Christmas With, or Freedom from, Dysfunctional Families

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays 2012

I have been sick for almost 2 weeks which has been very bad timing for the Emerging from Broken website as the holidays are the busiest time of year for comments and private emails. I have been unable to answer them all this year. By the time I began to recover from the illness I had, I only had a couple of days to get ready for Christmas!

So this post is going to be short!

There is this familiar note that I get about Christmas with dysfunctional families: The message that people try to tell me, but really they are only trying to convince themselves, is that we are powerless and that we have no choice when it comes to what we want.  I am told that “they” (controlling, manipulative and abusive parents) are ‘alone’ and it would not be fair (to them) if we don’t visit on Christmas day, and what I hear in that message is that our happiness and that of our own children’s happiness should be sacrificed in order to make these abusers happy.  I am not sure where the truth about “love” is, in that.  

We are “taught” that we get what we deserve, and that we ‘reap what we sow’ but it is amazing how that same teaching is not applied to abusive, disrespectful or unloving parents. How did they get to be exempt from reaping what they sowed, or from getting what they deserved?

If my mother is alone this year, it is not from anything that I did against her. It was because I finally saw the truth; that I did not deserve to be treated the way that she treated me. I gave her a choice; she could stop treating me that way OR stop having a relationship with me. She chose no relationship.

I got a comment today on an old Christmas post preaching love and forgiveness and using all the ‘guilt and shame’ tactics that I write about all the time here in EFB. The writer reminded me that our children are watching us. This was a comment written to indicate that I am being a bad example to my children because of the way that I live my life today.

My children were watching me when I was being disrespected, disregarded and walked all over for years before I stood up to the abusers in my life. My children watched me accept treatment that I never deserved for one second. They saw me accept nasty comments, degrading treatment, they saw me serve and serve and serve while I accepted that treatment too. I didn’t know that I had a choice and without meaning to,  I taught them that they didn’t have a choice either. They saw me put myself last. They saw me discount myself and if silence is consent, they saw me agree with the way that everyone treated me; like I was the least important person in the world.  

Thank God they are watching me now! I have spent the last 6 or 7 years trying to undo the false message of ‘love’ that I taught them for so many years of their young lives.

The only judgemental comments that I get from readers are about the way that I write about my mother and father. People preach forgiveness and acceptance. This website is about recovering from the damage that abuse and trauma caused by validating that it happened in the first place. It is about seeing guilt and shame for the abuse tactics that they are, and it is about learning the REAL and TRUE definition of love. Obligation has no place in that definition of love and the definition of real love is a two way street.

I receive comments weekly from people who describe horrific abuse and usually with ongoing emotional abuse and they add, “Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents”.  People pour out their pain over the ways that they have been disregarded and discounted, physically, emotionally and often sexually abused by their parents, but want to make sure that I know they ‘love’ the people who did this to them and continue to do so much harm to them.  I want to say “WHY do you love them? How do you love them, what does that mean?”. I want to ask them what they think “love” is.  Because acceptance of abuse is not what I have come to understand love is.  And it was in seeing abuse for what it really is, that set me free from the consequences of it. (depression, trauma, nightmares, dissociative behaviour, addictions etc.)

And to the people who preach that what I am writing about here is against the message of Christ, I invite them to open their eyes to what the message of Christ really is. Christ was the original teacher of ‘equal value’.  Christ does not teach acceptance of abuse in any way whatsoever; not from parents or from anyone else.

This holiday season I wish you truth. I wish you real love in the true definition of love which in a nutshell is the definition of ‘best’. Love is doing what is best for the one loved. I encourage you to think about this from BOTH sides. It is not best for me to accept abuse from anyone. It is not best for the abuser to have no consequences for their actions. It is not best for my children to witness a dysfunctional family system as an example of love because that is not love and really only encourages the cycle of abuse to continue.  

Have a wonderful Christmas. This is a difficult time for so many; Celebrate hope. Celebrate you and the hope that is in you. Celebrate that there IS hope. I am thinking about you! Please share your thoughts.  

Hugs and Love, Darlene

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

 

Related Christmas Posts;

Dysfunctional Family Christmas and Being Alone

Dysfunctional Family Christmas and giving the wrong gift 

Christmas in Recovery from Emotional Abuse

 

 

128 response to "Christmas With, or Freedom from, Dysfunctional Families"

  1. By: Catherine Todd Posted: 30th December 2012

    Aurele #93:

    “I understood my mother, grandmother and sister can’t help me but I can help me.”

    What a wonderful sentence to write and oh-so-true. Reading through all these tales of heartbreak and woe for what is supposed to be one of the happiest days of the year, a HOLI-DAY, a HOLY DAY, makes me just wonder what has our materialistic culture come to?

    I can’t imagine people torturing each other and beating each other up with gifts with strings, control, rejection, blame and abuse and all the rest that we all have experienced here. Especially on CHRISTMAS DAY. This is the antithesis of what this most special day is supposed to mean. Some people need to go back to church or go somewhere to learn what Christmas is supposed to be about. But until they do, I don’t have to be around them. I don’t go to biker bars or wrestling matches or cage-fighting matches; I don’t hang out with drug addicts or alcoholics who are sloshed in their cups, so why should I spend time with cruel vicious people at CHRISTMAS TIME?

    No, better to spend the HOLY DAYS helping at the homeless shelter, which I have done other years, or an old folks home, or somewhere with people who appreciate good and gentle company and might have interesting stories to tell about “the old days.” I actually taught a gardening class at a senior center and heard about the old man’s father taking him in a boat out to Kitty Hawk in NC to see the Wright Brothers fly the very first airplane!

    There are so many more interesting and fun and loving things to do than go around mean and heartless people at any time of the year, and especially at the holidays which are supposed to bring so much cheer. I choose love instead of hate; I choose joy instead of pain. I choose to go with people that are nice and kind or just stay with my self, which isn’t such a bad place to be!

    So I am sad but oh so relieved that my family rejected me and did not want me to come. I had been no contact for over twenty years and came back via email and phone when my mother was dying from cancer, and she refused to see me on her death bed, as apparently my sisters did not want me there (and neither did she because I “told” on her husband and what he had been doing to me when I was young) and you know what? I had real peace for those 20 years.

    I was sad and lonely all these years, at so many holidays and “family days” when everyone around me was always getting together with family and “why couldn’t I?” But after I finally did have contact, these toxic people almost killed me with hate mail and all the rest. It is still going on. All these years nothing had changed; it had only gotten worse!

    And I had been wondering “what I did wrong” and “what I could do different ” all these time. Just torturing myself! Now I see, after my own experiences, trying my best, and reading about everyone else’s story here, that NO CONTACT is the only way for me to go, when it comes to picking up poisonous spiders and rattle snakes.

    It’s sad but true and my own mother was a copperhead. Lovely to look but watch out when she would strike. But bite she would when you would least expect it, and I would almost die from the poisonous attack, but I kept coming back for more. It was my mother, and I wanted her to love me! Surely I couldn’t be such a bad child that my own mother wouldn’t love me! It must be “my fault,” everyone always said “Well, what did you do? !!!” As if a little child could have “done” ANYTHING to warrant such behavior. And now, to the rest of the family, she is a saint and the “beatification process” has begun.

    Well, let them lay her to rest anyway they want. Hitler had his supporters and still does to this day. I choose another life and another God, and my God is not a God of War. My God is a God of Peace, and I will continue to work for that end. Peace within myself if nowhere else, and then I will be able to carry that peace within me wherever I am.

    In the old days, I would do ANYTHING for my mother to love me, but I would not lie for her and allow her and my father to kill my spirit and destroy my personality or character. I have a moral compass, unlike the others. Theirs was plucked out of them or never allowed to develop. But I have mine. And I can read “North” even if I can’t see the path ahead of me. I can put one foot in front of the other and I can read the signs by moonlight and moss on the trees. And the signs all point “Home,” that home inside of me. Home is Heaven when we can but see.

    No, I couldn’t and wouldn’t allow them to sap my strength and turn me into a puppet clone like all the rest, made of wood with an empty head. They all “drank the Koolaid” as Ice-T has said on Law and Order: SVU. I think about that a lot.

    THEY drank the Koolaid, not me.

    So I am alive, and alone, and free. To find my own way in this world, and my world is full of caring and sharing and no one has to fight for anything in my world. It’s freely given and I am learning to receive in return.

    Thank you God for showing me The Way.

    As SMD said, now for the last step: Please help me Lord to Learn to Let Go! Amen.

  2. By: Catherine Todd Posted: 30th December 2012

    SMD: If you are losing your work online, try writing in a wordprocessor first on your computer’s hard drive and save it, then copy and paste it here. I do that with anything important as that has happened to me! Plus you have a nice journal entry to keep for later on, to see how much progress is being made. It’s a slow road but it’s a sure one, and with Patience, Pardon and Prayer, we will all get there. And I add in one more for me: PRACTICE. Practice all the time. Meditation and Prayer. Amen. Happy Holidays – Happy Holy Days!

  3. By: Catherine Todd Posted: 30th December 2012

    Darlene, I won’t mention fundraising or donations again, but I will wait with great anticipation for your e-book and let me know if you want any help with any of it. I have formatted documents for many years, so am ready to volunteer at any time. Thanks for all that you do… CT

  4. By: Diane Posted: 30th December 2012

    Sonia, reading your words is like reading my words/thoughts when I was going through it too! I am SO sorry that you are in pain and confusion….and it isnt your fault at all! I admire your courage and that you are sticking up for yourself this week in ways that you never felt that you could before! YAY! I know exactly the feelings pulling you in many directions…the confusion, anger, pain, disbelief, guilt, stress etc etc…and it does take a toll on our health and quality of OUR lives when we are experiencing such a wild range of ups and downs and back and forth.
    As for you being the “bad guy”…it simply isnt truth! I think that in dysfunctional relationships, it isnt easy to see clearly , but there always seems to me to be a “black sheep” or “fall guy” or “bad guy”. I am sorry that you were the one stuck with that label…but that label has nothing to do with YOU…it has to do with THEM. That is the most painful thing to realize in some ways because it is another layer peeled away and when I started seeing it, I got really angry! I wish I could send you a hug! I just want to validate everything you have written….you are definitely of sound mind to see what you are seeing this week and you definitely are helping YOU and YOUR life by not allowing the manipulation! hugs and comfort to you Sonia!!!! 🙂

  5. By: Diane Posted: 30th December 2012

    Karen, I wanted to comment on your words in #91. I REALLY appreciated what you wrote. I especially related to your feelings and thoughts in your last paragraph about your elderly mother being hospitalized and you not being contacted…but knowing full well what is being said about you…but sticking to your resolve in not letting ppl draw you back into the crap. I admire you so much for sticking up for YOU and YOUR choices to keep that out of your life. I used to dread the day my parents would become elderly and then have health issues that I used to feel would “require” me to help them….and then I KNEW it would never be good enough. That I would be stuck in a position that I never signed up for and that I never wanted to take on and that I felt very little love or liking to do. I knew I wasnt liked or wanted….but I also knew that because I was the only daughter that it would fall on me to be the responsible one…and it used to drive me crazy even when I was younger. I cannot tell you the relief that I feel that I do not have that pressure! That probably sounds mean…and maybe for some ppl it would be mean, but for me it is a total relief and joy to be FREE from them and their dislike and pressures. I used to feel sad and guilty because they are growing old and weaker and that brings out the compassion in me, BUT I also realize that for ME ….like YOU…it is much healthier in all kinds of ways for me to not be there for them or with them anymore. I dont know if you feel or understand that same sense of relief? In any case, I send you peace and comfort and validation for your choices with your mother! 🙂

  6. By: Mimi Posted: 30th December 2012

    Hello Everyone!!

    I have enjoyed reading the comments about how everyone’s Christmas’s went.

    Aurele,
    I remember last year was my first Christmas without my family of origin. I was like you….. I had NO IDEA it could be so calm and that I could have fun with other people. Congrats on breaking away!! I’m glad you had a good Christmas.

    Karen,
    A few weeks before Christmas, my mom’s counselor reached me on FB, and told me my mom had been in the hospital the week prior. I discussed it with my sisters who had some email/text correspondence with mother during that week, and concluded that if she was indeed in the hospital, it couldn’t have been for more than 24 hours. I didn’t respond to my mother’s counselor. She was really sticking her nose in where it wasn’t welcome. I don’t know what I have to do to get through to this woman. A Master’s in counseling (of some sort), and she cannot figure out how an abused person or persons (my sisters as well) feel when it’s time to walk away from abuse, lies, and manipulation. It’s as if she’s never even known someone who washed their hands of abuse.

    Sonia,
    I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this. When circumstances make us physically ill, it’s one of the most authentic signs, in my opinion. I’m really sorry you’re going through this at all, but, even moreso because this is supposed to be a time of giving and loving unconditionally. (as another writer posted). Many times, my gut can tell me the truth, even if I don’t feel ready to accept. I remember the first time I read an article on narcissistic mothers (I think it was even before coming here), and my mother fit nearly every criteria, I was also sick. It’s true that our bodies cannot lie. The horrible dreams I had about her. These things were proof to me that even if I couldn’t get my heart around it quite yet, I still knew it was true in my mind. I’m thinking of you Sonia!! Much peace sent your way!!

    Darlene,
    I love these posts, thank you!! They come at a time when ironically, the season of love and giving is upon us, yet we hurt. So sad these people who don’t know what love is about, nor giving, etc. Thanks Darlene.

    I had a super good Christmas, with my second year away from FOO. My heart has been easily molded into a truly loving stepmom, and I completely enjoyed the time I had with my stepkids. I am ashamed to say they were second in my mind, coming only after my FOO for so many years. Not anymore, and I can only hope if they sensed it, they can forgive and let me make up the lost love to them. They truly are my family now, and I’m so thankful for them. I’m even more thankful that I found EFB when I did. I needed to know my priorities were screwed up ~ my FOO had to come second. Thankfully, this wasn’t a very painful process, to sort of realign my loyalties. It hurt to let go of my FOO of course, but, it was fairly easy to give my heart to new people, ones who appreciate it.

    Love and peace to everyone,
    Mimi

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th December 2012

      Hi Mimi!
      Thanks for this update! How wonderful to read about your christmas with your step kids and the transformation in your life this year!
      Thanks so much for sharing it here! This is the kind of post that makes it all worth it!
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Catherine Todd Posted: 31st December 2012

    Loved reading through so many heartening stories and so much progress being made, and so many PEACEFUL holidays with PEACEFUL PEOPLE. I just came from another real Christmas get-together with friends that are like “family” and I tell you, the difference is practically miraculous to behold. And all we have to do is learn when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” And when to say “when.” Amen!

  8. By: Karen Ranes Posted: 31st December 2012

    Thank you everyone for your kind comments. What you said is so true Diane. Yup I do feel relief.
    I am SO much better NC.
    Before I was so anguished by their treatment of me that I was in depression, isolating, angry,
    self harming, feeling like a totally worthless person. When the exact opposite was the truth. I was helpful, kind, compassionate and giving constantly to my mother and brother. Being everything they needed and wanted. Running in circles to please them. Now I am villanized as the uncaring (crazy) daughter because I have stepped away. I see that this is the normal pattern for the abusers.
    And I am OK now. I don’t feel that horrible self hate anymore. I’m looking forward now to 2013.

  9. By: Dawn Posted: 31st December 2012

    I called my sister and asked her what the poem meant. She said it was to remind me of our childhood. There was a dirt mound near our trailer that we would pretend was a castle and we would play in the woods that surrounded us. She said that “nothing is what it seems” was about our imagination turning us into princesses.

    I felt really happy when she told me this. We started to talk and she was trying to tell me about Christmas at our Moms. I told her that I didn’t want to hear about it because it hurts. She said “Well don’t worry it wasn’t that good anyways.” I guess she said that to make me feel better. This made me ask her the same question I always do. “Why do you go around our mother when you know it hurts me?” She said “I just can’t not see our mother.” I said “Yes you can look at what she had done to me and is still doing.” So she tells me to call Mom and that she talked to her and that Mom is ready to admit and listen to me. I laughed but a part of me believed her which is why I called my mother later. I know stupid right! We continued our conversation which turned into a scream fest on the phone. I told her that our older sister, Mom, and grandparents are abusive to me. She asked me why our older sister was abusive. This question made me so infuriated that I could have jumped through the phone and smacked her.

    When I was still living at home I told my older sister when she was visiting us that I was molested. She was married and had been out of the hell hole for 2 years so a part of me thought she would help me. When I told her she attacked me. She started to beat me and I ran out of the house into the yard with her chasing me while my other sister followed us screaming for her to stop, our mother just sat on the couch not caring. My older sister never explained to me why she did this to me and never apologized for it either, which made me feel even guiltier. This is just the start of abusive behavior that she has done. I don’t want to write a book but my sister on the phone says back to this memory “Well, she is just crazier than you Dawn. You have to excuse her on some things.” First off she is saying that I am crazy! I am not crazy. You mean because of my abuse that I am crazy. This really set me off. The conversation turned into to kids on the phone doing the back and forth thing with me screaming about their abuse behavior and her taking up for them. I ended with I love my nieces and nephews and would love to be around them but I don’t want to be around you if you are going to continue to be around my abusers. She tells me that my older sister’s kids are very closer to hers and that the two girls call each other sister. I started to cry and said what about my future kids. Because I don’t have kids I guess I am just excluded from both of your lives. I guess that my future kids don’t matter.

    All in all I called my mother later and the conversation went exactly the way I thought with me telling her that she isn’t a mother and never was. I have been my mother my whole life. She keeps the check book from 2006 when I graduated high school and said I can show you how I paid for your senior pictures, cap and gown, prom dress, and year book now you want to say I wasn’t a Mother. I said ya while my boyfriend paid for everything else! You wouldn’t buy me food, toilet paper, shampoo, etc(basic needs). If I had not met my boyfriend who is my husband now at the age of 15 I would have starved to death. You didn’t even buy me clothes. He helped me get a job, car, driver license, everything. Then when I graduated I got a full scholarship and I told you to please get (my father) out. She wouldn’t do it. I lived there six months after I graduated and then one night my father was telling me “Get back to your whole bitch”, trying to start a fight, while laughing because he was high, my mother just sat there like always, I went off on her telling her again what I had so many times, I was brave this time because I had my boyfriend with me. She went to her bed room and got a gun came back to the living room and pointed it at me then she put it to her head. She said if you don’t stop I’m going to kill myself. (She had done this to me my whole life. Threatening suicide so I’ll shut up) I told her do it I don’t’ care anymore, kill yourself. She dropped the gun and I got it. I gave it to my boyfriend then my mother ran out of the house got in her car and left. My father looked at me and said, “Look what you did now she is gone.” He took the gun from us even though I didn’t want to because I feared he would kill us but he didn’t. He unloaded the gun and me and boyfriend went to my room. I moved out shortly after and both I and husband were in college and we worked full-time. I couldn’t keep my scholarship unless I went fulltime but couldn’t because I to work fulltime. ? I worked hard on my homework to get a good GPA. No one told me to do my homework or helped me I just wanted to so I could have a better live than what I had so far. I told this story to my mom and said now you want to throw a stupid check book at my face. What about my loans that would be there if it were not for you. So on and so on I just hung up on her.

    Why can’t the only family member that I really want to be around just stop seeing these abusive family members? Am I being selfish by asking her to stop seeing them? I told her to pick me or the family and she said that she can’t answer that because it was wrong of me to ask that. I don’t see how it is wrong. I told her that it hurts my feeling when she is in close relationships with them like she doesn’t care about all the things they have done to me and don’t even feel the need to apologize for their wrong doing. I just feel lost. Every time I break down and call this sister it opens a can of worms that spread like poison through me. I love her so much and her kids. She told me that the eldest nephew looked out the window and saw a black car and started to yell that Aunt Dawn was here but it wasn’t me. He was sad after that. This makes me feel so bad.

    Sorry for writing so much I really tried to condense this down. I feel so crappy after talking to them. I just think I shouldn’t talk to them at all because it really puts me down. I don’t like feeling like this. Sorry to everybody else on here who is going through hurtful situations as well. My heart goes out to all of you and may peace be with you during stormy times.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 31st December 2012

      Hi Dawn
      Never worry about how much you write. Write what you need to write, for you.
      Something that struck me in your comments was that thing your sister said that you had to excuse your other sister because she is crazy. (and I understand about the insult that she said “crazier than you”) but my brother said to me a while back that my parents are “old” and not going to change and I said “SO WHAT?” We are talking about the damage here. We are trying to heal from the damage and if that damage is excused two things happen; one is that we are invalidated which is the root of all of this in the first place, and two, WHY do they get to be excused for whatever reason? If there is a killer shark in the shallow water, people are advised NOT to go in the water. We don’t excuse the shark and ignore the danger. We count.
      Thanks for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Dawn Posted: 31st December 2012

    Your right so what. I do feel invalidated and so what about whatever excuse they have. I love the shark analogy this really makes since in my head. Thank you for clarity and truth I needed this. I was beginning to feel selfish but I’m not selfish or crazy.

  11. By: Catherine Todd Posted: 1st January 2013

    Wow. Does this take me back to every conversation or attempt I ever made with so many of my family members, whether I “screamed” at them or not. Talk about CRAZY MAKING! And I too loved Darlene’s analogy:

    “If there is a killer shark in the shallow water, people are advised NOT to go in the water. We don’t excuse the shark and ignore the danger. We count [too].”

    And that’s what these people are. The gun to the head scenario is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) all the way. It runs in my family along with Narcissism, alcoholism, prescription pill addiction and all the rest. I swear, these family scenarios all of us are describing could be on Jerry Springer.

    THANK GOD THESE PEOPLE CUT ME OFF. I could never have had the strength to do it myself. THANK GOD I SPENT CHRISTMAS ALONE AND WITH FRIENDS.

    After reading what goes on in “families of origin,” I will NEVER cry myself to sleep again, because I had to be “alone.” Being with THEM is a “fate worse than death.” They all come from the poisoned tree. It’s sad when it’s nieces and nephews, but they are fruit from the same tree. I have to accept that these people will never be a part of my life, because they have bee poisoned against me, all because I got away.

    It’s heartbreaking but true. I keep having this image of Dorothy in the Wicked Witch’s castle, with those horrible flying monkeys all around, and somehow I get away. Me and my little dog Toto, too!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 1st January 2013

      Catherine
      It is amazing how many times the wizard of oz analogy comes to my mind in all this. When a controller/abuser/manipulative person starts to realize they are losing their control over someone, you can almost see the fear, the horror, and I see the wicked witch of the west screaming “I’m melting, I’m melting”. Their identity is in thier power over others. That is where their self esteem lives. It is sick, but if no one sets a boundary, they don’t have to change.
      Thanks for being here!
      Hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Dawn Posted: 1st January 2013

    LOL It really does sound like a Jerry Springer show. My Mother was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder but yes I can see how she has Borderline Personality Disorder, and is Narcissistic. I think this runs in the family because my older sister acts Narcissistic and the other well I’m not sure but she did try to kill herself once ending in the ER. I’m sure I probably have something as well maybe I’ll go to a therapist one day.

    I remember when I was talking to my Mother and I called her to talk about a fight I had with my hubby. She told me to act like I was going to kill myself in order to get my way. When she told me this I knew that that’s what she does to me. I told her that is manipulative and wrong. She came back with a laugh and said it works every time. Maybe I should go on Jerry Springer just for fun or Dr. Phil.

    Thank you both Darlene and Catherine I sometimes get confused that their behavior is wrong and that I am right for leaving that crazy family(FOO). I have never seen that memory like that before. She really was the wicked witch of the west, mind blown right now, melting. She did all that to put me in my place and keep control over me. A part of me felt like that was it but I guess I didn’t really want to admit that to myself.

  13. By: Catherine Todd Posted: 1st January 2013

    Dawn, I *almost* gasped in horror, reading “It works every time.” The only thing stopping me was growing up with my beloved grandmother who DID try to kill herself many times but I only witnessed it once. I was “the golden child” with her who could do no wrong. On the other hand, I was “the hated child” with my own mother (her daughter) who could do no right.

    I am amazed at Darlene’s explanation of the Wicked Witch of the West, and when the witch was losing control “I’m melting, I’m melting!” I wonder how much MORE there is in this story, besides “coming home to Auntie Em” and “home” is in your own backyard. There must be a lot more to the story and I hope that Darlene writes a whole discussion about this one.

    Dawn, I know how you feel about “not wanting to admit this to yourself.” I didn’t forever, because as long as I believed (as I was told) that everything WAS “my fault” then heck, I could “fix things” because I was ready and willing to CHANGE! I would, and did, try EVERYTHING, BUT NOTHING WORKED. That’s why I believed I was a failure my whole entire life, in spite of being very successful at so many things. They told me I was a failure and I believed I was a failure because hey, if your own mother doesn’t love you and actually hates you, then what difference do all the accolades in the world mean?

    This whole family lie that we’ve been raised to believe in and buy into and keep going is like the happy housewives of the fifties, when they were cooped up in their suburban prisons with screaming kids and dirty houses to clean, and keeping their floors “clean enough to eat off of.”

    I’ll never forget when I finally told someone who came to my house that “I don’t eat off my floors. I eat off my plates and they are kept clean.” You should have seen the look on her face! Sacrilege!

    I also said I had plenty of other things to do that “keep my floor clean enough to eat off of,” like going to college and working while raising a child! These people were crazy then and they are crazy now.

    Our culture destroys families with their myths and their lies. People need to be responsible for themselves and how they act. We don’t “bring it on ourselves.” They do it to us! And we have every right to STAY AWAY.

    End of story. Abusers don’t need “motivation” to change. That assumes that they CAN change. And even if they learn to put on a happy face, they will turn on you in an instant. Does a rattlesnake “change?”

    LOL. Think about the Indian story about taking in a poor frozen rattlesnake into his teepee and caring for it and bringing it back to life, giving it milk and being kind and gentle with it, and then when the snake is all better he turns around and bites his savior. “Why did you bite me and kill me when I was so good to you?” Because that is my nature! I am a poisonous snake!

    Our culture is America is based on so many lies. We weren’t raised with stories and parables about how things really are. We are fed a constant daily diet of how things should have been and could have been and we are at fault and yadayadyayda just like when women were raped and “their skirt was too short.”

    I for one am sick of it and I won’t buy into any more of it. I tried my best for years and years and there is no changing mental illness, especially that of the cruelty kind. I’m done and over and out and I have a peaceful life when those poisonous spiders and pit vipers are out of my life. It’s a miracle that I even survived. Let them bite and snap at each other. Alligators, all. I don’t have to be there. I won’t be “fresh meat” thrown into the alligator pond!

  14. By: Catherine Todd Posted: 1st January 2013

    Dawn, if your mother has been diagnosed as BiPolar, then that should “say it all.” You are dealing with real mental illness and that is simply not going to change. Even if others want to hold us responsbile for other people’s behavior, we aren’t and we can’t. So what does that tell you? It doesn’t matter if she’s Borderline or Narcissist or a mix of all three. It’s still mental illness and you have to protect yourself and your family. Crazy is crazy and you can’t change it. I have very vicious siblings who are just like my mother and I believe it is genetic. And thank God I wasn’t exposed to it as long as the others (I got away when I was 16 years old, so I had much less exposure and wasn’t subject to their “rules” for as long as the others) but I still have to fight a lot of the same symptoms in myself, all the time. But fight I do. I won’t give in and I won’t “be like them” and I’m NOT “like them” and I work on changing my behavior and reactions all the time. Unlike the others. And that says it all.

    Adios to the crazy ones. I let them live in their world and I live in mine, and I won’t allow their Trojan Horses to enter into my walls ever again. I learned this last time after 20 years of peace. All they have done is wage war just as my mother taught them to do, even on her death bed. This was her legacy to me, and I hope she goes straight to hell with it and all the others. There, I said it!

    I will be free.

  15. By: Terri Posted: 4th January 2013

    Last year was the first year in 50 years I did not go home for Christmas. That decision came hard after a ‘meltdown’ and trip to my Psychologist. I felt so liberated.

    I agreed to get together with them this year. It is to happen tomorrow. My turmoil has started after a conversation with my Mom. It was an hour later before I realized I was upset because she didn’t respect my wants and wishes, nor that of my partner.

    I’m gritting my teeth and will take lots of calm tablets. I don’t drink over it any more, but seek other solutions. I’m thankful I found this website when I needed it.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 4th January 2013

      Hi Terri
      Something that really helped me was giving myself permission to change my mind. I had that same delayed reaction for the first while in my healing process and when I saw the truth about what was going on (that I was not actually being heard or respected), I decided that it was a bad idea to open myself up to more of what I was trying to stand up to. It is okay to change your mind.
      Hugs, Darlene

  16. By: sian Posted: 17th January 2013

    Hi Darlene.
    I believe that toxic people can make you feel ill. They need to know about the stress they are causing.
    Once you learn who the users are. Also, to reply to their selfishness. Via assertiveness, then recovery has started.
    Thereby, others know what your viewpoint is. So, they will not be surprised if you keep a little distance. Simultaneously, maintain ties.

  17. By: GDW Posted: 11th February 2013

    Hi all,

    I must say that I do take offense at the usage of labels to villify people. I have been diagnosed as Borderline and not quite sure if this is accurate, as the therapist labeled most of her clients as Borderline, but I digress. It’s also been called to my attention that Borderline is just another word for PTSD by some professionals—so labels to me are pretty much useless in addition to offensive. I do feel dehumanized to be borderline, as opposed to me. All therapists seem to have different diagnoses anyway. My current therapist does not believe in labels- we’re all human. I feel the same. But we can decide how to treat people. I think using an illness to explain another’s or your own behavior confuses the issue.

    I treat people with respect, that is huge for me, and I hope to someday expect equal respect back. My family actually uses this diagnosis to humiliate and abuse me. It is a put down, and a perfect excuse for why anything and everything in their lives is wrong (even if I am not involved it it). If my mother screams at me and I react, I’m borderline- her responsibility is absolved.
    So while I can empathize and get angry at someone who does not respect people (we all deserve respect)
    labels can be hurtful and innacurrate. They were actually invented for insurance purposes. I do not go by labels, I have met some unbelievably compassionate “crazy” people- bipolar, borderline, etc who were scapegoats of their families, and some undiagnosed and therefore “sane” in their minds, people who are absolute monsters.

    Just my 2 cents…

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 12th February 2013

      Hi GDW
      I am not a fan of any diagnosis on either side of this whole thing; I don’t like to diagnose abusers, OR victims. Breakdowns start because we have been traumatized or neglected ~ the diagnosis does not do anything to help move towards a solution. As you say, many people use diagnosis against others! They use it as the proof against others. Victims use diagnosis of perps to excuse them or make excuses for them believing that if they can ‘understand’ the abuser, then it isn’t personal that they abused them, however, the solution for healing is in facing and validating the damage that was caused. So really it doesn’t matter what is ‘wrong’ with the abuser.
      Thanks for sharing ~ you make great points in your comments!
      Hugs Darlene

  18. By: GDW Posted: 12th February 2013

    Thanks Darlene!

    Your support is soooo great!

    Yes, I do agree- it seems like ‘trying to understand’ is a form of denial. Like if only you knew how they struggle, and their past, and diagnosis, etc it would be ok for them to abuse us, and it didn’t really happen, it wasn’t really them, but the disease/their past, etc. It happened. Period. And the person did it. The person abused us. That is what is so hard and scary to come to and it can be circular to try to understand why. I find myself doing this often—but what I come to understand again and again is we can’t change people- and I deserve respect!

    Something I just realized is victims can internalize their diagnosis as being the reasons why they are inherantly and uncontrollably ‘bad’ while at the same time excusing abusers with the percieved diagnosis for why ‘deep down they are really good people’ —letting them get away with their behavior and continue to carry the shame. There is always a way to turn it around which is why I so appreciate your advice of looking at the actual behavior, the root, and the power dynamics (ie does one person have the ability to put you in survival mode by controlling resources- boss, husband, parents/can they control whether your basic human rights are met or not)? Then that person has more power, and responsibilty and blaming the victim is just convienient, lazy on their part. As well as a sign they won’t change.
    If they don’t take responsibility, they don’t take responsibility. That is wrong.

    Ugh!

    Sorry about typos lol.

    G

  19. By: GDW Posted: 17th February 2013

    I realized I forgot to ‘subscribe’ to my comments (I have to re-comment to subscribe)!

  20. By: JJ Posted: 4th June 2013

    When I lived 3,000 miles away, I would always fly in on Christmas eve, and leave on 12/26. I “blamed” airline blackout periods for cheap fares. The real truth was I didn’t want to be there any longer than I had to be. And they can’t pressure me to change my airline schedule because fees are stiff for doing that.

    When I moved closer to where I grew up, then I started getting Christmas depression. It would start right before Thanksgiving, and end on New Year’s. I figured out what it was. Since I now lived “closer to everyone” I was SUPPOSED to “stay longer” when I visited. I had to fight for excuses to leave.

    I have now decided I just don’t do Christmas. I asked my family to stop sending me presents. I don’t want them. I am much happier, but I still have other issues with my Mom.

  21. By: JJ Posted: 4th June 2013

    Just want to say, I like the way you get your OWN little icon when you post. That way you can tell the difference between two posters that might have the same name.

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