all to death, every day from that day on she had gone out of her way to treat me hatefully, constantly finding fault with me for every little thing, real and imagined, with the real exaggerated all out of proportion. Day in and day she nagged and she bitched, and accused me of things that I had never done and had never even thought of doing, in some cases making accusations about things that I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. It was all very confusing and crazy-making back then, but now, looking back on it, I can see that my mother really began to HATE me very intensely, from the moment she told me her awful secret. It was as if she hated me, because I knew her hateful, horrible, murderous secret.

My mother’s daily nagging and fault-finding got even worse when she married my step-father, because she seemed to see me as competition with him. My stepfather was never anything but 100% fatherly and gentlemanly and appropriate with me; he never so much as ever looked at me “funny,” never gave me the slightest “weird vibe,” nothing like that. But, starting from the time my mother began dating him, when I was around 13, my mother was telling me, when he wasn’t around to hear, of course, that “No house is big enough for two women”, and ordering me to stay away from my stepfather, she didn’t even want me in the same room with him, plus she was complaining to me about how my “big breasts” had developed almost overnight. I was extremely shy, and I was embarrassed by my “big breasts.” I still felt very much like a little girl. I would have died of embarrassment before I would have even thought about flaunting myself in any kind of a sexual way in front of my stepfather! But my mother treated me like she thought I couldn’t wait to get my stepfather into bed!

I started unraveling emotionally a few months after my mother married my stepfather. I know now that I had complex-ptsd, which is why I was “unraveling.” But the psychiatric association knew nothing about ptsd back in 1967, especially not the “complex” kind. So the psychiatrist my mother took me to gave me the diagnosis of the day, which was Schizophrenia. My mother then jumped at her chance to get rid of her pretty teenage daughter with the busty chest, by putting me into a state mental hospital. My stepfather tried to stop her! He couldn’t believe she was doing that to her own daughter! He even went to a lawyer to try to stop her, but the lawyer told him that because he was “only” the stepfather, he had no legal right to stop my mother from committing me to an insane asylum. I know this happened, because my stepfather told me so. He was in tears. He cried as he told me that he couldn’t understand why my mother was doing this to me! If she hadn’t been about to give birth any day to his baby, he may not have stayed with her, at that point. I don’t know that for a fact, I’m only guessing. But as I remember how upset my step-dad was, I believe that may have been the case.

My 4 little sisters and brothers also cried and begged our mother not to send their “Big Sissy” away. But my mother did it anyway, saying that because she had found a doctor to diagnosis me with schizophrenia, it was the right thing to do. (By the way, the first shrink my mother had taken me to, said that I was not mentally ill, I was just having some trouble adjusting to the new school we hve moved to after my mother and step-dad married. So my mother found another doctor to say that I was mentally ill, and to put a label on it. My dad had been diagnosed schizophrenic and with multiple personality disorder after he had nearly killed my mother, so there was that family precedent to help my mother’s case.)

THIS IS THE PART OF MY STORY THAT SOUNDS PARANOID AND CRAZY…. because my stepfather, and my then-7-year-old twin sisters, and my 6-year-old and 4-year-old brothers, were all so upset and angry with my mother for having me locked away in a mental institution, my mother told them all that she HAD to do it, because I had confessed to her that I was planning to kill her, and all my little brothers and sisters, so I could have my stepfather all to myself!

I don’t know if my stepfather believed her, I only know that he finally stopped trying to fight her, around the time that their baby was born. It was a fight he couldn’t win, anyway. But my little sisters and brothers DID believe her, and they continue to believe her to this day, more than 43 years later.

Meanwhile, over the years my mother became very religious, and super involved in church work. She is looked upon as a Saint in her little town…. certainly not the kind of woman who would try, night after night, to find a way to override the safety shut-off on a gas furnace, so she could kill her whole family while they were asleep in their beds…. and then, failing that, have her pretty teenage daughter committed to a mental institution to keep her away from her new husband, using the excuse that the daughter was planning to do what the mother had in fact tried, and failed, on multiple occasions to do… to kill the whole family.

I got married less than 2 months after I was released from the insane asylum back in 1969 when I was 16, and in 1974 I moved many hundreds of miles out of state, away from my family of origin. I have been back on for a few brief visits over the years, but, other than that, my family of origin doesn’t really KNOW who Lynda is. But just a couple of months ago, one of my siblings was posting on facebook that her older sister Lynda is “weird” and “no big loss” to the family, and a niece of mine, the grown daughter of one of my other sisters, who has seen me once in her life, briefly, at a family reunion almost 10 years ago, posted that she wouldn’t friend me on facebook because I give her “bad vibes.”

And that’s my horror story, my real-life Nightmare on Elm Street. It sounds like a plot from a grade B movie, doesn’t it? But it’s TRUE, all of it. God as my witness.

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PS~ I’m sorry I posted that on Christmas Eve. I wasn’t even thinking about the date, when I checked my email before going to bed last night, I saw Elizabeth’s last post, and after reading her story about her abusive family spreading lies about her and labeling her crazy so that no one would believe her about being abused….. then my whole story just came pouring out.

Today I am mostly very happy in my life. I have a loving, respectul, kind, BEST-FRIEND-HUSBAND, who told me just yesterday that having me in his life is worth 100 thousand times more than anything he’s ever had and lost. I asked him what he loved most about me, and he said, “Everything! I’m not just saying that, either, I stopped and thought about my answer first, like you asked me to, and that’s what keeps coming to my mind. I love everything about you. There isn’t anything I don’t love.”

Wow. After a lifetime of being unloved, and believing that was because I was unlovable… going straight from my nightmare of a childhood into one abusive marriage after another, because I was way too broken to attract a healthy man, but I was the perfect target for wannabe abusers… with each abusive, failed marriage leaving me more broken than I was before, so that I went into the next relationship/marriage in even worse shape…. my life just kept going from bad to worse to horrible. After all that, to finally reach the brink of suicide at age 50, while going through my 4th miserable divorce…And now, here I am, happily married for the past almost 7 years to my best friend, who loves me so much! I am so thankful, so blessed. My past has been full of horror, but my NOW is full of peace and joy and love, and I also love ME, today. So I am very grateful.

I am deeply grateful for this blog, too, and for everyone here. Merry Christmas. May this new year be the best year of your life so far. It’s NEVER too late, and NEVER too hopeless, to find healing and happiness. I am living proof of that.

Love,
Lynda

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Hi Lynda,
Wow, thank you for sharing your story. I don’t mind what day of the year you (or anyone else) shares on! Life is life and it can’t be put on hold.
One of the things that I have discovered in recovery is that we MUST tell the stories, because I found out that so much of my belief that no one would believe me or that they would think I was NUTS etc. was not true. The people that devalued me and wanted to keep me down of course would say that I am crazy and I suspect that they still think that… (but thousands of readers monthly seem to think otherwise), but what I found out is that it was very important for me to realize (often through others) that my stories and my history had happened to MANY others. Many can relate. Many were in crazy dysfunctional family systems too! this was very healing. Very important for me. So please, tell the stories.
thank you for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene
Merry Christmas!

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Lynda, my heart is hurting after reading your story.
I just made a long post nd just now hit the wrong button and lost all of it. The things I posted; the things I said were as upsetting to me as possible.I think i’ll wait another few days to try to post them.

I think our stories are somewhat similar.I am so sorry for what you went through. Its like Lady Macbeth.Our love for our families is the cornerstone for all the pain. There is no pain like the pain of betrayal-not because of anger but because of the bottomless pit of grief and sadness-and those are inadequate words.What’s the word for being ‘X’ed’ out as a human being?What are the words for how you feel after being viewed as expendable? A ‘nothing’,is how I have felt in my family’s eyes.

Thankyou so much for sharing your experiences and your post.

I do realize that what happened had nothing to do with who we are, or what we did. It had everything to do with these other people’s agendas and plans. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time; the wrong family.I don’t think anyone no matter how empathetic they are can understand how soul killing it all was, unless they had been in a similar dynamic.You can’t reconcile with anyone in the situation because if they realized and acknowledged their part they’d have to realize they took psrt in literally destroying someone.I couldn’t ever trust them anyway. And that memory never goes away.Its not unforgiveness; its kind of a horror.

That is how I feel about my sister. I don’t hate her. Its her past indifference to the implications of the things she said and did, almost carelessly, that can’t be overlooked. She is fully capable of doing what she did again; just as my mom would be if she were still alive.Leopards don’t change their spots no matter how beautiful they are.

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[...] of this post is that I opened this post with; “Throughout the years of trying to change” ~ See how deeply it goes? I never considered that I was trying to HEAL, just that I was trying to “change” as though I [...]

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I read this post the first day it was posted and I ran from it. I ran into what I always run into…my books and TV and isolating. Did that throughout the Christmas weekend (which was still better than spending it with my family, but I digress…) ;) And just when I’m thinking about running some more, I run across a new post about procrastinating. Go figure.

So it’s time to face it. And I still don’t want to.

Once again, my post might turn out to be very long, so…sorry about that.

The first thing that struck me was where you said above, “I thought that validation would come from somewhere else or from someone else because invalidation came from somewhere else. (Not from me)” But the truth is, I invalidate myself all the time. It is coming from me. Now, I realize I invalidate myself because that is what I learned, but I do it to myself all the time. I did it to myself yesterday. But I must confess I did it to myself because someone else did it first. I was talking to my sister about our mother and how she doesn’t really see us and has never validated our contributions to the family…to surviving as we were growing up and helping HER survive. How we have always been a burden to her, and likely always will be. I said I wanted to stop WANTING her validation, because I knew it would never come. She said that I shouldn’t want to stop wanting it…I shouldn’t suppress my own desires. That I should keep wanting it and maybe I can bring it about. W.T.F.??? Seriously? Obviously, she has no idea how long it took me to get to the point that I finally admitted that nothing I could do or would EVER do would change my mother. So I should just keep wanting something my mother is not capable of giving me because … WHY, exactly? So when I hung up from this conversation with my sister, I started doing what I always do, saying, maybe she’s right. My feelings are real, right? So acknowledging that I want my mother’s approval is a good thing. It’s validating myself. But see, that’s not what my sister invalidated. It was my hope that I would someday STOP wanting my mother’s approval. It’s very twisted, and I’m getting confused just writing it here. But that’s what my sister said was wrong: I should keep wanting my mother’s approval. But the truth is I do want to stop wanting it. I want to believe that I’m okay without it. And the truth is, even if my mother all of a sudden started approving of me, I WOULD NOT BELIEVE HER. So I think it is perfectly right to want to get my approval elsewhere. To stop expecting it or wanting it from her. Maybe I won’t jump from that to validating myself, but the reality is that as long as I continue to want my mother’s validation, I will keep deflecting the real problem, which is that I don’t validate MYSELF. Never have.

I have spent my whole life validating my mother. Defining my experience through hers. And EVERY TIME I validate her, I invalidate myself. Because in validating her, I’m telling her that she really was a good mother, that she really did do the best she could, that she had it harder than anyone else, that no one ever helped her. Well. That is just flat UNTRUE. She was a terrible mother. She may have done the best she could, but it was NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Lots of people have had it harder and done a better job, and she had LOTS of help. She had four children who all worked YEARS before we were legally eligible to do so (I first started working at 12). The first paycheck I was ever allowed to keep was when I was 19, after I quit college. I handed over every check to my grandmother, who kept the books and played Lady Bountiful. My mother did the same, but you know what? That’s not my problem.

Someone above, I think it was Michelle, talked about an “enmeshed” relationship. This is the kind of relationship I have always had with my mother. Even my opinions about BIG and LITTLE things have to be examined. I’ve always just parroted her opinions. I never thought for myself or believed I had a right to my own opinions, and CERTAINLY not if they disagreed with hers.

I wrote a lot of notes as I was reading this post and its follow-up comments. I was going to write back to each person by name as things struck me. But the reality is that I’m too scattered to do so. Like someone said above, whenever I feel anger or disappointment or hurt because of someone else’s actions, I immediately feel GUILTY for having that emotion. And that keeps me spinning. I am always apologizing for my bad behavior but I never require or expect anyone else to apologize when they treat me badly. And they never do.

Elizabeth, you said something about trying to believe that people were “interested in me when they certainly were not.” This brought back to mind one of my major complaints about my mother…and it happened as recently as this morning. She asks me a question and then talks over me when I try to answer. Also, what you said about getting floaty and unfocused when stressed is me to the tee.

As I read over what I’ve written here, I realize I might have run into some unexpressed anger, too. I guess that’s okay, right? I am angry. I am livid. But how do I not turn that anger on myself anymore? How do I stay in the realm of acknowledging that these behaviors are not my fault, at least long enough to choose a different behavior instead? And the worst one for me – worrying about how much time I’ve wasted staying stuck, which just KEEPS me stuck!

I haven’t made any real progress. I just keep on acknowledging these things…separate from the emotions that surround them…right up until I run into anger (especially at my mother), and then I shut down. Because I’m scared of the anger. I have to go to work every day (to a job that feels very familiar to me in the way it makes me feel invisible) and walk through real life and I have not yet found a safe way to express my anger. So I shut down, stop acknowledging that I feel it, and keep eating and hiding and I get bigger and more unhealthy and I lash out at those weaker than myself (like my pets–I know that’s stupid, but there it is), and cycle back into guilt and shame and self-hatred.

So. Validating myself never lasts. And getting my validation from outside of myself never happens. Maybe I really am invisible.

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P.S. I look to this blog for validation every time I post. I guess that’s a step up from looking for it from my mother…but it’s not the same as self-validation. Not at all. Thanks for listening to me and letting me be as crazy as I am…until I’m not anymore. If that day should ever come. :D

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Hi Lisa,
I love your long comments ~ the long comments unwind and explain the process the writer is going through to reach the conclusions that need to be reached. Others get the benefit and each comment contains many little trigger thoughts that each of us can apply to our own memories. This is a great way of sharing our journeys and giving tips to each other.

This particular comment is rather profound. I could write a new post about it… Actually Lisa, this isn’t confusing to me at all. The part about your sister invalidating the HOPE that you will one day stop wanting your mothers approval ~ You have written that brilliantly and clearly. (and I am SURE others will benefit from it too) (and validating ourselves is the only real answer, but as you say it is okay to move forward to that in stages!)
I spent my whole life validating my mother too ~ and once again you wrote it out beautifully. It is okay to be angry! It is necessary!
I think that your post is HUGE and full of breakthroughs, and that there is a whole ton of stuff here in it! But here is where I disagree with you: you say that you have not made any real progress… WHAT? this post is FULL of progress. Full of feelings. You ARE making amazing progress. Shutting down is fine, but this time you expressed a lot before you shut it down. Self validation comes with all of this. It may take some time, I did a lot of “this” before I did self validation, but this was all part of the process.
Keep going Lisa!
This is awesome!
Hugs, Darlene
p.s. about lashing out… for me that stuff eventually dissipated when I found my validation, owned my value and some things I just didn’t have to do anymore. Please hang in there!
love Darlene
p.s.s. and yes that day will come if you keep striving towards it!

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Wow Thanks Darlene this was a most powerful discussion I feel just like everyone commenting here I actually feel like there may be some hope for me

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Hi Charlotte
Welcome! I am really glad that you feel hope! I started this blog with that end in mind. I never had hope before I found this process of healing. It was different then what I had already tried, and the results were quicker.
Glad you are here!
Please feel free to contribute to the conversations when ever you wish.
Hugs, Darlene

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this post has come at a great time time!
my neice UNFORTUNATELY has ‘issues’, and is now begiining to to try and sort through…
i told her about this blog a few days ago, and this is a PERFECT discussion for her to read!!!!

thankyou darlene for taking the time to share your experiences, wealth of knowledge and understanding with us all. and also to those who comment and share, everyone says something that helps put the scattered jigsaw together. i am very grateful. this blog has helped me through some of my darkest days. there is a light at the end of the tunnel!!!!

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I recently read a book about those that invalidate and those who are invalidated…called Nasty People by Jay Carter. Short book. It made me realize I need to self validate. My parents and last BF made me feel like I am the crazy one, but my mind, just can’t believe it. Spend my life invalidated for emotions from both parents. I began self injuring. Is there a list somehwere of self validating statements? A cheat sheet would be nice. Thank you for this website…it is always nice to know you are not alone in dealing with some really weird hurtful stuff, often insidious. I just left a boyfriend who invalidated me and became homeless basically in dad’s RV…the original invalidotor. Trying to move to a place I might be able to get a job at. from the frying pan into the fire…I can see the light…by then I will be in a new job, working for people who arent emotionally abusive…man is this stuff rampant!!

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Hi Dawn,
I hear you! But there is what I have found. When I looked at the truth about this stuff, and the origins of the invalidation and what all of it caused me to believe about myself, I was able to see how much of it was lies and that I wasn’t the crazy one. That was when I began to validate myself. As I got stronger, new people didn’t invalidate me because I didn’t invalidate me anymore. Some of the old people in my life didn’t like my new boundaries and they walked away from me, some of them insisted in living in that old system (looking down on me) so I walked away from them. But the key for me has been validating myself ~ not by validating statements, but by realizing the truth. (that I am NO LESS valid than any other human being)
Thanks for being here!
Hugs, Darlene

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I have struggled my whole life feeling invalidated, less important than most. I have a difficult time expressing what I really fee, unable to let the listener really understand the pain I had endured. I seem to tell it as if someone else went through it as if it wasn’t that bad. That seems to be the way people have responded. My story is of a lost child. Youngest of five. Mom passed away when I was 5, and Dad withdrew not knowing how to deal with his own pain by working. No one expressed their feelings. I learned to keep it inside. I was very shy and withdrawn as a child. I felt alone and as if I did not fit in anywhere. I grew have dysfunctional relationships, I turned to alcohol, not knowing that not everyone drinks to get drunk. My Dad remarried when I was 13. I thought it would be great to have a mom figure in the house. It wasn’t the fantasy I had hoped. She was manipulative, selfish, vindictive, and not a very loving person. But of course as a child I longed for her affection. She had a son, and a daughter from previous marriage. They were older than I. Life became so difficult and I wasn’t even aware at times. I was depressed, I recall most of my childhood. I wanted to be loved and to fit in somewhere. My step brother noticed this, and after I mentioned I had a crush on him and he found out things changed. At 13 I had a 21 yr old flirting with me. I loved the attention. By the time I was 15, he had gotten hold of my heart I could not get it back. He also had my innocence. I could not understand why he played mind games with me after that for yrs. I was beat up by my step sister,(while my step mother watched) because she found out her boyfriend hit on me. At that same time she yelled out that I was screwing her brother!!!! As if I were the perp.!! I did not tell anyone about this or my relationship with step brother. I loved him and had no idea what was going on. Something that I thought was wonderful at first, him showing me attention turned into something dirty, and wrong, something I was not to share with anyone. Every relationship I have had, he has been in emotionally. I sought out counseling, groups, therapy, thinking it was all the dysfunction of my family. But I still feel the pain from him. I have troubles with trust and intimacy to this day and I am in my 40′s!!!

I made the mistake of looking for him on the net 4 yrs. ago. I thought I just needed to contact him for closure. I got things out and questions answered. But he sucked me right back in with sharing the feelings he had but never could tell me stories. I let him get into my heart and my head again! (I am married to a wonderful man, who loves me more than I could love myself) And yet I felt the need to contact him and allow him to come into my life. I just feel empty inside at times as if I can’t love someone back that loves me.

I continued speaking with him and it turned into more than closure. Although he lives 2,000 mi. away. I felt something again, as if I were alive! Until his games began again. Responding to me once in awhile, or telling me an excuse why he couldn’t talk. This has gone on for 2 yrs. now. At the end of June this summer, he tells me he had planned to come up this way and wanted to see me but wasn’t going to be able to. The next thing I know he is telling me he has had a gf for months and shouldn’t have kept it from me. I of course respond, that I had a feeling….because I do not show Anger in the right places!!!! I text him the next day and the day after with no reply so I was getting a bit flustered. When he finally replied, he said his phone was off, what did he do? I told him that I thought he was ignoring me again. I felt like I was back at the beginning feeling all the pain all over again…..while he was off with his fling. I said that to him and it seemed to upset him a lot. Only the fling part, he had no regard for what I was feeling!! He then told me not to text again!!!!

I have been a wreck this whole week. I am sick to my stomach, I don’t want to eat. I cried for 2 days after that and now I just feel like I am nothing again!!!! The things he told me over the past few yrs. was everything that I wanted to hear when I was 15. He even picked out our song!!!! Then he throws in my face he has a gf and doesn’t want me to text because I said fling!!!!

I know I have a problem here. I just don’t know what to do. I have confided in my husband and he is supporting me because he knows what i went through as a child and with him. But he is having a hard time knowing that I continued to talk with him and I am being affected like this. I have been told I was abused by him. Sexually and mentally. I guess I never agreed with it, because I loved him. The mental part of it I knew hurt the most. I just can’t believe he did it to me again!

I hope I explained it well. I really need any kind of help you can offer. How do I take control back and not allow him to continue to destroy me!!!!

Thank you for reading,
Laura

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Hi Laura,
Thank you for sharing your story with me. This is a very big issue, not something that I could address in one comment back. There is a lot of information/articles in this blog about how I got my life back from abusive people who controlled me and people who made me feel bad about myself or people who made me work very hard for a small scrap of their attention and I also look back and see how I was drawn to those people. Uncovering all this was a process. I invite you to read more of this website; you might get more insight that way, into the ways that we get so hooked into this stuff and the ways that we can get our lives and control back.
I am glad you are here. Please share often.
Hugs, Darlene

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I am back in therapy with a therapist I saw 2 yrs ago. She is the one that has been able to help me open my eyes to some things. Not that it is easy…not at all. I am feeling a lot of Emotion during and after my sessions…but I have also been doing a lot of avoiding afterwards until my next session. We are visiting my childhood past, that as many was not very good. I did not get physically abused it was more of being lost in the family. My Mom died when I was 5 1/2 and I think my Dad and family fell apart. I was the youngest.

Well I was great prey for a man 8 yrs older than I. Problem was, I loved him. I am now trying to face that I was abused by him and it continued into my 20′s and he was able to get back into my heart and mind again in the present. I have been told that the hold he has on me is because of the abuse and victims want to please our abusers. I have never dealt with that and I think my mind is more clear than it’s ever been now and I am ready to accept and work through this. It hurts so much but I am ready to get him out of my head and my life. thanks for reading.

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Hi Laura
Good for you! Thanks for sharing with us!
hugs, Darlene

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This was exactly what I needed to read tonight. Thank you.

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Welcome to EFB EmberRising,
Glad that you liked the article!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi,
I understand this perfectly..I was harshly criticized and invalidated as a young child up to adulthood by my mother, you can imagine that enormous amount of pain and rage built up inside me. There was plenty of self doubts, neediness to be accepted and approved and mental confusion, needless to say self esteem was rock bottom, took me years of energy work to clean this up and still cleaning..Thanks for sharing this article, well done.

Mike

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Hi Mike,
Welcome to EFB!
Thank you for your comments; It certainly is work to clean it up! Glad that you are having success with that too!
Hugs, Darlene

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Darlene, great article. I am a thirty year old male. I have always had trouble with anxiety when it comes to making new friends building new relationships. I reached the point around 6 months ago when I decided internal conflict had reached a boiling point, decided to talk with a Therapist. Within 30 minutes of talking the therapist had uncovered issues I had with my parents. It was a shock, a bit of a tough admission, but I felt relief when it came.

The way I came to understand the situation was they could not self validate, decided therefore needed to take their validation and self esteem from demonizing, devaluing others. This, I have discovered, is not regular but narrow mindedness, complacent and cowardice behavior.

In the six months since I have embarked on a journey of reorganizing the puzzle in my mind. I have been angry, frustrated, upset and, at times downright dejected by the whole thing. That being said, therapy was something i will never regret. I take encouragement from your article and congratulate your determination and resilience.

All the best on your journey.

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Hi Nick
Welcome to EFB
Thank you for your comments and please share often
Hugs, Darlene

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I get so tired of people telling me I should be able to ‘move on’. What they really mean is the issues caused by the years of emotional, physical, and financial abuse I suffered are inconvenient for them to look at. I’m not asking them to deal with them. I not asking them to cure them. I’m just asking them to understand that they don’t understand, and that they should thank heaven above that they don’t.

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Thank you so much for your story Darlene. I’ve always known that the majority of the problems I am having in my adult life stem from the emotional abuse I experienced as a child. However, it’s only recently that I have realised that it was not my fault, and it’s also not my fault that I have been unable to heal myself fully. I have been feeling bad for years, partly for being damaged and then partly for being unable to completely undo that damage. Recently I started realising that this is unfair to me. I should be applauding myself for surviving my childhood, for picking up the pieces and getting on with my life, for contributing to society, being a great friend and a supportive family member. It does make me sad that the majority of people don’t understand the effects of emotional abuse. It makes me sad too that my mother is in denial that my father’s behaviour affected anyone other than her, and my sister believes she is OK and doesn’t understand why me and my brother are not. (Perhaps she had a different experience – she was my dad’s favourite.) Reading your post was like hearing my feelings come back to me with clarity. Thank you so much for what you’re doing. It’s great. I’m sure you’re steps will really help me.

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Thank you for sharing this. It helped me see i am too hard on myself. i went through emitonal and verbal abuse growing up as a small child. I recived Christ as my saviour and i belive He has began a process of healing in me. The thing i find hardest though are other people in the church who judge me for being who I am. For my bizzar and embarassing responses to what I percive as rejection.-When i read rejection into stuff without even being aware of it; to my ‘issues’. leaders have implied that as a ‘mature beliver’ I should not be ‘so sensitive’ etc. When i feel pain they react angrily because i should not feel pain. etc….just ‘read what the Word says about you.’ Well I do. I know the Word of God I even spent 3 years in Bible school. That hurts because I know it’s a lifelong process.I feel there is a whole new and free level of living life that I have yet to tap into…. I will I am sure, but I get impatient with myself…. Your article reminded me to keep working at deliberately changing my thinking.

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Hi Rosa
Welcome to EFB
Oh yes, the old “mature vs immature believer crap”. I hate that. It’s so sad that they won’t consider hearing you instead of pointing out your faults. Christ would listen. Christ never invalidated anyone’s pain. Iam glad that you decided to keep going forward!
Hugs, Darlene

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It took me so long to get where I am today. Can’t believe how confused I’ve been all of my life and Im still trying to escape what emotional abuse did to me as a child. For some reason my mother never loved me or treated me that way. I will never understand her or how someone could treat her own child that way. But she has definitely had an aversion toward me all of my life. I have recently had memories that until now were suppressed, of her locking me in a bathroom and other things too. This happened when I was tiny…. like 2 or 3 I would guess. I think I was labeled a “BAD” kid. I was just a little girl who needed her mothers love and she rejected me. I remember even then feeling a deep sadness and like there was something wrong with me. My mother had the problems, but instead of feeling any kind of remorse she made ME the problem. To this day I am STILL the “problem”. The woman will never EVER acknowledge that maybe SHE was the problem. I still have contact with her, and have spent my life trying to get her love and approval. I now have a HUGE degree of HATRED for her…. but I also love her, which is REALLY confusing. I married a man who has done the very same things that she did. I raised 3 very remarkable children. Being a mother was REAL hard for me….. I had no idea how. I DIDNT want to hurt my children the way my mother had hurt me. I could NEVER do what she did,still with depression and just trying to deal with life, it was hard. I havent been a perfect mother. But I refuse to invalidate my children the way she invalidated me. And when I have hurt my children I have suffered for days beating on myself for it. I love them too much… dont want them to go through what I have been through. Also, I have began to set boundaries…. my mother is still in my life… but I have distanced myself a great deal. I get guilt trips dropped on me for that by people who dont understand. They say HOW could you do that to your mother. My mother has a way of putting on that she is SO SWEET… she isnt… she is a monster in disguise. She cares A LOT about what others think…. her image…. it makes me ILL!!!! There is no way that ANYONE could understand because it has all been so COVERT….. I feel so alone with it…. Im working real hard at trying to validate myself…. setting boundaries… I was so abused that now Im ultra sensitive…. people can kill me with a word… I hate it… I dont want others to have so much power over me… the other thing I do, is I put myself out there…. tell people too much….. trust too much…. I guess that is called weak boundaries….. there are a lot of really ignorant and cruel people in the world that dont care about me… I have to learn to love and care for and protect me…. I deserve it… I dont need anyone elses approval…. I only need to learn to approve of and love myself… I know that… its hard to stay on track though…. I keep getting sucked back into it… the old tapes of abuse play… self doubt and fear are my enemy…. depression comes and everything filters through that….. I know all of this, so I have to sometimes keep reminding myself… that this too shall pass… I just wish I didnt have these feelings all of the time…. I also try to pay attention to my thinking…. I have tended to withdraw and go inside of myself.. I know now that I need TO LIVE…. in spite of the pain…. I want to be the kind of person who LISTENS…. so many of us listen… but not many truly hear…. anyway… I found this site… and decided to tell my story…. my heart goes out to all of you who have suffered emotional abuse…. Debbie

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@Debbie – you sounded just like the old me. Its very painful…and difficult to find someone who understands and listens..criticism and invalidation can easily trigger the deep wounds..not to mention the confusion, self doubt and being a victim. The root of all these is low self esteem and its a big problem that pervades every area of your life, it sucks big time. From my experience, you may need a lot of healing work on this.

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Hi Debbie
You nailed it when you said that you had to learn to approve of myself etc. That was key for me. The way that I did that was to see where my self esteem got so damaged in the first place. I have written so much about the ‘how’ part of this in my site. There is hope! Please keep reading.
Welcome to emerging from broken!
Hugs, Darlene

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Debbie,
I was touched by your story. It echoes so much of mine. I too had to learn to trust myself and validate my own feelings. My ‘mother’ certainly never did. I was the same as you, I’d open up to everyone, thinking they could see how damaged I was, and that I had to explain why. It’s taken me a long time to realize I don’t have to do that, and that you can’t trust everyone. Funny how some people lose their trust in people and others trust almost anyone, even their abusers. How very sad, that I tried to get validation from my abusers. To try to get them to comfort me after everything. Well, that’s a slippery slope, and put me even more into their manipulative sick ways. They didn’t deserve it and never will. Because they are not sorry for what they have done, only sorry they were exposed. In the end I had to ‘sever’ the enmeshment I had with my ‘mother’ and trust in my own instinct. No mean feat when you’ve been called a ‘know it all’ and criticized everytime you try and assert yourself, for every choice you make in life, even simple ones like which music to listen to… Anything that differed in what she thought was best or that ‘belittled’ her. She always used to say ‘ you’ll never get one up on me’ , what the hell is that supposed to mean? Let alone to a child? How awfully confusing. But I found my way out by trusting my own instincts, and gathering tidbits of wisdom from decent people, counsellors, and especially this website. I put together my own reconstruction of self, and I’m happy to say I am now more aware and confident of my own identity and direction. We all have it in us to comfort and strengthen ourselves, others help us to tap into that.
Sending you a big hug…
Michelle

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Thank you to all the brave and honest women out there helping others by sharing so honestly, this has me helped me enormously to know how familiar the story is and that it is not “me” that caused or imagined the abuse.

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Hi Johanna
Welcome to EFB ~ glad you are here!
hugs, Darlene

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So many great comments! I really am just starting to SEE how deep the lies I’ve believed have gone. It is truly freeing to “de-program” that old garbage that was fed to us by people who were very likely fed the same garbage from the generation before. I don’t have to believe something just because it seems like “everyone else in my family does”. A lot of people believed Hitler and look where that ended up! It may sound like I’m being extreme or dramatic but seriously, people stop thinking for themselves, stop listening to their gut, and just kinda go with what everyone else thinks. I know because unfortunately I too kinda got swept into that thinking (as a result of the victimization. But, I am now starting to replace these lies with God’s truth, which for me is monumental. I used to be so angry at God for allowing this to happen to me and at times there are parts of me that still are angry at God, but as I’m healing, I’m healing that little child inside of me who was brainwashed. I have had to cut off contact from my abusers, my parents, so that I can clear away the wreckage and see the truth. This past year has been so difficult to grieve the loss and the betrayal that the people who were supposed to care about me the most, inflicted upon me the most hurt and pain and damage that has carried on into my adulthood. But I am determined that by God’s grace, evil will NOT prevail and I will be free from the grip this abuse has had on my life. Thanks so much to Darlene for having this site.

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Excellent article, one of my favorites! I appreciate the different stages and viewing the list, I can see certain stages where I got stuck. And I can also be at differing stages of the process in different situations. I am in the process of identifying many many lies and actually feel relief as I discover them. There was so much I blamed myself for and tried to alter myself to be what someone else wanted, and that was never the answer! I have a ways to go but am feeling better and better as I discover the lies, look at them and realize the truth. Thank you so much for this article!

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