Archive for mother daughter relationship
“Child abuse damages a person for life and that damage is in no way diminished by the ignorance of the perpetrator. It is only with the uncovering of the complete truth as it affects all those involved that a genuinely viable solution can be found to the dangers of child abuse”. Alice Miller ~ Banished Knowledge ~ facing childhood injuries
Lately I have been writing a lot on the subject of dysfunctional family systems. I feel like I am just getting started when it comes to sharing about some of the things that were so dysfunctional in my own family. The dysfunctional mother daughter relationship I had with my abusive mother was only one part of it. I had an emotionally unavailable father as well. There was sexual abuse and physical abuse. I was not heard or even seen as a child ~ as though I was not really a person yet. And that “non person” fact seems to be at the root of everything; the discounted voice and disregarded feelings of the child. We live in a whole world of adults who have not been valued as children but who are Read More→
Each Mothers day I am more aware of my freedom and farther away from the oppression that I used to be under. As I get farther away from the domination, I remember things that I am not so reluctant to remember and I am willing and able to talk about them with more freedom and way less fear. I know what I was so afraid of and why It was so hard for me to admit out loud how dysfunctional our mother daughter relationship really was and how hurt that I was by your actions and reactions.
I remember that one time that Dad gave us kids money to go to the store and buy you a gift for mothers day. We walked to the department store by ourselves; we were just kids; we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. I don’t know why I remember this so clearly, I guess it was traumatic for me. I remember how hard it was for us three kids to figure out what to get you. We were totally lost! We looked at so many things, deciding and debating over all of them. I don’t know why we settled on 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→
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→
I was in grade eight just thirteen and a half years old and I was crazy in love (I thought) with a boy at school. I was so shut down at that age. I was awkward, quiet and withdrawn. He was this really cool popular boy who was captain of his football team and on the basketball team; all the boys looked up to him and he was making it pretty clear that he liked me. ME! He asked me to “go around” with him which was the term used in that city when a guy asks a girl to be his girlfriend. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The most popular guy in the whole school just asked me to be HIS girlfriend. And I was looking for a love source, an identity and someone to make me believe that I was special. I was trying to find self acceptance and self esteem through being his girlfriend. And I was sure that being liked or loved by someone like him could do all that! I believed that this was it; finally I was going to be “good enough”.
It was going great. A few weeks later school was breaking for the Christmas holidays. He gave me earrings with rings and hearts on them; I had never felt more special in my life and then he kissed me. I got dizzy and felt my knees go weak, just like I imagined it happened in romance books and movies. My first kiss was a fantasy come to life.
He defended me too. One of the boys at school said something mean to me and my boyfriend slammed him up against a wall. I was sure that this was the proof that finally someone loved me! Finally I meant something to someone and suddenly, I was popular too. He had a temper and there were other incidents of him fighting for me too but I thought it was just wonderful. Those were magical days.
Soon came the day that he wanted me to let him do a little bit more than just kissing. Continued… Read More→
In today’s blog post I am taking a look at motives driven by beliefs about ourselves that are not based in the truth. In order to do that, I am going to post some food for thought questions. You may answer them in the comments if you wish. You may share them with your friends. You may click the facebook “like button” or not. You have a choice. I want you to have a choice. The point of this post is not to make you feel guilty about yourself. The point is that in answering these questions for yourself, you will see some truths about your belief systems.
How many of us hide our communication in facebook from our families and close friends? There is nothing wrong with using that option and I am not suggesting that you stop hiding your likes and dislikes or comments in facebook. This exercise is merely an exercise in fog busting and truth realization. Everyone will have different answers. Some of us never use the hide button. Some of us really must use the facebook hide buttons, because to neglect to do so would truly be dangerous.
Having said that, here are the questions. Not all of them will apply to everyone;
~Why don’t I want my family to know that I am going to define my own value from now on?
~Why don’t I want my family to know that I participate in or read discussions about emotional and psychological abuse?
~Why do I use the hide button on some comments and not on others?
~Why don’t I want my family to know that I am reading a self empowerment blog?
~Why don’t I want my family to know that I am finding out that they were wrong about me?
~Why don’t I want my family to know that I do not belong to them? They don’t own me; or do I still think that they do?
~Why don’t I want my family to know that I have a mind of my own? That I am thinking about forbidden things; that I am going to grow up without permission from them?
~Why do I feel like or believe that I have to hide my actions?
~In thinking that I am protecting their feelings, why do I worry more about their feelings then I do about my own.
~Why do I question myself and my actions, MORE then I question theirs?
When I stood up for myself and took my life and my identity back, I was not using facebook for any kind of self improvement type work. If my family would have been on facebook with me, I would have been terrified they might find out what I was doing. I would have used all the hide features. That is not the point of this blog post.
The point is that It was in answering these kinds of questions that led me to realize my own belief system and all the problems that were rooted in that system. When I asked myself why I questioned my own actions more then I questioned theirs, I was stunned. I felt as though someone had punched me in the gut. These kinds of questions served as a giant spring board into the depths of my mind and greatly advanced my own process of changing the lies I believed, back into the truth.
Please remember that I am in no way encouraging you to stop using hide features or to start standing up to anyone, either family or friends. This is not about judgement. I am not judging you and I do not want you to judge yourself. This is an exercise in exposing your own belief system. This is not easy. This was what worked for me.
Please feel free to share your thoughts with me and with each other.
Finding treasure in the darkest places;
More on Mother Daughter Dysfunctional Relationship ~ there is a discussion in the comments that relates to this post
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All abuse, whether 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
Are you aware my of my e-book “Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you and you would like to find out “HOW” I broke out of the oppression I lived in, this 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing. I’ve received hundreds of thank you notes from people that have bought my book. Get yours here for 9.97 through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing
Related Posts: The little girl who Cried Wolf ~ Belief system development
“If your progress in recovery is thwarted each time you see your family, if you revert to being a subservient or a fearful child, then you may need to stop seeing them for a while. Most importantly, you may need time to develop your own separate “self”, since it may be impossible for you to maintain a sense of individuality when you are around them.” The Right to Innocence – Beverly Engel
Lisa, one of my readers, made the following comment on the post “welcoming a new year of emotional healing” in regards to drawing boundaries with her mother; “What if there is no me without her?” this post is dedicated to that comment and it applies to all relationship where equal value is out of balance.
I was a really good victim to a lot of people. That means that I conformed and complied to many. I did what they wanted. I was who they wanted me to be. It makes me angry to think of how compliant that I was and that it was still never enough.
I lost myself and I got sick. As I got older, the overall dysfunction that was so familiar to me grew, and I got sicker. This was especially true in the dysfunctional mother daughter relationship with my own mother.
Looking back I realize that in most of my relationships, the interest that many people had in me was pretty much only about what I could do for them and about how much they could make me into who they wanted me to be. Sometimes that is about power and control. Sometimes it is about ownership and servant hood. Whatever the motive is, it is not healthy and it is not about love. And when we continue to live in that kind of relational dysfunction, the more we lose ourselves. In my case, the farther I got from my identity, the more depression and dissociation manifested. I lived only to live for others.
In the case of my mother, I think she wanted children because she was looking for a love source of her own. And so she created a love source. And she might have loved those babies to the best of her ability but as we grew older, something happened. She had expectations. She wanted approval and validation and she wanted it from the love source that she created. And when people get love mixed up with ownership, they believe they have a right to get what they need or want from those other people. But love and relationship doesn’t work that way and because she didn’t really know love herself, the whole plan failed.
The foundation of our relationship (overtime) became about my usefulness to her. When I was little my unconditional love and acceptance of HER was all she needed, but as I grew into an individual who had my own individual ideas, I think she felt threatened. And she did things that if I put up with them would prove to her that I still loved her. AND it seemed that she was very mad at me when I could not fill the void in her and make her feel good about herself. She put me down. She reminded me in strange ways that I was nothing. (and somehow I heard that I was nothing “without her”.) She did mean things that when accepted by me seemed to make her feel better because she equated them with love.
I got away from her, but it was never far enough. She sucked the joy out of every accomplishment that I ever had with her sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious put downs and questions designed to devalue me. She mentioned my weight. She put down my husband, my home, and my choices. She made inappropriate sexual comments about me in front of others. I was always on edge around her. And I never thought to confront her about doing it. She even commented that my breasts used to be so nice before I had children. WHY does someone feel the need to say something like that?
When I was small she taught me that I needed her, and I did. But she never taught me that I was capable of being an individual. She never wanted me to stop NEEDING her because it restored her value. I believed that I needed her to survive and even to exist.
And one day about a year after I began to take my life back by doing the foundational work that I write about all the time in this blog, I started to stand up to her, just a bit and just in tiny ways at first. But the more that I grew, the more I realized that my mother and I had a very dysfunctional mother daughter relationship. And eventually I stood up to her in bigger ways. And the tension between us was getting really bad. Then came the day when I said NO MORE. And this time I meant it. My boundary was not in my mouth anymore, it was in my heart now. She knew that I was serious, and she withdrew.
At first I was confused. I could not believe that she didn’t care enough to even try to discuss it. But I had lost my “usefulness to her” and what I didn’t realize is that part of my usefulness to her was in how she got to put me down. I felt so sorry for her too; for most of my life I tried to restore her value, but no one can do that for someone else. (I have written about this stuff under the mother and daughter relationship tabs.) The problem is that my purpose in her life wasn’t about love, value and equality. The way that she treated me wasn’t fair to me and it was when I finally put myself first, something we are told we must never do, that I found my healing.
When some time had gone by, my mother called and she wanted to try to mend fences. The problem was that she wanted to start from that day and asked if we could “just put it all behind us” and I said no. That is how we had always done things in the past, with me backing down. With me saying that her treatment of me was okay with me, (what I thought was forgiveness) and with me laying there broken and bleeding on the ground once again doing what she wanted and being who she wanted me to be. Always about her, always taking care of her; never about me, never taking care of me. She asked me what my terms were and I said equal respect. That was the last time I talked to her.
As I said, this time my boundary was drawn in my heart. I finally knew that I was worth equal respect, and that I have real value, equal value and that she doesn’t own me. I finally knew that her life is not my responsibility. She failed me as a mother, but I am not going to fail myself anymore.
I am not afraid anymore to live as me because I found out that the value that they gave me was a lie. I am far more valuable then they ever wanted me to find out about. I found out that I do not need anyone else in order to exist. I am not defined by anyone else today. AND I am not an extension of my mother.
Please share your thoughts. One of the biggest search phrases used to find Emerging from Broken are the key words “dysfunctional mother daughter relationship”. This is a huge issue in our society. We are not alone in this.
Exposing Truth, One snapshot at a time
See Lisa’s comment #19 on Welcoming a new year of Emotional Healing
Related posts: Mother Daughter Relationship Nighmares
There are little messages that we get when we live in an abusive or dysfunctional environment, or even if our home environment is not abusive, but we are being devalued or mistreated in any way somewhere outside of that environment. Remember that all abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and spiritual abuse is all equally destructive to self esteem and self worth.
Our self esteem suffers so much when we are being abused or mistreated and it is extremely confusing to a child. Other messages factor in to complete and to complicate the picture. So a lesser message piggy backs on an already seriously damaging message and confirms the suspicion I already have; I just wasn’t worthy.
My parents divorced when I was 13. My mother constantly said she didn’t have enough money to live on. I don’t know if that is true, I didn’t have access to the books, but as a child we can only base our judgements on what we see and what we hear. We base our conclusions on what we believe to be the proof.
My mother said that she didn’t have enough money to raise us kids and that our father didn’t give her enough child support. She constantly complained about the power bill; we were not allowed to have heat in our bedrooms and she complained about groceries. To this day her voice rings in my head “I never wanted to be a single mother” This was a statement that she made as an excuse for everything. As a child the message that I heard is that she didn’t want me and that her love for me was conditional and the condition was that unless she had someone to help her raise children, she didn’t want children. By the time I was 15 years old, when she said that she never wanted to be a single mother, my mind replied “ oh ..so that is why you are not a mother at all”
My father acted like he paid child support so that was all he had to do. I remember when I got my first period, I was 13 and I had to go to my father’s for the weekend after school. I needed money for sanitary napkins. When I asked him for some money, he would NOT give it to me unless I told him why I wanted it. What a nightmare that was. As an adult I told myself that it was his right to know why I wanted a couple of dollars. But the problem was the belief that developed when I was just a young teenager who didn’t want to tell her father that she needed pads, complicated by the fact that I believed he didn’t trust me with two freaking dollars to go to the drug store. And so the conclusion that I drew was that he didn’t have to, or want to give me anything extra then what he paid my mother for child support, that I wasn’t worthy OR trustworthy.
I stole my clothes when I was in grades 7, 8 and 9; not because I was a bad kid but because my mother didn’t buy them for me. I didn’t steal tons, just what I needed.
Remember I am talking about my belief system and how it formed. So here was the conflict. My mother had an amazing wardrobe both for work and for social. She has several full length evening gowns and shoes which she wore every weekend to attend the singles dances she liked to go to. She had money for her, but not for me. My mother had a diamond dinner ring made for herself from the diamonds out of the wedding set my father bought her. I knew that it cost her about 750.00 to get that ring made. Jeans were $20.00. How come she didn’t have enough money for me, but she had enough for her?
I learned my “worth” by the messages that I received. I was not as important as her dresses, her diamonds, her boyfriends, her girlfriends. I was in her way and I cost money, precious money that could have been put to better use and spent on herself.
And my father washed his hands of me the day that he left.
Those are the messages that I got, right or wrong and when I write about this stuff, it isn’t for the purpose of exposing my mother and father, but exposing MY belief system. (I don’t have any resentment anymore.) Those were the conclusions that I drew from the decisions that they made, from the things that they did and said. And from those messages, I drew the conclusions that I did about myself, my value, my worth and lack of it.
What are the conclusions that you drew about your worth or lack of it? Can you link it to a message you got that caused you to draw that conclusion?
Exposing Truth ~ One snapshot at a time.
There are many posts on this blog related to the belief system development, self esteem and self worth. Please use the Category buttons to access other posts for further snapshots.