Archive for trauma
“You can’t solve the problems of today by using the same thinking that created them” Einstein
As I started to go through the healing process I realized that there were roots to the feelings of loneliness and that feeling of being alone. I felt let down in a world where I didn’t fit in and didn’t belong and believed I wasn’t worthy of the love that I craved. I believed that I had brought on my own problems that I created the life of depression that I lived in and believed that if I could just figure out what was wrong with me then everything would be okay. I believed this stuff because it had been communicated to me through the actions of other people.
I started to realize that some of the things that had happened to me left me believing that I was somehow lacking and that I was somehow undeserving of the love that other people deserved. As I progressed farther into my emotional healing journey, I realized that my own parents had contributed to those beliefs and were still contributing to them well into my adult life. I was a disappointment to my parents and nothing I did was ever “good enough” and as I grew older I was beginning to comprehend that nothing I ever accomplished was EVER going to be “good enough”.
When I first started this website I never intended to talk about my parents as part of where the problem began. I thought I could just keep it about the belief system development resulting from trauma and I could just sort of keep my parents out of it.
As my confidence grew, I started to write about some specific incidents with my mother and father that caused some of the false beliefs about myself to take root in my belief system. And when I started to get really specific about Read More→
I saw this poster on facebook that said “PTSD isn’t about what’s wrong with you; it’s about what happened to you.” I believe this is a true statement. I believe that we can achieve all positive results through facing what happened; facing the trauma and the damage that trauma caused.
I believe that this is true for all depressions too. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the best term I have seen to describe depression. The name itself indicates that there was a trauma. After the trauma there was damage. The damage caused stress. Stress manifests itself in many different ways; depressions, dissociative disorders, physical illness and sleep disorders just to name a few.
But something happens when people actually try to face what happened. Looking back I can see how hard I fought facing it and how much I wanted to stay in the dark about the bottom line truth of it all. It’s human nature to try to protect ourselves when the truth is too painful. When we are kids it is much easier to cope by not thinking about the trauma and just “blocking it out”.
Quite often there is a terribly negative response from other people in our lives, especially from family when a survivor of trauma wants to face the facts and the truth about that trauma. When we try talking to our parents or our siblings, these people who are close to us may try to convince us that it is better NOT dealt with. We are encouraged by many to let it go, leave the past in the past, put it behind you and the list of these unhelpful trauma directives goes on and on.
Therapists will even jump on board and suggest that you have to “forgive your family” or that we should “try to understand them”, or that these parents “did they best they could” and the problem is that all this is said BEOFRE the trauma itself has been examined and Read More→
I was dying my whole life; I just didn’t know it until I started living.
The fog that I grew up with was almost completely transparent. I didn’t know that I didn’t know. I lived in a false normal and growing up like that was the way it was. It was my truth and my “real”. I didn’t know that there was any other way. I didn’t know that I didn’t know there was indeed another way; most of my life, my reality and my truth were dysfunctional. The adults, the reality all malfunctioned.
And therefore so did I.
That is what living in a dysfunctional family was like for me. Those were the effects of psychological abuse emotional abuse and trauma. That is the effect of being groomed and being trained in silence, compliance, obedience and obligation. That is what happens when a child is taught that their value as an individual is not the same as the value of others. There are consequences and negative results when we are raised in a false normal.
Psychological abuse is at the root of all forms of abuse. It is part of the grooming process. Emotional abuse and neglect makes a statement to a child. Abuse in any form makes a statement about human value. It teaches things that to the child that no child should be taught. It teaches the WRONG thing.
Sexual and physical abuse leave a child living in fear every day of their lives. It doesn’t make “sense”; abuse is incomprehensible and as a child I had to try to understand. Trying to understand something that is incomprehensible as a child is impossible. So, I “tried” to understand “them” for the rest of my life and as I was slowly dying I didn’t realize that my life was being extinguished by the very people who Read More→
Forgiveness is always a huge issue and a hot topic with survivors of any kind of abuse or trauma that was inflicted by another person. A lot of people preach and teach that forgiveness is the ONLY way to personal freedom and recovery. I think that is a wrong. I think being told that is like being re-abused. I think that forgiveness is a RESULT of the healing process BUT I had to set the whole issue of forgiveness aside while I did my healing work.
Because only when I set that issue aside was I able to look at the whole picture from a new angle. I was able to look at it through the grid of the truth instead of through what was being dictated to me and all the false teachings around the forgiveness directives.
As someone who has personally recovered from childhood sexual abuse and dissociated identity disorder as well as multiple chronic depressions, forgiveness was not the key to recovery for me. I understand today that forgiveness is not saying “what they did is okay” and I also understand that there is no point in forgiving someone that 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→
Sometimes I get a comment that is bursting with questions that I just HAVE to talk about in more depth than just a comment back. In my last post “coping methods ~ trying to escape myself” I got one of these comments from Susa.
Susa wrote: “Interesting perspective and I really appreciate reading your experiences with dissociation. I suppose I could refer to switching as escaping myself, but the only problem I have, is what part of me is actually me? Who is really “myself”? I have always spontaneously deferred to a part of me who can more easily handle the specific task at hand, and have never had any control of that process. At this late stage of the life game, I am finally starting to almost be co-present with some parts of me… and yet I, Susa, still struggle with the question of who, or which part is the real me, or the original me? I know that I am not the original birth person, and have only been the CEO since 2006. I suppose the real me would be a sum of my parts, but hard to pinpoint any specific part of me.” Susa ( To read the post and the rest of the discussion read “coping methods ~ trying to escape myself“)
As I read this comment from Susa, several things were going through my mind. One of them was that although I am frequently asked to talk about my experience with dissociative identity disorder, (the multiple personality kind) I rarely do talk about it other than to say that I had it and I recovered from it. I tend to stay away from the subject because there are so many different beliefs about what it is, and how it operates. My opinion is that it was one of the ways that I coped; first with the trauma and then with life, and that in the final analysis, it was no more or less important than any of my other coping methods. All of my coping methods were tangled together to form a huge armoured tank around all my issues, protecting me from the outside world, but in the end also shielding me from the freedom and wholeness that I wanted so badly. All of my coping methods served the same purpose; survival.
Switching was an effective escape; it was a necessary coping method that in the past I had come to understand was about escaping the trauma, pain and or emotions that I was experiencing at any given time. As I grew up I learned to switch at any perceived danger. It became automatic. Anything that was even remotely familiar to the feelings surrounding childhood abuse or trauma, caused me to “switch”, becoming the alter I most needed to be in order to handle the situation. This was necessary as a child. It was not so necessary when I became an adult but I had no way of knowing that. Dissociative Identity and switching alters had become the way that I did life. As an adult, the switching personalities seemed to become more about me becoming whoever someone else wanted me to be, but was still a survival method or coping method due to the fears that I carried with me from childhood into adulthood.
When I came face to face with my dissociative identity disorder, I had those same questions. Who is the “real me?; Which one is in charge?; how will I ever know?” Will I ever find out which one of “me” is the original one? And I got really invested in thinking about all of that. So much so that you could say it became yet another escape. The “original me” quest however became very important to me as I began this healing journey.
I found out that all of them were me. Each fragmented self had arrived to protect me or to take the feelings and handle the fears for me. Each one held its own memories and had its own triggers. Each one had the job of protecting me from the memories, pain and trauma so that I could survive. Some alters were male, some were children, one was much older then I was. They took care of me. That was their job. And I had only even had or been glimpses of the original me or the core because the core of me was the sum of all parts.
I had a lot of fears about who I really was and about which alter was going to be the strongest one in the end. I was really afraid of one of them as I had gotten into most of the trouble in my life with her in the front. I tried to shut her down and one time when I was in intensive therapy I dreamed that I tried to kill her. I woke up from that dream with the profound realization that I had tried to kill myself in a dream. Through that dream I realized that I could not ditch one of “them” and that I had projected most of the self hate, blame and shame onto that part of me. My therapist had a less known method of treating dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality disorder) and the method he used was instead of concentrating on which alter had which memories and emotions, we concentrated on the trauma events themselves and we began with the earliest ones that I remembered. I had lots of alters popping out in therapy, and my therapist just let it happen without giving too much attention to the individual alter. It was more like he treated me as though I was only “one” and then I came to realize that all of this trauma actually happened to me and not to the alters whom I believed were separate from me.
Dissociative identity disorder allowed me to separate trauma events and view them as though they happened to someone else. Because more than one alter personality would come out at each trauma event, I was able to detach from the event on many levels. I saw each tiny moment as separate from another moment. That was how I was able to deal with them. But I did the same thing with the lies that I learned. With all the memories fragmented, it may have been easier to cope, but at the same time I accepted the lies, shame and self blame because I separated those memories too. I believed that I must have done something to deserve what happened because I didn’t have one whole memory. So if someone indicated that it was my own fault or that I deserved it or that I was the problem, I remembered that as a single event too.
As I looked at the memories, and started to connect the fragmented pieces, I realized how many false beliefs that I had accepted about myself in the course of my childhood. As I uncovered those lies and exposed the truth (to myself) I began to come together. As I realized how many lies that I had accepted about myself and corrected them, I began to calm down. As I calmed down, I became more comfortable. I felt like I was growing up. In the calming down, I felt like I was coming together. I was able to become conscious of when I had switched and soon I was conscious even before I switched and found ways of talking to myself that enabled me to stay one.
The trauma happened to me. The memories were all mine. Each personality was me and I was restored, by connecting, facing and accepting the truth about the past.
Please share your thoughts. We always have a wonderful discussion in the comments section!
Note: It is important to understand that it was not the recall of the events that restored me. I do not have all my memories, and I still remember only fragments of certain events, but I remembered enough to realize how my belief system had formed and why. The key was in realizing how I had come to believe so many lies about myself, and was not about remembering all the events.
**This is an example of my personal journey. All processes are different. Many people need to dig really deeply into the personality of each alter; I am not discounting other ways of recovery. I am only sharing how it worked for me.
Related Post ~ D.I.D. and the Essence of who I am by Carla Logan
What is Victim Mentality? I was going to look it up and post a lovely clinical definition, but I thought it might be more effective to just write about what I have learned about it. The term “Victim Mentality” has such a nasty “feel” to it. It sounds like something awful, something that we don’t want to examine too closely, and we certainly don’t want to actually have it.
For many years I thought that victim mentality was when someone thought that they were hard done by, that they felt sorry for themselves, and that they made excuses for why they couldn’t have a great life because of something that was just too hard for them to accomplish or something too hard to get past. I did not think that I had victim mentality, but I also didn’t know what it was. I thought a victim was someone that had been victimized, bullied, assaulted or otherwise traumatized, but also I thought a victim was someone who had been or would be looked down on or pitied. I thought someone with victim mentality felt sorry for themselves. I was getting self pity and victim mentality mixed up. I have a very different understanding of what victim mentality really is, today.
It is believed by many that victim mentality is focusing on what you haven’t got, waiting for things to happen instead of making them happen, finding excuses, blaming others, and other things related to those concepts. For anyone struggling with depression, overcoming abuse, trauma and the resulting low self esteem from all that, this list doesn’t help at all. This list won’t get anyone closer to any solutions. It tells me what NOT to be without addressing the issue of HOW I got there in the first place. I spent years before I really faced my issues, just trying to BE positive; focusing on never having, doing or feeling any of the things on that list. One of the most dangerous results from trying to change my attitude before I knew where it came from was that I learned to take the blame; I learned to be accountable for the mistreatment that I was dealt. I adopted the “positive attitude” that I was responsible for my results, and therefore if I got treated like crap, this backed up the idea I already had; that it was my own fault!
That kind of accountability led me to believe what the abusers taught me in the first place; that I deserved it!
I ended up in a serious and chronic series of depressions.
I realized in my process of emerging from broken into fullness and wholeness, that I had victim mentality all over the place in my life but not exactly the kind of victim mentality that is commonly understood.
My understanding of victim mentality today is;
~believing that If someone doesn’t seem to like me, it is my fault. (and that it is up to me to make them like me)
~When someone says something nasty to me, I think that I have done something to offend them and that I did something to deserve the offensive treatment.
~believing that if I try harder, the abuser will love me and stop hurting me emotionally, physically spiritually or sexually. (accepting that being hurt by them is my fault.)
~believing that the success of the relationship with another person is totally up to me. Not realizing that I believe they can have boundaries, but I can’t.
~believing that love is something that I can earn by being who someone else wants me to be, and spending my energy trying to figure out who that is and spinning about just what they want me to do.
~Not considering my own feelings, hopes and dreams or that I can fulfill them; expecting them to be fulfilled by someone else~ and doing all of the above to try and make that happen.
~and one of the most important points of all… Victim mentality is when I think that I can’t make any changes unless THEY say that I can.
Positive thinking was something that came in really handy and made a positive difference AFTER I sorted out the foundation of the problem. When I understood victim mentality in this new way, I was able to sort things out from a different perspective which was a big key to overcoming the past.
Keeping in mind that this is not an exercise in negative self talk or in adding shame or guilt to our already sensitive belief systems, and in the spirit of empowering each other, will you consider adding to this list of what victim mentality really is and or what it really isn’t to you?
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time!
Related posts ~ I organized my world around Trauma and Abuse
It took me a long time to pick up the threads and accept the true truth about my dysfunctional mother daughter relationship with my mother. This post is another snap shot.
When I was 16 years old the Doctor recommend that I take the birth control pill as a result of some medical problem that I was having with my menstrual cycle. (After I had been sexually assaulted by my mother’s boyfriend when I was 14, I got my period every three weeks for a year and then I skipped if for a year. Trauma often messes with a girl that way.) I had a lot of complications surrounding that whole thing, so the pill was a known way to try and regulate the cycle.
I had trouble remembering to take them and so I kept them in the kitchen where I would see them. Since in my mind they were about a medical problem I honestly didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t keep them in the kitchen of our own home. But my mother had other ideas about it.
My mother accused me of sending out “sexual messages” to her boyfriends.
Lots of men stayed the night throughout my teenage years and often my mother’s current boyfriend would be at the kitchen table when I came downstairs in the morning. I always took my pill first thing in the morning. My mother accused me of “flaunting it” in front of her boyfriends. I remember being embarrassed and confused by her accusations. She didn’t sit me down and explain that maybe I should take the pill privately, that it might give the wrong idea if I had my birth control pills in the kitchen like a normal mother might do. Instead she accused me of purposely taking them in front of HER men. She said I was flaunting that I was on the pill. And although I am angry about this today, I had NO idea what the heck she was getting at back then.
I don’t know how old I was when I realized that my mother was accusing me of telling her boyfriends or hinting to them that I was safe from getting pregnant if they wanted to sleep with me too. It seems obvious enough when I write it out today, but honestly, as a 16 and 17 year old girl, I had no idea that was what she was insinuating. The thought of being attracted to one of her asshole boyfriends and the realization that she thought I really was attracted to them, makes me sick when I think about it now.
I put this whole puzzle together when I realized that she really did blame me for the time that her boyfriend came in my room when I was 14. Realizing that not only did she believe that I had attracted and even enticed one of her boyfriends to come into my bedroom, she thought I would do it again. She accused me of giving signals to her other boyfriends. Even writing this I still feel stunned that the mother daughter relationship that I had with my mother was THAT dysfunctional. And I am equally stunned at how long it took me to figure this out! I had all these memories of being devalued by my mother, but I separated them into single incidents, and never looked at them as one whole picture.
The realization of these things together triggered all kinds of jumbled emotions and feelings in me.
~I felt and sometimes still feel angry, a red hot embarrassed anger; that my own mother would think about me in this way ~ that my own mother still thinks of me that way.
~I feel sick to my stomach that she thought I would “want” one of her disgusting bed mates.
~It made me feel dirty that she really believed that I honestly went after her boyfriends.
~And the bottom line emotion – the one that I avoided feeling and avoided admitting even to myself, was a deep excruciating black and hopeless hurt. It was the pain of a confused and bewildered teenage child, who was molested and sexually assaulted in the night in her sleep, and then blamed for it by her own mother and then for the next few years, was accused of trying to steal her mother’s boyfriends again. I can’t even find the words to express this horrific and degrading truth about how she regarded me.
I could not comprehend this reality for many years even when I began to realize the truth. This was my “MOTHER” who thought this way about me and in reality I was only a child ~ HER CHILD. I couldn’t get my head around it and I understand today how I separated all the incidents and indications as a way of coping with being regarded in this extremely devaluing way and as a way of not facing it. I can see how dissociative identity disorder really worked for me here. It was a way of keeping the memories separate from each other. One single incident is easy to brush off as “well my mother wasn’t perfect, she is only human after all” but all of them together has a different conclusion. A conclusion about our mother daughter relationship that I couldn’t face before.
I kept hoping that my mother would realize that she made a mistake about me, and that she would see me for who I really was and that she would love me but that didn’t happen. I kept trying harder to please her, and I kept each story disconnected from the other stories as a way of surviving the knowledge that my own mother didn’t care about me.
Please share your thoughts and feelings or whatever else you would like to say;
Connecting all the threads;
P.S. Writing this post made me angry but it also set me free a little bit more. I connected a few new “dots” and realized a few more things about my dissociative identity disorder and my mental recovery. I hope that you can take this story and apply it to a situation in your own life, because so many of us don’t have issues like this with our mothers although we have situations like this that lead to an unhealthy survival mode.
WARNING: The comments on this post regarding sexual abuse are extremely graphic ~ some may find them triggering. ~ Darlene
I get asked a lot about “how” I can write what I write. Occasionally I get asked if I use my real name and if my parents are still alive. I get a lot of private emails expressing shock, admiration or awe and appreciation for the courage that I have to write the things that happened to me. So this post is about why I do what I do.
Darlene Ouimet is the name that I was born with. My parents are both still alive. My father is aware of this blog although I don’t know how often he reads it. If he told my siblings about it, then they know about it too. I don’t know if my mother has found it yet but I wouldn’t mind if she reads it.
Emerging from Broken is about the truth; it is my story and the reason that I do what I do is so that others can realize some of the ways we come to believe that we have caused our own pain and that we are somehow defective compared to other people. This blog is about overcoming depression ~ sometimes lifelong depression, by looking at the root causes and how confused we got about those roots. It is about overcoming trauma, sexual abuse, physical abuse, child abuse, psychological abuse, dissociative identity disorder, bi polar, post traumatic stress and every other mental health issue that you can think of. It is about freedom and wholeness and how it is possible to life a full life, and it is about thriving instead of just surviving. It is about emotional healing.
I write because what happened to me was wrong. The sexual abuse, the emotional abuse, the domestic violence, being put down and walked on and bulldozed over was wrong. The way that my parents regarded me was wrong. The way that I was abused and mistreated was wrong and it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t cause it and I didn’t deserve it and other people need to know that what happened to them was wrong too.
When I went through the process of clearing the old foundation and building a new one, I found out that I believed a lot of things that were not true about myself, and those things were in my way. I realized that I was having depression after depression because of those things that were in my way and when I got them out of my way, my whole life changed. I write a lot about my Mom; my mother was not one of the things in my way; it was what she taught me about myself that was in my way. Some of the belief system she passed on to me were in my way. When I emerged from broken, I was excited because I thought my mother would want to live the rest of her life free from chronic depression too. But that was not the case. She didn’t want to hear about my victory. I don’t think she acknowledged it at all. She just thought maybe I was having an affair with the therapist. (Remember I told you that she taught me that my only value was sexual.)
I didn’t ask my mother to leave my life, she left it because she didn’t want to live in a system of mutual respect. She liked the control she had over me. Well that is my version anyhow. Her version would be different. She might think I write for revenge, but this blog could just as easily be seen as a love letter to her. That is my version anyhow.
So to answer the question how can I write what I write ~ well it is the truth that set me free. If I can touch just a few others with that truth, then I have lived for one more purpose. If I can trigger a memory or a thought that strikes a chord with someone else, that enables them to realize a lie that they believed too, then I have done my work for that day. I believe that the freedom I live in today is a rare gift that I believe was intended for each of us to have. I think that gift was taken from us by abusive and controlling people who misused their power. I am passionate about sharing this message; often I feel almost driven to share it.
Sometimes when I hit the publish button on a blog post I feel a bit sick. Sometimes I am scared that my mother will fly into a rage and blame me for her fragile state of mental health, as though my truth has the power to kill her. Sometimes I feel sick because of the fear I had as a child of my abusers and their power over me and the belt my mother used and back then I knew that my parents had the power to decide if I lived or died. But today I don’t believe that anymore; I know it isn’t true anymore. So I write. I write to remind myself that I am free and how I became free and I write to tell others of this sweet freedom and the heady experience of emerging from broken and living in fullness. I write because it reminds me that I am alive and what a gift that life is when for so many years I was dead.
Please share your thoughts, struggles, victories or anything else you would like to share,