Defined as the Problem by the Age of Four by Carrie H.

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Broken Bottle 2

Carrie H. first guest posted here on Emerging from Broken in March and her post “Self Love and Navigating the Waters of Grief” was a big hit. Carrie writes with passion and beautiful emotional imagery and I am excited to publish her second post. Please help me welcome Carrie back with her second contribution here as we light the path to emotional healing by shedding light on the empowering truth. ~ Darlene Ouimet

Defined as the Problem by the Age of Four  by Carrie H.

Bottle Breaker

When I was very young, maybe three or four, my mom asked me to carry some glass bottles up the concrete steps leading up to a neighbor’s house.  On the first trip I dropped a bottle and it shattered.  My mother was very upset with me, but she let me try again.  This time, I was so nervous that I would drop the bottle that it slipped through my fingers and broke.   She was furious.  She yelled at me.  I don’t remember exactly what she said but it made me feel like she thought I had intentionally broken the bottle just to upset her.  There was no way to prove that wasn’t true.  It was the first time I felt trapped behind a lie about myself that I couldn’t prove wrong.  

It was the first time I felt like I was screaming into the wind and my words were carried away.  It was the first time I felt like I was placed into a box; a box with glass walls that gave the illusion of freedom.  A box I couldn’t escape, yet couldn’t prove was there.  No matter how hard I tried (and still try), I couldn’t escape that box.  How could I possibly prove that dropping the bottle was an accident???  How could I possibly prove I wasn’t unkind?  Eventually I adapted to being trapped in that glass box labeled “unkind” and “selfish” and I became comfortable.  So comfortable that even I stopped seeing the walls.  

Until one day I stumbled upon them.

 I realize that I’ve been trying to prove that wasn’t me my whole life.  The little girl who broke a bottle on purpose.  The selfish person who would intentionally hurt another.  But it turns out that my family won’t see me any other way.  I’ve left the box but they won’t see me unless I climb back in.  I’ve tried so hard to shout but once again I am yelling in the wind.  

I took my whole family to therapy to figure out which steps everyone was taking to create the destructive dance we have been moving to our whole lives.  I was called “unforgiving.”

I asked my mom one thing she would change about herself so that I would know for sure that she was capable of dancing a new, healthy step.  I was called a “brooding teenager.”

I sent my father an email asking why he hadn’t spoken to me for two months and hadn’t even tried to see his grandchild in that time.  I was called “critical.”

My husband sent my parents an email trying to explain why things are as they are now, how we never got an apology after we were told time and time again (falsely) that something was wrong with our child.  He ended the email wishing them love and light and courage.  We were called “disrespectful.”  

There is nothing I can do to convince them that I am a nice person who is trying to help them not out of malice but out of love.  There is nothing I can show them to prove to them that love is about growth and becoming healthy in how we relate to one another.  There is nothing I can say to communicate that I want them in my life but I want us all to treat each other with genuine love.  

To them I will always be selfish, critical, judgmental, and unforgiving. I will always be the little girl who shattered a glass bottle on purpose. And I don’t want to be treated that way anymore.  Because as many times as they convince themselves its true, as many stories they construct so that I’m the villain, it will never be the truth. It is not the truth about me.  And I want to live in truth.  I want my child to see me living in truth.  The little girl inside me is tired of shouting out to her family that they’ve got her wrong! I am tired of trying to show them and prove to them that they have falsely defined me

I am not a bottle breaker, I am a truth teller.  

Carrie H.

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151 response to "Defined as the Problem by the Age of Four by Carrie H."

  1. By: Kaycee Posted: 30th June

    Hi Eddie, it is nice to find other people who actually really get it, makes me feel not so crazy. I am amazed there are so many of us and so relieved to find there is a growing body of literature out there to support people who have been what we have been through.

    Identifying people who have endured narcissistic abuse should be required for every therapist in training. I am saddened when I see other boards for depression and such and can easily recognize someone like us yet everyone is giving them the “forgive and forget” advice and “your Mom really does love you” stuff. You know it may years or it may be never that these people find the key to why they feel the way they do.

    Today I am working on terror. My Mom used fear and to control me. If I did not do what she said something terrible would happen and when bad things did happen, somehow it was always my fault. Normal testing of boundaries for me turned into traumas that I am just now trying to resolve, decades after they happened. My sister soon picked up on my Mom’s tricks and used them to make me always do whatever it was she wanted “Fine you don’t have to go with me but if you don’t I will get kidnapped and murder and it will be all your fault.”

    Now as an adult I terrorize myself, it has an almost OCD quality to it. If I do everything right nothing bad will happen and if it does, it wont be my fault. Fear is on of my biggest hurdles.

  2. By: Eddie Posted: 29th June

    I just want to add a comment here about how is amazes me to read about the perseverance of members here and their refusal to give into the belief that they are the problem as so many in our FOO would have us believe. To say that each and every one of you are “strong” makes that seem like such an inadequate word. I often reflect back on my own history and wonder how I have made it these 5+ decades – childhood sexual and physical abuse, emotional wreckage, teen years of drug abuse brought on by the former, leading to suicide attempt, along with alcohol dependency learned from an alcoholic father, decades of DENIAL that there was any problem, the list goes on and on. How on earth did we all make it this far? Darlene, you have been an inspiration to me on so many of your writings here on your blog. I know I don’t contribute much or often, but I read silently in the background, absorbing, healing, and with a thankful heart. Thank you all for sharing your past and your pain, I can’t begin to tell each of you how it feels to not feel alone in my thoughts, because I know so many of you have had those same thoughts. Back to the shadows now, but again, thank you one and all. 🙂

  3. By: Kaycee Posted: 29th June

    I asked my Mom very specifically to not run me over. Like at the last family gathering I was talking to a person about the fact that I had just pulled my son out of the private school he was attending because his teacher was being mean to him to the point where he pretending to be sick to come home in the middle of the day. My Mom barged into my conversation, said it all worked out for the best because my son was doing great in his new school and that now it was time for me to focus on the future and talk about the good things in his new school not his old one.

    I also told her that it was not okay that I’m not allowed to talk about my childhood(she put her foot down about that about 25 years ago) but she could say things like I was so “lost” in school as i child (I was being abused badly by her second husband and scapegoated by her).

    My sister talks about how she had to leave college to come home and help my Mother with me because I was so out of control, so not true(she was too enmeshed with my Mother to be away and doesn’t do friendships well), but everyone in my family believes them.

    It is not just what they say. The looks my sister gives me when she says these things,they are lethal like “You know you ruined my life” it is a shaming thing, like she has given up so much because of me. She sits on her golden throne and acts like she is a good person because she still allows me in her presence.

    My Mom acts like she is patting herself on the back for sending me to a very small private school because I got lost in the big public school (my Grandparents paid for it though, not her). I was curled up in a ball, I hid behind curtains of hair, I felt like a circus freak because that is how I was treated at home. I was scared out of my wits most of the time. I might as well have had a target on my back at school, but I was like that because of what was happening at home. But my Mom is so self righteous when she says it, like I was such a troubled child and she was benevolent and caring and rescued me from myself by sending me to a private school to save me from all of my deficiencies.

    My family isn’t always horrible to me, but I always feel horrible around them. I never know when the next zinger will come, who it will come in front of or why.

    When my sister had her children she made sure to mention over and over the entire list of people she was leaving her children to if something happened to her. All of her husbands siblings were on the list, but I was not. She made sure to go through that list as I was struggling with infertility, usually right after one of my miscarriages.

    When I graduated from college, she told me at my graduation party that she had the most important job in the world, being a mother. By that time I had all but given up on ever having a successful pregnancy. It was another 10 years after that when I finally did have a child of my own.

    My Mom canonizes my sister, she calls her an old soul, acts like she is the Madonna of all Mother’s. She often looks at me with disgust and acts horrified over my parenting. My sister is an engulfing Mother, she has kept her children sheltered.

    I had many plans for how I was going to raise my son, but to my surprise when he was born I realized he was his own person and he has his own ideas and his own plans lol. I give him the kind of freedom that honors his needs, his temperament and this doesn’t always sit so well with my family. But he is a happy, well adjusted little guy. He doesn’t have the kinds of awards my sister’s children have, he probably isn’t going to be valedictorian or have presidential scholarships like my sisters kids, but I don’t make him sit at the table doing homework four hours a night or give up his time to socialize on weekends like my sister did with her kids. If I did that he would be just miserable.

    So much of the shaming in my family is covert. It’s like everyone is walking on a tightrope above the rest of the world and that makes us special somehow, like everything that isn’t sanctioned by the Queen is beneath us. I’m the one who is always upsetting the balance and they see themselves as superior people just for putting up with me, but they also see it as their duty. I do not ever feel like an equal around them and that is what I asked my Mom, to be treated like an equal. She ignored that email too.

    L, what a poignant picture that is, having to erase all traces of yourself because you do have the same privileges as the rest of the family, but your presence will be tolerated as long as you provide maid services. “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong” I so get how that feels.

    Darlene, I have been a train wreck at times in my adult life and my Mom has called in the troops to help me from myself, like when my husband and I separated, when I ended up the psych ward wanting to kill myself. Once when I got really, really drunk and asked her to pick me up she drove me straight to the hospital and arranged for me to have substance abuse treatment (extreme over reaction, I thought). She has given me money from time to time, she helped pay for some of my college. I am pretty sure those are the things she is talking about. She is always at her best when I am at my worst.

  4. By: L Posted: 29th June

    Darlene and Kaycee,

    I’m with you both on all of that. I’ve had some pretty heated conversations with my mom and the next hour it’ll be like nothing happened. Thinking back, over the years I’ve brought up the dysfunction in small ways and the response was always an irritated “Well, what do you want me to do about it,” me answering that question, getting told it’s not possible, and then them pretending like everything is ok. Lather rinse repeat.

    Something I’ve recently noticed is that I always feel like I have to leave the house spotless and clean up after myself constantly, to make it like I wasn’t even there. This feeling even followed me when I was living in an apartment alone, with only my own space to consider. But it was like my mom was constantly following me around in my head telling me to clean this, clean that, that should be there, etc. But, looking around my family’s house where hopefully I’ll only be staying for a very short while longer, I see their messes all the time. So again, my presence is a nuisance, but theirs is ok.

  5. By: L Posted: 29th June

    Kaycee: I can relate so much to feeling like you’re back at square one and that your mother ignores you ever having said anything. My mother is the same. It’s like what I say has no bearing on anything, ever, and she goes back to talking to me like I’m 5.

  6. By: Kaycee Posted: 29th June

    It is funny. I have worked so hard on this stuff. I wrote my letter, talked to my therapist about it. I felt so strong and in just one split second, all that work I did, all of that strength I felt was flipped on its head and I am that little girl who is hurting her Mother by having feelings again and I am filled with shame, fear, self doubt, self hatred and hopelessness.

    When I called my Mother out on ignoring me she said she knows I had a crappy childhood, she is sorry but she has spent the last 30 years making it up to me and she can’t change the past.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 29th June

      Hi Kaycee
      This happened to me too, and those feelings are the result of the same ‘dismissive’ treatment. Ask yourself (or you mother) this; how has she spent the last 30 years trying to make it up to you? What are you asking her to change that she can’t change?
      hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Kaycee Posted: 29th June

    I tried confronting my Mother, asking her to respect my boundaries. It is bizarre how she can just ignore me, act like I have said nothing and the next time she sees me she will just pretend nothing was said. I am so worthless to her I do not even deserve the respect of acknowledgment.

    I am realizing that unless she can be in a position of rescuing me from a crisis, I am not and will not ever be important to her.

    My childhood was wrought with crisis. My Mom would over expose me, violate my privacy, share everything about me with everyone and make a production out of rescuing me.

    I am having a hard time with this acceptance phase, the getting to the point where my mind isn’t obsessing on how to make my Mother see what she has done and change and be a real Mom. I am having a hard time seeing how to get from this feeling of needing her to love me so badly to to being okay with knowing she never will.

  8. By: Carrie H. Posted: 23rd June

    Kelly – awesome! Thank you for sharing.
    Joy – Yes, going back into that box is not something I want to do either! It does hurt not having family but it hurts even more trying to get back into a box.
    Cathryn – Thanks for sharing ?
    FinallyFree – Yes, it is disgusting to me as well. Luckily when we do this work we break the cycle from continuing.
    Karen – so sorry to hear that you had such a rough childhood. No child should be subjected to that treatment.
    Kaycee – Yes, stepping out of the scapegoat role is hard because it is so engrained. So glad that we are doing it now.
    Quietly Emerging – So awesome that you are becoming who you always were ?
    Alice and Hobie – I struggle with this as well. Why do we need to be around people who treat us poorly? Would we remain friends with someone who treated us that way? Why does “family” get a pass?
    Spence – Thanks for the share.
    Darlene – Thank you! I love reading your words. They make me feel stronger!!
    Eddie – How terrible for you to have gone through that. I’m so glad you realized that you are not the problem. So glad that you broke free of that dysfunction.
    Hobie – “the only way her behavior makes sense is if I stop trying to connect any of it with love.” Exactly. There are a lot of people out there with skewed definitons of love. I find that the people who say things like “well she’s your mother” or “she loves you” often have their own childhood wounds they don’t want to face. People who came from loving families get it.

  9. By: Kaycee Posted: 20th June

    Thanks DXS and Hobie. I am dealing with the feeling that saying nothing is in a way letting her rest in the idea she is right. I struggle with a few other things as well. I have studied my family history and have identified an insidious pattern of abuse, scapegoating and intense shaming. I have even talked to people from different branches of our tree on ancestry.com that confirm they too have seen this phenomenon on their sides of our tree.

    The stories we hear about many people in our tree (so many who have died prematurely) are so negative. While I am certain some of the scapegoats and shame absorbers ended up abusers themselves, many just lived out sad lives suffering as the black sheep.

    Even after their deaths, the shame deflectors/projectors of the family made sure the distorted stories, the lies, the covert “poor Linda, she just never could get her act together and we all tried so hard to help her” followed the scapegoats to their graves and became their memorials.

    I don’t want that. I want to scream “Liars, liars” from the mountain tops, I want to expose them and tell the truth. You know the kind of stuff that has always gotten me into so much trouble with my family lol.

    That and I shudder when I think about what my own legacy will be.
    I recently talked a bit to my Mom about her younger sister, my Aunt who died at 42. When my Aunt was dying, her Father (my Grandfather) openly wondered to me whether or not she was being punished by God for all of the running around she did as a teenager. My Mom said she slept around a lot and brushed off my Grandpa’s comments as being a “religious thing.”

    This Aunt had the self worth of a dead fly. She manged to get married and stay married the second time, have three children and build a life, but I think her inner landscape probably looked a lot like ours. She struggled, struggled with herself and struggled with her place in the family and with the relationships in her own nuclear family. I took care of her sometimes during the two years she was dying. I know that she only slept with two men both, both of whom she married.

    Yet 24 years later, after being married for over two decades and raising a family the distortions, exaggerations and lies were being told to her niece,that she was some kind of hellion. I identify a great with my aunt. I think even if she had slept with 30 men in her teens that information should be protected as her private business, not something to be passed down to the next generation. I have been given the same honors as my Aunt.

    My teenage escapades did not even come close to resembling the stuff my friends were doing, they were rather unexceptional give or take a couple of highlights. But in family lore I was wild and out of control requiring great “tough love” efforts from my martyr Maddonna Mother who did things like trick me into walking into a house where the whole family would be waiting for an intervention over my latest boyfriend.

    I just don’t want what happened to my Aunt to happen to me you know? I want my side of the story out there.

  10. By: DXS Posted: 19th June

    I guess I haven’t fully accepted my Mother’s limitations.

    Kaycee, I’m having the same problem. I so want my mom to say, “You were right, I was wrong, I’m very sorry.” But she thinks she did nothing wrong. My feelings are hurt, I’m “too sensitive.”

    Also, Mom doesn’t “get it” about messages being heard versus what was said. To her, she said what she said and I should “hear” what she said. But I hear different “messages” than what she actually SAYS. That’s been proven over and over in books and training classes. Mom thinks this is crap.

  11. By: DXS Posted: 19th June

    The point I am making is that if you change on the inside, even if you didn’t tell anyone about the healing you’ve done, it’s bound to be visible

    Had that issue at work today. A woman who had been there three years did not like the fact that I knew something she didn’t (with me being a newbie…) or me asking managers questions instead of her. She bit my head off. I told myself that she had issues and she was a poop and I ignored her. Later she gave me a suggestion but did it in a more “civil” way that I did not find condescending. I still think she is a poop and I will continue to ignore her.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd June

      Hi Everyone!!! The e-book ~ MY BOOK!! “Emerging from Broken ~ The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” is finally almost ready to publish!! One of the big things left to do is collect the endorsements. And how better to get them then ask for them from YOU ~ my readers and the commenters here on the website!! Please help me by sharing the impact that this website has had on you on my new post here:
      https://emergingfrombroken.com/emerging-from-broken-book-news-and-my-birthday-wishes/ I hope you will consider helping me out with this!
      Thanks everyone, hugs, Darlene

  12. By: DXS Posted: 19th June

    The question I must ponder, is do I play the fake game? It is in essence what I have always done.

    Can’t answer this for you, but I played the fake game for YEARS! Then I moved 3,000 miles away and “found me.” Then, it was ME for 363 days a year and “FAKE IT” for 2 days a year (I always made sure it was ONLY two days at Christmas, citing “gotta get around blackout dates with the airlines….”)

    My mom and I played the same game. Instead of telling the truth, we justified our own hidden agenda.

    I am now trying to get to TRUTH with her.

  13. By: Hobie Posted: 19th June

    I confronted my mother a couple of months ago – I sent her a letter listing the ways that I had been hurt by her. She responded, to my surprise, and my husband went to speak to her. After he tried to explain to her what I was hoping for, I heard nothing until a few days ago. She called my husband and said “I have nothing to offer so there will be no discussion.”

    She doesn’t understand why I need to talk about anything. She doesn’t talk to anyone about anything. Why can’t I just forget about being molested and abused most of my life and keep quiet so that I look normal?

    The thing I’m having the most trouble with today is how many times people who are so kind and helpful in so many ways want to try to tell me that my mother really does love me, she just doesn’t know how to express it (or something like that). I don’t even know what to do with that concept. Am I supposed to find that little evidence in the midst of all her neglect and abuse and feel good about who – her or me? Does it make it OK to mistreat me for most of my lifetime because she had occasional warm feelings toward me underneath all the criticism? Is this supposed to help me forgive her?

    It’s not OK that she has treated me so badly for so long, and trying to acknowledge that somehow under all the crap she loved me only makes it all harder to understand and somehow just plain WORSE!

    Somehow I know it’s really up to me to decide what I’m willing to believe here, but I’m having a really hard time allowing myself to just say to myself that she DIDN’T love me! No matter what anyone else wants to believe about her, the only way her behavior makes sense is if I stop trying to connect any of it with love.

    Anybody else have this problem?

  14. By: Kaycee Posted: 19th June

    The fake game in my family is nothing is wrong, everything is fine and exactly the way it should be. It doesn’t matter if we are hurting inside, we smile, we never rock the boat, discuss things openly. Unless it’s me and my problems, those we expose and talk about.

    I am guessing it has a lot to with my Mother’s narcissistic wounding, she is unable to discuss my childhood and to be honest I think she flies on automatic pilot most of the time. I think a great deal of the scapegoating that comes my way, the way she always sort of runs me over by trying to rescue me, telling me what I should like, what I should do, how I should improve myself are so habitual an ingrained in her that it never occurs to her they are harmful to me.

    A lot of what I am reading about healing is we reach a point where that stuff just doesn’t bother us anymore, but that bothers me. I want to confront her and tell her she is wrong about me because if I just let it roll off of me, she will never hear my side,

    Which of course brings me back to square one, I guess I haven’t fully accepted my Mother’s limitations. I just have a hard time seeing this healing work unfold without ever convincing her that she has been wrong and has been projecting on me my whole life. I know I have to get out of the space where my healing imagery includes making her see. But if she can’t see the real me, all we will ever have is the fake game she created, which includes me as somebody else other than who I am with a history that is grossly distorted.

  15. By: Amber Posted: 19th June

    Hi Kaycee, I’m not clear on what you mean by the “fake game” so it’s hard to address that part of your message. Maybe you can clarify it more.
    I too functioned on the bottom rung of my family ladder. Being the only daughter, especially the daughter of a woman who hated girls cemented my position there.
    I don’t talk much to others about the process I am going through and the healing. Just once in a while I may discuss a particular issue or experience. I’m basically healing on my own. Perhaps some day I will talk more about it but I don’t feel that I want to do it now. I can tell you though that I have already done some healing and have set some boundaries ( though I still find it very hard) with people. I am noticing some differences like some people being a little more wary of me because all of a sudden Im not rolling over and playing dead. I’m noticing that I am talking more in groups because I am focusing less on ” what are people gonna think of me?” And more on just expressing my thoughts. These are just some of the things I’ve noticed that are different about me as I heal, and Im sure people see a difference on the outside. When I first started my healing process I remember writing on here about a neighbor that I used to be friends with who became very rude and discounting towards me. At that time I was still trying to be nice and saying hello in hopes that she would act differently. Well, I stopped doing that because I realized how much she disrespected and discounted me and asked myself why I would even want someone like her for a friend? I just ignore her now. I’m sure she has seen the change in me. It’s not that it matters whether or not this person sees a difference. The point I am making is that if you change on the inside, even if you didn’t tell anyone about the healing you’ve done, it’s bound to be visible

  16. By: Kaycee Posted: 19th June

    I am working on deciding whether or not there is any chance of my Mother having any kind of relationship. I keep thinking she is not as bad as some of the Mothers I read about here lol.

    I actually wrote her an email asking if we could talk with the condition it would be private, between her and I. She sent back a link for some coupons but hasn’t answered me yet and I’m kind of guessing that it my answer.

    I’m a Mom and I know no matter what, where or when if my child said he needed to talk to me I would be there for him unconditionally and I would not need time to think about it. So I guess I am in step one, accepting the fact my Mother is not capable of having a real Mother/daughter relationship with me. Wow, that’s just so painfully huge. I have to remember that I am not a child experiencing this rejection now, I am stronger, all grown up. I already made it through that even though I am just learning how to admit it and accept it.

    The question I must ponder, is do I play the fake game? It is in essence what I have always done. I just function on the bottom rung of the ladder in my family. I wonder what will happen as I heal, how that will look, will they all just think everything is the same and I will be the only one who knows anything is different because I won’t hurt anymore inside?

  17. By: DXS Posted: 19th June

    Kaycee, thank you! I guess I’m still in “other people have it worse than you” mode. Gotta get out of that!

  18. By: Hobie Posted: 18th June

    Kaycee – Thank you for sharing that. It’s important to know that there’s not a competition going on for whose story was worst. It’s something I often say to other people, but I can sometimes find myself thinking that I haven’t had it as bad as this or that other person.

    Your explanation helps.

  19. By: Kaycee Posted: 18th June

    DXS, Just a small thought I learned from a very wise Grief and Loss group leader after my fourth miscarriage. In group, she never let us go to that place where we minimized our loss by saying someone else’s was more profound. She was adamant about that. She had lost a child to leukemia at the age of 18. She said that the one thing she learned through her own loss and the decades she spent ministering to others who experienced pain and loss was that the feelings and the experiences needed to be held in a sacred space for healing and never, ever compared or minimized, whether it was the loss of a child, a pet, a parent, a divorce or grieving a lost childhood. She insisted minimization of any kind was a way to stuff feelings and all pain needed to be held on equal ground in group in order to heal.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th June

      Kaycee and DXS
      Excellent comments Kaycee. It is so very important not to minimize any of our trauma. It is a childhood survival technique to minimize our own trauma ~ we do it to comfort ourselves when there is no other comfort and it becomes a habit but it is like dismissing ourselves the same way we have been dismissed by others. Learning to validate myself went MILES towards my healing.
      hugs, Darlene

  20. By: DXS Posted: 18th June

    Wow, Eddie, just wow!!!!!!

    I am the eldest, but I was defined as a “problem” because of being too precocious. My parents didn’t know how to deal with a precocious kid. Ok, I’m not like Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang Theory, not THAT precocious. Just too precocious for a small town. So, sweep it under the rug, I’m the problem.

    But your story is way way way worse than mine.

  21. By: Eddie Posted: 18th June

    Hi Carrie,

    I can well relate to being defined as “the problem” from an early age. I was born the final child of 3, all boys. My father had wanted me to be a girl, but when I was born with the wrong genitalia, well, what a disappointment. He had already picked out a girls name for me, but when I wasn’t a girl he told my mother to name me – essentially, the message was that I wasn’t “right”, so he was handing me down like old clothes that someone else might find useful. He had named both my older brothers after himself, middle name to one, first name to another.

    As you can imagine, nothing else went right from that point forward between my father and myself. After I was born, he had himself “fixed” so that he couldn’t make that “mistake” again. I’ve never felt any relationship with my father other than one of fear. He was physically abusive when I was growing up, an alcoholic, and even now, as an old man in his late 70s, with failing health, and not much time left, he has no desire for any sort of relationship. To put it bluntly, I’m waiting for him to die. I hate to say it, I know it is horrible, but it will be a relief when it happens. I keep thinking that I’ll feel a sense of final release, but then again, maybe I’ll never feel that.

    Having been sexually abused at the age of 12 by a relative, I’ve never forgiven my father for the distance that was between us that allowed that abuse to occur. If he had been the type of father that he should have been, then I could possibly have told him what was occurring. But I didn’t because I was afraid of him. And I still hate him for that. I’ve never told him or my mother about that dark period in my life, it lasted for about a year until I was 13. And I never will tell them because I know what their response will be – to blame me for not telling them. I won’t allow that.

    So, to close, I’m not “the problem”, I already know that. Thank you for reminding me of that truth.

  22. By: Dave Posted: 1st June

    Thank you to everyone for more helpful insights with your own experiences that I relate to.

    Re: Alice’s comment #104, I do not think we necessarily CHOOSE to be angry as if we enjoy being angry as a result from being hurt over and over throughout our lives.

    I can only speak for myself and my abusive family didn’t want me to get angry as a result of them hurting me and mocked me for being hurt or pointing out when inappropriate things were done and said.

    I too feel like a truth speaker, who has to point out when something isn’t right and was punished for that, and for a time learned not to say anything, but that is changing.

    I survived 35 to 40 years of varying forms of family abuse, being the black sheep, scapegoat and so on.

    7 to 12 years later, now, being no contact with ALL family, I feel better than I ever did, but it is difficult to unlearn all that my family taught me to believe about myself.

    That I would fail without them still haunts me even though I have largely been on my own and ok without them.

    I too gave my family a choice to be civil and have mutual respect and I tried that over and over until I finally realized they didn’t want to respect me or even have me around.

    My family made it clear and I knew it when I was about 4, that they didn’t want me, but they would SAY they did when I asked as a kid and into adulthood.

    They blame me for going no contact but they are the ones who CHOSE not to call or write or to stop the abusive behavior.

    Anyway, thank you as always Darlene and everyone for sharing in this safe, encouraging and supportive place.

    It is a beautiful day here and I just want not to be haunted by sickening fears that my family is right about me, and that I will fail and do not deserve to be loved by anyone, etc. Yuck to that brainwashing!

    EFB does help me get through each and every day. Thank you all.

    I am going to go feed our tiny dogs and be with my wonderful wife, all of whom love me.

    Peace and hugs to all

  23. By: Spence Posted: 1st June

    Darlne.
    Thank you SO MUCH for that advice. I think will be my next step – to look at the situation with adult eyes and sort through everything. Maybe then I will find the true me so that I can start protecting her! 🙂

  24. By: Spence Posted: 31st May

    Growing up, I seemed to have gone through a vicious cycle. I, too was the child who “told the emperor that he was not wearing any clothes.” Whenever there was something wrong, I was the first to speak up. But, because of my narcissistic mother, I was immediately punished and then told that I was nothing but a troublemaker. Unfortunately, this has affected my judgment as an adult. I have difficulty determining when it is the right time to speak up when someone or something is wrong. Trusting myself is a foreign thing.

    Hobie, I also agree with you when you said, “Putting up with some difficult people may be necessary at times, but I don’t believe I will get to a point that I can let cruelty roll off my back without numbing myself, and that just destroys the part of me that feels empathy and receives kindness. That’s not worth it.”
    Empathy was looked upon as a weakness in our family. The only way to gain acceptance from family members was to join them in their sick game of degrading and belittling EVERYONE. All I could see was that this type of behavior was affecting my attitude negatively. Also, why would I want to feel any empathy towards these heartless and cruel family members or anyone else who does this? Besides, denying anyone empathy makes me feel horrible. But, I believe that empathy is one of my positive traits and I refuse to give it up.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 1st June

      I just published a NEW article on the homepage!
      This one is about Victim Blaming and it is about when YOU are blamed for the core of your pain. This is a huge issue for children who grew up in dysfunction and didn’t actually realize how deep the brainwashing went, which makes it easier for other people to blame them (for other people to make you think maybe it is actually YOU that is at fault) for the difficulties in their relationships!
      Hope to have a great discussion there! “Victim Blaming ~ When you are Blamed for the Core of your Pain”
      hugs, Darlene

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