Archive for dysfunctional family
What if My Mother or Father Dies Before We Resolve our Relationship?
“I used to worry that my mother or father might die before we ever have any kind of understanding or resolution between us. As I grew in understanding about the truth and got to the bottom root of all the dysfunction, I was set free from that fear.” ~ Darlene Ouimet
It is one thing for me to worry that my parents might die, but it is a whole other insulting thing when people ask me how I will FEEL if my parents die and they ask it as a judgement question; a judgement against me. It’s all in the voice infliction; the tone they use and I used to react to that tone in the way that I reacted to it when I was a kid. That tone was meant to snap me back to compliant and ‘respectful’ and it worked on me. My “guilt, shame and self-blame button” was very sensitized.
People share with me all the time how folks throw the following statement and question at them; “your father/mother is getting old and is in poor health, how are you going to feel if he/she dies?” My response to this question is; “what does his or her health have to do with the reason that I don’t communicate with my parents?” My parents had their whole lives to make a positive difference when it came to me. They made their choices, and apparently through the grid of how these type of statements are meant to be taken, my parents choices are acceptable but my choice NOT to put up with abusive and disrespectful disregarding treatment is NOT acceptable? That is insane. It’s like people are so brainwashed by this whole thing that they don’t even realize how stupid it sounds to be told to accept abuse/neglect/disrespect just because ‘they’ are ‘family’.
I wonder why no one ever asks parents estranged from their kids “how are you going to feel if your son or daughter dies?” Judging by the way my parents act, they won’t feel anything.
There are laws in place to protect children from some of the things that happened to me. Why are my parents exempt from those laws? Why is it up to me to put their minds at ease as they get closer to their final Read More→
Recently someone wrote, telling me that because she stood up to her dysfunctional family and drew a boundary, she is now missing out on ‘the good things in life’. The first question that came to my mind was “what good things are you missing out on because you drew a boundary?” In my coaching practice, the homework would be: Define ‘good things’ ~ what are ‘the good things’? What do you feel that you are missing now, that you had before? Why did you have to draw a boundary in the first place?
And the answers to these types of questions are always very revealing. When I answered these questions for myself I found out some of the lies that I believed and how they were rooted in the shaky foundation of my belief system.
For most people including me, those ‘good things’ that had to do with my dysfunctional family were a fantasy. I ‘wished’ that I had a loving family. The reality of those ‘good things’ was something very different from how I fantasised it was or hoped that it could one day be.
Christmas dinner and family holidays or celebrations were stressful for me and this continued on with when I married into my husband’s family too. Every family thing I went to was a reminder of how insignificant that I was even when at the time I wasn’t able to articulate how those occasions made me feel.
The boundary that I drew with my father was different than the boundaries that I drew when it came to over (more obvious) abuse. A couple of years ago I told my father that seeing him was a reminder of how little he knew about me and how disinterested he was in me as an individual. The way he disregards me is a constant reminder of how little I matter to him. It has always been that way.
My father is passive abusive. His emotional abuse is very covert. Mostly he just doesn’t care, doesn’t listen when I talk to him, doesn’t know anything about me, my life or my kids because he doesn’t care to know and he doesn’t listen to anyone who tries to tell him. To the general public, (and according to my siblings) my father is regarded as this ‘nice’ guy and he is never violent, never mean and never hurtful with his words, but the truth is that his relationship style is dismissive and disinterested all of which is very hurtful. I spent many years in childhood and in adulthood ‘begging’ (in all kinds of ways) my emotionally abusive father to notice me. The fact that he didn’t was and is very hurtful. There is a very loud message that is delivered to me when I am disregarded. The message is that Read More→
Happy New Year! Welcome to Emerging from Broken 2013!
I talk about the belief system and how it is developed and how we are brainwashed into believing that the problem is us in the first place. There are specific abuse tactics that are used to cement this brainwashing which cause the ‘fear of consequences’ for going against the controller in a dysfunctional relationship. One of these tactics is ‘punishment’ or ‘fear of punishment’ and like so many other abuse tactics it is very often issued in a way that is hard for the receiver of that punishment to put a finger on it. Remember that the foundation is laid very carefully to discredit a child in an abusive or dysfunctional family and to make sure the child is always looking at themselves when it comes to where the problem originated or who it originated with. This part of the grooming process is usually rooted in psychological abuse although it is often cemented via other types of abuse.
There are many ways to punish people without physically hitting them or calling them names. There are tactics such as “the silent treatment” “withdrawal of attention” or “withdrawal of interest”, in other words “rejection” and those abuse tactics communicate a message very clearly, even if we are not consciously aware of that message. When we are kids and an adult uses psychologically abusive methods to ‘punish’, most kids understand the consequence of their action (rejection) but don’t always recognize the actual message with any clarity or consciousness. Then, the way that we learn this acceptance of the message without questioning it very deeply (out of fear of the consequences), is carried into adulthood with us, therefore as adults we don’t see the tactics we have already been successfully groomed to accept without question. But the fear of the consequences may be very much still in control of the now adult victim.
For example, the time my father-in-law took my 2 year old son out of the farm yard without telling me he was taking him. I freaked, thinking my baby crawled under the fence and was lost in one of the many fields or had been mauled by a cow or had been cornered by a coyote. We have literally miles of land. I jumped in my car to go get my husband and there was my father in law, with my husband in one of our hayfields with our 2 year old son. Without thinking (normally I would never have stood up to him) I told him to never take our child out of the yard again without letting me know. He got angry with me! He was so angry that he spat out that he would never take him again.
There was something about the way he said it though that gave me an erie feeling as though I was the one that had done something wrong. I agonized over that whole thing, justifying to myself that I was right, that I HAD to know where my son was, that I could not actually be expected to just “wonder” where he might be at any given time. But I was really scared too because I had dared to Read More→
“It is only when we feel deprived that we resent giving to others. Self-care does not mean you stop caring about others; it just means you start caring more about you. Start thinking about yourself more and others less. Since you have a choice between taking care of someone else, or giving to yourself, try choosing yourself sometimes.” The Right to Innocence by Beverly Engel
In a dysfunctional relationship, there is an imbalance in the way that each person is considered. In a relationship based on equal value, everyone’s needs are considered. In a healthy relationship based on the true definition of love, everyone matters. I have tried very hard to teach and model healthy relationship in this website with the readers here.
Once in a while I post a request for donations at the end of a new article. This is the first time that I have ever posted a blog post about it on a main page about it. I hate asking for donations because sometimes I get nasty emails from people accusing me of doing this blog for money; I have been compared to ‘abusers’ because I asked for donations. This is very upsetting because for six years now, (three with this website) I have done everything to contribute to the healing of others without any thought to my own gain. And I have become aware that I discount myself in doing so. In order to ensure that ‘other people’ are comfortable, I have discounted myself, which is exactly what I did in the past with my relationships with my family and what I write about here in Emerging from Broken.
I have heard some bizarre things from people when I have requested donations at the bottom of a blog post. More than once people have said to me “well I WAS going to donate until you asked”. (I have no idea what that means! When I don’t ask no one donates!) Sometimes people stop commenting when I ask for donations. I posted a request for donations on facebook once and no one clicked the like button or commented, which is really odd because normally I get at least 80 likes per status update in the facebook page for EFB. The message that I get from this is that nobody ‘liked’ me asking for my needs to be met… and that also reminds me of the dysfunctional family system that I write about here in Emerging from Broken.
Very often people send me advice about how to change the website to a membership site that people have to pay for. But the thing is that I don’t want to change the site; It works this way. It is free to ALL. It is helping people; whoever wants to access the information on it. I know that not everyone can afford to hire me to do one on one work, just like I know that not everyone who reads my work can afford to give a donation to it, but I want you to understand that free content is not free. I pay a webmaster monthly to do the security and back-ups and updates on this site. I pay for the auto responder and the hosting fees. The way that I developed this community was and still is intentional. I don’t do it for me; I already know all this stuff. This is my gift to a hurting world. I am working on a Read More→
I am excited to welcome my friend and fellow truth seeker, Pam Witzemann back to Emerging from Broken. Pam busts through the fog with this two part article about living under constant judgment and disapproval. Pam is a regular participant in almost all the discussions here in EFB and has her own blog; “Boomer Back-beat ~ Talking bout our generation”. Please help me welcome Pam by leaving your comments or by clicking the ‘like button’. As always I am looking forward to the conversation! ~ Darlene Ouimet
Judgementalism: A Cloud of Disapproval and Condemnation by Pam Witzemann
I could never please my mother, who was very judgmental of me. I grew up within a cloud of disapproval and condemnation that robbed me of self-confidence, healthy self-esteem, and the ability to self-validate.
“You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” That expression summed up my daily life in childhood. No matter what I did, I couldn’t please my mother. If I did something right, any praise I received was coupled with a reminder of how I’d messed up in the past. There were also, constant questions as to whether I would repeat any past wrong doing in the future. My mom viewed everything I did or didn’t do as a personal attack. She didn’t like me and I was pretty sure that she thought I was out to get her. I was my mother’s evil daughter destined to live a life that a mother could only, disapprove of. That was the life my mother chose for me and as a child, I was unable to see an alternative. I believed that I was a bad child, the black sheep, and I fulfilled what my mother expected from me.
“If you have the name, you might as well play the game.” This was the logic that guided me during my teenage years. When I was 13, my math teacher told me that I worked awfully hard at being bad. He was right because inside, I wasn’t a bad child but no matter what I did, my mother saw me as her evil daughter. Everything she accused me of, I eventually, tried on for size. She accused me of using drugs, so I did. She never accepted what I told her as the truth so, I learned to Read More→
“It wasn’t just that I didn’t know what I was feeling; I was also afraid to acknowledge my feelings in case they were wrong. Survival for me had become about making sure that I didn’t do or say the wrong thing”. Darlene Ouimet
This morning my husband needed me to pick him up at one of our hay fields where he was dropping off his semi in preparation to haul some hay. The ground is covered in several inches of snow here and the last couple of days have been mild and the snow is very heavy, wet and slippery now. He pulled into the field in the Semi and I was driving the pick-up truck close behind. I was trying to ‘guess’ where he was going to park the Semi with the good intention of picking him up to avoid making him trek on foot through the snow. I advanced into the field and he held his hand up to alert me to ‘stop’ where I was. I felt uncomfortable.
He seemed to be driving the semi in random patterns and I jumped to the conclusion that I must have gotten in his way when I drove into the field. I assumed that he was trying to back the Semi up to the haystack, but he couldn’t because I was parked in between the Semi and the stack. I tried to get out of the way but I realized it was really slippery and I was starting to get stuck in the snow. On top of that, I didn’t know exactly where to ‘go’ now and I didn’t want to make things worse, so I just stayed where I was.
I became aware of my old default mode coming up. My old default mode operated under the belief that I could never do the right thing and that I always did something stupid when I was trying to help. I felt my face get a little hot. I imagined that Read More→
Sometimes I get comments from people that are so filled with judgement that I don’t even consider publishing them. I am sharing the following comment with you today because it is a fantastic example of the judgement that is out there in the world about what we reveal when it comes to our dysfunctional family stuff. I didn’t publish this comment on the post it came in on~ I didn’t see the point in giving this woman a voice and her comment is so ridiculous ~ especially since it is from this total stranger who doesn’t know me, my story or my family.
This comment speaks volumes about her judgements; she really thinks that she knows my family history and sides with my father. She offers proof that I misunderstood my father’s intentions and decides that it is up to me to mend this broken fence. She absolves my father of all responsibility for the abandonment that I suffered at his hands.
And because this kind of lecture is SO common, and since we have been hearing this kind of stuff since childhood, it is easy to get sucked into this kind of judgement and “feel bad” for MY actions; or at least it might have made me feel bad 5 years ago. Today I was shocked. I thought “how the heck does this woman KNOW anything about my parents or what happened in my family or to my mother? Why does she think she knows anything about my father, his decisions, his actions or his intentions?
I didn’t publish this comment on the post where she left it because this kind of stuff heaps more damage on the already damaged reader. I am publishing it today to highlight a typical example of what survivors of abuse and dysfunctional family stuff hear all the time from Read More→
“You can’t solve the problems of today by using the same thinking that created them” Einstein
As I started to go through the healing process I realized that there were roots to the feelings of loneliness and that feeling of being alone. I felt let down in a world where I didn’t fit in and didn’t belong and believed I wasn’t worthy of the love that I craved. I believed that I had brought on my own problems that I created the life of depression that I lived in and believed that if I could just figure out what was wrong with me then everything would be okay. I believed this stuff because it had been communicated to me through the actions of other people.
I started to realize that some of the things that had happened to me left me believing that I was somehow lacking and that I was somehow undeserving of the love that other people deserved. As I progressed farther into my emotional healing journey, I realized that my own parents had contributed to those beliefs and were still contributing to them well into my adult life. I was a disappointment to my parents and nothing I did was ever “good enough” and as I grew older I was beginning to comprehend that nothing I ever accomplished was EVER going to be “good enough”.
When I first started this website I never intended to talk about my parents as part of where the problem began. I thought I could just keep it about the belief system development resulting from trauma and I could just sort of keep my parents out of it.
As my confidence grew, I started to write about some specific incidents with my mother and father that caused some of the false beliefs about myself to take root in my belief system. And when I started to get really specific about Read More→
I hear this expression all the time. I hear it used in the sentence “well he always was the black sheep of the family” and I hear it used in the first person such as “well I am the black sheep of my family.” This week I have been thinking about HOW a child becomes “the black sheep of the family” in the first place. The black sheep may be the one that rebels against the family system or the black sheep is also used to describe the one who “doesn’t fit in” with the family. Not “fitting in” with the family usually means not being accepted by the family for going against the family rules, questioning certain practices or simply for being an individual. (note: sometimes “not fitting in” is simply the feeling of not being as “good” or as valuable as other siblings or other family members.)
I am not sure if I am now or ever was regarded as the black sheep in my family, but I certainly didn’t feel like I fit in there even before I stood up and publically rebelled against the total family dysfunction I grew up with. I resisted thinking that I might have been “the black sheep” because to me it was an admission of the rejection that I had always felt; rejection that I was terrified to acknowledge. I tried for most of my young years to comply but even that didn’t keep me safe and the feeling that I was “not loved” was always lingering close by.
There were things said all along about me by my family that discredited me long before I ever exposed any of the truth about what had been going on in my childhood. From a very young age I was defined as Read More→