Archive for dysfunctional family
“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→
I have tried to talk to my father about the problems with our relationship since my first child was born over 20 years ago and although he pretends to listen to me, he never listens to me. I know this because he never tries to change anything about it. My father is emotionally unavailable. Not just to me; I believe he is emotionally unavailable to everyone. He sent me a birthday card this year and it said how he had all these fond memories of me. I wondered if he knew who he sent the card to? What memories? But I am tired of asking and last year when my father called to ask “if he was able to arrange it”, could he stay with us and attend our daughters graduation, I told him that I was tired of having the same old discussion with him; seeing him just hurts because it is a big reminder of his disinterested in me and how he delivers that same message to my kids about them. I told my passive abusive father that our relationship was pretty much “no relationship” and I was tired of telling him how much he discounts my kids by cutting them off and never listening to them when they are talking. I told him that I was tired of constantly being reminded that I have never been important in his life by his lack of interest in my life.
I told my daughter about my decision and because of the frustrations that all my kids have with their grandfather, she understood my decision. I told him (and my daughter) that he was welcome to come to the event, but not to stay with us in our home. There is of course way more to this story, and years of dysfunctional history behind this decision but for the purpose of this article, I am going to leave it at that for now.
Last month I got a letter from one of my half sisters. We have our emotionally unavailable father in common but we have different mothers. I think I was 16 or 17 when my sister was born; we have never actually lived in the same home or even in the same city or province and don’t really know each other all that well but like all good victims living in the dysfunctional system of victim mentality, I covered up for my father when it came to my half sisters (and to everyone else for that matter) and even believed all my own lies up until about 7 years ago when I faced the truth about my life and my dysfunctional parents.
There are a few things that I want to point out about her letter that are very common to the dysfunctional family system. Please keep in mind that my half sister is a victim of the family dysfunction and in this case she is just as much our fathers victim as I was.
The following letter was sent to my daughter with a CC to me because Read More→
This week I am excited to introduce a new EFB community event called “Freedom ROCKS” Today Lauralee shares her story about what Freedom ROCKS means to her. For more information about Freedom ROCKS and how you can participate see the Freedom ROCKS about page. The first global Freedom Rocks event will be held the weekend of May 12 and 13th. Darlene Ouimet~ founder of Emerging from Broken
What “Freedom Rocks” Means to Me by Lauralee Hunter Rivet
Nobody grows up wishing their life would be hell; we expect it to be normal. Well, mine wasn’t. Let’s just say I went to hell and back MANY times. My life was never normal; I grew up around drugs, alcohol and had an incestuous father who molested me. I remember wanting to die, and yes I did try to die but I guess God didn’t want me yet. I hated God at times for putting me in this situation, I blamed him. But that was wrong, because no matter how bad your life is and I can attest to this 100%, you CAN get out of it. There is ALWAYS a way. I never turned to drugs and alcohol, I got off the merry go round and so can you.
I thought of the throwing the rock idea one day after my brother died on October 30th, 2011. The “family” called me, hours later of course, to tell me about my brother. I met with my mother and sister first; after 10 years without any contact with them it was hard. I cried, went to the funeral home, paid for the funeral and then I was in “mother” role again like I had been all my young adult life. I took care of my mother, slept there with her, moved her to a new apartment and took care of her for a month. Then the drama started. My sister who likes to call me princess, I think she has a lot of jealousy towards me, (she is the eldest and I am the youngest one in my family) would talk about my mother and my mother would talk about her and I felt like I had just gone to a gun fight armed with a knife. I was back to the same crap as before. I couldn’t do it anymore; I was done with being talked about and used.
Finally I said to my “mother”; “if you knew I was dying would you come to my house this year for Read More→
“I will leave the past alone when it leaves me alone” Commenter on Emerging from Broken
I heard so many things against speaking about the past. Questions which are actually statements and judgements more than they are actual questions such as “why do you want to talk about your problems in public” or “why do you want to air your dirty laundry in front of the whole world?” These judgements always concluded with some version of “you are only making yourself look like a fool.” Statements like that carried with them the all too familiar indication that the speakers (the judges) were concerned for ME; that they truly cared about what was “best for me”.
When I faced the cold hard truth, I began to comprehend the actuality reality; I realized that their concern was never for me. I didn’t need to make myself look like a fool, they did that for me all of my life. I think of the times they delighted in finding ways to embarrass me or humiliate me in front of others. In fact I think that some of their motives were based on discrediting me in case I ever revealed the truth. They were not concerned about MY dirty laundry. They were only concerned about what I was exposing about THEM. They didn’t want me to expose THEIR dirty laundry. And I think this would be a good time to add that if they didn’t KNOW what they were doing was wrong, if they didn’t “know any better” then WHY did they know that they needed to keep me quiet about Read More→
Navajo Proverb: You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.
In the March Article “The Unheard Invisible Child; Being Seen and Finding my Voice” here in Emerging from Broken, a commenter asked a very popular question. Here is the query;
“Now that I’ve found my voice, I have this strong desire to voice my anger towards my family. To tell them that they are wrong with how they have mistreated me. However, I don’t want to put myself in a position to be hurt again. Based on past experience, they will not hear me and will deny the truth & blame me for misinterpreting them. It’s been that way since childhood.
I’m an adult now and I deserve equal respect but like you said I have to “give up being heard from the people that silenced me in the first place”… I want to assert myself directly to my mom for something hurtful she recently told me, but what will this accomplish?… I will not be heard. Asserting myself and not being heard is insulting! However, if I don’t assert myself, isn’t that sending them the message that they can say whatever they want to me with no regard for my feelings? Please clarify…”
Here are my thoughts expanded from my original reply;
I constantly hurt myself by accepting devaluing treatment from other people. I didn’t realize that it had become normal and acceptable to me. For instance take the phrase in the query; “I’m an adult now, and I deserve equal respect.” The false belief in that statement is when we become adults we deserve equal respect but the truth is that we always did deserve equal respect, even as children. Respect and authority are not the same thing. Adults have more authority over children, but in the true definition of love ~ respect and equal value have nothing to do with age or Read More→