Emotionally Unavailable Father; The Message of Passive Abuse


Emotionally Unavailable Father ~ Passive AbuseRecently someone wrote, telling me that because she stood up to her dysfunctional family and drew a boundary, she is now missing out on ‘the good things in life’. The first question that came to my mind was “what good things are you missing out on because you drew a boundary?” In my coaching practice, the homework would be: Define ‘good things’ ~ what are ‘the good things’? What do you feel that you are missing now, that you had before? Why did you have to draw a boundary in the first place?

And the answers to these types of questions are always very revealing. When I answered these questions for myself I found out some of the lies that I believed and how they were rooted in the shaky foundation of my belief system.

For most people including me, those ‘good things’ that had to do with my dysfunctional family were a fantasy.  I ‘wished’ that I had a loving family. The reality of those ‘good things’ was something very different from how I fantasised it was or hoped that it could one day be.

Christmas dinner and family holidays or celebrations were stressful for me and this continued on with when I married into my husband’s family too. Every family thing I went to was a reminder of how insignificant that I was even when at the time I wasn’t able to articulate how those occasions made me feel.

The boundary that I drew with my father was different than the boundaries that I drew when it came to over (more obvious) abuse. A couple of years ago I told my father that seeing him was a reminder of how little he knew about me and how disinterested he was in me as an individual. The way he disregards me is a constant reminder of how little I matter to him.  It has always been that way.

My father is passive abusive. His emotional abuse is very covert.  Mostly he just doesn’t care, doesn’t listen when I talk to him, doesn’t know anything about me, my life or my kids because he doesn’t care to know and he doesn’t listen to anyone who tries to tell him. To the general public, (and according to my siblings) my father is regarded as this ‘nice’ guy and he is never violent, never mean and never hurtful with his words, but the truth is that his relationship style is dismissive and disinterested all of which is very hurtful. I spent many years in childhood and in adulthood ‘begging’ (in all kinds of ways) my emotionally abusive father to notice me. The fact that he didn’t was and is very hurtful.  There is a very loud message that is delivered to me when I am disregarded.  The message is that I don’t matter, that I am not important, that I am not worth listening to and that I don’t have anything to contribute to his life. My father is emotionally unavailable, and that is very hurtful. Love is an action and love doesn’t damage self-esteem. Love doesn’t define a ‘loved one’ as insignificant.

After years of trying to tell my passive abusive father that his constant cutting me off whenever I tried to tell him about me, and that his lack of interest in my life was a problem for me ~ and due to the fact that there wasn’t any change on his part, I gave up; I finally realized that he wasn’t going to change.

Once I accepted that my emotionally unavailable father wasn’t going to change, I had a choice to make. I could just accept his treatment of me and feel frustrated and hurt every time I saw him or I could decide that I didn’t want to accept the way he treats me anymore.  I made choice number 2 because it was the only choice that supported my newfound self-value. I deserve better than he can or will give me.

To hear my father tell this story he has no idea why I “suddenly stopped talking to him” although I explained it on the phone in the same detail that I have written in this post.  I had to realize that the fact that he denies ‘understanding’ my explanation or even ever having heard it is also about him.

When I realized that being around my emotionally abusive father was a constant hurtful reminder of how devalued I was by him I began to realize that the same was true for all the people in my life who by their actions towards me, showed that they didn’t care about ME.   Even though with all those other people I had already drawn my boundaries much sooner than I had with my passive abusive and emotionally unavailable father, I had not actually realized that part of why I felt so anxious in their company was due to the same devaluing and dismissive treatment of me. Only the details were different. The action parts of the word “love” and the word “respect” were missing.

BUT the message was the same! The message is that I don’t matter, that I am not important, I am not worth listening to and that I don’t have anything to contribute. That message is like a death sentence. That message kept me struggling with depressions my entire life; feeling like I was being held under water and fighting for every breath. That message about me made me try harder and harder to BE whatever and whoever it was they wanted me to be, all the while never realizing that that message spoke louder about THEM than it did about me.

I realized that although other abusive toxic and dysfunctional relationships that I had with other family were much more overt, (obvious)  that the passive abusive nature of my father, the frustration was the same! Being around those people was a constant reminder of how insignificant that I was to them.   No wonder I didn’t like family get-togethers.  I couldn’t put it into words when I was in the fog, but when I came out of the fog, it hit me like a ton of bricks; being around most of those people was a constant painful reminder of how regarded me as ‘less’ than themselves and how they used many opportunities to make that point clear to me. Love doesn’t damage self-esteem. There were no ‘good things’ about that!

I am actually a very social person. I love having people over for dinner, or going out with friends. I love being with people! In my relationships today, I am not discounted. I am not ignored. I am not ‘cut off’ mid-sentence because no one is interested in what I am saying. No one rolls their eyes at me to indicate what I am saying is ‘stupid’.  No one pretends that they didn’t hear me to indicate that what I am saying is too dumb to even validate that they heard me.

Real relationship gives everyone equal value. Real relationship, healthy, functional and equal value based relationship is co-creative and mutually respectful. Those are the good things! I didn’t have them before when it came to my own family or with my in-laws but today I have choices and I exercise my right to have a choice in relationships. I don’t have to accept unacceptable treatment or disregard or any kind of overt or covert abuse that ultimately serves to make me feel bad about myself. 

Please share your thoughts about the reality of relationships. Have you ever noticed that you have not been regarded in action part of love and respect? Abuse isn’t always aggressive and very often it is hidden, (covert) which is much harder to see than more obvious (overt) abuse is. It was in coming out of this fog and into the light of the truth that helped me so much on my quest for freedom and wholeness.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This week A woman lodged a complaint in paypal asking for her donation to the EFB website to be refunded. She told paypal that she did not get the service that she paid for because I didn’t answer her comment. I refunded her donation however I want to state that donations are NOT for that purpose. Donations help to pay the expenses~ tech support, security and back up costs but they are not payment for my responses on comments nor have I ever received enough in donations to have any sort of an income from the work that I do here. The emerging from broken blog is a free resource however it isn’t cost free for me to run it therefore donations to offset those costs are still very much appreciated.  As much as I want to answer everyone, due to the high volume of comments and email that I get I am no longer able to answer them all. ~Darlene

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time

Darlene Ouimet

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For related posts see the highlighted phrases in bold throughout this post. One more related post is “Why Setting Boundaries is NOT as easy as it sounds”

Categories : Family



Everything you wrote in this post describes ME to a T. My father is passively abusive. He is married to my narcissistic mother. That’s how they roll. Today, my boundaries are STRONG.


Hi Darlene,

I think as a child I was less scared of my father, compared to my terrifying narcissistic mother and like you mention, the abuse is not as obvious as other abusers. Its almost hidden.

My father actually had a conversation with me a couple of months ago and when I got off the phone I was so happy all day. For the first time in 40 odd years, he actually showed interest in my life and he engaged with me and was cheery and loving and I thought a miracle had happened. His tone was always so disinterested before.This time he was laughing, joking and present and it felt good speaking to him. I actually felt that maybe he wants to have a relationship with me. I got a taste of what I had always been missing.

My father called me the next day and asked me to send him thousands of pounds as he was in some financial trouble. I was so angry with myself that I fell for his manipulation. I duly gave him the money and then I received no christmas card, and no contact on my birthday either. I sent him the money 4 weeks before christmas, which was 8 weeks before my birthday. Other family members received a christmas card but not me. I spent my birthday with friends who love me, but I still had this gnawing hurt of being ignored by him and all of my family.

I now realise and accept he gives nothing. Not his time, his interest, his love, not even energy. Empty vessel. If I was thirsty I wouldn’t drink from an empty well, yet I used to go to him for love and always left feeling thirsty. Not anymore.

Thank you for this site darlene. I am so glad to be away from their abuse.


“I am not ignored. I am not ‘cut off’ mid-sentence because no one is interested in what I am saying. No one rolls their eyes at me to indicate what I am saying is ‘stupid’. No one pretends that they didn’t hear me to indicate that what I am saying is too dumb to even validate that they heard me.”
My mother and brother did all of these things to me during conversation. It always made me feel like dirt. But if I spoke up about it they would tell me I was too sensitive. Both are passive abusers. My brother did it in my home during his vacation! He learned to abuse me watching how mother treated me. Both are emotionally unavailable and always have been to me at least. To each other they are super supportive. I am NC and MUCH better for it!!

What you said about holidays was also true. I felt insignificant. (perfect choice of words) At Christmas, visiting my father’s parents, my brother and I were given magazines to read (quietly) while my grandparents and father visited and exchanged gifts. We were completely ignored (to be seen and not heard) and did not get gifts. It was so weird. We were their only grandkids. We weren’t noisy or bad. They hated our mother so she wasn’t allowed to come and Dad would just leave her alone every Christmas. He was extremely obedient to them. I do not have any happy
Christmas memories til I left home at 19. Karen


Hi Angela
Yay for strong boundaries!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Emma
Oh my gosh, that is a horrible message that he communicated to you with what he did. That is the kind of thing I am talking about when I talk about ‘the message that I got from their actions” ~ There is nothing related to LOVE in anything about that story on his part. Thanks for sharing ~ I am so sorry that you had to go through that!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Karen
Wow, that IS weird about how you and your brother were given magazines ~ talk about the message of being totally ingignificant! What your father did to your mother was also abusive. Instead of standing with her against his parents who did’t accept her, he chose his parents. Imagine the message that gave her! It is so great to know that your have set YOUR boundaries against this crap!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, I think being discounted is the most triggering thing a person can do to me because it was so much a part of my relationship with my FOO. I accepted it as normal for a long time and actually, thought it was because something was wrong with me. I didn’t see it for the manipulative, controling behavior that it is. Now, I spot it easily and I realized that it is a very common tactic. It is how cliques are formed and it gives power to those who rule the clique. It doesn’t matter to me because cliques don’t matter to me. People who need to form and and be part of them to function are people who need help to learn how to stand on their own. In my enmeshed family system, no one was able to stand on their own. Only me.

My dad disrequaded me too but then went a step further and did things that only a psychopath can do to others especially, people they say they love. I spent a good chunk of my life trying to figure out why he is like that but it really doesn’t matter why he did anything he did to me. All that matters is that I don’t let it happen any more.

It was hard for me to define the emotional neglect because it is hard to define ‘nothing’ but that ‘nothing’ did as much harm as the overt abuse my dad dished out.



Thanks Darlene for another fabulous post. This blog is amazing!

It is absolutely absurd for anyone to expect or demand a response to every comment. Already, I’m amazed how much time you dedicate to this site. However, in order to help others… We must take care of ourselves.

Please don’t sacrifice too much! You mentioned in another comment that it was interfering with a day off with your family. That is truly sad. I can’t imagine the burden you must feel to support everyone!

If people leave the site, that’s okay with me. But please don’t let these people stop you from writing! You are helping so many people… Those who do and do not post. As you said, this is a free resource. It is generous of you to offer your words and support for free! I have NO expectations of you to meet my individual needs.

Plus, you are building a community. Not everyone will get along. However, most people here help each other. You are a wonderful leader, but I don’t expect you to solve all the problems/issues. That’s impossible! We are here to ALL take responsibility and help each other… Including helping you!

We are all healing and learning how to support ourselves. We are also learning how to speak up. Sometimes, we lash out at those we love and feel safe with. It’s not a justification. But we’re human. Tensions arise. People go into fight, flight or befriend mode. Bottom line… This blog won’t help everyone. But it helps me so much!

Keep up the great work. But most importantly, take care of yourself. You come first in your life.


P.S. I learn a lot from all the comments. Even the ones where people are frustrated with each other. It’s helpful to see people voice their opinions. It’s helpful to see people overcome tensions. It’s helpful to realize this site mimics the struggles in life. All comments help me. Thanks to everyone for being so honest!!! And brave!!!


Hi Darlene,

Thanks for acknowledging how bad it was, I did mention to family members but they just looked blank and didn’t say anything at all. I am tired of blank stares when I speak the truth too!

Pam, its interesting you said about being in the clique. My father does have people that he is really close to, he engages and enjoys his friends and his wife and his sister and nephews, he actually can socialise with people and literally not say two words to me and be in the same room. He can do this in front of me, so does that mean that by forming a clique, his main motivation was to feel in control and powerful over his daughter.

I am learning much from this, thanks to all here.

As of this new year, I have not picked up the phone to him, I have not made plans to visit. He is the last family member that I am going NC with now. I am alone, but not lonely, its more lonely being around someone like that.

Pearls of wisdom from everyone here as ever!! thank you all.


This piece definitely resonates with me and in one way or another fits my relationship with all three of my family members. What you said about all the different kinds of abuse having that same base of simply not caring about you is so true.

I took my last stand with my parents yesterday. Last month, I couldn’t deal with things anymore so I cut off before my mom had a chance to respond to my truth, saying that I’d get back in contact with them in the summer or fall, but she responded anyway… So yesterday I wrote to tell them that I did not intend to reconnect in the summer/fall, that it was truly up to them now. My mom hadn’t wanted to do email anymore, but I said this is the only avenue open at this point and explained (again) why. I told them that I would not answer any email that was hurtful, shaming, dismissive, discounting, deflective, etc. Nor any email that was about them and their experience of the past or about other people that have nothing to do with me. That the only emails I will answer are ones that take full accountability of the past, in which it is clear they have truly put themselves in my shoes and understand what was wrong with the way they treated and why it was wrong. I was blunt and assertive, so they’ll probably find my tone “disrespectful.” But actually it was very generous of me, especially sending it also to my dad, considering after I stood up to his angry letter, three months passed without a word. I have this feeling like it’s all so pointless. It had to be done—for me, mostly, but yeah… My mom told me last month that she didn’t know who I was and she realized she never has, and I had this idea of her now saying, “if this is who you are, I don’t think I want to know you.” And while I’m doubtful she would actually ever say that, I realized that underneath all her words, that’s pretty much exactly what she was saying… Anyway, it’s done, come what may…

I have spent most of my life caring about/for them and/or wrapped up in guilt for (apparently) not caring enough but now I see how far, far from mutual that has been, regardless of what they claim. I would treat me a million times better than they do, if I had a child or sibling in my circumstances.

It’s really true that it is so much harder to see what you didn’t get, what didn’t happen, as opposed to what did, but the damage is the same because the message is the same.


Emma, Cliqhes are usually, enmeshed systems. They have a personality and one person that is the head of the clique. Cetain personality types, like my dad, function this way. They have to live through people and they do this through their families and they also, gather cliques around themselves. It insulates them and gives them power. Forming a clique often, revolves around discounting another person and manipulating people into taking sides.



Hi Pam
I was writing about the subject of thinking it was me and how they always deflected it back to me today. (for next week) It was so easy for them to do it too, because it starts when we are young; the grooming process to get control over a child (in whatever way even if that control is by defining them as always wrong) and make sure that you keep it, starts young.

Being discounted IS one of the hardest kinds of abuse to define. As you say, it is so “nothing” and there is ots of lcrossover too. Many passive abusers, abuse in other ways that are not so passive. Many fathers who are sexually abusing their kids are passive abusers in other ways. Mothers who know about sexual abuse but don’t take any action are passive abusers, even if just about that one thing. Inaction can be as abusive as action.

Thanks for sharing!
hugs Darlene


Hi Healing Slowly,
Thank you so much for your encouragement! I learned a while ago that I can’t solve all the problems after almost giving up on the site because I was so tired from trying! I have learned a lot about my own self care since I started EFB.

But don’t worry, I am not going to stop writing! I might have to disable the comments on this website, but I won’t stop writing! In the spring of this year I have my first e-book coming out, it will be a downloadable version EFB part one, re-ordered and edited for easier consumption. Then I am going to create a workbook to go along with it. (and this year I am going to add video to the whole thing)

And I learn a lot from the comments too, we can learn so much from each other. (I just can’t answer them all anymore! Yikes.. I spend almost 3 hours a day reading them!)

Thanks and hugs!


Hi Pam,

Thanks for giving me more info on cliques. I always think that a child should be given importance as they are your own flesh and blood, so the thought that a parent has to discount their own child and feed off the power from that explains more to me about THEM.

My father deliberately witholds, because I believe on some level he knew that I desperately wanted his love and would do whatever I could (and be grateful for his scraps) to prove I was worthy of his approval and love. So by witholding and discounting and forming cliques in front of me must have given him a lot of power and control.

By me being desperate for his approval, and him sensing my desperation, was probably feeding his need and ironically, he probably abused and withdrew, and discounted even more. No more of that behaviour from me. Just absorbing all the info here on EFB, that’s all I need!

Thanks Pam.


Those blank stares are about them, not about you! 🙂
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Alaina
Thank you for sharing this amazingly clear example of “A Boundary”. Good for you!
And it is never pointless when we are doing it to meet our own needs and validate ourselves. I am so grateful for the conversations that I had with both my parents; the outcome was not what I expected and it was really disapointing for me, but I said what I needed to say for me.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE your comments.
thank you so much for your voice here in EFB
Hugs, Darlene


Emma, My family was run like a clique and the one to be discounted, was me. I was always on the outside. I was also, targeted for lots of overt abuse.

Thanks Darlene, Being discounted was the major tool used to keep me quiet. I was never given credit for being anything. What others call my gift for insight, was treated like the ravings of a mad woman. They would roll their eyes or click their tongues. Nothing I did ever met the standard to be ‘one’ of them. Of course, they don’t really love and accept each other either.



I am stunned about the refund. I think I speak for everyone in thanking you for the many great things that we learn from your posts; they certainly all stay with me and they are accumulating into a very powerful improvement in my life. I’m sorry that happened and maybe it’s just a reminder for us to let you know, again, how much good you do in the world.
Sending you great thanks for all you do,


Wow! Thank you Darlene for putting into words something that just baffled me and made me doubt myself even more. I remember years ago begging my dad to be more interested in my life and we would have these awkward conversations and I found myself walking away feeling so ashamed that I had to beg my dad to take an interest in my life and so the pattern with men continued one after another until I finally came to terms that I deserved an equal relationship with a man. I still see my dad now and wonder sometimes why. We meet for breakfast every 2 to 3 months or so….his saying has always been, if you need me, I’m here. I’m not sure what the really means now that I’m an adult and when I really needed him as a child he wasn’t available. No wonder why I always questioned..how much am I allowed to have in a relationship, what is normal, what is healthy. Do I even count. I find myself swearing a lot lately to express my anger and frustration as I peel through the layers of all this dysfunction. I’ve taken everything I know from the relationship I had with my parents and applied it to myself…what a mess I’m trying to sort out within myself, seriously…I keep asking myself why people have kids when they treat them this way. Well I already know the answer to my question…my parents were forced by my mom’s mom (catholic, I won’t even touch that subject matter here…:-( to get married when she was 16, they had me 3 years later and I ask myself why? My parents had no desire to have kids, in fact I don’t even think they really even loved each other by the sounds of it. I asked a lot of questions on how they met etc and about my moms history. What a nightmare they both come from. It’s clear to me that I come from a long line of abuse. I’m so glad I chose not to have children, I can’t help but wonder if I would have treated them the same way and there is no way I could live with myself if I did. The one thing that is a gift in all this for me is that I have this strong soul’s purpose now. I feel like I’ve come here to serve in some way. I feel like I’m supposed to use my experience in some positive way. My soul is taking me places I would never have dreamed of going. My relationship with God/Source is my driving force and keeps me sane. If my abuse has taught me something of value, I would say it’s having a very strong, loving relationship with “myself”. I don’t want to be like my parents, I just want to discover who I am and stop looking outside myself for the approval and love from others. My mission now is to look deep within myself for the truth and the answers I seek. I can’t help but wonder if the whole world suffers from Soul sickness. Do we really know how to “love” ourselves, because we sure didn’t learn how from our parents. I believe my path now is to be a truth seeker and see where it all leads me. The layers never seem to end and at times I get really frustrated with this work and then I receive a shift within that makes it all worth it. Thank you Darlene for sharing my passion to heal. Namaste!


I dated one man like this and honestly I was more afraid of him than the openly narcissist men I’d dated and married. Ignorant, but thankful I know now there is no difference and love doesn’t hurt.


Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I am a 40 year old married mother of three who is also an only child of divorced parents. My father raised me by himself after the age of three. My mother had post-pardom depression and my father left her and took me. As an adult I realized my father was narsiccistic and a totally uninvolved parent. Growing up he had numerous girlfriends and has been married 4 times. When I became a parent myself, I finally understood all that I missed as a child by having parents that disregarded every emotional need I had.. The very things as a parent that come so natural. While, somehow I managed to give my children many of the things I missed ,I still deal emotionally with the self-esteem and socializing issues from my childhood. How does an adult who didn’t receive the unconditional love and acceptance that gives children early self esteems and trust in the world and the natural social skills that come during adolescence from that self-esteem acquired earlier,overcome this deficit?


My father is certainly passive abusive. Its that part of abuse that i have more struggle overcoming. He somehow tricked me that he is the good guy because he doesnt torment me like mom. He secretly to me made mom the bad guy, and when he beay me it was cause mom made him or i made him. Maybe i wanted to believe this fantasy so badly cuz i cant face being so betrayed. Or maybe it was a great brainwashing trick ..passive abuse. Truth is he never went to one important in my life. Never gavr a squat how i am feeling. Worst of all failed as a man to protect me, for me to br most important one that a good father would die for.
I have more so resolved my mother issues and found my place with women. I seem to be working through the father issues more now. I keep ending up with men that say thry love me but they dont act like i am most important. I keep falling for my fathers trick. I hate it. I keep falling for emotionally unavailable men that pretend they arent rejecting me but they are. And they all pretend to be mr nice guys. Reality is my dad has never called me. Not even for my bday. He is supposively there if i want to talk. He only answers.
I used to think my mom is worse. But i am not sure anymore. A raging fiend or silent but deadly. I refuse to be so discounted and ignored. I refuse this bs love trick with my dad and men. I matter. I am important.
My current situation with dad is he sends me funny forward emails and thats that. He never calls so i never call. Once in a while when foo tries to pull me back in i send him bitchy emails. Now that i think about it i totally forgot his bday this year. Go me!


Hi Colleen
Thank you for your comments. I was stunned too. I appreciate your encouragement!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Lora
I asked all those same questions too. I think that when there is brainwashing involved, people don’t do what they want, the do what is ‘expected’ of them, and they do what makes them feel “safe” (because that is survival; a mode that is carried into adulthood from childhood) and in so many cases that means that they do what the controlling parents want them to do.
I can really relate to what you are expressing here about your purpose. I felt very strongly about that same thing starting about 3 years before I started this website. And I have never looked back and my blessings are amazing!
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Emmy
Yes, love is not supposed to hurt. Love doesnt’ discount the one loved.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Amy
Weclome to EFB ~ (just so you know, there is another Amy here if you want to add an initial or something to your name so people don’t get you mixed up)
I call that process you are asking about “re-parenting the self” and I talk about it a lot in this site! I had to learn to give myself what was missing in my childhood and that is a major part of the process of healing. It was by looking at what had been missing that I learned how to give those things to myself. I had to learn to listen to myself. I had to see where I discounted myself just as my parents discounted me so that I could stop doing it. It is a big learning curve but it is doable!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Kathryn
I dealt with my father issues a few years after I started dealing with my mother issues too. I didn’t see his passive abuse as a problem at all. The way my mother was was so much more obvious. I see today how much my mother was hurt by my fathers passive abuse towards her too. (but that doesn’t excuse her the damage she caused me, I am just saying that I see a bigger picture now)
My dad used to send me those forwards too! Such a pathetic way to have a relationship when there is nothing else!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks so much for this blog post. When I had an intake interview for therapy yesterday, the therapist assumed I cut off contact with my parents. In reality, I still speak to them once in a while and see them aabout twice a year. Through your blog post, I realize that these are the “good things” I would be missing out on if cutting off contact with thm. In reality, I do not really get much good out of my phone calls to my parents, let aloen out of visiting them. I won’t go into detail here, but much of wha tyou write applies to my family, too.

ON a somewhat similar note, I notice that I fall for the thought trap that it is better now at least than it was when I was a child. It is, in that my family don’t hurt me that much anymore, but they are still emotionally unavailable.


Great post. My parents love me, that I know (as weird as it is), but they are full of destructive dysfunction. I have also set very clear boundaries with my parents. As a child I suffered emotional and physical abuse from my m other and my father, while an excellent provider, was completely emotionally absent from my childhood. In addition, they are an awful wife and husband to one another and this hurt me profoundly and led me to have self destructive behavior in my 20s (I had NO, but NONE, self esteem and felt fissured when I looked in the mirror). I probably reflected their combination of no self esteem…but I do not have their narcissism.

I see my parents now every month or so, I do love them, but I have very strong boundaries. I am no longer willing to suffer emotionally (which transferred into actual physical pain–stomach, back and even heart palpitations–or numbness). And I’m proud of setting my boundaries, even if the outside eye might not understand them or think that “I’m cruel” (as my parents sometimes hint I am to their acquaintances).


All I can say is wow! I knew something was wrong with my father but this story seems as if it is pulled out of a page of my journal. I hate holidays! I continue to unconsciously seek out people who either aren’t capable, or intentionally care nothing about me but expect everything from me. My lidfe, my childhood, everything makes more sense now! I am so thankful that you shared this. I can begin to heal now.


Gosh, what an amazing post Darlene. I am so glad that I have found this website. I am sorry that there was upset and confusion here. My goodness, it was an intense read!! But, I am so glad that you are here.
You have described my stepfather to a T. He too is passive agressive in his words and actions. But when I was younger, he would beat me and my middle sis. We always wondered which father was better, the one we had when we were younger, when he physically abused us, but, read us stories, or when we got older and especially with me, he ignored me completely or told me that I should give up trying to make him ‘feel sorry for me’.
I do rememember times when I was around 7 or 8 and he telling my sisters and I that he was going to take us out to get some new shoes. He only took my two little sisters. (his real, full children, although he adopted me at the age of one) I had a horrible car accident when and I was 19. While I was recovering I couldn’t work or go to school. And I needed socks and underwear. In fact, my sisters needed some too. He told us that we were going to go shopping. We all went to an outlet and had to find our sizes and wait in line at the register. I remember he paid for my middle sis, my little sis, and when it was my turn, he walked away. After the lady had rung up my underwear and socks, I had to tell her that I didn’t have enough money. It was horribly embarassing. It was humiliating. I remember seeing my sisters faces, they felt awful for me. I felt so ashamed. There are so many other stories I could tell. They’re all the same outcome. I rememember having feelings that my sisters counted, but I didn’t. In therapy in 2000, my psychiatrist confirmed that yes indeed, my beliefs were right, my stepdad didn’t care about me, and woo hoo, what a lovely thing to be right about. I learned that my instinct was spot on, and like you have stated, the dysfunction is the thing that is horribly wrong and cruel. What bothers me now is that my sisters and his family, IF they bother to plug in to me and my husband and kids, are more willing to blame me for my lack of relationship with my stepdad. I am seen as the one who has caused such a rift in the family dynamics. It kills me, me knowing that THEY KNOW THE TRUTH, but are content in making me the one responsible. I know the reality, they choose to be complacent. This is a helpless and hopeless feeling. I hate being told, “… we know how you feel uncomfortable around dad, so we, didn’t ask you, or left you out…”

I read and re read the opening of your post. I know that when I looked around me, in my foo and in the secondary family, ie., aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, specifically my stepdad’s family. (Me, and sometimes my sisters were pushed to the side. At Christmas time, often, we were alone while everyone else was together. I would see my sisters being included and treated as if they belonged and I couldn’t figure out why I was excluded. I think that is why, as children, I/we work so hard to belong to whatever crowd, clique, group, and family. I think that sometimes this gets stuck and I/we can get into a state of always being triggered by being excluded and invalidated. I/We so desperately want to be on the inside instead of always looking in from the outside. I think it has something to do with trying to right a wrong. (Even if it’s pointless) I think it’s about wanting to be wanted, included, to be part of something.
My mum on the otherhand, seemed to act as if she was included. (his family excluded her from the beginning, even though he chose and married her?? Go figure! With her, it seemed as if it was, each man for himself. She left us to fend for ourselves. God forbid we hang on to her and squash her chances of possibly being included. She would sell us out.

To this day, my stepdad is this wonderful fitness instructor, with a mission to keep elderly people in shape. God forbid, they get fat…( which is hilarious and hypocritical since he beat and bashed my mother about her weight the whole time they were married.) His community knows that he has two daughters and he has two grandchildren. (which he is extremely proud of) I once read on facebook, that he longed to have a grand daughter. My sister posted, you do dad, it’s her cat… They chuckled… I have a daughter and a son… who he has ignored for more than 20 years. I’d be lying to say that it doesn’t hurt. It hurts. 🙁


Wow, this really hit home for me. Both of my parents have been emotionally unavailable for me since I can remember. The pendulum would swing from overt abuse to complete neglect with no middle area of normalcy. If they paid attention to me it was always to punish me for something or they needed something from me, otherwise I got nothing…no support, no love, nada. I was just telling a friend the other day that I most often felt invisible unless I did something wrong or they needed me for some task. Once I fulfilled their need, it was back to being just a mere shadow. It continued well into my adult years without the severest of physical abuse, but they continued to punish me if I didn’t respond the way they expected. What a sucky way to live. Dad has 2 grand daughters that he’s seldom seen since they were born. Mom much preferred her sister’s grand daughter & used to brag about her to me without asking me about my children. They broke my kids’ hearts over & over again. Now my kids are grown, they never even ask me about their grandfather.

Dad is still alive. He’s replaced me with a man whom I assume is just the son he always wanted. I haven’t met him…both are hoarders & the house is filled with junk in every room. But from what I understand, this man is just like dad. Two peas in the pod! Oh & another thing they have in common is that this man’s son also has gone no contact. I think I know why!



I too am stunned about the refund. But I guess you just can’t please anyone…not going to judge, but I can sure understand you questioning yourself. I thought that was pretty weird….expecting/demanding a reply. I don’t think it’s healthy.

Hugs from across the miles. Your blogs are amazing! Keep up the good work, because I find what you do to be inspirational. Obviously, I am not alone with my sentiments.


Dear Darlene,

This post really hit home. I am currently finalizing my divorce where I suffered the abuse of neglect for over two decades. I own my part in it. This is what I did not anticipate…It is becoming very clear that my 18-year old son has learned the pattern of neglect very well from his father and I am both horrified and heart-broken as the “veil continues to lift.” Especially because I feel I initiated the divorce for not only my sake, but for the sake of my two children. And this son especially – as his father would be so hard on him…controlling, and manipulate the younger one with “niceness” – creating chaos and disharmony. And now my son is dismissing me in the same way his father did – it’s taken awhile for this fact to sink in – I couldn’t (didn’t want to) believe it. In fairness, it is also the way I treated my mother at times. I have decided to “surrender” to the situation and let him go on an emotional level, as he is very independent and responsible overall and I am weary from the battle. I will attend graduation but not much else as I just don’t have the energy to keep up the charade (that we have a relationship). Part of my son’s self absorbed behavior is him being a teenager and I know I’m wounded from the marriage – however, its painful to experience being dismissed and trivialized by someone who I gave almost my life for. His focus is on his girlfriend and her family- they give him so much. I will do for him what I feel comfortable with, as he heads off to college next fall, but I will not give myself away anymore for anyone…not even my son. Thank you for your honest and authentic insight. I’d appreciate any thoughts you have in regard to my situation and decision. Thanks, Betty


Hi Astrid
Isn’t it interesting what we come up with when we think about the meaning of a saying like that!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Rachel
That is awesome that you have set some strong boundaries! Thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Carla
I am really pleased that my post resonated well with you.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Raven
YES it does hurt! Thanks for sharing your examples of passive abuse and about the crossover too. (how your step dad was physically abusive before he was a passive abuser) and how your mother also let you fend for yourselves which children are not at all able to do!
thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi January
Thank you for sharing some of your story about this subject. OUCH… to all of it. My father had this horrible habbit of talking about his girlfriends grand child and not having any interest in my kids, and I told him several times how discounting that it was to them and to me, but he wouldn’t stop doing it. I had never even met his girlfriends daughter OR her grandchild so he was talking about total strangers to me, instead of being interested in my life and my kids. That is exactly what I am talking about in this post. He can pretend he doesn’t know why I don’t talk to him anymore, but I told him many many times. I don’t miss any of that stuff.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Betty
I have found that my healing has impacted my kids a lot. I had a lot of work to do when it came to my own kids because there was so much I was guilty of when it came to their self esteem and even though it was my husband that was so unfair to them in his expectations, I sat by and didn’t stop it and I had to see my kids differently than I saw my parents in this new grid of understanding. I contributed to thier understanding and to thier belief systems and since I am the parent, I could not hold them accountable. This is complicated and I don’t really like to get into it on this site. I prefer to concentrate on healing at the roots of our own childhood stuff. Helping my kids grew out of my own recovery and today we have fantastic relationships! (two of them are young adults now and one is still a teen)
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks Darlene…it does hurt, doesn’t it? I have had people come right out & tell me that my dad is physically ill & he doesn’t have long to live, & that I really need to call him. However the last time I tried to talk to him, he brought up some stuff he had no right to, & then hung up on me. Excuses have been made for his behavior & once again, I am just the bad guy, & everyone else feels sorry for the sick old man. I seriously don’t get it.

Since this other man has moved in, dad made it very clear that he was changing his will to make provisions for this other man to stay in dad’s home. It’s very clear from the fact that dad has never given one fig about me since I was very young since that trend continued well into my adult years & is still very much the same now; that as long as he lives, he has no reason to change. Why should I put myself on the line to be in contact with a person who couldn’t care less about me, my health (which also isn’t good), my husband, or my kids?

I wish I had given both my parents the heave ho when I was much younger. I’ve always wondered why they insisted on keeping me even though they both despised me. God alone knows how many tears I have shed since I was a young child. All I wanted was their love & acceptance. I have nothing more to give…I have run dry…there is no compassion left. It makes me sad & more than a little guilty to even feel this way. But I have come to realize that life is too short to keep expecting him to change his ways, when he is of the mindset that there is something wrong with me (including my genetics), & that he is blameless. I know I have a part, but so does he. I refuse to play his games anymore. It’s not fun for me, it’s destructive!


Wow Raven, I too am triggered by exclusion. I was always excluded in family events, social situations, sports events (I was never picked but was the leftover) and particularly in high school.
It hurts me so badly, I literally run away when it happens. I am hyper vigilant about it. If I even think I am being shunned I freak out. It goes back to feeling discounted as Pam said. The family discounting was ostensively because I was bad, wrong, or defective in personality. To me, It was a judgement of my worth. As a result,exclusion got mixed up with discounting in my head. Logically, then it was a rejection because something was wrong with me and became another proof of that fact. The more I was rejected, the more my mother wrung her hands and said she was sorry.


My father was emotionally absent too. He hid from my crazy queen borderline narcissist mother by emotionally detaching and mentally abandoning his whole family. He never knew anything about my life and never asked. He never came to any of my achievements through grade and high school, with the exception of my h.s. graduation. He never wanted to participate in anything that I had an interest in. I’ll bet you $100 that if he was still alive he wouldn’t be able to tell you my middle name or my date of birth. :-/

Sad for all of us!


January..oh you gave me a chuckle..”the heave ho”… I like that!!
Hugs Karen


Glad you liked that comment, Karen! I use humor to try to deflect the pain. 😉


Hello Darlene and everybody,

Another great post Darlene.Thank you for all the time you give to us.
Lots of sorries and apologises on the last post so I will do my sorries now in case I offend anybody.SORRY SORRY SORRY…..LOL
I always feel as if you know and write for just me.Everything you say is how my childhood was.Finding your site at Christmas has been a tremendous help to me.Reading others experiences is helping me to deal with all my problems of mental physical and sexual abuse.
Although my father sexually abused me he never really said much.When I was very young it was my mother who was the wicked witch who blamed me for anything that went wrong which was everyday because she knew and approved of what he was doing.She let him use me hoping to stop his womanising ways which of course carried anyway.They never talked to me or had a conversation or showed any interest in my life. All she ever used to say was that if I bring any trouble (babies)then she would have me put in a home for bad children.If I had fallen pregnant it would have been my fathers child I wasnt allowed to hardly speak to boys my own age.I couldnt win.When I had my periods she used to give me one… yes one sanitary towel for the week.I was always in a mess. At the end of my period she made me wrap it in newspaper and take it to the fire next to where my father sat.He used to ask what I was burning.It was just so dreadful.He took the lock off the bathroom door and then when I was in the bath would expose himself++++.He used to say not to tell my mother because he didnt want her upsetting.But all my life she has accused me of lying and told people that I am rubbish and not to be trusted.Yet all the time I tried to win them over constantly hoping to please them and wanting to be a good daughter and to be loved.Always going out of my way to try to please them and then dad would move the goal posts and expect more but at the same time mocking anything that I did.When I got married the first time my first husband believed all the lies my mother told him and of course he told his family so the abuse continued.I was hated by everybody. Even his mother used to hit me until one day I hit her back.This is because my own mother had bad mouthed me and approved that I needed a good hidding.So I got from my own parents I include my father because by not saying anything he allowed it and by my inlaws and family.When my first husband hit me with a garden spade in front of his employees who all stood and watched, I decided to leave. Dont ask where I got the courage from I was thoroughly worn down. A friends mother took me in.Over the years all these memories have played havoc with my mind.Always being over helpful over generous over kind.Had tablets for depression but managed to make a go of a business(now semi retired)but still not accepted and wanted by my parents.Yet they always took from me and let and expected me to DO Christmas for them which of course pleased me but after the event no thanks.
After this last Christmas which I explained previously I am seeing them for what they are and am hoping that I can keep away from them. My younger sister no longer lives in this country so they expect me to be the fill in until she returns for visits.Well I am not getting intouch or visiting.Next Sunday is Mothering Sunday and I will be expected to visit the CH where she is but I dont want to go. Please somebody tell or advise me what to do?? Should I just send a basic card one of those cheap ones that doesnt stand up?? LOL> Sorry for going on and if I got of the main subject Sorry again.SORRY SORRY SORRY.loads of thanks Darlene and everybody. xxx


OMG…this so spoke to me. Thank you. My father was both physically and verbally abusive but also engaged in this passive abuse (when he wasn’t being physically and verbally abusive). I finally broke off all contact with him (and my siblings who are in a complete state of denial) last April. My narcissistic mother and I continued our relationship until the end of November 2012 when we finally broke things off as well. This past year has been the most painful year of my life but I realized I had to disengage from them in order to save myself. Thank you for being here and for putting into words what I was/am unable to.


Karen, Let me count the ways I was discounted…my thoughts were discounted, my feelings, my needs, my dreams, my intellegence, my truth, my life, my joy, my pain, my children, I can’t count all the ways my family discounted me…they are innumberable. It’s a miracle that I didn’t simply disappear.:0(



My ex step kids told me that their father would give them the silent treatment for days, weeks, months – one of them even ran away because she could no longer stand it.
when one of the girls were going to get married the “Dad” said he was not going to go because the other sister was going and he ‘does not talk to her’ \ I asked the bride to be to just call her father and tell him how much it means to her for him to give her away. She said “I don’t want him not to talk to me”
The dad did not go to the wedding.


This post took awhile to sink in. I know it’s there, but I hope. I want to see my father as the enabler. And he is. He ENABLED THE ABUSE! *Sigh. I just wanted to see him as a victim, but he joined the dark side against me.

Once, when I was about 11, he stepped in when my abusive mother was raging at me. She then went and started smashing his prize gun collection. She taught him a lesson, not to stand up for his scapegoat daughter. He taught me a lesson. His guns were more important than I am.

He was a workaholic. He left me to go out to the farm work, over and over. He wasn’t present, didn’t want to be, at the height of her abuse. HE ENABLED THE ABUSE.

When I was 41, I moved back near them. I was talking as I was cutting up potatoes when he was visiting. He told me to stop talking if I didn’t want to cut myself. WHAT???? Who says that to a 41 yr old prep cook (food service is my profession)? Just today an old cook said something similar, and she has been labeled at my job as passive/aggressive. God put her in my path today, so I would get this. He SILENCED ME. He doesn’t want to hear the truth. And he knows—down in his toes, that I speak the truth, and he doesn’t want any part of it.

In my “hopes”, the enablers are victims too. And they really want to help me, but they can’t. In reality (TRUTH), they are adults, just like me, with free will. They choose to enable.


I realize that having a Narcissistic and Emotionally Absent father and a Judging and Emotionally Absent mother…that I am constantly reacting to normal situations through the lens of a Narc child. For instance, when people don’t return calls or don’t respond to emails, texts or IM messages….I panic as if I am getting “silent treatment”, I look out for signs that I will be abandoned/ignored/rejected..even from people who do not have a single Narc trait about them, I apologize whenever I think I have let someone down or made a mistake…even when the other person never asked for an apology, I find myself pretzeling and twisting myself unconsciously because I think the other person wants me to be different..even if they never said they expected me to change, I don’t trust that when someone likes me today..that they will like me tomorrow, I live in a perpetual state of being afraid that I am one step away from losing friends..walking on eggshells.

This is what I wrote in my journal: When can I stop “doing” and just “be”? When will I, with all my faults, be “enough”? The problem is that I do not have any examples of what it looks like to feel enough….I see people who walk around with masks, people who have huge walls, people who are fake….and I don’t want to be them. But how do I get to a place where I feel enough if I don’t have any true examples? When will I stop reacting as if everyone is a Narc?


Dear Darlene,

The similarities in what I read here and what happened to me are uncanny.

I was the middle daughter and the scapegoat of the family. No one acknowledged my existence unless it was to say something negative, critical or judgemental. After my parents divorced (age 8) the situation got worse and my siblings began to discount and abuse me along with my mother.

When I was a child in school I was not allowed to stay at home during “Spring Break” because my older Golden Child sister said she didn’t want me at home while my mother was at work. Older sister said I was the cause of all the problems and she didn’t want to have to deal with me. My mother sent me to her siblings houses to baby-sit their kids or do farm-work (one of her sisters made me get up at 6 am every day to clean the pig-pens). Another relative had 3 small children I had to care for.

When I thought I had got my period for the first time my mom yelled at me in front of my siblings that I was inconveniencing her and she was in a hurry to leave somewhere. I asked if we could stop at the store to get some pads or somethings and she said “No.” She never mentioned anything about it; never explained to me anything about it; never asked me about it again.

My father lived 30 minutes away and only spent 1 day a year alone with me (my birthday). He didn’t know one thing about me or my life and never inquired about it. He committed suicide when I was 15 and didn’t bother to leave a note or tell me he loved me.

My three years of high school my mother never looked at a report card, never took me school shopping, never bought me school supplies; never asked me about classes I was taking; not interested my in life or friends, etc. She worked every other weekend and her weekend off she went to her parents “Up North” where her boyfriend lived. I would frequently be home alone. I would be at the mercy of my older sister who was physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive. When I got old enough to complain to my mother she would mock me and say, “Oh, you are Sooooo abused – aren’t you.”

My mother made us spend every holiday with her siblings and their families. Thoughout high-school, college, active duty military time, career, marriage, children, etc not one person has asked me anything about any of it yet I had to listen to every detail of their families. I have not been back to visit for 8 years. On the rare occasions that I have spoke to my siblings on the phone it has been about them. They know absolutely nothing about me.

My mother has been visiting 1-2 times per year for the past several years. It takes me approx. 2 weeks to get out of the depression I am in when she leaves. You may wonder why I let her visit. In the beginning I was in denial and seriously screwed up. I was so desperate to have someone acknowledge my existence I was grateful. Then is was a combination of guilt, obligation, lonliness, hope for something different. Then it was the link with all extended family members ( mother is matriarch and I knew crossing her mean’t the end to all extended family). Did not think I was strong enough emotionally to have complete rejection by entire side of family. I am strong enough now.

Reading everyones posts has been so helpful. Thank you for sharing and being so open about your past.


My father loved to preach how life is unfair to me. This idea in my head comes up all the time for me since I feel it is so unfair I am alone and have this horrible past. I hate it. I feel often my life is unfair. I am not sure if my father tried to sentence me to unfair life as part of a trap. If I agree life is unfair then I wont stand up to him and for myself. Arghh.. I am realizing this and am so angry with him. Its such a trap. He actually got me and my bro tshirts saying ..life is unfair and full of traps.. and my life seems to be like this. I believed that dam lie. What a fricken trap. Another way to brainwash and abuse me and keep me down and trapped in their psycho world of unfair traps. My father is the unfair trap!!! he is the dam trap. I want this belief about life to be over for me. To see that its really my father who wanted to brain wash me with this so I stay compliant to the mistreatments he dished me out. He disgusts me. What kind of man tell their little girl .. life is unfair and full of traps so good luck out there getting screwed since thats what is going to be happening to you, you are going to have an unfair life with random scary traps, a dam scary life to go through, and I am such a good guy letting you know this. It explains all the woes you bring to me. I cant fix this unfair scary world full of traps, you are on your own with that, and if you fell in a trap its just life and your fault. Nothing to do me with protecting you and teaching you about life. gah… I really hate my father. he is so dam sneaky. he has a phd is bs. And always his response to my questions was this feeling I cant help you, its beyond me, the life is so life.. And he would trick me that he is there for me, but really if I am to go to him he will tell me life is cruel and shrug his shoulders. Gah!!
I am not sure why I am in bigger denial that my father is this total psycho and I am not about my mother. I dont get it. Maybe I want to cling to this fantasy that someone knows what they are doing in this family. I will have to explore this further. Thanks for this opportunity.


Hi Michelle
I can really relate. I was thinking about how many of my boyfriends that my father ever met. He never cared. He never ‘asked’ about me. He would say “how are you” or “what’s new” but he didn’t ever listen to the answers. It really is sad.
Hugs, Darlene


January and Karen
I got a laugh out of the heave ho too.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Wendy
HOLY SMOKES! Thank you for sharing such an intense example of exactly what I am talking about. Your father sexually abused you, but didn’t really pay any ‘attention’ to you ~ and as a child it is so easy to get that sexual abuse mixed up with ‘love’. And your mother ~ WOW ~ they are both pathetic and should have been put in prison for their crimes against you. And to threaten YOU with being put in a home if YOUR FATHER GOT YOU pregnant. That is just disgusting.
(Your mother in law hitting you is grounds for asault too.)
You have posted a ton of information here Wendy. Your articulation of the abuse and the cycle of abuse and how it carried on into your marriage, (because you were groomed so totally as a victim) is profound.
About mothering sunday ~ what do you think you should do?? What do you want to do?
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Liz
Yes, there is very often crossover with other abuses.
I like how you say “I had to disengage them in order to save myself” ~ that is how I feel too.
This reminded me of the fact that I gave both my parents a choice about our relationships. I told both of them what I was upset about and what I had had enough of. Neither of them was willing to change anything. SO… through that grid of understanding, I am not really the one that abandoned the relationship. It helped me to know that and to be able to commuicate that, when I was confronted about the situation.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Karla
Wow. Thank you for shaing this exapmle!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Brenda
This is an excellent example of passive abuse!!! STanding by when a raging adult goes against a child, YOUR OWN CHILD, is really pathetic! And YES the message is that his GUNS were more important than you were. OUCH.
About the enablers being victims, we all have a choice. I was a victim too and I stopped this cycle! Even though most of the time they might have been victims, WE have to heal from the damage they caused in order to heal. I had to acknowledge that damage. I had to stop letting their history get in the way of my healing.
Thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Katie
I understand what you are saying. In my process of healing I had to look at where those fears originated and override the false messages at the root, where it all began. This was the biggest part of the process for me. It is what I refer to as the “re-wireing” my belief system.
I started be-ing when I faced and acknowledged the depth of the damage and the messages that I got from that damage. As I saw the truth, and realized that I was not the cause of all those problems in my childhood, I began to grow some of my own self esteem. That was where my current relationships began to change as I grew in confidence etc.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi OnMyWay
Wow again! Excellent share here. Yay to finding out you are strong enough now.
For about 3 years after I said “enough” I questioned my decision to stand up to them. I questioned if they were right, if I were actually the problem; all that stuff. But each time I thougth about what the alternative was; the alternative was that I would continue to be put down and disrespected and treated like nothing. And I sure don’t miss any of that!! I don’t care what ‘sides’ everyone is on, this is about my life! I don’t have any depression or dissociation anymore. I got my life back! I gave them a choice and they picked. I don’t know what they got, but I got my freedom.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Kathryn,
YES ~ he is the trap. What a great way to put it.
About the beginning of your share; it WAS unfair. Your upbringing was unfair, and for me, acknowledging that was a good thing ~ it was a beginning thing! It was a starting point to change it. Your post really highlights the LIES that I am always talking about; those false messages that get into our belief system. Knowing what they are makes is 100% easier to overcome them!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene: I love Emerging from Broken! Thank you for your site and your insight. 🙂 Regarding the “passive abuse” that you speak of, what are your suggestions for someone to address this behavior, specifically the cutting off in mid sentence and no acknowledgment when talking. I am referring to communicaton between two adults. My story a long one and I am encountering this communication issue,the dismissive attitude, with a few adults in my close personal life. I have tried confronting , but not so effective and kind of stressful. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated.Thanks so much and keep doing wonderful things.


Hi Darlene: I love Emerging from Broken! Thank you for your site and your insight. 🙂 Regarding the “passive abuse” that you speak of, what are your suggestions for someone to address this behavior, specifically the cutting off in mid sentence and no acknowledgment when talking. I am referring to communicaton between two adults. My story a long one and I am encountering this communication issue,the dismissive attitude, with a few adults in my close personal life.


Hi Kim
Other than confronting I am not sure what you could do. When confronting doesn’t work, then it is time to make a new decision. For me that meant deciding if I was going to put up with it or not. (I chose not) All of it is certainly stressful, but on the other had being discounted is also stressful so either way….
Hope this helps.
Hugs, Darlene


Pam, what you wrote to Karen “Let me count the ways I was discounted…my thoughts were discounted, my feelings, my needs, my dreams, my intellegence, my truth, my life, my joy, my pain, my children, I can’t count all the ways my family discounted me…they are innumberable. It’s a miracle that I didn’t simply disappear.:0( ” Such a painful state for a child…kids are supposed to be raised in a world where people care about them & see to their needs. Why is that considered so extravagant to some?

I was seldom visible to either of my parents. My needs most often went unmet, or even acknowledged. Dad would often tell me that “I didn’t need ‘that (fill in the blank with a child’s needs).'” I never had my eyes checked as a kid because it never crossed their minds that I might need corrective lenses. My parents clearly saw that I had trouble seeing far away. Funny that they had at least a yearly check up & both wore glasses. They also were aware that my birth mother needed glasses because she wore them when she was pregnant with me. It took me until I was 35 to have my eyes examined, at the encouragement of a teacher who could see that I was having issues with my vision.

I can remember that I came down with chicken pox when I was 12 years old. Mom & dad had a business trip planned. Instead of cancelling it to attend to me, they brought me along & stuck me in a motel room. While they spent the better part of every day (4 days total) being around other people & having fun, I spent it alone, miserably itchy, without so much as another person (besides the ones on the tv) to talk to. When they did come back at night, they never asked me how I felt, if I needed anything, nothing. It was as though I wasn’t really there.

Thinking back on different times in my life…I can’t really remember either of them going out of their way to spend time with me or my kids (they were treated exactly the same way). And now people wonder why I have chosen distance from my dad. It’s difficult to try to talk to someone who still has little interest in what or who I am or my kids. I refuse to chase him anymore…chasing after the dream of being accepted, being loved by him. I don’t ‘need’ him anymore, don’t want his acknowledgement, all I want now is peace & to be left alone. Ironic, isn’t it?


Hello Darlene and all,
Thank you for your reply it is very comforting to have your valued opinion. It took me ages to actually dare to write about my monthly period problem and the ST in newspaper.Please remember what happened to me started in the late 1950s and early 1960s.I am 63 yrs now and still mixed up in my head but with your help things are a changing.Today I got a Mothers Day card to post to the CH.A very small card with not really much wording.That will be enough.
When I first joined your site it took me forever to get the courage to write a reply, I was so afraid that someone might know it is me!!!
The first thing that I wrote and sent never appeared and I dont know where it went to. It was about my teenage yrs when my brother was alive, and the awful smell in the house. I have always thought that my mother may have had a baby and perhaps it died or whatever and was put in the attic.If this is so it accounts for the fact that my father who is 90yrs still lives in the family home and refuses to budge. He says the only time he will leave is when he is dead.Remains will be found if I am correct.When my brother died very suddenly age 19yrs in 1966 the doctors didnt have an inquest or anything they just passed it off as,”oh dear he has died oh what a shame and buried him.I feel he was abused sexually and most certainly physically I witnessed that regularly. Although it is only in later years that I have thought sexually because I think we never associated sexual abuse with boys it was only thought of in those days as a girl thing.This site is amazing with the stories of abuse which is so wide spread.Unbelievable.
Thank you again Darlene and everybody.xx


January, Pretending to have a real parent in the people who hold that title but never accept the responsibility of it, just gets silly after awhile. I just couldn’t play-pretend anymore and continue to reach out to people who never ever reached out to me except, when it was compulsory and couldn’t be avoided. I think it is a perfectly normal and right reaction for you to no longer try to have a relationship with the man who failed you so miserably, as a dad. I’m glad you have found that strength.



Yes Pam and January I was discounted in all those ways too. It speaks to
the intense brainwashing as a child that I kept trying to prove myself.
The crazy making when you confront the discounting bothered me
more than not being heard. That if I spoke up to the abuse in any
way it was their proof that I deserved it. I get riled up just thinking about it.
Grooming. Thats a very good description.
Darlene is right about the rewiring process. But it takes a bit of time and
insight which I didnt have until I understood what happened to me.


My father was also emotionally unavailable and distant, though he had his side of very overt abuse as well. But of course, I was blamed for the fact that he hated me and we had no relationship. I recall my sister once said to me that he would only talk when you’re alone in the car with him, and then all he was interested in discussing was harry krishna, so if I didn’t get to know him it was because I supposedly didn’t go anywhere or keep the conversation going myself.

But that is ridiculous. The fact is, he communicated quite openly that he hated me, that he had no interest whatsoever in who I am and what I believe in. He never talked to me, but only at me, frequently in angry dinner table rants, and when he said nothing, he always communicated to me an exasperation as to why I was there, spending time with the rest of the family. I was unwanted, and told that it was my fault on top of that. I don’t know which was worse, really. My sister tried to “reassure” me that one day he would come around; she couldn’t understand that I didn’t want that anymore. I would prefer that he and the rest of my family stay away, because I am definitely not missing anything good, and don’t want their stifling, suffocating presence in my life.

Darlene, you do such amazing work here, and deserve to have your own personal time and obligation-free donations to help keep it running. So sorry that doesn’t always work out.



I fail to see what HIS health has to do with any of this. What about YOU?? People say those things, “well how are you going to feel if he/she dies?” and I wonder if they even realize what they are saying? I answer “What are you talking about?? They had their whole lives. They made their choices but I am supposed to keep putting up with this abusive treatment?” Do people really think that we ‘should’ accept being treated like nothing?? People shut up when I talk like this. They are stunned. It’s like they are so brainwashed by this whole thing that they don’t even realize how stupid it sounds to be told to accept abuse/neglect/disrespect just because ‘they’ are ‘family’.
About compassion ~ I realized that I needed to have some compassion for myself in all of this. My parents got all my compassion for all those years.
Thanks for your comments… I could write all day about this whole subject.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Caden
Yes, talked AT you, I know what you mean. And you bring up an interesting point about realizing that there is no reason to ‘want’ them to change anymore because really in a lot of cases, some of the truama is so disgusting and so degrading (and criminal) that really ~ WHY would you want a ‘relationship’ with someone like that?

I asked myself so many questions on this journey in order for me to realize that I wasn’t missing anything ‘good’ either. It was all very painful. and now it isn’t. 🙂
Thanks for sharing Caden and thanks for your encouragement. 🙂
Hugs, Darlene


YES about the re-wiring process ~ It takes time and insight that comes from UNDERSTANDING what happened in the first place. The key was to my present was in my past.
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Wow about your brother and the suspicion about the dead baby.
It does take courage to write here, I know. This week there have been over 3000 legit visitors a day and the average comments per day are around 35. That is how few people comment.

I remember when I decided to use my real name to do all this type of work. (and not my married name, my original maiden name, which I legally changed back) it took me months and months to decide. One day I suddenly realized that I should not be the one who is afraid to get caught talking about this stuff! I didn’t do anything wrong!

Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene!

This whole paragraph you wrote today is so validating!

“I fail to see what HIS health has to do with any of this. What about YOU?? People say those things, “well how are you going to feel if he/she dies?” and I wonder if they even realize what they are saying? I answer “What are you talking about?? They had their whole lives. They made their choices but I am supposed to keep putting up with this abusive treatment?” Do people really think that we ‘should’ accept being treated like nothing?? People shut up when I talk like this. They are stunned. It’s like they are so brainwashed by this whole thing that they don’t even realize how stupid it sounds to be told to accept abuse/neglect/disrespect just because ‘they’ are ‘family’.
About compassion ~ I realized that I needed to have some compassion for myself in all of this. My parents got all my compassion for all those years.
Thanks for your comments… I could write all day about this whole subject.”

Thank you for your support, you have no idea how much that means. Most people think I am being mean to him. I could never say the horrible things that he’s said to me over the years, or how his actions proved to me time & time again that I was of absolutely no worth unless I provided him with something HE needed at the time. My childhood was sacrificed solely for my parents’ needs. All I got out of it, was these terrible memories I cannot shake. They still haunt me even though I have prayed to God many times to remove them.

You’re absolutely right! My dad never did care about me or my health. I have the memories to prove his disloyalty. He has continued to treat me exactly the same way he & mom always have. I have gone above & beyond the call of duty. Funny, how I am the one who always has to step up to the plate, while he does nothing. He still calls me once in a while, but hangs up once he hears my phone ring. He still expects me to jump through his hoop & call him. Nothing doing…I have nothing more to say to him since he has never bothered to hear me out. What a sick sick bastard. He’s hurt me, my kids, & other people too. 🙁 I am tired of feeling bad because of his behavior. It’s disgusting!

Thank you again!!! 🙂 Made my day!


I have a very obvious abusive family on all levels and if I talk about it people offer sympathy. However my husband had the type of up bringing were the abuse is not recognise as abuse. He was totally devalued as an individual as a person. His needs wants desires were ignored or ridiculed


For a long time now I have thought about writing a post about this very topic; ~ when people say “but she is your mother, and what if she dies?” I am not even sure why I haven’t written one that specific yet. It is insane that everyone is alwasy focused on the parent no matter how young OR old the child is. When does the child count? I think I am going to go write it! Glad it made your day!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene!

Glad you decided to blog about this issue. Why aren’t all people important, why does one have more value than another? You’re right, it makes no sense!

Hugs back to you! Can’t wait to read your next blog!


Hi Ja Wood
Thank you for sharing. This is such an epidemic. Most families don’t “call it abuse” ~ part of healing for me was calling it what it was.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene

The response in my mind when people say “but she is your mother, and what if she dies?” is GOOD.

And you won’t see me at the funeral!!!

She was violent, unstable and neglectful and I spent my childhood being terrorised and abused.

Why would I feel anything else?


Hi everyone,

It’s been a long time I haven’t written here but I have still read the new posts and the new messages.

I have no contact with my mother since 7 months and she didn’t find nothing better to call a social worker because “she worried about me”.

I am so upset. I have received a letter by the social services to go to an appointement with a social worker because “My mother warned her about worries she had about me” and that we will consider my situation.

So so scaring for me. In my head, it’s the same cycle, i will never be free ! I will never succeed to go away for good, to live MY life, to be happy, far from those who abused me ! It’s really hard for me to break this dependance with my enable mother (who tormented me and was totally ok when my father made me suffer like hell.

It’s so so hard.
I am afraid the social worker wants to put me in a hospital because my mother could have told that I am depressed and suicidal (even, if there is little chance) but this situation makes me both angry and very anxious. The past emotions of being a prisonner came to the surface, noooooooooooo !!

I suspect my mother to use this mean to force me to see her.

Thanks you for reading.


Furthermore, this social worker know that I had a violent childhood and she didn’t helped me at all, I don’t like her, I think she’s not a good person, she is judgmental and cold.


Thank you for posting this…

My biological father remarried…my parents divorced when I was 3…I found him when I was 19. He said he couldnt find me, excuse.

When I first tried to get ahold of him, it was his sister I found first, she had to ask his permission first if I could call him. She gave him my number and the first few times he called me, it was from a blocked number. He said it was because he wanted to make sure I wasn’t a vengeful kid. I was 19. I was just so excited to hear from my dad that I didnt realize how awful that was for him to say! Now I feel like HELLO! There I was, having done NOTHING wrong to him, didnt even get to be raised by him and he already devalued me right off the bat!

My father is not emotionally there for me. He told me once that he wasn’t even sure if I am his daughter because my mother cheated on him a lot. I asked him for a paternity test once because I thought that maybe if he had doubts, then I could put it to bed in his mind and begin to build a relationship with him. He said, “Well, I’ve always thought of you as my daughter, so I don’t need to know that.” Because he said one sweet thing, I went along with it….but now, I realize that I’m letting him off the hook too easy. In the 11 years that he has been back in my life, he has NEVER once said ANYTHING to make me a part of him…for example, he doesn’t say that my looks, personality or anything resembles him, yet he goes on and on about his other kids and how things they do and look like resembles him….

He doesn’t make the effort to see me even though he only lives 2 hours away. He barely calls me unless I stop calling him completely. When I tell him that I’m sick with a cold, he just says sorry that you are sick and doesn’t call me again for like a month…not to even ask how I’m feeling or if I’m feeling better…..yet I always make sure and call him to see how he is doing, etc.

He came to my wedding which was cool….but only his wife made us a quilt as a gift…

I asked him 2 months ago if we could start meeting half way once per month and do something together…he spoke of financial issues and I said, we can go to the beach and bring our own lunch…it doesn’t cost money…He said after the holidays that he would get back to me about it. Last week I called him and asked if he would come up here some Sunday and hang out with me. JUST HIM and not everyone else. He said well lemme see what everyone e,se has on their schedules to see if we can all make it up there. UGH!!!

I’ve tried talking to him before about it and that is when he brought up paternity and when he used my being married now as some excuse for him not being involved….I think it was leave and cleave he said….Well I never had anything to leave in the first place.

It’s a long story…but I think I’m going to demand a paternity test…so that at least if his doubt causes him to not want a relationship with me, I may have a chance of getting that once it’s proven…..But, if it is proven and he still doesn’t step up to the plate, then at least I can confront him, move on and heal…..then I could stop idealizing what I could have with him…. I wonder if he resents me because of my mother…

When I drive down to visit him, he NEVER remembers my food allergies and asks over and over why I can’t eat this or that….oh, but his son has a peanut allergy and he remembers that!

It’s just SO frustrating. Sometimes I just wanna hit him and say HELLO, buddy! Here I am…start paying attention or go away. I don’t need you!


Hi Daisy
It is freeing to see things with that kind of clarity isn’t it!!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Aurele
Do you have to keep that appointment?? Can you call and tell they that you got sick and tired of your mothers torment and stopped contact with her but you don’t need to see any ‘help’. I don’t understand how your mother could actually ‘make’ you see this woman. You might have to call a lawyer or a doctor who will advocate for YOU in this situation to keep yourself safe.
Hugs, Darlene


I’m so sorry he treats you in that way. Sounds like he isn’t interested in you as a unique person and you sound like a neat person. My father took no interest in me after I married except to
have a vacation at our house in FL every year. (cheap) When I was a teenager he tried very hard to mold me into exactly what he wanted. He never saw me as a person. I was an object to be controlled, and molded. As I started to become an independent person with my own right, I was belittled and punished for being myself. I learned to carefully not show myself any more. I learned not to be me. I tried and tried to “prove” myself worthy of his attention and affection. I was only given that if I measured up to what he saw me as.
I finally stopped trying. I finally saw that he did not need or want me in his life. His life was focused on his needs and they were all that mattered. I had never mattered to him, not really.
His attention was all for appearances. So too, he could tell himself what a great person he was.
It was so dysfunctional. I have walked away from trying to prove I am OK because I don’t need to prove I am lovable to be loved. It hurts sometimes but its the truth. Karen


Hi Jami
excellent insight! Yes, it was very discounting for him to do that!
The question for me became why I wanted to be around my father who constantly reminded me that I didn’t matter to him. I had this sort of “proof addiction” ~ I was hooked on trying to PROVE that I WAS worth it. And deep down I believed that if HE suddenly validated me and if I mattered to him, then I would finally matter. I didn’t realize that I was looking for validation from the same people who invalidated me. My father isn’t interested. Why is it up to me to keep chasing him? It was exhausting but it was the realization of how he makes me FEEL that helped me to see the truth. I can’t do anything to make him interested in me, but I sure can make changes that protect me from all that stuff.
I know this hurts, hang in there.
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks Darlene.

This is a way for my mother to keep control over my life, to protest because I want to leave this family. Horrible.
I immediately thought about hospitalization because this situation remind me my past, but I think it’s not probable, I am not violent towards others nor violent for myself. I hope, I am right…

Unfortunately I am very lonely these times, but I will go to see my farmer psychiatrist who said to me once day that I am not ill, I have just post traumatic syndrom because I am traumatized and that I don’t need to be labelled as “handicaped” . (because of my health problems, I thought one day about being recognize as handicaped worker).
I think she will help (I hope too).

I am so shocked that my “mother” reacted that way. I knew it will be hard but I didn’t imagine she will do this.
Now, I have no doubt she is a nuisance for me and not a good person at all.

Hugs to yo too.


My mother and my brother are very abusive towards me both overtly and covertly. I was always ignored, cut off, discounted, dismissed, and not taken seriously. This is after growing up in very abusive environment and violent abuse from my brother all throughout my childhood. My mother neglected us and allowed all of her many, many boyfriends to beat us regularly. We were starved because my mother was too proud to get any kind of food stamps, get a job, or take care of us in the most basic ways. She always chose herself and her sex and her drugs over our basic health. I was taken to the hospital by a friend of hers when I got a kidney infection when I was 9, I had been in terrible pain for a week before anyone came home to find me. They didn’t believe me at first, they thought I was putting on a show for attention, but when I started crying from the pain when they goaded me to get up off the couch, her friend finally realized how serious it was.

She did nothing about my brother being violent towards me. This grew into emotional and verbal abuse as we got older. He would try to set me up on dates with his friends because “I needed to get fucked good” because I was “such a bitch”. I remember him telling a friend of his that I didn’t find attractive at all that I was interested, and even set up a date and time. The poor guy was totally deflated when I refused, he looked like a deer in headlights. It’s like I’m not a human being to him, or my mother. They will talk about me right in front of me as if I’m not in the room, defining me to their own likings. When I spoke up, I got the whole combination of being ignored, cut off, discounted, blank stares, and an immediate change of the subject/reality. Lots of projection, too. When I was younger they would tell me I was the problem, then that turned into ignoring and talking behind my back when I got older because they knew I had it figured out.

Then there’s my father. He was never there growing up. My parents divorced when I was five and I still don’t know why to this day. They always talk badly about each other and blame each other and try to get me to blame one or the other along with them. There were a whole 10 years that I didn’t know if my dad was alive or dead, then when I was 19 a friend of my mom found him online. I tried to form a relationship with him until he got involved with a girl 3 years younger than me. I tried to accept her, despite the age difference, but ironically she was too immature to accept me being older than her. She would say she felt weird when I called my dad “dad”. It was around this time that my dad told me that he “wanted to have kids someday”, I told him he already had 2 kids, and he said he “wanted to do it right this time.” I didn’t know what to say. I was still in denial about my own abuse, I was in the mindset that I knew I had it rough, but a lot of kids had the same if not worse, and not to dwell on the past, think positive thoughts, I was the problem since I could never be happy. Another part of me didn’t want to admit that my family hated me and disregarded me like a tumor. I couldn’t believe that was even possible. Whenever I tried to ask my dad about the past, like where was he, why didn’t he come get us, did he know how messed up it was, etc, he said he couldn’t remember anything. He could never give me a straight answer as to why my parents divorced (my mother always said it was because my dad was very abusive). I personally can’t remember much, which makes sense since I have PTSD.

After a few years of trying to make a relationship work with my father, I had enough. I moved out of state and quit my job to live with him, I wanted to have family that loved me and to create happy memories. He spent every waking hour with his new girlfriend. She talked to me about him like an immature teenager, she did not respect him, and that bothered me. The whole thing bothered me. I didn’t feel comfortable talking about my dad like that, and I didn’t like her disrespect. I voiced this all to my dad, and how he was literally unavailable emotionally. He said he understood but he wanted to “feel it out”, and continued to ignore me. I was in a new town with no friends or family, it wasn’t what I had planned. I was anxious, depressed, dismissed, and totally rejected, again. Back then I didn’t fully understand my own actions or his, but it is all clear to me now and I am proud of myself for leaving that bad situation despite the fact that I didn’t really understand how to articulate it. I trusted my gut, even though I questioned it the whole time.

I haven’t spoken to my father in about 6 years. I have been contemplating contacting him again, but I don’t think I can fully let go of the expectations of him acknowledging me and respecting me. I am not ready to be rejected again. He’s been on my mind a lot lately because he was always a sense of hope for me that at least someone in my family loved me. He is a psychologist, too, and he supported me emotionally when I first put myself into college, and that made everything a lot harder to accept. I can’t stop thinking about contacting him though, and telling him everything I know about him now. I have written to him already, but I haven’t sent anything to him. I expect to be dismissed again, but it feels like the hope I have outweighs reality.


Hi Alice
I know how hard it is to give up that hope; for me I had to take a look at the truth and eventually it bacame clear that I was hoping for something that I had no reason to believe would ever happen. What helped me the most was realizing that validation from my family was NOT the solution; healing from the damage was the solution. As I began to heal, it was easier and easier to see that my family gave me no reason to hope when it came to relationship with them and any real hope I ever had was based on something that someone did in order to manipulate me.
Grasping ‘reality’ was a huge part of the process for me; it takes time.
Hang in there,
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you, Darlene. It definitely hurts a lot.


I am very new and you have just described my father and family dynamics. I wanted to believe that my mom was my main abuser–(and there was some abuse from my father and not just a reaction to my mom.) I have learned that the passive one was just as equally guilty. It hurts more to think now as an adult that the passive one could have stopped it! I have learned from these cases that the passive one almost always chooses their spouse over their own child and it hurts!

I feel very safe on this site and I may post my own future stories. Thank you for this great site!


Hi Yvonne
Welcome to emerging from broken!
Yes, it really hurt me too when I acknowledged finally (to myself) that ‘the passive one’ could have taken some sort of action. It isn’t even that he chose my mother over me as much as it is that he chose to turn a blind eye. He didn’t take ANY action beyond providing food / shelter.
Glad you are here.
Hugs Darlene


Alice, (post 84)

I have spent years trying to have a healthy connection with various relatives. All the time, energy, money, etc. I so desperately wanted to be a part of the inner circle – not the outside looking in. One of the problems was that the feeling wasn’t mutual. The other party wasb’t able / willing to have an equal, mutually beneficial relationship. It is hard to let go of the fantasy of something that never was. It is a process.


“I have learned from these cases that the passive one almost always chooses their spouse over their own child and it hurts!” Yes, it’s true.
My mom was all devoted to my violent father and never did something to protect me because she didn’t want. All was counted was to please him.


Sorry this setnence : “All was counted was to please him” wasn’t clear.

I wanted to say :
All that matters to her, was to always please my father enven if it included to be violent with me.


I have lived the same Yvonne. I so hate my mother for that, for having choosing him over me, my health. And she could have stop it but whe never wanted to do it. It’s easy to consider herself as a victim, but it’s not true. I was the only victim.


My mother was the passive aggressive parent. I always saw my
father as the chief abuser because he was violent.
Actually he was her abuser. She was mine. I saw her as the poor victim.
She was. But she taught me to be a victim. She always chose my father
over me. She was jealose of any attention or gifts or time he spent with me.
She bestowed all her love on my brother her perfect golden child. She
begrudged any attention anyone showed me. If anything nice happened to me, she would
belittle and discount it to steal my joy. Any chance she got to
cast me aside as a child she did. She was always subtle. Whatever she did,
“he”, my father made her do. Everything is beyond her control so she
is blameless. In the past 5 years or so all her manipulations were ganging
up on me again. My feelings towards myself got lower and lower. Seeing
that as how she “feeds” on others and stepping away has taken a
weight off my chest. I will never go back to living that way again.


I am so glad that you brought this all up. I felt sad when I read about the person who told you they were missing out on all the “good things.” Sad that they feel that way, and that they haven’t learned to love themselves enough to realize that THEY are the GOOD THING in their life. I too have felt some nostalgia the last few months about some of the relationships that aren’t in my life anymore, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say any of the “good things” in my life have been diminished.

When we walk away from the abusive system, the people who remain ensnared in a web of their own creation literally lose the life energy of that web of insanity, so they’ll do anything to suck us back in. Sometimes they are “nice” or “sweet,” sometimes they are violent, making threats and giving ultimatums. These are NOT good things. At all. I am happy to have my freedom even if it means my life has changed drastically in creating that freedom. I have had to make some sacrifices, but I haven’t given up anything. I’ve gained self-respect and truth, which to me, is everything.


Hello Yvonne and everybody,
I was new to this site at Christmas,and it took ages for me to write something and then I worried did it sound right was the grammar correct oh oh oh and what about the choice of words etc etc.
Then I started to write and feel so much better for it.I also still have more to write.At first it is so scary I was worried what will everybody think but we are all together,so it is important for you and us to hear your story then we can start helping you and helping ourselves at the same time.So please spit it out you will feel better.

Hello Karen,
Very well written.I relate to all you have just said.The only difference was my mother wasnt subtle.She was very direct and frightening.She told me when I was about 15yrs old that she was taking my brother(now deceased)back to the country she came from and was leaving me with my father.I cried and begged her to take me with her believing that she was going anyday.The thought of staying on my own with him was terrifying.As it happened that night she took an overdose and was taken to hospital.Then when she came home who did she blame, yes me because I was horrible to my father and I would have to be nicer him. He was a thug with her and used to hit her.She has been totally brainwashed by him over the last 60 yrs and would never ever say a bad word against him.But she did not protect us and approved of what was happening.I had some pet mice he killed them.The same with my rabbits and my budgie.Then he killed my strippy cat.They wanted us to have pets and then they killed them when we got attached to them.EVIL.Wendy xx


Well,I think that I am brave enough to share some stuff. Like most of us,there are just too many incidents to talk about. I think that I could write a book if I had to. I could talk about the childhood incidents but there was one time I remember as an adult about ten years back. Since then,I did earn a college degree as an older student and improved my life. I have always been single and managed to get by when I was a young adult working at like two PT customer service jobs and roommate situations. There was a time when my job(s)were waning and my money situation was tight. I have always been single and my only real family members are my abusive parents,having no siblings. Plus,my few good family members died when I was a kid.

Anyway, to make a long story short I ended up moving back into my parent’s house. It was that or become a semi-homeless person living in my car! So, I really tried to make it work. Once again I was working the two jobs and doing all the housecleaning and extras like a live-in maid. I tried my very best to be quiet,polite,and take care of all the house duties. My life consisted of simply going out to my jobs and the housework.

Then I don’t know why or how this happened but of course the old patterns started over again. I remember that I was doing the dishes? and for no good reason my mom had one of her “outbursts” and this one was very severe! She starting screaming at me and saying things to the effect that I was “worthless, no good, etc.” and asking why was I living with them? It got worse and she picked up the phone and started to call the police, basically lying that her daughter–(me)–was trying to assault her. NO WAY!! I was shocked but what’s worse was seeing my own father taking her side with the expression on his face. So,I was starting to lose it and I did not want to wait around for the end result…I grabbed my purse and started walking backwards to the front door in slow motion and somehow opened the door to keep walking out front to my car. I remember driving to a park and then I was walking in this park for like hours thinking how could anybody accuse someone of a crime they didn’t commit? And how could I get a job/apt. with a police record? And most of all how could my father support her?

It turned out that despite her threats that she didn’t call the police with her phoney accusations but it came close! Of course, I scrambled to find another place right away. The worst part was being in that park walking alone and having like “an out of body experience” and thinking how could my own biological father betray me? I told myself that I could never accuse an innocent person of a “crime” but that I’m different and I’m not them. Sometimes I wonder if my father had left her when I was a child if he could have had a more “normal” personality but I don’t know….and I’ll never know. Now I have extremely ‘low’ contact but not ‘no’ contact due to living in the same state–but in different cities. I wanted ‘no’ contact but I could not bear to lose my circle of very good friends in this same state where my parents live. My parents are both very elderly now, without a lot of time left, and they were rather old when I was born. I have always been a ‘model’ daughter and wished that I could have been adopted out to a good family who could have appreciated me. Oh,well, but I am doing much better now and I live alone in my place with a better job, but money is still tight. But it’s getting better. Thanks for reading! Yvonne



OMG; that comes close to experiences I had living with my parents at age 42 with my four children after a divorce. OMG; I feel your pain.

Reading that account, I just went to the park with you. My mother struck me with her fist right before Christmas, and then rushed in to tell my father what I had done and he came out rebuking me. 2005.
I moved out within a week. Lived in same town for next few years near them.

2008 I got married and they told the man that he had no idea what he was getting into. (yeah, fingers pointing back at them!!) So, we don’t socialize with my parents. My dad makes fun of my husband cutting up peaches in the kitchen, like I have made a slave out of him.

Still, I helped my mother recover from 3-in-1 major heart operation that year. They treat me like they don’t want me in their town and berate me for not communicating. I have gone pretty near no contact.

This is why I say that when violence is threatened or used, you have to get away, or they will actually end up accusing you of it.


Well, a couple of days ago, I requested a paternity test from my dad. I’m so frustrated with him. I carefully worded a one page or more email where I was so nice and thoughtful of him…well, at least I tried to be once again for his feelings sake, and I only got like a two sentenced reply. I really feel like he missed the point entirely. I feel like he once again, did not present himself emotionally again. Here are the emails:

Me to Him:
I need for you to do a paternity test. I will figure out how to do that and get back to you. I will pay for it.

Him to Me:
Was a bit puzzled by your request. I wasn’t aware paternity is so important to you. Why the sudden urgency? Talk to you soon.

Love Dad

Me to Him:
I can imagine this may feel like it’s coming from left field. For me, it’s something that has been on my mind a lot since you mentioned it to me last year (I had no idea this was a question), but not for the reasons you think. I have ALWAYS thought of you as my father since my first memory, and now, I think of you, (deleted name), (deleted name), (deleted name), and (deleted name) as my family.
As much as I love you, knowing that you have a doubt in your mind, whether it be subconscious or conscious, always leaves me feeling like I’m on the outside.
Many times when we’ve spoken, there have been things that you’ve said, whether you’re aware of it or not, that make me feel like you don’t 100% see me as your biological daughter. There are things that you’ve said that you and the other kids all have in common without including me in that. Things like character traits, talents, and other genetic characteristics that I feel I have in common with you that you cease to acknowledge or go out of your way to disacknowledge at times.
I don’t think for a second that you would do these things to hurt me, but they do. I understand what it’s like to be with a Sociopath and I also understand what it’s like to be raised by a Narcissist. So, I don’t blame you for one second for having resentments and doubts about the period of your life that you spent with my mother. I, for one, have so many doubts myself about my life with her. She is no longer a part of my life, and hasn’t been for more than a year. You, (deleted name), (deleted name), (deleted name), and (deleted name) are the only family that I have besides (deleted name).
I can imagine the trauma that my mother must’ve put you through, and I can not imagine what it felt like to have a child with someone you couldn’t trust. It terrifies me to think that you would look at me as my mother’s daughter instead of as your daughter. I’m nothing like her, and I don’t want to be seen as a part of your past with her anymore.
Because of this experience you’ve had with her, I thought that maybe it’s the reason why you put me at such a distance emotionally. Time and time again, I keep coming back to the thought that if you could put your doubts to rest, once and for all, we could move forward in our relationship unimpeded by the past.
Dad, I love you so very much. I’m so grateful that I have you in my life. I thank God every day for you guys. No matter how it turns out, it would not change the fact that I’ve known you as my father my whole life. It would not change the fact that I love you and love all of you. I just want to know in my heart that you know, in your heart, 100% for sure.

His reply to Me:
I am happy to do what i can to put your mind at ease. I love you, always have and always will. Let me know what I can do.


Hi Karen
I could really relate to what you were saying here! In my case even though my father was the passive abuser, my mother was the main abuser but my father was HER abuser too. He drove her nuts with his passive, “nothing affects me” stuff. I think that is why she yelled so much! She couldn’t seem to get his attention! This stuff gets SO complicated ~ but as long as we see the damage and begin to heal from it, we are on the right track!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Kylie
Great points Kylie! There was this period of time when I hung between “knowing” what you are talking aobut; when I constantly had to remind myself that I “wasn’t missing anything” by not having relationship with those people. It was really hard ~ it was like being in-between the brainwashing and the truth and not always knowing which was ‘right’. eeks… I am so glad not to be there anymore! I am so happy to have my freedom too!!! and you are so right, NOW I have the good things! Not back then!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Yvonne
Thanks for sharing these examples of what I have come to know as ‘typical dysfunction”. ugg. It is crazy the lengths that ‘family’ will go to to keep ownership and control over their own kids. It is stunning.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Jami
Thanks for sharing your letter. I know that you needed more than what he gave you in his response to you. All those words that have no action behind them, esp after what you shared. I know that you needed him to address the specifics that you related to him and he didn’t. I hear you.
Hugs, Darlene



For so long I have felt like this in the relationship with my Father. Four months before he died in August of 2008 I stopped talking to him unless I saw him somewhere. I would take his phone calls and just act like I always did. A part of me didn’t want to hurt him because somewhere inside I imagine he was just as broken as I was emotionally at that point.

My Father died a month before my second baby – my son – was born. I went into a downward spiral of HELL. Literally. I moved in with my Mother with my family because we lost our jobs, my Grandparents died the same year (both my Father’s parents). I felt about as useless as you can imagine. I got pregnant and had my third baby – my second son. My husband had joined the military and wasn’t there.

After moving to Nova Scotia where we finally seem to be settling in (after TWO YEARS!) I feel ready to divulge and even experience some of my memories. Since coming to Nova Scotia a few memories I didn’t even know I had started to come back to me. I kicked my Mother out of my house last September during her visit. During the past year the whole thing has blown out. I’ve told members of my Family, some believe me and others don’t care.

My Uncle sexually abused me at the age of 7. It happened once. I told my Mother about it and she told me that she would take care of it so it would never happen again. I couldn’t tell my Father because it would hurt him and he’d kill my Uncle.

My Mother physically beat me once when I was about three for embarrassing her by colouring on a wall at a neighbour’s house.

I described in detail what happened to my Aunt who was sexually abused by my Uncle from 3 – 15 when she got pregnant by her boyfriend and left home. I believe he sexually abused my Mother too. He’s been accused of abusing other children including two of my female cousins. There have also been instances of flirtation and copping a feel here and there.

Since remembering everything has kind of “clicked into place”. Memories, ways people talked to me or treated me, direct cuts to my character, etc. They all make sense to me in my heart and in my head. Upon confronting my Mother she said that there was a lot going on that year for her and she was sorry if she didn’t do anything about it. My Father was found to be doing coke, held a shot gun to my head and my sister was born just before the summer my Uncle decided to do what he did to me. I think from that moment I pulled away from my Father. I couldn’t trust myself to not tell him, to “hurt him” that way. So instead I buried it. After this age he kept away from me because I was likely distant to him and he likely disliked me for it.

In the end EVERYTHING leads me back to my Mother. Why she did the things she did, how she did them, when she did them… Everything was for her to have a family. I guess a large part of it would explain why my Father left ONLY after I did, pursuing a divorce and marrying another person. After that marriage my Father was happier and included me only at holidays and when he felt it necessary to call me. I have no doubt he loved me but there was just too much crap in the middle (caused by my Mother).

When my Father died I found out the woman he married was the Mother of his older daughter. She cheated on her husband with my Father. They had a relationship for years. My life sounds like a dramatical soap opera and I hate it. I have always longed for a boring family that lives on a boring street in a boring town where I grew up my entire life, married someone satisfactory and had a dead end job and two kids to complain and feel unhappy about. I can’t help but feel jealous of the things that I wanted, the things when I see others complain about I feel like literally beating my life into their head so they understand how perfectly boring and fantastic their lives are. As they say ignorance IS bliss. I wish I could have retained my innocence longer than 8 years of age and lived into my blissful ignorant old age of boringness.

But that was not for me. I got this insanely exciting and completely off the wall life that started very dark. I can count on my hands how many days I felt happy as a child. Since remembering and refusing to let any more blame be laid at my door I have been happier more often.

We just found out we’re having our forth and final child (planning anyways). When I was little I used to tell myself I would grow up and not be like the Mother I hated to have. I’d have a large family full of love and happiness. I have wanted to homeschool since before I can remember. All those dreams came true.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that bad stuff happens. Sometimes we make it and sometimes we don’t. In the end we have the choice to be better or do worse. If I never suffered those things I went through I couldn’t be who I am today. I’m grateful for that. What else can I do but see the good after how far I have come? From the hole I have climbed out of, sentenced by people that should have loved and protected me? They didn’t help me, I helped myself and I am stronger and better off for it. I can’t help but feel jaded sometimes.

I am not a social person. I think I could have been. I don’t trust people and I find that I just don’t want to try anymore. I’m happy with who I am and where I am in life. If friends come into it I guess I’ll cross that bridge when it comes. For now, I AM enough.


Hi Yvonne,

Just wanted to address your adoption comment above in post 96. I was abused, you name it, I experienced it. I was also adopted soon after birth. My birth-mother hand picked them. Years later, she made a comment to me that she never expected me to reach adulthood alive. She wouldn’t say anything beyond that to explain her words.

There is no guarantee that adopters won’t abuse, unfortunately. I experienced it from both my parents, sometimes just at the hand of my mother, sometimes just my father, but on occasion, they would join up together to hurt me. It’s funny…I am 51 years old, & I still feel guilty for being their daughter. I learned to apologize for being born just to shut them up when they would rage & beat on me. I think I was about 9 years old when I figured that out…if I apologized for living, the abuse would stop. They just walked away…no more at that moment was said. As far as I know, my dad still is as guilt free as ever, & mom went out also guilt free. Must be nice…I want to be guilt free too, but I am not sure that will ever happen.


I hit submit too soon. Yvonne, abuse is wrong…who does it doesn’t matter because it’s still wrong. Parents are supposed to take care of us, our siblings (if we have them) are supposed to look out for one another, but not hurt us. Same goes for other family members. I can’t say why some people feel it’s their God given right to hurt a child, let alone a family member, it’s not. It pisses me off…both my own story & those of others.

I am sorry that you’ve been mistreated by both your parents. Your story is similar to mine. I was forced to move back home when I was 42…worst year of my life. Everything but the sexual abuse continued just as if the years & my age didn’t matter. I was back to being insignificant & dismissed because I was of no use or value.

Hugs….I hope you can find your way too. I have gone no contact with dad. I have absolutely no desire to hear his voice. He has done nothing to make me feel loved in my 51 years…I doubt he has any desire to change his ways. I have learned that I cannot trust anything he does or says.


Hi Darlene, thanks for responding. lol, no, that’s okay. I’ll take what comments I can get 🙂 !!

Yah, you’re exactly right. I also included a sentence in my letter that very specifically states that my mind keeps bringing me back to the thought that because of his relationship with my mother, I felt that maybe it’s the reason he puts me at such an emotional distance.

I read that letter over and over again to make sure that I was not just dropping womanly hints, making sure that I was being direct, clear, and non-confrontational. My husband even helped me with it because he has a great male perspective. He even thought it was very clear and to the point.

I haven’t replied to his email yet. I feel, at this point, it would be futile until I do the paternity test. Only then would I feel safe to be vulnerable with him one last time, to really let him know how I feel without the added, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings” consideration because I’ve tried that route and I see how it doesn’t get addressed.

I feel that only then will I be able to put the bed the last reason on this earth I can think of for why he isn’t emotionally available. Then, I will be able to come out of the fantasy, and then I will have a choice. Either to accept him for who he is (which that would really hurt me), or draw a boundary and let him know, moving on….dealing with my father loss so I can heal from needing him SO badly.

The hardest part is not really knowing what I need from my father or what to call it because I’ve never had it. In my mind, I am always left with the thought that a father who really cared would surely do everything he could to make the effort and make up for the lost time…..but then I tell myself that maybe that’s just a fantasy because he the pain has garbled my perception on what’s healthy in a father daughter relationship.


I noticed last night, in my disappointment with his response, the child in me immediately tried to grab at another excuse or reason as to why he may be acting like this. I thought to myself, “Maybe he does think I’m like my mother. Oh my God! I wonder if he sees me as if I have some personality disorder!”

The thought terrified me and I noticed that I quickly had thoughts of wanting to prove him wrong, but then it was followed by a thought of, “Here I go again, trying to grab at whatever I can….I’m trying to grab at a reason which would send me on a journey of seeking his approval again, proving that I’m worthy of being loved, etc.”

That journey would ultimately keep repeating the cycle….ugh!

I’m going to keep working so hard at it until I have another breakthrough. I know it’s there. I have to keep going. I can’t heal unless I push past these belief patterns and continuously challenge them.

Your blog gives me so much hope so thank you!


Hi Jami
I write tons about how I always came back to the conclusion that it was ‘me’ and that if it was me, I could fix it. OR that it was all a misunderstanding and that if I could prove that, then I could ‘fix it’. In the end it was by seeing the truth, which was that they didn’t care too much about how I felt, (and other related conclusions that the truth revealed) that enabled me to acknowledge the damage that was caused. Once I saw the damage, I was able to start to heal.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Everyone ~
I just published a new post about how I was convinced that I was the problem and the ways that belief came out. My mother had a way of reminding me about how she saw me too, which of course got in the way of the truth. Lots of examples of how my mom made sure that MY focus was on MY faults in order to deflect and even justify hers hers. Here is the link;
“Toxic mother daughter relationship ~ when mom says the problem is YOU”
Looking forward to the discussion there;
hugs, Darlene


Man, wouldn’t it be great if they could just say, “I don’t care about you.”? I mean, that doesn’t sound great, but I feel like it would make it easier.

Why does he call me if he doesn’t care? But that’s all he does so….

It feels like such a conundrum or confused struggle within me….

Because I have friends in my life who I am always the one contacting first, etc, I get confused. Are they unhealthy then too? I either find friends who don’t initiate at all or ones who go overboard and start to show signs of control.

Where is the damn balance?

Then, I start isolating even more thinking that it is me who needs to find the balance. It is my fault for feeling sad about my dad or my friends because I must be placing too much focus on the concept of give and take. So, that must be what is causing them to behave in such ways.

The only people in my life who aren’t like that are my husband, my aunt, my cousins, and one of my friends….

Sometimes I think that my problem is that I think too much, that I’m too desperate to find meaning in everything. The black and white thinking really gets me. I’m so afraid to make changes in my relationships with people in fear of losing them completely….and in fear that I will be alone…

What if I’m the one making a big deal out of nothing? What if the problem is me?

I really appreciate your support. It’s truly magnificent to find others who feel the same things as I do. Let’s me know that I’m not crazy!


I have had two different therapists tell me my dad was not worthy of the name. But I just didn’t really get it until I read this article. They were right. Thank you for making it clear to me.

It is so nice to know my horrible experiences with my Narcissistic mom and emotionally absent father were not mine alone, and that others are making this journey toward better lives with me.

I often fantasize about moving even farther away than I am now (4 hrs away), like to a remote area of Alaska, but really all I probably have to do is change my phone number and not tell them.

Thank you for the inspiration and love I am finding on your site.


Hey Jora!

Gurrrrrrrrl we could share stories. It seems we share the same story. My mom is an N, my father is emotionally unavailable and I had a past relationship with a Sociopath.

Thanks for your comment because I haven’t read in black and white something that resembles my story so closely.

I too fantasize about the same thing. I’ve often thought of moving to a whole other country because it seems like the people there understand the meaning of family. I’ve also often thought about just cutting all ties with my father. I already have with my mother over a year ago.

It is just so hard to accept what I feel to be unacceptable. I’ve heard people say that they can have these light hearted conversation with their N mother and they just accept that she can’t be the mother they want and that they just can’t share their emotions with her. I wish I could be that unaffected by it that I could do that but then on the other hand, the thought of having a superficial relationship with someone sickens me….

Do you talk to your mom?


The article is perfectly stated. Im sure it voices the feelings of many emotionally starved people. I too don’t matter to my family &it left me in a vulnerable position when I married my husband. He and my dad in law are severe narcissists. My marriage has been constant undermining of my self esteem but feelings of hurt were so familiar I thought it was normal & I thought I was deserving of the “annoyed, roll of the eyes, being cut off mid sentence, to be ignored completely & to ask a question & never be responded to. My husbands entire family does this to me too. Im expected to babysit sister in laws newborns while his family all go out together to celebrate my husbands visits home. We fly to Florida once every two years from Seattle. Its considered the family vacation but its no vacation to me. I cook clean babysit bake and keep my mouth.shut to avoid them.ganging against me if I put my foot down. Im not good at setting boundries & FEAR the repercussions of attempting any. I am tired though emotionally. There is no compassion or empathy for me, my losses or illness. I just don’t exist except when the narcissists in my life need a chore done or a scapegoat to blame. Too many tears for too many years…


Hi Jora
Welcome to EFB!
I am glad that you find inspiration and love here! Please feel free to share often
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Michelle
Welcome to EFB
Oh I can totally relate to this! I had all kinds of in-law discounting me problems. I learned to set boundaries by finding out the root of how my self-esteem got so damaged in the first place and how wrong that it was. There is tons of stuff in this site about how I did this and great examples of how I came out of this fog and took my life back.
Glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Jami!
No, my mother died about 10 years ago. I felt free.

I call my father once every two weeks or so out of a sense of duty because he is so old, and it is a real stretch for the conversation to last even 15 minutes. He obviously is uncomfortable. A few times I have gone 4 to 8 weeks without calling, just from emotional aversion.

I am thinking in life the bad things come for free without any effort on our part, but the good things take effort to find. Our lousy parents were free, but escaping and trying to find a new family of friends I am thinking is worth it.

Darlene, thanks for such a wonderful website, and the welcome.


Hi everyone. This post resonated with me. This is very similar to how my father acted with me. I don’t know if he treated my sister the same way. She is the favorite and she had a different experience than I did, but she probably got some of the passive abuse. I could never talk to her about how our parents acted. She shut every conversation about that down immediately. I feel so much better being out of my family. I really was always out of it anyway. I have finally gotten one hundred percent away, and I have told myself that I must never get sucked back in. I don’t think I would be accepted back in anyway, but you never know…people do some weird stuff…..


Hi Andria
What you said about “I really was always out of it anyways” ~ I can really relate to that now looking back.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs Darlene


Hello Darlene…first of all what the person who asked for a refund of their “donation” is a moron…I’m sorry, but look the word up in a dictionary…..just makes me angry that people are so ignorant.

Anyway, I haven’t been here in about a month. I’ve been seeing the updates on facebook and keeps saying to myself…”I gotta get over to EFB and keep up on my reading and reflection. After a few months of this fog lifting, I feel as though I’ve hit a brick wall. I started with a therapist, but have only 2 sessions under my belt. Tomorrow is my 3rd, and I feel like ughhhhhhhhg! I don’t even know what to talk about with her.

My thoughts and feelings are all over the place and my self destructive behaviors seem to be the only thing I want to embrace right now. When I first started waking up, I was excited and hopeful about healing. But living around a very dysfunctional family makes it so difficult…not only that, but now that I have a better idea of what a supportive, loving relationship is, the harder it is for me to be around my elderly mother, or any of my 10 siblings….everything they say….everything they do…is so inappropriate and dysfunctional…uggggggggggggghhhhhh….

My desire to retreat into self-defeating activities such as isolation, over – eating, gambling has been stronger in the past couple weeks than it has ever been in my life. I guess I’ll talk it over with the therapist tomorrow and hopefully she can say something that will snap me out of this funk…

Anyone else have similar experience on their road to healing? Thanks guys.



Hi Connie
This happened to me all the time and I know it is a big issue for millions! Something that helped me was realizing that these things were all coping methods and it is logical that they got worse when I was facing things. So what I did was started to get in the habbit of asking myself what I was trying to cope with when I had those feelings of wanting to escape and how I could face them in order to overcome them instead of avoiding them. That is what worked for me but it was a process of becomming aware that is for sure. Thinking in terms of seeing them all as ‘coping methods’ helped me a ton though.
Hugs, Darlene


Wow Darlene…that’s a great way to look at it. Seems so simple, yet I never thought to look at my negative behaviors as coping mechanisms, and then try to figure out what I’m trying to cope with. I like it! Had a great talk with my therapist today too…she seems to really “get it”….she said there is hope for me. We agreed to making my visits every week instead of every other. Normally, you might think this is just a psycologist trying to make more $….but she actually cut my copay in half in order for me to see her every week…she really seems like she wants to help. Thanks again Darlene. You are such an inspiration to me. To come through what you have and make it to the other side; to become such a wonderful writer…which is a rare talent these days…your story offers me much hope.


Thanks Connie!
I’m glad you are here too and I am happy that you found a professional that you feel comfortable with and have faith can help you on the journey!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone,
I just published a new post related to the content in this post. The question comes up a lot in this site ~ “what if my parents die”~ its natural to wonder about that when we are having issues with them, but it is a horrible thing when people make that statement against you as an accusation, as though you are such a terrible person for standing up for yourself ~ so I wrote about it. You can read it here: “What if my mother or father dies before we resolve our relationship?”</a
See you there!
Hugs, Darlene


[…] Other Related posts ~ Emotionally unavailable Father the Message of Passive Abuse […]


“… When confronting doesn’t work, then it is time to make a new decision…”

We all try confronting, I think; it is a last ditch effort to be heard.

But has it ever worked. Has anyone a story where confronting worked?

These people we confront are damaged, inadequate people. Being confronted is the last thing they can deal with. They can’t handle regular problems, and then we confront them with deep problems about themselves. So of course they are defensive and strike back.

But we hope so much that their love will overcome their inadequacies, we confront in an effort to bring out any scrap of love. We are so desperate to see some love for us in them. We have tried everything else, so we try confronting. And that brings out the beast more in them, and extinguishes any love they had, if they ever had any to begin with.

I confronted, of course it didn’t work. I’ve never heard of a confronting story that did work—and yet, I still hope. There’s no hope for me any more. My mother and I will be in no contact forever.


Hi Kallispell
I have seen confronting work. More than once. It is so sad that not everyone can be receptive to the pain they are causing others. I think that I am (just me personally) an advocate of confronting because I have seen it work and because I was addicted to trying everything just in case it worked (so I could say that at least I tried I guess) but it is the trying forever without any results that I had to let go of. It was the trying when I had tried and tried that was killing me. Letting go of hope when it came to having a loving mother was one of the most painful things I ever did but the truth set me free from the prison I had always been in.
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene!
This post really hits close to home for me! My father is also emotionally unavailable. The only way he has ever been able to reach out to me or show his love is through monetary support. He has no problem telling me that he loves me, but he has never said the words “I’m proud of you”. As a matter of fact, he talks about me behind my back and spreads negative and, most of the time, untruthful gossip about me. As kids, he would tell us that “we would never amount to anything more than a welfare case” and other hurtful things. He spent the majority of his time, when he wasn’t at work, in the garage working on odd projects and, basically, avoiding my mother. Even though he may have just been avoiding my mother it always felt to me as though I had been abandoned by him. I don’t believe that it was by accident that my brother, sister, and I all three ended up marrying narcissists. We were bred to find comfort in them! From a very early age, when I started to take an interest in boys, I always disregarded the “nice guys” who would compliment me, treat me nice, and shower me with adoration. I considered them to be “boring”. I preferred the “bad boys” who disrespected me, disappointed me, cheated on me, and hurt me. Looking back, I realize that I dismissed the nice guys because they didn’t provide me with the “chase” that I was used to when it came to men. Now, 30 years later, my brother is in heaven and no longer suffering the abuse that he endured all of his life. My sister is in the process of divorcing her narc, although she is not taking the time that is desperately needed to heal from this type of abusive cycle. I fear that she will pick somebody who is just like her ex or worse. As for me, I am divorced from my narc, although I am STILL living with him due to financial dependence. I am currently taking active steps to create an income for myself with the intention of leaving him as soon as I become financially independent. In the meantime, rather than fighting with him or spending every waking moment trying to please him or get him to “notice” me, I spend my time educating myself in regards to these types of relationship cycles. I feel so much better about myself and my situation knowing that it’s not my fault, that I’m not a psycho, and that I really do matter! I can finally acknowledge that the person that I thought I was having a “relationship” is not capable of such and the “hope” that I’ve been clinging to for years is gone.
I stumbled upon your page on FB which led me to your website and I just wanted to say thank you so much for your efforts in providing caring, sympathetic, and knowledgeable education to those of us who have endured the pain of abuse. I hope that, in your efforts, you are finding a path to healing as well.


Hi Karen
Welcome to Emerging from broken!
I am glad that you like the work here!
This cycle doesn’t stop when we have not been raised to know our own value. We are attracted to what is familiar and for most of us ‘familiar’ isn’t healthy. The good news is that when we find out what wasn’t / isn’t healthy, we can change the way that our default thinking is and break free from the dysfunction that we have become so used to living in!
Thankfully I can say that I have FOUND the path to healing and have been on it for quite some time now. 🙂
Hugs, Darlene


What a great article. I have been realising this recently about my father. I have been feeling hostile and realised it was because I was hurting emotionally. I have always felt uncomfortable around my father and have carried hurt with me for as long as I can remember, but without knowing why fully because he never did anything to hurt me. Infact, it was my mother’s words that were more hurtful to me, my father stood up for me at those times. So I was confused. Your article has underlined for me what I have recently worked out about my feelings towards my father and the situation between us.
Thankyou also for all that you said about people cutting you off mid-sentence, rolling their eyes, etc. Both my parents do this. Unfortunately, my daughter copies them, particularly my mother, rather a lot. I work hard to teach her otherwise and hopefully, hopefully she will learn the positive.
My parents divorced when I was a teen and my father later went on to remarry and have more children. This meant he was less available for me, especially because he moved hundreds of miles away with his new wife. I rarely see him.
Recently, I came to a point where I decided to let go of him. I felt in my heart that he had let go of me. I’ve always felt that I was a disappointment to him and his younger children are turning out to be more ‘his kind of people’. So I cut the cord. I feel better because I’m not frustrated, burying anything anymore. I still feel hurt but I can feel it and admit it.
Thanks for this article. Keep it up. x


Hi Alice
Welcome to EFB
Very similar story to mine. Sometimes I feel as though I never had a father (in the way that I understood the word father at least.) Like you, I was so frustrated that I could not impact or interest him in any way and letting it go was a relief.
Thank you for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


My new post is published and it really relates to this one and to the comments on this one. It is called ~ “Honor your mother and father; is drawing a boundary a sin” ~ hope you will visit there and perhaps leave a comment!




I know how that feels. But i have to say, if my father only had this kind of issue, then it would be more tolerable. I understand the depression.It makes it especially hard when other siblings don’t have the same experience. Good luck .


Hi Hope
Welcome to EFB
It isn’t more tolerable when it is emotional abuse.Abuse is abuse and the damage we are left with is what we have to heal from. Any kind of abuse sends a false message to the child and that is the problem.
Thank you for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


I, too, hate family reunions. I stopped going. This hurt my Mom. One of my other sisters followed suit and doesn’t go.

My mom does the “they want to see you there” stuff. Yeah, right. “They” don’t even say two words to me. Yeah, “they” really wanted to see me. More like….. Mom needed us to be there for her own validation to “they.”

I get the “oh everyone asks about you when you’re not there.” Um, mom, they are JUST MAKING CONVERSATION, THEY DON’T CARE IF I’M THERE OR NOT!!!!


I am the youngest of 5 in an extremely disfunctional family. The result has been social anxiety and the need for medication. I actually had a meltdown at the last family function and am terrified it will happen again. My father was not only emotionally unavailable but didn’t talk to me at all for years growing up. I was put in the middle of my parents arguments and my father felt I was just like my mother who he despised. (She was hard to with but loved me very much.) On the other hand he adored my older sister and called her sweetie etc, always praising her. My brothers were treated well exept for one who he also belittled. There was physical abuse from both parents. We seemed to be the object of their frustration. The result has been a family of achievers and lots of codependence. I, however, seem to be the blacksheep and a reminder to my siblings of the dysfunction. They like to pretend they are normal and happy and their kids are great. I feel selfconscious and judged at get togethers. Their kids look at me funny so I know they have heard their parents talking. I am the weird bad aunt. We r going to my sisters for Thanksgiving. I will be taking xanax this time. I continue to have bouts of crying and depression. They don’t have much empathy. I think I am an embarrassment to them. My mom died when I was 22 and she was my only support. I feel like I really need them in my life yet on another level they aren’t good for me either.


From Darlene’s post:

I had a choice to make. I could just accept his treatment of me and feel frustrated and hurt every time I saw him or I could decide that I didn’t want to accept the way he treats me anymore.

And you chose #2? Don’t you know? You were SUPPOSED to choose #1! You’re supposed to “choose to accept.” After all, isn’t that what a “choice” is about?


Yeah right. Like #1 is really a “choice.” If it’s a true “choice,” then either one should be acceptable. My mom never said the above exact words, but in a “message behind the message” kind of way, Mom communicated that exact message to me. CHOOSE to be treated in a way you don’t want to be treated because we are your parents. Right…………. I have no say…..


Hi Dory
Welcome to EFB ~ from what you have shared, I think you are going to be able to relate to a lot of my work and the commenters who share.
Hugs, Darlene


“Family” reunions and any kind of major holiday celebration where most normal families get together is still a major trigger of anxiety for me. It is only August now and I am already anticipating how I will cope this coming xmas with feelings of being severely unwanted, discounted and literally dismissed as a person who is treated as though they dont actually exist. It all has to do with being excluded at these events in the past by my mother who wouldnt invite me to join the family xmas gathering because ” my younger brother and I didnt get on” Unbelievable that he was not the one left out, but it was me being blamed for all of our problems. Consequently I am used to being “not wanted” at these major events, a belief which was only reinforced dramatically when after the suicide of my father, my family went ahead with a funeral for him without telling me about it or his death because I was away at mid term vacation at the time and uncontactable. I still struggle to convince myself that I have worth because these exclusions communicated quite clearly that I was simply not of any value. This is the first time that I have realised that so many people share my brainwashed past and are learning how to heal, and as my own family and friends have not ever wanted to talk in detail about the abusive past, I am finding this site invaluable in validating the truth about the insidious and rampant nature of abuse, thank you everybody for contributing.


Dear Darlene,
I googled how to communicate w/a dismissive, unapproachable, hurtful adult brother and your page came up. I am a 59-year-old, divorced woman with a 50 year history of eating disorder/depression. My father was also like my brother. I never had a conversation w/him until I forced one right before his untimely death from car accident – he was 49, I was 23. We have many emotional issues in our family (7 kids) the biggest being the drowning death of my youngest sibling (he was 1, I was 8). I remember being responsible, my mother insists my oldest brother (the one I’m writing about, was responsible). Enter depression and eating disorder for me. The current situation is that due to being on disability I’ve over-used credit cards and became 25,000. in debt, 10,000. of which is on two of my Mom’s credit cards. I decided one day I couldn’t live with the stress & guilt of the debt so I gave notice to my landlord and made a decision to live in my car. When cold weather came I asked my oldest brother if I could sleep in his pool house if it got too cold. I asked him not to mention this to any other family member. He told all his kids. Summer came & he let me move into his basement. Finally, the issue! He never was very communicative (unless he had a few beers) because he’s by nature a very shy person who has big problems with social interaction. Now his treatment of me is so dismissive and hurtful that I often think of suicide. I worked for almost 20 years in a physicians office, then ret’d to college and earned a teaching degree for elementary grades. Due to depression exacerbated by divorce and eating disorder I never had courage to apply for a teaching position. It didn’t help that the Dean of Education at my college pointedly informed me I’d never get a job in teaching at my weight (then about 250) because she had overweight teacher friends w/experience who couldn’t get work. Also, I tried to apply when I lived in CA and was the first to show up for an interview and after 6 hours waiting, was the last to be called but never offered a position. I’m sorry to go into so much detail but thought you should know that my brother has reason to disrespect me. As he told me recently, “Nobody in my family respects or cares for me.” That day I almost took my life. The thing is, I’ve always been the family member who does everything for anyone in need at the cost of my own time, finances and emotions. I believe the only reason he lets me stay at his place (free of charge even though I try to pay him -) the first 4 months I gave him a check to help w/utilities but he never cashed them. So then I decided I’d pay directly to the company which I did and he had a fit) is because I do so much for this children and their kids. But his constant disdain is causing so much emotional pain – recently I’ve noticed a left eye tic. (Of course, having to deal with my mother who has severe dementia doesn’t help.) If you’re still w/me, thanks. I realize I’ve dumped a lot on you but when I read your story, I just started crying and realized I wasn’t alone. Thanks for that even if you can’t respond. Nancy


Hi Nancy
Welcome to EFB ~ you are certainly not alone in this!
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hello Darlene,
Wanted to take a bit of time to express my gratitude for this post. I just discovered you through Facebook and was prompted to seek out this website. After reading many of the topics on your various pages, I decided it was time for me to comment.

This particular blog post spoke to my heart. I have spent (and seem to be spending) years trying to come to terms with many uncomfortable results from childhood. Reading this page helps me to face the unpleasant idea that my father must have been narcissistic and my mother emotionally unavailable. There is so much I don’t understand about the dynamics of my childhood.

It was an accepted fact that my brother (5+ yrs older) was the golden boy, the only male who had the ability to carry on the family name. He and I have never had a relationship, not even a cup of coffee together as adults. He made it clear that my existence has no meaning for him. The one childhood memory I have of us together must be from when he was around 11 or 12 and told me to touch the now black ring on the electric stove top assuring me it was cold when he knew it was still hot.

My mother spent most of her life caring for sick family members or friends. I felt my needs were unimportant and that time spent caring for these others was of the utmost importance. Being a clumsy kid I had my fair share of skinned knees which routinely became infected and needed to have scabs soaked off etc. I got the sense that my problem was an annoyance to be dealt with.

When my dearest aunt died I was a young teen and given a tranquilizer pill and told not to become to emotional at the funeral arrangements.

I still wonder why in the hell my father (who loved to tell the story) was the one to take me to the store to buy my first garter belt and stockings.

I married into a large family and never felt comfortable with my husband’s 2 sisters who shut me out in a myriad of little ways. My then husband had an affair that lasted for 5 years. When I discovered this I was cautioned to remain in the marriage and not allow this to ruin our lives. I lasted another 11 years, during which I believe my physical body rebelled. I had to have an emergency hysterectomy, gall bladder surgery and finally contracted a rare liver related autoimmune disease in which my body is rejecting my liver.

Finally I met a wonderful man who is the embodiment of unconditional love. I divorced and have a wonderful life now. I continue to struggle with depression, low self-esteem and a deep need for acceptance. I have done quite a bit of reading and have a background in health education teaching. I was on disability for years and am now retired. My husband, who is Norwegian, and I have worked with couples who struggle in intercultural marriage situations.

I write this with tears and thank you for your willingness to share your life and help those of us who struggle in silence.

I understand completely if you don’t have the time to respond.


Hi Leah
Welcome to EFB! Wow, sounds like you were invalidated, discounted unheard and dismissed for much of your life. You are certainly not alone here! Thank you for sharing part of your story. There is so much hope in the pages of this blog. I am really glad you are here.
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you for taking the time to answer me Darlene. Your answer is very affirming. I have been working through several books by Peter Levine and attempting to learn how to recognize deal with the physiological and psychological effects from early trauma. My husband is supportive and a good listener. I have trying to connect an experience I have frequently, but not daily. When I try to take a nap I feel a kind of anxiety as if something is wrong but I can’t figure out what. It is uncomfortable enough that I get up. It does not happen when my husband and I take a nap together or at night when we are together, only when I am alone.

I apologize if I am sharing too much or if this is something I should consider dealing with using other means. I’m not sure of the proper way to share with you on this site.


I am experiencing passive abuse from my FOO. More and more I am becoming less tolerant of the dismissal, forgetting about including me, overlooking me, walking out of the room, even telling me to get out of the room, not asking anything about my life, being negative, turning physically away from me, etc. etc.

Sometimes it feels so weird to be in this position. Like the person I AM is not the one they are convinced I am. Like I can’t quite believe that this is my life. Does anyone else feel like this? There is an unreal feeling there.

I don’t want to be treated like this, and yet I can’t control what they do. Maybe it’s protective denial that I have – I can only take in so much rejection at one time.

I am apprehensive about the holidays. I’ve been pulling away more and more. Not being around for Christmas will send a strong message, and will probably lead to more estrangement. Then I’ll be excluded at other family gatherings because “we didn’t think you’d want to come”. The rejection will snowball, but receiving crumbs of attention feels awful too, especially when I see other family members getting lots of caring and love.


Hi Light,

I feel for you about your experiences and I am sorry. It sounds like you are treated as if you don’t exist, and given the message over and over that you don’t count, and aren’t important. It is very invalidating and very hurtful, it can go on for years and years and can be crazy-making.

My experience of a passive aggressive sister is that any attempt to address this behaviour is met with either silence or denial. I do not believe people who routinely act like this want to change. Were they to address what’s really going on and make an attempt to “fix” things, they oculd not continue behaving this way. There are a lot of perceived benefits to being controlling, like never looking at their own selves, and never being the obvious “bad guy” by being outright angry. Their anger is expressed in an underground way and it’s a pile of excuses when they’re called on it…then, when you get angry at this treatment they look at you as the “angry one” and what’s your problem?

It took me many many years to really see what was going on. I didn’t want to believe it, I wanted to believe that my sister wanted what’s best for me and would never hurt me. I felt the rejection immediately and lastingly but in my head I dismissed my feelings, telling myself I was ‘too sensitive’, reading too much into things, etc. But my feelings only intensified over time, and the more I have learned that my feelings and perspective matter regardless of what anyone else thinks, the clearer I saw what I really knew deep down but didn’t want to face: that my sister would rather be angry at me than our parents, does not want what’s best for me, does not want a real relationship with me, does not want me to change or get better, and will continue to sacrifice me over her illusion of family because that illusion separates her from her pain.

I really feel for you, Light. There are other posts of yours I’ve very much related to. I took a lot of shitty treatment for a long time and only recently have I reached my limit with it. I finally saw the big picture and saw that these were not accidents but an intentional pattern of behaviour. In my case, I believe my sister is too afraid to face her own anger, hurt and guilt, and I am much safer a target for those displaced feelings. I also have a much different perspective on our family and have changed, and that is threatening.

However, as much as I’ve tried to understand what’s going on, the more I focus on myself and the damage done to me, and see that that damage is not indicative in any way of my character, the less I care about understanding her. I realize now, never mind her anger, I’m pretty angry at her and don’t want to make the effort anymore. I never deserved this treatment and am not willing to accept it any longer.

I understand about the holidays, because Christmas was the time I saw my family, and I love Christmas. Three years ago I spent Christmas Day mostly by myself in my sister and BIL’s living room while they repeatedly spent half and hour at a time smoking in their spare room. I watched tv by myself or surfed the computer wondering why I was there. When Mom was picked up and arrived from the retirement home later that day suddenly they were able to sit out and entertain her with only quick butt breaks in the spare room. Later when I told my sister in an email I felt lonely at their place I got no reply, and it happened again the following year. Last year I said I wasn’t visiting, and they came here before Christmas for a short visit. When they arrived my sister called me, I went downstairs and stood by their car while they continued to have a conversation and not acknowledge that I was there.

All these “little” things are intentional and give the message one doesn’t matter. You are a lovable person Light and I can bet you are not the person they think you are. It is sad that they seem to not want to know you, and it hurts, but it is not an indication of who you are. No, we cannot control what they do, and if they wanted to change, they would try. I’d rather have nothing than crumbs at this point because I deserve more and I want out of the sickness.

Big {{{{Hugs}}}} to you, you are strong and getting stronger


Hi Light,

I feel a strong connection with all of your posts. It’s only August and I’m starting to fear another Christmas. For all of us, the holidays have always been a special kind of nightmare. I have VERY LC with my parents and I desperately wanted an NC relationship when I was younger, but due to circumstances could not do it. I have finally got out of Thanksgiving with them due to travel distance. Now, they spend Thanksgiving at a neighbor’s house, very upper class and lots of food in a mature, retired neighbor community. But even as a kid, Thanksgiving was always bad with my mom having to put on a “show” for distant relations. One year when I was like sixteen, we were invited to my mom’s brother’s house (when we were living in a different city and state.) I was wearing a nice dress, hair fixed up, and not much makeup. My mom starting attacking my looks since she has always been jealous of me. So, I screamed and told her that I wasn’t going with them. I stayed home and had a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, chips, candy, etc. like in the “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” TV show. LOL! I think it was at that point that I started claiming my freedom and realized that these people were not worth it!

I have many bad Christmas stories but I was saving them up for the coming holiday season. Every year, I celebrate my own holiday, “Yule”–(Winter Solstice—Druid/Wiccan holiday) home alone. I have created my own traditions and I’m very happy. I like to put out my small, artificial table-top Yule tree–(since the Xtians used all of the European Pagan symbols)–and I have had my little tree for years when I was still renting an apartment. I make a meal with food that I like and I can eat. I watch a movie that I like and I listen to a good online Pagan radio program. I even buy myself a gift to unwrap for my mini tree. No, I am NOT OUT with my true religion and the remaining family members think that I’m Xtian but I’m not and I don’t even care what they think anymore. But most of all, I’m happy. The ‘shrinks’ say that single adults and those with estranged family members NEED to create their own unique holiday celebration!

I am afraid to go to my parent’s house for Christmas. My mom continues to verbally attack me on the phone about my weight. I am NOT going on a crazy, fad diet to please my mom. I tried low-carb but it did not really work for me. I am now studying the blood type diet plan and I’m not giving up, along with regular exercise, to take off weight. I know that its impossible for me to reach goal weight for Christmas. So, I have decided that I am NOT going to their house for Christmas. I don’t know what to do like pretend to be sick? There is also a slight sadness since they’re both quite elderly in their eighties and I don’t know if it’s my father’s last Christmas. I have come to the point where I don’t even care anymore since I am just so incredibly tired of it all! I wanted to have some kind of father relationship but it will NEVER happen and I’m OK with that. So, I must see, feel, and believe that I am safe and I am in my house for Christmas. It’s kind of like a ‘Catch 22’ where if I visit them I’m not safe. But if I stay home, then I’m safe, but there may be immediate issues with my parents and losing what little father relationship that I have….oh, well..That’s all I can do for now.

Stay strong and lots of Hugs,

Yvonne )0(


It as if you have jumped into my skin. All of you. I just got off the phone trying to explain for the 1000th time why he frustrates me. He blames it on everything but himself. I challenged him to come up with 5 personality traits he likes in me. Stumped him. Im pretty wonderful. Its not rocket science. The father thing is so key though. Hiw do we reconcile the past in order to move on?


Leah I have similar situation and feel a deep connectionl with your story. I was the product of a joined family. A new sister just 5 months younger. Yea. No. My new step father was gruff and dictatorial. Im now a 47 year old mess. All centered around losing my mother and having emotionally distant/absent step father. What’s a furl to do?


This post completely resonates with me. When we go to family gatherings, my two oldest siblings will say hello to and kiss and hug my husband and my two sons but will not even acknowledge me in any way. My husband and I decided not to go to Thanksgiving this year because we are pretty fed up with the way things have gone lately. It was so great just to be with our kids. Wow, what a nice weekend it’s been not to have to deal with feeling so nonexistent and insignificant. When Pam said earlier here that it’s a wonder she even exists, I truly know exactly what that feels like. I only exist in relation to what I have done for them lately.

I am currently on the receiving end of the silent treatment after our Mom, who is 91, fell in September and spent 4 days in the hospital. There are five children in my FOO. Four of us live in the same city as my Mom. My husband and myself are the only ones who work full time and still have children at home. My siblings are older and retired or working part time. My Mom has always said that her greatest fear was “being put in the home.” She can be pretty passive aggressive, too, obviously. I brought her to my home because nobody else was going to step up and it failed miserably for a number of reasons. It was my last ditch effort to try to win their approval and I guess it was the final thing that I needed to come out of the fog. Of course, my siblings say it was totally my fault. They made the decision to place my Mom in an assisted living facility which has turned out to be the best thing for her because she knows a ton of people there and she is doing really great. It is a little bit of a distance from my house, though, so it’s kind of hard for me to get there to see her. Incredibly, after I had asked for three years for my siblings to use a shared on line calendar and be more accountable and open and cooperative regarding their time with our Mom, they now want me to let them know “what I plan to do for Mom”. And I have dug in my heels and said, “I am all done. I will get there when I get there and I will not tell anyone when I am going.” My sister came to my workplace for lunch last week, ostensibly to talk about “our relationship” but really to try to get me back into my box. I told her that when they had the on line calendar up and running and everyone else had committed to it that I would consider participating at that point. I know full well they will never do it so no worries there. My sister, who hasn’t worked outside the home for years now, actually said to me “Well, that’s not very convenient for all of us.” And my response was “When Mom was living alone, her safety was a concern and therefore I was willing to be the fall back plan. Now her safety is no longer a concern. Your convenience is not my problem” I can really just feel the negative energy they are all sending my way and I am trying so hard not to let it get to me.

My main concern is my kids. I am working with Darlene privately and I voiced that concern to her. And she asked me, so rightly, how good it has been for my kids to see me in this approval seeking, constantly jumping through their hoops role for years. All I could say was “not very good.” My prayer is to find healing for myself so that I can be a better Mom to them.


Hi Jane,
Although I have no children I can relate to what you have written.Your sentence “Your convenience is not my problem”is a handy one to remember.
My father lives is alone in the family home and my mother is in a care home.My sister lives UAE and comes home for Christmas this week for a week,because she cant have Christmas off work. Have you ever heard such rot.It suits them not to come.So everything falls on me. Every Christmas Day we have had to drive four hours twice on the day to pick up and take my father and then take him home from visiting the care home.Last year we refused saying that my husband wanted to stay at home all day so we went to see mother Christmas Eve.I did end up very low and that is when I found this site which helped me greatly.As the New Year progressed I seemed to get better and stood up for myself and felt more confidant. Sadly last month I started to slip backwards again but now another setback has popped up. My father has said that because we did not go last Christmas he is not going this time and mother will have no visitors. I know he is trying to guilt trip me but I am determined that we are staying put Christmas Day. What upsets me more is that next week my sister will be here for a week and she and my mother, father and carer are all going out for a meal and I have not even been invited.(The carer told me Tuesday when I was at the home). I cant tell you how hurt and upset I am. It is like a knife in my heart. The hateful cruel old man (91yrs) still likes to have a go at me. Well mother will not be seeing us.Darlene is right to point out about approval seeking I am trying so hard for my sanity to stop seeking it. Every day I try to focus on what today and tomorrow brings and staying positive. When my mind drifts back to the gloom I find another task to keep my mind occupied.Please laugh with me when I say today I have switched on my Christmas fairy lights on the tree outside.You will get help with your healing on this site. You sound like a lovely lady. Wendy am. xx


Wendy, thanks so much for your kind words and your support! I truly appreciate it. It seems much easier to handle… or maybe to deflect? a lot of the family conflict during the rest of the year but at the holiday time it all comes home to roost, doesn’t it? I will be thinking of you and sending positive thoughts your way. I am smiling when I think of your beautiful Christmas lights:)


Hi Jane,
Yes, at Christmas time it seems no matter how you try to please doing the correct thing, it seems to back fire. I have always been the one blamed for whatever goes wrong.Some years ago my mother blamed me for the break up of my princess sisters marriage.I asked how I was to be blamed and her reply was that if I had not introduced them to each other in the first place the divorce would not be happening.There is no hope with parents like mine but plenty of hope on this site.Lets all think positive and think fairy lights to horrible people!!Thank you Jane, for your kind reply .Wendy am.


Hi Wendy am, So let me get his straight….since you introduced your sister and her husband, you were forever bound to the responsibility of the outcome of their marriage? They hold no responsibility for whatever transpired in their marriage? What utter nonsense. I think that what makes me react so strongly to this is that my mother would say ridiculous stuff like this too. Like saying that my uncle and aunt struggled financially early in their marriage because my aunt ” went and got herself pregnant”. Yeah, Mom, my uncle who provided the seed had nothing to do with it??
Wendy, I also got blamed for lots of stuff, never my brothers. It was always the females to get blamed by my mother.

Jane, I’m glad you enjoyed Thanksgiving with your husband and kids. I despise the silent treatment. It is so manipulative, and I used to get it from both my parents, each having their own reasons for doing it. My mother pulled that on anyone who displeased her, even for small things. With me it once triggered a three year no contact period. Jane, I like Darlene’s words to you on the approval seeking and jumping through hoops and can relate yo it in my own life.

I will be putting up my own lights soon, and will think of beautiful healing things when I look at them. Hugs to you both, Jane and Wendy! Amber



I’m sorry your mother is critisizing your weight that is a cheap shot!
I just wanted to tell you that the blood type diet actually makes sooo much sense! I would not call it a weight loss diet, it is a life style, a diet for life. Good luck! btw: no I am not getting paid for this post 🙂


Hi Amber and Jane,
Yes, you have got it right.It is so ridiculous but my parents always had the last say.Not any more that changed last Christmas, but it is a hard habit to break not being obedient. It angers my father when I back chat so I do it all the more.I am sorry to hear that you also got blamed and have the silent treatment. What is it with these parents. Amber I have to say your lovely reply has sent a very warm glow to my heart and the smile is still on my face as I write. Just knowing that others respond to comments gives me such incredible strength and encouragement to carry on. Support from invisible friends.My Christmas fairy lights are still on twinkling in the dark outside, every now and then they go into super quick mode.Thank you again Wendy am. xx


Wendy so glad my response brought happiness to your day! Yes, encouragement and support from invisible friends is a big help. And I mean invisible as not seeing the people who write on here, but I certainly hear what all of you are saying! Contrast that to the kind of invisible many of us went through at home. We could be seen, but our thoughts needs and feelings were ignored, making us feel invisible.
Right now I am focusing on looking at situations and only accepting blame if it is truly deserved. Yes, in some cases it is and I am mature enough to take responsibility for it, but most of what happened to me as a kid was not my fault, and that is the blame I’m letting go of..
Wendy I hope you continue to enjoy the lights! 🙂 🙂


It does truly help so much to have good friends, visible and invisible, who understand and take your part. I was able to talk to a very good friend on the phone yesterday. She lives 2000 miles away from us now, but she and I have a lot in common in that we are both the youngest of the family and both have had the caretaker role thrust upon us by our older siblings. When I was telling her about recent events with my family I think she was more outraged than I was for me, and the same went for her when she told about her goings on. It was great to talk and laugh about how ridiculous it all is when they behave this way.

I like the idea of invisible friends– sort of like angels!! Thanks ladies, and have a great night.


I can totally relate. But mine was a mother.
For me (and we are all different), it came to
Reusing that for my own sanity and peace of
mind, that I needed to remove her from
My life, so she could noon get abuse me,
Emotionally or psychologically. It was hard
And it hurt, but it worked. No longer do
I seek external approval, which was never forthcoming
As a parent myself i would never treat my child that way
As a friend I only keep close associations with
People who are genuine. I see amazing families
Which are not dysfunctional and it touches me
Deeply. Anyway I just wanted to try give some reassurance
Though not sure I’ve managed it lol just droned
On about me! I do apologise. Clearly still
Affects me lol. People who are emotionally
Inept, or abusive are the issue. Not you.
It’s important you accept yourself as being
More than good enough and find
Acceptance with yourself. Nobody can control
You. Good luck & well done x


Hi Sharon,
Welcome to EFB ~ Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene


Darlene I do like the referral ” coming out of the fog”. That’s exactly what it feels like when you step into the light of your own personal truth. The dad that I grew up with raped me. He was aggressive and violent. He was passive when he wasn’t drunk.My parents gave to me unhealthy core values.I was taught love as I search and question God. And you’re right abuse doesn’t always come with a loud voice. Sometimes it’s subtle but still ever so strong and detrimental to it’s victim. My grandmothers were very smooth operators. I’m just so grateful to be out of the fog. Very grateful..thank you Darlene for sharing your journey with me..may you continue to walk in the light of your truth


Hi Will
I am grateful too! (for both of us!) Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene!! Wonderfully accurate descriptions, and validations for all of us that have these backgrounds!! I was extremely fortunate, in that when my Dad, (the silent, never stood up for me, always in another room..or outside) found out that he was dying, he came to me, and apologized, for never standing up for me, for letting things get so out of hand, he said he “had no idea how much the religion and Mom had damaged you, I am so sorry, I really am” (Now, he knew he was dying, but didn’t tell anyone, not even on this day, not even my Mom… And then years later, Mom, still in the cult religion, and by this time, very emotionally troubled…decided one day to tell me off, to tell me that “You were an awful child, you were an awful wife, and now a horrible mother, (because I had left a severely abusive alcoholic marriage) so DON’T call me, DON’T come see me, I don’t want to hear about your “filthy life”…and I cried and begged.. I wept, I called and left a message prolly every week, trying to beg for her love…well, she passed away from a heart attack, early one morning, and I never got to say Goodbye. It has devastated me..I did so much for her, and with her, over the years, but she was physically abused, molested, and traumatized as a child, developed addictions to drugs and alcohol, so no matter how much I did or said, I see now, that I NEVER could have “earned” her approval and love.It is tough…But, like I said, I am at least grateful, that Dad did what he did, and that now..I can see it for what it was, just a cycle of abuse and pain. <3


Hi Kristina
Welcome to EFB ~ you will find so much validation here. It is cool that your dad told you that he knew and he was sorry for the part he played (or didn’t play depending on how you look at it) in all of it.
As for your mother, it is things like that (those rants that she delivered to you) that helped me in the end to see that it wasn’t my fault. None of that looks anything like love. 🙂
Thanks for sharing.


Hi Darlene,
I’m a new reader, and congratulations on the film. Kudos to you. I’m inspired by your blog and healing thoughts and words. I’m going to try the coaching exercise you mentioned in another post, in which I write down my entire childhood story and then pretend a child is reading it back to me. I’m hoping it’s healing, as I’ve been in a fog and in despair for many of my 50 odd years, due to a painfully neglectful childhood.

My doctor father, who I’ve discovered is a true narcissist, ignored me growing up. There was absolutely no guidance from him, no sense that I was a dear little girl who was loved. I was tolerated, as long as I was “good.” To this day he is not interested in me as a person. Can’t be bothered, though I’m expected to attend to his every need and be interested in his passions. I made the painful decision to stay in his life, marginally, in that I call him once a week. Though speaking to him never gives me any sense of comfort or solace. It’s a huge hole in my heart, though I’m not sure that it would help to cut him off entirely. Instead I feel I have to stay in this role of “good daughter” – possibly at my own expense. I feel I’m stuck with keeping things the way they are until he dies. Maybe then I’ll be free and can come to terms with this. Thank you for your help – you give me hope and courage.


Hi Janet
Welcome to EFB! This is the thing; it is always at our own expense. Waiting for a parent to die is a drastic choice because what if you die first? The hole in your heart can be filled by you. 🙂 That is what this work is about; becoming the person that we have always needed. This isn’t about choosing to have or not have a relationship with our parents as much as it is about finally making choices for ourselves. There is lots of info here in this site. I know you will enjoy it. Please share often! Thanks for your comments today!
hugs, Darlene


I came across this as I tried to search for help/advice on how to handle the situation between my oldest and his father. My 13 yr old is currently going through a similar situation. I have to say that his father has been present in his life but inactive all 11 years we’ve been separated. Doesn’t even know where his scho ppl is had never been to one of his games or boy scout activities, never helped with homework helped financial or even talked to him about life. I have always tried to cover up for his negligence and never spoken badly of my ex to my son. However, at 13, my son is a little wiser and has realized this on his own. In fact, my son decided, earlier this month, to stop his visitations because he felt his father took no interest in him, he said he doesn’t talk to him and he doesn’t think he loves him. “I don’t think I belong there”. He crief on yhe phone begging him for more support. His father responded he understood and that he knows he’s a bad father. Yet made no commitment to change.

This weekend visitation resumed and so did my ex’s disinterest in bonding with his son. Unfortunately, after a quick phone conversation with my 13yr old I’ve come to realize that my son is simply accepting this dusmissive behavior from his father, because he doesn’t want to lose him. It breaks my heart.
I’m afraid he’s learning to accept an abusive relationship. I don’t want him to learn to settle for less than he deserves in future relationships. Maybe I’m over thinking it, Idk. Has anyone else had emotionally abusive relationships after an emotionally unavailable/uninterested parent? Is this just a process he has to go through? Should I step back and let nature take its course or will this experience cause him more emotional trauma?


Hi Sandra
welcome to emerging from broken
This is such a difficult position to be in and my heart goes out to you. I don’t think you are over thinking it; I think that you love your son and want what is best for him. The relationships that I had with my parents carried over into all my other relationships until I realized my actual worth and not the worth ‘they’ defined me as having. Try to give your son all the emotional support and validation that you are capable of. I hope you will read some of the other posts/articles in this site. There is so much insight and healing here.
hugs, Darlene


During my childhood, my father was emotionally unavailable and my mother was directly abusive. My father left to work, leaving me with my alcoholic mother.After she got very drunk she took some pills to kill herself.When i entered her room, i found her collapsed on the floor. I was 9 years old back then. I called my father at work,he came home and they started fighting and throwing objects at each other.When they got tired, they went to sleep. I remember the horrid silence.I locked myself into my room waiting for nightfall.The next day, my father didn’t even bother to talk to me about what happened.He was absent then. Today, in my adulthood, ha also became an active abuser, supporting my mother in everything she does or says to me.I want to heal that wounded girl inside of me. She is still crying.Any advice on how to heal an inner child?


[…] had a dream that caused me to wake up thinking about my relationship with my father who is passive abusive and emotionally unavailable and my relationship with my mother who believes that she comes first, […]


Much of what you write rings true, I just wish I had the courage and the wisdom to see I had a choice years and years ago to walk away from toxic relationships, but honetstly there were so many bad ones and I was a prisoner in them as a vulnerable child. Although we can see where things are not right in relationships somehow we feel wrong cutting those people off, yet another form of betraying ourselves. It is common to feel everything is our fault. My father passed last November and the whirlwind has begun to deal with things not dealt with..I can only pray as I come out of denial that the fog clears so much so that the pain and the burden of the past fades and healing comes. Seeing and facing what happned is the first step and I have a right for this burden of the past to be lifted..What I am thinking is I will know when it lifts..for now it’s still with me but I have my faith and hope God is near and will see me through.


I have repeatedly set boundaries and my parents/ family repeatedly ignored them. At this point in my life, I made the concious decision to go no contsct wiyh any of them and take charge of my life. I am damaged but recovering. Its a slow process to change a lifetime of being devalued and trying to recognize that you have value, your feelings are not being “too sensitive”, memories and perceptions are not wrong or holding a grudge, etc, etc….ad nauseum. Acknowledgement of my pain, emotional neglect, abuse or scapegoating is needed and cannot be dismissed because it makes them uncomfortable. I often wonder how family members cope with their own failures etc without the scapegoat to take the attention from themselves and point to all my flaws . I now realize that based on this pattern ingrained in me from childhood, I have allowed people in all areas to behave as if I have no value. I no longer tolerate poor treatment from relatives based on some belief that I have to based on blood relations. Its lonely but I would rather value myself than be around people just to not feel alone. Sadly, I dont think the loss of me is enough to spur any revelations in their thinking with regard to their treatment of me. My withdrawl is chalked up to “holding a grudge” etc…but I hold no anger. I never stayed angry at anyone for long, always looking inward at why I caused the other persons wrath at me. I was a doormat and with this knowledge, it was ok and permission to pile on me without repercussions. I cannot change anyone else but I can require/ demand that I be respected, with all my mistakes, I am a good person. My mistakes do not define me nor are they better or worse than any other persons. My feelings are valid and its ok to have them. My happiness and life are not dictated nor defined by their parameters. I have to tell myself these things repeatedly and often fall back into self destructive thought patterns. I do struggle with mourning for the family I wanted rather than reality, but my stress level has greatly been reduced, as I no longer feel the need to validate everything with these people who have never acknowledged, validated encouraged nor lifted me up.


Hi Angel
Welcome to EFB ~ sorry for the late reply I have been out of the country. Yay for realizing that you deserve to be respected. Thank you for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene

I’ve recently found your website and read most of the posts and they all resonate so strongly with me. Thank you so much for providing all the information and support you do through your website. How is it possible to have got to the age of forty one, with eating disorders, suicidial attempts, ongoing depression and anxiety and blame yourself for it all, not for a second thinking there was ever anything wrong with your parents and siblings??? I still blame myself and think its my fault if anyone’s upset, quiet, angry or “off” with me. I’m always the one amongst my “friends” who goes out of my way each time, they don’t answer texts unless they feel like it, they won’t come and see me, I have to travel to them and I akways feel that they dont really care and I’m insignificant! Exactly how my birth family treat me. I can go no contact with the fsmily, but if I do that with friends, I have none!! Darlene, you now have amazing, genuine, loving friends, how did you go from having family and friends who mistreated you to having great friends? I’ve in,y just woken upto the fact and it’s not a nice feeling. I know I’m a kind, caring, loving person and always treat people well as I would like to be treated, but that is never reciprocated by anyone other than my partner, who is great by the way. It’s almost as though I give off this vibe of “treat me like crap” and they do. Bring a new mom to a little baby it’s even more important that I correct this and move on. It would be great to hear any guidance you gave in this area, but I appreciate your busy and no doubt inundated with emails. It’s just been quite cathartic writing this. Wishing you every happiness and a great new year xx


Hi Mia
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
The key word in your question about how I went from ‘there to here’ is NOW. I NOW have amazing and genuine loving friends and that has been because of the process of drawing some boundaries and taking my life back. (all of which I talk about here in this website and in my book (you can get it on the upper right side bar here)
I can relate to everything you are writing here ~ that was my life too. I hope you will stick around with us and read and share more.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene
Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly ??
Your absolutely right in all you say. I’ve never really drawn any boundaries with my FOO as I never felt that was something I would need to do with my family. They are supposed to love you unconditionally and be your safe haven throughout life!! Yeah right!!! I don’t know what hurts more, the treatment they subjected me to all those years or the fact that I never questioned it, allowing it by default. I am so blessed to have found your site and be able to read your posts, along with comments by everyone who has posted. This sounds awful, but, It’s so reassuring to know there are so many others out there like me who have experienced similar childhoods. I now know it was never me, I couldn’t possibly have done anymore than I did. There was never going to be anything that I could have done or could do that would make me good enough or perfect enough, Or enough of anything to be accepted. The EFB family have validated me and helped me start the journey to feeling whole in myself. I know it will be a long road ahead of me, but knowing there is nothing wrong with me and there are many others who have walked this path, is like coming home. I used to think I was so stupid because I kept messing up, I kept getting it wrong and no matter what I did, they still treated me the way they did. I just don’t get how any parent or even sibling, could be so cruel, evil and destroy a child’s life! I would never want to do that to anyone. I can’t say a nasty word about anyone and try to do my best to not upset anyone in anyway. All I did was love every meme r of my family, be there always, help them whenever they were in a mess and want the best for them. Why would they deliberately destroy me even when they saw I was taking overdoses, in hospital, depressed and just wanted to be loved. I will never understand these people, but for my own sanity, along with my little baby and family, Im done with them. I know I’m not at fault and ey will never change. Yeah it hurts like crazy but I’ve realised I’m actually a happier, more peaceful, content person when I have no contact with them.
Thanks again Darlene for your site and also to everyone who posts and shares their stories. You’ve all helped more than you will ever know.
Love and hugs to all xx


This blog post really spoke to me. Although my father and I had a great relationship growing up, the past two years has completely changed. He and my mother divorced, he refuses to get a job, and is living at friends property free of charge. To try to help him, and myself, I decided to open a business for the both of us to run. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and we had to shut it down. It’s been up and down since then. I am living with my boyfriend of over three years, and he usually seems to like my boyfriend. But lately, he complains when my boyfriend decides to spend his own money. No idea why. He’s also mad at me for some unknown reason, he comes over, everything seems fine, but then ignores my calls, texts and Facebook messages. I am so sick of feeling ignored and unimportant. I dont know what to do. Do I cut him out of my life. What if something happens to him. Will I regret cutting him out of my life. I’m so confused and frustrated. I don’t know what I am doing wrong.


Hi Chelsea
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
Keep reading the articles in this blog ~ (and my book (ebook in the upper right side bar) is a collection of the first two years of my work)There is a ton of info and insight here and all the articles have discussions with them.
Hugs, Darlene


Wow, this is really relevant. I grew up with a narcissistic mother and my dad always enabled her behaviour. U never knew why. Only after years of therapy myself, I have learnt that I am a little unemotionally unavailable and I have been wanting to address this issue within myself. I have good friendships but I struggle to take them to the next level and I was wondering why I was unable to do this. In the meantime, I have realised that my dad is also extremely emotionally unavailable.

When I was growing up, he never took interest in anything I did. I can’t remember a time when he came to something I was doing at school (like a swimming carnival, or a fete). He would be so disengaged. I remember him bringing me books, and I enjoyed those because I liked to read. That was one thing he did. He also liked when I wrote and would encourage me with writing. They are the only two things he ever encouraged me on-reading and writing.

However, as an adult he kept trying to buy me books from the op-shop because they were cheap. While I understand he was trying to be nice because he knows I like to read, the books were not books I would ever choose to read. I feel like he doesn’t know me, he doesn’t understand my interests but at the same time, he doesn’t want to understand me.

This is also evident when I finished high school. I wanted to do a certain uni degree and he pushed me to do another degree. People say “oh but why didnt you just say no and do the degree you wanted?” but what people don’t realise is the hold that these toxic people have in your life! It has taken me years to realise their behaviour and what it has done to me.

I am in a situaiton at the moment where I have moved back in to live with my dad for a few years while I go back to uni and study the degree I wanted to study when I first went to uni and it is hard because I try to set boundaries but he just does not understand. He never listens to what I have to say. I came home from work really upset just yesterday and it would have been nice to get a hug and let some tears out. Sometimes I decide to try and talk to dad and yesterday was one of those days. Instead of listening to me and my story, he sides with what work had done and said that if I did X then work would be better for me. I said that it would be nice if he actually said that it sounded like I had a really rough day and his response was “well why would I do that for? All that would do is stroke your ego”.

Then I feel guilty because dad has offered financial support to me while I do change career but I feel like the money is a guilt trip. I’m torn because it would make my life easier, but then do I want to take the money and be in debt to him in more ways than just financial. People have told me to take the money and accept the help, but I really don’t know whether that is a good idea because I feel like he relies on me being “helpless” (which I am not, but by taking the money, thats how he sees me) so that he can validate himself by being the “hero”… because everyone else is an idiot with stupid opinions. Only he is right.

Will this feeling ever go away? The feelings of insecurity? The feelings of lack of worth? Lack of being loveable? Becoming more emotionally available myself? Because, I have to say, 2 years of therapy and I am still struggling with this (although not as much as I used to!)


Hi Darlene,
the same goes for my parents particularly my father. I could not share my emotions on a lot of things without being scrutinized. I was a young boy that migrated to Germany and apart from my parents I had no family and no mentor to turn to that could replace my father. Looking back I can explain some interaction I had with benevolent older boys or men as an attempt to bond with them like a son should do with his father. This dismissive and disregarding treatment furthered me to become an isolated individual that has been treated like air from other persons as well. I developed an unattractive persona and I sudffered a rejection when I was in a relationship twice. The girls cannot or do not want to live with a guy that had such a past, which pushes me to keep my past a non issue, harder to accomplish than to say that since dodging question rather raises concern than deflecting it.
I am in therapy and try to deal with it since I sufferede an accident that left trapped in a battle with pain for years and that added all together made it hard to bond with people and be attractive to find a wife/woman that accepts a guy with flaws, so far the world is ugly to me. That does not make me a better person either since I deliberately refuse to care about other people unless I see my needs met/fulfilled as well. I cannot really deal any advance favors and anything, because what I desire in life is having friends that return the affection, the favors and anything else I come forward with and do not take it for granted.
I found out that Christianity is no option for me, I encountered people that told me to surrender to God and he would help me. I think this is bullshit. I admitted to myself that I am powerless about my past and about a lot of things in the present and the future, but I never felt any divine power guiding my life. The only guidance I had was the little positive parenting my parents gave me, they made sure I am a good student, I was regarded as smart even if I did not bring home good grades.
What is killing me right now, is that it seems to be too late to catch up some things. I cannot accept that and yet this is my experience in life.


Hi Eloise
I struggled for years until I looked at my life through a new grid of understanding (which I write about here and there is a collection of my work in the e-book on the right side bar) and then everything did get better and better!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Sebastian
Welcome to EFB ~ Thank you for sharing. I am glad that you are getting support through therapy and this website is a huge support as well.
Hugs, Darlene


This is how my dad is. When I was a girl, I admired how much my dad knew, and wanted him to teach me, but whenever I asked him he’d criticize me for not knowing already, then condescend to tell me… if he had time to waste on a stupid kid. I have a graduate degree and I’m still working on not feeling stupid and inadequate.

Even now that I have only very minimal contact with him, he’s been sure to let me know that he is inconvenienced by my continued existence in the world. This after I’ve had several suicide attempts. I’m sure if I’d been successful at killing myself, that wouldn’t be good enough either.


Hi Lianor
Welcome to EFB ~ I will never understand why a parent would treat his or her own child with such disrespect. This is what this website and my book are all about. Recovery from being told that we were a burden. You are not alone!
Thank you for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


I have this exact experience with mine. I cannot tell you how this has and continues to affect me all through out my life. I married in to a similar situation as my inlaws treat me the same. Thank you for this. I have not told my F how his disregard for me and my life has hurt me;that is the main difference between your experience and mine. I have tried in the past and it has always blown up in my face. I guess bc I have a decent relationship with my mother I have left it a strained relationship. Although my mother has never stood up for me or validated my experience with him, it tells me she too has been treated poorly by him and by her allowing it to happen , she doesn’t have to acknowledge his issues and that she married someone like him. So, it is like we all have a fake relationship. My mother knows of my troubles with my inlaws but does not associate that as being the same with my father.


Hi, Great post, thank you. I was raised by a passive aggressive and emotionally absent father, married to a narcissistic mother. It is not a great surprise then that even with five years of therapy in my twenties, I went out and married a narcissistic passive aggressive husband. Fast forward 16 years and I have filed for divorce. My question and request for advice concerns my older daughter who is 15. He has cut her off emotionally, and while never a hands-on parent, they never had a bad relationship, until she saw him mis-using the computer one afternoon. The shock of that triggered her into a depression. I now have him out of the house, but when she sees or talks to him, the emotional hits keep on coming. This week he actually cut her as a player from his own sport team, while making it seem like her idea. “you don’t like those other girls anyway,right?” He then made a nasty comment about her looks and later complimented the supposed beauty of one of his players (my daughter is stunning btw). After promising to take her to a movie, he reneged. Guess why…he was too tired after coaching all those other girls all day. I cried all morning after she told me and I saw the passive-aggressive pattern. She is in a huge depression right now, which he knows, and while she was feeling a bit happier last week, today she is immobilized. My question is: how can I protect my daughter from more emotional abuse like this? Custody is not decided yet, but I do plan to push for sole custody. I would like them to have a relationship that is of value to her, but this is just awful and hurtful to her as she develops into a young woman. I’m sick over it! Help.


Tiger – I’ve never been in your shoes, but I would be inclined to document everything hurtful he says and does with date/time, and talk to an attorney and perhaps a therapist for ideas. I would try to make sure I or another trusted adult was with my daughter in his presence.


Thank you so much for your post. I too am struggling with an emotionally distant father. I don’t know how to explain it, he just does not seem to have emotions. He was not a bad father in many ways: he worked hard, we always had a good house, food and everything. It is just: I do not know him and he does not know me.

This lack of knowing each other, and frankly, of really loving each other, has finally led to a full estrangement. There cannot be love without some shared feelings, emotions, intimacy, trust.

I am finding my way through this. It is taking much time and energy. I am learning to live without him. It is difficult, but I will get there.

Thank you again for sharing your story. All the warmth, love and best wishes from the Netherlands.


Hi Harmen
Welcome to EFB ~ Yes it is difficult. And it takes time and patience with self. I believe you will get there because I did.
Thank you for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


I feel like he doesn’t know me, he doesn’t understand my interests but at the same time, he doesn’t want to understand me.



Hi Olivia
That is the biggest thing for me… he doesn’t WANT to.
Hugs and thanks for sharing,


To Tiger Momma- I can empathize and my experience is the same as yours- from childhood to marriage to divorce. To answer your question about how to protect her from him, you can’t. What you can do is love her, raise her, keep her engaged in activities that promote skill building, confidence, fitness and healthy social relationships with friends. With a busy, positive, FUN life with you at the centre, there’s no time left to dwell on the negative. You can’t sugar coat him so don’t waste your time trying. Love her and devote your time to positive things. If your ex is like mine, it’s impossible to believe that the negativity will ever disappear, but you can have an impact on drowning it out. The choice is 100% yours. I have 4 super kids and we’ve been through a lot. Be strong, believe me when I say this: YOU are enough for her. Make smart choices and the good will outweigh the bad and she will learn how to cope with him in her own way.


Olivia and Bonnie:

I had the same type of passive enabler father. I don’t understand how anyone can say that they love you when they don’t even know you. How true! I was afraid of my severely narc mom but also my enabler father. I feel that these enabler parents are also abusive but it’s more of an introverted way. My father was her accomplice and his role was to support his crazy wife no matter what. I was angry at how come he had no sense of justice? He chose his wife over me when I was a child and that was always the game that we played. His wife was always right and I was always wrong. At times I felt as if my own father really hated me. Why? He was also a perfect stranger and couldn’t care less. He did not know the names of my friends, or any of my favorites in life—-color, song, food…

My father’s world was watching the TV set 24/7 without a single friend or hobby in life. He always had the paper TV Guide on a side table, along with his drink, and a dish of peanuts. He was always moody and grouchy when he came home from work. The only time that I could talk to him was during a five minute commercial break or else I would be bothering him.

My father died two years ago and I was very relieved. Then it was hard having to recall all the past bad memories about him. I was also verbally abused by him insulting my looks. He actually said that my NMom was better looking than me when she was young! NOT! I have seen photos of her when she was young and compared to me I was the better looking one. What a sick and cruel thing to say to a daughter. I wonder if he was ever happy. I can say that I have truly NO LOVE or regard whatsoever toward this man. I could not even begin to have any regard for him if I tried—zero. He was just a very sick, odd, grouchy man who supported his wife 100 percent and viewed me as the enemy in the house. I was responsible for every problem—financially and just everything. I am now 48 years old and so glad that our relationship is finally over.



My father similar to yours Darlene. My mother used “shut up” and our fathers favourite words to me were “you dill” “twit” or “stupid”! My father was president of the football club a good bloke and he had lots of friends, he did voluntary work for rotary. A great man. He spent every night at the pub after he finished work. He returned late at night drunk. Our mother took her anger out on me and my siblings because she was married to an alcoholic and a gambler. I’ve been condemned by all my siblings and lextended family for speaking up about the abuse. I have freedom now from that awful feeling of dread when you get glared at, mocked, spoken to in that awful condescending way, ignored when spoken to or made fun of. Best of all I’ve protected my daughter from the nasty mind games that my mother enjoys. I have my own circle of good friends (my family) who treat me with respect


Thank you for writing and sharing your experiences with us Darlene; I have spent my whole life on a carousel of self-torture wishing my parents would love me – on the outside they come across as the perfect parents, making statements about how proud they are of their children. Yet they haven’t called me for over 2 years – I make fairly regular trips to see them (paying the expensive transport costs even though I’m a full time student) and I feel like a dancing monkey desperate for their approval. But NO MORE! I’ve been having therapy and have been learning about self-respect. I am going to teach others how to respect me by respecting myself. I am going to withdraw my attempts at contact, and focus my love and light on those that really do share equal love and respect with me. I have struggled for so long because it’s not overt abuse like you describe, it’s subtle and I don’t even know if they are aware of it themselves… (as I question their emotional awareness). I know that ultimately I have to explain all of this to them, but I’ll do that when I’m ready. For now, I’m going to look after myself which feels selfish but that’s just because of the guilt and shame that has been drummed into me regarding putting myself first. Anyway thank you I really appreciate your writing x

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