Emotionally Abusive Statements Designed to Control



Psychological Abuse

with clarity comes freedom

Continuing from part one “Emotional Healing by Understanding Psychological Abuse” I talked about how Psychological Abusers misuse their power in order to control and abuse others. In this post I continue with some of the statements that emotionally abusive controlling people make to create fear, confusion and the inability to think, and to force compliance and obedience.

NOTE: These statements are used by ALL controllers, and although I often refer to parents, these statements are used by everyone who misuses their power in order to control others.

I believed statements like this:

“After all I have done for you.” This statement often ends with comments about how ungrateful that I am and it implies obligation. Obligation has nothing to do with love.

“If you don’t like it, you are free to leave” This statement means that I have no option, that I am just NOT allowed to disagree; I am not allowed to have an opinion. I “can” either have an opinion, OR a place to live. Not both. This implies that I am not only valueless but that I am also not smart enough to have my own thoughts.

There are other related statements that imply stupidity such as “what would you know about that? Or “Who do you think you are?”  Voice infliction is used such as in sneering statements like “what makes you think you know?” “and “what makes you an authority on that?” Another control tactic is simply not being acknowledged at all.

I didn’t question why some people didn’t acknowledge my thoughts, or ideas. They acted as though no matter what I said, they didn’t hear me. They discounted me as if to say, I can’t be bothered with you. They did not allow me to impact them or their lives. This is very devaluing because it confirmed the fear and belief that I already had learned; that I had nothing to contribute and no knowledge or value to offer. And that is what they wanted me to believe.

What about a statements like this;  

“Everyone in this family (office, organization, etc.) has an equal say, but I know best, so in the end we do what I say we do”. (remember that not all statements are verbal!)

 “I am doing this for your own good.” Because psychological abusers think that what they have decided is BEST, but their definition of BEST is not based on love. It is not based on what is best for both people involved. I started to realize that I needed to ask myself “BEST for who?”

“You are such a disappointment… I don’t know where I went wrong”.

“Oh Darlene, you’ve always been so sensitive, dramatic…..” You can fill in the blank for whatever fits for you.  This implies that I am over reacting. That my feelings about a situation are wrong and that I could not possibly know how I feel. Some statements are actually MEANT to hurt me, to make me try harder, to make me feel like I am doing something very wrong.

As a young girl, I often heard relatives speaking mockingly about me, right in front of me as though I was not in the room, sometimes with false concern in their voices;

“Well you know Darlene; she’s kind of slow; she had that “brain damage” thing happen when she was born.” ~ *apparently the forceps being used to assist in my birth, slipped and that was used as a convenient excuse to tear me down by exaggerating the event~ inferring that I was mentally challenged and therefore not to be taken seriously.  Lies such as these are meant to tear down and destroy and to “prove” that there is something wrong with ME. These lies cause a fog storm to force compliance and dependence.  This is common! I am not the only one this happened to. Hurtful damaging lies. I have heard similar ones;

~ She was dropped as a baby…

~ He had that bad fall down the stairs that time…

~ Oh remember when Johnny fell out of the tree?

Very often these statements kind of trail off…. leaving the listener to come to their own conclusions about the mental health of the person they are hearing about. They are usually said within a conversation where the victim is saying something a psychological abuser doesn’t like. If a controller or psychological abuser can discredit the victim, they have way more power. 

“Love, honor and obey your parents…….”

I had to think about these statements. I had to question myself ~ What will happen to me if I don’t love honor and obey?  What do you think will happen?  I did a whole exercise on what my beliefs were about just this one statement and when I realized what I believed about the implications of this statement, I realized that these were once again, false beliefs.)

I am not obligated to love. Not even to love my parents.

Just because emotionally abusive and controlling people said that I was crazy and stupid, doesn’t mean that I am. It was so important for me to realize that truth.

I am not crazy. I am not stupid. And I certainly never had BRAIN DAMAGE!

There are a million of these statements all designed to squish independence and individuality. They are used to force compliance and cultivate guilt and shame or fog up the thinking. All are designed for the purpose of control. All of them get the focus OFF the emotional abuser or controller and back on to you ~ the one they want to control.

Psychological abusers don’t want you to look at the truth because as long as we are thinking about how much we disappoint everyone, or don’t measure up ~ as long as we are trying harder, we don’t realize how pathetic these control tactics are. Our emotional healing depends on our dissecting the ways that we have been falsely led to believe the lies about ourselves.

Remember that the focus is on our realization and implementation of the true belief that EVERYONE including you and I have equal value. Abusers do not like to teach (by actions) that their value is equal to yours, because it would imply that their authority over you, the authority that they control you with, would be diminished. Breaking the cycle of abuse depends on discovering and recognizing what abuse and the misuse of power and control really is.

As the traumatized, the victims and the emotionally abused heal and get stronger and as more and more people realize and embrace the truth, these psychological abusers will no longer be able to hide behind the fog that they create because the fog and the real truth will be exposed. The tactics will be revealed and talked about freely. The secret won’t have to be a secret when enough people are talking about it.

This is the real fight that I had to fight in order to fully recover from emotional abuse (all abuse) and the resulting depressions. It was in busting through those lies that I was able to embrace my true self and take my life back. This was my journey to emotional healing.

Please share your thoughts, discoveries, experience or whatever you wish to share in the comments and check back, the discussions are always wonderful here.

Another snapshot on the Journey to Wholeness;

Darlene Ouimet

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Related Posts: Emotional Healing by Understanding Psychological Abuse with 60 fantastic comments/feedback

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Categories : Freedom & Wholeness



[…]  part two; highlighting some of the statements that controllers and abusers use to get their way. […]


I do think that a lot of people have the same struggle and same journey. Though some of the exact words may be different the message is the same. I was not a good student in grade school. But when my teachers intervened and helped me get off of the medicine that was used to control me that was really for epilepsy which I did not have I became an honor student. MY parents were shocked at how smart I am. Darlene it is like same story only the names change. I also have noticed a similarity to the mafia in how abusive families or companies or churches operate. The mafia code is dont talk dont betray the family. So is the abusive family code. Even if you go outside for help you are considered to be betraying he family or church or company. The rule is dont think for yourself dont talk about the wrong doing you see and we will accept you but if you talk all hell will break lose. I am seeing this at my husbands company now. He sees it too but I am out of work and we are in serious debt. he is trying to get a job but he is considered old. Anyone over 40 in NY is considered old in the work force. That is another subject but all of the abusive systems operate the same. Like they all took the same training course.


Darlene, you said it all. I can’t think of one thing to add.

Thank you for being YOU.



PS- the other thing abusive people use nobody leaves ,especially if it is a husband beating his wife but it is the same with an abusive church or family. Nobody leaves.


My brain is detoxing today! Thanks to these excellent articles!! Thank you!!

When it is all about how to think we are better than others, not about how to be/do the best we can do at a useful skill, something that benefits others! When we want to FEEL better than others, not BETTER(verb) others!! WOW!! Who teaches such things? In my experience, it was church, Christian school, Christian college, Christian organizations, which were time wasters, brainwashers, abusive environments,

My pastor’s daughter, and my high school, college, and youth group peer, reacted almost violently to me in the Christian college dorm when I questioned what went on at the college, (which is what I thought we were all doing) and told me, “What did you expect? You shouldn’t have come here if you didn’t have that figured out ahead of time!” I never talked to her again. Why would you.
Ah, but you see, our families were involved in a new church start-up, and there was so much faking to do to pull it all off.


When I say “better” others, I think, for example, of my husband, whose useful skill is making pipe organ parts. (I think that the pipe organ is a great source of beauty in this world regardless of the fact that it is found in churches–we can’t have perfaction in this world–pipe organ in the perfect environment) He broke away from the strangle-hold that church had on his life in his high school years soon before he and his brother (a pipe organ performer) started their light manufacturing company. I think of beautiful pipe organ music “bettering” the lives of others, as could many, many useful skills. I am NOT using the word “better” others to mean that we feel better than others or look at others from a position of superiority.


As I was reading this, I could feel myself inside, acknowledging,” yes, yes, yes, I have had similar experiences.” That this issue is very valid and many do not realize it is a very prevalent problem, even in the church.


~ It is exactly the same principle that the mafia uses to control. It is the dysfunctional family system. (and it works for them!) It is used in churches, businesses, clubs, organizations, etc. It is a pecking order system, the most feared survive. There is a lust for power and control with little regard for who gets trampled.
And the only way to end it is by one individual at a time standing up to it; it takes courage, and it takes conviction that this system is wrong in the first place.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Once again, YES, churches and Christian schools/organizations are no exception to this dysfunctional way of controlling others. But if you think about it, Jesus came with the message that the ” big leaders” had to give up their power in order to empower, and they said NO. They were all for his message, except for that part. Jesus had this amazing message that all people were created equally valuable to God. But the leaders didn’t like the thought of being equal. Same thing today.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Merry and welcome!
From where I sit this is THE problem. 🙂
Churches and everywhere. The dysfunctional system that has been going on forever. Emotional healing is so stunted due to the control and manipulation and the misuse of power in the world. But when we realize it, we have the chance to heal. We have the chance to stand up to it, and declare our own value.
Glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene


Someone in the comments above said nobody leaves. When I left home, where I had a dictator for a dad and a quiet, submissive, passive-aggressive mom, at 19, to get away I had to basically run away. When my mother 3 days later told my dad that I wasn’t coming home, he came after me. I went home for the weekend, more to say goodbye to my brother and sister than anything else. I had told my mom that I was leaving.

On Sunday afternoon when it was time for me to leave, my dad refused to take me back to where I was staying. My mom and sister drove me to Bossier City where my friend came to pick me up.

When my dad couldn’t bully me into staying, he did the ultimate controller thing and threatened to kill himself if I left. I don’t know where the courage came from but I refused to believe him. I left. He didn’t commit suicide.

One other time years later, he threatened suicide to get his way. That time, I told him to go ahead if that was really what he wanted. I refused to do what he wanted and I left. Again, he did nothing. This time we talked with him holding a shotgun the whole time. I wasn’t afraid of him even with the gun. I think that was the day that I finally saw him as the frightened child that he was.

My dad was a bully. I think most people who sexually abuse others fit into that category. Bullies are terrified of losing control. They are full of fear of you so they bully to feel in control. With children, it is easy to bully them into doing what the adult wants them to do or to believe. The reality is that most bullies are scared and scarred little kids inside. Fear is what makes bullies mean. That is why standing up to a bully usually stops them in their tracks. This is just my opinion. It may not be your truth but it is mine.


I would agree that standing up to them would stop them in their tracks. I used to tell the x to tell his mother to just “stop” but he never would. She ended up telling him to beat me, that that would be the only language I could understand.


I had blocked out that my x’s mom told him to beat me, but it is in my diary, 1991.


I feel blessed to have found your site Darlene, your writing is honest, plain and direct, even a little confronting in this age endless spin. I love it!

Your comments remind me so much of my father & my relationship with him and I’m wondering how you feel about the generational aspect of emotional abuse?

As a child born in the 1950’s in the UK, it was sort of ‘what was good enough for me is good enough for you,’ I even had to cut my father off from his Grandsons at one stage till he got the message that I would not allow him to infect my kids with the same mindless abuse.

Sometimes he seemed to get it as he got older, yet the pattern seemed far to entrenched for him to really change, very sad!

Take care,


Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. And witches get burned. Here and in hell. And that was the message. So any questioning, any going against the grain, any individuality was considered rebellion and rebellion considered witchcraft and witchcraft would lead you to eternal condemnation.

Going against the spiritual authority of your parents, no matter your age, was going against the will of God, which is rebellion/witchcraft/damnation. Going against the authority of anyone over you (home, church, school, work, government, etc.) was going against what God had ordained in your life in order to mold you into a better person by teaching you obedience and humility, even if they are abusive unto death. We are to submit to their authority and trust that God has a plan. Otherwise it is rebellion/witchcraft/damnation.

The spin keeps you trapped for the entirety of your life. No escape from the web of abuse and deceit.

Until you change the way you think, until you see their lies as just that, lies. Designed to keep you trapped and preserve the system that guarantees that only those who make it to the top of the pyramid will see any kind of freedom and breathe any fresh air.



Another award winning post. I haven’t read comments yet….

I was thinking about something I figured out a couple of years into my intensive therapy. Whenever people would say to me, “I just want you to be happy,” without exception, each time they really meant, “I just want you to APPEAR to be happy.” The roots of my unhappiness were never a topic of discussion. I like what you said recently about how none of us was born with low self esteem or miserable. But, doggone it if that isn’t the precise message that was given to me over and over again in my childhood and also later in life. It is only when I began to unearth the roots of that pain — and trust me, there was almost no familial support then and there is none now — that I began to realize there was a very good reason that I was such a “miserable, difficult” child. My heart goes out to me now when I think how I was placed in countless no-win situations where everything I said and everything I did was somehow wrong. Today I don’t try to force people to think I am happy or anything else. I have ceased living my life for the “audience”. It is definitely not a popular position to take, but the freedom and peace of mind are entirely worth it!



I can relate to your post, thank you so much for sharing your story of your dysfunctional bully father. I agree with you! I wanted to highlight something you said and something I said.

You wrote:
“Bullies are terrified of losing control. They are full of fear of you so they bully to feel in control. With children, it is easy to bully them into doing what the adult wants them to do or to believe. The reality is that most bullies are scared and scarred little kids inside. Fear is what makes bullies mean. That is why standing up to a bully usually stops them in their tracks.”

I wrote: “This is what I was talking about in my post when I said “Psychological abusers don’t want you to look at the truth because as long as we are thinking about how much we disappoint everyone, or don’t measure up ~ as long as we are trying harder, we don’t realize how pathetic these control tactics are. Our emotional healing depends on our dissecting the ways that we have been falsely led to believe the lies about ourselves.”

THEY are pathetic. Bullies, controllers, abusers, like ego maniacs with inferiority complexes. My father is a passive abuser. He didn’t care if I stayed in his life or not ~ for the sake of the other readers who stood up this way, but nothing happened, (and when that happened to me I felt worse at first because I saw it as proof that he really didn’t care about me at all as though I still needed proof…) there are different ways to control. My father was not a bully in the least. That doesn’t make him any less pathetic. ~ I will write more about that in the future.

thanks for all that you contribute to emerging from broken Patricia,
Hugs, Darlene


Very interesting follow up! A couple of questions have been nagging at me regarding emotional abusers/controllers, do they have the comprehension of their actions? Do they logically make the conscience decision to abuse and control or are they often victims on the opposite end of the spectrum from us, the abusees?
Did they learn their behaviors or are they also looking for validation from the opposite end of the spectrum?
Have they also suffered at the hands of others to create their own myriad of psychological issues?
Not that my main concern is for the people who have hurt me…. My concern now is to heal myself and find peace in my heart and my life but in trying to get there, I often wonder this in the back of my mind.


My most damaging emotional abuser was a BF who used many verbal tactics as a wu to control. He had a troubled childhood with alot of drama, abuse and turmoil. I still feel sorry for him. But he did not want to look at himself and was emotionally unavailable to me and even his own child and often played the victim role…. Just saying


Hi Sheryl,
You know I can actually picture someone saying that ~ to tell your husband that the only language you would understand would be to beat you, because these people are so bent on submission that some of them really believe that. It would be said in an exasperated voice.. as though the ‘victim’ were so stupid that you would have to beat some sense into them. All for compliance. All based on the false definition of love and respect. Makes me sick.
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Carla L.
You have shared an excellent example of how this manipulation and psychological abuse works. EXACTLY like you shared. I urge and encourage everyone to read your comment. This is not just how you were controlled by spiritual abuse, but how you were controlled, period.
Thank you so much for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi David,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
Yes, I believe that the cycle of any kind of abuse is absolutely generational, and since all abuse begins with psychological abuse, it fits there too. Thanks for adding the line “if it was good enough for me, it is good enough for you”… great example! Great addition to the list of how it is done. A controller/abuser has to want to change. The best that we can hope for is that we break the cycle for ourselves and the future generations. If we model this better way of life to abusers, that is excellent; a bonus!
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


“I am telling you this for your own good.” How many times did I hear that statement from my parents? I have recently understood the controlling nature of statements such as these. Also I am glad to recognize that I do not have to use these statements on my husband to elicit a response that I want. That is manipulation. I’m learning that the only response I want is the one that is authentic to him. Unless of course I am fixed and immoveable on I want what I want when I want it.


I like this article (and the previous one) as its something Ive thought about for many years. I was quite highly trained and hard working. However I was unable to stand up to bullying, dominant individuals in the workplace.At times I blamed myself as due to my childhood trauma I knew I had difficulty trusting authority figures. Yet I did see that the ‘ value’ system was often misleading at best and totally corrupt at worst in many workplaces. If I did try and speak up I was not validated, just the same as with my family. In the end I would withdraw and become depressed and this would inevitably lead to my being labeled the’mad’ one. This has had an impact on my social standing as a whole with my friends even, partners,family, doctors etc.Sometimes bullying, emotional abuse is very subtle and its difficult to pinpoint. Its led to me not working for ten years despite having a very developed social conscience. I do believe I am coming out the ‘fog’ and would like to work in some capacity again. Im hoping this time around I can hold my own but Im quite scared of not coping. The trouble is Ive found many ‘dominant’ types dont believe they have issues and the majority of others prefer denial and they choose to comply with the values of those most dominant as at least by conforming they have social standing as well as the job and the salary. Its a catch 22. You can be isolated if you dont get out there and get involved in mainstream society but you can also be isolated if you speak up and challenge any myths. Im not formally religious but Jesus did say ‘The meek shall inherit the earth’ so Im just hoping I can find the courage to hold my own and be able to work in a worthwhile way again. Its reassuring that more and more people seem to be thinking like you Darlene and thank you for speaking up so honestly. I feel more sure of my actual ‘sanity’ everytime I read one of youre articles !
By the way I dont know if this is allowed but I just read the book ‘Not Crazy- Why you might not be mentally Ill ‘ by Charles Whitfield, and I would reccomend it .This book is excellent, as are all his books and has given me more clarity concerning the trauma I experienced in the psychiatric system etc


Layla, I just want to say that I understand what you are saying about being on the job: I’m not sure I can trust myself to cope on a daily basis. I have not worked for a living in 15 years, since I first remembered the whole truth of the trauma. Sure, I went back to college, wrote a book, survived cancer, started a non-profit, established myself as an advocate. BUT when it comes to earning money, I have been reluctant to do that which I am expected to do: look at the world with eyes such as theirs. I want to try again to be fully functioning and earning a living. But I was not myself while on the job. I was making nice with people all day long while wishing myself dead. I’m still awaiting the inner strength it takes to go back to work full time, but at 58, who would hire me? After all we have gone through, you’d think there was a high coping threshold on the job.


Hi Kellie!
Great comments! Yes, (all I want is for you to be happy) ~ that is another one of those “statements” I should write an article about statements that the only response to them is “what the heck does that mean?”
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Maggie,
Your questions ~ do emotional abusers /controllers have comprehension of their actions… I am going to repost what I wrote another post in comments:
~It was very important, although difficult for me, to stop focusing on the why the abuser did stuff, and why the abuser was an abuser, and why why why about them. I was always thinking about how my mother (and father) felt, what had gone wrong in her life, how could I make her feel loved enough to love me. I always knew that my parents had less then perfect childhoods. and I constantly wondered if they realized what they were doing or had done. But in the end, it did not help me to understand what happened to me and it certainly didn’t excuse what happened to me. My freedom came from really validating what happened to me, and how I had become so lost. I stopped thinking (just for long enough to see clearly) about them. My healing came from my understanding and acceptance of the truth about what happened to me. And then realizing all the lies I believed about myself, and changing those beliefs.

~ I believe that they ARE looking for validation from the other end of the spectrum, (as you mentioned) but that changes nothing about the way we must heal to stop that cycle. ALL abuse grows out of victim mentality in the first place, yes. And I had to finally say “so what?” it has to stop somewhere and in my little world, I was the one to stop it.
Thank so much for being here and highlighting these questions!
Hugs, Darlene


“I don’t want to do this to you but you leave me no other choice”, or “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” I’m getting the living s#!& beat out of me, but somehow it’s not hurting me as much as them? And also what is implied in this statement is that not only am I bad for some kind of wrong doing, most of which I am not understanding anyway, but I am even worse for inflicting such pain on THEM because they are actually hurting MORE THAN I AM, ALL OF THIS IS MY FAULT, and I must pay in order to be saved from myself.

I comment a lot about religious abuse because it was the paradigm I was born into and because it has a tremendous affect on the way my mind, my emotional core, was developed. And my world view. It set me up for a lifetime of victim mentality, whether I was actually still in any kind of religious frame of mind or not. Most of my life from adolescence onward was spent in rebellion of religion, with phases of running back to it in order to find relief from all of the punishment going on in my life. But I never realized that it was the belief system still in me from those early years that was ruling my life and urging me to even seek out the punishment I thought I needed in order to finally save me. It was all so twisted, and still is.

I have spent a lifetime in abusive situations, abusive relationships, cowering under the belief that it was what I was destined for because of my innate badness. And if I found myself in so much despair that I couldn’t take any more, I would run back to religion in order to repent of whatever badness I knew of and try to appease GOD, so he would stop punishing me, so he would stop using these methods to make me into that acceptable vessel worthy of him and his kingdom. But what I found was that I was so triggered by the atmosphere of religious people that I couldn’t bear to be there either.

And so I set out on my way again, shrugging off the outward religious ‘stuff’, not realizing I was still carrying all that programming inside me, never being free from the need to be punished and redeemed. And I unconsciously went looking for abusive situations in order to accomplish these things.

But religious upbringings are not the only places we find the same type of programming. The withholding of love and acceptance, replacing it with criticism and punishment, in any kind of family environment is going to produce the same kind of dysfunction. All the same emotional abuse, just with a different face.


GREAT article, thank you so much!


Hi Lynn,
I hear you on your statement about really wanting an authentic response!
About “for your own good” that was one of the statements that I had to stop and think about. I had to ask myself what the heck does that mean??? And it is also manipulative and used for motives. There are versions of it too, such as ~ I am doing this for you; I am trying to make you a better person; I am only trying to help. ~ all statements that are empty words… ick.
Thanks for sharing this one! …
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Layla,
You make very very good points. Thank you for sharing your life in a nutshell, because that is a very good example of exactly what happens. It is very hard because our whole society is living in this insane dysfunctional pecking order system. it got much better for me and straightened out somewhat when my self esteem was recovered. When I was able to draw my boundaries within more then just in my head. My husband and I own our own business, so I do not have to deal with the workplace issues that you are talking about, but I do deal with other people all the time. I stick to my guns, and I am not that popular with a lot of people who do not consider equality an option. On the other side though, I am one of the happiest and most positive people that you could ever meet! AND I am free of the abuse system. Keep hanging in here!
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


“All I want is for you to be happy.” So that… I can quit worrying about you, so that you don’t make me feel guilty, so that others think I was a good parent, so that I think I was a good parent, so that you don’t make me look bad, so that I can be relieved of your reminders of my dysfunction, so that it is all about ME being happy if you at least TRY to be happy


statements of diversion

Barbara Drumgoole
March 22nd, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Thank you. Growing up I thought the abuse was normal. When I got away I thought I was the only one.


“’After all I have done for you.’ This statement often ends with comments about how ungrateful that I am and it implies obligation.”

from Lynn: “’All I want is for you to be happy.’ So that… I can quit worrying about you, so that you don’t make me feel guilty, so that others think I was a good parent, so that I think I was a good parent, so that you don’t make me look bad, so that I can be relieved of your reminders of my dysfunction, so that it is all about ME being happy if you at least TRY to be happy”

I know that one all too well from my inlaws, and I hate it!!!!


I LOVE your blog! I wish I had more time to read and digest every word. Thank you so much for the work you put into it and the work you have put into yourself to be able to share this with the world now. It is a very brave and courageous soul to be able to do all that so Congratulations to you!
For me it was more outward verbal abuse; screaming, cursing…but even in kinder moments it was that I was “backward”. I’m rather shy I think by nature I just like time alone and never needed a lot of attention but when your mother is so extremely unpredictable, you learn at an early age to walk on eggshells. Around 6-7 years old I went to my mother in tears wondering why other kids thought I was weird and made fun of me…picked on me…she said it was because I’m “a little backward”. I assumed that meant I was different and it couldn’t be helped. I later learned what it meant and felt even more stupid. As an adult it was always that I don’t know what I am talking about or that’s not true or “you just like to hurt me” no matter what it was I was talking about. I could be happily remembering all the times my sisters and I played outside, creating little worlds for ourselves and she’d snapped back, “Ha! You kids never were creative enough to do that! Hell, you never even played outside…” Funny…I’m the most creative person in my family and have had art shows, sold paintings, had a play (that I wrote) produced at my college…not to mention the fact she LOCKED us outside all day every day during summer without access to water except a nearby creek because she didn’t want us in the house while she slept. Naturally, the list goes on and on and just as naturally, it took me well into adulthood to realize what she was doing. She actually had me questioning my own sanity or intellectual ability many times all the way into adulthood. Oh and the best was that I couldn’t survive without using my beauty which of course came from her…I had to sell my body or strip. I took that to mean I wasn’t smart enough for anything else. What mother says such things to her daughter??? Ugh…I could go on and on and eventually will at my blog:)


I haven’t had a chance to read everyone’s comments, but I will, and I have much to say in response to this post, but the first thing that sprang to mind was one of my mother’s/grandmother’s favorites: “If you don’t behave, we’ll have to send you back to the Indians.” At first, I used to fear that I really didn’t belong in this family and that they had “bought” me from the Indians (this is what they told me when I asked why they said this). It was all very funny to them. Ha ha! And that I could be sent “back” at any time. Then again, later, it became a source of comfort…that I didn’t really belong in this family to begin with. Weird, I know.


You, My Dear, Are not crazy. You are not handicapped in any way. You are not squished any more. YOU ARE THE SMARTEST and the MOST INSIGHTFUL lady I know.
Obligation is one of the dirtiest, hurtfull words I know.
You are an inspiration and a truthbuster to us all
Love Jimmy B


I feel the same way as Lisa B. I used to cry my eyes out because I felt like I did not belong. I thought I must have been adopted. How else could I have landed into such a screwed up family. I wrote poems as a kid, that I as like a weed in a flower garden or a clock without a face. How awfully ironic that in the last couple of years I have determined that they now want me to feel like I belong, yet I don’t feel any sense of belonging to them.


Welcome to Emerging from Broken ~
Barbara and Annette

~ welcome! Sounds like we have very similar mothers. Reading your comments made me cringe a few times.. 😉 I had a very vocal and unpredictable mother too; I could really relate to your story.
Thank you for sharing here,
Hugs, Darlene

Lisa B.
I am so glad that you brought up the “threat” aspect of this whole thing! Carla brought up the spiritual abuse threats, and the type of threat that you bring up is also very very damaging. Threats are a big part of the way that fear is used to control. And really, it is so mean. I very often think that there are a great deal of people that don’t think children are actually people. How can they not think about the effects of this stuff??
Thank you for being here and for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Thank you my dear husband for your constant support and encouragement. I know that your most hated word is “obligation” and I thought about you when I wrote it. That tactic was used against you over and over and over again and because of my own upbringing, I fell under the obligation spell with your family too. And I know how hard it was to come out of the brainwashing and stop living under the rules of obligation. But we did it! WE are not squished anymore!
Hugs and love, Darlene

Hi Lynn
I felt the same way growing up and well into my adult life. I felt like I was watching my life from afar, wondering how the heck I landed there. (dissociation contributed to that feeling too) I thought it was me, that something was wrong with me, and today I realize that it was something that was wrong with them.
Glad that you are here!
hugs, Darlene


the thing that is the most confusing and has been stated above more than once…it’s like they can’t stand me or what I’m doing or wanting to do…but I can’t leave (not physically, but as in the family – extended). “What are you saying? I’m never going to see you or your kids again? Is that what you’re saying to me?” said with sadness…or possible anger “How could you do this to them? How could you rip a family that loves them away? I know where their games are, I will just come and watch…don’t worry I won’t interfere” with anger…like how does that not interfere anyway?

I must stay and behave…but despite that the rules are bad…they keep changing…they can’t even be consistent. And if anyone is leaving it is only because they said so, and only for as long as they say…and none of it should be discussed any further. Just carry on…weird when you take the emotion out by trying to explain to someone who wasn’t raised like this AT ALL….when you try to explain how you know what you have to do even though you do want to and how you don’t even have to be told to do it and how all the consequences are invisible and not said…but very real… The other person ends up looking like a dog with their head cocked and their ears perked trying to figure out what you are talking about and why you keep doing it… And I know how messed up the whole thing is, but it doesn’t make it any easier to walk out of…when you were raised to believe that there are some things you CAN’T GET OUT OF…


Hi Wendi,
You have expressed “the confusion” very well. 🙂 All those voice inflictions are such a big part of this whole thing ~ and not just anger, but what about sarcasm? It is so huge. In my view, the rules keep changing because it keeps everyone off balance. The rule changing is an abuse and control tactic in itself. Always keep us unbalanced and confused, always keep the focus on what I might be doing to cause the problem… not on what they are doing.

We have all been raised to believe that we can’t escape, but that is really a lie too, and a very hard one to come out of. But it implies ownership! What kind of love implies ownership?

In my case, my family didn’t fight at all when I stood up to this whole thing. That in itself was shocking. It was like another blow. I had to go through another (several) round of questioning myself because when they didn’t try to even attempt to have a relationship with me, it was like the ultimate rejection. I had to believe myself that what they were doing, the way that our relationships were so malfunctioning and out of balance, the way that I had to always be the one to jump through the hoops, (“or else” and I finally took the “or else” ) was just killing me. I found a way to take my life back.

Thanks for sharing Wendi,
Hugs, Darlene


Something that Wendi talks about has me looking at some of the things that seem to be common to those of us who are trying to ‘escape’ the insanity of dysfunctional families. There is this idea that if we want ‘out’, it’s not because there is anything wrong with the dynamics of the system, but because we are trying to blame them for our unhappiness in life. And ERRONEOUSLY so. As if we are so desperate to find someone to blame for our depressions and insecurities and anxieties and phobias and self esteem issues, that we just happen to choose them out of convenience and that makes us even more pathetic, AND IT HURTS THEM, once again.

But they are so blind to the effects of the dysfunction we were subjected to, that they can’t see any other option, but that we have gone off the deep end and are pinning it on them without any cause. We are back in the position of being the bad one and causing them all the pain.


I agree Carla. And as weird as it sounds, I’m not sure they really care so much if I’m gone; I think it’s more so that they will have less of an idea of what I am doing, who I am talking to, what I am saying, how will they look when the star child goes AWOL, they can’t even say I’m “sick” (although they’ll say it to me) because what does that mean about them if they have a “sick” family member they can’t fix or help or even that it may look (accurately so) like they have abandoned me…it’s all about appearances…doesn’t matter what’s underneath so don’t even bring it up.n If they let me go…they have relinquished control. Ironically they are accusing me of being abusive and controlling by not wanting to be with them…even though it’s hard and sets me back…I am doing nothing to them…I am trying to stay AWAY for goodness sake!!! Just more control tactics…make me feel guilty or bad so I do what they want…so we look real good and we can talk about all those other “dysfunctional” families for entertainment and to pat ourselves on the back about how great we are (yeah right). Just let me go and you can bad mouth me all you want, I don’t care…and I doubt they will because of what they think it will mean about them. I’ve always said I kind of admire “outwardly dysfunctional” people or families…they may not be perfect (who is) but they are allowed to just be.


Interesting story involving me, my family, and EFB. About a year ago when I first discovered there were others out there like me 😉 I was feeling so great about knowing other people and connecting with them and sharing and learning…but I was fearful…what if my family saw what I was doing and saying!! So I would quickly go to my wall and delete any links that said I commented on EFB or OSA (this does not show when we comment on blogs…just when we comment on posts on fb). Sometimes I would go to bed and be freaking out cause what if I missed one, what if I forgot to do it. Sometimes I’d say so what, if they want to snoop go ahead…but then i’d get back up in the middle of the night or in the morning and frantically delete all the links.

One night it happened!!! I got an email from a family member that said they saw my posts…it said they were worried about me. It said what I was saying wasn’t true…AND (here’s the big one) it said we have mutual friends and they are worried these mutual friends might see this stuff!!!! BINGO they aren’t worried about me? At least not as much as they are worried about what I am saying about them…and it was about me anyway but I guess to them that is about them. Even though I could see right through it the email alone had me so scared I didn’t know what to do! It was terrible. After another time of this and a nasty confrontation…I blocked them (from fb anyway 😉 And as I pushed the block button I felt like a crazed maniac…scared to death and elated with joy at the same time…a small symbol of my freedom. I know they’re probably seeing it through someone else’s wall anyway…I’m sure of it…still grips me a little with fear…but their problem not mine.


Dear Darlene,

I have read this post of yours at least 3 times now, and I’ve read all of the comments, several of them more than once, and the reason I keep going back and rereading this post over and over again is because, when I read through this post the first time, I got stuck on one sentence, and I can’t get past that one sentence. I keep trying to read past it, but that one sentence is superimposed in my mind over everything else that is written here.

The sentence I can’t get out of my mind is this:

“Who do you think you are?”

“Who do you think you are?”
“Who do you think you are?”

Hmmm……I was just about to end my comment and sign my name right here, “Lynda” ~ and it hit me again, as it has hit me before, how I have always DISLIKED my given name. Why? Because SHE gave it to me, the one who verbally and sometimes physically abused me most of my life, from babyhood on. “Lynda! Who do you think you are?”

When I was a very little girl, I had a recurring dream, or maybe it was a recurring daydream, or both, I dreamed I was in the wrong house, in the wrong family, and that my real mother and father lived far away, and they did not know where their precious little girl had gone, they were heartbroken and searching for me, and someday they would find me, and I would go to my real home to my real parents who really loved me, and I would learn my real name.


My mother often asked me that, with such a sneer, in a tone of voice that told me that I was in fact NOTHING, and if I dared to think I was SOMETHING, I was sorely mistaken.

A few years ago an apparently very narcissitc woman whom I didn’t even know, she was a brand new neighbor in the other half of the duplex where we were living at the time, she and her family had just moved in to that other half, and my husband and I were in the arduous process of packing and moving out of the our half, having been given notice by the landlord that this woman, who was the daughter-in-law of the landlord, would be taking over both halves of the duplex, and turning it into one big home. My husband and I were given this 30-day move-out notice with no prior indication that such a thing was about to happen ~ my husband had lived there for more than 8 years, and had been talking with the landlord about possibly buying the place, when suddenly we had to move. We had no money for moving, we had to quickly sell some of my antiques and jewelry on ebay, and Stan had to sell his beloved old motorcycle cheap, so we could afford to move. We had no family living nearby to help us move, my husband’s credit had been shot a couple of years prior to this when he had 2 heartattacks, and hadn’t been able to work for awhile, although he had kept his rent up by using all the money in his IRA retirement account. So here we were. both of us in our 50s, and not in the best of health, having to do all the packing and moving all on our own.

We were moving out fast as we could, God knows, but we were a few days past the 30-day schedule, because my husband had started having chest pains from all the stress and strain, and a few days before we had spent much of the day in the hospital emergency room, so now, with my husband wearing a nitroglycerin patch, and me wearing a neck brace, because I have degenerative disk disease, all but the top 2 disks in my neck are badly herniated, so lifting heavy stuff HURTS, but I was doing most of the heavy lifting, to save my husband’s strain on his heart. We had left a long letter on these people’s door a few days before, explaining all this, and saying we were very sorry, but we would be out by the end of that week, which put us over the deadline by 7 days. But that wasn’t good enough for this woman, she came storming up to us while Stan and I were struggling to carry the last of the things out to the trailer that was going to haul all our stuff away, and it was HOT, by the way,m mid-summer, in the high desert of New Mexico, and this selfish *B* DEMANDS that we immediately stop what we are doing and come over to her half of the duplex so we can see how CRAMPED it is in there with her husband and children! And I said, “No, we are not going to do that. It won’t get us out of here any faster, in fact it will just use up more of our time and energy that we need to finish getting moved out of here.”

Well she didn’t want to take NO for an answer, again she imperiously DEMANDED that we drop everything and go immediately next door so we can see for ourselves how pitiful it is that she and her family don’t yet have both sides of the duplex to spread out in. Again I told her “No, we are not going to do that,” huffing and puffing as I said it, as my hubby and I were struggling to carry a heavy piece of our furniture out to the moving van, while she is dogging our steps, shrieking at us. Then this woman says, “WHY WON’T YOU JUST DO THIS FOR ME, IT IS A SMALL THING TO ASK!” And I said, “NO, we aren’t going to do it, because we don’t want to do it, we have enough on our plate to take care of as it is, and looking at your half of the duplex isn’t going to get us out of here any faster. BELIEVE ME, we wish we were finished moving out of here already, just as much as YOU wish we were moved out of here already. But with my husband’s heart condition, and my bad neck and back, we can only do so much at a time, before we collapse.”

Then this unbelievably rude self-centered young woman, in a haughty, shrill voice, demanded: “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?”

This woman was dark-haired and 30-something and her attitude and appearance and age so closely matched the way my mother was when I was a little girl, being ordered day in and day out to do this or do that, and what I did was never good enough to please my mother, so when she said that, using the same haughty, sneering tone that my mother always used, “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?”…………….

I swear to God it literally took every spare ounce of my self-control to turn my back and walk away from her, without FLATTENING that hateful egotistical narcisstic abusive B**** right on her ignorant A**.



Wendi, I can relate. I was also worried that my abusers would see what I was saying on fb. I’ve set my security so that only people that are on my friends list can see my posts, and deleted all the family I was worried about. It is very freeing!!! The last one I had to remove was my MIL, because I couldn’t take her brand of “love” anymore. I know the old “I’m worried about you, but more about what others are going to think of me.” You are right, it IS their problem and not ours.


Love, honour and obey your parents was such a huge one for me. I had to love, honour and obey my parents because the bible said I had to… and just because they were my parents and I was in the inferior position of being their child.

“We can do what we like to you when we like how we like because we are your parents and there’s nothing you can do about it”. Total control, total manipulation and total helplessness and powerlessness for me.

The mocking comments and put downs that keep you in your place. And then there are the non verbals that are even worse.

A certain look, intonation, a certain way of walking or sitting… those things keep you in that place of terror and walking on eggshells and remind you that you are the one who is stupid and has got this all wrong… and remind you that towing the party line, doing what you’re told, not speaking unless you’re spoken to, never speaking up for yourself… never questioning are the unspoken rules of this family

Totally controlled and totally terrified… all the time


p.s. oh and totally trapped as well


Lynda- Wow, your post really set something off in me! I remember someone telling me that, “who do you think you are?” I was a litte more unrestrained than you were. I stood up to my full height and demanded back, “who the hell do you think YOU are?!” Then proceeded to tell them what I thought of them. You should have seen the look on their face. I think it was the first time someone stood up to their selfish and hateful bullying. But you handled things with much more class than I did!


PS~ Oh, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE what your precious husband Jim said about you, Darlene. And he is so RIGHT!!!


No Lisa Marie, I like your way better. Maybe if I had done what you did, I wouldn’t still have this residual wish, 5 years later, to drive halfway across the state and flatten her on her can! I think you did it RIGHT!


Again, just popping in with a quick comment…are you all familiar with the song, The Eleventh Commandment by country singer Colin Raye? If not, I highly recommend checking it out on You Tube.

The Eleventh Commandment, the forgotten commandment, seems to be “Honor Thy Children.”


Nah, I still feel that way too. I wish I had knocked them out :O)


Hahaha… Lisa Marie, maybe we should make a pack like that stupid movie, “Throw Mama From The Train” ~ I knock out yours and you knock out mine? (JUST KIDDING! I abhor violence! But some people are just begging for it!)


Hi Everyone,
I am going to answer the new comments in a little while, but I wanted to post the link to the video that Lisa B. mentioned. This song is exactly what i am talking about; That this kind of dysfunction causes lifelong problems. Be warned, this song made me cry pretty hard.. and I have never recovered my ability to cry much ~
here is the link: The eleventh commandment, honor thy children
Thanks Lisa,
Hugs, Darlene


Wendi and Lisa Marie, I can so relate to the FB dilemma. I have my security so locked down it’s pathetic. No family can see anything I post, only what I write on their walls. The fear runs deep, even if they can’t physically get to you anymore, the fear runs so deep.

And you’re right, they don’t really care about us, they care about what people are going to think about them if they have to try to explain anything, whether it’s an accusation or a total absense of their child. Either way it’s an embarrassment because something is out of place, something is not perfect.


“Love, honor and obey your parents…….”

you can’t do this with parents who are not MODELING Loving and Honoring you in return!!!

I couldn’t honor or obey my NMother’s insanity… no matter how hard I tried… and when I got older I stopped trying.


Love all your points! You are on fire this past few days! These dysfunctional abusers DO believe that we are looking for someone to blame for our problems, and the are desperately to believe that it isn’t them. which brings us back to “I wasn’t born broken”. And it brings them back to “but you did have that “brain damage” or whatever….. round and round! Thank God we know better now.
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

Great points from you too Wendi!
so much of it is really all about appearances ~ and the mutual friends concern. Perhaps (I believe this) my mother knew I was dead serious about my boundary, and she couldn’t face the thought of what I might do/say next. So she just pulled the covers over her head. She phoned me once by accident 7 months after she stopped speaking to me. (speed dial accident) She decided to talk to me anyway. She took the time to assure me that she had not told ANYONE about what was going on between us… (I told her that I had talked about it; a lot. =)
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

~ So who do you think you are?? I think I am ME for the first time in my life, NO THANKS to them. What does that statement even mean?? As you say, it is meant to IMPLY something.. It IMPLIES that I am NO ONE. And that brings me back to how I always say that they defined me, and I had to take back the power to define me. I had to realize that they don’thave the power to define me. No one does. They are wrong.
Thanks for sharing,

Lisa Marie ~ YES it is their problem.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Fi
YES to everything you said. Exactly.

and Barbara, as you said, there is no way that we can love honour or obey when we have no one to teach or model to us HOW. There is no example with parents like this. There is no truth, love or even sense in their expectations.

Thank you both for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


My mom used to say (often) that I was so hairy when I was born that she screamed because I looked like a monkey and she couldn’t bare to hold me for several days…I heard this story over and over again… my mom found it very amusing. I even used to tell other people to get a laugh. Many years later I repeated the story to my birth father who said he was there and had no such recolection. I realized many years later that my mother was abusining me in the re-telling of this story… of the many stories she liked to tell about me… even after my step father admitted to abusing me she denied it and said it couldn’t be true because who would want me….


Suzanne what a terrible story… as I read your ending I was reminded of how often my mother told me no one would ever want me because I was so much trash, I’d forgotten that till then


Thank you, Darlene, for this series of articles! These statements really hit home to me! I was reminded of a time when I was a little girl and something my mom said to me. It was in the early 70’s and we lived in a very rural community. I was often tasked probably starting around five years old with the errand of going into the local country store to get my mom and dad’s cigarettes. Needless to say, this embarrassed me because I always worried that the lady who owned the store would think I was smoking (kids could buy cigarettes back then). I usually would have to “put it on our tab” at the store, then sometimes I would be told that we couldn’t charge anymore until the bill was paid. Then…I would be tasked with going in to pay the bill. I hated this!!! But…if I bucked it I was made to feel ashamed and worthless because of not wanting to do something for the family.

Well, once when my mom drove me to the store in our old 50’s something Plymouth, I went in, got her cigarettes, then when we tried to return home the car would not start. Mama made me go back into the store and ask to call home to get my dad to come fix the car. My oldest brother was a teenager, and this was long before call waiting, so the phone was busy. So…I kept going back into the store over and over again trying to call, endlessly getting a busy signal. I was about 9 years old at the time. After several times of going in and out of the store, Mama asked me if I had told the store owner that we were having car trouble and that was the reason I needed to use the phone. I told her “No”, and she replied in her guilt laiden way, “You should have told her that we are out here broken down…you don’t have ANY gumption!!” Hell…I didn’t even know what GUMPTION meant!!! I just knew that it was bad, shameful, and that I was somehow wrong for not taking care of us that night.

To this day, I HATE the words “SHOULD” (because I heard it so often…”You should want to do this for your family!”) and “GUMPTION” because it made me feel so ashamed on that night!

What I know now…Mama didn’t have ANY gumption or she would have been in that store HERSELF instead of sending her 9 year old in to get cigarettes, much less to try to get a car started!

So here I am…48 years old and gaining my emotional freedom at last, years in the making! I’m very ambivalent about my family, but I can tell you that they don’t have the control over me that they once did as that little shy quiet girl in Alabama! As a result, I have often been thought of as the boat rocker and the black sheep because I dare to confront them about these things, and I am still told that my view of reality of how we grew up, from my parents and my brothers, was somehow skewed and that these things didn’t happen. My mom has apologized to me on different occasions…especially for the fact that I raised my youngest brother from the time I was 9 years old on. But there is always a disclaimer at the end…”But you know I had to work to help support us…” So an apology followed by an unspoken, “But you still can’t make me feel responsible for what we did to you!”

Whew…that felt GOOD to get that out! Thanks, Darlene! ~~ Karen


I agree with Fi, what a horrible story. (both of them) This is exactly what I am talking about ~ statements that have an ulterior motive designed to tear down and undermine the self esteem. I am sorry that happened to you.
I am however very glad that you are here sharing it! Welcome to emerging from broken!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Fi
And the things that your mother said are horrible too! How are kids supposed to know any differently if they are told that they are trash! That is also exactly what I am talking about!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Karen
Welcome to you as well!
I agree that it was your mother that didn’t have the gumption!
I can never remember once when my mother said she was sorry, without a “but” added at the end. Even for really serious things, she added a but. There is no sorry when there is a but. The but takes it back. The but makes it justified. I hate that.
thanks for sharing. Your stories remind me of my father in law. He made my husband go into restaurants and ask how much a cheeseburger and fries was, while everyone else waited in the car. ICK.
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


That song, The Eleventh Commandment, Honor Thy Children.. it made me CRY.

I sent it to my grandchildren, my daughter, my stepdaughter, and my daughter-n-law, and also posted it on my fb wall. Moving, beautiful, HOLY song~

Karen and Suzanne, your comments hit me hard. I’m glad you posted your stories, I relate so much to both of them.

~Who do I think I am? Compassionate. Giving. Kind. Caring. Honest. Loyal. Intelligent. Talented. Funny. STRONG. A Survivor. A Thriver. A loving friend, a loving wife, a loving mom, a loving grandmother, a loving caretaker of our fur-baby Lady the Cattle Dog. I am Considerate. I am Understanding. I am Private. I am Sane. I am Cautiously Optimistic. I am a Christian. I am Independant. I am angry about all the abuse in the world. I want to make life better for those who have suffered abuse, and the stigma of mental illness labels.

I am someone I really like.

That is who I am.


The one word from my childhood that I hate to this day is the word “Stupid.” Both of my parents constantly called me and my younger brother and sister stupid if we didn’t do something “right” to their specifications. Because of my birthday being in December, when I started to school, I was younger than almost all of my classmates. I was a little slower than some of them in learning to read and in math. I still can’t do numbers very well in my head. I need to see them written down on paper.

I made good grades A’s, B’s and C’s. I was in the slower reading groups for the first and second grades. After that I seemed to catch up. I remember one day in second grade so clearly even today. My mom who had a 7th grade education was helping me with my spelling words. For some reason, I just wasn’t able to remember how to spell any of the words. They were all words starting with “wh.” I do remember that they were all words like where, when, why and what – My mother was getting more and more frustrated and cussing and calling me stupid which upset me to where I had even more trouble learning the spelling of the words. Finally she was yelling louder and louder. For some reason we were at my uncles house and one of his sons came in and helped me learn to spell those words.

Today if you hear me say someone is stupid then you know that I am beyond upset at something. For me to use the word “stupid” I am not too far from a meltdown. I haven’t thought about any of this in a long time. This was typical of the verbal abuse that I grew up with.


I don’t have any specific memories of being called stupid, but I do call myself stupid all the time. Not sure where that comes from exactly, but I do have a terrible habit of judging myself harshly and using words in my head that are meant to humiliate myself, which in fact does come from my early life. Everything was about humiliation and breaking the spirit. This is a very hard thing to eliminate inside. Sometimes I catch it right away and make an effort to change my thoughts to the positive. Sometimes I don’t catch it until much later when it all comes back to me, the harsh tongue lashing I had given myself and what that means is going on inside.

At least at this stage I am having this awareness take place and making the effort to change it. I can see it is going to take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say. And I wasn’t programmed in a day. And I won’t be RE-PROGRAMMED in a day. So I have to allow patience in the process, or else I will end up giving myself a tongue lashing for that as well!


As always, your post really makes me think and triggers memories Darlene. My NMother always let me know her THINGS were more important than me. Possessions over me. I had a lot of problems with serious illnesses as a child… once I threw up on the carpet and passed out trying to get to the bathroom. I woke up to my Grandmother (who lived with us) trying to wake me up to make sure I didn’t choke and my Nmother screaming in the background “MY RUG, MY RUG!!” She held on to her possessions long beyond their usefulness date but for example, when I came home from college along the way I had acquired some gorgeous clothing from a campus thrift store – she threw away and even sliced up some of my things. In retrospect she didn’t like that I may have even slightly looked better than her. When I moved to NYC and would go home for events she always screeched about how horrible I looked and how my hair was awful blah blah… finally, my Dad got so fed up he told her off. I remember hearing “she (me) looks like a movie star next to some of these people!” and “Her hair is stunning, what is your problem?” My Nmother seethed for a long time. The words were always what she wanted me to FEEL not what was REAL. Control control… and control to PUT DOWN, SQUELCH, ABUSE, HARM or DIMINISH. No support. None.


This is the best post I’ve read so far. I’ve noticed this also in family/work/church.


Barbara, my heart ACHES for that sick little girl you were, passed out, lying in your vomit, while your horrible mother is shrieking about her precious RUG.

My God. We treat our dog better than that. I have several antique Persian rugs in our house, a large one in the living room, another in the dining room, one in the bedroom, and one in the library/study. Occasionally our sweet Lady-dog will get a stomach upset and vomit, and sometimes she will be sick on one of the rugs. While she is being sick, I hold her and comfort her, making sure she doesn’t choke. I rub her back and rub her tummy and tell her I love her and assure her that she will be all right. Then after she’s finished, I get her some water, make sure she is safe and comfortable, and only THEN do I clean up the rug. Who cares about a stupid RUG, when a precious little creature is suffering?

How much more should a human child be held and loved and soothed and cared for when she is sick…. to HELL with the damn RUG!



Patricia, sometimes I overhear a parent out in public calling their child “stupid,” and I get so angry… how can any parent be so IGNORANT and CRUEL? Who is the stupid one? Certainly not the child, who is only being a child! Adults are supposed to know better than that. Now, THAT’S stupid.

My mother often used to say “What’s WRONG with you?” in a way that implied that I was STUPID. “What’s WRONG with you, that you can’t feel that you have a clump of oatmeal stuck to your cheek? What’s WRONG with you that you won’t pay attention to where you are going, and you’ll walk into a wall? What’s WRONG with you, that you would walk right past that pile of dirty diapers and not HELP me by picking them up and putting them in the diaper pail? What’s WRONG with you that you didn’t see that toy lying in the middle of the floor and you tripped right over it?”

Words. How they can HURT.

So can hateful LOOKS, glaring eyes, rolling eyes, heavy theatrical SIGHS, a shaking of the head that implies how HOPELESS I am…


The most humiliating thing that my mother did when I was small was to slap me when she didn’t like something and she would get angry. She didn’t do it often but I remember how it felt. I am not talking about the physical pain but the emotional pain of the humiliation. That was the worst thing that my mother ever did to me. I don’t remember her doing it when I got over the age of 9 or 10 so maybe she realized what she was doing and stopped.


A huge part of the healing process to me is realizing how we are all connected. Knowing the subtitles of how when people feel powerless they act out in hurtful ways, I have seen myself doing these things to my family (in a lesser degree than what I have experienced) and am not taking responsibility for how I treat others. The cycle of perpetrator, victim, rescuer stops with me.

When I am in a victim stance I tend to blame but when I feel my boundaries and am mindful of the interaction I can call people out of these unconscious patterns in a loving way. Nobody wants to feel inferior and the people who are abusive are the ones who are hurting the most. I do not propose running away from our families, I propose that we take responsibility for our experience. I have found that when I call these behaviors out standing in my strength and give the person space they are more able to reflect upon their actions. We can not make them wake up but we can wake up ourselves!
It is wonderful to name our traumatic experiences and see how they effected us but for me blaming my family just keeps me in a victim mindset.


Darlene writes “I wasn’t born broken.” I’ve had many quality hours with therapists, and my favorite line from a counselor was, “Lynn, you are not crazy. You were never insane. You were born sane to an insane family.” My mother is dying from terminal cancer and Alzheimer’s. She lives in another state with my step-father who cares for her. I go there 2-3 times a year to get programs in place (currently hospice). There is so much more I could do. A decade ago I would be doing it, abandoning my life to tend to theirs, the same way I abandoned my needs as a kid to tend to their needs. Now, I have settled into a resolve that suits me without guilt. The resolve came from the same therapist: “Lynn, you are not responsible for your parents’ needs.” The thing that I noticed is that indeed the rules do keep changing to satisfy their needs. No, let me be more assertive: THEY (he, step-father) keeps changing the rules for his convenience.


Hello Faith
~welcome to emerging from broken
I agree with you that when people feel powerless, they act out in hurtful ways. But is that an excuse for them? It doesn’t make it any less wrong just because they have a reason, or because they are hurting. Many of the readers here have been sexually abused by parents ~ are you saying that they need to take responsibility for their experience? Or that I should take responsibility for the beatings that I submitted to? Should I just keep letting my mother say that it was my fault that her boyfriend came in my room at night when I was a teenager? Because when I finally stood up to her about it I was in my early forties. And when I drew my boundary, SHE stopped talking to me. I am not sure what you think we are talking about here, but I am baffled by your response.

I am not talking about blaming out of victim mentality. I am talking about realizing where broken happened in the first place. I was not born that way. I could not step out of victim mentality until I put the responsibility for what happened to me and to my self esteem, where it belonged. By seeing the truth about what happened, I was able to see the lies that i believed because of it and re-wire my brain and belief system. In doing so, I am no longer a victim, but a fully functioning woman with a full life. I no longer suffer from the chronic depressions that plagued me for so long. I am the individual that I was born to be. My family has a choice and they chose NOT having a relationship with me because I refused to be a victim anymore. They liked me better the old way, but I was dying.

I hope you read a little bit more of this blog in order to have a better understanding of how damaging it is tell survivors the things that you are saying here. I was told these things all my life, until I could barely function. It was when I realized that I was a human being with equal value to my family, that I realized that how they treat me is not about love, but about control. And I don’t have to accept that. Family is not a right. It is a privilege and real love is based on mutuality, equal value and respect. None of which my own family is willing to take a look at.

Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


As for privacy on the net, I am so glad that we have the choice to ignore, delete, block and defriend these people. After all, it’s not what we could do as kids. My older brother (who shamed me with sexual abuse, then said he was ashamed of me) he is now 60. He once said to me when he was in his twenties, “I am ashamed to say that you are my sister. As far as I am concerned, you do not exist.” I can confidently and without guilt now say such to him, by not letting him see where I do what on the internet.
Lynda, I have a really beautiful first name, that was shorted to “Lynn” When I was in my twenties, I formally changed that name to “Lynn” because of the ways my parents had distorted that beautiful name, drawing out each syllable, extenuating the “tone” of anger, etc. Now that I am over my identity crisis, I want my real name back.


Sorry for the multiple posts. I would like to comment on what Faith said, ” people who are abusive are the ones who are hurting the most.” I recognized that for the longest time, until I realized I was spending more time trying to alleviate their pain, and ignoring my own. Until a year and a half ago, when my brother (who had abused me) betrayed me again by telling me that the decade I had spent trying to help him was NOT AT ALL SINCERE. I had spent a decade trying to rebuild a relationship with him, grieving with him when his 17 yr old son died, bonding over our mutual love for a grandmother. But he betrayed me again by throwing my compassion right out the door. I got fed up with him, gave up for good on him, and now understand that it’s ok to blame him as he is responsible for ruining my life. I don’t care about his hurt anymore.


I certainly did not mean to offend anyone, I agree with you Darlene, it is important to put the responsibility in the right place. Children need protection. Adults inner children need protection as well. There is absolutely no excuse for anyone treating anyone else in harmful ways! I was saying that from my experience, as I change the way I look at things my choices open up. Like what you said, ” I was able to see the lies that i believed because of it and re-wire my brain”. When you changed, your family didn’t have anything to do with you, this is my experience as well. I think that as adults we can attract new kinds of experiences. It sounds like you didn’t run away from anything, you changed. Recognizing our connection does not mean we save anyone, but ourselves, it just keeps me from holding negative feelings about others (a compassionate view).

That said, as part of the healing process it is natural to feel enraged at an abuser, I am suggesting a next step in reclaiming ones life. My mother was mentally challenged, I know that she did not know how to heal herself. I, as her child could not help her climb out of the deep hole of suffering she was in. My experience as a child led me to carry beliefs about people in general that limited my experience. I am just trying to share that as I realize that I choose to love myself & take care of myself, others do not have power over me and I have compassion for the suffering of abusers as well.

I appreciate what you are saying Lynn, sometimes the depth of manipulation is so confusing… Still I think that somehow, as we become responsible for our own experience, loving ourselves we can live content and attract healthy relationships. I too have tried to help my brother, realized that I can not change his way of operating in the world. What has been the best for our relationship has been my taking care of myself, having boundaries that protect myself. I see that as I heal the world heals and as I try to save others in self sacrifice, I fall apart. This place here, a mutually supportive community is a great example of how we can help ourselves.

The other part of what I was saying was that having grown up in traumatic abusive situations I look back & realize the patterns I carried into my family. I can get hard on myself for the ways I was abusive to my own kids, at 17 I had not seen how healthy families operate and was very unconscious . Over time I realized that I did the best I could with what I knew. So I need my kids to be able to forgive me! For me a big key is to stay sincerely committed to my own growth. I still fall into similar ways of treating my family and struggle with a cycle of violence but this is why I shared with you, I am attempting to watch this cycle and change myself.

I am thankful to have found this group and hope that my sharing is helpful and welcome.


Sorry–I was a professional proofreader: “infliction” should be “inflection” although of course in cases like this, inflection certainly *was* inflicted on us. Oh, how many times did I have to hear the sarcasm? “Oh, the grand lady wants her dinner!” “Oh, the poor little thing wants to read?!” Who did she think she was? I wasn’t out to “get” her, why did she have to talk to me as though I was evil incarnate? I’ve often wondered why she didn’t abort me. Would she have if it were legal? Or was she happy to have someone else as narcissistic supply?

How can you see the fright and sadness in your own child’s eyes and not be moved to change your behavior?


Hi again. Excuse me. I’m not very coherent some days. The complete Bible verse is, “Honor your mother and your father, that your life may be long in the land I am giving you.” I’m thinking that people who have told me that I must “forgive and forget” have parents that are easy to honor. Me–I hope God understands this, I think He must, or He wouldn’t be God, would He?–but if I didn’t get angry at my mother, and yell and scream and call names (not in her hearing, of course)and come to terms with my rage at decades of name-calling, hair-dragging, sniping, rumors, put-downs, everything a narcissist can dish out without losing her good reputation with her friends and neighbors, I don’t think I would *want* to live. After years of being suicidal, and comforting myself in times of stress with a mental image of me hanging by the neck, it’s so much better now. *Now* after dishonoring her, by most people’s definition, I want to live.


Hi Faith,
You make some good points. The goal of course is always for healing and self love but not everyone is ready for that.. This blog is about the process of getting to that healing and self love. Sometimes it is just about getting ready first. I could not just decide to move on. I had to go through the process. And that is what I write about. I tried for 20 or 30 years not to have negative feelings, but all I accomplished was supressing my feelings, just as I had been taught to do all along. Being responsible for my experience of how I live today is different then being responsible for my experience in the past; anger and blame was a necessary stepping stone for me. Today I have none, although I write about it all the time. I am free of anger and blame, and even forgiveness was a result of that healing. I was not able to forgive until I went through the process of healing.

You want your children to see you as someone who did the best that you could do ~so it makes sense that you try to see your own family of origin that way. Although I realize that I have also done the best that I could do, my children will see it however they wish from what ever level of recovery they have had. You also say that you need your children to forgive you, but that is up to them. Forgiveness for me came as a result of the healing process that I have come through. It usually works for others that way too. Your children have their own process to come through; with my own three children, I have had to model the new way; I have been accountable for any harm caused to them, (by teachers, and relatives too) and the abuse cycle stopped with me and with my husband, but I do not expect them to just get over the emotional abuse of the past caused by us or by other family members without a process of healing. I have had to give them time, and keep modeling equal value and respecting them. They do not have to have relationships with relatives that treat them as though they are nothing. My children have a right to be angry too. They have a journey of their own. They have choices too. And only because I am so diligent in living what I teach, my children ( all between the ages of 13 and 20) are all flourishing today. And we have exceptional relationships. BUT it took time for the trust to grow. It took years. Does that make sense?

Your comments are always welcome here!
Thanks for sharing your heart.
Hugs, Darlene


Blaming my family has been fundamental for me to be able to begin my healing journey.

While I continued to believe the lies of my abusers that I brought the abuse on myself, I was to blame because I was so awful, I was to blame just because they said I was I was shut down and slowly dying inside. Blaming myself I was suicidal and thought I was a terrible person.

It was only when I was able to see the truth and the truth is that it my abusers, my family, who were the only ones responsible not me. They chose to abuse. They could have chosen not to abuse. They were the terrible people not me. But it has taken many years for me to reach the point of being able to see that.

I hate the way people speak disparagingly about the victim mentality as if it is a choice to be a victim and as if being a victim is a bad thing.

As an abuse survivor I was a defenseless victim of terrible crimes who has survived the only way I knew how until I was finally able to see the truth for what it is. In some ways I will always be a victim as well as a survivor. But I am interested only in healing and getting my life back and my first step to doing that was putting the blame squarely where it belongs on the shoulders of my family, my abusers. Until I did that I was unable to heal.


Hi Lynn,
Never worry about multiple posts! I love the discussions that get going on here! SO much healing in all of our sharing.

I had to laugh when I realized my error.. (voice infliction) and then the joke you made! YES that is so true. I am going to leave it the way it is, so that others can smile too!

About God… I studied Greek and Hebrew word origins for 8 years. The bible is used against people (for the same purpose of control that we talk about with all abuse) more often than not and I don’t believe that it was ever intended to be used the way that it is used. So many bible verses do not mean what we have been taught they mean. In my mind’s eye, God is weeping over the damage that adults cause children.

Thanks for contributing and for being here! Hugs, Darlene

Hi Fi,
I am glad that you chimed in on this one… it is such a difficult topic for so many. If I put “parent and dysfunction or abuse” in the same blog post title, I get WAY less likes on the facebook like button. There is a reason for that. 🙂

I appreciate everything you have shared in your comment, (I could highlight and repost the whole thing!) and all of that was and is true for me as well.
Thanks for being here.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I appreciate your comment, your wisdom is truly inspiring!
Again I am looking at my own journey, with diligence in the healing process. Time is something I have a hard time accepting. I want to be okay now, thank you for the reminder. Learning how to be response-able has been a long journey for me.
I have to say again – a place like this is an amazing resource, it has only been through feeling connected with others who have similar experience that I am able to realize that my story is a gift if I can take responsibility for my life from this moment on. I am a survivor!
Fi, you saying you will always be a victim is a trigger for me because I do not want to always be a victim, survivor feels better! I understand that triggers are my teachers. I feel so strongly that as adults, we gain new tools & have the power to change. I see myself repeatedly going back into this cycle (victim, rescuer, perpetrator) realizing that I choose (unconsciously) to do so. Feeling, when in the face of ridicule (however subtle it may be) as if I am that child again. I am learning this is only brain patterns that I can change. Criticism is a trigger for me, not blaming, but looking at my response and learning how to hold my personal boundaries is helping me take control of my life. Thank you for reminding me that I have a way to go to be completely healed it is such a process!


Blaming is one of the tools that helped me to learn to begin to feel my anger. It is a useful tool unless you get stuck there in the pain and the blame and use it as an excuse not to do the work of healing. I remember when I got into an Adult Child 12-Step program that I often heard from others, “Well those adult children just want to stay in the blame and blame their parents for everything that ever went wrong in their lives.” Some adult children do get stuck in the blaming. I used the blaming stage to build a foundation to stand on to see the lies that my parents taught me. I also had to let myself feel all of the anger and hurt that came out of the blaming before I could move forward. It is okay to blame, just don’t get stuck there and stop your healing. Use the blame to see what areas you need to work on to heal. What did your parents teach you about yourself that are outright lies? What did they teach you that were exaggerations? What did they do to you to break your spirit and body to keep you under their control? Asking those questions and more helps you to move beyond blaming to healing.

Lynda, I was called Patricia when I was a child of incest. When I left home and still thought I could leave all of that behind me, I started calling myself Pat. Friends at school had been calling me that for years and I answered to both names. When I left home, I never introduced myself as Patricia. To me Patricia was the abused, bad little girl and I hated her. I used Pat which is why Renee calls me Pat instead of Patricia. About 10 or so years ago, I reclaimed my inner child and started using the name Patricia again. Reclaiming those inner children made me feel whole again. I still have a group of friends that call me Pat and that is okay. I will answer to either name now. For years if my husband called me Patricia, I wouldn’t answer him. I only answered to Patricia with my birth family. I honor both names today by answering to either. They are both who I am today, a survivor and thriver on a spiritual journey through life.


I already said that I hate the way people use and misuse the word victim as if it were a terrible negative thing.

The context of my statement is that I am a victim of crime and also in the context that the memories and devastating effects of those crimes upon my life will always be with me till the day I die. That is a fact of life for me. I had no choice – I was a victim by circumstance and by the choice of my abusers. I don’t see the term victim as being a negative thing but a fact of life. However, the word victim does tend to trigger reminders of powerlessness and helplessness so I’m careful as to it’s context.

What matters to me most now is that I’m a survivor who’s starting to heal, a survivor who’s only at the beginning of slowly getting her life back. I realise I have a long road ahead of me, I’ve already come a long way. Just the fact that I’m having this conversation is a sign of how far I’ve come.

One reason survivor feels better is because of the way so many people misuse the word victim and make people out to be bad because they are struggling to cope with what has happened to them. And because many people fling around terms like “victim mentality” and “don’t be a victim”, “stop being a victim” without realising the negative power of their words. Being a victim is not always a choice and is often something which happens at a deep un/subconscious level of a person.

I don’t understand the cycle you’re talking about as it is not part of my experience because all my life has been up to this point all about surviving, nothing else.

Now I’m beginning to live… and my first step was placing the blame where it belongs and the victim of abuse is never to blame always the perpetrator. Until I saw that truth I could never begin to heal. Part of healing is recognising the lies we’ve unconsciously believed and lived by and replacing them with the truth.


I am glad that you took my comment in the spirit of love and healing with which I have tried to post them! I was worried that you might think me “correcting you” Please also realize that when I comment to individuals, I am keeping the whole readership in mind. I have a lot of comments on this blog, but there are hundreds of readers per day who do not comment. I appreciate you being willing to have this dialogue with me! I am really glad that you are here Faith.

I can see how the statement “I will always be a victim” would trigger. Because of our individual definitions of the word victim. My definition of that word has changed. I had a huge aversion to the word or to even being called a victim before. I didn’t even know that I was one for many years so I have come a long way. I realized that I thought a victim was hopeless. Lost. a whiner. powerless to change. That is NOT my definition or understand of that same word today.

This is how I took Fi’s statement, although this may not be the way that Fi intended it to be read for herself.

~~ I will always be a victim of the abuse in my past. I cannot change that I was victimized. I am a survivor of abuse. And I moved from surviving to thriving. I have tremendous courage today, and I am no longer a victim in my present life. Perhaps Faith, it is your definition of the word victim that is part of the trigger for you? Most of my healing has come from understanding my belief system and I have examined many words and the meaning they have for me, as a big part of my healing process.

Hugs, Darlene


Yes Darlene, that is a very good way of putting it… much more succinct than my kak-handed way of putting it…

As I said it’s the context in which I use the word that matters rather than me using the word.


hi darlene, wow what a chat, i first found this blog and your site just as i was feeling guilty for giving up on my mother and finally accepting she would not change the way she treated me and as i couldnt accept that, it was best for us to stay apart. oh how i used to excuse her behaviour because her childhood was so bad, but she made the choices that affected my entire life and then blames me for it. i hate how the world we live has more resources and time for abusers than the victims. and as we all start out as that, getting to survivor mentality has so many more barriers. how can survivors explian away the days that they feel like victims again because the pressure is too much, how do we explain that there is a base nature that we were conditioned with by our grandparents via our parents, that we are trying to escape yet to escape we have to re learn how to socialised and have relationships all over again. society tends to ignorant of the healing process and all the twists and turns a person can take just to appear “normal” to others. why is the burden always put onto the victim. we have to change or we would self destruct, yet anytime we try to break away from the past guilt and shame the behaviours of our family and ourselves keeps us prisoner til we can finally find the strentgh to take back the control they never let you have over your own decisions
i have been doing some reading for my studies andtheir is some amazing articles about how parenting, especially the mother is crucial to how a child’s personality will form, as the mother carry’s the baby the child’s brain is set with the mothers chemical levels, and then if the child isnt stimulated enough by people in its environemnt, it will have a poorly structured brain that will lead to alsorts of behavioural problems which just escalates as the child grows if not tended. the debate about nature versus nurture has been buy now the docs can see how a babies brain is built and the effects the enviornment has on it. sorry to digress but for those still looking for a clincal answer i hope that helps


I love how you put that!

Patricia wrote: I used the blaming stage to build a foundation to stand on to see the lies that my parents taught me. I also had to let myself feel all of the anger and hurt that came out of the blaming before I could move forward. It is okay to blame, just don’t get stuck there and stop your healing. Use the blame to see what areas you need to work on to heal. What did your parents teach you about yourself that are outright lies? What did they teach you that were exaggerations? What did they do to you to break your spirit and body to keep you under their control? Asking those questions and more helps you to move beyond blaming to healing.

Excellent, thank you!
Hugs, Darlene

We were posting our comments at the same time! I like the way that you put it too!
Thanks, Darlene

Hi Carol!
Thanks for sharing the clinical answers too! There is all kinds of “proof” out there, but the world at large likes to have power and control more then it likes to have proof or equality. So we keep going forward and WE (all of us together) can change the world… how does that sound?? 😉
Thanks for being here!
Hugs, Darlene


yep, keep chipping at the bigger barriers so the ones bhinds us on this road should not have such a rocky road to travel. all this academic learning has really opened my eyes to so much that helps explain the behaviours i have without knowing why, havent givren up on the emotional side but til i can gain more access to the cuases im stumped so i carrying on the other side and havent stopped passing on how bad families can be even when they look good from the outside. and yep the powers that be dont like it but i dont let it stop me hahahaha


Hello all and what a valuable discussion this is! And I agree, Darlene, it was only when I started putting responsibility back on those who had hurt me that I was able to begin to truly heal. It is and was vital for me to stop carrying the false belief that I had somehow deserved all of the abuse. This was where I was able to begin to get past that sense of hopelessness and powerlessness that drove my ineffective coping skills where I was “acting out” or “acting in”. This is a huge issue for any survivor; being able to shift responsibility for being “messed up” back to the perpetrator.

My anger and resentments carried a lot of power though and I continued to struggle with resentments that left me feeling bound to the past. There was a point that I had to get past the anger and resentments that were still poisoning my today’s and begin to see that those who are still in their role of perpetrators have their own issues but my judging and labeling them was very similar to what they had done to me; they needed to make me “less than” in order to be ok. The anger became fuel for me to start to connect with my deeper feelings of the losses I’d suffered because of the abuse experiences and do that deep emotional grieving that led to my freedom from the pain of the past. In other words – there came a point in my journey, and I’ve heard you talk about it some Darlene, but please correct me if I’m wrong, how you realized that your mother had her own issues but you couldn’t let that stop you from putting the responsibility for the abuse where it belonged. With her.

Learning how to put this responsibility back on those who had perpetrated these acts on me was the beginning of my healing journey. And once I’d done that it was important for me to learn to see how having compassion for their struggles was separate from this. The thing for me was to learn to see people in shades of gray and believe that my parents had done the best they could with what their parents had given them, just like I did with my own children. But – that did not mean I was letting them off the hook because while life and people are not all “black and white” or “right or wrong” – the abusive behaviors were completely black and white and very very wrong. For me it was important to begin to see and separate people from their actions because if I couldn’t – how could I separate myself from my own behaviors and how I’d passed this to my own children? I had to find compassion for myself and others but I also learned to set boundaries. This is not a “get out of jail free” card for perpetrators but it was for me as I learned to have compassion for others journeys I had more compassion for myself and I could begin let go of the burden of the resentments I was carrying.

A quick note to Faith; thank you so much for sharing your journey and the paths you traveled in it. I think I understand what you are saying about compassion and triangulation but I don’t agree that it is up to me, or any survivor, to call out our perpetrators and show them the way or the truth. And while I totally respect your right to choose how to travel your path – this in my mind is returning to that place where I feel responsible for what others do, think or feel. We each have our own journey and healing path to follow and focusing on making sure others do their work is just another way for me to not have to do mine. I cannot rescue my perpetrators from themselves; it is their adult responsibility to find their own healing vs my responsibility to show them what to do. This to me is the essence of the triangulation and parenting or caretaking our perpetrators. We all have to do our own work; I can’t be responsible for bringing my perpetrators with me. They have to want healing for themselves and in modeling healthy boundaries and refusing my old role in my family is the best way I can show them that this kind of hard work is so worth it as they see my living my new life. And I did lose some relationships that would not accept my new boundaries but only after many more “power struggles” where they resisted and finally reject my new boundaries. But those who valued me and having me in their life well, we have gone through some stormy times as I established new boundaries and learned how to step out of my old role. And today we are finding an emotional connection based on respect instead of power and control. I no longer stay in relationships to teach them how to change; I fully expect the adults in my life to be responsible for their own healing and I mine.


Thank you all so much, I feel another layer has opened up for me to heal. Uncovering the pain from all the disappointment… I love how you all express such insight and am thankful that this place exists.

Carol, it is so funny the reflections I feel from your statement. I see my relationship with my mother as well as how my daughter feels about me. I need to earn her trust! I may have been no where near as abusive as my mother was but the residue certainly had a major impact. Apologies only go so far, I need to really own my projecting.

I know we can ALL reprogram our brains and somehow, miraculously, for the first time in my life I understand what it feels like to truly feel supported and loved, loved not for what I do for others but just for being who I am. Now, I feel that I have a responsibility to share that love with other people who do not yet know how lovable they are!


good summary; it is called hell, I relate


In response to part of Susan’s comment, I entered my first marriage (abusive) and stayed for much too long because I thought I was somehow responsible for his happiness. I started going to counseling to learn how I could be what he needed and wanted. I distinctly remember the crystal clear moment when I realized I was not. I literally resigned as General Contractor of his emotional health program! This was the beginning of the scales falling from my eyes. When I stopped feeling responsible for everyone else’s happiness and emotional wellbeing. He is an adult. Let him get his own help! And you know, I finally told him so. As a last ditch effort, I gave him the name and number of a therapist who I spoke with and who specialized in working with peoploe who treated their spouses and families the way we were treated, and I told him it was his choice if he got help or not. How liberating to not feel so laden with other people’s burdens! I quit. And I never looked back.

Good discussion, everyone!



Hi Kellie! I remember a very similar situation in my past as you describe…my husband was abusing me and the church had convinced me that it was my fault; that if I was more submissive he wouldn’t have to be abusive. Needless to say I was very confused! I love your story and the way you laid claim on your power, your well being and let go of feeling responsible for his! Thanks so much for sharing part of your story!


I’ve stopped feeling responsible for people too. A few yrs ago I had several “friends” that I thought I could help – One was a roomate in the midst of a divorce to drug addict. One was on medication and finally had a meltdown because someone told her to get on dating sites and she couldn’t handle it. (got taken for money) Another was rebuilding her life and having major problems with dysfunctional family members. I didn’t realize how I really needed to help myself!

But, it also makes me sad that I have other friends that have been in abusive situations and been in therapy and yet they don’t really understand my situation. (this happens) The people on this page seem to all get it, but there are people out there that don’t see past their own problems and how others have similar problems. You really have to pick carefully who you share with.


Learning how to take the negative comments, not be offended, not be controlled, and only care about what God thinks, or wants in my life…To Him I have Given Complete Control, and I pray, and wait for His leading while doing what I can and letting Him do the rest.
Tired of abusers in any capacity. Just want to scream GOD HELP US ALL


I am familiar with some of these phrases. We were told by dad on a regular basis that we were going to go to hell if we didn’t do exactly what he wanted without hesitation…. including the bad stuff. The honor thy father and mother one was used regularly also.


[…] I talk about the fog, I am talking about the state of confusion that has been created by the adults in my life which […]


Hi Susan,
Love your comments ~ yes you have understood me exactly

Susan wrote: ~ “The anger became fuel for me to start to connect with my deeper feelings of the losses I’d suffered because of the abuse experiences and do that deep emotional grieving that led to my freedom from the pain of the past. In other words – there came a point in my journey, and I’ve heard you talk about it some Darlene, but please correct me if I’m wrong, how you realized that your mother had her own issues but you couldn’t let that stop you from putting the responsibility for the abuse where it belonged. With her. “

~ Susan and I are going to do a little series on this topic of blame when I get back from my vacation in April. (I am going on vacation from Mar.31 to Apr.08 ~ yay) So stay tuned for that! There is a lot of interest in it, and a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about it too.
Thanks Susan!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Kellie
This is exactly what I did with my husband too. He leaned on me for everything emotional, and blamed me when he was in a bad mood. I finally took my life back and asked him to be responsible for his too. Our marriage and our family is 100% healthier today!
Thanks for sharing your victory!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Bonnie
I agree that we have to be careful who we choose to share with. I think the reason we all “get it” here is because we are all seeking a better way to live then the dysfunction of living in abusive situations of any type.
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Susa
Yes… the fear of Hell. You already lived in Hell and were asked to comprehend and fear something worse…
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hello Survivor Sharing Strength
Welcome to emerging from broken, glad that you are here,
Hugs, Darlene


Bonnie, you wrote: “You really have to pick carefully who you share with.”

So true. I have been learning that, the HARD way.

Some people, abusive people, will use what you share as a weapon against you, having learned by your sharing where you are most vulnerable, what buttons they can push, which triggers they can pull, that will hurt you the most.

Some well-intentioned but ignorant people ~ ignorant because they have never been abused, or perhaps they have been abused but they are still stuck in the “don’t talk about the elephant in the room” mindset, still stuffing the sick secrets, burying the pain, still carrying all the hidden guilt and shame, still trying to force themselves, and everyone else, to forgive and forget everything the abusers have done, because surely they must be hurting very badly deep down inside to be so abusive, and besides, nobody’s perfect, and they have sinned and want to be forgiven, too…. ~ people in that mindset can really put a Big Guilt Trip on you for simply speaking out, honestly and boldly, and telling the true story about your life.

Last night I read an email from a loving and, I believe, a well-meaning stepdaughter, who was chastizing me for being so open lately on the internet “in front of the whole world!” about my history of abuse. When I read her email, it triggered all of those old feelings of SHAME.

As I said, I believe my stepdaughter means well. I know she just truly doesn’t understand, because she hasn’t walked in my shoes. BUT… it still HURT me to read her email, just the same. Suddenly that little girl deep down inside me, the little girl who could never do anything right enough to please her mother, the little girl whose mother so often said “I love you, of course, because you are my daugter, I just don’t LIKE you…. it’s just YOU, it’s just the way you ARE, it’s the way you THINK..” that little unlikeable girl who was born inherently ALL WRONG somehow, that little girl who doesn’t even know how to THINK correctly, wanted to curl up into a little ball and hide from the world forever.

There is another class of people, besides potential abusers, and the well-intentioned-but-ignorant, with whom it is harmful to us to share our trauma stories with, and that is the indifferent, and the doubters, those people who think you must be making it all up, or, if it is true, they don’t really care to hear it, because it’s not a fun, happy story, and it’s not about THEM or one of their close loved ones. These are the people who ignore you. You find a friend you think you can trust, you open up your heart, you share your secret soul, and what do you get in return? Youu get a very loud, long SILENCE. You just cease to exist in their world. Not a nice feeling when it happens, is it?

I am so thankful for this wonderful blog community of healing victims, survivors, thrivers, seekers of health and happiness and a kinder, gentler way of living. After reading my stepdaughter’s email last night, and again this morning, rather than sinking into deep dark despair, that old, all-too-familiar feeling of Hating Lynda, I turned here, and read all the new comments, and felt connected to the human race again.

I am not alone. I am not crazy. I was not born inherently wrong and broken. I do know how to think, and I have the right to be myself, I have the right to tell my true story about my own life. Anyone who doesn’t want to read it, doesn’t have to.

HUGS to everyone here,
Lynda ~ Coming Out of the CrAzY Closet (like it or not!)


Lynda, I read your comment about your step-daughter and went to my blog and wrote how I felt about what she said to you. I didn’t mention you or her in the article but you two were who I was thinking of when I wrote it. Here is the link: . The title of the blog post is “Dear Whoever You Are That Wants Me To Shut Up About Child Abuse – It Ain’t Happening. So Deal With It.” Read it when you feel better. I was nice about it but firm in that I will not stop writing and speaking about child abuse and incest because that is how we will stop abuse. Your step-daughter inspired this but it is very much about me and how I feel on the topic.


Patricia, I just read your blog post. Thank you so much. I have been hurting terribly today. Your words are so healing. I would be crying right now if I didn’t feel so numb.


Lynda, you are very welcome. I am glad that my words helped.


Hi. Here is another angle regarding words that are meant to control. I wrote this as a teen, “My mother never had a good word for my father. The bad words made me feel ashamed. I was a part of him; when he did something wrong, I felt as though I’d done something wrong.” It is amazing to me how I learned to let my mother control my emotions and my feelings for others. Although I wrote this as a teen, and regurgitated it in my memoir in my forties, it was not until this very blog and all the comments that I realized how pervasive and insidious the control was. So, when my mother would say to me, “What is wrong with you?” my frame of reference was all that was wrong with my father. If something was wrong with me, just like it was with my father, then there is no hope of getting it right.


Hi Lynn
~ This is an excellent point. Really wonderful food for thought too. When you wrote this I remembered a voice infliction that so many people use, including my mother. The voice infliction that seemed to indicate that the complaint about someone else had something to do with me. Yesterday, I was uploading a post in the back end of my blog… about a half hour into it I noticed that the internet was down and my changes were not saved. I asked my daughter if she was downloading a torrent. (which often causes our internet to crash) and she said she wasn’t. I was really upset and out loud expressed my extreme frustration with having my blog work not saved, and my daughter said “Mom.. I am NOT downloading anything” and I said that I wasn’t implying that she was, but my voice inflicting sounded so blaming that she thought I was blaming her. I had to think about my actions and then I explained to her that although my frustration seemed to be linked to having asked her if she was downloading a torrent, that I was not blaming her for my blog post issues. (Her reaction was a “leftover” from the past because of the way that our family dynamic used to be and it is very important that I take care of this stuff right away with my kids, making sure that communication with them is clear and not blaming them for misunderstanding etc. )
Thanks for sharing Lynn!
You bring up a very very important point that I have not highlighted on this blog.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, It is so healing for you and your family that you recognize the voice inflection. My husband has helped me in this area. A long time ago, when I was into finding fault and naming someone anyone to blame he asked me WHY I thought someone was a fault in a no-fault situation such as you described with your daughter. Well, of course, that’s the way I grew up. If it rained on a picnic, it was someone’s fault. I wanted to comment on Lynda and her step-daughter. The response from the step-daughter would be a totally different communication if she had said something like, “I am glad to see you have found forums that nourish you, and help you to heal as you see fit.” Since your step-daughter can’t see that, please allow me to say that to you.
I’m glad I have the opportunity to share here more often than before. Thank you!


Lynn…… something deep inside my heart just un-froze when I read your comment to me. Thank You So Much!!!!!


Lynn, after my dad was put in a psych ward for a while when I was 12, and diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder, my mother’s favorite put-down of me was to tell me, “You are crazy, just like your father. He’s crazy, and insanity is inherited, and you have inherited it from him.”

In reality, my mother was much crazier, and far more abusive, than my dad, but she never went for help, so she was never diagnosed. But when my mother started telling me, at the age of 12, that I had inherited my dad’s insanity, I took it to heart. And then, at 14, my mother committed me to an insane asylum. I was diagnosed with the catch-all diagnosis of the day, back in 1967, with schizophrenia. My mother gave me a book at that time, a true story about a teenage girl with schizophrenia, entitled “I Never Promised You A Rose Garden.”

“I want you to read this book,” my mother said as she thrust it into my hands. “It’s about a teenage girl with schizophrenia. This book says that schizphrenia has no known cause and no known cure. So you see, it’s not MY fault that you have this.”

“No Known Cause” was the only part she cared about, because that left HER off the hook. “No Known Cure” was all I cared about, because that meant I was hopeless, and would be locked away in that horrible insane asylum forever. My life was over at age 14, that was what my mother was telling me. But all she cared about was, “…it’s not MY fault…”

Whew. Sometimes these memories of the sheer total self-absorption and cold uncaring cruelty of my mother just blows my mind. BUT SHE WAS MY NORMAL! I WAS THE CRAZY ONE; SHE MADE ME BELIEVE THAT! SHE DROVE MY DAD RIGHT OVER THE EDGE TOO, I WATCHED IT HAPPEN.

Whew. Your mother and my mother, Lynn~ how they can be the way they were/are, and live with themselves, I really can’t understand.



Hi Everyone!
I just published a new blog post by Carla Logan who has been involved in these discussions regarding some of her views on this whole thing! You can read it here:

No More Crumbs by Carla Logan

Hugs Darlene


Lynda, that is music to my ears, that something “unfroze.” We have to re-parent ourselves and each other. You would not believe how similar our stories are. My father was hospitalized and diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. I was also put in a psych ward late sixties. What in the world is a teenager doing in a psych ward? Yes, it is to reduce the blame and shame on the PARENTS. You did not belong there at your tender age!
Oh, my catch-all was “Adolescent Adjustment Disorder.” Doesn’t every adolescent have adjustment difficulties?
I often heard the phrase, “You will end up just like your father.” He committed suicide.



When I read this post I see how much more abused I truly was. It really wasn’t the actual sexual abuse that was so horrific and damaging as was the emotional abuse. Knowing that I was only 4 or 5 and had no one to protect me from my abuser but the reality that I was also emotionally abused and neglected at home was just too much to handle. So, I escaped in my mind and created a little world of my own. I am currently having a lot of problems with this. I honestly don’t even want to see or be around my mother. I actually get anxiety when I am in her presence. She is a true controller and I had to live with that long enough. At times I feel so overwhelmed and lost, like I am unable to see through the fog. I guess I will just keep pushing forward and perhaps eventually I will be able to see clearly.


Hi Jenny
I understand Jenny. I created a little world of my own too. With my mother, I finally decided that my mother had to respect my boundaries because I could not live under that oppression anymore. It is amazing how much fog lifted when I stuck to that decision. When I drew that boundary, it was actually my mother who decided not to see or talk to me anymore and the freedom that I eventually felt is really amazing. I would be willing to have an equality and love based relationship with her, but I won’t settle for less that that.
Keep pushing forward and eventually you WILL be able to see clearly.
Hugs, Darlene


Jenny and Darlene,
I escaped in my mind and created a little world of my own, too, when I was a kid. Even today, after all these years, I still sometimes catch myself dong that at times, to escape uncomfortable situations. When I had to clean up the yucky sewage problem under our house last month, the huge mess caused by a break in our sewer line, I definitely was going someplace else in my head while I was working in that gross environment. Even tho I had a homemade hazmat suit on, made out of a rubber rainsuit and thick rubber gloves, boots, and a respirator, it was still not a pleasant job, so I daydreamed a lot about being on a sunny beach somewhere. I also escape from life when I create home designs and room decor designs on my laptop’s printmaster program, I virtually create and redecorate our house the way I wish it were, and would be, if we could afford to do it, or have it done.

I escape in reading novels a lot, too. I think a certain amount of this type of escape is healthy and relaxing, but, like anything else, when it gets out of balance, when ALL I do is escape, and let my responsibilities go, that’s not a good thing.

As for my mother and I… she is now 76, I am almost 58, and, after a lifetime of trying, mostly from afar, to maintain a congenial relationship with her, I finally gave up completely 5 years ago. She is who she is, and I can’t have her in my life and maintain my peace, sanity, or self-respect. It was my decision, and I am glad I made it.

Although I haven’t lived in my mother’s home since I was 14, with the exception of a brief couple of months when I was 16, and I haven’t even lived within the same state as her since I was 20, every time over the years that I’ve reached out to her via letters, phone calls, and visits, she always, sooner or later, hurt me with verbal putdowns, long handwritten hate letters, and most hurtful of all, mean lies about me behind my back to the rest of my family.

I miss having a mother. But I don’t miss MY mother.



Lynda what you said struck such a chord with me – I escape in my mind too, escape into a fantasy world, and I too miss having a mother and having a father, it leaves a gap that nothing and no-one can fill. But I don’t miss my mother and my father.


Dear Princess Fi,
I clicked on your name this morning and went to your blog. I hadn’t noticed before today that your name is a link. I read your beautiful moving Adios post, and tried to leave a comment, but my computer got a message that I need to enable cookies first, for some unknown reason, usually I have no problem leaving a message on blogspot, since I am on there too. I will try again later.

I saved your blog to my favorites and I can’t wait to read more. I have to get ready for an appointment now, am already running late…… per usual!

Your blog and your profile, intrigued me and resonated with me very deeply. I’m so glad you are here, speaking the truth about your life, as I have recently started doing. What an amazing healing opportunity this is for us, to connect with fellow survivors!



Hi Lynda, yes it is truly wonderfully healing connecting with other survivors, helps end that feeling of isolation. I hope you get to leave your comment ok later, I look forward to reading it!! Have a good one!!


[…] posts ~ Emotionally abusive statements designed to control (with 103 comments […]


Darlene & Lynda,

Thank you so much for your insight and support. I always feel so comfortable when I come here, knowing I will not be alone. I feel like I am at the point where I or my mother will soon make a decision to either work on our relationship or let it go. I am going to be diligently working on boundaries because that is so extremely important I am finding out in this layer of the journey.
Big hugs!


That’s so wonderful, Jenny.

For most of my life I kept telling myself: “A bad relationship is better than no relationship at all.” Some of us are slower learners than others, it took me 50 years to figure out how WRONG that thinking is!

When I finally came to the point where I couldn’t take the PAIN of bad relationships anymore, and decided that I would rather live all by myself for the rest of my life in a cardboard box under a bridge, if I had to, than to be in any kind or a relationship with anyone who did not treat me with equality, kindness, and the thing we call common courtesy, which is all-too-UNcommon, unfortunately…. when I finally made that hard decision to severe all ties with anyone who persisted in putting me down and treating me in a hurtful, degrading, hateful way….. WOW the FREEDOM and PEACE that I found in my life then, without all the painful STRIFE! AND, then I had the space to get to know ME, and I found out who Lynda is, without all those disparaging voices in my head from hateful judgmental narcissistic people who had LABELED me all my life as someone less-than, someone defective, someone NOT OK.

I discovered that I actually LIKE myself, when it’s just me, being me, not me, reacting to hurtful people pushing my buttons. And THEN, with my newfound self-confidence and strength in standing on my own two feet, I attracted healthy people into my life, people who weren’t looking for someone who was broken and thus easy to use and abuse…

Jenny, it’s true that it isn’t easy. There is grieving to be done for the little bit of good that we may have gotten from a bad relationship, and also, especially, grieving in the letting go of the HOPE that a bad relationship will somehow be transformed into a good one.

But there is peace and a whole new better life on the other side of that grieving. I’m glad you aren’t waiting until you are half a century old to start living a better life!



Have you come across a situation that for example, I sit here hurting from my siblings treating me badly, bullying and controlling me, and at the same time wondering if I am also a bully to my daughter and husband? I sure hope to God there is HOPE for my situation. I want to be whole, pobably never have been, and wish the same for my loved ones. It seems like a generational cycle I am going to try and break.


I should have introduced myself…Hi I’m Cheryl, a fellow surviver of sexual abuse at age 3, parental emotional neglect, alcoholic father, physical and emotional abuse by my ex husband, emotional neglect and spousal infidelity from my second husband. It has taken me a long time to get here. My emotional growth was stunted and my siblings would like me to stay being a little girl, someone they can have power over especially when their lives feel out of control. But I am determined to stop the cycle of family dysfunction. I have really enjoyed reading all your comments and looking forward to more. Thanks, Cheryl


Hi Cheryl, I’m glad you are here.

To answer your question: “Have you come across a situation that for example, I sit here hurting from my siblings treating me badly, bullying and controlling me, and at the same time wondering if I am also a bully to my daughter and husband?”

My answer to that is a very big YES. I’ve been so badly hurt by my siblings, the most recent time that I was hurt by them was this past October… yet at the same time I wonder if I am treating my now-grown daughter in a hurtful way… I also look back on when my 3 children were young, and I have very painful memories of when I treated them in hurtful ways. I would give anything to go back in time and undo all the times that I failed to be the nurturing loving mother my children needed and deserved.

I think that abuse can be a generational thing, in the sense that it is the “language” we learned growing up. We learn the language that is spoken in our home, which in my case was English, and that language is the way we communicate. Similarly, we learn the “language” of abuse, in abusive homes. Most of us, I think, do not grow up to abuse our chilren, or others, in the severe ways that we were abused, because we remember how badly that abuse hurt us, and, if we are loving parents, we try very hard not to hurt our children in that same way. But there are more subtle forms of abuse, things that we may not realize ARE abuse, because they seem so minor compared to what we went through in our own childhood.

Anyway, that’s how it was for me. My idea of what “normal” is, and what “love” is, and what “discipline” is, was all screwed up, due to my very absusive, very crazy childhood.

As we heal, we learn these things, we learn what normal is, and what healthy genuine love is, and we learn the difference between loving discipline and abusive discipline. As we learn, we can do better with our relationships than we did before. The important thing, I think, is to not hide from the truth, no matter how painful it may be. We can’t get better if we won’t even admit to ourselves that we need to get better.

I like what the renowned poet and author Maya Angleou said: “You did what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.”

I’m sure Darlene will have an even better anwer for you, Cheryl, when she comes back from her vacation after April 8.

Again, I’m glad you’re here, we need each other!




My dad actually taught my siblings and I that we were a part of him. We were not allowed to have our own personhood. When we pleased him, he would tell us we were just like him. When we displeased him, he would tell us that we were just like our mother. My sister was the golden child and I would hear my parents talking about how wonderful she was. How she entertained herself, was usually happy, and so little trouble. I would also hear them talking about how needy I was, how overly sensitive I was, and in general so much trouble. It was constantly inferred to me that I should be like my sister. I was never encouraged to be me. To please my father, who was in control of everything, I had to be someone else.

My mother was very psychologically abused by my father, as well. She married him at 18 when he was 28. He moved her out on the family ranch which was 50 miles from the nearest town. He took away her driver’s license and when her glasses broke, he didn’t allow her to get new ones. She would spend weeks alone on the ranch while we wer all in town at school. She has never had a girl friend. She belonged to my dad only. He called her his mommy doll. If people came over to visit, she was so nerveous that she could not serve coffee or other drinks because she would shake so much. My worst memory of how my dad treated my mom was of him saying something that hurt her so badly that she just took off running through the pasture. (They were both drunk as they often were.) He loaded we three children in to the car and took of in the car behind her trying to run her down. I think he would have killed her if he hadn’t run into an arroyo because he was so drunk. The struts that held the engine broke and the car came to a halt.

All girls naturally look to their mothers as an example of what women should be and my mother was such a weak and battered woman that all of us thought we should be like my dad. He taught us to hate our mother thinking to ensure the admiration of his children.

I have a hard time writing about this because I still become so confused inside that it is hard to write about it and have what I say be coherent. It twisted everything, my emotions, the way I saw myself, the way I saw women, and also the way I saw men. On that day, my brother and sister were wailing and I was laughing. I was angry, scared, and laughing. I remember but both my brother and sister have blocked it out.

I don’t know how to end this so I’ll just stop.


Hi Pam,
I am so sorry that this is the story of your childhood. The “ownership” issue is a really big one with a lot of us. It took me a long time to see it and I saw it first with my husbands father towards my husband before I realized that it is a HUGE problem in our soicety and very often men “own” thier wives, and parents own their children and there is no individuality permitted…
My father was a passive abuser.. he seemed like the perfect man, but my mother was way calmer and happier when he was away on business, which got me to thinking…… (just this past year or two actually) It does take some unravelling that is for sure but the main thing is that I saw how I was disregarded and decided that I had had enough of that.
Thank you so much for sharing Pam… You are sharing the deepest truths, and that is what helps you the most and all who read this.
Hugs, Darlene


Pam, thank you, SO MUCH, for telling that story. THANK YOU.

I really needed to read that. It helped me to understand something in my own life, that has been deeply hurtful to me, for so many years.

I can’t say any more about it at this time, I’m feeling too emotional to explain exactly what I mean, right now. But thank you, for your honesty, and for the depth you went into in telling that horrible story from your childhood.

I’m so sorry you went through all that HELL.



reading this article has made me realise just how many people I have let abuse me over the years: parents, sibling, bosses, therapists, friends, boyfriends. And I have blamed myself for it all. I’m the one who feels guilty.

Growing up my parents used the line “You can’t be trusted” to invalidate and control me. Whenever I made a mistake, this was more proof that i couldn’t be trusted. My parents still think I can’t be beleived because I went through a phase of lying as a child. I beleived this and i was so shocked when I read in a child development book that lying is normal behaviour for children of that age. It was a huge sense of relief, but also a deep sense of betrayal that they had twisted something normal and forgiveable into merciless character assasination.

The other one they used was “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” Ahhh, because I am my own person…. Apparently not, according to them.

Oh, and if I ever got upset it was “You’re crazy.”

My father would actually pick on me until I cried, then he would make fun of me for crying, then he would tell me to shut up and if I didn’t stop crying he would hit me. I could not win.

It makes me so hurt and angry to think about what they have done to me, but I’m glad i am waking up to this stuff.


Thank you for sharing. Yes, you have posted some typical statements and actions that are degigned to manipulate and control. The one about being picked on until you cried is a particularly horrid one. How does a person get their head around that?? I can totally relate to it! And as you say, becomeing aware of it makes all the difference.
Glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene


I found this site today. Reading this post helped me identify the phrases I’ve heard all my life and internalized. I am often afraid of “being ungrateful” or proving that I am “way too sensitive” whenever I try to speak up for myself. I have had my family threaten to cut me off “because they don’t even know me anymore” – and it’s always when I finally say what is on my mind. I’ve also experienced outrageous behaviour from them whenever I have a major accomplishment or milestone in my life. I have come to believe it is because I am the centre of attention for once (and they are used to me existing to make them feel better). Very difficult to sort through the mixed messages. I believe they love me but do not know how to love me in a healthy way. I suppose the hard part for me is deciding how much unhealthy love I can live with. As I grow, it becomes harder to accept the manipulation and my own voice becomes easier to hear. Thank you for validating this.


Welcome! ~You have defined a lot in this comment! I totally relate to where you are at and was once there myself. You will love the rest of the blog posts and the community here as you continue to grow.
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks Darlene. Now that I’ve cried, I’m going to treat myself today with a nice long shower then a walk in the sunshine with my beautiful daughter. I believe that the work I do will help build a better world for my daughter (and me too!) because there is nothing better than having a mother with her own identity. Hugs.


I could not agree with you more about this. I have 3 kids, and I know that my healing has impacted them in the best of ways. They saw me go through the tough times, first the depressions etc and then the tough times of healing but now they know it is possible to overcome! Having your own identity is a powerful example of health and wholeness!
Hugs, Darlene


[…] If Happiness is a Decision WHY Couldn’t I Make It? By Darlene Ouimet “Happiness is a decision”.  Have you ever thought about what a guilt trip that statement is? […]


Hi Everyone!

Thought you might like to read my new post on another statement that some people find very devaluing.

You can read it here ‘If happiness is a decision, why couldn’t I make it?”


I have been accused of being the abuser when I was actually the one trying to exspress myself and identify the problem. You can’t reason with these people. They operate with one goal in mind, to completely control you. I have tried to understand all the abusers in my life. They have been abused themselves. I have been been made to look irrational and emotionally imballanced. I already suffer from mental illness but I’m completely out of touch with reality, I have a lot of experience with these people. I have tried to internalize all the pain in a in a variety of ways until I can’t I can’t possibly deal anymore. I usually cut all the toxic influences off. Sometimes I don’t find out until it is too late. They have a way of fooling you, turning the blame completely around on you. They will not accept any responsibilty for the pain they cause the people in their Inapprilives. They will use their children as tools for their abusive ways to say things to you in their absense that they would have no way of knowing unless they were told by them. Children should not be used as pawns in such a way. ” I tell the truth about you. They say, but they lie constantly
to avoid showing their true selves. You open to then, and they use as ammunition against you. Another way to avoid their obiligations to other people and they blame you for it. Everytime you misbehave, they get even, You can never do right either. Out of line behavior that is immature that would make a teenage blush. You beg them to stop and it never does. Hitting on year old Women at restaurants to prove how old and undesirable you are to them. Talking about their wealthy parents all the time when they have never done any thing for them. I have stood by this person for almost 4 years. I am ashamed for how crazy I have allowed myself to get because of this covert, manipulive, mind games. I must not very bright. I’m on 3 different medications, and severally limited. I try to do everything I’m able to, and several people try to manipulate me on a regular basis with guilt trips. I’m unable to work because Of years fears some plot agains me from my ex’s mpther from a past relationship. She stalks me. Then enlists strangers on social websites, they go to my work and call me names and accuse me of drug use. They could never know of my past history unless they were informed, by this person. Her son gets a clean slate but not me. Be cause she has money It is okay he has made mistakes not me, I will always be stalked a harrased no matter I go. I have seen proof of this. I can’t be alone. I have been sober for 9 years,. No criminal record. I don’t harrass anyone, even drive, or talk to anyone. I am isolated. Every other week someone is having a crisis, it is a way of getting even. A way of sucking me in to their chaos. I am powerless over my mental illness, I’m living in hell,these people will never leave me alone. My husband is helping them. He is Mr.Perfect in front ever one else, but indifferent and everything I say and feel is invalid, means nothing, and it is not what his mother would do. She says I need be “trained” He feels like he has to raise me,and I behave like a child . He apoligizes my atrocious behavior also behind my back to his druggie friend.


Hi Anonona
Welcome to emerging from broken.
I am so sorry that you are going through all this. One of the good things is that you understand what is going on and that this is about what THEY are doing… not what YOU are doing. That is a really positive think to realize. It is all about power and control and the misuse of that. The more clear that I got the more I saw ways of standing up to them and empowering myself.
I hope you will keep reading the articles here. You are not alone.
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks for this post, it is so validating to hear that I’m not the only one whose mother was constantly attempting to discredit me with these kind of lies.

For me it was because I cracked my head as a one year old. Once it became clear that I was no dummy, she would use anything she could find. When the PTSD symptoms reared their head my family had what they needed to discredit me as ‘mental’. My pharmacist father and nurse mother made sure I got a diagnosis so that I could be drugged. When I took myself off the meds they contacted a psychiatrist friend and told him I had a personality disorder which he believed. Naturally I never actually met the man.

It is ALWAYS about control. My family knows that my intelligence would make me a force against them, and also that I never had any intention of covering for their abuse. Eventually when I started having PTSD symptoms the ‘spin’ was that I was ‘abusing’ them. Such garbage.

At times I feel like I will never heal because they were so successful in their slander campaign and completely indiscriminate in who they discredited me to. I’m afraid to ‘get out there’ for fear that anyone I meet will know someone from my past and eventually hear the lies that were spread. It doesn’t seem to matter how good an impression I make because their influence was too strong.

Are you familiar with anyone who has successfully sued their family for slander? I would never actually do this, it would just dredge up too much and I have no proof or backers. I think that I consider sueing simply because I don’t have any other framework for successfully getting past it all.

Anyways that was a bit gloomy but really I am very heartened and validated to hear that I’m not alone in dealing with this kind of garbage!


wow, i just found out what junk i had for a mother, carole henne is no mother, more like a narcissistic nut, whats wrong with you, you make me ill why cant you be like other kids b etc giant asshole. glassboro junk.


Hi John,
Welcome to emerging from broken;
It’s so sad and horrible that kids have been spoken to this way. This site is about healing from the damage that caused.
Glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene


My NarcMother’s statements:

“you are so hateful, I never taught you to hate”
(she didn’t have to – her behavior towards me said it all)

“you were a hateful baby”
(how the **** is a BABY hateful???)

“I know you live your whole life just to hurt me”
(more of her Narc ‘I am the sun and life revolves around MOI’ b.s.)


Two years ago. It feels longer than that. I said no to some people told me I was ungrateful. That I was messed up in the head. I was an abuser. That I was this list of things… that were all crazy. I was lied to repeatedly and treated like I was delusional when I said thats not true. I was labeled abusive and dangerous because I wouldn’t play the game. I know how the truth feels. When you are taught you are defective that you..all you are is a wrongness. Like a darkness is the absence of light. I heard no matter what I could never be redeemed. Today I know what I did was right for me. Now I know I was never meant to be judged, I was whole I became lost because of what they taught. I can honestly say that I am found, by me. I claim me. I am worthy.


Hi Mac Aeron
Great to hear from you!
Hugs, Darlene


Reminds me of a conversation I overheard between my father and maternal uncle when they were fixing the audio system at our house: “Carl can be unreliable at times, when I was 15 I was already doing this and that.” I think he was trying to imply that I should be the one helping him with the speakers. Sorry if I am not as into electronics as my uncle, sorry if I am passionate about other things (Actually why should I be?) Oh and congratulations for whatever it is you achieved at that particular age, it must have been really great for you to talk shit about your son (of which thankfully the guy you talked to didn’t buy).


Some days I really feel that magnitude of the rejection. A deep, deep sense permeates my very being that I am wrong, a bad person, disliked for the core of me that rails against the dysfunction aimed at me. It’s a cloud weighing me down, shrinking me, and it’s been there so long that it feels “normal”. It’s like having a thorn stuck in the skin since birth…you cope and accommodate as best you can, your body adapts…but when it’s finally pulled out one realizes what being free from pain is like.

One day ~ two years ago, my mother validated me briefly. She took my side regarding my sibling who was trying to undermine me, and said she would talk with her about it. I was so struck by those few hours afterwards: I felt lighter, and recall saying to myself “I am a GOOD person”. I felt grounded and strong.

My mother did talk with her about it, there was a brief back and forth quarrel, and I think my mother realized she’d rather be on the outs with me than my sibling. The next day my mother called and said she couldn’t believe that my sibling would do that (the undermining). (Darlene had even warned me in advance that there might be a fall coming!). My strong feeling collapsed like a balloon. If I try to look for the silver lining, I am grateful that I experienced those feelings ….that must be how healthy people in healthy families feel most of the time. WOW.


P.S. I am realizing how my mother is a BYSTANDER rather than a MOTHER. She left it to my oldest sibling to parent and babysit her children. She says she didn’t know about the sexual abuse, talks about surface topics and avoids anything too real having to do with relationships and dynamics within the family. She didn’t guide me through childhood challenges, I just stayed in my room alone…she wasn’t emotionally there, she refused to “see” unhealthy dynamics between me and my siblings when they treated me like crap and therefore made no comment about them. There was NO LEADER in the family, no one to say STOP THAT so the siblings run rampant and ran all over me. I was the truth teller, and my siblings hated that and blamed me and called me delusional.


Hi Light
Some days I still feel the magnitude of the rejection too. And I feel sorry for them. They lost me and I’m pretty awesome now that I am not oppressed. The only thing we can do is to keep striving and keep going forward.hugs Darlene


Hi Darlene,

I follow your posts on Facebook and read them with great interste. At 29 years old I have finally realised that having had depression since the age of 12 this is due to being emotionally abused by my Mother.

I recently became a Mother myself and started having flashbacks to my own childhood when I was told “I’d been looking forward to being a Mother and you’ve ruined it for me” “this family would be really happy if it wasn’t for you”. I was 4 1/2 years older than my brother and was always blamed for anytime he misbehaved being told it must have been my fault and he was copying me in some form.

It all started primarily when I found out I’d been lied to and been born prior to my parents marriage, (they’d told me their marriage date was 2 years earlier than it was to make me seem ‘legitimate”). I’d been in our loft looking for something when I came across their wedding cards and someone had written the correct date inside one of them. Upon asking about this I was told firstly it was my fault I shouldn’t have looked at the cards (what child on discovering cards in a box in the loft wouldn’t be curious) to then being told I was never told this alternative date I’d made it up, then oh we had to tell you a different date as we knew what you were like! My mother told me in my moment of asking about it that she was adopted and I should be grateful my birth patents kept me.

Thus started the pattern of her victim status, whatever I went though she’d been through something worse- completely devaluing my own self worth. When I was 7 she came to my school when we were getting vaccinated, we only lived a 5 minute drive from the school but she left late and got caught speeding which was my fault as she’d been rushing to get there for me.

I’ve only found the strength of having my own child enabling me to break away as I don’t want her to be involved in this cycle of abuse as unfortunately my Husband had already been (constantly being put down and criticised- by her). I want a better life for my baby and constantly pray that I can strive to be a better parent for her and break the cycle.


Hi Dawn,
Welcome to EFB ~ Thank you for sharing and good for you for seeking and wanting a better life for yourself and your family!
hugs, Darlene


My parents told me this past week how much I’ve disappointed them. I’m surprised by how little those words actually impacted me. I’ve known all my life that they were disappointed in me. They have always been ashamed and embarrassed by me. I guess I was surprised that they felt they could just come out and say that out loud. But at this point it really is a reflection of them. It does hurt, but I don’t feel them having said that has much to do with me. I am disappointed in them, in their lack of empathy and good parenting skills. I am not seeking their approval anymore. I have felt unloved by them all my life. I feel like something deep has shifted in me that allows me to be so unaffected by their hurtful words. Or maybe the gravity of them haven’t fully hit me yet.


Hey there,
THanks for the post.

I was never allowed to do anyghing (visually impaired born during the soviet reign). I have 5 degrees of vision which became clear 2 years I left Bulgaria, already as a foreigner in Norway. I left Bulgaria at the age of 20, and by the time I realized that I was severely visually impaired in Norway, I realized too that Bulgarians are one of the most disregarded and downgraded foreigner groups in Norway. Yet, I decided to stay in Norway, because of the welfare. I did my best to pass my exams, and find a proper job. Now I work along with healthy ones, who have no idea I have problems.

The thing is – panic attacks. I have left my parent 13 ago, and whenever I decide to do sometihng out of waltz, like having fun or travel, I would be getting a panic attack. Now I decided to have a vacation in Japan by myself (currently there, yes), prior to that I got so many panic attack because I thought of earthquakes, insects, you name it. At some point I realized – well, it has nothing to do with it! IT is all about my mother! And I thought “I am getting on that plane, I don’t care what happens” And so I did. Prior to that there were numerous nights that I didn’t get any sleep.

She never wanted me to talk about my eye disease, she always wanted me to pretend as if everything was ok, if I ever expressed any need, she would threaten that she would die – and it has been since I was 3-years-old! Every time I wanted to do something for me – like pee, e.g. I felt like someone was going to die! It is all about her, it always felt like my sole purpose of existence was to make her feel better, and make her feel good, make her feel appreciated. For the past 2 years I haven’t been in touch other than by mail. And the last thing she sent me – was the annual forgiveness mail (Bulgarians usually have time when they ask one another for forgiveness right before Easter, traditional thing), where she stated the me and my brother were the most important things in her life! This felt so hypocritical! She never behaves as if I or my brother are important in anyway, she always behaves as if others are! When I was a teenager she used to hang out with my peers, and listen to their woes, and used to say how many problems they had. She never thought how I would react on the shit she would dish out! SHe still does that, I am afraid that she has been living in a severe delusion of being a good mother. …

A mother is a verb in my opinion and means listening and showing consideration to your children, not mostly yourself. A mother means being there for your children, not telling them “go away from me”, “if you don’t do what I say, you can go to hell”, “lave me alone”, “I ruined my life because of you”, “I would have been there/doing this now if it wasn’t for you”…


Darlene, thank you for your comment and support. I appreciate it, and I like your viewpoint about the rejection. (#143)

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