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

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing –

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”

194 response to "Emotionally Unavailable Father; The Message of Passive Abuse"

  1. By: Lorraine Posted: 26th February

    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

  2. By: Yvonne Posted: 5th January

    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.


  3. By: Harmen Posted: 1st April

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 1st April

      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

  4. By: Light Posted: 22nd March

    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.

  5. By: Tiger Momma Posted: 21st March

    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.

    • By: Bonnie Clancy Posted: 5th January

      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.

  6. By: Momma Posted: 26th February

    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.

  7. By: Lianor Posted: 22nd April

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th April

      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

  8. By: Sebastian Posted: 22nd April

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd April

      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

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd April

      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

  9. By: Eloise Posted: 24th March

    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!)

    • By: Olivia Posted: 9th December

      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.


      • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 11th December

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

  10. By: Chelsea Posted: 23rd January

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 24th January

      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

  11. By: Mia Posted: 30th December

    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

  12. By: Mia Posted: 30th December

    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

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th December

      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

  13. By: Angel Posted: 26th November

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd December

      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

  14. By: Julia Posted: 15th October

    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.

  15. By: laura Posted: 9th June

    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?

  16. By: sandra Posted: 1st June

    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?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 1st June

      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

  17. By: Janet Posted: 21st May

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st May

      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

  18. By: Kristina Posted: 27th March

    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

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th March

      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.

  19. By: Will Posted: 17th March

    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

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th March

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

  20. By: Sharon Posted: 15th February

    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

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th February

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

  21. By: Jane Posted: 2nd December

    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.

  22. By: Amber Posted: 2nd December

    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! 🙂 🙂

  23. By: Wendy am Posted: 2nd December

    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

  24. By: sandra Posted: 1st December


    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 🙂

  25. By: Amber Posted: 1st December

    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

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