Brainwashing in Dysfunctional Family Systems and that deep down feeling of Unworthiness

dysfunctional family systems

when a bad seed isn’t bad

Every so often I get a comment that I just have to share with everyone because it is so full of the truth that can help so many others. This is one such time! This comment from Doren came in on my article “Survival Mode and an Alternate view of Narcissism.” Doren has given me permission to re-print her comments for the sake of highlighting this very common concern;

Doren wrote: “All my life I’ve been in survival mode, barely able to make eye contact in public (in case people see the ‘real’ bad me I guess), trying always to please them, and if they have a problem with me they are right and I am wrong. It stems from this deep down feeling of badness in me—it’s hard to admit, but this feeling of badness gets to where I think I’m evil or the devil himself and that I will go to hell when I die. This has caused me a lot of distress and I wonder if feeling such a degree of badness is normal?

Here is what I struggle with—that I’m the ‘exception to the rule’, that yes other survivors deserve healing and are essentially good but NOT me. Perhaps this just tells me how ingrained my sense of badness is.

I have no choice but to work to heal or to die. My entire life has been greatly diminished due to childhood. It hurts so much to see the extent of the damage, but inside I feel, to get better I have to face this. Essentially I have been in hibernation since about 15. And I have thought that this was because I am weak, bad, unmotivated, etc.” Doren

I can assure you that this degree of ‘feeling’ is normal and even common. This is how we are brainwashed to become submissive and compliant. We are convinced that we are ‘bad’. We are slowly persuaded that everything would be okay with ‘them’ if only we were not such a problem.  Part of the problem is that we have been so convinced of their faultlessness that we forget to examine them or any of their actions. It doesn’t occur to us that they don’t abide by the rules of love and relationship that they demand we abide by.  That is what ‘brainwashing’ is.

The definition of Brainwashing: (link from the free dictionary by Farlex)

1. Intensive, forcible indoctrination, usually political or religious, aimed at destroying a person’s basic convictions and attitudes and replacing them with an alternative set of fixed beliefs.

2. The application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as an advertising campaign or repeated suggestion, in order to develop a specific belief or motivation.

So there we are; children, brainwashed to believe a bunch of false stuff that we have been taught about ourselves. That we are BAD. I believed I was so bad and unlovable that God himself rejected me. ( I was taught that I was a disappointment so what other conclusions is a child to draw?)

Manipulators, perpetrators, controllers and dysfunctional family system members,  brainwash us to make sure that we don’t shine the light on them. We are so busy trying harder that it doesn’t occur to us that perhaps our parents are not ‘God’ after all. And furthermore, society does not support this idea of shining the flashlight on the dysfunctional family when it comes to healing the root of the problem, at least not when it comes to overcoming abuse, depression, PTSD, OCD, eating disorders or any other issue people seek help for.

Society would rather that we ‘take responsibility for our own issues starting ‘today’ as in ‘leave the past in the past’. We are advised to ‘see where we ‘made our beds,’ be accountable for ‘choices we made’ and just ‘get over it’.  It takes guts and a lot of hard work to bypass those typically accepted directives and work on the root of the problem. Add to this the fact that we have been effectively brainwashed into believing that the problem is us and that by the time we start searching for an out of the box solution we are extremely weak not to mention that many of us have NEVER stood up for ourselves before AND have never been validated in anyway about any of this either!

I realized fairly early in the process of emotional healing that I too believed that freedom and wholeness were meant for others but not for me. I believed that I didn’t deserve it. And that belief was rooted in the same brainwashing.  I had to dig deep into the origins of all those beliefs and the actual/traumas/events/messages given to me and the reasons that I believed those messages as the truth about me in order to re-wire them back to the truth.  I had to see where the broken began in order to heal.

Like any other repair, it helps to know exactly where the break is.

People write to me all the time saying that the abuse I suffered was way worse than the abuse they have suffered. I always wonder what blog they have been reading! Not because I don’t think what happened to me was ‘that bad’ but because of what the authors of those comments share and that they don’t think the abuse they suffered is as ‘bad or as damaging’ as what I suffered. Most victims don’t realize the extent of the damage and feel that they don’t really have ‘a right’ to sympathy or even have a right to be angry about what happened to them. Many people believe that if the abuse they suffered wasn’t sexual or physical then it isn’t as ‘serious’ but the truth is that ALL abuse has its roots in psychological and emotional abuse. When a person is raised in a dysfunctional family system that teaches that what happens to you is your own fault but what happens to everyone else is a tragedy it’s no wonder we can sympathize with or validate others but can’t apply that validation or sympathy to ourselves. When a child is convinced that ‘they are bad’ it takes some effort to reverse that belief.

It is stunning that 95% of victims believe that they are bad people and undeserving of love because of this deep belief that their parents or other perpetrators of abuse were ‘right’ in the ways they define the child.  And there are those little human things we do, like one time I bit a cupcake and tried to cover the bite up with icing but I got caught and punished and that little event served as PROOF to me, that I was a very bad girl and that I deserved the abuse inflicted on me. It seems funny now, but at the time it was devastating to me because I really believed that proved that I was a plain nasty unlovable child. And as I got older and made poor choices I used those things as ‘proof’ that it really was ‘me’ instead of realizing that if I had been raised with love and self-esteem in the first place, I would not have made those poor choices.

I get a lot of email through the comment form and through comments on this blog about these two things that Doren is bringing up expressing the depth of belief about how ‘bad’ victims think they are and the suspicion that healing/wholeness and freedom is meant for everyone but them.

There is a powerful exercise that I suggest to my clients; I suggest they write out their pain story with as many details as possible, without fear of judgement or consequence and without editing it and then read it to themselves as though a child is telling this story to them.  Some people invasion their daughter or niece. Others pretend that this is a child they have met in a hospital.

How do you react to this broken hearted child? Do you think the child deserved that treatment? Do you think that child is bad and brought it on themselves or that they must have been ‘such a burden’ to their parents. Do you feel sorry for the parents of this child? Do you believe that child doesn’t really ‘deserve’ healing, wholeness and freedom from the destruction and brainwashing that they have suffered? This is very often a very powerful exercise and results in a turning point for the client.  It was a turning point for me in my own healing process.

Please share your thoughts and feelings with Doren and I and the other readers here about suspecting wholeness and freedom is meant for others and that deep down feeling of “being bad”. Everyone is welcome to use any name you wish in the comment form. Only the name you use will be visible to the public.

There is freedom on the other side of broken;

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing


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Categories : Self Esteem



The feeling of unworthiness is one of the most crippling things in life ever. When I read about the bite being taken out of a cupcake by Darlene as a child…and then she tried to cover it with frosting….(I would have thought that was cute and very funny if my own daughter had done that!)…and then the words and punishment , it reminded me of when I “snuck” a cookie when I was a little girl and the yelling and blame…the terror and shame and guilt I felt so I told them I didn’t eat the cookie, but I was forced to open my mouth to see if there were crumbs in my mouth which “proved” how terrible of a thief and child I was…and then I was also punished. How CRAZY those messages are to children! I am really beginning to be able to take apart the brainwashing techniques that abusers use in dysfunctional families..situation by situation. Memory by scary memory. And I just want to point this out since the cupcake and cookie episodes ended up being so traumatic and defining…..who makes cookies and cupcakes but won’t let their children have them? Even if I have made them for other ppl, half the fun is also making extras for my daughter and husband and seeing them enjoy something I made! Who punishes a child over food? I am still at the stage in my healing that I am marveling at how utterly ridiculous the “rules” and expectations and brainwashing
were. It is the confusion and craziness of the reasoning behind the punishments that it is no wonder children begin to believe they are bad or freaks of nature, or they don’t fit in. The abusers make sure they CANT fit in is what I think! I believe that that there definitely were deliberate attempts made so that I would feel like I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, had what it took to belong and fit in with the rest of the family etc. That has to be a part of brainwashing and it is no wonder that I felt unworthy. Anytime I had an opinion, a need, and want, or tried to learn something new, any joy I expressed was very quickly sucked out of me by verbal or emotional abuse, or something would happen …or be found that I had done “wrong” or “badly”, and a punishment would take place. That is how it felt to me as a child even if it isn’t the total reality. It all happened over and over enough times until I felt like I was living in a nightmare that I couldnt wake up from. So I would try harder to please, but they were never pleased or proud because they had decided….and kept proving to me over the years…that I was a terrible person….lacking in many ways so that I was unlovable and for my dad, unlikable. Now that I know the truth and can SEE ME all these years later, it doesn’t scare me to revisit those memories, but when I first found EFB I had soooo much pain and fear over all of these issues. And the core issue of feeling unworthy because I didn’t understand all of the crap that abusers do to children , and I didn’t accept or understand like I do today that it wasn’t about me at all….it really is about a power trip with them…and dysfunctional ways of relating. I actually could care less today WHY they did those horrific things to me….or I should say that I no longer buy into their problems, their pain, their self pity, or their requirements that I forgive them ….without them having any consequences for their abuse….and I just don’t have any sympathy and feelings of compassion for their self pity. Now that I am beginning to like/love/accept myself a little more …and more and more as time is going by and I uncover more lies I used to believe , I just don’t feel it. Guess what? The very thing that they brainwashed me to believe about not really fitting in or belonging to them actually is the very thing they never expected me to figure out the truth about and end up leaving them because of it. I kind of want to say to them: you got what you wanted after all! I used to hate myself and my body and life because of the brainwashing, and I felt so unworthy that I believed that I was in the way frequently, and would try to move out of the way . Not anymore! I was crippled emotionally by those feelings and was too scared to try new things for fear of failure or being squashed like a bug by someone . I have just become aware that I now make excuses for not trying new things, so I am beginning to start to work on that and give myself permission.


Hi Diane
Excellent comments! When I look at these stories in a “nut shell” it is really easy to see the truth about what happened over time and how the brainwashing worked. It is also understandable that it isn’t an overnight process to change those lies we believed about ourselves BACK to the truth! But I am just one example of the living proof that it can be done!
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


I am mostly NC with family, but noticed the last time I spoke to my mother how she repeated her view over and over, regardless of what I said about how things were going in my life. I ended the call after 26 minutes and realized that I had been told that I was a bad person over and over in different ways and thought, “Wow, I used to keep in touch much more often and was continuing to take this in.” So, later, I discarded the guilt trips and breathed a deep breath. Yeah, in some families, if you step out of the system you are always the bad person and feel like the bad person even when you are trying to please everyone. Evenutally you give up cause life is too short and who has the energy?


The food comments got me thinking about an incident. My dad has a thing for chocolate covered cherries, the ones with liquid, not creme centers. Of course these tend to be a little more expensive, and of course I was not allowed to eat them…they were dad’s special treat. I was about three when I took one and hid it under my pillow. I tried to eat it slowly through the day, and of course it melted and made a sticky mess on my bed. Boy did I get in trouble for that! It was the same with the blackberry jam he made. All the yummy things that were his favorite, he rationed and protected from us kids, who just couldn’t appreciate them. When I was older and went Christmas shopping for the first time by myself, using the little bit of money I earned from babysitting, I went to the “fancy” department store (Boscov’s!) and wanted to buy my dad gourmet chocolates. All I could afford was the box of two Godiva truffles, so that’s what I got him, thinking he would love the high-end chocolate, even if the little box was all I could afford. When he opened it, he gave me a look of disgust and pronounced he wasn’t going to eat them. They sat in the cupboard for a few years before I said the hell with it and said I would eat them. Of course, they were no longer edible and I had to throw them in the garbage. And as recently as two years ago, the same things happened again and again. I found a fabulous deal on a high-quality coat, which I bought for him, and it still hangs in the coat closet with the tags attached. THIS is how I know that nothing I ever do will be good enough. I grew up with my mom telling me the story of a gift she made for a teacher


Continued, don’t know what happened…. Anyway, she found the gift she made for a teacher in the trash after school and she was so heartbroken by that. But every year, my dad did the same thing to me and no one thought anything of it. Clearly, I can see where the damage was done…at least some of it.


Thank you Darlene, for always stressing the fact that its the abusers who are at fault, not the victim. Survivors like me need to keep hearing that. My mother is still trying to “shush” me about my chilshood sexual abuse. SShe is blocked from my facebook but still checks it for any comments she finds “disturbing”, as she calls it. She is still in denial about allowing my father to sexually abuse me, ignoring my pleas for help, and leaving me alone with the abuser after telling her what was going on.


I had very similar experiences growing up and am struggling with the same feelings of being ‘bad’. The odd and difficult thing now is that since I’ve become an adult, my mother has taken to calling me bad, flat-out. When I tell her not to, she says OK and then does it again regardless.

I told a friend too about something nice I did for myself, and she said “You are so bad!” Such a strange response, so I asked her why and she didn’t answer me at all. I decided to experiment and tell other friends what I’d done, and everyone else said what I did was great.

I’m no longer friends with that person. We were very good friends but she turned out to be abusive in other, very subtle ways as well. I don’t know what to do about my mother though. I’m not sure about cutting her out of my life, but I don’t want to be around anyone who will blatantly call me ‘bad’, and for no reason. Does anyone else have a similar experience? Were you able to stop someone from calling you a bad person? If so, how???


Another great post Darlene. Thank you so much for what you do. I see myself progressing at a much faster rate than I ever would have thought possible in the past. Actually, in the past, I didn’t even realize how much was wrong with me. I kept so much focused outwards and ignored the pain I felt inwards. From outwards appearances I appeared fine to people. Better than fine, actually. And I would never have admitted to anyone what I really thought about myself; that I was a selfish, worthless, bad and sometimes stupid person. Ha! Not only am I comfortable admitting that now, but I’m starting to realize where these beliefs stemmed from. How they got ingrained in me. And how they were projections of the person that put them there to begin with. In my case, the main culprit being my own mother. A sad, but true fact that I am coming to terms with.

On a side note, with all the talk about food I’m reminded of my own little food type story. In my case, it’s different cause my dad (who was normal compared to my mom) was involved, so it actually just makes me laugh. My dad drank coffee like a fish. Actually, I don’t remember him drinking anything else. He always had a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other. And he was highly territorial of his coffee. So when I moved home for the summer after my first year at college, I didn’t let him know that I’d finally acquired a taste for it by habit of necessary late night studying. And i started slowly sneaking cups out of his pot here and there. He would scratch his head and say I had more coffee than that, what happened? And I would just throw my arms up and say “how would i know dad, you know I don’t drink coffee”. Don’t think he ever figured it out. Makes me still laugh thinking about it.



Thank you so much for your amazingly insightful and healing website. You have been my mirror to my own issues and without your profound input I do not believe that I would have found my true self.

One thing that has been central to my healing journey was my understanding that all abuse is equal in a child’s mind. I appreciate that many readers on here may have suffered horrendous abuse; and I do not wish to invalidate their experiences. To a 5 year old child, any kind of abuse is devastating. I think we sometimes forget that when looking back at our experiences of trauma. It may seem that our abuse was less severe that that suffered by others but our 5 year old selves did not have the discerning adult brains we now have. A child’s experience of abuse causes the ‘broken’ that you so eloquently speak about. Let us not invalidate our abused inner children still further by invalidating the enormity of their abusive experience.


Another bullseye of a post Darlene. The deep down all pervading feeling of badness is very difficult to verbalise especially to those who have no experience of the abuse we have suffered.

I remember telling my counsellor that a lot of what i went through was my fault because i was just such an ugly and bad child that it was a pretty big ask for my parents and other caregivers to tolerate me let alone love me.

Goes to show how strong the brainwashing was by my various abusers as i was utterly convinced of my worthlessness as a human being up until a couple of years ago and im 38 now

Makes me wonder how we all manage to live our lives with internal beliefs like that (since i very much doubt i was the only one feeling like that i mean)

I still struggle with knowing that im just as worthwhile as ‘normal’ people but with the help of this site it is getting easier.

Am also amazed to see others punishded over food ‘crimes’

That was a weapon of choice in my FOO – one incident has always stood out in my memory – i was fed very little throughout my childhood so was well used to being hungry.

Anyway, when i was about 6 years old i was so hungry one night that i just couldn’t sleep. So, i sneaked downstairs to the kitchen and ‘stole’ two slices of bread.

Unfortunately for me our little dog at the time woke up and started making excited noises which woke my father who came down to see what was going on.

In my panic i decided to hide a slice of bread under each of my armpits…..

Of course, with my skinny little arms and the bread slices being of the large oval kind i was never going to be able to hide my ‘theft’

I remember the utter panic i felt when i realised i’d been rumbled but my memory has mercifully blocked out the details of my punishment.

To this day i want to laugh at the sight of little matchstick arms with two bits of bread sticking out of them and cry at the fact that i was forced to sneak around for forbidden staples that no right minded person would deny a small child.


I can remember thinking that only good things happened to other people and that at one point when I was a teenager, I never seen myself going to college and even finding a job as a receptionist seemed to be something I could never have…a family and a home, that was for other people, I felt as inferior that I did not even learn to drive or open an checking account, my mom was always so glad to drive to me to work, at 23 I was more like a 15 year old and they wanted it that way too…keeping me down was their evil control over me, I had no thoughts that were my own , no dreams or ambitions, life was just hell.


Thanks again Darlene for this validation and support. I never considered what happened as brainwashing…that was something that would only happen to someone else, under some ‘scary’ circumstances. I imagine no one wants to think their mind isn’t autonomous. I’m realizing that I’ve completely absorbed other people’s sick distortions of who I am. I’ve prided myself on being intelligent and discerning without seeing that my mind carries an implant as it were designed to bring me down. It’s just been TRUTH to me all these years, most especially on the deeper emotional level.
It has pervaded my every action, particularly in relation to others.

I think a great deal of my poor self-image has to do with what I’ve done with my life since growing up and how that just “shows” I am nothing and they were right, etc. I’ve basically hid at home in a bottle, not worked, taken scraps of attention from men and plugged myself into the mental health system, a system which for the most part has been complicit in treating me as broken and sick. The system has also almost always focused on my symptoms or maladaptations rather than my childhood.

I’m beginning to feel relief in the awareness that I am NOT deficient or weak or unmotivated, I am traumatized and the solution to that isn’t getting a job like my doctor kept talking about when I’d seen him. It is so DEEP, the wounding, and I don’t think that’s appreciated by so many. Some days are much better than others, while often I feel I’ll never get through this, I feel just the same as ever. But this is programming, this is all my life of so many people treating me bad, countless words and acts of disrespect. And it just burns me that my mother has never ever been taken to task even verbally just one time for all the incredible damage she’s caused and is oblivious to.

I was afraid of her, I probably still am, but before she got dementia I was too afraid to set her straight. She told me how she thought her son-in-law was ugly, my sister could have done better, how my sister was such a problem when a teenager, did I know doctors said she was mentally sick? I didn’t have the nerve to say, “Yeah because of YOU because of YOU you sick woman!”.

I remember after my ex confronted me with his new woman and never spoke to me again, that Christmas at the table mom turned to me and asked, “So, is he still in love with her?” I always took her gross insensitivity as thoughtlessness, but I think now, yeah, she really wanted to hurt people, she wasn’t that out of it.

I don’t see her now, I’m tired of her motherhood meaning more than my pain, my frickin always unaddressed pain.
I’m trying to understand why this woman is so protected despite her abuse…and it must be the conditioning, the grip of fear of her was entrenched and being an adult didn’t change that because that IS brainwashing.

And that’s what gets me, the solution to the pain in my family is to act like everything’s normal and the past is the past, but doing nothing just perpetuates the past and her power. It just continues what they taught, we’re in pain but we’re going to act normal and whatever family hurt you feel, you deal with it alone. I feel it’s too late now with her dementia for me to speak but I do stay away.

Darlene I am going to do that writing exercise…and imagining those childhood experiences happening to another child. One of my food related memories is coming home from the store when I was 10 with ice cream I’d been sent out to get. I can still see my mom vacuuming our bedroom and I show her the ice cream and it’s the wrong kind and she’s pissy at me and I have to go back return it and get the right one. I remember the embarrassment of having to do that. It was like that ice cream meant more than my feelings.

I remember at 14 or 15 the gym teacher pressured me to jump hurdles even though I told her I couldn’t. Sure enough I tripped over the first one, scrapped my knee and got the biggest bruise I’ve ever had covering the back of one leg. And I came home said “Mom look what happened” and she looked and went back to chopping the carrots without a word. This stuff was so unnecessary—and I realize now, she used me as a vehicle to release her miserable feelings over her life. With me in the memory I tend to think, “That’s just Mom, that’s the way she was”. With another child I think, “Yeah, that was abuse, I sure don’t feel sorry for that mother”. And I feel very sorry for that kid who was never treasured. It helps me understand more my keeping to myself for so long, since I was taught I wasn’t worth anyone’s positive attention or being the focus of that attention.

PS just wanted to say if Diane is reading I know you made more comments toward me in the previous post and I’m sorry I didn’t respond, I am truly touched by the time you take and your comments…



Great post that really hits home. I don’t think I realized how bad I thought I was. It was just a part of my natural thought processes. My mother confirmed it so often. I had no other choice but to believe it…. after all, mothers know us better than anyone!!

That whole cookie thing, and all the other food stories…. so ridiculous isn’t it? I remember things such as this being blown way out of proportion, as if I was doomed to felonies and a life in prison for such appalling behavior. I was always made to feel like any mistake, big or small, was the END of the world. “What am I going to do with you?”, she’d say. It was always drama and overreactions. I felt like the colossol failure…. all the time. I couldn’t make good decisions. I know that because she told me as often as she could. I sometimes think she sat waiting for me to screw up so she could unload heaps of her own self hatred on me.

One of the most profound things I have discovered in my process is my mother’s capacity to project. I have spent a lot of time in memories of things she said. Nearly, if not EVERY derogatory comment she made to me was a projection of herself. I was always waiting for my ship to come in. Yet, she was the one who worked 1 1/2 days a week in our home. I was too lazy to mow yards (although I always did), yet, she never mowed a blade of grass ever… not for money, not in our own yard, not in any way. I think I was 12 when I got fired from a corn detassling job. I was missing the tassles…. because I wasn’t tall enough to see them. Boy, did I get a tongue lashing for that… how worthless and lazy I was. I was NOT going to turn out like my dad!! And, we were apparently broke after my dad left, but, I don’t remember her ever getting out in the cornfield to detassle in 97 degree weather. She’s had more excuses for getting out of any kind of labor than anyone I’ve ever known. YET, she wasn’t going to let me be lazy like my dad. My dad is an alcoholic, but he’s never been afraid of a hard days work. Just so amazing to have these realizations. It was all about her faults, that she projected onto me.

Anyhow, rambling rose here!!

Hope everyone had a good week!!

Peace and Hope,


And, by HAD, I mean HAS…. I hope everyone HAS a good week!!


Hi Doren,
I just wanted to say thank you for being so candid and open with your life and history. I’m sorry for what you’ve been through. It is hard to open up to people and surround ourselves with social activity when (I) feel like a total piece of crap. Like perhaps I look like the most visually atrocious person on the planet. I am happy to be home, out of touch with civilization. I know it’s a problem. I used to be very social in my younger years. I drank a lot then. I am nowhere near that person now. I dread leaving my house for any reason whatsoever. I just don’t want to be around people. I’m content alone or with my husband. Probably not healthy, but, I also think it’s part of my process. I hope to emerge from the solitude someday as well.

Much hope to you,


Hi Mimi,

thanks so much for responding….I’m so sorry for how you were hurt so much too. The words you heard were terrible and so untrue, and I’m sorry you had to work at such a young age. Thank you too for your honesty about isolating from others. It does help a lot to know others do this. I’m so glad you don’t drink a lot now, I stopped last week because I’m determined to get well.

It’s almost like these toxic people are so disturbed by beauty and innocence that they have to tear it down to match their reality. It is a threat of some kind, something they can’t feel or grasp so it must be destroyed. So yeah, it’s all about them, isn’t it? There is poison in them so they must replicate that reality by creating more poison.

Through everything though, despite my internal struggles, I believe in peace. I believe it is coming slowly, person by person as they move along healing. I believe the whole world is traumatized, the root of that and all ills is child abuse, for the damaged people it produces, but that peace comes painstakingly with each person’s healing. Even with that, I often think I’m the exception; but knowing now this is typical of survivors I want to face that feeling with compassion rather than fear.

Sometimes I’ve wondered if I’m really all alone in the universe making everyone and thing else up, or that I’m in some exile.
Now I’m trying to examine that feeling and where it came from…that it’s a feeling of deep loneliness and abandonment that I’ve had for so long. Maybe this feeling is the little me herself right under the surface. Because I don’t really feel like an adult yet, at 48. I feel like a kid in this adult body. She has never released her grip of pain and of anticipation of being hurt again. She expects to be “found out” as soon as eyes see her, and like you Mimi, she often thinks she looks so weird and bad-different.

I remember one day in religion class, as a young teenager. I remember this teacher, her face, her dress, her mannerisms. I hardly remember any teachers but I can see her in my mind. One day, I turned my head her way and caught her staring at me intently. Her brow was furrowed and I immediately thought, “She sees how ugly I am”. Today I know she was looking at me with concern, she knew something was wrong. It took me a long long time to reinterpret that image, and she is helping me today in a way she may not have been able to then.



Doren and Darlene – spot on – and at exactly the right moment. Here in the UK we are in the grip of a huge expose of a celebrity paedophile – it is gathering pace – and spreading to other areas and other public figurees. It is pushing so many buttons for me – and presumably others. I have done SO much therapy in the lst two years – group work and one on one – and have been close to a place of calm and stability – but now I am back wobbling again – feeling that I cannot look at people, feeling I must be the only one with such filth in their hearts, that other people deserve to heal – but not me…. so now that I DO know better, that inner agitation is more than I can bear, I have decided that it is MY time. My time to talk to the police, and let them take over …. it has taken me over 40yrs to reach this place. I am feeling nauseous and my head is banging – but it is only because I am about to violate that prime injunction pounded into me by my abusers – “don’t tell”. I am now in the place where I cannot not tell – I have been silent and cowed for far too long. I am sick of just surviving I want to THRIVE!


I believe in peace too. I believe that this process that Darlene writes about here, is the key to freedom. Sometimes, I’ve wondered if I was an exception…. will I actually see the beautiful outcome? In retrospect however, I have come a long way. I stumble, but on different things now. For the first 6-8 months, I just absorbed everything. I was in awe! After the acceptance, I’ve been more situated to actually put my new knowledge to work. I still wonder at times if I will ever be okay. But, I do have hope. The longer my mother is out of my life, the more stable and happy I am. I’m very thankful for that.

I do think my new knowledge has made me question people at large. I feel I’ll overcome that too. I know there are good people still…. they come here all the time. It’s unfortunate that we’re all worlds apart! EFB convention Darlene?? Haha!!

Love to everyone,


Very best to you as you move forward in exposing the abuse. I applaud your courage. I’ve thought myself, the very same thing you typed. I’m sick of surviving, I want to THRIVE. Life of survival stinks. I want to love and be passionate. I’ve been there before, I’ve had great times in life. I hope to be there again, and I know I move closer to that all the time. Best of luck to you!



Hi Bonnie
The thing that really helped me was when I realized that “stepping out of the system” meant going against anything that they didn’t like even if there was no understandable reason for them to not like it. It meant that having a mind of my own and sticking up for myself was wrong to them. It was a crazy system and I don’t miss it!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Jerri
It is amazing how many adult kids have stories like this about parents and food items! And how horrible that your gift was rejected! I wrote a story about that in her somewhere…
I had to start adding an ending to that statement “this is how I know that nothing I ever do will be good enough” I added “for them” and I know today that the things I do ARE GOOD. They are good for me. They are good for my family, my kids, my friends. I am good. My family lives in a sick system. (but I don’t 🙂
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Amy
Welcome to EFB! That is a huge part of all we talk about here! Being shushed, being denied the right to protection, and how that defined us. And then how we overcame it all.
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Cheryl
Welcome to EFB ~ I had many of those experiences. Here is the thing about ‘respect’ ~ When I ask someone to stop doing something that hurts me, and they don’t, that speaks a lot about the way they feel about me. That is disregarding and disrespectful to ME. I can’t stop them but I don’t have to be around them either.
Keep reading! There is a lot of info in this site about all this stuff.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Michelle
Thank you! Isn’t it amazing how much faster this goes when the truth is involved!
Thanks for sharing your food story about coffee! ha!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Kerry
Welcome to EFB!
Thank you, I am glad that my work resonates with you! Yes, and abuse is abuse. There are no levels. Abuse is always devestating. We are taught to invalidate ourselves as children and that becomes our survival method. At the time it saved most of us. As adults we have to learn to stop doing it by seeing how wrong it was that we were taught to do it. Most children falsely conclude that if we were not “so bad” that we would not always be hurt. (in whatever way the abuse was dished out) So we turn on ourselves. This is why most victims don’t always see how horrible the abuse was and jump to believing how horrible ‘the self’ was.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi R.
I think that brainwashing has so much to do with control. Sometimes when I was coming out of that fog into clarity, I saw the ‘puppet strings’ that they were holding on me snap one by one over time..
Thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Kimberly Ann
Yes, that is exactly what it does! Takes all the drive and ambition out of life. Deep down a little voice whispered to me: what’s the point? What’s the use? That voice is gone now!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Doren
This is an excellent share! Your comments are filled with self understanding, self consideration ~ that is fantastic! I can see that “fog” lifting! Thank you so much for sharing and for being the inspiration for this blog post! Thank you for giving me permission to repost your comments too.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Mimi
I didn’t realize how bad I thougth I was either! That is really typical for people who grew up like we did though. That is my challenge here; to write in a way that busts through the fog that surrounds the truth.
And Yes, that is a great point about the projecting stuff.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Libby
Wow and YAY for you!! I can imagine your terror but at the same time I can hear that you are validating YOU now and that it is your time now. Keep us posted! I had to constantly remind myself as I faced those fears of talking, that the ways they controlled me in the past would not work anymore because I am not that helpless and powerless child anymore. I had to do this self talk for over a YEAR to undo the brainwashing that put that fear there in the first place!
Hugs, Darlene


This is another post full of truth. My pastor who passed away last year used to talk about this from the pulpit as the great lie. It is such a common lie that so many experience it. He used to say nobody is born more worthy or a better person or more worthy of love, freedom, wholeness ,happiness, fill in the blank…And nobody deserves abuse there is no exception to the rule. He said once you know your worth and the lie has been exposed you can live in freedom but the lie will try to come back dont let it!


A tragedy that your pastor passed away. We need more leaders like him! I find it difficult to find a church home. It seems there are few leaders who are interested in exposing truth, and telling it like it is. Behind the trophy wives, and Armani suits, their lives aren’t perfect either. Many pretend they are though. I’m not about that, and I find it hard to fit in under those circumstances. Thanks for sharing your Pastor’s excellent points.



Hi Pinky
Wouldn’t it be awesome if this was the usual message!
I started this site because I believe that personal healing is the answer to the abuse problem in the world. Victims of all types of abuse are the majority not the minority and when victims recover and learn that they are equally worthy, they will not be silenced anymore. When the silence is no longer kept or taught to be kept, the abusers will have no where to hide. When the fog and lies are exposed, the truth heals and there is freedom on the other side!
Hugs, Darlene


Jerri…I could never give any gifts that made my parents happy either because they only wanted what they wanted..the way they wanted it. I was dirt poor but I scrimped and scrapped to get my dad a birthday gift one year, and he opened it and gave it such a look of disgust that I was shocked. He dropped it onto a chair and never wore it. I gave my “mom” a box of chocolates for her birthday one year that I also scrimped to be able to afford them and I had no idea she was on a diet, so it hurt me incredibly when she tore off the wrapping and then literally jumped in her chair and flung her arms with the gift around and yelled at me that she couldnt eat them because she was on a diet. Those are only two episodes where that kind of thing happened. I am so sorry that you experienced those same things! It is rude and unkind, selfish and part of the power/Control issues that she always had. She and my dad only got better as I got older and had more money…after years of deciding that I would not give them any gifts anymore since I really couldnt afford it , and knew they would only be disgusted. By then I was married and we just gave them cash or a gift card to their fav. restaurant. Because of what I went through with my parents, I always insisted that our daughter give me ONLY handmade cards and gifts…to never buy anything for me. It is a burden I dont want her to ever feel, and I actually treasure the things she writes and makes for me. She still does this and she is 18. I cry every time I read HER words to me. lol.

Mimi…I feel so badly for you that your mother dumped her issues and responsibilities on YOU and made you work….but then treated you like you were lazy. Your mother sounds similar in a lot of ways to the way my “mom” was with me, so I really feel for you!!!!

Doren….I have always told my daughter that adults are really children in grown up bodies! The kinds of temper tantrums I see adults throw are nothing more than little kids who want their own way is what I think when I see or hear these things. Once I realized how much was not MY fault….none of it as a child….I was free. I realized one day all of sudden that I had been lied to and emotionally abandoned and treated like crap and abused because of something that my parents had issues with inside of THEM…not because of ME. What struck my heart that day was that if I had been any other kind of child , they still would have treated me exactly the same way…and it could have been any other child besides me and they would have also treated that child the same way….it was ALL about their choices, their issues and their need for power and control. That’s it! Everything I endured was not even about me….and that is when I really felt some anger and I began to see things very clearly…and I am still seeing more and more as time goes by and I remember my childhood/past and think about it without all of the shame, blame and guilt in my way. I used to have adults look at me and treat me in ways that I could feel were kind for some reason that didnt make sense to me then, but like you said about your teacher ….it was probably out of concern. There had to be red flags going up from time to time! I can totally relate with so many of your feelings! Because of what I went through, I was very hyper-sensitive to people “staring” and looking and even feeling the tensions …good and bad…in a room as I would enter it. I was also extremely skittish…I sometimes still have to purposefully work on calming myself down in certain situations. I literally would move out of the way of everyone and anyone so that they could pass, or get what they wanted etc etc. I startle easily, and so does my daughter, so I kinda think I was born on the sensitive side anyway, but probably what I went through made me really hyper sensitive, if that makes sense? Things ARE so much better in my life now….I actually had lost most of my hope in life when one early morning I discovered EFB. I have to say that I NEVER dreamed of being as happy and healthy and peaceful and free of pain, guilt, shame as I am today…and I am still working on things!! So, hang in there…we are all here for you!! 🙂


Wow, I just had a total A-HA moment. I never put it in to context regarding if I thought a child would deserve such abuse. The majority of my abuse and OCD hit when I was the exact age of kids that I am around all the time. I know what their minds are capable of handling, and what a reasonable reaction when issuing a consequence should be from adults. So, why would I even think that the way that I was treated was “normal”?

Everywhere I turned, kids were abused. My best friends were abused, and the kids I had to hang out with while my mother and stepdad were on drinking/partying binges were abused. It was “normal.”

Then, when I would come and stay with my Dad in another state in the summers, I was treated with kindness and care. I didn’t have to walk on egg shells anymore. People were happy I was around. I wasn’t a burden.

I wish I could have recognized this as a child, so that I could properly have thanked my Dad. Even that is a strange statement… that I’d want to thank one of my parents for treating me with the kindness and love I deserved. But, I’ve always done that. I’ve always taken responsibility for other people, apologizing for them. And, I’ve always thanked people for proper behavior, which should already be the norm.

This is just weird to think about. Abusers to surround themselves with other abusers to justify their behavior. Sad really.


Sorry, I meant to say “Abusers tend to surround themselves with other abusers to justify their behavior.”


I can’t recall a time in my entire life when I haven’t felt as if I were a bad person. Where in the world did I get such a concept?

Oh, I know. It came from being TREATED as if I were a bad person.

My mother was such a manipulative person, constantly sighing, acting like a martyr whenever I wanted to do normal childhood things like play with my friends or read a book. She wanted me to do dishes, to watch my siblings, to help her clean or cook. Even when I was a little girl of five or six or nine. All the time. I will never forget once when I was in fourth grade. I was nine years old at the time, and had come home from school. A friend lived down the street and I was going to leave and play with her a little while.

My mother wanted me to dry the dishes. (At 3:30 in the afternoon, for heaven’s sake?) I remember saying that I would be happy to dry them later. And then she sighed the biggest sigh, mumbling something under the breath about “never getting any help” and “doing everything herself.”

I remember like it was yesterday opening up the front door, with a sick, awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. As I slowly descended the porch steps, the sick feeling grew larger and larger. I could feel tears coming up in the corners of my eyes. I felt like the worst person who ever lived, like a horrible child who was disgusting, so disgusting that even God hated her. My mother was also very religious, so I’m sure I was also manipulated with religion, too.

I felt a huge burden of guilt and shame on my shoulders as I walked to my friend’s house. While at her house, I couldn’t even play. I was utterly consumed with the shame, with the feeling of self-hatred and self-loathing. I ended up turning around, going back home, and drying the dishes. And because my mother was narcissistic, and she had gotten exactly what she wanted, she doled out a tiny bit of attention to me. I was always giving in to her. I was so desperate for any kind of love or attention from her. She only gave attention, though, when I did exactly what she wanted.

That was many years ago, but I still think I am a bad person. I logically know that I am not, but inside of myself, I have some sort of a deep, core belief that I am bad. I am bad, but I have no idea WHY I am bad. It’s just a belief that I have, a belief that I’ve had for as long as I can remember.

So, what you’ve written resonates with me very deeply, Darlene.

Oh, and another thing. My mother is a very black-and-white thinker. She categorizes people into two groups: good and bad. But the funny thing is, she moves people from one group to another at any given moment IF they happen to do something which angers her. When I was a little girl, she nearly drove me crazy! One day she’d put my psychopathic father in the “bad” category, and the next morning, he’d be back in the “good” category. It was insane.

My mother likes to talk about how one of my sisters is “so good.” She’s such a “good girl.” What she means by that is that my sister always complied with her. If you challenge my mother, or disagree with her in any way, or call her on her own behavior, or hold her accountable, she will make you pay! Oh yes… will pay.


I’m reading everybody’s comments and I can’t stop this feeling of anger towards these adults that were supposed to love us and protect us. I’ve had a bad day so I might sound a bit negative. During my brother’s communion we were all eating at the table with family members. My father was cutting the cake and for some reason that cake was special. I think it was expensive. Anyway, he warned us to pay attention when we handed out our plate for him to give a slice to us. I was completely paralyze in fear. I started second guessing myself. What if I don’t do this right? Everybody is watching, I’m gonna be humiliated. Finally my turn came, I handed out my plate but I took it back too soon and my slice fell on the table. I clenched my teeth so hard in fear it felt like Rey were about to break. My dad started screaming at me, telling me that I was clumsy, not paying attention, and some other things I can’t write about its so ugly. I was devastated, once again I had to go, not only because I was bad and now didn’t deserve to eat my slice but because I felt so humiliated I couldn’t face them. I left the table and went crying in my room. Coming out and end my own punishment was even harder. I knew it wasn’t over, I knew they’d now make fun of me. I was ashamed even before any kind of event happen. I saw my future if you will. Going to the bus stop, eating in public, talking in public you name it I can’t do it.


“When a person is raised in a dysfunctional family system that teaches that what happens to you is your own fault but what happens to everyone else is a tragedy it’s no wonder we”

cannot feel our own feelings.

can sympathize with or validate others but can’t apply that validation or sympathy to ourselves.


Thank you… don´t I know the feeling of being the “bad one.” Drummed into me and beat into me, one way or another, all my life. My youngest sister is still trying to do this now that my mother has died. She took up the cudgel and sword! I can hardly believe it. So now I will get to reading and reading and reading and reading… gracias to all, amen.


Hi Truthbtold
Yay for the A HA moment! That is fantastic.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Another thought provoking post. I can relate to being brainwashed about doing things as a child. If I did them wrong, I was made to feel bad & harshly corrected by my dad. There was heaps of judgement & criticism, if I did things differently, then my parents expected. I believe now, that I internaled their projections of being less than or unworthy, when I wasn’t perfect. I remember being terrified of joining a soft ball team that my mother was coaching. She wanted to coach both myself & my sister. I just couldn’t do it & felt bad about myself for not doing it. My hypersensitivity of being criticized & humiliated in a group was holding me back. I know they criticized me for that & called me names. I knew I couldn’t handle any more rejection, if I made mistakes. I was more comfortable, sitting on the side lines, as I watched my sister play. I don’t remember what my sister or mom said to me then, but I can remember this pervasive feeling of badness & feeling not normal, for not complying with what my mom wanted me to do. I had to go to all the practices & games, since, there was noone home to watch me at 11. I think my dad was working second shift at the time. It felt like torture to me. I thought it was my fault that I didn’t want to join in & my mom went ahead anyway, without any regards to my feeings. I believe she thought she was doing the right thing in her mind by taking on this coaching job & how ungrateful I was. I was my own person & I was seen as willful. I was a creative child- loved to draw & paint. I blossomed, when my parents started seeing that my interests were in art & dancing. I do believe there is a resentment on my parent’s part, that I did not buy into what they expected of me. I did do things differently…my way. Although I had strong interests & a core sense of myself, I still based my worth on my parent’s approval. In a functional family system, I would of been more valued for my individuality. Not until, a few years ago, someone outside of my family told me I am “gifted”, “very intuitive”, & a “deep thinker”. Noone in my family ever said those words to me & I did not think of these as my positive qualities. I was always trying harder to get approval from a dysfunctional family that sees differences as negative. If your not an extension of them, then what are you. I truly believe they think that way. There is no tolerance for individualism. I have to say I’m most content being my own person & being separate from my family. I held onto shame & guilt over being different as a child & into adulthood, yet now I know I’m normal. Big part of growing up is becoming your own person and accepting the weaknesses, strengths, issues & problems. My family is too focused on playing the roles we were assigned. Of course, I was the scape goat. Anyway, the more I uncover, the more desire I have to stay away. I have not contacted or visited them since July. My mom called once to inquire about my son’s birthday and true to her narcissism she says, “I don’t know when you will be visiting & you haven’t been over here in awhile”. So, she proceeded to tell me that she will be sending my son a card in the mail. Just like my brother did last year. He just shunned me & my kids. Not until I called him on it, did he chose to send gifts by mail. Now, my mother was pulling this! A week goes by & no card. She calls with a change of plans saying, my dad wants to see my son in person. Then, she will bring dinner & cupcakes too. Wow!…What a mixed message!!…No wonder I was a confused child. I felt they could turn on me for no good reason. Especially, if they felt slighted or rejected. I graciously let them visit & thanked them for “being there” for my son. I’ve made plans for Thanksgiving without them and for the first time having my mil, sil, & bil over my house for Turkey dinner. They are safer to be around. No drama & more real! Holidays are hard for me since it triggers memories & feelings of family, yet I’m planning/coping ahead to make good memories for me & my kids.



I love the saying, “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me”. I’ve actually known a feeling of great peace with my world but unfortunately it was under pharmaceutical assistance and didn’t last! But for those 3 weeks or so that it did the heaviness inside me was gone and people responded to me differently. I hope one day to hold onto that feeling, or something close to it, but that can only happen with a lot of inner work.

Generally I just want it now, you know, now now now! I’m overwhelmed by the whole process (and often I don’t even know what ‘processing’ means exactly, I read something pertaining to that but then it’s sort of lost on me again). I don’t have any recollection but feeling this way about myself and the change will be enormous. But my therapist said, “Don’t look at the whole thing, just each step at a time that your on in the journey”.

Thanks again Darlene, it’s wonderful the way you reach out to so many people! Your encouragement means a lot—I’m hard on myself cause I don’t live ‘productively’ like others and often sleep in very late, but this is real work too and won’t be recognized by society the same way as punching a clock. And it’s only 2 odd months since I really recognized it as abuse. There’s just some heavy resistance to using that word…maybe because ‘abuse’ is something ‘outside the norm’ and if this is your norm how is it abuse? There’s just something so painful in calling it that because it confronts one with the truth one held hope against for so long. Hope that they didn’t really mean it, they wouldn’t knowingly hurt me. But they never showed much concern that I was hurting, in fact my distresses were treated more as burdens to them.

I remember when I was 18 I got dressed up nice and dropped off job applications one day. I was taking the bus all over and realized after my last stop I’d miscalculated my change and didn’t have enough to take a bus home. I was at the outskirts of a large city and miles away from home, maybe a 2-3 hour walk. I panicked and went down a street to a house, asked the lady at home could I use her phone to call my mom. I explained what happened to mom and she refused to pick me up. So this lady, I think she had to leave, she called the police to take me home. I was so embarrassed and angry at my mom when I got back, she was just sitting in the living room watching tv put out and angry at me. She didn’t care that I was stranded, she didn’t want to be treated like a ‘chaffeur’.

So much of my internalized feeling is, I’m on my own. It’s scary to think of building friendships and relationships and yet I’m so lonely. I’ve tended to just have short-lived, unhealthy relationships/interactions which only accentuated my sense of disconnection and inadequacy. But learning that what happened wasn’t normal, that my parents shirked their responsibilities and sacrificed their children so that they wouldn’t lift a finger to face themselves, shows me how wrong, sick and weak they were, not me. Gonna take some time and lifting my head up with people to have that sink in on a deep emotional level, but I live for that better life.



engaging with those who use war tactics on you tells them that you are willing to be attacked…this is my thought and why I am unwilling to engage any longer


I totally understand the feelings of deserving the abuse because of the innate evil within. I am still working through these beliefs. They sit so very deep.


You don’t even know how happy I am right now that FINALLY someone else is experiencing the same thing as me. Doren, I really thought I was stupid and there was something extremely wrong with me. When you said (Generally I just want it now, you know, now now now! I’m overwhelmed by the whole process (and often I don’t even know what ‘processing’ means exactly, I read something pertaining to that but then it’s sort of lost on me again). I don’t have any recollection but feeling this way about myself and the change will be enormous. But my therapist said, “Don’t look at the whole thing, just each step at a time that your on in the journey”.)
My husband accused me of suffering from amnesia all the time. I know how confusing this must be for other people when one minute I get the concept and the next I lose my comprehension of it.
My mom used to do the exact same thing to me when you said (she was just sitting in the living room watching tv put out and angry at me. She didn’t care that I was stranded, she didn’t want to be treated like a ‘chaffeur’.) she stayed home so she could “take care of us”. Yeah right. That’s why one particular day it was snowing pretty heavily, I was at school and it was the end if the day so it was dark outside. I had a seizure that day and was at the nurse’s office. The nurse called my mom to come pick me up and all she had to say to her was “I can’t come pick her up, my breaks on my car are bad it’s too dangerous for me to drive”. She left me stranded. I had to WALK home. On the way, someone stopped and asked me if I neede a ride. I hesitated at first but I was like oh what the heck. If something happens to me it can’t be worse than what I’ve been going through so far. When I got home, I thanked the guy for driving me. I found my mom sitting comfortably in the couch, warm and cozy. She said “I’m tired of you calling me for rides. I’m not your personal chauffeur.” Never asked me how I got home or if I was ok.
Doren, again thank you for sharing this with us. Our comments matter, our stories are real. I find comfort here on EFB.


Hi Sonia
Great comments and insights! Thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Broken
It takes time. The more I looked for the truth the more I found it. (and that may sound easy but remember we are dealing with brainwashing AND emotional pain caused by being treated and defined this way in the first place so our minds actually try to tell us NOT to look at the truth as a way of protecting us)
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


I’m so sorry you went through that, it just makes me so mad that these ‘mothers’ were more concerned about their own lazy behinds and playing victim. It has caused up til now such a deep sense of constant invalidation and feelings of how special everyone else’s feelings are but my own. I’m sorry for that experience of a selfish mother not recognizing or caring how precious you were. This is abandonment and also endangering a child, in my opinion. We never ever deserved that treatment, and sadly there was nothing we could have done to prevent those experiences. These people did not want to do their jobs.

Thank you too for sharing your story, it really does help so much because all this behaviour was presented as ‘normal’ at the time, and often families are so isolated and unsocial. Add to that how many people were complicit because emotional abuse was tolerated or not even seen as damaging at all. When I was 16 and went to the school office saying I was sick and wanted to go home, they called and she again refused to pick me up. Fortunately I didn’t live far and walked, but I remember that walk and how defeated I felt. The lady calling my mom looked disturbed but I’d like to think that today more would happen, like at least taking me aside and asking me about home. People at school noticed I was troubled but let things slide cause there were no bruises.

With these constant everyday neglectful experiences how could we not feel insignificant and like an ‘other’ watching the ‘normal’ world go by. I feel a great pain too in that siblings are often infected with their parents’ distortions, especially if as adults they will not or can’t deal with the past. Me and my sister were not taught to bond—although I’d say, we are traumatically bonded— and were on our own emotionally at home. Today I am the lowest of her priorities even though she’ll write in emails sometimes about how she wants ‘sister bonding’. That’s as far as it goes, I can’t even get her on the phone, it’s always my brother-in-law calling and even when she’s there too she doesn’t pick up. There’s no effort because people don’t want to get uncomfortable, it’s all about control and maintaining the same dynamic. It hurts to see my own complicity in going by her rules and trying to get her closer, but I need to see what I’m doing to feed her sense of same old, same old.

After a lifetime of never being number 1 it’s time for me to be that to myself and draw a line.

{{{HUgs}}} and care to you Celine, we are making it!


Marore…It is so amazing to me how many mothers indulged themselves in using their children to get work out of them….or to have them fetch and carry and meet their needs. I thought what you said about your mother having “black and white thinking” was a great description. My “mom” thought that way too. There was no gray area in regards to rules and chores and what she wanted. Your mother reminds me of mine because she would do the same thing when she got angry…and that anger didnt die down easily. She carried a grudge against my aunt and uncle for being too over protective of their baby daughter one year when the baby was scared…and that somehow angered and disgusted my “mom”…..we heard about that for the next 20 years. Some of the anger and black and white thinking was very weird and crazy to me too. I was curious about the dish drying incident at 330 in the afternoon…..did your father go to work and maybe she was trying to get you to do them so she didnt have to before he got home from work?


Hi, Diane.

I don’t know why my mother did dishes at 3:30….was she actually waiting for me to get home before she did them? It’s so odd. She was at home all day. I really don’t know.

I think my mother had no clue as to who I was as a person, and to this very day, she still has no clue. She will talk on and on and on about herself, so that we all know what her favorite color is and her favorite musician and her favorite celebrity, etc. etc……..but, oddly, she knows nothing about her children…….or, should I correct that and say that she knows nothing about ME. I have no earthly idea whether or not she knows anything about my siblings.

My mother has never once asked me, in my entire life, how I feel. Or what I need. Or what she can do to support me or help me. She has always just seen me, I think, as a person who was born to do her bidding. As if I am a mere creature without feelings, without needs, without hopes and dreams, who was placed upon this earth to make HER life easier. To help her take care of my siblings… loan money… be a taxi service……to be a sounding board.

She is so incredibly narcissistic.

I’m sorry you can relate to me, Diane. I truly am. It is very painful to have a mother who is neglectful, who treats you as if you are no more than an extension of her. It makes you feel crazy, at times. I remember reading that children who have narcissistic mothers grow up feeling invisible, as if they don’t even have the right to ask for anything in life, to hope for anything. I’ve felt that way all of my life: invisible.

I have read that borderline personalities will often divide people into “all good” or “all bad” categories. I often wonder if my mother is borderline as well as narcissistic. Whatever she is, she sure is clueless.

She doesn’t know me at all. She never has. She has no interest in knowing me. It’s sad. And, it carries over into my children, too……they may as well not even have a grandmother. She never calls them…..ever. Rarely ever asks about them. In my mother’s world, the only grandchildren who matter are my sister’s children. It’s always been that way. It will always be that way.

Thinking of you, Diane. Thank you for responding to me… helps me so much to feel as if I am not alone. I really do appreciate your taking the time to post a comment to me.



SMD…what struck me about your story with your mother’s behaviors about your son’s birthday is that it seemed that she was trying to be the one in absolute control…and trying to manipulate you emotionally. I think you handled their visit just like you described…with grace! You also were so mature about it all, and I applaud you for that. I loved how you thanked them for “being there” for your son…their grandson! My older brother was the scapegoat in our family, and I had to watch what they did to him and hear how they treated him…worse than an abused dog…so I feel for you since you were the designated scapegoat in your family. It seems like that “role” is one that the parents use to vent EVERYTHING out on…all of their misery and anger and resentments and try to be the most controlling and manipulating with. I am so sorry you were the child that was assigned that role by your parents. I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving day with the people YOU have chosen to spend the time with…I hope it is happy for you…you deserve it!!! 🙂 peace and joy to you! Diane


Marore… I know exactly what you mean about your mother not knowing you…and never reaching out to your children. My “mom” never knew me…neither did my dad…and they never call my daughter unless it is a birthday. They never used to call for my birthday when I was in my 20’s…they expected me to call them and to visit them on my birthday, until one year I didnt because I was feeling so rejected that year, and so they sent me a card in the mail that said that they had waited for me to come over and since I didnt, they put the birthday cake in the trash for the trashman. After that, when I spoke to them next, I told them that it was MY birthday so shouldnt they be calling me? After that, they always called until I cut them off two years ago or so. They have only ever called my daughter on her birthday and they send a gift for Christmas. The rest of the year is zero and always was zero. We did email once computers came out and we both had one, but it still was not to show interest in my life.
I think I can understand the invisible feeling. For me, I always felt like I was in the way, so I was trying to get out of the way. I was hit alot, so maybe that was part of it too. I used to jump when my “mom” would come near me sometimes, although it was mostly my dad who would “punish” me physically. Being invisible because you are virtually IGNORED unless your parent is about to want something from you certainly doesnt make us feel loved!
Did your mother have outbursts of anger too? Mine was a screamer. I cant remember one day where she wasnt yelling and screaming about something…and I always was glad when it wasnt directed at me. She would throw what I call temper tantrums too..and sulk and pout and stomp away and slam her bedroom door if my dad ever crossed her in what she wanted. It was like walking on eggshells every day. I loved leaving the house for school and being gone as much as possible. I think that is why I value peace and quiet as much as I do now! My parents always projected onto me…although I never knew what that word was back then…that I was “angry” and they wanted me to quit being angry. They treated me like I was the one who was over emotional and irrational in my anger. Once I started healing and seeing things for what they were, I realized that I rarely ever got angry at all. I wish I had now that I am seeing what I see! But I never did back then. THEY were the ones with the anger issues and being out of control emotionally and verbally, not me! But they didnt know me at all anyway.
I can totally relate with you about that and that was one huge reason I cut my family off. I got to the most miserable place of realizing that my family did not know me, didnt like what little they did see of me, and didnt want to know me…so why was I wasting my life trying so hard to please them when it would never matter? I am so sorry that you feel those same feelings.
I also think my “mom” has some type of personality disorder. I dont know what, but she does for sure! I think that what hurt the most is that my dad rarely stood up to her for anything…and he even ended up adopting her views about me and my older brother and joining in on the craziness. What about your father? Was he passive too?


Hi Marore
The only way that I could change those deep down beliefs (that I too knew were not logical) was to find out a few specific ways that that message had been communicated to me and see how I ‘bought it’ and then applied it to myself. To see where the other person did the damage. That was how I was able to un-do it and change the core belief.
Something else that you post reminded me of; my grandmother alwasy talked about her children in terms of “she was such a good girl” but never that way about my mother. This is part of the whole problem. I found out later that she did this to ALL the kids, grandkids etc. Everyone thought that I was her favorite because aparently she said I was such a good girl but in reality she was very critical of me to me. She didn’t say anything nice to me about ME or to me about my mother. And she was the same way with all 6 of her kids ~ she didn’t compliment them or their kids. This is all about making people ‘try harder’ like if she complimented someone they might figure out they were not so bad after all and stop trying so hard. It’s a messed up system.
Hugs, Darlene


I’m really tired of hearing and reading about how EVIL people with Borderline Personality Disorder are. I happen to be one of them and let me tell you that it is not a walk in the park. It’s a horrible mental illness that I’ve been struggling with all my life. So PLEASE, PLEASE unless that person in question has been diagnosed you can’t just assume what you heard out there about BPD. The stigma that’s attached to it is such that I am ashamed of it. So please be considerate in your comments for the BPD out there that are working hard to get well and break the cycle. Thank you.


Celine, I think you took what was written out of context. No one mentioned that anyone was evil! Personality disorders of any kind …to my understanding can cause those ppl who have them to have unstable relationships. My “mom” might not have been officially diagnosed, but I do not apologize to anyone for using that term in order to describe her volatile emotional state. She was unstable and she also has many symptoms of a few things mentioned on here. I know she has some sort of disorder and she would be much healthier if she can one day break that cycle. The comment was never meant in an insensitive way directed at anyone to put them down for their struggles here at EFB at all! Only to describe MY personal experiences with MY “mom”. I don’t think personality disorder is something evil….but the way she treated me was wrong, not loving and it has taken me all of these years to recognize things about that. Look again at the conversation that Marore and I have had, and I think you will notice that we weren’t at all trying to say that anyone with BPD is evil! Thank you! 🙂


Hi, Celine. I didn’t say that people with borderline personality disorder are evil.

My comment wasn’t inconsiderate at all. I was merely saying that I have often wondered if my mother doesn’t also suffer with BPD along with NPD, because she has some BPD symptoms. In fact, my therapist and I have discussed this topic at length.

I wasn’t directing my comment toward you or toward anyone who may be suffering with BPD. I very much realize that there are stigmas attached to having psychological issues; I myself suffer from depression, also not an easy thing to deal with.

I think you are projecting here. I wasn’t inconsiderate in my comments nor did I intend for anyone to take offense by my referring to my mother as having some BPD symptoms.

Please do accept the fact that I am telling you the truth. I am not the type of person who EVER would disparage any human being suffering with any disorder, physical or mental or emotional. Not in any way. That is not who I am. I have the deepest empathy and compassion for all people who struggle, and I myself have struggled throughout my entire life.

Kind regards,


Diane, In response to your comment #46, Thank You so much for your support!…Your right, my mom was taking control & manipulating me. My eyes are open to her tactics. Always tried to see the best in her my whole life, yet I had to get real & take the blinders off. The part about my father wanting to see my son in person was so telling. So passive aggressive & diverted the focus off of her. How did she really feel?…Anger & Bitterness that I didn’t include her in his birthday. When they visited, my husband stayed home too, and they weren’t expecting that. My mom does not like him. My parents behaved in my house. The more time away from them gives me clarity.


Celine, my mother had bpd. And while I don’t think my mother was evil, she did a lot of damage to me. However, unlike my mother, who thought there was absolutely nothing wrong with her, you not only have the courage to admit your disorder, but also to be trying to get help. So hats off to you my friend. You are to be commended, not vilified! And none of us here think there isn’t some damage to us, or we wouldn’t be here. I wish my mother, who was traumatized by her own bpd mother, had the courage that you, and the rest of us here, have to do what it takes to get better and not perpetuate the cycle.


My whole life my parents and siblings have made me feel guilty simply for being who I am. And I have been reminded many a times that when I “pissed them off” I couldn’t help it, because I was just “being me”. Wow. Like being “me” is a horroble thing. And if I so much as looked at them the wrong way, or smiled too much or seemed too perky I was being a bitch. I LOVED my family very much, and I mostly was always giving without expecting much in return, however it was never good enough. And I was not ever valued as a person. Just heartbreaking. Especially since my aunts contacted me and wanted to invite me to Thanksgiving. I realized that I was not invited by my own parents and siblings. Why should I be upset? It isn’t the first time they did not include me and it certainly won’t be the last. I have been breaking out in tears. I asked my therapist, WHEN will this end? *cry* Praying for peace this Thanksgiving. I am grateful for my children, my husband, and a multitude of friends that I call “family”. God Bless!


Hi all!
Darlene, I have a specific question, and I hope you’re inclined and have time to answer.

I am meeting with my grandmother tonight for dinner because I won’t see her on Thanksgiving. One of the reasons I’ve felt estranged from her in the past several months is her unrelenting desire to talk about family members ~ always in a negative way. I know she’ll bring her son up sometime tonight. She always does. I wonder if you can shed some light on how to quiet someone like this without being completely direct, or at least without offending. I’d like to do it in a way that she doesn’t even know I’ve shushed her. Maybe impossible, but, I wanted to get your insights on this. (or anyone else’s for that matter). Thanks Darlene.


I really needed this right now. Thank you for this blog and all the work you do.


Thank you Michelle. Although I know that no one specifically used the word EVIL to describe someone with BPD, know that the disorder is very often attached to it. Everyone is different. Maybe I over reacted and if it came across that way I am truly sorry. I was abused and I would do ANYTHING not to hurt someone else. All my anger is turned inward. I accept and don’t deny the fact that the behaviors resulting from my disorder were not abusive to others in some extent. I’ve wanted and tried many times to set my loved ones free of me because I many times again got to a point where I truly believed they’d be all better without me. We’re all struggling and we’re all on a personal journey to a better life. Michelle, you gave me the courage to come back to the site. I don’t want to be this way. I’ve been working hard in therapy to, like Darlene says, replace the lies with the truth. Peace.


Hi Annette
Welcome to Emerging from Broken ~
Glad that you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Elizabeth
Excellent points about the expression “I was just being me” ~ like being me is a bad thing! I know where you are coming from just wanting it to end with the family crap ~ for me it ended when I ended it. What I mean by that is that I decided that I was done putting up with it and then ‘they’ had a choice. To treat me with equal respect or to have ‘no relationship’ but I was done with being ‘the problem’. I realized that it had always been ‘ up to me’ to carry the burden of the relationship and I was the one that had to fix everything and take the blame for everything which in truth is NOT a relationship. I never saw that I could make a new choice. When I did, I also realized that they could accept it, or not and the price of my freedom and mental health was worth taking the chance that they might reject my wishes for equal value. (and they did, but what I gained was better than anything I have ever imagined!)
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Mimi
Well…. I like direct. 🙂 I know this is scary; what you are talking about is setting a boundary, and the fear for me turned out to be about rejection. (that if I stood up for my needs, or whatever, that they would reject me). The truth was that they HAD been rejecting me all along with their actions and disrespect. I stopped being so worried about ‘offending’ offensive people. Now… having said that, I don’t expect this is comforting to you but this is messy biz! Sometimes I picture going into a dump that is 100 years old with 100 years worth of toxic waist and heaped up garbage and I am the one who is going to stop the cycle of dumping. It is overwhelming. Sometimes it I think it would have been easier if I would have just stayed in the fog but it was killing me, and I wanted to live.
I wish you the best with your meeting!
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you. If take a deeper look at it, you’re exactly right (not uncommon :)) It is fear she will reject me, talk about me to others, etc. But, the truth is, she’s already talked me down for years. I guess if I try to keep things in perspective, I think about her telling someone else I tried to hush her when she was badmouthing her son. Doesn’t look so good on her part. Then, there’s the possibility she will make something up that I hushed her about. I can’t stop that, I know. It will take a heap of courage… and I might fail altogether. I still worry what others will think, cousins, aunts and the like. You’re right…. messy messy Biz!!!
Thank you Darlene.
Peace and Love,


Hi Mimi..sometimes those family dinners can seem like forever. I wish I could offer you some tips , but I broke off from everyone in my family except for one of my Aunts before I ever learned. I do hope and wish for the best for you! Happy Thanksgiving Mimi! And Happy Thanksgiving to all of the ppl here who celebrate! 🙂


Hi Darlene..

Sorry for being away so long..still in so many limbos..but at least. .schoold is pretty much done now for me. .so my mind is free to think on less burdensome things

I think alot of us survivors feel like we are bad.. after all the things we have been through… At least for me. .I had gone through a phase that i believed i must have deserved it all .. otherwise ..God would have stopped it.. that was where I was.. for some time.. but it is a past tense.. I was so brainwashed about faith and God and religion that I felt that if I were good that bad things would not have happened to me.

I think if I wrote out every single thing that happened to me. .up to this day.. people will wonder how in the world I am not in some hospital.. I have relatives who are for having gone through a portion of what I have been through..

Many of my siblings do not talk to me .. because the mother had so badly pointed me out to be a bad person .. My youngest siblings hardly even knew me. the ones from the last step dad..yet they hate me because this is what they were told to do.. they have no idea.. what hell I went through.

Since starting my healing jouney only two years ago.. I have decided to turn the page on some of that old stuff.. I have moved away from where I used to be.. disonncected my phone number without giving it out to the abusers and even had the courage to write an email expressing how I really felt about all that had happened to me. .not saying that I was not scared to death afterwards.. but once I pressed send.. I also pressed block to the email recipient.. so they couldn’t hurt me any more when the try to respond to my feelings.

Even on the phone once. .before I moved. .I confronted my mom.. she hung up on me..

I don’t understand how come those who so badly hurt me call me bad.. but I know now .that I am not. I don’t have hatred in me . not even for those who hurt me.. I simply am learning that I don’t have to keep receiving hurtful letters or calls. and that God understands me moving on without them .. so I believe

I have a very long way to go for healing.. I am at least away from the source of all my hurt and have great boundaries up ..

Should see more of me now, Darlene..since school is about over.

The case though won is still waiting for “payout” lawyers etc. .are slower than snails. so am still living as best I can on my little income.. luckily. I don’t need much to be happy..

Hope everyone has Happy Thanksgiving who are in USA and for those who are not that they had a happy THanksgiving on their country’s date of celebration..

Love and prayers.



oops. I don’t know if I put right email in first one.. but will find out soon.. hope all are well here. 😉



Hi Joy! I read your comment and wanted to congratulate you on moving away from the source of such great hurt, damage and rejection of you! I hope it is okay to say that, but I was greatly impressed by all of the steps you have taken recently. Talk about BRAVE! You really have turned a page…or two or three!

I used to have friends tell me that they couldnt understand why I hadnt lost my mind when I was younger from all that they knew I had been through, so I can relate with you on that feeling because I sometimes wondered the same thing. I have cut off all of my family…my younger brothers were favored by my “mom”…who was the woman who my dad married after my mother died…and my parents treated my older brother and myself very differently than the younger brothers were treated…for the same reasons that your mother treated you differently, and trained your siblings. Isnt it so WEIRD when you think about it? I know that caused me such pain and confusion. When I would talk to my younger brothers …as we were getting older and were adults…they had no recollection of much about me at all. They only remembered mostly what they heard from my parents..the negative things, so they were very unsure how to “deal” with me when we were were adults and talking. They said it was because they were so young. However, they did remember so much about my older brother and what my parents did to him …and they felt close to him and loved him very much. I found that confusing for awhile too. They didnt know me, but I was closer in age to them, but they knew my older brother so well? It is interesting how parents play children against each other….very sneaky of them and part of the power game they play in their own minds I have to believe.

You were SO brave to write your email and send it out…and then blocking everyone. I can imagine how terrifying it was! I never had the courage to write my family and really tell them off or tell them how I felt, and the more I read about someone like you writing your family, it makes me wish I had!!! I really admire that strength in you!

I learned this year that I wasnt a freak of nature …or bad…but that all of those labels and words and abuses that my parents doled out to me were all because of THEM and THEIR sickness, insecurity, unhealthy views , and it wasnt about ME at all. How could it be since they never really knew me to begin with?! I hope and pray and wish for you that one day soon you will be free of all of the feelings of being bad because YOU didnt deserve to be treated the way you were and to feel that unworthy!

One more thing…I dont like to push religion at all, but I have a very strong faith of my own, and I used to cry and pray about my family and how I wanted to be free of them, but I was very confused because what if God was not behind that decision of mine to cut them off? I reached the point where I also believe that He understood the torment I went through, and I feel comforted by that understanding. I feel peace about that decision because I realized I wasnt the person who hadnt tried, hadnt tried to forgive and make the relationships work. I related so much of what you said about religion and your feelings…thank you for sharing!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Joy!!! You deserve it! 🙂 Diane


Hi Joy!
Wow, what a blessing to read your comments today! Thank you so much for sharing! Your comments make my heart sing.

I was just in the middle of edinting a new blog post about some of this stuff and how I moved from the lies to the truth and found my freedom! It is wonderful to have so many friends on this journey to share our sturggles and then our victories with!
Thank you! You may have a long way to go but you sure have come a very long way! Isn’t that all that matters!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone
In honour of the American Thanksgiving and as a way to kick off the upcoming holiday season in apositive and inspiratioal way, I have written a new post with a glimpse of the way it is today for me.
I hope that there will be some conversation there!
you can read the post here:
The Opposite of a Dysfunctional Family System Dinner ~ a glimpse of hope
Hugs, hope and Love, Darlene


I really didn’t know where to talk about this, but I think I will put it here. My deep down feelings of unworthiness (which this particular blog is about) really hit me terribly hard yesterday on Thanksgiving. I guess I’d just like to share my feelings.

I was feeling pretty good, even though I’d gotten up really very early to go to the grocery store, etc. We arrived at my in-laws’ house around 4:00 p.m. I was upbeat and happy.

When I left about 4 hours later, I was completely exhausted, felt frustrated, and felt as though the life had been sucked from me. And I still feel awful today. Just awful.

I’m trying to analyze what the heck happened. And I think I finally understand. The narcissism in my husband’s family is rampant. A brother-in-law who is a loud-mouthed, arrogant, know-it-all. A narcissistic mother-in-law. And a sister-in-law and her husband who talk about their world travels and all their good fortune. In other words, I am just an afterthought with all of them. I am there, but I’m not really “there.” I mean, they all talk and talk and talk and talk. No one asks about me, how I am, how my children are. No one really asks me anything. It’s been that way the last ten years.

That’s why I actually didn’t go to their house the past three years. I instead chose to go to my daugher’s house for Thanksgiving, because it’s so much more fun and pleasant for me!

But, this year I was trying to be with my husband on Thanksgiving, so I decided to go to his family’s. I just don’t think I fit in well with any of them. Why not? BECAUSE I SO NOT A NARCISSIST!

I’m a good listener, and I deeply care about people. I always have been that way, even as a child. I am very smart, very analytical, but very warm and loving, too. I’m not a know-it-all, a braggart, a narcissist, a blowhard, a drama queen. I’m just a basic person. Nothing to get excited about, I guess. Why do I think that? Because no one has ever gotten excited about me, and I suppose that no one ever will. I’m one of those people who never really demands attention…..who demands ANYTHING, actually. I have often wondered if I am worthwhile at all!

But my self-esteem hit such a low. I was utterly drained last night. I feel as if I’m coming down with a cold, too. But I cried a half hour today. I was so sad.

Do you ever wish there was just one person in the world….just one…..that you could turn to, rely upon? Well, I have never had that person. I have felt so alone all of my life. My parents were abusive and they were narcissistic, so they parentified me. I learned very early in life that I was alone and that there was no one to go to for help or love or comfort.

Last night just brought up every horrible, rotten, sad, lonely, empty feeling, just as I felt as an abused child.

And you can’t imagine how horrific it was when everyone went around the table to talk about what they are thankful for on this Thanksgiving. I had to hear people go on and on and on about their great blessings in life, their wonderful, loving parents, their trips abroad, their fantastic educations, their jobs, their colleagues, their money. And I thought, “How nice for them. Does that mean God loves them more than He loves me?”

I don’t have parents to praise. Because of PTSD, I couldn’t finish my education and get my degree. I don’t have a lot of money…..again, due to severe IBS, depression, PTSD. I am so sad today. So, so sad. I am close to tears, again.

I really am low, feel like a complete loser. It’s all stuff from childhood. But knowing that isn’t helping me today.

I have very deep beliefs that I am worthless. Just completely unnecessary……unwanted by this world……and worthless.

Sadly, I really do believe that about myself.

I’m sorry if I am bumming any of you out simply by writing this. I so want to change how I feel and how I see myself.

I’ve always had so much trouble believing I have any value.

Thank you for letting me speak my truth today.

Kind regards,


Marore…I am not bummed out by what you wrote, but I did tear up as I was reading what you have been suffering and feeling. I am SO sorry that you had a miserable time yesterday and that it left you feeling so low. I wish I could give you a big hug and we could sit and talk or watch a movie together or do something that YOU like to do!

I have had those same tidal waves of feeling hit me too after being at holiday parties/gatherings and I totally feel for you today!!

I am a very ordinary person and I used to feel “boring” and I would freeze and clam up because nothing I had to contribute seemed exciting and new and sparkling compared to what I thought was everyone around me. There is one thing I have learned though…it is that usually the people who seem to have a need to be louder and have the latest, greatest and newest toys and experiences and money etc etc….often seem to be trying to prove to themselves and everyone around them that they are important. I realized that I actually do believe I am important …as much so as they are…but I dont feel the need to always prove it. I realized that I actually have chosen for myself to live a very ordinary and mundane PEACEFUL life because I used to live in a tornado of chaos and drama and tension that wore me out and down. I value a peaceful life…with some excitement that comes my way naturally….rather than the frenzy of certain family members around me who were constantly trying to one up and outshine the other family members.

My feelings on being ordinary are getting better and better as time goes by and I learn to place more value on ME and what I want and like.

I think you are extraordinary because while everyone around you was clawing to be heard and praised and petted….you were actually self controlled and I am sure that you were very kind and considerate. Your personality and values make you extraordinary. So many ppl might just want to keep you shut down because they can sense that you are actually nicer and smarter and kinder than they?!

You mentioned how much better you feel with your daughter and in her home for the holidays….I know I sometimes feel better just being in the same room or doing something or just talking to her about any old thing too.

My heart goes out to you!!! I am so thankful that you were brave enough to share your story from yesterday. Hugs and peace and comfort to you……..


Marore..I meant what I wrote toward the end about MY daughter, not yours! lol. I promise I have never met or spoken with your daughter before! I have only one child…a daughter..and that is who I meant! lol 🙂


Bonnie…I dont know if your still here but I wanted to say that I am also in nc with my family and I used to put up with so much from my mom and my sister that it did affect my relationships that are now in my own family, being my husband and my daughter, I was teaching my child how to be dysfuctional by allowing this bad example of be being a punching bag to my family, when I did nc then I gained respect from both my husband and daughter and our lives greatly improved, I still think some damage was done when I tried to fix things and try to be the one to work things out so that my child could have an extended family but all i did was expose her to unhealthy family dynamics that would of hurt her and her relationships, thank goodness that was a very short time period…nc is what saved me and my marriage and family, we work on trying to be respectful and kind and we are not perfect but at least we try!


Diane…..thank you!

So very, very much! You have lifted my spirits and helped me to have a new and better perspective about myself. Yes, maybe it really is okay to be ordinary, to not get much attention in life. Maybe it is okay to just be myself, and maybe I will reach a point where I am not so hard on myself. Maybe I can stop comparing myself and always coming up short. Maybe. I feel hopeful after reading what you wrote. If you can come out of chaos and reach a place of peace about who you are, then so can I.

I just am so grateful to you, Diane, for caring enough to write such insightful and caring words to me. I really have had a very rough day. You have touched me, and I feel so much better. And I’m so happy that you were able to reach a better place in your life than what you once knew.



Darlene, I’ve been away for awhile and I’m catching up…this post and the comment this woman wrote express exactly what my mother taught me about myself. The words “nasty, bad!” still ring in my ears and I heard them so often and from such a young age that I accepted that description of me in the same way that I accepted that my name was ‘Pam’. It took decades for me to stop believing them. I wanted to escape that ‘badness’ so badly that I started using drugs at 12 and was a heroine addict by 18. I tried to kill myself to escape myself because I was ‘bad’. When that didn’t work, I divorced the ‘bad’ girl I’d been and tried to be someone else, until that person messed up and then I’d try a new persona. It was a major event in my life to accept the child I was and see myself as I really am. I was never ‘bad’. I don’t have to be perfectly good either. I’m a mixture of both, I’m human. It’s so good not to be brainwashed anymore. It’s wonderful to be able to accept myself for who I am and not be forced to view myself through the eyes of people who don’t have my best interests at heart, no matter if they are biologically, my mother, father, sister, or brother. It’s good to not be a scape-goat anymore and it is even better to not think like a scape-goat anymore. This post helps me see how far I’ve come in the last few years. Amazing!



Hi Marore
My heart goes out to yours. I totally relate to what you are expressing here. Even though I was married and had three kids when I finally hit the bottom of no longer being able to cope with depression etc. I felt the same way; that I had never had anyone in my life who cared about ME. And the biggest thing (I believe the only thing) that got me out of that was becoming for me in my own life what no one had ever been for me. I learned to fill that void and that empty space for myself. I became the parent I never had. I validated myself in all those places and situations that I had been invalidated in. That is what this site is all about. Self love and self care ~ and I know how hard it is because we have been convinced that we are the cause of our own problems. The only way that I was able to turn this around was to go through the original events and see why and where it was NOT my fault and that I did NOT bring this on to myself. (self-validation) It was only then that I was able to take those steps OUT of the depressions etc.
Thank you for sharing. I know how difficult this is but I also know there is so much hope.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Pam
Yes, it is all about what we have been TAUGHT about ourselves. It is so hard to undo that, but that is really the foundation of healing. I had to ‘re-define’ me. Thank you so much for sharing this Pam.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene…..thank you. Yes, I do believe there is hope. I always seem to maintain hope. I may have my low periods, like yesterday, but I always have a good cry, then a good talk with God, and I rally. I am so encouraged by your words, and by the words of Diane, too. I do believe what you are saying. It helps me to know that you do understand, that you have been in my shoes. I am working really hard on trying to nurture myself, on trying to learn how to be there for myself. I’m a work in progress!

Thank you for taking time to encourage me, Darlene. I so appreciate you for that.

Kind regards to you.


Marore, When you hear all those stories of a life too good to be true, remember, it is too good to be true and a lot of it is lies that people use to create a false image of themselves. Pretense is the way many people deal with low self-esteem and often, they convince themselves that the pretense it true. They are exhuasting because if you don’t pretend with them, they will punish you with their rage. It’s crazy to have to walk on egg-shells for hours trying to not make any mistakes in a game of pretend. How could you ever receive anything nurturing from relationships with people who don’t even really exist but are only make-believe? Relationships have to be about mutual nurture. Otherwise, one person is drained of life by the one using them to build a grand persona through pretense.Being a regular person is really, all right. It is much better to accept yourself as you are and look for relationships whith others who do the same than to try and create an image of someone to be admired by sucking the life out of anyone who comes near.



Pam… make a great point. I think that growing up in a household in which your parents (both of them) are narcissistic sets you up for a lot of confusion once you grow up.

My father was a loud-mouthed, crude, obnoxious know-it-all who resorted to having raging fits whenever he was challenged. He was fastidious, obsessive about cleanliness, perfectionistic, and extraordinarily judgmental–of everyone. I can’t recall hearing him say a kind word about anyone, including his own family members or his own mother. Well, heck, I never recall hearing him say a kind word to my own mother, and he certainly never complimented, or was kind to, us kids.

My mother’s false self is evident still today. Never once in my entire life have I heard her say a single self-reflective word. Nor have I ever heard her admit to doing anything wrong. And I haven’t ever heard her say, “I’m sorry.” She is extremely concerned with what others think of her, so image and appearance mean everything to her. She interrupts, talks incessantly (about herself), ignores certain people while playing up to others, focuses upon how people look instead of how they act. She and I couldn’t be more different.

I have often felt like a round peg trying to fit myself into a square hole, not only in my family while growing up, but even at school and in the world at large. But a lot of those feelings just might come from all of the crazy-making behaviors of my parents. They made me feel as if I were the oddest, weirdest, strange, freak in the world. Why? I think it’s because I wasn’t like either of them. As a child, though, I had no idea that the two of them were the ones with the problem. I thought that I needed to change who I was, to FIX myself. Yes, I thought I needed remodeling and fixing.

What I mean is that I learned to hate myself and who I was because they treated me as though I were a weird, unattractive, little egg-headed nerd who wasn’t good-looking and vivacious like they considered themselves to be. I now know that narcissists do focus upon image and upon externals.

I am ordinary and I like ordinary people who are authentic. I’ve always been an authentic person, and I gravitate toward people who are just real.

Thanks for your wonderful comments. You reminded me that just because people brag and talk highly about themselves, that doesn’t mean they are better than I am. I am working hard on my self-esteem issues, and I do need to remember that.

Kind regards,


I could really relate to your post marmore…I always felt like the odd am out in life too. This is something that is done to us…yes.i agree…and I never been able to get past that myself…I don’t socialize anymore. Only grocery shop and spend time in nature and with animals when I am not with the hubby and our child.


Marmore, I can echo most everything you wrote in describing your parents and how they treated you. I never felt that I was part of my family and because of that, I’ve been a lone wolf for most of my life. My self-esteem improved after I connected what my family taught me about myself to how I viewed me. When the lies were exposed, I was left with a very different self-image. It’s wonderful to discover yourself. Brushing away those lies is like brushing the dust off of a forgotten treasure. I like genuine too. When you grow up subjected to lies and keeping secrets, truth is an amazing way to live! I feel like a slave living in freedom for the first time since birth!:0)



Pam, I have always described myself as an “emancipated slave with the freedom and scars to prove it!”

You wrote in #80 so beautifully:

“Brushing away those lies is like brushing the dust off of a forgotten treasure.”

What a wonderful way to put it!

So many gems in all these posts here; it’s like stringing a necklace of diamonds and pearls. Thanks to everyone who posts here. It’s saving & changing my life all at the same time. Gracias, Amen.


Marore, I like very much your sentence “I am ordinary and I like ordinary people who are authentic. I’ve always been an authentic person, and I gravitate toward people who are just real”. It’s soound so healthy and this is where I would like to go.

Kimberly, “spend time in nature and with animals when I am not with the hubby and our child”. It’s so nice, I so want to do this, one day ! living near the nature in harmony.
Can I ask you if you have a job related to the nature ? And what kind of job do you have ?
Of course, it would be better if you can spend more time with people but it sounds healthy too to spend time with nature and animals and to remove ourself off painful situations.
I am not a big fan of facing a group too for the moment.
I hope this will change with time.

Thank you .


Hi Everyone!
I just published a new post about the origin of self blame using an example from my adventures driving in the snow! It’s a day in the life of Darlene complete with what goes through my mind and how I do self talk and turn things around for myself today!
Please read it here; “A day in the life of Darlene ~ Recognizing the origin of self blame”I am looking forward to the conversation!
Hugs, Darlene


Comment #45
I read the article Darlene posted and it also hits home with me. Especially after this holiday it’s a raw subject about being bad. Marore’s posting about her mother not asking anything like How are you? Or how do you feel or knowing anything about her. I don’t think these mothers want to know anything about us, because that would take up room in their brains that is set aside for themselves. (And themselves only.)

This Thanksgiving we set a limit on my husbands’ side and spent Thanksgiving alone with our kids who have now all moved out, we miss the kids and wanted more time alone with them. But I did send an email to my MIL about stopping by since I knew she would spend Thanksgiving at my hubbies brother’s house which is about 4 blocks away from ours. They didn’t show up, not even for 15 minutes for our family. They couldn’t even leave the older brothers’ house a bit early to see us. I probably need to explain that my husband is a middle child/blacksheep of the family, as I am. My husband was not surprised at all that they didn’t come. Ironic since we had the first born grandchildren in the family and used to see these in laws all of the time. But as soon as my hubbies’ younger and older brother had kids, we were dropped like a hot potato! I truly was closer to my MIL than my own Nmom while my kids were growing up. I thought she loved me, although I would hear the slight putdowns that she would make of my husband often. He was such trouble and always getting hurt etc.etc. The younger brother was spoiled rotten and coddled because of health problems. That brother has had 2 failed marriages and has a criminal record, but it is my husband who is still treated like he is so bad. When my kids started realizing that Grandma and Grandpa were rarely stopping by, my husband asked the MIL why they don’t come over like they used to, my MIL replied “It’s not your time anymore.” She later recanted saying it, but she did say it. Who says that to their child? Is there an expiration date on grandchildren? This woman is very, very close with my sister in law, and they cackle behind the scenes. If my SIL sees my MIL talking to me she gets extremely jealous and my MIL will abruptly stop talking to me and run to her side. When I first got married and had children I never thought we would be in this position with both sides of our family at our age. (Both my husband and mine, since I am no contact with my side either.) It is just incredible how you try all of those years to show up to things and raise the kids to graduate and become good citizens, and your are just dropped like you don’t exist. My husbands’ younger brother did not come to our graduation party this year or my daughter’s wedding.(This is the one who we have given gifts for his two kids their whole life.) Our two big events my children’s uncle did not show up, my father in law made no excuses for him and said nothing about it. We’re expected to show up with gifts and smiles for every event, but he gets off scott free! We are so done! My MIL truly only contacts me now when she needs something of me. She does so much for my husbands’ other two brothers. I don’t want ALOT. I don’t need to be number 1, not the favorite or anything, but just respected like the others are. Actions do speak louder than words. The way it is going we will be estranged from my husbands’ side soon also. My husband is such a proud man he says this doesn’t bother him, but it does! He is not a bad person and nor am I. The badness stigma that a parents gives to a child sticks forever and eventually goes right to the grandchildren. But, I don’t need to make any excuses for what happens anymore, let them talk! “I’m Wide Awake” as the Katy Perry song goes. So done…Peace and love to all of your families this holiday season…


Hi Melody!
I am so sorry that this happened to you and your kids. It still shocks me how much this goes on!!! It is a strange sort of punishement that the issue for some reason that they are fully aware of. (and we have always been expected to be ‘mind readers’ I guess) Anyway it hurts to find out that we are of such little value.
Yay for being ‘wide awake’!!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone!
Our very own PAM W. has contributed a new guest post about “Judgementalism ~ A cloud of Disapproval and Condemnation”
You are going to love her insights! This is all about fog busting in a dysfunctional family system and finding the truth! I am looking forward to the discussion there!
Hugs, Darlene


Dear Darlene,
thank you so much for posting such a great blog you have told my life’s storys in your words some of the things ive gone threw in my life. somthing ive never understood about people why they are brainwashed into alway 100% of the time when a child is sexually abused why they the mothers ,grand mother most all ways belive the molester,why? now you take a dog or cat or any kind of anmale if you get near thier babys they will protect them and come after you if you look like your going to harm thier babys ? but we as humans dont deprend or protect our babys why is that ?just like at 14 years old i was date rapped the rapest was in his 20s i got the blame . my grand mother asked me what color panties was i warring . she made the rape my falt she didnt call the police or take me to the hospital ,that tought me at a young age i was nothing not worth protecting . i dont understand womens enabling attuide for the molester .my grand mother proctected the molester . they dont make the adult accountable for thier actions instead they make the abused child the one to be ashamed for doing nothing . at 14 i was big busted so it was my falt for being raped oh and dont forget i wore the wrong colored panties . i guess thats why ive pulled away from my mother and grand mothers been passed away almost 2 years and i havent been to her grave my family guilt trips me cause i wont put flowers on her grave. i think they are just asking me too much .Karla R(ky>)


Hi Karla
Welcome to EFB
I am not sure if you read the current post, but you might find it very interesting. The woman shares her rape story at age 14. She got the blame too. here is the link ~

What happened to you is sick and there is no excuse for adults who don’t protect children. There is no excuse for putting the blame on the child. The damage that causes to the child is huge! It is the damage that we are healing from in this site. I am so glad that you are here, thanks for sharing your story. I understand why you don’t want to put flowers on her grave! (that is like being asked to honour the abuser)
Hugs, Darlene


I tried to resolve things and make a connection with one of my nieces who has been contacting me over the years, and even visited a few times. This was after my having no contact with the family for 25 years. I just got an email telling me how “I have to make amends with the family” and I waited too long and everything that ever went wrong was/ is apparently “my fault” dating back to leaving when I was 16 years old! This girl is 40 years old and really laid into me. I am just in shock.

Here I thought we were making progress but “the truth comes out.” NOTHING EVER CHANGES as NO ONE IS EVER GOING TO LET ME NOT BE THE “BLACK SHEEP.” Everything is my fault. The beatings, the sexual abuse, being black-balled by the entire family at my mother’s request: I OWE THEM AMENDS.

I think I need to change my name or at least give up on straightening anything out. I had hoped to get the facts out but what difference does it make when you are dealing with “perfect parents” and one bad child (me)?

What a harsh, judgmental bitch. And this girl has no children of her own and isn’t married and now I know why. And I thought “things would be different with her.” What a joke. I don’t know why these people keep coming around trying to draw me in, only to attack me once I step inside.

Let this be a lesson to me. I hope I don’t need to learn it again.

Fool me once, it’s your fault. Fool me again, it’s mine. (Or something to that effect). Thank God these sites are here where I can read about this happening to so many all over the world. I will say that even though I feel paralyzed at this moment, I am not suicidal as I might have been in the past. I think I have some emotional distance via “perspective” after reading about so many similar situations for all of us. Thanks be to God for real support from real people who are not LIVING A LIE. We are LIVING A LIFE searching for TRUTH AND BEAUTY AND JUSTICE. And we will GET THERE ONE DAY!

“The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”

Dear God please show me The Way. I need you now! Amen.


Karla, I had to shake my head in disbelief:

” at 14 i was big busted so it was my falt for being raped oh and dont forget i wore the wrong colored panties.”

I don’t know if you remember the Kennedy relative rape trial. The defense held up the (beautiful) sheer lingerie from Victoria’s Secret that the girl had been wearing over and over to the jury, stating “obviously she had wanted to have sex (i.e. “be raped”) so he was “innocent.” They were beautiful striped navy blue classic lingerie, not tiny triangles or pasties but that girl “must have wanted it.”

That trial did change things because the rotten scum bag got off, if I remember right, and they blocked out her face on TV because rape was such as “shameful act” at the time. But after that trial things really did begin to change. The defense couldn’t say she was “doing it for the money” since she was as rich, or richer, than he. And even though the judge didn’t allow in the three other women for the prosecution that would have testified that he had raped them too, the media announced it and “the court of public opinion” convicted him. As they should have.

What your mother and grandmother did is so typical for American women. We have been raised to become “Stepford Wives.” I can assure you it’s not the same in all cultures. Many Black American women would have gone after the guy with a butcher knife! But then again, there are always good parents and bad parents. Some parents sell their children as prostitutes, boys and girls. It takes all kinds to make this world a heaven and a hell, all at the same time.

As I always say, “My father has to live with what he did to me, and so do I.” I ask God to please show me The Way. I figure my father got off easy because I didn’t buy a gun and take justice into my own hands. I feel like I earned a medal for that! For NOT taking action to become like them. Now I have to learn the rest, which is to NOT allow their blame and condemnation and judgment of me to affect me for the rest of my long life. That’s what I’m working on now.

Thank God we have Darlene’s website and others just like them (even though this is one of the very best!). And nowadays, you can wear ANY COLOR UNDERPANTS YOU WANT and the crime will be investigated, regardless of what mother’s or grandmother’s who want to protect their family name or paycheck or whatever might say.

“Hah” to all of them! It’s time for you to tell them mentally if nothing else, to “shut yo’ mouth,” as they say in the trades. Say to heck with all of them and you stand proud. You are a survivor in the finest sense of the word! That’s what I am going to tell myself from this day forward.


Dear Dareleen and Catherien,
thank you for you so very kind words and I read the post that you posted the link it was like it was my life in words of someone elce, this web site has been so helpful to me ,I’ve struggled all my life with self seteem ,P.T.S.T. and depression thats been all my life and the flash backs of my abuse some days just keeps comming and keeps me some days inpresionded in my house . I am finding my voice by writting my books of my abuse its hard but at the same time I know I am not the only one thats been abused I am going to tell my lifes story about my childhood abuse I made th emistake thinking my twin sister would support me in us getting out abuse story out there , I was so wrong, she was so mad at me for wanting to hang our dirty laundry of sexual abuse out there for the world to read .she told me i was such a embracement to the family . the family of shame and secrets . I am not losing my voice again I will not set down and shut up out my abuse and pain .I am starting to see a big pattren of abuse and how it survives and thrives in life its all the enablers that mothers know that thier husbands are sexually abusing thier daughters they choose the abuser to protect . they have blamed me all my life for what my father has done and others and i am not taking it any more I am empowering my self and getting the truth out there , I feel that the truth will set me free of this pain no one choose to protect me from and I am breaking the cycle of protection of the abuser I am speaking the truth .the abusers count on the darkness of the seclince that is kepted by all that enable them . But I am writting that book under a diffrent name I know I am a coward by doing this most of my family has turned thier back on me any way .why cant people just understand when your 6 years old getting rapped by a parent why cant people understand you just cant just get over it and forget it happen. my self worth has been nothing from day 1 . all my life I ‘ve never had any one that really cared about me getting hurt this has effected me all my life its taken my trust in my family ,they dont see being blamed for being rapped by adult knowing what he was doing was wrong ,but me being blamed how could it be a childs falt ,this pain just dosent go away .and when people tell me my mother was mentally ill when she told everyone at my fathers furnal that she(my mother)would mollest my daughter vickie like she molested us 3 girls.then a family member comes up to me after i call my mother a bitch and grab my daughter from her arms over my dead body you will never touch my daughter . my family member comes up to what i thought of comfort me she says Karla you know thats your mothers mental illness talking it will be ok . i looked at her so that makes it all ok? my pain dont matter? every one hurd me and i walked out .I still wont take flowers to my mothers grave or dads grave what I really really want to do is pee on thier grave ,my luck I would be seen by some one and get put in jail .but its a thought . i know if i did pee on thier grave and my family would mapparmend me telling me what a jerk I am for being so disgrestful .as her 2 year death date gets near the more I want to do just that pee on her grave .I know its wrong but it would make me feel better .even if i have to put it in a cup .I have to laught about my crazy thoughts of what I want to do to thier gave it keeps me sain from the deep pain . I am writting my book .thanks everyone for your kind words I am sorry if ive effended any one by wanting to pee on thier grave forgive me. Karla


Marore in #68: I know just how you feel and I’m sure everyone else here does too! I found that when I quit going around my family, as they sound just like yours, I started feeling so much better about myself. It took a number of years of staying away, but it worked, as I could start building friendships with people who really did “care” and were capable of doing so. Big Difference!

When I recently have had contact with biological family members, it’s been the same old hell and I wish I had never started it but after all these years I had to give it a try. I really thought that by now things would be different, but they aren’t. 25 years later nothing has changed! But this is so easy to remedy:

“Just say No.”

And you have somewhere else to go for Thanksgiving where you are wanted and appreciated. I am learning “if it hurts stop doing it.” So simple!
Thanks for your story. Helps everyone here, because we’ve all been where you are and some of still are, me included. So you give me hope and courage, too! If you can manage in spite of their selfishness, self-centeredness and outright cruelty, then so can I. And I will.

God bless you my dear! Thanks for sharing your story and looking forward to more. We can only go UP from here! And we will!


My smart friend just wrote this, too:

“When somebody leaves the dysfunctional group, everyone turns on them.”

My response:

Ahhhh, thank you. That’s true! My mother made sure of that… it’s like the “disconnect” in Scientology. If you leave Scientology you receive letters from everyone disconnecting from you and you become “fair game” for any Scientologist. I belonged for a year when I was 18 and I tell you, when I left it was actually pretty scary!

That’s exactly what all these family members have been doing to me, and attempting to “draw me back in” to see if I have “changed my ways” or am I still going to “tell.”

“Wow. That’s it. In another nutshell! I was laying here thinking I was losing my mind and not knowing what to do about it. But now I can begin to see it for what it is. I’ll spend some time looking this up and I bet I find a lot of information. I know I had to give it one last try, but I have and now I hope I can lay all these ghosts to rest. And get some peace. No contact really does work! And in this day and age it’s so easy to block someone, trash emails unopened, and defriend someone on FB. LOL! And I was smart enough not to accept any of their “friendship” requests. At least I was smart enough about that!”

Darlene, can you – or have you – do another discussion on this phenomenon?

My mother always accused me of “brainwashing” my sisters and brothers about the abuse that she always swore “never happened” when they went to her years later and asked why she allowed it to happen and why she didn’t protect them. I had been gone from home and had no contact with any of them, but she accused ME of “brainwashing them” and she said “There you go again, you’ve been talking to Katie!” (My nickname at the time). I was stunned when I was then accused by those same sisters of “brainwashing them” in a letter when I hadn’t talked to them in years.

It was as if they were coerced into writing those letters by some threat, I don’t know what. I’ve been their torture totem all of my life and I am so tired of it. I think famiily members who “tell” should have the same legal protections under the “whistleblower act” as many whistleblowers used to be involuntarily committed to mental institutions when they reported government financial corruption. This was just ten or twenty years ago!

We are being bullied by our family members and ganged up on, and this has to stop. The perpetrators and their enablers all need to be held responsible for their actions. The victims need to shine a long, hard bright light on them so they know we mean business!

I will never shut up!


Darlene, my last post for the night I promise! I did a search for:
When somebody leaves the dysfunctional group, everyone turns on them.

And this came up:

Shame and Scapegoating

This makes sense. So by “telling” you are making THEM feel “ashamed.” And of course, that can’t be tolerated. You don’t matter at all. And that’s why I was told I have to “make amends.”

This is about THEIR SHAME, not mine. THEIR SHAME. And they will do ANYTHING to get out from under that rock they live under, that sinking feeling, crawling over their skin, with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

All these years spent wondering, answered with one simple word. SHAME. I spent years and years getting over my shame, but they haven’t even begun. So now we begin.

* * * * *

Outcasts, Scapegoats, and Black Sheep of the Dysfunctional Family:

Toxic and dysfunctional families project their shame and sense of inferiority onto a designated other.

* * * * *

Woe to the scapegoat, the whipping boy, the outcast of the toxic and dysfunctional family. This person is made to carry the hidden blame and shame of relatives who refuse to acknowledge their problems. … (more)

Can you do a whole post on shame and scapegoating? I could never face the fact that this is what was and is still being done to me (at age 62!) which started with my mother, then sisters, and now niece(s), but it is what it is and it all finally makes sense.

Why do I “owe amends” to my abuser and his enablers? Why do they hate me so?


In public, to boot! Off with her head!

It’s that simple. And here I’ve been trying to “tell the truth, show the facts, receive justice, get them to see my side of things” and all those good things.

And of course, the more truth I tell, and the more facts I present, the worse it is for them because they can’t deny it and they feel even more ASHAMED and of course, this is all my fault!

And you know what? By their lights, it is!

So, now I understand what is going on here. They can’t stand the SHAME they are feeling, either by never facing their own abuse, or by being part of a sick system that they are ashamed of or actively contributed to. Passive or Active, they were and are part of it. SICK SICK SICK.

Solution? Shut me up, one way or another. It’s the old prosecutorial “sluts or nuts” defense. They’ve tried this with me all my life, but it didn’t work then and it’s not working now.

So now the ball really is in my court, and I will have to decide how to proceed. But I can see that no resolution is imminent. And it doesn’t need to be; it really doesn’t matter anymore. I can tell my story and they can tell theirs. They can say whatever they want to the National Enquirer or any other gossip rag and whoever wants to believe it can. But anyone that knows me isn’t going to believe a word of it. So I have nothing to worry about at all. It will show what kind of people they are as it will show what kind of person I am. And I have nothing to hide.

Nothing I can do about it. But my life does speak for itself and that’s all that matters, in the end.

Dear God thank you for the beauty and power of the internet. What would we do without each other here at long last?

Gracias, Dios. Amen.


Dear Marore#68,
I am sorry for all that you have gone threw (((hugggss)
I know how you feel just wanting someone to just care well I do care.
it sad all that you’ve went threw I admire you for speaking your truth
you have said things I’ve felted too. I understand how you feel . thank you for speaking what I couldnt speak you are very strong you have strenthened me huggsss.
Karla R ,(ky)


Karla, all I can say is AMEN AMEN AMEN! Can I get an AMEN?

Hallelujah! We are on the road to FREEDOM. God bless… and Big Hugs!


Karla, you made me laugh out loud! In fact, ROTFL! (Rolling on the floor laughing!)

“I still wont take flowers to my mothers grave or dads grave what I really really want to do is pee on thier grave ,my luck I would be seen by some one and get put in jail .but its a thought . i know if i did pee on thier grave and my family would mapparmend me telling me what a jerk I am for being so disgrestful .as her 2 year death date gets near the more I want to do just that pee on her grave .I know its wrong but it would make me feel better .even if i have to put it in a cup”

I thought about “dancing on my father’s grave for YEARS. But peeing on his grave… that’s even better, “even if you have to put it in a cup.”

That’s better because like you said, luck would have it and you would get arrested!

No, I am not offended in the least. In fact, you made my day!

Note: letting myself think that way eventually subsided so now it doesn’t matter, but just thinking about it made my day and saved me. Anger can be quite healing in it’s own right. There’s a purpose to anger as long as we don’t unleash it on “the other” or on our selves. Letting my Self feel it finally let it go away.

You go, girl!


Hi Karla
I hate that ‘mental illness’ card. (when people use mental illness to excuse abusers ~ the law does not excuse them so why do we have to? That whole thing is such a fog storm.) They use that mental illness card against people by discrediting anyone who even has a bit of depression and they use it to excuse other people; and somehow these dysfunctional family members get away with it both ways! That is what I point to the truth all the time. It’s the only way out of the dark. There is no excuse for sexual abuse. It is a crime and should be punished by law. Period.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Catherine
Thank you for all your comments! I think that what I wrote to you on the current post by Pam addresses all of what you are sharing too!
Something that really helped me was to stop trying to understand them, and focus on trying to understand what happened to me and what my needs were and how they didn’t get met. I had to finally listen to me.
Hugs, Darlene


Re your comment #93 and #94 you ask if I have written or if I can write about this;
In my opinion, this whole site is about just that!
Happy reading!
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you Darlene. You wrote:

“Something that really helped me was to stop trying to understand them, and focus on trying to understand what happened to me”


“… and what my needs were and how they didn’t get met. I had to finally listen to me.”

Yes again.

“Re your comment #93 and #94 you ask if I have written or if I can write about this;
In my opinion, this whole site is about just that!”

Thank you! I was afraid I was not keeping on the “right topic” or something and messing things up by writing too much in the wrong place. What a relief. What a site. Safety and Support for the first time in my life. Gracias to all here! Amen.


By the way, we have this lovely cactus fruit in your photo above in Guatemala, Central America, where I now live most of the year.

It’s called Pitaya or Dragon Fruit and it is delicious! But you can’t eat too much at once, or you will spent the rest of the night racing to the bathroom!

I enjoy it so much that I ate two big giant ones the first time it came in season, and Lord did I pay the price. But it is truly delicious. They are sold just once a year when the fruit ripens and the people go up the mountain to find the plants where they harvest them in the wild.


Dear Catherine,
thank you for your kind words the month of march will be here in a few months and Iam going to make my self feel better by doing what I said a cup of pee will due , I am saying my peace what I think of my mother and dad for all of thier abuse and pouring the cup of pee on thier graves, telling them both they was sorry parents making me feel I was nothing all my life making me feel unloved and making me feel they only loved one daughter the one that was the most like them full of them selfs . they forgotten we had feelings they abused us in every way .my mother was the most of the abuser locking me in a closet when i was little with a jar of spiders .and all of the beatings i got for being lefted handed her telling me after she beat me how stupid i was and slow and all those other mean things . ive got to let go and pour the pee on her and walk away that would be my peace . thanks for your kind words this is the greatest site thanks darlene too for all your wonderful insite you are a blessing to us all.


Dear Karla,

Why wait? Make a grave out in the backyard and write down all the things you want(ed) to say to her, put them on the “grave” and set the paper on fire, and then put out the fire with your cup of pee!

Send her to heaven or hell, wherever God decides. I have done this (without the cup of pee) a number of times, “sending their spirits to whence they came” be it heaven or hell. It’s not my decision, it’s God’s and the story of their life is the just desert they will receive.

Reading that your mother had “locking me in a closet when i was little with a jar of spiders” made me so angry I wanted to fly to your house and call the police and see her in handcuffs and take her to court and open that door and set you free…

Oh My God. I can hardly believe that someone would do that to a child. You can be sure that her own heaven or hell has been waiting for her for many, many years and she will get her “just reward.”

Pour that cup NOW. And again in MARCH. You can pour that cup as many times as you want to!

So glad you are here sharing your tale. Don’t we all have them? Keep writing.


Hi Karla
That spider thing made me really angry too. That is a horrible abusive thing to do! The beatings too. It is so important to see the false messages you got about yourself from those things in order to re-parent yourself and re-wire your belief system.
Hugs, Darlene


[…] do if I were stoned enough. My parents did nothing to save me and I’m sure they thought I was “getting what I asked for”. They waited for me to get enough and come crawling home. I never once questioned them for doing so. […]
NEW post related to this one!


Dear Darlene andCatherine,
you both just dont know what kind words does to me it just makes me crumble and cry , see all my life I have never been worthy of kindness from my mother , and just to have a womam two at that to say kind words I just feel so undesirving . I have always walked in my mothers shoes, I dont know if its noraml but all my life I as a mother would ask myself am I like her (phyillis my mother)one day my daughter was doing something she was young about two ,I was yelling at my little girl the fear I saw in my daughters little face it gave me a reality check of my childhood of my mother yelling and screaming at me . I hugged my little girl crying oh my god I have become the woman i dispise my mother yelling at my little girl . from that day I wore my mothers shoes . everything i did as a mother i questionsed myself am I LIKE HER AM I SCREAMING LIKE HER ? i have to belive in my self becalse the sad fact is her shadow has followed me all my life .i dont know how to shake it . i am sick of carrying her guilt and her shame by all the bad things shes done how do i stop holding myself accountable for all shes done to me ? i suffer from many mental illness dark depression, ptst from the abuse that flash backs and on and . on a great day like today i take it and run with it . you both have inspired me to work on my other book today to write and tap into the deep pain i have hidden all my life . the book will be titled please mommy dont .I am taking my freedom back ! I am a great mother at 19 years old my daughter is in collage she calls me everyday and most of all she says I love you mom your the best mom in the world . those words mean more to me than any thing .my daughter and I have soemthing my mother and I never had or will ever have love and repsect for eachother .I have lived my life walking in my mothers shoes and they jsut dont fit me I am a better mother than my mother ever was even on a bad day .my healing comes from knowing I havent ever abused my daughter the way I was abused .now I define myself as a mother from with myself my inter hurt child guides me into a better person than I would have ever dreamed . I belive bearking the abusive cycle started with me I have seen my mothers life’s lession and turned her vase of thorns into pretty roses .I have learned so many things about being a mother and its more than just the ablity to bare children its so much more and its rewarding in its self and one day I know I look forward to being a grand mother I can hardly wait .my life is full I am erracing all the passed pain ! I am living my life to the fullest!


Karla, you are such a poet!

“I hugged my little girl crying oh my god I have become the woman I despise my mother yelling at my little girl . from that day I wore my mother’s shoes. Everything I did as a mother I questioned myself am I LIKE HER AM I SCREAMING LIKE HER? I have to believe in my self because the sad fact is her shadow has followed me all my life”

Your mother’s “shadow” may have followed you all your life, but you are definitely out from under it! I wish I could say the same for me. But if you can do it, then maybe so can I. You are so lucky and so deserved to have such a wonderful relationship with your daughter!

I wish it were true for me and my son. He has not spoken to me in almost seven years, and I see no change in sight. You have been a good mother. I wonder every single day what did I do to be such a bad one? I will never know, as all he says by email (the one time he responded to me) was “You know what you did, and until you admit to it, I have nothing more to say to you!” And he meant it and he has stuck to it.

Admit to what? That is the question. And so it goes. I am completely rejected by my entire family at this point, so it’s hard to keep any semblance of sanity. Even though I have stayed away from almost all of them practically my entire life and they haven’t seen me for YEARS.

But the rejection still hurts and I’m practically suicidal at this point. “Practically” meaning I can recognize my PTSD for what it is and at least stay small and still until it passes. It might take hours, days weeks or months, but I have been through this before and I do know THIS TOO SHALL PASS. And I won’t make the same mistake of having contact with these toxic individuals ever again.

When you gave us the title of your book that you are working on, “Please Mommy Don’t,” it brought tears to my eyes.

You are such a blessing here, Karla, and you have a real way with words. I am looking forward to more. Thank you for sharing.


Karla, this is just one more of the diamonds and jewels you have showered us with:

“I have seen my mothers life’s lession and turned her vase of thorns into pretty roses.”

What a wonderful picture you paint! Thank you for sharing!


Dear Catherine,
I have a facebook and I would love to add you as my friend heres my name on facebook,karla reeves,and my other facebook karla mangold reeves.the first one is my authors page karla reeves .


Hi Karla
I was the same way as a mother and about my mother. It is normal. There is hope for overcoming everything you are talking about here. I did. Thank you for sharing your victories with your own daughter!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I’m glad to hear that it’s “normal” to be same way “as a mother and about my mother.” I was also terrified I’d be the same as my father. I worked very very hard to not have that happen, and I didn’t think it did (but who knows, since my son does not speak to me).

I know I was terrified I’d be the same. And then to find out my son is just like my father. Who would have ever guessed. What hell to be. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

Karla, I looked for you on FB. karla mangold reeves is not listed, and there’s too many karla reeves. Send me the link to your page. CT

Catherine , i sent the wrong link this one is right my email is


More validation! Thank you! This site has been more helpful than all the therapists I have seen combined.

I was brainwashed too. My mother started in on me fairly early. I remember being told I was adopted, but I hated that…I wanted to belong to my parents. Then I was told that my birth mother was slutty. Mom didn’t use that word but told me that she had an affair with my bio-father whom she worked with at some company. I was also told I had an older half sister whom she kept, but she didn’t want to keep me because I was a reject…I wasn’t good enough. Then my adoptive parents started telling me that I was terrible, that everything about me was bad, & that they were forced to adopt a defective child, & they hated me for being in their space. This all happened during my toddler years…the brainwashing just kept coming & because I was just a child, had no clue what they were systematically doing to me, I went right along with them. It resulted in a sad child…one without self esteem, one without hope, without the prospect of being accepted or liked. By the time I was 12, I was beat into submission. I quit trying, didn’t bother trying to make friends, didn’t bother to talk to my parents since it never went well anyway, & I just existed…begging God to end my pain. He took home some of my cousins (terminal cancer)…I used to plead with him to take me instead (they were still alive but barely. I didn’t care, there really wasn’t any point of me being on earth because I was such a burden & bother to everyone that knew me. I was well aware that I was a reject, defective in every way, & if it wasn’t bad enough that my parents, their relatives/friends reminded me, classmates & peers bullied me too right along with teachers. I had no where to go for any affirmations, no love, not even a single kind word…just reminders that I was a mean & spiteful creature who didn’t deserve such a wonderful life that my parents provided. They would ask me/demand to know why I was so ungrateful & hateful. I can’t even begin to remember what I had done to always hear such terrible things about me. I was just about as broken as a child could get…now I know the truth. I was brainwashed into believing I was the sole problem to everyone who knew me.

I so wish I could talk to that little girl, to tell her it’s not her fault. That she really wasn’t the one to blame for others’ troubles. It was the circumstances that put her in a place she should never have been.


Dear Darelene,
I was thinking how my parents made me feel unworthy ,just one more way they made me feel unworthy and unloved. I remembered when I was about 13 years old we went on vacation out of state to visit ”uncle Dave ” he was the molester ,he loved little pre teen boys . I rode my bike down a big graveld hill . I had seen my dad ride his bike down the hill so I thought I could ride my bike down it at the bottem of the hill was my parents camp site . well I walked my bike up the hill to the shower room and bathroom so now I was ready to ride my bike down the big hill . i looked andsaw my mother and dad my sisters my grand mother and my ”uncle” any way i got half way down the hill and i lost controle of my bike it was a bad wreck i was bleeding from my head ,arms knees . my bike stopped and i just stood holding my bike up i was out of it i was dizzy from hitting my head on the rocks . i had cracked or broken my wrest . the bone was poking out of the skin. my mother and everyone saw the wreck me comming down the hill,stunnded my mother yelled at my father go get her. my mother ran to get me off the bike. i passed out as she got me off my bike . my mother bannaged me up the best she could, she grabbed my arm and told me it would hurt what she was going to fix my wrest . i had no clue how bad it would hurt .she told me look away i hurd a big pop and the next thing i felted was pain the worse pain i had ever felted in my life I closed my eyes and i was laying on the floor my mother still had my wrest holding onto me tightly . i had passed out from the pain. my dad told me Karla i hope the attion your getting you asked for it by getting hurt. i just sat and cryed quietly . wow i thought parents was suposed to make the pain go away. that night as i lay in the top bunk of our camper , i fell off the the top bunk i have never felted such pain in my life we would be on vacation for two weeks ,and forget going to a doctor . well i layed in pain all night long suffering all night my father told me to shut up or he would give me something to cry about . i wasnt even allowed to feel my pain or even cry. the next day i went swimming my arm pain was a little less in the warm water. my dad shamed me in front of everyone telling me hope i was happy all the attention i was getting then he told me i was faking my pain it didnt really hurt i was lying to get everyone to feel sorry for me. i couldnt even cry i just looked down how could he call me a lier? well the next year someone put gas in the bbq starter my mother told me to start the bbq, my dad would be cooking hambgers . well it flamed up the fluid was orange not the clear color it should have been the top flew off the starter fluid and it blew up in my face the gas ran down my legs . i had flames all over my legs i got so scared i took off running threw the woods. my older sisters boy friend chased me down in the woods and takeled me and put the fire out . i was in shock crying. my sisters boy friend saved my life putting out the fire on my legs. the gas ran down my legs and the fire burnted my legs . i was shaking so bad . i told my sisters boy friend dont carry me back to camp my dad will yell at me for gettign hurt i told him just let me die. he said he wanted to take me to the hospital i told him no dont my dad will be so mad at me . i couldnt walk back to camp my legs hurt so bad and i was shaking so badly . knowing that my dad would be so mad. my sisters boy friend carried me to the camp and put me in a chair .my dad started in on me fussing at me once again telling me about the drama i caused again . i just wanted to die .no compassion or nothing but yelling at me he told me it was the last vacation i would be going on i couldnt keep from getting hurt just for attion . i couldnt even cry in front of my dad any more or my mother .he called me a lier again .if you ask did they take me to the hospital no are you kiding me ? i wasnt worthy of it. my legs didnt scare to badly.well then there was the year i was 16 years old and i had a lump in my breast. i went to my guidence councler at high school, i told her what was going on with me she told me she would have to report it . i asked her how could i get my dad to take me to the doctor . she told me that she would have to report it . i started to cry i knew my dad would kill me then shame me . i told her please dont tell my dad it was me telling on him. she made a report they called me back to the office befor i had to go home , i spoke to the man that was looking into the abuse . i told him i dont lie to my dad he would kill me if he knew i turned him in , i told him the things that my dad wasnt taking me to the doctor for the injerys that didnt get reported . he told me my parents were neglection me and my health , i told him my dad had a good job and good insurance but we wasnt taken to the doctor when we got hurt. the man came to my house interviewing my dad and he lefted he would be back to talk to me. my dad sat me down and asked me if i knew the man that came by the house and i had to look him in the eyes and lie to his face , i was so afraid of my dad. i told him i didnt know the man and i asked why did he want to speak to me . my dad said some one filed a complint on him for neglection me and other charges . i saw real fear in my dad’s eyes he told me they would take me away and put me into foster care if he didnt take me to the doctor . well i had breast cancer they caught it early . i will never for get that i went into the hospital the last thing my dad said to me befor i went into the opreation ,he told me all this was in my head the breast cancer it was all my doings for attion. my dad went back home i was in the hospital for 3 days my mothe never lefted my side. my doctor came in to check my bannages he sent my mother out of the room. i asked him doc, can i ask you something .he said sure. i asked him how did i make myself have this cancer lump. he looked puzzled he said how could i feel i caused the cancer? i told him what my dad said that i caused all this for attion. he told me it wasnt my falt this happend. i told him my dad shamed me for having this lump and for all this mess and i made him spend money for me being in the hospital its all my falt. he told me my father was stupid . he told me it wasnt my falt .i just felted so unworthy of getting a doctors help in making me well . my dad was so abusive .my doctor asked him bout blamming me for the cancer, my dad blamed me said i enjoy the drama . i just wanted to die. i just have no words to discribe how little he maked me feel. oh and about17 1/2 years ago the karma bus got him , he wouldnt let us go to the doctors well he called me after i had lefted home shortly after i had turned 16 years old .years later he called me and told me he was having chest pains and pain going up his arm and sholder. i told him he needed to see a doctor it could be a heart atack. one week later he was flying his little plane and he had a massave heart atack . he cant say i didnt tell him go see a doctor his pride got him on the karma bus . my dad would always tell me you reep what you sew .


I wanted to cry reading how horrible your dad treated you as a minor. What a burden he put on you & neglecting your health. That is abusive. I give you credit for telling your guidance counselor. Even though you were terrified of your dad’s wrath, you were brave & strong. He was a malicious person. Too bad he wasn’t charged with Malicious Intent of a minor. Also, he was very ignorant to blame you for a physical disease, which you have no control over & not give any support. Sounds like your mom stepped up with support. Wow! It’s hard to wrap my brain around how malicious some people can be!!! What goes around comes around…Karma got him at the end…He denied his own health and paid the price. Sounds mean but true…


Dear Sonia,
you know I feel the same way he got what he desirved .I dont think its mean I feel the same way .I am trying to peal off the layers of the toxic abuse I suffred all my life from both of my abusive parents so I dont ever treat my daughter like I was treated . I tell my daughter every day how much I love her shes in collage now and I pray I’ve been a better parent than my parents .I am very careful with my words my broken childhood has tought me that words cut and scar the heart and mother did her share of abuse of me as a child it will shock you when you read my other post on here . but for the grace of god i cant hate them . I dont have any love for them where love should be in my heart theres nothing I do pray where ever they went hell or heaven some one has mercy on thier souls .thanks for your kind words . it just makes me wonder how some people could be such parents . some how thier life lessions has really tought me how to be a better parent than my parents . something I tell my daughter every day ,when we would take her to school live life to the fullest and take notes teach all you come in contact with something about compassion ,life is your bigest class .leave your mark in class ,when you dont learn from the passed you are waiting to repeat your parents mistakes in life and it will become a toxic mess. this is something i have known all my life .where my wisdom comes from is god . I am so grateful for the wisdom hes given me and the grace to always be compassanate to others.


my birthday is the 5th . I will be a year older and wiser


Tommoro I give myself my self worth its my birthday tommoro, something I am going to do for myself for my self healing I will get one of my teddy bears and speak to it the words ive wanted my parents to say to me as a little girl .i will take my little bear and set it in my lap pretending that its the little hurt girl named Karla (me)I love you little Karla you have worth, you are special, I will always love and protect you always . I am glad your here . you are such a joy to my life .you are my treasure . I will be here for you when you cry I will dry your tears I will laught with you I will share your life all your joys. you are worth loving . I know it may sound a little crazy but I am healing my self of my passed broken childhood . I want to be a happer woman .I will speak the words I didnt hear as a child from my mother and father . I know what love is and ive spoken those words to my daughter .I want to inspire others to heal as I am healing . this month ive been in the darkest depression so please keep me in your prayers . my healing journey is long . I know with choosing to heal there is pain . thats why I can walk this long journey of healing , I know the pain will be less .


DP – Moms Who Hate Their Children:

Is there a discussion on this subject? I heard this all my life growing up. BPD / Narcissistic Mom and I was the “bad child.” Incredible. Heart breaking. Thank God this is coming out.


marla #115 wrote: “More validation! Thank you! This site has been more helpful than all the therapists I have seen combined.”

Exactly. The thousands and thousands of dollars and all the wasted years.

This site is a GODSEND and it is free to all of us from the goodness of Darlene’s heart! It’s just incredible.

I have donated what I can right now to help Darlene keep the site running. Soon I will set up a monthly donation through PayPal (top right of page). Every little bit helps!



Happy Birthday Karla, Dec. 5, 2012! May there be many more happy and “wiser” ones, too, just as you said!


Thanks so much Catherine
merry christmas to everyone !


Hi Catherine
If you want to find a discussion here, google “emerging from broken” with the words or phrase. So in this case, google EFB with narcissism or narcissistic.
There are tons of discussions about this here! The mother daughter category is also packed with this.
Hugs, Darlene


Happy Birthday Karla!!!
Have a wonderful day. I love your idea to speak to the little girl who is/was you.
That is awesome!
Hugs, Darlene


thanks so much darelen
you have really blessed so many including me just having this site. I know so many share my childhood pain you make my life so much better just knowing that someone really cares about the abused and broken childhood dreams of just living . god bless you! words just cant express how grateful i am just being able to read the posts on this site you help so many by your kind words . thank you is so inaquite to express my thanks . you have and eveyone have a great day .Karla my quote for today is written by me~Karla Reeves- healing ,peace and love starts with me all of me ,my healing starts today! I love me just for me .thank you God for blessing me with life .I am like the star fruit when you cut it open you will see in the heart of the fruit a star . I am a little diffrent but god dont make mistakes he makes stars . peace begins today with me I cellabrate life and love !


Marore, I am NOT “bummed out” by anything you write. In fact, I was thinking the same thing: that I should “shut up” as I was doing the same thing! Keep writing. You are helping me, and I’m sure, so many others just to find out that we are not “crazy” for having our feelings. What a relief to FINALLY not be told we should “just get over it” and “let it go” and the real doozy I got recently: “You are hurting yourself!” As if I did this to me!

Talking about the wounds and looking for medicine and showing the scars and not hiding them does not mean “I did this to myself” and I am “hurting myself.” It’s incredible. It’s like talking about being raped and being told “you raped yourself.”

It’s unbelievable how some people act, and they consider themselves “friends” and that they are doing you a “favor.”

But thanks to this website I can calmly respond to them about the need to be free and not hide what happened to me and eitherr block them in the future or ignore these kinds of comments. I couldn’t do that before. So I guess I am making a tiny bit of progress. Lord it takes a long time.

“The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”
Dear God please show me The Way.


Thanks Karla for the FB link. Sent you a friend request. I think Emerging From Broken has a Facebook page and I think I belong to it there, too. If so, then we could friend each other at will. Thanks!


feeling unworthy the messages my mother gave me. my family had 3 girls including me i was the middle child we wasnt poor or anything like that. my mother made sure to tell us every time my older sister got new clothes she would make sure to tell us my sister was first born she would always get new everything we would get her hand me down cloths if they fit ,down to her old bras’ well there came a day i went to my mother and asked her was the bra from my sister suposed to cut into my skin ,it was getting so bad that my skin would bleed. my mother told me take off my top and i did as i was told she took off the bra and said in front of my older sister if i would stop playing with my breast they wouldnt be so big ,so she let me know how bad she hated it to have to spend wasted money on me a biger bra then she told me i looked like a tramp being biger busted than my older sister . i was speachless . then she would make my twin sister and me ware for almost a week the same dress over and over not washing it ,we had other dressess we could have worn . i got made fun of for warring the same dress all week . my mother was crazy some of the things she did. my mother had everything she had a washer and dryer . this made me feel so unworthy then in the second grade i got yelled at for washing my own dressess and then my dad got into it with her i went to him and he said well your big enought to wash your own dressess. then when we would get home from school and she would demand us take off our ”good cloths” meaning our school cloths ,and to this day i am now 48 i cant ware a new dress just to be warring it i only ware ”my new good cloths out” i try to tell my self its ok for me to just ware a new top or new cloths jst to be warring them . i desirve to ware new things just for warring them . anyone elce go threw this kind of unworthness? like me? i am trying to heal and peal all the toxic messages in my head and in my heart . i try to replace the the messages that said i dont matter or i am unworthy i force myself to ware something new .


Hi Karla
I went through a lot of similar things. This whole process had so much to do with changing those false beliefs that I had about myself because of the way that I was defined by the words and actions of others. Once I knew what each false belief was, I could work on changing it back to the actual truth. And it helped for me to think of it as “re-parenting” ~ learning to take care of my needs in a loving way, the way a loving parent would have taken care of me.
Hugs, Darlene


Dear Darene
its so good to know that i wasnt alone in some of the falsehoods my parents tryed to raise me was the truth but wasnt .I find myself taking steps back from all my family , I dont know how to make a relationship with thier toxic and guilt trips and shameful words i just cant live taking that any more .


I’m 52 years old and just found out that I am the scapegoat for a very large dysfunctional family.
After a devastating divorce over 5 years ago, in which I was emotionally put through the wringer, I moved in with my adult daughter. I could not cope being out on my own. I took care of her 2 small children while she and her husband worked. But of course, being highly dysfunctional myself, eventually it became clear, for the sake of saving our relationship it would be better if I moved out of my daughters home. I lived with her for 4 years. When deciding where I would live, I thought moving in with my mother who is aging and needs help would be a great solution. I worked hard physical labor for 3 months remodeling her basement to make it a comfortable place to live. I had only been here a couple weeks and the holiday season was upon us. I have 8 adult sisters, and one stayed here with us for a few days, cooked and made cookies. The problem was whenever she took a break, she’d come down into the basement and badmouth others in the family. This has been an issue with my family my whole adult life. I pretty much shut her down each time she tried her manipulation on me. However, on xmas eve another sister jumped up from the table and raged about the kids making too much noise, hurled insults at everyone and stormed out of the house with her 2 school aged children, traumatizing every child and adult that was in the house. It ruined xmas for my whole family. Being that I witnessed a similar incident this past summer on a family vacation, I decided I was not going to take it this time and wrote a very lengthy email to my sisters telling them that their behavior was unacceptable and that we as a family needed to stand up one at a time and admit we all have severe issues with our personalities that need to be addressed. I acknowledged (because I knew it would be pointed out to me), that I know I have issues and my plan was to start addressing them, now that I was settled in at Mom’s and now have health insurance. Well, you would have thought I was hitler himself by the response I received back. Even though I did not contribute to the turmoil at all around the holidays my sisters banded together and began to attack and blame me. Somehow they turned it all around to make me the bad guy….and here’s the kicker…my Mom, who I just moved in with weeks ago, has absolutely no compassion for me at all. She has believed everything they’ve been feeding her and she is being EXTREMELY MEAN and saying very nasty hurtful…and untruthful things to me. I’m ready to be admitted to a psych ward. After all the work (for a 52 year old woman it was not easy to single-handedly remodel this basement)….I haven’t even finished unpacking and now I have to move out?????!!!!! OMG, I’m beside myself. I have tried talking to my mother 3 times since xmas eve and she will not relent about ME being the cause of all the issues in this family. I haven’t slept for days and I feel ready for a straight jacket. They are lying right to my face. I feel like I am in a prison, but I can’t just leave….I have no place to go. It will take months for me to find another place to live….PLEASE HELP ME….I Don’t know what to do!


Connie, I know just how you feel, and have been through many such scenes exactly as you describe, and somehow it all always got turned around and pointed at and blamed on me! I can tell I “dodged a bullet” this year as I said I was afraid to come to Christmas dinner with other family members that I hadn’t seen in 25 or 30 years given the behavior of some of them the last time I saw them. I was mobbed and attacked and blamed and thank God they rejected my coming! I can see now this was the best Christmas present ever. I could never have rejected them, but they did it for me.

Where you will go I don’t know, but anything has to be better than the prison you are in. Could you possibly go to your local senior center and find a job and a room taking care of a shut-in? What I wouldn’t have given for someone like you who cares about others and wants to improve when I had my mother-in-law living with us for the last four years of her life. I would have given anything to get a break as “dementia and diapers” 24×7 almost killed me. And I would have gladly given room and board and a small salary so that everyone could be taken care of and we could have helped each other.

How about it? You are obviously very capable, after remodelling your “would-be prison cell.” Now you can make your own room in a house that will not be filled with drama and strife, where you will be appreciated for your contributions and care and be given remuneration and even thanks for it. Can you imagine? Wouldn’t life be grand?

Let us know how things turn out. But leaving that hell-hole can be nothing but a blessing in disguise. I had to leave my own, and God opened every door. Even when I can’t see my way through. There is always light at the end of the tunnel and angels are waiting for us. That is for sure. God bless… and good night. The morning and God will show you what to do. We will find our way “home.”


Hi Connie,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
You have found the right website; it is very unfortunate but the reaction that you got is very common. We try to make a positive difference, (in LOVE) and we are bombarded with hate. Please keep reading the articles in this site. There are over 350 of them, many about family dysfunction (use family category buttons and the mother daughter button at the top) ~ you are not the problem and this site is about how I learned to validate myself (and realize I had never been validated and how my self esteem got so broken in the first place) and the damage that was caused to me, in order to heal.
Hugs, Darlene


Catherine & Darlene,
Thank you so much for your quick reply. I have calmed myself quite a bit in
the last couple of day thanks to having God as a present force in my life.
I am looking on the positive side of all this negativity and understanding
out of all this bad stuff, good will eventually come. Although the strife
against me was strong and cruel, it crystallized my resolute drive to
change; to be a better human being. To foster that goodness into those I
love who are receptive, such as my grown daughter and her 2 beautiful sons.
I will no longer put my dysfunctional family in front of my grandsons as an
example how adults should behave. I will shield them and myself against
further abuse.

I have shared your website with my daughter and one of my sisters who I
believe is trying to “emerge” as I am. I absolutely love the name of your
website “Emerging from Broken.” I want to put it on a t-shirt! I read your
blogs for hours the night I wrote to you and a couple things keep coming
back to my mind. One is, “My voice will no longer be silenced by those who
silence it in the first place.” And, “The opposite of dysfunctions is
Hope.” I love that. I do have hope. I’ve always had hope. And you know
what, I feel pretty bullet proof right now. I will stay here with my Mom,
go forward with my plans to get help through a counseling and self-care. I
will tend to my elderly mother’s needs and be kind to her, because that is
who I am, but I will strive toward finding another place to live and move
forward when the time is right. I do believe I can accomplish this without
hurting anyone else. I live in cold and snowy upstate NY….I have money
put away to buy a home. I’m thinking about Florida for 2 reasons: I hate
the cold weather, and I like the distance.

Thank you again. I will be a frequent visitor to your site. It’s a blessing
to women such as me.



Connie, this is one of the best posts I’ve read here. You “said it all.” Thank you so much for sharing, and may all your endeavors be fruitful and kind. I think you are on the Path to peace and happiness. Now if God will just show us The Way, we will all find our way Home!

God Bless… your friend Catherine


I just had to post this video, as the beautiful song lyrics are “carrying me home.” If there ever was a song about me, and the journey I have been on, this is it! This is the best Christmas present yet…

Mary McCaslin – Prairie In The Sky

I ride a big blue roan, I carry all I own
In the pouches of my saddle bags with my bedroll tied behind.

There’s a prairie in the sky, I’ll find it by and by
Hues of brown and yellow to make a soul unwind

Let the music take me home to where my heart may roam
I’ll fly across the meadows, touch the tall grass as I go.

Let the gentle western wind stay with me ’til the end
Beside me ’til the day is done and the sun is settled low.

Leave the ponies to run free, far as the eye can see.
I’d ride the range forever to see them once again.

Let the wild, flying things soar above me on their wings,
And the stars fill up the night sky and the moon light up
the plains.

I ride a big blue roan, I carry all I own
In the pouches of my saddle bags with my bedroll tied behind.


PS: Loved Connie’s T-Shirt idea! How about it, Darlene? All sizes, spelled out EMERGING FROM BROKEN! I’m first in line!


Hi Connie
Finding my voice was KEY ~ I didn’t realize how long it had been silenced!
Thank you for sharing; your discoveries are so important!
Hugs, Darlene


I tried to do the exercise at the end of this article and realized that I don’t really have many memories from my childhood…so much better to suppress them, sweep them under the rug, instead of face the reality that my mom never loved “me”. Oh, there was always that carrot…I “could” be loved…if only I wasn’t me….if I could magically change myself into someone else. I “tried”….for years I tried…but my soul would not let me live a lie…and I resented pretzeling myself as much as I found myself yearning to change. I have been living in these polar opposites for years….”I want to be what you want me to be”….”I want to be myself and have you love me for me”…..the first always wins out. I don’t believe that I am lovable for who I am….and I tend to seek out and idolize men who fit my core wound and mirror the broken relationship with my parents. I tend to fall for Narcissist men, emotionally distant men, lost boys and fatherly figures…I idolize them….put them up on pedestals….twist and turn myself in endless circles trying to win their favor. Always the “hope” that they will see through all my people pleasing and love the real me…and then I can love me as well. It is a gut wrenching obsession…the “answer” always lies outside of myself…always resides in someone else…someone else has the power to make me feel happy or make me feel miserable…and oftentimes…they don’t have a clue that I’ve given them this power. It never works out….they usually choose someone else over me…and I am devastated…trying to figure out what about me was so wrong, so bad, so unworthy…because surely it was something about me that repelled them. My life feels very chaotic and I’m tired all the time…drained from trying to give love in order to earn love back. What is the definition of insanity?..Doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. I fit that definition all too well.


I know how you feel. I’ve been digging for those memories, but they are few and far between. My mother gave birth to 14 babies, but you know what, I have no memories of her laying on the floor playing with her infant(s). My only memories of her seem to be of her ironing, doing laundry or raging about the fact that she had to cook another meal. I do not ever remember her playing with a child. My Dad did, but he was not around very much. It’s puzzling. I don’t remember…not one time….my mother ever holding me, kissing me or hugging me. Sometimes today she tries to, but I RUN in the opposite direction…it feels so WEIRD. She had her chance to mother me 50 years ago…now….yuck, I don’t want to hug her. Can’t help what I feel. Hang in there Katie…we’ll make it…let’s heal and let’s remember everyday of healing we have. God Bless!


PS Katie,

The man thing….me too. Narcissist, Cheaters….Although I was always the sexiest, best looking choice, in the end, I was never the one who was chosen. It was usually a less attractive, but probably more emotionally stable gal who was chosen over me….totally get you on this one. One broken heart after another, throughout my adult life. Trauma on top of trauma. I think I might have PPTTSSDD LOL!


Ladies (Connie & Katie), don’t feel bad you “weren’t chosen.” You may have just been LUCKY! I was never “chosen” for marriage because I was “too independent.” I was the “sexiest, most adventurous and slimmest” attractive female in the bunch. I was described once as “everyone wants to ride a bucking bronco one time!” I was furious when he said that. But most of the men I knew married the hen that would keep house, cook and clean for them, and keep their mouths shut. They were “marriage material.” I was not.

I was the female every single guy I met “wanted to have an affair with,” behind their wives back. I was a “challenge” and I was so “hot and had such a fantastic body.” (I had been a dancer, swimmer and gymnast for years). It made me sick and the entire time I was growing up I felt like I must be nothing more than a whore, since that’s how they came on to me. I didn’t know “what I was doing wrong,” since I didn’t dress in sexy clothes or wear much makeup if any at all. But still they all wanted me and all I had to do was enter the room and all the women would turn to me and bare their teeth and growl. I could never figure out what I was doing wrong. Years later I realized that I was a single female, in a room full of men, and I was of breeding age.” And I was much more interesting and adventuresome than the small brown hens they had married who were now stuck like glue by their side.

I didn’t try to show off ever, and I never dressed in sexy clothes. But you couldn’t hide a dancer’s body; the shape gives you away. And get me out on the dance floor! There wasn’t any comparison. I couldn’t “hide my light under a bushel” no matter how hard I tried. Most men were intimidated” was the word that was used, but I couldn’t be less than I was, no matter how hard I tried. How can a Bird of Paradise not ruffle it’s feathers and show it’s plume? Even when it is among a flock of little brown sparrows? What else can it do? Or a Rhode Island Red in a flock of guinea hens, or a duckling which turns into a swan?

* * * * *

I would never cheat or lie about having a relationship with a man who was already with another woman, so I found myself all too often alone. And with a child I was raising due to the $%^&U that abandoned me six months pregnant and 21 years old.

Whenever I was propositioned, which happened all the time, I would always say two things: 1) “I wasn’t an unpaid prostitute” and 2) “First, let’s call your wife and see what she thinks about our having an affair.” And at was the end of that!

I was like a prancing white stallion or a peacock in all it’s glory. A race horse or a barrel racing pony that couldn’t help but prance and kick up it’s heels with joy, and run in the field just for the love of it. I wasn’t a brood mare or a work horse or mule you could harness to the wagon or put to pull a plow.

Men know what they are “choosing” and for just what for. They spend hours and years talking amongst themselves about “what kind of woman they would marry, and what kind they would have fun with.” I know, because I worked with men on my construction crew for 20+ years. They would forget I was there and talk amongst themselves, and we eventually became such close friends we had many discussions about men, women and relationships.

They would laugh when I would complain that no one “wanted to marry me.” They would say “Catherine, if someone asked you to marry them, what would you say?” “I’d say NO, of course! Why would I want to get married to any of them ?” And they would say “Well, what do you expect? We know that would be your answer so we never ask.” And the boldest of them would make the offer: “OK, will you marry me?” And I would say “Never! I am never getting married!” And they would all laugh again. And say “See? We know what we are getting before we get married!”

Years later when I would talk to old flames, I asked a few of them “Why didn’t you want to marry me? Why did you marry someone else and not me?” And they would say exactly the same thing: “Catherine, I DID ask you about marriage and you said NO you were never getting married!” So they married someone else. I said “why didn’t you try harder?” And they would say, “Well, you went off to California.” Or some other place.

And all I could say was “Oh.”

And that “I was never going to be some man’s servant or some man’s slave. No one was going to boss me around and tell me what to do.”

And they would say “that’s why we married someone else.” And I would say “so you could boss your wife around?” and they would say, “well, actually, she bosses ME around pretty good” and all the men would laugh even harder.

And that was the end of that. So I finally realized that it wasn’t so much that “they chose someone else.” It was that I chose something else. Even though I still feel that I “wasn’t good enough.” That nobody ever wanted me or ever will. That even though I’ve been with the same man for thirty+ years, off and on (and mostly on), I still feel like slim pickings and damaged goods. I still don’t feel like I can “measure up” and be like all those other women who seem to have contented lives and happy marriages, happy children, and happy homes.

I still haven’t found that stick of happiness to fill the gaping wounds. That bandage of joy to bind up sorrow. That underground spring of sparkling clear water to fill up the well. I still think I will find it somehow magically “outside myself,” when all signs point inward.

With fingers pointing at all my flaws and the fingers belong to me… and with a broken trust mechanism, and an inability to believe that I have or had anything of value to offer to anyone… how could anyone “choose me?” I couldn’t choose anything but to run away and hide, wishing hoping and praying that someone somewhere would help me find myself. And I’m trying to do this still. Thank God I’m past brooding age, for now I’m invisible to men and I am left in peace to go on my way alone. I can travel any path and am never bothered by anyone, for now I am gray haired and old. I am left alone in peace.

And I do travel my own pathways, when I am able to go outside, and very little can touch me anywhere, anymore. I’ve “been through it all” and I know what it is worth. Very little, really. For love comes and goes with the heat of the seasons. Mating is a biological thing, and it doesn’t last forever. I have to find my own partner and that partner has the be the best part of myself.

That part that will take the wounded child in her arms and give her the comfort and desire and the ability to cry all those lost tears for herself. To wrap your arms around her like a baby in swaddling clothes, clean the streaks from her cheeks and dry her heavy lashed eyes, dark and brooding until they become bright and sparkling with dew. Then it’s outside to the playground to rediscover the joy that childhood brings. The simple joys of the world around us, waiting breathing so quietly in the stillness for the sun to shine and the moon to come out like it does every night, rain or shine.

That’s the love that I long for; the kind love that is a wellspring of Never Ending. That is the song I long to hear; the lyrical music of the angels singing low and sweet when the night turns into day. The celestial harp as the wind blows through it. The chimes that come tinkling like silver bells chiming in, as the wings of angels pass over under and through them all.

We don’t see them, but they see us and they are with us, night and day. The angels of our own consciousness, waiting for us to open that door and enter that room where we have been sitting, brooding and tied to that chair in the center of the floor, never knowing how to find the key when the door was unlocked all the time. And the ties that bind were put there by ourselves, and we didn’t even know how. All we had to do was shake our wrists and stand up and walk on out the door. And the whole world was waiting, in all it’s suffering and glory.

It’s an ocean of sadness that I’ve fallen into, and I have forgotten how to swim. But there’s always a life boat manned by others or one we can catch as it drifts on out to sea, looking for lost souls like me. I pray that one day I will be found, and that land will be in sight in the very near future. I scan the horizon every day, and the wind and waves beat down on me through the bright blue and azure sky.

“The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”

Dear God please show us The Way.


Hi Katie
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
I think that your conclusion is one of the most painful truths that I had to face on this journey; (you said “I “could” be loved…if only I wasn’t me….if I could magically change myself…” when I realized that was the life long message that I had been brainwashed with. But the pain of it was about THEM. The people who communicated that to me were important people in my life and they were defining me as ‘not quite deserving of love because you are defective’. It was all a lie; I was and am NOT defective in anyway. This message was all about manipulative control issues to do with them.
EFB is about how I took this power back into my own hands and learned to empower myself, love and accept myself and take the truth back that AM good enough, lovable etc. And I live this today. It took some time but it is possible to form a new foundation!
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Connie, Catherine, Darlene,

Thank you all for your warm welcomes!! It is good to know that others understand what I’m going through and have come out the other side of it. Part of what I think has been so hard is that in order to face this head on…I have to face the shortcomings of my mother and father. My father has been a bit player in my life since my parents divorced…so it’s a lot easier to come to terms with his faults. But my mom….well…she is a “stiff upper lip” woman who doesn’t allow her vulnerabilities to show (although I can feel them immensely). I don’t know why…but I’m a bit “protective” of her….it is as if I tell myself…”I can handle the blame…if I put that blame on her…she would crumble” so I continue to allow myself to take on the role of being not enough in order to keep harmony. A couple of years ago she and I were driving back from a family vacation..we were talking about my middle brother and my mom said “Yes, it is so sad that your brother did not get the attention he needed when he was 4 yrs old because all the attention had to be focused on you because you were so needy”. When my brother was 4, I was 7. I didn’t know what to say…I just let the statement roll over me at the time…but the moment I got home…the full weight of it fell on me. I couldn’t even be a child!

As to men….I think my problem is that I tend to focus only on those who mirror the wound in some way. The current guy who I’ve been obsessed with for months, just started dating someone. I have spend months hoping to find crumbs of interest on a beach of sand…trying to turn ordinary acquaintance niceties into instant intimacy. Every time he doesn’t talk to me feels like abandonment…every time he talks to me feels like the greatest, fleeting happiness. Now I don’t know what to do….my heart wants to flee, but that would just be following a pattern I’ve had all my adult life and it doesn’t address any of the core issues. That is what has led me here….I want to get off the merry go round of self blame so that I can start to have better relationships with men and with myself.


I have so been where you are when it comes to men. I WAS SO NEEDY. When my ex husband walked out on me without warning the day after xmas 5 years ago, I literally begged him over and over again to come back to me….to the point of total and utter humiliation. Well, he never came back, and I just totally lost any desire to be with a man. There were many red flags when I was dating my husband that proved him to be untrustworthy, narcissistic and selfish, yet I over looked the red flags and kept right on moving forward into his “trap” with no ability to “protect” my own interests. Anything to be loved. My belief system led me to men who treated me just as I had always been treated: With little to no value. I felt very unprotected as a child, so I did not know how to protect myself. Almost as if I knew it would all play out by me being hurt. That’s really what defined me. I would have small moments of happiness that inevitably ended with massive amounts of emotional pain.
The only advice I could give you Katie, is to start recognizing the red flags. Realize you deserve a man that will love and cherish you. I really do believe you must learn to love and cherish yourself before that can happen for you. You must know how love feels before you can recognize it for what it is. We have been taught the feeling of love is synonymous with emotional pain….so it’s real difficult to find someone who truly loves us, where it doesn’t end up as an immensely hurtful experience. Well, maybe a little convoluted in the way I’m explaining it, but maybe you get what I’m saying?

Wow. How profound and well written are your words. Very, very interesting take on things. I really enjoyed reading it!



Connie, thank you so much… I can’t tell you how nerve-wracking it is to write these comments and then actually post them. I’m always afraid that someone will tell me to shut up and I am writing too much and wasting their time! (Doesn’t this sound familiar?) My comments are always so long and everyone else manages to say so much in so few words, I always “write a novel” and am always afraid that I’m “going on too much.”

Get to the point” is what I always heard growing up as a child AND as an adult whenever I tried to speak, even when answering a question that had been put to me. I was immediately cut off and told “I was interrupting HER” when I was answering HER question! Then I wasn’t answering it quick enough or sufficiently “getting to the point.” It was nerve wracking to say the least, and then if I dared to point out that it was she who had interrupted me, I wasn’t spoken to for the rest of the visit. Punished with the Silent Treatment for the entire time they came.

It was horrifying, because you were always damned if you were always in the place of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” That is one definition of TORTURE, which I grew up with all of my days. There was no way out! My niece is exactly her, and is 40 years old. I’ve watched her get worse and worse the older she gets, and although she admits to being OCD and “on medication” I am wondering if perhaps she is also BiPolar. If what I have read is correct, they are both Narcissists to the extreme. The evil things that fly out of their mouth at the drop of a hat, at the least expected times, when you are at your most trusting and vulnerable, are chilling to observe. They relax you with friendliness and help and concern, then thrust in the knife and TWIST IT.

Are they even human? Sometimes I don’t think so. They are assassins who “move in for the kill,” and with the taste of blood turn into sharks in a feeding frenzy. As I was getting older I saw that infecting me. That’s when I knew I had to get away, even though it took them cutting me off because I wouldn’t stop “trying to get along.”

I kept thinking that “surely this time they would see the truth or reality of what I was saying,” and then they would stop attacking me and leave me alone. And maybe one day they might actually LOVE ME, if only for a little while. In my case, because I was the “bad child” as far as my mother went, that day never came, until she died and it was too late. But that was also the day that I knew she couldn’t hurt me anymore, and that was the day that I was set free.

It took another going on three years for my grieving to stop, but as I see the family curse passed down (personality disorders, OCD, Narcissim, Borderline Personality Disorders, Hoarding, undiagnosed mental illnesses, Rageaholics, prescription pill addictions, alcoholism, depression, suicide attempts, domestic violence, sexual and child abuse and all that goes with the severely dysfunctional families)… and NOTE that all of this goes along with college educations and HIGH intelligence! Who would have guessed it?

It’s all been as well hidden as possible, at least until someone like me came along, someone who just won’t shut up! Ignoring all the taboos that were put so forcefully in place, and being told on “pain of death” (complete exclusion, rejection and punishment from the family group) about speaking publicly about what was done to me and punished every day of my life, as both an adult and a child “for telling.”

AND I STILL AM BEING PUNISHED, YET THERE IS NOTHING THEY CAN DO TO STOP ME, short of killing me. And don’t think they didn’t try, when I was younger living at home. Now they would go to jail for attempted murder, so they don’t dare to lay a hand. But they use all other means: mental and emotional. They have defamed me and destroyed my reputation among those who do not know me, but there is nothing they can do to destroy my life. There is nothing they can do to take away any of my accomplishments. And every dire prediction or lie they told about me has been disproven just in the way that I live.

So I have accomplished something, even though I have paid a great price for it. Now I just hope to be able to “make something of myself” in my own mind. That would be enough for me at this point.

Thanks to everyone here, and dear God please show me The Way. Gracias, Amen.

* * * * *

It’s horrifying to see this genetic or family curse being passed on down. Yet my niece is PROUD of that fact, that she is “most like my mother.” Idolatry has always been there, but now the beatification process has begun now that my mother is dead. I seriously expect them to put in for the Pope’s final blessing.

I am working on editing, but once I get started it just pours out. Thank goodness Darlene says there is “no limit to length,” but I am working on it.

People post the most profound beliefs here, that go straight to my core. I have to respond, and every single day I see more and more where my “errors’ are. My mistaken beliefs about myself, based on the outright lies I was told about myself when I was young and just beginning to form.

I can’t believe that Darlene maintains this site all by herself, and pays for it herself, to the tune of $200.00 per month. If we all kicked in $5 or $10, or even $2, it would pay for itself and then some. I’m going to PayPal right now to give another small donation. I can’t tell you how many thousands of dollars I wasted on useless “therapy” at $100.00 per hour, back when I earned a lot more money. What would we do without this great website and all the thoughts and broken dreams that are shared here?

Here’s one of my favorite quotes of hers, that has kept me going for quite some time:

“There is Beauty on the other side of broken.”
~ Darlene Ouimet


You say just as much as you want to say. I’m very impressed with your writing skills. You seem to have an excellent grasp on the English language….did you ever think of writing a book? I believe it is people just like you, that have much to say, and know how to say it that could really be successful at writing books. You are a very good writer and I enjoy reading your thoughts and feelings. Keep it up girl!


Connie, thank you so much! I can’t believe it… you have no idea how completely embarrassed I am ALL THE TIME because everyone else seems to be able to say things in one or two paragraphs. Me, I use one or two pages! I keep writing until I hit that part of the river with the swift running stream and I get in the middle of it and it finally begins to flow. Same thing with music, when I sit down to play the piano. I don’t read music, so I just play. I don’t edit my words either, I just write until I don’t have anything more to say.

As you might imagine, my family just HATES ME and HATES ANYTHING I HAVE TO SAY. I am attacked constantly for “cherry picking” when I pull out quotes from their communications which, to me, really shows their “true meaning.” When they attack me for this, I point out that these are “their words, not mine.” They wrote it, not me. Then I’m attacked again, for “throwing their words back in their face” or “picking on the one or two sentences they said and using that against them” or yadayadayada.

I am attacked constantly for anything I write, unless it’s bowing down or complimenting them or paying homage or ignoring the issue or pretending something didn’t happen or they didn’t attack me the last time we communicated, or something along those lines, then I’m not attacked. And we can have a nice pretend conversation with smiles pasted on our faces.

And of course since I’m not exactly the “bow down” or “keep silent” type, you can imagine how far we get. So as of my birthday on Feb. 1, when my niece sent me the most vicious, malicious and hurtful “Happy Birthday email” I have closed that door for good. And closed it to all of them. No one will contact me any more if I don’t contact them, and if for some strange reason they do, I will mark their emails as “spam” the way I did hers. It’s sad that I have to go no contact again, but the last time I did this I had twenty years of relative peace. Until I had telephone and email contact the last few years and it’s been pure hell ever since.

They all seem to get along amongst each other, or at least that’s what it’s seems from the photographs. But what does a picture tell? They all get together frequently it seems, or at least every year for the family reunion. One person said that everyone just sits around with nothing to say, and it’s “clearly dysfunctional,” but I just can’t imagine that they attack each other the way they gang up on me.

I remember laughing to myself after the ten year “ban” had been lifted on contacting me (my mother put that into place after I wrote to her and my father about his sexual abuse), and I kept the ban in place for another ten years. When she lifted the ban and everyone wrote to me at one time, it was so obvious they had all “had a meeting” and were instructed to “send me a Christmas card” to bring me back in the fold. Luckily, my brother, who I had previously considered a friend, wrote inside the card that “he forgave me.”

Forgave me for what? That made me so mad that I threw those cards in the trash and resisted the urge to write back. If he hadn’t put that saying in there, I would have been duped a whole lot sooner. As it was, I didn’t contact them again until my parents sent me cards with CHECKS IN THEM for over three years. Everyone I knew said “Oh, it’s your parents, they are getting old, they are trying to say they are sorry,” and blah blah blah.

I felt the same way so I finally contacted them. It was difficult but I thought we were making progress. I always gave away, donated or spent the money on some kind of community project. That blood money they sent. But once I was broke I was GLAD to get it. And one year I actually kept it, thinking he should have at least been paying for my therapy!

So to make a long story short(er), the last two and a half years since my mother died (which was the only reason I had been in contact at all, once she was ill with cancer for the last two years of her life), my sisters have made it their business to make my life hell. My mother’s minions, carrying out her death bed wishes, I guess. Ever since my mother refused to see me on her death bed, it’s been Open Season. And I’m not over it yet!

All because I clung to the life-long dream that surely at least on her deathbed, she would say that she loved me and all would be resolved. After all, who doesn’t do this? I had never heard of someone NOT having a death-bed resolution. NEVER!

Now I know better. Every day I wonder if I will be disinherited, although that hasn’t happened yet. I am simply amazed at that. But I have to start saving money as I realized that my father is very old and if my sisters take over executorship, they will be sure to get me out of the will. There’s nothing they would like better, and one sister told me years ago that I HAD been “disinherited” and I believed her all those years! She’s a real demon, that one… although now her daughter (my niece) is completely like her. The apple does not fall far from the tree.

I can see just how lucky I am. Everyone thinks I had it so rough because I went to court and became an emancipated minor at age 16, and was legally allowed to leave home. I’ve still not gotten over that, but seeing how the rest of my 7 brothers and sisters turned out by staying around that dysfunctional family system shows me how truly lucky I am. I am free, for starters! I have real friends and know how to treat people. I am not completely isolated and stuck in Stockholm Syndrome with only trauma bonds to sustain me. Every day of loneliness that I might have felt was completely worth it because I was not immersed in that toxic poison. I didn’t drink the Koolaid!

I am free!

And as Darlene said in one of her posts ~ which has become one of my favorite quotes:

When I realized it didn’t matter what I said,
I was not going to be heard,
I gave up. And then I found my Freedom.

~Darlene Ouimet

I haven’t written a book, but I have probably written three. I need to gather up all the writings I have done nonstop over all these years and put them in an organized fashion. Once I get my “story” out, maybe I will be able to. After all:

“A writer writes not because they want to, but because they have to.”

That’s a good description of me! Thank you again!

Thank you for the encouragement. I need all that I can get!


Hey Connie,

I was going to create an entire post around how this guy doesn’t strike me as a Narcissist, how I have not detected any “red flags” and how I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about him that caused me to fall so very hard without even knowing him at all. But I realize that making a post about him means that I am still “externally” focused and trying to figure him out is yet another attempt to try to win him/his approval. In the end, it doesn’t matter what it is about him that triggered me….he isn’t the root….he is just another symptom. The root is my mom….but I don’t want to focus on that…I want to focus on him….and it is driving me to distraction. How do you undo years of being told that you are not loved for you but you could be loved if you were someone else?


How well said. I so much relate to EVERYTHING you are saying. You are from a large family just like me. My mother is still living, but getting quite old. It’s such a hard situation to be in. These are the people who I thought loved me and were my support system my entire life….to find out nothing could be further from the truth….ugggggghhhhhhhh…’s not easy. I’m starting with hopefully a good therapist within a week or two, and I’m hoping to start formulating a plan for my future. I can’t predict the future, but I really see myself getting away from upstate ny…it’s so cold here and I live in a very depressed area. I’ve never liked this town…but always felt tied to it because my abusers were here.
I love the saying you posted by Darlene too!
When I realized it didn’t matter what I said,
I was not going to be heard,
I gave up. And then I found my Freedom.
Dang Darlene….you come up with some real nuggets! You should write a book too!
And Catherine, yes, gather up your writings and start putting them into some kind of order…you might be surprised what you put together. Love to you.

Oh how I had an easy way for you to get out of the situation you are in with this man, because I understand it so very well. I was where you are now and I kept going and going, and in the end he took everything I had. The material things were minor, he took my soul, my desire, my hope, any shred of goodness that was in me….he took it all and walked away and never looked back. It’s been 5 years….I’m just starting to feel as though mayyyybeeeee I can start building a new life at the age of 52. The right thing for you to do right now is PROTECT YOURSELF. If you can’t cut ties with him….please protect your interests at all costs. When he interacts with you ask yourself is he acting for the betterment of you or himself? And if the answer is always himself…Katie, you know what you have to do. You know, I heard about a book a few years back and I thought, “Wow, I wish I would have had that book when I was about 25 years old….it might have saved me a ton of heartache related to men.” The book is called “He just not that into you.” READ IT…please. You might even be able to find a pdf version online if you’re good at researching stuff like that. But it probably would only cost a couple buck on Amazon. Peace and Good Love to you Katie. Hang in there!


Thank you Connie; I need all the encouragement I can get! And I understand Katie, too, (that’s my nickname also) and I have spent years “trying to understand” the partner I’m with, too. He’s not outwardly mean by any means; he can be quite comforting and sympathetic and supportive for certain things. But then right when I feel most comfortable and vulnerable, wham! Here comes a Passive Aggressive Bomb (or worse). I always say “I married my mother” (Narcissist to the extreme) instead of my father (who was violent and mean), but I think I got more than I bargained for in my marriage. Hence the trip to France, and then back to Guatemala where I live most of the year.

This trip will give me a chance to work and get my own head “on straight” since after dealing with my husband, half the time I don’t know “which way is up.” there’s good and there’s bad but it’s time for me to make my own way to find out what exactly it is that I need. Not taking care of everyone else. Not taking care of ANYONE else. LEARNING TO TAKE CARE OF ME! It will be interesting, that’s for sure. Gracias, amigas!


I like reading your blog, I am 64, have no history of physical/sexual abuse, but its as if, emotionally, no-one was there. Am the youngest of 4 children, everything is in place, here’s the home, mother, father, 2 sisters, 1 brother and I am totally screwed up emotionally. Have no sense of selfworth or value. My parents were married for 55 years but how can you explain what is missing if you don’t know what it is? My eldest sister is ultra religious and domineering, next sister ran away from home when I was 9 and always did her own thing, my brother is ok.


This is Jenny, again. Felt a bit shaky with my first writing. When I was 9 I went to a Pentecostal sunday school (so did big sister) and it seems I got born again and was a born again Christian all my life until a few years ago as I try to work myself out. Christianity gave me an identity, only it was the Christian identity rather than developing my identity. Without realising it, all my life I have needed to be told who I am, what I think, etc. Am struggling very much with trying to just be me.


Hi Jenny
Welcome to EFB! You have found the right website. I have written all about how I found the real me after years of trying to find myself through the eyes of others and through the grid of emotional neglect and other abuse. I found what was missing by taking a close look at the messages that I got as a result of that mistreatment. I hope you will read more. There is lots of info here.
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks, Darlene – where do I start reading to get your story properly? There are quite a few pages. I like a lot of what you say, it resounds with me. You talk about feeling invisible and that you didn’t exist – yep.

I found what was missing by taking a close look at the messages that I got as a result of that mistreatment.

Not sure what you mean here, or how I should do it.

Kind regards


Hi Jenny
There are archive buttons and the beginning starts in December of 2009. I am creating a downloadable ebook of the blog posts that can be printed out. It is going to be in 3 parts, re ordered and cleaned up a bit. The first part will be published and available this spring and the second part should be not long after that. (the editing begins next week!) Stay tuned for updates about that option.
Hugs, Darlene


Connie and Catherine…I appreciate your responses. Tonight I was out with a friend and she commented that I spent a lot of our conversation talking about “him” and we spent some time really looking into why and her thought was that it was easier (more comfortable) to spiral on “him” (external focus) rather than face the difficult task of focusing on me…and I realized, part of my challenge is that I don’t have any examples of “good” parents to base parenting myself on. I was wondering how others have managed to parent their inner child without role models.


I did have something that worked for me recently. If you have children or grandchildren this could work for you too. Or maybe even a treasured niece or nephew you love dearly. I imagined a time when I was 5 years old and very hurt by something my mother said to me. I was just trying to show her a drawing I did in kindergarden and because she was having a bad day or whatever, she looked at me and said “all you kids know how to do is scribble!” I was devestated and never forgot it.
Well I tried very hard to visualize my grandson (who is 5) standing there being me and I took the role of my mother who was standing at an ironing board. It then seemed easy for me to play out how I SHOULD have been treated in that situation as a very small child looking for some very little validation from her mother. I visualized me with my grandson, and then visualized me with myself…my inner child, and I said, “Connie, that is an absolutely wonderful drawing. We’re going to hang it right here on the fridge and show everyone else in the family how well you did in school today. Wait till your Dad sees what a great job you did…he will be so proud too!” And then a hug kiss. That’s what I would have done to my grandson, and that is what I did to my inner child.
Still have alot more corrections to make, but just keep moving forward…that all we can do. Peace and Love.


I realize that I have to “release” any parent, person or anything from having the ability to define who I am…I have to remind myself that I can parent my inner child because I have the capacity to love…and when “she” (my inner child) falls madly in love with a “promise”(guy that fits my “wound”)…I will gently remind her that it is just another shadow of what we never received (BUT SHOULD HAVE) from my parents. Anyone who wants to define me can find someone else. I will grieve that acceptance that I never truly received from the people who should have given to me when I was younger, I will get the “blessing” from others who can embrace who I am and I will continue this journey with curiosity, care and empathy. God made me this way…I have to remember that at my lowest points.


Hi Katie
GREAT comments! Great reminders! Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, can’t wait for your book – I’ll be first in line! Hope you also make it suitable for Kindle; that would make it worthwhile for me to buy one. Can’t wait. Thank you so much!

I’m making another small donation later on, as I know “every dollar helps.” God bless you Darlene; I know you are paying for this website yourself and donating all you time. You are such a good soul. And glad to see the newcomers, too. We are all at the right place, for sure!

Love, Catherine Todd


Hi Catherine,
Thank you so much for your donation! Every little bit helps! The book is in the works! I will keep you posted.
Hugs, Darlene


Thank YOU Darlene, for maintaining this website and sharing it with all of us for free, and just “passing the basket.” If I was paying a counselor I’d be paying upwards of $100 or $150 per hour, which I could in no way afford. This site is saving my life and my sanity. I make a small donation via PayPal every chance I get, at least once a month or every couple of weeks. I wish there was a real “basket” to pass around and everyone drop $2.00 in, and then all the expenses would be paid.

In any event, I can’t wait for your book to come out. Make sure it’s printable and for Kindle, too! I am sure we all will want to purchase it! Signed copies, too!


I have been told I suffer from bipolar disorder. . . but I am not sure. I have been told I suffer from PTSD but I don’t really know. I know I have suffered from depression for a long number of years. I don’t really know what I suffer from but each day I try to put back the puzzle pieces and figure out where and when I lost my sense of self. My parents divorced when I was only about 2. Did this affect me? Maybe but I did have a mother who raised me very well. I met my husband when I was 16 years old in high school. Over the years, he slowly took his toll on me. I became pregnant when I was 20 years old after he proposed to me. My parents told me I had to abort the baby and finish school. I went 85% through the abortion and then I heard the baby’s heartbeat and left the clinic. This did have a major impact on me I think. I went on to marry my husband. We had an almost okay marriage for about 2 years. About two years in, there was no more of anything there. I was a homemaker taking care of my daughter. I went to school to try to become a teacher but he told me that was a useless job and put it down saying things to convince me not to continue. I slowly but surely had no identity. My husband lived a very fast paced life; all I ever wanted to do was have love in my life and a family. He was caught by a family member in our home about 3 years into our marriage having an orgy while I was sleeping with men and women; I blocked this out of my mind for some time because he told me it was all made up and that people were just jealous of him. Manic depression began to set in with the control tactics. I had to do everything for him. I never did anything good enough or fast enough. He preached of his goodness and always wanted me to defend him. (Not once did I ever hear him defend me.) Over the years, I took great care of my children but slowly but surely manic depression did set in. There were so many feelings of unworthiness and low self-esteem became an issue. If I believed him and was compliant and did not ask questions, I was wonderful and treated okay. If I didn’t believe him and asked questions, I was everything in the book. . . I was a slut, whore, drunk, bad mother, and I don’t even want to repeat some of the words. (Yes, eventually I did fire back because I became so frustrated but it took so much for me to defend myself; being assertive to him became an issue.) He would wear me down to the point of utter exhaustion. After just a couple of years of marriage, I had very little access to money. I did have a bank account but he controlled it. I had to work as his secretary and he would not pay me so I never had any independence and had everything monitored. Yes, I did have friends. Sometimes I spoke to them about it; sometimes I was silenced. It went so far that he would tell me that if I told my friends anything or they told me anything he would sue them. For years, he had them all charmed. My husband is and was a charmer. He loves to be social, the center of attention, always dressed to the nine, hair perfectly in place, and has a huge air of arrogance to the point there were days it intimidated me and made me feel so low and so uncomfortable. He could not see people with having to buy them dinner or drinks and it got to the point he would gift to everyone around him to make himself look like Mr. Wonderful. He had my whole family and his whole family working for him. When I tried to speak out, I was immediately silenced. He would fill my head up with lies and constant confusion to the point that I could not make sense out of his web anymore; it was so frustrating. There were days I began to just numb myself. There were days I would plead and beg for honesty and answers getting none but more control. I tried to leave the marriage several times but he would call everyone I knew to convince me about how much he loved me and how it was right for me to stay in the marriage for the children. To me, sometimes knowing I was about to leave, he would convince me that he loved me and I should stay but other times he would threaten me in a way that made me shake. . he would tell me that I would have to leave the children because he would ensure I would never see them again. I was so confused. I felt so utterly isolated. When I go back there in my mind, I tremble and get sick. It all did takes its toll on me. I began to get internally sick. I had so much wrong with me physically . . I had high cholesterol, I was gaining weight, I was detected with lymes disease, I had body aches, I had sleep issues, I had gastrointestinal issues, I had issues going to the bathroom, and the list could continue. Fact of the matter is, I could never keep anything from my husband. For some strange reason, I truly felt like I had to tell him everything and I HAD to be honest with him. I pleaded with him time and again telling him I needed help and medical attention; he seemed to thrive on that and it made him almost smile this sinister smile because he knew my body was in pain and agony. He had control of health insurance and sometimes he would just not pay or sometimes he would cancel the policy or there would be some kind of threat involved. . sometimes outright but sometimes just subtle. I tried to get medical help but I was so afraid of him and there were days I didn’t even feel worthy of it when there was health care in place. I even remember one day going to the hospital in so much pain and being told I needed surgery and leaving the hospital in fear. . I don’t think it was fear of surgery but just fear of him. I eventually suffered major depression to the point I could not move; I could not get out of bed. When I was down, more was brought on. Then it reached yet another level, the next level was making me feel more worthless even in the eyes of the children. At this point, I was really suffering. He would cajole the kids not to listen to me; he would tell the kids to call me names and even got to the point I heard him telling the kids to depict a character of me with a pig nose and a pig tail and to send it by way of their gaming system to neighbors. At this point, I did not know how to escape. All I wanted to do was get through the day. I can relate. . . I was constantly in survival mode. . my body was constantly fighting the attack. (There were times he would provoke and I would react and this I am ashamed of because he would just laugh and laugh and laugh about it. It was precisely what he wanted.) My pets became unconditional love to me. I had two Cavalier King Charlies puppies; I knew they would not belittle me. I could give them love and they knew how to love in return; then they became targets to cause me more trauma. My body has been in pain for years. My gut has been sick. My head was to the point of absolute confusion. . . obey and you will survive.

I did ultimately get away from the marriage. I finally did file for divorce after finding out my husband is and was in a relationship with a man and yet another married man. He attempted to convince me I was making it all up in my “crazy” head but began to open my eyes. Suddenly with this, I was confused again. I knew I needed to get away from him but then I spent about a week just wanting my family to be whole. It was utter confusion.

I spent a few months trying to get rid of the confusion. I tried to get healthy. I tried to address some health issues. I put therapy in full force to recognize what was going on around me for years. I began to suffer from nightmares and some flashbacks of recognition. It is almost like I created this wall around me or a bubble. I got a little bit stronger. . . but just a bit.

Before long, I was knocked back down again. Antics began again with things done to me that put me right back in to my shell. . . false arrest claims, following me, harrassing my friends and family, disparaging me in front of my youngest son, and other things. I went right back to where I was during marriage. . . utter confusion.

I now know that my husband was having affairs for 13 years of our marriage, but it is not about that. For me it was about, the denial. . . the lies. . the confusion. . . the perpetual preaching to me. . . the isolation. . . I still to this day do not know why my husband kept me there in that marriage. I don’t know what I was to him nor did I while I was there. I did love him but I am confused about how and why I could love him. There were no hugs, kisses, support, affection, attention but merely about just keeping me there trapped. My body was trapped. My mind was trapped.

I have realized I guess I am not a strong person. I guess I am emotionally weak. I just don’t understand when and where and why this happened. I was not perfect, but at the same time I would have loved to have just been told a single truth. I am confused about why I stayed. I am confused about why I always believed him even when I didn’t trust him. I am confused about why I did not have the strength to run from him.

Like I said, I have been diagnosed with a number of things but I just don’t know what is a correct diagnosis and which is not. I just want to get better. I want to feel better. I am in a relationship now and have been for some time and we do not fight at all, but he sees that I am constantly confused. He sees my inability to be assertive. He sees that I still live in perpetual fear of my husband. He sees how I long to help others but never help myself. It does affect us.

I love my parents. I love my family and my children. I adore my friends. I just want to feel “well”. It disorients me. I don’t know if anyone ever had this problem, but when I am near my husband, not only does my body tremble, but I get lightheaded, confused, and sometimes I cannot even speak. It is so troubling to me.

Family tells me I have been brainwashed. I don’t even know truly what that means or if it could affect me in this manner.


There is tons of info in this site about so much of what you are expressing here. I hope you will read some of it as it may help you find the clarity you are looking for.
Welcome to EFB and thank you for sharing your story. 🙂
hugs, Darlene



I’m glad you found the strength and courage to leave and that you are safe. You are not weak. A weak person could not have survived what you’ve been through. I’ve been through a similar relationship to yours. When I was pregnant, my ex pulled the fuse to the furnace and kept me up all night fighting with me. Sometimes he would poke his fingers into my sides and keep pushing. He pulled my only nice bra to shreds right in front of me. He would sit for periods of time on top my stomach while I was pregnant. When I escaped, after being raped in the morning and torchered by his constant fighting and treats for 8 hours. I went into a store and asked for the phone number to a shelter. She said, “homeless or batter women?”. I said, “I don’t know’. So she gave me both. I had to go to the library to figure out which one to call. I was shocked to realize that I was a “battered woman”.

A year or so latter I helped a friend of mine. My friend and here husband were fighting. When he came to my house to talk to her he kept knocking slowly and over and over again. It triggered a panic attack in me from my own recent abuse.

You are very brave. After I escaped I went to counseling and group. I also read about 40 books. 13 years later I am no longer being abused and I am happy for it. You are free to start living now. Your body and mind will heal with time and attention.



Thank you so much for this article and this website. I have been made to feel like I am intrinsically bad my whole life. When I was really little I stuck a pin in my sister’s banana. I was too little to understand what it would have done to her. I honestly thought it would just pass right through. My sisters and mother berated me for that for a really long time, and used it as proof that there was something wrong with me deep down and that I was born bad. My sister has said to me, even recently, that I was born bad. Meanwhile she has a son who has done way worse things to me. She has taught him to treat me like I am a bad person. When I pointed out that he had done way worse things in his life than I have (sell drugs, lie, get arrested) she went ballistic. This really made me realize how sick they all are and how they really do not have factual basis for the way they have pigeonholed me. I am so glad to have found this site so I can begin the process of healing and finally claiming the truth for myself – that there was never anything wrong with me. I’m just a normal person like everyone else.


Hi Lisa
That was the beginning for me too; when I realized that there were two sets of rules/judgements and that they didn’t make any sense. Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Oh yeah! I remember the “being lazy” tag my biological dad used when I was young. I did not understand it at the time but the word stuck and now whenever someone uses it, it hurts me.

The truth is that these very people are actually lazy and project that onto me.
One of the strategies I am trying out on these nutters is to turn the tables back onto them. First, I want to heal all my buttons and triggers so they cannot push them according to their will. Then, I want to point out their behaviours calmly, not in an accusatory tone. I am hoping this will shut them up and they will realise that I no longer dance to their tunes, they can no longer guilt-trip or manipulate me. They will go on their merry way because they do not get the highs anymore.

As long as I have those soft spots, they will continue to manipulate me. They know very well what they are doing, why they are doing it and also know when someone does not have those soft spots anymore. That’s my current reasoning and I have to try it out to see if it works. Of course, it has been such a long journey healing those buttons and everytime I have another argument with FOO, I check myself to see what they are trying to push. So then, I can heal it for the next time. It is not as easy as I make it sound here, but it is getting better.


The lazy tag was used on me too, by my mother. I have observed the same things you have. It’s not me who’s lazy, it’s her. She was too much of a princess to ever work fast food (but she made me do it in high school), she never mowed a lawn, or detassled corn, or helped anyone move. In the moving scenario, she always packed up the china cabinet. Of course, that was the temperature controlled environment, where anything she lifted was fragile, so it was slow and easy. Everyone else was hauling boxes and lifting furniture while she stood at the china cabinet. I’m not exaggerating when I say she did the EVERY single time someone moved.

Anyhow, my point is, she readily told me how lazy I was, yet she never did any of the things she made us do. Mowing lawns for money, detassling corn for money. I’m not saying that work was the worst thing in the world. What I am saying is there was a double standard. What was good for me, was not at all good for her. It’s hard to really respect someone who stands over you with a guiding stick, barking orders….. if they aren’t willing to buck up and join in. Napping was heavily frowned upon also, yet, she took a nap every afternoon for at least 20 minutes. I know exactly where you’re coming from.



Thank-you so much for this is very helpful to know I am not alone or crazy. My mother has always been controlling and verbally abusive. It seemed to subside during my teenage years but has again returned. I am now 55 and my mother has informed me that I don’t love her, have never loved her and will never be able to convince her that I do. I was crushed, I call her every single day and have for years as I live in another state. She has cut off all contact with me. My brother called her to says she was making a terrible mistake and she told him she is a big girl and will make her own mistakes, She then hung up on him and went as far as to change her phone number.
So now she has no contact with 2 of her three adult kids, I am trying hard to work thru the pain and move on.
I don’t want her in my life any longer tho she made the choice to cut me out and my brother.
Finally after 55 years I can see things for what they really are…… So painful tho but I am working hard to heal


Hi Kathleen
Welcome to EFB!
It really is painful! This whole website is about that pain and how I moved forward with my life and learned to love and care for myself. Please feel free to share often.
hugs, Darlene


Has anyone had the experience of your own parents poison the minds of extended family members against you? By extended family I mean aunts, uncles not siblings. I was abused by both “parents” as a child and did not know it was abuse until I was in my late twenties. Like any other child I was naive and trusting of them.

I was offered help by dad’s sister because of ill-health and financial difficulty. I agreed to her help on the condition that I was to have no contact with parents. My biological dad was all vitriolic about it. He started poisoning her mind against me. He never supported me and he does not allow others to support me either.


I do not know how to deal with this. My aunt sometimes sways either way but she has her allegiance to her brother.


Yes, yes I have had this experience. It’s been a part of my mother’s game for as long as I can remember. I think she turned on my when my dad left when I was 11. I have few memories before that. Anyhow, my mother turned her anger toward me. She projected onto me in horrible ways at a time in life when a girl needs her mom. After she successfully seeded my mind, she started on everyone else. I didn’t make good decisions for a while in young adulthood, and my mother used that to her full advantage. She spewed her pitiful stories to literally anyone who would listen. I was looked down upon by people, even family, for YEARS!! I am wiser now. It took everything within me to get to the point that I’m at now. I don’t care anymore what people think or say. A big tool in my mother’s bag was to tell me everyone agreed with her. I know that’s not altogether true now. Other people see her for what she is, although it’s very few people. Her own brother hasn’t spoken to her for ten years. He is an ally for me. I recently went to my step brother’s funeral despite being no contact (mostly) for two years. My mother’s friends shunned me. I won’t see these women again for years, so, it didn’t really cause me a loss of sleep. I feel like if they can’t speak, or they choose to look down on me, they’re clearly the same caliber of people my mother is….. grossly immature.

For me, it’s been a long process of thickening my skin. Each new injury regarding my mother’s smear campaigns, has been painful, yet, it had its own reward eventually. Now, she can smear to whomever she wants to. It doesn’t pain me anymore. It might sting for a minute, but, it doesn’t disable me like it used to. There is hope Sahitha. As Darlene has often said, it is just a process, and each step is valuable, and you can’t rush it no matter how badly you want to. I’ve been mostly no contact for two years now, and I needed every moment of those two years, every experience, no matter how painful, to be where I am today. I know it’s still not over….. I haven’t yet arrived. You will progress. Don’t lose hope.

Peace and Love to you,


Thanks Mimi for the kind words. I guess it was important for me to see what he really is like because he does these things behind the scenes and then pretends to be nice and sweet to my face. As a child, I put him on a pedestal and could not see through but now I see him for what he is. A compulsive liar, deceitful, passive-aggressive control freak.


My sisters and I put our mom on a pedestal also. I know it’s because she designed it that way. She had us brainwashed that she was a saint. No idea how that happened. I guess because we were children, it’s easy to do. She didn’t have anyone to combat her either. My dad was never around, and left for good when I was 11. We were her personal puppets, made of clay, to be formed and fashioned into whatever she wanted. It worked. 🙁

Peace to you,


I did the writing exercise that you suggested in this article last night. I spent two hours on it and wrote 16 pages, covering everything from experiences with parents, schoolmates and even teen dating years. No, this child/teen certainly did not deserve what happened to her! But I also realized how much of my life, especially my dating years were affected by the false beliefs that I carried with me ffrom childhood. Most significant was the feeling of unworthiness, which led to me being very clingy, and overly dependent on every little thing, If a guy didn’t call when he said he would, this proved I was unworthy on my distorted barometer of my worthiness. Yes, a minor event like that had a major, out of proportion impact! Not only did all the events I wrote about result in me feeling unworthy, I also saw how much guilt and blame I took upon myself, and saw how I never felt that I had any right to Voice an opinion or change anything. But now I do, and I will!


“what happens to you is your own fault but what happens to everyone else is a tragedy.” Wow! Darlene, I wasn’t aware that you know my family!! Just kidding. In all seriousness, when I read that sentence I had to stop for a minute because I got really short of breath and dizzy. I am so grateful to have found this site, just this morning. So many things that I have read so far have resonated with me. We are not crazy!! It is really empowering to feel that I am getting somewhere on this journey. I like a quote from Winston Churchill: “when you’re going through hell, just keep going.” Prayers and good thoughts to all who are reading this. Darlene, thanks for doing this work. It is so necessary.


Hi Jane
Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
We are not crazy! When I first realized that it wasn’t me, I was stunned. I repeated it over and over in a kind of shocked voice and with ‘awe’… “I am not crazy… I am not stupid… it isn’t me…” It was stunning and amazing all at the same time!
Thanks for sharing, glad you are here!
hugs, Darlene


Such a great blog as always! This is something I have been looking for, but I have been able to defend myself on the word brainwashing. Interestingly enough, months ago, I told my therapist how my brother told my sister and I that “our mother was there for us,” and like I said in another blog on here how my sister told that my brother was brainwashed as the “golden child and did mom and dad’s dirty laundry as a kid.” My sister refused to do their dirty laundry and spoke the truth still does today at age 45.

My therapist said ‘maybe your brother has a different experience and thinks your mom did a lot for him.’ I looked at her saying ‘what boat did you get off of?’ She didn’t like that. My brother was also mistreated, my sister told me how he was called a lot of names and then the next minute he was a sweety then an idiot by my parents – which is it? I asked therapist ‘do you know what brainwashing means? Believe me, a lot of people don’t!’

My sister overcame all of this crap at a young age, but me, I am starting to a little bit at almost 30 yrs old. My therapist asked me ‘what do you call it?’ I said ‘a prison and brainwashed. Think about it: if a person was put in captivity, they are brainwashed thinking they can’t escape.’ Of course, my sister would argue with me about it’s not hard to leave home and stop having issues with jobs and just face it.

Brainwashing also has a lot of unrealistic expectations that comes with it. I got this perfectionism attitude from my parents because obviously I am not good enough because my brother “studied his books in school” whereas if I tried to that, my mom that’s “trying to be a sell out and white yet education is the key to life!” Listen to how contradicting that is like a change in personality – personality number 88! This is extremely different because I have a hard time with jobs trying to figure out if I can be “perfect enough” to do it and always scared to apply to the certain position hence is why I stopped working after I quit my first job in 06.

“So there we are; children, brainwashed to believe a bunch of false stuff that we have been taught about ourselves. That we are BAD. I believed I was so bad and unlovable that God himself rejected me. ( I was taught that I was a disappointment so what other conclusions is a child to draw?)
Manipulators, perpetrators, controllers and dysfunctional family system members, brainwash us to make sure that we don’t shine the light on them. We are so busy trying harder that it doesn’t occur to us that perhaps our parents are not ‘God’ after all. And furthermore, society does not support this idea of shining the flashlight on the dysfunctional family when it comes to healing the root of the problem, at least not when it comes to overcoming abuse, depression, PTSD, OCD, eating disorders or any other issue people seek help for.”

Agreed! Blogs like yours and similar, this is what the MHPs should be teaching not their little DSM-IV and V Bibles! Society doesn’t help in anything, the “rules” and “opinions” in society are based on keeping people thinking in a “certain way,” and lots of people don’t believe that! IF you go against what society says, oh you get all kinds of name calling and how you “hate life.” Brainwashing is another form of “keeping the person/people in line and never to question anything.” Why is that definition so hard for people to learn??

“Society would rather that we ‘take responsibility for our own issues starting ‘today’ as in ‘leave the past in the past’. We are advised to ‘see where we ‘made our beds,’ be accountable for ‘choices we made’ and just ‘get over it’. It takes guts and a lot of hard work to bypass those typically accepted directives and work on the root of the problem. Add to this the fact that we have been effectively brainwashed into believing that the problem is us and that by the time we start searching for an out of the box solution we are extremely weak not to mention that many of us have NEVER stood up for ourselves before AND have never been validated in anyway about any of this either!”

Ahhh yea, this was something my therapist and I discussed months ago. I told her ‘really? So, the abusers get to do what they want? They need to be held accountable, ya know?’ Victims have to move on yet there’s still no justice. I told my therapist the problem is a lot of these problems with victims is there was no kind of real, loving teachings from their parents hence is why the brainwashing begins! I always get yelled at by people about how there wasn’t any kind of real teachings from my “parents.” Since when did everything about life gets pre-programmed into anybody’s brains?? Therapist said ‘as adults, it is our responsibility to teach ourselves what was lost from childhood,’ really?!?

“People write to me all the time saying that the abuse I suffered was way worse than the abuse they have suffered. I always wonder what blog they have been reading! Not because I don’t think what happened to me was ‘that bad’ but because of what the authors of those comments share and that they don’t think the abuse they suffered is as ‘bad or as damaging’ as what I suffered. Most victims don’t realize the extent of the damage and feel that they don’t really have ‘a right’ to sympathy or even have a right to be angry about what happened to them. Many people believe that if the abuse they suffered wasn’t sexual or physical then it isn’t as ‘serious’ but the truth is that ALL abuse has its roots in psychological and emotional abuse. When a person is raised in a dysfunctional family system that teaches that what happens to you is your own fault but what happens to everyone else is a tragedy it’s no wonder we can sympathize with or validate others but can’t apply that validation or sympathy to ourselves. When a child is convinced that ‘they are bad’ it takes some effort to reverse that belief.

It is stunning that 95% of victims believe that they are bad people and undeserving of love because of this deep belief that their parents or other perpetrators of abuse were ‘right’ in the ways they define the child.”

I agree. Thank you for saying that. I have been told for years that my situation isn’t that bad that there’s worse. My therapist said this to me months ago and told her ‘I don’t care how worse it could’ve been – abuse is still abuse. Why is there a measurement on abuse from you outsiders? Can you rate how “bad” or “not bad” my situation is? She was quiet and told her ‘didn’t think so! You and everybody else have no right to measure someone’s abusive situation.’ Ahh, the usual silence from her lol.

Yea, it does take a lot of effort to revert the crap you were told growing up yet people think it is simple for me to do so not that isn’t true. Some people can revert that crap they were told and could take a few years for them to get it out of their system while others like me is taking me a long time. I believe it depends on the severity of the brainwashing and mine was so severe by listening to me in person speak you would say ‘where are you getting that from? who thinks/speaks like that?’ It all comes from my ignorant parents say out of the ball park nonsense like it’s everyday conversation!

I told my therapist when people are brainwashed and if you listen to what they say, it makes no sense. That should tell people something that person must have been brainwashed by some kind of abuser – don’t need a psychology book for that! I told her like you are saying about having your rights taken away from you as a child, a person has a right to be angry about it. Our rights were taken away from us growing up and I still live at home and still don’t have much rights yet I am suppose to be an adult! Therapist looked at me and said to her if I wanted to sit outside and read a book, I get interrogated about why am I outside?

Anyway, it’s sad how a lot of survivors of abuse speak against another victim’s (victim like them) abuse telling them ‘well, mine was far worse than you’ like it’s some sort of competition and very few I’ve gotten some sympathy from and the rest still had issues. I don’t care if they were away from their abusers for a long time, by what came out of their mouths spoke volumes – they had a lot of unresolved issues and still spoke like their abusers. Oh, they were all about speaking their stories and I noticed they did it so people can feel sorry for them but when it came to me; I got told off and they said I didn’t have any right to speak about my story.

It sure is a way to invalidate and devalue someone. I told someone long ago ‘it’s bad enough rape victims are still being devalued by people telling them it’s their fault for being raped.’ They told me ‘that’s different,’ I said how? I hate when people tell me suck it up and deal with it, no, it’s how we deal with it – the keyword is HOW! My therapist used the excuse ‘well, it’s hard for those with loving parents to sympathize.’ I told her ‘is it really that hard to sympathize? Place yourself in someone else’s shoes and see what would you do if you were in that situation.’

“There is a powerful exercise that I suggest to my clients; I suggest they write out their pain story with as many details as possible, without fear of judgement or consequence and without editing it and then read it to themselves as though a child is telling this story to them.”

I used to journal my painful story, it brought out more hatred towards them than anything else. My therapist said journaling is for those using happy feelings instead of negative feelings. People journal happy feelings is what she said.

I still struggle with how am I suppose to be a good person? My negative traits come from my parents which is the main problem. I don’t know how to do this or that, it makes it harder because I am doing this myself without any real parental teachings from the past!


I remember my brother used to enjoy reading books on torture, mental and physical , from various eras and cultures. Some of the psychological stuff he did use on me in my teens. Since my birth my mother had encouraged him to bully and hate me. When we were together he liked to tell my mother, in detail , of some of the terrible physical tortures he would like to carry out on ‘the brat’ ie me. My mother would listen and smile as he did this. I particularly remember the day he spoke of slowly removing the top of my skull and my mother smiling again and me foolishly begging her to get him to stop it. I knew he wouldn’t do it,he was a coward like her but just having to endure being spoken about like that was awful. Needless to say my begging and tears were wasted and was told to ignore him or not listen if I was going to be sensitive about it. No wonder I not only felt worthless , I KNEW I was worthless. In hindsight I think my mother might have got those books from the library for him because I don’t remember my brother ever going. When he was bullying me( he was a lot older and bigger than me ), I’d call for help and he’d say, ” mummy’s not coming because she doesn’t like you. ” He was right.



That is super sick behavior on the part of your brother and mother. I’m so sorry you had to grow up tormented by two mentally ill people. I hope you are happy and safe now.



Hi Darlene

Thanks for this post – the brainwashing is such a hard one to overcome. When a parent is smart (as mine is)- it’s hard to – and presents themselves to the outside world like this – and is the victim ( always)
include the fact they have done things that are thoughtful (like buy you a christmas present/ birthday gift/ cook you a meal if you go to visit them. These are really kind nice things to do…but it’s so so hard and I feel like a total arse because it’s the communication – and it’s the lack of accountability/ or recognition for other actions or things that have been said.

It’s like any of the bad stuff never happened in my parent’s mind.It’s like -she’ll never say anything about the poison I have spouted, nor acknowledge that her behaviour has an impact – It’s like I am a complete crazy person. It’s like I am totally insane, and living that brainwashing dialogue – that i am completely that selfish, manipulative little shit, the person that ruins her marriage, that is too difficult, who is so intrinsically was not sexual abuse, it was not physical – and I feel like a fraud for being so f*cked up – (because they are in reality a lot worse – and in no way am I saying that what I experienced was like that. Very different – please don’t every think that I would mean that – no disrespect meant at all).

For me it was all in the mind – and that makes me feel like the madman – how can you talk of this – even to yourself – there is no proof. My empirical evidence – is the hurt I felt – and the dysfunction that operated…and the words…all the words..

and how can that be trusted..when I learnt not to trust myself – or my experiences…She will never be accountable, and i accept that, and I am not trying to change that perspective/ or force her to. It hurts when you have lived and know your mother’s perspective so well – and you know that to set boundaries will hurt them – and their fragile constructions – but knowing that they don’t feel that for you – and the brainwashing that went with what they said and did makes no impact on them. She can’t see it.


and I wrote – poison I spouted -well – I did say some dreadful things ..but i meant o write she


I can completely relate. For many years I’ve experienced this and I’ve been trying to move past it and develop myself as a better person. I’ve been trying to undo the pain and the messages and thought processes that I keep finding myself having. Whenever I think back to it I feel, “oh, it’s all in my head”, “it’s not really that bad”, “I’m making a big deal out of nothing”. I think that really that’s because for all these years, that’s what I’ve been told to think, and now I’m having a hard time not believing it. When I was small – and even today now that I think about it (I’m 19 and I still live at home) – whenever I’ve disagreed with something my parents have said, whenever I’ve thought that they’ve been unfair on me and tried to discuss things (in the reasonable manner they taught me, because if, say, my brother or sister said something mean, or hit me, if I responded back, if I was upset or cried out in pain, I was the one in the wrong, and I “lost my case” – meaning that they wouldn’t say anything to the person who’d mistreated me, and would instead spend the next 10 minutes telling me off.) If I try to bring something up, or say that I don’t like the way I’m treated, my parents get angry, I’m told that I’m being “abusive”. I’ve been labelled manipulative, abusive, power-hungry, selfish, inconsiderate, frequently told how much I inconvenience them, among countless other things. For many years I thought I was this person. I honestly thought that I was terribly selfish and just a pretty terrible person. It was only when I casually mentioned it to a few other people, or mentioned myself to be selfish, or that they’d said that I was, that they looked at me in shock. Frequently I’d get the response “you’re the least selfish person I know!” and a few times, I was told that they sounded like the narcissistic ones. Because that’s another thing they’d call me. Narcissistic. I am always considering other people’s feelings, and am a very empathetic and helpful person. I guess they didn’t like that for some reason, whenever they’d call me these things, I’d fight back. But they’d always win. I was always wrong, and was always the one who needed to apologise. Nevermind that they’d acted much worse. It’s always me who is ultimately to blame. They were never wrong, because they “were the parents”. I found that I relate to myself in some of the same ways, I think to myself that I must be making things up, or imagining things. I found this with my last boyfriend (the one I have right now is an amazing kind, considerate person, and I am completely bewildered by how kind and considerate his parents are too – we grew up in completely different worlds) my last boyfriend was growing ever distant near the end, I sensed it, but it was really after breaking up that I began to realise just how much I questioned my own reality and my own truth, because they have always told me that it was “wrong” or I was “living in a fantasy world” my dad would laugh and say, “it’s funny, because she actually *believes* this stuff!” Sometimes I feel like all the ways they have treated me – all the times they’ve shouted, the way my brother and sister join in to all criticise me (family scapegoat represent) might actually be true, I feel as though it is and was that bad, and then I feel like I’m exaggerating, like it’s not really that bad, like I’m making it all up. I feel like I’m being selfish and conceited for talking about myself to friends. Whenever I’ve told people even the tiniest bit of things, they are shocked and I feel like maybe I’m making it sound worse, I guess in a way I’m surprised by their response. Sometimes and in some ways I feel like I’m dwelling on things. But I just want to heal. And it keeps happening. I still live at home (as I mentioned earlier), and there is something nearly every day, or at least a few times a week. I’ve been staying at my boyfriend’s house quite a bit lately, and it’s nice. I get to spend time with him and he treats me nicely. He cares about what I have to say and doesn’t get angry or tell me how wrong I am if I try to express how I feel. My sister came home from spending time overseas for the past few months, and over that time, I’ve felt guilty for disliking her, and not really missing her. My mum told me she missed me. When she came back, I remembered why I had felt that way, just I found it affecting me worse then maybe I remember it affecting me in the past. She just kept critisising me for no reason every time I spoke to her, she kept flashing me looks of disgust, and speaking to me in a nasty tone of voice. I hadn’t done anything, I was just being nice, I made a cup of tea, I didn’t do anything to her at all. When we had dinner, all attention was on her, which I guess makes sense as no one had seen her for 2 months, but I remembered that’s how it had been in the past too. It’s just her talking about how terrible everyone else is, and critisising all her “friends” and just everyone she knows. That’s how it had always been. I went back to being ignored and neglected. When I tried to say something, I was ignored and cut off, and someone else would speak, particularly if it were her. No one even looked at me. I felt invisible. And I remembered that’s how I had been feeling for many years while she was away. Ignored, invisible and forgotten, like the one who didn’t belong. I’d always get told off for things though. My parents used to shout at me every time we’d be in the car, and a lot of times when we weren’t – although when we were in the car I couldn’t escape. Sometimes they’d tell me off and I’d be crying so much, I’d block my ears to drown out all the horrible things they were telling me that I was, I’d put in my headphones and play the music so loud that I thought it might make me go deaf – but as long as I couldn’t hear them. For a long time, they’d paint it as though it was because I didn’t “pull my weight enough” or do enough housework, and because I was “lazy” but near the end of last year – maybe september – I was talking to my boyfriend about things, and he was suggesting I do a lot of housework, as much as I could, for a month and see how things go, that I wouldn’t be the scapegoat if they could find nothing to blame me for. That was when I realised why I didn’t do housework. Whenever someone needs help with something, I’m usually the first to offer to help, but I realised why I was so reluctant with them. I felt as though doing so would be helping them, and I was feeling very resentful towards them and didn’t want to do anything to help them. That and, if I’d ever tried to help, cleaned the sides, cleaned the house, done the washing, offered to help with dinner, it’d be, “oh, she must want something” “she’s only doing it because she wants something” or, if I’d come a little late to help, “she’s coming now because she knows we’re finished” and then something about how I was avoiding helping, possibly something about how inconsiderate and selfish thrown in there for good measure. And if I didn’t agree with them, they’d also say things like, “she can’t see it”, “she just doesn’t understand”. My brother and sister have always joined in too. Even though I now feel okay with doing housework – they seem to have mostly adjusted to it – they’ll find the most ridiculous and little things to tell me off for. For some reason, I’ve always fought back against the things they tell me, I’ve said that they aren’t true, I’ve tried to defend myself. I realised why I don’t just stay completely passive. Because if I do, then it’s almost like I’d believe whatever they say. It’s like somewhere within me, their beliefs are the “truth” and so I want to fight against and correct anything that’s wrong, because if they believe it, I think somewhere within me I believe and take that to be my reality. To continue with what I was saying about my sister, she kept making comments to me when she came back, saying that I was “acting weird” or “talking about myself in the 3rd person” (which I think is something I picked up at some point, and it’s something my boyfriend and I do when we’re around each other a little), giving me her look of disgust, and telling me how weird I’d been since she got back, and how I’d been “prancing around” Well, I’m sorry for being happy and cheerful my dear. I’m sorry that my happiness offends you. Later that night, my mum came into my room and asked me what was wrong, and why I was acting weird – I told her that I wasn’t, and I wasn’t acting any differently than usual, she’d been living with me for the past few months while my sister was away – she told me that my sister and her boyfriend had said that I was, and that I was talking to myself, which was weird and I was making her boyfriend feel uncomfortable. I told my mum that I wasn’t acting out of the ordinary, she kept insisting that I was acting weird and wouldn’t listen to anything I said, or when I tried to say that I felt upset about things with my sister, she kept telling me that I should just stop whatever I’d been doing to make her boyfriend uncomfortable, while not saying anything about what I’d said. While I was saying this, she kept repeating that I should “just stop” (as in, whatever I’d been doing to act weird or whatever my sister had said – which was obviously the truth, rather than whatever I said, or how she’d seen me act) and left, shutting my door behind her. I was left alone to process things. I had never heard anything before about me ever making anyone else uncomfortable. I felt really upset. And all the events of that evening and the way I’d been pushed down, criticised and ignored came back to me. I felt so sad, and tried to work through my pain in my own mind. The next day, I went to have a shower and my sister was cleaning the bath – I’d meant to and was supposed to the night before but hadn’t, because I’d felt so upset and I didn’t want to face her boyfriend (even though I know that what she’d said he’d said was a repeat of what she’d been saying, or just him adding to what she’d said and talking badly about me too) her and my brother both started verbally attacking me, mostly about how I hadn’t cleaned the bath and how “weird” my sister thought I’d been acting, and while I’d normally try to say something back, I felt a bit lost for words and left. I had a shower, I remember my mum being annoyed at me afterwards about not cleaning the bath, I got dressed and started making breakfast. My dad appears from nowhere and asks me how I am and if I slept well. I didn’t mean to, and I tried to hold it back, but I got really teary and gave him a hug. He looked concerned and asked me what was wrong, I told him that he was the first person who seemed to care about me and told him a bit about why I was sad. He hugged me and told me he’d speak to my sister. I was so touched and grateful that he’d care. My mum had been glancing over while he’d hugged me, but not said anything, after her boyfriend left (my sister’s, my dad is my mum’s husband), she came over and asked me what happened. I told her a little reluctantly and cautiously, not sure how she’d react. She told me how I was living in a fantasy, how it was sad if I really believed this to be true. She said how my sister had only just got back from being away for months, and while she was away, she’d missed me, how she’d come back and I’d been acting “offish” with her (I hadn’t, I’d been completely nice). Then my mum went away for a while. I finished making my breakfast and started eating it on the veranda outside. She came back out and my dad was there too. She told me how she’d worked it all out and I was actually jealous of my sister, and that I’d been being anti-social and not spending time with them all the night before (I prefer to be by myself in my room rather than socialise with my family), she told me that I’d been playing my guitar outside the night before to get attention from the people who drove by (actually, I’d been playing it outside because I’d been told to stop the night before when I played it inside) because I was attention-seeking, she said. I looked her straight in the eye, firmly told her that she was lying and left to go sit outside on the other side of the house. Then my sister was being all sweet to me, and my mum was being sweet to me and I don’t even know. They treat me so badly, and then it’s like once they’ve done treating me badly they just act like nothing happened, they don’t let me say how I feel because “it’s in the past” or “I’m dwelling on things” or it didn’t happen. There’s actually so much more that I could say, this is something that happened a few nights ago. I really didn’t mean to write so much, this is were I’d normally feel selfish. And I feel like I should say that I’m sorry for writing so much, and that I’ll be told that I should keep a journal and write in there (by people on here). I have, but things keep happening and it feels like there’s always new things that I have to deal with. And I just want to be better. I only meant to write a little bit, not quite so much. It’s my first post so maybe that’s why? Maybe I have a lot to say? I meant to ask as well, what is the meaning of the back and forward in behaviour? I find it very confusing. My parents and family can be so nice and caring sometimes, and they’ll cuddle me and shower me with affection, and then other times they’ll call me names and shout at me and not be so nice, and I don’t know how to take it and how to respond. I guess that’s part of what makes me feel unjustified at resenting them, and as though I should just get over it. But it’s hard. So my question is about the back and forth, what does it mean and what can I do about it? I don’t like feeling as though I’m crazy and selfish all the time. I feel so grateful when someone does something nice to me – I guess that’s cos that was what I was always taught, how grateful I should be towards them, when they’ve driven me somewhere, or done something for me. And guilt too, a lot of guilting me about how terrible, selfish and inconsiderate I am. And they’ll find things that have happened with other people too, things that I don’t think are a big deal *at all* but they’ll paint them as though they’re really, REALLY, bad, making me feel as though I’ve always done something wrong and second guess myself. I guess there are a lot of components to it all and I’m just trying to figure it, and myself out, and I’m not sure quite what to do, if what I believe is true. I’m having trouble accepting my reality. Again, sorry for writing so much xx I’ve read quite a few articles before but never posted, and I like reading through it all, some of the people on here really have gone through so much, and I really wish all the love and kindness to you all xx it’s okay, you’re really not alone. There are people who love you. There are people who care xx either way, we’re strong enough on our own xxxxx much love to everyone xx


I just kind of looked for the right post to put this on.

The one thing about going N/C with your family is……. you get to a point where you wonder who…. really……. initiated the N/C.

You may have initiated the N/C, but then you wonder……. why won’t they FIGHT to have a relationship with me? I guess what I’m expecting is this “light bulb” moment where mom realizes what she did wrong and what she needs to do to make it right, and come to me herself.

But, as we learn from here, NOT GONNA HAPPEN!


So right you are DXS. Although I’ve been no contact over 3 years with my mother and most of my 10 siblings (except 1), I think there is a small part of me that still wishes the lightbulb would turn on for one of them and they would contact me with an apology and a shot at a real relationship.

I’d also like to ask anyone who reads this for some advice. When I went nc with my family so did my grown daughter, who was included in their gaslighting and abuse. However, I now find myself going round and round with my daughter trying to make her see that I have value. I have made every effort to change dysfunctional behavior with healthy behavior. I’ve gotten therapy and read constantly on improving dysfunctional relationships. I try and share some of what I learn with her, as she is raising my only two Grandson’s. I have apologized profusely for the dysfunctional behavior I displayed as her mother when she was a child. No matter what I say or do, no matter how self-aware I am, and no matter what efforts I try and make to be a better, more functional and loving person….she acts like she hates me. I am beside myself today because I feel like she’s abusing me and we all know sometimes the only way out of abuse is to go n/c. Her and my grandsons are all I have left in the world and I don’t know how I can just cut them out of my life as well. She would not try and keep them from me, but I know it means so much to them that her and I get along. When we don’t they sense it and it hurts them. I just don’t know what to do.


I have always labelled myself as bad and have the tendency to beat myself up when my abusers feel the need to throw out whatever it is they think about me. The one part of this article, which focused on the cupcake, brought back a memory in 2006 of which got me to gradually believe that I was horrible. When we were on the dining table, I was pouring my father some Mountain Dew and I “accidentally” drank off of his glass, instead of mine, which resulted in him to say: “You are so selfish, you know that? How dare you drink off mine when yours is just to your left?” athere was no shouting involved but the tone of his voice and the “death stare” was enough for me to consider that I was horrible. I am working my way out this frame of mind, but I must admit that I still find myself being cautious as to which glass I will drink out off. At times I even jokingly said: “Okay, I’ll separate your glass from me so you don’t feel like I am stealing your drink.” With his response being: “Son I am not like that” (Hahahaha) I know there’s a lot of work to be done in this journey of healing, but at least I now know that I am not what I was forced to accept.


Thank you Doren, as I too have been made an ugly, through years of being institutionalised and labelled by past mental health workers who brainwashed and enforced on some overdosing of drugs, even in needle form, and then denied the horrific side effects that I suffered, to suggest the side effects were not suffered, and that I was born the way I was with the side effects they denied and failed to recognise. I suffered these side effects to change me for the worse, with past staff taking no responsibility in them changing overnight for the worse. And then in the community and past workplaces too, with others avoiding me because of the mental labels as though I had something worse than leprosy. And the stigma and discrimination was worse in them avoiding and I was never really able to be promoted in any workplace for their reasons of where I had been, stating the fact that I had this ‘mental disturbance to be a bit peculiar’ I like to now state, instead of the labels such as ‘schizophrenia or bi-polar’, and I believe it is all down to one condition being anxiety caused through mainly emotional traumas, that I probably hid this anxiety for the fear of causing a major disturbance by lashing out at everyone who had rejected or blamed and shamed within groups, I kept quiet not saying one word, but I felt then alone and isolated, at a time I could have really gone mad, but I didn’t when no one would come near me or offered me a promotion because of them, the past mental health system who would rather have just treated me in their locked up rooms, and then only discharge when I would agree with them to take their drugs.

Fortunately, now I am under a new team in the small suburb I live, who know the horrific damage those past staff have done in their manipulation and threats with their emotional abuse which made me feel bad all those years, and as well put all their burdens through the drugs suffered on to my shoulders, it was like they punished all those years while I struggled and in shame such as in workplaces where most were immaculate and groomed, while I felt awful in my struggle to be appropriate groomed, but could never achieve, because of all their psychotropic drugs they enforced on me through too many years.

Thank you Doren, and I hope you reply with something positive, as no one really has made me feel positive through my years especially as a mental health label, which they failed to heal the emotional trauma coming from a dysfunctional family in the first place, that those past staff would just rather treat us with their drugs while they neglected the social outcomes, as well neglected our personal needs and requirements to be like normal people to be groomed such as in past workplaces. Thank you.


Hi Christine!
Welcome to EFB ~ My name is Darlene, but I assume you are addressing this post to me. 🙂
I encourage you to read this website. You are not alone and there are over 450 articles here, all with discussions (some have well over 1000 comments) There is a lot of support, validation and encouragement here. The current discussion is on the HOME page and there are category buttons for different subjects. I hear you about being neglected and ignored (by family and by professionals) and there is HOPE!!
Hugs, Darlene


Wow Darlene and everyone else, I’m so glad I found you. There is so much comfort in reading words that I could have written myself.

I am 62 and just 2 years ago (after one more screaming, hand in my face altercation with my older sister from which I ran with her chasing me, yelling), I started breaking down, both physically and mentally at a rate that alarmed even me. This year I was diagnosed with complex-PTSD.

I could write for hours of the abuse my sister inflicted upon me from the day I was born – my nickname for my entire life has been “Poodie.” Legend in the family is that this sister could not say my name “Shelley” and she could only say Poodie – so this nickname caught on with the entire extended family including cousins, grandparents, etc. Never could figure it out: she didn’t have a speech issue (I did) so how did Shelley morph into Poodie? Well, when I was born my mom was in the process of toilet training her and yes, every therapist says the same thing: (basically what my mom would ask us) Do you have to poop or pee? Poopee/poodie. AND to this day I answer to that name just like I answer to Shelley.

Unfortunately, this was only the beginning. My first real nightmare came the day after an old I Love Lucy rerun we watched when she asked me if I wanted to play cowboys and Indians in our dark dank, windowless basement in Bridgeport CT just like they did in that comedy show that day (everyone was safe and ha ha ha).

I was 4 or 5 years old when led me downstairs tied me to the pole (I was going to be the cowboy first, then her) and she told me that Frankenstein lived in the furnace 5 feet from me. She ran up the stairs and turned off the lights (no windows) and left me there for how long I don’t know. I know I screamed and screamed and screamed.

There were many more things like that – traumatic situations (middle of the night). I know now what my mom and dad didn’t do – protect me. They just thought it was kid stuff.

As the years went on my sister tortured me in so many ways as we were raising our families. It never occurred to me that she was a bully. I always knew I would never chose her as a friend – we were only attached because of blood. She would go to great lengths to embarrass me in front of my husband, insult my house (that was special – I was hosting 125 people for her son’s engagement party and she tells the caterer at the initial meeting “Oh Shelley has a nice house…too bad her windows are filthy.” ) Instead of realizing first, who would say that, who would say that about someone they loved, aren’t you grateful that I am willing to do all this for your kid, I spent 2 months cleaning my windows and every corner inside and out and hoping she’d say something nice about how the whole property looked. This might seem petty but just one of many incidents in 60 years that I am now realizing things aren’t what they seemed.

I started my long path to heal. Unfortunately, I’ve alienated the entire family (other sister in denial and nobody will talk about it – one niece asked me if I could move on – I told her it was more complicated than that – I didn’t feel it was my place to tell either of my sister’s kids) and it’s my fault. Sad (my husband and 2 adult kids are right by my side) that all I want is to stop shaking and crying. I am currently going through neurofeedback therapy which is very hard (I thought it would be easier). Some bad memories are shaking out and I am scared. Even when I write this I know I’ve read here that the worst has already happened. I am so frightened. I’m glad to have read all of your thoughts and experiences and Darlene, thank you for giving me this forum. Shelley


So much of this applies to me. To this day I cannot see myself as a “victim of abuse”. Because it was only verbal and emotional “abuse”, not proper abuse. The only marks were in my memory; there was no physical damage, no scars on my body. So I didn’t really get abused; therefore I can’t possibly be a victim. There’s the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. If I couldn’t apply that to myself then it was my own fault I felt (and feel) as I do.

The worst part for me now is the memory of what I was told. I was the problem. I was wrong. I was lying. I’d misunderstood or misinterpreted what had happened. I’d done something to deserve it. I was making a fuss over nothing. I was naughty. I was causing trouble. I DESERVED EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED BECAUSE I HAD BROUGHT IT ALL ON MYSELF. And there were always examples: “Just like when you…” or “You didn’t learn from last time; you remember when you…”

I can’t remember ever doing something wrong for the first time. I always repeated the same bad things as I had done before. “Why don’t you ever learn?” was a constant refrain.

Then there was the explanations of why these things were said to me. It was for my own good; to make me see the error of my ways; to make me a better person; to teach me right from wrong; so I knew why people were upset/angry with me. It was so I’d be a good girl if I listened to them and did what I was told; it was so people would like me; it was so that I could make friends. To this day I have never had “a friend”. I wouldn’t know friendship or love if they came and punched me on the nose. I have no idea what it feels like to be friends or be in love; no idea what they look like in other people.

But I can’t blame the people who have verbally or emotionally “abused” me. They never hurt me. They never did anything that left a visible mark. I could never prove that they were wrong. It was my word against theirs. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends on one side; me on the other. Too many people to all be wrong about me.

And what about strangers? The people who meet me once, knowing nothing about me. They all come to the same conclusion; there is only one problem. Me. This has happened hundreds of times. Probably thousands. Without exception. From people that have nothing to gain from saying these things if they weren’t true.

I’ve seen other comments on E.F.B about being an exception, about how everybody else was a genuine victim. In my case though it’s true. I am an exception. Everything that’s been said to me, everything that’s gone wrong, every bad memory I have brought on myself. It’s nobody else’s fault I’m like I am. I’ve deserved everything that’s happened to me. In fact I probably deserve worse than what’s happened to me.

So I wasn’t abused and I’m not a victim. I just don’t know what I should call myself. What label/category I fit in to.


Hi Darlene
First off, I just wanted to say that Im really grateful that I found your blog today, Ive been reading it a lot and so far its really resonating with me and providing a lot of comfort. It’s amazing to me that there are other people who feel this sense of ‘being bad’ because its something I really struggle with and always assumed that I was relatively alone in, it didn’t even occur to me that this was a phenomenon that could happen to others, a system we get trapped in rather than an actual state of self. Basically, I did something I kind of regret yesterday, nothing that was terrible or anything, but now one of my college dorm roommates, whom Im not even that close with, is annoyed with me and being very passive aggressive. And I acknowledge that what i did wasnt necessarily right, but I’ve been spilling in my head, largely due to my anxiety, and using this situation as justification that i really am just a terrible person. And I do this constantly.

I just had a really good conversation with a long time friend who goes to a different, very far away college, than me and what she told me in conjunction with this post has helped a lot – everyone makes mistakes. But we are not our mistakes, they do not make us evil terrible people. hey happen to everyone and if we can forgive others for their mistakes, then maybe we can forgive ourselves. But thats so much easier said than done.

Another thing you brought up, my family was definitely dysfunctional, but i was always loved. My mom has always been there for me especially as I get older and I have wonderful friends who, though they are far away, I love and whom I know love me – so why am I falling in so easily to the victim role? Why do I do this to myself, why is every slip up just justification of how truly bad I am? I don’t even have internalized residual guilt from any religion – I grew up aithiest and yet I have this guilt complex that rivals that of a Catholic school girl. Its so easy to hate myself and to keep people away because it means i don’t have to deal with anything, but the issue is, even if i didn’t do that, I wouldn’t know what i would be trying to deal with. Im currently in therapy trying to work some of this out, but its so hard. I feel like even more of a terrible person when i try to forgive myself because i don’t think i deserve it – and if i forgive myself that means i just let myself off the hook and it doesn’t change the fact that I’m ‘bad’. I just don’t know how to deal with this, but again, its really nice to know that I’m not alone in feeling this, that maybe if its happening to other people than its not just that I’m a terrible person, but that this is an illness of thinking that human minds are prone to.

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