Archive for Depression

unnamedWhat if I told you that there is a predator in the survivor community posing as an advocate for survivors of child sexual abuse. What if I told you that he has a large following, is well respected, has been interviewed many times and has even been on television. What if I also told you that the evidence against him goes back several years. What if I said that 11 women have come forward with very similar stories of sexual harassment, bullying, blackmail, shaming, and threats.

Would you believe me? I am guessing you would believe me. Most people who follow me, read my work, buy my book and share my posts believe me when I write about my childhood, my mother, my upbringing, my parents and the ways that I was regarded and disregarded, all of which communicated to me that I was not as lovable or as valuable as the people mistreating and disrespecting me were.

But what if you were a friend of my family? What if you realized that I was talking about someone you knew that had been the one doing this stuff to me? What if it was your pastor, your teacher or your coach that had been messing with me? What if it was your aunt, your cousin or your brother in law? How would you react then?

This survivor advocate that I am talking about today is very skilled in grooming his victims to be afraid to tell on him. He is just like any other manipulative controller or abuser who knows that he has to find a way to keep his victims quiet. His pattern is very similar with each of the women he has targeted. He gains their trust, he finds or creates something that he can use against them and when the victim objects, or realizes that he is an abuser, he uses threats, guilt and calls them all sorts of horrible names defining his victims as the problem, taking them back to the helpless childhood they are trying so hard to emerge from and keeping them in the web of fear. Read More→

Categories : Survival
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christina 11The first time a boy got a little rough with me I was 14. I had been swimming at our community pool and Mike the 17 year old life guard let me wear his diving watch in the water, which I thought was so cool. My boyfriend Rob showed up and called me over to the gate and I forgot to take the watch off when I went to meet him. I could tell he was angry.

I grabbed my towel and as we were walking away from the pool I had a sinking feeling in my gut. Looking back it was a familiar feeling, one that I had had often in my lifetime; it was the feeling of impending doom.

My internal dialogue went like this; “I have a bad feeling. Something bad is going to happen. Something bad… my tummy hurts, I don’t feel good; I don’t like this feeling.”

I remember my boyfriend started questioning me.            

Rob: Who is that guy?

Me: He’s just the life Guard

Rob: Why are you wearing that watch?

Me: Because he let me wear it to dive in the deep end. It’s so cool!

Rob: Give me that watch.

Me: NO, I have to give it back to Mike.

By now the feeling of impending doom is almost making me throw up. I am scared; I feel like I have done something really bad but I am not sure what. I want to hide and there is nowhere to hide. I want to disappear. I want Rob to stop breathing in that angry way. I want him to calm down and listen to me.

I can see that Rob is getting more agitated. He grabs my wrist with one hand (OW, stop it, you are hurting me!) and he rips the watch off my wrist with the other hand. Then he goes back to the fence surrounding the pool and he throws the watch over the fence and into the pool. I am just standing there dripping wet, feeling scared and stupid and starting to give myself shit for being so dumb. Earlier in the year Rob had beat up a boy at school because he said something flirty to me and it took three teachers to break the fight up and now I am really scared he is going to beat up the life guard. But he doesn’t go into the pool area. Read More→

Categories : Survival
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Christina 8Please help me welcome back one of our most popular guest writers ~ Pam Witzemann! In this post Pam shares about how seeing the truth in a bigger picture way, helped her to recognize what her inner critic voices were telling her. Truth was the balance in accountability that Pam needed to silence the lies those inner voices told her about herself that she had believed for so long as part of her coping method. This post is extremely content rich and I encourage you to read it through more than once! ~ Darlene

 How The Truth Silences Inner Critics Voices and Healing Begins by Pam Witzemann

An abusive childhood left me with little self-worth and a damaged ability to trust and form healthy relationships. I have lived most of my life with both a strong inner and outer critic. The inner critic tells me that I’m defective and responsible for every bad thing that happens to me. The outer critic tells me that most human beings shouldn’t be trusted because they are all potentially, dangerous. Both my inner critic and outer critic lie to me and they present themselves as my greatest obstacle in healing from the abuse I suffered during my childhood. Truth is the balance in accountability I need to heal from childhood abuse. Only the truth has the power to silence my inner and outer critics, who are never satisfied until they fully disable me, driving me into deep depression and isolation from others.

Human beings are social creatures. I am a human being and I too am meant to enjoy relationships. However, my early childhood taught me that I wasn’t quite human and the second half of my childhood taught me that all human beings, not just my alcoholic parents, were dangerous. I decided that if I had the choice, I’d rather not be a human being and I spent several decades of my life seeking safety through various forms of isolation and very limited close relationships. As a small child, my isolation was involuntary and imposed on me by poor health and by the way my parents chose to treat my unhealthy condition. From birth, until age seven, I spent most of my time in bed and usually, I was medicated with alcohol. All during my elementary school years I was often, sick and kept in bed. I had a deep longing for something that I didn’t understand, an empty, excruciating, emotional ache; but I grew used to being alone and that state of aloneness became my safe haven from the alcoholic drama that characterized my home life. Read More→

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Carla Hawaii EFB

I am excited to have our very own Pam Witzemann guest blogging on Emerging from Broken this week! Pam was a frequent guest blogger here in 2011 and 2012 and she has always been a contributor in the conversations. Please welcome Pam;

An Invisible Child in a Hostile World by Pam Witzemann

Where there is substance abuse and children, there is child neglect and abuse.

I was born to parents who abused alcohol and from my birth I was an invisible child in a hostile world. Alcohol abuse is considered a disease but my life’s experience has taught me to view it as a symptom of underlying mental illness and psychological disorder. Though my parents have never seen a psychologist or psychiatrist and aren’t likely ever to do so, I am quite certain of their underlying psychological disorders. Alcohol was gasoline added to the flame of their mental illness that created the distorted and sometimes, dangerous environment of my childhood home.

There was a time when I hated my parents. I still hate the things they did to me and neglected to do for me; but I now view them as pitiable persons who choose the false safety of denial, rather than face the truth about themselves and the lives they’ve led. They are no longer a part of my life because in order to be in a relationship with them I would have to deny the truth about my life and continue in the denial that rules my family of origin. That is abusive to me and I refuse to allow them to abuse me any longer. In any event, the truths I share here are about my life and not really about my parents at all. I now choose when and where to share my personal history and what I share here is for the purpose of helping others who suffer as I have suffered and not about any kind of exposure or revenge.

I don’t think my parents ever saw me as an individual separate from themselves. I was simply an extension of them. I was their firstborn child and to them, a disappointing reflection of themselves. I only weighed four pounds and my mother brought me home wearing doll clothes and lying in a shoe box. My mother had many childish fantasies of a baby daughter who would change her life for the better and it didn’t seem likely that I would fulfill any of them. She says my dad was jealous of me and didn’t like her giving me the attention I constantly cried for.

 I nearly died when I was only a few weeks old. Read More→

Categories : Depression
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EFB car picEarlier this year my 16 year old daughter hit glare ice, flew off the road and crashed her car. She hit the first tree and took it out which caused her to roll and flip into the air, crashing 5 feet up on the passenger side and wrapped around a second tree.  Her face and hands were covered in blood and cuts from the broken glass and she thought her arm was broken. When she was taken to x-rays in the hospital she fainted.

The images of her near death were haunting.  I couldn’t stop imagining what she went through, her fear and how much worse it could have been. Even though she walked away, even though I was fairly sure she was going to have a complete recovery, the feelings, emotions and fears that came up for me were overwhelming.

On the third day after her accident my entire body was ‘humming’ with fear, emotion and flashes of the way my mind imagined the accident. I felt nauseous, exhausted and totally stressed out. I couldn’t sit still, I couldn’t concentrate on a book, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t even escape with mindless television shows.  I found myself reaching for weird food, like potato chips and chocolate and I reached for them as though they were a life preserver. I ate  mindlessly and in a frenzied manner and as I shoved things in my mouth I became aware of the thought that I somehow believed eating those foods might block the feelings of fear and anxiety out of my mind.  I had this crazy belief that eating those foods would squish the fear and flashbacks of her accident and all my feelings of helplessness, down and away from me.

I felt like I couldn’t cope. I felt like there was ‘nowhere’ to go and nothing I could do about it, that I was powerless over the outcome of her accident, that I was helpless and I had been helpless in that moment. And in the case of my daughters car accident I was powerless and helpless but the problem was that  I felt like that ‘powerlessness and helplessness’ defined me as ‘useless’ and as a ‘failure’ as a mother, as a woman and even as a person. 

Useless and a failure;

And I had this nagging feeling that this feeling I was trying to get away from was very familiar for me. I had this sense that this feeling was something that I had had for most of my life.  And while I was in bed that night, half awake, half asleep, it came to me; this is the feeling that Read More→

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psychological abuseI had to learn to shift my thinking in this process of overcoming the damage caused by emotional abuse. There were a few rather large shifts that I had to make in order to make progress and there was a process to shifting my thinking! It didn’t just happen overnight. 

Instead of trying to understand why ‘they’ didn’t like me or why ‘they’ didn’t love me and why I didn’t fit in and why ‘they’ treated me so badly and what was wrong with me, I started to try to understand why I kept trying.

 I started to ask myself new questions;

Although I had some suspicions that most of my relationships were not fair to me, deep down why did I believe I was the one that was wrong about everything ~ which kept me trying to fix me?  

Although I has some suspicions that there were some things my family was doing wrong, why was I so easily convinced that I was the problem in the relationship which also kept me trying to fix me?  

Why didn’t I expect to be treated the way they insisted that I treat them? 

Why did I accept such a one sided definition of love that so obviously had two very different sets of rules; a set for them and a set for me?

And as I started to ask myself different questions, I started to Read More→

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learning to trust yourself

beauty on the other side..

I grew up receiving the message that I was not that important. My feelings were invalidated and my emotional needs were discounted. And ‘that’ causes some life-long belief systems to develop when it comes to self-care and self-love. Learning that I was not important led me to discounting myself. This led to putting myself and my needs last and to breaking agreements that I made with myself. Breaking agreements with myself leads to not trusting myself in the same way that I don’t trust other people who break agreements with me.

The start of a new year always reminds me of this issue. I love the beginning of a new year. I relate a new year to a new page, a new blank slate that I can fill up in any way that I want. A new year brings new choices, new opportunities and new adventures. I often think in terms of “this year I am going to…..” and when I don’t do what I promise myself I will do, I damage the relationship I am building with myself. I damage my self-trust.

When I first noticed that I was doing this and that I didn’t actually trust myself because of it, my solution was to stop making agreements with myself. That didn’t pan out to be the best answer because the message that I was giving myself was this: If I can’t keep agreements with myself I won’t agree to anything at all. And that thought is related to many of the abuse tactics that I lived with for so long.  For example in the past when I got upset with my husband for always being late, his solution was to stop agreeing to any specific time. (he admits today that he thought this was a genius idea and also admits that it was abusive) So he would call and ask if I wanted to go with him somewhere, but he would not tell me Read More→

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psychological abuse

poster by Judy Baxter ~ quote by Darlene Ouimet

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means to YOU………

A lot of my emotional healing grew out of realizing the truth about some of the concepts that I had been taught wrong. The people who were in a position of power in my life taught me a lot of false definitions of words like love, respect, relationship, trust, forgiveness and a few others. Growing up from so young with the false definitions I had been taught caused me to automatically accept them as the truth.

Yesterday on my previous post “how to recognize when your best interest are not being considered” when referring to her mother a commenter wrote “I am sure she thinks she deserves to be respected…” and it got me thinking about how much learning the truth about definitions of certain key words and concepts helped me in my process of overcoming depression, trauma and low self-esteem.

When I refer to a person in a position of power I am not just referring to our teachers, the police, or judges or government. I am also referring to “our elders” and our families. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all in a positions of power in my life. My in-laws were in a position of power in my marriage and in our lives.  All these people were in that power position because they were “the adults” and I was a child. In my childhood that meant that they were right and I was wrong. In my adulthood, this belief didn’t change because they never let it. In both cases (as a child and as an adult) this is called a dysfunctional relationship because the elders decide and communicate that not everyone in the relationship has equal value.

It was a huge part of my survival mode to go along with these false teachings and when I became an adult I still believed the false truth that Read More→

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forgivenessWhen I was about 17 years old and had escaped the difficulties associated with living under the same roof as my mother, I became friends with a neighbour lady whom I eventually sought mentorship from. (Or perhaps I was actually just looking for someone who would love me and mother me.) She was a nice lady with a couple of children and she seemed to be interested in me. When I grew comfortable enough to tell her about a problem that I had with one of my mothers boyfriends, she told me to pray for him. PRAY FOR HIM! She told me that I needed to forgive him.

I got assaulted and HE got prayer.  I didn’t realize at the time how much she discounted ME by telling me to pray for him. I didn’t notice that she wasn’t interested in what happened to me, or in the difficulty that I was STILL having dealing with what had happened to me but that she skipped right to concern for HIM. I didn’t even realize that the message that I was getting from her was concern for him. I was used to being discounted in that way so it was normal and familiar to me then. Today I see her directive for me to pray for him and forgive him as abusive.

Forgiveness and child abuse is a difficult combination.

I didn’t respond in any way to her suggestion at first. In my minds eye I see myself “thinking” about this suggestion; considering the best way to “go about it”. As always the compliant victim, I stayed quiet. I even agreed to let her HELP me pray for him.

I remember her praying “with” me or “for me” or maybe she prayed “over me” I can’t remember for sure which method she used. She asked God to heal my heart and to show me the way to forgiveness.

I got assaulted and he got forgiveness?

She told me that I needed to forgive my mother for not protecting me and not believing me. She didn’t even listen to the whole story before she was telling me that I had to forgive them. It was invalidating.

There was no comfort for me. There was no understanding for me. There was no permission for me to be afraid or to be in pain. There was no permission for me to talk about what happened or Read More→

Categories : Depression
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black sheep of my family

not fitting in

I hear this expression all the time. I hear it used in the sentence “well he always was the black sheep of the family” and I hear it used in the first person such as “well I am the black sheep of my family.” This week I have been thinking about HOW a child becomes “the black sheep of the family” in the first place. The black sheep may be the one that rebels against the family system or the black sheep is also used to describe the one who “doesn’t fit in” with the family. Not “fitting in” with the family usually means not being accepted by the family for going against the family rules, questioning certain practices or simply for being an individual. (note: sometimes “not fitting in” is simply the feeling of not being as “good” or as valuable as other siblings or other family members.)

I am not sure if I am now or ever was regarded as the black sheep in my family, but I certainly didn’t feel like I fit in there even before I stood up and publically rebelled against the total family dysfunction I grew up with.  I resisted thinking that I might have been “the black sheep” because to me it was an admission of the rejection that I had always felt; rejection that I was terrified to acknowledge. I tried for most of my young years to comply but even that didn’t keep me safe and the feeling that I was “not loved” was always lingering close by.

There were things said all along about me by my family that discredited me long before I ever exposed any of the truth about what had been going on in my childhood. From a very young age I was defined as Read More→

Categories : Depression
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