Equal Value through the Grid of Truth ~ Then and Now

Equal Value for all people
Peace through Truth by Theodora MacLeod

I am an advocate for truth. I am an advocate for the truth that leads to freedom, wholeness and healing. I am an advocate for the truth that leads to healthy self esteem, the true definition of love and equal value for adults and children, bosses and employees, teachers and students because in the eyes of the truth, we are ALL people with equal value. Although we may have more authority in some situations, we do not suddenly reach a certain age or status which gives us more value than someone else has.

I will no longer do what “they” have decided is best for me to do or what “they” think I should do. I will do what I believe is right and best for me. When others tell me what to do or what I am doing wrong according to them, my ability to make decisions for myself is insulted and that kind of put down is devaluing.

I am not going to be who others say I am or who others want me to be. I am who I really am. No one else can define me. When I am defined by others I feel judged and unappreciated and it stifles my ability to be who I AM.  

Taking my life back means that I am in charge of it now. I am the captain of my own ship. My happiness does not depend on someone else’s happiness anymore.  In learning what was best for me and living in that definition, I empower all those around me to live their best life as well. I am no longer that puppet allowing everyone to pull my strings and I don’t wish to pull anyone else’s strings.

I was always in a situation where people communicated that it was BEST for ME when I did what they wanted. That communicates the message that I have no gift or purpose outside of serving them and it discounts my life and my purpose. Everyone has a gift to offer. Everyone has equal value in this world. By communicating to me that I didn’t know what was best for me but that they knew better, my individuality was stifled and my self esteem was thwarted.  

 I do not live by the false definition of love; the false definition of love exists to serve the unhealthy (and unloving) motives of others. When I was taught that love was compliance and obedience I thought my best contribution to others was my compliance and obedience and that I was to serve them no matter what motive they had.  I don’t agree with that definition of love anymore. It is dysfunctional and it is wrong. That is not love and I don’t live within that box anymore.

I do not give up my life anymore. I was lost because abuse defined me. By the actions of others I was told that I was not worth protecting. I was taught that I was not as valuable. I was taught that “the real me” was not good enough and that I had to try harder. I had to find “ME” and I had to validate and empower myself.

I am not silent and will not silence my own voice anymore. I found my voice and I broke the silence. I don’t respect the reasons for keeping the silence anymore. The reasons for keeping the silence are wrong. They are damaging to me. They are rooted in defending abuse.  

Healthy relationship is mutual; Mutual respect and equal value for all people in the relationship.

Respect means treating me as an individual with my own thoughts and my own opinions and I will follow that same definition of respect. The truth is that we are ALL individuals. If we don’t agree on something, that does not mean I don’t love or respect.  I had to look at where my fears in relationship came from in order to understand the way other people reacted to me.  I had been taught that compliance was respect. Obedience was love. If I didn’t like what an adult (or even someone else) was doing, too bad.  I believed that I was “loved and accepted” when I agreed. SO, when someone didn’t agree with me, I thought the relationship was in danger. My definition of relationship was all wrong.  And because of my nature, I was the one who back downed in compliance and obedience first because I thought it proved my love.  BUT that is not what love is. I had to get this straight before I could move forward with the life of freedom and wholeness that I had begun to believe was possible. I realized that other people were reacting out of their own false belief systems. They had their own false definitions of love and respect.   

I had to stop trying to figure out how to make everyone else happy and concentrate on the truth about why I was so unhappy.  I had to find my own value and define myself through the grid of truth before I could stop jumping through the hoops of controlling and manipulative people.

Freedom and wholeness cost me a big price and disregarding the things that were so hard to learn for the sake of keeping a dysfunctional relationship would be like throwing away all my hard work. Working on a relationship with someone who disagrees with my value, is counterproductive.  Working on functioning within dysfunctional parameters is the exact relationship system I worked so hard to escape.

Please share your thoughts and examples of dysfunctional relationship through either the false definition of love or the new grid of looking at the truth.

There is freedom on the other side of broken;      

Darlene Ouimet

Are you aware my of my e-book “Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, this 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing. I’ve received hundreds of thank you notes from the people that have bought my book. Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

See the freedom and wholeness category for related posts

44 response to "Equal Value through the Grid of Truth ~ Then and Now"

  1. By: Karen Posted: 23rd March

    When I was growing up obedience was the most important
    thing to my Dad. Unquestioning obedience. Respect for your elders.
    Endless gratitude for anything. You were expected of couse to
    thank for a gift or anything at all that was done for you. But you had to
    say thank you over and over and over or you were “ungratefull”.
    Compliance in every respect. Never ask for anything or discuss a problem.
    No emotional support of any kind. I had an gave up a child to
    adoption and it was never to be discussed or spoken about ever.
    Even when it was happening. Can you imagine totally pretending you
    are not having a child, giving birth, giving him up and having no
    support verbally or emotionally. Denying your fears, thoughts,
    grief everything? That was Compliance in my family.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 23rd March

      Hi Karen
      Exactly! your comments speak volumes about the dysfunctional system. I HAD to go back and feel that stuff I was not allowed to feel. I had to think what I was not allowed to think. I had to validate my rights, my feelings, my thougts, my existence.. I Had to realize compliance and obedience the way it was taught to me, WAS WRONG. This was the process.. I love your comments.
      Hugs, Darlene

  2. By: Mary McCarthy Posted: 23rd March

    Hi Darlene,To function in my present relationship with my first love(each other’s first)from 40 yrs.ago,I have learned that being myself is more okay.I still tend to be a people pleaser when it comes to hard,”bull work”.I was raised that women can tear down abarn,split all the firewood and clean,cook and be not seen and not heard.I was sent to church,not accompanied.I thought I was such a sinner because of my dysfunctional family life.My parent’s were divorced and My Catholic Father left me behind when I was only three and thought he was the whole world.I grew up thinking he left because Mom didn’t like it I looked like him.I was scared at church,scared at home.Scared when I went to sleep and scared when I woke up.Throw in the beatings and lies and sexual abuse,and I was a mess.I have to work hard at”It’s okay to be me.”It’s okay if my adult son,or fiance’make a cup of coffee for me.It’s okay to have help with heavy lifting now that I fibromyalgia and arthritis.I have to keep up with being okay without all the guilt of not doing it all to make everyone happy.My fiance’ and My son get a little upset when I think I have to do it all.I still sometimes think I’ll go to hell,because i couldn’t stop the sexual abuse from a family member,and his friends.I was so terrified about it I’d wet the bed and get beaten for it and told I’d go to Hell for being “BAD”.Thank you Darlene.I appreciate all you do for us having the sites to come to.<3

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 23rd March

      Hi Mary
      Thank you for sharing ~ I hear ALL of what you said. It has been by concentrating on ME, healing me, finding me and validating me (etc) that I was able to overcome and move forward to healthy full life and wholeness. Being myself (learning to be myself is the best freedom of all!)
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: SMD Posted: 21st March

    Hi Drained,

    I can really relate to what you said about, “misinterpreting the motives” and being put on “her sh*t list”…You are right on!..Exactly what I’ve experienced with my own mother over the years…It helps her to justify to herself, that I was wrong or bad. It’s so far from the truth!…She needs to look at herself in the mirror….that’s just not going to happen…Some people just aren’t capable of digging deep…

    I’ve come to realize my mom has a love/hate relationship with me & that is not real love!…It’s so hard to admit that, because she is My mom & it sounds like I don’t have a heart. However, I do have a heart for overlooking, giving her the benefit of the doubt, and trying to understand her mean behavior!…I don’t think she does the same for me & I’m not imagining the control & the rejection..i do have Justified Anger towards her, for her mistreatment/abuse towards me…it has not been one incident it’s repetitive & spiteful since childhood!…

    Recently, my dad was warning my sister & I about our risk of getting Diabetes because my mom has it…Well, my sister & I were like I hope we don’t get that & expressed it. My mom came back at me by saying, MY DTR has thyroid problems & it will affect her fertility. That was so hurtful!…For one, my dtr was brought into this and it wasn’t even about her…Also, that was hurtful to say that to me…she knows I had fertility problems. She’s spiteful & it was meant to harm me! The more I write about her nastiness…the more angry I get & the more I’m seeing how she turns on me…I should be able to express myself without getting attacked!…I’m getting closer to confronting her mistreatment…

    I will have to rehearse what I say & be firm… maybe I’ll send a heartfelt letter about how her behavior is hurtful…I did write one years ago and expressed to her that I am separate & we are going to disagree about certain things. Basically, the message was- we are different individuals…I wasn’t bad mouthing & nasty in any way. Well, she never talked about it, but I did ask if she got the letter, with my heart beating fast. She responded with “I got it”…in a very sarcastic/cutting tone…End of discussion!….I guess, I was lucky she didn’t attack me that time…The message to me was she hated the letter based on her sarcastic reaction and that she will not respond…I was rejected & put on her sh*t list too! Sorry for rambling…Thanks for listening…
    Sincerely, SMD

  4. By: Pam Posted: 21st March

    Darlene,I like what the Bible calls ‘pure religion’,”visiting widows and orphans in their affliction and keeping one’s self unspotted by the world”, doing good for others in need out of one’s love for God and living a spiritual, moral life. I see that as practice that proceeds from a spiritual relationship with God. Most of my experience with religion is far from that. It’s all about rule keeping,rituals, meetings,hierarchy, CONTROL, and the pursuit of human perfection with a continual contest running as to who is the most perfect. That’s why I differentiate between the two. Time I spend focusing on what I lack and what is expected of me takes away from the time I have to spend with God and enjoying Him. I wasn’t trying to pick on any particular religion. It just helps me protect myself from those who abuse themselves and others through religion if I keep my focus on, Jesus. That’s what I was trying to convey.


  5. By: Drained Posted: 21st March

    On the subject of truth… The fallout (anger, depression, sadness, confusion, self-hatred, etc.) of growing up controlled sometimes fueled the courage to question or confront some of the actions of my mother.

    I was often told that she did what she did because it was for my own good, (sound familiar?) and that I was misinterpreting the motives. These two statements absolves them (in their mind) of any wrongdoing. Because I doubted myself so much, I bought into that, which is why I took so long to start coming out of that fog of confusion, doubt and deep-down anger.

    Those few times I did question or confront mother, I just placed myself higher on her sh*t list, plus that helped her to justify to herself her devaluing of me because I was a “bad” daughter.

    I was about to apologize for venting here, but I’m trying to get out of the habit of apologizing and calling myself “idiot” at least 50 times a day :/

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd March

      Hi Drained!
      YAY that you are going to break the habbit of apologizing and talking down to yourself!!!
      p.s. I don’t care how much or how often anyone shares! I welcome all of it. It all goes towards freedom and wholeness!
      Hugs, Darlene

  6. By: Drained Posted: 21st March

    Darlene – You’re right, it’s not religion that is at fault, it’s the misinterpretation, or twisting meanings to suit some screwed up agenda.

    When I was new to my husband’s family, I thought they would appreciate my father’s background in church choir singing, but they had an odd, rather cold reaction to that. I realized later that because my family did not follow their religion, any church association or background we had was not acceptable. (Let me just add that my husband does NOT follow that line of thinking, otherwise I would not be with him!)

    Acceptance, tolerance, kindness… that’s part of what is good about religion, in my opinion. Shunning someone because of their different religion is part of the hypocrisy I find so offensive.

  7. By: Pam Posted: 20th March

    Joy, It helps me to know that religion focuses our attention on ourselves and what we are lacking. It teaches that punishment and rule keeping are the solution to our not being as holy as God. That’s not what I find in,Jesus. When I focus on Him, my spiritual needs are met and their’s no self-mutilation required. In Jesus, I find love and life and spiritual strength. In religion, I find shame, guilt, pain, and a constant reminder of how unloveable I am. They are total opposites of one another.

    It makes me so sad that all of that was done to you with the added weight of it being done in the name of God. I’ve had a taste of spiritual abuse or maybe religious abuse is a better term but not to the extent that you have.


  8. By: Drained Posted: 20th March

    The way religion has been twisted and misinterpreted to promote some harmful agenda has turned me away from religion. Many of my in-laws follow that you-must-suffer-to-be-closer-to-Jesus line of thinking. Especially their attitude towards women. If you’re not pumping out babies every year, you are unworthy. And you are born a sinner. Sheesh.

    I have wrestled with my beliefs my whole life. Since my mother was a great punisher, I viewed God the same way and felt He disapproved of me like my mother did and that’s why He kept punishing me. The ideology, rituals, demands and hypocrisy of religion just rang false to me. Now I just follow a philosophy rather than a religion. I don’t mean to offend the religious people here. I believe in to each their own. But when it is harmful to yourself and others, I do not respect that at all.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st March

      Hi Drained
      Exactly! I had to look at HOW I came to understand all these things in order to see the lies that we rooted at all of my difficulties. As far as religion or anything like that, I had to look at the same “false teachings that I looked at when it came to the messages that I had been given about myself and realize that what people taught me was all lies. The rituals are not what the bible teaches. SO.. I believe to each their own too, and I also understand that most of what I had been taught was a lie ~ so it is not the religiion that is at fault, but the people who have skewed it. Thanks for sharing!
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Joy Posted: 20th March

    Hi Pam,

    Thanks..I am beginning to understand that it’s okay to take care of my needs and that perhaps it’s not pride to care a little about myself . I cannot deny ever that God exists.. He it is who keeps me going.



    HI Darlene,

    Well the church only solidified what my mom did at home..while I was getting beat up the church was calling it holy. they worked hand and hand. and somehow in my little mind i accepted that being beat up and called names and denied any rights was okay with God and of course the nuns and priests were quick to say so .. it’s how we were taught to get to Heaven .. accepting in silence..never saying anything.isn’t it something how they brainwashed us so long to accept abuse so that they the church could abuse us and we would jusr keep quiet as suffering and penances were ways to get closer to God..

    I remember being told it was holy to beat myself till i bleed now they would call that some serious illness self harming.. sometimes church put the word holy on things that kept us submissive and quiet and that was encouraged to be the attitude one has all their life.. humble . thinking oneself as nothing..while everyone else is something..

    I have so much to unlearn. .sigh.



  10. By: Pam Posted: 20th March

    Joy, You’re sounding so much stronger these days. I know you are still going through a lot but you are sounding like a woman who understands her needs and is about the business of taking care of herself. Traditions have twisted God’s Word so badly. I’m glad you are finding your way out of that without losing your personal relationship with God. You seem to be growing by leaps and bounds.


  11. By: Joy Posted: 20th March

    HI Darlene

    The clock is ticking and so am hiding under the clouds and where ever else as this time going back is going to reopen all the brokenness inside me: NJ is a very bad place where I came to see how much my controlling mother created a feeling of constant fear in me ..

    You had said “if I didnt like what adult or someone else was doing,too bad” That sums up the whole attitude toward me in my childhood, in the messed up nun studies that kept me a child.. by a boss who threatened me with my life,and by a priest who pretty much said this to me when I cried out from my place of retraumatizing.

    All my life. .not just childhood..I slid into places where I had no voice.. The faith that “nurtured” me called it virtue to obey to be silent to suffer. .so When bad things happen.. you suffer it.. too bad if you don’t like it.. too bad if you are suffering..thats how you become a saint..thats how you get to Heaven

    So every time bad things happened.. I surrendered my will over to what was happening.. because that is what a good catholic girl should do .. be humble long suffering.silent.. and never ever tell your secret hurts..those are for Jesus and the Priest who tells you how pleased God is to have you suffer so much for Him

    I believed so long..up to 2009 . that the God in Heaven .. the caring Father of all . .would like me more the more I suffered for Him in silence..using everything as a stepping stone.

    Every time something happened that hurt me i pushed it down inside and told no one.. as I wanted to become closer and closer to Jesus. .It never come to me to say God can’t want that..

    Of course having the priest say I shouldn’t ever speak the bad things that happened.. only told me i deserved to know so much pain ..all along the way of my life..nuns and priest brainwashed me to believe that Heaven would be mine . i would become a saint if i suffered in silence kept it all in.

    Keeping it all in made me afraid and ready to burst open from all the hurt..it made me feel am not worthy of being with out pain..not if i want to get to Heaven

    The incident in 2009 which I must fly away for soon opened up that hidden area in my soul that had all the broken pieces and hurts and secrets and shame.. I wasn’t able to do anything against the evil man because all my life i was groomed to be submissive and long suffering.

    I felt i had no rights.. Only now as I look at everything I hid away spilled out on the floor can I see how much wrong philosophies readied me for abuse.. Only now am I realizing how very abused i was not just by the place i grew up in but in the faith the i grew up in

    I have so much to undo ..unlearn and relearn but its a good feeling knowing that i wont go to hell for saying i am hurting, i am broken and am in need of healing..

    Sorry for the long spiel. .but one sentenced jumped out from your whole writing..that being told if you dont like whats happening so what..Directly and indirectly i was told that all my life. .only now i can answer.. back. so what . I am a person deserving of love and respect.



    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th March

      YAY JOY!
      yes, we have rights. Sometimes I wonder how people convinced other people to believe in a God like that?? A punsihing god who expected us to suffer to find favor?? Sounds just like many of the adults in my upbringing who WERE god in my life… I guess that is what makes it so easy to communicate that false truth.
      Things are so much better today. Life is so different since the fog cleared and the real truth emerged!
      And there IS freedom on the other side of broken!
      Hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Julia Fry Posted: 19th March

    Thank you so much for your comment, Darlene. It feels good to be understood. And it is hard. It is like a death and I keep wanting to go back but it’s impossible. It’s a very vulnerable position to be in. Everything feels strange. I think this is because I’m allowing myself to stay with how I feel and it doesn’t feel good. It hurts.

    The comments on here from you all are amazing. I connect with what everyone is saying. It’s so sad that there are so many of us.

  13. By: SMD Posted: 19th March

    Hi Drained,

    Thanks for your support…I really appreciate it! I can relate to what you said about being questioned for, “Why I can’t do something or go some where they expect me to be?” Yes…I was quilt tripped and questioned…My mom did not take my reasons at face value…She would & still expects a good reason….Then when I don’t go, She will ask me after the family event is over, “What did you do?”…That sends the message to me that she did not believe me & I’m making excuses.

    It still takes me days to Detox, after visiting. I can’t stand the bickering between my parents, their negativity and unrealistic expectations….I’ve come to realize, that if they weren’t my parents, we would not be friends…Sounds harsh but the Truth Hurts!
    Then, I question myself with “Why do I bother with a relationship?”…Again, my Family Loyalty is strong & I was programmed by them!…..

  14. By: SMD Posted: 19th March

    Hi Darlene,

    Thanks for your encouragement….I like your statement, “So what if I messed up and So what if I sent a few mixed messages”….MY PARENTS have sent me thousands of mixed messages, since I was a child! It is about time I live My life!….I know I will have to continue setting more boundaries & limits, so the message is clear that I am not an EXTENSION of them….I want a healthy relationship, which again they may Not Want! I was recently asked, “How long would it take for your parents to contact you, after you had no contact with Them?” Well, that was a loaded question!…I’m usually the one who reaches out…They don’t care what messages they send Me!…

  15. By: Drained Posted: 19th March

    Thank you, Darlene! I beat myself up for still requiring “permission” to do things well into adulthood. I realized this was ridiculous, but didn’t know how to NOT feel that way. Often that is a stumbling block. I know I shouldn’t feel certain ways or do certain things because it’s just bad programming, but HOW do I not feel or do those things that are so bad for me… I can TELL myself I have value and to feel good about myself and live my own life, but BELIEVING it is another story. It takes practice, especially trying to undo so many decades of bad programming.

    A slow, progress requiring baby steps. By the way, I love your phrase “stepping stones to freedom.” As long as I keep that in mind, I can progress to the next step. Thanks for your encouragement. It means a lot.

  16. By: Pam Posted: 19th March

    Darlene, Thanks for the encouragement and I know you’re right about all the work and pain being worthwhile. Most days, I know that but then there are those other days…no matter how hard it gets though, I never want to go back to keeping everything buried and carrying pretense for others. I don’t know how I lived like that for so long!


  17. By: Drained Posted: 18th March

    SMD – Again, I admire you for setting those boundaries with your parents, reducing the visits and not giving long explanations why you didn’t attend certain events. Did they ever give you the third degree about WHY you can’t do something or go somewhere they expect you to be? My father was mostly passive except when he drank too much (that’s another story). After he died, my mother became even more focused with her control and anger towards me.

    When I tried reducing my visits to my mother, even if I cut the visit short by an hour or two, she would grill me. If I said I had to leave early because I had things to do, she would demand an itemized list! She’d ask “What kind of things?!” If I’d say “Paperwork,” she’d ask “What KIND of paperwork?!” If I said housework, she’d ask what kind of housework and so on. Then SHE would decide if that seemed important enough to ALLOW me to leave early. This went on even into my forties!!! She believed that since her husband was gone and I didn’t have children, that I should devote my time to her. What a sad, sick, warped mother/daughter relationship we had/have. Of course then I’d get to hear about how much time her friends or neighbor’s daughters spend with THEIR mothers. I dreaded my visits to her all day and was in a bad mood before, during and after the visit. It would take me a couple days to “detox” from my weekly dose of mother poisoning. All in the name of being a “dutiful” daughter.

    Darlene – I hope at some point I can get past all the anger and resentment I feel. Coming out of the fog and having all these feelings validated has taken me to a new level of understanding, but with it comes so much anger and resentment (though I always felt that deep down). I think I have to have those feelings and allow them before I can move on to a level of contentment. Is that the case? I guess I’m just worried that I won’t move past that anger because there is so much anger that was denied, ignored or left bubbling deep inside for SO many years.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th March

      This morning I have been reading the comments one at a time and answering the first one before I read the next one. The comments are just excellent today! I am going away for a week, but when I get back I might write an post on some of the things mentioned in the comments on this article!

      Hi Drained
      You mentioned you mother “allowing” you to leave early. I had a huge thing about this stuff when I came out of the fog. I called it “permission” stuff. I realized that I would actually ask permission to do certain things in certain ways even well into my 40’s. I was so angry when I realized that I was still letting my mother / in laws/ husband decide if I was allowed to do certain things! It was wonderful to “grow up” and make my own decisions! It was like finally walking in fresh air and sunshine!
      About the anger and resentment. This is a huge part of the process. I had believed most of my life that anger and resentment were WRONG and bad. I spent more time avoiding them then I ever thought about why I had them. It was when I gave myself permission to feel that and validated that I had a right to have anger and resentment, that I finally released them. They were like stepping stones to freedom. SO YES ~ that IS the case!
      Thanks for sharing! You are right on track.
      Hugs, Darlene

  18. By: SMD Posted: 18th March

    Another P.S., Even when I did what They wanted, it still wasn’t good enough, as described in my christening story above. I was devalued. A kind word would have been enough in my book. Sorry about the add ons but I’m on a roll!!
    Sincerely, SMD

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th March

      Hi SMD
      You think you sound scattered or get off the point but I get everything you say. There is a time of confusion in the sorting out process and there were many times that I would doubt there would ever be clarity! I had to think about some of the same events over and over to assure myself that I was “right” and the relationship WAS one sided or dysfunctional, or devaluing etc. Another thing that was very hard was drawing my boundary and sticking to it. (yes it does send missed messages to draw it and lift it etc) I remember hearing that if you lift a boundary with an abuser/controller/manipulator that you have to reset it 10 more times because when you lift it, you send the message that you are not serious about it. BUT when you have been brainwashed to be only what they want you to be, and to believe that love is compliance and obedience it is really really hard to stick to the boundary. SO.. I had to just say “so what if I mess up! so what if I sent a few mixed messages? ~ it is MY turn to live and I might make some mistakes. They never seemed to care about the hundreds of thousands of mixed messages they sent me! I had to cut myself a lot of slack in this process. I am not sorry that I did it that way. Any start is a good start!
      Thank you for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

  19. By: SMD Posted: 18th March

    P.S. My family does not Love me the way I need to be loved…..It’s about their false definition of Love!
    Had to add that to my above comment…

  20. By: SMD Posted: 18th March

    Hi Darlene,
    Yet another post that speaks to what’s going on for me. I have been pondering my false definitions of Love, Trust, Respect, & Forgiveness, that I was taught in my family of origin. Love & Trust has been tightly tied together in my family, along with the message that compliance= respect and obedience=love. For example, I recently set a boundary with my parents, by limiting my visits again, because I feel uncomfortable with their negativity. I just stopped visiting as much.

    In the past, there were months I had no contact and there would be no phone call from them asking how my kids & I were doing? It showed how one-sided the so called relationship was. This time I pulled back again, for a few weeks, because of the negativity. My dear old mom actually called me and asked if I was coming over. She put it this way, “I need to know if you are coming over”…in an irritable tone….She did not say I miss you and assumed my kids were sick, as the reason I have not been over. Well I did what I have been trained to do, I complied and visited. Her actions & her tone sent mixed messages. I think that if she sees me being obedient that is showing love. Well, I don’t believe that is how love works.

    In healthy love, there is mutual respect and “I can disagree with my family and that does not mean I don’t love or respect them.” I make my own choices, but I’ve been programmed to think their way. The hard part is knowing what to do…I sometimes wonder if I’m sending mixed messages too, by setting limits/boundaries and then when my mom shows any interest in seeing me & my kids I back down. I don’t like to think of myself as being that needy and pathetic!

    However, when I do take a stance, I can be tenacious. I guess it comes back to Trust. I mistrust my parents and for good reason- they have emotionally & verbally abused me and still put their digs in. I do have to say, once I started setting boundaries & limits a few years ago, they are not as controlling, as they once were. When there was any family event, party, funeral, wedding & etc., I was expected to go and I needed a good excuse/reason not to go. I got good at avoiding some things, but in time, I’ve chosen not to go by simply saying, I have other plans or I can’t make it, without explaining myself & feeling so guilty. There was many occasions, I’m glad I did not go & some I wish I hadn’t gone too. I can still give a gift or card, instead of being present, however, that is not good enough for them.

    I felt so much guilt and pain, when I started setting limits. I now see, I was afraid they wouldn’t love me. For example, even when I went to the church for my nephew’s christening & then out to dinner afterwards, I had to hear from my mom, that my brother was questioning why I didn’t go to my mom’s house afterwards. I was so mad because I did enough in my eyes, but still it wasn’t enough for my family.

    I was also grieving a loss of a baby, that I had to terminate, due to having a nonviable pregnancy. The fetus was not going to make it to pregnancy. I was really shaken up and depressed. It was painful for me to go see my brother’s infant baby, at the time. I told my mom this before, and she still wanted me to be there for them. The most painful part for me, was they showed no empathy towards me during this time. Of course, it was a happy time for them.

    Sorry for getting off track…I think I touched on some points you made in your post, and then some. I get typing & my thoughts start connecting to sad/painful memories. I’m teary eyed again remembering the pain I felt. I felt alone and unloved. Today, I know they can not Be there for me. I learned the hard way through trial & error!
    Sincerely, SMD

  21. By: Julia Fry Posted: 18th March

    Darlene, thanks for the book tip – I’ve just ordered a copy. And this post is spot on. It seems that each time you post something it connects with the thing I’ve been journalling about a lot. At my counseling session last Friday I connected with how much it hurts that my mum isn’t interested in me as an individual. And I’ve tried, all my life, to gain her interest, her love. If I could do something different or say something differently or ask just the right question there will be a spark of recognition and suddenly the relationship will transform into something healthy and loving instead of the rotten decayed thing that it actually is. But what happens if I stop calling? What if she calls me after I decide to stop trying? She can somehow sense when I give up on her and become very sweet, sickly sweet in fact, until she has what she wants. I’ve been here before several times. I dug out a copy of a letter I sent her a few years ago. I sound so strong in it. I state “I don’t want to cut you out of my life [she’d written “please don’t cut me out of your life”] but things have to change for us to have a healthy relationship. Is that even possible? I don’t know. First, you need to recognise and admit that some of the things you did to me as a child were abusive. I feel that we could be a part of each other’s healing process. But only if we have the courage to face into what happened. Denial keeps the problem alive.” I felt very strong when I sent that but also very alone – I didn’t know anyone else who was willing to question and confront their parents. It was last September when I contacted her again. I sent her a birthday card saying I loved her. She phoned me. I felt relieved that we were talking at last. Because of the move I made. My Grandma died in December so I went to visit and stayed at my sister’s for two weeks. It was so painful to be there. We moved there when I was nine two weeks after my dad killed himself. I had no friends there and it was cold and dark. I was also repressing the sexual abuse that happened where we used to live – by my dad and, after he died, by the boy next door. I had nightmares. My mum told me she would find me sitting up in bed with my eyes open but rolled back and she would ask me what I could see. She said I told her horrific things but wouldn’t go into detail. She put a crucifix in my bedroom and in the morning it would be upside down and so would the pictures on the walls in the downstairs hallway. I don’t remember these things happening. She told me this when I was thirteen or fourteen when she used to let me stay up late and would confide in me. She said she got a priest to sprinkle holy water and do an exorcism in the house. I don’t know whether it’s true. She used to confide in me when she was single. As soon as a man came into her life she dropped me – I became valueless to her again. All those times I listened to her, rapt in feeling great that I was trusted enough to hear some of the things she didn’t tell anyone else. And I keep switching between feeling strong and feeling a need for her, even though she won’t ever and never has given me what I need psychologically and emotionally.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th March

      Hi Julia
      The pain of facing that my own parents were not that interested in me felt like a death. It was the pain I was so afraid to face all along, I just didn’t know it. I went through every emotion; shock, hurt, rejection, disbelief, back to denial, and all around again. I went through a time where I had to remind myself of the things she did and said to me because I was starting to talk myself into trying to convince myself again that it must be something about ME! Something that helped me was to accept that she had a choice in all this; that if I drew my boundary, she could either try to meet me half way OR she would withdraw completely. She withdrew. That was when I went through the most shock and emotion. But that was also when the truth began to set me free. I started to realize what I was NOT missing. My mother said she didn’t want to lose me too. But the truth was that there were conditions on that statement. She didn’t want to stop treating me like she did either. So I started to hear an “Unless” on her statements like that; I don’t want to lose you “unless” I have to respect you or unless I have to meet you half way.

      Farther along in my process I realized that ALL controllers and abusers can sense when their victims are pulling away. That seems the only time that they are “nice” (because remember they get their value from owning someone else ~ the whole thing is dysfunctional) so when they are nice it seems to be a trick to get you back in the web ~ it never lasts unless they actually SEE the dysfunction and want to have a real relationship! (which can happen, as I said everyone has a choice. My husband and I went through a very different process from the one I went through with my mother… he WANTED the relationship and his actions proved it. It was not just words.

      Thank you for sharing this painful part of your life with us. I know this is hard.
      Hugs, Darlene

  22. By: Mike Blane Posted: 18th March

    A definition of sanity- “I’m not who others say I am nor am I who I think I am”.

  23. By: Pam Posted: 18th March

    Darlene, Thank you for recommending the book and letting me know, again that I’m not alone. You described what is going on in my house to a tee. Getting stuck for so many years trying to get through to my parents and sister really slowed my progess down. I know I really had to see how little they cared for me (it is so easy to make excuses for them rather than just face the truth that they don’t love me and not feel like it is because I’m unloveable)but this has all been such a long haul. It’s overwhelming sometimes. It is a lot of work. Thanks again for all you do.


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th March

      About getting slowed down trying to get through to your parents ~ because of the type of person I was and the way my belief system was, I often wonder if I had not tried so hard if I would have given up quickly and just blamed myself again. I was so willing to take the failure label when it came to all relationships. I was SHOCKED when I finally realized that I honestly never considered that other people were also responsible and that it wasn’t actually right or healthy for ME to carry the entire burden of relationship. It IS a long haul and it was very overwhelming. Nothing I have ever done has been more worthwhile though. 🙂
      Thank you for all you contribute here!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Mike
      Nicely said,
      hugs Darlene

  24. By: Pam Posted: 18th March

    Darlene, This is the hardest thing for me to change. My relationships have always been based on my filling the need of another. This is part of every human relationship but I have been extreme. It’s hard for me to change but on the other hand, I feel physically sore and tired from serving people. It makes my bones ache to think about it. I’ve been grumpy with my family lately but it isn’t all their fault. I’ve set the tone of my relationships by seein myself as the one to meet the needs of others while also, setting myself up and having no need for those who love me to fill. What you said in the comments on the last post about church made me look at this more closely. There are those who took advantage of me because of my need to help but most people just responsded to the way I related to them. Those who really love me are trying hard to understand and change with me. Those who don’t are falling by the wayside. It’s a confusing time and I’m often surprised to find myself so confused at 55. I thought I’d have it together by now. I’m trying to put myself in positions of making new relationships but it’s scary.

    I think I have new repressed memories trying to surface. Last week, I spent some time in the city where a lot of my abuse happened. I had terrible nightmares and tactile flashbacks. There was a lot of physical pain with it and I can’t help but feel frightened of what I’m on the verge of remembering. Did you ever have this kind of experience?


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th March

      Hi Drained
      YUCK and YES exactly. This is what it “looks like” ~ very often and for many exactly the way that you say in your comments. The great thing is that once I started to see this, I had more and more insights into the way that I was controlled so the “unlearning” went more quickly after that.
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Pam
      Exactly. I also discovered that I had set this up for myself as an adult. I “taught” everyone (my kids, my husband and my in-laws) by my actions that my only purpose was to serve them; I had to set those new boundaries over and over and it took years for my husband and kids to accept me as equal to them and not servant to them. It was really really hard and with the kids, I really had to be patient because I had set it up that way and it wasn’t their fault that I enabled them. It was a huge learning curve. Sometimes they hated me. My husband and I fought a lot. I was less patient with him because I explained to him where all the inequality was and he agreed but didn’t want to give up his positional power. I totally relate to the fact that I had a “need” because of a false belief that I had to serve in order to be valuable. The problem was that I never thought I should BE served by the same definition. I never realized how funky it was!
      I understand what you are going through with repressed memories and YES I had those fears. I have not had “all the memories” yet but I have had some and they were NEVER as scary to remember as I thought they would be. I was very frightened too but after I had some of them, the fear is no where near as big as it was. There is an excellent book called “repressed memories” by Renee Fredrickson that helped me a lot.
      Hugs, Darlene

  25. By: Drained Posted: 18th March

    “I was always in a situation where people communicated that it was BEST for ME when I did what they wanted. That communicates the message that I have no gift or purpose outside of serving them and it discounts my life and my purpose.”

    Wow. I grew up with this kind of bad programming. I lost my initiative and questioned everything I thought or did. Even if I did do what they (she) wanted, it was never good enough so I’d have to do it again, or she would redo it herself to suit her specifications.

    Even in my twenties, still living with “her” because I had no confidence to go out on my own, I would hang laundry on the line to dry outside (she refused to hook up the dryer), I’d find “her” out there, re-hanging them “correctly” (her way). I never, ever felt I could do anything properly.

    If only I understood then that no matter what or how I would do something, it wouldn’t be “right.” She would “correct” or redo it so she could send the message that she was “superior” and in charge so she could break me so I’d be easier to control and manipulate. “Constructive criticism” was her justification for the daily dose of correcting and belittling. Such a dismissive attitude since the day you’re born can warp your thinking over time in such a way as to harm every aspect of your existence well into adulthood. So much to unlearn…

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