Archive for Depression
- Mommy Please….
“If your progress in recovery is thwarted each time you see your family, if you revert to being a subservient or a fearful child, then you may need to stop seeing them for a while. Most importantly, you may need time to develop your own separate “self”, since it may be impossible for you to maintain a sense of individuality when you are around them.” The Right to Innocence – Beverly Engel
Lisa, one of my readers, made the following comment on the post “welcoming a new year of emotional healing” in regards to drawing boundaries with her mother; “What if there is no me without her?” this post is dedicated to that comment and it applies to all relationship where equal value is out of balance.
I was a really good victim to a lot of people. That means that I conformed and complied to many. I did what they wanted. I was who they wanted me to be. It makes me angry to think of how compliant that I was and that it was still never enough.
I lost myself and I got sick. As I got older, the overall dysfunction that was so familiar to me grew, and I got sicker. This was especially true in the dysfunctional mother daughter relationship with my own mother.
Looking back I realize that in most of my relationships, the interest that many people had in me was pretty much only about what I could do for them and about how much they could make me into who they wanted me to be. Sometimes that is about power and control. Sometimes it is about ownership and servant hood. Whatever the motive is, it is not healthy and it is not about love. And when we continue to live in that kind of relational dysfunction, the more we lose ourselves. In my case, the farther I got from my identity, the more depression and dissociation manifested. I lived only to live for others.
In the case of my mother, I think she wanted children because she was looking for a love source of her own. And so she created a love source. And she might have loved those babies to the best of her ability but as we grew older, something happened. She had expectations. She wanted approval and validation and she wanted it from the love source that she created. And when people get love mixed up with ownership, they believe they have a right to get what they need or want from those other people. But love and relationship doesn’t work that way and because she didn’t really know love herself, the whole plan failed.
The foundation of our relationship (overtime) became about my usefulness to her. When I was little my unconditional love and acceptance of HER was all she needed, but as I grew into an individual who had my own individual ideas, I think she felt threatened. And she did things that if I put up with them would prove to her that I still loved her. AND it seemed that she was very mad at me when I could not fill the void in her and make her feel good about herself. She put me down. She reminded me in strange ways that I was nothing. (and somehow I heard that I was nothing “without her”.) She did mean things that when accepted by me seemed to make her feel better because she equated them with love.
I got away from her, but it was never far enough. She sucked the joy out of every accomplishment that I ever had with her sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious put downs and questions designed to devalue me. She mentioned my weight. She put down my husband, my home, and my choices. She made inappropriate sexual comments about me in front of others. I was always on edge around her. And I never thought to confront her about doing it. She even commented that my breasts used to be so nice before I had children. WHY does someone feel the need to say something like that?
When I was small she taught me that I needed her, and I did. But she never taught me that I was capable of being an individual. She never wanted me to stop NEEDING her because it restored her value. I believed that I needed her to survive and even to exist.
And one day about a year after I began to take my life back by doing the foundational work that I write about all the time in this blog, I started to stand up to her, just a bit and just in tiny ways at first. But the more that I grew, the more I realized that my mother and I had a very dysfunctional mother daughter relationship. And eventually I stood up to her in bigger ways. And the tension between us was getting really bad. Then came the day when I said NO MORE. And this time I meant it. My boundary was not in my mouth anymore, it was in my heart now. She knew that I was serious, and she withdrew.
At first I was confused. I could not believe that she didn’t care enough to even try to discuss it. But I had lost my “usefulness to her” and what I didn’t realize is that part of my usefulness to her was in how she got to put me down. I felt so sorry for her too; for most of my life I tried to restore her value, but no one can do that for someone else. (I have written about this stuff under the mother and daughter relationship tabs.) The problem is that my purpose in her life wasn’t about love, value and equality. The way that she treated me wasn’t fair to me and it was when I finally put myself first, something we are told we must never do, that I found my healing.
When some time had gone by, my mother called and she wanted to try to mend fences. The problem was that she wanted to start from that day and asked if we could “just put it all behind us” and I said no. That is how we had always done things in the past, with me backing down. With me saying that her treatment of me was okay with me, (what I thought was forgiveness) and with me laying there broken and bleeding on the ground once again doing what she wanted and being who she wanted me to be. Always about her, always taking care of her; never about me, never taking care of me. She asked me what my terms were and I said equal respect. That was the last time I talked to her.
As I said, this time my boundary was drawn in my heart. I finally knew that I was worth equal respect, and that I have real value, equal value and that she doesn’t own me. I finally knew that her life is not my responsibility. She failed me as a mother, but I am not going to fail myself anymore.
I am not afraid anymore to live as me because I found out that the value that they gave me was a lie. I am far more valuable then they ever wanted me to find out about. I found out that I do not need anyone else in order to exist. I am not defined by anyone else today. AND I am not an extension of my mother.
Please share your thoughts. One of the biggest search phrases used to find Emerging from Broken are the key words “dysfunctional mother daughter relationship”. This is a huge issue in our society. We are not alone in this.
Exposing Truth, One snapshot at a time
See Lisa’s comment #19 on Welcoming a new year of Emotional Healing
Related posts: Mother Daughter Relationship Nighmares
Mother daughter relationship ~ My poor Mom
- The Journey Ahead
Last night I had a dream that seemed to carry on throughout the entire night. I dreamed that for some reason I was in prison, except that it seemed more like some kind of hospital or institution. I was innocent however I felt that I had little chance of proving it. It kept going through my mind that since every criminal claims innocence, no one would believe me… maybe I should just stay in the prison.
Some of us were hanging out in the hallway and I noticed that one of the doors leading to the outside was open. It was night time. A guy told me that if I crouched down, we could crawl out of there without being seen by the surveillance cameras. So we did, and we were outside! I kept thinking that my escape was justified because I didn’t do the crime that I was being accused of, but I felt slightly guilty about leaving without permission. My heart was racing as I expected to hear the alarms being sounded but I heard nothing. Next thing I knew we were stowing away on a cargo train. (just like in the movies) I text messaged someone using coded messages about being “out” and all the while was aware of the fear of getting caught by my communications being traced. It was cold and I was tired and the train ride was really long. My traveling companion disappeared.
Eventually I was off the train and in a motel room with a laptop and a television. No one was looking for me and there was nothing on the news about my escape. No one seemed to care and as the dream went on, (and now it is a few days later) I started to feel safer about having escaped but at the same time I felt kind of mystified that no one was looking for me and the rest of the dream was about wondering why the heck no one cared, even though I was innocent and even though I had not done the crime I was imprisoned for and I was getting weary, wondering when I would finally make it “home”. *
When I first woke up this morning, I thought this dream was pretty funny, but as I was telling my husband about it, I realized that it was actually really significant and it painted a picture of my past and of my journey to emotional healing.
Deep down I thought that I had been falsely accused but yet I was filled with guilt and shame, so I lived in the prison that they made for me. There was an open door, but I did not think that I had a right to use it, because no one would ever believe my innocence. Even I questioned it. When I made my escape into the scary blackness of night, I was surprised it was successful. I had the feeling over and over again that it was so much easier than I thought it would be.
Throughout the dream, I kept waiting to be caught, and to be proven wrong and then put back into the prison. I was sure that they would track me down and put me back in “my place”. As the dream went on, I started wondering why no one came looking for me. And I felt sad that no one cared that I had escaped. I felt really abandoned and alone. It was so great to be free, but there was something really sad about it too. There was a kind of “now what” feeling as though escape was only part of the healing journey, and I have found that to be true to my recovery as well.
It has been very difficult for me to accept that my mother did not pursue a relationship with me when she realized that I was serious about not living in the extremely dysfunctional mother daughter relationship that we had for so many years. I was so sure that she would want to journey to the other side of broken with me. I was so sure that finally, now that I understood what happened to me AND eventually I understood also what happened to her, that I would be “worth it.” I would be worth her effort. But it didn’t’ happen that way. One of my biggest fears was that if I stood up to her that she would walk away, proving that I was unlovable. But in reality her walking away did not prove that I was unlovable. What it proved was about HER. It was not about me.
This dream represented an analogy of the past. ~I was trapped in prison. ~The hospital or institutional feeling was about feeling all my life like I was CRAZY. ~The door being open represented that I had a choice. ~The night represented that it was scary, dark, with unknown and unforeseeable things ahead of me. ~The cell phone texting represented my fear of getting caught and being proven “wrong” again and having to go back to the crazy and the prison. ~The train ride was long = the journey to wholeness and recovery ~my travel companion disappeared was about having help getting started but ultimately I had to do the work on my own. ~Being bored in the hotel room with mixed feelings about NOT being pursued; my mother just walked away. ~The feeling of okay now what, was exactly how it was. Fairly early in recovery I had to find my “now what” and learn to live in this new life of clarity and freedom.
~Possibly the most significant part of this dream was when I found myself weary and wondering when I would finally make it home. This was not about getting to a “building”, but rather about getting home to ME. This was about finding myself, or rather returning to myself and the peace, comfort and wholeness that I have found in doing that. ~Eventually getting back on my lap top unconcerned about who found out OR if I got “caught” represented that I did find myself, and now my work with others and my blog and how I talk openly about my past and about my journey to the other side of broken.
Please share your thoughts about how this post resonated with you.
There is freedom on the other side of broken….
Related Posts ~ Welcoming a New Year of Emotional Healing
Mother daughter Relationship Nightmares
Parent Child Relationships
Are you aware my of my e-book “Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you and you would like to find out “HOW” I broke out of the oppression I lived in, this 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing. I’ve received hundreds of thank you notes from people that have bought my book. Get yours here for 9.97 through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing
- Darlene ~ Please join me for the celebration!
Tomorrow, December 01st 2010 ~ this blog ”Emerging from Broken”; my baby is one year old. Emerging from Broken was born out of my life long pursuit of freedom and recovery from multiple depressions starting in childhood and dissociated identity disorder which resulted from the trauma of abuse. I was fortunate enough to find a therapist who believed in working on emotional healing and recovery from the root of the problem. The transformation and emotional healing was so profound ~ so liberating, that I quickly developed a passion to share the message of wholeness with others who struggle with mental health issues, dissociative issues, post traumatic stress disorder and bi polar disorder, but to name a few. I started to speak in mental health seminars about my recovery process. I went back to school and obtained certification in life coaching, eventually specializing in “new life story” coaching and I became a mental health advocate.
I pursued work in the mental health field. While speaking in mental health seminars and working as the director of client relations for a counselling company, I noticed that when I spoke about certain subjects, people’s eyes would light up as though they comprehended something amazing for the first time. I realized that there were some hidden truths that others, like me, had not ever realized. I started to comprehend that not very many people understood the truth about the foundations of depression, mental health struggle and abuse because no one was talking about it. I knew that this was the truth that set me free. After a few years of speaking, I developed a passion to share my message with an even larger audience.
Emerging from Broken was the platform that I chose with which to do just that.
It has been an exciting year! Emerging from Broken has gone from zero to having over 7000 readers a month. According to Alexa, Emerging from Broken ranks in the top quarter of a million for all websites worldwide! EFB has an interactive page on facebook which has over 1200 members. But to me the most amazing and wonderful part is the comments. Emerging from Broken has generated thousands of comments now averaging 1000 comments every 8 weeks. People are sharing their lives here. People are having breakthroughs here! My goal to have my message of freedom and wholeness after depression and abuse, delivered to a larger audience is being achieved!
This week I am celebrating the first year anniversary of Emerging from Broken. I am celebrating freedom from depressions, wholeness and living life to the fullest. I am celebrating that there is a solution and full recovery from abuse and trauma is possible! I invite you to celebrate with me.
Tomorrow, I am flying to Mexico with my daughter where we are spending two whole weeks vacationing in Puerto Vallarta. I am excited to be publishing a special series about anger and to have some special guest bloggers joining me this next two weeks. The blog will run as always and I will check in frequently.
In honour of EFB being one year old, I am excited to welcome the first guest blog post from Carla Dippel, who co-authored EFB for the first 6 months of its life. While I am away I will be checking in here frequently.
Thank you all for being here. Thanks to everyone who has ever shared my blog posts on Facebook; to everyone who has ever shared using the share button or the “like” button; to everyone who passes this blog along through twitter. Thanks to each one who had shared it with a friend who is not online and to everyone who comments and keeps the conversation going! Thank you for sharing your heartaches and your breakthroughs your wins and your devastation; all of it makes such a huge difference to the other readers. I would also like to extend a big thank you to every guest blogger who has ever posted and to all the readers. I am so blessed by each one of you. Together we can overcome. Together we are so much stronger. Together we can take back our lives and live in freedom.
Please help me to celebrate this one year birthday and milestone by leaving a comment. Please feel free to share how Emerging from Broken has impacted your life, a special memory or breakthrough, or just say hello! I look forward to hearing from you!
Freedom is on the other side of broken!
With love, gratitude and appreciation;
Please join us on Facebook ~ Emerging from Broken page
- What makes love real love?
Everything had a double meaning in my mind; almost all definitions that had to do with relationships had two opposite meanings to me and when I found this truth at the roots of my belief system and began to sort it out, I found some real freedom. I found out that I had learned to accept a lot of false truth about a lot of word meanings.
Take love for instance; I believed in fairy tale romance, and believed that there would be a prince charming saviour type guy ride in on his trusty steed and sweep me off my feet and then life would be good. Then I would be good enough. I would be loved. Life would begin! Maybe I got that idea from fairy tales, I am not really sure, but I certainly held the belief inside me somewhere. The belief that I could be rescued and that love would be the cure for everything.
But there is another side to what I believe about “love.” For the trauma survivor or the person who suffers with depression, we also have a whole other different belief system about “love”. Some of us have been taught (in words or in actions) that love is dangerous, frightening and hurtful. Some of us have been taught (in actions or in consequences) that love is physically painful and terrifying. Our personal reaction to being loved by someone else largely depends on what our belief system has become about the words and the emotion of “love”. And about how we feel about ourselves as a result of our past experience with it.
In my case I had polar opposite belief systems about love. In my fantasy world, love could cure all evil, love was the answer, love was all I needed. Songs like “If I had you…; you’re the only one that I would ever need “ or “I can’t live is living is without you”; “you are the sunshine of my life” or “All I need is the air that I breath and to love you” oh yeah baby, he (his love) would be the answer to everything.
In reality however, at least in my reality, love hurts, love is mean, love means nothing. I love you means obligation, ownership, disrespect, putting up with being devalued, manipulated and accepting that I am not as important and my needs are not important, but only the person who says that they love me, is important. This is quite a mixed message and makes love a word charged with many different feelings and fears that are triggered just hearing the words.
My therapist told me that he loved me. I felt extremely uncomfortable and wanted to leave. I thought love was physical. I was sure that I had no choice about it. When I was very fragile, I felt powerless to say no to physical love. In many ways and for many years I didn’t know that I had a choice. I also believed that if someone loved me (even in the wrong definition of love) it was my fault. So good or bad, I believed that I brought everything on myself. Quite an illusion of control, which I thought kept me safe, but also quite a burden of responsibility which was not safe at all.
There was so much really bad stuff around the word love. My mind had been conditioned to believe that love was the most wonderful thing and the answer to everything, but the truth was that most bad things had happened to me under the disguise of love and “I love you” and “because I love you” and “I want what is best for you”. I also thought that romantic love had a lot of physical obligation attached to it. Sex was the price that I had to pay for love. (but was it REALLY love)
I love you is a phrase that is thrown carelessly around; When a child wants love and acceptance so deeply it becomes easy to ignore the red flags from some people and it is also very easy to accept the wrong definition of love.
It helped me immensely to realize that I had the wrong definition of love all along. It also helped me to realize that controllers and abusers NEVER love you with the same definition of love that they want you to follow when it comes to them.
I thought about the things that I had to do to prove my love and thought about it “they” ever “proved theirs”. I thought about this a lot. If love means that you do what they want, then when will they do what I want? The truth is that love isn’t about doing what someone else wants. It isn’t about being who someone else wants either. I had to learn about what love really is in order to sort myself out. This was one very damaged area in my belief system that was full of lies. At the root of this was the KEY fact that I did not love myself at all.
I started to ask myself; If love is doing what is best for the one loved then what would that look like in practice? (Remember that self love is a key part of the healing process. Remember that you may also have to think about the definition of “best”.)
Looking at these complicated and yet logical viewpoints got me a long way out of the love fog I was in and really helped me to realize who loved me and who didn’t. It also gave me some practical application tools when it came to my relationships and with my children.
And when I was able to apply the true definition of love to myself, everything came together.
Please share your experience with the false definition of love, or how you came to feel about the concept of love.
Another little snapshot.
Related Posts: emotional abandonment, rejection and recovery
Invalidation ~ when the truth is not true
The problem with Love ~ Fi MacLeod from “you can fly with broken wings”
A whole book could be written about this subject. There is so much “baggage” around the whole concept of forgiveness that I hesitate to even go there, however…. there have been a few discussions lately on the facebook page for Emerging from Broken; some to do with my last post “Emotional Healing and the Will to go forward” and it is time for me to post just a little bit about this huge topic for forgiveness. Please remember that this is just one blog post. One little snapshot of truth; one little view in to a very large subject.
- First, a note about blame: In my view, blame is about placing the responsibility for the trauma where it belongs. In my recovery, blame was necessary and part of the natural progression on the journey to wholeness. I am not suggesting that we need to stay in the emotional part of blame forever, just that it is an important stepping stone in this process of emerging from broken.
So, fasten your seatbelts because I feel a rant coming on. I hope that you will join in and express your own feelings about the kind of invalidation that we and so many others have suffered.
Forgiveness; What I am suggesting is that we are taught to skip a step in the whole forgiveness arena. We are told to forgive before we are even validated that we have something to forgive. Some examples of this are when we have been abused emotionally, physically or sexually; (abuse is abuse) and we are ignored, not heard, discounted, not given a voice. Our trauma and our grievance is invalidated. I have heard people told in for example, church situations that they must not take an accusation outside of the church but that it must be settled in the church ~ and then the situation is swept under the carpet. These are just a few of the stories that I hear over and over again; I have heard wives told that they are being beaten by husbands because they have failed to submit. I have heard of wives who have been raped by spouses being told that it is not rape and that it is a husbands right. I have been told when a husband is cheating sexually that it must have something to do with the wife not meeting his needs. This is all abuse. And then these same abused people are told to “get over it already” and that they “must forgive” Something foundational is missing in the forgiveness advice. These people were invalidated by the abuser and then re-invalidated by the ones they sought help from. And this is not at all unique to the church. I am just using that example because it seems like most of the people that tell me to “just forgive” come from that background.
Children are equally devalued. As children, IF we even realize that it is wrong to be called dumb, stupid and useless, IF we even realize that being beaten on a whim or because someone else is in a bad mood is wrong; IF we somehow figure out that adults having sexual relations of any kind with children is illegal, and IF that victim child tells and is ignored, called a liar, OR anything else other than protected and validated, then the child has an extra layer of abuse to deal with. When this child grows up IF they ever disclose the abuse, they are SO OFTEN met with more invalidation and unhelpful instruction such as “you must forgive”.
Are you getting the picture about why so many people DON’T tell? Many keep the secret in the dark recesses of their minds ~ so convinced that the guilt and shame are theirs to bear and that they must have somehow deserved this kind of mistreatment and added on to that is the whole insistence that forgiveness is the only answer which makes many of us reluctant to disclose abuse least we be seen as unforgiving!
SO let’s just say we finally DO talk about it and then we are told to jump ahead to forgiveness. HOW the heck is that supposed to be possible? This ticks me off. It isn’t possible to “just get over it and forgive”. I tried it for years! It didn’t work this way for me.
When we are encouraged to try to understand the abuser, it is worse. Why should we try to understand something so incomprehensible? WHY do we need to understand them when we have not been encouraged to understand our own feelings yet? This is so backwards. I spent years trying to understand them, even fooling myself that I did understand, and that I did forgive, and looking back I realize that in doing that before I even validated myself and the abuse that I survived, I became my own abuser. I became the one who discounted myself, picking up where they left off… oh it is so twisted how this all works.
I was told that forgiveness was for me, and had nothing to do with the other person, but I was told that as though forgiveness was just an easy choice. No one offered me any assistance on HOW to do it. (just do it ~ duh)
So why all the panic about forgiveness in the first place? This is a HOT topic all over the place. I had to stop and think about that one; right off the top of my head; I had this idea that if I suddenly died, and I had not forgiven (my abusers and oppressors whom I didn’t even realize were abusers until much later) that I would instantly be cast into Hell. I think that was where my desperation to “forgive” came from. I had this anxiety about it and today I don’t believe that anymore; I see it as ridiculous.
So my point is not to put the blame where it belongs in order to stay there in that anger or resentment, but rather as a stepping stone to healing. I have no resentment anymore. I am not angry about my past because I have worked my way through it. But I HAD to go through the stage where I was really angry, and where I did not think forgiveness would ever be possible or necessary. I had to give myself permission to be angry, permission to speak, to have a voice, to vent and rage and FEEL all the emotions that I was not allowed to feel before as a victim.
Forgiveness for me came as a result of the work I did for ME. It came as an unexpected bonus ~ it was something that I didn’t consciously “work on” and I actually put the whole concept of forgiveness aside and tried not to think about it when I was in the depth of my process. Not forgiving had its own guilt and shame attached to it…none of which was MINE and in the healing process I had to get a really good grasp of what was mine to deal with and what wasn’t.
It is with mixed emotions that I hit the publish button on this ~ for the most part “unedited” rant.
Love is my biggest motivator..
One of my readers sent me this great video by ex-psychotherapist, Daniel Mackler on You Tube, about this subject of forgiveness.
Related post: What about forgiveness?
- the will to go forward on a snow blocked road
I understand wanting to give up. I understand what it feels like to lose hope and I am very familiar with that sinking feeling that there is no way out of the darkness, the depressions, and oppression. I remember feeling hopeless and believing that trying harder or even trying at all anymore, was just pointless. I was too tired of the fight. I didn’t see any way over it or even through it anymore.
And now that I am on the other side of all that, I realize why I felt that way. I know why I almost gave up my life and home, my husband and children and the will to live.
Although there are many factors that contribute to coming to a place of hopelessness, in this blog post I am only going to talk about the loss of my identity and the loss of my choice.
I had already lost my identity when I was still very young. By the time I was in my thirties I was finally convinced that I wasn’t worth saving. It wasn’t hard to convince myself of this because it was more like I just “agreed” with the opinions I had grown up with. I had been told in actions and in the reactions of others that I wasn’t really worth saving. Patty Hite from the website Overcoming Sexual Abuse just wrote a really insightful and excellent blog post about how she learned about her value. This post gives some foundation to the statement I just made.
There are some foundational reasons why I came to this drastic conclusion. It wasn’t that I had given up my identity. It was taken from me. I had slowly and over time been defined by other people. I felt as though I wasn’t worth the air I breathed, because when other people define you, THEY teach you that the real you isn’t worth anything. That is the message that I got every time I did something I was told I was “wrong” “bad” or when I got that look of disapproval. That is the message I got when I was told that I was exaggerating or lying, and when I was told that what was happening to me WASN’T happening to me. That is the message that I got when I was not taken care of properly. That message is that I wasn’t worth it and that I didn’t matter. My identity was not approved of; I was invalid.
It wasn’t that I had given up my choice either; it was taken from me. I didn’t DO something to be defined as unworthy; something was done to me FIRST ~ way before I ever added my own crimes to that list. But as soon as I added something that is viewed by the world as a “choice I made” (drug use, alcohol addiction, sleeping with a boy, swearing, stealing, hitting someone even if that was in self defence) I instantly believed every unworthy statement that had ever been assigned to me by someone else.
No one encouraged me or empowered me to be myself. I realized as an adult that I had a choice BUT it took me a long time to realize that I had a choice, because nothing was ever about ME growing up. When we grow up with all the decisions being made based on the motives of others, we don’t realize that we have a choice of our own in life. It wasn’t my fault or my defect that when I was an adult I didn’t know I had a choice. I was a product of my environment. A lot of my recovery was about realizing the sequence of events and the foundation that was set for me to arrive in the mess of emotions and confusion that I was in.
Eventually I did realize that I had a choice; I could give up or I could decide to empower myself. I could make a difference in my own life. I could choose to stop believing that I was unworthy. It was just a small decision at first but I got a glimpse of how I could change my own life and I chose yes. I decided that I was worth it. I made that decision on my own. I decided to take my life back. I decided to go on the journey. I picked ME. That was the first choice I made on this new path that had nothing to do with anyone else’s definition of me, or with someone else’s motives.
(And then the real work started… and there are lots of other blog posts about that!) .
So what do you think? Did your identity get squished along the way? Can you see the value in taking your life back and redefining yourself?
Related posts ~ the little girl who cried wolf and belief system development
Self worth ~ Where does it come from?
Understanding Victim Mentality ~ a key to freedom
What is Victim Mentality? I was going to look it up and post a lovely clinical definition, but I thought it might be more effective to just write about what I have learned about it. The term “Victim Mentality” has such a nasty “feel” to it. It sounds like something awful, something that we don’t want to examine too closely, and we certainly don’t want to actually have it.
For many years I thought that victim mentality was when someone thought that they were hard done by, that they felt sorry for themselves, and that they made excuses for why they couldn’t have a great life because of something that was just too hard for them to accomplish or something too hard to get past. I did not think that I had victim mentality, but I also didn’t know what it was. I thought a victim was someone that had been victimized, bullied, assaulted or otherwise traumatized, but also I thought a victim was someone who had been or would be looked down on or pitied. I thought someone with victim mentality felt sorry for themselves. I was getting self pity and victim mentality mixed up. I have a very different understanding of what victim mentality really is, today.
It is believed by many that victim mentality is focusing on what you haven’t got, waiting for things to happen instead of making them happen, finding excuses, blaming others, and other things related to those concepts. For anyone struggling with depression, overcoming abuse, trauma and the resulting low self esteem from all that, this list doesn’t help at all. This list won’t get anyone closer to any solutions. It tells me what NOT to be without addressing the issue of HOW I got there in the first place. I spent years before I really faced my issues, just trying to BE positive; focusing on never having, doing or feeling any of the things on that list. One of the most dangerous results from trying to change my attitude before I knew where it came from was that I learned to take the blame; I learned to be accountable for the mistreatment that I was dealt. I adopted the “positive attitude” that I was responsible for my results, and therefore if I got treated like crap, this backed up the idea I already had; that it was my own fault!
That kind of accountability led me to believe what the abusers taught me in the first place; that I deserved it!
I ended up in a serious and chronic series of depressions.
I realized in my process of emerging from broken into fullness and wholeness, that I had victim mentality all over the place in my life but not exactly the kind of victim mentality that is commonly understood.
My understanding of victim mentality today is;
~believing that If someone doesn’t seem to like me, it is my fault. (and that it is up to me to make them like me)
~When someone says something nasty to me, I think that I have done something to offend them and that I did something to deserve the offensive treatment.
~believing that if I try harder, the abuser will love me and stop hurting me emotionally, physically spiritually or sexually. (accepting that being hurt by them is my fault.)
~believing that the success of the relationship with another person is totally up to me. Not realizing that I believe they can have boundaries, but I can’t.
~believing that love is something that I can earn by being who someone else wants me to be, and spending my energy trying to figure out who that is and spinning about just what they want me to do.
~Not considering my own feelings, hopes and dreams or that I can fulfill them; expecting them to be fulfilled by someone else~ and doing all of the above to try and make that happen.
~and one of the most important points of all… Victim mentality is when I think that I can’t make any changes unless THEY say that I can.
Positive thinking was something that came in really handy and made a positive difference AFTER I sorted out the foundation of the problem. When I understood victim mentality in this new way, I was able to sort things out from a different perspective which was a big key to overcoming the past.
Keeping in mind that this is not an exercise in negative self talk or in adding shame or guilt to our already sensitive belief systems, and in the spirit of empowering each other, will you consider adding to this list of what victim mentality really is and or what it really isn’t to you?
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time!
Related posts ~ I organized my world around Trauma and Abuse
Victim Mentality (what happened to Prince Charming?)
Avoiding Feelings ~ The root cause
Depression was like a thick heavy blanket that sometimes felt like a cozy warm nest and I felt so safe there that I was afraid to let it go, even though the weight of the blanket was killing me; Just one more day I would say.. “just one more day in this dark cocoon and tomorrow I will start to live, but for just one more day, it feels safer to hide.” (Darlene Ouimet)
That was all about the illusion of safe. I did not overcome depression by dealing with the depression itself because depression did not stand alone in my life. Facing the depression isn’t exactly what led me out of the darkness; it was realizing where the depression came from and why it had become one of my coping methods that led me to overcoming it. Just like my dissociative identity disorder, for me depression started when I was very young. I realize today that all coping methods have a common reason for existing. There is something “back there” that isn’t resolved. We have all these coping methods because the mind is such an amazing and powerful thing. They are literally the way we deal, how we cope and how we survive.
There was a comment on my post “Mother Daughter Relationship Nightmares” that got me thinking about how all my coping methods and my recovery discoveries work together and how I came to this place in my life. The following question was posted by Mark Alan Effinger; Mark asked “Is there a direct path through this &^%$ to a better place? Or is it so individual, that no formulaic method will do?” Although Mark is referring to the serious and graphic comments about sexual abuse, I have come to realize that the answer is the same for this question as it is for all questions about emotional healing and recovery.
To recap, I sought help from a therapist when I was heading into my third serious depression in five years, the previous two serious depressions lasted two years each, so I hadn’t had much of a break off the medication this time. I was going to leave my husband and three young children, believing that they would be better off without me. I got frustrated when the therapist wanted to talk about my childhood. I didn’t want to talk about the past, I was having trouble NOW. I needed help for my life in the present, not for my life in the past. I really didn’t see any connection from the past to the present. But he was insistent and I was losing money arguing with him, so I gave in. We talked about the past. In fact we started with my first trauma memory.
I began to see how my depressions were very much related to my childhood trauma and that depression wound its way through my entire life and intertwined with other coping methods, addictions, dissociative identity disorder, and that in reality all of these coping methods were an amazing survival system that I had built, and I started building it when I was very young. But now, it had turned on me. Because I began to see the patterns, I became willing to keep digging up that rotten foundation. The whole key for me was uncovering and discovering how my belief system about myself and the world, had formed. As I replaced the lies with the truth, the coping methods fell away; because I didn’t need them anymore.
The process isn’t simple and it isn’t a quick fix. The good news is that for me it wasn’t a band-aid either and the resulting freedom from all that hell on earth has been permanent. I have the occasional down day, but they are rare. I don’t dissociate anymore, I no longer have multiple personalities, and I don’t fall into the depths of darkness; depression is no longer something I worry about.
When I began speaking in metal health seminars, and working at the director of client relations in a counseling firm, I realized others were also having the same astounding results as I was having ~ finding the way out of the darkness and into the light; finding freedom from depression, freedom from addictions, gaining a new understanding of coping methods; where they came from and why we needed them and how it was possible to uncover the mystery of how to ditch them.
In writing this blog, Emerging from Broken, I am attempting to deliver a message of hope; step by step, mixed in with story by story and tiny little snapshots of how I uncovered the layers of lies on top of other lies, all which built my belief system which falsely defined who I was, my purpose or lack of it, my value and lack of it. I write snapshots of how I found the truth about why I believed all that stuff about myself. Not knowing that I didn’t know the truth about myself prior to my recovery, I wasn’t searching for it. I was searching for freedom and recovery from broken, but not in the right places. How is one to know where to look? So I am sharing where and how I found it.
So to answer Mark’s question; I think there is a formulaic method that works for everyone. The trauma events (or mistreatment) and the belief system belong to the individual, but the way out, the pathway to freedom and wholeness is not so unique.
If this method worked for me, and for others, then why can’t it work for everyone? Who can say that it won’t work? Who can say that there is too much damage? Who really knows that? I believe that this is the way and so I write to inspire others.
As always, please feel free to express yourself in any way that you would like by adding your comments;
One Snapshot at a time ~ Darlene Ouimet
In honour of the Canadian Thanksgiving today I am writing about the importance of self acknowledgement and specifically my ability to be grateful (in public) for my wins and my accomplishments.
I sometimes get email either asking me “why” I brag about accomplishments or reprimanding me about posting my achievements on my face book pages. One lady was really upset with me and wanted to know what my achievements had to do with any of it? My “bragging” was on my personal facebook profile page, and I when I asked her why this upset her she really couldn’t answer other than to say “it is just wrong”. Recently I got another such note, this time the woman expressed admiration for my work and my message, but then said that when I “tooted my own horn” that way it took away from the power in my message.
I find this a bit shocking and even disappointing that survivors of depression and abuse would be offended by my celebrating my accomplishments. In order to give some context to what some people find offensive I will list a few of my facebook posts that trigger these negative responses;
~I have posted my Alexa ranking (In 10 months time Emerging from Broken achieved the website rank of #344,000 worldwide. I posted this believing that I was celebrating what I considered to be a big win).
~I have posted a celebratory post about getting 1000 comments on the blog in eleven weeks.
~I have posted the growth in numbers of the facebook page for Emerging from Broken.
~I have posted links to the OTI Members Daily ~ a twitter newsletter put out by online therapy expert DeeAnna Merz Nagel from the Online Therapy Institute, when my blog gets included in the twitter paper.
~I have posted the number of comments on certain posts. The most comments ever was 77 for the post Sexual Abuse ~ Devalued, Discounted and Unprotected
~I posted that I was being interviewed by Scotland Counsellor John Wilson from Online events about my amazing journey and my blog.
Most of these things are about my accomplishments! Some of them are just a way to get more people to read the posts or visit the fan page because I believe in my message and want other people to find out about it. My blog is about how I went from totally hopeless to living an awesome amazing and excitingly full life. I think that is worthy of promoting!
I spent most of my life in the darkness of depression. I struggled with low self esteem and had a poor self image until I took my life back about 6 years ago. In my old life, no one acknowledged me for anything, in fact I was often put down for my accomplishments, accused of cheating, accused of “sleeping with the boss”, someone else got the credit for my work and the list goes on. I had huge issues with pursuing a goal because of the fear of those things happening again.
I was talking to my young teenage daughter about this post and about the concept of not bragging or tooting your own horn; this is what she had to say “Pride is a sin. You can’t be proud of your own work because this is God’s work now ~ you did it for God so it doesn’t belong to you anymore. It isn’t “your pride” anymore. Don’t boast, don’t be proud. That is what I was taught in the Christian school” I think that is very sad that she was taught that, and I try very hard to erase that negative teaching from her belief system.
I learned all kinds of stuff about humility and all that jazz, but before I learned that, I learned to put myself down and keep myself down. I learned to squish myself before someone else did. I learned that it was safer to be quiet then to be in the spotlight. And all this had to be unlearned in order for me to embrace my new life in wholeness so that I could go forward.
I was a broken woman who had given up hope, and now I have a mental health blog about emotional healing that gets hundreds of views per day.
I was interviewed by a therapist last week. Therapists used to treat me like I was a fragile, breakable, shadow of a woman and they spoke to me with such care in case I fell apart. Today they are my colleagues. That is something to celebrate. And who is going to celebrate that for me? (click to see the YouTube clip of my interview with John Wilson.)
I doesn’t mean as much when someone else gives me credit. When I was in counselling therapy, my therapist would acknowledge me, and I couldn’t accept it. I learned to recognize my automatic reactions to his statements. Sometimes I just dismissed acknowledgement. Sometimes it made me uncomfortable and I didn’t know where to look, sometimes I thought that he was saying nice things because I was paying him to. I didn’t really always believe that he liked me and I felt like I had to PAY someone to listen to me or to talk to me. I felt like I had to pay someone to really hear me. That came from way deep down in my fragile self esteem and I don’t feel that way anymore.
While I am on this subject, I also need to apologize to Hillary at “Quivering Daughters” because she bestowed upon me a beautiful blog award, (see it in the picture!) and I neglected to talk about it! (MY BAD) Hillary has a great website about Spiritual Abuse, and if spiritual abuse is an issue for you, I hope you visit her site.
I’ve come a long way baby and I am proud of myself. I don’t think that I am “tooting my own horn” because that statement has all sorts of negative baggage attached to it. I think of it as self care; I think of it as good mental health recovery stuff, positive reinforcement, and high fiving with the world!
AND WHY NOT? Whooooooooo hoooooooooooooo life is a ride and I am in the front car! There is room for everyone! Who’s in??
Love and Laughter ~ Always
P.S. all the titles are live linked to the places and people that I have mentioned, just click on them to visit.