Archive for belief systems
When it comes to parent child relationships I often feel as though I struggle to explain or communicate the difference between how I felt about the past when it was in the past, how I felt about it when I was in the healing stages of it and how I feel about it now. This comes up a lot on the blog and on the facebook page for Emerging from Broken so I thought I would write about it.
This blog gets hundreds of views every day. The comments don’t reflect that though, and I get these private emails from people who don’t want to write publically, especially about parent stuff. By some of the questions that I get asked, I understand why this is; most of us have really big loyalty issues when it comes to our parents and our parent child relationships. This has to do with several things; our belief systems, our upbringing and the way that society frowns on anyone revealing family secrets ~ even if the whole family could recover from the pain of the past if they were revealed ~ some things are just taboo.
I sometimes wonder how different my life would be today if my mother were willing to pursue wholeness and freedom herself? How different would it be if she were willing to work on our mother daughter relationship stuff with me? But sadly this isn’t the case.
I know one thing for sure, it would not change the past. What happened, really happened and it was dysfunctional, devaluing and abusive much of the time. So my decision was to get on with the present and future and to do that I ended up having to deal with the past. (Again) But this time I went deeper then I had gone before. I ventured into previously uncharted waters. The truth about my parents and just how dysfunctional the parent child relationships were.
When I talk about anger and blame towards my abusers as well as my parents ~ anger and blame were a necessary part of my healing. I had to look at the truth ~ almost from a neutral point of view if I were ever going to heal from it. I can only say this in retrospect as I didn’t realize that this would be a key before I did it.
I was so wrapped up in should and should not’s and because I believed expressions like “if you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future you are peeing on today” I was stuck. So I had to look at what my life story was as though I was looking at it through someone else’s eyes. Some of the events of my life were shocking and yet I didn’t think so. I felt guilty for feeling even a glimmer of hurt or anger towards my parents, especially my mother because I felt so sorry for her. It was almost easier to just accept the blame for our difficult mother daughter relationship.
If someone else told me the exact same things had happened to them (that had happened to me) I was horrified. I could feel justifiable anger, outrage, shock, disgust, sadness, sympathy compassion and love, but I could not feel these things for myself about my own life or about the things that had happened to ME. I can’t stress enough how convinced that I am that taking a look at my life story through different eyes was one of the biggest keys to the eventual restoration of my emotional health and overall mental health. This was also one of the biggest keys to overcoming depression. Seeing things from a neutral view point, was a huge key to my overcoming dissociative identity disorder and the integration of all my “alter personalities” and a major key to my wholeness and freedom.
As a child, I surrendered all my power over to my parents, teachers, and elders. When those people treated me with less value then I deserved or abused and controlled me in ways that were not acceptable, I complied and surrendered even more of my will. I had no choice as a child. It wasn’t a decision I made, it was survival and it was necessary. But this became my way of life and when we live under dysfunctional control, we become accustomed to living under dysfunctional control. This becomes a habit that is familiar and even comfortable. I grew into an adult in this familiar comfortable fog and I continued to give control to the abusers or controllers. Often when we are adults this control and abuse is psychological and emotional when it comes to our parents but none the less is in not really love. It is not a healthy, functional, love based parent child relationship.
But there I was in it anyway and in order to survive and cope I convinced myself that it wasn’t really wrong. “My poor mother didn’t know any better.” (true but so what?) Until I had nowhere else to turn and I was an emotional mess and I realized through getting some help to navigate through the false and the true, I suddenly realized that if I remained “loyal” to my parents, and if I didn’t want to look at this stuff that had happened to me at their hands through the lens of truth in order to place the burden back on them and realize that this was not my fault, then I was actually giving them control over MY recovery and my will to recover, in order to protect them. (as we have learned to do our whole lives)
This isn’t about loyalty. I was fighting for my life, and I had to get really honest. I had to accept the past the way that it was ~ the plain honest way that it was without the loyalty and excuses that I consistently made for them all my life. What I am trying to express in this blog is about emerging OUT of victim mentality and into wholeness and freedom and real relationship.
In love and in truth,
“And then I identify as a failure…. I also believe I am stupid. And I don’t think I deserve anything better and sometimes I can see how it all spirals down into a deep dark foggy place where I am sinking in deep pockets of muck”. Darlene Ouimet ~ in the past.
At the age of 6 my mother dressed me up in one of her black lace teddies and panties which just hung like a black lacy sack on me, and she sent me out to ‘dance’ in front of my father and one of his business associates who was spending the night at our home. I was so excited and just bursting with nervous laughter; I loved to dress up and I already had a crush on this young man and thought it would be such a surprise when I popped out in my outfit dancing and twirling in his honour. I was baffled and really mortified when I saw the look of shock on my father’s face. That look told me that I had just done something terribly wrong, but I had no idea what the heck it was.
I have written about how as a teenager, I had a crush on my mother’s boyfriend, and one night he came into my bedroom when I was sleeping and he molested me. As I have said before, all my life, by my mother’s example due to what I think she believed her value was, my mother taught me that my value was sexual. Having a grown man in my bedroom, touching me telling me that I am beautiful and trying to lay beside me in bed was horrifying and frightful and I didn’t feel valued by it. I felt nothing but fear. Even though my Aunt, (my mom’s sister) rescued me from what was probably going to be rape, and told my mother that her boyfriend was trying to get in bed with me wearing nothing but his underwear, my mother didn’t believe either of us. She insisted that I misunderstood and then she blamed it on me because I had a crush on him.
It is important to note here how the lies work. My mother said that I was mistaken but then added “well Darlene, you did have a crush on him” which actually indicates that she did believe me after all. I didn’t realize that by her accusation, she admitted to believing me until I was in my early forties! Then to make matters worse, after that incident my mother treated me like her competition instead of her daughter, which further enforced my fear that the sexual encounter was something that I caused. My mother acted like I was after her boyfriends but I didn’t know what I had done that brought it on. Just like when I was dressed up in my mother’s black lace, once again I had no idea what I had actually done wrong. A young mind comes to all kinds of wrong conclusions.
My mother approved of me when I was quiet, compliant, and when I made her look good. Those things by themselves might not have caused a huge problem. She also approved of me when I was sexually appealing to men, and when men were attracted to me. This was true even when I was a teenager and the men were real men and not boys, unless she thought that the man in question was hers. I became what and who she wanted me to be, I became interested in being all those things, and eventually those things defined me. Ultimately I believed that my value was in how sexually attractive that I was. It was about whether or not men desired me.
There was a conflict though. I had been sexually molested several different times beginning at the age of two plus due to my conditioning, I accepted that I had done something to cause it, and I had no idea what I had done, which created confusion in my thinking process. Being desired validated me, and being desired was frightening and dangerous at the same time. Since I had been taught (over time) that everything that happened to me was my fault and the belief that I was also responsible for someone else’s actions and moods caused me to constantly question myself about what I had done or had neglected to do to cause the reaction of the other person. Since I could not figure it out, I lived in fear of doing “it” again by accident. I worte about this fear in my post about psychological abuse years later.
This kind of conditioning permeates into all of our future relationships. Imagine what happens when we have this belief ~ that everything is our fault and that we deserve whatever results we create and then to make matters worse, we are told as adults that we are in charge of our own lives and we can’t for the life of us figure out how to change anything. This becomes the lens that we view our lives through and we easily accept that we are always the problem, except that we honestly don’t understand or comprehend why. (I refer to this state of mind as “the spin”.) All of the conditioning and belief systems stuff becomes part of how we live and we wonder why we have so many struggles with our mental health because we don’t always relate the past to the present in this way.
So you can see how I identified as a failure. I also thought I was stupid because I could not get a grip and kept getting into devaluing relationships; I didn’t think I deserved anything better. You can see how it all spiralled down into a deep dark foggy place full of sludgy muck that was really hard to navigate my way out of. And since I did find my way out of it, I am really passionate about sharing my breakthroughs with you.
P.S. Many of you have not been sexually abused, but it is my hope that you can relate to this story about belief system development because the way it happens can be applied to so many other examples. I welcome your thoughts and feedback as always.
Darlene Ouimet ~ in the present
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 –
In my last post “Psychological Abuse is the Root of All Abuse ~ many years later ” I talked about one incident that reflected on how my belief system impacted my life. I continue today with examples of how this played out in the past.
I have written in the past about how I was actually taught that my value as a woman was sexual and how that belief became true for me over time. This false belief has caused me many problems some of which I continue to become more aware of as time goes on. Like so many other multi level belief systems, this belief that my value was sexual has been a very complicated belief system to untangle, especially since I acquired it by the time I was about 6. As I grew up, it was continually reinforced along with the connected belief that I brought on and actually caused any sexual misconduct or inappropriate behaviour that came my way.
Coming from a dysfunctional family system, out of necessity we develop survival systems and these become our coping methods in order to deal with the feelings of not being valuable, not being safe etc. Each person has their own way of doing this and the dynamics between us can be very similar and very different or a combination of both. Because these systems were developed in the first place to protect us, it is hard for us to re-wire them. Our minds actually caution us against changing our thinking because we so deeply believe that these coping methods are what are keeping us safe.
Coping methods become like a buffer zone. Sometimes there are some really destructive behaviours that we believe keep us safe and we are afraid to give them up because we are convinced that these behaviours are part of the solution, such as in the case of addictions. Depression and sexual behaviour can also be coping methods though. The purpose and passion that I have for writing the posts for this blog is to shed some light on the stuff that gets in the way of this work; I believe it goes deeper than just the coping method. It starts in how we develop our belief systems in the first place. The challenge is that we have developed so many belief systems and coping methods, therefore there is so much to untangle.
When it came to men and my belief system about my sexuality, I believed that my power, value and even my safe existence all depended on men; not just men but men who desired me and part of the problem is that therefore, I tried to make men desire me. Taking this all apart and sorting through it was difficult because there were so many different beliefs, fears and aspects to it. I remember in high school I had a science teacher, a much older man who wore nerdy glasses and bow ties and I was very afraid of him. How I coped with that fear is that I constantly stared him in the eye and smiled while he was in the middle of teaching. It was my way of throwing him off. He was not at all the kind of teacher that any girl would flirt with. I was so mixed up that I thought being sexually attractive proved my worth, but it also might keep me safe in certain situations. If he was sexually attracted to me, he would not yell at me or pick on me for not understanding the work. He would show me “favour”. It wasn’t that I thought “having sex” with someone would keep me safe, it had more to do with the misunderstanding of my value, and my behaviour around sexuality. I thought that a man “wanted me” I was safer. I thought he would feel more tenderness towards me. I had love and sex mixed up. In the case of this science teacher, I was not afraid of him sexually, I was afraid of his moods, so I threw him off balance with my sexuality because that was the foundation that I had been taught about survival.
As you can imagine, this tactic sometimes backfired.
Because I had been sexually abused, I also associated sexuality with fear and when I was afraid of a man, I often turned on the sexual energy thinking of that as somewhat of a protection. It made me feel more in control and I believed that being in control was all important. I associated not being in control with being hurt in all ways. When I was 19 I had a boss who was over 40 years old and married. I was afraid of him and saw him as having power over me (my job was in his hands) and I turned on the charm; it backfired when he took me up on my flirting. I was so sure that everything in life was my fault so I just froze the same way that I did when I was a child. I froze and dissociated ~ disconnecting from myself and from the situation. (Another coping method.) You can also see how this coping method does not work. Once I dissociated, I had even less control and my job was in jeopardy even more then it was originally.
These two stories illustrate two very different aspects of one coping method that was born out of my belief system based on how I was taught that my sexuality was my value but I was also afraid of it and believed it was the cause of my problems as well. As I grew in my understanding of how my belief system formed, I was able to untangle the beliefs as well as replace them with truth and I was able to stop reacting to situations this way. I also stopped connecting my value with my sexuality and realized that my definition of safe and in control was very wrong. As this all got sorted out, I needed coping methods less and less.
Fearlessly exposing truth!
~ Darlene Ouimet
“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being” Hafiz
Have you ever noticed that when you are driving a vehicle, some of the things you do are automatic? I don’t really think about using my turn indicator when I am about to turn a corner; it is so automatic that I often find myself indicating when I come to the corner in my own laneway. When the brake lights come light up on the car in front of me, it is automatic for me to touch my breaks too.
When you are making the bed, or doing the dishes do you think about what you are doing, or are you thinking about something else? These types of mundane everyday tasks become habitual and automatic.
It is the same with the way that we think about ourselves. It was habitual for me to think that I was not as valuable as others; it was so deeply inside of me that I was not at all conscious of how I viewed myself or how deep my belief was. My mother often told me that I was selfish and I believed her. When I went to a 12 step program, it was very easy for me to agree that the root of my problem was selfishness and self centeredness, but it was not positive for me to believe that because my view of myself was wrong to begin with. Because my belief systems and my view of self were so skewed, even self help books and programs were not helpful for me in the ways they were meant to be and very often had a negative effect on me. I did not realize this until I stepped back and decided to take a deep look at the beginning and where the confusion started.
Getting back to the beginning was kind of like navigating a deep dark cave with long winding tunnels and scary obstacles. Carrying a flashlight that only worked some of the time made it even more frightening. I was afraid that I would get lost in the dark and that I would end up hurting even more. I was afraid that I would get stuck there and be forever in the painful part of the process. I was so afraid of the repressed memories; I was almost positive that I would remember something that I could not deal with. I was afraid that I would discover that it was my fault after all; that I deserved what had happened to me, that I had indeed brought it on myself and even asked for it. I was afraid because I thought the lies were the truth and the truths were lies.
In my mind’s eye, there lived a little girl who was about two years old. She lived alone in an attic; it was very cold and dark with only one broken window letting in a bit of light. She was filthy dirty, wearing a sleeveless and tattered little dress, which barely covered her bottom. Her face was streaked with dirt and tears, her hair a tangled mass and she was cold. She was unable to speak, and she clung to a broken dirty dolly. I had no idea why I had this image of this little girl in my mind, but eventually I knew that she was me and that was the self image that I had deep inside of me. No one cared; no one even knew she was there. No one was coming to rescue her and she knew it. That hope had died years ago. When I realize that she was me, I had to rescue myself.
The key is to keep going. Keep navigating that cave. Find your beginning and go from there. Have the courage to keep striving towards the goal, believing that freedom is on the other side. Keep going. On the days that you doubt with every fibre of your being that you can have this too, come visit me here for little bit of encouragement. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments.
When I reach out my hand to yours, what do I have to offer you but my own experience, strength and hope?
Sometimes I go on rants. Everyone who knows me well enough knows this truth about me. I like to go on regarding what I feel strongly about, backing it up with all sorts of examples and insightful new ways to look at things. My rants are always truth based, but I base my truth differently than a lot of other people do. My truth is based on my new definitions of love, respect, relationship and equality. I have learned these new definitions over the years of my own process and journey to wholeness. My favorite rants are around the topics how do we learn to love, how do we learn self love and how our experiences determine our belief systems.
I was not taught to love by being loved. I was taught by empty words. There was an obligation ticket attached to the love. I was guilted, and shamed with statements such as “after all I have done for you” and “you think you are so hard done by” and “you are so ungrateful”. Throw a bunch of other false beliefs in the mix along with all that and what you have is a disaster waiting to happen.
My definition of relationship based on the examples that I had, was no better. Then I got married (to someone who had similar false definitions of love and relationship) and had kids of my own. How was I to teach them when my own foundation was so faulty!
My kids used to believe that my love was proven when I baked them cookies or pie, or bought them the DVD they desired. They thought that I loved them if I drove them to their friends’ house, let them have a sleep over and didn’t make them clean up their own messes.
My husband used to believe that I proved my respect for him by putting all his wishes and desires ahead of mine, and supporting all his needs as more important than mine. Our relationship ran smoothly if I never questioned his decisions, made sure that I did not confront him about anything, didn’t interfere with his 12-16 hour per day work schedule and well… the list goes on. If I was running things at home the way that he liked them ran, then I loved him. I had no idea what equality meant. It was just a word that I didn’t give much thought to.
It didn’t occur to me but by this definition of love, my husband and children rarely loved me. By my own definition, I was a good wife and mother because I gave and gave of myself and never expected anything in return. ( I was a slave disguised as a loving servant.) However, I could not understand why I struggled with chronic depression if things were so great in my life. I was exhausted, and didn’t really know why. I constantly dreamed of going on a long vacation all by myself. I longed for more out of life and felt guilty for it. I had to learn the right way to lead by example. In taking care of myself, my children and husband were introduced to my real value and therefore they learned something about their own real value.
There is an even worse statement then “self help is selfish”, and that is the statement that counseling therapy is selfish. When I loved myself enough to get some help for my mental health, myself, my husband and our children were saved from the destination we were headed towards. We didn’t know that we were on a destructive path, we only thought that I was. (This sounds funny now, but it is true) My husband will tell anyone he meets today that by my decision to get help, I have impacted him and our children in such a deep way that our lives are 100% better than they were before.
And to think that it all started with self help
From my heart to yours ~ Darlene Ouimet
Every morning I spend ten minutes or more journaling and listing all the things that I am grateful for. This is a powerful way to begin the day and helps to focus my mindset in a positive direction. Since I was a child I had this side of me that was excited and enthusiastic but that side of me was always squished (not appreciated) by others.
That part of me seemed to always get me in trouble, and I began to associate being happy with getting in trouble. And worse than that, I associated being happy with being attractive, which also led to abuse. Children form their belief systems by the results they get. If I am happy and excited and I get slapped, or if I am pretty and attractive and get slapped (or sexually abused), then I start to think that happy and attractive are dangerous things to be. We learn our survival methods by the results that we get and we go from there.
I was valued for my looks and my personality and at the same time I was devalued for my looks and my personality. This fact created many opposing belief systems, the need for dissociation and the need for alter personalities.
When I emerged from broken, I had to learn a whole new way to live without my previous and now unnecessary survival system. One of the challenges was that I had had this system for SO long that learning a new one was no small accomplishment. Over the past few years, I have found a few things that I do daily that really help me to reinforce my new belief system and one of them is practicing gratitude by writing about all the things I am grateful for each day.
I found out about a great website, The Gratitude Log, where you can post your gratitude as many times a day as you like, and give appreciation gifts and send notes to your friends there. It is kind of like Facebook only exclusively for gratitude. Each of these little positive things I do help me to keep striving to go forward and not look backwards.
Bright Sunny Blessings! ~Darlene Ouimet
Note: I think it is important for me to say that I tried all kind of positive thinking and self help books and seminars before I got the right therapy and my lack of permanent success with them actually gave me more reasons to feel like a failure and beat myself up with the guilt and shame of not even being able to be positive, so please understand that I am suggesting some of these things as support methods when you are getting good results with changing your belief system.