Archive for dysfunctional relationship
I reached a point in my adult life where I found myself wondering why some people who seemed to be so nice to other people, were not so nice to me. I realized as I grew in this process of emotional healing that it had a lot to do with my own inner value. It was as though people could “see” how much I would put up with. My worth, before I emerged from broken had a lot to do with what I could do for others. I thought that my value was in what I had to offer. A lot of people took advantage of me and used me. I did a lot of service work but wasn’t really appreciated for it. I tried not to do if for the appreciation, but when people treated me like I didn’t matter, it really hurt me. I bent over backwards to “be good enough to deserve acceptance.”
I had to learn to value myself ~ enough to call them on it. I had to realize that they were wrong to treat me that way and if I let it go, they were likely to keep doing it. I had to care enough about me to reject that kind of treatment. I had to realize that when people talk down to me, it doesn’t define me as beneath them. On the other hand I also had to learn that when people fall all over themselves to be with me, that doesn’t define me as worthy either. That was the false definition of love and acceptance that I had to come to understand in this process of emotional healing.
This was a huge part of my recovery process.
First I had to own my anger at this injustice towards me as a person. I had to own my equality and believe in myself. Instead of constantly asking myself what was wrong with me and searching my heart for how I could be worthy of love and respect, I started to ask myself why people felt they had permission to Read More→
But yesterday I suddenly thought about how abusive this statement is when I think about it through the eyes of myself as a child! You reap what you sow, you get what you deserve. I was raised with this expression. I was raised to believe that whatever was in my life or NOT in my life was my fault. That if I had problems in my relationships with people then it was because I cultivated incorrectly and I had sown bad seed. I was willing to take that responsibility because I had been taught that it was all up to me in the first place. I believed that I deserved to be picked on because I thought I was dislikeable. I believed that if I could be likeable, that people would Read More→
What do people mean when they declare in an exasperated voice “Well sorry! I’m not perfect”
There are different versions of this statement said in different ways, with different voice inflictions so for the purpose of “fog busting”, here are a few of them:
“I’m not perfect” This is stated as though “perfection” is what I am asking for and implying that the problem is not their actions but in fact my expectations.
“Well sorry I’m not perfect”; Stated as a plea to make me sorry that I made this person feel bad. Once again this is turned around on ME indicating that I have done or said the wrong thing and that the problem is actually NOT theirs, but mine.
“I never said I was perfect” Stated a little heavy on the sarcasm indicating that once again I have asked too much and indicating that my expectations are Read More→
“What did you do to make “him” do that? What did you do to cause that reaction?” This is such a lame thing to ask someone because it immediately places blame on the victim.
I am guilty of saying similar things to my own kids when they were small. I cringe with horror at the memory of it today. I know exactly what I communicated… that the bully was only defending themselves. I was inferring that the one who was complaining or reporting an offence must have done something to deserve it in the first place. (This is psychological abuse)
I can comfort myself that usually I said this to two of my kids who were fighting with each other at the time and that I was trying to get to the bottom of it. I was trying to find out what really happened from the beginning. Although it is bad enough to say this to a child who is having some sort of sibling rivalry crisis; “he stole my tractor” ~ “she hit me with her toy duck” and the adult is really just trying to get to the bottom of who really started it, it is a whole other story and a whole other accusation when you say this to a child who comes home from school with a black eye. This statement implies that Read More→
Why do we care so much about what everyone else thinks? Why did I NEED to be believed especially by the very people who invalidate me in the first place? I think it is because I was brainwashed very young to believe that everyone else knew better then I knew and that “they” had the ability and the right to define me. They “owned me”. I didn’t belong to myself.
There was a comment on Susan Kingsley-Smith’s post ~ Dysfunctional Relationship with Mental Health Providers ~that has been simmering in the back of my mind since I read it about 5 days ago now. This comment, although simply put, is really profound and I want to expand on the whole concept of what Mountain is writing about because this aspect of recovery has been so key for me and as well as being a result of doing my recovery work, it was the beginning of the process of transitioning from surviving to thriving.
A note from “Mountain”
“With regards to need and the need to be understood ~ I stopped giving my energy away to people who didn’t receive my love. I stopped trying to convince other people of my reasons why I did things, the whys of things don’t matter to other people and often leaves us open to judgment which is very painful for sensitives. Most don’t want to know and most don’t really care. We do here; I’m talking the outside world.” You can see Mountains full comment (#59) on Susans Post.
I personally had a huge need to PROVE that I was right. I thought I had to prove that I was justified in being hurt, that I had been devalued and that I had been mistreated. That I was NOT crazy, that I was a good person with good intentions… continued.. Read More→
I am pleased and excited to have guest blogger Susan Kingsley-Smith sharing about dysfunctional relationships within the mental health system while I am away on vacation. Susan is my friend and fellow truth seeker, as well as the author of “A Journey” and I’m also blessed to have her as a frequent commenter here on Emerging from Broken. As always, please contribute by adding your own comments and feedback ~ Darlene Ouimet
Dysfunctional Relationship with Mental Health Providers by Susan Kingsley-Smith
I’d have never imagined that in my healing journey I would find myself healing from not only the original trauma’s of my childhood but that I would also be faced with mourning the life I lost to a second trauma; that of becoming victim to those I’d turned to for help.
I’d been conditioned from an early age to not question authority. To do as I was told; and especially to view my doctors and other health care professionals as the authority over my health. In hindsight though, what I discovered, is that my early life experiences of abuse had set me up to become a victim to any relationship or system that was based on my sacrificing myself in order to appease those in authority. Continued.. Read More→
Through the comments discussion on my recent post “My Value and Learning to Love MY Self” here on Emerging from Broken, Lynda recently asked me the following question and since it is such a popular question I thought I would answer it in a post all its own.
Lynda says: Darlene,
“I’m so sorry your mother treated you the way she did. What I DON’T understand… if your mother’s mother treated her that way, why did she do the same to you? I was just the opposite, always trying to give my children the love and encouragement and affirmation that I never got from my mother.”
This is the realization that I finally came to when it came to my own kids; that I had a choice and I actively decided to pursue something different for my children. But the truth is that my mother made the same choice, she actually did do better by me then what was done to her in her own dysfunctional relationship she had with her mother and I think she thought that it was enough. We were fed and clothed better than her and her siblings were. We were clean and had clean clothing, bedding and nutritious food. But the love was missing. I was emotionally neglected. I was not heard. I was not acceptable. I was not encouraged to be an individual or regarded with equal value. Her own issues were way too much in the way and we ended up having a very dysfunctional mother daughter relationship very similar to the same dysfunctional mother daughter relationship that my mother had with her mother. Continued…. Read More→
All abuse, weather it is emotional and psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or spiritual abuse, is abuse and that these articles that I write on Emerging from Broken apply to ALL kinds of abuse. I intentionally make a connection between depression, dissociation, multiple personality, eating disorders, addictions and other mental health struggles and abuse. It is my experience that my difficulties and struggles were birthed in how I learned my value or rather my lack of it. The following article is not just about mother daughter dysfunctional relationship. It is about ALL dysfunctional relationship. How it starts in childhood, how it goes from there. How it ends up in coping methods that although necessary for survival, become self destructive.
The subject of not wanting the abuser to leave me and wondering why they did is SO complicated! For me, one of the things it has to do with is compliance and how much of my life that I spent trying harder for them. The deeper that I look at the roots of my belief system, the more that I can figure out where things got off the track. First of all there are the tons and tons of mixed and conflicting messages that we get both from right sources and wrong sources. They all kind of go into the same pot and they mesh with each other. Remember the story of how when my mother declared that it was my fault that her boyfriend came in my room in the night to sexually assault me because I had a crush on him. Well because my self esteem was already so damaged that I believed her, I added that self blame to everything that ever happened to me before that event. Then there were a few things in my past where I was not such a perfect child, like the time I faked the nightmare for attention, and when a child is a mere child, it doesn’t take much for things to get really mixed up in the memory, the mind and then in the belief system. The grid that we try to process things through, gets damaged.
I had to look at the “foundational foundation” to start with. That is the belief that we need and depend on whoever our caregivers are for our very lives, protection, security, the things that children need to grow into healthy adults. And when something happens that alters those basic needs, we have a problem. We get this split belief about love somewhere along the way and we start to believe that love is something that it isn’t. My mother taught me my value, she taught me the version of LOVE that she believed, but it isn’t real love. So I think that what she is doing is love, and I used to say “I know she loves me, I know she is doing her best”.. but today I know differently. She doesn’t love me at all. She uses me to make her feel better about herself. But it doesn’t work and it isn’t good enough and it hurts me every time. Where is the love in that? Part of my recovery was realizing what love is and what it is not.
When I told my mother that I was not willing to have a relationship on her terms, she finally asked me what “my terms” were. I told her that from now on she could no longer say that I had a crush on her boyfriend when I was just a kid and that was why he came in my room in the night. AND I told her that I was sick of having to prove to her husband that I liked him. I guess my terms were too high.
She was silent. She did not respond to any of the “terms” I stated. Then she told ME to think about our talk and get back to her and I said no mom, you can think about it and get back to me. I could write a whole other blog post about how everything was always up to me but that particular time I had given her MY terms, what the heck was I supposed to think about? That was the last time that we spoke.
And the message that I got from her withdrawal was that I was not worth her trying for. If I was going to draw boundaries and demand equal value then forget it. She said NO. The message was that I was only good for kicking around. If she had to respect me, then she didn’t want to be bothered with me at all. And that message meant to me that I am NOT worth it. After all the years of loyalty and compliance. After keeping my mouth shut about her boyfriends ~ I wasn’t worth her effort. I had never stood up to her all those years. I didn’t dump HER. I put up with all of the degrading in front of the whole world. I stood silent when she told men they could sleep with me because I was on the pill even though I was only a teenager! I didn’t even tell the family therapist (we had to go because my brother got arrested) what was really going on in our home or how she treated me. I let her take me to bars as a man magnet when I was 17 and I never said a word; I followed HER one sided definition of love and loyalty and I kept thinking that one day it would pay off ~ AND she dumped ME! It was incomprehensible! This was just the most unbelievable “thing” for me to try and comprehend. I was such a GOOD VICTIM and it was all for NOTHING? Because when it came right down to it, I was not worth her effort.
And it feels like rejection, because IT IS REJECTION.
As the months went by I felt more and more shock and disbelief as these truths sunk in. But something else was happening. I realized that I didn’t miss the abuse. I didn’t miss having to constantly do damage control and make sure SHE was okay. I didn’t miss having the joy sucked out of every single exciting moment in my life. I didn’t miss the put downs, the insults, the sexual innuendos or the family problems that she caused with her gossip and trouble making. I didn’t miss the anxiety.
And I started to grow. I started to come out of the fog in a much bigger way; I had so much more clarity about the truth and realized how many lies about myself that I had accepted.
This whole story does not just apply to parents; I had a couple of boyfriends who fit this same pattern. Oh and a few friends too. And employers…………. well you get the picture.
Please share your journey, struggles or victories or whatever you need to share for your recovery.
Exposing Truth one snapshot (or two) at a time
Founder of Emerging from Broken
Related Posts: The little girl who Cried Wolf ~ Belief system development
Something is happening here on Emerging from Broken. There is a depth of sharing and honesty that I didn’t expect. There is a community growing that I only hoped for. There is a profound expression of struggle and healing, all working towards the overall good and towards emotional recovery.
This post is the follow up to my last post ~ “Tomorrow I will Start to Face the Pain” . If you have not read it, I really recommend that you take the time to read it and the 50 some amazing comments that it has generated so far. There is something special there.
Some of those comments made my heart ache with pain and I wanted to touch each heart and convince each one that there is hope for emotional healing. It is possible. It is doable. This is curable! I feel your pain because I remember that pain myself.
~The pain of realizing that any kind of abuse including emotional abuse is rejection. I worked so hard all of my life to be this great person full of acceptance and rejection was my biggest fear, only to wake up one day and realize how rejected that I was all along. But that was not MY failure.
~The pain of realizing that my life was built on lies. But they were not MY lies.
~The pain of realizing that all of my efforts to avoid being alone, left me alone anyway, but then realizing that the journey is lonely because we have to go through it as individuals. All my life I tried to do life how someone else taught me to do it, but in reality, I had to find my way because there is only one of me. They took that from me for way too long.
~Realizing that I had been defined by someone else and then suddenly realizing that if I was not who I thought I was, then who was I? And being scared to death to find out who I might be. Which comes from the same fear of rejection and round and round it goes.
~I was so stuck in realizing that after the abuse I felt like no one ever loved me again ~ thinking the answer would be in finding someone to love me again, but in truth, I didn’t love me either. I didn’t know how. The abuse defined me. I wanted someone else to fix it just like someone else broke it. But I had to do it for me. I had to decide that I would love me. I had to find out how. I had to redefine me and in that new beginning, I was able to take my life back.
~Realizing that I never believed that MY abuse was really valid and therefore I was invalidated; first by them and then by me. But that was not my choice. That was what I learned to do. I wasn’t given a choice. But I have one now. I have one today.
~Realizing and finally acknowledging that I was filled with guilt and shame and not knowing exactly what the heck to DO with it. But it wasn’t MY guilt and shame and realizing that was what got me to the next step in the process of letting it go.
~And the frozenness that goes along with all of it and seems to return with each new stage. That feeling of being immobilized; the fear of forward motion; all of that with its own history, each one of us with a slightly different story that the frozen is grounded in and has its roots in and everything even remotely related to any of the following things.
~ I told but was ignored
~ I didn’t tell because I was too scared of the consequences
~ I told and I suffered the consequences
~ I didn’t know there was anything to tell
AND the threads of steel wrapped around each one of these things, each memory, each event, each invalidation and ALL the conclusions that we came to ~ all of which need to be looked at, examined, cut and then healed such as:
~The belief that I am the one that wasted my life. That somehow I should have been able to get over all of this by myself; that somehow I am a failure because of what happened TO me. That somehow the abuse done to me has suddenly become my fault, and I lived my life as though it was my failure ~ that my whole life was my screw up. But HOW was I supposed to move forward with no guidance? HOW was I supposed to “get over it”?
~No one validated me so that I knew how to validate myself
~No one ever helped me move forward.
~No one encouraged me to be who I am but everyone “told me” who I was and that was a lie too. No one knew me. No one SAW ME.
~And I carried the failure that was not mine to carry. I lived the identity that they assigned me.
Running from me but not realizing that it is in the running back to me that I find my true self. Running from the truth because I believed the lies.
Running until I finally realized that the running was killing me. Realizing just one truth was enough to set me on the right path. And then running again because the fear of the unknown was just too scary to actually stop running to face it.
Round and Round it goes… like a whirlwind that I was trapped in. I had to somehow find a way to step out of it for mere moments at a time. Picture being inside of a small tornado that is spinning you around so fast that everything is a blur. Now picture stepping back just enough that you can SEE the spin in front of you, but you are not in it, just for one minute. That is how it began for me. And I began by just looking at one thing at a time for those moments when I could step back from the spin. As time went on, I learned to love myself and fill the void in me for myself. This was not quick OR easy but it was possible and it is possible.
And we do have a choice.
And we can overcome.
And we can take our lives back.
And we can leave the pain behind.
And we can live fully in real happiness and freedom.
………..And I know because I didn’t think I could do it either, but here I am.
More little snapshots of truth;
Related posts: “Tomorrow I will Start to Face the Pain”
and most of the other posts on this blog..
This post is continued from the last post ~ Prince Charming was a Murder Suspect.
I remember the first time I met him. His name was Chris. I recall noticing that he was extremely good looking. I don’t remember exactly what we talked about, but I am sure it was a professional exchange. He had to sign in with me before he made his outside rounds for hospital security. I noticed he told me something that conflicted with something he had said in a prior conversation. (first RED FLAG covered with my own victim mentality) He said that he had never been married and then in a later conversation he said he was involved in a divorce. Instead of asking for clarification, I ignored it, telling myself that the misunderstanding was mine. That conflicting piece of information was delivered exactly at the same time that he started flirting with me. I was far more interested in him flirting with me than I was in recognizing the red flag. But he was a dangerous man.
We started dating and because he was in the middle of a divorce, he said the car was actually his ex wife’s car but they were sharing it. Long story short, he started to borrow my car. I suspected something was a bit odd because I had found the name tag part of my key chain (the part with MY name on it), on the floor under the seat of my car. (Next RED FLAG protected by my own victim mentality)I didn’t say anything to see what he would do. The next time he borrowed my car, the name tag was back on my key ring. I let it go. Why was he pretending it wasn’t my car? Perhaps my question should have been “why am I in a relationship with someone that I don’t trust?”
He told me that his fiancé had been killed in a car accident and he was grieving over her still. The problem was that he also told me that the police suspected foul play in the case of her death. I got a kind of cold shiver down my back when he told me that. (Another RED FLAG disguised by the grooming that I could not trust my intuition) I ignored it, just like I had always learned to do. I wondered how she really died and if HE had anything to do with it. Perhaps my question should have been “why am I in a relationship with someone I don’t trust and even consider might have had something to do with her death?”
He was only 23 years old. He had been engaged to someone who had died, and he had been married and was getting divorced. He told me a lot of other stories that made me question how much living this guy had possibly had time to do at such a young age. But I didn’t question him. The foundation my emotional maturity was built on victim mentality so I didn’t think of making sure or asking clarifying questions. And once again, I didn’t question myself about why I was in a relationship with a dangerous man that I didn’t trust.
As with other men that I had been in devaluing relationships with, I wanted proof that he really was playing me. I needed proof before I rejected someone because I had a lot of respect for rejection; I felt that I had been wrongfully rejected and I needed to make sure that I was not doing that to someone else. Victim mentality, (which had been taught to me by abusers, oppressors and controllers) taught me not to validate any warning signs. It taught me to always question myself first. It taught me that I must be the one that is wrong. And I also grew up with the completely wrong definition of love. I believed that HE needed me. I could not possible hurt his feelings with questions. I was confident that if I made him feel loved, he would change and I would no longer need to be suspicious of him.
I memorized a phone number I saw on his worksheet. It was listed as his home phone number. (He told me that he didn’t have a phone and finding out that he did should have been a red flag too.) That night, about 3:30 in the morning, my girlfriend at the hospital helped me stage a “person to person phone call” to that number. A woman answered and my girlfriend, playing the part of “the long distance operator” informed the woman that she had a person to person call for Chris. It was obvious that he was sleeping in the same bed with the woman who answered the phone. (Another RED FLAG) I was on a third line with the television on a snowy sounding station, and when he answered the phone; my girlfriend (the operator) confirmed that it was him and then apologized for the bad connection, explaining that she had “lost the caller”. (we hung up) I decided that I could not confront him because I had done something sneaky in order to catch him. (I didn’t consider that I had just caught him in bed with another woman; rather I was willing to see my own fault for faking a long distance phone call. My rational was that I could not accuse him of lying to me if I was also lying to him.)
I never told him that I knew about the other woman. He got suspicious and told me a story about how he was involved with an emotionally distraught stalker woman he was having trouble getting away from, but he assured me that it was over now. (More Red Flags) And I ignored it. (gag)
This crap went on and I ignored MANY more red flags, until he faked the death of his mother on the other side of the country, insisted that I go to the funeral with him, then explained that he couldn’t get flights to the province she was in but that we would have to drive about 12 hours from the airport that we could get to. Did I mention that he had tried to talk me into making him the beneficiary of my life insurance (he said If I really loved him I would) (RED FLAG) and that I had lied to him and told him that I did it? And still I didn’t say “I don’t believe you” but I found the number to his parents house and faked another operator assisted long distance phone call. She wasn’t dead.
I called the police. They ran his name and sent a squad car over. He was the prime murder suspect in the death of his fiancé. The case had never been solved. He certainly was in fact a dangerous man. The police were very concerned about me and I was placed into 24 hour protection. (I should have been concerned about me, but I wasn’t. I thought the whole thing was exciting. A real rush and a great story. All I could think about was the other boyfriend ~ the one that I loved so much except that he cheated on me ~ he didn’t seem so bad anymore and so I phoned him. Groan….)
Chris was a compulsive liar who had never been married nor had he ever been a cop and although he worked outside rounds for a major Security Company, he also didn’t have a driver’s license. Even they hadn’t checked him out. In order to bring him in for questioning the police arrested him for unpaid parking tickets. (that was the best they could do) They slapped a restraining order on him. While they were trying to catch him (he had to go to the fake funeral first) I got protected. (at least until one of the married police officers wanted to get cozy with me….. but that is another story)
Have you ever ignored a blatant red flag? Please feel free to share.
Knowing the real truth is what set me free;
A book I found that is very helpful and assisted me in believing in my intuition again as well as regaining the memories of many red flags I ignored over the years, is “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker.
Related post : Dating after Sexual Abuse; Is this Love?