Standing up to Dysfunctional Relationship Part 2


dysfunctional relationship

My last post (click here) was about standing up to my husband regarding our dysfunctional relationship, that I was mistreated and disrespected and how he was willing to listen to me. Unlike him, not everyone was willing to meet me half way with my desire to change and become my own person instead of a robot that existed to restore everyone else’s value.

I cancelled hosting a family reunion because my mother and my brother were up to their trouble making tricks, and I was just sick of being the one in the family that was never heard, never valued, always expected to just “take it” and always the one who was wrong.

My mother and my brother we up to their trouble making antics again; apparently, there was this big “family horror” going on behind the scenes because I had told my sister in law about some of my childhood, and some of the things that my mother did, and she told my brother who told my mother… and well as you can imagine the you know what hit the fan. Before anyone talked to me or asked me about it, the whole family ~ aunts, cousins ~ everyone had all been contacted, questioned and informed about my “talking”. It wasn’t even what I talked about that was the real problem, it was what I MIGHT have talked about that he was trying to find out.

Did I keep the family secrets, or was I revealing them to everyone? Of course, these kinds of people make sure that they discredit you with each conversation. It is all about control and making sure that the family member who is “talking” is painted as a psycho with issues right from the beginning of the conversation, just in case that family member really has revealed the family secrets. These phone calls were about damage control as well as investigating the damage itself. It would have gone something like this: “Darlene has been saying things about her childhood, that are not true, she has made up this story about (whatever) and I am trying to find out what else she is going around saying. Did Darlene say anything to you about me? I just want to know if she has said anything to you about it don’t believe her because it isn’t true, she is a bit crazy and has been on anti depressants and seeing a therapist you know.”

I didn’t know this was going on of course. My mother called one day and said that she had decided to tell me that she was worried about something I was doing and she told me about this conversation that I had had with my sister in law 6 or 8 months earlier and what a problem that I had caused. (I am assuming that they had been talking about this with each other for 6 or 8 months.)

There were a couple of things that struck me odd;

a) That she totally believed everything that she had been told, without even asking me.  

b) And because several things she heard and was upset about were actually the truth.

To the things that I said to my sister in law that were true, I responded, yes, I did tell her that, so what? My mother seemed stunned and didn’t know what to say about my admission or my honest reaction. So the truth was ignored. The fight became about the false.

 There were some things that had been exaggerated, and a few things that I had never said but when I told her that I had never said them, my mom said “Darlene, she wrote it down” and I said “that makes it true?” (that was ignored too)

The real fear behind the call was about the stuff I hadn’t told yet. I realized that later. She was actually calling to warn me to keep my mouth shut and to re-establish her control and power over me. She wanted to reprimand me but good, and I didn’t think so. I was finally sick of it.

So a few weeks later my brother called like nothing was going on, telling me all the dates they booked and their schedule for this family reunion that I had agreed to host. (Everyone in my family lives in a different Province or State from each other so arranging this was kind of a big deal.)  I told him that I had heard that he was saying all kinds of things about me. He admitted it and told me about how he called everyone in the whole family. (It surprised me when he just told me he had done all that, but that is the degree to which he thought HE was right and that it was right for him to call everyone and he was right to discredit me ~again without ever talking to me first) and we got in the first real fight we had ever had. (I had never dared to stand up to him before) He was ranting and raving and yelling and bullying me so much I started to shake.

I stuck to my decision to cancel hosting or attending the family reunion ~ which stunned everyone!  They thought it should be just family as usual, how dare I make a fuss. (How dare I stand up to him or my mother.) I caught him so off guard that he expressed his disappointment but at the same time insisted that the whole thing was my fault. No matter how many times I repeated that nothing I said to his wife was a lie and that I had a right to talk about MY childhood; those statements were NEVER addressed. Again, it was really all about what I MIGHT say. Don’t tell the family secrets. Be who we say you can be. Do what we say you can do.

If I was the problem, like I had been told for so long, then what the heck did they want to be around me for?

(Because I was the biggest servant of the whole family? Because I would do all the cooking? Because there is no real love lost between us? Because they wanted me to believe that they “loved me” enough to “accept me even with my problems”? Because I always complied in the past and never stood up to myself, and suddenly I realized that I had equal value?)  

I thought they should be happy and celebrate that they didn’t have to spend a whole week with me! I thought they should have a party to celebrate getting RID of me!

But you know what? They didn’t really want to lose their victim now did they?

Please contribute to this post in any way that you would like to. I look forward to the conversations we have here at Emerging from Broken.

Exposing truth; one snapshot at a time,

Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Family



I can so identify with all of this…there is so much fear related to what I might be doing or saying…it’s just incredible. Like scared animals. Their efforts to then pretend nothing is going on and reign me back into control…at least I can see them now. First they attack, then they recover and pretend nothing happened. Somehow, someway…this has got to stop. Anybody got any advice on exactly how to do that…the obvious answers are not working…just being ignored.


It was so eye-opening when I came to realize that there was no way to satisfy everyone and that the things they needed me to do were not really for me…they were for them. So they could feel like I turned out okay (okay defined by them in material type ways), therefore, they had done a good job. Nevermind the fact that I was holding my own happiness hostage. I honestly didn’t see any of this until after the age of 30 then it took a few more years still for me to actually realize I had a choice – I didn’t have to do what they wanted…and I didn’t even need an excuse. Problem is…still no one seems to hear me and I just have to keep repeating myself over and over and over…you get the idea 🙂 I have even tried ignoring…but it just won’t go away. I don’t really want to have to…but have a feeling I’m gonna have to get pretty blunt and even that won’t work probably. I know I’m rambling here…but this just happens to be my hurdle…


As I read this…it was like I was lookin in the mirror. I was in Nursin school when I had my first huge breakdown. My “real” mother had abandoned me at an early age, only to have find out she’d been livin in the same town she left us in for the past 13 yrs. Ya I was excited but I was also scared @ same time b/c I didn’t know if she still “didn’t” want me ya know. When I told my family what I had become, my medical history and all things that needed to be said, it was all turned on me. I was the “crazy” one, the psycho, freak, retard…you name it. I was the one who made it all up, the one who lived in a fantasy world you name it..this is what they saw in me once I told some of my memories to just ONE sibling..My step-mother went to hysterics b/c I spoke “bad” bout the family. She no longer spoke to me, my “real” father no longer spoke to me and I lost most my siblins b/c I stood up for ME and I “told on them” as they said. I was shunned big time once again and I always thought bein shunned as a child was bad enough but wantin their love as an adult…hurt more to be shunned all over again. WOW…some days I just I could break this mirror of life…


Whsssssssszzzzzzz…..wait for it….wait for it….SMACK! That’s the sound of you hitting it right on the head Darlene!

Wendi- I hear you and feel the same way. There are things I wish I could say, things I know I need to say and yet every single time I try it gets twisted and tossed back at me like I’m not only to blame but also the cause of so much hurt, drama and pain in my family.

When I try to speak up, when I try to set boundaries, when I try to be ‘heard’ it comes back as I’m too needy, dramatic, or whatever the fill for the ____________ happens to be that day.

Darlene – I have to ask, because this ALWAYS happens to me – did your Mom and Brother twist things around to everyone else so THEY sounded reasonable and loving and you were the nut job? My family does that, and people FALL for it all the time…and I can see it coming like a slow moving missile…but I’m the only one that does.

How do I find a path to forgiveness and healing when I cannot find a way to have a conversation where I don’t sound like I’m as bright as a black crayon? How do I find a way to communicate when they don’t want to talk, they don’t want to listen and they only care about THEMSELVES?

I’m so many things now that I never was before and to them I’m still the person who is last, least and unheard. Do I want to have my say? Yeah sure. Do I think I’ll be heard? I have a fart’s chance in a hurricane of being heard. I know it, I know it, and it hurts because they could CHOOSE differently and they deliberately choose TO HURT, to control, to manipulate, to discount…

So here I sit, 39 years old, still wanting someone to hear me, and even through their lies and attempts at ‘trying a bit’ I still hear the resounding echo of “me me me me me oh there you are me me me me me”…The only thing Toby Keith got wrong with that song was that he didn’t cast the net wide enough.

There is one good thing though, I know exactly where on the hierarchy of important stuff me and my little family sit…who and what is above is very clear…makes things simpler that way. 🙂


Hi Wendi,
I got tired of no one hearing me. It was like I thought I had to PROVE that they were wrong, that I had to prove I was worthy of being listened to, being seen, prove that I was worth it. They were used to making me prove it, and I was used to proving it. They kept reminding me by their actions that I was not worth it. I realized that I had another option. I could say enough. I could really decide that I was going to believe I was worth it, that I didn’t have to prove anything anymore no matter what they decided to do or not do. And that is what I did. And they didn’t like it… because it was easier for them to stay living in the lie they live in. I did have the chance to get blunt but I still had no impact, so I stuck to my boundary. They don’t get to hurt me anymore. You could say that I lost them over it. Or you could say that they lost me and since they treated me like they owned me, I guess they lost me. I however, gained my whole life back! I continued to find myself, to discover and embrace the truth and to get stronger in my health! I lost NOTHING! I gained everything. I know this sound like a heck of a lot to take in, and this wasn’t easy, but but I don’t regret that I picked me.

Hi Jackie,
When we are rejected for telling the truth, it is no us that is being rejected. They are rejecting the truth. I rebuilt my life on truth, and that is what set me free.

Thanks for these comments and the depth and honesty both of you have shared,
Love Darlene


Standing up to people who have always had a way of holding us down is such a tremendous feeling at the same time there is mixed feelings. I know for me it has been very liberating yet it also hurt very deeply too because I realized by putting my foot down that they wouldn’t have anything to do with me. I had to realize in my own situation that they only loved me for what they could get out of me and that wasn’t real love.

I totally agree with what you said to Jackie that when we are rejected for telling the truth it is not us they are rejecting but the truth they are rejecting.

(((HUGS))) to you my friend


I have found with my family that being very quiet kept peace in the family. I found support and love, compassion and understanding. When I decided to finally stand up and tell the truth..Oh boy! I found out real quick just how superficial their love for me was. I was treated the same way. Threatened, talked about, labeled insane because I am in therapy. You name it and my family uses it against me. They have even went as far as telling their christian friends I am gay just so they could have more people on their side. Wow! For the most part I didnt know till after the fact that my family was saying things about me. As of right now it has been almost 3 years since any of my family has talked to me (except my brother)…Darlene, I feel your pain. Why do people act this way??? They try to hide the things they have done but most of us know that whatever is done in the dark will eventually be brought into the light. Truth doesnt like to be hidden! 🙁

Victoria Mcfarland
August 25th, 2010 at 7:03 pm

could have been my life story. had almost the same thing happen to me last summer and I was not telling secrets, just trying to reconcile my broken family. Find out months later everyone is talking about it ( aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, parents ( to whom I was ahving nothing at all to do with). Turns out everyone knew there was a “problem” except me. My husband gets this call from my one sane relative who is like my mother and whom my parents and other family members despise because, like me , she will not just sweep everything under the rug. my uncle had called her and said he was going to …get this…HAVE ME ARRESTED…because I hurt my grandmothers feelings by telling her that I felt there were some misunderstandings goign on and that was why her children were not speaking. I was away at a training conference at the time and my husband did not want to upset me. When I came home, my easygoing husband looked like he had been through hell. Finally he tells me what is going on. Turns out he called my uncle to discuss , rationally , what was going on and my uncle said” Well, It doesn’t matter if she did it or not, I am still having her arrested.” WTH!!! I live an hour and a half away and they all live in a line on a little dirt road. Brothers and sisters refuse to sepek to each other for 5 years and even break up a church withhteir feuding , all while breaking my 85 year old grandmother’s heart, but I , who only visits 2 times a year was the problem!!! So I can SOOOO relate. I told my grandmother ( whom before this I had thought hung the moon and was a saint) that I would never set foot in her home again and quietly left the day I found out she had been spreading lies about me. That was almost a year ago and a piece of me died that day. I had always thought this side of the family was the “good” side, but they had just been hiding behind their other face.

When my grandmother became ill a few months ago, I called the hospital and told her I loved her and was praying for her. She never responded back!! This is the woman who EVERYONE thought was the perfect grandmother. She sent my kids and husband a birthday card but not me. This summer I was told I had breast cancer ( turned out to be a false alarm) at the age of 34. My father to whom I had not spoken in 14 months and my grandmotheer whom I had not heard from in almost a year, calls me and sends me cards. I felt stunned. WHY would they want to talk to me if I was dying but not as I am living and minding my own business.

I got invited to a family reunion by my one aunt that I love and talk to a few weeks ago. She actually asked me if I wanted her to ask my uncle if I could come. I politely said not just no , but he** no. my grandmother will probably pass away within the next year and I will be the evil one because I will not show up to her funeral. She didn’t want me around becaus eI hurt her feelings by exposing that maybe, just maybe she might not be perfect but that was okay. So I will honor her wishes and not be there when she passes.

That probably sounds horrible, but I am DONE being a door mat and punching bag. I have enough issues without taking on other peoples.

Thanks once again for exposing things in myself that I was not even aware were still bothering me. It kills me that because I am the one that refuses to “pretend” that I am the one who is rejected but so be it. I know the truth and that is all that matters.


Hi Shanyn,
I know your pain. Yes my brother and mother twisted everything to make it look like they were reasonable and I was crazy.. doesn’t everyone do that??? =) I know your comment came in at the same time I was leaving one for Wendi, but my answer to her and to Jackie (above) is the same answer that I will now give to you. They have chosen not to hear you, and that really really hurts, but I had to stop trying to fight them. My husband and I asked “why did this happen, why us?” a million times. I was so angry because I realize when I came out of this fog that I was a “good victim!” Can you imagine feeling like I was such a good victim (that I was SO compliant) that I could not understand rejection? Well that was me. I did almost everything they asked of me and it was never enough and finally I just had to say enough. I’m not saying that everyone has to walk away like I did because not everyone actually has to go that far, but like with my husband, I was willing to leave if he wouldn’t stop. I think the key is just in the willingness. In the case of my mother, I think she thought I was bluffing, and she called my bluff. No one thought that this little “victim” was going to stand her ground, but I did. My whole family is flourishing now. I am so serious. The way that my husband and I were before was killing us and our kids.
With so much love,


Hi Nikki,
Yes, it is dang scary (like my American lingo? ~ we say “darn” here in Canada) to stand up because we are so afraid of the consequences, and that takes us back to the belief system. The fear that I had of standing up was a fear that I carried with me since I was 5 years old ~ that if my parents reject me, I will die because I can’t live outside the house and survive.

Abusers and controllers will lie about the color of your hair if it will make them look better and cover up their stuff. The thing is that it doesn’t matter becuase I decided that anyone that wanted to play judge and jury about my decision to stand up for myself and not talk to me about it (which is SO common… no one wants my version of the story, they are all so willing to believe the lies, but that goes back to the picture that the abusers and controllers paint about us) was also someone who was not acting out of the real definition of love. I learned about love, and I had to love myself first. That shone light on a whole world of wonders that I had not ever imagined, and FREEDOM and WHOLENESS were on the other side.
Hang in there. It is so worth it.
Love Darlene

Well… by your story I can see why you thought that we might come from the same family. There were two times I found myself wondering if there was a cousin Victoria on my husbands side…. and I haven’t even told THAT story yet!!!!!! But it’s coming….. LOL

About threatening to have you arrested, my mother threatened me once when I said that I was going to write a book about my recovery process. She threatened to sue me if I wrote anything that she didn’t like… or something like that. I was so shook up that I called a lawyer friend of mine. (by the way, why would my Mom threaten to sue me if I wrote a book if she had nothing to hide.. what the heck was that about????) OH and YES this is my real name; the name that I was born with. Anyhow… when power and control is misused, it can get really crazy.

It is so sad that relationship can be this way, and I think the only reason that things don’t get resolved is because some people can’t carry an ounce of the wrong. They would rather be right then be with me, and that is okay with me today. I have ME! and I love ME. (I really do, I am a great person, loving, generous and fun to be around ~ just ask my three teenage kids who tell me all the time that I am the coolest mom on the planet. MY TEENS say this!) LOL I am just trying to inspire a little hope in a very serious conversation. I know this is so very hard.

Thank you for sharing your story with the depth and honesty that you have.
Love Darlene


Good for you, Girl, for standing up for yourself! You are SUCH an inspiration! Yeah, family and “others” like to keep you from telling their little “secrets”…yes, they sure do! But…I never thought of it before, but that last statement you said makes perfect sense:

“But you know what? They didn’t really want to lose their victim now did they?”

…Someone they can blame all their problems on. Wow! Yes, Good for you for standing up! And I hope your husband did the right thing and stood up for you, too! If he didnt, kick him to the curb, too! Amen, Sister!! Thank you for sharing your story. It took a lot of guts, but YOU are the one who did nothing wrong. And I’m sure they like to tell you all the time that you are the one who is in the wrong. They just are so afraid of having their terrible secrets exposed. God Bless You, Sister! 🙂


Shanyn ~

I have been where you are too. I went through that and Darlene is right when she says that they flat out won’t listen. I wasn’t heard when I tried to talk about it, and so I put it in writing which did nothing either. I don’t know why, but they seem to love living in their own world of dillusion.

After my last little exchange of letter with my mother a few weeks back (me initiating yet again!) I realized that she still hasn’t changed (after 10 years of not being in my life.) Her manipulative abuse stunk up every word on the paper. It was right around my brother’s wedding too. I felt so pressured to go to this event where my mother was – and I refused, still they pressed. Everyone (siblings and dad) got a letter, a long one, going into great detail what my mother did to me, how she treated me, and what did I get back? Rejection.

My sisters wrote telling me “We don’t want to hear anymore of your crap.” No other siblings contacted me.

Today my dad came by, (mother and him are divorced) and he told me he wanted nothing to do with it. The last few days I defriended my siblings and my relatives on my mother’s side. When my dad asked me why today I told him it was necessary because the way I see it, my siblings have sided with my abuser – why would I want a relationship with them. Besides they think my problems with my mother are over minor things because they weren’t treated like I was – which was always more severe when it was just my mother and I.

So, it looks like my outcome of ‘not taking it anymore from anyone’ has resulted in a form of being rejected by everyone. I’m not close to my siblings – our relationships are acquaintance level because of the havoc my narcissistic mother creates.

I want you to know – that these last few weeks have been painful …. but the emancipation feels even better. I hope you choose wisely and that the end result, whatever that may be, is what is best for you. It took me ten years of being ‘stuck’ – and then recently throwing up my arms saying, “Good riddance to all of ya!” before I really felt free. Whatever you do though, don’t wait around like i did waiting for them to change – they most likely won’t.

Darlene, did you write a book about it?? And what did your lawyer say, as I have thought about doing the same, writing about abuse and recovery – once I get there anyway?


Such drama! Everyone had a vested interest in keeping the secrets AND you were a nice target to vilify so they all felt more “normal”.

I went about telling the truth in a different way. My mother grew up with a volatile abusive father just like mine. In my initial efforts to face my childhood and change the way I dealt with her, I mistakenly believed that if I could just talk to her calmly she would explain herself, apologize for her shortcomings and we’d ride happily off into the sunset. HA! Instead she denied everything, said I exaggerated, focused on only the bad things, blatantly called me a liar and said my childhood was much better than hers…I was lucky.

I didn’t get anywhere with her except more angry and depressed. So, in an effort to find out the truth…was my childhood really that much better than hers? Was my father just a disciplinarian while hers was an evil abuser? I contacted her brother and sisters for their sides of the story of their childhoods. Surprise, their father was exactly like mine and their mother put her head in the sand about it, just as mine had. I didn’t tell them any of the gory details but did let them know about my father and the secrets I’d been keeping. They were shocked, had no idea, thought I had the ideal parents…the usual…but were very supportive and several of them read my blog where I did write about the gory details. They are a quiet bunch, steering clear of confrontation at all costs and see talking to each other about anything personal as “prying” so there was no negative backlash. None of them told my mother I had contacted them. I told her myself and at that point, there was nothing she could do about it.

It felt GREAT to spill the beans to the extended family! Releasing the shame and the secrets that never really belonged to me was so liberating.


Welcome Cheryl,
Thank you for this comment, it brought more than one smile to my face. ~ They “USED” to tell me all the time that I was the one with the problem, but I don’t give them that chance anymore! About my husband, he was supportive, yes, he and I were going through our own process, (which I wrote about on the prior post if you are interested) and he had his own family issues to deal with too. It is amazing what we realize when we stop looking through a foggy grid of lies.
Thanks for being here!
Hugs, Darlene

OH you reminded me of a few things that I haven’t wrote about yet.. The thing about mothers who say “your childhood was much better then mine, you were lucky” I grew up with that forever and I believed it ~ and that was one of the things that kept me from fighting her.. I felt so sorry for her. But there was a bit of a twist involved in that statement a way that it messes in our belief system, ~ I am going to write about it in my next blog post.

I just wanted to clarify one very important thing; It isn’t that I said “they flat out won’t listen” some of them do. When Carla co-authored this blog, she wrote about how her parents listened to her and sought to resolve the relationships the same as my husband did with me. SOME parents or spouses or whoever, will not listen. The tough thing for us is that we won’t find out until we draw a real boundary such as no contact. (which it sounds like you have done ~ and in your case yes, they are not listening at all) ~ but I don’t want everyone to think that what I am saying is that the only option is walking away or shutting the door or that the only outcome is lost relationship. That isn’t the truth at all. I have met many people who have had successful recovery in relationships when they drew their boundaries. It does not always have to end in break up.
Thank you for sharing so deeply Paulette. I want you to know that hundreds of people read this blog daily, people who are not able to comment for whatever reason, and these comments help them so much to know they are not alone.
I certainly understand what you are going through, and how painful it is to try to accept that you didn’t matter, and also that you didn’t matter to your siblings either, but again ~ they are not rejecting you as much as they are rejecting the truth. Small comfort that is, I know. =(
Love Darlene


Darlene – I felt sorry for my mother too. In fact, seeing her as a co-victim, rather than the reality that she was a co-abuser, kept me confused and locked into a horribly dysfunctional relationship with her for most of my adult life. Can’t wait to read what you have to say about this.


Darlene ~ Your response means so much to me!! That is how I feel about my siblings right now – that it is more like they are rejecting the truth which is really painful that they would believe someone who blatantly lies over what I claim she did to me in entirety. Even my father is to some degree, rejecting the truth, I think accepting this truth puts some blame on him and am not sure he wants to face that. Not many would. However, none of them want to listen at all. The last ten quiet years have confirmed that. Any time I had tried to bring it up – quick subject change.

I’ve defriended my siblings from facebook for now until I can fully wrap my mind around everything. I have only one sibling who has contacted me – she is very hurt and cannot understand why I want separation from them, at least for now, so I can get my bearings and so I can objectively look at everything. The one sibling who contacted me was the one who wrote the words for both herself and my other sister, ‘… we don’t want to hear anymore of your crap.’ (which they heard very little of by the way because I was always cut off or ignored.) And what my sister has wrote me was blame-shifting – making me feel guilty and terrible for the actions I’ve taken. Sadly, she was sounding like my mother. And when I didn’t respond the way she wanted, she hissed back. My siblings have sided with my abuser … I have never had deep relationships with my siblings (its like acquaintance level relationships) so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me, their reaction to all this confirms that I’m not believed. I don’t think I can ever have meaningful relationships with them because we have never been close, and then with their siding with my abuser, well, its kind of hard for me to sort out right now.

My father and siblings flat out don’t want to listen though – even the sister who contacted me – doesn’t want to hear it much less deal with it, then turns it around to make me feel bad for standing up for myself. Being they don’t want to talk about it or face it, they don’t want to listen to what I want to say, yet they are so upset that I ‘upset the apple cart’ with my mother – my sister said that I have upset the relationships they have with my mother.

Its really hard to accept – that my siblings think I’m the one in the wrong. I need time with them not being in my life, at least for now, and that means they can’t be in my life via facebook either.

Darlene ~ Thank you so much for your input, maybe I can have relationships with my siblings later, but time will tell. I never thought my siblings would just blow me off and cling to my mother. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me though – my mother is a narcissist and very manipulative.

I will attempt to stay open though to anyone who does want a relationship with me – but I will try not to get my hopes up too high about it in case it never happens.

I love that you take the time to respond to your readers, Darlene, healing from abuse is not easy. It’s nice to know others who have been through it and that its possible to overcome.


I am so glad my words make sense to you. I think of all this stuff from a different angel now. My mother didn’t actually treat my siblings differently in my case. The way I see it, she uses different methods of control and manipulation on them. My one brother thought I was the favorite, my other brother thought that our oldest brother was the favorite. I don’t see my siblings as “siding with the abuser” as I see them practicing their own survival methods, which grew out of their own childhoods and today come from their own belief systems.

You make some very good points in this comment Paulette. You said that when you didn’t respond the way she wanted she hissed back. That is a fear reaction. Do you think she is afraid of you or of the controller? She is likely also afraid of the truth. All of this stuff is very hard to do, most people want change, but they don’t want to do the work. (and I was terrified of change, I was SURE that I would regret standing up to my family… but I never did regret it)

Thanks for posting again. there is a lot of stuff in your comment that will give you your own clues to the truth.
Love Darlene


Darlene ~

With me, my mother singled me out. My siblings I know she manipulates on occasion to get her way, but she’s not cruel to them, and I don’t think they even realize when they’re being manipulated as we were raised that way. And in our family everyone knew who my mother’s favourite was – and she was indeed ‘the golden child’ who could do no wrong.

I think with my one sister, she would definitely fear my mother more than she’d ever fear me. I’m not even sure she’s aware of a truth to face. I’m not sure any of them are. I have often got the impression that my siblings all think that I’m the one in the wrong, that I’m the one who is over-sensitive, among other things. My husband knows that I’m not. (Has has been extremely supportive in all this!)

All this writing in the last few weeks, and praying, has brought SO MUCH to the surface and with it I have discovered I have a strength I didn’t think I’d have. It’s amazing what a righteous anger does when you want to see wrongs made right. Even what you have said has really given me more food for thought and insight.

I am so very thankful for you, Darlene!! GOD BLESS YOU! (I really mean that!)


Thank you so much for your encouragement and I am so glad that you are working your way through all this!

I forgot to answer you about lawyer question and the book question;

The lawyer said that they would have to prove that I was lying in order to win their case if they were to sue. She told me of a huge case where a book was written that named names, and a bunch of the named people got together and sued; it was thrown out of court the first day. NOW having said that.. I just heard that publishing companies are strict about names etc. to protect themselves from being sued but I have no idea what the criteria would be for that. I have been told by a few authors that they were not allowed to use the real names of the abusers. Some authors have to change their name too.. lots of different opinions on this!

I didn’t write a book, I decided to do this blog instead; not because I decided not to write a book but because a well known publicist recommended that I build a platform first.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene ~

That’s good to know about the lawyer and stuff. If I ever wrote a book I would change names and use a pen name to protect myself. As much as I’d like to use my real name, for legal reasons I think it best to use another name.

I suppose its a good idea to build a platform first – you get a lot of input from a lot of other victim’s experiences. I think that’s really cool actually.

Whatever you write will be good … love reading your posts!

hugs, p.


Dysfunctional family systems assign roles to each of its members. The roles are not flexible and are not up for discussion. The system is very rigid.

Someone is always the scapegoat. The scapegoat is the one who is always wrong, always blamed for everything that goes wrong in the family. The quickest way to become a scapegoat is to dare to be the one to want change, to be the one who demands that the truth be told instead of continuing to believe the lies and secrets of the family.

The dysfunctional family system will do everything possible to keep the family system in tact, even resorting to disowning the one who wants to change or the one who suddenly is willing to share the family “secrets.” Yes, it hurts to be that person and you are worth the end result that you get – freedom from abuse.


Hi Patricia,
This explanation is very well put, thank you for posting! The key word is DYSFUNCTIONAL and we really must keep that in mind when we are not beign heard. If a family is willing to look at changing to functional, they are more inclined to listen.
I love your note ~ that the quickest way to become the scapegoat is to dare to be the want to wnat change and demands the truth be told.. and YES they will do everything to keep the dysfunctional family system in tact… so sad for them.
Great to hear from you today!
Hugs, Darlene


I remember telling my sister and mom what I remembered one summer morning. Memories began pouring in and pieces began to fall into place. My sister seemed stunned.

Both my sister and I had been programmed to tout my dad’s gifts, especially after his death. I had been the brave one who stayed with my heroic dad during his last breaths (literally). I had been the
“perfect” daughter. My sister didn’t say much. My mother…First, she is mentally ill. I am not sure why I could even expect her to acknowledge my truth. After I told her about the sexual abuse at my father’s hands, she made the situation all about her. I was making her whole life a sham by bringing my father’s true character life. The word “sham” is hers. After meeting with a therapist, I was validated about how dysfunctional my family actually was…

My sister called a few months later (We had had limited contact after I told her that I was not able to be her mother anymore. We are only 2 years apart…This was one time I had to take care of myself and my four kids first.). She told me that she began remembering inappropriate behaviors that she would re-inact with friends and blanks while being with my dad. My sister and I have a less than perfect relationshp, but it has come a long way since 2 years ago.

Unfortunately, I had to put an end to all contact with my mother. She relied on me as her mother and therapist. I was supposed to drop everything to do whatever she needed. Every little incident in her life was a crises. Well, my medical professionals finally convinced me that I was having my own crisis and needed to tend to my self. Even after I put the boundary in place, (I pleaded with her to stop!) it took my husband telling her to stop. It had to be a man for the words to have any merit or weight.

This blog on dysfunctional families…thanks for offering a much needed outlet, especially right now.



<The fear that I had of standing up was a fear that I carried with me since I was 5 years old ~ that if my parents reject me, I will die because I can’t live outside the house and survive.

I noticed my breathing stopped after I read this. It's still hard to breathe. This is what has paralyzed me. This is what would be pounded into me at the dinner table. Added to it was that my parents and brother were the
only ones who will stand by me. Everyone else at some point will leave me
alone. I know at some level that's true. Now, as an adult, I am financially dependent because I am no longer employable. So I try to keep things as level as possible so as not to get them too angry. It's a terrible way to live. Then sometimes I think it really is my fault. And there are such mixed messages because at times they say they look up to me and I have such a beautiful soul. I know I rambled. Sorry


Hi Cassie,
These kinds of mothers tend to make it “all about them”‘; everything is all about my mom too. Some of the things that happened and the way they were dealt with will never be understood by me or anyone else, but today that is okay. I realized that “understnding” will never set me free and neither would my mother hearing me for once, set me free either.
I’m glad that your medical professionals convinced you to draw the line in order to take care of yourself.
Thanks for being here, sharing your truth, THE truth.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi IAmEchad
My heart goes out to you for the difficult situation you are in. I think that at the very depth of control, there is the message they want us to “know” that we can’t live without them. I think that is where they get their identity from; having people who can’t survive without them. As children we ARE dependant, and they make sure that we stay that way so they can feel some sort of power over. And when we even hint that maybe we CAN live without them, it is like an attack. They are offended or something. I think that just knowing in my heart that I could live without them, was a huge step towards recovery for me. It didn’t happen all at once though.
Hang in there, thanks for your honesty.
Love Darlene


And once again you hit the nail on the head Darlene. To this day my “family” will not accept me or allow me to speak, have my own thoughts or make my own choices. When I do see them – they don’t share their life and allow me to share mine…they quiz me on what I’m doing with myself then question and criticize.

If I have ever attempted to speak up about the abuse and the way I’ve been treated by our parents and them – immediately the screaming, shouting, blaming and demeaning starts as they tell me that I”m “blaming” everyone else for my “problems”. This is a huge trigger for me so I just don’t speak up and “walk on eggshells” when I am around them. I’ve learned to not share my life with them and avoid or sidestep their probing questions.

This has become a part of my children’s lives as well to the point that to be around them our relationship is all about them and if I attempt to share any of my life, thoughts or feelings they also become defensive and critical of me.

My parents and most of the perpetrators in my family are dead now and I have stopped trying to be a part of my siblings lives outside of a birthday card and christmas card each year – and I do that only because my children are a part of this toxic family so I run into them at things like my grandsons birthday parties, football games etc.

To keep things civil I stay in touch from a distance. I’ve never been allowed to speak about what my father, brother, uncles and cousins and the grown men in our small farm town did to me nor the abuse I’ve taken from the females in my family who were jealous because I was tall and thin (they were always making fun of my “skinny butt”, telling me how unfair it was that I got my fathers long legs, criticizing how I dressed etc) and the men they dated and married who always flirted with me, pawed me and stared at me.

To be around my children requires that I still keep my mouth shut or risk being degraded for daring to have an opinion or thought that is my own. So I guess I choose to do this balancing act in order to not have to also walk away from my children who are so enmeshed in this terribly toxic family system although I am hoping that my work will either allow me to travel frequently or relocate at some point so I can just love them from a distance as it is very triggering and stressful to have this kind of relationship with my children and still have to live in an “on guard” state of being to avoid further abuse from my family. (warm would be nice:))

I am grateful to have this place to be able to voice these things and see that I am not the only one dealing with these issues.


Great to hear from you!
Well I can certainly relate to this post! You have brought up SO many things that I have not even shared about yet myself! I have realized that critical and defensive is all about FEAR on the part of them. They have their own survival methods… most people work really hard to stay living in the lie, because they are convinced that the truth would literally kill them.

For the last 4 years we have been working really hard at LIVING in the truth so that our kids know the truth is better. Sometimes I get really discouraged, and sometimes I feel euphoric. But I know that my children thought it was me and they thought it was me because I taught them that it was me. I believed that I was the problem, so why would they not see me as the problem. They took the side of everyone who was against me, regardless of the abusiveness of the people they sided with, including their father. (There are a multitude of reasons for this, much of it is about who has the most power to harm, and I didn’t.) Before my husband saw the value in changing, I changed. I made so many changes and stood up for the truth so much, that after about a year, my kids started NOT seeing me as the problem. BUT what I want to say is that when we model life and truth to our children ~ healthy, wholesome, life and high self esteem, eventually they notice. I have impact on people because they see the joy and love and high self esteem that I live in each day. I don’t fake that. They somehow see that it is real. They want that too. Our kids, no matter what age they are, can eventually also see that and begin to see us in a different light ~ and then they can see us as a worthy example too.

Never give up hope! I love you Susan and thank you for sharing!


[…] comment came in from Cyndi on my last post (click to view Standing up to Dysfunctional Family Relationship ~ Part two) and it prompted me to write today’s post ~ another little snapshot of how messed up I was in the […]


You know, reading these additional posts since my last one – it just occurred to me … what if my siblings have been distant all these years because they think I’m the one with the problem?? Whoa! Because of their actions and the things they would say, it would make sense that they would believe that. And I have a pretty good idea who is making up lies for them to believe (if in fact this is what is going on)! This makes me so angry – the whole dysfunction in my family makes me angry. They must really think I’m the crazy one!

The words from one of my one sister’s emails of late suddenly hit me when she asked me, “What is wrong with you?” I didn’t think much of it at the time – but now I wonder, where did that come from?? It’s hard to know where she is coming from with a question like that, especially in written form. I think I might have to contact her – but I will have to seriously think it through first. I don’t know if it will be worth it considering they’ve already made up their minds to ‘not get involved.’

I love hearing everyone’s posts, these latter ones have made me stop to consider what damage my mother may be doing from the other side. After all, she blatantly lied to my aunt ten years ago where I had to inform my aunt that my mother was lying, and considering that my mother has not changed … it would not surprise me at all. I’m just wondering though if the knowledge of my mother’s lying or perpetrating will actually change anything or if it will just cause more animosity?? Probably the latter for sure, in which case, is it really worth it?? Probably not.

I am so glad I removed myself and my children from such an incredibly abusive environment (my mother and family gatherings on that side of the family) … the last time I saw my mother she humiliated me in my own home – that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I always promised myself that if the day came where she abused be in my own home, that would be it – because now there were no boundaries for her that she would not cross. I was humiliated and degraded beyond reason. It is by far, at least for me – not speaking for anyone else who reads this page – the best decision I’ve ever made. I truly feel, in my case, it was the most healthy thing I could have done for me and my children.

It’s sad because I love my family and was always taught ‘family is always there for you’ – great words to say, but awful when your family doesn’t actually practice it. Though the years I have accumulated a new family of friends and of fellow followers of Christ – they are my FAMILY.


Hi Paulette,
What I found out is that it won’t matter if you find out if she has been lying and doing damage on the other side or not. It won’t make any difference. We thinkg that if we can get the whole picture, it will make a difference, but it doesn’t. When people don’t want to hear you,they don’t want to hear you. when I truly accepted and realized that they didn’t care enough about me to hear me, it hurt like hell, but not for as long as I thought it would. It was freeing and that didn’t hurt at all. The truth set me free.
Hugs and thanks for sharing more.

The post that I just published might trigger a few more things in you. It comes from one of these comments… the one where the mom said “you had it so much better then I did.. you are lucky”. Let me know how that one grabs you!
Love Darlene


I’ll check that out. And you are so right Darlene, I know in my heart that knowing what my mother was doing on the other side would not be fruitful. It’s hard. A part of me wants to lash out at everyone, but I know that doing so would just make everything worse than it already is.

I am going to go read your other post now. Thanks again so much!


I know being told my family would be the only ones that will stand by me has caused me to continually know as much as possible so I would be needed. I only figured that out this year.


Hi IAmEchad,
You know it doesn’t matter when we fiugre thing out, just that we are on the journey! And we are! As long as we are striving to go forward,we will figure things out.
Love Darlene


I empathize with every word you have written. I am 29 years old and have been mistreated and controlled by my family. Recently, I refused to attend a family reunion and have stood up for myself more than I ever have. My whole family has turned against me and that is their choice. I have god, a husband, and children who love me.


Hi Michelle
Welcome to EFB
Good for you for standing up! You are so right, that is their choice. It is really hard to fathom that our own families would make such a choice but I have a choice too. I choose the freedom that comes with living in the truth; I am valid, iI am worthy, I can think for myself and be who I am.
Hugs, Darlene


It’s our secrets that keep us sick.


So much time and energy is wasted on the concern we place with other people’s problems. Even in reading the column as well as the responses I see numerous statements about “now I will be the bad guy”, “my family will say…” “everyone thinks I’m the one with the problem”.. Truth can create victimization just as much as lies. It all depends on what you do with it. What I mean by that is don’t get too attached to your recovery because it can stall you from the next steps just as much as victimization can.

I have come from a severely sexually and emotionally abusive background as well as alcoholism. I can relate and understand all of these posts. What concerns me is that once we realize and acknowledge our victimization and loss of self and personal power, there comes a phase where we may begin to use the truth as a shield which also keeps us victims. I believe it is a necessary part of the process, however please PLEASE don’t get stuck here.

The biggest therapy that helped me was the view of detachment. I learned an ability to remove myself from the emotions that overwhelmed me and allowed myself to truly look at all my demons and fears and my past from an observers viewpoint. It was cathartic to say the least. This wasn’t easy. It took years to develop. But it was the key thing that allowed me to just let things go and no longer care what my family or even other people thought of me or my decisions. Oh sure I’m still afraid sometimes. Have some trepidations when speaking up and pointing out BS. But it’s what I feel now is a normal feeling about a normally difficult process for anyone. I’m still angry…that will never completely go away.

What I know from personal experience is that as long as I am focused on what OTHER people are doing and saying I will lose all control and descend into worry, doubt, frustration and tears. Now, in all situations the first thing I ask myself is “what about me? Where am I at here and am I allowing this persons energy to overtake mine?” If the answer is yes I have strategies to immediately get very calm and detached which makes me feel like a mountain!! It also allows me to squelch anger which is my nemesis.

It’s changed my relationships dramatically because we are part of the equation when dealing with other people. When we no longer allow for the conditioned response they expect they are thrown out of their patterns and will likely first retaliate to regain position.

Now we are challenged to stay present in the moment, not get overly angry and restate our position without falter.. and on it goes. When you refuse to accept what people dish at you you force the others position to change…and they HATE IT!!! We must relinquish our needs for them to see or even acknowledge our position…that is simply a power play. When you can detach from THEM and attach to YOURSELF it is the most remarkable place!!! Because they don’t matter anymore and there is no battle for you. There may be one for them but that is there choice and there problem….not yours.

Please understand I know how hard this is. I know how painful and terrifying it is. I have and still struggle daily with trust and my own patterns of behavior that ruin good relationships and send me scurrying back to bad ones…but the strategies I’ve described have proven that while I still operate as a wounded being, my recognition and turn around time is sometimes immediate and this is a HUGE success!

My girlfriend and I have a simple trigger word we use for each other when we are spinning the shit talk about ourselves. We simply say to each other, or ourselves the word “gentle” It is our trigger to remember that we are deserving of care and consideration as any helpless child would be…because that’s when all our crap was put here. As children. We ask ourselves ” Would I speak to a lovely innocent little child like this?” Of course not. It allows us the ability to be better to ourselves. I encourage you to try it.

As I’ve said here before…people are assholes. Let them be assholes…it has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. Be good to yourselves and ALWAYS put yourself first in the equation…that way the math always works out 🙂

Peace everyone, please be good to yourselves. This life is so very short and you deserve to live it all to it’s happiest.


Hi Nancy
I am not sure who you are addressing your comments to but I think that the healing process is fantastic in all its aspects. I think that there is a stage that many need to go through where they have to acknowledge the fear of the wrath and reactions of others. This website is about the healing process and all of its stages. I encourage people to share what ever is real for them without judgement on any of it. I had to grow at my pace. Many will get stuck and not push through but I find that the chances of pushing through that stuck place greatly increase with permission to be in the process whatever that looks like.
I want to encourage you to have hope re the anger issue. Mine is completely gone away. I am angry at what happens to people but I don’t have an issue with anger anymore.
Hugs, Darlene


@ Nancy, your words are not a coincidence. I think I really need to hear them.

I go to a weekly support group. My father also was alcoholic, verbally, emotionally, physically abusive, sexually inappropriate, and my mother was also emotionally abusive, negligent, and unaffectionate. At the support group meeting last night, one group member’s words made me so angry I threatened to leave the room because I didn’t want to hear any more. She has taken a 2nd job to support a man who won’t even look for a job. They’ve lost their home and she is sleeping in a tent in his mother’s back yard. She is a doormat, a people pleaser, and I just wish she could stop letting people take advantage of her.

After I spoke (trying actually to knock some sense into her) another member of the support group said that they would support her and I just felt so bad for having said what I said. I really wasn’t trying to be mean, I just want this person to open their eyes and stop allowing people to walk all over her.

“The biggest therapy that helped me was the view of detachment. I learned an ability to remove myself from the emotions that overwhelmed me and allowed myself to truly look at all my demons and fears and my past from an observers viewpoint.”

I feel bad for saying what I said. I wish I could have detached, not cared so much about knowing what was right and what was wrong and just listened and not gotten angry.


I am so sorry. The skapegoating is awful and it hurts terribly.

I just read this today “Blood relations are overrated, they are like patriotism on a smaller scale.”

I just had an experience with my sister who pretends to be empathetic and understanding, only to turn around and tell my mother and whoever else she feels all about my personal life and puts her own selfish stance on it – no matter how much I try to talk to her about my abusive childhood, or how I have literally shown her that I do not get angry and I have gotten help – she pigeon holes me into being angry over things that I have learned do not even concern me.

I stood up to her in a very calm, collected, and assertive way and I haven’t heard back. She immediately labeled me “angry” because I questioned her. I have realized it doesn’t matter what I do, if she wants me to be agry about something, I will be to suit her reality, no matter what the truth is. I could question her with a big happy smile in a cooing voice while offering cotton candy and she will still label me angry.

I did get angry after the labeling, and it was the labeling that pissed me off, not her selfish personal life that I was questioning simply because she had told me something to the contrary, then turned around and did the opposite. I was simply curious.

My brother stifles me and belittles me when I try to tell him the truth. So far I avoid him as much as possible. I still haven’t mustered the guts to get rid of him permanently, which is easy to do, I just have to stand up for myself and I’ll be rid of him, and he’ll get just as hostile and defensive as usual in the face of the truth.

They all end up telling me I’m the one with the problem, and over time I have come to realize that they are partially right, they are my problem and I need to get rid of them, but I am not to blame for it like they love to pretend.

Sorry if this is kind of fuzzy its just hard to convey myself without wanting scream bloody gore sometimes.


Hi Alice
None of what you posted is fuzzy to me! This is what this whole website is about and you sound clear. Abusers, controllers and manipulators spend most of their time trying to make sure their “prey” NEVER realize they (the victims) ARE NOT the one with the problem. and you are so right; they are YOUR problem.
Thank you for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
I have just found this website, and want to give you and the other posters a big rave.
There is so much wisdom here.
I am 53, and have spent the past 3.5 years acknowledging, and coming to terms with, my severely abusive childhood. My father was narcissistic, possibly sociopathic, and sexually abused my sister and myself over many years. He abused alcohol, and emotionally abused my mother and all of the 4 children. Both he and my mother physically abused us, and my mother also emotionally abused us. I have only relatively recently realized (as a result of therapy) that my mother has been emotionally abusing me my whole life. I was a people – pleaser, controlled by toxic shame and low self-esteem.
Like others here, I have plunged myself into a dark abyss of emotional pain in order to confront the demons that have plagued me through my life. I began that process reluctantly, having sought therapy to help me cope with my elderly mother’s increasingly bitter and hateful behaviour towards me, her main carer. However, events took over with a series of family dramas, and I have found myself undergoing a full “emotional renovation”.
Over that period, I have cut contact with my father after he attempted to reestablish an incestuous relationship with my sister (he was 80 at the time, and asked her to become his wife….);
my sister and I subsequently reported him to the police and claimed victim’s compensation;
I acknowledged the damage that I was suffering by continuing a relationship with my mother, and cut contact with her;
after my aunt died and left me her estate, my siblings reacted with what I believe to be shame-based anger, and attacked me, resulting in estrangement;
my father died before the police managed to question him;
and just as a final touch, my husband was exposed in his 3 year affair.
I know that I will probably never forgive my father and mother for their abuse, although I have gained enough knowledge of their childhoods to understand the deprivations and abuse that led to their dysfunction. I never would have imagined that I could live at peace with no contact with my mother, but in fact, 2 years later I am perfectly happy, even though I know that my action was part of the reason for my siblings cutting me off. I dared to change the dysfunctional family dynamic, and I was punished.
In April, as I was still attempting to resolve the estrangement with my siblings, I was forced to put that aside in order to face my husband’s infidelity. Fortunately for me, he was immediately remorseful, cut all contact with the other woman, and committed to do whatever it took to restore our marriage and my trust.
The truly amazing thing that came out of that betrayal is that I found myself. After the initial shock and pain had subsided,I contemplated the possibility of having to live alone, without husband or family except my 2 adult children.Suddenly and spontaneously, I felt a transforming experience take place, and became empowered for the first time in my life.
As a result, I have been able to move towards a place of understanding,compassion and forgiveness for my husband.
Please understand, I am not a Christian, and I always believed that adultery was a marriage-breaker. I’m amazed that I have been able to process this additional trauma and find a peace with it.
Now, I am attempting to use my experience of forgiving my husband to find some sort of peace with the estrangement with my siblings.
It is so profoundly sad that we are all still acting out the roles that were imposed upon us as children. At least I have insight into this, but I’m pretty sure that they don’t. So I am pessimistic that we will ever reconcile. I am working towards forgiveness, and peace, from a distance.
The other contributors here are at different stages of the journey. There’s no doubt that the journey is painful and frightening. I would say that it is essential to have lots of support, professional if possible. A compassionate therapist who specializes in abusive families. Non-judgmental friends and family.
There are times when I, and others, I’m sure, have despaired. At times, I have felt that my life was not worth living. But, with that help, and many, many hours, days, months and years of work I have persevered, and ultimately, I have emerged strong, resilient, optimistic and empowered – a new person.
I want to offer reassurance and hope to those at the beginning of their journey. All that pain, all that despair, it’s worth it. No way would I go back to what I used to be.I now value myself for own worth as a human being. I know that I have the power to live my life the way I want to live. There may be a hole in my life where my family of origin used to be, but I am looking forward to filling it with a new family, of people who actually love and respect me.
You can achieve this too.


Hi Kate
Welcome to Emerging from Broken! There is so much that I could comment on! ~What a nightmare your childhood must have been. There are many here who have lived that nightmare too ~ you are not alone! Thank you for sharing your victories with us.
~ That is awesome that you found peace with your husband and through that whole thing! Thanks for sharing that.
I have written a lot about the role of forgiveness in healing and in my exp. forgiveness has been a result of the process.
Thank you for sharing and for your encouragement to everyone here!
Hugs, Darlene

I want to add to the readers that professional support is not limited to therapists; I am a professional coach specializing in abusive families and overcoming the belief system born in dysfunctional families. I have very few openings at any given time (and sometimes I have no openings) so normally I don’t mention my professional practice. I have great success with my clients and coaching typically works much faster then therapy. ~ Darlene


Hi Darlene,
You are so right. Finding support and validation from others is crucial when we embark on our healing journey. I live in Australia, where professional coaches are not very common. In fact, I had no idea that a professional coach can specialize in the way you do. That’s fantastic.
Support, love and validation can come from many different sources, as I’ve discovered.
I don’t know where I’d be without my psychologist. She has held my hand through some very tough times. I also have a massage therapist who counsels me with love and compassion.
A previous psychologist, though, revealed herself to be unsupportive, in fact destructive, for me. In 2009/10 I found myself having to work through the damage that she had wrought at the same time that I was dealing with my husband’s cancer diagnosis, and undergoing the awakening to my mother’s emotional abuse.
So, I would really like to emphasize that it can sometimes take a while to find the right people to support us in our journey.
That’s why your website is so important, Darlene. Thanks for your commitment and empathy. When we feel alone and isolated, an online community like yours can give us that feeling of being understood and hugged, when we need it most.


Please please please share more incidents like this – if you can – or maybe examples… It is so incredibly fog destroying! Thanks! Your descriptions of actual conversations and acts help me so much especially when you explain it! I feel a bit silly since it is obvious but I know you and everyone here understands what I mean… Thank you Darlene! I am so happy it is so clear for you and that helps me realise the truth and keep going forward! Bravo Darlene for doing what you do!


Hi Maria
So glad that you enjoyed this! Thanks for your feedback!
hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I appreciate the fact that you are able to openly talk about the dysfunction in your family. So many people are in denial in a dysfunctional family that those of us that get counseling, speak up, and speak the truth are labeled as “troublemakers.” The fact that both of my parents are in the medical profession and like to keep a “good appearance” to the outside world but inside the family they keep secrets and refuse to seek counseling or acknowledge the death of my brother to a drug overdose, the horrible family gatherings with abuse and inebriated adults while being a child was difficult. As a teenager I sought out psychotherapy to cultivate skills on how to cope with my life. (when my parents found out they called my psychotherapist to say that they were “not bad people.”) They continue to insert themselves into my life in an inappropriate manner (I am in my 40s!) and I feel like I just cannot be open with them anymore. The hardest part of existing in a dysfunctional family has been the fracturing of the sibling relationships. My adult brother relies on my parents to care for his children and other things and refuses to acknowledge or be supportive. I recently moved closer to home; however, I have had to draw stricter boundaries as I cannot deal with the dysfunction and history of denial and family secrets. The worst part as my parents refuse to acknowledge their role in how I feel! I appreciate your advice on standing up for yourself by canceling the family reunion. It is sad when we give and give and others take and expect us to be quiet. I applaud your courage!

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