Emotional Healing ~ The Courage to Tell


Emotional Healing, Insecurity, Victim Mentality

When I decided to tell the Chris Story ~ the story about how Prince Charming was a Murder Suspect, I intended to write one post. I intended to keep the focus about my belief system, and highlight the fact that I missed and or ignored the red flags because of learned unworthiness issues resulting from child abuse and child sexual abuse and invalidation.  That was the first post.

But the commenter’s and private e-mailers wanted more. They wanted to know what kinds of red flags exactly. I could see the benefit of sharing more of the details and highlighting the actual red flags, and for sharing a bit about my rational for disregarding the danger signs.  So that was the second post. 

As I write this post, I have not yet published the second post “Dangerous Men, Red Flags, Victim Mentality”.  When I finished writing that post and did my final read on it, I felt stupid. I thought I was really lame for missing so many of those blatant red flags.  And worse than that, the way that second post reads I didn’t really miss them; I just ignored them. I considered not publishing the post.  I felt insecure. I felt “dumb”. I felt like no one else would have EVER been so stupid as to stay with that guy knowing everything that I knew. This is exactly the type of thinking that kept me in the cycle of abuse and in victim mindset, covering up for the things I think are MY fault instead of exposing HIM and telling my truth.

I questioned myself, “what the heck was wrong with me back then?? How could I have let that stuff go? How could I have gotten into that relationship and then left myself, in that situation? What was so great about “that guy” that I didn’t dump him?  What the heck did I think was going to happen?

And I heard the thoughts behind the thoughts ~ “I didn’t think, I didn’t care, I didn’t know; he could have changed, he had been damaged and he needed me, what if I was wrong about him? What if he killed me if I tried to dump him? What if he was the best that I could ever do? What if I dumped him and found myself alone for the rest of my life……. Sometimes he was sweet, sometimes he was tender. He was charming. He looked like a movie star… he called me “baby”. 

And the even deeper thoughts~ playing detective was exciting. It was a way of proving to myself that I really DID have a brain. Being afraid of him was thrilling. Getting away with knowing that he didn’t know that I knew….  (When danger has been a part of a sexual abuse history, sometimes danger is a turn on; danger is familiar. And in this particular story I find it interesting to note that I was NOT at all sexually attracted to this guy, so the thrill of danger had more to do with validation.)  

Sometimes I tell myself that I am just making excuses for myself. (which also comes from upbringing) During that time with Chris I had dissociative identity disorder. Since I have recovered from DID, I look back and see it differently now then I used to. One of the things that I did that is common for anyone who dissociates, (not just dissociative identity with multiple personality) is that I “separated incidents”. I did not put all the incidents and red flag events concerning Chris, in my mind at the same time. In a way I put them through separate filters. I believed that each one was separate and had nothing to do with the other one. I disconnected each red flag from the prior red flag. Think of it this way; each event or red flag had its own sealed envelope. In my mind, none of the red flags were related. That was how I learned to cope with child sexual abuse. I broke off from myself, and left my body. And I learned an intricate system of coping; disconnecting and separating related events, too scary to look at, too scary to stop, too powerless to stand up for myself. That is how I learned to deal with life; by separating incidents and by disconnecting.  And so ~ there I was, all grown up in a dangerous relationship with a dangerous man, disconnected and ignoring all the red flags.

(And it is by reconnecting first with myself and then with the events that I discounted and ignored and eventually blamed myself for, that I became whole again.)

The desire to make excuses for myself has its roots in the same belief system that I write about all the time. As a child I believed that I could change, and if I changed then I would be loved.  So I felt insecure about telling the story because I grew up being told (Not always in words) that I was wrong; that I had a faulty memory and that I was the real problem. I was trained to keep the secret; don’t bring any shame on the family and I was told (not always in words) to find a way to cope with it myself.  I was also pretty young when I believed if there was a problem that I caused it, made it up or exaggerated it or misunderstood it and I learned that the best coping method of all was to disconnect myself from it.

But I have learned that I am not the problem. I am not the one that made things up or twisted the truth around, (other than in my own mind in order to cope with it); I did not exaggerate, and if anything I diminish the stories; I do not have to keep any secrets; I am NOT wrong and there is nothing wrong with my memory. So I published that post. And I am publishing this one too!

Thanks to everyone who has shared these posts on facebook or other sites and to everyone who has participated in conversations here and on the Emerging from Broken facebook page.

Please feel free to add your thoughts, feelings and stories.

Keep striving to move forward!

Darlene Ouimet

21 response to "Emotional Healing ~ The Courage to Tell"

  1. By: Liz Posted: 6th June

    Thank you so much for this blog and for this post. As I read your Prince Charming series, a relationship with a friend kept coming to mind, a relationship I feel uncomfortable with because I have idolized this person, shared more than I wanted or intended, and felt a lot of confusion about it. I felt so deeply that the discomfort was all my fault, because of “my issues”, but I realize now that I can trust my feeling of discomfort and that I can and should consider my perspective as valid. When you wrote that you considered not posting the red flag post (which was so helpful!) because you felt dumb, it was an aha moment for me. I have criticized and judged myself so much for my lack of perfection and my many mistakes, when really, I am a strong person who has overcome so much. I can choose me. I can choose not to believe all those lies about myself. Instead of redoubling my efforts in unhealthy situations to try to prove that I’m not the lies, I can choose to believe in myself, stand tall and walk away from them.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th June

      Hi Liz
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken,
      I can totally relate to what you are sharing! Yay for choosing YOU. Thanks for sharing!
      Hugs, Darlene

  2. By: Marmie Posted: 14th November

    This is a way of thinking I have struggled very hard to move away from, especially having children with the man…how could I have not only been so stupid and so lame but how could I have exposed children to him!!!
    Now I try very hard to treat myself as I would treat my own son who at 25 makes funny choices sometimes that make us go “huh”???!!! but who we love with deep unconditionality. Allowing myself to view MYSELF in the same forgiving and unconditionally loving light makes it easier to believe that I was indeed an inexperienced (in life and relationships and choice making) girl who only knew how to obey (thanks to the abusive way I was raised)and took up with a guy who wanted someone to obey him.
    It was cozy until I started coming into my own adulthood and began living in my own skin and acknowledging that the things which happened to me in my childhood were wrong and it was EQUALLY wrong to continue living with these things as an adult.

    It has been and is a long hard road but even just getting started on the journey itself was very difficult. Getting the gumption to say “nuh uh” just once and then one more time after that and one more time after that, was key. Building on those moments of self actualization really bolstered me but I still did the usual, leave, go back, leave, go back several times before I dropped the guillotine on the whole relationship.

    I used to be one of those people who assumed one had to have ‘earned’ the mistreatment. Changing that meant I had to stop thinking that everyone was inherently good, with good intentions. I know now that it was so difficult to escape because I had to shift my entire paradigm to believe that this wasn’t my fault and that wasn’t my fault and that I didn’t ask for this, that a choice made in ignorance is not a life sentence. That a made bed doesn’t have to be lain in, it can be torn apart and set on fire.

    YOU darlene have been the biggest catalyst to my steps to freedom.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th November

      Hi Marmie
      Welcome to EFB ~ Awesome comments!
      Yes, I was just thinking this morning about how each new decision to react or respond a different way built on the rest. Each step forward took courage but I got stronger with each one.
      I love the imagery of the “made bed” being torn apart and set on fire. Thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Jackie Posted: 26th May

    I am who I am:

    I am a good person – in spite of my childhood.
    I know the reality of abuse because I’m a survivor. I’m a human being who is very capable of emotions. I know I’m a good person because I have learned how to adapt and cope with life in ways no one should. I’m sorry if I’m not the person you were hoping I would turn out to be.

    I am a good daughter – in spite of appearance.
    I do my best to help those involved in my life and I’ve always put others before me because it is a way of life, to me. I know I’m not the best kid in the world because I’m not perfect… no one is but God. I know I’m a good daughter because I am now a beautiful woman. I’m sorry if I’m not the daughter you always dreamed I could be.

    I am a good mother – in spite the criticism I get.
    I’ve made some mistakes in raising my children but I know I’ve raised them to the best of my ability and will continue to do so no matter what. No one comes equipped with knowledge, it grows in time and time, I have. I know I’m a good mother because I’m a nurturer. I’m sorry if I’m not the good mother you think I should be.

    I am a good wife – in spite what’s others think.
    I stumble daily in my life and I may cry. My home may not be clean at all times and dinner may not be done on time but I give love to the fullest and that’s all that matters. I know I’m a good wife because I do my best as God intended me to be no matter what so I’m sorry if I’m not the best wife you feel I should be.

    I am a good friend – in spite of being “multiple”
    Friendships don’t grow on trees, their created in the heart…once that happens, they’re made solid. It’s not easy being “different” in your world, because in mine, we’re all the same. God doesn’t judge us so why should another. It’s been a hard road and it won’t get any easier but I can hold my head up today because there’s always a tomorrow.

    In all I am, I have done my best….
    In all I have done, I am all I am…
    What matters most…is I am…who I am
    …for God… and not man.

    Ó JMW

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th May

      Thank you so much Jackie,
      This is beautiful ~ really wonderful and full of truth. You are all those good things, (in spite of NOTHING, the truth is the truth. )
      Love Darlene
      and yes, what matters most is who I am!

  4. By: Shanyn Posted: 19th November

    Red flags: draw me in.
    Red flags: show me pain.
    Red flags: warn me away.
    Red flags: scattered around me.
    Red flags: warning! warning! warning!
    Red flags: whisper “you had this coming”
    Red flags: lie “you deserve this”
    Red flags: threaten “you better shut up or I’ll shut you up”
    Red flags: bruise me.
    Red flags: laugh “You should have know better”
    Red flags: are red because of someone’s blood
    Red flags: warn me away.

    I’m not letting red flags trap me, entice me, shame or cut me. I’m learning to stay away from red flags because they are seen first by my intuition and when I listen to that I’m able to stay back. When I don’t listen I’m cut, caught and trapped.

    Thanks for sharing Darlene…your post really pulled this poem out of my heart. Bright blessings!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th November

      This is beautiful, thanks so much for sharing it with me and everyone here. Red flags are always a danger signal, not to be ignored. SO important!
      I love poetry, I used to write it myself, but it has been years. You inspire me to think about trying again.
      Thank you so much for posting this lovely poem!
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Fi MacLeod exNicholson Posted: 16th November

    Yes, it does feel very dangerous deciding to stop being ‘compliant’ and say it as it is. “Compliance” may have been safer but also kept my captive.

    – when I published my posts on spiritual/religious abuse and forgiveness – I knew I was going ‘against the grain’ of all I’d been taught, believed and brainwashed into
    – when I publish posts which speak graphically about the abuse I know I’m exposing ‘secrets’, exposing things which have always existed in my memory but I never ever thought I’d tell, never mind be believed

    – BUT on each occasion the terror I feel is the same – that stab of fear that goes right through my gut that knows something really bad is about to happen because “I cannot get away with telling”, “I cannot get away with saying stuff that goes against all I’ve ever believed” etc.

    I’m so glad I don’t have to keep the secrets anymore, it is really hard to get past all the self-blame and self-doubt; tiny baby steps, sometimes 1 step forward and several back – but it’s as exhilarating as it’s scary!!

  6. By: Fi MacLeod exNicholson Posted: 16th November

    It takes tremendous courage to tell and to keep on telling.

    I know I often go to hit publish on a comment or a post in my blog and think “that sounds really stupid”, “you could have said that better”, “you shouldn’t say it quite so strongly”, “tone it down”, “you should just keep quiet”, “what are you doing telling these secrets?” “You promised never to tell!” “just shut up Fi” etc.

    And each time I hit publish I feel immense liberation but also sheer terror wondering what reactions I’ll get.

    It’s terrifying to speak out and tell the truth but nowhere near as terrifying as it was surviving it. I so often wish my memories and intuition are wrong but I know they’re not.

    The vulnerability I feel every time I share and hit publish is scary too but I know each time I speak out a bit more and a bit more I heal a little bit more and a little bit more.

    I take your words Darlene and make them my own – I am not the problem woohoo – there’s nothing wrong with my memory – if anything I’ve held back on what I’ve said – some of it is minimising – some of it is thinking if I tell it as horrific as it was no one would believe anything so horrific could happen – some of it is not being able to find the words – but the memories, the images, the feelings and the emotions are all there AND I know it’s the truth!!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th November

      Hi Fi,
      Exactly how I feel too. AND not only that, the terror about wondering what reactions I might get has a lot to do with my old belief system and victim mentality too. Anything that was “non compliant” was dangerous. So the feeling of being unsafe is hard wired into this whole thing too. I am “going against” what I was taught and believed would keep me safe.
      I learned to blame me, and doubt me because that was safer too. All of this stuff is about keeping children safe. We had to do this to survive, but we don’t have to keep secrets to survive anymore and we don’t have to live in self blame, and we don’t have to doubt our memories any more either.
      Thank you so much for being here and posting what you just did! SO inspirational!!!!!!
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Angela Posted: 15th November

    Wow Darlene, you feel dumb.. I feel Very dumb not only have I gone through an abusive marriage and am fighting through a divorce but I let another in and ignored those red flags..yup flat out ignored them. I think our biggest enemy is ourselves because we beat ourself up even before we start to climb out of the mess we are in. For me I did not want to believe that he is really that bad. Like really what human being takes advantage of a single mom and kids, what human being is so miserable with them self that they make everyone else miserable just to make them self feel better. I honestly thought there is no way he can be that bad maybe I am not seeing it right, self doubt because of how I was abused really played a huge part in staying stuck.
    I do agree that DID plays a big part of why I missed so much or made it easier to ignore. That is something that needs some attention. The most exciting thing of healing or sign that I am getting better is that I dream see when I am deep in the fog I do not dream but when I am coming out of the fog my dreams are very vivid and are a part of my connection to myself. Thank you for sharing what you have, it really validates just how damaging abuse is, crippling our ability to properly function and to just be..

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th November

      Hi Angela,
      The biggest key for me in recovery from what you are expressing here has been self care and self love. Digging down to the truth is very important in order to find out that none of it was my fault. BUT Taking ownership of my own worth made the biggest difference in my recovery. I don’t get attracted to abusive people anymore, because I don’t deserve to be treated that way. Sounds simple, and I know it isn’t simple at all, but keep going forward, keep striving to find that beautiful you. Embrace yourself and your specialness and kick off the old belief system. I had to stop letting the abuse define me and find out how to define myself. That was the biggest key to freedom.
      Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: nadia noor Posted: 15th November

    Darlene, when you wrote… “I LIVE today. I live, laugh and embrace the truth. I am free and whole and not exhausted all the time. This is so much better! ”

    ..I breathed the biggest sigh of relief, encouragment and hope,-to know others who have been through so much are now free.

    Sounds so lovely, and I can’t wait to visit the ocean just because…rather then desperate need and exhaustion.

    Thanks Darlene

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th November

      Hi Lisa Marie,
      I agree! Thanks for your comments! And I am glad that there are people reading my writing too. Thanks for being here!

      Hi Splinterdones
      how cool that you are writing a book! I look forward to hearing more about that!
      The compartmentalizing for me was something that took me a LONG time to realize I was doing as a way of coping.

      Hi Nadia,
      I am so glad to hear that I encouraged you today! Freedom and wholeness is totally possible! Believing that was the first step for me.
      I am looking forward to an ocean side trip in a couple of weeks from now! Just because!
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Splinteredones Posted: 15th November

    Hi Darlene–it’s so topical for me to read this post. I’m writing a book about the concept of Time and how it doesn’t follow the same way as with non-dissociators. The compartmentalization of events I believe causes us to see the world in such a fundamentally different way that’s beyond description. It’s really about child xevelopment and astrophysics–but verrrry interesting. Thanks. Don’t feel stupid, that’s the illness talking. As we know 😉

  10. By: Lisa Marie Posted: 15th November

    In response to Darlene’s quote, “When I finished writing that post and did my final read on it, I felt stupid. I thought I was really lame for missing so many of those blatant red flags. And worse than that, the way that second post reads I didn’t really miss them; I just ignored them. I considered not publishing the post. I felt insecure. I felt “dumb”. I felt like no one else would have EVER been so stupid as to stay with that guy knowing everything that I knew.”

    The great thing is, or maybe not so great; I guess it depends on which way you look at it. Is that you are/were not alone. We’ve all done the exact same thing. It is nice for others just to know they aren’t the only ones that made stupid mistakes. If I had a penny for every red flag I missed or ingnored I would be a very rich woman!

    I’m just glad that you are writing this from the other side and can share with us who are still on the journey, it makes a difference whether you know it or not!

  11. By: nadia noor Posted: 15th November

    Thanks Darlene for sharing your voice. Thanks for risking by sharing-although I get the ‘risk’ for you now does not have the same power it had before, it still brought up feelings around it. I am greatful for your share in all that sharing brought up for you, as it helps to affirm my struggles and shows how my toxic thinking got set-up in the first place.
    “I believed if there was a problem that I caused it, made it up or exaggerated it or misunderstood it and I learned that the best coping method of all was to disconnect myself from it”. I so relate to this as in my childhood one of the ways I survived was not to share how I felt, thought etc and actually to doubt and demean myself for my feelings and thoughts (as my parents did).-I did this so well, that I eventually did not know what I felt or thought. This helped me to survive and I am thankful for that, but I do not want to disconnect anymore. I am learning day by day it is better to connect to my feelings and thoughts, even if extremly painful/frightening etc and actually the pain of not connecting to myself(and thereby others) is far far worse

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th November

      Hi Shary,
      Thanks for your lovely note of encouragement. I agree with you and I do this work to give courage to others, so thank you for this validation. =) So glad that you are here!
      hugs, Darlene

      Hi Nadia,
      I like your saying ” how my toxic thinking got set up in the first place” That is exactly what I am trying to share here. I too did not know what I thought, felt or who I really was. I didn’t know my interests, my passions and I didn’t have one dream except that I wanted to lay on the beach with a book for a whole month one day. (I visit the ocean a lot now… but it is not because I am exhausted and defeated anymore)
      Thank you for highlighting the fact that it is far better to be connected to self and face what goes with it, then to stay disconnected and in the fog. I LIVE today. I live, laugh and embrace the truth. I am free and whole and not exhausted all the time. This is so much better!

      Thank you for being here!
      Hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Shary Posted: 14th November

    Thanks Darlene for sharing your life with us. Your fear to share I am sure is difficult, and emotionally draining. But it gives courage to other to be honest with themselves first of all and then to tell their stories.

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