The Beginning of Emotional Recovery


Darlene Ouimet and Shadows

When I accomplished something I was told in so many ways that it didn’t matter, it was no big deal, or the credit was given to someone else. This was a big part of my continuing depressions; that I was just so “nothing” and that I didn’t count. I was used to it. Although in some small ways I still fought to be validated, I gave up pretty easy. I was used to being “not important”.

On your journey to emotional recovery and wholeness, have you ever spent any length of time living with the validation that YOU WERE actually a victim?  It was exploring this fact that changed things for me. This was the real beginning of emotional recovery.  All my life I was squished; I was told that I was nothing and that I would amount to nothing. I was told this, not so much in words but in the way that I was disregarded, brushed aside, not heard and mistreated and by the way that I was taught false messages about love and by how I was defined by everyone else rather than accepted and encouraged to be ME.  

I had to realize that I had become comfortable with wrong treatment. Being unimportant and always trying so hard to find someone to say that I was important as I had no way to validate myself (I had no frame of reference for that) I became comfortable with being discounted and unimportant.

I started to beat myself up; I started to reprimand myself about the things I did wrong, told myself to try harder, told myself that I was lazy. I took over invalidating myself. And there I sat. Stuck. Wanting someone to TELL me that I was worth loving, but never believing it if they did tell me.  The big dark secrets of having been sexually abused and chronically depressed had long ceased to be anywhere near what I thought to be the real problem because I was still very young when I believed that the real problem was me. 

I was in my forties when I finally really looked at things from the perspective of having been a victim. Finally, I validated myself as someone that had been unfairly treated; a child who had been violated; an innocent person that had been taken advantage of. A child that had not been empowered to know she had any worth. That was when the real emotional healing began for me.

I stayed there in that place of validation, realizing that I had been a victim and placing the blame of the responsibility in the proper place, (not on myself) for as long as it took for me to get to a new place of understanding. I had to look at my life through a new grid; a more truthful grid and had to validate myself without any self blame, long enough for me to be ABLE to move on.

There were times that I felt guilty and full of shame for allowing myself to indulge in feeling sad for myself and the life that I had lost because of this, but I kept going; it was what I had to do ~ validate myself and the trauma that I went through.  

This was a key part of the journey to wholeness for me. I tried to get over it and let go of it for over 25 years… but until I faced it, relived it and validated that it happened, that it was WRONG and it was not my fault etc… I didn’t seem to be able to move forward with my real life.

The point of the process towards recovery and emotional healing is not to blame ourselves. And it is not to blame everyone else either, at least not forever. I had to place blame/responsibility where it belonged long enough to find a way out of that darkness by recognizing the truth about HOW I got to the state of emotional brokenness and chronic depression in the first place.

How do you feel about this first step in your own recovery journey?

Darlene Ouimet

Related posts ~ When inspirational material triggers self blame

                             ~ Emotional healing and the will to go forward

                               ~ Understanding Victim Mentality ~ A key to freedom

Categories : Depression




Your posts always bring up so much for me I find it difficult to find a place to start. I was made to feel unimportant as a child by my mother always wanting us to be so pleasing to others. I was bred to be a people pleaser and to put everyone else’s needs and desires above mine…I didn’t matter. I have sat in grief and sadness for short periods of time grieving the beautiful little girl that was lost so long ago. It is like she is not me….it seems so foreign that I was actually once a child because my brother, sister and I basically raised ourselves. My father and mother both coming from abusive backgrounds we didn’t have a chance at learning much from them…we were so unprepared for life…it’s no wonder we were all sexually abused…we were easy prey…..I know I was raised by victims and I too became one. Sometimes I feel if I begin to cry about it…I will never stop. The pain of having been molested by an old filthy man makes me shudder at times and causes me to never want to have sex again….the betrayal by your own family is unthinkable, I don’t know if one truly heals from that kind of abuse and betrayal. I totally relate to you beating yourself up about stuff and your feeling of guilt about being sad…it’s like we were told “I am going to hurt you and you can’t do anything about it, you don’t have a right to feel anything about it you have no choice” I think it is the complete loss of choice and helplessness that almost killed me….the fact that this person violated me and no one did anything to help me solidified the notion that I was worth nothing and no one cared anyway….I am crying now because it really hurts that people can treat anyone this way….so, it looks like I have a long way to go on my journey but even through my blurry eyes I will do it….my daughter is my inspiration for healing….thanks for this powerful post


Hi Jenny,
and now I am not sure where to start to respond! You said a lot in this post. I sometimes feel like I in order to get ME back, I fought harder then I ever knew that I could. When I look back on that fight, I am amazed at myself. But I had someone cheering me on… and I think that made the difference. And I wanted to do that for other people. I had someone who somehow showed me just a little glimpse of why I was worth it, and not just ME but why everyone was worth it. And I began to see how I had gotten in my own way and how I had real work to do to replace that rotten foundation that my life had been built on. I had to somehow believe that I was worth it no matter what THEY had convinced me. The therapist helping me really was only a guide, I had to believe it for myself, I had to make that beginning. I had to decide to heal from that kind of abuse and betrayal… It WAS horrible, unfair, wrong… but I was still alive, living in that shame; living like I didn’t deserve better, and THEY assigned that fate to me… and why the heck should they get to ruin my life anymore????
So here is to “a long way to go”… the distance isn’t the obstacle… all it takes is a beginning! You are here. You want something better for yourself, I can hear that. and I am so grateful.
Hugs and love, Darlene


g, Darlene its like ur speaking from my heart…I wish I could explain myself as you well as you explain strange.. I believe thats where I am, forty something and stuck between being the victim and the SURVIVOR moving forward..I know I feel a ashamed or guilty to even say, “IM A VICTIM” the 1st time my therapist called me a survivor, I honestly didnt know what she meant by that…I cried when I finally realized what she meant..I had to keep telling myself that I was…
The worst part for me Darlene, is that I am stuck, I think I need to stay intouch w/my abuse, stop closing the book toward healing, start validaiting, cause truth be told…I beat myself up alot, I blame myself harshly for everything..I keep myself from myself…thankyou for post this..its realy putting me intouch w/alot that needs to be look at…;) Om


I am there now, it feels like I am listening to me, to myself and what I need to do. I found it hard in the past to do this I was not ready now I am and looking forward to the other end. I can see hope. Thanks again for your blogs 🙂


There is so much good stuff in both this post and the few comments that are already here – each note holds meaning for me personally.

@ Darlene – what you describe is in this post exactly where I had to go to find my own healing. I’d sought help from a variety of sources that told me over and over to “stop being a victim” yet no one could tell me how to do that. After nearly 50 years of being told I was worthless and pretty much had no right to exist or even breath and then told I had no right to not like that or feel bad about that like you, I connected with one person who shed a light on the path and I finally understood that by putting responsibility on my abusers AND grieving the losses connected to this, validating my own pain instead of waiting for someone to give me permission to not like what happened to me – that this was where the healing would begin.

@Jenny – your entire comment is just so full of insight and wisdom and I wanted to mention that I also had the realization while I never knew my parents histories or any life details, it was clear to me that they too had been victims. I had a sense of ambivalence around them for a long time that interfered with my ability to place the responsibility (to me responsibility is different than blame:)) on their shoulders. I felt bad for their experiences so how could I be angry with them for mine? Yet it was through being able to stop carrying this burden for their victimness that I’d carried since I was a child and squelched my own pain to ease theirs – this was where I could feel compassion for their life experiences as well as the justified anger and hold them accountable for their actions toward me as adults and parents.

@pattygalloway I so understand what you describe in your note. That was me for the longest time – stuck. And I know how hard it is and for me it was really scary to go down this path but it really was the “truth that set me free” when I was able to begin to validate my own experiences and go through this emotional healing. I finally came to understand what it meant to “go through to get out of” the pain of the past.

@clare thank you for your note – what you describe “I see hope”…this was what I describe as beginning to see there really was a light at the end of the tunnel that I began to see. This became my guiding light, something to reach for. Thank you for that reminder:)

Thanks again Darlene for sharing the light:)


“I started to beat myself up; I started to reprimand myself about the things I did wrong, told myself to try harder, told myself that I was lazy. I took over invalidating myself. And there I sat. Stuck. Wanting someone to TELL me that I was worth loving, but never believing it if they did tell me. The big dark secrets of having been sexually abused and chronically depressed had long ceased to be anywhere near what I thought to be the real problem because I was still very young when I believed that the real problem was me.”

This is where I am and where I have been for sooo long! I find it as a bit of a catch-22. If I can’t validate myself for long enough to admit that things beyond my control happened to me, how can I ever maintain that validation long enough to actually continue recovery? I stopped writing and journaling and everything else that made me feel good because I was spinning in circles. I’d admit it for a moment and then scream at myself for being a “victim” or having a “victim mentality.” I haven’t relived it. I worry that I won’t. I had a facilitator on a “inner child” retreat tell me once: “Why do you worry that you won’t live through it? You already lived through it once, when you were much more vulnerable and had far fewer resources than you have now.” And she was right. But that retreat was more than a decade ago, and STILL I am stuck. It is hard not to beat myself up for that!


That is what made me decide to do this blog in the first place… because I realized that this was the root of it for so many ~ what I understood about the results of the abuse is where so many of us get stuck. We just don’t trust ourselves anymore because we were actually taught not to, being discounted and invalidated all the time. I kept trying to skip this step, the validating myself step. When I first told about one abuse that happened to me as a very young child, my therapist told me that I spoke of it as though it happened to someone else. Over then next few weeks I realized that I felt like it happened to someone else to. when I did connect it to myself I sat there saying over and over; that happened to me… that happened to me. I was stunned to realize that abuse had happened to me. I made a beginning on connecting to myself that day.
thanks for your comments! Hugs, Darlene

Yay for looking forward to the other end and for being able to see hope! That spark of hope kept me going!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Susan,
Thanks for adding so much to this post! I love all your comments!

Hi Lisa,
I am not sure how to answer your question… I wish I knew exactly what a person could do to validate themselves “long enough” other then persisting with the willingness to keep on trying. Like I said above, one day I just realized “that happened to ME”. Shocking that I had the memory, but didn’t realize that was ME, MY BODY, ME that had been invalidated, devalued, used. I had a lot of fear of stepping out of my abuse mindset because it was scary ~ the new world was so unfamiliar… I knew how to live with depression and all that.. but I persisted. I am so glad that I did. please keep sharing. (Oh and we have to admit to having victim mentality, before we can stop having it.. not a comfy place to be, but it is part of the process. Being mad at ourselves for it was at least for me, a big part of my spin. and the purpose of the spin is to keep me stuck.)
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene … I love your transparency girl!! I love that you are brave enough to share the depths of your soul – which is why I started blogging about being abused by my narcissistic mother, who I have learned abuses like a sexual predator would – being sly and secretive and playing that game that ‘she has no idea what I’m talking about.’ ( I felt so alone for years in this type of abuse which many do not understand – when I found you on here, I finally felt understood and even valued. I finally felt like I am not the crazy person! Even though I was very aware what was done to me over and over again, repeatedly … I always second-guessed it, thinking, ‘it’s all in my head,’ or ‘was I really so terrible a person that I deserved it?’ But then I’d remember all these blatant abusive occurrences and would snap out of it.

Two months ago, and coming upon learning about the characteristics of a narcissistic mother is when I realized for the first time – that I WAS a VICTIM! I was victimized, abused, betrayed, manipulated and controlled. It helped me to finally realize, after 10 years, that her abuse was not in any way my fault! I deserved better – I deserved a mother who loved me – who REALLY loved me. Anyone can say, ‘I love you,’ but to actually show someone you love them is where it counts! Even abusers who physically and or sexually abuse can say, ‘I love you.’ But it’s not love – its just words they think will control you so that they can get away with abusing you.

Coming into this awareness has enabled me to finally let it all go – and sometimes its a struggle, but every day I wake up and think, ‘It’s a new day to be ME.’ Every day I feel a tinge of excitement well up in me, knowing I am finally on my way to a healthier, and genuinely happier me. I am finally on my way to being the real ‘ME.’ And I have to say, discovering who you are is a little scary you know – but its exciting at the same time – much like a roller coaster ride! Scary, exciting, stealing your breath away, but yet a great thrill!

Darlene – I have grown and healed in leaps and bounds because of your site and because of the way you share your healing process. Even though I have never been sexually or physically abused, I find that when I read many posts that the way I was abused by a narcissistic mother was very much the same as a sexual abuser in that they make sure you trust them as a child, they groom you into doing whatever they want you to do – they keep telling the message that ‘if you do what I want, then you can have some love.’ Trouble was, no matter how hard I tried to earn it, it was never enough and I never got the love. Abusers hide much of the abusive things they do and say to you so that its their word against ours. I had no idea how ‘genius’ my mother was in her abuse – I think that would take a lot of brain power, thought and effort to do that – unless its something that comes ‘naturally’ to them. I realize my mother was likely abused in this same way, but there is no way to prove it. I asked my mother if she’d ever been abused – no response. I asked her siblings, they said that none of them endured any kind of abuse. Of course, that means nothing because my siblings and father don’t even seem to believe me. They have no idea how much they’ve been manipulated by a master of deception. And it infuriates me that she does this to them – but its their own fault when they are not willing to see or are even willing to listen to me.

The abuse had me striving for perfection in myself in order to win people’s approval – I had this thing stuck in my head that not only was love an earned thing (big lie), but that how I conducted myself would earn me friends. What a warped way of thinking. Thank you for being an aid Darlene, for blowing away the idea that somehow the abuse was my fault.

I super agree with your last paragraph too, Darlene. We can blame them for what was done to us, but there comes a time when we can’t blame them for our present circumstances – we can choose to overcome the pain or wallow in it – and I have to say, overcoming is not instant, its a striving and growing process to do that. It’s not a nice process and some days are hard, but the good thing about it is that now I can breathe without feeling suffocated!


I am in this process now and really can’t wait to get out of it! There are days I can place the shame and guilt where it belongs and then there are days I just can’t get pass “it’s my fault.” I am learning how to validate myself but when you have lived in lies about yourself for many years, I have to break one down at a time…feel it, work through it and move on to the next one. I assume I’m doing the right thing. I never got any positive encouragement in my life and have always felt as a failure, not worthy, not even worthy for me to love. This is a very painful place to in. I wander why my husband and children love me, I wander how come I have so many friends that love me. What is there to love about me? What do others see in me that I am blinded to.


Fantastic comments Paulette!
Just a few things I want to highlight; in working with others I have found what you said about not having ever been physically or sexually abused to be very true for so many! Abuse of any kind is abuse and the root effects are very similar. I was shocked when I met people in the mental health seminars that I was working in to find out that the depression struggles and low self esteem struggles seemed to always stem from some kind of mistreatment and from being devalued as an individual !! This is really an important point.
Thank you for all the compliments and encouragement for the work that I am doing also. I appreciate it a lot!
On your last line I just want to comment for the sake of other readers about pain… I would not exactly say we can “choose to wallow in it”.. I was in pain for many years and I do not in any way believe that I chose to stay there.. I just could not find a way out.
Thanks for being part of this Paulette!
Hugs, Darlene

Kathy =)
I can relate to wanting it to be over.. I felt that way for a long time… but it went the best when I threw myself into it instead of wishing it was over. Everyone gets past the “it’s my fault” in their own time frame. In my case I had to reveal all the reasons WHY I thought it was my fault. When I said them outloud, some of them were shocking. I thought I could have fought off an adult when I was two… I thought that when I dissociated and left my body that there were actually 2 of me, and that we could have ganged up on the perp and stopped it.. Those beliefs were not truthful. I could not have stopped it. These were the things that led me out of that darkness of self blame.
Hugs, Darlene


I’m throwing myself in there…I’m in the process! I like what you said, that you had to reveal all the reason’s you thought it was your fault. I think I’m doing that. I’ve had MANY things come up recently where I can see why I felt it was my fault, why they blamed me, and the shame that my body felt that relates to the (it’s my fault). I have finally quit blaming my body for it’s natural reactions to the sexual abuse. That was a HUGE step for me. I see it now, my body was just doing what it was made to do. I can say that now and not question myself. Now, if I could just not go there when having a flashback or nightmare I would be another step forward. That will come in time. It’s so easy to get caught up in the lies and believe them. I think I’m well on my way of getting through the “It’s not my fault” stage which I think is VERY important and healing and must happen for me to be able to move forward in my recovery process.


Thank you ladies for all the support….I really appreciate it…it gives me enough strength to stay on the roller coaster of my healing..

@ Lisa – I know exactly how you feel…I go back and forth from that exact same spot…it just depends on the day. I was told once by my counselor that you need to tell your story until it becomes boring to you. I am scared to relive it as well. I had so many demons for so long that I just want to be happy in the now…but I guess the only way I will truly be free is to face those same demons so, I can move on. Be kind and patient with yourself….self care is tops I am learning 😉


Susan, I love what you said about there being a difference between blaming and resposibility. There definitely is. Paulette also touched upon the subject. Our parents are to blame for what they did to us when we were children. Giving them back the responsibility for their own actions is the first step in taking back our personal power over our lives as adults. We can hurt for our inner children and we can learn to take care of them and love them today. We can stop hating them and abusing them ourselves. The abuse was not our fault. The abuse was not the fault of our inner children. In learning to love and nurture our inner children, we learn to love and nurture ourselves.

Taking responsibility for what we do with that garbage belongs to our adult self. We can continue to live in victim mode (We had no choice in this when we were children.) or we can welcome the awareness that yes, we were abused and we were victims and we are not going to stay in victim mode. If I am a victim as an adult, it is because I choose to be. The sad thing is until you get the awareness that you are a victim, you remain a victim and you attract people that help you stay in victim mode.

I was 38 years old when I realized that I was a victim of sexual, physical and emotional abuse as a child. I realized that I could stay a victim or I could do everything in my ability to leave victimhood behind.

In order to leave being a victim behind, I had to face my fears. I had to feel all of my feelings, especially the ones that scared me. I had to cry out all of the tears that were buried inside me. (Yes, Jenny, the tears will eventually stop if you allow them out.) I had to feel all of the rage and learn that anger didn’t have to hurt anyone or be dangerous if I felt the anger before it grew to rage levels. I learned that often just expressing my feelings in words such as “I am feeling angry over this.” was sometimes enought to defuse the anger without it becoming explosive. I could even learn to love myself and discover that I did have needs that were ignored by my parents and by the young adult me. I could change all of that.

By recognizing how out of control my thinking was, I could start to build healthy boundaries for myself that said, “I will not be abused by you or by me any longer. I do have needs and I will meet them myself. I am worthy of love and if you can’t love me in healthy ways, then get out of my life.” I wish that I could tell you it was an easy road but it wasn’t. I fell into the mud of my own critical thinking and had to get back up and clean myself off again before moving forward. Every single step was worth being where I am today.

This week my house has been filled with the laughter of my husband and I rather than the rage, hurt and sadness of 20 years ago when I started my journey to wellness and health. I still have things about myself that I want to change and that is okay. I will never return to being a victim again. I will never let another person try to put me in that role. We are all capable of being more than we were yesterday. That is a good place to be – moving from survivor to thriver.


I’m confused about the “inner child-children”. Are you talking about us when we were little? I see myself as a little girl and the adult person I am as one human being. Not two seperate people. I’m not familiar with this.


Thanks, Jenny. Maybe STARTING with self-care might be good…instead of eating too much (read STUFFING), not getting enough sleep, not taking care of my health, not exercising, smoking, etc. Maybe taking even ONE step to take better care of myself might be a place to start. My slippery-slope has been, though, that I take one step, and the demons start, “it’s not worth it, you’ll never get better anyway, what’s the point?” etc. etc. (you know the drill!) 😉 and I quit before I really get started.

Darlene, thanks again for the blog and your welcoming comments. I hope I can keep pushing forward.


Patricia is refering to the ages we were as children when different trauma took place and healing that “inner child”. There are many ways to view the kind of inner child work that Patricia is refering to here. Hugs, Darlene


Kathy, the inner child is that wounded part of us that we each carry inside of us buried away, that part of us who holds the pain of the abuse, that part of us that stopped growing emotionally at whatever age we were abused, that part of us that carries the memories and the feelings of the abuse. That is why I talk about inner children. I have written a series of posts on my own blog recently where I have written letters to my own inner 3-year-old that called herself an adultress and my inner 7-year-old who carries memories of abuse that the adult me doesn’t have. I still have at least one, maybe two more letters to write that I haven’t done yet. Here are the links for those letters if you are interested:

There are other posts in the series called Inner Child Letters Series that you can also pull up on my blog. The first letter to the 3-year-old brought out a lot of feelings that were totally unexpected. The process took awhile before I could move on to the 7-year-old. I haven’t completed the series yet. I haven’t written a letter to the inner 11-year-old me which is when my actual memories of abuse started.

Kathy, I don’t see these inner children as separate parts of myself like you might would with DID. I wasn’t aware of them for a long time because I wasn’t prepared to acknowledge the abuse much less the child me that they each represent at different stages of the incest. For many years, I hated those inner children because I blamed them for not being able to protect themselves or to stop the abuse. I had to work really hard with having conversations with these inner children and even getting them to trust me to protect them today. It is another part of the process of healing.

There are some great books on inner child work that have been written over the past 30 years. I don’t have the library of books handy to tell you what those books were. I gave away most of my original books to others that I thought would also benefit from reading them. John Bradshaw and Charles Whitfield were two of the authors that helped me so very much.



One step forward is where it all begins…I know you can do it. If I can do it, anyone can…


Thanks Patricia, this makes sense to me now! 🙂


SO healing, this!!


Wow. I have started a comment three times and then not completed it because it didn’t ‘feel’ right. This is really a great blogpost and the comments are amazing.
I am realizing I am capable of having compassion for other people but I am very hard on myself; always finding ‘reasons’ why it wasn’t ‘so bad’ for me, and I ahould stop ‘whining’. Intellectually I know that is the voice of the abuser. ‘Stop whining’.

Still fight this feeling that I am not worth healing- that I am just looking for attention….Another voice of the abuser.

I have read and re read Paulette’s comments and another light went on.I did more research, and I think I am safe in deciding that my family revolved around narcissistic abuse on a daily basis.

I have had a really tough time with self sabotage and feelings of guilt in even SAYING I was abused.What I believe is the mechanism here is that through the years, when I did confront or try to discuss situations with key family members, everything seemed to get turned around, and I wound up feeling guilty for standing up for myself and being assertive.

Being assertive on my own behalf apparently was seen as ‘abusing’ the abusers! No wonder I have this weird conflict about guilt, healing, shame etc….What a mess.

Saying ‘Stop; you’re hurting me’, was an offensive affront to the abusers. Wow. No matter what I was always wrong.

So I learned standing up for myself as a kid, and standing up for siblings, would be punished with shaming and convoluted statements thrown back at me about how mean I was ….I learned being good to myself meant I was automatically being mean to someone else, when that wasn’t it at all!

My mother decided my not wanting to stay in the church of my childhood was a direct dagger in HER heart- all about her!
My asking my sister for a temporary place to stay for myself and ten yr old when we were being stalked by my mother’s friend, was seen as an outrageous inconvenience, and presumptious thing to ask, AND it might have made MOM mad at her!So we were supposed to remain in a dangerous situation so mom would stay happy with my sister?!

My family was nuts! These were the basic dynamics in my family.

I was almost literally forced to live in a dangerous environment a good deal of my life because my family wanted to present this image of everything being hunky dory to the world, whilst throwing the most vulnerable in the family under the bus as the price for it.

The hell of it is they pursued my daughter and I when I tried to get us out of it all finally.That is why I said earlier that my family and circle of family acquaintances almost operated in a cult like fashion, yet I do not believe we were in a cult.

So I see I was a victim, and when I did not cooperate as a victim, the stakes got higher and the abuse got greater.The cost of being in a relationship with my family- those that are left- is WAY too high.

Trying to destroy the credibility of someone trying be in a safe place and trying to heal is …I am sorry, evil.Trying to explain to me why I was expendable and so was my daughter- as my sister did, is…beyond comprehension.As if I was going to say.’oh. ok. I understand…Since we are worthless and we don’t want anyone getting mad at you for trying to help us get away from a stalker, well, that’s fine.I understand.Have a nice day..’ And I was expected to trust, love and be nice to this person again? Yet I was.

She went to her friends and told them what ‘a burden’ my mental illness and the ‘fact’ that I had demons was to…HER.My daughter and I were in a terrible situation and SHE was burdened down?

That is basically it. I was almost told in every way that I literally was worthless to everyone in my family, and whether they acknowldeged me as a person, was dependent on how that might be perceived by other people.! They didn’t even try to hide how they felt and acted like I agreed with it. That is insane.

I WAS a victim. I Did deserve much better. I did deserve much better and I am so mad that everytine I tried to have a better situation, the rug got pulled out from under. I just have a really hard time with that.No wonder most of my relationships were brutal, psychologically, and sometimes physically.

My goal is to treat myself better than they did. And to silence their voices with voices of kindness, love, and compassion. I am not going to excuse them any more regarding culpability.


“Being assertive on my own behalf apparently was seen as ‘abusing’ the abusers! No wonder I have this weird conflict about guilt, healing, shame etc….What a mess.”

Wow Elizabeth! You said so very much in your post! But this one that I quoted above….hit home for me in such a big big way. As I’ve learned to stand up for myself and set some boundaries about what I will share with others or allow them to bring into my personal space I’ve lost my family one by one. And discovered that this is very often part of the healing process for many of us who were abused in our families and brainwashed to believe their distress was our fault. It was one thing to grieve the deeds done 45 and 50 years ago but then to realize that to be healthy I’d have to leave my living family behind – that there was no “working it out” with them. It is so great to see you finding your strength and your voice in your posts…and thank you for sharing here…every post here on EFB reminds me that I am not alone and reinforces that it was not and is not my fault no matter what the abusers say.


Elizabeth, in order for your family to continue to operate the way that it always has, it had to label you as crazy so that no one would believe you. That is so very sad. It is so very wrong. You deserve to protect you and your daughter from continued abuse. I am glad that you are here and sharing your journey and your courage with others. It is often true that in helping ourselves we also help others to see their own issues. You are doing that. Thank you.



Everything you described I have seen in my own family…I mean, not the specifics of course, but the crazy-making verbal abuse. I am sorry you went through so much. But I am comforted to know that I am not alone.


Darlene, thanks so much for sharing that. I never thought that I blamed myself because it is not something I do consciously. But just the fact that I discounted and never got angry over mistreatment shows that I must have thought it was my fault. Even as a 40 year old adult, I would not validate my experience because my ex didn’t. Things he did that made others cry didn’t affect me. Obviously, the internal warning system had been so damaged I didn’t even think I was being victimised.

Thank you for reminding me to take as much time as possible to validate myself. And not feel guilty over it. And not feel like I have to justify it. And not feel like others have to do it for me.

Darlene, if you (and others) have done it, it must be possible. I am in tears as I type this now, but I am not looking for sympathy. I am just feeling sad for the girl that was not allowed to be and all the losses in life that resulted because of it.


There were so many things in this process that I had never thought of either. It was shocking when I realized what I believed deep down, that I didn’t know I believed! One of the reasons I go on and on about certain things (like self blame) is because it was such a huge key when I realized that I did it too! I did not validate myself at all, and in fact I was proud of that fact! I didn’t need anything or anyone… (which was part of my survival mode) and the bottom line was that I didn’t think I needed ME either. Complicated… yes, but healing is possible!
So glad that you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


[…] One of my favorite writers, Darlene Ouimet, gives us a blog from Emerging From Broken on the beginning of her emotional healing. She tells it like the process thru healing was for her.  I identify with and learn so much from her–if you don’t follow her you really should.   TITLE  The Beginning of Emotional Recovery :: Emerging From Broken […]


Darlene, this is a great post to share with Carnival Against Child Abuse. Thanks for sharing it.


Hey Thanks Patricia,
I saw that you have one too! (A short Biography ~ who am I?)
I enjoyed reading that too!
Hugs, Darlene



This is such an eloquent post and so important to say. I’ve gone through this too. Until I used the word “abuse,” I just couldn’t see it for what it was. My parents were masters at hammering into my head what great parents they were. They constantly compared themselves to other parents and always came out more loving, more nurturing, more righteous, kinder, and above every other parent around them. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

The lack of self-trust we fight so hard to overcome also has to do with the difficulties we face in staying in the victim state of mind long enough to get out of it. We have to go into the darkness before we can come out into the light.

Social messages of “don’t be a victim” are meaningful only after we’ve allowed ourselves to feel like victims in the first place. We were helpless as children in the face of our abusive parents because parents have so much authority over us as kids. We need to be allowed to acknowledge that with compassion and love.

I had to keep reminding myself through that part of the healing process that I was allowed to be as “childish” as I wanted, as angry and nasty in my rage against my parents as I wanted, as “unfair” to them as I wanted, because eventually I WOULD rise above it and move on. We need to trust ourselves that we’ll know when the time is right to do that.

I still feel anger at my parents’ emotional abuse, and I don’t hesitate to place responsibility for so much of my pain in childhood on their shoulders, but I also don’t feel like a victim anymore because I’m constantly doing little things that I know are healing me. It’s not a straight journey uphill (more like 3 steps forward, 2 steps back), but progress is happening!

Thanks to everyone for sharing your hearts with us.



Hi Rainbow,
Yes, you make great points. Very good points. All of this is true for me as well.
So glad that you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


[…] who writes a thought-provoking, eloquent blog. In a post from November 3, 2010, she wrote about feeling like an abuse victim. Her point in that post is that feelings of victimization are part of the healing process. […]



I used to stay depressed for months at a time. I didn’t know where they came from and it would lift as quickly as it came. It was easy for doctors to convince me that this was chemical. Then when the medication made me manic, it was easy for them to convince me that I was bipolar. I could fit all of my lifes problems neatly into a bipolar box. It was an easy explanation and one that fit my habit of self blame. In the end, the medicatioins kept making me crazier and crazier and when I came off of them, I was no longer bipolar. I was back to square one.

I agree that depression is a coping mechanism. The first depression I remember was when I was 12. I remember hiding in my closet and thinking about cutting my wrists. The khaos in my home was incredible that year and I know that khaos and my inability to cope with it were the reasons for my wanting to hide. I also know that my mom is very good at emotionally cutting me off at the knees. Those are the depressions that lay upon me like lead weights keeping me in bed paralyzed.

I also have depressions when my body chemistry is out of whack but those can be fixed with exercise, supliments, and sunshine.

My depressions are not so frequent and not so long lasting anymore. Even with the confrontation of my family over the last few years, my depression is more managable. I allow myself to hurt and like my wounds but I don’t stay there. I guess I am emerging from brokeness and no longer wallowing in it.:0)


Hi Pam,
That is great! I think you are too!
Hugs, Darlene


[…] post I explained the what’s and why’s of my pursuit of peace, as it relates to ditching Self-Sabotage and Perfection ( or my definition of Perfection) for […]


Hi Darlene
Thank you. For making sense. For bringing clarity. For reminding me I am not alone and despite feeling that it’s pointless, doing the work is worth it.
It’s tough defining the punch in the gut moments, there are too many. Words were cruel, indifference even crueler. Now with 40 a breath away, I start again. Unravel the knots starting with the in my stomach, and learn to breathe for me. I’ve spent my life time trying to prove my worthiness, only to wake up and find myself fighting still. Only this time in a marriage that has brought pain and no joy. It’s hard being accountable for my choices knowing they have contributed towards my charred heart. Harder still staying stuck in a place I do not belong any more. My obliteration was almost complete, from love to family to work to faith. All that I had left was my inner child who keeps crying out she is worthy, and doesn’t know how to get the world to see worth. For the choices I’ve made contradict her.
It’s hard to start from zero when I feel old, used up and have nothing to give. Harder still knowing I’ve put myself here,


This didn’t happen to me in accomplishments, but only in feelings. As in, if I didn’t feel what mom thought I SHOULD feel, I was discounted and in so many ways told I was “wrong.” This led to me believing guys when they told me I was “crazy.” I would accuse them of misbehavior (flirting with other women) and I was told, “it was my imagination.” No, it wasn’t!

Then, when I started working, I became fearful that any cross word said to be by a supervisor meant I WOULD BE FIRED while others just let it roll off their back. I didn’t understand how others could let this roll off their backs, why weren’t they worried?

I still have issues with this.


Hi Karina
It is never pointless as long as we change our goal or understanding about “the point”. I used to think that because it was pointless trying to get my mother to hear me, that there was no point…. But it was when I understood that the point was about MY life and that my worth was not determined by her, (or anyone else) that everything changed. It isn’t the world that had to see my worth. It was me that had to see it.
hugs, Darlene

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