My narcissist mother is this way. She even yelled at me a few years ago, “I OWN YOU”. No, she doesn’t. I have big boundaries with her, even stronger now than ever.

This morning on the phone she got mad at me for not wanting to order things on Ebay for her. N’s hate insubordination (even if I am a grown adult, and owe her nothing/don’t have to do anything she says). I ignored her anger and told her calmly that I am willing to meet her at the library to teach her how to do it herself. She thinks I should do whatever she wants – things she can do herself..nope. I’m not her servant. She quickly got off the phone. In her mind she’s thinking how “selfish, ungrateful..whatever” I am, tough. In the past she would’ve said that. She knows if she starts then I won’t put up with it so she’s put a cork in it..but there’s seething anger underneath. Tough. She’ll live. I feel fine. No longer hurt by these things, annoyed a little, but not hurt. It’s not my fault she’s this way.


I have thought for a number of years now that mothers have such a different bond with their son’s…one that is entirely different from that with daughters, and I have seen very few mothers who end up actually liking or loving their daughter-in-law. I have also experienced this same issue with my husband’s mother…..but I have never known it where the father is the main trouble maker in his son’s marriage…where he feels so entitled to control his adult son that he resents his daughter in law for taking his son’s “place” in the time spent or given to tasks or to the relationship (the father’s idea of what that relationship is supposed to look like!). Usually, in my corner of the world, it has always been the threatened, insecure, and jealous mother doing the control games with her son and daughter-in-law.
I think all of the messages that come across from the inlaws that try to make me feel stupid, not as intelligent, that I am the control freak who is jerking some type of puppet strings now with my husband and daughter to somehow alienate them from the parents/siblings/other relatives…that I am the “bad guy”…is simply THEIR typical and lame methods to try to control ME so that THEY can continue behaving the way they always have with their adult son. They never transitioned when they needed to from treating their son a certain way, and they still don’t want to change! It tells me that they never were very close as a family to begin with since the way they relate with me is not very mature, is not with equal respect, and is not honoring to the son. I could go on and on with this topic! I was terribly hurt and hurting for years by my inlays and could not understand what I had done that had caused this….or why when I tried so hard to please they rejected me and were so rude and unfeeling towards me. Why they blamed ME for why my husband didn’t call or visit etc. One year I had enough and I woke up to see it for what it really was….and it was Christmas and every bit of the unhappiness in that family was taken out on me it felt like….so I did change things. I was already being abused by MY family, so I sure wasn’t going to take that crap anymore from HIS. For some reason, I recognized it as immaturity and jealousy on their part and realized I would never make them happy since they were chronically unhappy with me for no reason whatsoever….so I set up boundaries that still exist today…thank God! They thought I would actually care if they got angry with me about that, but I had taken so much abuse….always behind my husbands back…so I did not care. Now we have mutual respect…but only because of the boundaries. There is not love lost between us, but they act respectfully toward me the very few times I choose to have contact with them. I will never see them again in this lifetime…but my daughter is free to, and my husband makes his own choices. What I have found very interesting is that once my husband got over being really angry with me for taking my stand with his family, he has only once gone to visit over the years. We live in another state, but it wouldn’t take a long plane ride to visit, but he just won’t go. Why? Maybe because those family relationships weren’t as happy and free and without strings attached!? So maybe I was never really the bad guy after all who was causing all of their problems! Of course I wasnt! But they still refuse to look at their own actions and choices as having been any kind of a negative…..just like my own family refused.


This year was the first year I did not spend Christmas with a single family member. The holidays were always painful for me. When my parents divorced and both remarried, I had four Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Easters to attend. My brother and I were always in trouble for not spending enough time with some or too much with others. We could never eat too much because someone’s feelings would be hurt if we did not eat at the next house. We spent more time driving than being at someone’s house and came home feeling exhausted, guilty. I began to resent the holidays because it was a public display of “the lie” that our family presented. Each family was as dysfunctional as the other, just in different ways. My dad’s family were the physical and drug abusers, my mom’s the emotional and verbal, my step-dad’s were over-religious wasps, and my stepmom’s were all mentally ill without getting treatment. Yet everyone put on smiles and nice clothes, talk about their children’s accomplishments which seemed at times a competition between the adults, buy gifts that they had high expectations of and verbally berated each other. I was so confused when I went to a friend’s house for Christmas and they were loving and kind! I didn’t know it could be different.
I am thirty-three and have finally estranged myself from the entire family. Yes, it’s hard and sometimes I feel like I’m on “bastard island” but I don’t spend months recovering from the pain and trauma they used to inflict on me. I had a peaceful Christmas with my sweet dog, Coffee, and we made it special. I feel better about myself and surround my life with good people who show me love in healthy ways as I do them. I hand picked my own family and I hope this helps.
Darlene, thank you. Last December I made this decision after reading many hopeful blogs about taking this final step. And Darlene, my dad’s family was notorious for making the new husband or wife feel like an outsider and have to prove their loyalty until they all liked her/him. So I empathize with you and your husband. I hope you have a happy holiday everyone, and may this be a new year!


That is so true about abusers always blaming someone else and never looking at themselves. When I drew my boundaries with my mother and sister, they insisted that “a therapist must have gotten to you” and poisoned me against our happy, healthy family. In their minds, it couldn’t possibly be that I was correct about how they emotionally abused and disrespected me, so they needed some scapegoat.

Of course no therapist that I saw ever suggested that I stand up for myself and cut off my family, the message was generally quite the opposite. Meanwhile, they were telling me I couldn’t think for myself and stand up for myself because I wanted to. That I must be some stupid person capable of being manipulated by anyone, a piece of property that they needed to keep to themselves so I wouldn’t find any life-altering information about my self-worth. That’s much sicker than I thought it was before reading this article, actually. Thank you for the insight Darlene!

My sister also gave me ‘that look’ so many times. She would always roll her eyes and outright reject most of my contributions to family or just personal conversations. I’m so glad that today my family will never meet anyone who I date let alone play those abusive mind-games.


Just change the names and shuffle the relationships, and its my family in a nutshell. Darlene, I wish I had your way with words. You describe the situation in such a way that people will get it. It’s so lovely to see it written down in words, and be able to say YES….this is IT! This is what happens! And then have you go on to make sense of it all. Thanks for pouring your heart out on paper, and giving us validation. You are such a gift to those of us recovering who get to read your words. .


Hi Carolyn
Isn’t it funny how typical it is? (not funny ha ha, but funny odd, strange, interesting. It really speaks to the ‘cycle’ of this whole thing.)
It’s also interesting how your mom can put a cork in it, which shows that she does have some control over her actions. I found realizing that about my mother made a difference in how I went forward.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Diane
My mother in law was not jealous of me that I ever knew of. She played her control games in a different way. I guess I was ‘no real threat’. There was a time in my healig that I felt hurt and rejection that they never saw me as important enough to their son to ever fear that he might ‘pick me’ over them. (but that is another story. 🙂
My inlaws don’t look at their own actions either. I am so happy that I don’t care if they do or not anymore! I don’t need them to agree with me. And of course neither you or I was the bad guy!
Thanks for your contribution here! I love your comments!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Coffee
That was a similar conclusion that I came to as well; I don’t miss any of it. I miss the fantasy that never happened perhaps, but the truth is better! The truth let me see that it wasn’t MY fault and that I didn’t deserve any of it. What’s to miss?
Thanks for your thankyou! My husband and I and our 3 kids had a wonderful christmas and we continue to enjoy our holiday time together!
Hugs Darlene


Hi Caden
Oh yes, it must have been someone else who “got to you” and soured your mind against them! HAAAA that is SO familiar to me as well. If I had to have the conversation today it would go like this (sarcasm intended): “ya, mom. Someone poisoned me against our happy family; I was so happy being objectified, sexually abused, called a liar, unprotected, accused of flirting and going after your boyfriends, being taken to bars when I was underage and never seen as an individual; ya mom, an outsider poisoned me ~ ya that’s what must have happened”

It makes me really angry when I hear stuff like this, that someone must have poisened someone elses mind against abusers! I have been accused of being an advocate of breaking up families too. YA RIGHT. If none of this stuff happened, no one would read my blog! No one would relate to it. If it didn’t happen to me, I would have nothing to expose.

Thanks for sharing Caden!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Brenda
Yes! After I published this post I was thinking that I maybe should have put a note in it to say that this was just one example of any given number of combinations of dynamics where this happens. The mother or the father, the mother in law or father in law, it matters not who is the ring leader, the damage is what we are dealing with.
Thanks for sharing Brenda, and thanks for your validation of what I am doing here!
Hugs, Darlene


Just wanted to say this was my first Holiday without my family and it was so peaceful!! Thanksgiving just me and my SO and our dog and Christmas was just me and my 2 year old… I am so glad I did it this way…no negative comments did not have the feeling of being uncomfortable..pure awesomeness 🙂


I’m new to this website, and have found it to be extremely helpful. At 52 I’m just starting to “Emerge.” I’m from a large dysfunctional family. I have 10 adult siblings, and an aging Mother. The main thing I see as causing the severe dysfunction in my family is decade after decade of the siblings and parents talking negative, back-stabbing talk that goes on behind everyone’s back. No one is exempt from the negative talk, but everyone THINKS that they are exempt. They live in this dilusional, negativty with no awareness or desire to change. I have recently started letting it be known that I no longer wish to participate in their back biting and name calling. I have been shocked and dismayed at the negative reactions I have received almost uniformly from all of my siblings and my mother. Even one of my sisters who I thought was a bit kinder and gentler…even she seems angry with me because I tried to “reason” with her grown daughter about they way constantly berate my nephew’s wife. It is virtually their only topic of conversation. I tried to reassure them that their negativity about my nephews wife were probably not as serious as they believe, and that my nephew and his wife are trying the best they can to be good Christians and good parents, and reading anything more into how they choose to parent or relate to their “negative” family member’s is probably just a total over reaction. My goodness….I swear my sister and her daughter will not stop till they cause their son/brother to divorce his wife. It seems as though that’s what they want. It’s so sick. My family is so sick. I know why people come to this website. Writing off your whole family is very difficult. Because of my family dysfunction, I really don’t have any friends outside the family; therefore, if I can find no one in my family that is willing to “emerge” with me, I will feel so alone, but for the first time in my life, I am realizing that if I stay in relationships with my family members, I will never be better. I will die bitter and resentful. This is going to be a tough journey, but a necessary one. I hope to be in therapy as soon as possible. Right now I don’t even think I have the skills necessary to try and make friends outside my family. I have always been quite scared to get close to people outside the family. I hope at 52 years old I can learn how to do that. May God watch over me through this journey and may he bless each and every one who feels the need to visit this website often. God Bless.


I read this with my mouth dropped the entire time. This my in-laws in every respect, except one set of grandparents. My husband realized the issue long before me but only started setting boundaries since we have been together. I even made the mistake of urging him reconcile with his family in the beginning. He tried and then stood up for himself. Yes I support his decision but I get the brunt of the fire with rude remarks, still being introduced as his friend after five years, and told I need to “know my place”. I had no idea this happened to others, but it helps to know if other couples can handle this we can. Thank you for all you do Darlene! Your site has been very helpful over the last year.


Every single word in every single sentence in every single paragraph on ever single page resonates with me. Thank you ALL so much! And I went through the “blame game” with my former mother-in-law, who blamed me for my ex-husband’s behavior five years after we had divorced and I was living in another country! And everything he did, and continued to do, was “because of me.” All I could do was laugh. And think how much better off I was GONE.

Years later she came around, and I think she was sorry and actually paid my son’s way through college (my ex had adopted him during the marriage) so it ended up not being “all bad,” but she sure didn’t help the marriage to survive. In fact, reading through all this, I can see why I finally threw in the towel. Saved myself, really. All we have to do is say “No. No more.” And stick to it.


I forgot to check the “notify me of followup comments” and when I went back to do so, I got this message:

“You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.”

Can you add me to the comment notification please?


Hi Connie, I am in a similar place and I’m 58. But the truth really helps when it sinks in that
your family is truly dysfunctional. I don’t have a lot of friends either. I discovered that most of my friendships were very one sided with me as the doormat. I have decided to change that although
I’m kind of winging it as thats how its been all my life. I have stopped contact with those ‘friends’ and I am going to try to have two sided friendships. My family are like yours, though much smaller.
Judgemental of everyone. Belittling and negative comments only. I read on another EFB topic about this and realized that it applied to my family. I am no contact now and much better for it myself.
Now to make new friends. That is my new years resolution: a more stable life without the personal anguish caused by my thoughtless, dysfunctional mother and brother.
Happy New Year to all on EFB. For me 2012 was better than 2011 and 2013 will be better still
living in truth! -Karen


It’s taken me forty years finally to let what I’ve known cognitively for decades to sink in emotionally. Both my parents are narcissists. We are a small family and my sisters enable both parents in their narcissistic self-absorption. After many decades of contempt, dismissal, disregard and passive aggression from my mother, I finally and permanently have walked away. She actually managed to kill the love, which is something I never thought would happen. I no longer feel guilty for the way I feel. My parents have reaped what they’ve sown with me. But it takes a long, long, time to truly believe that the problem lies with them, and not with us.


I think this sense of obligation to be with ‘family’ and deal with them for holidays could come from a lot of things or a combination of things. For me its the hope that it might be different this year or the guilt that it might be my last holiday with this person. I have a habit of cherishing the good times and conveniently overlooking or repressing the bad. Despite all of the hurt that is caused to me (mainly disregarded and disrespected), I don’t want and fear hurting the feelings of others. I’m working on myself and my line slowly and with the support of my husband. I want to distance myself slowly, in a way that minimizes confrontation. I’m not sure I’m strong yet enough to get in a confrontation without second guessing myself.


Hi Amber!
How wonderful that you had a lovely Christmas doing things the way that YOU wanted to do them!
Hugs, Darlene

Excellent comments! Isn’t it interesting when we say we want to stop and they get upset! My mother told me (when I said I was sick of her sisters and their trouble making and gossip etc.) that family is important, and the only family I have etc and bla bla bla, like I HAD to be a part of it. And for many years I didn’t KNOW that I had a choice about being part of it or not.
It was very hard for me to stand up and go against the majority, but what I gained is something that I NEVER dreamed of. Freedom, individuality, living life to the fullest, new friends, new healthy relationships and no more oppression! There is freedom on the other side of broken!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


This website gets thousands of readers every day! We are not alone in this, that is for sure and it is amazing how many of us really believed that this was something that didn’t happen to others!
Thanks for sharing this awesome example! That statement “you need to know your place” is so telling about what ‘they’ believe isn’t it!
Hugs, Darlene

Yes, saying ‘no more’ is a big thing in the process. Self validation, self empowerment and self love will strengthen as we say no more and as we stick to no more.
hugs, Darlene


The subscribe to comments thing has nothing to do with me, it is just an app on the blog. I can’t add you to it or take you off it. Please try again next time.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Karen
I made new friends. (I made a few mistakes there too, but then adjusted and made some more new friends. I just keep trying to go forward and it all works out!) I too discovered that I had a lot of dsyfunctional friendships as well as family problems where one sided was concerned. But willingness and persistence have served me well! I live a full life now and I hang out with people I really want to be with!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Betsy
Welcome to EFB
I can relate to what you are saying. Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Caliban’s Sister
Welcome to EFB
That is what this site is about; coming out of that fog and dealing with the damage caused.
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


My sister in law sent this to me. I just read everything and I can hardly believe it. I feel exactly the same. We’ve been married almost 10 years, and in the beginning, like MC, I tried to get my husband to reconcile with his two siblings that he could not seem to get along with. I couldn’t understand the family dynamic, as mine is so different. I grew up with a very loving family. Sure, we had our fights and our moments, but I know without a doubt that they are there for me. My husband’s family… I’ve felt for years now that my house is not really my house, that whatever I do to it and the yard is actually for my MIL and FIL somehow… and it is. Because the farm owns the house, the house is right in front of the barn, and my inlaws still own the monetary rights to the farm even though my husband is the ‘owner’ on paper. I’ve heard of abuse that I didn’t know about years ago, and with two kids of my own and one on the way, having experienced it in differing levels myself, I am not happy here. Living right next to the inlaws makes me uncomfortable. Having my rules with my kids disrespected by my MIL, having her say certain things to me in front of my kids and then laughing off anything I say to her about it… it is not love. It is not respect. I feel like nothing more than the person who is just supposed to make my husband his meals and raise our children so he can spend all his time in the barn to serve the farm that is the most important thing in the eyes of his dad. We’ve talked of moving to another house just minutes from the farm. Dad tried to guilt my husband into changing his mind. So, now we are contemplating leaving the farm altogether. I’ve felt my life threatened by the one brother I tried to get my husband to reconcile with, and we completely cut off the other when my son was born due to the things he said to my husband the day after his birth. I am stressed. I am unhappy. And I do not leave my house unless it is to leave the farmyard completely. And all this time, until the last 2 months, I have felt that I was just to live with it, that I needed to be fine with things, and that it was somehow my fault. I realize that the only thing that is my fault was not realizing and doing something about this much sooner. But we will. I’m hoping to be moved to a different house before my due date end of February. And I just have a feeling this is what God wants for our family. And my husband… well, his eyes were opened wide when he saw his brother standing in front of me with a rock the size of his head held over his head at me… on our yard. Neither of us is happy here… and it has been sadly affecting our children. I need God’s help more than ever right now.

Thank you so much for posting this, and a big thanks to my sister in law for showing me and revealing to me so much that has been in the family over the years… which has explained my unrest and helped me to understand my situation so much more than I’d ever understood without. I didn’t know what abuse was. I’ve never experienced it within family like this. It’s hard to accept.


Hi Sab
Welcome to EFB!
I know the dysfunctional family farm system all too well. My husband comes from that system and the generational farm system too and although I didn’t live in the same yard, and my husband bought his own separate land/farm ~ but he worked for his father and his father’s stuff came first. I could start a new blog about this subject! Standing up to that system was extreemly difficult but we did it. We decided just this year to sell! (we are in the process and the land and farm home is listed) I hear you my friend!
You have found the right website. There are hundreds of articles here with discussions that will assist you with that ‘coming out of the fog’ stuff. Clarity for me made the biggest difference. I had to see what the damage was and the truth about right and wrong before I could heal from it.
Hugs, Darlene


Happy 2013 to everyone. 2012 was a hard year for many of us. 2013 will be better.

This whole article could be about my dad. I have learned this year that my dad was probably a narcissist. He was not someone you could argue with about anything and expect to win. I always thought of him as a dictator who had to have his way all the time. If he wasn’t happy, nobody was, and he was always angry. He was always full of rage. He tried to control everyone that crossed his path. With my own healing work on my controlling behavior that I learned from my dad, I realized that controlling people are terrified inside and don’t want the world to know it so they control. The more frightened I became, the more I tried to control everything in my life. It didn’t work.

Narcissist are never to blame for anything, in their minds. Boundaries meet nothing to them. I walked away from my narcissistic dad before I started to heal from incest. I put the safety of my children first and said no to any contact with him. I couldn’t do it for myself but I could for them.

Excellent article, Darlene. Shared on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Have a glorious 2013, my friend.


Thank you so much, Darlene. I wondered if perhaps yours was a family farm situation as well, and my husband, when I read this to him, was saying the same. It is sad that something that could really be a wonderful family operation instead becomes… this. I will be looking at a number of the articles on here! Thank you for your kind words. It is funny (not haha, you know) how the moment we realize what has been and is happening, we can’t take action soon enough.


Holy cow, Darlene. Are you sure my in-laws and your in-laws don’t hang out? Because they sure seem to have the same game plan against their sons’ wives – it’s like oh, she’s a b****, she’s to blame for our sons not wanting anything to do with us and setting boundaries!

My parents also played their own games during my current and former marriages. I had thought with my ex that they acted bizarre because they didn’t like him. Then they started pulling the same stuff when I was getting ready to marry my current husband, who they DID claim to like! It became pretty clear it was not about who I was marrying but that they were losing control of me and didn’t like it. Crazy.


Hi Patricia
Happy New Year to you too! (thanks for sharing this post all over the place!)
Doing our own work is always the solution!
Thanks for sharing Patricia! Love and hugs! Darlene


I find it difficult to be around narcissists, period….and narcissists seem to revel in the holiday season, don’t they? I have narcissists both in my family of origin and in my in-laws, so Christmas (and other holidays) leave me exhausted and depleted.

Feeling bad has been the story of my life, Darlene. I still to this day have a vague, underlying sense of “being bad.” I work hard NOT to feel bad, but it seems to be a losing battle, at times.

It’s true that dysfunctional people label anyone who dares stand up to them as being “bad.” Or, as being “crazy.” Narcissists love to dismiss and to arrogantly criticize and demonize the normies of the world. It’s so, so hard to feel a kinship to personality-disordered people, even if they are your family members.

I am in such a dilemma, Darlene. I really am. I feel at a crossroads, and I feel that my taking the wrong wrong could be the literal end of me.

My first husband was a really good, decent man. We were married 18 years. We had two children, and we had a good life together. Except, the childhood abuse had given me horrendous PTSD (never officially diagnosed) and depression. I had flashbacks constantly, and nightmares. I developed panic disorder. I attempted to work, but eventually quit work when my child was young and did free-lance work from home. I knew nothing about PTSD, nor about the fact that I really did suffer from severe symptoms. Looking back, I also now realize that I had survived my childhood by splitting off and by dissociating. However, during my marriage, I focused upon getting therapy for the childhood sexual abuse and the fact that my father was an alcoholic.

My husband hit mid-life and he wanted to get rid of me and find a “better model,” I guess you’d say. I really had never received the help I needed (and deserved) for the PTSD and the dissociative issues I had. To be honest, until a few years ago, I didn’t even know that I had a severe case of PTSD or any dissociative issues.

So, he just packed his bags one day and left me and our two children, ages 13 and 9, as if he were going on a trip to the Bahamas. He was unfazed, even gleeful. My children were devastated. Can you imagine how I felt? The only think I ever wanted to do right in my life was to give my children the childhood they deserved, with two loving parents and a stable home with roots, something I had never had myself.

And I felt like I had failed. I hated myself. I blamed myself entirely.

I didn’t even date for four years because I kept trying to reconcile with my husband. He wasn’t having it, so I raised our children, and I didn’t date. But I suffered terribly with nightmares, insomnia, hypervigilance, depression, anxiety, flashbacks, etc. However, because I had learned how to dissociate so effectively during my childhood, I always projected a very competent, confident image. But when the “child” parts of emerged at night, when I felt most abandoned and alone and rejected, I would curl up in the bed in the fetal position and weep silently for hours and hours…..every night. I had no idea what was “wrong” with me. All I knew was that my own parents had rejected and abused me, and now this very good Christian man had abandoned and rejected me. I wanted to die. But I was too responsible, and I never wanted to hurt my children.

I am saying all of this just to tell you about what is taking place now in my life. (I so apologize if this seems inappropriate, but I am really scared, and I just need to talk this out. I need help and I need encouragement.)

I didn’t date until four years after my husband left me. My children were then 17 and 13. I was terrified of dating, because I felt so ugly and stupid. I wasn’t ugly or stupid, but I always had felt that I was. It’s hard to explain….

I was convinced that no one would ever want me, so I wasn’t as discriminating as I should or could have been. I only dated a couple of men. I met a man through a friend at work and was attracted to him because he was the quintessential “bad boy.” I had never been with anyone but straight-laced men, white-collar men, but this guy rode and owned motorcycles, was rough around the edges, worked as a carpenter (my first husband was a computer systems manager), and he was very sexual. I’d never met or dated anyone like him.

Because I felt so unwanted, as if no one would ever want to be with me, I ended up with this man, lived with him for several years, and married him three years ago.

Big. Mistake.

It’s truly sad, but because I witnessed such horrific, sadistic abuse during my childhood, I wasn’t able to recognize less blatant types of abuse……like emotional abuse. In fact, I only learned about emotional abuse and narcissism a couple of years ago. Now in hindsight, I see that there were HUGE RED FLAGS exhibited by my husband, but the abuse had so clouded my ability to see that I merely accepted his abuse and then tried harder. I was always trying harder….when I was a child….and then with this second husband.

He was a jerk. Selfish. Unempathic. Inconsiderate. Chauvanistic. Cold. Emotionally unavailable. When he’s mad, he throws things, punches things, breaks things, and terrifies me. He verbally assaults me. I walk on eggshells around him. He cheated on me with BOTH men and women, and I felt sorry for him! Because he always cried when he got caught! I had learned to feel sorry for both my abusive parents, so I just did what I had learned to do…..feel sorry for the people who hurt me. Geez….isn’t that pathetic?

What is my dilemma? To make a long story shorter, I don’t want to be with this man any longer. I have gone downhill since meeting him, and my self-esteem, never high to begin with, is shot. I have gained 80 pounds, just because I had tried to deal with my feelings by eating. It’s just made me more unhappy.

But I don’t know if I have the strength to leave, Darlene. Ironic, really, since my therapists always told me I was the strongest client they’d ever met. (I never could see it.) I’ve survived many horrific things, including a stranger rape. I’ve raised two awesome children whom I love dearly. I went back to college when my children were young. I hold my own, even now, when my husband goes on a tirade.

But I am tired. I am weary. I am sick of life. I’m so tired of fighting and struggling. All I’ve ever known is fighting and struggling. Nothing has ever been easy. Between my having been parentified into being a caretaker for all my family when I was young, and the many struggles with PTSD and depression and anxiety and dissociation, I’ve never known how to just learn to take care of ME. What do I do? Where do I go? If I leave him, what am I to do?

Never, ever, not in a million years, did I ever think I’d end up here at this age. Never. I’ve had soooooooo much to learn, Darlene. Oh my goodness, I’ve had so much to learn.

And now that I have learned about emotional abuse, and about what I should expect from a man, and about narcissism, and about boundaries…….I can’t tolerate living with this man much longer.

I need to make plans, I guess. But why? What’s the point? I am utterly exhausted. I’ve worked so hard in my life to overcome the effects of the abuse, the horrible abuse. I was a good daughter, sibling, friend, and wife. I was a good mother. Not perfect, but I care very much about others, and always have. I am very empathic.

It’s hard for me to believe that life has anything else good in store for me. That thought process frightens me. There’s a part of me so beaten down that I feel that I need encouragement and help and support in order to arise. I’ve always been like a phoenix but now I feel like a half-dead turkey.

I don’t feel a bit sorry for myself, oddly. I just feel tired of life. Does that make any sense?

I so want to get to the place I see in my mind’s eye, but I have no confidence in myself. None. Zilch. Zero.

I keep wondering if all of my efforts have been for nothing.

Thank you for listening.



Well, I see there are some typos in my previous comment, but the major one I’d like to correct is that I typed “white-COLOR” when what I meant was “white-COLLAR.”

That really needs to be corrected because it is not only confusing but could be construed as my being racist! And I am most definitely NOT.

I am sorry for the confusion.



Hi Marore
(I fixed your typo so don’t worry about that!)
My heart goes out to you. I really hear your pain. I had so much fear about moving forward myself no knowing where the road would leave. But I kept persisting in trying to just ‘go forward’ and more was revealed. I kept the hope that a good life WAS meant for me too, not just for others, and as the fog lifted, I saw things differently. Coming out of the fog is exhausting and I can relate to feeling exhausted for all the years that I pushed through. I was tired for a few years but now I have energy that I never imagined! The thing about having so much to learn is that NOW you are more open to learning it. You are not in ‘the dark’ anymore. In some respects that adds to the tired, (the overwhelming understanding of what is ahead) but I can assure you at least for me, it was not as hard as living IN the fog was! and it was never as scary as I thought it would be.
Hang in there my friend! Keep persisting in going forward.
hugs and love, Darlene


Hi P.S.
It’s like they follow a script isn’t it? Great points in your comments, thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Happy New Year, Darlene and Everyone!

When I read this, I couldn’t help but wonder how your father-in-law felt inside when his stand-by methods of control and way of living his life, failed. I have a feeling that sweet, little, Darlene struck a resounding note of terror in that old man’s heart!lol! I firmly, believe that all people can change, even though, most psychiatrists seem to believe that people with malignant personality disorders are beyong repair. I think this because they told me I was beyond repair too and they were so very wrong! It makes me hopeful that if enough abusers are thwarted, in the same way that your husand’s dad was thwarted, that they might begin to look at another way to do life. This is a hope I’ve gained from hanging out at EFB for a couple of years and I’m taking it with me into the New Year. A hope for more functional human beings, more functional, loving families, and a more peaceful world with less child abuse. The experience and voices of victims are important and very, very powerful! God bless!



Wow. Reading through this made me think I was reading about myself and my husband. I’ve started a blog of my own to chronicle all the things DH and I have dealt with concerning his dysfunctional FOO, and you’ve just about nailed it all here. Thank you for sharing.

Would you mind if I posted this post on my blog (with a link back to your blog and crediting that you are the source?) If not, I understand.

I’m just always in awe of the sheer number of people who seem to be dealing with this kind of abuse. Keep fighting the good fight.


Why do people put so much importance on spending holidays with family, especially Christmas? The whole subject on having anxiety and depression during the holidays, hundreds of articles about how to deal with your family during the holidays, for what? This was the first year my husband and I celebrated Christmas without any family whatsoever except each other, and it was actually the first Christmas either of us have celebrated, like really celebrated, and it was the best ever.

I was severely neglected as a child and Christmas was usually spent alone with no food let alone a tree and presents. My husband was smothered and forced to be who his parents wanted him to be without any sort of voice.

Once we were able to let go of the whole family lie, we were able to be excited about Christmas for the first time since we were little kids (before the let-downs and messed up expectations of others that made Christmas miserable for us and therefore jaded into adulthood).

My mother deigned to call me on Christmas, after over a year of no contact, most likely to lay a guilt trip and pretend like there is nothing wrong between us and completely dismiss me. Not sure really, I didn’t answer, I was watching The Hobbit with my husband and that was more important to me. I was insulted that she would even have the mind to call me at all, but she is a narcissistic crazy who hates me so who knows.

My husbands family did not contact him, most likely thinking it was a punishment for standing up for himself because their trademark is smothering him so badly that he never really thought he could think for himself or take care of himself. They were blown away when he stood up for himself over the summer and tried to lay a terrible guilt trip involving his grandmothers death and his mothers perpetual health issues. His father is always silent, too “important” to communicate with him as a human being. My in-laws have never outright accused me of stealing or controlling their son, they did blatantly dismiss me though and would treat him as if he was still single and practically a child. They just can’t let go of their fantasy of who they want him to be, and even though him getting married was a part of their fantasy, it was to someone with a voice, and they didn’t like that so they pretended like I wasn’t really there.

I am really happy about how we both have overcome so much and gone through so much pain to finally truly enjoy this Christmas together. It was the best ever, we got each other meaningful presents (which was a wonderful relationship booster as well), we bought a tree for the first time since we got married, we had a wonderful dinner and saw a great movie, we got all the candy I never got when I was a kid, he bought me toys that I always wanted as a kid but never got, and I got him things that I knew he actually wanted rather than what others want him to want. To top it off we got a new kitten.

The more I am able to remember about my past the less bad I feel about cutting contact with my relatives. Your post about being tricked into spending Christmas with your mother only to be left alone triggered a memory of something my mother did to me when I was 8. That triggered a bunch of other bad memories that I had supressed reminding me of how awful my mother was to me.

Big Hugs



Hi Pam!
YES. when no one stands up to abusers, they don’t HAVE to change. They have no motivation to change; they have things exactly the way they want them. (and of course they have a choice, but so do we and really, they have no ‘more’ choice than we do)
Thanks for sharing. I have hope for the broken world too!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Jonsi Jones!
Welcome to EFB! ~ Yes you may re-post my post as long as you give credit back to me and link it to this site. (It is better if you only post part of it and then point people to read the rest here if you want to stay out of trouble with google ~ google doesn’t like duplicate content.)
I will keep fighting the good fight!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Alice!
Thanks for sharing this! There are some really great insights in your comments! And VICTORY too! Love the way that you did what you wanted this year and gave presents that had meaning for each other. Love your comments!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi again Darlene!

Will do – (just for clarification), I’ll post a portion of your post on my blog, giving credit to you and linking back here. I feel what you’ve written here is too good not to share, thank you for giving me permission to do so.




Hi Marore
I have felt a similar anguish to the point of destructive self harm.
I too have the PTSD from the abuse with the terrible emotional
upheaval inside that is unbearable. I went NC with everyone who
kept me in abuse by finally recognizing the truth. I spoke to a lawyer.
It never hurts to get a professional unbiased opinion. Really.
They can help you with options and be in your corner. I wish you
well and the first step is behind you. You are asking for help.


Darlene, I think I watched that same TV show on Dr. Phil. The whole entire family was there to beg the husband to come back, even though he had left home when he was 18 and he was now 31 years old. “Momma cries herself to sleep EVERY NIGHT!” “I want my brother back!” “She’s white-washed you!” and they called his young wife, who had a young child with her husband, the most horrible and vile names. And they all, every last one of them, presented a UNITED FRONT and BELIEVED THEY WERE RIGHT.

Watching the youngsters in the “family” go after their brother and his wife was just horrendous. They had all been so firmly “indoctrinated.” That family was just hateful and it was no wonder the son decided to stay away from them.

It just made me realize how important it was to go “no contact” with some folks, folks who are never going to change. If that bunch had stones in their hands instead of words in their mouth, that young wife would have been left bleeding on the side of the road, and possibly dead.

We in America still practice “honor killings.” We just do it with WORDS.


Hi, Darlene…..thank you for your comment to me. I really feel encouraged by what you said; it’s at least comforting to me to know that my exhaustion may be due to so much striving and struggling these past years, not only with the fallout from the abuse (PTSD, etc.) but from dealing with narcissists all around me. I think they’ve been sucking the life out of me for years, and I’ve been quite unaware just how subtle the “life-sucking” process has been! Sort of like the frog placed in a pan of water on the stove, who remains unaware that the temperature just keeps getting hotter and hotter in the pan until he’s been cooked!

I will keep on keeping on. I sure wish that something wonderful, unexpected, and serendipitous would happen to me……just to get some momentum started. I seem to have so much difficulty just getting started……though I didn’t used to…..seems in the past I just believed that I could do anything. But, I need to remember, too, that so much of my “believing I could do anything” was fantasty-based, and was actually a coping mechanism I’d devised as a child in order to counter the extreme vulnerability and powerlessness and terror I felt. Coming out using dissociating as a main coping mechanism has sort of rendered me really lost and vulnerable. Who am I now? I don’t know……of course, I don’t think I ever really knew who I was. It’s just that I lived with a “part” who remained kind of numb and who pretended a lot. I told myself I wasn’t “needy,” and that I could “do anything.” Well, you and I know that isn’t realistic, though it did help me to survive.

It’s as if I’m a lobster who’s molted and now I feel soft and vulnerable and exposed.

I sure hope that I’m able to move beyond this awful stage in my life. I hope that I can move beyond the exhaustion and reach a place in which I feel excited about new things. I think I need some help and support.



Hi, Karen……thank you so very, very much for your support and for your kindness! Your words just really ministered to me today, and I am extremely grateful to you!

Yes, it is hard to admit that I am in this spot. I so wanted this marriage to work. I have tried hard, so hard, to be a good wife, to be a forgiving and a loving person. Unfortunately, I tend to be TOO forgiving, and even TOO loving……to my detriment. It’s hard to change now…..seems I’ve been this way all of my life, probably stemming out of years of having to placate and second-guess my abusive parents for so long. Always my focus had to be on them, in order to protect myself.

I dream of having a life of my own. I fantasize about it. But I have no idea how to actually DO it! Even though I’m a smart woman (qualified for MENSA, even…..I only say that because I often feel so guilty for not knowing how to care for myself….I think, I’m smart, so what’s the problem?) but I draw a blank, a total blank, when thinking in terms of myself! Isn’t that odd?

Maybe not so odd, I suppose, for a person who was turned into a surrogate parent and caretaker when a little girl. Guess that’s why I can always encourage others and help others, but can’t seem to help myself. Guess I think I’m either not worthy….or that I’m invisible……something’s going on. I don’t even know where to start!

Anyway, yes, I need to contact an attorney and gather information. I need to plan this divorce. I did tell my daughter yesterday what’s been going on, and that was a big step. I do tend to hide the fact that my husband is verbally abusive and that he scares me. I now have some people who know. It’s sort of a relief, actually.

Karen, why is life so hard for us abuse survivors? Seems so unfair, doesn’t it?



I think you’re absolutely right about how they don’t take responsibility for their own actions or even consider that their child could/would “turn on them” by their own choice and free will!

I had the same issue with my abusive mother. I went over a year and a half without contact and when I let my guard down and gave her a chance to respect my boundaries, she turned around and blamed my husband for me “walking away”! At that point all I could do was laugh and ask her, “So you really think I ‘walked away’ for nothing, you didn’t do anything, REALLY!?!”


Marore, I know just how you feel. I’m 62 years old and have just now been learning how to “care for myself” after taking care of everyone else all my life, totally to my own detriment. And I mean completely. But it is possible and you will succeed. I am living proof of that, even though I’m not completely there yet. Every day it’s one step closer, and if some days it’s two steps back, fine. At least it’s not THREE steps back! I always make forward motion.

“I will keep on keeping on. I sure wish that something wonderful, unexpected, and serendipitous would happen to me……just to get some momentum started.”

One thing I have learned from “the faithful” in Guatemala, where I work with the indigenous Mayan Indians, is that “prayers will be answered.” We don’t know how and we don’t know when, but God always hears and responds. I quit the Catholic Church years ago (hypocritical family that made us go to church) and don’t belong to organized religion at all, but I really believe in a God of Peace and a God of War and I want to live in the spirit of Peace so that is where my prayers are directed to. Peace.

My garden is my church and I believe in the Divine, which may be as simple as that part of our Spirit that never leaves us, that is always there, and all we have to do is call on it and ask God (the Divine) to come to our aid, and my “guardians” that have protected me all these years (how else could I have survived the horrendous years?) will always be there to protect me now. They may well simply be “the best part of my self,” but I know they are real.

I just have to remember to ASK FOR HELP and ASK GOD TO SHOW ME WHAT TO DO. If I only remember to ask, doors will be opened and the road will be made clear. It’s not easy to do this as I was raised and trained to never ask for anything, or punishment was sure to come, but the Divine Goodness in all of us doesn’t respond that way. Goodness is Goodness, all the time, and available to anyone who wants it whenever they ask. We dip our toe into the Silver Stream of Consciousness and we can sing the song of the Spirit as we are carried gently downstream. It’s only when I am fighting “what is” with what I wish things would be” that I am fighting the current and trying to swim upstream.

When I “let go and let God” and “put it in God’s Hands,” I finally got that tiny bit of peace and rest that I have needed for so long. But I always forget to pray as I don’t have the slightest idea how to do so, without going back to that ridiculous “religious upbringing” I had with a God and a Church that meant nothing in real life and has been proven to be evil incarnate. But God and the Divine Spirit is out there, as man cannot destroy it. The Divine is immune and welcome to all.

“There is no hurt on earth that Heaven cannot heal.”

“The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”
Dear God please show us The Way.

God will show us what to do; all we need do is ask. And practice the three P’s: Patience, Pardon and Pray. And let’s add: Protection!

No contact to stop re-injury is the only thing that ever worked for me, and after 2.5 years of pure hell trying to resolve things with family, I am seeing the utter futility in this. Until THEY want to have a positive and productive relationship with me, there is NOTHING I can do. And I will not be the blacksheep or whipping post or scapegoat for this family any longer.

I will never go back there again for any reason at all, but I will pray for them and ask God to forgive them, as I never will. God can do this for me and I don’t have to do anything at all. Forgiveness is not my job; it’s God’s job. My job is stay away from them and learn to take care of my self, and not replace them with other negative people and so-called “friends” to take their place. I’ve done that plenty of times. I will not touch poison or handle poisonous snakes. I will not accept “Greeks bearing Gifts.” I will not allow any Trojan Horse to enter my gates. I will continue on the path of what is right for me

If it brings Peace I will encourage more of it. If it brings Pain I will turn away, hand it back to them, and “give them wide berth.”

It’s as simple as that. “IF IT HURTS STOP DOING IT.”

I ask God to grant peace to us all.

Dear God please show us The Way. Amen.


I am almost 52 and have been married for 31 years. My husband is 66 and has been/is verbally abusive to me. I have recently told him that I want to separate and to my surprise he is being quite reasonable about it – so far. I really don’t think he believes it. He is very OCD and also I suspect he is bi-polar but he will never get help.
Here is my dilemma: How do I not feel guilty about leaving? Why do I feel guilty, other than the fact that my pastor said that if I divorce I don’t have faith that God will take care of my problem and that I don’t believe the Bible to be true. Quite honestly, I feel I am a good Christian and I have had faith for 31 years. My son has suffered for my decision to stay and has now been “disowned” by my husband because he isn’t doing with his life what my husband wished for him to do. I don’t understand why this is so hard for me. I am tired of being called a “worthless piece of —-“. Another minister of a different denomination says that God does not want us to suffer. My husband has become violent but never with me, but I am almost afraid that when he finally believes that I am serious this time, he will with me.
My son is the one who recommended this site to me. Maybe someone can help me to understand why I feel this way. I have always thought myself a strong enough person to deal with this treatment and when my son was small I was afraid my husband would take him and I’d never see him again. So here I am, ready to step out and I find I am almost frozen with terror (of what?).


Hi Phyllis,
I’m 52 years old also, and new to this website. I’m not married, and my issues are more with my dysfunctional family of origin. I am a strong believer in God and his word. I would refer you to this verse in Peter:

Peter 3:7
In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. If you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard.

I do not believe God created any of us as an object to be abused. He created us as equals, who deserve to be honored and understood. You don’t deserve abuse. You are a precious gift from God.



By the way Phyllis at 52 I’m afraid too. I have no friends outside my sisters and mother. I was divorced (not my choice) 5 years ago. I’m now considering moving from NY state to Florida on my own, to try and start a new life by myself far away from my family and in the type of climate I’d like to live in. The biggest thing that will get in my way of accomplishing this: FEAR. I’m really scared. I’m hoping if I do the right things to build on my “Emerging From Broken” that hopefully in a year I can make this kind of bold move….but I am scared.


This really hit home with who my in-laws are. Reading what Darlene and everyone said was like reading life with the in-laws. My mother-in-laws new thing is asking me every time I see her if I’m pregnant and discussing with me about giving birth and having children. Is that normal for her to ask me all the time if I’m pregnant when she knows I’m waiting until I am finished with college or am I blowing this out of proportion? I think its offensive for her to be asking me all the time if I’m pregnant. I have already told her and my hubby did as well, that we don’t want children until we are 30 to 32 so why does she keep harassing me? If I wanted children right now I would have them. Hubby says that she told him that she just wants me to know that my kids will be welcomed by her and that is why she keeps asking. Her father never wanted to watch her kids but would watch the other grandchildren, favoritism to his other kids, so she wants me to feel equal. I think this is weird because I don’t have kids. Why doesn’t she just do this when I do get pregnant?


Phyllis, that first pastor is obviously from the “old school” where women “knew their place.” Sounds like the same one who kept my beloved grandmother with my alcoholic grandfather until she became so depressed she almost took her own life. To heck with that pastor’s thinking… today is the modern world when no one has to put up with any kind of abuse.

How not to feel guilty? I wouldn’t know the answer to that, being raised Catholic (although not practicing anymore). We Catholics are “born guilty” and the only way I got away from that thinking was the same kind of determination I use with fear: I DO IT ANYWAY. I don’t care if I’m “guilty” or if I am “afraid,” I will NEVER let fear rule my life! Scared or not, I am going to do the right thing and now, and only recently, did that include doing the right thing for MY SELF. Me, myself, and I. I count too.

The fact that your husband disowned your son says it all. What’s that first pastor got to say about that? I agree with the second. GOD DOES NOT WANT US TO SUFFER. Only the Devil does. And anyone who hurts you verbally or physically is in the snare of the devil, as far as I am concerned. And I have the right and obligation to MYSELF to LEAVE.

Give them wide berth and I ask God to give me the strength I need to persevere. Thank God you have the second pastor in your life!

Gracias, Amen.


Well said, Connie, in #46. There you go. God loves us and does not want us to suffer. Not in any way and not by any man (or woman). Amen.


Jonsi Jones,
That sounds great!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Phoenix
Good for you for saying it!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Phyllis
Welcome to EFB
Keep reading ~ Understanding comes with clarity ~ I found the asnwers to my questions as I dug into my own history and saw it through a grid of truth instead of the way that I had been taught to see things. I found the roots of so many fears and I have writen this website intentionally to share the ways that the truth came to me. But the fog didn’t lift over night. About your husband, you might want to consider contacting a shelter or a professional that can help you make a saftey plan for leaving. Your fears are there for a reason.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Dawn
You can ask her to stop and tell her how it makes you feel. The rest is up to her. If she doesn’t respect your wishes, that is about her. In healthy relationship, there is mutual respect and consideration for each others feelings.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene I didn’t think about telling her to just stop and your hurting my feelings. Now that I am thinking about it the thought of telling her to stop scares me and makes me feel like if I did try to do it I would start crying. I guess I don’t have the confidence to stand up for myself. I am going to try to do this anyways and if I start crying well I start crying. Thanks you just gave me another eye opener. I really don’t know why I didn’t think to just say stop. Thank you Darlene.


Hi! Oh sweet peace! I live in a small cabin a stone’s throw from Canada at the edge of a pristine wilderness, where I spent a wonderful Holiday Season with my chocolate Lab, no running water, disabled from a neck injury, and very simple, right down to my old comfy boots. My pup is such a delightful companion (service dog) and is her own little sweet Being .. no agendas, no waiting to “get me” with sarcasm or something that happened 30 years ago, no setting me up for a verbal cheap shot, not a mean bone in her body … I don’t have to be on high alert and watch my back for the next explosive tantrum.

At 60 years old (been here 3 years), I don’t respond to “guilt” control anymore. I’ve never been explosive and had decided it’s not in my best interest physically or mentally to tolerate that kind of assault from others. I grew tired of constantly drawing boundaries around those who have no respect for boundaries. My Parents are still living (and have that same kind of dog-ownership mentality about their children, so I understand) and other family members are living, all far far away from where I live, and they have a new major drama every week. Not answering the phone is a wonderful option for me. I moved up here to start a new life all by myself, not knowing anyone.

I was always the “peacemaker,” but when I started to think about it, was I really? Enlisted for that duty and feeling obligated to make life run smoothly for all, I became instinct injured to stay trapped in their chaos, actually becoming a dumping ground for anyone’s negativity. It’s not my “job” though. We’re all responsible for our own peace, which is an inside job.

I just joined this site. Wonderful. Thank you, Darlene. You are a blessing.


This made me think of the first year I had my son. Mother In Law had the nerve to try to invite herself and her family over for Thanksgiving. I didn’t like the way she asked me first instead of her own son. I also didn’t like her inviting herself and others to eat so I would have to cook for them. I wonder what made her think I should have been preparing all this food since I was the new mother? Why wouldn’t it occur to her I would be exhausted? Anyway, I don’t trust her at all. Perhaps she has no consideration for others because she has no consideration for herself. What can I expect from a woman who never left her own abusive husband? I keep my distance from her. And I don’t want her ruining my holidays. She even suggested her son is not the father of my child. I don’t understand how she can make such a disrepectful accusation and expect me to like her.


Thanks, everyone,, for your comments. It is good to know I am not the only one who has to deal with this, although I wish none of us had to. One reason I have stayed with my husband for so many years is because of things in his background/childhood; alcoholic parents and he practically reared himself from age fourteen. I always thought that somehow I could make up for all that and convinced myself that I had for a while. I didn’t want him to end up a lonely old man one day. Guess what? I think he really wants to be a lonely old man! Thanksgiving weekend was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back: he exploded in rage at his brother and then at me and demanded I bring him home, an eight hour drive. After a few minutes I realized that the best thing to do was just that. He spoke two words to me the whole trip back, one yes and one no in response to questions I needed to ask. He laid the seat back and covered his head with his coat the whole trip. Twice during that quiet ride home I almost (closest I ever came} drove us off bridges just to end it all. Somehow I made it home. He has since moved into another bedroom (hope he doesn’t think I care): he is only home on weekends anyway, praise the Lord. I like the comment about the dog ownership mentality, because that’s what I feel like he thinks about my son and me. Pets to be mistreated and punished or discarded when we don’t agree with him or live up to his expectations. Anyway, thanks Darlene for suggesting a safety plan – it’s a good idea just in case. Part of me just plain old rebels at the idea of having to leave the home I’ve been in for twenty-six years and all my “stuff” but these are just things, I keep telling myself. Wow, it feels good to write all of this down! Thanks for the site and thanks to my son who directed me to you.


I just had the thrill of singing in a family funeral, using my fully trained soprano voice. Very oppressive growing up and enduring the looks of disgust mentioned in this article thrown my way in response to the fact that I sing.

My mother completely ignores my singing and has, in fact, sat beside me in church in the past actually sticking her fingers in her ears to comver my sound.

She also didn’t tell me that she was coming to town for this funeral. She stopped responding to my emails about the funeral.
So an hour before the funeral, she phoned and said they would be there, from my sister’s house, (her favorite daughter) of course.

I sang in the back of the room. When her cousin told her afterwards that her daughter has a beautiful voice, she replied, “My daughter?!” Pretending not to know that I was the one singing (because I didn’t tell her)– her own daughter’s voice.

Then she comes up to me, in front of the cousin, (my age) and slams me several times for “not telling her” what is going on. Later, saying that she won’t give us the lawn mower just promised earlier that week if I “keep this up.” THAT’s one lawn mower I don’t need.

It was still a thrill to sing, in MY voice!


also, met my parents in a restaurant for a meal this holiday season, that was it; ignored invite to my sister’s house. My sister wouldnt’ cross the street to see me, but invites us for Christmas dinner with the parents, of course.

I am also no longer going to see my young adult kids unless each one has a respectful relationship with me…so none of hopping in the car with the oldest, (who does have a relationship with me) to come and see mom when they refuse to communicate with me otherwise. My sister and parents have all helped make this situation what it is.


Just want to throw into the mix that believing someone else mind is being controlled is considered a symptom of serious mental illness. Ie the mother has turned the kids against their father etc etc. Namely schizophrenia.
Yeah I can relate to that. It also marks the one and only time another adult pointed out that there was something wrong with the behaviour. A judge placing a court order for psychiatric treatment.

More recently I copped an abusive ph call about something completely irrelevant from an associate. It was traumatising. Everyone else ran away with their tail between their legs and denied they knew he was doing it. I pointed out that the behaviour was deliberate, only for his personal enjoyment and inappropriate as well as excessive. I also pointed out that the others were enabling and that the behaviour was most certainly unacceptable towards women in particular.
Then nobody spoke to me for six months. I wonder why? I don’t really..However, i am sure if I ask they wont know what is going on and I shall be the one with the problem. SO, quite simply I don’t ask.
I am so sick of narcs.
This behaviour is most certainly as much cultural, societal as it is misogynistic and rooted within familial structures .


Because narc behavior is in family systems, it thrives in the culture. it is the presence that radiates from our families/individuals in the families so that everyone knows it is there but I am the only one who truly feels it (like when you set your pants)


Huh–in my case, it was the church I currently attend that was the “bad guy”. My narc thought they had told me to stop attending her as her home health aide, and still believes it to this day, though she cannot come up with a shred of evidence for it except her own belief. (Over the years, I have noticed that if she believes something, it is true. There is no “I may be wrong…” in her thinking.) I left off being her aide because I grew tired of the abuse, though I told her that I felt it to be more in my children’s interest that she find someone else, which was true, because being with her made me so tired ALL the time that I was falling asleep at the wheel. Plus she didn’t believe me when I told her so–I reminded her of the time that I fell asleep in front of her while she was talking to me, she noticed it, and took her fist and tapped it on my thigh to wake me up so she could talk at me some more. She said, “I NEVER did that!” She had me take her to a live show by a Red Skelton impersonator–we were in the front row, people were roaring with laughter, and I was halfway slumped in my seat, sound asleep. If she noticed, she never said anything.

Of course, it was someone else’s fault that she went without help for awhile. Her consideration of her own words and actions was not even remotely in the picture. NOTHING is ever her fault. She is almost perfect. The scary thing to me is that, if she had it all to do again, she would treat me the same abusive way she did. She still makes little denigrating remarks now, and has never apologized for the verbal beatings she gave me. I have apologized to my own children about the narcissistic behavior I laid on them that I copied from her before I learned better.

I had invited her to an evangelistic outreach at church, and she went, but with her agenda to expose them as her “torturers” because she had to do things by herself before her next helper showed up. It was good in a way that she came because people could see for themselves what I was talking about. People were puzzled about her comments and questions until I explained exactly what she believed about them, and then it made sense to them.

And, of course, it was a sly dig at me to accuse them of telling me to quit her, because of course I was so simple-minded that I would do anything they told me to do. Actually, it was just the logical outcome of a lifetime of her belief that I am mentally-challenged. (I’m not, I was a member of Mensa.)

I have finally, through years of trial and error, learned that the best way to deal with her is with a vast amount of emotional detachment, and as much physical detachment as I can get away with. It’s working.


I made my monthly $5 donation. (Actually, it was $5.21 Canadian. Does that mean the Canadian dollar is worth more or less than the American dollar? Math is not my strong suit.

May it be more some day. Perhaps lots of people will be willing to pay for the book I’m writing, and I’ll throw some your way.


Hi Peaceful
Welcome to EFB ~ YES peace IS an inside job! Well said! Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

Good points! Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Free
Yes, most people are afraid of the abusers and will go along with the dysfunction rather than fight it. So sad.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Detachment is a good thing, yes! I found that the stronger that I got through seeing the truth about the damage etc, the easier it was.
Hugs, Darlene
and Thank you for the donation! (yes the Canadian dollar is worth a bit more than the American dollar at this time)


Hi Phyllis
Yes, entitlement and ownership are two very big problems when it comes to the abuser/controller in these dysfunctional relationships.
I am glad that you are going to get a safety plan in place
Hugs, Darlene


I detach from most people. I don’t tell them anything or I will end up listening to their dribble. I get lonely, but hell my life is easier. I do not respect anyone who treats me like this and when I get the opportunity I calmly point out that noone helps me or spends time with me. Noone reacts. Funny thing about Narcs they don’t really care and with me not feeding them they lose interest very quickly.


Hi, Catherine Todd……first, I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. You wrote such WONDERFUL words in your comment to me….oh my goodness, I can’t even tell you how uplifting your words were to me!

I am trying really, really hard to believe. To believe that God does love me, and that He does hear my prayers.

I do understand your feelings about organized religion, having been raised in the Southern Baptist tradition of many hellfire-and-brimstone sermons! (Talk about the guilt and the fear!….geez, it wasn’t enough that I had to feel terrified of my father at home, but then I had to go to church and be doubly terrified thinking about a God who could destroy me with a lightning bolt!)….I’m not trying to put down Southern Baptists at all. I’m sure many, many lovely people go to Southern Baptist churches, but I myself cannot handle those type of sermons. I needed love in my life, not judgment.

Like you, I was also raised not to ask for anything. In fact, I have a real problem in this area. It never even OCCURS to me to ask for anything, from humans OR from God. Sad, to be true, but it’s possible to learn new skills. I’m going to try to work on this.

Could you talk a bit more about “fighting what is?” I think I do this a lot…..all the time. I have big, big dreams and fantasies and ideas of what I believe life should be and also HOW God should specifically answer my prayers. I am afraid that I am missing important opportunities because I may be focusing too much on not receiving answers from God, when He may indeed be trying to get me to see that He IS actually answering them. How did you learn to “see” the answers?

I really am honing on in what you said about going “no contact” with your abusers. It’s odd, Catherine, but every time I am in contact with my mother, even if it’s oh so briefly on the phone or in person, I feel strangely depressed later on in the day. She may not even have “done” anything except to be herself!…..But I find that being near her or hearing her voice does something to me…..it brings up unpleasant and painful thoughts and memories…..like emotional flashbacks. Are you familiar with Pete Walker’s website and his discussion of emotional flashbacks? Well, I indeed do suffer from Complex PTSD and I wonder if I’m not having flashbacks after I’ve been around my mother……or even talked to her on the phone.

I like your idea about staying away from people who abuse you.

“IF IT HURTS, STOP DOING IT.” Simple, yet profound, words.

I want to get there, Catherine. I do. Having been parentified and feeling over-responsible seem to be my biggest hurdles to going “no-contact.”

Sigh…..I will keep working to get there.

Thanks so much for your comments.



Dawn, I was really moved by your responses and Darlene’s. You wrote:

“Now that I am thinking about it the thought of telling her to stop scares me and makes me feel like if I did try to do it I would start crying. I guess I don’t have the confidence to stand up for myself. I am going to try to do this anyways and if I start crying well I start crying. Thanks you just gave me another eye opener.”

RIGHT. JUST DO IT! (We’re not supposed to give advice, so I’ll rephrase: I finally just DID IT!I’m trying to stand up to my whole family, one by one, and getting nowhere but more attacks – they are really ganging up on me now! But you know what? They might knock me down but I keep getting up. And now that I’ve made my BEST EFFORT for resolution, and their anger is simply that I HAVE TOLD THE TRUTH – they even ADMIT that it’s “the truth” but my crime is that I MADE IT PUBLIC and “didn’t keep it within the family,” I realize that they operate just like the Mafia. And they would like to rub out any “traitors.” Thank God Honor Killings / murder is against the law, for families in the U.S. There are countries where this still takes place!

This is the “good Christian family” of mine that I come from. They have lived in a world lies and denial all their life, set up by good old Mom. And now that Mom is dead, they aren’t going to let anyone like me besmirch the family name! They wouldn’t do it before she died (at her request) and they certainly are going to “honor her wishes on her deathbed.”) Talk about grudges!

So I say go ahead and stand up to your Mom and more power to you, literally! You will begin to get your power back.

But don’t expect them to change. I gave it my best shot and it didn’t work because IT TAKES TWO to resolve things. But I know I did my best and that’s all that counts, and they can all go right where they belong, in the world THEY MADE. Me, I have another world I want and I ask God to send peace into my world. I don’t worship the God of War.

Let us know what happens! God bless and please show us all The Way. We need a special grace now and it’s available just for the asking from the heavens above. Amen.


Marore, thank you so much! I am so glad and relieved that “my words” were of some help. I always try and try to “keep it short and to the point,” but I write novels, not newspaper articles. I can’t be quick. So I’m glad that anything I said was of value to you or anyone here. It’s changed my life to find this site and everything is changing I can assure you. How could it not, with so much clarity, experience and support?

Now to close and get back to my other work! Gracias, and Happy New Year…


Marore wrote:

“I am trying really, really hard to believe. To believe that God does love me, and that He does hear my prayers.”

I have finally begun to believe, because God and my guardian angels had to have been looking out for me, because I’m here to “tell the tale.” And I escaped from the concentration camp from the Dark Side that I had been born into.

So I know that there’s something greater than me that’s out there, looking out for me. For every bad thing that happens, God sends something in it’s place, to erase the hurt and the fear and the pain. All I have to do is turn my eyes, heavenward, and I can see. As I’ve said a million times, I don’t go to church, but

“My garden is my church, and the monastery is in my mind.”

“The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”
Dear God, please show us The Way.

Peace to all and to all a good night! CT


Darlene, can you address some of the other things Marore brought up? I still have so far to go, and it’s just a miracle that I got this far. I have some of the same questions, even though I am ready to resume “no contact.” After 20+ years of no contact, the same problems were still there waiting for me – but worse – when I finally returned. I would like to find a way to resolve this once and for all, and I can see that this is ONLY going to happen “within my self.”

The garden is my church, and the monastery is in me.”



Darlene wrote in # 65:

“Hi Free
Yes, most people are afraid of the abusers and will go along with the dysfunction rather than fight it. So sad.”

Well, I’ll be. That might be why all seven of my siblings have “gone along” with the abuser in our family. I was the only one to ever fight back, and to get out. THE ONLY ONE out of TEN people in that miserable family!

I always wondered about that. So it could be that simple. They are ruled by fear. That, and believing that “acceptance” by the abuser somehow equals “love.” I never cared – well of course I cared, but I didn’t let that stop me – and maybe that is why at times they admire me as much as they hate me.

I got out and I am free. Whether I suffer or not, I’m not in chains. I have not lived like they do, spending their entire life living a lie.

They are are afraid, they are ruled by fear. I never thought of that and it’s so simple, right before my eyes. My parents ruled with an iron fist; one with fists and one with words. There was no escape. I have always likened myself to an “emancipated slave,” given the laws that regulated families in those days, and the fact that the husband ruled the roost. Thank God times have changed, and a man like my father would now be in jail.

And my mother set him up and used him as her personal whip, and me as her whipping post. No more… she’s dead and she can’t hurt me anymore, and my father has gone after the other adult children sufficiently that they know what I’ve gone through and now they’re just waiting around for the money, I think.

Now perhaps I can feel sorry for them, as I cut the cords and set them and myself free. Ships that pass in the night forevermore.

Dear God give me the grace and strength to set them free and keep it that way. Amen.

I have to get off this and get back to work, but it just keeps pouring out of me. APOLOGIES! But after a huge assault by 4 at once and 2 more recently, over Christmas of course, I feel like I escaped with my life once again. I’m just now getting over it and I can’t believe I lived through it. But it’s the last time because I don’t have to open an email and I can block them on Facebook and on the phone. Thank God for small and large favors the same!



Loved what Peaceful” said in #55.

We should all find our own little cabin and live like you.

“Heaven is in the garden and our monastery is in our mind.”


Peaceful wrote #55:

“We’re all responsible for our own peace, which is an inside job.”

“Thank you, Darlene. You are a blessing.”



Kate wrote in #61:

“Because narc behavior is in family systems, it thrives in the culture.”

Yes! Thank you – I have been wracking my brain. That’s it, in a nutshell. And because it’s in our culture, it is accepted and encouraged. I can tell you I don’t see this in other cultures that I have lived in, not to the same degree as here. Thank God for large and small favors!


and “dying and going to heaven” is going home to (finally for some more than others) mind my own business


Typo in #61

“Because narc behavior is in family systems, it thrives in the culture. it is the presence that radiates from our families/individuals in the families so that everyone knows it is there but I am the only one who truly feels it (like when you PEE your pants)”


Thank you Kate. I thought something must have been missing in that last sentence!


Wow! You and your husband are so brave and strong. I still feel incredibly guilty all the time. I still comply to my mother’s manipulations. My father is very ill and it’s scary. She still makes everything about her. When I was younger, I tried to cut off from them. Wow! The reactions I got from friends, family and society. How dare you not care for your precious mother! Everyone loves her. She’s very fake with others, but they just think she’s charming. I’ve heard over 100 times, “You’re so lucky to have a mother like yours. She’s so perfect.” Watch out folks. NEVER trust someone who appears perfect.


Hi Healing Slowly
Welcome to emerging from broken.
That is what this whole site is about; how I broke free from all that. And I don’t feel guilt at all, because I am not the guilty party. Hope you keep reading! There is freedom!
Hugs, Darlene


I am bracing as this is the calm before the storm so to speak. When my parents get back home from being in town over the holidays, they will tell everyone that I did not call them at all. Which was my choice to do. I and my family were not included in any Christmas gatherings anyway. But the abusers have choices and we do not. I will be judged harshly with not calling and acting nicy nice. I cannot forgive and forget what happened earlier in 2012. My siblings probably don’t even know what happened because my mother is so sneaky and keeps her mouth shut after her dirty deeds. My one sister actually told me to stop talking bad about someone that she loves because it is hurting her. Not one member feels bad for me after my own mother threatened to not go to my daughters’ wedding. And when she did come, she shunned me and didn’t go through the receiving line and left early. My siblings do not understand me, but do they get the same treatment? NO! Do they get nothing but backstabbing and games upon preparing for one of the greatest events in their family? NO! They just judge and judge and judge me for no longer putting up with it. The last I talked with my mother she growled “That maybe you should stop speaking to me!” and hung up the phone. Now that’s some love there! My fear is that if it gets worse I will write an official No Contact letter, which I have yet to do. I think my family will then go after my kids on Facebook and try to sway them. My kids will fall for niceness because I’ve raised good kids! They don’t know that buttering up has been my families form of manipulation to get me back in the fold all along. I only got treated nice when they were using me or fishing for information. Although some very happy things happened in 2012, I sure hope that 2013 is better! Peace all….


I sure get that, Melody. It seems when I try to make people with a questionable agenda happy, I become their prisoner. I’m working on the perfecting of MY inner fulfillment. I’m fortunate that I could move so far away and “breathe.”
Someone told me once about “cause and effect.” I’m verbally attacked (the cause), but I can choose to remain neutral (no effect). So for me, the turmoil ends there .. I did not perpetuate it in my life and react to keep the toxin going. I believe that takes a lot of practice and am practicing daily, but I sure do screen my phone calls and do not feel guilty about it either, even when interrogated with “where were you???.” Just not available all the time and don’t feel the need to explain. I don’t have to drop everything I’m doing because someone wrongly believes they are entitled to demands on my life and then that someone goes into attack mode because I won’t be sucked into the drama. My life is going to be peaceful … what they do with their’s is up to them. Doesn’t mean I don’t feel pain for them sometimes though.
Blessings to you ~ Peaceful and her sidekick Stella, the WonderDog.


Hi Melody
I had to take my choices back. I DO have them, I just didn’t know it. I realize today that it doesn’t matter what they say or who believes them, my freedom and the real truth is way more important to me. I don’t have to prove anything anymore. I was always the ‘bad guy’ anyway so nothing has changed except that I am free now! I don’t have to put up with all that stuff anymore. Hang in there,
Hugs, Darlene


I was very naive and trusting of my parents. I did everything i could to make them happy and to make sure my mother didnt try to kill herself again, after she was unsuccessful when i was 7. No one took responsibility for her suicide attempt so i had to take on the responsibility of keeping her alive and holding my family together. My sister started running away from home to get away from my abusive parents but my mother told me that my sister was “bad” and that my sister was the problem so naturally i believed my mother.

When i got married 11 years ago everything seemed fine at first but then as i was less interested in talking to my parents or seeing my parents (they lived 1,000 miles away and NEVER ONCE CAME TO SEE ME IN THE 14 YEARS BEFORE I GOT MARRRIED. Not one time ! Well suddenly i started getting letters in the mail about how much my parents disliked my wife and what a “bitch” she was. I was floored. My wife had never once said anything disrespectful to them and truthfully they had very little interaction with her early in my marriage.

Finally it dawned on me how manipulative and controlling my mother was…i saw that she would do or say anything to get me to listen to her or take her side or bow down to her every need. My father was very distant and didnt pay much attention to her so she got me to be a substitute mate for her and used me to meet her emotional needs.

After my mother showed up on our doorstep unnannounced at 2 in the morning one night and then spent a week telling me how awful my father was and how he kept abusing her and how she could not go back to him and how i had to take care of her, we could no longer stand having her in our home so we put her in an assisted living facility for a week. Suddenly I became the BAD GUY !!! She told the woman running the facility that i was to blame for all the problems in her marriage and that my wife was a bitch !! I could not believe it. My mother often said to me “i will never lie to you.” For the longest time i could not understand why she would say that. No one else ever said that to me…why did she feel the need to constantly tell me that….its because she felt guilty because she lied to me over and over again throughout my childhood…if you are an honest person you dont ever feel the need to tell someone “i will never lie to you.” I have never felt compelled to say that over and over again. boy were my eyes opened. That was about 7 years ago. I have not spoken to my mother since then. I told her to stay out of my life and leave me alone and that she was no longer welcome in my life and that she was the problem and caused all the problems in our family. I put her on a plane back to florida. I didnt even go to the airport…i was fuming mad…i began to realize how she had poisoned me and our family all those years with all of her lies and manipulation. I have not spoken to her since then nor will i ever again…she systematically ruined our family. My father is now dead and my sister has been an alcoholic and drug addict for 40 years because she could never cope with all the abuse from my mother and turned to substances as a way to cope and became addicted. Sadly, she learned to control and manipulate men just like my mother and learned to lie to get what she wanted…she became another version of my mother. She and i no longer have any contact either…

family means nothing to me…i have not one single relationship with anyone in my immediate family. No aunts, uncles or cousins. I was molested by an older male cousin the first time i shared a bed with anyone when i was also 7….the thought of family makes me cringe…anyway…thanks for sharing as always Darlene and thanks for this website !



Wow! This last round from everyone really hit home. Pages out of my own book, and their play-book! It’s as if everyone is reading from the same script. The only sad thing for me is that I wish I could have met my nieces and nephews. Children love me but my own son won’t speak to me – the only thing I can guess is that he was poisoned by my family. He used to get calls from my sister “telling him what I was really like” and he would come downstairs in tears, and my father and youngest brother calling him a “bastard” because I was – gasp! an unwed mother who was abandoned and didn’t give him up for adoption or force the guy to marry me like my other sisters did – but I really miss not knowing the children of my siblings. I still wish we could have been “one big happy family” when no one in my family, on EITHER SIDE, is a “happy family.”

Alcoholism and prescription pill addiction and personality disorders run rife in my family. But I still can’t help but wish it were different.

Darlene said she was always the bad guy so nothing has changed except for the fact that she is free of it now.

Peaceful said “I’m working on the perfecting of MY inner fulfillment… I can choose to remain neutral (no effect). So for me, the turmoil ends there.”

And practicing every day.

I understand all that and I am practicing (writing) every day. I write all the time, sometimes (many times) I think far too much. But I can’t get over the fact that everywhere else I go all the children love me and most of the adults admire me. No one thinks I am a “bad person” except my immediate family. And my own son.

So how do I stand up to “all of them” when there are so many, and I am only one?

Visiting friends at Christmas and everyone is around the tree and the children are all running up and hugging me when I come to visit… it’s like I’m their “favorite aunt” full of adventures and the life they all want to lead.

So why does my family hate me so much, and it’s truly HATRED they have for me… and how can I “not care” when the holidays come around and I am SURROUNDED by “happy families” and “families that care?”

I have plenty of “extended family” and I cling to them like a rock in a storm. Mentally, anyway. But I want to BE that rock in the storm that is stable and sure and always there. I want to have that rock IN ME. And I’m a long way from shore. I am too often lost in the storm.


Why is it so easy for abusers to deny they did anything wrong, then turn around and blame the victim, dismissing everything by saying, shes crazy (or the bad guy)?


Hi Everyone
I just published a new post that continues on with/from the discussion on this one. This new one is called “Punishment as a Control Tactic in Abusive Family Systems”
I look forward to the conversation on it!
Hugs, Darlene


Amy, I think you hit the nail on the head. From now on, when I hear someone making someone else “the bad guy,” that should be a real red flag!


Darlene, heading over to the new discussion. I just feel sick today, because I’m seeing clearer and clearer just how my mother poisoned our entire family against me. And in doing so, she poisoned all of them, too. Reading everyone’s story here just brings me to tears.


Standing up very often means walking away. We don’t have to keep fighting to be heard or fighting to be validated by them. I did all I could. I asked for respect. The answer was no. I was not heard and standing up meant that I simply was not going to be treated like that anymore. Understanding or trying to understand ‘them’ was pointless. It was like that rabbit trail leading no where. I decided to concentrate on me, validating myself, hearing myself and the result of that is here in this site. I have the freedom and wholeness that I longed for. I have that rock. The thing is that you may be a ways from shore, but the shore is in sight!
Hugs, Darlene


” The thing is that you may be a ways from shore, but the shore is in sight!”



Wow! So much good stuff here!
My mother used to punish me for daring to be young, attractive, living the life of a young woman.
I had a special pair of pants, that I had washed out and were drying in the laundry room (100% cotton!). I went to get them, to wear on a date. Nowhere to be found. Asked my mother, nope, hadnt seen them. Opened the drier to find them baked to about 2 sizes smaller! As onlymy NM could have done it, I told her I thought she did. My father then roared at me, your mother has more important things to do than keeptrack of your clothes! Um, apparantly not! She sat demurely at the table, looking down. Oh, but she was smiling in side, I am sure of it!
I had purchased some new contact lens, the hard kind from way back then. My case in the bathroom was inexplicably gone when I returned home from another date. Thinking fast, I used 2 of my mothers many shot glasses to soak each one in, so I could wear them to work the next day. In the morning? Thats right, GONE! My mother vehemently denied ever seeing them, and I watched the dishwasher for them to appear, so I could prove someone knew something about it, but they never did!
Stopping by on vacation with my husband, wahed out a red nighty I had and hung it to dry in the laundry room. Again, Gone!! Denied ever seeing it! Looked through all of the dirty laundry, even looked through the witch’s room, never found it.
Such a hateful, jealous person. She took all of her hatred and jealousy for her sister and I think saved it al for me. I’ll take that as a complement, as her sister did well in life!
Just a few examples that come to mind while I do laundry………….


Hi Janie
Great examples!! Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Soory, Everybody, I posted on the wrong page! I meant to post this on the newest blog, about punishment. I was trying to say, in the above post, that my mother would become angered if I wanted something nice for myself, or keep up with fashion, as you do in your youth, and would try to ruin it for me. She called it “putting on airs”, when I was attempting to do so.
She would not just do this with clothes and things. For instance, the lady I babysat for, had a collection of colored glass bottles in her window, and I thought it was pretty when the sun shone through them. So, with my babysitting money, I would buy miniture version of these bottles, maybe a few inches tall they were,at the gift shop, and put them in my bedroom window, and enjoy the sun shining through them, myself. One day I came home, and my mother was packing them all up and giving them to my aunt, along with all of my Vogue fashion magazines. I was surprised and asked her what she was doing with my things like that. And she said, well, since you aunt is sick, I thought you wouldnt mind. But apparently, you are too selfish! I felt so guilty, that my aunt was sick, and I did not want to give her my things. But no one asked me! It was a surprising scene to come across.
She would do that with toys, too, when was little, something I really enjoyed playing with, or that someone had giving me, would usually be gone after she “cleaned my room”. When I asked where it went,she would scream at me, if I took better care of my things, then I would know where it was. But I would never find these dolls or games again, anywhere!
Every year I would beg to go to dance class with my friends and cousins, but it fell on deaf ears. When I got old enough, I would save my babysitting money and sign up myself. Then she would get angry, and not drive me. I would sometimes walk myself, 3 miles each way. Again, I was “putting on airs”. My aunt taught me to play the piano, and my Dad bought a little second hand piano, so I could practice. She would scream at me to “stop all that noise! stop playing that depressing music!”. When I was older, my brother and also I had moved away. Right before my ex husband and I visited, my brother visited. She gave him the piano, and he towed it all the way to North Carolina. She knew we were coming the next week. It made me very sad, b/c the piano was like a friend, I would play it, if I had alot on my mind, or was sad. And my Dad had bought it for me. And she could not stand that.
It semmed she never wanted me to have anything that made me happy, or that was pretty. She seemed to resent me enjoying being a young girl/woman.

I can look at pictures of myself as a firl, and it is noticeable that my mother did not physically from us. My hair was dirty, my clothes were always second hand clothes, most that my godmother had made for her children, and passed on to us. I would get teased for what I wore by siblings. When I would go to visit my grandmother, she would take one look at me, and start running the tub, put me right in,help me wash my hair. She would wash my clothes, darn the holes in my socks and clothing. I can remember looking longingly at the dresses in the Sears catalog, like my cousins used to wear, and know I was never going to get anything like that. My uniform for catholic school, she would go weeks with out washing that, and I was teased for being smelly! When that would happen, I would just retreat inside. I was not hearing these people, in my mind I would go somewhere else. There semmed to be nothing else I could do. If we had enough money for catholic school for five kids and new cars for my Dad, why wasnt there enough money to buy us normal clothes? Why didnt anyone notice we were not clean? My mother herself, always had the latest fashion. I remember the photographs of her, all dressed up, hair perfectly coiffed, getting ready to go to an event. One could say she was actually the one putting on airs, lol.
I realize that this may sound petty on my part, but these things she did were very hurtful and seemed so mean. I always felt she despised me.



(feel free to post this on the new post as well.)
Nothing about what you posted here is PETTY! I totally relate to all of it! Very good examples of an abusive family system.
Hugs, Darlene


You don’t sound petty to me at all Janie!


Thank you everybody, for the supportive comments. It is interesting, when we begin to remember and write, different layers of things are unlocked, deeper.
I would sometimes look at the photos of myself from back then, and think, why didnt I do something for myself? Why didnt I know better? But that is where the conditioning comes in. Darlene, it is what you call grooming, I think, how ironic! I would have never dreamed of daring to bathe myself, or fix my hair. That is how my mother conditioned me. And my father, when older and you took a shower, he would bang on the door and say, “Youve been in there for 5 minutes! You are using up too much water. Times up!” No vain or elaborate grooming rituals allowed, apparantly! And God help you, if you got water on the floor, or didnt totally wipe down the walls of the shower when you got out, you mold and mildew inviting criminal! If you failed to do these things, my father would take all of your personal products–shampoo, soap, etc, and whip them down the cellar stairs. Then you could go clean the “mess” you had left, and retrieve your belongings. You were always on edge in that house! He also seemed hostile towards my womanhood, didnt he?
As a free adult, it sometimes amazes me, when I realize I can take initiative, I can do something to make my situation better for myself, or someone else. I can act of my own volition. It can be a very delightful feeling! A pleasant surprise when you realize it.



I am trying to not post so much, but I had to respond to Janie. Janie, my mother was so much the same, with my piano playing which I loved to play when I was lonely or sad and it would always lift my spirits. She would say the same things to me, and say “You’re not playing it right! Stop using the pedal so much!” I never believed I could play the piano well until I was 60 years old when I finally screwed up all my courage and made a recording of me playing the piano. It was all “by ear” and just came naturally. Everyone thought it was a professional musician and begged to know their name! Can you imagine?

And she had me convinced I was NOT a musician, not a pianist, and could did not even play the piano “correctly.” The owner of the well-known recording studio, who has recorded many famous people in NYC, said I had a “real gift” and my mother must have been jealous. I couldn’t believe it when he made me come into his studio and listen to the music that poured out of the speakers. I asked him if he had another studio with another pianist somewhere… who was playing this incredible music? He said “Catherine, that’s YOU. That’s who is playing the piano!”

I couldn’t believe it. All these years, my whole life really, she had me convinced that I was nothing and that she was everything. Just like with everything she did. Grandiose Narcissism to the extreme.

She could only sight-read, and played in a sharp staccato style of classical music that actually hurt MY ears. Yet she had everyone convinced that she was a “concert pianist” when the only “concert” I ever remembered her playing in was my 5th grade talent show. My talent show, may I remind you!

We also went to Catholic school, which we “afforded” and I never had new clothes except one time that I can remember. My first bra was my aunt’s and then my older sister’s, and then mine. It was so full of holes and patches that I sewed on and straps held on with safety pins, that when I went to visit another aunt she took one look at me and took me shopping for all new clothes. I was so happy as I too would not now be teased after school, when we were out of uniform. I got in so much trouble when I got back home as I had “lied to my aunt and uncle and told them my mother wasn’t taking good care of them!”

I don’t remember if she took the clothes away, threw them in trash, or gave them to a different sister… all I knew was that once again I was in trouble again for something I did not do. It did no good to say I didn’t ask for anything: they were just being nice to me, but she said I had “made her look bad” and that was that. I was severely punished is all I remember.

The more I read about personality disorders, the more I see the grand witch Queen Narcissist. Everyone has the same story; we are all reading from the same script. How can this be? But it is.

So we continue on. Asking God to protect us and show us The Way. Amen.


Catherine, Wow! It sounds like you have a gift for music! I am sorry that yur mother tried to quash it. Sound like she was envious. I hope you are continuing with this.
I was not gifted, just an average player. I can not play by ear, I am one of those by sight players. I enjoy breaking a piece down and working it over,then putting it all together!
My aunt, who was my teacher, used the piano to encourage me, and build my confidence. She was a wonderful woman, who saw right through my mother. I think that was what my mother resented the most.
I stil take great pleasure in playing whenever I can, especially Cole Porter tunes, and Christmas music……..

God Bless!

P.S. She had taken all of my music books and sheet music out of the piano bench, and put it into her organ bench. Her mother could play the organ, and passed it to my mother, who could not play. Somehow, I instinctively knew my music was in there, and unceremoniously opened it, took it all, and said Great! Look, all my music is still here. She was so surprised, she had nothing to say. I still have most of the books I played from, as a child……….. :0)


Thank you Janie… you wrote: “She was a wonderful woman, who saw right through my mother.”

Thank God for the real angels in our lives who keep us going, no matter what the “dark ones” are up to. Reading more of your story really cheered me up. And you got your music back! Good Going for You!


OMG, are you writing the book about my life or what?? I am in the “child” position here, not daughter-in-law, but I am the one in my family who was placed in a position of being responsible for everyone’s happiness, always the one who was expected to do the holiday parties, food, etc. There are 6 people in my former family unit. Three daughters and a son. I was the strongest and had the most going for me, and so through my co-dependent, dysfunctional upbringing, I was placed in this role and one day found myself feeling completely empty inside, unfulfilled, unloved, unsupported by them all. Once I started emerging from broken, I started to see more and more of how hurtful they are, and how they truly do not respect or love me, at least not like I think I ought to be loved and respected. My brother was put on a pedestal and my sisters mentally abused by my mother to a point where our self-esteem was non-existent. With the grace of God, I saw the light with all this. I was not responsible for pleasing my family, helping with every little thing, carrying their burdens, or fixing their problems. I really am searching for the crux of what made me feel I was to play this role. I think it was just from birth..they saw potential in me and ran with it. They are all very self-centered, selfish people who play games, sweep every issue under the carpet like it never existed. I have pulled myself up from my haunches, detached myself one by one from each member and have been on my own with my husband and daughter now for over 7 months. It has helped me in releasing all issues, licking my wounds, creating a new life for me, and getting healthy away from dysfunctional programming. It has been life changing. I spent the holidays only with my husband and daughter, and had no problem doing so. I cannot help to feel compassion for my parents, who probably spent their holidays alone because my brother lives with them, yet never cares for them. They are now elderly. That just breaks my heart, but that’s another story. I am feeling now that I am in a better place with better boundaries and have removed all this dysfunction from my life. I am so much more happier, my family is happier, my life is much more rewarding, and I have left the door open for anyone in my family to humbly contact me, stating they love me, etc. I have only heard from one of them, and all I did was just reply Merry Christmas. It all may sound so sad, but it’s all true, and it’s rejuvinating to me. I have not completely shut them out, but they have to make an effort to be in my life. My mother just wanted her table back, and my dad just emails basic stuff, with no reaching out by either one of them. I am thinking now that they just don’t have the tools. Oh, well…this is where my life is now, and it’s improving everyday. I am more spiritual, in tune with my guardian angels, I love myself much more than before, I consider myself and my feelings before anyone else, and I feel so much more “balanced” in my life. I am joyful and grateful every day. 🙂


Hi Cathy
I feel sad for my parents too. (I think that is why I didn’t set a boundary with my mother earlier; I felt so sorry for her) I want them to have a full life and find the healing that I have found. It helps to really know that I didn’t set boundaries out of revenge, but for my own mental health, self-care and survival.
Thanks for sharing Cathy
hugs, Darlene


Just found this website this week, well as with all the above comments I am now aware that there’s a similar connection. I too this Christmas did not spend it with my family the first time in my life all of 48 years, through a silly family argument they decided not to contact us. It seemed at the time, an out of character approach to us, but this inturn seemed to unhinged memories that I have managed to surpress for many years. I have felt impowered for the first time by not spending Christmas with them, and I do however understand comments of sadness for parents because of this. However, spending this time with my parent would have caused my a lot of anger, which I am coming to terms with now. Thanks again, your site is going to be my new ‘best friend’ .




Hi Lesley!
Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
I’m not sure if this is what you are talking about but I have written lots about ‘punishment’ for non compliance. As children we learn all these ways to make sure “they” don’t get mad at us and because we learn them young, we carry them into adulthood and keep doing things that ensure that ‘they’ don’t get mad at us. I had to learn the real definition of love and equal value in relationship. That is what set me free from the prison I was in.
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,

Sorry I wasn’t clearer in my comment, i was soo excited at finding you, I couldn’t wait to say ‘yes’ that’s me, ‘I understand’. The argument itself, that was mentioned was of little or no importance to my situation but it did dredge up realities to my childhood, which to be honest I am grateful for as I wouldn’t have discovered myself, (this is just the begining) and you.

However, your comment “they’ dont get mad at us has been replace with “him” and I am aware that your comment does in itself open problems I have with my self confidence, and another chapter in my life. I’m sure you will be hearing for me, and thank again for your time to reply.

Glad I’m here too.



My mother thought my boyfriend was “pure gold” until we got engaged and began planning our wedding. Then, suddenly (her position threatened?), she began taking me aside to tell me that I was obsessed with him, isolating myself from the family, etc. Obsessed? I was calling my Mom at least once every day, visiting her and Dad once a week or so, trying to include her and others in my wedding plans. (She told me to go look in the wedding planner book if I needed help.) They refused to be involved in my life.

Shortly before I got engaged, my Mom told me that she and Dad had discussed that I would do anything for them except what I thought was wrong. Shortly after I got engaged, they told my fiance (when I was out of the room) that I was “a very loyal person.” We thought at the time they were telling him that I would be a loyal to him to him. Later we believed they were warning him that I would be very loyal to THEM. They were correct about the first statement: I would have done anything for them except what I thought was wrong. (It’s when I wasn’t sure what was right that I could be easily manipulated and controlled.) And I believed that while parents have an important role in the lives of their adult children, THEY MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO TAKE OVER CONTROL and make decisions. At 28 years old, I was no longer a child who could be disciplined for disobedience; I was a woman who became “one flesh” with my husband and was responsible for the choices I made. Sensing that this was a battle for power and control, at one point I begged my Mom not to force me to choose between her and my husband because “I love you both very, very much.” However, “If you force me to choose between you, I will choose my husband.” So I stood firm on that point, and refuse to let my parents take over my marriage. This earned me “black sheep” status and I have never done another thing right in their eyes, and they will never, ever forgive me.

My husband and I visited my parents regularly (usually feeling anger so so thick it was palatable), and tried to include them in our lives. They didn’t participate or they found fault. I hemorrhaged a week after my son was born and almost died. My husband was pulled from my bedside to deal with our mothers, who were in the waiting room arguing over who was better to care for our newborn son. When I recovered, I told both (separately) that my husband needed their SUPPORT at that time, not being pulled away because they were fighting. I told them that I loved them both and I would never tolerate either of them speaking negatively against the other. My mom-in-law respected this and I never heard another negative word against my Mom. My Mom said she’d never attend another function if my husband’s family was there. And my family hasn’t, not attending my son’s first birthday party or anything else. I had learned from an advice columnist (remember Dear Abby and Ann Landers, twin sisters who were advice columnists?) who advised others with similar problems in their column to not try to referee conflicts but just invite everyone and let it be their choice whether to attend an event or let their anger keep them away. That helped. My husband’s family always showed up. When we set a boundary with them, they respected it. My family never showed up.

My Mom never accepted my husband. During the parts of the abuse cycle when she tried to draw me back into her life and control, she’d appear friendly to him when I was near, but wouldn’t acknowledge his existence if I was out of sight. A couple years ago, I called my Mom to tell her I loved her very much. (Because maybe if I told her I loved her, we could reconcile??? Silly me.) She said “Well, it doesn’t feel like it to me.” She went on to list all the good things she had done for me, and all the bad things I have done to her. Then she started insulting my husband. I set the boundary there, telling her to not dare insult my husband. She repeated “I dare, I dare, Oh, I dare…” until I finally hung up. Trying once more a few months later, I wrote her that while she didn’t have to like my husband, she did have to accept that he was my husband and I loved him very much, and I wouldn’t tolerate her disrespecting/insulting him. (What did she hope insults would gain her? Did she expect me to divorce him simply because she didn’t like him???) She refused to respect me or him, so I have closed the door on our relationship. I have struggled with guilt that maybe I am the unforgiving monster they accuse me of being, but I know that I cannot and must not live in the unending torment of the abuse cycle.

Holidays were hard for a number of years. I grew up in a family of six kids, and I loved my family and the hustle and bustle of large family gatherings. People often say, “Well, it’s THEIR loss” in such situations but I always thought it was all of our loss because we ALL missed out on the family relationships that we could have had if things had been different. For years, I felt like a lonely orphan during holidays, in the cold and dark “peering through the window” at other families who had what I longed for. After a few years, my husband, son and I started getting together with the families of my other two outcast sisters. That helped. The couple of times we invited my Mom and the others to join us, everything was friendly on the surface but strained on the inside with deep undercurrents that we couldn’t override, so those didn’t last long. A couple of years ago all family gatherings ended when my sisters got mad at me because I began setting better boundaries with them. In dysfunctional relationships, relationships can be maintained when you are doing what the controllers want, but when you can’t live up to their expectations and demands, or when you learn to set healthier boundaries, everything falls apart. I never officially ended my relationship with them, but how many times do you keep calling when they never answer the phone? I tried for a year. I had displeased them and they, also, rejected me.

Now, finally, I have accepted a “new normal.” The fantasy is the Hallmark or Norman Rockwell type of family togetherness. The reality is that my family is disrespectful and abusive and they punish me when I don’t do what they want. I have a loving husband and a great son. I have found some good friends who love and respect me. I am healing and gaining strength. I am accepting the good things I have.


Glad to hear that you set better boundaries! There are some powerful control tactics in your story here (the misuse of power and control when it comes to your family) I like how you realized ‘the reality’ ~ that is the truth that sets ya free.
Hugs, Darlene


I only found this website a few days ago, but I must say it’s a God-send! After years of friends telling my Mother probably really loved me, that she was just wounded, and that I needed to forgive/love her more, or that relationships were worth keeping no matter what, or that maybe I am just being petty and exaggerating…and after years of being blamed by my family that everything is my fault, and that I am a daughter from Hell, and being told that the burden of fixing relationships was on me…and after years of doubting and secondguessing myself, and wondering if I was wrong or exaggerating, even though I didn’t think I was…and after years of feeling guilty or mean for trying to set healthy boundaries, it is such a relief to have my story be HEARD, and to know I am not alone, and that my gut instincts were correct, and that it is not wrong to insist that I and my husband be respected. It’s ok to refuse to be insulted, disrespected, and abused. I have battled for wholeness for a long time, but it’s another huge step in healing to know I am truly not alone. I now feel more empowered to trust myself, to set boundaries, and to insisted that a friendship is based on mutual respect.

Thank you so much!

And I will keep reading, learning, and being strengthened from this site. My husband, too, is learning from this site. We have been helping each other grow strong.




Help with what, Amy?


Hi Amy
What’s going on? What kind of help do you need?
Hugs, Darlene


That is so awesome! Thanks for sharing.
I am so blessed by your comments today. I am creating a report about the most common questions that I get here in EFB and your comments address exactly what I am talking about in that report; healing begins with the offence being validated and acknowledged ~finally. You sum it up rather nicely!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene! I find it overwhelming when I read these stories and yet comforting to know that I am not alone for all that I feel inside. Thank god I have a fighting spirit that just wants to know the truth of what happened to me. I recently watch an episode on Dr. Phil about the helicopter mom and I just cried. I felt so validated and yet so scared because I am facing this very issue. I’m taking better care of myself now and uncovering the truth of how I was treated. It really makes me wonder..is there such a thing as a healthy, functional family. I know in my heart that I am a loving person I just need to heal this wounded part of me that still believes I am doomed to live out my life in pain and misery. I am fighting all my messed up belief systems with everything I have. I have found many healing modalities that are helping me move forward and sometimes I just wonder if there is an end. I continue to take classes, read books and now have your web site for support. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I found your web site because it has brought me to another layer of my healing. I’m so sorry that we all had to endure such painful childhoods, no one should have to learn how to love themselves this way. I’m just grateful for the freedom of choice that I now have to be a well balanced person. I have walked away from my family too and of course I’m the bad guy for doing so and really I really don’t give a flying “F”. This is all about “me” now and saving this poor damaged soul. I know I will get through this and come out shining because that’s what I want for myself. I have a strong faith in the Universe to guide me to the supports and resources I need. I’m evening thinking of taking singing lessons and writing a book. It’s never too late to fullfill dreams, no matter what age we are. I made up my mind to leave this world with lots of love and peace in my heart, in spite of all the poison I was fed most of my life. Thank you all for sharing and I hope you all a peaceful journey moving forward. Namaste!


Hi Lora
Yes! It is never too late! I couldn’t agree more.
You said ‘fighting your belief system’ You may have just been using a figure of speech but it struck me so I wanted to say that something that helped me a lot was to really listen to what my belief system was and gently re-wire it for as long as it took. I learned to listen to all the ‘chatter’ under the surface and that chatter led me to a greater understanding of the lies that were in my way.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


[…] Dysfunctional family and holidays where you feel like the bad guy  (emergingfrombroken.com) […]


Great post Darlene, just what I was looking for.


Just reading over this post. I espcially like the part where Darlene says, abusive controlling people never look at themselves as they always blame someone else and never look at their own actions. That is my younger sister to a tee! Never has to look at or question her own actions. Always right, lol.
Reading my old posts and remembering my given examples was a fun exercise. To compare where I am now to a year ago.
I posted on another page, that I believe my sisters follow me on this site. Good! I’m just going to jeep giving my view of the world, and my memories. Ny older sister hass her head so far in the sand, it is hurtful to,her young son, and what is left of her husband. When we were speaking, she would repeatedly say to me, I don’t want to hear anything bad Mom has to say about ne. I don’t want to know. It’s not that she didn’t believe me. It’s just that she preferred to live in a fantasy. That ny nmon really gave a crap about her.
I listen to a radio psychotherapist who often says, you had a mother give birth to you. You wanted a mommy. You didn’t get that. And that many people pretender their bio mom is a mommy, hurting themselves and their families. I an so glad that I am stronger than that today. Thankful.


I found these quotes and they actually made me feel angry instead of “inspired”
there we go:

“Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.”
? Erica Jong

“If you want to be a doormat you have to lay yourself down first.”
? Oscar Wilde


I might write a new post about those quotes…
It was a monumentos time in my process when I realized that not everything that people say is the truth!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi everyone,

My partner and I have spent every Christmas with his parents and sister for the last 10 years, with the exception of last year when we were away and this year. This year my brother bought a new house and invited our family over for Xmas. The day after Xmas we went to my inlaws place. Within minutes, when my partner was in another room, my mother in law began to tell me off about how she thought I don’t make an effort to attend family events and hiw unhappy she was that she didn’t have her son with her at Christmas and how sad the whole day was because of me. It really hurt my feelings that she would speak to me in such a tone and couldn’t believe that she would blame me for her unhappiness. I’ve been thinking about this non stop and just want someone to tell me, is she right to be upset with me? Or was it okay for us to spend Christmas with my family for once? Thanking you. Marina


Marina, you certainly have the right to spend time with your own family at the holidays. And it sounds like you have spent many holidays with your in laws and then also tried yo accommodate them this year by spending the day after Christmas with them. It doesn’t seem fair for your mother in law to demand that ALL the holidays be spent with her at the expense of you not having time with your family, and you did not deserve to be told off or put on a guilt trip by her.


Hi amber,

Thank you for your opinion and support. I have been losing sleep over this and it’s doing my head in. I worry that I’m the one that being unreasonable and I don’t want to be that person, but I also don’t want to be a pushover. Having someone unrelated to me and my family tell me that I’m okay gives me relief. I’m so glad I found this. Have a great day Amber. Marina x


Yes, Marina, sometimes we need that extra bit of validation. No you are not being unreasonable. You visited your family, but also spent the next day with your in laws. You can’t be in two places at once, and it’s unreasonable for a person to expect that you will spend ALL the holiday time with them. I would suggest that you explain to MIL that you have a family that you want to spend time with too, but some people just close their minds to any perspective but their own. She probably only sees that she wanted her son on Christmas, and is not considering your feelings and your family’s. It is a self centered perspective, in my opinion.I don’t know what the answer is because she is probably not going to change. What does your partner say about this?


I’ve been thinking about this non stop and just want someone to tell me, is she right to be upset with me? Or was it okay for us to spend Christmas with my family for once? Thanking you.

Marina: you didn’t get the memo: Once a Christmas tradition is established with a certain family, you are not allowed to go against it. Since you established a pattern of spending Christmas with the in-laws, you made a “choice” as to which family was “more important.” Thus, choosing to spend Christmas with YOUR family instead means you reversed your “choice.” How dare you.

Just like I didn’t get the memo that single people are required/obligated/expected to spend all holidays with their family. A single, unmarried, childless person spending a major holiday doing as they please (i.e., not being with the family) is just UNHEARD OF!

The above is why I have come to hate Christmas. All the “crap” involved.


Marina, I hope you know the above was sarcastic.


Marina’s dilema reminded me of when my youngest sibling, who at one time lived close by, decided to move back east to be closer to the inlaws. My mom’s reaction was, “How am I going to see MY grandkids if she moves back east?” I then reminded mom that there were TWO sets of grandparents, and the other set of grandparents did not have the opportunity to see the grandkids, and now they will! For some reason, my mom had the idea that living closer to the wife’s parents was more important than living closer to the husband’s parents. Where did THIS idea come from? I don’t understand. But when I mentioned this, I got the “you don’t know what you are talking about” crap. Well, I know what I observe! I observe that mom seems to think there is only ONE way to do things and if you challenge it, you are wrong.



I just saw your comment (#120)
thanks for that!
Looking forward to reading such post, that would be really great!


Hi Amber, thanks again for your reply. Am feeling better about the Xmas incident, but this has unfortunately snowballed into a whole new thing. My sister in law wrote me an awful text saying that I should be ashamed of my self and shouldn’t show my face at a nephew’s birthday party as all their extended family would be “horrified ” and “disgusted” at our behaviour. To cut the long story short, we didn’t attend the birthday party and I feel sad that I may have lost a friendship I enjoyed having with that family. It’s my mother in law’s sister who was having a birthday party for her first grandson. It’s all very sad and very confusing. We all got on okay for 10 years. This year they’ve all turned funny and accusing me of not making an effort to spend time with them.

My partner scolded his mother for upsetting me at the time. I did walk out in tears.
But I’m sure he will forget about it very soon. Especially when his parents always try and overdo things for him. For example, his mother will cook food for him for a week. He often remarks how helpful his parents are and makes me feel like we have to be so grateful. So although I don’t like her bringing her cooking to our house, I’ve got to say thank you and act like I’m so grateful. Never really understood why she does that because she’ll complain later that she hates cooking.

Hi DXS, yes I got the sarcasm. Thank you for your message. I do silly for being naive enough to think that if I was nice to them, they would be nice to me in return. I’m very disappointed in their current attitude toward me. One wrong move and they’re treating me like I’m some sort of enemy. I wish I didn’t wear my heart on my sleeve.
Very hurtful.


Marina, maybe MIL does all that cooking for her son because she likes to do things for him, but there could be other reasons. For example, she could be doing it as a way of saying that this is the only way he will get good cooking, or she could be doing it to be able to say, look at all I do for you, and then you don’t come to me for Christmas, or she could be doing it as a way of indebting you and your partner to her. Since I’m not there, I don’t know what, if any of those scenarios fit your situation. I’m sorry that all this is happening to you. Some people make things so hard for others when they don’t get their way. Maybe Darlene will have some ideas on how to deal with this. I wish you good luck. I know it must be very stressful


Hi Amber, thank you so much for your time and wise thoughts. Happy new year and may many good things come your way. Marina x


Hi All
New post on the front page ~ Lonely Holidays and the Lie that “you reap what you sow”
Here is the link ~ http://emergingfrombroken.com/lonely-holidays-and-the-lie-that-you-reap-what-you-sow/
Hugs, Darlene


Holidays are especially hard because then everyone around you is joyful.It’s not like every other day.Happy families are bothering me at that time of the year, and i’m not an envious person.On the contrary.I just can’t help feeling that way.



My fiancé and I have been following your website and Facebook page for a while, and I can’t tell you how much your articles mean to us. His mother and stepdad are classic cases of emotional abuse and manipulation, and your articles have helped my fiancé immensely. However, this article spoke directly to ME. As soon as the topic of proposing to me came up, his parents tried to get rid of me, casting doubt on my emotional stability and citing personal things that I had confided to them as “red flags.” This only got worse after we got engaged. I cannot tell you the feelings of hurt and betrayal I am still feeling because of the many things they have done to try and convince him to leave me. Luckily, we found your website right when sh*t hit the fan, and it gave him the courage to break the cycle of abuse and leave them once and for all.

As I was reading this article, it put into words exactly how I am feeling. It almost felt like I could’ve even written it myself! After searching myself and realizing I had done absolutely NOTHING to warrant their horrible treatment, I had to tell myself that I am NOT the bad guy.

Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart. Darlene, you’re our hero!


Hi Kristina
Thanks for sharing your victory! So glad you are here!
hugs, Darlene


Darlene – Thank you. You speak the truth. You’ve just described my exact situation. I am the son, my wife is the “scapegoat”. I have just drawn the line–they can’t believe it. It must be her fault. They claim to love me, but by scapegoating her, they insult me. I’m not sure my kids will ever see their grandparents again–but honestly, I don’t think they mind very much. We feel free to be out of the dysfunctional family system.


Hi Roger,
Welcome to EFB! I think that the things that bothered my husband the most was the way that his family insulted him by blaming me. He says that his sister even insinuated that he was having a mental breakdown when he stood up for himself and for me. When these people claim to love us, I ask myself “what is love?” ~ because I have come to realize that it isn’t the misuse of power and control, it isn’t this judgement that they heap on us, it isn’t hurtful.
Thanks for sharing, glad you are here!
hugs, Darlene


It’s been 2 years since that fall between my father and I, where he hit me on the face for not being able to open the packaging of an EU adapter during our European Holiday tour. He never apologised and continued being the “happy-go lucky” guy he’s convinced himself to be, throughout the entirety of the tour.

I remember being angry at God that time, because prior to the incident I asked: “Lord please don’t let this be another holiday where my
maternal grandmother and father will hurt me.” But alas my Dad hurt me and has no regret doing so. He even did the said deed in front of my younger cousin who he considers his “other son.” My cousin later comforted me througout the tour, and since then we’ve shared stories of our respective family problems.

This 2016, we are set to fly to the USA and Canada for the Christmas season. Once more, I asked God the same request, which is that my father and grandmother won’t connive to do something evil again. But I got something better! My father can’t go to the USA with us because he has a lot of work to do. Furthermore his boss is also on leave during that time and she already assigned him to be in the office. Ha! Not the kind of karma I was expecting but hey, can’t say I’m upset either 😀

My maternal grandmother cannot come either as she’s already filed for a holiday on May and if she files another one, her boss might just have a go at her.

Finally!! A holiday where I can sit back and relax, take photos and pig out on some gourmet food with the people who I truly love and consider me as an equal. My REAL family. Of course it’s still too early to celebrate, but I don’t care! The mother-in-law and son-in-law tandem from hell will be left in Australia this Christmas, whilst Mom, little sis, Uncle’s family and I will enjoy a white Christmas for the first time. Will I miss those two? HAHAHA NOT! Best news I ever heard in my life!


I have been searching for support for years now. Someone in an old post mentioned the dysfunction of a family farm I married a man that grew up on a family farm. He did not follow in the footsteps and went to college. I met him training for a marathon together. My husband is one of the top runners in the area….never was allowed to participate in sports in school due to the family chores. I was brought up differently…my parents were military and we lived a middle class life. There has been so much resentment and jealousy towards me and at times their own son. He helps out on the farm every time he can…he would work his job all day in the summer and then help with doing the hay…his parents are retired and sell the hay…of which when he helps he does not ever get any money his way. Even though my husband longs to be a part of the family farm, he never will be accepted because he does not live the life. His brother and his family live on the farm and help out now. His brother’s wife resents us as well because she grew up in poverty. She would complain when my daughter and son brought friends to go sledding on my father-in-laws property. My brother-in-laww do not own the house they stay in it for free! It got to a point where my daughter then was not allowed to go to the barn….she did nothing wrong.

My in-laws are resentful of my success in my career and the fact that I am a leader and have coached swimming for our local high school for years now and have produced State level swimmers. My father-in-law will passive-aggressively put down any success I have had. They never compliment my husband on his running even when he ends up in the paper for winning a large event….he will however mention a neighbor’s son.

They are even resentful of my mother….who is a retired nurse and dresses very nice and still looks great at the age of 78. My mother has always been a giver and would always make sure at the holidays that my father-in-law had the best cheese cake for dessert….because he loved it. Never a thank you…but they would give her a small gift that was bought at a rummage sale. We lost my dear brother this year…my mother’s second due to a disease they were born with. When i had to travel across the country and I asked if she could prepare a meal…she responded “I can try”. No sympathy card to me or my mother…no phone call even to say she was sorry.

My own daughter has been the brunt of it too…she is a very pretty young girl and she receives passive aggressive remarks…usually about her clothes that are trendy but not expensive. she is in junior high now.

They live 20 minutes away and have never invited us over just to invite us over…have never asked my kids over just to have them over.

I know this is long but it has been 20 years in the making. I would over look all the comments until I realized what they have been doing to me all these years. Do not know what to do..they live near us and part of the reason we moved back here 15 years ago was to be close to family so my children would have close relatives. My mother is close by and close with them. She gives them support…I just feel the apposite with the other.
side. Even their extended family does not contact us…no cards from Aunts or anything. I have cut them off as much as I can with the exception of having them over for holiday dinners.

Any advise…I dread for days when I know they will be coming and then suffer through the passive-aggressive subtle comments for days as it hurts me.


Hello everyone! I ve been reading comments and advises to the past 2 years. Was trying to find an answer, pray and hope.
I am 60 years old , and have a daughter with 2 grandchildren that lives in another state.
It has been a roller coaster after little kids grew up/ 10 and 7/. I helped her as much as I can , in spite that I am running busy office.
Daughter is married,and have very opinionated husband. I accepted him the way he is, in spite of his comments of my material status, the way I look, care of myself, whatch my weight, exercise, etc/ he is overweight/
Sometimes I cried in her house, but tried not to think about , as I adore my beautiful grandchildren.
We flew with my husband to them to celebrate my birthday. It took me few months to return to normal life.
This year my daughter said that they want to come in celebrate New Year.
As soon as I heard, I started feeling dizzy, etc. I spitted out that we will have a company, and they will be bored with us.
I cannot believe I said it.. I was feeling seek whole week , as I thought how could I rejected MY daughter to come over with my adorable loving grandchildren …
But I did, as I am not able anymore to tolerate that critical jealous judgements …
My husband said that I did right thing…

I still feel guilty…but I am afraid that something would happen/ it affects my husband a lot, and takes us both long time to return to normal life./ I do not know how to please him, what to say.. It seems normal to us, but gives my daughter looks, and she is upset too.
Any advise?
Thank you


Hi Grandma,
This is a horrible and not uncommon situation that you are in here. As for advice.. The truth often works; you could be honest with your daughter about why you are unable to deal with her abusive husband and see how that goes. There is a big chance that she is not going to take any action but if you can’t see your grandchildren the way things are now, it might be the only chance that you have for a relationship.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Disney
Welcome to EFB ~ I may be the person sharing about the family farm system. (and I am the author of this website) because I married into one and it is a terribly dysfunctional system here. My family of origin is just as dysfunction too so I had it on both sides. I finally stood up to the whole thing on BOTH sides. If you don’t have my e-book yet, that might help you get started sorting it all out.
It is available here on this website. (upper right side bar on computer, or home button on mobile)
Hugs, Darlene


Hello Darlene,
Thank you for the response and advise.
I will talk to my daughter .

Thanks again,



I searched google looking for whether or not I should be obligated to go with my husband to see my inlaws on holidays when all they do and have ever done is disrespect me. I stumbled upon this post and it made me feel good while also leaving me feeling sad. My husband has yet to come to terms with the fact that he has been manipulated and brainwashed by his parents his entire life. It’s just as you say, he is their well groomed dog and he refused to disobey his masters. He is consistently being put down and told he is not good enough by these people which in turn causes me to have to do damage control to get his head back on track to not thinking he is a worthless piece of crap. Yet he still has this need to see them. I don’t get it. I’ve tried everything with them and it’s just gotten worse over the years. Currently my MIL (who is the ruler of the house) in not speaking to me because I “hurt her feelings”, and yes those words were said to me. How did I hurt her feelings? By doing just what you said you and your husband did. I asked for respect, I asked to be included, and I asked for respectful boundaries. When I was told no to all of that, I demanded those things for our family, to which I was told I’m a negative person and if she doesn’t see her son, she will know it’s because of me. I just don’t get people like that, mostly because my family was never that way. Now that the holidays are here I feel so torn between my friends practically telling me they will come get me if I go to his parents house, and my sweet old fashioned mom telling me I should suck it up for him. My heart always wants to suck it up for him and would do anything for my husband, but my brain is screaming WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH? When does my happiness matter? When will my husband finally see how hurtful they are and stand up for him and us?


If in-laws mistreat, retreat. 1) Always have escape plan & if they abuse, leave immediately, even if go alone, & don’t have to be around any more, take own vacations/cruise when they’re together. Always have something more fun up your sleeve. 2) Direct conversation only to 1 responsible, your spouse, & totally ignore responding to them, b/c your in-laws are spouse’s problem, b/c they’re actually MEAN to own child, b/c mad left & married & abuse partner as proxy abuse to punish kid & break up marriage & their kid is letting it happen. 3) If their adult child would stand up to them, or go No-contact, in-laws would/could not scapegoat the partner nor have access to abuse. A problem w/ an inlaw means a problem w/ an enabling spouse, codependent enmeshed spouse whom hasn’t learned to say no to the parent & still child under parent’s thumb..*chooses to obey them over protecting you from their purposeful aggression…breaking VOWS. 4) ignore anything they WILL say, to be disliked/ dissed by evil people = good. Expect worse than they dish out, laugh at antics, imagine them as 18 month olds acting out. 5) could opt to leave all of them to themselves (even spouse) & go live life w/ people whom love you if spouse fails to support/protect b/c it will not change & you risk becoming bitter..& they’ll diss/scapegoat you to your kids.. 6) Don’t choose partner w/ red flags of enmeshment ! Took yrs to realize- mean abusive people like that would not be allowed in my life if it were not for their child, my spouse. They don’t love me at all & have wanted to punish/harm us b/c, unlike mama’s boy unmarried 66 y.o. older bro, my spouse actually got married & moved out!!!

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