Archive for mental health
I want peace on earth. I want peace in emerging from broken and before that I wanted peace in my family. I had been raised to believe that I was responsible for peace in my family or at the very least my actions either contributed to the peace or destroyed it.
As a child I was taught that there would be peace if I didn’t upset anyone. I was taught that if I complied and if I did what was expected of me; if I was quiet and polite and if I didn’t stand up for anything that went against what the adult in the situation deemed the “right way” to do things, that I would be loved and accepted.
My mother was fragile. She was prone to depressions and what she called nervous breakdowns. She made it very clear all of my childhood that if I upset her, she would have a “breakdown”. My mother ended up in the hospital when I was little with what was called “a nervous breakdown” back then. I am sure that this event had a major effect on me and that it settled somewhere in my belief system and added to my beliefs that if I upset someone they may end up in the hospital and everyone knows that people die in hospitals. Not only does a little mind wander all the way to “death” but think about the fear of abandonment and all that that implies. I could not survive Read More→
I believe that depression comes from somewhere and that it starts somewhere. I don’t believe that I was born with it, or that I was born with something missing in me that would later determine that I would struggle with depression. I don’t believe that my mother, who struggled with multiple depressions, passed her condition down to me. I believe that my mother had her own post traumatic stress and abuse that caused her struggles and break downs, and that because she didn’t have the tools that she needed to raise an emotionally healthy child, I too was placed at risk. I was not protected from the things that caused my trauma; both me and the trauma were neglected. My self esteem and personal value and individuality was never established.
I would even go so far as to say that my depressions were a coping method. They were a way for me to shut down and to get through the overwhelming circumstances in my life. They were a way that enabled me to survive.
That is what I have come to understand now ~ that is my NEW belief system, and coming to understand this and all my other false belief systems greatly assisted me in overcoming my constant depressions and in living beyond depression. That is what I used to believe about depression, so now what about the old belief system that I broke out of?
The Stigma of Depression
There is a huge stigma in our society about mental health struggles. There is a universal judgment about depression and about 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→
When I talk about the fog, I am talking about the state of confusion that has been created by the adults in my life which began when I was a child. The confusion was created in order to keep me from figuring out that what was going on in my life, was not normal. I was taught false definitions of love, false definitions of being cared for and being kept safe. I was taught that I was not as important as others. I was taught that I was wrong about my feelings. I was discredited in so many ways so that if I ever did figure out that I was not actually wrong, the emotionally abusive adults in my life could remind everyone that I had always been a bit “off”. And I didn’t correct anyone because from a young age I had begun to believe that I was the one that was a bit “off”. The fog hides the blatantly obvious truth.
In this state of confusion and with all these false definitions of love and respect, I had trouble seeing the truth. I had trouble realizing that a mother, who dress a 6 year old child up in her little black lace teddies to “dance for a visiting man), and a father who doesn’t do anything to stop it, are a little bit abnormal. A mother who sticks her tongue in a 9 year old daughter’s mouth, to show her the way men will kiss her, is not behaving in a normal way. I had trouble realizing that a loving mother would not take all the joy out of every single accomplishment that I had ever achieved. I had trouble comprehending that when a father shows absolutely NO interest in a child’s life or in that same adult child’s life, that is a strong indication that said father just doesn’t care. When someone doesn’t show in any way that they care, they don’t care. Continue…… Read More→
Sometimes I get emails and comments like the one that I got this week on the post “Mom and Grandma had a Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship” expressing feeling overwhelmed about sharing stories of the past. The comment said: “I am feeling lost right now. I feel like I have shared way too much here, and I’m feeling very vulnerable. It hurts.”
Sharing feelings, our pain, our abuse and rejections and stories and sharing about our families makes us feel really vulnerable. This comment got me thinking about how I felt so vulnerable and scared that I never told anyone about my first blog. There were very few comments, it had very little traffic and even though I was already speaking in mental health seminars, I never gave the name of that website out to anyone. I was afraid of something. I didn’t really think that much about what it was.
Sharing in the first few months of this blog was also scary but it gets easier all the time although once in a while, sometimes pressing the publish button still makes me feel a little uneasy.
Sharing some of my deepest and darkest moments makes me feel exposed AND it makes me feel like I am in danger. 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
Throughout the years of trying to change, I tried many things; in fact I tried almost everything that was suggested to me to try. Seminars, self help books, 12 step programs, I tried holistic medicine, cleanses, meditation, medication, vacations; I tried diet plans, fitness plans, naturopathic medicine, homeopathic medicine, you name it I likely tried it. Most of them became another obsession and another way to escape. And I am not saying that any of it was useless, just that none of it got me that much farther ahead. ALL of it was pointing me in the right direction towards emotional healing, but it just wasn’t the entire answer.
(NOTE: Something I noticed in the editing process of this post is that I opened this post with; “Throughout the years of trying to change” ~ See how deeply it goes? I never considered that I was trying to HEAL, just that I was trying to “change” as though I needed to “change” in order to be “okay” when in reality I was trying to give up coping methods without understanding why they were born.)
I was thinking about all the things I had tried attempting to enhance my recovery because of the quote I posted as a mental health tip on the emerging from broken facebook page. This is the quote: “Do not wait; the time will never be “just right”. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” Napoleon Hill
I thought about this one thing that I told myself when I was trying to stay out of this coping method that was escaping into a fantasy life that I really loved to live in. The fantasy world was what I thought to be a “safe escape” but I was spending so much time there that I knew it was becoming self harming and destructive and that it wasn’t really helping me get where I really wanted to go. I tried very hard to notice when I was going into that fantasy world, trying to catch myself before I was immersed in the depth of disconnection from reality. And I remember that for a long time I would tell myself “just this once more”. I would promise myself that I would only escape there one more time. I would plead and convince myself that it was not harmful, that it didn’t hurt anyone… that one more time would not really change or damage anything.
I did this with almost every coping method that I ever tried to give up. I did it with binge eating. I did it with purging when I was bulimic. I did it with skipping my fitness programs when I was finally doing them for the right reasons. I even did it when I was going into a self berating spin and trying to learn to stop myself from beating myself up. I told myself that I would start tomorrow. Tomorrow would be the first day of my new life. Tomorrow I would make the necessary changes.
I did almost anything I could to avoid progressing into “better mental health”.
And when I finally noticed that I was doing this avoidance technique, I finally started looking at what I was avoiding. Why was I so afraid to STAY in reality? What was I avoiding taking a look at? What exactly was I trying so hard to escape from? WHY did I have so many coping methods?
And the answer, (or at least the root of the answer) of course was ME ~ I was trying to escape me. I was trying to avoid facing me but NOT for the reasons that I thought;
Deep down I really truly believed that I was the problem and that was why I could empathize with you and see your value ~ I could validate you and try to convince you that you didn’t deserve whatever happened to you, but I could not see that for me. The reason I was so afraid to face reality was because I was afraid that I would find out that I HAD NO REAL VALUE and I was avoiding finding that out.
I had to stop running from that fatal lie and when I did, that is when everything began to change. That was when I began to emerge from broken. That was when I finally turned that corner and began to progress into the new life that I live now.
How does this resonate with you? I find this stuff MUCH harder at holiday times of the year. Please feel welcome to share your thoughts and comments.
p.s. this is a process and I am not perfect. When I was almost but not quite finished writing this blog post, I jumped up and grabbed some crackers out of the pantry. I got some raspberry jam and cream cheese out of the fridge and proceeded to make myself an afternoon snack. When I thought about what I had been doing when I decided I needed the snack, and that I wasn’t really hungry, I realized that for some reason sharing this post with you made me want to escape. And that is very much what it looks like for me ~ I suddenly feel like “running”.
Do I worry about it? No….. well at least not nearly as much as I used to… it is all part of the process of emotional recovery. I often feel insecure about writing the things I write and lately I have been looking at some of the unhealthy ways that I deal with those thoughts and insecurities. And so today I decided to actually tell you. =)
Due to the depth of the comments on this post I wrote a follow up post which you can read by clicking the post title: “Before I faced the Pain I had to face the lies”
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
When I decided to tell the Chris Story ~ the story about how Prince Charming was a Murder Suspect, I intended to write one post. I intended to keep the focus about my belief system, and highlight the fact that I missed and or ignored the red flags because of learned unworthiness issues resulting from child abuse and child sexual abuse and invalidation. That was the first post.
But the commenter’s and private e-mailers wanted more. They wanted to know what kinds of red flags exactly. I could see the benefit of sharing more of the details and highlighting the actual red flags, and for sharing a bit about my rational for disregarding the danger signs. So that was the second post.
As I write this post, I have not yet published the second post “Dangerous Men, Red Flags, Victim Mentality”. When I finished writing that post and did my final read on it, I felt stupid. I thought I was really lame for missing so many of those blatant red flags. And worse than that, the way that second post reads I didn’t really miss them; I just ignored them. I considered not publishing the post. I felt insecure. I felt “dumb”. I felt like no one else would have EVER been so stupid as to stay with that guy knowing everything that I knew. This is exactly the type of thinking that kept me in the cycle of abuse and in victim mindset, covering up for the things I think are MY fault instead of exposing HIM and telling my truth.
I questioned myself, “what the heck was wrong with me back then?? How could I have let that stuff go? How could I have gotten into that relationship and then left myself, in that situation? What was so great about “that guy” that I didn’t dump him? What the heck did I think was going to happen?
And I heard the thoughts behind the thoughts ~ “I didn’t think, I didn’t care, I didn’t know; he could have changed, he had been damaged and he needed me, what if I was wrong about him? What if he killed me if I tried to dump him? What if he was the best that I could ever do? What if I dumped him and found myself alone for the rest of my life……. Sometimes he was sweet, sometimes he was tender. He was charming. He looked like a movie star… he called me “baby”.
And the even deeper thoughts~ playing detective was exciting. It was a way of proving to myself that I really DID have a brain. Being afraid of him was thrilling. Getting away with knowing that he didn’t know that I knew…. (When danger has been a part of a sexual abuse history, sometimes danger is a turn on; danger is familiar. And in this particular story I find it interesting to note that I was NOT at all sexually attracted to this guy, so the thrill of danger had more to do with validation.)
Sometimes I tell myself that I am just making excuses for myself. (which also comes from upbringing) During that time with Chris I had dissociative identity disorder. Since I have recovered from DID, I look back and see it differently now then I used to. One of the things that I did that is common for anyone who dissociates, (not just dissociative identity with multiple personality) is that I “separated incidents”. I did not put all the incidents and red flag events concerning Chris, in my mind at the same time. In a way I put them through separate filters. I believed that each one was separate and had nothing to do with the other one. I disconnected each red flag from the prior red flag. Think of it this way; each event or red flag had its own sealed envelope. In my mind, none of the red flags were related. That was how I learned to cope with child sexual abuse. I broke off from myself, and left my body. And I learned an intricate system of coping; disconnecting and separating related events, too scary to look at, too scary to stop, too powerless to stand up for myself. That is how I learned to deal with life; by separating incidents and by disconnecting. And so ~ there I was, all grown up in a dangerous relationship with a dangerous man, disconnected and ignoring all the red flags.
(And it is by reconnecting first with myself and then with the events that I discounted and ignored and eventually blamed myself for, that I became whole again.)
The desire to make excuses for myself has its roots in the same belief system that I write about all the time. As a child I believed that I could change, and if I changed then I would be loved. So I felt insecure about telling the story because I grew up being told (Not always in words) that I was wrong; that I had a faulty memory and that I was the real problem. I was trained to keep the secret; don’t bring any shame on the family and I was told (not always in words) to find a way to cope with it myself. I was also pretty young when I believed if there was a problem that I caused it, made it up or exaggerated it or misunderstood it and I learned that the best coping method of all was to disconnect myself from it.
But I have learned that I am not the problem. I am not the one that made things up or twisted the truth around, (other than in my own mind in order to cope with it); I did not exaggerate, and if anything I diminish the stories; I do not have to keep any secrets; I am NOT wrong and there is nothing wrong with my memory. So I published that post. And I am publishing this one too!
Thanks to everyone who has shared these posts on facebook or other sites and to everyone who has participated in conversations here and on the Emerging from Broken facebook page.
Please feel free to add your thoughts, feelings and stories.
Keep striving to move forward!