Do You Still Wonder if the Problem was You?


11193235_10150494860694990_2117857759400112567_nWhen I began to see my life through the grid of “what happened to me” instead of through asking myself (and others) “what’s wrong with me” I was able to see things with new eyes and a new understanding based more on the truth instead of the lies I believed about myself that formed from the ways I was regarded and disregarded growing up. I write about how I accomplished that here in this website all the time. But what about after we have realized that it’s what happened to us, and not what is wrong with us? Although the healing process isn’t an overnight thing, there are a few things that I learned to do in order to pull myself back up when I felt weak or when I started thinking that maybe it really was me that was the problem after all.

When I began to see things through that more truthful grid of understanding, I was able to change those self-doubts into the understanding that I deserved and always had deserved better treatment. Every time I tried to understand WHY these people did this stuff to me or why they didn’t see me or hear me, I reminded myself that their actions and disregard of me was about them and it didn’t define me; I reminded myself that that I deserved better. It doesn’t really matter what is wrong with them, I just have to know (through looking at the truth leaking details) that I am not who they said I was.

And even though I built a really solid new foundation for my new self-esteem, something that I got stuck in on and off for a while was constantly questioning if I was being too judgemental of the people in my life that were discounting me. I kept going back to that old belief that maybe it was me.

Once we have begun building a new foundation based on the truth about who we really are instead of based on how we were taught who we are, we can bring change to our self-talk as well but just how do we do that and really stay strong in the new belief that we are worthy and just as valuable as every other human being?

And this is the subject of my new Video interview with Abuse Survivor, Coach, speaker, blogger and facilitator Svava Brooks for the Journey to the Heart Online Summit.

This video summit interview is no longer available. 

In my interview I talk about how I went forward on the journey back to me on those days when I had self-doubts. After I realized that it was the false definitions of who I am and who I was that were at the root of the problem there were some key things I did in order to move forward and I share some really great tools that I developed and used to move get unstuck and get stronger and you can use those tools too.

Register for the Journey to the Heart Summit and listen to my interview. I am going to talk about how I still use these same tools to get over that particular stick point of thinking that maybe I am the one who is wrong or that maybe I really did deserve the way I was treated and I use these tools to help my clients to do that too.

This complimentary Summit starts on Friday Jan. 15th 2016 and you can listen and watch the videos at your convenience, but it’s only free for a limited time.

When you register for the Journey to the Heart online Summit you will have access not only to my interview~ there are over 20 other healing experts participating so for a limited time you will be able to listen to them all at your convenience.

Please register today ~ The Summit goes live on Friday Jan. 15th 2016. Remember; I’m sharing some specific tools that I still use to this day to put myself on the fast track to getting over any stick points that may come up. There is no cost and no obligation. See all the details here. Journey To The Heart Online Summit 

The Last Summit I participated in with Svava was a huge success! This one is all NEW and I am really excited about it. Will you join me and all the other experts?

Darlene Ouimet

Are you aware of the The Emerging from Broken bookThe Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing 

Categories : Freedom & Wholeness



I feel like I’m to blame for everything and then feel bad I think that because thinking that must mean I’m selfish and the train of feeling responsible for everything goes on and on. I just hurt but hate to say that because I feel like I say it too often, if not all the time. I feel bad about how many times I type I. Frustrating and exhausting.


Amazing timing! I was just talking about this with my husband. I’m already signed up for the summit and looking forward to it.

It’s hard to stop asking myself if there was anything I could have done to avoid all the criticism.



Oh gosh, this is right where I am at. I fell like I am riding Miley’s wrecking ball like a pendulum. I am writing down my insights now, my memories so that when I start to question, I can remember all of the “Ah Ha” moments.

I get really confused because, as difficult as it is for me to admit, I have some tendencies and behaviors that are not so great, even somewhat narcissistic. I start questioning if it was me all of the time and they are the only hope I have at survival.

I am getting really good at catching myself now when I am not being authentic, when I am in some sort of a emotional flashback and responding in unhealthy ways that do not reflect my true feelings or intentions.

It is really good to hear healing isn’t just a switch, that once you mentally get what happened everything changes in an instant, that doubt is part of the process. Thank you Darlene!


I also struggle in the depths of my heart with the want, the need to push all of the work I have done, all of the research, all of the therapy, all of the supporting literature up there noses and prove to them that I am valid in what I have experienced. I know that means I have a way to go, but that urge, oh my gosh, it is almost unbearable at times.


I, too, wonder if I’m too critical at times. This was especially prominent when confronting my NM, me refusing to take back the responsibility I dropped at her feet for my childhood abuse, and her resultant allegation that I was emotionally abusing HER! I know logically, agree with and embrace the fact that I was not at fault, had no choice, deserved safety, soothing, protection, and love, but emotionally the record has a scratch and the needle gets stuck in the groove. I know that one of the biggest obstacles I am going to have to overcome in my healing is my intellectualization of things. I get stuck in my head and it impairs my ability to make the emotional shifts I want and need to make. I’m working on acknowledging that I know of its presence, showing myself gratitude for revealing itself to my consciousness, and doing my best to give it patience, love, soothing, and compassion until it, itself is ready for the big shift. Oh how happy I will be when that happens. . . I think. You never know what’s around the next bend with the healing journey.


Hi Michelle, I completely had the same experience when I confronted my Mother. Her answer was the same as your Mother’s answer. By simply stating the truth about what happened to me, I was abusing her. They are always the victim. I have been in my head for some time now. It is so much easier to rationalize, to think the thoughts, than it is to feel the feelings.It is hard to get to the point where you feel the feeling and say,oh, yeah, this is the same feeling I had when such and such happened to me as a child and this is where it comes from and this is why I have carried this emotion with me. I have lived through over a year of emotional flashbacks that I still was unable to really connect with, the dark gloom, the depression, the hopelessness. I am just starting to see through that fog even though I got it in my head many months back. It has been kind of a dethawing process. I still get stuck a lot.


I saw my mom for the first time in 2 years because she is in the hospital and probably close to dying. I let her talk for about an hour & a half and thought, OK – I can handle this a little at a time. Then I went to leave and she said something about how could I not talk to my mother for so long. I responded “you hurt me” and I said specifically what she had done that created a situation that I couldn’t accept.

So she said that I hurt HER because the neighbors started asking where I was and she had to lie. She doesn’t want anyone to know I’m not acting like a part of the family. She doesn’t want anyone to know that anything is wrong.

My brother & sister haven’t spoken to me for even longer, and I don’t feel in any way welcome among them, but Mom claims that they miss me and want me to be a part of the family again. Right…

I’m still having a hard time with the thought of ignoring a dying woman, but I’m not sure it would be worth trying to get around my siblings. My brother is my 1 daughter’s landlord, so she’s not speaking to me either. There’s no seeing my mom without crossing paths with a whole pack of people who act like they hate me, but can’t understand why I would feel that way.

I cannot think of a single thing I can say or do that won’t somehow be construed as cruel and/or selfish. At this point, I’m trying to determine what I need to do that I won’t regret later.



Dear Darlene and Friends, yeah the problem was, and still is, me. Because i didn’t, and don’t, take an interest in who’s who on television, who went where on their latest vacation, who just bought a new car and what brand/options…bla, bla, bleech! Oh yeah, i was raised to be polite, and to simply let the other person chatter on (and on) about their idols, and to not let on about simply being bored / frustrated out of my mind. But people aren’t stupid, and people don’t like it when you don’t bend the knee to their gods. Looking back, i’m still amazed at how disagreeable people can get over nothing really! NO! i don’t want to go to Disney World! If i could afford a vacation, i’d go elsewhere, and see stuff like mountains and lakesides…stuff that the Lord made, stuff that matters. i continually strive to keep my feelings / opinions to myself, because people aren’t at all interested. Okay, fine 😉 And anyway, the narrow road is trod single file, and by few. Per only by the Lord’s grace, i walk onward and upward.


This came at a perfect time. This is a real sticking point in my journey at this point. Yes I do realize that it was the things that happened to me ( and from a very young age) that molded me into the way I became, including thinking something was wrong with me. I pave recognized the many instances of put downs, punishments, bullying, being shut down and so on that lead to me being a shut down doormat afraid to speak up. Even though I realize all of this I still waffle back and forth with whether maybe it is really something wrong with me, after all, why do so many people walk all over me and put me down and tell he it’s me. And the rational side of me says. Hey this started when I was very very young. I look at pictures of my three year old self and say what could possibly be wrong with this sweet baby? Yet that was the sweet baby being hit and yelled at and blamed and put down. She couldn’t have deserved that! I guess it’s the cognitive dissonance at work that is keeping me stuck. I held the belief that it was me through my whole life. After all, this is what everyone else says, all the people who have the right to define me ( another lie of course) it is so hard not to go back to those old beliefs when they were so deeply ingrained. I really have to remind myself constantly that there is nothing wrong with me and that I have equal rights to everyone else. And that I am not to blame and that I am worthy. They really did a number on he, didn’t they? But I’m not giving up. I am going to win this battle no matter what.


Sue, I don’t care about that stuff either, yet people act like there is something the matter with you if you don’t care about who wore what dress or who in Hollywood is pregnant. It’s not relevant to my life and I really don’t care. I’m finally becoming comfortable with this. I gave different interests than a lot of people but this us who I am and I will no longer try to adapt to fit in. You know what, Sue, I would much rather spend my time with an intelligent person like you who cares about nature, than listening to people go on and on about materialistic stuff and movie stars that I don’t care about. Be yourself because you sound wonderful!!


Hi Gin
That is how I felt all my life before I started to look at things from the beginning. I looked at how I came to believe that I was to blame, and that I am the one who is selfish. (All the info about how I did this is in this website and my e-book is about the beginning ~ how I saw all of this through a more truthful grid of understanding) And seeing the truth, that I was brainwashed by actions, inactions and verbal and non verbal abuse, neglect, etc… to believe that it was me… helped me to see how it could not have been me. Hang in there. There is hope for healing!!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Hobie,
Is the criticism about you or is it about them? My mother was really critical, but today I realize that most of the time it revealed HER character and not mine. I could not have avoided her criticism, but today I know that most of it was her unhappiness. Some of it was my reaction to the way she treated me. (but why was I not permitted to react??)
Yay that you are registered for the summit!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Kaycee
I had a ‘proof addiction’ too. But most of them don’t want to see themselves and they don’t want to hear the truth. They would have to give up their entitlement if they heard me; they would have to take ownership of their part in what happened and they are not willing. Look at this blog. It is a HUGE body of evidence and has over 40,000 comments from people agreeing with me. My family reads it! It has no impact on them. I have been interviewed all over the world as an expert on this stuff… but that doesn’t influence them at all. And that is their problem. 🙂
hugs, Darlene


Hi Michelle,
It helped me so much to finally realize that my healing didn’t depend on ‘them’ hearing me. I too have been accused all my life of being the problem, but just because my mother (and others) see it that way, doesn’t make it true. It takes a while for the emotional to catch up to the logical, but keep going! The truth is always my guide. Does any child deserve to be unprotected or ignored, unloved, neglected, etc?
Sometimes when I got stuck in my head I would imagine a child coming to me with her story, except that it is exactly like my story, and how would I react to that child. Would I question her? Would I conclude that she was less deserving than any other person? Of course not. So why did I do it to myself? (the answer is that as a child I HAD to blame me in order to survive. The only way that I could survive was to try harder with them, to make them love me. But I am an adult now and that survival system doesn’t serve me anymore. So I found a way to live!)
Hugs, Darlene


I struggle with second-guessing myself thanks to the brainwashing and trivialization I grew up with. I was told that I should be grateful for my family because there are others who had it worse, including my abusers. And here’s the kicker: there’s some truth in their statements which is why not blaming myself is still a hurdle for me.

In some aspects of my life, I have to admit that I did (and still do) have it better than others, even in the less ideal moments of my life. I have no health problems, I have never been to a hospital so far in my life, and I never had to live in the street to survive. Though I grew up in a single-parent, low-income family, we never missed a meal, and we didn’t live in a cardboard box. (I did become homeless before, but that happened in my early twenties, not as a kid, and even then I was fortunate enough to find shelters to stay at.)

When I was bullied during my K-12 years, the worst I endured was name-calling and rumor-spreading. I wasn’t beat up or strung up a high altitude.

Growing up, I wasn’t beaten to the point of bruises or broken bones. I was never a sexual abuse victim or neglected with ragged clothes.

With the above statements I written according to my family members, they see me as a whiny ingrate rather than someone who was hurt. In their view, it’s nothing compared to what they went through.

My mother lost her mother at age ten, then married an abuser a decade later. My brother, their first child, was abused by our father, which I didn’t see because I wouldn’t be born for about another 18 years. I think my older sister suffered at his hands too, but I was too young to be aware, but he favored me. A few years after I was born, our mother separated from our father, and worked a job she hated while having to raise young children alone. She had health problems (and still has them), and at times would hit me and yell at me for peccadilloes or to take her stress out on me. “But, it wasn’t abuse,” they would say. “It was discipline.”

Today, my older brother is a married father of three teenagers. He horrid to them and his wife, but very enmeshed with our mother. He once insulted me for condemning the way he treated his sons, and my mother and sister looked the other way and said that it was just discipline, not abuse. After all, he went through worse, but why is he no better than our dad, and why do they still associate with our father in spite of despising him? (And our mother still associates with her ex.)

On one hand, they did have it tougher, but on the other hand, is it my responsibility to make up for what my mother failed to achieve? Should I tone down how I feel to pander to them? No, because even though we have been hurt in the past, it’s not okay to seek out saviors or scapegoats. I’m not responsible for what happened before my time. And it’s definitely not okay to condemn some abusive people while not looking at one’s own abusive behavior. They contradict themselves in that way and in so many others that I believe my brain would explode trying to analyze their odd logic.

As of now, I haven’t heard from them in weeks because I guess they got tired of not getting a reaction from me. The last message I received from one of my family members is my sister wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving. I find it irksome that they act as if nothing happened and expect me to come back to them. No offers of reconciliation or genuine apologies. I guess they still think I’m to blame for not being “understanding”, (I find that word grating at times) and grateful enough. I assume they have no use for me anymore. Besides, they have each other while I can be left in peace with my semi-hermit lifestyle. I’m not sure what they say to others, but I’m not around to hear it. Second-guessing is my struggle, but I know going back (for a third time) would benefit them at my expense.


Hi Hobie,
re your second comment; Isn’t it typical that your mothers response was to put it back on you. That is what my mother does. I don’t miss that! Hang in there. I can’t imagine what your situation is like; it’s something I often think about as my own mother is aging. About your siblings ~ if they miss you, why aren’t they telling you that? Oh so complicated!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Sue,
Yes, people don’t like it when you don’t fall in with their choices, but when I thought about ‘why that is’ I realized that for some insecure people, if you don’t want what they want or like what they like, or agree with what they want you to, they respond as if you don’t like them. It’s bizarre! Love celebrates all of our differences and interests. Love appreciates that we are all unique.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Amber
People say it is you because that is how they have controlled you all your life.
Controllers get their worth by controlling. If they say jump and you jump, they feel better about themselves. They have their power mixed up with their worth. What does the way they treat you say about them???
Yay for not giving up!!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi S1988
As you point out, having been abused doesn’t excuse being abusive. My mother was abused and then so was I. I chose NOT to abuse, but she didn’t make that choice. What is the difference?? Even if my mother was a raving lunatic and really couldn’t help it, that doesn’t cancel the damage caused. And it is healing from the damage that we are talking about here. My mother isn’t willing to heal ~ perhaps because she would have to be accountable for some horrible choices she made, but that isn’t my problem. I decided that it was either mutual respect or nothing. They chose nothing. And I don’t miss the way things were. LOL
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,

My mother’s behavior wasn’t really a surprise. I did spend a few hours “in the spin” after I left her. The good news is that it was only a few hours so that’s a victory!

While I wasn’t in contact with her, I thought about the possibility that she would die and was settled with it. I completely overlooked the possibility that should would be sick for a long time before she died.

Initially I felt I wasn’t strong enough to handle my family’s abuse. At this point, I believe I’m strong enough, but I don’t know if it’s worth enduring it. I am so much better without them.



Thanks Darlene ( comment 16). Yes, that’s how they controlled me and how some still attempt to. And do they hate boundaries, and the word ” no”. Some become worse when you start to stick up for yourself. You asked, ” What does they way they treat you say about them?” I’m thinking words like controllers, users, abusers, bullies, selfish, entitled and so much more. I’m starting to let people like this go.


Hi Amber ~ yes that is the thing; they are okay with doing and saying all the things that they don’t want us to have to have the freedom to do and say. Where is the equality in that??
Hugs, Darlene


Here’s an area where I really get stuck. It seems to happen when I encounter anyone who has either blamed me for something I never did, or picked a fight and accused me of being in the wrong, or someone who has bullied me in order to feel good about themselves. When I see these people I react with a feeling of dread that reaches down to my gut. I get this feeling of fear. It’s the same reaction I had to my mother when she was still living. It happens even when I know the truth, that I am not guilty of what they claim I did. Someone could say something completely untrue that they claim I did, and I get this knot in my stomach. I try reminding myself that what they say and think is not true about me, and that I am not the problem, but it doesn’t stop this reaction. Any thoughts on how I can get unstuck?


If I’m working on a team and something goes wrong, I always still assume it was MY fault somehow. I am having trouble getting past this. And, even though I look at a situation as it being “about them” I still have the “my fault” issues.

I do have some good news. I went to visit my Mom. I brought a list of all the issues I had. She admitted to many of them that her treatment of me was about her or that she had made an erroneous decision. Some of the issues she didn’t agree with, but she agreed on the major ones, especially the OB/GYN exam where she lied to me (lied by omission) about how the doctor was going to “examine” me. She agreed that she went with what was easiest for her, and that her chastising me for being “rude” to the doctor (HELL, I WAS TRAUMATIZED) was all about her and not me.

My mom and I still have a long way to go.


From Hobie:

So she said that I hurt HER because the neighbors started asking where I was and she had to lie. She doesn’t want anyone to know I’m not acting like a part of the family. She doesn’t want anyone to know that anything is wrong.

Oh yeah, you are the problem all right….. (SARCASM) when I encounter stuff like this, I just want to SCREAM! Hugs to you Hobie.

From Amber:

Yes I do realize that it was the things that happened to me ( and from a very young age) that molded me into the way I became, including thinking something was wrong with me.

According to my mom, “you can overcome this.” Yeah, right. Overcome by….. doing what SHE did, which is sweep under the rug and pretend it never happened……..

From Darlene:

Some of it was my reaction to the way she treated me. (but why was I not permitted to react??)

Oh yeah. If I hurt my Mom’s feelings, I caught HELL, but if she hurt mine, I was just “too sensitive” and I got criticized for it.


Here’s a question I have: What if some of the things committed WERE YOUR FAULT? Like, if it was something bad, but not egregious.

I have memories of being heavily scolded for peccadilloes I committed, and I admit I do have annoying habits of my own.

One of them is not being enthusiastic about chores. As a kid, I would rather play, read, or watch TV to doing chores, and I usually wouldn’t do them until I was called “lazy” or screamed at. Even now, I have a somewhat lackadaisical attitude, but I can get away with it because I live alone. It could be weeks before I pick up a broom around my studio apartment.

It’s one of the reasons I like to be a loner. I can do what I want without someone constantly “evaluating” me. I think that’s why I like doing freelance work rather than be stuck on a strict schedule elsewhere. During my brick-and-mortar work days, I was seen as difficult at times because I preferred to keep to myself than associate with customers.

I have to admit I can be “difficult” at times because I just want to be left alone to do my own thing rather than be forced to do something. A lot of things I was brought up with I have disregarded as an adult.

I never got in trouble with the law or have been suspended from schools, so why do I get judged for small things while it seems others can get away with worse? This is my issue.


Hi S1988. One of the things I have struggled with is that I developed some issues and self destructive behaviors as the scapegoat in my family. It helps to hear those who have recovered talk about confidently about their experiences, the good the bad and the ugly.Watching people who have recovered who get up there and share, without shame, their own struggles helps me get over the idea that if I was and am not perfect, somehow I am at fault, unworthy, or cannot expect to be able to state the truth about what happened to me.

The other thing for me is the fact that I am the family scapegoat which gives the illusion that everyone else is perfect and any missteps they took in their life could ultimately be blamed on me. When other children misbehaved in my family, somehow I was the one standing in the basement with my pants around my ankles getting my butt whipped. The big illusion was that they never did anything wrong and never made mistakes.

The truth is every human being on the planet experiences difficulties and makes mistakes. My family cannot admit to their own mistakes, they view them as a fundamental flaw in their character to be denied rather than a necessary and universal part of being human. If they do acknowledge their shortcomings or areas they need to work on, they minimize them and lay blame elsewhere, usually on me.

Real people acknowledge mistakes, understand that their are areas where they can grow and take responsibility for themselves and change. The fact that you can see yourself and maybe some things about yourself that aren’t perfect is a hugely wonderful, real human thing. You would not believe how long it takes some of us to get to the point where we can make an honest assessment of ourselves after being so blamed and shamed and humiliated. Your ability to be honest with yourself is kind of awesome I think, it’s like being halfway to the finish line.


From Darlene:

Yes, people don’t like it when you don’t fall in with their choices, but when I thought about ‘why that is’ I realized that for some insecure people, if you don’t want what they want or like what they like, or agree with what they want you to, they respond as if you don’t like them.

This is my Mom. She expects you to react the same way she would react. If something is no big deal to her, it’s not supposed to be a big deal to you. If it’s a big deal to her, it’s a big deal to you. She expects you to be a clone, and can’t handle it when you aren’t.

From S1988:

I have to admit I can be “difficult” at times because I just want to be left alone to do my own thing rather than be forced to do something. A lot of things I was brought up with I have disregarded as an adult.

I never got in trouble with the law or have been suspended from schools, so why do I get judged for small things while it seems others can get away with worse? This is my issue.

I can SOOOOOOO relate! This is my issue, too!

From Kaycee:

Real people acknowledge mistakes, understand that their are areas where they can grow and take responsibility for themselves and change.

Here is where I split hairs. My mom just does the blanket “I made mistakes” thing. To me, this is just a general blanket statement and does not mean the person is admitting responsibility. I just wanted my mom to admit to the specific issues and not do the “blanket” thing. My mom FINALLY took responsibility. But we still have a long way to go. I wrote her many many many letters describing how I felt. She still calls the letters “vicious.” I’m not sorry. I had to get her attention some way. The “Soft” way wasn’t getting her attention.


I totally understand where you are coming from, my Mother also does the minimization things and is completely unwilling to discuss details and more importantly, feelings. It is like being dismissed, like what happened doesn’t really matter.

I was talking more about about personal responsibility because S1988 was asking what if some things were your fault? It was really hard for me to look at the areas in my life I needed to work on because I continue to be dragged into the public square for shaming and humiliation sessions with my family and because I have been trained to judge myself so harshly. I tend to be too defensive even with myself. I had to learn with the help of a really good therapist that it is normal to have faults and to make mistakes, that it is okay and it does not make me some kind of unworthy freak.


This message feels so pertinent to how I am feeling lately. I feel so sad about the loss of relationship with my dad. I confronted him about abuse over a year ago and decided to cut contact. It has been so difficult to see how the information that I shared has impacted the lives of my brothers and their families. It is shaking them and they are struggling. I worry about the impact that my sharing of information has had on my mom as well. She divorced my dad when I was a teenager but still wants our family to be as cohesive as possible. At this point it is much more comfortable for me to be distant from my family, at least around the holidays. I live with my mom and step-dad, and work for their company, which makes it hard to separate from her. I am looking forward to living and working elsewhere as soon. There are so many feelings that come with sorting through the abuse of parents. I feel loss for the relationship with my dad; I miss him. I also feel free to live and enjoy life in a way that I felt trapped before. It’s always going to feel like a heartbreak, though, I think.

This week I just felt like it was easier to focus on myself as the problem. It’s so complicated and confusing to see that the world doesn’t make sense. I started taking some supplements that help to support my mood and reduce anxiety; I am a nutrition nerd. The truth, though, is that it’s not supplements that are going to “fix” the problem. Connecting with supportive people and supporting myself and my own experiences goes a long way to reducing my anxiety… supplement and medication free. It’s just harder than taking supplements. Hahaha.

I placed a police report about my memories of childhood sexual abuse last fall. The detective advised me to not press charges because of lack of evidence. She also told me that I seemed fragile and that these types of cases are often more damaging to the plaintiff than helpful. Hearing that was so difficult. I wanted to have police support to make things right with my dad. I thought that having their help would make certain that no other children were hurt by my dad. I also thought that maybe he would have an opportunity to have to become a better person. And I hoped that he would go to prison and I would feel safer. I feel ashamed for having wanted my dad to be in prison. I also seriously doubt my memories.

Kaycee, sometimes I see narcissistic things in myself too. Narcissism comes, as far as I can see, from super low self esteem. I find that when I feel super anxious and narcissistic it helps to take care of myself… really and truly. Then there is space again for the needs of others.


Hi Naomi,
I just wanted to tell you that I don’t think you should feel bad for wanting your dad to go to prison. If a stranger sexually abused a child in the neighbourhood, most people (I presume) would want that man arrested. The fact that the man was your father makes it worse, the impact more horrific, because this was a man whose job was to protect and care for you—to do his best to see you through your early years to live as healthy and happy a life as possible. He knowingly abused his power. The passage of time doesn’t change this; it only means that the truth has festered and reaped more damage as it goes on unacknowledged. Your desire for him to go to prison, to me, seems a healthy acknowledgement of truth and the desire that the world live according to truth and justice—that it is not okay for someone to abuse a child (any child) and get away with it. He infringed on your rights as a fellow human being. That desire for justice and acknowledgement of truth is not hateful to your father. Love and justice are not mutually exclusive. Living in a world where people can do these things to each other and the world will actually support silence and sweeping things under the carpet (often in the name of love) is a very scary reality. I think doubting one’s memories and perceptions can also be a way to manage living with such a scary reality—i.e. because in one sense it is easier to compromise your idea of reality and what love is (by making room by saying that what’s happening is okay and maybe partly your fault) than it is to face how awful life can sometimes be, how the people closest to you can betray and abandon you for their own self-interest, that love does not always prevail in those times and places when and where you desperately want it to, even if it ought to. It can be hard to keep faith. But I think if you can hold onto truth and find the places where it’s welcomed and supported, this reality becomes less scary. When you’re alone in a world that seems to be okay with the destruction of your spirit, it’s rough, it’s impossible to live like this, I think. But not everywhere, and everyone, is like that, and I think, too, that we can all build inside of us a world where the destruction of our spirit is absolutely intolerable, so that dealing with the outside world that can and will at least sometimes be destructive towards us will become easier to negotiate/manage, whatever that means in terms of how we act/react to it… so much easier said than done. I had a rather awful time during the holidays, still holding onto impossibilities, I suppose, but I guess it’s just part of how it goes, letting go of one thing, trying to move onto another. The best, I think, is linking up with others who are on the same wave length, creating new kinds of families.


Hi Alaina – I love the way that you express yourself. I whole-heartedly agree with the idea of creating new kinds of families! Your message to Naomi was spot-on.

I’m still struggling to determine how to deal with family as my mother is now very sick. There is a part of me that is unwilling to treat her the way that she treated me when I was in crisis. My bottom line in this internal conflict is “What do I do that I can best live with myself in the end?” I’m trying to ignore what other people will think of me, because someone is always going to find fault with me.

Because she needs constant care, she is living with my brother, visited frequently by my sister, and is very close to my daughter. All of those people have caused me a lot of pain and I haven’t dealt with them in a long time.

Most of the advice I get is to visit with my mother and avoid conflict in front of her for her sake, to keep things calm and smooth. Yet that is what THEY all want from me and if the reality that led me to avoid them isn’t confronted, I’ll be pretty much alone and naked in enemy territory, and I don’t believe that’s wise.

The thing that people don’t seem to recognize is that the behaviors that caused me to remove myself from my family were long-standing patterns of behavior and NOT minor misunderstandings that have been blown out of proportion. In fact my entire ability to perceive reality on any level is consistently challenged by my family members. I’ve only recognized that for the manipulative tool that it is since I’ve stayed away from them.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.



Hi Hobie,
I definitely don’t envy the situation you are in. I think I’d be pretty exhausted and just want to cry. I understand what you’re saying about finding the best way to live with yourself in the end. But I think you already did the compassionate thing by going to visit her the one time. You gave her a chance and it wasn’t even you who brought up the issues—it was she who faulted you for not visiting her. There’s only so much you can do, if she doesn’t want to own up to her behaviour, and certainly she has the power of influence over the rest of your family. She could help dissolve all these divisions that exist by being forthright and responsible about the way she has treated you, but she doesn’t. I think it was compassion and love that brought you to visit her and she really just rejected you again. She didn’t just say “thanks for coming” or even just tried to sweep things under the carpet by saying something about letting bygones be bygones (which would be bad enough, I think) but again picked on you for being a bad daughter without recognizing her own behaviour and the reason why you haven’t visited, which is really not your fault at all. How do you work with that? To go visit the sick person who has done you wrong, who has caused so much pain and difficulties and has not expressed remorse or made any attempts to equalize the situation is a pretty saintly thing to do. To continue going once you’ve been once again discounted/rejected and have to go through “enemy territory” every time, it’s into another realm, something harmful to you, I think, so I do honestly hope, as a friend here, that you don’t go—don’t feel that you have to. It’s your choice and I’m actually not sure what I’d do in your shoes. I, too, have this desire to want to do the right thing, the compassionate thing, no matter how other people behave, but I honestly think you’ve already done it. And all the others who will judge, well they already judged and they’d use anything to secure their judgment, too, I think. When it comes to family, you’re just damned either way… but you’re not the problem, so at this point I really believe whatever you choose is entirely okay, whatever you need to do, want to do. You should feel absolutely no obligation to put yourself in a harmful situation, though. None whatsoever. In some way, you basically extended a hand saying I’ll care about you if you can care about me and she said no, I want to hurt and manipulate you and I want you to apologize for having the gall to have ever said no you don’t get to hurt and manipulate me anymore…. I’m really sorry, Hobie. 🙁 I wish there was a solution but if there is, I don’t know it.


Alaina, I think creating our own new families full of friends is so important to our recovery process. It allows us to have many of the things that we missed out on with our original FOO’s. This year I bought my friend a card that talked about what it means to have family around at the holidays and I wrote inside of it “finally a card that matches the person who I am giving it too!!!” My friend is my family so I know what you mean by developing other outlets to call home.

Hobie I feel for your situation regarding your mother. My parent’s will turn 80 this year so soon I will be in your same situation and it got me to thinking about what I would do. What I keep on thinking about is how I know more then they do. I was able to work through most of the pain that they caused me and I know where it all stems from and while they had the same opportunity to do what I did and chose not to doesn’t seem to much matter to me anymore. Now I am not afraid of them being able to hurt me because now I know how to stand up on my own two feet and I have the tools and the support system in place to get me through anything. I am at a point in my recovery where I actually feel sorry for the two of them more then anything else. I don’t feel any obligation to do anything for my parents anymore and nor should I after what they did to me with no acknowledgment from either one of them but that’s just how the sick family dynamics of generational abuse work but that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me still wanting to see my parents before they die if that’s what will bring closure to me. I feel pretty much like you do!! We have come a long way.

I suspect I will put my feelings aside and go visit them when my time comes because that’s just who I am. But what I also know is if they continue to disrespect me when I am in their presence I will be gone just as quick as I came in because my kindness will only go so far this time around and it definitely won’t be at the expense of me and my self worth. Such a hard situation to be in. Like you said we all have to do what is right for us. I dread the day. It is almost a no win situation no matter what you do because the thought of being in their presence again after 3 years of NC just about kills me but I suspect I will do it anyway because I am no longer allowing my fears to rule my life. Now that I know how to trust my own gut instinct that is just exactly what I am going to do and the heck with what everyone else has to say because they don’t have to live in my body I do!!! My thoughts are with you through this difficult time.




I didn’t realize that you already visited your mother until I read Alaina’s post but I didn’t see hers until after I already posted mine so I went back up and read yours. So sorry you had to go through this. I don’t know if this will help but after reading your post what I kept on thinking to myself was we can’t go into this thing thinking that they are going to change the way they do anything because that’s why we don’t see them to begin with!!! To me we either decide to tolerate their crap because we know that the end is near and we are doing it to get closure for OURSELVES or don’t go see them at all because nothing is going to change on their end. I am so sorry that your mother can’t see past herself enough to just say “I love you” to her own daughter without any of this other junk attached to it. She has to live with that not you and I think what you did was so courageous and so giving. Too bad she couldn’t accept your generosity due to her own lack of self worth getting in the way again. You certainly went above and beyond what any daughter should have to do in this given situation. Know that in your heart because it is true.



Wow. What a group of kind and compassionate people. Why would any normal person reject such people? Reading these posts make me sad, but they also make me very hopeful for the human race. Thanks everyone for sharing your feelings. I am right there with you all.


I have been reflecting and questioning my decision to walk away from my NM all month. I still wonder if there is any possibility that it could have been my sensitivity and low self esteem. I was very shy and hated confrontation. Was I a drama queen? All these things keep popping in my head. After all the doubting, I remind myself of WHY I was all those things and how it didn’t mean that I deserved to be treated the way I was treated. I always say that although you didn’t see any physical scars or feel physical pain from her treatment of me, I am left with the pain and the scars of my spirit. In the beginning of this journey of healing, and even today, I still question it all. The constant abuse hurt me emotionally and psychologically. It made me feel like I was always 10 steps behind everyone else. I never felt like I was part of anything or part of anyone. I felt alone. I still feel like that. I feel like I always have to fight to prove myself.
The problem was that I was so sensitive and fragile, that I couldn’t fight hard enough to survive my family and their strong wills. My father was just as fragile but stuck around. He tried to mend what was broken on many occasions, but her strong will always broke it again. He has Dementia now and so the last two attempts at trying to salvage the relationship between my NM and myself failed and Dad wasn’t there to put the Band Aid on and say his usual line.
She is your mother and she is never going to change. My poor Dad couldn’t even handle her. I truly believe that part of his poor health is because of her. My brother is like my NM. He is another story. I tried. It was never enough. I almost lost my husband because he couldn’t take it anymore. My children don’t want to talk to her anymore. I almost lost my mind the last time we spoke. What more proof do I need to convince myself that it’s okay to walk away.
Yesterday I was actually thinking of sending some groceries over anonymously, or emailing my brother. Problem is, it would not change anything. They are both unable to take any responsibility for anything that has happened and they have no compassion whatsoever. I was not as strong as them. I could never stand up to them. It was two against one and my Dad never stepped in to protect me because he was just as fragile. She bullied both of us. I miss him terribly. I will not see him until he ends up in a nursing home. I can’t see her or speak to her. The thought upsets me and i just can’t deal with that right now. You are all so brave. You are all enough. Stay on your journey of healing. God Bless.?


“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains”. – Rose Luxemburg

I always question why I cannot seem to put myself first when it comes to my health.
I love walking and I love the water. I have a treadmill and my daughter gave me passes to the community centre for aquafit classes. I asked my therapist why I don’t go to these classes and why don’t I just put on a pair of sweats and get on that treadmill, She asked me what goes thru my mind when I consider doing any of these things.
Basically, I sabatoege myself and I make myself feel unworthy to do these things because they make me happy and they are part of my healing process, which is feeling good about myself. I feel like something is keeping me from doing what I want to and need to to be better and do better. How do I break that chain?


Thank you to everyone that addressed my situation. I appreciate especially the validation of my feelings and struggle. It will take some time to figure this out.

I’m grateful that being in this community has helped me to do what best helps me live with myself. I’m not always sure what that is, but maintaining that goal guides the process so that I’m not stuck in an endless circle.

Nadia – I struggle to take care of myself physically in the ways that you mention, but you said that walking on your treadmill or attending aquafit classes makes you happy. You are worthy of those things AND they’re good for you. I don’t enjoy exercise much and I need to convince myself of the long term good it will do me. I hope you find what you need to believe that you’re worth as much as anyone and you deserve to do what is best for you.



Alaina, thank you for your response. Like Hobie said, it is spot on for what I need to hear. Thanks for being a bright light. I hear you about having difficulty during the holidays. I hope that you will find a new way to celebrate that feels supportive and complete to you. I know you are right that love and justice are not mutually exclusive, I just haven’t figured out exactly how they work together. I once read that it’s like we have to build a wall up between ourselves and those who hurt us. That wall is what allows us to heal and is the most loving response that we can give to the person who hurt us. The distance allows us to heal and then we eventually may be able to take down the wall. I hope that one day our society will be healthy and whole again in all ways. That people will be able to support one another and not destroy each other. Our whole society could use an overhaul. Hugs!



I really enjoyed your interview with Svava today. So many good points to think about. Especially the one’s involving being able to put the blame on our abusers laps so we don’t still blame ourselves for things that they did wrong that keeps us stuck and that whole fear of being rejected and abandoned really resonated with me. Still working on that one!! Thnx for all the good advice.



So glad the website is back up!! I really enjoyed your interview Darlene! I especially enjoyed hearing the tools you use. It is really helpful to figure things out when you examine ” motives”. I would be interested in learning more about how you drill down to find out what the fear you are feeling is. I also liked the part about mantras. There are times when I try to set a boundary and someone really pushes back. I almost feel a physical type pressure pushing down on me. I think I need a mantra at these times to give me the courage not to back down when this happens.
Again, I want to say how much I enjoyed your interview. I plan to listen again and to take notes. Co granulation son a job well done! ??


Oooo, spell check did a number on the end of my post. I was trying to say ” Congratulations on a job well done”!


wish I could have seen the interview. I had to work. Sounds like it went great, and thanks to Darlene for all this support.


Hi Kris and Amber! Glad you saw the interview! I have touched on this subject in the past but I will see if I can write an expansion post about the subject of motives. (re what I talked about in the interview)
Did you like my singing?? LOL
Hugs, Darlene

DXS Mac and everyone!!
The interview will be available for about another week. All you have to do is register at the links on the post itself and you will have access to ALL 22 interviews plus over 15 gifts for about another week. After that they will be available for sale.
This is a great summit! I hope you will all check it out!
hugs, Darlene


Hi all. I will chime in too…what a great interview! Svava and you really enjoyed yourselves and the time just flew by. Darlene, your loving and caring personality shone through during the interview. I loved that you mentioned the use of mantras. They really do work! I also am interested in hearing/reading about how you “drill down”. I love that terminology.

BTW, your singing voice is good! Enjoyed the performance!


Re: Message 42, Darlene, your singing is great! You are a star in more ways than one! You have been enormously helpful over the past three years since I started following EFB, and seeing you and hearing you speak had me feeling that I was at long last meeting a new friend!!

I would love it if you did an expansion post on ” motives”. I’m already incorporating ” motive” thinking into analyzing situations. I would also enjoy hearing more about that drilling process you talk about. I think Im getting better at this too, and am hoping to hit oil ( LOL) more often when I do this.

Thanks again for the wonderful interview. Later I will listen again and take more notes. You Rock, Darlene Ouimet!!


Hi Darlene! Your interview was great! You’re so adorable. 🙂 Thanks for being you!

I think I need to build up my repertoire of mantras so I don’t get sucked under so often.

I had a realization and I think it’s at the core of what gets me stuck still wondering if I’m the problem. In my family I grew up with a very strong idea that my family was a group of good people. I had good, loving parents and supportive relatives. I knew there was a history of dysfunction—I was witness to it between my mom and my grandma—and yet also it was maintained (by my mom) that my mom had put an end to the dysfunctions years ago, so that despite this history, this legacy that past down from my great grandfather, everyone was, by and large, part of a group of well-meaning, caring, generous, kind, good people. So I had that idea really implemented into my psyche and then of course by extension all my internal dysfunction (all sorts of uglinesses and sicknesses that I felt inside me) I had to interpret as essentially being ME. Then through my breakdown and support from within the family, I was validated that no, in fact, my mother had not put an end to the dysfunction (after I mentioned in a minor way some difficulty with my mom) and that what was happening inside of me was a result of this dysfunction. Ok, so then I’m encouraged by these validating family members to confront the dysfunction in my immediate family and I do and of course it doesn’t go well. So then, I guess the idea is “well you tried your best, it didn’t work out, understandably it’s impossible for you to have a relationship with them, so long as they won’t face up to the dysfunction.” The idea being that those who are dysfunctional are still stuck; they lack awareness; they are unfortunate (they may well be abusive but they are also unfortunate and to pitied in some way because they are still stuck, incapable of seeing and facing the truth and dealing with their own pain; they lack self-worth perhaps or whatever). Of course it is recognized that I should not have to suffer for their dysfunction and that’s why my cutting off contact was acceptable to the extended family. But this recognition comes from me leading the way in finally understanding what’s happened to me and standing up to it. Had I killed myself, I would have been collateral damage of the dysfunction that no one is to blame for. When all this goes down, I’m devastated because I realize that basically everyone knows everything and in one way or another always did (to varying degrees of understanding) and that regardless of my standing up for myself, the entire system is just going to go on chugging along the same as it always has with whatever amount of risk of damage, all depending on how much any given member wants to face themselves and take accountability. This is all in the guise of love and understanding that no one is “at fault” for the dysfunction and that the whole process of becoming healthy, facing one’s past, is excruciatingly difficult. So the issues get talked about privately to varying degrees but it’s very dependent on the victims recognizing the truth. They have to bring it up, which is a problem if the entire system is created to make you believe that you have not at all been victimized, the family is a group of wonderful, loving, caring people (you don’t even know you’ve been treated unfairly). This kind of neutrality is seen as the optimal response basically; you might speak out against something but if the person doesn’t want to acknowledge it, then the next day life goes on like it never happened, in hopes for the day something might finally trigger realization and accountability. So this is where my getting stuck comes in. It’s the idea that I’m turning good, but dysfunctional people who haven’t seen the light, so to speak, who are still trapped in their own history of abuse and dysfunction perpetrated onto them (which is at core why their relationship with me has been dysfunctional and destructive to me), into bad people because I am defining them by the necessity that they take responsibility. At every turn it’s like this. I hold my mom accountable; she denies what I’m saying. My dad could not have a relationship with me if I take the stand that unless my mom takes responsibility, I can’t have a relationship with her. Even if he wasn’t saying horrible things to me on her behalf, he wouldn’t be able to do it because he says she’s a part of him and he simply can’t do it. My brother, who thinks I’m wrong and no doubt dysfunctional in my stance towards our parents (also does not believe that what I say happened in fact happened), will have a relationship with me provided we agree to disagree and never talk about it. I won’t do that because it’s unacceptable to me. And on it goes through the family to the outer edge of people who know that my entire assessment of things was accurate but it’s a private acknowledgment. Where I get stuck is in this movement I make from saying that regardless of everyone’s supposed good intentions and meaning well but just not knowing better or being stuck in their dysfunction, etc., they are also wrong in what they are doing—what they are doing is bad. And because of their incapacity or unwillingness to recognize this bad thing that they’ve done and my uncompromising position that I cannot let this blow over in the name of a familial legacy of sickness that I have compassion for but rather wish that everyone rise to their level of health (my mom take responsibility for the abuse, my dad stop choosing my mom over me… onward to the relatives who understood and validated everything I knew–that they should speak their understanding, not keep their knowledge to themselves just in waiting for the next crisis that might spur on the others to enlightenment… like that was literally my great aunt’s idea with my brother—and other relatives—was that maybe one day some crisis with maybe his wife or child would act as a catalyst for him to face the truth of the dysfunction, and maybe so but let’s go to the end of the line with the present crisis of me being ousted from the family and do everything in our power to try to tell help because certainly more voices speaking up about what they know can only be a step in the right direction)… but because of this position I take, it’s as though I’m solidifying them as bad people—all of them. The truth is what they’re doing is bad and if it’s their own dysfunction that keeps them there, unable/unwilling to recognize their role, it’s not my fault that it becomes impossible for me to hold them in the belief that they are good, loving, well-meaning people. But yes, it’s like I hold this idea that I’m responsible for turning each one of them into bad people because before I spoke the truth, it could be argued that they were just mistaken, lost in a sea of their respective dysfunction without understanding. I expose what’s wrong about their behaviour and they don’t want to recognize it. They turn it back on me, make me the problem, attack me for what’s wrong with me (each of them did that and the fault they found with me lined up according to where they are on the spectrum of the dysfunction/position within the system). So I pull the truth from the fog, make it clear, and to whatever degree unconsciousness could have been argued in the previous state, it can no longer be argued. It’s no longer “they’re in denial” but “they’re lying” or “they’re in denial AND lying.” It’s like I’m forcing them in a position where they have to decide whether or not they’re going to be good people and do all it takes to get out of the muck of dysfunction and become good people but they’ve all said no, they don’t want to. Actually it’s not “like”; it is that. I did force them into that position. And that’s where I wrongly blame myself. I think if I didn’t exist to be used/abused in such a way and then “have to” stand up for myself and hold them accountable before they were ready to face themselves, I wouldn’t have turned my family into bad people or caused all the disruption and pain that this whole situation has caused, given the fact that it’s “not their fault” that they were born into dysfunction, etc. This is wrong of course because in fact I didn’t turn them into bad people but rather gave them the opportunity to stop being bad people (however much it was conscious or unconscious) and they chose to continue and yes, that’s a reflection of their sickness/dysfunction and where they are at and what’s happened to them. But I think that’s what I’ve been carrying around—the idea that I’m a bad person because I exposed them before they were “ready” to see the bad they’re doing, which has made their lives harder and more painful (because they can no longer use me and because conflict and holding people accountable—or making accusations against them, which is how they feel it—and breaking family bonds is unpleasant). I swear the biggest hurdle for me to get over is my own empathy. So I see myself in the last couple years having gone back to a waiting mode—despite not having a relationship with them, just as a general state, not expecting respect but giving people time and leniency, now and then poking up and saying something to see if it registers, and if it doesn’t, continue to wait and see, slowly getting dragged under. I get out afterwards, maybe have my final say (but not usually to my own advantage, really) and crawl my way to the safety of my own little cocoon but not without damage and not without reinforcing social anxieties, etc. I’ve done this multiple times in the last couple years. And it’s all this belief that I’m the bad guy for speaking the truth and standing up and standing firm—not because I’m in any way wrong in what I’m saying but just for the fact of saying it and requiring it to be acknowledged by people who are not ready/not able and who suffer the consequences of their incapacity to look at the truth. But I think I might be suffering more than they are. It’s no wonder I feel kind of incapacitated in my life right now—because I’m holding too conflicting ideas (that if I do not hold true to what I know and believe, if I go along with dysfunction—even if it’s “in wait,” I am participating in it, supporting it in some ways, and that’s bad or at least not good …and on the flip side if I hold true and not allow whatever than I’m also apparently bad because I’m somehow solidifying people who aren’t “ready” to deal with the bad they are doing into bad people…. as opposed to the likelier truth that may have more to do with motive because it’s not just that they are lost in dysfunction but they are motivated toward dysfunction. And most of all, I’m not responsible for their decisions. They could choose to do good but they don’t and I can’t change that. My holding back doesn’t help them, even if they’d prefer it that way, and it certainly doesn’t help me.



I am so sorry for your situation and how it affects you. I understand what has happened to you. YOU are not to blame for all of the problems. You were trying to help yourself and THEM to see how if we all acknowledge and work on this dysfunction it will be better for the whole family. The characters are different and the details of the story are different, but it is the same stuff that I dealt with when I was trying to get my sister and father to see what was happening and how it was wrong.

My father and sister could see no fault in their actions. All they could see is that it felt to them like an attack. They easily told lies to themselves and to me. At least my father came clean to me about some of my sister’s behaviors, but alas it did not matter. It hurt me to see that my feelings and all the things I did for family did not matter a hill of beans to them. All I could see is that I was to be used and abused. The last time I saw my sister over five years ago she verbally attacked me for no reason except the fact that I had written her a letter about her behavior and she did not like it that I would not back down from how I felt. I never talked to her or contacted her after that event.

You are not a bad person for “exposing” the dysfunction. I believe you were in a fight for your life. I know that I was in a fight for my life. I have found out over the years since my father lived in our home that none of my FOO gave a rat’s ass about me or mine. These people are just “posers” in the game of life. I don’t understand how they think or live with themselves. It was not worth it to me to compromise myself any longer to fit in with them. I had to ask myself would I deal with these folks at all if it was not for the label of “family”? The answer was no I would not.

I don’t know the answer for you. It took me a long time to figure out all this stuff, and of course reading EFB solidified the position I was already taking with these lousy people. I tried a second time with my dad in 2014. I told him he would have to initiate all contacts. He could not keep up that simple thing. He did not contact me for 8 months. I did not reach out to him at all. Then all of a sudden it was like he “remembered” me and made several calls to me. I really don’t get that behavior. I verbally explained many times to him that this was a problem. The last letter I wrote to him explained in detail what I expected. All I can surmise from his actions is that he is really really stupid or he really really does not care. Maybe a combo of both. It does not matter because I am finally done with him.

I hope for your healing Alaina. I know it is hard to not blame yourself. You are not to blame. I am sure you are suffering more than they are suffering. If they are like my family, they will just go on their merry way.


Thanks for sharing this Darlene, I thought the interview was great and helpful. Yes, I’ve spent the whole past year of my life thinking, wondering, asking if I am in fact the problem. After my partner died in October 2014, I was left alone in a really unhealthy situation. It was unhealthy because our relationship/life together was one that was always very dysfunctional and unequal. Then his son who inherited everything became extremely abusive and threw my dog (who soon died) out of our home and onto the streets with nothing.

I wound up depending on a ‘friend’ of mine who refused to respect my boundaries, who decided that since he was helping me out that meant he had a right to say anything he wanted to me no matter how unwelcome, offensive, or insulting it was to me. He was the only person who stood by me, and I thought the only person who would believe me or take my side when I talked about how my partner and then former in-laws treated me.

I suffered in silence, too afraid of further abandonment to stand up for myself or confront the truth about what was happening. I had panic attacks every single time I had to talk to or be around him, for almost a year until I just got out of that situation. Being around manipulative people who denied my reality made it so hard to develop any confidence in my own perceptions, as I’ve desperately tried to piece together what’s become of my life and examine these relationships. Having PTSD from it all makes it hard to stick to the wider facts where I feel like no, it wasn’t all my fault…

I’m prone to going over every little detail and trying to find ways where I could change/win their approval or better treatment. As if when tragedy struck and I was left powerless I should have been able to summon emotional resources I didn’t have and just ‘snap out’ of the shock I was in at my partner’s sudden death and do things differently. I guess the same way I used to feel about my abusive childhood, that I’d been trying to work through. But it’s all been so deeply embedded.

Saying I’ve been stuck or broken seem like understatements. I’m sure it’s going to be a really long road out of where I am right now.



I am sorry to know how you have suffered so much at the hands of friends and relatives. It is not your fault that you were treated badly. It grates me to see abuse. I especially hate abuse towards animals.

I understand how you would go over every little detail to find out how you could change and get them to like you. I did this for many years. I just didn’t talk sometimes because if I did not talk I would not say anything wrong.

Be gentle with yourself. No one can just “snap out” of anything. The sudden loss of your partner, your home, and your dog is overwhelming to anyone. Yes, the road is long and it has curves and rough spots that cannot be predicted. We all have felt stuck or broken. It is a hard place to live, but a better day will come even though it seems like it never will happen.


Hi Andria,
Thank you for your response. I’m sure that there is no answer except acceptance. It was, as you say, a fight for my life. It would kill me to martyr myself in any way for their sake. And why? I’d be willing to lay down my life for the truth or for love but there’s neither love nor truth in lowering myself to fit them and what they want from me. I know I’m not to blame. These beliefs can be persistent even when I know better. They grow underground. I’ve come to the same conclusions many times over. There’s really nothing I can do. Thanks for caring and yes, I’m quite sure I’ve suffered over this situation much more than they have.

I’m so sorry for what you’ve been going through. I thought of you several times in the past year, wondering how you were, and I really wish now that I’d passed by your website and sent a hello and I’m really, really sorry that I didn’t. Even if I couldn’t help, having a friend check up is always a nice thing, so I regret that very much. You are such a kind and thoughtful person. I’ve always appreciated you and your insight into things. Sometimes life is so hard and it’s too much to expect ourselves to fight up against it; you’re just caught in the rapids and trying not to drown. Everyone needs people to lean on sometimes and the one person who was there for you abused you. It’s his shame. Help is something you give from your heart and it gives you no license to abuse or manipulate. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been going through. I hope the road out won’t be so long as you think. Circumstances and environment have incredible impact and influence, especially when we are vulnerable. I hope that you’re able to surround yourself with real love and care to help soothe and facilitate recovery and healing. You certainly deserve it. You are a good and caring person who has been through so much. I hope that plenty of goodness is on its way to help you out. No one should have to fight through life alone. I wish much love.


Adrian, thanks for your support. No, it isn’t possible to just ‘snap out’ of anything, but my friend honestly seemed to think I should immediately be over my partner’s death and everything else that was happening (even why it was still ongoing!) And voices like that have a big impact. I’ve definitely felt that too, just not saying anything out of fear of being attacked. It’s no way to live.

And yeah, my ‘in-laws’ claimed to love my dog, but they went back on their promise to cover his medical bills and then made both of us homeless. I wasn’t allowed to take some of the stuff I needed to take care of him, as he had special medical needs, and the entire situation hastened his death from a long-standing illness. I felt so bad that I wasn’t even able to be with him at the end, as I had signed him over to some veterinarians in the hopes he would thrive again when I was living in a tent and could barely take care of myself.

Alaina, thank you, I really appreciate your kind, supportive words. And that you were thinking of me. I’ve found it very hard to reach out to anyone, the past year has been so isolating. Emotional abuse is of course extremely isolating, when you think it’s your fault and no one would side with you. And yeah, you’re right, helping someone out doesn’t give you a right to randomly go off on them. But I don’t know, I felt like I was just ‘complaining’ or ‘being ungrateful’–when in fact I thanked him every time he did something for me.

But I asked him very nicely to stop giving me pushy, unsolicited medical/healing advice, and he refused. He kept repeating the same insulting, judgmental, simplistic advice again and again knowing that he was antagonizing me, and after I had explained at length why it wouldn’t work for me. He told me my health issues were all in my head, and judged me for my grieving process taking ‘too long…’ He just completely wrote me off as a person, implied that I was “wimpy,” “whiny” or something along those lines, made homophobic comments. And that has nothing to do with letting me pitch a tent on one of his properties for awhile and giving me rides to the grocery store. One doesn’t justify or excuse the other. And all of this is just more for me to sort through, and deal with under bad circumstances.



I am extremely sympathetic to your situation. I hope you are not living in a tent anymore, but if you are I hope the weather is not cold.

This “friend” is a horrible abuser. I have had friends that abused me in the past, but this guy is a real piece of work. I wish I could say that I cannot believe what this person was telling you, but I know how cruel and judgmental people can be. I don’t think he “honestly” thought that you should be over your partner’s death. He just saw an opportunity to mess with someone and he took full advantage. This person has a problem. I am sorry you had to deal with this SOB. I hope your dealings with him will be minimal.

Again, I am so sorry for the pile up of unfortunate things happening in your life. I understand feeling guilty about your dog. You did the best you could for him under these circumstances. I hope you will eventually forgive yourself for how he died.

Please take care of yourself. I am sure you are trying your best. You will be in my thoughts.


Hi Caden
I too was prone to going over every little detail to find ways where I could get them to see that I was a good person and I believed that if I ‘loved’ or acted in a loving way, that they would love me and treat me in the same loving way. Because of the way that I grew up, I was really stuck in the belief system that it was always up to me to carry the burden of the relationship and that failure or difficulty in relationship was either something I caused or something I deserved. I had to work really hard to see this through the grid of the truth. I had to look at the behaviour I was trying to accept. And as I looked at it (each new circumstance) I asked myself where I had learned to be the only one trying. And it was all so deeply embedded, but I got through. Persistence is key and you certainly have that!!
Here is to a better year this year!! Onward and upward!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Alaina
That’s cool that you watched the interview.
I can relate to everything you say. Sometimes I feel like I am grieving the way the world is. WHY don’t people want to have REAL relationship based on the truth? Why is it easier for them to live in dysfunction instead of going for love and depth and meaningful relationship based on mutual respect? And why is the truth speaker the bad guy? And when I get overwhelmed I ask myself ~ What is the alternative for me? The alternative would be for me to go back to living in bullshit and accepting all the crap of relationship based on who hold the most power. I would rather be alone…
Thanks for sharing.


Hi Amber!
haha, I felt myself blushing when I realized I has SUNG on a recorded interview!
Thanks for watching the interview! It’s awesome that you have been on this journey and sharing for 3 years!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Andria
Yes, it is fun working with Svava! I wrote myself a note to write about drilling down. I teach this to every client and it is a really valuable tool!
Hugs, Darlene


I’m so sorry for this experience you’ve had and I hope that you will never have to deal with this person again. I agree with Andria’s conclusion. Something is really wrong with this person. I really hope that your current situation has improved—at least to have this person out of your life because he (and anybody like him) is completely detrimental to your healing.

Hi Darlene,
Thanks for the response. Yes, I’d rather be alone but alone isn’t fun. Too much alone is its own kind of cage. I so much want belonging and meaning and connection and purpose. I was thinking of going back to school to become a child psychologist. I think I’d really like to do that. It makes me very emotional just to think about it. And I also have this voice in my head telling me I can’t or I shouldn’t or who do I think I am or I’m too damaged or what if I’m not smart enough (it would take about 10 years of schooling to get a PH.d), what if I put in a bunch of time and money and I can’t get through it, I’m too old and I’m already paying back student loans, what if it’s just way too much pressure and expecting too much out of me. But I think I’d like to try. It would mean a great deal to me. I’m nervous to tell anybody or even just to think about it. I’m afraid of being shot down, like when I was 18, wanting to work and travel after high school and my mom thought it was best that I go to university (she thought I was too fragile to be out in the real world or something—really, I suspect her of just wanting to keep a handle over my life, which was easier if I was going to school, living at home) so I went along with what she thought was best, even though I did not want to go, because I wasn’t sure of myself but she was sure university was for me. It’s a bit ironic that it’s the opposite situation now; I’ve been working in an industry completely non-academic and now I’m nervous about being shot down for wanting to go back to school.



“To each his own.” as they say. If one thrives being with others, that’s okay. If one thrives being alone, that’s okay, too. Personally, I gain more freedom being alone than being with others. My current life feels so free because it’s the first time I can be a loner without constant judgment, at least for the most part. I have a neighbor who lives above me, and every time I see her (which is rare so far) she asks me for assistance for something, and I reluctantly help her. Then, she thanks me, and demands that I stop acting shy. Yeesh! It’s pushy people like her who give me more reasons to embrace my semi-hermit lifestyle. Shy people hate being alone; voluntary loners don’t.

About school: If that is what you want for yourself, go ahead, and go for it. True, you may be older than the typical college student, but older adults attend college all the time, so don’t let that hinder you. As for me, I’m not a fan of classrooms since they are not loner-friendly, so I learn with books and the Internet. But, I do know that some people learn better with others, so give it some thought.


Hi S1988, yes, I was talking about myself and about it being too much alone for me. I like my time alone, too, quite a lot—it’s just been a bit excessive as I’ve been unemployed for 5 months, I don’t have a network of friends, etc. I’d like to have a small group of people that I really get along with, feel connected to, energized by, have fun with (but it’s not with anybody that this happens; in fact I think it’s rare to have really true, close friends). A lot of the time I find people exhausting and am glad to get away. Even with people I really like, I need down time from seeing them. I also especially like the kind of people you can be alone with—the people who are completely comfortable with silences. I’m not at all an extrovert and do not judge introverts, nor extroverts. If it’s a choice between pushy, judgmental people who want me to be someone I’m not, of course I’d be happy to be free of them and all alone. My point is more that it’s a shitty situation to feel that those are the only two options: dysfunctional people/relationships or alone and that yes alone can be its own prison. It means something to me to have connections and feel a part of something, to have people who mean something to me and to whom I mean something. But I also like to read books, paint, play piano, write fiction—all very solitary things I would not give up. But to have more than one friend that I honestly want to call up to go out for tea with now and again would be nice for me (and generally speaking a life where I feel like I belong in it). I think even extreme loners often like to have pets for friends and that says something about human nature’s need for some level of connection…. Anyway, I was really talking about myself and my frustration that’s not really about being shy either (although I am shy) but shyness is also different than staying away from people because you don’t like them because they’re crazy and dysfunctional which is also different than liking people but choosing to spend it alone because time is precious and it means more to you to spend it by yourself which is also different from you just don’t know where to find the particular people with whom you might get along really well (but not necessarily want to spend all your time with)… Thanks for the support re:schooling and I’m sorry if my comments came off like I was making a judgment toward anybody who’d rather be alone. People have also made comments to me when I don’t feel like being social and it’s very annoying. It’s okay to be choosy; it’s our life. You don’t have to be friends with people and you don’t have to do what they want just because they think that’s a better life. I also think you go through periods in your life when being more alone is important to you and at other times connecting becomes important.


Hi S1988 and Alaina,

I understand where both of you are coming from in your posts. I am also an introvert. Relationships can be difficult even if you are not having them with dysfunction problems. It is hard sometimes to have a real friend. I find that there are a lot of acquaintance relationships in my life. It is hard to make a real connection with people because that takes time and if for any reason someone is not willing to put in time with you then a true friendship does not blossom. I’m not saying casual relationships are not good, but if you are looking for something more with that person it can feel like they don’t “really” like you. I have had to learn not to take it personally and move on if I feel I have to do that.

I hope both of you find happiness and peace in your personal lives. All of us here have a common bond of being mistreated by the very people who should have been in our corner.


Hi Alaina
I agree ~ Alone isn’t fun! I have found belonging and connection just not with my family of origin.
I LOVE your passion about becoming a child psychologist! Originally I wanted to work with children ~ specifically teenagers. In fact in my first coaching courses we had to pick a specialty and my goals were set to work with parents and teens together. As I went forward I realized how few parents would be willing to take responsibility for the difficulties in their relationships with their teens (and coaching isn’t the same as being a psychologist) and well you know where I am going with this. BUT as a child psychologist YOU could make such a wonderful difference! You get it, (and so few professionals do!!) You have my full encouragement and admiration!!!
Hugs Darlene


So, Saturday I heard from my brother that Mom took a turn for the worse and was in the hospital. He asked if I could be there for her on Monday because no one else was available, and maybe I’d want to see her before it’s too late because time is short. Sunday he called to say that Monday may be too late.

Sunday, I saw my Mom and the whole family I’ve been estranged from for about 2 years. Of course they are being nice. They are lovely people as far as most people can tell and surely in their own minds. I’m being nice too. This isn’t the time for ripping open wounds.

In the back of my mind I hear some voice pointing out that they are being nice, as if to mock me for avoiding them for this long. I’m feeling that if I could only forget those times I was dismissed and ignored or criticized and condemned, and just smile and nod, I could be a part of this lovely family.

All I need to do is ignore what they say when they get angry and mean and realize it’s their problem. I just need to stop taking it personally when they say stupid things, especially if they’re drinking. I just need to remember that they only want to hear good news. I need to just smile and say that I’m fine and they’ll love me.

So, I have survived my first encounter after all this time. I’m thinking that I care enough to get through a few weeks of grief and mourning. I can show up and let the friends and acquaintances believe that nothing was wrong between them and me. It won’t be long until there is no one to really care what our family looks like. I can handle this and feel like I’ve done what my conscience can live with.

But I don’t trust the kindness to last very long. I don’t believe it really matters to anyone that I’m there except for how it makes them look to the rest of the world – at least the world that matters to them.

Except for the argument with that voice in my head, I’m holding up well. I know that this is something that I will go through and come out on the other side.

I’m a lot stronger than I was.



Wow. I’ve been reading the comments on this site for a year but been a bit afraid to post, I don’t know why. But Alaina- are you my TWIN? Your comments here read like you’re inside my head! “I swear the biggest hurdle for me to get over is my own empathy”! I just shrieked out loud when I read that. I’m in the process of finally admitting how loveless and cold my family are, and they are all very intelligent, professionally successful, politically correct people. Like you, I’ve exposed them to themselves, and they loathe it. And I’ve been racked with guilt and doubt about my motives, how I’ve probably made them unhappy, was it the right thing to do, etc, etc- and then I am reminded in another comment here why I did it. It really was a life and death situation for me. My family betrayed me at a primal level, and I could have died through their neglect. So now when those old guilt feelings trip me up, I remind myself of that reality. Telling my truth began to free me, and it opened a door for them- there was no hiding any more. They could have walked through the doorway, but instead they slammed the door in my face. As Darlene said, the truth teller always gets savaged. One of my sisters actually shouted at me once “yes, you’re the truth teller, why can’t you just shut up?” I value my ability to empathize and have compassion but even I realise that there are some people on whom it’s completely wasted! Still struggle with it though. This is a wonderful thread, so much insight and real caring. Thanks everyone.


Hobie, I always learn a lot from your comments and I hope you don’t mind me responding as Im a newbie. I think you are being wonderfully aware of the pitfalls in this terribly difficult situation, and that in itself is fantastic progress and real strength, too. I really feel for you, it is a situation I’ve experienced and I felt just the same as you do, that the “kindness” wouldn’t last, that it was pretty much a sham and for public display, and boy, was I right. You have my sympathy and I’m sure, given your hard won insight, that you have as much strength as you need. I’m thinking of you, Branwen


Darlene I just watched your interview from the Journey to the Heart Summit. All I can say is WOW. You were amazing.
You spoke with your heart and with your knowledge and made it so that we could all relate to and understand.
I am so glad the Svava replayed the interviews so that people like me who missed it the first time could watch.
Thank you so much for all you do.


Hi Andria,
I’m with you on all that. Thanks! And I wish you peace and happiness, too.

Hi Darlene,
Thanks for all your enthusiasm and encouragement!!! The idea of it is feeling more and more solid as I think about it. And yes, I see why you changed paths! Anyway, your work and the community here has had a profound impact on me, so on a selfish level, I’m glad you changed paths.

Hi Hobie,
Sending you lots of love. Take care. You’re very strong and your conscience would have no right to bully you any which way. You’re a good person and you’ve been treated rottenly.

Hi Branwen,
Nice to meet you! We definitely do sound like we have lots in common. I think they do all give themselves away at one point or another (re: your sister’s comment). I think deep down they do understand everything—not quite the same way as we do but yeah, I think so.

It really is a long road between understanding the truth intellectually and accepting it emotionally. I’m hoping I’ve passed from the turmoil stage to something more settled down. It feels that way (at the moment) but I never really trust my emotions to sit still, so we’ll see.

I’m glad you wrote! Take care.


Hello Hobie, don’t know if this will be of any use to you but I found it strangely comforting and wanted to share it with you.

It is said that Abraham Lincoln had a strained relationship with his Father. His Father did not understand his desire to be educated or his beliefs, Lincoln apparently was somewhat of a freethinker when it came to religion and did not fully ascribe to his Father’s beliefs. His Father, it is said, favored his stepson over Lincoln and forced Lincoln, according to one author,to be his “slave.” Lincoln basically was supporting his Father at one point after he went blind.

Lincoln had limited contact with his Father after he left home, sending money at times and visiting once when his Father was ill. His Father was not invited to his wedding and never met his children. Lincoln himself became a very loving Father, many people say this was in response to the coldness in his own childhood. Many speculate his bouts of “melancholy” where in fact tied to his childhood, the death of his mother and his poor relationship with his father.

Lincoln never wrote anything positive about his father in all of his years and when his father was on his deathbed, Lincoln refused to go and see him. He said ” “Say to him that if we could meet now, it is doubtful whether it would not be more painful than pleasant; but that if it be his lot to go now, he will soon have a joyous meeting with many loved ones gone before; and where the rest of us, through the help of God, hope ere-long to join them.”

Lincoln did not attend his Father’s funeral and would not pay for a headstone.



Yeah, I read about that somewhere on the Internet about Lincoln. It probably was more controversial in the 19th century than today for someone to have little to do with their parents since things were more conservative. That explains why he was lax with his own children. I heard that he would let his kids literately run around, and tear down stuff in the White House while he just sat there do nothing except to look up every now and then, and smile. (I found this kind of humorous.)

I wonder how people reacted about the then president not going to his father’s funeral. If there is a document that cites it, it’s hard to find.


I regret missing the summit meeting, but did read the above blog. On the subjects of blame and self criticism. I find myself in a tailspin for a current situation that involves a ‘friending’ between my NM and a supposed close friend of mine. It involves my NM from what I see trying to triangulate by involving my friend in feeling sorry for her in my lack of support in her most recent move.My NM is close to being legally blind, but I do not forsee her slowing her tactics down anytime soon. She competes with me for attention over what little I do have and I am at the point (again,) where I do not want her in my life any more. She wants, I know, for me to be there for her in a way that I am, from what anyone else could see that I DO NOT WANT TO BE. She has said things like, ” I will wait you out,” etc. Now I am in a position of having to reject both her and my friend on my own account. I am tired of feeling like I can’t win.
It is predestined as she has already said and I find her doing to me the things that her mother did to her that she so hated, ie. always wanting what she had, blah, blah, blah.


I want to respond to Alaina in comment #45. I can relate to that impasse that you describe above. I am from a very fractured family that likes to call itself blended. I vacillate between trying to be a team player and then going back to no man’s land with scenarious replaying repeatedly of how things SHOULD have gone. I know better. It is hard to play well with other’s when the cards that we have been dealt are a bad hand. I like to think that I have a choice in the matter itself. It is hard and you feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. I especially resonated with what you said about being stuck in a waiting mode, because that is exactly where I am and it is a very tough, vulnerable place to be. It is easy to self destruct there. I wish us all a better new year. Peace.


Thanks for the supportive comments! They help.

Branwen – I’m happy to hear from you. Being new to posting here doesn’t mean you’re less compassionate or have less to offer any of the rest of us. Your comments were very validating and I really appreciate them.

Thank you Alaina – I also agree with your statement “It really is a long road between understanding the truth intellectually and accepting it emotionally.” I have found a number of concepts I understood in my head are now taking root in some part of my soul where they can become a part of the way I just live my life. I am so glad to find that it CAN happen!

Kaycee – It does help to know that someone as admirable as Abraham Lincoln had issues with a parent. He turned out well anyway, and I appreciate knowing he had limits. Obviously he cared enough for his father to help him when he could, but recognized the relationship wasn’t worth maintaining.

I had intended to NOT attend my mom’s funeral, but I’ve changed my mind in the past few days. I’ve been at the hospital and among family for a lot of those days and I’ve learned something about doing what makes ME feel comfortable with my own behavior. I’m finding the spaces where I have something I’m willing to offer as well as where I need to take care of MYSELF.

I had one family member fall into a recognizable pattern of relating and while I was caught off-guard, I STILL handled the situation differently than I had in the past. I had to walk away for a while, and reach out for support, but I didn’t completely fold. I walked back and reclaimed my dignity. I wasn’t bullied into doing something that was unreasonable to expect and I’m that much less afraid to face the next incident.

Mom is hanging on. Her pain was bad enough that she has been medicated into being unresponsive to attempts at interaction, but her heart and lungs continue. My dad died 4 years ago on January 29th. She may be determined to last until Friday.

Thanks again,



Thank you again Alaina, Andria, and Darlene for your supportive responses to my posts. It’s been so hard to work through, and the very real loss and abandonment of course ignited old traumas and patterns, and made me very afraid to face losing anyone else and unable to think clearly about these things. I hope that in the future when a tragedy strikes I will be in a better place.

Andria, it’s true, there was something incredibly intentional, deliberate about what this friend of mine was doing to me. He made several comments at one point about trying to ‘regulate’ me and my emotions, and when this obviously proved impossible, he became more belligerent about it. There’s just so many sick layers to it all. But I am out of it, no longer living in a tent and have no contact with him now, so it’s over at least.

Alaina, I know exactly what you mean, my mother would always talk me out of things I wanted to do as well. Always doubting my abilities and sense of self, and making out like the world was a dangerous place, and she was safe (when the world can be dangerous or safe, but she was never safe for me.) Anyway, I think your plan is great, I’m sure have what it takes to do it. I’m also looking for that sense of belonging you talk about, and I really hope you can find it moving forward.



Best wishes to you as you navigate the difficult path of facing a parent’s death with the added stresses of relationship problems. I am glad for you that you have found peace in your decision to attend your mother’s funeral, and also have less fear in dealing with family members who want to relate to you in unkind ways.


Glad to know that person is out of your life and you have a better place to live. I hope you can find what you are looking for in relationships in the future. Please take care of yourself.


What you wrote about Lincoln is so interesting. I had heard a couple of the facts you stated, but it never occurred to me that his melancholy (depression) was due to family matters. It makes sense. Not that a civil war would not make one depressed enough, but that was not personal as having a father who did not care for you. In what appears to be his last communication to his father, there is that wonderful Lincoln eloquence. How could a father not appreciate such a man?


It is so great to be actually “talking” to people whose posts Ive been reading for so long! Like others have said here, I was scared to post anything, but as soon as I did, I realized that this is a totally safe place and no one is going to judge or silence me, and that’s a great feeling. Caden, just want to say I’m very glad to hear you’re no longer living in the tent. I was homeless at eighteen and it’s a desperately lonely and frightening situation to be in. As to your “friend”- well, my oldest friend of 33 years, who I thought was like a brother to me, was got at my my NM. She began inviting him to visit her, paid his trains , taxis and hotel, took him out to lunch and dinner, gave him money, and then went to work on him. Then my older sister did the same. I had no idea this was going on, though I could sense that something was “off”, and that he was being a bit cold and dismissive with me. So I asked him in an e mail if we were ok, had I done anything wrong. I got a reply that shocked me to the core. It was almost obscene in its nastiness- it was like being vomited on. My mother had absolutely trashed me to him, and he chose to believe her. My sister had done the same. I do now realise that I had hung on to him for far too long, and ignored signs that he wasn’t the person I wanted him to be, because of my fear of being alone and abandoned, and that I’d chosen him as a friend precisely because he was so like my mother. I was so needy I’d have pretty much put up with anything. It’s very hard to understand the motive behind all this but I’m beginning to put the pieces together bit by bit. It’s probably a good thing that sorting through all this horrible stuff takes a long time. I don’t think I could have handled realizing all this crap all at once. Caden, is your living situation stable now? You display a lot of courage and dignity and that’s pretty inspiring.


Well, now I’ve started posting, of course I can’t stop! But I want to respond to Mariah in 68 and 69- I describe my NM triangulating my best friend in the post above, and I very much relate to you saying how tired you are of it all, how you can’t win, and how frustrating it is to feel so stuck and exhausted. I only recently began to move out of the fog and it took a very fine therapist to help me to do that. I was beginning to close myself down- not taking care of my health, neglecting myself, just giving up, really. Exhausted. But slowly I’m beginning to move forward. There are moments of real and precious insight that make me gasp with recognition and then I know I’m going to be all right, I’m going to live, they haven’t won. These moments keep me going. When the going gets rough and I start to slide back, those true and hard won insights propel me forward. Finding this site was a gift too, and came at just the right time. It’s so powerful to be able to connect with others who know exactly how it is. So Mariah, reading your posts helped me, just as posting this helps me because I know I’m not alone, and neither are you.


Thank you so very much Branwen, for sharing your experience strength and hope with me. It is very much appreciated! I have to organize my thoughts a bit here, but here goes…I am having a very hard time hanging onto anything right now and pretty much everything is setting me off. I know better than to let some of these things get under my skin, but like a pesky splinter, they do. It unnerves me to imagine what my friend would say if I sent her an “Are we good?” email for that very specific reason; I want her to understand me so that I can feel like I can TRUST her and go forward with our friendship. That trust, or feeling that I am craving, I am afraid is a bottomless pit at this point as I have waited so long for such a response. And the conversations that I had hoped that would come about organically never happened. So therin lies the rub: I don’t want to feel that rejection of not feeling understood yet again. She has unfriended me in the past, at a time when she was outside of the country in the Middle East, so there was no way really to reconnect. She stayed here with me for the better part of a summer two years ago (when SHE decided to,) and we kept in touch in between, but I am sensing the cooling that you mentioned above and it has put me off. None of the questions that I had hoped would be asked are being asked, instead the focus is on the drama of the Middle East for her at this time. For my NM it is the drama of settling into her new apartment (which is one floor above where she lived before in disabled housing.)Therefore, if I unfriend here I ‘lose’ her again as a friend? Not necessarily. I am just changing my mind and doing what is right for me. And as for my mother’s prying but failing eyes looking and or hearing by proxy what I am doing or not on facebook? None of her business. Just like what their particular relationship is is none of my business nor should be. Well, at least for now, that’s all I’ve got on that particular scenario. It may sound petty, but even the small things have an interplay that can have a way of undermining the stability of our lives. It is important to have a safe space to voice these concerns. Just “taking a pill” is not working for me anymore, (if it ever did!) and I need to find a way to reach out to get myself out of this depression that has its grip on my. Thanks again for your kind thoughts and keep on keeping on.


Just had an “aha moment” when I just realized that also giving up on someone or something does not have to mean that I am giving up on myself. If people who are supposedly either friends or family want to do things (even if passively,) that oppose me that is on them. Not my problem. I cannot help them to see the light if they are either too stupid, stubborn or slow to see it. As Tracey Chapman says so eloquently, “I am too old to go chasing(you) around, wasting my precious energy. From her song, “Give me one reason to stay here and I’ll turn right back around.” I cannot be hurt by other people’s opinions, either. Again, that is their business. In the meantime, life is too short to spend obsessing about other people’s foibles and or follies. My life is not a joke. I am not a joke.
Furthermore, I don’t have to trade on my sense of security for a false sense of security. What I mean by that is that I can accept a gift from someone, but that does not mean that I am an asshole just because I don’t go running out to buy or do something that is just as good as if not better than what they got for me. This is about love for me, and how it has been expressed in my life. With strings attached, a gift it is not. I again recently felt conned or cornered into sending my NM a gift card for a cordless phone since she said hers was not working. “That will be it,” she said “I on’t be able to call you.” That was inferred;so what? Should I DO something for someone who doesn’t have the balls to ask for what they need?? Why do I have to do all the work??? I need to work at managing MY OWN LIFE. I live 200 miles away from this woman and still find myself getting conned and or cornered by her.
But she doesn’t forget that she spent $180.00 for my 50th birthday, so now I owe her now, you see. AND every phone conversation is her reiterating that she will be 70 this summer.


Going no contact with my mother had been on my mind for years, but I never had the courage to actually do it because she would hold things over me whether financial or out of responsibility for my brother or by holding onto family heirlooms after relatives had passed on. I felt like I couldn’t let go of her. I spent a few years looking on the Internet for advice regarding what to do but didn’t find this website until a few months ago. I’ve been reading this website for the past three months and found a lot of support through the comments from women who experienced eerily similar horror stories. I reached a breaking point this weekend and finally cut ties. So even though I’d never actually communicated with any of you, I wanted to say thank you for everything!!! And to other silent readers of this website who are still on the fence about whether or not they can go no contact…. It will feel like a breakup and you’ll question the “fond memories” you’re letting go of, but much like a relationship with a loser abusive ex boyfriend who never deserved your love anyway, you deserve more than a handful of good memories in the midst of abuse. I cried the first two days but it’s time to focus my energy on all the healthy relationships in my life. Thank you !


Mom slipped away a little after 8PM this evening.

As the stories roll out, I realize that my mother was someone different to me than she was to almost everyone else.

I’m glad this can’t go on forever.



Hobie, my heart goes out to you. Branwen



I am sorry for how you are feeling. Please take care of yourself during this difficult time. I hope the funeral goes smoothly for you. I will keep you in my thoughts.


I am really behind on the discussion!

Welcome to all the new people in this discussion ~ Branwen, Mariah and Brittney, welcome to EFB. I am sorry if I have missed welcoming anyone else that is new here!

Hobie, I am sending an extra hug to you ~ gosh that is not an easy situation!

Hugs, Darlene


Hi Hobie,

I am sorry for your loss but relieved all at the same time. I have been thinking about your situation and Psalm 27 came to mind. It seems fitting for your given situation and for many of us on this site. You found the courage inside of yourself to face this thing head on. Peace will follow you because of it.

Sending a big hug your way!



Hello, I just found this website yesterday after watching Darlenes interview with Svava, which was so wonderful! I’m overwhelmed with…….validation. I’ve lived for 44 years thinking I was the only person on the planet dealing with these same kinds of issues with family. I almost never talk to my parents, or any other family really, and now I find out others have done the same and it has a name-no contact!
Darlene you talked about healing and not dealing with depression anymore. It renewed hope in me to hear you say that. I feel broken, like I can never be fixed, beyond just surviving. I have few happy memories from childhood, and the ones I have usually were times away from my family. Verbal, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and neglect is the theme of my formative years. My dad is an alcoholic and my mom is ‘I don’t really know what’ but she’s never accepted me, and always favors my brother. And I was the scapegoat. I still am, but I have detached from the ones who bad mouth me so I don’t own or accept their words. I have gone to counseling, which was somewhat helpful in ways, but there was a recurring ‘get over it and forgive’ approach. And I’ve felt even more defective for not being able to be all better after counseling. But I also am now very jaded now about counseling or therapy and don’t know if I could trust somebody again.
Anyway, my son died last July, he was 20. The grief is still raw and difficult on a daily basis. And it all just seems like too much. So I take lots of naps. I’m getting better at having compassion for myself.


Sorry for your loss Hobie. Not sure what else to say. 🙁
Brittney, you are not alone when it comes to all,those feelings you have expressed. You have come to a safe place to express yourself fully. Darlene has been a godsend to all of us.


Hi Darlene,
Reading your posts makes me feel good, as I now know that I am not the only person who has been the victim of my “Loving” family members. Whilst the situations that some people in this forum have experienced, have proven to be far worse than what I have faced within my 21 (going 22) years of existence, I can’t help but ask: Must the pain that was inflicted towards me have to be that of a grand scale, before I lash out on my abusers relentlessly?

The abuse that I have received mostly came from my maternal grandmother and my father, whose abuse towards me has resulted in me labelling them either by the following: “Those two” or “The mother-in-law and son-in-law tandem from hell”
Whilst there were some memorable moments from these two, the bad one (which also happens to be the times in which I just decided not to do anything because I had to “man up” and be the “better person”) are the ones that really leave a long lasting scar inside (yeah I know same old stuff)

Anyway to cut to the chase, here are just some of the things that they have done of which I can never really forgive:

-Saying that my degree is worthless

*I am 21 year old man whose is set to complete a Bachelor of International Studies degree this year, and whilst I have been looking for a job throughout the course of my degree,
my search has proven to be of no use. Anyway, long story short, I applied for a job as kitchen hand in a restaurant in a local shopping center last year. When we mentioned this to my ever so perfect grandmother, the words that really made a lasting impression were: Oh my god, really a kitchenhand? Why the heck did this grandson of mine study a 4 year course when he is just gonna end up as a lousy kitchenhand? I should have just recruited him in a restaurant ages ago.
*Mind you grandma, I have plans with my degree, but if I have to go through the hard yards first then so be it.
*It’s funny how she thinks she can be all high and almighty when she didn’t even get past highschool and is currently fending for herself as a worker in a Mushroom farm and mind you, my mother is handling all of my grandmother’s paperwork, and my Mom gets nothing in return except a whole heap of stress.

-Making me feel like shit when I have done something by accident

*In my family, when you do something that you didn’t intend to do, it doesn’t matter. To their eyes, your actions always be seen and considered as intentional.

When my family and I decided to stay in Queensland for a couple of weeks, we stayed in an apartel. One day, during lunch my elbow hit my glass of coke by accident (Oh whoops I meant on purpose) and then tada my grandmother starts giving me a lecture and guess who tags along? You guessed right? My
loving father! They both lectured me about how incompetent I was and they made it sound as if I had the intention of breaking all of the glasses within the apartel unit. Thought that was end of it? After grilling me for a million years, my elbow once again accidentally touched the same glass causing it to spin (It didn’t fall off the table) and my grandma was like: Omg you’re going to repeat the same mistake again? And when I retaliated (Yeah I shouldn’t have right?) my dad was like: Now you think have the right
to get angry? So I had a bit of a cry and just when I thought it was over my dad was like: Relax, toughen yourself up you wus
*I get what they were trying to convey because obviously we didn’t want that glass of coke to spill. But what angered me is how they reacted to the situation, making me feel like I have committed a terrible crime.

-Hitting me

*When we went to Europe, I was excited and sort of scared. Scared why? Because I didn’t want what happened in Queensland to happen again whilst I am on holiday. In other words I just didn’t want an altercation between my grandmother and father again. My grandma and I were fine, but now it was my father’s
turn to be the bitch. One time, I couldn’t open the plastic packaging of the EU adapter that we purchased prior to flying to Paris. When my Dad found out that I decided to try opening the packaging again later, he hit me on the face and said: Strategy, you stupid fool, strategy. Then he proceeded to successfully open the packaging and take the said adapter out.
*Mind you this all happened in front of my cousin from my mother’s side, who I am older than by 5 years of whom my Dad also considers his “son”
*After the said incident he just brushed it off and started talking to my cousin whilst I was just about to choke on my own spit, trying to hold back the tears that were about
to flow down my eyes. But I knew I couldn’t let my guard down, especially when he said in a threatening tone: (with my
cousin still around) Carl are you okay?
*For the entirety of the European trip he just remained silent. Dickface even took several snapshots of the various places that we visited, not even bothering to see if I truly was okay.

So there you have it folks, welcome to my perfect family! Where talking shit about your plans, guilt tripping you for doing something that you didn’t do on purpose as well as hitting you are some of the actions of which have been seen as honourable and just! Brilliant isn’t it!?

Of course there were so many times where I felt that I should have fought to put them in their rightful place. But what stopped me? Oh right the fear that if I stood up to them, I will be seen as an insensitive little twat who needs to man up. Oh right also the fear that if I fought back, it will just
make me look as bad as them or worse. Oh and also the fear that if I stand up to them, I will have forever compromised my eligibility to go to heaven. Finally do you know what really hurts the most? I didn’t stand up to them because after all that they have done, I still chose to listen to that one voice in my head, telling me that perhaps there’s still some good in those two, in spite of all the dark deeds they have done.

Stupid isn’t it?

Thanks for opening your blog Darlene. It has helped to lessen, if not eradicate, the pain of which I have been holding onto for so long.



I am sorry that you are suffering this horrible abuse. I am glad that you found Darlene’s website. Your grandmother and father do not sound like good people. Loving people do not treat loved ones like this.

I understand what has happened to you. You are not stupid or your actions stupid. You are doing what most of us did to “survive”our families. The names and stories are different, but the effect on the person is the same.

You have found a good and safe place here to talk about your family. You are very young and you are figuring this out a lot sooner than many of us here posting on EFB. Good luck to you. I believe you are on the right path.


Carlos, First, you have come to a good place to talk about this. I hope you read lots of Darlene’s blogs as they have been enormously helpful to me in figuring out that the way I was treated as a youngster was in no way my fault, and me being silent about it and nit standing up for myself was my way of getting through with the least amount of harm. I am sorry that you have been treated so poorly by your father and grandmother. First of all, you were willing to take a job that was not in the area you studied and to me it shows character to want to work and earn some money. You are young and can keep working towards what you really want to do. I had to take a job not in my field of study when I first graduated. Sometimes the right job just isn’t available at the time. Just keep moving towards what you want. You did not deserve the treatment you got over accidently knocking over a glass. We all do things like that, and I bet your father and grandmother do it too. And why the big deal over the adapter packaging? Some of those things are not easy to open. Hitting you in response was horrible. It brought back a memory from when I was about fourteen. I went to a fair with my family. After a while I felt tired because we did a lot of walking. My mother didn’t like the look on my face and slapped me in the face right in public. I was stunned! First, she had no feelings for the fact that I felt fatigued, but to slap me be to humiliate me in public? And the worst thing thinking back is that I actually felt Idud something wrong at that time. Now I realize it was my mother who was a nasty selfish vicious person. I understand why you haven’t stood up to them. It probably was the easiest way to get by when you were with them. Keep in mind that you will have more choices as an adult. If you can live apart from them it will help. I also wanted to say that what you wrote about not standing up to them because there might still be some good in them. There was a good side to my mother. But that did not make it okay for her to hit me, slap me, humiliate me or call me names like stupid, awkward and ugly. We do not have to accept abusive behavior because a person is sometimes nice. As a matter of fact some people even use that against us by bringing up the few times they were nice and making us seem ungrateful and mean when they are the ones usually being sbusive. This stuff requires work to sort out but remember that you are worth it. a Please read Darlene’s articles. I have learned do much from them and have a new perspective that is helping me heal. Best of luck! Amber


Hobie, I am sorry about your loss. I went through that a few years ago. I had very mixed feelings when my mother passed. Some grief which was atleast in part due to knowing that there would never be a complete resolution to the issues I had with her. There was also some mourning for the few good times we had. I also found that even beyond the grave she still has a certain hold on me. I am mentioning all this because some of the feelings I had after her death were surprising to me, so it is also possible that you may experience some unexpected feelings as well. If there is anything you want to talk over, I will gladly listen and respond. Big hugs, Amber.


Hi Carlos,

I am sorry that you have to endure all of this pain caused by your own father and grandmother no less. There was nothing stupid about any of the things that you wrote about. You are able to see that what they did to you was wrong which is good start. Unfortunately your father and grandmother don’t know how to communicate in a healthy way but that doesn’t mean that you should take their abuse. It was when I separated my self away from my FOO that I was finally able to see my own self worth because I no longer had their toxic critical voices whispering in my ear sabotaging me all along the way that tore me down that made it next to impossible to build back up my own self esteem due to years of enduring their abuse.

I learned the only person who I can change in this mess was me and that went a long way for me throughout my recovery. I wish you well and once again I am sorry for your pain. You have my support.




Yes, take Amber’s advice to leave if you can. But, expect your father and grandmother to conduct what’s called “hoovering”. That’s when someone uses slick tactics to try to draw you back in. You can read more about it on the Web.

Speaking of hoovering, I’m on my second estrangement after being away from family for a few years, and moving in with my mother only to realize what a mistake that was. She still blames me for being hurt by her, yet seem to can’t get enough of me. We live in the same town, and it’s been almost a year since I left her home. I have been giving her and the rest of the family the silent treatment lately, and I have to admit they’re quite persistent. A few days ago, I got a message from my sister because a tax document of mine was sent to our mother’s place. (I regret not updating my address, but at least, as far as I know, my mother doesn’t know where I live.) My mother mailed it to my P.O. box. I found it strange that my sister told me something that our mother could have told me herself. (My mother’s new address was in the email, too.) She has my email, and can use the library computers since she doesn’t own one herself. Plus, why would she give me private information through someone else? I suppose she recruited my sister as her liaison now, though I don’t speak with her either. I thought they stopped communicating with me for good since I haven’t heard from them since Thanksgiving. My birthday is in a few days, so I’ll probably get those phony “Happy Birthday, I love you” messages. (Sigh!) I rather get nothing than hear something from hypocrites.


Hi Kris, Amber, S1988, Andria

Thanks for your responses

It hasn’t been entirely silence, as I have tried to confront one of the two about my problems (oops!) with results proving to be fruitless (*gives self the biggest facepalm*)

For instance, in regards to my grandmother commenting on my kitchen hand job, I actually told my father about it (Because he noticed that I was a little unenthusiastic about whatever good news he had), which in turn was my biggest mistake (I guess I fell into the hoover maneuver trap)At first it felt comforting to let all my rage towards his ally (my grandmother) out to him, and he provided words like: It’s okay, she shouldn’t have done that yada yada

But what hurts the most, was the following words after that, which furthered my understanding that he will always be a self-righteous, hypocritical and narcissistic person. After all of his comforting, he said: Your grandmother doesn’t have the right to comment about your job hunting or your degree, because only your Mom (the nerve for him to involve my Mom in his toxic ways) and I have the right to do so. From those words, it’s like he defended my grandmother, right after briefly siding with me. Furthermore, it also showed to me that he to also doesn’t support my dreams, even though he briefly said that he doesn’t mind if I look for other jobs outside of my field.

At the moment, with no stable job and constantly changing post university ambitions, I am still living with the both of them alongside my Mother and sister (whom I love and are both thankfully not poisoned by the two) The only thing that I see fit at the moment is to fight fire with fire, subtly of course, because if I do something out of hand, I will not only be kicked out of the house but I will also be labelled as the ungrateful bad person of whom the rest of the family will talk about. Or I can also just remain silent until I am finally stable enough to fend for myself. 22 years of seeing them with rose tinted glasses has been going on for far too long and the next couple of years will no longer be spent with the same pair of shades.

Thank you again for your responses and your warm welcome to the EFB community

Kind regards,


Carlos, one thing I finally realized with dysfunctional people is that even if you are being super nice and doing everything ” right”, there is a huge chance they will still disapprove of you. But it isn’t our fault! We don’t have control over what others think of us. I have spent my whole life doing the approval dance for family members,classmates, neighborhood people, and at work. And it wasn’t worth it. As a matter of fact I think many of these nasty people enjoyed having me bend over backwards trying to gain their approval. And took advantage of it too. My own mother was that way.

It’s been a long hard road really honking all of this and realizing first, that we can’t change other people. But much more importantly is that YOU do not become less valuable because someone doesn’t approve of you. We also tend to internalize their opinions of us. My mother had me believing my whole life that I am ugly. It somehow helped her feel better about aging when she kept me feeling down on myself. I don’t think she wanted to see me dating and getting attention from guys. That, in her mind, was meant for her, not me. But whatever her purpose, the important thing is that she taught me to believe this lie, and I did. And it affected how I lived my life. I thought no one would ever want me. I felt inferior to and envious of other girls. I felt I didn’t deserve as much as they did. And this was all wrong, all lies!! And there were other lies too. Like that I was less valuable than my brothers because I’m female. And that my role was to be of service to other people. Also, not true.

Carlos it takes a lot of thinking and digging into these beliefs to start realizing how false they are. But it is worth it. As I reverse these beliefs I feel much better about myself. I still have some fears to deal with and I also want to become more consistent with extricating myself when I feel I am slipping back into some of those old beliefs.

You can do this, Carlos! You are young and you have many years ahead of you. If your father and grandmother are determined to think that you are an ungrateful and bad person, just remember. That does not make it true! You don’t habpve to accept their warped opinions as truth. You are valuable no matter what they say or think about you.


Hi Carlos, welcome to scapegoat land! I’m very sorry you are having to deal with this troubling situation. Kudos for finding this site and having the courage to share. Those of us who are discounted and treated with coldness and contempt by family are, I think, a pretty special bunch of people. If you read the literature around family scapegoating, it’s the the one with the biggest emotional capacity and honesty who are picked to be the scapegoat, so congratulations on your humanity, which seems sadly lacking in your Dad and grandmother. There is a lot to be learned on this site and I feel really hopeful for you. Be reassured that they can’t destroy you. You’re obviously pretty intelligent emotionally at an early age, have realized what’s going on, and have found yourself the right place to be heard. That’s HUGE. You’re ahead of them already! Congratulations. You are among friends here who totally understand. Keep on keeping on! Branwen


Thank you for sharing so openly about your experience with your mom and her passing. This is such a huge area of wonder for many of us. I am sorry for your loss.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Carlos,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken. You are certainly not alone and the abuse you are suffering and have suffered is no less than any of the abuse we are talking about here in this website. As you keep reading, you will gain a deeper understanding of the truth about love vs the misuse of power. Being hit is assault no matter which way you slice it. What would have happened if your father hit his co-worker for the same thing. I think he would have been charged with assault.
I am really glad you are here,
Thanks for sharing.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Beloved,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken. I am glad you are here.
I am sorry for your loss ~ I am glad that you are trying some self care/self-compassion stuff; that will help you so much going forward.
Please feel free to share often,
Hugs, Darlene



And in some cases, one can do the “right” things, and become favored for it, like my older siblings. Or do bad things, yet get away with it, like my brother. Sometimes, I wonder that he can get away with worse because of his “respectful” position as a nurse. He smokes, and swore at me for condemning the treatment of his sons, but he’s a good man, according to my mother and sister. (Not that smoking makes someone automatically bad. I’m just pointing out the double standards. When he does that, my mother tells him, “Be careful with those cigarettes.” But, if I were to eat a cookie for breakfast, I’d get my head bitten off, and being accused of putting my health in danger.)

Anyway, my sister is in a Ph.D. program, and our mother likes that because she didn’t accomplish it herself, while I dropped out of college because I found it a waste of time and money, so I guess that makes me a criminal. That’s fine. I rather be an outcast than a toady any day. I think it’s sad to have a relationship where you’re “liked” as long as you meet superficial expectations. At least I have my freedom since I refuse to curry favor to anyone.


Thank you for all the kind comments on the loss of my mother. I am going to be at her viewing this evening and memorial tomorrow. I’m recognizing that I’m not expecting to find comfort in the ritual, which is reason I believe it exists, but I’m acting out of respect in a way that makes me feel comfortable with myself.

Over the past few years, I’ve had the chance to find supportive people to turn to when things are tough and I’ve reached out to them and found strength. I’m not expecting that from my family.

If things had played out differently, I may have NOT attended her funeral and been comfortable with it. I don’t want to share this as THE right way to handle YOUR mother’s death. I am doing what feels right for me right now, and that has been my priority in this whole situation, to do what would be good for me in the long run.

One thing that plays into my decision to be at Mom’s funeral is that she told me she didn’t let anyone know that we hadn’t been speaking the past couple of years. I am choosing to allow her to keep that secret for now, because I don’t need anything from the people she wanted to hide it from.

I know that I needed to avoid my family for the time that I did and most of the time, I don’t regret it. When I wonder if I could have done differently, I come back to believing I did what I needed to do for my own healing.

This is a different kind of grief, losing a mother who was not “motherly”, but there is some relief in it. She can’t do anything to hurt me anymore.




I am so sorry for your loss, and how you must be feeling today. I hope you will feel at ease during the viewing and memorial.

My mother passed away in 1999, and you are right it is a different kind of grief when your mother was not “motherly”. And you are also correct that there is a relief that this person cannot hurt you any more. I wish you well.



I am sorry for your loss. I’m glad you are reaching out to this community. You’ve had a rough time and I would imagine her passing will bring up many feelings for you. Love and light and peace to you.



I too am sorry to hear of your loss…may you find the support that you need and may this community help you in finding your way through your grief. May you also find strength within yourself that you never knew you had.
I wish these things for myself as well as anyone who has had struggles such as these as they are not easy to bear.


I wanted to follow up on this past writing of mine from a few days ago now that I have a moment of privacy to gather my thoughts. I decided to visit my mother but very briefly.
I don’t see her realizing this but I am reneging on a promise that I made to her to buy her a phone. now she keeps calling me and asking me if I have having problems with my own phone as a reminder to myself that I did not follow through on my promise!
This woman is relentless and when she gets on something it is hard to get her off it…I feel too weak, as though I can be conned into making a promise I cannot keep and do not feel like making! Very confused, embarrassed and frustrated! Anyone have any experience, strength or hope for problems like this would be great. Thanks.


Hi Carlos,

I read your accounts of interactions with your family and I feel for you. I think you’ll find this community a welcoming place to draw strength from others. Even though we each have our own story, it is abuse and doesn’t need to be compared to be valid.

I am impressed by your insight at your young age. That is a strength and will help you on your path. I am so sorry about the pain that your grandmother and father have inflicted upon you. It is said that the parent of the same gender has the most impact on a child.

Congratulations on obtaining your degree and finding employment. Both of those things aren’t easy to achieve, and being employed can be a stepping stone to another opportunity later that suits your degree (I’m trying to counteract the horrible things that were said to you!).

One thing that surprised me when I first started coming to this board is how similar some of the experiences were with mine. Interactions that I thought were so unique to my family were actually experienced by many others!

Try not to let your family define you. People cut down others for a variety of reasons, which can have nothing to do with the one on the receiving end. Right now I am reading Life Code by Phil McGraw and he has an interesting perspective on navigating in the world.


Hey Light,

Thanks for the encouragement.
I actually still have one semester to complete for my degree (Finished all my major subjects, but I made the silly mistake of not doing my electives as I was studying, but it’s a small price to pay). I am only a casual employee at the restaurant that my aunty recruited me in, but it’s still work and I can’t really complain when I am getting free food for every bain marie and serving tray that I have to wash haha. Funny thing is my grandma’s now suddenly all supportive to me when she found out that her sister got me a job at the said restaurant (yeah whatever).

Thanks again for your words

Kind regards



Hey Branwen,

Thanks for replying.

It’s crystal clear to me now that both my grandmother and father have embraced their true colours, and it sucks that the only option available for me is to accept that and find ways to ensure that their respective buttons are not or, rather, never will be pushed again.

I hope your membership in scapegoat land has finally come to an end and that you’re no longer a constant victim of the abuse, of which society has long covered up as “good intentions”.




Hi there,
I’ve been reading your posts for some time now. I’ve been going through so much lately. I could really use some advice/guidance/help. Mainly because everything I’m going through right now is making me question all that I am and all that I have been told I am all these years. As a child, I was always told (labelled) that I was a “diva” or “spoiled” or a “drama queen” by my older sister, and my older cousins who also picked on my appearance as a child and as a teenager. As a teenager/young adult, the labelling continued, with the addition of a few more labels by my life-long friends, such as “exaggerator” and “emotional.” Now i’m ending my 20s with a new one by my sister, “attention whore.” All these years, I have actually believed that I am all these labels, I have basically internalized them. After reading your posts, I’ve come to realize that these labels were always given to me when I began expressing or communicating my feelings about a certain topic, situation, or conflict to either my sister, cousins, friends, or even mother. Because of this, I have always been told that everything is my fault and that I should fix things. When I was 20, after an argument with my mom, my older sister said to me “if anything happens to my mom, I will hold you fully responsible!” She is MY mom too! Our mom! Anyway…after that comment was made, I go into sever anxiety everytime there is a misunderstanding or argument between myself and my mom, thinking oh God, if something happens to my mom now, I’m responsible for it. And of course, I go into extreme levels of guilt and end up apologizing and patching things up fearing that something might happen to my mom if I don’t. In fact, I do that with everyone! If there is an argument, I worry something might happen to that person, so I better patch things up quick! I do that even if I know that the other person did me so wrong! I have rarely received apologies from people who do me wrong, because I Always blame myself! On top of that, whenever I try to express my feelings or communicate something with my sister, regarding a disagreement between us, she turns everything around on me and tries to overpower and intimidate me by swearing and cussing. And then she doesn’t talk to me for days, even after I apologize to her or after I tell her hey life’s too short, I love you. Then she writes me an essay reminding me again of how everything was my fault and then doesn’t talk to me again. I am sick of this! She has always criticized what I wear, and what I do. She has even allowed her friends to comment on the person I am. I am tired. I try to talk to my mom, and maybe my way of communication isn’t the best when I’m upset, because I am overcome with emotions. But my mom gets angry and starts yelling and basically tells me to go away. Specially if I am complaining to her about how my sister has been treating me, she becomes very defensive of her. Then she tells me if I keep talking about these issues with my sister to her, she will have a heart attack, and my mom starts crying and I’m freaking out thinking back to the comment my sister made when I was 20! Then I spend the whole week worrying about my mom. I just don’t even know what to do anymore. Today I broke down and asked my mom why she pushes me away whenever I am upset about the way my sister treats me, and again I pressed on because she was pushing me away. So then I broke down and she broke down and it was just so dramatic. In the end, it ended with a hug. But I still feel like it was all my fault and it’s all in my head. Here I am again worrying about my mother. My own heart is in pain. Anxiety levels through the roof.


I can’t believe it. It’s not officially my birthday yet, and I’m already getting emails from hypocrites. Yesterday, my brother, for the first time ever, sent an email that he loved me with birthday wishes.

I haven’t had contact with him for nearly two years. When I did see him about two years ago after the first estrangement, he said that he didn’t care that I don’t want a relationship with him. So if he doesn’t care, why did he send me an email? And it’s been almost seven years since he insulted me when I condemned him for using corporal punishment on his sons. It doesn’t take seven years to apologize for something.

Sooner or later, I know I’ll get emails from my sister and mother, also phonies. Oh, why can’t they just leave me be? I’ve been giving them the silent treatment for a while, and they still won’t let up, though communicate is infrequent at least. I rather have open enemies than fake allies.


L — Welcome to the boards. I think you’ll find a lot of support here and much insight after reading Darlene’s entries and the comments.

Communication and conflict with your family sounds excruciatingly painful; your family members seem highly defensive and that they want to guilt you. I experienced a different kind of behavior (neglect) that resulted in pain for me. As you, I was also blamed.

After years and decades of coping, letting my energy be drained, being rejected and excluded, and unending sadness I finally went low contact (LC). It took a long time to get there, but that was a couple of years ago, and I am doing so much better emotionally now.

It’s good that you reached out — that’s the first step.

Christina Enevoldsen
February 5th, 2016 at 2:04 pm

test 2


I’m so confused. My mother tells me I’m ungrateful, selfish, critical, and uncaring. Am I?

Is my toxic relationship with her my fault?

I’m beginning to see the lies she has told me. Now I see everything I believed to be true of myself is incorrect but then I think I’m just pushing the blame for my selfishness and ungrateful attitude on someone else!

What if I am what she says? What if I am blaming her because I don’t want to see myself for who I really am? How do I know my mother is the problem and not me?


Hi All,

I have been gone for awhile. I thought I was strong but once again I find that I’m not as strong as I think. I am such a peaceful and easygoing person. I am an introvert and like being a homebody.

My life is like that ‘Jaws’ shark movie–just when you think that it’s safe to go back into the water it’s not! I knew that it would be hard after my father’s death last year since he left me alone with my Narc mom and cousin. They seem to want to do everything that they can to terrorize and destroy me. They’re both cut from the same cloth as a pair of Narcs.

My Narc mom has her big house listed for sale and she can’t afford to live in her luxury palace anymore. Now the cousin has the idea that he wants to buy a small house in my city and have my Narc mom move in with him. The Narc cousin will retire in July after 20 years of military service. I can’t have them live near me! I don’t know what to do and I feel trapped! I really don’t have a good career to sell my house and just move far away. There are times when I can’t sleep at night and do binge eating, and I’ve put on a few pounds. It’s not a healthy lifestyle but I can’t calm down due to the fear of these people.

My Narc mom and cousin were threatening me last fall. They wanted to come over to my house and fight with me. The Narc mom had the nerve to threaten me by saying that she would come over to my house during the day with a moving van and load up my things (translation: stealing)and clean out my house because they can! Yes,they’re crazy but they can never take their focus off me. Mind you, I live alone without any dog or pets or roommates. I can’t afford fancy cameras or a security system at the moment to keep these people away. I am in my 40’s and I’m still being abused and living in fear! I don’t deserve to be shamed here and I’m not asking for sympathy. I just want to know how to keep safe and get rid of these people. If it’s really bad, then yes I can take legal action like getting a restraining order.

I wanted to ask if anyone here has had issues with keeping away the crazies from their home? Don’t these Narcs reach a point where they actually get tired of you? My Narc mom is 83 years old and the Narc cousin is five years younger than me.

My other issue is that I have met a nice man whom I’m very attracted to. It’s been three years since I was involved with anyone. It’s a long distance relationship through an online dating site, but he is taking an early retirement in less than a year. We have reached the point where we want to connect and be living together for our relationship to move forward. I am not a child anymore and I’m in my 40’s and he is in his 50’s. My life was destroyed by abusive parents. They tried to ruin and take away anything that I loved! I am not afraid of reaching out for love and at our age we’re not having kids, only a relationship, like living together forever or even marriage! It’s weird but my parents were never church-goers, just angry and abusive. I’m concerned that we deserve a chance as a couple for our relationship, but if “Mommie Dearest and Cousin Dearest” decide to buy a house in my city I really don’t know if I can live here! She does not believe in couples living together and can’t understand anything. What I do in my social life does not affect her whatsoever. They were never evangelical Christians, just wanting to always destroy any of my happiness. She is snoopy, mean, and controlling and wanting to embarrass and destroy my relationship.

My dream includes just abandoning my house with my future partner and maybe renting an apartment in California! My happiness and safety issues come first. I don’t know if Narc mom or cousin would try to break into my house and move in like squatters! It sounds like a crazy idea but they’re totally mean and crazy! I’m afraid that my Narc mom might try to impersonate me and try to sell my house as some sort of fraud if I’m gone. I could call the HOA –(Homeowners Association)—-and possibly explain things or have them check out my house. If I had a girlfriend that I could trust, then I could possibly have a house sitter living here. I do not want Craig’s List with a perfect stranger off the street living in my house rent-free, just way too dangerous!

Dealing with my Narc mom and Narc cousin is like making a deal with the devil! You just can’t win with people who are this dishonest, mean, and crazy. I don’t know how the heck I am related to this trash!

Right now, my Narc mom lives in another town that is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from my house. It was quiet for awhile before my father died. Her evilness really picked up and she seems to want to destroy me again since my father was sort of a shield—and now I see it. I think it’s more about her final revenge before she dies! These old Narcs do not really want to die. In a weird way, I am grateful for the Narc cousin–(Golden Child) to lift some of the burden off me by having her live with him. I really do not care about them at all. I do care about protecting my house and I don’t deserve to lose my house! There is nothing to negotiate with my Narc mom and cousin and the only thing to do is to avoid them or move away!

I know that I care about this man relationship and I will do almost anything to protect what we have. If we have to get out of town until Narc mom dies, then we can talk about this. She will not live forever– thank the gods! I am concerned about her trying to take over my house.

There are sleepless nights filled with crying and worrying now. I was very good for a long time. The fear of what will happen in the future is unbearable. Why am I feeling like a slave when I am a grown woman in my 40’s?

When I was a little girl, I had such big dreams. It’s sad because I was so good as a child–good student, quiet, and live-in maid for my parent’s big house. I believe that a maid would have been treated better than me. I pretended that I was Cinderella and they were not my real parents. If only I could grow up and move far away then I could have a better life. But here I am trying to fit all the pieces of my life into a complicated jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes I don’t know how much more I can take until these horrible people are totally gone from my life.

I don’t know when Narc mom’s house will sell and when she will move? I don’t know if and when Narc cousin will buy a house near me? I don’t know if this new man in my life will be offended by my crazy family and I don’t want to lose him. I think that he may be willing to just move and abandon my house to California? I know that I should not feel like I should run away at my age but I don’t feel safe at times. Maybe all of these pieces will fit together somehow…like Narc mom’s death and/or renting a place out of state? So, I live one day at a time and this waiting for my mom’s death ironically is the hardest chapter of my entire life! Not even going to a women’s domestic violence shelter —(again to get away from bad parents), or nearly dying from a serious suicide attempt as a teen which ended up in the hospital. (I do recall hearing the doctor say early in the morning when I was waking up that if I had taken just a few more Tylenol along with the pill combo that my heart would have stopped that night!) Yes, I feel that I have a right to vent about my crazy family. I guess that I just wasn’t lucky enough to have a good career opportunity when I was a younger adult or even marriage, so that I became trapped living here. I tell myself that there is so much unhappiness in the world and there are women who are worse off than me in many ways.

I am grateful that I’m alive. I have been hurt by so many people and it’s amazing to reflect on my accomplishments. This has been such a trying time and I hate to be ranting here. I have basically no one to talk to, not even my coworker BFF friend, and nobody understands how deep the scars of child abuse can last. Thanks for reading.

Blessed be,



Hi Yvonne,

I am glad that you are grateful to be alive. Don’t worry about ranting. You are fine here doing that. I understand how hard it can be to explain the invisible scars we carry to others who don’t have these scars.

I am sorry for this crazy situation you are in that appears to be ramping up at a dizzying rate. I don’t know what to say but to try and protect yourself from your mother and cousin as best you can. It seems like a good thing to get far away from them if you possibly can do it. I am happy that you have found a relationship with someone you can trust and care about. I hope he can be understanding to your situation. I don’t think you would be running away. Like most people in America, our homes are out biggest investment. It would be difficult financially to walk away from a home one owns.

I hope you will be able to manage all this stressful life situation that you are experiencing. I understand. I did not have the same problems, but some years back I was so stressed out I thought that I would just implode if one more thing got added to my load. I hope it helps you to know that people here understand and are supportive of you trying to have a good life despite family who wants to do you harm. Please take care of yourself Yvonne. Let us know how you are doing.


Hi Yvonne,

Your situation sounds extremely stressful. I can relate to what you are saying about feeling strong and then not feeling strong, though your experience is more in a JAWS kind of way. That’s terrible to be threatened by anyone, let alone your mother, to load up the truck and steal your belongings. I’m not sure what to say since I imagine that you have thought of things like talking with the police for ideas, minimizing contact or going NC, etc. I wonder if legally it would make a difference to put up a No Trespassing sign on your property, so if they did come on your property you have taken some extra legal preventative measures? Maybe there is some free legal advice in your community?

I’m glad to hear that you’ve met someone and have a ray of sunshine in your life!

Hugs, Light


Hi Yvonne, I am very sorry you are so terrified. Just shows the awful power these people assume over us. A week ago, I met with a dear friend I grew up with since I was a month old- our mothers were best friends and pretty vicious narcs. They managed to separate us for nearly 20 years by telling both of us that the other didn’t want to know them and successfully spread lies, rumors, etc, etc. We were both huge David Bowie fans growing up together and when he died last month I gathered up my courage and called her. Well, our reunion was magical- still love each other, same sense of humor, same horrible mothering- and I went to see her for the weekend. We went to lunch at one of our old haunts and were sitting laughing and exchanging stories of the lies and deceit our mothers used to keep us apart. Her mother and mine fell out big time a few years ago and her mother had a breakdown and is currently in a psychiatric hospital. So imagine our utter amazement when- in this restaurant miles away from where her mother lives- her mother,stepfather and narcs aunt walk into the place!! And my old friend turned immediately from a loving, competent woman into a terrified child. They pretended they hadn’t seen us- which is funny, as we were all staring at each other!- and after a while I simply walked to the back, where they’d fled, and just stood and calmly looked right at them for a couple of minutes before turning and walking back to my friend. A minute later, the narcs left!- had to walk by us too- they CREPT out! We hugged and laughed and cried, then had a fab lunch and a bottle of champagne. The point is, they can’t hurt us any more, even though our feelings tell us that they can. I’m wondering if your sense of safety is so compromised that it’s almost impossible to separate your emotional safety from your physical safety. I’m not clear if your mother owns your house? If it’s your house, would she break into it? I can hear your terror, and wonder if it is physical or emotional, or both? And I’m very pleased to report that my reclaimed oldest friend and me are feeling much braver now we have the other as a witness to what really went on. It is wonderfully healing to be believed. The “coincidence” of her mother appearing like that was a weird gift. Sometimes it seems that when our desire to heal is so strong, the world agrees with us. Terror stops us from thinking straight, I know that much. I hope you can find a little breathing space, physically and emotionally, to work out what is real and what is not- and I know how tough it is. Thinking of you today Yvonne, I’ve read a lot of your previous posts and it’s good to meet you. Branwen


Branwen that is an amazing story with your friend. It sounds so very healing and magical, like you said.


I am having an especially hard time lately. If anyone here is willing to give a reply, even brief, I would so appreciate it. I am feeling so lonely, so rejected.

All the family issues, the scapegoating, the rejection, the inconsistency (sometimes nice), the alliances, the talking about me, the LIES said to keep me divided from others…I am heartbroken and ANGRY. Siblings get to run around and be active, enjoy the perks of dinners out with my mother as long as they continue living in the lie (that I am not forgiving enough/justified in being angry with my mother for not supporting me in the face of my father’s covert sexual abuse), receiving extra money from her, happy family visits, seeing the granchildren, phone ringing from people who care, little trips together, etc. etc. I’m all alone here trying to cope with my aloneness. They have attention for each other but not for me. I HATE this role.

I’m middle-aged now, not working due to health issues. I’ve been extra unwell for six weeks (ever since exposure to germs at the holidays). It is so lonely and frightening to essentially have to care for yourself, day after day, staring at four walls, the phone not ringing, no one caring (well, one person called).

I also am having a conflict with a friend. I was relaying an interaction with her…about how I explained to a family member (who asked why I wasn’t coming for Christmas) that “I’ve been blamed and marginalized too many times” and the family member replied “I’m sorry you feel that way”. I was telling this friend about the exchange and how it wasn’t really a feeling, it was more factual than that and she said “Well everyone has their point of view”. I get that, but it’s not based in fact. For instance, if a man is charged with assault and it was on video, and the guy goes to court and says “I didn’t do it” but the video shows otherwise…well yes he’s entitled to his point of view, but it’s not based in reality. That’s what I was trying to relay to my friend, and she said things like “I believe your personal truth” and she said that she didn’t really know my family so how could she comment about them (ouch) and what did they have to do with our friendship. A lot of what has happened to me is factual and includes outright rejecting comments and behaviors…it’s more than my “perception”. I thought I could just talk to her about other things and keep the friendship, but now I don’t know. Does anyone understand this?

Finally, my self-esteem is crap. I am realizing this more and more. I am very guarded around people, afraid of rejection. Makes sense since I really loved my family when I was young, and they loved me, then they left me emotionally. I also have a family member who will sabotage my relationship with joint people that we both know. Somehow she gets into their good graces and helps them more, interacts more, hears from them more…consistently a stronger relationship than the one I have with the person. Recently a joint acquaintance even outright compared me with this family member and I came out on the losing end. Very hurtful and aggravating.


I can relate to many of the things that you mention about your feelings of isolation and being ill can trigger many of the things we once thought we had conquered especially in regards to our family connections. It’s saying alone is the only way to be when we’re treated in ways that miss the mark. I for one am keeping my distance more and more these days and it’s not easy. I also notice that many of us inside of this predicament are primarily female and in or around middle age. The hot flashes and unexpected changes that come with it don’t bode well for friendly familial interaction, especially when preempted by year in and year out of negligence. What I am saying is that I can understand where you are coming from. A quote that comforts me is “go slowly, breathe, and smile.”


Yes Light, it was a very healing event! We have laughed about it since, saying we conjured her up, why can’t we make her disappear! I can very much relate to the feelings you describe here and it’s a dismal place to be. I’m self employed and live alone and when I have no work, I sometimes feel Im in an echo chamber of my own thoughts, if that makes any sense. There’s no one to bounce my feelings off, no feed back, and I can become pretty overwhelmed by my the feelings. I have 4 sisters, none of whom speak to me, and am NC with my Mum- her choice. I’m very reliant on friends and over the past year have said goodbye to two of my oldest because of exactly the attitude you describe. Although I’ve stood by both staunchly through thick and thin, one of them – who Id known for 33 years! – began to do all that dismissive stuff with me. My Mumster had, for a few years, begun to treat him like the son she never had- gave him money, etc- and practically adopted him! Surprise, surprise- she went to work on him.he turned distant and dismissive and began to use exactly those phrases- ” Well, that’s YOUR truth” he said, when I was telling him how my family were hurting me. Funny how they talk in cliches. My alarm bells went off reading about your friend. I can see now that I picked those two ex friends precisely because they made me feel like they were almost family. And they were! But in the last year I’ve had such surprising reunions with several people, some from my teens, who were very good to me when my family had thrown me out. I think I must be slowly getting better, because I reached out to those people at a time when I was beginning to feel uncomfortable and anxious around the two friends I described. So I have good survival instincts despite all the crap I’m wading through. Lately, too, I’ve been realizing how rock bottom my self esteem is, but realizing I have good instincts is huge progress for me. I think you have good instincts too and can trust your gut as far as your friend is concerned. I think that lovely incident with my reclaimed best friend means a lot because I trusted my instinct when I called her after 20 years, and it paid off. Sending you my thoughts and sympathy tonight Light, Branwen


Light, don’t know what time it is where you are, I’m in England and was just lighting some candles for the evening meal and thinking about your post. So I’ve lit one for you, which given your name seems appropriate! – and one for all of us who feel we’re struggling in the dark sometimes. Ive been reading the posts on this site for over a year now and only recently began to share and I can’t tell you how much courage I get from reading everyone’s experience. I’m really not alone and it is such direct and practical help here- not advice, but understanding and compassion, which is worth it’s weight in gold. If Darlene were British I would campaign for her to be made a Dame! Branwen


Thank you so much Branwen for lighting a candle for me!! That means a lot to me. I was in England (mostly London) for the first time last Fall and loved it.

I will respond to everyone’s replies very soon once I have time to take them in…I very much appreciate the responses. It makes a world of difference.


Dear Andria, Light, and Branwen,

Thank you for your kind support. I really have no one at home to talk to or understand me. I feel as if one more problem is added that I will just explode. When I was growing up, I erroneously believed that the abuse would end when I turned 18 years old, after high school. I thought to myself since I’m not a kid anymore, they would surely lose interest in me after I moved out. The sad part is that I was safe for a very long time living in a different city than my mom. These control issues have increased since my father’s death. It’s like my NM wants sympathy plus the abuse. There is a term for the Narc people needing supply—“Narc food”—yes, like the “Jaws” shark movie! What am I worth to these people like some kind of fish bait?

At my age I am surely not running away and I don’t know what the correct term is. I could move far away and lie and say that I had a job interview in another city/state while renting a new place? I don’t know what to do. I live one day at a time and things will become clearer after NM sells her house.

I actually own my small house and I’m not a renter. My NM has tried to impersonate me in the past at the bank. I can get free legal help with these issues. There is no way that NM and cousin can steal my house!

@ Light: I do not spend Christmas with any family members! I know that I have been dealing with low self-esteem my entire life. I have become a happier person and enjoy my own company. The problem is that the people who don’t understand me have practically beat me over the head with low self-esteem issues like it’s a disease or something. “You know what you’re problem is? Low self-esteem”. They want to shame me for having low self-esteem in their extremely angry tone. Why do these Narcs/bullies have such a need to act angry when dealing with depressed people or low self-esteem people? I don’t provoke them in any way, but they have a need to verbally, almost physically beat up on unhappy people. Why must I always appear sunny and cheery to these nasty types?

@Branwen: Congrats on reconciling with an old friend! Both my parents gossiped about me to the distant cousins, neighbors, and social acquaintances. I never had a chance to be the real me and I know this is very common for child abuse. It’s funny how my NM tried to shame me by telling others about her “horrible brat” daughter. I learned to rebel in a positive way by being an honor student in a private school, the live-in maid who did all of their housework, and an overall clean-cut kid with no drinking/drug problems or teen boyfriends or juvenile crime. They had NOTHING on me! Hahaha….

I also had a very close childhood friend from the old neighborhood. In the photo album, we’re always together doing everything like Halloween trick-or-treating, playing outside in the backyard, building snowmen in winter and so on. My parents moved to a brand new house when I was ten and I lost contact with her. Actually, I tried to purposely brush her off since of course my home was a living nightmare. I was so ashamed of my home problems that I did not want any friends coming over to visit. I still think of her today. I actually did an online search and found her on facebook. Her family was much more “normal” compared to mine. They paid for her private sports lessons and she had lots of friends and was popular. So, we grew apart almost like night and day. I have shown my photo album to a few close people and the first thing that always comes up was, “did you have a sister?” Well, I guess in my own way I sort of did. I want so very badly to turn my life around and be free from my NM abuse. I want better finances and remodel my small house. I want a long-term relationship with my new partner. I have seemingly worked so hard for so very little, while this childhood friend had many good opportunities when she was younger, and everything came easy to her. I think it’s about self-esteem that I am not worthy of reconnecting with her online until all of my problems are ironed out. I think that I have more pride than I care to admit. In my heart, I believe we will reconnect in a few more years.

Thank you, Darlene, for creating a safe space where one can yell and scream and let it all out!

Blessed be!


Ava Lee,

Just because you are asking all these questions of yourself means to me that you are not ungrateful, selfish, or uncaring. Keep exploring and you will feel the confidence and know it is not you that is the problem.


Hi Ava Lee post 109,

I am sorry for your pain. This whole process does get confusing. One of the hardest things I had to do in my recovery was break through that sick enmeshment that ensued due to being emotionally abused by my mother. She didn’t teach me how to stand up on my own two feet. What she taught me was how to feel guilty and ashamed if I didn’t agree with what she said and in the process she taught me learned helplessness along the way that crippled me from ever being able to feel confident with inside of my self.

Yes, it is important for us to all own up to our own junk but that’s not the same thing as being used by our own mother’s to fill some empty void with inside of themselves. What you wrote in your post is exactly what my mother would say to me and it all stemmed from her own fear of being rejected and abandoned. In her mind as long as I would keep on asking for her advice and help she was safe. She was willing to let me feel guilty and ashamed, as well as, believe a pack of lies about my self that were never the truth, rather then address her own fears and insecurities.

You are already on your way breaking through this garbage. When I kept on asking my self questions that is when the truth started to emerge. That is when I saw how I was never any of the things that she portrayed me to be. One day it all just clicked and I was free from that sick enmeshment for life. I had to teach my self all the things that my mother didn’t and by doing so I built up my own self confidence and now I wouldn’t even consider asking my mother about anything anymore because now I understand what her motives really are and they don’t include my best interest at heart.

It is always about her using me to fill some empty void inside of herself and the conversation ends with how I am this ungrateful, uncaring daughter when I don’t see things her way and that’s how it will be until the day that she dies because she refuses to do what it takes to change any of this.

Ungrateful and uncaring people don’t ask other people if that’s what they are!!!

Peace to you,




That’s awful that your mother wanted you to be completely dependent on her, but at least she’s honest about it. My mother tends to contradict herself so much that it makes my head spin. She would go on long-winded monologues about the importance of independence, and how she takes credit for instilling that in her offspring, yet goes into conniptions when I do some things she doesn’t like. (Making my own life choices counts as independence, too, so why act as I need her permission to be an adult?)

This phoniness seems to be apparent in my older siblings, too. It’s freaky how it practically seems genetic. My brother can be nasty and condescending one moment, then all of a sudden nice the next, even if it’s within a few hours. My sister once bragged about how she believes in justice when she stood up for a co-worker, yet she didn’t do that for me when our brother insulted me for condemning how he treats his sons. She just told me to mind my own business. (I guess in her view, it’s okay to protect toxic family members unless they happen to be our father, who they all despise, but still associate with.)

To me, if someone’s going to cruel, they should at least do it with integrity. I rather have an open enemy than a phony ally. Even the bullies during my K-12 days were more honest than they are. They never said, “You’re weird and ugly, but do you want to come over my house after school to hang out?”

I hardly hear from them now, but I can’t believe a few weeks ago, I received birthday emails and cards from them. I didn’t let that ruin my birthday, but I wondered, “Why did I receive fan mail from phonies?” It’s odd that I can be wrong on everything, yet be so lovable at the same time.

“Ungrateful and uncaring people don’t ask other people if that’s what they are!!!”

Sometimes I wonder that about myself, too. Another way my mother flip-flops is when she’s not “disciplining” me, then she acts as if she wants me to be her mother. When I was a kid, she would tell me to be quiet about my bully problems or other issues, but she would vent to me about her work and husband problems, and hoped I could accomplish what she failed to do. Because of that, I now find venting and needy behavior annoying at times, which causes me to be unsympathetic every now and then. It’s one of the reasons why I’m a loner so that I don’t end up being someone’s personal, unpaid counselor. That may appear harsh to some people, but I rather be honest about that than deny it. I wish my family can be open about how they feel about me, too, instead of hiding behind excuses and contradicting themselves, but it doesn’t look like that would change anytime soon.


Mariah, Branwen, Yvonne:

Thank you so much for your kind and caring comments and for simply being there for me. Mariah, that was an interesting observation about many of us being middle-aged and female. Branwen, the similarities with our friends is uncanny. Thank you for the insight of how we may choose friends that are like family…I hadn’t looked at it that way. Yvonne, being beat up for low self-esteem sounds like bullying behavior. Some people can perceive a weakness and exploit it.



I think my mother does what your mother does just in a different way. My mother knows how to manipulate you without you even knowing it because she would throw a few nice things in the mix while she did it making it very difficult for you to be able to see through it. If you would ask her how she raised her daughter she would say the same thing as your mother when the reality is she didn’t teach either one of her children to think for themselves. It was all about her and her fear of losing us that was the driving force behind her manipulation because in her mind that meant that she wouldn’t be needed anymore when the truth is we all needed her, she just couldn’t see it due to her issues getting in the way and in the end she emotionally neglected and abandoned her own children in the process.

I too could be unsympathetic for a plethora of reasons all stemming from being abused. My mother taught me that my needs didn’t count so why would anyone else’s but that was never who I was as a person. Once I broke free from all of her fears and insecurities that she planted inside of me I no longer was afraid to help out other people because once I found my own self worth I was able to fill that empty void inside of my self. I no longer feel threatened by other people’s needs and in fact I look forward to helping people out however I can, within reason, instead of being someone’s doormat all the time. I am no longer agitated or expecting people to not be human. I enjoy having my needs fulfilled by other people as well…a whole new concept for someone like me. I finally took a risk and opened up that door to let other people get to know me. Now I see what I missed out on all of these years. I never got the chance to develop close relationships with anyone due to the damaging affects from my parent’s abuse that taught me that nothing and no one was safe which is an out and out lie. THEY were the one’s who weren’t safe, not everyone else.

Thanks for your support. When I read your posts I don’t see someone who is uncaring. I see someone who was hurt in a lot of the same ways as I was. I am sorry your mother can’t see how wonderful you are. She is really missing out.



I’m not sure if you were referring to my post 115 when you said that at times venting and needy behavior can cause you to be unsympathetic. I actually can understand where you are coming from; it’s quite understandable given your past relationship with your mother. The first word that came to my mind while reading your post was “parentified”…your mother wanting you to be the parent and help her with her needs, when it should be the other way around. Your post helped me to understand that there could be many reasons why people might respond the way they do i.e. not feeling sympathetic.

For me, part of my growth is to ask for help when needed. I endured so much time alone, alone, alone when I was young and learned very well to just keep enduring my father’s crap behavior, and my mother’s emotional distance to the breaking point. It was an insular family, where asking for help was discouraged…there was no extended family around….so keep a stiff upper lip no matter how much *&^% is going down!! I had no one to guide me through the emotional landscape of school, friends, relationships, life.

Now I remind myself that I don’t always have to do everything alone, to live life alone. I try to maintain a balance with those people in my life who listen, and I listen to them as well. It sounds like we were both exploited in different ways: you were clung to and called upon to be the parent and confidant, I was to be in the background and left alone to fend for myself emotionally.



No, I wasn’t referring to your post, just my behavior in general. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to sympathize with certain situations, especially since I can’t relate to them. For example, in the story of “Romeo and Juliet”, the play ends with both lovers committing suicide. Lots of people may find that sad, but for me, I just don’t get it. Why kill yourself over someone you barely know? That statement of mine might offend some people. I just want to be honest rather than pretend to feel something I don’t. I don’t think it’d be better to fake it.

You’re on target by labeling my mother’s behavior “parentifying”. And it didn’t stop when I became a legal adult. She did this when I moved in with her a few years ago. Now, she has my older siblings to tend to her. Sometimes I wonder if she thinks, “two out of three ain’t bad.”


Hi All
I just published a new post on the home page called “Explaining Parental Entitlement Beliefs in Dysfunctional Families”
Hope you will read it and perhaps start a discussion, Hugs, Darlene,


Hi Light, Mariah, Yvonne- wanted to share that I talked to my therapist today about stuff that’s been coming up for me since I reconnected with my oldest friend. A lot of memories are surfacing and I think it’s because my friend and me are witnesses for each other’s childhood. I’m beginning to realize that my family has a lot of secrets, mostly around illegitimacy and birth secrets, and today was a powerful series of realizations and putting pieces of the jigsaw together. And I was able to say for the first time that I am NOT the problem and never was. During the therapy session I had very strong bodily reactions- which I always trust- and think I’m just beginning to get a peek of the enormity of the dishonesty and lies in my family. Something is stirring and I think it’s the truth! I was also able to say that I hated my sister for her total betrayal of my trust, and that’s huge for me, because she was my childhood heroine and I adored her. The masks are coming off my family’s faces and it is huge for me to see what lies beneath. Sometimes in this healing process I have felt so stuck, depressed and almost suicidal. When the truth begins to emerge, it is the most wonderful feeling and worth all the effort and work. I’m beginning to see through the grid of truth, like Darlene says, and even though sometimes I’ve nearly given up because the struggle was killing me, I’m so glad I didn’t, and this site has been vital for me in gaining the courage to continue. Feeling very grateful tonight. Hugs to all, Branwen


of course I still wonder if the problem was me, but it is a fleeting thought now and not an all consuming obsession. i had a relapse of sorts when i found out my husband had been in contact and saw his parents (after 7 yrs) , who emotionally abused myself and him. i started down that path of destructive thoughts and self blame for the implosion of the relationship between myself and them. I know I have done some healing though because I was able to get a grip so to speak on myself after a couple days and remember for the thousandth time that I DID NOTHING TO THESE PEOPLE BUT MARRY THEIR SON!


Hi Branwen,

That is so wonderful that you are discovering truths and were able to say that you were not the problem and never was. What a powerful message of healing for yourself! And I know what you mean about getting a peek of the enormity of the dishonesty and lies….for me it’s like a shadowy undercurrent: when I’m not aware of it it feels like a part of “me”, my “normal” and it keeps me pushed down. When I am aware of it, I can see it from a more disengaged way — experiences that happened TO me, but a separate entity that doesn’t define me.

I could so relate to what you said about your sister. My sister was like my emotional mother for me when I was young (my bio mom was busy and detached). I think I might have died without her because of the emotional neglect. But somewhere in my 20’s I think she started viewing me as competition, and betrayal after betrayal began. My trust has been broken as well. I actually spent hours today trying to resolve yet another painful episode where I was hurt (she would not agree). I’m making progress though, because these draining experiences are becoming less and less as I detach physically and emotionally.


Hi All,
I have published a new post on the subject of being told to “let it go”. You can read it on the home page or click this link “The Truth about being told to Get Over it” and “Let it Go”
Hugs! Darlene


Wow…there is so much on EFB that I can relate to. To answer the title question, yes, sometimes I DO still wonder if maybe I was the problem.

If I had been prettier, my family would love me more and people would treat me better.

If I had been smarter, I would have achieved much more in life instead of being viewed as a loser.

If I weren’t so different, I wouldn’t have experienced racism growing up.

If I had been better, my stepfather wouldn’t have treated me so badly.

And so on…I believe that at some point we blame ourselves because we internalize the shame and rejection that others push onto us.
At least that is still true for me. I still find myself wondering if maybe all of the cruel words were correct, that maybe I was indeed the problem and everybody else was OK.

After all, I’d always been told that I was bad and that nothing about me was good.
What made it worse is that about 4 years ago I went to a therapist who invalidated my feelings and also told me that I WAS indeed the problem.
She didn’t say how or why she arrived at this conclusion…she just took pleasure in tearing me down and accused me of “playing victim”. The sessions with her triggered me so much that I had to stop seeing her.
It reminded me too much of the hurtful way others have treated me, and having a “professional” act in this way was more than I could handle.

She didn’t listen to my sadness about growing up in a home with little kindness or love; the things I went through as a result of my self-esteem being destroyed.
She basically just said “you need to live in the present” and told me to do some stupid breathing exercises as if that would heal my obvious emotional and mental scars.

So once again, I felt dismissed and I was left to wonder if maybe I was the toxic one and maybe others were justified in treating me poorly?
It’s crazy-making. And it is also a way to deny our reality and trick us into thinking that we deserved cruelty or unfair treatment somehow. If we had done this, or we hadn’t done that, then maybe things would have been fine.

When I lived with my mother and stepfather, my mother would always blame me for my stepfather’s abusive behavior.
She would say it was my fault that he acted that way. But deep down, I knew that wasn’t true.
Still, her words continue to haunt me because I was made to feel like I was the problem.
I was at fault because I existed and therefore I stood in the way of their happiness as a couple. David (my stepfather) just wanted me to disappear out of my mother’s life completely so he could have her all to himself. And he would do anything to make that happen, no matter what it took.

I was also taught, both directly and indirectly, to let people walk all over me.
If I spoke up about how I was treated then others would get angry or say that I deserved it.
So yes, at times I still wonder if I was the problem.


Hi there I just wanted to say your feelings there were like a mirror to mine. Thank you for sharing this 🙂 I have had the same problem with stepdad ,I have been forced to call ‘dad’ all my life. He never earned that title & has treated me with such evilness all my life. I am now trying to detach from them both and it’s so hard with constant bombardment on their side.After 32years I am preparing myself to stand up to him. I feel 7years old all over.


Hi Nicolle,
I hear you! Try to keep (lovingly) reminding yourself that you are not that 7 year old anymore. I also had to keep looking at the truth the way that it IS and not the way that they brainwashed me to see things.
Hugs, and welcome to EFB


I know this is an older article but I feel the need to express myself and today I question if it really was me.

It’s a hard day for me. This is my sisters 57th birthday. We have been NC for over three years but it was a lifetime in the making. I have done a lot of reflecting today and wish our relationship was a normal sister relationship.
It never has been.

Since I can’t tell her directly, I will at least say it here. Happy Birthday! Even though I feel like I was an intruder in my family for most of my life it doesn’t mean I don’t wish it were different. She is my older sister and the only thing I can attribute it to is that she was the baby of the family until I came along. I ruined it. I didn’t ask to be born but it happened. Sometimes I wish it hadn’t but that is a moot point. Two steps forward one step back. I am grateful for where I am in my healing but miss having a “normal” FOO.

Thank you Darlene for this website and thanks for anyone who reads this. The day is almost over and then I can go on about my life.

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