Conflicting Feelings of Rejection when the Abuser Withdraws

Emotional abuse, sexual abuse,
Hope in the Darkness of Rejection

All abuse, whether it is emotional and psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or spiritual abuse, is abuse and that these articles that I write on Emerging from Broken apply to ALL kinds of abuse.  I intentionally make a connection between depression, dissociation, multiple personality, eating disorders, addictions and other mental health struggles and abuse. It is my experience that my difficulties and struggles were birthed in how I learned my value or rather my lack of it. The following article is not just about mother daughter dysfunctional relationship. It is about ALL dysfunctional relationship. How it starts in childhood, how it goes from there. How it ends up in coping methods that although necessary for survival, become self destructive.

The subject of not wanting the abuser to leave me and wondering why they did is SO complicated! For me, one of the things it has to do with is compliance and how much of my life that I spent trying harder for them. The deeper that I look at the roots of my belief system, the more that I can figure out where things got off the track.  First of all there are the tons and tons of mixed and conflicting messages that we get both from right sources and wrong sources. They all kind of go into the same pot and they mesh with each other. Remember the story of how when my mother declared that it was my fault that her boyfriend came in my room in the night to sexually assault me because I had a crush on him. Well because my self esteem was already so damaged that I believed her, I added that self blame to everything that ever happened to me before that event. Then there were a few things in my past where I was not such a perfect child, like the time I faked the nightmare for attention, and when a child is a mere child, it doesn’t take much for things to get really mixed up in the memory, the mind and then in the belief system. The grid that we try to process things through, gets damaged.

I had to look at the “foundational foundation” to start with.  That is the belief that we need and depend on whoever our caregivers are for our very lives, protection, security, the things that children need to grow into healthy adults. And when something happens that alters those basic needs, we have a problem.  We get this split belief about love somewhere along the way and we start to believe that love is something that it isn’t. My mother taught me my value, she taught me the version of LOVE that she believed, but it isn’t real love. So I think that what she is doing is love, and I used to say “I know she loves me, I know she is doing her best”.. but today I know differently.  She doesn’t love me at all. She uses me to make her feel better about herself. But it doesn’t work and it isn’t good enough and it hurts me every time.  Where is the love in that? Part of my recovery was realizing what love is and what it is not.  

When I told my mother that I was not willing to have a relationship on her terms, she finally asked me what “my terms” were. I told her that from now on she could no longer say that I had a crush on her boyfriend when I was just a kid and that was why he came in my room in the night. AND I told her that I was sick of having to prove to her husband that I liked him. I guess my terms were too high.

She was silent. She did not respond to any of the “terms” I stated. Then she told ME to think about our talk and get back to her and I said no mom, you can think about it and get back to me. I could write a whole other blog post about how everything was always up to me but that particular time I had given her MY terms, what the heck was I supposed to think about?  That was the last time that we spoke.

And the message that I got from her withdrawal was that I was not worth her trying for. If I was going to draw boundaries and demand equal value then forget it. She said NO. The message was that I was only good for kicking around. If she had to respect me, then she didn’t want to be bothered with me at all. And that message meant to me that I am NOT worth it. After all the years of loyalty and compliance. After keeping my mouth shut about her boyfriends ~  I wasn’t worth her effort. I had never stood up to her all those years. I didn’t dump HER. I put up with all of the degrading in front of the whole world. I stood silent when she told men they could sleep with me because I was on the pill even though I was only a teenager! I didn’t even tell the family therapist (we had to go because my brother got arrested) what was really going on in our home or how she treated me. I let her take me to bars as a man magnet when I was 17 and I never said a word; I followed HER one sided definition of love and loyalty and I kept thinking that one day it would pay off ~ AND she dumped ME! It was incomprehensible! This was just the most unbelievable “thing” for me to try and comprehend. I was such a GOOD VICTIM and it was all for NOTHING? Because when it came right down to it, I was not worth her effort.

And it feels like rejection, because IT IS REJECTION.

As the months went by I felt more and more shock and disbelief as these truths sunk in. But something else was happening. I realized that I didn’t miss the abuse. I didn’t miss having to constantly do damage control and make sure SHE was okay. I didn’t miss having the joy sucked out of every single exciting moment in my life.  I didn’t miss the put downs, the insults, the sexual innuendos or the family problems that she caused with her gossip and trouble making. I didn’t miss the anxiety.

And I started to grow. I started to come out of the fog in a much bigger way; I had so much more clarity about the truth and realized how many lies about myself that I had accepted.

This whole story does not just apply to parents; I had a couple of boyfriends who fit this same pattern. Oh and a few friends too. And employers…………. well you get the picture.

Please share your journey, struggles or victories or whatever you need to share for your recovery.

Exposing Truth one snapshot (or two) at a time

Darlene Ouimet

Are you aware my of my e-book “Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you and you would like to find out “HOW” I broke out of the oppression I lived in, this 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing. I’ve received hundreds of thank you notes from people that have bought my book. Get yours here for 9.97 through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

Related Posts: The little girl who Cried Wolf  ~ Belief system development

Sexual Abuse ~ Devlaued, Discounted, Unprotected

More on Mother Daughter Dysfunctional Relationship (and the comments)


114 response to "Conflicting Feelings of Rejection when the Abuser Withdraws"

  1. By: Steve Posted: 9th October

    Very interesting article.

    Makes me realize how after 35 years of trying with my family, that the final rejection by my family 12 years ago was like a heavy, unwanted, parting gift for me to carry away.

    The “gift” reminded me that in the end (with my family) that I was unworthy of and impossible to care for or love.

    So while there was relief to not be the human punching bag any longer, there was a lasting sting, reminding me of what they think of me.

    And it echoes deep inside me that if my family doesn’t and can’t love me, then no one will.

    That comes in part from being told that “no one will ever love you like your family” over and over, and believing that the way they acted was love.

    Reading this article helps me understand why the pain didn’t all go away as fast as they stopped talking to me 12 years ago.

    The fog of why I feel the way I feel is lifting, and thank you!

  2. By: SoCal mom Posted: 22nd July

    This is amazing. I too have experience this from my father as well as my inlaws. The withdrawal is supposed to entice us to beg for forgiveness for what THEY did. It is unbelievably manipulative. Crazy making. For my inlaws, its been 6 YEARS of silence. My husband’s whole family has fallen off the face of the earth. All because my MIL wont recognize her words and actions. WOW!~

  3. By: Janet Posted: 26th January

    I read what your mother did to you and I cry for you. I am so sorry she did that to you. I am so sorry your mother wrecked your childhood.
    YOU are an amazing person!!!
    PS. In your first sentence you need to change WEATHER to WHETHER.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th January

      Hi Janet
      Welcome to EFB! Thanks for you note and for the correction.
      hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Kylie Posted: 28th July

    DXS, yes my mother used to say that too!

    What l find hard even to this day, is that my mother didnt recognise my mental health issues. Instead, l was made out to be the bad child. Read somewhere in this blog about being the ‘scapegoat’, which is what l was. I definately wasnt always good, but l had a lot of self esteem and insecurity issues, which is funny as l still have this today. Seems in my growing up era, it was easier to just punish a child without looking deeper at the real issues. I have no contact with my mother and sister. Ive had to live separately as l cant deal with thier judgemental attitudes. I have to find my own validation, my own self worth and bring up my own children the best way l know how. 🙂

  5. By: DXS Posted: 27th July

    This post reminds me of a passive aggressive self absorbed insecure narcissist I dated for six months. I walked away from him, but I felt like he walked out on me emotionally. The experience left me scarred emotionally for about two years! I had never dated a guy with all that going on.

  6. By: DXS Posted: 27th July

    Kylie, being sensitive is a good thing! But I agree about blessing and a curse. My Mom always told me I was “too sensitive.” Like…. being sensitive is a bad thing? On the other hand, she is just as sensitive, but vehemently denies it.

  7. By: Kylie Posted: 27th July

    Hi everyone,

    I really resonated with Paulette’s comments on being over sensitive. I agree, although for me personally, l would like to add, that being oversensitive, is both a blessing and a curse. And l was told, and lm sure l’ve been told on several occasions, that l have great insight re: depression and the like and know where help is available. I never saw this as insight, l always thought everyone knows and looks inside themselves.

    On a positive, being ultra aware (or perhaps neurotic is a better word), l find that lm very compassionate. Maybe its just being keenly aware and easily affected by other people and environments, good and bad. Though, it certainly has its downsides, where l find myself reacting automatically.

  8. By: Carli Posted: 27th November

    Thank you so much, Darlene, for this website. I am in this same process with my mother, and just had the most hurtful discussion with her yesterday. I have been her verbal punching bag for years, and the moment I push back, I am called selfish, a bad daughter, and disrepectful. She is near a nervous breakdown and everyone in the family has noticed. She is so concerned with controlling me and my husband that she refuses to take a look at herself. Not anymore… this website is proof of what I have felt all along.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 27th November

      Welcome Carli
      What you say here is exactly what I am talking about. I am glad that you found hope and validation in my work. Welcome to emerging from broken!
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Paulette Posted: 13th February

    There is no way I could read all 103 comments … but this blogpost really resonated with me, having had a mother like Darlene’s mother. I experienced those very same things with my mother … and its a painful reality when you find out that you’re just not worth fighting for. I too was a compliant and loyal daughter too until I got into my twenties, realizing that nothing I did earned any merit with her; furthermore, I spend years trying to earn her love only to find out that her standard of perfection was just too high to attain. Then when I became a Christian at 26, I changed and once again became the compliant, loyal daughter and the abuse continued … in fact, it even got worse … to the point I couldn’t take it anymore. My mother denied that she had done anything wrong in how she treated me. Respecting me was out of the question. Since coming out to the rest of my family with the full details of the abuse, they have all rejected me as well with their ‘we don’t want to talk about it and we don’t want to hear about it.’ Surprisingly, it was a relief for me … no more tippy-toeing around on egg-shells and enduring the tension in the room when with my family. And it feels good!

  10. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out of the cRaZy Closet Posted: 13th February

    Dear Vicki,
    I am in a rush to get back to the sewer mess, also my head is a bit muddled after writing to Krissy… I just want to say that your latest post here moved me very deeply, and when I am able, I want to write more about the things you said. You are so beautiful, brave, and bold.


  11. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out of the cRaZy Closet Posted: 13th February

    Hello Krissy,
    I’m sorry I haven’t been on here these past few days, we’re dealing with a big plumbing emergency under our house, the main sewer pipe broke and I’ve been cleaning up a veritble lake of raw sewage from our crawl space. I need to suit up all in rubber and plastic head to toe and get back down there, there’s still much more cleanup for me to do, and my sweet hubby can’t fit under the house or down the trap door access, he is a big guy. I’m taking a coffee break right now and reading these latest posts here that I missed.

    The situation when you leave an abusive marriage with young children, is very hard, very complicated. Darlene’s advice is right on. But when you have no money for a lawyer, as I didn’t, it makes it that much harder. In my case, in trying to escape my most physically abusive ex, that was my second, I lost two of my children for several years. He abducted them and took them to another country. He had money, he was making lots of money in the construction of oil rigs out in the North Sea, then in Saudi Arabia. He didn’t bother with the courts and mediation and lawyers etc, he just took the children and left.

    I can’t even put into words how devastating that was to me. He was brutally violent, and I feared he may have hurt or killed the children. Years later, when I got them back… a long story…. I learned that what he had done was kill me… he told them I was dead. So coming back to me was a shock. They are now 36 and about to turn 40, these two of my three that were lost to me for so long, and to this day our relationships are strained. We were super close before.

    I can’t write about this anymore at this time, too painful. Just be careful, Krissy. My heart and prayers are with you right now.


  12. By: Vicki Posted: 7th February

    Well, I must be in a unique position or something b/c I’ve NEVER been w/ an abusive man. It’s always been the opposite in the two cases where I had a man.
    I don’t have any problem w/ being alone. I don’t even have any problem w/ the fact that eventually we all die. I work on the life squad and see it on a weekly basis.
    What I DO have a problem w/ is people trying to tell me the brutal murder of my daughter’s dad, by an act of terrorism, is “part of life.” As if that means we’re supposed to go “OK. This shit’s totally normal. A PART OF LIFE.”
    Well I say BS. It’s part of a rotten choice some freakin’ idiots made, and he died as a result.
    I have to deal w/ what happened. I damn sure don’t have to go around believing that his barbaric death, that we-and the rest of a nation, that’s largely uncaring about it now, saw happen as it occurred-and believe it’s “a part of life.”
    Even though that’s not about my personal abuse, although it IS about being mistreated, I can still relate it to my individual abuse, b/c that event cause me to get complex PTSD.
    And people will still insist that I’m CHOOSING to be upset to the point of having complex PTSD. That I wake up in the morning and, lacking anything better to do, say to myself “Gee. How can I CHOOSE to be upset and make everyone around me miserable?”
    Give me a break. The idea that I’m choosing to upset them is so arrogant as to be completely unbelievable they could think it. But some, or lots of, people think that about my complex PTSD.
    And these are people who also saw what happened that day, which is why I commented that most people obviously don’t really give a damn what they saw, b/c they just compartmentalized it out of their brains. Not needing to have a response to it, they could safely do so.
    I couldn’t. And I also couldn’t compartmentalize out the horrible images I saw in the paper of things on fire in Iraq, not while my favorite brother was IN Iraq fighting Bush Jr.’s deceptive little war-as it turned out-and could have become one of the casualties at any second.
    But I was also chastised about being upset about that.
    IDK if I’ll be chastised here, I’m just taking a chance that you guys aren’t as insensitive as certain Army Personnel-men and women alike-have been about this issue.
    Doesn’t anyone think seeing all that is going to affect a family member, or does everyone assume our hearts were made in hell or something? That we have no feelings at all and want to see all that garbage plastered across the front page of the paper every single day for 3 months straight?
    I think society at large can be abusive, and news media is leading the pack half the time.

  13. By: Krissy Posted: 5th February

    Darlene, thanks for that. I guess that is what the mediation on kids is for, if the whole process doesn’t break down because he doesn’t agree. And that’s where I will be in trouble, because I cannot afford a lawyer anymore and if he shows all his writings to the judge, it will seem that he is reasonable and I am showing animosity by ignoring all his communication. He has gone from being a cruel dictator to a kind one. It is easy for people to see and condemn an outrightly nasty person, but a judge will not see the abusiveness or control without knowing the entire background. He now knows and adopts the language of domestic abuse experts so he knows what to say and what not to say.

    The system seems to favor parents who get along and communicate for the sake of the kids and he has read all the booklets on it and is trying to prove that he can do that. My problem is proving domestic violence: it’s my word against his. I’ll keep standing my ground. The PTSD makes me seem very cold and aloof because I avoid him, proving his point to others about my “bitterness”. If I could, I would move far away and start again but I can’t do that with young kids because if he took me to court, no judge would allow that.

    But this journey is worth it, because it is my inside that is growing stronger all the time, and that is the most precious thing I have. The peace from knowing who I am is something nobody will ever be able to take away.

  14. By: Krissy Posted: 5th February

    Lynda, I have Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery. The rest I would love to have but cannot order on Amazon because it is linked to ex’s credit card.

    4 abusive marriages and you have recovered – what a miracle in itself.

    Does that mean you have 4 people who harassed you and gave you a hard time when you left? Right now, my abusive ex can’t let me go and keeps sending emails. His latest email says that he will no longer accept email communication and whether I like it or not, insists on face-to-face communication. He says that the kids will pick up on my bitterness, animosity and lack of respect for him. He also will not accept me leaving things for the kids outside his house if I drop the kids off, or outside mine if he picks up the kids because it shows disrespect for him. He now wants to collect all his things from the house, but wants a discussion and will not accept me bringing them over and leaving them outside his house. He says I ignore his emails and what he wants is a face-to-face discussion about our older kids who don’t want to see him. He wants me to be friendly to him and communicate with him about how our kids are doing at school.

    Darlene and Lynda, how in the world can you go No Contact with someone like that? I am afraid if our mediation (in separate rooms) doesn’t work, he will show his emails to a judge as evidence of him pleading for communication for the sake of our kids and me ignoring them.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th February

      Hi Krissy,
      I don’t know enough of your situation to discuss the finer details of the relationship problems that you have with your ex. and there are certain questions that are out of the scope of what I do here on this blog. Actually, I have been trained professionally NOT to give directives, or advice.
      So all I can say that is that in my experience with “no contact” there must be a legal agreement in place that he would have to follow. If there is no guide lines set in place by a third party, he can keep manipulating. Here in Canada, that can be done with the police and the finer details can be set in place by a lawyer or court system. When there are kids involved, I have seen it done where all communication is in writing. There is NO verbal contact between parents. This is to protect the mother from manipulation or from being sucked into the fog of a controllers system. The younger kids sometimes have a communication book that they take from the fathers to the mothers with them for certain communications when a father is so dangerously manipulative. But this has to be set up. The older kids have a choice about contact after a certain age and the father has to accept that. That is the only way that I know of.
      Hugs, Darlene

  15. By: Lynda Robinson ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 4th February

    Ugh, I wish I had proofread that before I clicked send. Lots of typos, sorry, I hit wrong keys and miss keys too easily on my new netbook’s TINY keyboard. I won’t try to correct all the typos but for one, I became a grandmother at age 39, not age 3, duh! My eldest granddaughter is now 18 and in her first year of college… I’m so proud of her…. and I still feel like a teenager myself, go figure~ 🙂

  16. By: Lynda Robinson ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 4th February

    Krissy, I am so happy for you that you are on this healing journey!! It’s not an easy journey at times, but neither is it easy to continue living in misery. At least when you go thru the sometimes painful process of healing and growing, you know it is leading you toward something far better, whereas the pain of living in unhealed misery is leading you nowhere.

    For me, life truly began at age 50! It’s never too late, I know a woman who didn’t start healing from her abusive childhood with a narcisstic, sadistic mother until she was in her 70s.

    Thank you for your compliment on my blog picture. That picture was taken just a couple of weeks ago, on January 13, to be exact. It is unretouched, and close-up, and I had no makeup on except for eyeliner and mascara. I will be 58 years old on May 2. Honestly, Krissy, I look better today than I believe I’ve ever looked in my entire life ~ and I give most of the credit to my inner healing. I feel so wonderful inside, that it just has to show on the outside! I’ve never had any kind of cosmetic surgery or chemical peels, can’t afford it even if I wanted it. I do use skincare, that I get from, I use their DIY active ingredients, as I’m allergic to so many things, it is good to be able to mix my own stuff that won’t make my skin go crazy. I also take a grapeseed extract every day, which is a powerful antioxidant, and I drink a lot of water and I stopped smoking in 2001, all of which helps. But I still believe that most of the improvement in my outward appearance, is due to the improvement in my inner being. Just a few months ago I had something happen with a sister of mine that triggered my PTSD pretty bad, for a couple of weeks. I took a picture of myself at that time, and I looked like hell. SO, what’s on the inside, good or bad, really does have a way of showing on the outside. I credit this wonderful blog-community of Darlene’s, for helping me bounce back so quickly from my little relapse in early October of 2010~

    Krissy, since you like Dr. Paul Meier’s books, you might be interested in his latest collaboration, entitled “You Might Be a Narccicist If…” With all the havoc that utterly self-centered, abusive narcistic people wreck in our lives, that is one book I am definitly going to buy and read right away.

    Another book that was a great help to me in recovering from what I now call my Relationship Addiction, was written back in the 1980s, entitled “How To Break You Addiction To A Person.” I can’t remember the author off the top of my head, but it is a must-read, if you do an internet search for it on Amazon or thru some of the book-swap websites, you should be able to find it.

    Another invaluable book for me was “Women Who Love Too Much.” I know it is still in print, and still very timely, altho it was written in the 1980s I believe.

    Finally, the definitive book on Complex-PTSD, a book which made sense of my crazy life, is the landmark book by Harvard Clinic Psychiatriest Judith Herman, MD, entitled “Trauma and Recovery. Dr. Herman actually coined the term Complex-PTSD in that book. It is very pithy and scholarly and not easy to read, but well worth the effort. I have read it several times, as I have all the books I’ve recommended here, except for Dr Meier’s latest, which I have yet to read.

    I actually have had 4 failed marriages. Three of them were very abusive, I was physically beaten in my first three marriages, as well as verbally abused, and cheated on constantly in the first two marriages. The fourth failed marriage, the longest lasting, was not abusive either physically or verbally… a little bit verbally… and he never cheated on me. But he did not love me, did not like me, did not respect me. He was attracted to me physically when we married, and he was something of a sex addict. I was a great deal younger than him, and when I began to get older, specifically when I became a grandmother at the age of 3, and at the same time I started getting a few lines on my face and put on a little weight, he told me he was no longer physically attracted to me. And he stopped talking to me, I mean he wouldn’t talk to me at all. After 8 years of the silent treatment, I finally left, feeling guilty for leaving when he wasn’t hitting me or cheating on me… but I just needed love so badly, that I couldn’t stand to be in a loveless marriage any longer.

    So I am very much like the Samaritan woman at the well, whom Jesus encountered. An outcast in every sense… yet our Lord met her with compassion and kindness. He did not judge and condemn, as he did the phony religious judgmental holier-than-thou Pharisees. He simply, matter-of-factly said, “You have had 5 husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.” And then he offered her the gift of eternal life!

    My Best-Friend-Husband Stan was also married and divorced 4 times, before he and I met and married. He has severe PTSD from Vietnam, where he was a 19-year-old US Marine sniper…. trying doing that, as a kind and caring young person with a heart, and remaining sane. PTSD in all its forms is very hard on relationships. Stan and I are together and HAPPY today, because we BOTH finally got help for our PTSD.

    Unlike Christ Jesus, who accepted the 5-times married Samaritan woman with open arms, the vast majority of Christians, when they learn that Stan is my 5th husband and I am his 5th wife, turn their backs on us. With our histories of “mental illness”, we have a double whammy against us…. OH, and that’s not to mention the fact that my husband ownded 10 Adult Bookstores in the 1970s and 80s, before he became a Christian and literally gave away all the money and everything he owned, because he was ashamed of how he had aquired his milliions! (I wish he would have same at least a million or two for when he met me, tho!)

    So we don’t fit in with the sinners, and we don’t fit in with the saints. We DO fit in with other survivors, though. I just wish we could all get together for a face-to-face group therapy, wouldn’t that be awesome!

    When I was turning 50, going through my 4th divorce, and branded since age 14 with all kinds of “crazy labels,” the song that kept going thru my head was the deeply depressing dirge: “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me.”

    Girl, if I wasn’t HOPELESS…. NOBODY is!

    BIG HUG,

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