145 response to "Dysfunctional Family and Holidays ~ When You Feel like the Bad Guy"

  1. By: Carlos Posted: 26th April

    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!

  2. By: Roger Wilson Posted: 22nd April

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 24th April

      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

  3. By: Kristina Posted: 1st December


    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!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd December

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

  4. By: laura Posted: 9th June

    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.

  5. By: Marina Posted: 30th December

    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

  6. By: Amber Posted: 30th December

    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

  7. By: Marina Posted: 30th December

    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.

  8. By: sandra Posted: 28th December


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

  9. By: DXS Posted: 28th December

    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.

  10. By: DXS Posted: 28th December

    Marina, I hope you know the above was sarcastic.

  11. By: DXS Posted: 28th December

    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.

  12. By: Amber Posted: 28th December

    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?

  13. By: Marina Posted: 28th December

    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

  14. By: Amber Posted: 28th December

    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.

  15. By: Marina Posted: 27th December

    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

  16. By: sandra Posted: 7th December

    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

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 10th December

      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

  17. By: Janie Posted: 7th December

    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.

  18. By: Lora Posted: 24th February

    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!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 24th February

      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

  19. By: TJ Posted: 1st February

    Help with what, Amy?

  20. By: Amy Howell Posted: 1st February


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 1st February

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

  21. By: TJ Posted: 1st February

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 1st February

      Hi TJ
      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

  22. By: TJ Posted: 1st February

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 1st February

      Hi TJ
      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

  23. By: Lesley Posted: 15th January

    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.


  24. By: Lesley Posted: 15th January

    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’ .



    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th January

      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

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