After a lifetime of Invalidation Self Love Began with Self Validating



Darlene Ouimet

It was so important for me to believe that my childhood had in fact been difficult. I had been brainwashed that my childhood was wonderful, normal and that I was one of the “privileged” people in the world.  I believed that something was wrong with me because I had so many struggles with depressions and emotional issues.  I felt guilty that I was so unhappy because I had been convinced that I was so fortunate to have grown up in the family I had. I believed that I had wonderful, hard working parents who did their best for me. I constantly looked to those “less fortunate” in order to beat myself up about how “ungrateful” that I was.

I bought their definition of “normal” hook, line and sinker.  No wonder I always felt like I was drowning.

The way that I was raised was not healthy nor was it “normal”.  But how was I to know that? It was my normal. It was all I knew. I had no frame of reference for any other way of life.  I had to face that although I had been “told” that I was a liar and an exaggerator, I did in fact know the truth about at least some of the things that had happened to me and that those things were wrong. I had to listen to myself. I had to believe myself. I had to validate the pain that being devalued, dismissed and treated as “not quite valid” as a person had an effect on me. A lasting effect. There was damage done. TO ME.

I deserved to heal, but first I had to believe that I had something I needed to heal from. I had to believe myself regardless of the lifelong message that I had nothing to complain about.  I had to validate my story. I had to validate my pain. I had to validate ME and stop waiting for someone else to validate me.

This was the beginning of healing for me.

I was in my early 40’s the first time I connected that the sexual abuse in my childhood had happened to me. I had effectively separated those events from myself.  I dissociated (hence the term “dissociative identity disorder) and dissociating enabled me to cope.

(Regarding Dissociative Identity Disorder and Multiple Personality Disorder ~ not everyone who has dissociative identity disorder or dissociative issues, fragments into alter personalities. Many people who have dissociative identity do just that ~ they dissociate from their identity. They disconnect from themselves without developing other personalities to cope “for them”. The dissociation in itself is the coping method.)

I also developed multiple personality disorder (now known as dissociative identity disorder), which means in my case, that I fragmented or split into multiple personalities as a method of survival. The first time I realized that it was MY body that was violated I sat stunned, repeating over and over again; “That happened to me… that happened to ME!”  I finally connected one horrible and frightening event to myself. I was shocked that I’d never realized that it happened to ME and in fact I was realizing it for the very first time.  I had effectively disconnected myself and my body from the feelings and the pain and even from the truth.

Furthermore I convinced myself that because I had split into “more than one person” that the abuse did not actually happen to me, but instead, I believed that it happened “to them”. I believed it happened to “those alter personalities” inside of me. I personally disconnected from it. I disconnected from myself. Although as a child, having dissociative identity disorder was what kept me alive and it was how I coped and survived, it was also what was in my way as an adult. 

In order to move forward and out of survival mode, I had to face what caused me to go into survivor mode.  I had to face what caused me to fragment into multiple personalities. I had to shift my focus from being fascinated with my alter personalities, to realizing where they came from and that each of them was really me and that each of them held memories of things that happened to ME. Then I had to connect myself to the memories I had.  

I was afraid of the pain. I was afraid to “go there” and take a look.  I was afraid of the feelings. I thought I could just keep going forward and forget that stuff from so long ago. But my depressions increased. I was withdrawing from life more and more so my quality of life was poor. My children were beginning to suffer from my dissociation and dissociative identity issues and my children were getting old enough to realize that mommy was often “somewhere else”.

 Deep down I thought the “truth” might kill me. But when I thought about it, all my life I had been taught to deny the truth. I had been taught that feeling the pain was never an option. That is why I dissociated.  I was surprised that the pain of facing the past was never as bad as the pain that I had been living in for so long.  I was exhausted from the energy it took to avoid facing the past. My depressions were getting worse because of all that denial! In facing it all, I found my identity and I was able to overcome all mental health issues.

It is so important to talk about abuse ~ ALL abuse. It was so important for me to talk about what happened to me. In talking about it I was able to hear myself and realize that it had been wrong. It was important to talk to an understanding person.  Since my family had invalidated me all of my life, they were not the people to tell. I was careful not to talk with people that would tell me that I had to forgive. (because that was invalidating) I was careful not to choose people fond of expressions like “the past is in the past” or “just get over it”. (because that was also invalidating) The goal was to validate that what happened to me was wrong. The goal was to affirm that there was damage that there was a reason that I had been struggling. The goal was to realize that my chronic depressions came from somewhere. I found out and embraced the truth that my depressions and dissociative identity issues had a root cause.

By looking at the truth and validating myself, I affirmed that I needed to heal and that I had a right to heal.  I needed to validate that the things that happened to me did happen and to FEEL the feelings that I tried to avoid most of my life. It was in facing, validating and feeling those feelings that I found healing, wholeness, and freedom.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and feelings here.  I look forward to your feedback.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time

Darlene Ouimet

All the “how” I did this has been compiled into a 197 page e-book “The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” and is available on the upper right side bar of this website. 

Click on the blue links in bold print to visit related articles


92 response to "After a lifetime of Invalidation Self Love Began with Self Validating"

  1. By: Melinda Posted: 2nd November

    Also, to validate myself means knowing that my behavior in response to things wasn’t the cause of all the problems…it was a SYMPTOM of how I was being treated.
    It doesn’t excuse poor behavior/actions on my part but it shows that I was often pushed to my limit because of how I was being treated and the failure of others around me to see where THEY were wrong.
    I was always to blame; it was always MY fault, that was the general idea.
    That is a huge part of being invalidated, when you are constantly made to feel that YOU are the problem and everybody else is completely innocent.

    It places the burden of shame and self-doubt on us when really, some people should be looking at themselves.
    My mom once screamed at me that the reason she and my stepfather fought so much was because of me.
    Imagine telling your only child that they are to blame for issues with your husband, issues that certainly are NOT the child’s fault. It never dawned on her that maybe the real problem was my stepfather and his nasty attitude toward me, and the fact that she allowed him to be hateful.
    No…it had to be my fault. And I could tell more stories about people blaming me entirely for things without ever looking at the whole truth, but I’ll stop here.
    Being able to validate ourselves brings so much mental and emotional freedom. It really does.

  2. By: Melinda Posted: 2nd November

    Amen! I adore my mother…she is truly wonderful in many ways. However, it seems that when I try to speak the truth about my childhood and also issues with my stepfather and other things about my life, she is quick to shut me down with a defensive attitude.
    It seems that my family and I have VERY different views about things, esp. when it comes to me.
    When my mother told one of my aunts that I had experienced sexual abuse from kids at school and others, my aunt said (about me): “she must have been dreaming”. That’s the kind of bullshit I’m talking about when it comes to being invalidated.

    Another time I told somebody about when I was a teenager and my stepfather, in one of his rages, shoved me into a door.
    Her response? “What did you do to make him mad?” I have rarely been able to tell anyone anything without being questioned or invalidated. So for a while, being quiet was safer than opening up and sharing my truth.
    But silence hurts. I won’t be silenced anymore.

    I also have a cousin whom I dislike for many reasons but what I dislike most about her is the tendency to invalidate anything I say.
    She has called me a “liar” and acts like she knows all about my life, my experiences, etc.
    She is the golden child of our family while I am the scapegoat so naturally, she likes to put me down and act as if she is smarter than me.
    I’ve distanced myself from people who want to treat me this way because I’ve had it.

    You are right…we don’t need others to validate what we KNOW for ourselves.
    I don’t care if anyone is skeptical or doesn’t believe that my stepfather mentally/verbally/emotionally abused me for years because I KNOW he did.
    My mother likes to pretend that I had this perfect childhood where nothing traumatic ever happened and I was treated like a princess. Just the other day she was saying how I never wanted for anything, she bought me this and that, etc…but that simply isn’t true.
    We often struggled to make ends meet because she was a single parent. And there is more to raising children than food, clothing, education, a roof over their head and the occasional gift…you have to take care of their emotional needs too.

    My mom didn’t want to do that. I could never talk to her about problems I had. She would complain about me hiding things from her but she didn’t make herself available to talk to.
    As a teenager, I wanted to be able to really connect with my mother but she (and the rest of my family) continue to treat me like a child who knows nothing about life.
    When she found out about something I did years ago in my twenties, her only real concern was that people would talk about her.
    She wasn’t looking at what pushed me to make certain choices at that time in my life. That would require a lot of reflection on her part in the whole situation, the way my stepfather treated me, etc.

    Since 2014 my depression has returned because of some things that happened.
    I can’t talk to my mother because she changes the subject or doesn’t want to understand why I feel this way.
    Worse, she and others will talk about how I’m “silly” and “emotional” and “sensitive”.
    And that I should just get over it…the typical invalidating responses. So you are right, we have to learn to validate ourselves if others won’t.

  3. By: Sue Posted: 16th November

    I too have been invalidated my whole life. I was always trying to fix “problems” in my family of origin that stem from the cause no one wanted to admit in my family. My dad was severely mentally ill. He could hold a job but that was about it. He had a psychotic break when I was 3…paranoid schizophrenia and never got adequate treatment. He became obsessive compulsive and also I believe anorexic after he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. My mom tells me all sorts of things about my dad…that he heard things…that he wouldn’t get a pace maker…that he didn’t want my younger siblings because he wasn’t thinking right. Then when I would bring them up to her she would deny everything or minimize things…dad was just “organized”…he didn’t record his bodily functions all day long because he was OCD…”a lot of people don’t get pace makers” (but not because they believe they will be controlled by someone through them)…dad was an electrical engineer and he just “knew things we didn’t”. My dad died in September of 2015 and honestly I believe I am grieving a completely different person than my mom and siblings. They call me the “angry” one in the family. I was hit the most by far because my mom couldn’t deal with essentially being a single parent to the 4 of us kids. My dad was physically there but never there emotionally. My parents were married for 45 years and my mother was verbally abusive to my dad all along…resentful of his behaviors that in her eyes were willful and had nothing to do with his incapacity to be what she wanted him to be. It is crazy making when a parent dumps reality on you to make themselves feel better and then denies that reality when you want to share your feelings about what you have been told by them. My family believes that denial is the way to deal with problems plain and simple. We all married addicts or those with mental illness incapable of being present for us. How can everyone in my family NOT see the madness!? I have always been the truth teller and beat for it. I have realized I need to retire that role I have played in my family. I am the pressure valve of release so they can live their lives of delusion. I have tried my whole life to get validation (for my feelings…for reality) from people who are just incapable. That is the problem with denial and invalidation of reality…it infects one’s whole life. Denial becomes a coping mechanism not just for mental illness or addiction or abuse…but for the problems big and small of everyday living. I choose to live in sacred truth. It is a very lonely place but I truly believe the truth can eventually set you free…to become whole again (or maybe for the first time ever). If you don’t know the cards you are dealt…how can you play the game?

  4. By: Rikko Posted: 3rd July

    Great stuff…….
    A must read for all who have borderline, ptsd, dissocationn…………

  5. By: Lulu Posted: 20th October


    Thank you so much for your website! Everything is written so well and accurate to the very bizarre things I’ve been feeling and thinking.

    Thanks. It means so much.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st October

      Hi Lulu
      Welcome to Emerging from broken!
      I am really glad that you are here.
      hugs, Darlene

  6. By: So Posted: 25th July

    Ok. It’s not the right path for me to go down then. Frantically searching for answers, etc.

  7. By: So Posted: 25th July

    Would you be able to summarize. I don’t want to go down a path of no answers. I’d rather put my energy trying being ok in the unknown and learning to validate myself.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th July

      Hi So,
      There are over 400 articles in this website, all with discussions on them ~ there are over 34,000 comments in this website. There are SO many answers here. Unfortunately there is no quick summarize!
      Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: so Posted: 22nd July

    Could the effects of never being validated make someone think they could’ve been sexually abused? I have no memory of abuse but it’s this ongoing worry that I was that is always nagging at me.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th July

      Hi So
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken, The effects of never being validated are endless. There is a really good book by Renee Fredrickson called “Repressed Memories” and it really shed some light on this stuff for me.
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: mary Posted: 7th January

    My brother sent an email, he was blocked so it showed up in the junk email. It was short, just a “Miss my sister, hope 2014 is good to you!” I sent him articles about family dynamics in an incest family and the roles played and how the victim is made out to be the problem while the perpetrator is protected and the dysfunctional family tighten ranks against the outcast. He hasn’t written back since. That’s okay because I’ve moved on without family years ago. If he was able to come to terms then I would’ve started a real dialogue, but obviously he is still in denial, so it’s best he not bother me.

  10. By: Londiwe Posted: 7th January

    Thank you so much for this article.I feel like I have found a sister in you,a sister that I never had,someone who has validated my feelings.You have articulated so perfectly how I have felt all my life but now I have reached a stage where I need to validate myself.It had never occurred to me that I was so invalidated in my family.I have 5 siblings who have rallied around the abusive,sadistic ,narcissistic mother and who have constantly told me that I am `too sensitive` and that I blow things out of proportion etc.I was convinced that I had a good childhood even though deep in my heart I knew that I had been abused.

    I have designed a format to reframe my negative perceptions of myself and this is how I came to realize that I was invalidated as a child and even now.It is such a relief to realize that I am actually NOT insane.I have been asking the wrong people to validate me.Heck!! What an amazing discovery.Happy new year to us all. Onwards and upwards

  11. By: Felipe Posted: 17th July

    Hi, Such a great piece of work you have published. I’m working on self-invalidation, since last night, i found out I was self-invalidating my self so deeply, that i could even feel it deep in my bones. How do you really get to love yourself? I’ve been wondering that through out my life, and i have tried lots of different things. However, I’ve come to the conclusion, that the one who can really validate myself is me. So… i get confused when i think about that, for instance, If i’m not in the mood of going out even though the sun is shining bright up in the sky, I have nothing else to do, nothing to worry about, so then why I don’t feel like going out… I finally found the image, it was my mother’s thoughts, and those came from grandma. So, i realised that, but then again… even though I think I am aware of that, I still feel there are too many things I dislike about the world, so I keep on choosing the opposite, the lethargy, the nothingness instead of the whole…

    I feel trapped on this situation, it seems and looks so complicated to move on… and I’ve been feeling like this for a quiet a long time… and I have tried many many different ways of solving this out…

    But when it comes to this, it seems so hard to me to see the positive, i see life as something so boring, and i realised, I’m so full of fear.

    there’s no magic pill to stop feeling this over night. i know. i wish there was something to lean on… something real…

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th July

      Hi Felipe
      Keep reading. I have shared in these pages all of the things that I realized in order to move forward and take my life back. Hang in there, there is hope!
      Welcome to EFB!
      hugs, Darlene

  12. By: vicky Posted: 22nd March

    Thanks Darlene for your warm and empathetic reply, I will investigate your site more it seems very genuine.
    By the way I just re-read my post and I meant I wonder if the invalidation turned to self invalidation? Not validation.

    But many thanks and I hope you are well,

    Hugs to you to Vicky 🙂

  13. By: vicky Posted: 22nd March

    HI Darlene,

    Thanks for this really interesting piece. I think I am writing a few years after you wrote it and hope you can read this.
    Clearly I’ve been searching the internet for Invalidation. I wasn’t sexually abused as a child, but I was invalidated. I was also invalidated as an adult.
    My mother was a difficult stoical woman who didn’t express emotions or validate my emotions. I lost my father when I was seven and that was that, no time for grief or visiting a grave. No mention of him infact!
    We moved in with another man and his children, and I was told not to mention my father anymore as it wasn’t fair to the others. I was only eight and had lost my lovely dad a year earlier.
    I remember trying to approach my mother one day to tell her I wasn’t coping the dynamics in the house were awful and the adults didn’t talk to me, and there were four damaged kids – you can imagine. I remember this little part of me so sincere wanting to reach out, I did in a way i should be proud of, I expressed that I wasn’t coping, calmly and honestly.. I felt vulnerable but true… I was told that it was easier for me!!! That again it wasn’t fair on the others and that I had to think of them?
    I was denied part of myself and I think I lost this part of myself. As an adult I’m not really sure that this part of me had really been able to grow I wasn’t in touch with it. Then I had a breakdown, lot’s of stress, directionless and invalidation – I did all the usual things such as non-stop rumination, cigarette smoking, pacing and desperate dependency upon a new invalidator. I fought for validation but I had lost this part of me… it had gone disintegrated.
    Unwell I returned to my mother’s house, she wasn’t all bad you must understand it was very inconsistent. However she was so angry with me for having a breakdown. I tried to bring up a few things from the past – again quite honestly – this part of me seemed to be reaching out again. But – invalidation, mockery again.. I feel I had a long protracted breakdown and since then accumulated such a sense of loss. However I am a little more in touch with that part of me now.
    It is so confusing. I wonder if the invalidation turned to self-validation.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd March

      Hi Vicky
      Welcome to EFB! Yes, this is a really old post but I try really hard to read all the comments so I am glad that you posted!
      I can relate to what you are saying ~ wow that is horrific that you were not permitted to grieve for your Dad. I had a few major breakdowns too before I found the way to heal which I have written about extensively in this site. (over 350 articles and discussions here) There is a community here too if you would like to join the discussions more towards the current dates.
      Healing is possible! It is confusing but I have written all the ways that I stepped out of that fog and so many of the things that helped me to repair those missing and broken parts of me.
      Hugs, Darlene

  14. By: SMD Posted: 14th February

    Hi Darlene,

    Thanks again for another insightful & validating post. I’m new here, just about 2 weeks ago, I came across EFB, while I was doing a search on facebook. I started reading your posts and they rang TRUTH. Finally, a place I can feel validated and hopeful. I believe that through your posts, I’m seeing clearly for the first time, that it was not ME. I have chronic depressions & anxiety for most of my life, and I’m now 43. I too felt responsible for everything. I’m changing that believe & I’m talking back to those critical voices in my head, which came from my FAMILY. I’m connecting many dots from my past memories & how I felt.

    Even now, I’m understanding why I react the way I do, when being put down, not heard & having my feelings invalidated. I know I’m not crazy, just sick and wounded, from the damage that was done to me! It’s hard to say the word abuse without feeling very sad & angry, but I know that in order for ME to get better, I have to face the beliefs that I was conditioned & programmed to believe from my parents. I hear what you are saying & I’m grateful for your support.

    It means so much to hear the Truth and not the lies!…Even Professionals, lied to me- not intentionally, but from their perspective they were treating MY mental health problems. I did have a Psychiatrist who did tell me the truth about my family, but I still believed that I was defective, because I was conditioned to belief that.

    I was also referred to DBT Intensive Day Treatment in 2010 and this felt like a slap in the face. More therapy for ME got interpreted as there is something really wrong with me- I wasn’t aware of that then, but after reading your posts, it’s clearer. My psychiatrist really was helpful, empathetic and kind to me, but I misinterpreted her as another person putting me down like my family. I did leave her a message on her VM, after I discontinued therapy, that she was helpful & that the DBT was what I needed. I learned new coping skills that have become second nature to me.

    In 2010, I wasn’t ready to accept that My parents were damaging to me, because I wasn’t physically or sexually abused, but I was emotionally & psychologically abused in covert ways. I don’t buy the excuse, that because my parents are from a different generation they were just strict. It was because they were abused as children and the same beliefs & behaviors carried over to the next generation… ME…

    I could see that my family was invalidating to me, but i did not want to believe that they didn’t really love me, the way I needed to be loved. In their Narcissistic minds they believe it’s love. Thanks for listening & being there for me. EFB is a God Send!…Sincerely, SMD

  15. By: J Posted: 11th January

    Hi Darlene,

    just re-read this one (link from “Self-esteem – How did YOU learn YOUR importance?”). I think this might be one of the first articles of yours I read that really started to sneak through the lifetime of brainwashing and help convince me that I’d been f**ked over good and proper by my parents.

    Haven’t felt like posting as much lately; still not entirely sure why (I think so much going on IRL probably. And also got to remember as you’ve said to me before, how very draining thinking about & attempting to process this sort of stuff is).

    The whole first paragraph was me to a “T”. I remember how unable I was to comprehend friends in the youth group growing up who would openly argue with, disagree with, or have shouting matches with their parents in my presence. Helps me to realise in hindsight how f**king secretive and “behind closed doors” the whole emotional/mental/spiritual control & abuse was in my “family” (for want of a better word).

    I also remember saying (and I think, genuinely believing at the time) how much I loved my parents and how well we got on. Doesn’t even feel like me anymore – I’ve come a long way! (Seems a strange way to describe the “process” of basically hating my parents…. but at least it’s real instead of indoctrinated fantasy by those same parents) That also brings up the good ol’ christian demonizing of the word/emotion “hatred” (what was it, “he who calls his brother ‘fool’ is in danger of the fires of hell” from memory?) Meh. Often used to console myself (in a somewhat twisted way, admittedly) that I’d probably see many of the same people preaching it there with me.

    I think I’ve pretty much convinced myself by now that I’ve basically been dissociated from myself my whole life (or at least a very great part of it). Enough to not really have any idea who the f**k “I” am in lots of ways. And I think this is a big part of what I’m afraid of in moving out (eg having to try and discover it). I can imagine some people saying to me “you should be excited about that”, but it’s hard when I’ve been trained to be so helpless, and also have such a lack of energy etc. Oh well, maybe one day it’ll improve.

    (There’s actually a tiny hint of hope hidden under all this, although it probably doesn’t sound like it. Actually doesn’t even really feel like it, but it must be there, or I’d be feeling a lot worse than I do. Brain/psyche actually feels ok right now — well at least, not blatantly negative, which is basically a “win” for me at the moment).

    Anyway enough for now – hope you’re going well!

    PS just thought of your son & his accident – hope his recovery is still progressing well!

    And again, because I can…. HUGS! 🙂

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 11th January

      Hi J
      There was great hope for me when I realized things like that. Once I understood things (like that I had been disconnected from myself for most of my life) I had something to work on. Once i understood some of the ways that abuse/neglect had effected me, I was able to look at what those things caused me to believe about myself. Each step had a valid purpose in the “process”~ The progression of forward movement. so YES there is hope in your comments!
      Hugs, Darlene

  16. By: Emma Posted: 31st December

    Hi Darlene,

    I think there are so many people out there in the world who have escaped painful experiences, only to be left with the problem of how to heal their mind body and spirit from their experiences. Your blog is so positive and inspiring and gives people hope that they can get better, they can overcome their despair and find peace. You mentioned that there are methods you used to heal yourself, which were different to mainstream therapy. Have you written a book about how you healed yourself and the steps you took, as I think it would be so valuable for people to use while they work through their pasts. God bless you for your words, and positive wishes to every person who is reading your inspiring words, have a healthy and happy 2012. x

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 31st December

      Hi Emma
      Thank you so much. I am in the process of putting a book together. It is taking me longer than I hoped! For now, almost everything ~ all my answers~ can be found here in the blog. I am going to create a work book that people can use to follow along with the articles to make it easier to apply these thoughts to their own healing work when I do the final edit of my book. Thank you for your encouragement.
      Hugs, Darlene

  17. By: Connie Posted: 31st December

    Hi Darlene and all,

    Just a note in reference to the “mist”… I go through that too, only I’ve been calling it the fuzzy bubble. Insulated against feeling or connecting, with all things going through my head disjointed, and having no impact. I can sit around my apartment all day and at the end of the day realize I haven’t done anything at all and yet it seems like I just woke up. It’s kind of scary. Where am I? It’s so weird.

    I’ve got a ways to go.

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