The Beginning of Broken ~ Family Foundations


born innocent with all our value
born innocent and with all our value

~At the heart of my message there is a sincere desire to somehow explain how the broken begins and where the healing starts. ~Darlene Ouimet

Once upon a time in the 1930’s there was a small sweet and innocent little blue eyed blond child who was born into a quickly growing family.  Even before she was born, there were some obvious family dynamics. Her mother had lost her own mother at a young age and had become like a wife to her own father and the little girl’s father was often not around and liked to visit other women.  And those weren’t the only problems.

This delicate young girl grew up never knowing that she was loved. She had no way of learning that she was a wonderful addition to the family. Her mother had not known she was loved either, and I’d imagine that the grandmother before that had the same story. Maybe her mother didn’t know how to show love since she had no example of it? The little girl had no sense of her own worth. No one had introduced her to her value. No one knew how to love. But she was cute, tiny, and innocent. Maybe that was her value? When the marriage between her mother and father ended, her beautiful mother was pursued by men. The little girl wondered if being pursued by men meant the same as ‘valued’, or if being beautiful was the source of value. The little girl had some problems with these new men in her mother’s life. They drank too much alcohol and were creepy and tried to touch her. She was often afraid. She may have wondered if being sexually attractive had something to do with being valuable.

This young girl worked very hard for very little attention and the attention she did get was often from strangers, neighbours and teachers. She was constantly criticized, never validated, never loved and not fed properly. She had to quit school very young because the family needed her to make money. One day her father disappeared and she never saw him again. I wonder what that did to her self esteem.

As she grew up and into her teens, the boys became interested in this sweet young blond haired and blue eyed beauty and of course that made her feel good, special, maybe even loved and valued. There were nasty men who were also interested in her, and that made her feel dirty, guilty and full of shame.

When she was 21 she married a handsome young man. She thought maybe her life would begin now. Maybe he would be the one that would rescue her. But very soon it wasn’t enough, something was still missing. She did not find her value as his wife; he did not fill her restless hunger for value or love. He was more interested in his work. Oh if only she had a child to love her. Then she would have value. She would be needed, loved and depended upon by another human being. Then maybe her life would have meaning. If just one person could love her, she was sure that would mean that she was lovable and she could begin to love herself.

The children came one by one. But children are a lot of work, and sometimes she was prone to depression and feeling that children are too much work and that the children should understand how tired their mother is, how much she has to do for them, how hard this is for her, and they should recognize her value. Children are so ungrateful. Children can be noisy, messy and cause accidents. They seemed to need a lot of attention, and she herself had always longed for a little attention. But she didn’t get it. She demanded her children obey her. She demanded them to respect her, but she didn’t teach them mutuality. She didn’t lead by example. She had an idea about how they should act towards her to prove their love, but she didn’t live by that same definition of love, just as she was never taught love. As in her own life growing up, relationship was barely present, and relationship was a one way street.

She began to have difficulty coping with life, and she needed to take medication in order to get through a day. She didn’t realize that she was repeating the same cycle with her own children that she had lived in as a child. She told her children stories of her difficult childhood, and as they grew up, they felt sorry for her, and tried to help her and assure her of her value, but because of the messages that she had accepted all her life, she could not accept value from an outside source and much to the distress of the children, their efforts failed. When the children grew into adults themselves, she still tried to make them restore her value.

Her children developed very low self esteem and self worth issues. Some of them started to use drugs, some of them got into trouble with the law. They all modeled self destructive behaviour. They went on to have their own issues, having little self worth, failed relationships, depressions, marriages and children all the while trying to find a sense of value in themselves; the same sense of value that their mother had never found; the same sense of self worth that their grandmother had never found.  And I have only mentioned half of the family tree.

As I went through the process of emerging from broken, the single biggest key was in finding and restoring my own value. ~ Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Family



I am frightened that this will happen to my daughter. That there’s nothing I can do to stop it either. She doesn’t deserver a mother like me and I sometimes think, she is young enough to where if I left now, she won’t have to suffer me and won’t remember me as a sad excuse for a person and mother. She’ll have a healthy parent figure from her father and will be better off. It’s like being stuck in a rock and hard place, because I’m told that I can’t leave and that she needs me but then I’m also told that she doesn’t need me she needs a healthy mother. But I am not that person. What is the lesser of the two evils?


Yep, sounds familiar. Mom died when I was 6. Dad was on his 4th wife by the time I was 14 and I began drinking and using drugs regularly then. Grandpa, uncle….drunks that played “steal a feel”, became sexually active when I was 13. THIRTEEN. Can’t imagine my daughter doing that. By the time I was twenty two, there were literally several hundred men I’d slept with.

I started to make sense of it all when I divorced my husband of ten years after two years of recovery. He was an abusive alcoholic addict who hit me often, and words were his favorite, for both me and my son.

I spent two years single….completely single. Never before had I ever done that. I spent it trying to figure out who I was and what I believed in and what was acceptable.

I’ve recently began counseling, started off as my new husbands Problem with sexual addiction, and led back to my own house of cards. Why I am the way I am. What is acceptable. Why I feel or felt no self worth.

And I’m working on it.

But you are right Dar…..it begins somewhere and ends up being a cycle because NO ONE taught me, and maybe THEY didn’t know. But I’m stopping that nonsense because my daughter IS going to know how much she is loved and exactly HOW to love. My son is currently incarcerated and learning it the hard way…..won’t make that mistake twice. I refuse.

Thanks for sharing. You are a gift from God.


Hi D.

I was going to leave my family before I got help and found a good therapist. I had three kids and truly believed that they would be better off without. I thought my husband would handle it better on his own. The thing is that it isn’t about two evils. You can become healthy and it doesn’t matter how young or how old your child is, it is never too late to become a healthy parent. I never thought that it was possible for me to have the life that I have today; all I wanted was to feel okay. I just wanted the depression, dissociation and the turmoil to stop. I just wanted to function. I worked hard to get to the bottom of this stuff, and it is hard work, but it is doable. You can do it too. =)

Hugs, Darlene


Hi Debbie,

It is great to hear that you are putting an end to it. And you can! That is how I feel about what I did. We have to be the change, be the difference. It has to start somewhere, and the core of my message is that I had to take my life back, I had to do the work, find myself, fulfill myself, and help my kids to learn a new way too.

Hugs, and love Darlene


Recovery from incest began for me in learning to love myself. I wasn’t taught to love or value myself as a child. My daddy told me when I was 11 that the only value that women had was for sex. He told me that was all any man was interested in. It is only through the grace of God that I found a good man and married him. By loving me, he taught me to love myself. He also taught me to laugh at myself and the world.

April 22nd, 2010 at 7:37 am

One sentence in this post really jumped out at me: “because of the messages that she had accepted all her life, she could not accept value from an outside source”. My husband was frustrated for years trying to tell me positive things about my value, because what he said ran off me like water off a duck’s back. I felt like I had little or no value and what he tried to tell me didn’t seem to change that one iota–it all felt like lies to me, and seemed to merely bring freshly into focus my lack of value. And of course the fact that I didn’t believe my husband, and rejected what he said, made him feel awful. It was a nasty cycle. I’m glad he stuck with me regardless. Several years of counseling laid the groundwork for healing which really began kicking in full blast as I read Eldredge’s book, Waking the Dead. Powerful book!


Yes, this is so often the case BetterLateThanNever;

I had a girlfriend who pointed that out to me, that I just never heard her compliments about my value. For me I realized that it was because in my life, when I had been “complimented or valued” in the past, it was always because someone wanted something out of me. It was always a “set up” it was not a real compliment. ie: a man came into my bedroom when I was a teenager, he was trying to get in bed with me, telling me how beautiful that I am… but what he wanted from me was wrong and frightening. I learned not to trust compliments.
Thanks for your comment and it is so great to hear that you got help and things changed!


Your is a powerful and common story. The great news is it does not have to have a common or predictable ending. You choose where it goes from here …


I’m sure that the struggles I’m having have been going on for generations as well. What concerns me most is that I have a daughter of my own and hope that I can break the cycle. I struggle every day to find the energy to provide a rewarding, validating life for her. It’s always a struggle though. And I know I should do more by example, and I’m trying, but I still worry. I just don’t want her to go though the same disfunction as I have. And I wonder if the mothers in past generations in my family worried about the same thing. I don’t think so. I don’t believe my mom did. But maybe even if I don’t break the cycle alltogether, I can at least improve things for the next generation.


Thanks Mark,
Your comments are always so “right”. I hope that some of the people here are visiting your blog too, it is so healthy. =)

The healing began with me, and because of my healing, my husband sought help and my children are healing, and although none of it is perfect, by my seeking to heal, I have broken the cycle.


Dear Darlene. As ive only begun reading your blogs,the similarities of our up bringing are so striking. ALthough I have been on a journey of healing, my children from a failed marriage struggle ,suffer,as I did with addictions, relationship problems,depression and are living out the low self woth lifestyle I taught to them.I never give up hope that some day intervention will take place and healing begins.
Keep up the positive posts…..Thanks for the inspiration.



It amazes me how many people are stunned by the similarities. By being on a journey of healing yourself, you can model healing Cal. It is never too late and I am so happy to hear that you never give up hope.
Thank you for your encouragement Cal.
Hugs, Darlene


[…] just accepted that as “my job” and carried that with me into all my future relationships. See ~ The beginning of Broken ~ Family Foundations about my mother’s expectations in our dysfunctional mother daughter relationship. Categories : […]


[…] or that we can be the source of defining value for another. If you have not read my last post “The Beginning of Broken ~ Family Foundations”, please read it first as it gives more context for this […]


“because of the messages that she had accepted all her life, she could not accept value from an outside source”
Yep that was me as well – compliments were like rain bouncing off a tin roof. I say ‘was’ because since I tore down the ‘false belief system’ I had grown up with I can sort of believe them now. I’ts amazing what a difference tearing that lot down and exposing the lies has made. Some way to go though as I have had a very stubborn social phobia for many years and I’m only just exposing the lies that keeps it going, (the standard anxiety treatments didn’t work). Thanks Darlene


Hi Sam
YES! Amazing how different it is once we get down to the facts and get rid of the rotten foundation! And it does take years for all of the damage to get dealt with. I still find many new areas that I work on as I continue to grow.
Hugs, Darlene

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