Feb
28

Smile ~ An Example of Belief System Formation

By

 

 

where does the belief system come from

Darlene Ouimet ~ Smile

One of the biggest uncomfortable and reoccurring memories that I have is of constantly being told to smile. It was not encouragement, it was a directive. I didn’t realize it at the time, I was too young when it started but today I know that it was a judgment of me. It was said “as a judgment”  

I wonder why no one asked me why I was so unhappy. I bet my mother would say that she did ask. But what I remember is her asking why I didn’t smile more like this; “Why don’t you smile Darlene… you always look so sullen.” That was a rhetorical question.  She didn’t want an answer. She was not concerned. She just didn’t want me to look “sullen”.

It is important to keep in mind however, that it doesn’t matter what her intention was. It was what I heard that matters because the message that I got from this “request” or “judgment” is the damage that I had to overcome. The message received was the damage. That is what I am talking about when I talk about overcoming damage and having to find out what the damage actually was in the first place.

I was extremely quiet. Perhaps “withdrawn” is a better word.  Didn’t anyone think that there was a reason for that? 

I heard the whispers about me. I heard the question “what is wrong with her?” many times. I don’t think that statement or question helped me become the happy child that they “wanted” me to be. It made it worse.

I overheard a conversation once between my mother and her sister (my Aunt) when I was somewhere around the age of 8 or 9.  They were discussing my “sullenness” and my constant headaches. It was not so much that they were concerned about me that struck me, but they were trying to decide what was WRONG with me.  I connected the word sullen with the smile directive and put all those messages together. My belief system had already begun to form that something was wrong with me and this conversation just added another layer to it. (I did not think about “why” I was so withdrawn. Only that they thought something was wrong with me)

I was getting worried about me too.  Something was “wrong with me” and nobody knew what! My grandfather got sick and he had cancer and was going to die.  Perhaps that is what was “wrong with me”. Maybe that is why I had so many headaches. 

I had heard about kids who were “different” at school; kids who were born “not normal” and I worried that maybe THAT was what was wrong with me.  I had to find out what was wrong with me so I could overcome it, fix it or hide it.  If I didn’t figure it out, I would never be acceptable ~ never be good enough and never be loved!

I heard my Aunt say that perhaps my difficult birth and the fact that they Doctors used forceps caused more damage than anyone had considered. She said that perhaps the Doctors didn’t know there was damage because I was just a new born baby.  The message that I got was that “what was wrong with me” may have been caused at birth.  Can you see how this false message began to form a “belief” in my belief system?  

Hearing this stuff made things far worse for me. Hearing their judgments increased my fear of being rejected and of being thrown away. Hearing this stuff confirmed that something WAS wrong with me, (just as I already suspected) and that I wasn’t good enough or worthy enough.  If only I could just pretend to be happy and remember to smile. I couldn’t force myself to smile and that make me feel like a failure. My belief system was well on the way to cementing the self blame.

When I was in my twenties I overheard another conversation; I heard this same Aunt telling someone that I had brain damage from the difficult birthing experience.  Now, the “perhaps” part got dumped out of that story. (because my mother was not part of the conversation). She could say this “behind my mother’s back” and because it was so “normal” and common for me to hear this kind of “backstabbing” I didn’t really think much of it.  The way that I processed it was to feel sad that people were still wondering “what is wrong with me” and I was still wondering what was wrong with me too.  I believed that I had “failed” to HIDE whatever was wrong with me.

I was labeled “sullen” but no one wanted to know why. No one was interested enough to dig into the where that may have come from. How does a child become so unhappy and withdrawn? I was content to believe that something was simply “wrong with me” and I was born with something wrong with me. Even I stopped questioning why I was so withdrawn and tried to accept that I was just different and likely defective.

Maybe they already knew why I was so unhappy, but pretending that our lives were “normal” was more important than doing something about it.  OR maybe they were just as unhappy as children and they thought that all children are unhappy. Or maybe the accepted that life is really not a happy journey and why should MY childhood be any different than the one they had themselves?  None of that matters though, because the damage from the message is what I had to face in order to overcome it.  The damaging messages that now lived in my belief system had to be discovered at the roots and set back to the truth.

No wonder so many people question the meaning of life. The cycle goes round and round ~ passed from generation to generation.  No wonder there is so much depression, anxiety, addiction and overall coping when most of the world is resistant to looking at the roots of where it began. It is easier to accept a mal functioning gene; I know.. I accepted that for many years too, but it was when I faced the real roots of my belief system that I found freedom. It was when I began to understand where these false beliefs originated; where and how my belief system formed, that I was able to see the lies and overcome those false beliefs.

There was nothing wrong with me.  I was withdrawn because I was being abused; I had endured (and was still enduring) sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional /psychological abuse.  I used the fact that I didn’t “smile enough” as one of the many answers to the question, “what is wrong with me” because that is what survivor mode is all about.  We take the blame on ourselves because we are too young to know any different. Taking the blame (self blame) is part of the coping method. Imagine the fear and hopelessness if we blame the adults in charge of our care. I had to find out the things like this “smile example” that I used to confirmed the lies forming in my belief system in the first place.  

Today I smile! My smile is natural; not something I have to think about and not something that I am EVER reminded to do.  My smile is born out of freedom and wholeness and from living in the truth. My smile comes from inside of me and shines through. I like my smile. I FEEL my smile in my heart as though it is a live part of me.

Perhaps after many years of not smiling, I had a lot of catching up to do!

Please share your thoughts! I look forward to how hearing about how this article will impact people.

There is Freedom on the other side of Broken

Darlene Ouimet

related posts see highlighted words in colour  also see: Manipulative and Controlling people and some control tactics

Beleif System Formation via the message Received in Childhood

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

 

Categories : Therapy

98 Comments

1

Thank you for knowing how it feels, to know that I am not the “one with mental issues” like my NM, and NM’s relatives(sisters and a my Ncousin) wants people to believe. I wish that no person would ever have to go through this kind of torment but the silver lining in the ugly mess is friendship through the web, facebook or even in person. Just to know that someone understands and that I don’t make this crazy stuff up sure does help. I don’t think people could make this up. It can only come from a true Narcissist. God Bless you! Sincerely, Kathleen

2

Its amazing how pieces of your life as a child are so similar to my own. I use to hear the same thing. Its not that they particularly want genuine happiness from us, that would require some honesty about what made us miserable in the first place. Did our mothers (or anyone else) really want an answer ? Sure, mom I’ll smile, just dont try to kill me or yourself, ok ? Cause smiling is hard when you’re schizophrenic and your family ( I no longer consider them to be my family) wants me to pretend that nothing is wrong. We get punished when we occasionally forget what our roles in life are as daughters. We are puppets-mindless, malleable but cute. When we begin to show signs of true emotion, those that defy the acting, then we look ungrateful. ‘What are you upset about now ?’ Put the knife down and I’ll tell you.

3

Hi Kathleen
It’s true. Who could make this stuff up? and who would want to?? Another message that I received over and over again was that I was a story teller and an exaggerator… so I had to undo that one too! and that one caused me to doubt myself constantly even well into the process. (not to mention the way that we were expected to accept the blame; “something is wrong with you” just like in this post. Thanks for sharing, glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Akusua
It really is amazing how many of us went through this stuff, never realizing that it was them that was wrong.
Love your comments! Very well put ~ especially that last one
“What are you upset about now ?’ Put the knife down and I’ll tell you.”
I had a knowing smile over that one!
Hugs, Darlene

4

I was similar in that I was extremely withdrawn and never smiled as a child. Relatives commented that I was too quiet…and I assumed I was entirely defective also, that it was my fault. No one ever looked at what might be happening to me.

You certainly have a lovely smile now Darlene!

5

Wow – I remember being told to smile too. Very basic – one reason I did not smile was because she wasn’t smiling at me while telling me to smile. Children often model what they see and I remember a lot of scowling and eye rolling. I am free from that but as a child I had no idea. I was also told to hold in my pot belly and straighten my swayback. Thinking on it now I had neither. Poor mean mom; just could not say anything kind…..

6

Darlene, I remember that same reprimand and usually, it was accompanied by a fake smile from my mother. It was about pretense, the method of coping my family loves best. I was also, remprimanded for pouting and moping and no one cared why. I was supposed to be more like my sister who was usually in some world of her own and happy. My moping and pouting was worse around the holidays and so were the sources of my depression. My parents drank more, fought more, fought with neighbors more, broke more things in the house, and left me in strange bedrooms at parties where no one could hear me when I woke up afraid and not knowing where I was. No one every asked why I was pouting and if I tried to talk about any of these things, I was told that I always remembered only the “bad” things. I spoiled all the efforts of pretense if I tried to talk about the reality. I was the culprit for all unhappiness because I failed at pretense and remembered. I was a defect. I was also, sick during holidays, a good deal of the time and that was further proof of how defective I was. I bought all of this for a long time. I’m glad though, that I was never able to carry pretense very well and the truth about the “bad things” never faded from my memory because remembering the truth rather than accepting the pretense is what set me free.

Pam

7

Memorable comment to me as a child: “Smile or I’ll slap you!”

8

I loved your blog. It resonated almost exactly with my own experiences. Complete strangers (always men) would tell me to smile, as well as my mother’s constant admonition that I “stop looking so sullen”. I, too, was abused. Thank you for your brave story. I love the blog title, too!

9

Hi Ellen
Yes… I heard that “too quiet” also.
Thank you for the lovely compliment!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Tamara
You know what is striking me about these comments is that I didn’t think that others may have had this said to them too! I hoped that it would be a good example that could be used for anything similar. It is funny the “surprise” that I feel about others being told that too! I barely ever talked about this smile thing because I thought (in the past ) it was such a little thing that I must be silly to think it was “mean or wrong”…
Thanks for sharing!

Hugs, Darlene

10

Pam
These are excellent points! Thanks for adding your voice! Pretense! yes exactly!
Hugs, Darlene

MCZ
and that is an excellent example of just how stupid that whole “smile directive” is! Smile OR I will slap you!! That reminds me of the “stop crying or I will GIVE you something to cry about!
Thakns!
Hugs, Darlene

11

Hi Adele
Welcome to EFB
Glad that you like this blog. Strangers said that to me too! It bugs me that people never wondered WHY a child was so unhappy… (I don’t mean strangers so much but family!)
I am glad you found me
Hugs, Darlene

12

Same here. I was called “too quiet, “stuck up,” “boring,” “no fun,” “too negative,” etc. etc. etc. my whole life. I withdrew as a young child, hoping someone would wonder what was wrong. No one did. They just blamed me and treated me like I was defective for not being talkative, fun, and happy. I think the withdrawal was also an “f-you,” as in “You’re not going to pay real attention to me, then I’m not going to respond to you.” I was full of repressed anger that I’m only beginning to realize. When I did try to express what I was feeling, my father told me I was “crazy like my mother.” To my mother, I was “too focused on myself.” Of course I was. I had to make up for them not paying attention to me. I’m still making up for it, and I still sometimes habitually withdraw when I feel scared. The hardest part has been learning not to withdraw from myself.

13

Darlene,
I can so relate to this post. I was a withdrawn & shy child and I was made to feel bad about this. The message I got from my mom was that something was wrong with me. Your “too quiet”, “too serious”, and “too shy”. I remember the focus being on me all the time and I became a self-conscious child & adult.

I remember always trying to do better to win approval. I was told to “smile” & “be nice”. “Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice”. Yeah right!.. Just maybe there was a reason for my sadness?…My mom had me wrapped around her finger- I believed everything she told me. She cuddled me- I can’t stand that word. She smothered me with her needy love at times, & then she could knock me down with her cutting/sarcastic comments. I received such mixed messages from her!..My dad was emotionally closed off with a temper.

I had to get really sick with depression to be taken seriously and to get professional help. Then, of course I believed I was not normal for needing help and my parents would discount, what the therapist would say, and tell me she was weird. That was so confusing to me!- I’m looking to the therapist for help and my parents are devaluing her!…I understand that now…of course, they would not give her any credit- it makes them look bad. Well the therapist recommended marriage counseling for them…now they had to look at their problems!

Sadly for me, after talking about my dysfunctional family to my therapist, I had a breakdown at 15. It was just too much to handle and I was so fragile….I never realized my courage, but I now see I I was healthy enough to get help for myself and try to Fix my family….I was a trooper! The counselor did confirm to me that, it was a “family problem”…that was the focus in therapy in the 80’s- the family system…She shed light on MY Family!…

I continue to do the work to heal the damage done to ME and I’m realizing so many mixed messages and lies. It’s eye opening & confusing!…I hope I can see this through and not get stuck in the mud….
Sincerely, SMD

14

Hi Cheryl
I think that has been one of the very hardest things for me to learn too Cheryl. It has been (and still at times is) quite a process to learn how not to withdraw from myself… and learn to listen to myself, love myself, take care of myself and SMILE for myself! (sometimes I smile at myself in the mirror.. kind of as a self encouragement!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi SMD
Yes, me too. Self conscious is a major factor in all this!
You are doing great! Thank you for adding your voice to this!
Hugs, Darlene

15

Hmmm…

Not sure if I got the “smile” threat… although I became highly accomplished at acting like everything was great, so I’m going to assume I did.

That old song “Smile” did start getting to me in recent years – smile though your heart is breaking?? Or “don’t worry be happy” – when you worry your face will frown, and that will bring everybody down?? They both seem to be saying that it’s MY responsibility to pretend I’m great in case my pain inconvenienced others in any way – and how dare I do that, right??

This has reminded me of how my mother always acted – she’d be a bitch in private, but always had the “game face” for when other people were around, acting happy and like nothing was wrong, even if before they came she’d been all shitty. Phone was worse actually – then it was instant. She’d go straight from her standard glaring, complaining, controlling self to sweetness & light.

I’d actually forgotten about that. As I reflect on it now, that was probably one of the hardest things in many ways – the knowledge that she was actually quite capable of acting like a human being, but CHOSE (key word here) to dump all her shit on me. Also the fact that she was aware of herself enough to change her behavior when anyone else was there to see (or hear) tells me… what exactly? I guess that I can’t excuse her. She was conscious enough of her actions to change them. So either she just didn’t give a shit about me & took all her bad moods out on me rather than others who may have called her on being a bitch, or she knew she had me right where she wanted me & that I was too young/too weak/too trusting to stand up for myself.

For the record, even as I wrote the sentence “I can’t excuse her”, my brain was trying to excuse her. I guess that’s survival instinct kicking in again. There’s a cold, hard anger within me about my mother. But then, she’s a cold, hard bitch – what could I expect to come from such an upbringing?

Now I’m feeling angry at myself because I responded to a txt msg from her last night for the first time since I moved out. Ok gonna have to leave this line of thought. Too hard for now.

Oh btw, the excuse my brain went to was that she’s probably utterly miserable and has to pretend everything’s great so she doesn’t have to look at herself. I’ve thought this about her quite often. I get the feeling she feels obligated to maintain relationships with people she doesn’t really like, or who don’t treat her well. (At least, I’d like to be able to blame her for that trait in myself, if nothing else)

I got quite angry when a friend I’ve since fallen out with said about my parents that their persona seemed like a facade (brainwashing & indoctrination die hard, right?) This was probably only within last 2 or 3 yrs. In hindsight, I guess that was probably defenses kicking in for my survival method of maintaining one big f**king blind spot.

Another interesting moment in last couple of years was when I said in passing to my masseuse that I didn’t feel safe at home. Didn’t even strike me as odd – guess I was all too used to it. But it stood out quite sharply to her. I think that was a bit of a turning point for me, in terms of starting to realize that this was neither a normal or a good thing.

Brain’s leaping around a lot – I hung out with my ex over the wkend for a bit. She’s very upset over a breakup in her family. Kinda realized while hanging with her that I don’t really like her that much. In fact, she can be a total bitch. I guess it’s kinda good to realize from a distance so to speak (better late than never, at least). I could never quite convince myself that all her shit was intentional, but I strongly suspect it was. She’d work herself up (often to tears) and I’d suspect I was being played, but unfortunately wasn’t strong enough to stand up for myself (or excused it as being understandable given all my depression, lack of job etc). I wonder where I learned this pattern of behavior, hmmm? It seems so familiar somehow. (Wry smile – don’t think they’ve invented a smily for that yet)

I watched the video of my childhood last night. Kinda weird – I feel so happy seeing myself so happy & carefree & cute at a very young age, but doesn’t take long before it gets painful as little me starts to seem closed off & perhaps resigned to how things are. Poor little me. Felt very sad for my little self when I was playing in a kiddy pool with my cousin (about 6 mths older than me), reckon I was only 1 or 2 at the time. It’s cut off a bit, but looks like I’d been playing with a bucket, then my cousin takes it and walks off. You hear my father say “you can play with the big one” which is sitting a little way behind me, but I say “no!” sadly and point to my cousin. You hear my father off camera taking the bucket back from my cousin, he then gives it to me. My cousin then comes back into the pool straight towards me. I say “no!” again sounding upset. My father says “hold tight, don’t let him take it” but he does anyway. I point at him and my father says “you go and take it back from him” but I say no again sadly. It made me feel really sad to see me knowing what was going to happen & my sad little voice as someone who wants something just takes it from me without a second thought. Also my gentleness (or cowardice I suppose, but I’m told I was a very gentle youngster) at not wanting to start a fight by trying to take it back. Habits start early I guess. Feels symbolic of my life.

Meh. Enough sadness for now. Hope everyone’s doing well.

16

Something about “posing”. As a 25 yr old woman I dated an Englishman that I was quite fond of. One time he said, (this was not aimed at me), “Americans are posey f*&%ers aren’t they?” It reminded me of my mother and I still laugh about that comment…..”Smile”

17

Wow J – when I read your posts it is like years of clutter clearing up for me. You mention the things I forgot or did not mention and it is very healing for me – Thank you!

18

Have been through this loop recently with some adult relationships.

“You don’t seem to enjoy spending time with us. We all know you’re a bit odd, but that’s ok with us. We’d really wish you could see that.”

I’ve found a way to highligh their ‘unconsious’ behaviour to show “You are being abusive and disrespectul to me in the following ways and if it doesn’t stop and if you don’t start treating me as inherrently worthy of respect then we are done”.

The truth was never what they thought. Finding this out will have been a shock. Will have hurt. I’ve felt really bad about the impact that telling them would have but know this is also a symptom of the abusive system.

Instead I remind myself that I’ve given them a gift. An opportunity to move into an adult relationship with me and others. An opportunity to recognise what a real relationship looks like. Ruthless Compassion.

It would have been easy to walk away but this time it feels better to allow an opportunity for growth and maturity. An opportunity, not to change, not to continue as things are.

Who knew I had it in me to do this? The strong don”t always strut around….

19

Should read “opportunity, to change, not to continue…”

20

Tamara,

Your post was a lovely surprise – thank you! 🙂 I still sometimes feel strange about posting here, so although it surprises me to hear that my thoughts can be helpful to others, I really appreciate you taking the time to tell me.

Coincidentally, as I scrolled down the page to reply, I saw your earlier post about ‘potbelly’ nagging – this reminded me of my mother nagging me to “stand up straight” because she thought I was round-shouldered (or worried I’d become that way. Or a bitch. Who knows?) Sorry, bleak humor again.

Anyway, I sometimes wonder about the way people who are broken in one way or another often seem to be hunched over. I often feel this way. I think it’s a physical symptom of abuse, and maybe also a protective mechanism (like curling up into a ball if you’re getting beaten up) of trying not to encourage or attract attention from anyone.

I also wonder if I ever was round-shouldered. Pretty confident that the nagging about it would only ever have made things worse. Even seems possible I never was, but in being nagged about it became that way through tension etc.

Food is another similar subject. I remember always being told to slow down by my mother. This one gets tricky (well, it has far-reaching consequences) Just drifted off for a while, trying to think back… I feel like I always had stomach troubles, but can’t specifically remember it when young (except one time in junior school when I cramped up so bad the teacher had to carry me out to my grandmother’s car. She took me to the doctor but it went away when we got there. I remember being scared I’d get in trouble for not being sick anymore (like worried someone would say I’d been lying or something). You had to pretty much lose a limb to be worthy of a day off school according to my parents, so perhaps this fear was not surprising.

I think I nearly fell asleep just now, so I’ll leave it here. More later perhaps.

21

I’m so thankful to have you speak on this subject. I was always told I was “too serious” as a child…well, yes, I was because my mother was beating the tar out of me constantly. And when she wasn’t doing that she was emotionally/verbally/psychologically abusing me and triangulating me with my siblings/father. I don’t remember one single person caring enough to figure out WHY I was so serious. I always felt that I was broken…I wasn’t good enough…that something was horribly wrong with me.

This FOO stuff is painful to peel back.

22

Hi J
That is one of the things that was huge for me; the fact that my mother could have the “game face” and hide her ways in public. In order to survive, I tried so hard to make excuses for her like ~ she did her best, she was abused too etc… but if she couldn’t help it, then why did she hide it from the rest of the world?? That is what I call a truth leak. I had to focus on the message that I got from the treatment and change the lies at the root of that message.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Mike
OH yes! The old “YOU don’t seem to want to be around us” lead in. (blame and finger pointing at YOU) I told my mother pretty much what you said in your statement to them. ( you said “I’ve found a way to highligh their ‘unconsious’ behaviour to show “You are being abusive and disrespectul to me in the following ways and if it doesn’t stop and if you don’t start treating me as inherrently worthy of respect then we are done”.)
I only got to give her 3 little examples of “the following ways” . She was shocked… and she never spoke to me again! At first I was just floored that she chose no contact because I asked for mutual respect! But then I realized that I was free from all the crap that I had always had to live with before and I too finally learned what a “real relationship” was!
Thanks for sharing! I love your comments!
Hugs, Darlene

23

Hi Kelly M
I keep saying this, but it was as though we were not PEOPLE. ~ Feel this way, act this way, don’t feel that way you are too sensitive, too serious, sullen, sit up straight, don’t talk, you talk too much… on and on…. and since so many other adults around believe in that same dysfunctional parenting system, no one did anything about it… everyone just accepted it.
I know this is painful; but there is freedom on the other side! So worth it!!!
Hugs, Darlene

24

I am happy to see all the clarity and intelligence here, in spite of the fog and confusion that are usually inflicted as part of abuse. Possibly the worst thing that my parents taught me was to distrust my own thoughts and experiences, crippling my ability to comprehend reality and know myself. I want to read comments more often, for a good dose of clarity and hope!

25

I think I was trained to be quiet – my mother wanted the house to be quiet, so when I WAS quiet, everything was hunky dory. She didn’t want the noise of a childin her house (and definitely NOT for me to have friends around). So if wanted to be “normal” I had better take it outside – so I did. I spent most of my time as a child outside, whatever the weather… friends parents would invite me into their homes – they felt sorry for me – but I couldn’t settle there, and soon left for the outdoors again.
My family thought I was having this great free-ranging childhood – they chose not to see how lonely and unhappy I was…
I smiled when I was walking someone’s dog, or down at the stables – I smiled all the time then ( I remember the wonderful feelings I got form being with animals and people who liked animals). But not at school – I’d be told to “wipe that smile off your face”. Not at home – much.

26

Hi Cheryl,
There is a lot of clarity and fog busting going on here!
My parents taught me that too. I guess it would be hard to control someone who has a mind of their own!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Libby
That is exactly my story too about being quiet. No friends IN the house, and get outside. Be quiet. We got the strap if we played too loud. Smile, but don’t laugh! (because laughing makes noise??)
Thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene

27

Darlene, once again your sharing is so revealing. My mother,grandmother, & aunts loved to discuss what was wrong with me. I never remember them stating the obvious- I didn’t handle abuse well!
That smile demand, it’s everywhere. I imagine you are healing the whole world. Thank-you =)

28

Thanks so much Darlene and to all who shared, especially Cheryl.. I also began to doubt myself by my teens… as a younger child I was happy and always dancing around… but it all began to change as my life got lonelier and I grew…. Mum was constantly trying to “improve me”…. i suffered 2 years of having to wear a bit in my teeth with a head strap, like a wierd sci fi torture piece to bed at night which fitted into my braces and made my entire jaw and all my teeth ache…. within three months of having it off I had lost my two front teeth in a major collision… when I wanted to have a dog or a horse my parents told me I was incapable of looking after it..I was so lonely as I came home each day to an empty house and started to get up to mischief in order to keep myself entertained…I waited and waited for Mum to come home then revolved my life around pleasing her and all it took not to anger her…. our house had to be perfectly clean.. no playing until all chores were done…..put outside while Mum cleaned the house…for a long time in my adult life just hearing a vacuum cleaner made me want to scream……I too began to stoop as I was one of the tallest of my year and constantly exposed to taunts and name calling by the boys from the public school…

I eventually became a binge drinker and when I got into recovery at 31 took on the label of a sick alcoholic……if I could just work on my character defects and become a better person I may be loved… but at AA meetings I would cry and cry and cry and then be sidelined.. eventually I got into therapy but it was a long road home.. whem my first depression hit i suffered abuse from my husband for being depressed…he said to me.. I want the happy girl back.. but I was working around major grief… one of his friends visited with his wife and called her a hag.. I stood up to my husband and said I never wanted this guy in my house …his wife was such a lovely person.. i was truely horrified.. as he thought this was a joke.

Anyway this article really hit a sore spot….. i only recently learned its abuse to ask someone to deny what they are really feeling to pretend to be happy just to make others less uncomfortable….my ex did this to me all the time…..I would be abandoned by him whenever I showed anger or frustration or grief…….still I worked hard over 3 years to try and get him to love me as I thought if he went away I could not survive the pain of the abandonment.

That did happen last year and it was the most painful year of my life but now I am happy to say I finally feel I am a complete person and must work hard never to compromise my real self to fit someone elses idea of a false self…..

I thank God for this website.. I re-found it a few weeks ago and it is helping me so much to solidify the feeling of strength in finally being able to identify and call abuse and know we dont have to accept it or necessarily even forgive the perpetrators.

A big hug to everyone.. Deborah

29

Hi Kelly,

It took me a little while to remember what FOO stands for… my bad pun for the day – Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters are on our side! Now someone needs to start a band called the Fog Busters right Darlene? 🙂

(Ok that was pretty bad…)

30

J.
I felt so strongly about the phrase “fog busting” and “fog busters” I considered naming something that at one time! LOL SO YA… start the band J. You said you were a music guy!
“darlene and the fog busters! rock on”!
LOL,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Fai
Thank you for your sweet comments! Yes… the things we were expected to cope with! wow
Hugs, Darlene

31

Hi Debroah
Oh man… I can really relate feelings that you are sharing… That intense loneliness. I had brothers but I was so lonesome. I think that I labeled my longing for love and acceptance as lonely. I loved AA and it filled a void in me but eventually I realized that I was taking all the blame again and actually I had been working on my character defects my entire life. And after 20 years in AA I was still having problems with depression etc. I felt like a failure because I was still working on “acceptance” but what I was trying to accept was that the abuse was not that big a deal… what I was trying to accept was that I was the problem! and that didn’t help me overcome. Facing the roots of the problem did!
Thank you for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

32

I remember listening at my bedroom door (as my parents discussed me) after my mom lied about my behavior that day: “She is mentally ill. She belongs in a mental institution.” How HURTFUL that was. It was just ANOTHER lie on top of years of lies that formed my false belief system; I was perfectly fine. My mom was just trying to justify HER abuse and explain why I was ‘pouting’ in my room after she SENT me there. I was always withdrawn, too, growing up and teachers made notes to my parents about me: “Karen seems like she’s in her own little world.”

At least I was safe there.

33

Hi Karen
That is so very hurtful. (and very harmful, devaluing and discounting) OH I got that from teachers too.. called a daydreamer. It was all over my report cards… Darlene is always day dreaming… I think they call that Dissociating in the Adult world! (and man was I good at it)
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

34

Hi everyone,
Who ya gonna call….. Fog Busters!! I have that tune running through my head now.

As I read through these comments I was trying to make a mental list of the points I wanted to respond to. I lost track. I’m so amazed at how so many of us hear the exact same words. Did our mothers/abusers go through the same abuse training?? Sheesh!!

Tamara,
My mother said the same thing to me about my posture. My natural stance just bugged her and she said it made me look fat. I was anything but an overweight child, but she had such a hangup with not appearing perfect, that she would criticize and try to “fix” my natural posture. She said I stood with my butt sticking out. PFT. I am reminded about something my middle sister recently told me. She was so embarrassed about developing breasts, that she started dropping her shoulders in a hunched over kind of way. She said my mom would punch her in between the shoulder blades with her fist to correct her hunching over, and tell her to stand up straight. OMG…. that inflames me!!!

Ahhh, the game face!! So familiar. My mother is an actress, and a damn good one apparently. She sees the same counselor I do, and it wasn’t until last week the counselor finally said she was not snowed by her. I had pointed out that she was…LOL!! I think my mother has her own stupid husband snowed. It’s just as well; she’s going to need someone to keep her busy because I have quit the game, and my sisters have too (in a less informative/abrupt
way however).

SMD,
I have hoped not to get stuck in the mud too. I have found though, that the more truth is uncovered, the more I’m sort of naturally propelled out of the mud. I hope I remember this when I’m having a day(s) where I feel surrounded by mud. My mother also disapproved of anyone who dared shed a light on her secret self, or suggest that she was anything other than perfect. It didn’t matter who it was, counselors, friends, parents of friends, etc. She would instantly start bashing on them. Sometimes for no reason at all…. just that she sensed they were a threat to her persona. I have been confused also by the mixed messages. Soooo confusing. I think that’s the root of one huge aspect of depression, lack of self assuredness, not knowing who or what to trust, etc. My mother has recently (last 18 months) started saying she loves me. I never ever heard that, in 41 years. Suddenly, she began saying it to my sisters and myself. She says it to me the most. She’s really sucked up to me because she felt until very recently that I was all she had left because I am still in the same city as her. My sisters live hundreds of miles away. She’s also seen me go through a lot emotionally, so she thinks I’m weak and she can still play me like a fiddle. I’ve found some strength though. 🙂

Mike,
You said, “Instead I remind myself that I’ve given them a gift. An opportunity to move into an adult relationship with me and others. An opportunity to recognise what a real relationship looks like. Ruthless Compassion.” I can’t tell you how I’ve tried to put this into words. Thank you for this comment. May I plagiarize it please?? My counselor keeps trying to force feed me “forgiveness”. The truth is, I feel like I’ve come to a place of forgiveness of my mother. That does NOT mean I want to continue down that road of disrespect and BS with her. Why is it, that, if you make a change, refuse abuse, people accuse you of not forgiving?? I can’t seem to hammer that into my counselors head. We wasted an hour monday night on how I haven’t forgiven. UGH. I know I’ve forgiven at least to some degree because I have no anger toward my mother anymore. I have hardly any feelings left at all. So, why is it that finding strength = unforgiveness to so many people? Hmmmm!!

Libby,
I remember being put outside all the time. Even in the rain. We weren’t allowed to watch very much TV. My mother encouraged us to play outside nearly all day long in the summer months. She would say it “developed our creativity”. When I think of that, coupled with what I know of her now, I realize it was to keep us out of her hair.

Speaking of hair, I just had a revelation. My mother was a beautician when we were kids. She kept our hair very short, like a boy’s cut. All of our pictures of grade school years, we all had very short hair, I don’t mean a bob kind of short, I mean literally a boy’s cut. I think I just realized it was so she didn’t have to mess with it. Wow, the things that come out in writing.

Cheryl and Deborah,
It is profound, the consequences of not trusting ourselves, our own gut feelings, and it has effected me in so many areas of life. I have the world’s worst time with making decisions. Sometimes, it’s something as minute as setting a time to meet someone, or choosing a restaurant. I just want someone else to make the choices. Then I don’t have that torture of whether I made the right choice looming over me. So silly when I think about it now. I suppose it’s the result of being told my feelings are wrong, and I guess that’s how I came to not trust my feelings.

Darlene,
Thank you for this site. If I hadn’t come here, I may have never been able to distinguish abuse from loving correction by my mother. She did have me snowed for so many years. I actually thought it was loving correction. Now, I’m “lovingly correcting” her!! 🙂

J,
I LOL at your bleak humor. Humor helps me a lot when I’m feeling overwhelmed by it all. I’m happy to see you here!!

Peace to everyone,
Mimi

35

Mimi
I know it seems that there MUST be a manual hey??
In a way our mothers DID go through the same “abuse training”. (I have been writing a post about this actually!) We may not know about it, (some grandparents hide it really well, remember the “game face”) but often this whole thing is very generational. I got really stuck there; my grandmother did not hide the way she regarded my mother… so I felt sorry for my mother. I excused the way she treated me because of the way that she was treated. (but she has a choice just like I did with my kids)
Hugs, Darlene

36

Aww, thanks, Deborah and Mimi.

Mimi, two things I want to say. Get your own therapist, if you can. That way you can be sure that your therapist has your back, and there’s no conflict or question about whether she is supporting you or your mother.

Two, forgiveness is not something that you do. It’s something your mother has to earn. She committed the moral wrongs. She has to make them right, if she wants forgiveness. That’s not up to you. You can’t will forgiveness. It’s a response to the actions of your mother. If your therapist is spending your time, and your money — you pay her to support you — trying to convince you to force yourself to forgive, when that’s not your responsibility because you were the child in the situation, she is not supporting you. She is supporting your mother. Find someone else.

Hugs,
Cheryl

37

Hi Cheryl,
Thanks for your input. It’s really crazy how my mother and I came to see the same therapist. Long uninteresting story really, so I won’t go into all of it.

Simultaneously, I started uncovering a lot of stuff with my mother, not too long after I had started seeing this counselor. Mother became the topic of discussion, sort of replacing the reason I started going to begin with. It became clear that my mother had her COMPLETELY snowed. The thing that kept me going to her was, I knew if I didn’t expose the truth to her, my mother’s chance of TRUE and lasting change would be completely nonexistent. The chances are extremely slim that she’ll change anyway, but, if I didn’t keep enlightening the counselor, she would have never caught on. It’s true there were times I went and cried and talked about me. It was an uphill battle at times too. Like I was trying to prove my mother’s true nature.

Last monday was my last scheduled appointment. I have her email, so if there is anything I need to address, I can do it that way. Or, I can begin scheduling again if the need arises.

Now that I feel like she’s convinced she’s dealing with a narcissist, I’m stepping aside to let the progress unfold as it will. Monday night the counselor did suggest a family meeting with mother and I, the counselor as mediator. I am not open to that at this time. I had a family meeting when I was on a psych floor in the hospital back in my early twenties. My mother made a disaster of it and subsequently, a disaster of my life as a result, in that she made it all about how badly I hurt her; she spread lies and didn’t leave anyone out. I’m not ready to give her that opportunity again.

Thanks for your comments,
Mimi

38

Hi Its Clare
Im like that from time to time being Sad but people dont understand they say it suppose to go away straight away but it doesnt its always going to be in your head like it is for me and im starting to remember alot and sertain things so it makes me feel sad as if I want to do something about it.I would like to write a book but dont know where to begin if any one can help please let me know.

From Clare

39

Hi Clare
People don’t have a right to tell you what your feelings are or should be. That is part of this whole thing… taking our rights back.
Hugs, Darlene

40

Hi Mimi,

Thanks for commenting on my post! It is validating for me to know that you understand first hand, my confusion with my mom’s mixed messages. Our moms must of been classmates in the same Abuse Training Program! LOL…They are good at hiding behind a false self of self, while they can put down & bash others, that they perceive as weak. Their reality is foggy!…

Anyway, EFB has been a great place to express my feelings. I do feel stronger by being here with other survivors. I can acknowledge and dig deep to the roots of the abuse, no matter how painful or confused I get sometimes. EFB is a positive support that was missing in my life. It think it’s better than individual counseling, in the fact that, everyone shares their story and insights…Well, enough of my cheer leading for today!…Thanks Everyone, Sincerely, SMD

41

Correction to post #40: I meant to say, “They are good at hiding behind a false SENSE of self, while they can put down & bash others, that they perceive as weak.”….

42

Mimi! The haircut thing! Me too!!!!

43

“Is that why they call me a sullen girl — sullen girl 
They don’t know I used to sail the deep and tranquil sea 
but he washed my shore and he took my pearl 
And left and empty shell of me” —- a few lyrics to a song I immediately thought of. 

This post really rings true for me. Everyone is always telling me to smile. That’s all I ever hear. That’s all I ever heard. Just like you Darlene nobody has ever bothered to ask me why I’m not smiling. That would require them to be subjected to hearing something they don’t want to hear. 

Maybe I’m so serious a lot of the time because I’m dealing with serious issues. What is so wrong with being sullen anyway? In some ways I’d rather be true to myself and be the sad, depressed girl than be the fake, happy girl with a pasted grin. 

On top of that the society I live in constantly boasts about happiness. It gives me a further complex. I do have a little happiness inside but not much. I’m always feeling like the odd one out. Granted I don’t truly know the struggles of others but they don’t know mine either. 

What is wrong with me? I’ve struggled with the belief that something is terribly wrong with me. That I was tainted somehow from conception. Somehow marked for the trouble I was to receive, chosen. So hearing people say or inquire about my sadness puts more nails in that ‘defected’ ideal. 

I immediately saw your smile Darlene and felt it was genuine. I hope to someday have that. To someday not feel like I have to join the masses of fake smiles. I feel like my mind is broken and that it may always be that way but even if I’m broken I can eventually find my own inner peace with it as I come to terms with my past. 

Thanks for the moment… And sharing your smile. 

44

Hi Genesis
Nothing is wrong with you. Nothing was wrong with me. I just did’t know it! It wasn’t that I was born defective, it is that I didn’t remember a time when I didn’t feel that way. But it wasn’t me that defined me… and I had to sort that out. Getting back to the original was a fight through a whole lot of ways that I had been defined by others and by events. Keep going Genesis! There is hope!
Hugs, Darlene

45

Libby,
Isn’t it almost mean to keep your daughter’s hair so short? I think it’s mean. I remember telling my mom that my best friend in grade school said my hair looked like a boys hair – the day after mother had cut it. She didn’t care what kids were saying. I am just continually amazed at the likenesses in mothers here. Blows my mind!!

SMD,
I feel the same way. EFB has given me more hope, truth, and answers than I’ve ever gotten from individual counseling. And, it’s here 24 hours a day. My recent counselor doesn’t understand. She sees my mother too, and it hasn’t been easy to reveal my mother’s “many faces” to her. I have reached a place where I think, it’s her problem now. My emotional energy needs to be spent on me, not my counselor or my mother, and efforts to prove who my mother is to the counselor. Hope the muddy days are fewer and fewer…. for both of us!! 🙂

Darlene,
Somewhere in my mind, I’ve known this is true; that my mother has deep wounds as well. My grandmother has been incredibly supportive of my sisters and I. I’ve wondered what happened to my mom because it’s so hard to see anything amiss between her and my grandma. I remember when my parents got divorced, my grandma and mother were at odds. My mom would say grandma was just angry because she had no control of the details of the divorce. I wonder if my grandma was as mean to my mother as mother was to us. Then I think, my mom always had my grandpa to go to. She would even say he couldn’t stand any upheaval and he would come to her rescue so to speak. When I think about that, I think, well, at least she had her dad with her. My dad was gone. I was backed into a corner, thinking mother was all I had. I had no one to rescue me. Ultimately, I think ~ I don’t care what she went through. It’s her problem, and her responsibility to change it. It’s not an excuse to treat her kids like dogs. To pretend she didn’t know better is an outrage. She knew better or she wouldn’t have created so many “faces”.

I once heard a message about whether we can control our behaviors. The speaker said, “if you think you can’t control your behavior, imagine yelling at your kids and the preacher knocks on your door. You’d get that yelling under control right away!” Haha! True and funny!

Happy Friday to everyone!
Mimi

46

Mimi
In some ways I was OK about being mistaken for a boy – I felt safer – which was total rubbish, but I can remember thinking it… And it WAS easier to keep neat – I hated my Mum dragging the comb through the tangles, she was SO rough! I grew my hair long in my late teens – and it has been long at various times since then.
Karen, Darlene, I too had my “own little world” – as an only child I spent hours and hours there…..day dreaming – well sure – my dreams were so much nicer than reality. I do still dissociate – less at present than , say, this time last yer, but I am aware of it now. Usually its because I am just so tired staying present is too much of an effort & I don’t find it easy to follow conversation, so I drift off.
As for smiling – well I do smile – I have laughter lines! I smile when I am happy – this past year I have smiled much because Ihave been engrossed in facing my crappy shildhood stuff. But I am starting to smile again now… what a relief too

47

Mimi,
Yes yes yes! That is the thing ~ my mother could get it under control so why didn’t she when other people were not around?? because she didn’t choose to. Because she defined me as less than her. I don’t care what her wounds were anymore. I gave her around 45 years of my life waiting for her to make a different choice and giving her time because I understood her wounds. And in just a few years since I got this straight I have lived bigger and happier and full of a joy I never knew existed ~ than I ever did in all those years of trying to understand her and make her feel better! YAY.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! This is a great discussion!!!
Hugs, Darlene

Libby
I had to learn how NOT to live in the fantasy world when I was in my 40’s! Holy smokes! LOL but it got easier as the real world got better the more I stood up for me and took care of myself! Your comments reminded me of so much this morning! Of how far I have come and what it took and WOW it has all been worth every minute, every struggle!
Hugs, Darlene

48

In the time it takes me to scroll down the comments, kinda half re-reading to remember if I was writing back to someone or whatever, a whole bunch of things I meant to say first time round pop back into my head — and usually new things as well! It’s quite amazing how other people’s thoughts/stories can set the memory/brain going.

So… all that to say, I got overloaded and forgot… Oh yeah – if The Fog Busters debut album goes gold, I’ll be sure to send you a royalty check Darlene! 🙂 (Probably best not to hold your breath though)

Hi Mimi,

Glad to hear it gives you a laugh! I should probably try & stop apologizing so much. Or something.

Actually, it just came back to me that I’m pretty sure it’s been said to me over the years that I apologize too much (or maybe too easily or something?) Can’t specifically remember it though, or who would have said it. But it is pretty much a knee-jerk reaction with me. Hmmm, I wonder if this could possibly be traceable to relentless nagging & being blamed for the bad moods of my mother??
(ok sarcasm over).

I think at times over the years when I thought about this, it seemed like apologies from me often don’t mean shit, because it was such an ingrained response if I thought someone was upset with me, it was more about automatically trying to avoid anger/placate them then anything else. Actually that’s probably unfair to me in a way (overstating), but kinda true too.

It’s weird – right at this second it seems almost blindingly obvious (yet oh so foggy at the same time) — my mother teaching me that I was responsible for her moods (or at least often the cause of her bad ones) was lie #1, followed with the manipulation/confusion of sometimes it being nothing to do with me (but she’d never say either way til days later usually, if at all) to keep me off-kilter (or dazed and confused, as led zeppelin would say)….

That sentence/paragraph got away from me. Getting overloaded thinking about all the shit she used to pull. She’s either seriously mentally ill, or a first-class #%@$¿§ (heehee, there are some fun symbols in my phone!) 🙂 (More bleak humor for you Mimi)

But whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter. It (she/they, I suppose more accurately) f**ked me over bigtime.

I’m trying to put this into Fog Busting terms, Darlene….. So, lie #1 was (is) that my mother is not responsible for her own moods/actions. #2 is that ~~I~~ was responsible for her bad moods. #3 is that it was MY responsibility to somehow “make up” for this by trying to make her feel better (by doing things for her etc).

Ok, just felt mildly sickened as a memory came back that seems kinda innocuous (not sure if either the spelling or the use of that word are right??)… one thing she liked was having her head stroked. Used to do that quite often I think. Didn’t think I’d exactly blocked that one out, but it felt like it “came back” so to speak.

Ok this is seriously f**king with me… in fact I’m at least slightly panicking (heart racing, feeling jumpy, trying not to think) but I’m gonna try and plow thru to write what I’m trying not to think about… not sure if it’s as bad as I think or not

So, what set all this off was remembering that she used to kinda moan while I’d stroke her head. Then (as in, just after remembering that) I thought to myself, “well it wasn’t like sexual moaning”. Then I thought (and still not sure what I think), is there “non-sexual” moaning? No idea if this is just my head making it all worse than it was. Kinda interested what you guys think. Also kinda freaking out somewhat about posting this.

Life is weird. And f**ked up. Parents would walk around naked. (Not always, usually at night if going to bathroom or something). Don’t know why I’m trying to defend it. Didn’t realize this wasn’t normal. Fucking parents. Fuck them.

Sorry. Tired and completely over thinking about all this shit. And have to see them both together for first time since moving out tomorrow. I really hate my family. Such an utter shambles, yet so desperate to appear to the world that everything’s just great.

Ok I have to remember I don’t have to attend this function tomorrow. Some people will be disappointed/hurt if I don’t, but the world will not end. (Although it’s possible some friendship’s might). I think the thing I find hardest is having to do the “game-face” myself.

Hmmm, I seem to have just accidentally discovered a “delete paragraph” shortcut on my phone…

Should prob post b4 I do it again… oh yeah, I’d written something like because I’ve never really stood up to them and told them what I think/feel, or just plain let fly with what they’ve done to me, doing the “game face” publically feels kinda like I’m endorsing their behavior, or maybe like a demonstration to them that they can do what they want and never wear any consequences. (And now I’m afraid saying that will cause karma to bitchslap me with terrible consequences for every bad thing I’ve ever done).

What a mess my poor head is. No wonder I get so tired & get headaches & can’t sleep & just generally feel like shit most of the time. (Trying to feel sympathy for myself). Well anyway if anyone can spare me a thought over next 12hrs or so, I’d appreciate it — could probably use all the good vibes I can get!

I’m very tired, and still worried about posting this. Oh well. I’m trying so hard with all this stuff. Hope everyone’s going well! (Minor miracle – actually managed to bite back an apology for this post! Look at me go!!) 🙂

49

Darlene, just saw your comments to Mimi & Libby (must’ve posted while I was typing out my latest epically looong post!) – really made me feel some hope! (Well to be more accurate, I felt shit from all the stuff I’d been thinking about in my post, and now kinda closer to neutral – I guess it’s more of a vicarious kinda hope) But what the hell, that’s better than nothing

I think it’s kinda easy to forget that you were where a lot of us currently are, but I kinda got a feeling of that from your post – and got about as close as I can probably get right now to feeling like maybe something good could happen for me one of these years – something lasting, a real change…

Hmmm, to clarify, the “easy to forget” part above, I think I mean more that cos I haven’t really had any hope (none that lasts, or materialises, anyway) for myself for so long, that it just seems too much to believe it’s happened to anyone. Or something. Not sure if I’m making sense. I think basically trying to say, it’s about my head, not about you (I felt like first thing I wrote might sound like it was having a go at you. Or I’m just manufacturing paranoia again. Too tired to tell!!)

Ok I’m out for now… but I’ll be sure to tune in for the next exciting episode of FOG BUSTERS!!! (Who ya gonna call??)
🙂
Hehehe

Hugs!

50

J.
There is hope. I was shut down; I had no power in my own life, I was owned by many and pushed around by most. I felt hopeless but today I live, I love and laugh, I am fully functioning. I am a mother ~ fully functioning in loving relationships with my 3 children. They all have permission to be who THEY are. I am a wife, living in harmony and equality with the same man who used to treat me like his property and as though my purpose in life was to be his “back up program’. We share everything today including the housework! I have my interests and he has his and we both have permission to be who we really are. If I can accomplish all this, then why not everyone else???
Hugs, Darlene

51

J There is most definitely hope. A year ago I couldn’t see that – I can now. Sometimes “better” still seems a way off, but I look back and see how far I have already come – how I was last year is not who I am now.
There is less fog in my head AND in my heart. I am begining to experience and express feelings I don’t remember having for such a long time – if ever. Right now I am enjoying anger!!!!! Boy – last year I was SO scared of that one. Its been great to do some cathartic stuff with some of my Dads stuff and a hammer! I have been finally clearing him out of my house – and out of my body. Made me SMILE:)))

52

Hi J,
I just want to say that your words seem like some fog has cleared for you already; being out of your parents’ house. In the past it seemed like you questioned whether walking around naked was normal or not. Now, you seem to know it’s not normal. Perhaps you still feel sad or jacked up in your mind (not suggesting that’s true, just what I got from your post), but, I hope that will begin to lift the longer you’re away. It’s really hard to separate everything out when you’re right there among the abusers, in my opinion. I’ve had distance from my mom for I’d say about 6 weeks now. And, we didn’t even live together. Just the lack of contact and manipulation has given me the space to think with clarity, without being in her shadow so to speak. It was the fog that Darlene talks about. My mother’s contact keeps me in a fog. I hope you’re finding freedom in your new place and feeling more comfortable there. I have hope!!

Libby,
I agree… one year ago, I had no hope. I was desperate. Truly desperate…. I cried daily. I ceased to function really. It was so intense, I never want to see those days again. I believed I would live out my life that way. There was absolutely no hope in my mind. Suicide graced my thoughts. Now it scares me to even think I had those thoughts. That death seemed more appealing than living. I wanted not to “feel” anymore and I thought about making sure I wouldn’t. Whoa…. just really heavy stuff to think about now. The blessing in going back to that place in my mind, is that, I’m nowhere near that now. I can see the progress, even over a short year. I feel like I’m still in the baby stages of healing, and that makes me excited for what’s to come. I have hope now. For myself, and for you, and J, and others here.

Darlene,
You alone have been the catalyst to where I am now. I cannot thank you enough for making EFB available to everyone. I hope you are richly blessed for making this possible. 🙂

Love to all,
Mimi

53

Hi Its Clare
Every one keeps worring about me especially when im quite like I did today at my sycholist or what ever the name but I managed to show how I felt by nearly kicking a table over.
From Clare

54

Wow, nice surprise!
Just woke up in the biggest fog (of the head-cold variety, that is) and obviously did one of those “nervous twitch” email checks pretty much b4 I was conscious – thanks so much 4 the replys guys! 🙂 My head has been so clogged lately(physically, for a change – mentally also but that’s pretty standard) I’ve been feeling really out of it upon waking up, so it was really nice to have your msg’s “clear the fog” a bit! (It actually felt like that!)

Libby, you made me lol twice (first with how well you conveyed your enjoyment of anger, 2nd with the mention of the hammer!) And now I’m imagining you singing/breakdancing along to MC hammer while smashing stuff in sync (“Stop…. Hammertime!!”) Hehehe, that thought alone was worth waking up for! 🙂

Darlene,
my brain is still well programmed to avoid hope most of the time (defensive mechanism to try and avoid the crushing disappointment each time a fresh hope of getting better one day fell thru). But I am trying to hold on to it vicariously thru you & others on here. And I guess I am at least trying. Only very recently moving out seemed completely impossible. Now I’ve done it. Here the standard head thing is that it’ll come crashing down sooner or later (that’s the unfortunate belief that thus far seems based on fact in life), and of course it might, but hey. Still trying.

Then there’s the more recent thing of being very reluctant to try anything I still had a hint of hope in, due to the (I guess understandably) intense fear of finding all hopes/dreams gone and giving up. I kinda used my intense fear of death/hell etc as a bizarre kinda safety net in my thinking to try not to let suicidal thoughts trigger a panic loop.

Woah, think I’m falling asleep again… might have to leave it here for now. Thanks again guys!

55

Hi Everyone!
I just published a new post!
This one is another story, this time highlighting a couple ways that Controllers (owners) make you feel guilt and failure. How my childhood weakness (illness) was still all about my mother when I grew up except this time I remembered the actual truth about it! Looking forward to the discussion there!
The post is “ Pathetic Ways that Controllers make you feel Guilt and Failure
Hugs, Darlene

56

@Mimi

You don’t need my permission.

This space is about humans loving each other simply because it’s what humans naturally do. Reiscovering that is the journey we take.

57

For me when it comes to smiling, I’m always smiling. I’ve always been that way because I knew from an early age that anything else was unacceptable and would be met with name calling and heavy punishment.

It also means I’ve gone through life numb, not feeling at all, as I wasn’t allowed any feelings at all so I shut off from them.

In my adult life if I had a penny for every time I heard “but you’re always smiling” I’d be very rich. Usually said by someone when they discover I’m not really the “happy go lucky person” I portray.

It’s very hard for me, virtually impossible actually, to show my true feelings, whether it’s sadness, anger, grief or joy.

It frustrates me often now that I’m in safe therapeutic relationships that so often I present one way but am actually feeling very different. Those who understand that dynamic are able to see past to the real ‘me’ underneath.

What’s wonderful is that now I’ve starting to heal I’m beginning to feel and to come alive. Although those feelings are at extremes and hard to regulate, the numbness is slowly going. I’m slowly beginning to allow myself to feel sadness, grief, anger and joy. But always with a smile on my face if there’s anyone there to see!

I guess when something which was about surviving became an automatic coping mechanism is really hard to get past.

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Hi Fi
Thank you for sharing this! Even as I wrote this post I knew there was the oposite end of the story! I can imagine how devalueing it feels for people to say that to you.
I heard phrase too as an adult; one of my alters was very dynamic (all of them are all me now) and I remember feeling discounted because people always thought I was so happy because of that persona.
You are so right about it being an “automatic coping method!” And all of my coping methods had become automatic and they were MY normal… and some of them are way harder than others to get past!
The “real feelings” were another story and they came as a result of the “real work” just as you are expressing in your comments! I felt exactly that way; as though I was “coming alive” and it was really wonderful. A thawing out, and waking up.
Thanks for sharing Fi.
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Darlene..

Initially some teachers questioned but after we were returned to the place of abuse, I think they though better not to ask. I use to make up stories as to what happened. “I fell” “I’m Clumsy” “I ran into the wall” etc. If I admitted mom was beating me ..there be more waiting for me when I got home. .I learned to gloss over everything to make it something it was not.

Teachers began trying to find good in me.. since I was extremely afraid to speak and shy way beyond what is normal even for a shy person.

Family members knew things were happening.. extended family members too..but everyone looked the other way.. I don’t know why other than one time one cousin told me she was afraid she would make things worse..

Everyone has a reason for not speaking up and I really cannot blame them since I kept quiet alot about what was going on. I was ashamed of lots that happened and knew my survival depended on it.

Now, I find it hard to tell everything that happened..in the back of my mind I still hear the warnings from mom that say if I tell.anything to anyone i will surely have something worse waiting at home.

Thanks for inspiring so many to have courage to tell out their stories..there is comfort in knowing someone hears..someone believes.. someone cares..

Love and prayers..

hugs..

Joy

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Hi Joy!
Great to see you! Being aware of the warnings (in the back of you mind) is actually progress! For me it was that awareness enabled me to remind myself that “they” could not hurt me anymore. I thought through all sorts of things like “what will I do if ‘they” hit me ~ even though logically I didn’t think that it would come to that but still that was my fear so I resolved that I would call the police and have them charged. I did this with all those awareness fear memories. I made a plan that supported ME about what I would do “if” and what I would say “if” ~ I had to do this and remind myself of this stuff for a long time; over a year, but it worked and today those fears don’t come up much.
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi J – I am so happy I made you laugh! Well – it was funny taking a massive hammer to one of my dad’s delicate model trains!!!It really was overkill. On a more serious note it was kinda neat – a present my father got for me when I was 5yrs old was a train set (talk about giving what you most want yourself) – I wasn’t so keen – it was very basic clockwork – but he thought it was great – and he played with it quite a bit – and HE broke it! The first of a whole list of many things I could recite.. The next time he bought me a present that he had thought through and bought in person I was 37yrs old…
Smile??? I was grinning my face off when I had that hammer…..wish I had had the music too:))
I have very few things left that belonged to my Dad – I got rid of most of them the week he died…..but the bits I still have are GOING this week, by hook or by crook – to the auction, to the trash – whatever.. they’re going – and he will be out of my life, out of my head. All these years “smiling” alongside him, raging within, the angry thoughts and memories that have taken up so much of my energy and mental health – finally I can evict him…….

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Thank you Darlene.. it is great to see you too! It’s true they cannot hurt me. they can only do to me what I allow them to do to me.. Sometimes.. I get frozen..and forget these important things.. I forget they cannot hurt me unless I allow them to.. If I put myself in their space then I am allowing them to hurt me.. It’s easy to say it in writing..but doing that. really letting it be real in me is a very different and hard thing to do; at least for me.. Somehow in my mind.. I am still frightened and afraid..though my head says that’s foolishness..

Hugs

Joy

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Joy
I totally agree that it is very hard! It was a work in progress for a long time… just remember that it is possible! Freedom is possible when we keep going forward!
Hugs, Darlene

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Libby,
Your post reminded me of something that some of us are working on here; In May, we are planning an event called “freedom rocks” where many of us (all from our own locations all over the world) are going to draw a key on a rock or attach a key to a rock and throw it in the river/lake/ocean or whatever body of water is around, representing “close the door and throw away the key” and what ever that means to each individule. There are a few people going to “throw a parent in the river”… lol
Stay tuned for more info. I will make a separate page for this event and the sharing on it soon!
Hugs! Darlene

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Libby,
Your post reminded me of something too. (the hammer to the train).

I have always so deeply revered the gifts I’ve gotten from my mother. As if they were gold, I held onto them as precious heirlooms, no matter what monetary worth they had. Nothing she gave me was ever given away, sold, thrown out, or given to good will.

She had me so brainwashed that she was special, extra loving, the only person who’d ever really love me, honorable, extraordinary, honest and loyal…. the list goes on forever. I actually believed it until last year. I thought every gift she ever gave me was carefully and meticulously thought out and hand picked by her just for me. She doesn’t love anyone enough to do that but herself.

For my birthday last year, she got me a necklace from a high end costume jewelry maker, albeit reminding me she got it at clearance price. Anyhow, it has a kitten face on it. I am an animal lover and especially fond of kittens.

Well, this past week, I finally let go of all of the emotions that surround the gifts I’ve gotten from her. I’ve never worn the necklace. It’s not my style. So, I listed it on Ebay!! It was hard to do. I’m still sorting through the emotions of WHY it was hard. I think it’s because I still have a small lingering wish that she really did give it from her heart ~ and in the big picture, that she loved me like a mother should. It’s a very tiny part of me now though, and that’s huge progress compared to a year ago!! Congrats on smashing the train. I think that’s cause for celebration!!! 🙂
xoxo,
Mimi

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Joy, you said:

“Family members knew things were happening.. extended family members too..but everyone looked the other way.. I don’t know why other than one time one cousin told me she was afraid she would make things worse..
Everyone has a reason for not speaking up and I really cannot blame them since I kept quiet alot about what was going on. I was ashamed of lots that happened and knew my survival depended on it.”

A cousin who didn’t say anything was probably the same age as you, and therefore had no more responsibility to speak up than you did. But for adult family members, that was not the case. They were adults in the situation — infinitely more powerful than you, as a child — and therefore they carried the ENTIRE responsibility for speaking up about what was happening to you, and you carried NONE of it. Your parents inflicted silence upon YOU. They didn’t inflict silence on the rest of the family. The rest of the family CHOSE to be silent.

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Hi Cheryl,

Thank you for that perspective on things; I never thought of things that way.. it helps to look from another angel. Thank you. I guess I am forever trying to excuse people for why they knew and never tried to stop it all.

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Cheryl,
Very well said! Thank you for sharing. This is a huge part of the “truth” that I speak of here. The truth is that children have no choice and carry no responsibility.
Hugs, Darlene

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You’re welcome, Joy and Darlene. Thank you for your expressed appreciation.

On the subject of being quiet, it’s still terrifying to speak up. When I posted my comment, there was a fear of getting attacked for “telling it like it is” or being a “know-it-all,” or presuming to know anything on someone else’s blog, about anyone else’s life — or about anything, really. We’ve all been inflicted with propaganda, we all have blind spots, and sometimes we can’t see clearly. It can be so helpful to hold up a mirror to each other’s blind spots and help each other see.

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Cheryl
I was just thinking this morning that the longer I “do this” the more deeply I realize these fears so many of us have in common. When ever I ask someone “not to give directives or advice” to someone else, I have a bunch of people ask me if they have done something “wrong” too. And even that small thing triggers many to fear posting anything at all for fear of saying “the wrong thing” “the wrong way” risking anyone being upset. It is really hard to find the balance where everyone feels safe and has permission to share what they want to or need to. But it is what you have shared here that is really at the root of all that; that we were reprimanded for so long and wrong for so long (and most of it never made any sense!) that it is almost habit for us to fear.
Thank you for sharing that. Sometimes I forget how scared out I was for the first year of publishing this stuff I write! I totally relate!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi everyone,

How’s it going? Haven’t felt like posting in a while. Feeling pretty flat. Sleep’s been really bad. Even when I do get some sleep, I wake up feeling completely drained & out of it. And sore as well. I just can’t seem to find a comfortable position to sleep/sit in. Neck, shoulders, back, legs, all just feel heavy & painful. Really annoying.

Also pretty stressed about money. Realised yst I’ve spent heaps of the welfare money I got backpaid when I first got back on it, and got nothing to show for it. Also means I can’t go on spending how much I have without going broke. But it seems like I have so little to spend anyway, it’s really depressing. I have been going out to see bands more & spending on drinks, but I’d barely gone out anywhere for years (other than to get food). Feels really annoying to be trying to make an effort to get out & stop being such a hermit, and not even being able to afford that.

Also I’d been having schemes to spend backpay money on creative things (camera, art/singing/music lessons, new instrument, etc) and now that seems hopeless. I got really excited by visual arts last wk – went to a community fair and saw lots of art I really liked, and wasn’t feeling shy/anxious so talked to all the artists, and they were all really nice, and I just felt like that was what I wanted (to express myself visually and be able to go to fetes/fairs etc & have my own booth to set up my art & talk to people etc).

Haven’t had that strong a feeling for quite a while. Music’s been kinda stressful to think about, but maybe visual art would be easier because it’s solo. But it’s hard because it feels like I have to try so hard just to keep my head above water, and it’s not working, and I don’t really see many options. Everything costs. Was even planning to join a gym – found two 24hr ones near me which I could imagine myself using during the night when I can’t sleep but when my money’s going downhill fast as it is, doesn’t seem possible. Ok gonna post b4 I lose this – should’ve done it earlier!

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Just had a couple of new song ideas (music, not words). Kinda exciting cos feels like quite a while since I’ve had any, but also feeling annoyed cos I’ve got so many ideas but get stuck trying to do anything with them. Also got the guilt thing of having to use your talents. (Stupid parables!)

I get really confused between feeling like I’m a really good musician and wishing I had help to make my ideas come to life, and thinking that cos I can’t support myself I don’t deserve to make my art. Not sure if that makes sense. Getting tired. Oh well. Hope everyone’s going well.

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Hi, Darlene and everyone!
This is Pinky from Face Book. I haven’t been on in a while and may not be for some time. I go onto FB post a daily food holiday or quote and sign off. I have been working on my physical recovery which is not guaranteed. I had breast care for those who dont know me and I recovered but it all of the surgeries and procedures I had left me injured and undiagnosed until I met a wonderful doctor who diagnosed me. It is a rare condition that I am in stage 2 of and most who are diagnosed in stage 2 go onto a wheel chair and become paralyzed and eventually die of fibrosis so that is why i haven’t been on I am trying to rebuild my body. It is such a rare condition that it goes undiagnosed and having had breast cancer is one of the risk factors for this disease. It is called Reflex Sympathetic dystrophy and it a very aggressive form of muscular dystrophy the biggest difference is this is painful. So I am not ignoring anyone trying to fight for my life.
This post I think we can all relate to.
I was called withdrawn and I had a talent for dance went to a performing arts high school but started it in 8th grade in junior high.It was the teachers there who did question my sadness my quietness and tiredness due to medication I was given that I should not have been given. The teachers intervened and got me off the meds and I thrived in school from that time on.
But the stress of abuse and relearning how to do life and truth took its tool. I think in fact I know I ended up with breast cancer partly due to the abuse. I did have a genetic risk for breast cancer and I would have got it anyway (glad I got it taken care of I was relived when I was diagnosed) however it was the stress I was under due to an unjust legal situation that nobody would believe if I told them. Though I cut contact with my family for my own safety in 1993 they have stalked me and called me a whore and drug addict in the international news. Its a long story that would sound like science fiction if I told you. It went on for 9 years. I did rebuild my life from the original abuse but life has its challenges.
I have seen the best and worst of life. I know who I am and I am happy in spite of my physical challenges. I am not afraid to speak up or speak my mind. In my condition I kept being told by doctors it was probably peri menopause if I had not listened to myself I would be in a wheel chair now. I get weekly massages, acupuncture, swim take Tai Chi have a loving supportive husband so other than these physical challenges things are well. I have a new doctor and dumped my doctor of about 17 years because of this and have a new great doctor who listens and validates me. My husband works 2 jobs to pay for these treatments. I also take Mega Vitamins and eat all organic.
This blog is great and is validating. Wish I could spend more time here but right now I can’t. I wish you all well and support this blog 100%

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ps- I want to say that without the support of my high school teachers I would not have been able to move on and dance with the NYC ballet, I found my voice in dance due to being validated by my teachers.

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Hi Pinky,

Bit flooded with thoughts from your post & feels like brain’s not moving fast enough to get them out, but wanted to I wish you well & say I’m thinking of you. Also I really admire the positivity that came thru in your post.

Keep on taking care of yourself!

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Thanks J! I was rambling and in a hurry so my post did that to you! Its the pace of life here in NYC! Just got in! Thanks so much!

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Hi Pinky
sorry to hear of your struggles but it is great to read about your persistence with self care and how you persisted in seeking the right doctor too. This is recovery! To value your self and do what is important for yourself. To love yourself enough to do what it takes to live.
Thank you for sharing!
hugs, Darlene

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Thanks Darlene! Well this blog encouraged me to trust my gut! Thanks for the encouragement!

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[…] system” and one of the first things that came up was the instruction to “challenge your belief system” (not much instruction on “how to do the how”) But one of the suggestions on challenging your […]

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I too was often ordered to ‘smile’ when I was younger, and no one bothered to ask me why I wasn’t happy or didn’t feel like doing it on my own. From a young age I also overheard my mother having very insulting, degrading conversations about what was “wrong with me.” They were sure that I must be the one who was wrong, not them, not the life I was being forced to lead. As I grew older and into my teen years, the explanations forced onto me became more and more insulting–all based around the child-hating ideology my parents and older sister shared.

The reality was that I had been utterly destroyed by my older brother–who emotionally, physically, and sexually abused me to the point where I completely lost myself, my childhood, and my ability to relate to other people. And they let him do it, and they knew that he did it, but they remained in denial and willful ignorance. Even after I told my mother I was sexually abused though not by who (she didn’t care about the physical and emotional abuse, which she participated in,) she would still come up with these questions like “I wonder if it’s just arrested development, like you still have the mind of a twelve year old.”)

She had so little respect for my intelligence, self-awareness, feelings, and rights as a person that she insisted on continuing in her denial and deluded, hateful explanations for what was going on with me. I must just be so, so stupid; I couldn’t possibly be a very intelligent, creative 20 year old boy who however had PTSD, an eating disorder, and social anxiety. She continued to talk over me, to speculate about whether I really had an eating disorder or was really sexually abused. Her answer was that I was just too stupid to know how to “eat right” and that I just thought that I was sexually abused despite not remembering anything.

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Hi Caden
I am so sorry that this happened to you. That is horrific. And it is terrible that you went unprotected and unheard and then accused of being a faker and even a liar. Thank you for sharing, many here can relate to what you are saying. I am glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene

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Thank you Darlene, it feels good to share; this is a great community here.

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Wow. Darlene, this is exactly the same thing I was told as a child.

My mother always told me to smile, to stop looking ‘so depressed’ or ‘so sad’.

My neighbour told my mom that I always look ‘like the world is going to fall on my shoulders’. well – it was. Did no one think WHY I looked like that? Did no one get it? when she told my mom that I looked like that, did my mom not get why?

I am now 28 and dealing with this stuff, and last year in my job a colleague said to me ‘why do you always look so scared, you look like you think someone is going to hit you’

Now I was actually never physically abused, I was severely emotionally abused, manipulated and psychologically abused, but I find it so strange that I still look scared like this, as I have been deadling with this stuff for about 2 years now, and even though I am much better, i still have a long way to go.

To everyone here, I send out a ton of loving thoughts to you all right now. The things that we have gone through are crazy and I just can’t believe that this has all happened in the world, but hey, it did. And we are here. And we are going to make it. Because we are going to work on living a good life every single day.

* I turn my face towards the sun *

All my love to all of you here. We can do this! We are doing this already! We are healing.

All my love,
Anon girl 🙂

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Hi Anon girl
Exactly! I remember realizing the feeling that I was “braced” as though I was expecting to be hit with something emotional or physical. I braced for it always. I don’t miss that feeling at all!
Thanks for sharing and for being here!
Hugs, Darlene

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Wow. This is the first time in 34 years I have ever told anyone my story. I was five . My mother has told me all my life . You never smile you are always so angry. I know. Sorry but after the monster you left me with was finished, he threatened to kill me and to make sure he knew I knew he meant it, he threw me in the dryer and turned it on, I think I stopped smiling. Our basement was like a dungeon . Really. My mother just said the same thing to me on mothers day. Your always so angry.its just these past three weeks I finally told a friend. My husband knows and has been helping me for years. It’s been like breaking free from a prison, only sometimes it feels safer to stay behind the bars. The friend I told is a friend from my college days. He knows my husband and I. He encouraged me to write a book. I did. My friend is not someone I would have ever told. Ever. But I found out a family member of his was abused also. It helped me to keep going. Thanks for this site. This is fresh for me. I have cried more tears in three weeks than my entire life. I know one thing . I must be free .

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Barb,
Thank you for sharing your painful story. It’s so hard to come out with the dark secrets of the past. It’s just ugly pain. I am in awe that you were put into the dryer. I just saw on Yahoo’s homepage that some family was caught putting their child in a washer at a laundramat. They made a mistake though. The washer was the locking kind and it started filling with water and the door was locked with the child inside. I have to think they knew better than that. I wonder how people can be okay with themselves when they’ve been so mean to children. It’s easy to get away with it….. tormenting a child is way easier than tormenting an adult, where they might fight back. So, the kids get the brutal reception of all the stuff that cowards are too chicken to face. Sickening. I’m sorry you went through this, but I celebrate you coming out and talking about it. I hope you feel relief from shining light into your dark past.
Hugs and love,
Mimi

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Thanks Mimi,
It’s a start anyway . I used to have this dream about a black panther and he would grab me . I would scream and scream but no one ever saved me. That’s what my depression has become like. A silent stalker. You know I wake up the birds are singing and am I’ m like no I can’t be like this. It’s so nice out. The suns shining what the hecks wrong with me? I have such a great husband and it’s taken me so long. The friend from college I told really is not someone I would tell. It’s rather strange. But Gods working something in me and I’m so glad. I’m sick of feeling like this. I just want to be free. I don’t want to hate myself anymore. I hate always believing this lie that I’m worthless and ugly and on and on. Thanks. Actually I was reading Ron Paul’s liberty defined and in my search for a different kind of liberty found I was in a prison. Jesus has already freed my heart once. Ron Paul made aware of another kind of liberty my friend Robbie turned the key and now I’m in a battle of sorts. It’s been a rough couple of weeks. To know that these things I go through are normal really is a big help. The fight is on .

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Barb,
When I was a kid I had a recurring dream about an unknown man chasing me. When I got into my 30s, I started having recurring bad dreams about my mother and they’ve continued until last year when I started to really come to terms with the person she is.

I too have been plagued with the depression that seems to steal my joy. I hear the birds and see the beautiful sunshine. Those things used to inspire me to be up and doing things I love, taking in the spring. It gave me energy!! As the years have passed, each spring has become more dull and lifeless. It’s as though I’m dying a slow death, hating myself and life more and more with each passing year, decade.

I began processing the truth about my mother last year. I’ve worked hard at uncovering and overcoming. Lately though, I am back at square one; questioning myself and every thought I have. Questioning whether she really did love me. I have been convinced she didn’t, until lately. For whatever reason, I have had a huge setback that I can’t shake. It could be the upcoming weekend. All my extended family will be here for my grandma’s 90th birthday. That just makes me feel uneasy. I’ve been working on a letter to my mom, which brings it all up. I’ve been so anxious and fearful, I can hardly function and I haven’t felt disabled by anxiety for several years. I’m puzzled by this setback, and I don’t know what to do. Maybe I’ll just sit with the pain and anxiety and try to let it settle in me so I can process it from a re-parenting perspective. I had no protection or affection, or understanding growing up. I know this must be where I start to flounder. When life gets hard, I return to that terrified, confused and unconsoled little girl. I don’t know what to do, but I know I have to do something. This many years not living and like you said, hating myself and the way I look, etc. It has to stop sometime.

Thanks for sharing and listening Barb!
Very best of life to you!!
Mimi

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One more thing to quote a book I read by a lady Brenda Vaughn called ” Why I Jumped” , ” depression is a Liar.” Don’t believe it. I say that every day. That’s how I can even function. Otherwise I’d never believe my husband loved me or I was worth loving. Keep fighting Mimi. I’ll pray for you. That’s all I can offer:0)

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Barb,
THANK YOU for the prayers. I certainly will include you in mine as well. I was just praying after I wrote the above comment. I spoke to God and the little girl inside me, trying to console her. I know confusion and fear and self hatred do not come from God. And, I love the quote you mentioned from the book. I will use that as a weapon as well. It’s very true, depression is a lie from the enemy!!! So is fear!!! Thank you for that awesome reminder!!
Praying in hope,
Mimi

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I always heard digs about my appearance from my parents. I can’t remember either of them specifically telling me to smile, but I sure do remember both of them shouting “What’s the matter with you!?” Of course they never really wanted an answer because I wasn’t supposed to talk. I was supposed to stay quiet which I did my best to follow since I didn’t like being shouted at or beaten. I often got comments from dad about being stooped shouldered too…I think I was doing my best to appear as small & unassuming as I possibly could. My dad said I should look proud, but I didn’t feel proud since I was always told that I was a horrible creature.

The only time I ever had anyone say anything to me about smiling that I really remember, was from my 6th grade teacher. I was in a special ed class because I was considered a problem child. One morning I came in (about 12 years old) & I’d been crying (there were many things going on in my life that most anyone would find emotionally distressing enough to cry about), & she made me sit at my desk & stare into a mirror until I put a smile on my face. She made everyone in the classroom aware of my predicament. I’ll never forget how lousy I felt & then humiliated to have the rest of the class know that I’d been crying. She never asked me what was wrong or what happened…she was just another person who really didn’t care & I got that loud & clear. I learned to keep my thoughts & feelings to myself as a kid.

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Hi Marla
Wow, what that teacher did is such horrible abuse. I don’t know how people can think that shame and humiliation is what will HELP children to become well adjusted emotionally mature adults.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

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I too was labeled the “quiet” child. Growing up with 12 siblings in a chaotic and dysfunctional family, I faded into the woodwork. I was an over the top rebellious teenager who used drugs. Drug use has followed me through out my adult life and the main issue I have struggled with in my adult years is “rage.” My family used to laugh at me and make fun of me because I was quiet. When I was only 5 or 6 years old, someone would point at me and say, “Don’t look at Connie. If you look at Connie, she’s going to cry.” Then everyone would look at me and I would become so affected by the attention, that I tears would start streaming down my face. And then everyone would laugh at me. Till this day, I HATE BEING THE CENTER OF ATTENTION. I never understood why dancing made me feel so uncomfortable. Although I dated men who really wanted me to get up on the dance floor with them, it made me so self-conscious, I couldn’t do it….even though I was a very beautiful young woman, dancing made me feel weird and out of place. I believe it might have to do with being the “center of attention”….I didn’t like to feel like I was on display or people were watching me. I just want to fade into the woodwork.

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And isn’t funny that the one who faded into the woodwork, was the one who ends up with a rage issue. No voice. No validation. No one ever protected me or valued me. If I was to see a 5 year old child tormented like I was by my siblings, I would intervene, tell the other children they were wrong and comfort the small child they were teasing. I don’t remember being there at all…she was too busy fretting about my Dad’s 20th affair or his gambling or money for dinner. For the last 20 years I’ve been trying to “fix” my rage issues, while at the same time I was making the issues worse with daily exposure to my toxic family. One tiny step forward….3 GIGANTIC steps back.

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Hi Connie
You are making excellent connections here ~ Thanks for sharing them! Sounds like you are finding the roots of your rage issues. It was by finding the roots (where the broken began) that I was able to overcome them.
Hugs, Darlene

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Justpassingthrough
January 11th, 2013 at 5:48 am

….and without flexing a facial muscle I say, “This IS my smile” and keep walking.

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One of my most vivid memories from elementary school was when the gym teacher (male) smacked the side of my head and demanded that I “smile”. I was just walking through the hallway in the middle of an average sized crowd, probably at the end of the day when everyone was on their way to buses or after-school activities. He was just passing by.

Looking back I recognize that I spent most of my elementary school years either terrified or numb and no one cared what was going on inside me. They just got angry that I didn’t look right.

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[…] talk about my parents as part of where the problem began. I thought I could just keep it about the belief system development resulting from trauma and I could just sort of keep my parents out of […]

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