Archive for Relationship
“When a child has been in a dysfunctional family system, that child grows up with some dysfunctional thinking. It can’t be helped. The dysfunctional ways of thinking in my family system got passed on to me. Dysfunction and mistreatment, psychological abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse all contributed to the survival methods that I had to adopt in order to stay alive”. ~Darlene Ouimet
I have this “to do” list. I tell myself that I am going to get “this much done” each day. I have it all mapped out. But I don’t stick to the plan. I get distracted, I want to chat on the phone, I want to read a book, I want to spend more time on facebook talking to all my peeps and updating the Emerging from Broken facebook page. I want to catch up on Twitter. I tell myself that all these activities are part of the greater goals that I have to spread this message. But the truth is that I am not Read More→
I had to take my life back. I had to stop believing that “they were right” about me. As I got stronger, I noticed things that I had not noticed before. Sometimes I thought that they “wanted” to love me. But something stopped them.
(I thought it was me that stopped them, my defect, my lack but that was not the truth. Always remember, this is a quest to find the truth)
It was as though loving me, validating me and accepting me, would somehow diminish them. As though that in order to love me, or empower me, they would have to give up something of themselves. As though if they were not “above me” or more important than me, then that would indicate that they were not as valuable; as though “equality” is unacceptable and that equality is not Read More→
I had this fantasy that one day I would “show them”. One day I would prove that I was worth something and that they (everyone) had been wrong about me all along. I had always been disregarded as though I could not possibly contribute to a solution or have a valid opinion. I was “dismissed” as though I wasn’t worth the time it would take to consider anything that I had to say. I had always been regarded as invalid in so many ways, which made me feel as though they thought I was “stupid” and I constantly struggled to prove my worth. So I dreamed that I would become known for how smart that I am. I would make some sort of amazing discovery. And the world would embrace me!
And they (the ones that had defined me as invalid; the ones who disregarded me) would be stunned that they had not noticed me before and they would be filled with Read More→
When we are not heard as children, then naturally we learn that we are not important enough to be heard. Every action has a reaction. Having no voice ~ not being heard~ naturally results in having lower self esteem. Trying to accept that I had no voice which equals having no value is not a very healthy place to be mentally but as a child I had no choice in how I arrived at those conclusions.
Believing that I didn’t count and actually accepting that I was not heard lead me to many unhappy places and resulted in many depressions, low self esteem, relationship struggle and trust issues. I made choices based on what I believed about myself as a result of accepting that I did not have equal value to others.
When I was in my early twenties, I met a really charming and extremely good looking young man who I would say I had a “red flag” feeling about right from the start. I ignored it. He was working with the security team in the major hospital that I worked in. He told me that he was a city police officer who had been laid off due to cutbacks. Everyone knew about the cutbacks so I had no problem believing that. I started to date him.
I was pretty messed up about the guy that I had just broken up with because I found out he was cheating on me and I used my pain over that relationship as an excuse to ignore the red flags that I was getting over this new one. And this handsome man said he was a cop… which for some unknown reason in my mind made some sort of difference when it came to trust. By the time I thought about escaping this relationship, I needed police assistance. My beautiful boyfriend wasn’t a cop or anything else he pretended to be. He was a compulsive liar and a murder suspect.
So what on earth made me ignore those red flags that I got from the very beginning?
It is a natural progression to go from believing that I am not worth being heard, to going on to have self doubts such as not believing in my own feelings and not listening to myself; no one else was listening to me either. Can the majority be wrong? Eventually I started to ignore my own feelings… telling myself that my feelings are wrong. And pretty soon I was also ignoring danger signals, because I must be wrong about those too. Although I had trust issues in general, not trusting myself is an entirely different problem then not trusting others. Survivors are groomed not to trust themselves.
I was taught in the cycle of abuse to discount my own feelings. Then I was taught to discount myself and my value. Then I naturally accepted that I didn’t deserve a love relationship that was mutually beneficial, fulfilling or even safe. Remember that this was a coping method. We are not at fault for accepting that we are not valued. I accepted it as a way of surviving. I was just trying to make sense of my life. It is much easier for a child to decide that he or she is “wrong” than it is for a child to decide that the “all powerful” adults are wrong. If we decide that the adults are wrong, where does that leave us? (Abandoned, rejected and even more alone then we already are. When we blame ourselves, we convince ourselves that we have a chance, ie: I can be better.)
If you combine the facts that I had learned to discount myself and my feelings and I had learned to ignore all my intuition with the fact that I learned to accept the false definition of love, it is understandable that I ignored the red flags that I got when I met an attractive man who just happened to be a compulsive liar and a murder suspect. I was flattered that he was interested in me. At the same time I had learned to be thrilled by danger. (abuse grooms you for that too) I only wanted to see that he seemed to be this dream come true kind of guy, very attentive, soft spoken, a real knight in shining armor and prince charming type and I believe that he would sooth my aching heart and he was “the one” who would take me away from all this. (and that was exactly what he had in mind too except that it involved my death) It wasn’t long before he was telling me all his hurts and problems I went from the “treasure” to the emotional hostage, but it was too late. I thought I could love him enough to take his hurt away and then I would be the “treasure again. Isn’t that what I had been trying to do with the people in my life that had taught me that I was unworthy?
On this journey to emotional healing, I had to undo all of the past false belief systems and coping methods and survival modes, in order to get my life and myself back. I had to learn NOT to discount danger signs and my own feelings, intuition and emotions.
Today I don’t ignore those red flags because I successfully re wired my belief system. I don’t believe that I deserve less than anyone else. I am no longer attracted to danger therefore I no longer discount my intuition. I don’t believe that I am the answer to someone else’s pain, OR that they are the answer to mine.
The follow up to this post with the actual story is here: Dangerous Men, Red Flags, Victim Mentality.
I welcome your comments and contributions as always,
related post ~ Emotional Healing and the will to go forward
Here are some of the things children are told which contribute to the development of a belief system when it comes to food and food issues. I have said some of these things myself, not realizing what message I was sending. My point in writing this post is not written to criticise well meaning parents but for the reader to take a look at some of the ways our belief system about food was developed in the first place.
~ “Eat everything on your plate and you can have desert” This message indicates that desert is better, desert is a reward, and that desert is somehow special.
~ “If you can’t eat what is on your plate then I guess you are too full for desert” This message encourages us to overeat in order to get the prize, which is desert, which we have already learned is “better, special and the reward”.
~ “Save room for desert” Often only the adults in the room and at the same dinner table are told to save room for desert. How confusing is that to a child? As children we often have to eat the kinds of food and the amounts of food that THEY decide for us to eat, before we get desert. We think to ourselves ~ “I can’t wait till I am an adult. I don’t have to eat my sprouts, asparagus, meat, potatoes, (or whatever it is that you don’t want to eat that day), AND I can have desert whenever I want. I can’t wait to grow up and get away from controlling adults.”
~ “Let’s celebrate ~ why do so many celebrations have to do with food?
~ “You can’t have this (treat) unless you are “good” ~once again food is a reward for behavior and when we are adults we often consider food as a reward or recognition for any achievement.
~ “You have been “good” so here is some money for candy” I am not saying that all of this is wrong, I am just pointing out how we develop our relationship with food. How food becomes a reward and these things translate into a belief system about food. If an abuser has used treats and food this is even worse.
~ Making children eat food that makes them gag or making kids sit at the table until they finish a certain amount of food ~ think about the message you got when that happened. This is about power and control. This makes me feel like someone is saying to me “I don’t care what you like or how you feel, you eat it because I say you eat it.” This is a strange way to control a child and becomes a battle of wills. The parent always wins. Once again I encourage you to look at the message that you adopted into your belief system about food if this happened to you.
~”Because you disobeyed me, you can’t have desert for a week.”
We see that in these last two points that now food has become a punishment. When food becomes both a reward and a punishment we have a bit of a conflicting belief about food.
What about these statements often prefaced by something like “You would be so pretty or you would be more popular if…?
~ “you would be so pretty if you lost (or gained) weight. You would be so happy if you lost (or gained) weight” These statements are loaded with innuendo and insinuation and come with additional info such as “you would be so happy if you cut your hair or grew your hair, if you stopped wearing makeup, or started wearing makeup; if you smiled more” and “You might have a boyfriend or girlfriend if you lost weight” All these statements indicate that you are not acceptable the way that you are. They teach us that we are not loveable unless our bodies, our hair, our clothing and our image, is a certain way! And we don’t even have an understanding of WHAT way. This big lie that we are not acceptable lives way deep down in our subconscious and cause problems that we don’t even begin to be aware of, tearing at our self esteem and destroying confidence.
Please add the things that you have heard or been told that contribute to mixed messages and a faulty belief system about food and food issues.
Exposing Truth ~ one snapshot at a time;
When I try to conform to what other people want, I realize that I am rejecting myself the same way that I have been rejected by others. I can decide (even subconsciously) that I don’t see the point of trying or that it is too hard to stand up for myself, but that leaves me feeling the same way that I have always felt; empty, unsupported unlovable, unworthy and not good enough.
Rejected and emotionally abandoned.
Loving myself has so much to do with being there for myself. It has so much to do with not leaving myself the way that I was emotionally abandoned by others.
Rejection is not just when someone says “get out of my life”. I was rejected by every single boyfriend that I ever had although I was always the one that left the relationship. I didn’t understand my deep feelings of turmoil in those relationships. I didn’t see the reality of not being accepted. I didn’t realize how hard I tried to conform and comply. I did not realize I had experienced emotional abandonment again. Sometimes I didn’t even understand why I gave up and left.
And I was left with this huge feeling of restlessness about my life and why things didn’t work out, always sure that it was my own fault always looking to change myself, my reactions, my way of doing life. But in reality, I was always rejecting myself the same way that I was being rejected. Every time I saw the need to change me, I was agreeing with them. I was agreeing that the real me was somehow “wrong,” every time I tried to conform in order to make someone else happy.
All of this was combined with the underlying questions about why I was not accepted and trying to understand why I always had to change, and why I was still being rejected and abandoned emotionally by others, even though at the same time I was willing to accept that it must be me who had the problem.
Today I realize that when people asked me to conform to their ideas of who I should be, that’s rejection. When people asked me to be who they want me to be, they are rejecting who I am. They are rejecting who I was born to be; my individuality.
When people who are supposed to love you do this, it cuts really deeply and it is very hard to understand. When we keep trying to meet someone else’s expectations that is the same as rejecting of our own desires. We don’t understand it this way because we have learned that we MUST conform and comply as a child in order to survive; which is a true fact. In order to find freedom and wholeness however, I had to realize I am not a child anymore. When I began to understand this concept I made big progress in overcoming depression and dissociative behaviour.
When I was a child I had to do whatever was necessary for me to survive. I had to try harder to be what they wanted, to please, to make everyone happy. What I am saying now though, is that I had to realize that I am not that child anymore. The truth is that I do not need to conform in order to survive. The truth is that I do not need other adults to take care of me; my survival is not dependant on anyone else anymore. I am not a pawn in someone else’s game.
I had to realize this truth; I can take care of myself now. Then I had to learn to honour myself, to value and appreciate myself for who I am, so that I could “be there” for me. I had to stop rejecting myself in order to accept myself. I had to realize that in all of this learned behaviour, I had become the one who was emotionally abandoning me.
Looking forward to your comments on this one!
From surviving to thriving on the journey to wholeness;
Related Posts : Click ~ Who am I ~ will I like me?
I remember the day that realized that I was no longer attached to my former identity. My former identity is the identity that was given to me by my family and almost every significant relationship I ever had since a very young age with the exception of a few special girlfriends and maybe a couple of adults along the way. It was how I had come to think of myself, how much guilt and shame that I carried for things that had happened to me and the way that I believed I was not loveable, that I was not good enough and that something about me was just “wrong”. That identity no longer resonated with me. I knew that I was no longer who they said I was. My identity crisis was over, I thought. I was certain that the little voice in my head would go away now. That little voice that whispered every time I accomplished anything; “who the hell do you think YOU are?? Everyone knows you are nothing, everyone knows that you are an imposter and anyone who doesn’t will soon find out”. I was certain that voice would shut up now and that I would never have an imposter issue again! (Unfortunately this was not the end of that issue, but let’s save that for another blog post later on)
I remember that the exact moment I realized that I was no longer who they said I was; that I was no longer defined by them. I felt euphoric and immediately empty. I felt like I had reached a goal, but something was missing. I felt amazing and terrified. I felt free and blank all at the same time. Full of real fear I questioned my therapist; “well if none of that is who I am, then who am I?” It felt scary, dangerous, foreign, lonely and somehow clean, all at the same time.
Prior to this day, in my mind’s eye regarding the process of recovery from all my depressions and dissociative identity etc, I had visions of huge construction equipment digging up buildings, rotten foundations and roots that were miles deep. At first clearing this wreckage ~ what my life had become ~ seemed overwhelming. I didn’t think I could do it, there was so much debris to deal with and the mess went so deep. Sometimes I even pictured huge floodlights so the work could also be done in the dark, as though there was no rest from it. It seemed to go on and on, the things I found in the digging were sometimes shocking, sometimes frightening, and sometimes so enlightening it was like finding diamonds! Most of the time the shocking and frightening stuff eventually was so enlightening that it was like finding treasure too. I found the truth! It was exhausting but somehow I kept going.
Now, on this new day in my mind’s eye I pictured a huge area of land that has been cleared of all trees, structures, garbage, weeds and rubble The land was all smoothed and prepared and the huge construction equipment had been taken away. This new foundation was ready and waiting for me to rebuild on it. I felt shaky at first, as though like a baby, my legs were still wobbly. I was curious about who I would find on this new leg of the journey to discover the real me. Would I recognize myself, and even more frightening, would I like myself? There was still that little voice inside, asking “what if they were right about me”? What if the people that had defined me all my life were right about me after all”? What if I can’t do me? What if no one likes the real me? What am I going to find out next?
Feeling blank has many fears.
The following months were in many ways no less complicated than the prior months in therapy, they were just different. I had to learn how to live in my new belief system, and sometimes it was uncomfortable. I tried new things, and almost everything I did felt like I was doing it for the first time, because I had changed all those old beliefs and I was not the same person anymore. Sometimes I wanted to run back to the old life! At least it was familiar and even comfortable there. At least I knew how to function there.
As I got to know myself, my happiness increased. I felt free, alive, brilliant, strong, dynamic and reborn. I began to feel comfortable; like I was really alright, and in fact I was “right with myself”. I felt like I finally knew what it means to feel like I was who I was meant to be. I was able to impact others in ways that I never did before. I started to feel purposeful and fulfilled. Today I continue to become more and more comfortable in my own skin, more alive, more able to live life fully and to flourish and thrive. I become more “ME” with each passing day and I love who I am!
Please share your own stories, feelings, fears and victories as we travel this road and celebrate our discoveries.
When I began to stand up for myself, the people around me were in shock and they didn’t like it. When I think back on it, why would they like it? In the past I tried to bend over backwards to do whatever they wanted. I agreed with whatever they wanted me to agree with, and if I didn’t agree I kept my mouth shut about it. I cooked what they wanted and I cooked when they wanted. I complied, just like I had learned to do as a child. I believed that my compliancy made me likeable. I believed that it kept me safe. I tried to be all things to all people, but I denied even to myself that I was doing it. I thought that I took care of me too. I assured myself that I liked living that way, that I was a servant of God, that I was selfless and generous with my time. That is my definition of dysfunctional relationship today.
Everyone was used to that Darlene. Everyone liked that Darlene just the way she was. Why would they want me to change? Most people, from the minute they met me they wanted me to be someone else. They wanted me to adapt to who they wanted me to be. And then it wasn’t good enough anyway. They wanted me to be what they wanted but they didn’t even know what they wanted. More definition of dysfunctional relationship.
For several years I thought about going to therapy, but I didn’t want to spend the money; I viewed it as “taking money away from my family”. I also had a belief that I couldn’t spend the time on myself, that I was raising three kids and that to invest time on working on me and my issues was selfish. But things got bad enough that I felt I had no choice. It was either do some work on myself, (and feel selfish) or lose everything I had anyway.
First person that I stood up for myself with was my husband. It was freaking scary! I told him that I wanted to stay in therapy and he didn’t want me to. He said that we couldn’t afford it but I think it was because he didn’t like that I was changing. He liked things the way they were ~ his way. I told him that I was going to finish the whole process. Period.
Another big thing in the beginning was when he made a reference to something I wanted to do and he said that it had nothing to do with “us”. When asked to clarify he said that it had nothing to do with our goals and dreams. I told him that he had never once asked me what any of my dreams and goals were. He was well into his dream/goal and plan for his business as a beef cattle and hay producer when he met me and he just assumed that I should be part of it with him, so I was, because that is what a good wife does I thought. I thought I should become his support, you know, stand behind him. This was fine for a while, but I gave up everything that I liked in favour for what he liked. I no longer thought about myself as an individual. But I felt like I was suffocating under his life. There was nothing of ME left unless it was what he wanted me to be. So raising the kids and being involved in church groups or teaching Sunday school or activities with our kids met with his approval, but spending time on the computer or visiting a friend out of town was not acceptable.
As I started to grow stronger in therapy I realized that I was really held back by everyone my whole life, including my husband. So in order to live in the change I was trying to achieve, I told him. I remember how the truth of this statement (that he never asked about my dreams) shocked him. I still remember his face when I said it while we were in a joint therapy session. He looked angry, he genuinely did not understand why I would want to do or even be anything separate from him. He expected marriage and a marriage partnership to be just like the one that was modeled for him, the one between his mother and father. That was his belief system. And because I was used to being what others wanted me to be for most of my whole life, it was easy to find myself in this situation in my marriage too. That was my belief system.
Because we were in a joint therapy session, and because we had the help of the therapist to guide the conversation, my husband was willing to listen to me about my feelings and he realized that it was true; he had not considered my dreams, just as his father had not considered his mothers dreams, goals or wishes. He just expected me to join his dream, to be part of his goal, to work towards it with him ~ for him ~ but not to have a separate dream for myself. He thought love was ownership. He treated me like he owned me and he even thought it was his right as a husband. I thought I was happy to live that way, because I thought it was the definition of love and relationship, but I was dying and our marriage was dysfunctional. There was no equality, there was no partnership.
The truth is that I had never even asked myself what my dreams and goals were, because as I described in my last post, I was trying so hard to guess what everyone else wanted me to say, who they wanted me to be, what they wanted me to do. But somehow I realized that I had to start to find out who I was if I was going to break free of the oppression of depression. It I was going to finally wake up and live. And I was going to have to learn to stand up for myself in the true definition of love and relationship.
Eventually my husband and I realized that we had become part of a cycle of psychological abuse and dysfunctional relationship passed down through the generations and that we had to stop it in order to prevent it from being passed on to our own three children. We realized that we had modeled our belief systems to our kids, just as our parents did for us and it was time for us to grow up and learn the real definition of love and model that for them before it was too late.
Real love does that.
Not everyone is willing to change like my husband was though; stay tuned for more reactions.
As always, please share your comments and stories of your own.
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time.
“If we repeat a lie over and over we will eventually accept the lie as truth. Furthermore we will believe it to be the truth” Napoleon Hill
Think about this quote from a different angle; if we are told over and over again that we have false memories, that we were or are too needy, that we are wrong, difficult, an instigator or trouble maker or even if we are repeatedly told we are crazy, what impact does that have on our self image? What about our mental health and self esteem? If we are told that our expectations were or are too high or that we deserved what ever happened to us such as beatings or punishment or public humiliation. I was told that I couldn’t take a joke that I was too sensitive and this was their excuse for their behaviour, which makes it still my fault or weakness ~ oh the list goes on. Do you think that this could be at the roots of depression, anxiety or stress disorder?
I didn’t think about this before I “emerged from broken” because I was too busy trying harder, trying to be what they wanted and trying to get approval and love, that I didn’t realize that **I** was not really the biggest problem at all.
When I talk about living in the truth, and standing up to abusive behaviour, there was an order to it. First of all I had to realize what the lies were. Was I really crazy? Was what I was upset about really an unreasonable thing to be upset about? Was I needy? Were my expectations really too high? Did I really have false memories; did I make up or even exaggerate the abuse and the way that my feelings were discounted or the way that I was humiliated in front of others? Is respect a two way street? Was it right or fair that the burden of the relationship should have been completely on my shoulders? I didn’t think about the truth this way before. When I was able to really see that these were all the lies that I believed about myself by acknowledging specific situations and seeing them through a different grid of understanding, I was able to see their origin and begin to change my belief system about them. This is key.
It isn’t so much that I confronted the people who held me back and devalued me, as I just stopped accepting that kind of behaviour in my life. This took some time; the fog didn’t lift over night, it was like one layer at a time. I had to stand up to my husband first, because I lived with him. The first time I said anything to him I simply told him that I was going to continue my therapy for as long as it took (he didn’t approve) and that I was no longer willing to live the way we were living as though only his goals and wishes were important and as if my purpose was to make things easier for him. I was terrified to say it. I had an anxiety attack just saying that much. He ended up having to get his own help with his own belief system and realize his own truth in order for him to change only then could we work together to heal our broken relationship. This took time and the fog began to clear with the rest of my relationships.
A couple of YEARS later I started to set bigger boundaries. I stood up to my older brother once. I never got a second chance. I didn’t get very far in talking to my mother about my abuse or my difficulties with our mother daughter relationship because she slammed the door on it. That is the chance that I took though and I never realized how much healing and freedom was on the other side of even that. The truth in what my mother did by not wanting to continue the talk was that I finally knew that she really didn’t really care enough. It was her, not me. In our last conversation, she told me that she would see a therapist with me, but she never called again. I was finally ready to face the fact that she didn’t really care. In a way this gave me permission to be so public about it.
The truth set me free to be who I am and to live in a way that impacts others for their own truth and freedom.
My Father was a very passive man who seemed to be very happy with his job, his family and his life in general. He didn’t beat me or abuse me in any other physical way, but he didn’t bother with me much either. As a child I didn’t recognize that I had to work hard at getting his attention. I didn’t realize that I was inventing things like nightmares and tall tales in order to get a response out of him. I was just a child wanting my father to notice me. Ironically, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I was constantly reprimanded for doing things to get attention.
My father was very well liked; in fact he was popular. He was known for his jokes and stories and for his ability to entertain everyone with his singing and guitar playing. When it came to me however, he withheld. When it came to me, he didn’t seem very interested in being my father. My Dad withheld his interest in me and his attention from me. He did not offer input into my life; there were no discussions about school, boys, hobbies, friends or any of the other things I heard and imagined other girls talked about with their Dads. My father was not emotionally present. I don’t recall resenting this fact; I didn’t know anything different. This was just the way it was.
My father also withheld everything from emotional involvement to simple conversation from my mother, which is likely the real reason that they eventually divorced. He just tuned her out. When I was younger, I believed that he got tired of her extreme ranting and nagging; that he left her and she deserved it. The real truth is that she tried so hard to get his attention that she got a little bit crazy after years of having little to no impact. My point is that as the child of that marriage, I thought that was how life and relationship worked. The wife or girlfriend tries harder and harder and the husband or the guy is just the way he is. If there is failure, it must be the women’s fault; my fault. I didn’t think about my father’s passive behaviour as a contributing factor to a failing relationship, contributing to both the failure of his marriage and the failure of his relationship with me. I didn’t question the inequality of the responsibility. I didn’t know that this was passive abuse, and I certainly didn’t know that passive abuse is as destructive as any other type of abuse.
This laid the foundation for me to be attracted to men who made me work to be noticed by them. My relationships with men never started out that way, but they always seemed to quickly end up that way. I didn’t realize that relationships were a two way street because I alone carried the burden of the relationship with my own father. Not only was I willing to take the entire burden of the relationship responsibility, but I didn’t know I was doing it. Part of the reason that I tried so hard without realizing I was doing so, was because I had always had to. It was what I was used to. I had no frame of reference about what a healthy relationship was. From my experience, I only knew that I had to try harder.
I had to learn what a relationship was before I could have a healthy one. Just like in all other areas, I had to learn the truth before I could live in it. I didn’t know that I was just as valuable as everyone else or that the burden of all relationship shouldn’t be on me. I didn’t realize there wasn’t equality in the relationships that I had, just as I didn’t know that there could be equality in relationships since I had not seen an example of it.
Learning to accept abuse, even passive abuse, rarely begins in adulthood.
I welcome your comments on this post, and look forward to your opinions.
Bright sunny blessings,
p.s. it is not my intention to suggest that males that grow up in the same type of home do not suffer from these same issues.
The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing. Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing –