Archive for parents
“Putting up with abuse or abusive treatment is not love for the abuser. It is not love for the self. It has nothing to do with love at all. Finding out what LOVE really is went miles towards my recovery” ~ Darlene Ouimet
Long before I ever ‘emerged from broken’ I had this burning question about the obligation involved in loving my parents. I had been told/warned that it was a sin if I didn’t honor them, and I had honor and love all mixed up. I didn’t really understand what either word actually meant since I had never been taught the true meaning of those words. My real question was more about my right to ‘stand up to them’ and since I believed that standing up to them was not a loving action, that standing up to them was going against them which meant “noncompliance” I believed that love was putting up with unacceptable treatment.
Each year around Mother’s Day, I re-visit my belief system and the longings that I had in the past, the judgments that I made on myself and the roots of where they came from; In order to find out what love really is, I had to realize what it was not. I had to realize how I had been taught what love was and realize that that teaching was false and not based on truth or the true definition of love at all.
I had been told that love was the answer but I had not been taught what LOVE actually was. So I took my false belief about love and what I ‘thought’ it was, and I applied that false definition of ‘love’ to everyone in my life.
I believed that loving abusive people like my mother, until they could love themselves was equal to having a higher purpose. I believed that I was ‘the better person’ because I could take the abuse, mistreatment or disrespect and that would communicate that I could love unconditionally. I believed that accepting devaluing treatment in some way ‘proved’ my value; even if it only proved it to God.
The truth is that putting up with the abuse, disrespect and devaluing treatment only served to validate the way they treated me. It communicated my permission for them to treat me like dirt. How can that be love? Sometimes I wonder if deep down they were laughing at me. I wonder if they ever thought “What an idiot this girl is! No matter how nasty I am to her she keeps coming back for more; no matter how I treat her she ‘LOVES’ me!”
I don’t think my acceptance of abuse did anything to serve any kind of higher purpose once I entered into adulthood; I think it served to communicate that these people (like my mother) had rights that I didn’t have which is really what abuse is; compliance to abusive treatment communicates to the abuser that Read More→
Part 2 continues in this 2 part guest article by Pam Witzemann. Please read part 1 “The Process of Forgiving…” for additional information and helpful context.
My Reckoning Journey on the path to Forgiving my Parents by Pam Witzemann
Being able to forgive my parents for abusing me, as a child, came at the conclusion of my healing journey. I found the ability to forgive at the end of a long reckoning process which enabled me to forgive from a position of power that was not dependent upon any action on the part of my parents.
During the reckoning process, which must take place before forgiving an abuser is possible, offenses are named and counted. Damage caused by the abuse is assessed and culpability assigned to those responsible for the abuse. The amount of damage sustained and the number of years that healing requires, determines the length of that process. My process began when I was nineteen. Now, I’m 56 and though I believe myself to be healed, there were many plateaus, during which I believed I had conquered my past. There were many times that I thought I’d forgiven what needed to be forgiven only, to have another layer of trauma and damage revealed.
The first abuser I dealt with was me. It was through my faith that I was able to stop abusing myself, by stopping my self-abusive behavior. Of all my abusers, I think I did myself the most damage but without their tutelage, I never would have thought to treat myself, as I once did. Even though I stopped my outward, self-destructive actions, it wasn’t until I confronted the truth about the other abusers in my childhood, that I was able to stop emotionally and psychologically, abusing myself, by blaming myself for their actions. This didn’t begin to take place until about six years ago. After stopping my self-abuse, I had to assess the damage.
In my twenties, my PTSD was severe and I didn’t even understand it as emotional illness. My depressions were so immobilizing that I thought I had some terrible disease and was dying. My emotions were so divorced from reality that the depression seemed to 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→
I received a comment from a reader this week that just blew my socks off. I was inspired, flattered and thrilled by her words. I was reminded of why I do this work and why I chose to create this website (emerging from broken) in the first place. This is what it is all about! These comments are so filled with life and hope that I asked for permission to share them with my readers because hope for emotional healing was the first key for me. Please welcome Diane and her lovely comments by sharing your thoughts with her and I.
Diane’s comments came in on the blog post “Security Blanket of Coping Methods ~ My Survival Mode” which was written over two years ago in February 2010!
Here is what Diane said:
I found the archives! I didn’t know there were archives, so now I have so much more to read and learn and grow from! Yay! I went through something so life changing last week and weekend and I have spent this week simply allowing the reality of it and the joy of it soak in. I became healed and free at the core of my being from the abuse of my parents..from caring about them and what they used to think of me…from wondering WHY did they abuse me…from excusing them from abusing me…from hating myself to loving and liking myself…and the list goes on! This is what I have been hoping, praying, searching, crying and desperate for!
Last week the puzzle pieces to my childhood all fell into place for the very first time in my life and I was able to let all of the blame and shame and hatred and dislike and rejection of ME GO forever. I now feel WHOLE as a person for the very first time…I don’t even feel damaged! I was crushed like a bug and now I am not. Now I feel compassion for myself…which I have never felt before. I want to heal more and more the bad habits I developed in trying to cope with abuse and neglect and Read More→
It wasn’t that bad. What happened to me wasn’t “that bad” and I told myself that for YEARS. When I was in my early twenties and struggling with trying to quit the coping methods of alcohol and drug use, some of my memories of child sexual abuse were coming up and I was trying really hard to get rid of them without resorting to alcohol or drugs. At that point in my life I had never told anyone (outside of family but they didn’t validate the abuse OR me) what had happened to me.
One day I was having coffee with a friend of mine who I had met in a 12 step program. In an attempt to mentor me and validate an issue that I was struggling with he told me that from as young as he can remember his parents sandwiched him in between themselves while they had sex. He told me that he can never remember a time growing up when he didn’t have sex with both his parents. He told me that by the time he was 5 he liked it and by the time he was a young teenager, he loved it. He didn’t know it wasn’t “normal”. It was his normal. And now he was struggling to learn what the truth about “normal” actually was and to overcome the damage that had occurred in his life. He was having all kind of relationship problems as a result of child sexual abuse.
Although I felt extreme compassion for him, I didn’t hear any of what he was trying to communicate to me. He was trying to communicate that it wasn’t his fault and that his body reacted to being sexually stimulated. He had been sexualized from a very young age. All I heard was how horrible his childhood was and how horrific the child sexual abuse that he endured was. And the biggest thing I “heard” was that what had happened to me did not compare with Read More→
Eventually, at some point in my childhood, I accepted the fact that I was not heard and not going to be heard. I did not consciously accept it, but it was an effective part of the grooming process and I came to understand that it was “just the way it was”. I think perhaps I believed that when I was “older” or when I was an adult, I would have “my chance” to be a part of the world and finally have a voice.
When I grew up however, nothing changed. I had been taught compliance and subservience and I didn’t step out of that role just because I became an adult.
I wasn’t heard so I stopped expecting to be heard. I was not “allowed” the impact that I saw other people had. I had to listen to what everyone else wanted, but I was not given that same consideration. My opinions rarely had any impact. I sought out friends who were similar to me in their own victim mentality and found fellowship with them but I continued to have bosses, parents, boyfriends who communicated that they were more important than I was. Once again with those types of people in my life, I stopped trying to be heard. I accepted that I was not going to be heard and that my voice didn’t really matter. Not having a voice and not being heard had become Read More→
My mother is a victim. In fact, she is the exact same type of victim that I was. She was a victim of her parent’s abuse and dysfunction and she learned to survive in that dysfunctional family system exactly as it was taught to her. She accepted it because she had no other choice and no other example. The cycle of abuse was “normal” for her. When she grew up, it was as though she couldn’t wait to have someone to pick on because she believed that’s how life works. It was “her turn”. Not her turn to ‘abuse’ or overpower someone, but her turn to be loved in the only definition of love that she knew; the false and dysfunctional one that she had been taught.
It was her turn to be right; her turn to have impact and her turn to be heard.
Abusers believe in the system and very often victims believe in the system too. The sick dysfunctional family system seems to have “worked for their parents” so why wouldn’t it work for them? It was the best that my (dysfunctional) mother had to hope for, but only because she didn’t believe there might be something better. She accepted the reality of the cycle of abuse, psychological abuse and dysfunctional family as “normal” and functional exactly as it was presented to her and the cycle of generational abuse continued.
She communicated to me that it was my job to restore her life and her self esteem; her mother had delivered the same message to her. I wanted to “save her” because I believed that if I could prove that I “loved her” then she would love me. This cycle of generational abuse stopped with me when I no longer accepted the role of victim but I also had to stand up to the myth that Read More→
If there is ONE place that I recommend starting the emotional healing process, it is starting with the damage. That might sound easy, but I had to actually find out what “the damage” to me was.
I had to find out how I got broken. What happened to my self esteem in the first place? How did my self esteem get so low? What happened to me? That was where the keys were and those were the keys that led to freedom.
I remember when I realized that my depressions and dissociative issues came from somewhere; I sat stunned, repeating to myself over and over ~ What happened to ME?
I had to look at the roots. I thought that I was born depressed. But the more I thought about it, how could that be?? There were actual events that caused damage and my depressions were in fact related to those events! I just had to see it. I had to finally SEE it.
The biggest obstacles in my way were avoiding looking at how I used by others, how I was objectified and not considered to be equally human, and how I was failed by others. By avoiding looking at the truth about that, I was able to excuse the damage they caused. I excused them because I had to. As a child, survival is of the utmost importance and if we start complaining about the people who are failing us, but are also in charge of our welfare, it is a pretty sure fact that we are not going to survive.
When I tell stories about teachers who were bullies or outsiders who devalued or abused me, I get a huge response. It is much easier to face the truth about someone outside of the family that hurt me and damaged me than it is to face the truth that my parents let me down, but the truth is that my parents knew about the bullying and the way it was effecting me, (I was sick in bed for months) and they avoided doing anything about it until I was so sick that the Dr whose care I was under, figured it out and MADE them do something about it. As I have written before, my parents tried to resist the Doctor, but he threatened to get a court order on my behalf.
If the damage, (including the emotional damage) is excused and ignored… there is further damage. I am saying Read More→
I am important. And so are you.
I have just as much importance as any other human being on this planet and that includes the presidents, movie stars, doctors, lawyers, teachers, my parents, grandparents, geniuses, famous inventers, authors royalty and all others. And so do you.
A job, a profession, or a gift or title does not make some people more valuable than other people.
People are People.
I am special. I am the same amount of special as any other human being. And so are you.
I am valuable. I am just as valuable as any other person on this earth. And so are you.
I have a choice. I had to learn this truth before I tried it out, but today I know that I have a choice about the way that I am treated. I have choices about where I go and who I hang out with. I am not obligated to love. I am not owned by anyone. I can choose to say yes, or to say no. And so can you.
I can think for myself. And so can you. I had to learn this truth, and I had to learn HOW to do this Read More→