Coping Methods ~ Trying to Escape Myself

coping methods, multiple=
Staying with Me

No matter which coping method issue that I look at within myself I have determined the core of it to be related to trying to leave myself. There is a disconnection from myself that I developed when I was a child; it was my way to escape and I became attached to it. Every time I examine one of those “still tangled threads” I keep coming back to this disconnection that it seems I actually seek; escaping myself. I am convinced that at least one of the reasons that I am attached to this “leaving myself” is because when I was a child, dissociation is what worked for me.

Now I have to remind myself that any form of coping method, although it may have worked at one time, is an escape from me that doesn’t work anymore.

I used to have dissociative identity disorder. I had the kind that was once called multiple personality disorder. The name of it was changed to dissociative identity disorder because lots of people leave themselves or dissociate from themselves and from their identity without actually becoming someone else or having alter personalities. Although I did have alter personalities and I did switch, I have found many similarities to others with dissociative identity disorder that were simply just “dissociated”.

Recovery for me has been about coming home to myself. It is a journey back to me and it is not an easy journey because for about 43 years I tried my hardest to get away from me; dissociating was the way that I did life.  Somewhere between leaving me and coming back to me are the actual steps that I took to get the wholeness that I have today and that is what I write about.

As I take this recovery journey, I become more and more aware that the answers are within me, but when I forget that I start looking for answers outside of me.  I mistakenly think that validation from others is going to help me. I think that having more friends is going to help me. I think that having the most popular blog on the internet is going to help me or losing weight and getting fit is going to help me and I chase those things for a time and come up feeling disappointed and not knowing why. I have to remember that that my validation does not come from outside of myself.  

When I stay totally present it is as though I become “too aware” of myself. Life without coping methods means mega increased self awareness. When I become really aware of myself, I am subconsciously afraid that I might find out that I’m a disappointment, a failure and just plain not good enough.  In the past I took on all that self blame and shame and I needed to keep dissociating because I was too scared to be me, because I thought “me” was so bad. Deep down I am afraid that with too much self awareness, all those memories about being unlovable and unworthy might come rushing up to the surface. The fear has always been rooted in being afraid to find out that the beliefs I adopted about myself as a child, the beliefs that were “taught” to me through actions, abuse, and the behaviour of others, might be true.

I have not switched personalities for several years now and I rarely dissociate the way that I used to either. I have found myself and my purpose. I live my life with passion and conviction and go after my goals with determination. I love my children and I work on my relationship with each of them and on my relationship with my husband almost daily.  I love life. I love the freedom that I have found but sometimes I get going the wrong way too and I suddenly realize that I am facing something I haven’t faced before. And usually when I take a closer look I realize that I have tried to disconnect from myself again. I find myself, and then I get scared and try to leave myself, all the while trying not to admit that I am trying to get away from me again.

It is as though I believe that I can leave myself, in order to deal with myself, without having to feel anything myself. It never works, but I still try.  So for me, this journey is about remembering to STAY with me and that is about self love, self acceptance, self validation and self empowerment.  

 “They” said it was me… But they were wrong. And I have to keep reminding myself that they were wrong, because none of this leaving myself or trying to escape awareness of myself, is conscious. It happens without thought.  And so becoming more conscious is actually the goal. The more I face the fear of being present with myself, the more I realize that the fears are not real. I am afraid of lies; lies that I have spent years undoing and replacing with the truth.

I long for connection, freedom and peace but it is only in coming back to me that I find the freedom and peace that I long for and it is only in self connection that I get to keep it so that I can give it away. The good news is that the more often that I connect to myself, the more I remember that the keys to freedom are within.

And it is key for me to catch myself when I try to leave myself.   

What are your thoughts about this topic? Have you ever related a coping method to escaping yourself?

Darlene Ouimet

Founder of Emerging from Broken.

Related Posts ~ Keys to Living in the Present

Tomorrow I will start to face the pain

But HOW do I Recover?

Categories : Survival



Hi Darlene,

Interesting perspective, and I really appreciate reading your experiences with dissociation. I suppose I could refer to switching as escaping myself, but the only problem I have, is what part of me is actually me? Who is really “myself”? I have always spontaneously deferred to a part of me who can more easily handle the specific task at hand, and have never had any control of that process. At this late stage of the life game, I am finally starting to almost be co-present with some parts of me… and yet I, Susa, still struggle with the question of who, or which part is the real me, or the original me? I know that I am not the original birth person, and have only been the CEO since 2006. I suppose the real me would be a sum of my parts, but hard to pinpoint any specific part of me.


Darlene–you said “So for me, this journey is about remembering to STAY with me and that is about self love, self acceptance, self validation and self empowerment.” This was the first (and really the only thing so far) that I have done with my healing. I started by doing tiny things like thinking about what I liked to eat, and really examining what I ate and why I ate it and if I enjoyed it, or what was going on behind putting the food in my mouth, because there was NO way I was going to touch the “inner me” at that point, and I didnt like food, I hated food really, so it felt easy that if I just started with the food, then it would “look” normal on the outside and if it got screwed up, no one would notice because everyone eats in some way or another, so food is universal, and I could just not eat and push the food away and get away from myself that way, if it got too hard (and all of this was subconscious really, I didnt even realize I did any of it for almost a year after it was occurring)

and in reality, I wasnt really “working” on anything more than just trying to recognize something of the “me” that I never knew, albeit in a dysfunctional sick sort of way….and that went to dying my hair and buying new clothes and fixing all the “outside” stuff before I ever even got into the inside….and I realized that I use activity and distractions as coping mechanisms too. I “get busy” to not have to think about things, or deal with things.

I dont know if I have ever actually dissociated or not, but the most I can think of is a time when I was up in a tree looking down on myself, and then there were a LOT of times that I just felt like I was watching a silent movie, that I wasnt actually part of what was going on, and I couldnt really hear or understand it, but I could see it like I was behind a glass wall or something, and I dont know what that is exactly, but that was the majority of my “not with myself” moments that I can think of. Im there, but Im really not.

For me its all about learning who I am, and figuring out what I want, what I love, what I feel, what I believe and then using those things to make a difference in the world somehow. I still have a long way to go and really have no idea who I am completely, but I know the parts of me I do know, I like most of them. I do have a bit of an ego problem and am more judgemental than I would like to be in some circumstances, and have tons of insecurity, which is probably why I feel the other two so much…but other than that, I think Im a pretty decent person….and getting to that point for me, was the goal of the whole journey, so anything from here on out is just the icing on the cake 🙂

Im so glad you are here and share so much of yourself. It definitely allows me to open up more than I ever would otherwise.


Wow, Darlene….so well written thank you-I saved it to My Favorites list. Dissociation=leaving me=disconnecting from my emotions, thoughts, intuition, wants, needs, physical sensations, even my connection with God-EVERYTHING that makes up me. I had to dissociate growing up cause my feelings of terror, shock, loneliness, powerlessless, confusion, and anger in response to all the abuse was way too much for any child to handle, and I wasnt allowed to have wants and needs, and I had no relationship with God. Since the abuse was constant, the dissociation was constant. I lived in a constant state of dissociation into my adulthood. Whenever I feel scared, lonely, sad, or angry, it is automatic for me to dissociate. There is no time to ask myself if I want to stay or leave my body. I just leave. The good news is that I am now an adult and not that abused child. I have a relationship with a God I know loves and cares for me. I have created my life to be mostly stress-free, allowing for more time to just be with me for the first time in my life. My identity is no longer attatched to various addictions, destructive behaviors, my roles in various relationships, a job, education, being an artist. Wow, who am I then? What do I do in all this non-attatchment? I ask God this, and all he says is, “Just be with me, spend time with me.” I say, “Is that all? Really, Seriously?” He says, “Yes.” I spent my whole life running away from me, running away from God’s still voice deep inside me. He just wants me to hear him out, to have absolute faith in Him without any fear and doubt whatsoever, to trust him completely. Why he wants this from me now, I dont really know or understand yet. I guess this is where I must have the Faith, trust, and patience to wait on Him. Wow, what a task, but I’m ready.


Hi Darlene,

Thank you for another amazing post. I continue to learn as I read about your journey. As you share, I am encouraged to take a look at myself. I also relate to alot of what you shared Amira.

Very recently, as a result of a marathon session with a flu bug I got to see another way that I escape myself. I was too sick to do anything so I came back to myself and into awareness. But not without an internal fight first.

I’ve always used diversionary tactics in my life. I send my focus away from me and then I go with it. When I’m swept away by my monetary obsession, the benefit is that I don’t have to feel my fears. The downside is that I also lose the ability to see that I am once again ignoring my need to rest, my need to socialize and my need to simply act in self nurturing ways.

In the past I used alcohol, painkillers, relationships, material possessions, etc. You name it, I focused on it. This time since I’m dedicated to being mentally healthy, the diversion had to be very creative.I managed to tell myself that my latest obsessions was part of my “calling.” My hard work would help others, therefore it was honorable, and therefore it warranted me leaving myself far behind. This, of course, isn’t true.

The lessons continue…. the awareness continues… even if I check out temporarily, I always have my guides who show me the way back to myself and into the awareness of the newest lesson. For that, I’m grateful.

Peace & Love,


I too have DID and since 2005 I am the only one who is allowed out. I have control of others and the personalities, and they are not a big part of my life, but what I am working on is having a Shame based reality because that is what sexual, physical, emotional,pshcological, ritual abuse and all other kinds of abuse cause in a person’s identity. In facing myself and the’hell’ of the dark experiences I have to go through to become my way to become integrated. That ‘hell’ is for me, depression, sleeplessness, trying to find my worth when actually worth cannot be found. Worth is something that a person is when all this’hell’ is sorted out. The Hell of trying to face my demons, all that is locked up in my head; ready to be explored at its time and place. It seems that memories come out when they are ready, and forcing, wishing, wanting them to come out does not work. It is by going through the process of living, keeping a schedule, being aware and conscious of what I am doing, interacting with others (instead of isolating, because that is what i know best), and doing a bunch of other stuff that is required. It is in experiencing life that I will find myself. It is right in front of me when I get to the end of searching, it will be something inside of me, my self worth. I know I have a ways to go, but I can see how far I have come and it is amazing that I lived through it all.


I still to this day, find myself leavin to avoid hurt. I’m scared at times when it happens b/c I’m not sure I want to come back. I have a family that loves me but I don’t love myself. I will switch to be who ever need be out in order to get through a day. There’s times when I feel so lost within my own being that it bothers those within to the point of at times forcin me to face the real world instead of hide within the shell of time. There’s just so much bottled up that to open just a tad I’m afraid will shatter into pieces that can’t be put back together. I live one day at a time b/c I have to keep myself safe FROM myself if this makes sense. I’m constantly fightin thoughts and other things only to remain me but even that is hard. I don’t know what I’m sayin here but I do know life is hard enough to not be taken lightly. Thank you for this post, it touches much so…thank you.


Hi Susa,
I have read your comment about 5 times… and I decided that I will answer in my next blog post. I am having a guest post published on Friday that actually relates to this post; Carla is going to be writing about looking for her identity through dating and the conclusions she has come up with regarding that, and then on Sunday Feb. 06, I will publish a reply to your comment as a whole new blog post. I struggled with that same question Susa ~ who was the real me? And I found out. Hope I can fit it all in one post!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Amira
In all areas, I too started with tiny things, tiny awareness things. I went through lots of stages too, I also tried to fix the outside (many times) all the while trying a quick band-aid on the insides. You actually describe dissociation pretty well… being behind a glass wall, (mine was under the ice in a frozen pond) at least that is how it is for many. I try not to get caught up in the “diagnosis” because diagnosis never once helped me get out of the depressions or get over the abuse or the past.
My judgement issues were based in all the other issues, (the root cause of everything was connected to everything) and so was my self esteem and insecurity and all of that is 1000 times better now! I like your comment about getting to the point of knowing you are a pretty decent person which was the goal for you! Yeah victory!
Thank you for being here and sharing!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Jennifer,
Great to have you join in! It was automatic for me to dissociate too. I can relate to all that you said regarding dissociation and identity recovery and I looked at and changed/gave up many addictions and coping methods before I learned how to stop dissociating. I even used bible study and God as an escape from me. For me it was the foundational truths that I learned about my belief system that helped me to see clearly enough to see exactly “what” made me dissociate so that I could slow it down and learn not to do it.
Your victory and the new freedom you have found is wonderful, thank you for sharing it with us! I am really happy for you and especially happy to hear that you are ready!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Kim!!
I am so glad that you shared this! I am so aware that my escape methods can be anything. Dissociating was only one of them. And sometimes I know that I dissociated from myself in all of them. And all of the escape seemed to be connected to not FEELING fears! this is a great contribution to this post Kim. I can relate to all of it. Thanks for being here!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Lorraine,
My integration took place when I faced the belief system that I got from the past more then from facing all the hell of the past. I don’t think that worth is what we are when we are sorted out. For me that belief was part of the problem, because I thought I would have worth WHEN I got all sorted out when in truth, I had worth all along. My worth was always there like how you said that your self worth is inside of you, and it IS right now. It is amazing that we live though all of this stuff! it really is!
Thanks for being here.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Jackie
I left to avoid hurt too, and the thing that I realized is that I was “leaving” when there was rarely any danger anymore. I was just so used to “leaving”. So for me it was in learning all the reasons that I dissociated, (or had the need to escape myself) so that I could realize that I didn’t have to live that way anymore. The self love came with the progress along the journey. Hang in here Jackie, and thank you so much for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


Susa and Darlene,
I’d like to take a stab at that ‘who is the real me?’ question. I am on the road to recovery from DID and I have struggled with this question, or rather fear, for several years now. Fear that I am not who I thought I was all these years. Fear that one of these parts is going to be the ‘winner’ and it’s not going to be me, whoever I think ‘ME’ is.

I have finally come to the conclusion that every alter IS the real me. A real facet of my very own personality, just split off with a wall that surrounds it, so that each part of me has not had to experience all of life at the same time, it was too overwhelming. As I come to accept each part, I come to embrace my whole self. I wouldn’t want to leave any part behind, each has given me my life, has pulled it’s fair share, has made my life endurable until I could get to this stage of healing. I have some really cool parts! As a matter of fact, all of them are cool, each in it’s own way. And I get to keep these sides of myself as I heal, as each part heals. They are ALL THE REAL ME. And when I finally get to the place where the walls come down completely, there won’t be any more ‘them’, there will just be all of ME, together, and very very cool! And life is going to rock! 🙂


Hi Carla,
It is funny to read your comment; I am in the middle of writing my post answering Susa’s comment and I pretty much said the same thing too. I found out that all of them were the real me too. I love your positive share here! That was my experience too ~ when I got done and the walls came down, there were no more “them”! They were all me! and I am very very cool ~ AND yes… life does rock! LOL
Hugs, DarStar
p.s. Just one final note: I was relieved to find out that I didn’t have to keep all aspects of all personalities because some of mine were not so cool. I had self destructive stuff going on within that I was relieved to find out I could leave behind.
Stay tuned for the post on Sunday ~ I am still going to post a more in-depth response to Susa!


As I try and escape myself almost permanently, trying to distinguish coping methods from me is quite tricky. The other day a friend suggested we have a holiday – just one day all to ourselves at home pretending a holiday. We both had the same problem in that neither of us knew what to do and both of us thought ‘Oh, she’ll be doing fabulous adventuresome holidaying’ and here we were sat going I don’t know. I thought about it. It was because we didn’t know what we liked just for ourselves because we were so rarely ourselves enough to know what our preferences really were. We had no self value. And for me escape was my version of self value, so cakes were a way I self valued and rewarded myself, but you cannot go on cake, no this was going on holiday…
Sometimes I wake up in an aware way and sometimes I go back to sleep again because I don’t want to be awake, I want to leave again. And I don’t want to sleep because I’m scared, I’m vulnerable and my fear level is high as my memories (especially body memories are very much HERE) Someone just told me to recognise I was in the present, etc, like you do for a flashback except this is like a permanent flashback at the moment, in that I’m on high alert. So when I’m on high alert – I don’t want to ‘leave’ that’s different. So there’s a funny pendulum going on.

Sonow I have to tell myself I’m safe enough to let go of control and this ‘awareness’ I guess I have now I’m trying not to dissociate. It’s like now I’m TOO aware… and tiredness is always when I let go and off I go into the lala land of dissociating. I think I have to recognise that sleep is not ‘leaving’, and waking is not ‘not dissociating’ like in a positive way. Bit of a muddle really. Then there’s the fridge of course but that’s another story


Carla–I LOVE this “I have finally come to the conclusion that every alter IS the real me. A real facet of my very own personality, just split off with a wall that surrounds it, so that each part of me has not had to experience all of life at the same time, it was too overwhelming. As I come to accept each part, I come to embrace my whole self. I wouldn’t want to leave any part behind, each has given me my life, has pulled it’s fair share, has made my life endurable until I could get to this stage of healing.”

That is exactly how I like to think of alters too, because it just makes sense that way. Im not sure if we are right about it, but it certainly makes the most sense to me 🙂 What a great way to put it!!!


This is so excellent. Thank you Darlene I found out I had to be ok with me and not get validated from others I have wanted other people to love me and I did not love myself. Today is easier but I still do get into wishing people liking me if I think they don’t but for the most part I am ok. Today was a day I felt more alone and wanting others to fill that but it all is within me I believe God is within so that is where I go to find the love and fulfillment within myself. Some times I look for it outwardly but thanks for the reminder I needed to read this today.
Thanks Hugs Angela


this is so like me ir unreal. i have always said that it was’ me, myslef and i’ and it has taken me years to be able to work through the different bits as i got to them. i have worked on the social persona for years now and can do most of what i need to in the world outsid my house, but once inside home i a totally different person. im trying to blend the two persona’s but cos one is mental and one emotional i having problems with the emotional side of things still. i still do not notice when i havin gpanic attacks as i gnore the signs till i alone and then i just sag, n usually i only know i have had a problem because of the fear sweat that accompanies an attack. i is hard to explain that i am so used to putting my fears aside and pushin on through them that i dont actually deal with why i am reacting to the situation because i am blocking the signals from my brain n body.
mmm i still have large chunks of memory surrounding conversations about details of what i went through missing, and the person i was talking to said they could almost see the shutters coming down, like those on a store front. and sex area that i have always dissassociated from, which is why i am not having it at the moment (much to husbands annoyance as he does not understand why i have stooped) and have tried to get therapy for it


Hi Louise
For me this whole journey is a bit of a pendulum. I can relate to everything you said here. About the high alert thing, that was a big part of it for me. Becoming aware caused me to have a “need” to be on high alert. I also remember noticing the same thing about not knowing what I wanted to do or even what I liked to do. That too was and still is part of the process. I was so used to trying to be what and who everyone else wanted that I didn’t really have a clue what I wanted. (other then my horse and the fact that I love to read) Finding MY interests has to be intentional for me. I have to think about trying something, make myself do it and then see if I like it.
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Amira,
One of the things that I decided along this journey is that I had to decide that I was right about some things. Especially things that were about me. My mother told me that depression ran in families. She “prepared me” for it. She wanted me to have it I think, so that she could say that she was right, that there was nothing she could do about her own depression other then just take the pills. I decided that she was wrong. Lots of medical and mental health people say that these conditions are not “curable”. But why do they get to be right? I know people that beat “unbeatable” cancer too.
I know that each alter was a part of me too.
Hugs, Darlene


I found for many years the best thing I could do was escape myself. I hated myself and couldn’t stand to be “in” my body. If my parents hated me, then I must be unlovable. How could I ever think anyone would ever love me or want to be near me? According to my inner voice, I was disgusting, stupid, not worth anything, hopeless, etc.

After much hard work, I no longer feel that way about myself. I still do love to escape by sleeping. I can easily sleep 16-18 hours a day. It is my best time of the day when my brain isn’t working. I also have problems with intimacy. I try to avoid, but if necessary, I dissociate. I would love to be able to enjoy this gift like “normal” people.


Hi Carol,
People have told me that same thing ~ that they could see me shut down and I can see others do it too now. I see it in children a lot. I have also noticed that some people (like my father) are barely ever “there”.
About Sex ~ Some areas take longer to heal than others. In my case that has depended on the damage that was caused in the first place and measuring that damage is an individual thing. (we can’t compare it with other peoples damage) I have been told that healing in the sexual area often comes last.
Thank you for sharing Carol!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Angela,
I am glad that this came at the right time for you! Sometimes I still look outwardly too, it’s a process!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Hold Fast!
I totally relate to your statement “I found for many years the best thing I could do was escape myself.’ It was very necessary for me to escape myself for many years too! About sleeping ~ my coping methods changed as I recovered. This was part of the process for me, and I didn’t worry about it. I allowed myself what I came to think of as “safe escape” and sleeping was one of my safe escapes. I gave myself permission to do what I needed to do along the journey and that permission freed my brain from the spin of worrying more instead of learning to “live and be” more.
Thank you for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hold fast, i so hear you. i was brought a poster as a teenager that said i can sleep for 18hours and still need a kip with a sloth in a tree. god it was so me. i have used sleep as an escape it was always the getting to sleep that was a problem. once asleep i know nothing till i wake up ready to get on with the next thing, it the actual going to the bedroom getting into bed and laying there til i go sleep i have a massive problem with.
i was talking to someone the other day about how this younger generation dont ‘sleep with people’ anymore they use other phrases and things to say having sex, and i wonder if that why i have problems with ‘sleeping’ as maybe ‘sleeping’ wasnt actually closing my eyes at the end of the day but sex and as a young girl i mixed up the meanings in my head. i just dont know but it made sense when we were having the conversation


Amira, I find that it is best for me to be true to what feels right inside. There is no manual to help a child who develops DID, giving instruction as to what is proper in all this, it is purely individual; we survived our ordeals as individuals who coped in the unconscious world the only way that worked for us. No ‘One Size Fits All’ in any of this. But the alters had to come from somewhere. They were not planted inside us from the outside, although we may have unconsciously given them characteristics we saw in examples in our environment. The alters were an internal response to a horrific event in order to survive it and continue living. These are my thoughts and feelings, and only through my own experience in sorting out my inside system.

I’m glad you found it helpful. 🙂


To Carla and Darlene: I look forward to the two upcoming blog posts!


Darlene…very thought-provoking post. I appreciate your honesty and openness. I want to thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving such kind comments. Take gentle care.


This is so interesting. I have always called this “shutting down”. Whenever I was overwhelmed by the negetive messages about myself from my parents (being told I was selfish, stupid, prideful, lazy and having everything I did critiqued and pciked apart or punished) I would emliminate emotion and try to become as “robotic” as possible. If I didn’t have to process any of the feelings, I could cope better with being a “failure”. I still find myself doing this, if I am having a particularly down day where I start to hate myself again and feel as though everything I do is no use, the only way I keep from going back to bed is to “shut down” my emotions and function at a very basic level. I want to get rid of that coping method, because it keeps me from dealing with the emotions and figuring out what is causing them.


Darlene, You are brave and wonderful and I am glad you are here in this life, present and with passion and purpose! You have inspired me and your blog was part of my inspiration for coming out with a blog of my own:
D.I.D. isn’t such a scary thing to me anymore. I have come to understand that it was/is a coping skill that saved my life. The trick for me now is in learning to “stay here” and not dissociate when triggered. Like you said, it’s not a conscious thing, so I usually realize it after the fact. But the more I learn about it and the more I hear from people like you; people that I respect and who have been there, the less alone and “crazy” I feel. Thank you and please keep up the good work!


This is a great topic. I have to come back and read all the comments – I don’t have time right now, but I wanted to comment on my reaction to the article before I forget. I think I find myself “running away” from two different things: running away from certain parts of myself that are too painful, but also, running away from the person other people expect me to be, the one who requires denying the real me. I don’t know if this makes sense or if I will be able to explain it well. But I realized a couple years ago that I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, when parts of myself started coming to the surface – coming alive – after years of being “dormant” or something. For the first time in my life I felt safe, and I started being my real self without being afraid of rejection or abuse. It wasn’t a decision, it just started happening. I would hear myself saying things that were so out of “character” for the “me” I had been, yet I knew I was truly being myself. It’s hard to explain. Sometimes that may have looked inconsistent, but I was okay with it. Because I was so grateful I was finally able to express myself. It was the wildest experience, it was so awesome, I felt this amazing healing and cleansing happening, and I had such freedom. But then people around me started trying to control me and sabotage me, and started questioning my motives and truthfulness, since some days I had preferences and opinions and perceptions that were different than other days – of course, because I was healing. But after enough hurt and opposition from others around me, I saw myself starting to go back into a shell, starting to put on the expected, acceptable persona of being functional and competent and logical and rational and predictable, and I was so afraid that the healing and freedom was going to stop if I let myself go back to that part of my coping personality. I ran away from that part of myself – the part that had kept the others hidden and silent. I thought I was, rightfully, running away from the people who were imposing their selfish expectations on me (not even so much behavioral expectations but beliefs, values, personality type expectations), which I was, but now I realize I was more afraid of the part of myself that would acquiesce to “protect” me from them, and that’s what I was really running away from. I wanted my 11-year-old innocent, trusting and fun self to keep talking and keep interacting with people even if they were not “safe”, because she had been dead, and now she was alive again. I didn’t want her to become afraid of what MIGHT happen if some man misinterpreted my openness or friendliness. If I went back to being the in charge person working overtime and setting aside my heart and soul in order to work for someone else’s business, I knew that I would have to get rid of all those parts who were finally expressing themselves, since they would jeopardize my performance. I don’t know if this makes sense, but I wanted to write this down in case my day gets so busy I can’t remember later this lightbulb that went on in my mind.


I forgot to say, my point is that I need to be that competent, rational, functional person too, I can’t deny and reject that part of myself and run away from her. I just don’t know how. But not being her, I am not safe, so all the healing and freedom I was experiencing stopped. It’s a funny paradox.


Hi Susa,
just to be clear, the post that will be published tomorrow is by Carla Dippel, not by Carla Logan who is writing in this thread.

Hi Dolores
Thanks for stopping by! You have an uplifting blog!

Hi Young Mom
You have posted a great description of what happens with dissociation and why. I found my way out of that cycle was to deal with the “why” of why I hated myself. It took a good chunk of time, but I had to realize my self hate didn’t come from me. It was in a sense, taught to me.
Hang in here with us!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Gabrielle,
Thank you for your lovely words of encouragement, and for sharing your blog.
Thanks for your comments!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Amy
What struck me as I read your post was that it reminded me of how I had to come “back” to myself, to a self that I never knew. It got really mixed up. I had these parts that I liked to be also, especially socially, they made me feel confident, but they got me in trouble too. You bring up a lot of things in this comment about the process as a whole. When I began to change, nobody really liked it. Not even my own children who were still young ~ and I was getting “better”. It scared them. but I pressed on trusting that this was going to be so much better for everyone. And I was right. Everything changed for me, and some things seem harder now (like it is harder for me to try new things now that I don’t leave myself because now I feel the fear) but overall it is better then I ever imagined it could be. There is a balance in my personality now that happened with recovery. A peace and a serenity that I have found finding my true self and being true to my true self instead of doing/being what others wanted or what I thought I ‘should’ be. That peace radiates to everyone in my life today and I feel wonderful.
Thank you for sharing. Hugs Darlene


‘…I would hear myself saying things that were so out of “character” for the “me” I had been, yet I knew I was truly being myself.’
I don’t think I’m here yet, as ‘myself’ is such an alien concept. All I know is I’ve stopped ‘becoming’ what others want to an extent and started ‘allowing’ whatever’s there to be there, stopped ‘leaving’ all the time. I notice that I WANT to leave, I noticed that I feel vulnerable a lot and that details from my memories keep assaulting my mind in a kind of barrage, even without my attention – like I’m walking around with dead selves from my past and they’re in a state. I noticed that when I’m attempting to ‘stay’ I’m quite wired, hypertense; and anticipating bad things.
My old sense of ‘I’m bad’ has come back simply because I’m aware of the memories that caused that somehow pressing in on me even if I can’t say them, and I don’t really know where to say them or what to do with them? And also I have a mixture of sadness and angriness because who I thought I ‘was’ isn’t real, my childhood that I made never happened like I thought it did. Plus I’m finally acknowledging I have physical consequences that are connected only I never connected them.
I had nothing to connect to, even a little while after I went to my school at nine I went on a tv talk show called Kilroy and the man asked me what names I’d been called by bullies – I couldn’t remember (no I would have thought to myself ‘Oh s*** now what’d I do) but then I just had to make it up, felt really stupid. I had such a demarcation line that there was a before I went to boarding school and an after. A lot of my problems I think stemmed from the memory loss, I had so many ramifications but no reasons. But now I realise I would never have been able to cope, few would have been able to handle what I went though in a single day, let alone the years of it, without dissociating or dying. Just the fact I tried to kill myself at 8 with my own hands is symbolic of the anguish I had. I remember the moment I ‘left’ for good, I just did not want to feel any more, anything, or care about anything, or try, I went beyond. I think I’d already been fragmented a long time already,but that this was a whole other layer – that was just two weeks before I went to the school and the only reason I came back was because my ma hit me and it made me think ‘Why did she do that to me?’ It made me become relational to myself and her a split second before I would never have been there again. Because I do think there is a line you can reach, where you don’t come back and where something explodes for good, and I don’t think people live long after they hit that line.


I meant to say that quote above was from Amy and also that staying is really really difficult – it hurts


I can relate to Susa’s post: the very first response to this article. I too have been questioning who the real me is. I didn’t even realize that I had different parts until a few months ago. I wouldn’t say it is completely DID, but it is part of DID. They are different parts, but different functions, yet all me. But, who is the real me? I have Little Mindy, Angry Mindy, Numb Mindy, and Adult Mindy. But, who’s the real one? Which one is the most real, honest, raw version of me? Or is there a real me somewhere that I have lost? I too shut down, like Young Mom said. I relate to all of this too well.


Darlene … As I promised yesterday I was so surprised to learn of this post you posted the same day! So ironic considering what was talked about in my therapy session yesterday. My therapist is amazed at how I’m not as messed up as I should be with someone with a mother such as mine. I had told her that even as a little girl I had a very strong desire to know God and have often felt that He protected me BIG TIME. I know He knew my heart. It was as though He placed a hedge of protection around me. I cannot explain why except that perhaps I was an exceptionally sensitive kid, meaning that I was more aware of my surroundings than maybe most other kids. Anyway, my therapist asked me how on earth I coped with the mother I had, and the family I had. I told her that I remember living in my own cocoon of sorts.

I think my father moving us overseas when I was young was God’s way of protecting me from my mother – it was something he never discussed with her. He made the decision, and whether she liked it or not, we were going. When he came home to tell us, it was uncanny how we were watching a documentary on the rain forests of Borneo at that moment (and guess where we ended up?? Borneo! East Kalimantan to be exact.) Living there we had servants and we always had 2 to 3 house servants – and one of them was extremely kind to me. An elderly lady who showed me kindness and compassion more than my mother ever did. My mother had her own life when we lived there and I think this was God’s way of limiting her abuse toward me when I was so young.

We moved back to Canada when I was 15 1/2 years old – and that is when I really started to notice how different she treated me (which I’m sure is partly due to adolescence) from my siblings, particularly from the one I would soon discover to be her favourite. Even before we moved back though, I remember living inside myself most of the time. I had my own little world there – it was the only place I ever had full control. I poured myself into my drawing and became quite good at it. The older I got, the more drawing I did. This was my escape from my mother and my family. In a way, this is how I disassociated from myself and my family. My therapist has not used the term ‘disassociated’ with me – but I know this is what I did. When I had children is when this world started to fall apart and crumble – there were things so obvious I couldn’t ignore them anymore. But, yet, I had no idea how to deal with the realities outside myself. And it is now that I’m starting to learn.

My mother had become so abusive, as it had increased throughout the years, that it got to where I couldn’t sidestep it anymore – I was forced to deal with it and this was in no way easy. Having children also meant less time drawing (which was my escape) and not having that ‘place’ to withdraw to had me unraveling, no – fraying … like mishandled silk. You can try to sew it up – but the fabric stretches more and the fabric frays more. I’ve realized now that I need new fabric – the kind that won’t unravel or fray!

As I was sharing things with my therapist I broke down, as I often do in her office, and I finally said that I was more angry than hurt. I didn’t know how to let it go – but she helped me to release it and I felt awesome afterward. Anger – one of those emotions I was not allowed to express growing up. It felt good to feel it – it some ways I think it helped me to break free of the cocoon I was still somewhat confined to.

Overall, I have to say that if feels good to know I AM NOT THE CRAZY ONE! It feels good to know that it is not my responsibility to fix my family or what is broken in my family. After all, I’m not the one who broke it!!


I survived my childhood by shutting down my emotions like my mom taught me and by taking care of others. As an adult, I did the two extremes that my parents taught me with feelings. My mom was always emotionally unavailable so I learned to not feel. I stuffed the feelings deep inside of me hiding the hurt from even myself as long as I could. When the pressure would become too intense then I would explode in rage like my dad taught me to do. Neither of those extremes were the real me. They were the coping mechanisms that my parents taught me. I continued them into adulthood and added controlling as another coping skill. In not wanting to be like my mother who portrayed helplessness very well, I became like my dad who was the dictator of our family. He controlled all of us to the point that I wasn’t allowed to have needs or an opinion different than his. In order to not allow anyone else to control me, as an adult, I became the controller. If you came anywhere near me, I tried to fix you. If I could fix your problems that I had some value as a person and I could feel good about myself. You would like me if I could fix your problems. I don’t know if I ever knew the “real” me until I, like Darlene, learned to love and respect myself and learned that I had needs and worth. I was always “good enough” and so much more. I just didn’t know it until I started working on my incest issues and starting loving me.


I’ve been thinking a lot about this… Not knowing which part is the “real me” presents another problem: How do I know when “I” stay present, [and don’t dissociate] if I don’t know who the “real me” is? I believe that the real me is indeed all of us, so that would mean that if I dissociate, I am going to another part of the “real me”, and not just going away somewhere. I try to give all of the parts of me separate validation, because they ARE all me, and to slight one by saying that their presence constitutes dissociation, seems to be invalidating to the other parts of me. I only wish that I were co-conscious with all of the parts of me, and not just a few. Does this make sense?


Hi Louise
I can relate to your statement “when I want to stay I’m quite wired, hypertense and anticipating bad things” I am often aware of just those same feelings when I am fighting to stay with myself.
~ There is a real connection between recovery and and seeing ourselves in the light of the truth. I thought I was bad. I had to realize that I wasn’t. What happened to me was. It wasn’t my fault. I had to realize that I had a fantasy world and separate the truth from the false. Learning the truth in each area has been the most powerful part of my recovery.
Thanks for sharing Louise.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Mindy
I have a couple of post coming up (starting on Sunday) about DID that you might be interested in reading. My personalities were all part of the real me. (read Carla Logan’s comments in this thread) They were all the real me. I think what you are talking about is the search for the “core personality” ~ I had that longing to know the answer to that, but I found out that each part of me was a part of that core and I wanted to define the core alone. It is hard to explain but keep reading this next few weeks.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Patricia
You bring up another component to this whole thing; the control aspect. When I started therapy my therapist mentioned working on giving up some of the self control that I had. Inside I screamed NO WAY. I didn’t realize he was talking about self destructive control which is a big part of even this topic of dissociative issues as well as coping methods. It wasn’t just that I wanted to control you or fix you, it was the huge belief that I put in being able to control. In so many ways I had NO control in my life, I just thought that I did. It was an illusion. There is lots to this topic Patricia! Thanks for sharing.. and yes, the self love thing was the answer.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Paulette,
Yes, expressing anger was so very hard for me to. I had to feel it first before I could express it and my dissociation was about NOT feeling things. Combine that with the fact that abused kids become hyper aware because we have to in order to survive and presto, we have a bit of a contradiction going on. So I think for me I developed a pattern of getting some feeling ~ and then oops ~ quick shutdown.. and so it went. And there was so much added to the mix too!
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

Hi Susa,
I understand your thought process on this! What really helped me on this one is learning about “normal dissociation” and other escape that were not to do with alter personalities. I had to stop thinking about the whole DID thing first. I tried to just stay present instead of trying to think about “who” was the real me. This is really hard to explain. Switching personalities was not the biggest issue ~ the escape itself was. I am going to try to explain this in the posts that I am writing starting on Sunday. So far there will be two about this subject.
Thanks for being here!
Hugs, Darlene


I have just recently starting writing about the past and talking about “her” instead of “me”. I know we are one and the same, but there’s something about being able to say “she” that allows me to love that person. I feel less blame and self-hatred when I see her as a distant someone else. When I say “I”, the anger and hatred seems to direct inward.

You said… “It is as though I believe that I can leave myself, in order to deal with myself, without having to feel anything myself.” I totally get that. I see that I’m trying to leave and deal with it from outside instead of dealing with it from within. On the other hand, it does feel good to finally be able to look back and like “her”. I was hoping that would allow me to like “me” at some point. It is so much work, this feeling better thing!!

Thanks for all you share, Darlene. It makes it a little easier to navigate!



Hi Aerin,
I did it the same way. Just like I disconnected from my self in order to cope, it was also easier to reconnect (in the beginning) by thinking of myself as “her” and as separate from me. I remember so clearly when I did reconnect to me… and it was to the abuse at first. I sat there stunned and just said over and over again “that happened to me” “she/he did that to me”. I was shocked and couldn’t stop repeating it. In recovery I went back and forth for a while with liking “her” and liking “me” and that was fine! The reconnections didn’t happen overnight. They happened in stages and in parts, until all the parts got hooked back up together ~ which is why I am attached to the word “wholeness”.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I too found that the control was just an illusion. The more that I was into controlling, the more out of control I really was. I didn’t try to “fix” you because you needed fixing. I did it so that I wouldn’t have to see my own issues that needed fixing. If I could concentrate on you and your problems, I didn’t have time to look at my own. I didn’t have to feel about my own issues if I was focused on your issues. It was my method of escaping my own pain and anger. It seemed to work for a few years and I felt safe for awhile (or at least that it what I told myself at the time). The reality was that I was disconnecting from the terrible rage and under the rage all of the fear and hurt that I was carrying around inside of me.

When I got into 12-Step programs, I discovered that, for me, (I don’t know if this is true for anybody else or not but it was true for me.) the emotion that I could see and feel was rage. The rage meant that I was in control (like my dad when I was a child). The rage covered over my fear which was this big, big monster. The fear covered up the terrible sadness and hurt that was overwhelming if I allowed myself to feel it. I felt like if I acknowledged the hurt that I would cease to exist as a person or I would lose my mind. It just felt so big and endless. I didn’t know that grieving would release all of that sadness. The sadness was so much a part of me from a very early age.

I once told a group that my fear would fill the entire space of the room that we were sitting in. That fear was weighing down my body all the time until I started chipping away at it a little at a time. (I am not sure if I am still on topic or not???)

Darlene, I have been struggling with a part of myself for a few months now that doesn’t want to read your posts because they bring up feelings that apparently need revisiting. You haven’t written anything that I don’t already know from my own study of incest and recovery and from reconnecting with my body and myself. I just have another layer of the onion of abuse that needs to be peeled away. Each time that I find another layer to peel, I find more resistance from my inner children to peeling away that next layer. I recognise that about myself and I still struggle with it before surrendering to the process. Thank you for writing your blog and helping me to see that I still have areas that need to be worked on. Your blog is helping me to do more healing work on myself.


Hi Patricia,
So much of this comment resonates with me Patricia. I love your explanation of anger and how it covered your fear. I really get that. Different people have different emotions in front of fear ~ as you say, almost like shielding the fear. And that is what all the control was about for me too. It was about not dealing with myself.

i think that many of us can relate to what you share here about a part of yourself that wants to avoid reading things that really help in the end. I have heard this from many readers here, that they need to go away for a time, it gets too intense. I have certain books that make such a great difference to my awareness, and I find myself avoiding them as well. Always afraid of what that next layer of the onion will reveal even though I KNOW that it is in peeling those layers off that I find the greatest freedom! But I also remember that before recovery, I had YEARS of protection mode learned, and my sub conscious mind deeply believed that I had to stay in that protection mode; it was my survival method, it was what kept me alive.

So the real battle field is in my own mind. I battle with my own belief system (and today I very often win!) which is what this whole blog is about!

Thanks for being here! Hugs, Darlene


A note about my last comment:
I just re-read what I wrote and I realized that “all in my mind” can be a very discounting expression ~ and I don’t mean it to be that way when I said that the battle field is in my own mind. The battle field it literally “in my mind” and not an imagined thing. I battle with my belief system and I fight myself. My survival mode is major and it tells me that I need it. It tells me that the problems (such as the coping methods) are the solutions. I have to re-wire all those beliefs and change my own mind. and it is very real. The real healing work is done there.
Hugs, Darlene


I wanted to tell everyone that Carla Dippel wrote a guest post I told you would be coming and it is now published ~ You can read it here: Emotional Abuse and Identity Hunger
The longer that I am on this journey, the more I realize that it all comes down to owning MY value and defining myself.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I got what you meant in the first comment rather than reading it as only being all in your mind. Ever since I started this recovery journey, I have been aware of the battle with the part of me that resists change. It doesn’t matter that recovery brings about good change. Change of any kind was always terrifying to me as a child and still can be as an adult if it is sudden. My husband will gladly agree with me when I say that the child inside of me when she gets scared will still argue and get angry sometimes, not all the time, before the adult part of me steps in and thinks about the change and sees that it is reasonable and good to make the change. Sometimes the battle between inner child and adult just goes on briefly inside my mind. Sometimes she is quicker than the adult me and voices her fears as anger. Then the adult me has to step in and discuss what was just said rationally, with my husband usually. He is more adventurous and more spontaneous than I am so he is usually the one to stir up the fear and anger.

Anger is an emotion that I know well. It was allowed in our house when I was a child, but the only one who was allowed to feel and voice his anger was my dad. His anger came out as rage. His rage always came out with a threat of violence, especially if he was drunk.

For many years, I could go from calm to anger to full blown rage in a matter of seconds. It sounds strange even to me to say that anger was a safer emotion to me than fear was. I think maybe, in my mind, that I felt I could control the anger better than I could control the fear. Anger was also a powerful thing of strength. Fear was not. Fear showed weakness. Anger showed control and strength. I didn’t want to be afraid and weak. I wanted to be strong and powerful so that I could feel protected. (This is a very big ah-ha moment for me in typing that – Something I have never made the connection to before. I will have to share my 2 comments in a blog post of my own. This is really big for me.)

I have known for many years that my anger was almost always a cover-up for my fear but I never realized the powerful/safety – weak/not safe thing before. I felt powerless and very frightened when my dad was doing the anger/rageful episodes in my childhood. He was so controlling that as an adult, I always think of him as a dictator. He was in total control of each of our family member. I wasn’t allowed to participate in sports or any after school clubs or activities. Neither were my brother and sister because it would give us something that was out of his control. Isolation was the only way that his control would work.

This could turn into a much longer comment than it needs to be. I will take what I have said here and my continuing thoughts and go to my own blog right now while the words and thoughts are still flowing. I will come back with a link when I am finished. Thanks Darlene for this big ah-ha moment.


Since I left my last comment here, I have written 2 posts, not just 1 and given myself a headache in the bargain. Here is the link from my first post which is only about my first 2 comments above: http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/2011/02/anger-fear-sadness-and-hurt-how-they-html

In writing the above post, I added some to each of my first comments here. I decided that my 3rd comment which is the one just above this one needed its own blog post. I added quite a bit of information to it, more than I wrote above. I will come back and post its link when it is published in a few days.

This ah-ha moment turned out to be bigger than I thought and more attached to my mom issues than my dad issues. Both have been stirred up as I made the connections. Thank you Darlene and everyone who has left a comment here. Darlene, I linked both of my posts back to this article. Now I am going to go eat something since I have been too busy writing to think about food today. Thanks.


I am in awe that you have chosen to work on staying with YOU, the one who is loveable. The one who does matter. The one who does make a difference. It takes a lot of strength and courage to do that. I know from my own personal journey.


[…] questions that I just HAVE to talk about in more depth than just a comment back. In my last post “coping methods ~ trying to escape myself” I got one of these comments from […]


Hi Sharon, Thank you!

Everyone ~ I have published the follow up post. It is called “Dissociative Identity Disorder and Reconnection”.

Stay tuned for a guest post written by Carla Logan, one of the readers who participated in this discussion. Her guest post will be published in a couple of days! ~ Darlene


I personally believe that all forms of mental disorders – be it depression or eating disorders or DID, is a form of dissociation (of course, I don’t know if it is research proven yet). Repression works to keep us from our pain, but it is meant to work only TEMPORARILY. When we do not deal with them properly, repression becomes destructive. It’s just like though a bandage makes a broken arm less awful, the wound will still rot and get infected if it’s left that way for too long.

I’m a huge believer in facing our pain and making PEACE with it. I believe that the master key to recovery is HONESTY with ourselves. Whenever my friends share their struggles with me, I make this very clear – I cannot help you if you will not be honest with yourself. I also make it explicit that it is okay to cry, and I will not judge or get tired of tears. I try my best to allow space to mourn, because so often we grew up without knowing how to do so.

Sometimes, people continue to dissociate because it relieves them of personal responsibility. This is also something that I make clear to those who will listen – recovery is a personal responsibility. No matter who has hurt or abused you in the past, the blame game will not work. No matter how hurt you were, you still have to accept the fact that you hold the key to your wholeness. You need to reconnect with yourself, and accept the person that you are.


Hi jasmine!
Did you read the follow up post to this one about DID? We are so on the same page here!
Thank you for this awesome contribution to this blog post! I really appreciate your input,
Hugs, Darlene


Jasmine, I agree with everything that you just said. Honestly seeing what we are doing to ourselves by holding on to these coping mechanisms that were tools when we first needed them when we were children is a very necessary part of healing.

Here is my second blog post on my ah-ha moments from reading this post and my comments. Please let me know what you think. http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/2011/02/anger-fear-sadness-and-hurt-how-they_08.html


I too know the impact of DID on my own life. I knew that I functioned differently than others by my late teens but didn’t realize what it was until I was in my 30’s.

I know that, statistically, men are diagnosed with DID much less frequently. I think that men experience it different and most would describe it very differently than any of your descriptions. I would actually guess that it is as common in men as in women. [Personal impression.] I will try to put together how i experience DID at some point and pass it along. I understand your descriptions, but they do not fit.

Another point, for Jasmine, in particular. Dissociation may explain a large number of abuse/trauma related mental illnesses. Having known people with severe depression without trauma, bipolar, ‘true’ schizophrenia, Aspergers/Autism Spectrum Disorders, and ADD/ADHD, I and most researchers do not believe that dissociation is the mechanism involved in them. These involve the failure of other brain systems that are NOT related to dissociation.


Hi Jim
Thank you for your contribution to this post. I have to add something to it because this blog is not about “traditional” belief systems at all. Although I was helped and guided by a mental health professional, his work was not at all mainstream. Through my work I have come to realize that just because the medical profession says that certain things are not related, doesn’t not mean they aren’t. I believed everything that anyone with a degree told me in the past, BUT it didn’t help me ~ the diagnosis didn’t help me.

What I write about in this blog is what helped me. I would love to hear about how you experienced DID and if it fits with my descriptions or not is not the point. I was very stuck on diagnosis and treatment when I found real help. I got WAY beyond diagnosis in my healing. I write very little about DID or any other one illness. I was diagnosed with many and strangely the one method worked for all. I have worked with many ~ and this method worked for them too. So while I like to highlight some symptoms (like DID or depression) once in a while, this blog is really about recovery from the belief system that formed ~ the trauma that CAUSED the symptoms in the first place.

I hope that this clarifies a little bit more what the purpose of this blog and my work, is.
Thank you for being here!
Hugs, Darlene

p.s. I believe that Jasmine was talking about dissociation as in disconnecting. Disconnecting from the truama and from ourselves is VERY common.


Hey Jim,

I’m sorry that I didn’t make myself clear. When I say “dissociation”, I meant, yeah, disconnection and repression as well…loosely. I was trying to not use too many “jargons” and lumped them together as coping mechanisms. I wasn’t talking about dissociative disorders. I’m saying that as children, we used to “dissociate” my cutting ourselves out from reality…but such a coping mechanism often contribute to chronic mental struggles in the long term.



I’m glad that you addressed the issue of a diagnostic label vs the recovery. Starting on in therapy, I tried all the ways to get my clinical psychologist to reveal my diagnoses (I did an ONLINE assessment with a psychiatrist and got a list of it)…but she flatly won’t. In fact, she made it known that treatment and recovery is more essential..that looking at the symptoms holistically will help me recover.


Jasmine, that would make me so angry to have a doctor/psychologist tell me that what is wrong with me – the diagnostic label – is none of my business. Who made them God and forgot to tell the rest of us. I have had doctors try to do the same thing to me. It doesn’t work with me. I will not accept that “up on a pedestal” “better than everybody else” attitude from a doctor. I know me better than anybody else does. I also read and learn about any illness/diagnoses that I may have. She is asking for your total trust without allowing you choices in your own recovery. That is so not happening with me. I will never blindly trust anyone ever. I believe that I have the right to play an active part in my own recovery process. If the doctor doesn’t agree, I go somewhere else.



I think that besides ignorance, I might contribute this to one of the effects of abuse – you allow people to dictate your life, and tell you who you are. The problem with diagnoses is that they often stop you short of recovery and often robs you of your personal responsibility. It also takes a huge chunk of your hope as you allow the names to define you. Diagnoses are supposed to allow professionals to understand specific client groups, not for clients themselves or any other people to make it an avenue for further abuse.


I think there is a difference between a medical dr. withholding from me that I have cancer, and a psychologist who does not wish to label me. I keep saying that diagnosis never helped me, there was NO solution in diagnosis. That is what Jasmine was trying to say. That a diagnosis would have been a label. My therapist never talked about me in terms of a label because he wisely knew that it interfered with my progress. It is like a rabbit trail off the real subject. This blog is not about conditions. It is about healing. So in actual fact, the therapist/psychologist can do harm with one of those labels. I have looked up and read about my diagnosis and there is STILL no real solution in knowing about them. Because I believe that my therapy was successful due to the process of drilling down to the root “cause” of the trauma (or neglect, or emotional abuse) that caused the symptoms in the first place, dr/therapist could never HAVE diagnosed me because I had to tell them what happened. Playing an active part in the recovery process for me means doing the work to overcome the obstacles. My therapist helped me, guided me through the process of drilling down in order to find the truth. When I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar depression, I got WAY less help then when I went to a therapist who was not so concerned with the diagnosis. I hope that makes sense, or at least gives some clarity. I don’t think that Jasmine’s therapist was keeping anything from her at all. Therapy isn’t like medicine. The labels in therapy can lead to a lot of other problems. (especially since every psychologist that I ever went to, diagnosed me with something different.)
Hope this helps!
Thanks for being here.
Hugs Darlene


No, my clinical psychologist had never given me a diagnosis except for “depression” (which was okay because depression is the root of many disorders, and it’s an “open secret” anyway), and would not budge when I asked her for labels. In fact, she asked me why did I want to know. Actually, it was my previous counsellor (and no, counsellors/counselling psychologists CANNOT diagnose) who said that I had “schizophrenia”, when my clinical psychologist later only mentioned “hallucinations”. It’s different – one is a diagnosis and the other a symptom.

I guess as humans we are curious. And plus, whether you like it or not diagnoses relieve us from personal responsibility. But the truth is, therapy and recovery is pure HARD WORK.


I don’t use labels to not take responsibility for my part of what needs to be done to become healthy. Labels aren’t who I am but they can give me a starting place to understand what is going on within me. I am not a label. Neither is anyone else. I am not only very curious but I want to know what is going on inside of me. This is true whether it is a doctor or a counselor. Part of it is so that I don’t feel controlled by another person. I know that comes from my dad being a dictator when I was a child. I refuse to ever be controlled by anyone to that degree again.

I have also refused to accept certain labels that I didn’t feel were accurate. A chiropractor once told me that I had fibromyalgia because of the shooting pain that went through my arm for 3 weeks after he did a chiropractic adjustment. I do not have fibromyalgia. My arm hurt because of something that he did during that adjustment. I could have accepted his label and felt sorry for myself and created that illness. I didn’t. Few people worked harder than I have on my recovery from incest over the years. I am not afraid of doing the work. I am not afraid of being totally honest with myself about what is going on either in my mind or in my body. If you say something about me, I will look at it and see if it is true for me. Sometimes these things are true. Sometimes they are not. Thank you Darlene and Jasmine for your comments.


I’d like to jump into this discussion! It seems to me, and this is just my opinion, that part of a therapist’s expertise should be assessing whether any particular patient is actually helped or hindered by having a diagnosis. I have seen it become a stumbling block for some, they get way too focused on the diagnosis and lose focus on the process of healing. Others need to understand he diagnosis in order to move into the process. I AM ONE OF THE LATTER!!! I am just one of those people who has to understand everything, all the nuts and bolts about something, it is part of my makeup. But I do believe that my therapist was wise in knowing this about me, that I would actually not be able to move forward until I knew exactly what I was dealing with. And in having worked with me for over a year before I knew what I was truly dealing with, he knew how determined I was to stay with the process and get to my healing, how proactive I was in my own journey.

I don’t see this area of whether to provide a diagnosis or not as a ‘one size fits all’ way of doing therapy. It really does take a lot of experience and wisdom on the part of a good therapist to understand the patient/client and know which avenue will work best, whether to provide the diagnosis, or to lead/encourage the client into doing the work without one.

Not an easy area of psychology, especially when we all know there are many therapists in practice who are not as competent or experienced as we need when dealing with trauma work! I feel very blessed, just like Darlene, to have found the right fit for me as I entered into the hard work of healing!!!


Carla, thank you. You said it exactly right for me. I am one of those people like you who does better off knowing what I am dealing with. It does give me a focus and a goal of wellness to work toward. I was blessed with a counselor who understood my style of doing my healing work. You said it so much better than I did.


I am really glad that you posted this. I had not though about it this way. I have become jaded seeing so many misdiagnosed people that were off on the wrong treatment path. You are one of the lucky ones like me, but I have seen so much damage done by therapists and medical mental health care professionals, that it sickens me and frightens me. It IS awesome when a person is diagnosed correctly and treated accordingly, but I see way more of the opposite. That is where I am coming from. Working in mental health made me scared for people. The key words that you shared here are “a good therapist”. That makes all the difference. I had so many bad ones before I found a good one, (and it is a miracle that I was willing to even try again) and unfortunately I was too sick to realize that I was not getting any help from the “bad ones”. It was only in hindsight that I even realized that I had been to some bad ones. Even the one’s that made sexual advances towards me I blamed myself for.
So it is my history that causes me to say the things that I say ~ to jump in fear of misdiagnosis ~ to call them labels~ it is because of my own experience.
I am really glad that you posted from YOUR history though. I do realize how helpful it is to understand “what is wrong” and to go from there.
Thanks so much for posting!

Patricia, thank you for coming back and posting on this one too!
Hugs, Darlene


I don’t know if this is the right place to post this, but I seem to be having trouble that came up suddenly after started ‘working on’ myself.
I’ve been having trouble w/ having a really short temper, and I snapped at someone today. But, in my defense, she’s the one who started snapping at me.
Then when I told her I expect to be treated w/ the basic respect that all human beings deserve-including her-she decided I’m not worth talking to then made a big show of telling me she’s not going to talk to me, and then putting me down once again.
I just repeated what I said, about expecting respect and giving it too, but she never spoke to me again.
So I tried to stand up for myself and that’s what I get for it.
That seems to me like they really do just want to be abusive and they want to be allowed to get away w/ it too.
I don’t have my friend here to support me, b/c he’s distressed about needing another operation.
That’s part of why I shared it here.


Hi Vicki
Sometimes all sorts of emotions come up when we begin to work on ourselves. There is a lot of new stuff going.
Hang in here!
Hugs, Darlene



Sometimes in recovery it’s like swinging on a pendulum – we go wildly from left to right, before eventually settling in between. Perhaps it’s because you’ve grown up to bottle up abuse and resentment to a point where you explode. And when you learn to stand up for yourself, sometimes it’s hard to find an initial balance – we do tend to be too assertive. When we just learn to set boundaries, it also takes time to find middle ground. It is uncomfortable because neither of these are what we are used to all these while.

At the same time, neither are abusers used to it when they see us making a stand and being assertive. They’ve enjoyed taking advantage of our passivity all this while. It’s not your fault that your abuser withdrew from you.

I just stood up against my mum, too. Even though our relationship has improved a lot over the years, it is still often a struggle. I’ve always been treated as second class, and nothing changes much no matter how hard I tried. This is especially true when my sister is around (she’s 21 and my mum still feeds her cough medicine!). My sister has become very pampered, selfish and controlling as a result.

Vicky, I want to assure you are on the right track. Don’t stop learning to find that balance simply because someone rejects you. As we go along in recovery, we change (for the better). Sometimes it does hurt when the people around us cannot accept the fact that we are no longer the same.

That’s just a fact of life.



hmm. Regarding labels: I went to a psychiatrist to get meds for depression, on the advice of a friend.

I told the Dr. my hstory, including that I had panic attacks stemming from when I was stalked by a man a few years previously.

The second visit the dr. was reviewing my files and said: ‘I see here you have had paranoia.’

I said, ‘What? What are you talking about?’ He said ‘It says here you believed you were being followed or stalked?’

I said, ‘I WAS being followed, and I WAS stalked, and I KNEW who was doing it AND he had a history of violent domestic abuse and was known to several people in the mental health community, especially since he used to be married to one of them.’

I didn’t go back to this dr. I cannot change me records that HE created because they are apparently legal documents, even though what he wrote was wrong, factually wrong….He’s the Dr.’

I have very very little faith in that system.


Hi Elizabeth,
That kind of stuff scares me today and it is that kind of stuff that makes people so afraid to go and get help! I have no idea what the solution to that problem is, but it is a pretty scary thing when a Dr. with the 2 second notation in his file, can permanently label you!
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


[…] un-relational and emotionally unavailable. These things made up my life and formed my identity and resulted in a dissociated mess. I had some serious sorting, revealing and re-organizing to do in order to […]



This is the road I am on. The road of being present. The road to being 100% aware all the time. The road of no escaping.

The road I WAS on on for 30 odd years….the road of escape. I was a GENIUS at escape.
I was diagnosed with DID non specific and PTSD. I have a wonderful EMDR therapist and we have worked really hard and continue to do so…to keep me on the path of truth and honesty.

I LOVE your blog. Thank you thank you thank you.



Hello Darlene and Fellow Readers/Commenters:

It’s a pleasure to take a break from my plumbing disaster cleanup and come back and read your blog. This post, about using various coping methods to escape from yourself, really hits home.

I, too, was burdened/stigmatized/made to feel hopeless with numerous psychiatric labels. Since the age of 14 I have been diagnosed with Acute Schizophrenia, Paranoia, Patholigical Liar (that diagnosis was added at age 15 by the psychiatrist who raped me; the first time he attempted to molest me, I told a nurse what he had done, so his response was to label me a pathological liar. Later, when he almost killed me by overdosing me with sodium pentothal in order to rape me for the third time, he was caught in the act, fired, and committed suicide. But I doubt if anyone ever bothered to remove the “Pathological Liar” diagnosis from my medical file.)

In later years I was diagnosed with Agoriphobia, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Severe Depression…. there may be other labels, I’ve forgotten.

The only label that ever helped me was the one I was given at age 50, after taking a full battery of psychological tests, that label is: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The renowned psychiatrist who made that diagnosis assured me that PTSD is perfectly normal, after experiencing the kind of extreme trauma and abuse that I went through in my childhood and young adulthood, just as it is normal to bleed, if you are stabbed. He also insisted that all of my other psychiatric labels were misdiagnosis.

Later, my new psychiatrist told me that I have Complex-PTSD, due to my many multiple traumas. He recommended a book by Harvard Clinical Psychiatrist Judith Herman, MD, entitled “Trauma and Recover,” a landmark book in which Dr. Herman coined the phrase “Complex-PTSD.” Her book is scholarly, pithy, not easy reading, but I have read it several times, and intend to reread it again in the near future, as it makes perfect sense out of my extremely crazy life. Dr. Herman contends that Complex-PTSD is often misdiagnosed as schizophrenia, bipolar, borderline, DID, etc.

Darlene, like you, I don’t think the labels do a lot of good, it’s getting down to the root cause of our “illnesses” that offers the most help. Like you, I have found that the root cause of my “Mental Illness” was the faulty belief system that I grew up with, the belief that I was NOT WORTHY, UNLOVEABLE, BAD, WRONG, STUPID, CRAZY, LAZY…. the belief that I was more trouble than I was worth, and that I DIDN’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE HERE!

How does one human being get to decide that another human being shouldn’t have been born? How does one human being get to decide that her needs/wants/feelings are all-important, but that another human being’s needs/wants/feelings don’t matter?

I have used many different ways of escaping from myself over the years. One of my earliest escapes was in going numb. I just stopped feeling, stopped thinking, stopped being. I was not-quite-three…. yes, my memory goes back that far, and even earlier…. we lived in Oakland, California, across the bay from San Fransisco. My parents had one car, and they both worked, leaving me home with a babysitter. One day my dad came home from work early, alone. When it was time to go get mother from her job across the bay, dad said he would take me along. I was so excited… a car ride! Hurrah!

The big suspension bridge across the San Fransisco bay… it’s awesome. I was sitting in the front seat, next to my daddy, looking up at all the overhead beams, how intricate they were, how the sunlight flashed between the beams as we rode beneath them. It’s a long bridge. Somewhere out in the middle of the bridge, all of the traffic came to a complete stop. Maybe there was a car wreck on the bridge ahead, I don’t know.

I was still gazing up at the big steel beams overhead through the windshield, when my daddy told me, “Lynda, look out the side window, look at the water, way far down below.” I looked. I can see it in my mind still today, more than 50 years later. There were a couple of boats down there, and they looked so tiny, like toy boats, because the water was so far down below the bridge. I can still see the blinding sunlight as it was shining off the water, hitting me in the eyes…

“I’m going to throw you off the bridge, Lynda. I’m going to throw you way, way down into the water, and you will die. Do you know what DIE means? I really will do it Lynda, I’m not teasing you, I am going to throw you off the bridge right now, and you will fall down down down, all the way down into the water. I’m not kidding, I’m really going to do it…”

His voice was eerie, sing-song, spooky-sounding, the way the psycho-killers in old horror movies used to sound, like that. Not my daddy’s usual voice, not my daddy~

At first, I didn’t believe him. I didn’t know what he meant when he said I would die, but I did know that I didn’t like to fall down, I didn’t want to fall way down into the water. He was just teasing me, he must be, he sometimes did tease me, sometimes he would pretend to throw my favorite doll baby out the window of the car or out the front door of the house, he would tell me he was going to throw my doll away and I would never have her again, and he would use that same eerie psycho-sing-song voice, and I would cry and beg and plead with him not to throw my precious dollie away, and he would laugh at me for crying, then finally he would give my doll back to me. It was like that, I thought, he is just teasing, he never really throws my dolls away, and he won’t really throw me off the bridge, either….

It was like he could read my mind. His voice changed, he sounded very serious, not sing-song anymore. “You don’t believe me, do you? You think that I am just teasing you, the way I tease you about throwing your dolls away. But I am serious this time, I’m not teasing, I really am going to throw you off the bridge, right now.”

He reached for me, as he opened his door to get out of the car. And then, THEN, I believed him. I…NRELIEVED…HIM. He was going to throw me off the Golden Gate Bridge, and I was too little too stop him.

I remember how that felt, exactly how that felt, HOPELESS, HELPLESS. I just caved in, inside. I went numb. Empty. There was no more me, no more Lynda, I was just a doll, a ragdoll, I had no feelings at all.

The traffic ahead of our car started moving again at that moment. I suppose that is what saved me. He put me back in the car, he got back behind the wheel, he put the car in gear and drove to mother’s work. He didn’t say another word the entire way. When we got there, mother looked so uncommonly pretty, all dressed up in her nice skirt and silky blouse, with her hair and face all made up, and her high heeled shoes. She showed me to her boss and coworkers, as though she were proud of me… that was a very new experience, my mother, PROUD of me? She took me into a break room where there was a candy machine. “What would you like, would you like some gum?” I, who was never supposed to ask for anything or even to look at things like candy machines, because my parents said that looking longingly at something they couldn’t afford to buy me was the same as asking… suddenly here is my fake mother, showing off for her coworkers, playing the doting mother act, buying her precious little girl a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum.

To this day, driving over a suspension bridge… seeing the Golden Gate Bridge on TV… smelling a stick of Juicy Fruit gum…. seeing the sunlight shining blindingly brightly off of water far below a bridge…. triggers.

I escaped into numbness and nothingness that time. I learned many ways to escape over the years. Today, I escape mainly in novels. My husband, who has severe PTSD from Vietnam, reads novels almost constantly, often more than 1 novel per day.

Being PRESENT with ME is a lot easier than it used to be, but not always.



Lynda, no one should have to go through the horror that you described. I was just last week telling a friend of mine that I couldn’t tell her how many times my dad would threaten to get his rifle and shoot someone if they made him angry. I remember one incident where my mother and uncle fought to take the gun away from him in the hay field.

When I was telling my friend about the incident, I told it so matter of factly like there was nothing unusual about it. In my life as a child, fear was such a constant visitor than I didn’t even recognise what fear was. Like you, I often went numb as a way to deal with fear and all of my other emotions.

Fear of dying, such as you describe, I understand it very well. I stopped breathing as I was reading your words because I remember what that fear felt like just before I shut down emotionally. Revisiting all of this helps us to heal and to realize that this was not a healthy way to grow up.


OH Patricia, Dear One, I am so, so sorry for what you went through in your childhood.

I had just clicked past to this post, because I wanted to add a comment, basically to apologize if my post brought anyone down, or caused anyone to have a painful trigger. Sometimes I don’t think of these things, until after it is too late and I have already spilled my guts.

But from reading your comment, I feel a bit better, less like maybe I “shouldn’t” have gone into the detail that I did.

When I am at my MOST miserable and broken and hopeless, I try very hard NOT to drag anyone else down with me. I prefer to isolate, than risk contaminating others with my misery. But NOW, I am happier than I have ever been in my life. NOW, after a lifetime of hating me, today I LIKE ME. I even LOVE me. I enjoy my life today, and I look forward to the future. TODAY, when I share these terrible stories from my past trauma and abuse, I do it NOT to drag others down, but to say, “THIS is how bad I was… THIS is how bad my life was… if I can now be happy and healthy today, NOBODY is too far gone, or too hopeless!”

It also helps my continued healing process, as I share these old ancient wounds here on this safe and supportive forum. But even then, I still sometimes feel guilty, wondering if I have gone too far… I don’t want to bring anyone down, with my old tales of woe. If any of the readers feel hurt in or brought down in any way by anything I’ve posted, Please forgive me, and Please let me know, and I will stop posting these detailed memories from my past.



Lynda, please don’t stop sharing. If something causes me pain today, I take it as a sign that there is a reason and I need to look at the issue to see what still needs to be healed. What I feel when I read your comments is not “brought down”. I feel compassion and love for the little girl that you were and that I was. I can cry for you and I can cry for me which I couldn’t do as a child or even as a young adult. Today one of the freedoms that I have and I use is the right to cry and the right to feel it all.

I write about my experiences with incest on my blog to help others to heal. Like you, I am in a really good place in my healing and in my life. I believe that the healing that we have done can be used as a tool to help others who may just be beginning their journey to healing.

I didn’t have the support that our blogs offer other survivors when I first started my journey to healing. No one was talking much about incest in the late 1970’s when I first admitted that I was an incest survivor. We have so many resources today that I didn’t have then. My real journey as a survivor began in 1989 in 12-Step meetings. There I found the support that I needed to start talking about my incest issues in a loving group of friends. Today we have the internet to search for that support. Today wherever you live on this planet, if you have a computer and internet access, you can find survivors who will support you.

You, Darlene and I have lived through those early days where people just didn’t talk about incest if they knew it was happening. We can and have changed that. I am so glad that we have. You don’t have to apologize for sharing your truths. As each of us shares, it helps us all to grow.


Hi Nadia!
I am so glad that you are here! Thank you for your encouragement re my blog! YAY for being on the road to 100% aware!
Love that!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Lynda
Wow.. thank you for having the courage to share this here on EFB. You have been through some horrific things in your life woman. What a miracle you are. Thank you for sharing all this. I know that reading these stories, these details, help SO many other readers. There is so much great work being done on this blog!

Please don’t worry about what you post on this blog. That is the very nature of it. REAL, SINCERE, HONEST, and all of this is so healing. I never feel as though your shares drag anyone down at all. I know that sharing this stuff is for the purpose of empowering others ~ and this works! This blog and these shares empower others to go forward.
Thanks for being here! Don’t stop sharing!!! I LOVE IT!
Hugs, Darlene

Thank you also for sharing your horrific stories. You also help so many of the readers here and on your own blog. And as you say, as each of us shares, it helps all of us to grow!
I am so glad that you are here.
Hugs, Darlene


I am SO GRATEFUL to you wonderful fellow survivors and thrivers, and SO GRATEFUL for this awesome blog community.

For most of my life, I didn’t tell anyone about the terrible things that happened in my life. When I was very young, I really didn’t know how crazy and abusive and how far out of the realm of “normal” my home like was, because it was all I knew, it was “my normal.”

As I got older and learned more about the world, and learned how very abnormal my childhood was in so many ways, then, when I did staft telling, more often than not, I was not believed. Like, what would I gain by making these awful things up? Or I might be believed for a time… but then I would reach a point where I would tell one more true story of horror from my childhood, and the response I would get would be something like, “COME ON, THAT MANY terrible things can’t have ALL happened to YOU.” BUT – HELLO — when you have a parent who is crazy and mean and selfish enough to threaten to throw you off a bridge, or try to gas the whole family to death, you have a parent who will do MANY insane evil cruel horrible things, over a course of a lifetime. I don’t think that the woman who recently shot her two precious teenagers to death in Florida, was all sweetness and light their whole lives long, until that final terrible moment. When you are living with a selfish, sick, narcisstic, sadistic person, when you are little and they are big and you are completely at their “mercy,” the abuses go on and on and on.

Then sometimes I have gotten a response along the lines of, “OK, maybe I can buy that your mother tried to gas you all to death… but now you are telling me that your dad threatened to throw you off the bridge? What are the odds that BOTH of your parents would be that crazy and abusive?” That used to really confuse me, too… it was like I thought I had to choose sides between my parents, one had to be good and the other, bad. But the truth is, they were both sometimes good, and both sometimes very very very bad. Maybe because sick is attracted to sick? Like water seeks its own level? Maybe because they got married so young, my mother was 16, dad was 18, and one of them was already really sick, and his, or her, sickness somehow affected/infected the other? I don’t know, all I know is that the things that happened, happened. I have a very good memory, I always have had, I remember in great detail entire events and conversations that happened many decades ago, and I know what is true. I KNOW.

It used to really bother me a lot, when I would tell about my childhood traumas, and not be believed. It was, in a way, like I was being traumatized all over again. But now, I have gained enough healing and self-confidence that it doesn’t matter to me if everyone doesn’t believe me, I BELIEVE ME, I know what is true, and that is enough for me.

But it still really does help SO MUCH, to be able to tell of these things here on EFB, and be validated, and cared about, and not have one person even hint that they think I’m not telling the truth.

If I were going to lie about childhood abuse, I figure I would tell about the more “usual” things, things that people accept now as being sad facts of life in abusive families, things like being beaten severely… I was, a few times, spanked beyond endurance, spanked HARD HARD HARD, and in some cases, for things I was accused of doing that I didn’t do… but physical beatings were not a typical part of my growing up, they were few and far between. Same with the sadly all-too-common experience of incest, child sexual abuse… again, there was a very limited amount of sexual improprieties, with both my parents, on very rare occasions… but that wasn’t the main focus of my parents’ abuse against me, by any means. Neither parent ever went so far as to actually rape me, but I was raped, more than once, drugged and raped, by my own psychiatrist when I was 15.

My childhood abuse was not “typical,” at least I don’t think it was, it wasn’t typically sexual and it wasn’t typically physical beatings. But it was terrifying, life-threatening, and the message I got, over and over and over again, from both of my parents, and from my grandparents, too, was that I should never have been born, and everyone would be better off without me.

Sometimes I wonder WHY these old, old abuses still affect me. My dad died in 1988, my 70-something mother lives several states away and hasn’t been a part of my life for years, my choice. I am loved now, I love ME, now, my life is pretty good today. But I still have nightmares about being a little girl.

Somehow i think that writing about it HERE in this safe and validating and caring forum, is helping with that.

HUGS to all of you.



You sure have been through a lot. I know some people do not want to belive somthing like that could happen. But it does.. Like with my mom wanted me dead then brained washed my son so they both wanted me dead and told me what they would do to kill me. I had to leave the state that is how bad it got. Some people do not belive me but it is true and those who have expereinced things with bad abuse know it is true. We have to live with the memories it is sad how some people do not want to belive it. I did not want to belive it happened but it happened and I had to live through it. We are not alone many people have been through abuse just many people don’t talk about it. Sharing like you just did is healing for you and for us who read it. Thank you for sharing this I know it is not easy. Hugs to you Angela


DEAR Angela,
My heart literally ached for you as I read your words. I certainly believe what you are saying, I believe because I KNOW how sick family systems evolve, I lived through it too. My own 3 grown children tended to take the side of my abusive ex-husband, and I have learned recently that that is typical. Why do they do it? Because they were in Survivor Mode as children, or because they want to side with the strong, they don’t want to be WEAK? I don’t know.. in my case, my ex has money from oil and gas royalties, and with the price of oil being so high, he is rolling in it. He spends money on the kids like crazy. Last month he and his new wife took my 2 grown sons, my grown daughter, their significant others, and all the grandchildren, on a week long cruise to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, I can’t even hire a plumber to clean up the huge sewer catastrophe that happened under our house recently, I had to clean it all up myself. So, money talks….

I left that ex-husband in 1988 when he refused to get help for me when I was hurt and unconscoius. I have no doubt he was hoping I would die because we each had a huge life insurance policy on us, and for him, who grew up filthy rich, until his dad lost most of his money in a bad business deal, he never had enough. I thought we were rich, but it was peanuts compared to what he grew up with. So he was, I had no doubt, hoping that if they just let me lie there, I would die, and he would get the money. Only 1 of my 3 kids, finally insisted on calling 911 for me, and even then it took that one a long time to finally feel bad enough to do that. The other 2 were content to let me lie there dying.

Of course, my reaction at the time was, “Am I that terrible of a mother that my own kids want me dead?” My husband now, who has severe PTSD from Vietnam, tells me he believes it was just that they were young and scared and in Survivor Mode. I guess…. it still hurt. That was when I started drinking to self-medicate the pain. Guess what that did? F up my life even more.

THANK GOD and you wonderful beautiful caring SURVIVORS that my life is NOT AT ALL like it used to be!!!

But I still, after all these years, can feel only so close to my kids. They run off to the Bahamas with the man who beat me, who broke my noes and gave me a bad concussion, and who even wanted me to die. And all I was doing, God as my witness, was trying to be a good Christian wife and mother. I never cheated on him, I never nagged him. Of course, what I didn’t consciously realize backthen, was that I had married a man who was just like my abusive parents…



Wow your story is similar to mine. I was abused in my first marriage and I drank for years When I was drinking my mom got a life insurance on me and I agreed to do it but then the threats started about wanting me dead cause my would get $100,000. When my son was born before my husband I was not married but had a son and his father just left when I was 2 weeks pregnant so I move back in with my mom big mistake I was used to being abused so living with her was all I knew but it was a mistake cause she took over and I let her cause I was so far into my drinking so my son was brained washed from her since she raised her and I just drank and worked and paid rent but by the time my son was 5 Left and got married to a man who beat me daily. So my son was being raised my this mentally abusive woman who raised me actually she adopted me but she was the only mom I knew. So my son was badly brained washed and my son hated me I had my part being an alcoholic leaving him with her. Then I got sober and my life changed I tryed to renew the relationship and it got worse they both got violent and me being sober she could not walk over me any more I did not let her so she got even madder. My son tryed to push me off a mountain top we were in the mountains on Easter in 01 and I say he tryed but he would of if I did not turn around it was like God telling me to turn around I felt this bad feeling in my gut that he was up to somthing so I turned around and his hand was on me and I cought my balance I would of been dead if I did not get that gut feeling. I share about it in my websites it was true and it is hard to belive I did not want to belive it. I beat myself up for along time I thought I was a bad mom a bad person cause I let my son be raised by the perosn who abused me and let me be abused sexually and she did the same to my son. I beat myself up for so long finally had I to forgive myself for beating myself up once I did that I was able to let go and as I say give my son to the God the power that is not me. I belive we have children they come through us but we do not own them They are Gods children when I think of it that way it helps me to let go. My son is now an adult all that happened was when we was a kid I have not seen him since he was 13 that was when it happened he took me to court with my mom and I let go I fought for a year but then when that happened on the mountain I told the court the truth and why I did not want him with her but also why I was not good for him I told the whole truth. It ended up I owed child support and he was with her. I wrote letters to to the goovernment and had help form people on line who wrote letters about how it was not right how they let him be with an abusve lady to raise him but nothing changed that. So I let go moved out of state and never seen either one of them again. It is painful not knowing what he turned into but if he did not get help he would be worse and it would be dangerous for me to find him. So I dont look for him and I just leave it as if he is dead sounds bad but if I think of him that way it is less painful. But either way it is painful. I am now over 15 years sober my life is good I have a loving husband now and not abusive. We learn to live and walk through what we have to in life even though it is painful at time. Thanks for sharing your story it shows me I am not alone sorry you went through all that. Are you on facebook just wondering? if so I would love to add you and get to know you better. Hugs Angela


Yes, Angela, I do have a facebook, and would be honored to have you as a friend, my fb url is: http://www.facebook.com/Lynda.ComingOutoftheCrAzYCloset

My name there is Lynda Lee, Lee being my middle name, because I don’t want family members on that account, particularly not my young grandchildren and very young niece who I don’t think need to read some of the things posted about my life and the lives of other survivors of abuse and all-around evil insanity.

Yes, our lives have much in common. When you are going through it, it seems so crazy and unreal, and you feel like the only one in the world like you…. at least, that is how I felt. Amazing, affirming, yet also sad, to learn there are many others.

Regarding the decision you made to let your mother raise your son when you were drinking to self-medicate your pain, and how you later came to regret and even hate yourself for turning him over to the one who abused you…. OH WOW do I UNDERSTAND that kind of thing!!!! For one thing, the abuse we went through when we were children, it was “normal” to us. We were the small helpless ones, the adults in charge were big and all-knowing. I know for myself, I was so beat down by my parents when I was growing up, that I didn’t trust my own judgment about ANYTHING. I didn’t know what normal was, I didn’t know what healthy was, I didn’t know how to make healthy decisions, for my children or for myself, because I had not been given those tools, do you know what I mean?

I look back on my life and much of it is like a 100-car pile-up you sometimes see in the news, in heavy traffic, in bad weather, thick fog, black ice, high winds, whatever… and one vehicle rams into another vehicle, which sends that one careening into another vehicle, and then another, and another, it is a chain-reaction of TRAGEDY, like dominoes, one trauma leading immediately and directly to another trauma, one tragedy leading to another tragedy, one bad decision leading to another bad decision, and so on it goes….

I, too, look back on my life, as a mother especially, and REGRET WITH ALL MY HEART AND SOUL some really bad, sick decisions I made, which “seemed” right to me at the time, or at least seemed like the best I could do at the time. Kid, I couldn’t even THINK STRAIGHT, I was so wounded, so broken, for so many years… how the heck could I make good healthy decisiona znd choices, when my life was skidding on black ice in thick fog in high winds….. know what I mean?

A saying of the renowned poet Maya Angelou is a life-saver for me. She said:

“You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.”


I’m sending you a Big Hug, Angela, and will be looking for you on facebook.



Angela and Lynda
I have just caught up on your recent comments to each other. What you ladies are doing together here is awesome ~ I really hope that many others read this thread. This is the kind of processing that I did to get all to the bottom of all the lies that were “back there”. Getting to the point where I admitted that I believed there were things that I had done in the past, as an adult, that “PROVED” that I was a bad person, was HUGE healing for me. Getting acceptance and validation from someone was even more healing.

It is horrible that parents can brainwash grandchildren against others. I saw the potential for this before I drew the boundaries with my in laws and my own family. In the case of my mother, I was afraid even when my kids were very young that she was going to “take them aside” and turn them against me, but now that I think about it, she was ALWAYS against me, so what would have changed. This is so much about her sick need to control everything and everyone so that SHE can feel valid. I am so glad that I finally realized that it was not my job to validate her and that I had to learn to validate ME.

I am honoured to have you both on my blog. I am honoured to read your stories, to be a part of the transformations that are taking place.
Thank you both. You are courageous and amazing women!
Love Darlene


I thought you might like to read the more formal process that I used to understand how my belief system formed when I was processing these events. I believe that this is what set my recovery apart from other processes. I just wrote a post that I hope will clearly define the way my mind worked in order to survive, and ended up adding to the damage. You can read it here: How one Trauma led to Several False Belief Systems
Hugs, Darlene


[…] Coping methods and trying to escape myself (with Discussion here on EFB) Categories : Freedom & Wholeness […]


HI All,

What can I say,this is an awesome place to be.I can not read on I have to stop reading this thread,the emotions is too much for me to take it all in at once.I wish I could give you all a hug.I have to take a break and come back to you all.so I will book mark this now.

I am working on women and children affected by violence and abuse.I think I will not stop trying to break the cycle for as long as I live.

I am working on a book for women to tell their stories as it happens to them.

If any of you is interested in having her story in my book let me know.

I have not spoken about my past for sometime now,when ever I do I find myself living it again for days or weeks,I went to the counselor and I could not live for weeks after the first session.amazingly I was so in a hurry to heal so I could move life forward for my kids and I did,in less than 3 months.I would love to share my process with you all on my next post hopefully.

You all take care.

You all deserve the best in this life.I feel you all from this part of the world.I am speechless and grateful to find you all here,where a part of me belong and become very alive.

Thank you for the opportunity to make me feel I am not alone.


Hello Silver. Welcome! I am so glad you are a part of Darlene Ouimet’s awesome healing blog-community.

It is both very hard and very painful, to relive, and to tell about, or to write about, our traumas. It is emotionally and physically very exhausting. Yet I am finding that in speaking, and writing, the truth about my life, especially in this caring community of fellow survivors who believe and accept the truth of my experiences with compassion and understanding, I am becoming FREE.

With regards to the importance of me telling the TRUTH, as I understand the truth to be, about my life and my traumas ~ I have been accused in the past of lying, or of being so crazy that I “didn’t know fact from fiction.” Many people prefer to believe the worst about me, rather than believe that parents could really be so cruel to their children as mine were to me. This is despite the sad fact that there are very often stories in the news about parents murdering their children ~ it HAPPENS, we all KNOW that it happens, and yet people don’t want to believe my story when they hear it. No, my story about my abusive parents never made it to the news ~ but it shouldn’t take much intelligence for people to realize that, for every horrific child abuse story that DOES make the news, there must be many more simmilar stories, of attempted murder, and threatened murder, and other horrific abuses, that never make become known outside the four walls of the family home.

That reality should be obvious. But people prefer not to believe stories like mine, just as some people have decided that the halocaust against the Jews never happened… or they believe that the Jews brought it on themselves somehow… or they believe that the halocaust was horribly exxagerated. Some people will believe this nonsense, so they can keep going on with their merry little lives without having to face with the horrific, and all-too-prevalent, reality of abuse and EVIL.

Before I came across this wonderful healing blog-community of Darlene’s, I have had the experience of telling people about some of my truamas, only to be told, either outright or in subtle hints, that they thought I was lying, or imagining, or exagerating, the whole thing… because they could not, or would not, believe that my parents could have been so cruel to me when I was a little girl?

Now, because I have been so badly retraumatized, in the past, by people basically calling me a crazy liar, I try very hard to be ulta-careful to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, when I relate the stories of my traumas. But sometimes, while I am telling my stories, I get so emotional that a minor detail may be overlooked, or told wrong. And sometimes, I inadvertantly make a mistake in the telling of one of my truamas.

As I was skimming back over the posts here this morning, to see what it was you were commenting about, Silver, I noticed that when I told about my dad threateneing to throw me off a tall suspension bridge when I was a little girl and we were stuck in standstill traffic on the bridge between where we then lived, in Oakland California, and San Francisco, where my mother worked…. I got the name of the bridge wrong. It wasn’t the Golden Gate Bridge that my dad threatened to throw me off of, it was the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which is also a very big, impressive, suspension bridge, located a few miles distant from the Golden Gate, but it is NOT the Golden Gate.

I know it’s just a minor detail, really, but in my quest for honesty I feel that I have to set this error straight, so that if anyone wants to call me a liar, I, at least, will know in my heart that nothing I am saying is a lie, as far as I am aware.

I was still a pre-schooler when my family left California and we moved to Missouri, where I spent the rest of my childhood. When my dad was threatening to throw me off the bridge, I was very young, just a toddler, and I doubt if I even knew, at that moment, the name of the bridge we were on, nor would I probably have been aware, at that age, that bridges even had names. All I knew at the time was that we were on a very tall bridge, and it had intricate ironwork overhead, and it was located near our home in Oakland, and near where my mother worked, in San Fransisco.

Years later, whenever I would see on tv or in a movie or in a magazine, a photo of that world-famous Golden Gate Bridge that is adjacent to San Francisco, my mind would flash back to the trauma of that day when my dad was threatening to throw me off a bridge, and therefore, over the years, my mind put the two things together… photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, and my dad’s terrifying threas.

But now, as I am in the process of writing my own book about my life traumas, “Coming Out of the cRaZy Closet,” I have been researching and verifying my memories, with the aid of online maps and pictures, and I have come to realize that the bridge on which I was so horribly truamatized as a little girl, was not the Golden Gate, but rather the long, tall suspension bridge betweeen Oakland and San Francisco.

Does this fairly minor detail really MATTER? Not in the least. My dad traumatized me when I was a tiny tot, by making me really believe that he was about to toss me off of a very high bridge. The name of the bridge, and the location of the bridge, doesn’t make a bit of difference. I know this!

However, in recent posts on my fb page and blog, I have posted photos of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay bridge, and I’ve told the story of my trauma there, and now here I find this post from 2 months ago when I erroneously stated that the Golden Gate was where I was traumatized. I just wanted to set the record straight… my truama happened, YES, it really did. But, it was a different bridge.

Silver, if you wish to include some of my trauma story in your book, I would be honored. I would want to proofread what you wrote about me first, though, so I could double-check for….. errors!

God bless you, Silver, and take it easy on yourself. In our rush to be fully HEALED, sometimes we overdo, and put ourselves into a depression. It happens to me, and when it does I have to back off for a while. Which is why the writing of my book is going so very slowly. I can write on Darlene’s blog very easily, but writing on my own blog, and in my own book, is hard for some reason.



I’m at a crossroads again. 5 years ago I cut off all contact with my mother because it got to the point where either I do that or she’ll completely overwhelm me and I’ll cease to exist. Now that I’m dealing with the way she brought me up, I’m starting to realize that I’m in the same situation, except this time it’s a battle of me vs. not me. I don’t have distinct personalities, but it takes tremendous effort me to stay present. I actually had an ADHD assessment booked because I thought that’s what was causing my inability to focus. I’m terrified though and I’m not sure how to maintain a full presence, since I don’t think I ever have.
Thank you for this blog and for sharing your experiences.


Hi Dru,
This process effects many areas of our lives and it takes some time to connect. For me I learned to connect to myself and I was able to stay present more and more as time when on. Hang in here and take your time.
Hugs, Darlene


wow. I have to shake my head in amazement sometimes. Darlene you never cease to point out something that connects with my experiences.

I become more and more aware that the answers are within me, but when I forget that I start looking for answers outside of me.
I mistakenly think that validation from others is going to help me.
I think that having more friends is going to help me or losing weight and getting fit is going to help and I come up feeling disappointed and not knowing why. I have to remember that my validation does not come from outside of myself.

Its hard to trust anything when you have had reality so distorted around you. So much so that its difficult to trust the self. And so much of that comes from the fear. That you will make another mistake and that inevitably it will be used to torture the self again and again. When people in your life expect you to accept unfairness as just the way it is and deal with it, you eventually forget what it was that upset you in the first place because now not only are you wrong for the first imaginary or arbitrary offense, but now you are wrong for daring to complain about the situation. on top of trying to cope with the original unfairness. Sigh. I trusted myself. I believed that what was happening was not fair. That the treatment I received was unwarranted. My reward for such self trust was to suddenly find myself divorced. I wanted behavior changes, not to have my entire world turned upside down. I can’t help but shake my head at the wrongness of it all. But I learned. I learned to say no. To say, I need more. To say what was right. Sometimes those are hard choices to make. When tough choices show up, I have found its helpful to remember, that “to thy own self be true”, is only surpassed by “know thyself.”


Hi Mac
This is an excellent comment and I totally relate to so much of it! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and I love your last line:
“When tough choices show up, I have found its helpful to remember, that “to thy own self be true”, is only surpassed by “know thyself.”
Hugs, Darlene


As soon as my counsellor asks “Colin how are you feeling,” I am out of the room. As a child I thought i had invented a fantastic method of coping. We have been working on developing a sense of self and I have began to trust my inner sensing self. Its like finding a whole new side of myself. Now rather than distracting myself and others I want to change, but how do i begin to get in touch with emotions that I sense as fear.


Hi Colin
Welcome to emerging from broken
I was very good at disconnecting and distracting myself and others and the way that I began to stop avoiding those things was to figure out where they originated. When I looked at the actual events that caused me to develop those coping methods in the first place, I was able to comprehend the false messages that were communicated to me about myself. I could see where and why I had those fears and that made it so much easier to face them and learn new ways of dealing.
There is a ton of info in this website about how I drilled down to the real truth.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
Yes it is all about discovering our own truth.

I disconnected from the world as a child neither of my parents were safe to be around, escaped into my head. Emotions were to much to deal with so I numbed myself off from them. Now I can not turn them back on.
As children we have limited coping abilites and distraction allowed me to survive.

I do feel frustration, but then I have lived with this habit a very long time and change is not easy, I think the same issue is still prevalent I fear my emotions, I do not want to feel upset.

How do i begin to allow vulnerability?


Yes, those coping methods were how we survived as children. I had to tell myself over and over again that I was no longer a child. I had to empower myself to go forward. It was like growing up in just a few years even though I was in my 40’s at the time!
I found that being willing to face the pain brought so many answers and just the willingness to go forward caused the process to build on itself.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene (really like the picture here!)

boy is this resonating with me, as it’s only been a few days that I’ve realized it’s myself I’ve been trying to escape through drugs/alcohol. I’ve known all these years I didn’t like myself at all, but all I felt I was escaping was “them”. Their rejection of me, my loneliness as a result. I’ve focused so much on my disconnection from others, feeling like a social bystander, it never occured to me it’s from myself I’m most alienated.

I started 42 years ago at 6 to overeat, and then from 15 to this year drinking and drugs. I can tell from pictures at 6 that I didn’t like myself and was hurting, and as the weight increased my mom shamed me more, and so began a vicious cycle. Food was the only thing soothing me and as I ate I felt worse but at the same time could momentarily forget my big bad self. My dad who went hungry as a kid overate too and he’d let me make my own shopping lists of food I wanted. Mom would pack whole sleeves of crackers in my lunch box to go with my soup when I was 10, I don’t know what she was thinking there since she hated my weight so much. Even at that age she expected me to discipline my eating I guess, they were not involved in that being supremely detached parents. I remember as a young kid sometimes doing like my dad, eating raw hamburger by the bowl, and I, and I alone, getting in shit for it. Honestly what did these people want from me, they didn’t talk to us except to criticize or yell, I lived in a world of tv books and food.

Once I discovered alcohol, I threw myself into that, sneaking what I could, drinking whole bottles of extract, taking from dad’s tranquilizers and liquor, and their only response was anger and calling me sick. There was no getting me help cause dad said I had to solve my own problems. And I did the very best I could, I see now. I had selfish parents who abdicated a huge part of their jobs.

All my life I have felt ‘icky’ about myself, that’s the best word. Like I’m afraid to get close to Doren cause she’s strange and different and not normal like others. I can see now that my self-esteem and self-concept has been so contaminated by their programming. As never before in my life though, I am committed to getting better, and taking the scary leap forward without burying in substances. Substances are all I know or remember; it’s a brave thing for me to do because giving them up is a major reversal of their lies about me. It is the essential step I have to take now, in this process of, as you put it, “coming home to myself”.



Dissociation I experience this I find it extremely disconcerting initially the divides were keeping me from me me from my traumatic memories me and memories all jumbled together. The process for me has been the removing of layers of impositions seeing the reality understanding and accepting what was once my reality. And learning for the first time who the original me is and importantly understanding all the accumulated baggage that does not belong to me. It is literally shedding a load sifting through the debri and allowing the parts to naturally become whole. So far it has been a very difficult and harrowing journey at the same time the only journey that leads me back to me. And I have found so much good that was hidden in the pain. My poetry my songs my love and faith my writing of stories and invention of characters my drawing and painting my natural curiosity joy an happiness my humour and the list goes on I do believe over my youth my sadness became larger than me it overwhelmed me and yet the sun still shone outside. Yes life continued yet I remained locked inside my traumatised mind. This unlocking is taking so long the symptoms awful and I often wonder about this integration people speak of I’m hopeful I will experience this like you have Darlene.


Hi Beverly
Excellent comments! This is what I have done in my process and one day I realized that I was no longer dissociating as a coping method! It does take time but there is hope! Sounds like you are on the path!
Hugs, Darlene


[…] 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 […]


Maybe this was a way of dissociating. I found that I would ” shrink” myself in fearful situations. I remember when I was four and my brother, just a year older. We had made a big messin the house and my mother was very angry. As she approached my brother, he said that Amber did it. I remember crouching in a corner as my mother bent over me, and alternating slapping both sides of my face real hard several times. Maybe that is when I learned to crouch and shrink. I did this in other ways too. I shrunk my dreams, wishes and needs down to the point where I would ask for nothing as the smallest thing could lead to an angry reaction from my mother. I also would never speak up when someone wronged me and would often freeze up like a deer in the headlights. This still sometimes happens now, where I freeze and don’t respond. I think it may be a form of shrinking myself to stay safe. I feel great fear when this happens as idpf something awful will happen if I give any response. There are times when I force myself to respond. It is still difficult to do this. I try to remind myself that I am unlikely to actually get hit by someone, although being shouted at was nearly as unpleasant when my mother would do it, and I fear that happening as well. It does feel good to vent about this!


Yes about dissociating! I can really relate Amber and Beverly and Darlene. I have a slumped posture…someone once described it as “scrunched” and she was right. When I’m aware of it, I also shrink emotionally in response to other people’s strong emotions e.g. reduced eye contact, looking away, not responding, not being “there”. And if I dig further, I have a shrunken way of being in the world that manifests as: not noticing my surroundings in the detail that other people do, being “in my head”, keeping conversation surface when I feel uneasy, feeling strong emotions much later especially anger. I once had a therapist ask me in a session “Where did you go?” and it was true that I went somewhere in my mind and wasn’t in the conversation anymore.

Lately I’ve been digging even deeper and I think I have shrunken my dreams and goals, not seen myself as worthy of a love relationship, and have become somewhat stuck in my small world. The good news is that I am becoming healthier and more aware of these behaviors and am trying to overcome them. Sometimes I think there is a reservoir of deep fear of which I am only vaguely aware. I didn’t have a model for living-in-the-present emotionally and it’s been a work in process to learn how to respond genuinely and in tune with what I’m feeling, and say things like “I don’t know what to say” or “I feel confused” or “I’m having strong feelings and need a break” or whatever. In the past I didn’t have a way to put words to those feelings!

Great topic Amber and Beverly and Darlene!!


Light, I can also relate to the things you wrote about. I never really thought about the shrinking until very recently. It’s almost as if I was trying to make myself disappear so I wouldn’t be in someone’s way, or do something they would get angry about, and of course, I needed to protect myself from punishment. I really feared expressing any feelings, wants, or needs. It always led to trouble. I think I shrunk so people wouldn’t notice me, and maybe I could stay out of trouble. Funny that people managed to find me anyway if they needed something to be done or if they needed a scapegoat. There is definitely a lot of fear associated with this. As I described in message 28, I belong Eve the shrinking originated when I was four and crouched and covered my face to try to avoid my mother’s hands slapping my face.

Love get I am happy to hear that you are becoming healthier and more aware of what is going on. That’s how I started almost three years ago. It is a long process but so worth it.

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