Feeling Responsible for Reactions and Outcomes



talking blame and responsibility for others
the depth of misplaced responsibility

I want peace on earth. I want peace in emerging from broken and before that I wanted peace in my family. I had been raised to believe that I was responsible for peace in my family or at the very least my actions either contributed to the peace or destroyed it.

As a child I was taught that there would be peace if I didn’t upset anyone.  I was taught that if I complied and if I did what was expected of me; if I was quiet and polite and if I didn’t stand up for anything that went against what the adult in the situation deemed the “right way” to do things, that I would be loved and accepted. 

My mother was fragile. She was prone to depressions and what she called nervous breakdowns. She made it very clear all of my childhood that if I upset her, she would have a “breakdown”. My mother ended up in the hospital when I was little with what was called “a nervous breakdown” back then. I am sure that this event had a major effect on me and that it settled somewhere in my belief system and added to my beliefs that if I upset someone they may end up in the hospital and everyone knows that people die in hospitals. Not only does a little mind wander all the way to “death” but think about the fear of abandonment and all that that implies. I could not survive without my mother. She was the source of all my basic needs.

And I was abused while she was away. So that added to the fear factor in my frame of reference about what happens when Mommy has a mental health breakdown.

Thoughts like “what would happen if my mother had a mental health breakdown and could never come home?” are not always conscious.  Well I didn’t want to find out what would happen; I had enough information already, so I tried my hardest not to upset her. She reinforced my fear of upsetting her by reminding me all the time of how fragile she was.  I can still hear her voice; “stop it Darlene. Stop pushing me. (Stop whatever it was we were doing that was upsetting her.)  Stop it or I will have a breakdown”.  And when I got older she told said “Stop it Darlene, Stop pushing me” whenever I wanted to defend myself or if I wanted to talk about the past. I never got to say anything that needed to be said in order for me to have value as an individual. I never got to have a side in anything. It was too dangerous; she might have a mental health breakdown and kill herself and it would be MY fault and on MY head forever.

Ultimately I believed that I would be responsible for her failure to cope as well as then my own failures and the demise of my entire family.

I can still remember my grandmother saying similar things and I remember my mother telling me that her mother threatened her with the same thing.  “Stop it, just stop talking about it or I will have a hissy fit”.  She had learned the same things from her mother that she taught me. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t mess with the consequences. Then when my mother grew up, she finally got her say ~ she got all her accusations or opinions in against me but I was not permitted to respond in case it rocked HER boat.

By the time I was a young adult, I had efficiently learned that I could not and should not tell my mother or ask her to face anything that she didn’t want to hear. I did not want to be responsible for her mental health breakdown. Even as an adult I was afraid of the consequences; that I would be to blame if she went back into her deep depression and worse than that I was afraid that I would be responsible if she committed suicide.

I was afraid that if my mother had a break down it would be my fault. She said it would be my fault.  She taught me that her mental health was MY responsibility. And I believed it.  That is why when she tore a strip off me when I was just out of the hospital with my newborn daughter, I took it. I sat there and took it although I had long since forgotten why I would sit through her accusations and judgements of me.  The conditioning to fear the consequences of standing up to someone had become so deeply ingrained that I just reacted with silence and compliance without even thinking about why. 

It was happening on my blog too.  Some of the comments were triggering my mother’s voice begging me to stop saying what needed to be said. I wanted to be the voice of peace, love and understanding.

I wanted everyone to feel safe even if it meant that the truth would be sacrificed. I didn’t want to upset anyone. I was afraid that I would be abandoned and rejected if the truth that they heard hurt too much. I would sometimes hear my mother’s voice…. “stop it Darlene. Stop pushing me or I will fall apart.” And the (unheard) message that always meant “I will fall apart and it will be YOUR FAULT”   My mother’s voice was still operating to dictate my actions and reactions to some of the comments and commenter’s in my website.

And I forgot how much the truth hurt in my own process and how valuable it was in spite of that pain.

PEACE and harmony do not always go hand in hand with the truth.  There have been many times in my process of healing and personal growth where the truth made me very angry and many times when I rejected it because it hurt too much.  Looking back many seeds were planted that I rejected and rebelled against at first. That is just part of the process. I am glad that I didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I am glad that I was (and still am) willing to persist seeking my recovery even when it scares the living daylights out of me.  

I had to learn that sometimes the truth hurts but in the end it heals; if I had successfully avoided the truth I would not be where I am today; NOR would I have the message that I have to deliver. I had to reaffirm that I did not heal from my past when the truth was sugar coated for me and no one contributed to my healing by covering up their truth. 

I had to realize that my mother’s voice was still interfering with my life (and in this case with my message) in a harmful way and in realizing this I have achieved another level of personal growth.

Please Note: It is important to remember that I had to learn the real truth first. Many people hurt me with their voice and their lies; there was a lot of sorting out to do before I figured out the real truth but when I did I began to soar, thrive and flourish.

Please share your thoughts with me and the readership here.  The comment discussions are always very good and insightful. I share my healing for the benefit of your healing.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time

Darlene Ouimet

Founder of Emerging from Broken

Related Posts ~ My mother doesn’t love me and the process of grieving

Categories : Family



Wow, you really made an insightful connection here. This highlights what an on-going process recovery is. Thank you.


Darlene, I think this is the center of all my suffering, wrongly placed responsibility. When I was little I was told that it was my fault that my dad drank too much. That was such a huge weight. The whole world revolved around my dad’s drinking and nothing was more terrifying than one of my dad’s drunken rages. My mother also, continually shushed me telling me to be careful or I’d hurt my dad’s feelings. We all knew what happened when my dad’s feelings were hurt, more drinking, holes in walls, toys ripped away and smashed, fights over the gun because one or the other was going to shoot themselves, running my mom down with the car, and any number of insane dramas that made me a nerveous wreck, even as a small child. I was also taught that all the morality around sex was the woman’s responsibility, even if she was raped. My dad told me how hard it was for men when women led them on and they couldn’t get sexual relief, it just hurt so bad! So, when I was raped at 14, there was no doubt in my mind that it was my fault. I was also, used merchandise. My mother also, placed responsibility on me by confiding her problems to me as if I were here equal and should have empathy and advice for her. She was so angry when I didn’t grow up to be her best friend when I became a teenager. When my siblings did something wrong, she blamed me for that, also. Everything bad was my fault because I was bad. I knew I was bad and all the pain and insanity that colored my childhood was my fault.

I lived my whole life taking all the responsibility for the people I loved. Anything that happened to them was my fault and I lived in a state of constant anxiety trying to prevent all of the horrible things that had happened to me in the past and anything new that might happen from happening to those I loved, especially, my children. To them I was a controlling witch while to me, I was just being responsible in the same way that I was raised to be responsible. When I finally realized that I’d been sexually abused and my world turned right side up, all of it began to unravel and I started peeling away those layers of misplaced responsibility. I don’t know if I’ll ever get rid of it all but I’m much better than I’ve ever been in my entire life. My kids like me better too. Their lives are their own and I know I won’t stand in judgement for the mistakes they make or the bad things that happen to them. It’s such a relief to be responsible for no one but me.

I could write a book about misplaced responsibility and I almost did!:0)



May I ask you, Pam or Darlene…..did you either one ever suffer from panic attacks??



Hi, I’m AnnaLyzza. That is so interesting that you would ask about panic attacks in relation to this topic of feeling responsible for everyone and everything. I started having sporadic panic attacks about two years ago at this time, and they increased in frequency and intensity, the worst being this past January – May. You have helped me see just now that they were absolutely linked to my crushing, overwhelming feelings of responsibility for the happiness/safety/financial security of others – and that burden was directly linked to the dynamics between me and my Mother.

Last year we were living in a different province while my husband completed a Masters degree. He was gone pretty much 16 hours a day, including many weekends, and I was left alone to run our household and care for our four kids. Needless to say I was under a lot of stress, and I was, literally, solely responsible for the care and well being of my kids, myself, our house, our finances, my sanity. We had no family or friends, were in a strange city, and had an uncertain living situation. So for the first year I struggled with what I now realize was constant just-below-panic anxiety. The second year we ended up through desperation moving into a house owned by friends (a lady I met through kids’ activities) that we hadn’t known long, but they were moving, had an empty house sitting on the market and we were about to be homeless. They offered us the house rent free to start with, which sounds great but turned out to be a real mess. Basically, they were helping us out by giving us a deal on their place but it was a bad idea because expectations never got clarified, and in the end they tail-ended us with some major guilt/resentment because lo and behold they were being put in a financial pinch. They never let on about this or asserted their needs despite my many requests for them to let us know what kind of arrangement might work better. But once it became expedient for them to do so, they sure communicated how much they were being squeezed by their own generosity, which I allowed to let me feel like a horrible, exploitative, insensitive, selfish piece of dirt. I fell into this well of turmoil over this, I felt so RESPONSIBLE for hurting them financially and potentially causing them a legal/bankruptcy catastrophe, I felt responsible because I hadn’t communicated better, anticipated their unarticulated needs better, somehow foreseen the future and avoided this outcome, been capable of time travel to the past to change the situation, etc. etc. I felt like a fool for taking them up on their generous offer against my own better judgement, though it saved our butts financially. I thanked them over and over again for helping us and did everything we could afford to make it up to them, allowing myself to then get taken advantage of and jerked around in the process. The worst part was that I was so terrified of speaking up about the situation and instead felt I had to accept chastizement for all my failings and be grateful for the insights into my defective character! I was so messed up over what was truly my responsibility vs. what never ever was. And as you might imagine, I was having frequent, intense, heart-attack simulating panic attacks that sent me to the hospital more than once. It was the most horrible feeling.

What I did manage to extract from this ordeal was (among other things) the awareness that these reactions I was having to our friends and the situation were basically identical to the dynamics between me and my Mom. At some point I realized that I was reacting to my friend as though she was my Mother and would think and act like my mother. I won’t go into it over much, but you can probably see that I have been conditioned to feel soley responsible for the health of my relationships to people, for THEIR health and well being, conditioned to blame myself harshly when disagreements happen and I “let myself” get really mad at the other person, and God forbid I should express my feelings – then I collapse into writhing agony of self doubt and self recrimination for “lashing out” unfairly, then apologize profusely for everything, even the stuff I know isn’t my fault, just to make peace and end the conflict. It was impossible to be in conflict with either of my parents in a constructive way, that didn’t end in me feeling like a bully and a brute for being angry at them, and feeling really guilty/crazy for having such feelings, and having to grovel in order to restore peace in the relationship. So no surprise that when I moved away from my family, within a year I had attracted this situation with these “friends” which was basically the same sh#t, different pile. It was illuminating, though, I learned a lot about the beliefs I was carrying around and the very unfair amount of responsibility I was willing to carry in that circumstance. That lesson came at a great cost though – I was a nervous wreck by the time we moved out of that house and far away from that situation.

Honestly I’m just now processing that experience in light of Darlene’s post thanks to your question, Mimi, so thank you for asking it. I have made gains in learning to divest myself of the burden of feeling responsible for everyone else’s happiness/feelings/needs/personal growth/reactions etc, but have more awareness to give to this area. It is hard to unlearn that everyone else’s reactions are somehow your fault. In my case, my mom also had a nervous breakdown and was emotionally fragile for many years. She did not overtly hold it over our heads like Darlene’s mother, or threaten to come unglued if we displeased her, she was just fragile and needy and I’m sure I felt that – being a sensitive child – and took it to heart that she needed caretaking. My Dad needed a lot of emotional reassurance and caretaking as well, so I was really a Mother figure for both of them.
And I seem to encounter intense, moody people who I somehow came to believe I had to manage and mollify in order to keep peace and maintain relationships.

Interestingly, it has only been when I got sick and tired of carrying that weight and decided I was not willing to be responsible for family members’ moods and over-reactions that I began to be freed of this dynamic. I never chose to (or had the guts to) openly confront anybody, I just changed myself and stopped holding that belief, and sure enough the relationships changed. It meant some distance from some people for a while (conveniently we were several provinces away) but since being home, those old patterns aren’t coming back. I feel much less stress attending family functions now that I no longer give a crap whether MIL or SIL or BIL or my own family members are happy/sad/grouchy/touchy/pissy or whatever. But, thankfully most of my family members are too codependent to really push it into open conflict. My mother has done an excellent job of imposing her extreme intolerance to conflict onto our family dynamic. \

With my “friend” though, I gave myself permission to confront her about the situation, once we were moved out and no longer entangled with them in any way. )(I was too terrified to confront her while we lived there for fear she would throw us out onto the street – as though she would do that. I don’t think they would have done that – and they couldn’t legally, but the fear that they might kept me silent and seething. I am certain this is just the ripple of the primal fear of being abanadoned/neglected/shut out by my parents if I displeased them and didn’t keep them happy.) With the safety of email, I spelled out my frustrations at her/them for how our well-intended arrangement had broken down, their contributions to that outcome that they never admitted to or apologized for, and for how she had treated me over it. I stood up for myself and I ended that relationship and I chose not to feel any guilt over it, which is a huge step for me. Nice to be able to practise on someone I never have to see again! Not that I didn’t still feel guilty for not just “letting bygones be bygones” and for not accepting her friendly “as if nothing bad happened between us” emails after the fact, for not deferring the money they owed us – again – and instead stating that we did need to be paid back and expected to be paid back. I was civil and took responsibility for my own stuff, but I handed back responsibility to them that was theirs. It felt scary and I felt conflicted about not just being “nice” and “forgiving – without ever having been asked for forgiveness”, but ultimately it was a tremendous weight off to send that email and walk away from that relationship.

I need to think more about the connection between the panic attacks and this belief of responsibility, but I know for certain that they are. I can just feel that going “click, yes!” in my body. So thanks Mimi, for adding another piece to my puzzle.

What are you experiencing with your panic attacks, if you care to share?


Darlene, you are awesome, and you offer a venue that is to be found no place else. Twice when I was 13 years old (and living alone with my mother), my mother attempted suicide late at night with me in the house. She said she was doing this so no one would have to be bothered with her anymore. Talk about guilt…. Both times I went and got my aunt who was a nurse, and she saved her. At the same time my aunt was giving her barbituates which made her psychotic when combined with alcohol. It took me many years to figure this all out, and get away from taking responsibility for her actions. Thanks.


Mimi, I was very hyper vigelent but I didn’t have the kind of attacks that are confused with heart attacks. However, I paniced very easily, over reacted, and withdrew from the world(which had more to do with the traumas I experienced than over responsibility). I’m better now that I quit trying to control the uncontrolable but I still have problems with isolation. It is my main form of self-protection and I’ve done it for so long that I’m kind of at a loss as to how to be more engaged with the world. The emotional neglect that I was subject to as a child made isolation natural to me and though I know it isn’t good for me, I seek it out when I’m in emotional pain. My problems with over-responsibility had the greatest effect on how I related to others. In my relationships, I repeated the form set by my parents. I made myself solely responsible for my relationships and required little to nothing in return. As a result, I attracked people with personalities like my parents. Peeling away those layers of misplaced responsibility took not a few relationships with it. My problems with isolation are compounded and my struggle isn’t over but I’m making progress.:0)



Hi Pam
Wow. Thank you for your contribution here! These are excellent highlights to what I am talking about. A child has no filtering system. We just accept that we have to do better; that it was “up to us”. Then we grow up with those lies in place because where would they go??? All my depressions and struggles grew out of the belief system that was formed out of those lies and in recovery I had to find the lies and replace them by realizing the truth. That is the process of emerging from broken.
Thanks Pam!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Mimi
I was dissociated (disconnected from myself and from events) which was my coping method. I started having panic attacks when I learned to stop dissociating (in my healing process) and then I had to deal with those. I ended up dealing with the panic attacks the same way as everything else. But digging into the root of them. It was always my false belief system that was at the bottom of what was causing my overwhelm in the present moment too.
Hugs Darlene


Hi Robert and Sophia
Thanks for your encouragement and support!

This is a HUGE horror for you to have gone through. I am so glad that you had this victory and thank you for sharing it here!
Hugs, Darlene


I grew up as the family Peacemaker. It was my responsibility to make the adults happy and to keep the peace between my siblings.


I can so relate, Darlene! I went through this very thing with my mother. Without realizing it, my family put this responsibility on my shoulders as well. It’s the old lie that it was somehow up to me to keep peace in the family … to not rock the boat … to put up with whatever is thrown at you even if it hurts.

So glad I woke up!! There was always this underwritten rule too that if I did rock the boat or did anything my parents looked down upon, it would mean rejection or the threat of being disowned. A little over a year ago, I realized that I’d been rejected years ago and I confronted my family. The result was not a surprise – the result was rejection … my life is better now. I’m HAPPY!!


I can really relate to this as well…BIG TIME! Displaced responsibility ten-fold!!!

Being the youngest in my family, my two older sisters got the he** out of dodge just as soon as they could and never looked back.

I was so naive (and excessively loyal…loyalty – yet SOMETHING ELSE which was displaced big time as well) that I didn’t understand this at the time…and what happened, since I was the only one left, my parents – (instead of seeking help themselves…you know, what responsible, adults do…..) dumped all their crap on me as if THEIR problems were MY responsibility – and it was also as if (in their warped minds) that my sisters were somehow being huge, unappreciative “traitors” of the family by what? Living their own lives???? Opting for the sanity route?

Yeah, really screwed up messages!!!! Sometimes looking back on it now I think to myself (and cut myself some slack) by thinking and feeling – well, no wonder you’re so screwed up Brenda! Look at your role models…the people who were supposed to know enough to love and protect me! No damned wonder!!!!!

I also think, that it is not only what IS said, but it occurred to me one time what was NOT SAID…and by that I mean: Not once did either one of them come up to me and say, Look Brenda, Don’t you worry about our problems. They aren’t yours to concern yourself with. You need to focus on YOUR FUTURE instead and don’t worry about us. We’re adults. We’ll figure this out and/or ask for help if we can’t do it alone.

But that conversation never took place – only in my head – and only just recently…but at least it is helping me see the situation for the truly messed-up, confusing, triangulating pile of crap for what it truly was and bottom-line: I ain’t the one with problem!!!!!

Thanks Darlene for posting this. (It obviously hit a nerve).


*************** Dark subject matter / bad language warning ***********

(hmmm, this seems to be a fairly common way for my posts to begin, no? oh well. it is what it is.)

Hi Darlene,

this feels very similar to me in some ways (the belief that it was MY fault/responsibility, the fear of my mother committing suicide based etc) but totally different too. In my “family”, silence and denial are the methods of madness (rather than openly threatening with breakdowns etc like you described).

F**k. I just clicked the link to “narcissitic mothers” and read this:

“She’s also careful about when and how she engages in her abuses. She’s very secretive, a characteristic of almost all abusers (“Don’t wash our dirty laundry in public!”) and will punish you for telling anyone else what she’s done. The times and locations of her worst abuses are carefully chosen so that no one who might intervene will hear or see her bad behavior, and she will seem like a completely different person in public.”

I’m super tired right now, which is probably good in a way because I feel like I’m just numbing out the impact of that paragraph. But at the same time, very deep inside, there was a terrible chill from reading that. And I know her mother is the same way. And my father tells me that HER mother (eg my great-grandmother; I don’t really remember her cos I was 7 or 8 when she died) was the same.

I f**king hate my “family”. I just can’t deal with being around any of them at the moment. I’m hanging on to the plan of just cutting off all contact if I manage to get the low-income housing some social worker friends are helping me apply for (so scared though. I’ve believed since pre-teen years that I’d never be able to support myself with a job or ever move out of home. Now seeing this as deliberate brainwashing by my f**king mother so that I’d always be around for her to f**k with.)

Ok. Having a very big internal struggle trying to NOT type all the words I’m thinking about her here. (It’s not easy being your own censor!) 🙂

(Bleak humor atttempt again. Oh well. Whatever it takes to get you through, right?)

Ok gonna jump topics to try and snap out of this spiral.


thank you for sharing! I’ve never been openly threatened with disownment, but I’m quite sure they’d try it if they thought I was going to try and stand up for myself.

I’m really glad to hear you’re happier now. I need all the vicarious hope I can get right now! (Can’t remember if that’s the right word I’m trying to think of? As in, I don’t have it for myself, but I’ll try and hold on to hope through everyone here who’s made it further along the path than I have yet).

As I said above, I’m just hoping to be able to get the f**k out of this godforsaken house (NOT a “home”) and then cut off. Maybe one day I’ll have the courage to actually tell them what I think/feel. But I don’t think I do just yet.

F**K I hate this horrible, dysfunctional “family”!!! I’m almost certain that they (and quite probably many of their “friends”) are just going to come out shooting to kill, probably even if I just cut off contact (without even actually confronting them). I think deep down I’m expecting to have to change phone numbers etc. Just realized my father might already know where the place is I’m applying for. Oh well, worry about that if it happens, right? There’s always restraining orders etc.

I really hope that some of this is paranoia coming out. But deep down, I don’t really think it is. My mother has built up her world of fantasy and only seeing what she wants to see so effectively that I can’t even imagine what she’d do if I (or anyone) actively tried to destroy her illusions (and I gotta tell you, it is SO f**king tempting at times). The problem for me is, if I do cut off contact, that will effectively be the same thing, because she won’t be able to avoid it. If I’m real lucky, I suppose it’s possible she’ll just go the route of bad-mouthing me to all her “friends” and “family” of how f**ked up I am and always was, and put all her energy into actively propogating how they did everything they could for me, but how I just would’nt accept their help or how it just wasn’t enough for me or how bitter I am etc etc etc.

That would probably be the best outcome (although I’m pretty sure several of her “friends” would jump on the bandwagon and come gunning for me bigtime). Oh well. F**k them all. Being around them and their f**king illusions is the most soul-destroying thing I know (at least since I stopped attending church – sorry to the christians here). And how can I ever find peace or loving relationships (not just romantic – any kind of healthy relationship) when I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced one? And when I’m around this s**t all the time? Not gonna happen.


It’s taken SO long to get to this stage… almost 30 years. And only in the last year or so have I really started to see through the brainwashing to realize the full extent of the systematic emotional abuse and indoctrination they’ve used on me all my life, and put the blame squarely where it belongs — on THEIR shoulders, NOT mine.

So all of this is so incredibly huge for me — I’ve believed for so long that I’d never be able to support myself, but now I’m in the middle of the process of trying getting on welfare (hopefully disability for my depression & anxiety) and get low-income housing. Struggling so hard with hopelessness, because even at my most optimistic I can’t really imagine being free of the emptiness inside. Hard to imagine peace and happiness when you’ve never known it.

BUT… at least I’m not stagnant anymore! I’d felt so trapped this year, and was just numbing out completely and just trying to distract myself through the days, vainly hoping that something somehow would just magically change… and I guess in a way it has. It’s just that when you’ve stopped bothering about almost everything in life (personal appearance/grooming, responsibilities, money etc) it’s so confronting to suddenly jump right into the things I’ve been scared of for so, so long. But I’d started to feel like death was a physical presence that was stalking me down a dead-end street, and it was just a matter of time before it cornered me. So I have to hold on to that part of me that is such an incredibly strong warrior to be able to hold on so long in the face of overwhelming hopelessness and opposition from my “family” and that wants to live and laugh and love and do his part in trying to help others who might be in similar situations (and I guess that’s part of what helped inspire me to overcome the extreme fear I felt and start posting here).

It’s still not easy to do, but it does feel like it’s helping me to get things out and hopefully learn from what I write, and also to get support from you guys and (hopefully) sometimes to be able to offer a small bit of support in return (even if it’s just “you’re not alone – I feel that way too!)

Ok I think I’ve (finally!) typed myself to a standstill…

I wish everybody peace and joy on their journeys! (and for me too). And thank you all once again for being part of this quite incredible community — I can’t even remember how I found this site now, but I was a lurker for quite some time before I got up the courage to post… and well, quite quickly I felt like a part of it all… thanks again everyone!


PS — Brenda, I got sidetracked writing about my own crap, but I meant to say that I enjoyed your post and your point of view (ie “I’m not the one with the problem!”) — that’s what I’m aiming for! I guess once I’ve removed myself from the environment and (hopefully) built up a safe place for myself, I’ll be able to (GENTLY and GRADUALLY) start re-programming all the inherited s**t. That’s gonna be a very long process I fear, which is a very depressing thought, but hey. You gotta start somewhere, right?

There have been a few times when I’ve been able to move past the self-blame etc to be able to almost look at all the s**t and think “no WONDER I’m struggling so hard!” It feels quite nice to actually have a hint of sympathy for myself for once! (or is it empathy? I never can remember the difference)

anyway thanks again for sharing your viewpoint! 🙂


J ~ I so feel for you!! My mother has Narcissistic Personality Disorder too and when I did stand up to her, the abuse escalated – it was her attempt to get me back under her control. I know this article you quoted from – its my mother exactly.

It took me until I was 34 to oust my mother from my life – and as destructive as she was she made me believe it was all my fault, so ousting her came with huge guilt. But, I finally knew that the way she treated me was not love in any way, shape, or form. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had become an empty shell person.

I ousted my mother coming up 11 years ago!! Looking back, it was one of the best life choices I ever made for myself. The whole time, I knew I was proverbially on the outside of my family looking in. I was excluded from lots of family stuff. None of them would side with me. None of them asked me why I ousted my mother. This went on over ten years when I finally couldn’t take their aloofness anymore. I confronted all of them, and just as I had anticipated, I was rejected by all of them. And it didn’t surprise me because really they had already rejected me ten years before. It took me ten years to get angry enough to finally confront them. They have sided with my abuser.

Once this outburst happened, I got myself into therapy with a qualified therapist, well-knowledged in Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I am finally FREE of my mother’s idea of me, of her nasty, demeaning voice in my head, etc.

I know its frustrating, its infuriating when you find out that all the blame and responsibility that has been put on you is actually not yours to carry. It’s theirs – not yours. I feel for you. I’ve been there.

Big hugs, J!!


Thanks so much for your lovely words Rise!

It’s really encouraging to hear that making such a hard choice has been so positive for you! I still have a lot of fear – not sure if I’ll actually be able to follow through on my plan of cutting off yet. Time will tell!

Your “shell person” comment really resonated with me. Lately the way it feels to me is like I don’t even exist. The “real” me (whatever the hell that actually is) has been so successfully denied/crushed/destroyed etc by what I now see as selfish, self-serving agendas from my “family”, that it’s like I’m not even here.

I’ve had several times this year where I’ve been at family/family friend gatherings (with my family present), and just couldn’t ignore how horribly negative my family is, and how shit it made me feel to be around them — not to mention many of the “family friends” too.

That’s very interesting what you said about the therapy & narcissism. I didn’t know that was an option. I recently got a number from a helpline for what they called a “trauma counsellor”. I remember a while back reading a symptom list for post-traumatic stress disorder, and being very surprised that I seemed to fit. (I thought that was only to do with one-off kind of traumas, but I seem to recall it also talked about long-term, ongoing kind of trauma like childhood abuse as well).

Haven’t called the counsellor yet. Too much going on at this stage. Maybe I will sometime. But might have to read more about the narcissism thing and consider that too. (Don’t think that’s going to be an easy read). I often apply negative qualities to myself as well when reading. There is (unfortunately) a huge amount of my mother in me, so there’s a good chance it’s actually stuff that’s real, rather than just the depression working me over as usual. But oh well. Too much to think about just now.

Thanks again for the msg! 🙂


Hi Rise
That was what I realized too… the reality of it was that the fear that was instilled in me was all part of the way they got what they wanted from me. They were good at keeping it going with reminders. I couldn’t draw the boundary until (a) I finally saw that one needed to be drawn and (b) I faced the fear of doing so. Everything changed when I acknowledged my own value where no one else ever had.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Brenda
Great comments. In my family, most things were communicated by NOT saying. There were moods, looks, results and consequences that taught me. And these communications were layered upon each other as I grew older.
Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Darlene


Hi J
In my family many many methods were used to teach me what I was required to learn. And some of it may have been passed on from the way they learned it. (but so what? the damage was done regardless) Sometimes even good memory events reinforced the belief system that I so often write about. The whole thing about digging into it is to discover and acknowledge the damage and to heal from it. So I don’t object to long posts/comments! Keep going forward J. I know it is hard going.. in my case there was so much “fog” that got in the way a lot, but persistence pays off.
Hugs, Darlene


J ~ Yep, post-traumatic stress disorder is something that is also caused by ongoing trauma. Trauma was something else that was dealt with in therapy. It is scary and does take time to make huge decisions like walking away from your family. And only you can make that decision – and if you make it, you have to be ready to do that. You already know how unhealthy it is.

What did it for me was when my mother humiliated me in my own home at my son’s 4th birthday party (my son is now 15.) She had always humiliated and degraded me – in her own home, in public, in front of relatives, the worst things she did is when she and I were alone. But when she did it to me in my own home it was the straw that broke the camel’s back!! It may be the same for you – it may take ‘one thing’ to end it. And even for me, with this happening at my son’s birthday party in my home, it was still the hardest decision of my life because I bought the lie that my mother always fed me which is ‘your blood family is everything,’ which was code for ‘be a door mat and do what I say.’ Blood is not everything especially when they are abusive – this is was my realization. The decision to oust my mother from my life still took two months and much, much prayer, agonizing prayer. It didn’t feel good doing it, but I knew deep down it was something I had to do for me.

She stripped me off all self worth, self confidence, she made me question everything I did which revolved around how my mother would feel about it (how warped is that?) I was defined by her – which was this ugly, undeserving person – I really didn’t know who I was and living with the ‘me’ she made me was impossible – it made me hate myself, I lived with a self-loathing. And she taught me well.

I had no idea that who I am is NOT at all the woman my mother painted. How she defined me is not me at all. Not AT ALL! Controlling, manipulative and abusive mothers destroy so much – I always see my mother as one of those road construction machines – the one with the big steel roller on the front of it. And she wanted me to believe that I was who SHE said I was … so glad that I finally escaped her.

It’s been a long journey for me … but keep striving forward J … keep wanting to heal, keep wanting to know who your authentic self is … she is more beautiful than you ever imagined!!


************************* This post feels like a new low for me (language/darkness/blasphemy). I’m beyond tired, but going to post anyway because several parts of this I hadn’t really remembered before and I’m too tired to read back the whole thing or edit it. Apologies for the offensive stuff ****************************

Hi everyone,

just read through the link in Darlene’s post “accusations or opinions in against me but I was not permitted to respond”. I’m going to try to get some of the s**t out of my system.

My parents used to walk through the house naked (I think mainly at night). They would shower and use the toilet with the door open. I remember being amazed when I found out most other families locked the door to the bathroom when in use. I can’t specifically remember it but I’m pretty sure there was a reaction when I started locking the door. I don’t remember how old I was. I’m pretty sure they used to come in while I was on the toilet or in the shower if they wanted to clean their teeth or use the toilet or anything.

I’m not real sure of the timeframes on all this, but I know with my last girlfriend because my mother came out naked to go to the bathroom (she didn’t know my girlfriend was over) and she got angry. I don’t remember what she said or did, or if it was to me, or just to my girlfriend, but I remember feeling this terrible icy freeze inside me. My girlfriend wasn’t that bothered by it, but I thouoght it was the end of the world. And this would have been within the last 5 years or so.

My first serious relationship (I’ve only had two) and also first love was back when I still identified as christian (but was already starting to pull away from it). We went the “technical” virginity route, and also tried to hide from our parents (both were still living at home) that we did anything at all.

Ok gotta be real careful here – already starting to spiral. I’ll try to keep it (comparitively) short…. my interest (arguably addiction) in hardcore pornography was the major sticking point in that relationship. We wanted to get married (so glad in retrospect we didn’t — only would’ve gotten messier), but I couldn’t seem to stop and she couldn’t deal with it. Eventually we went on a break for me to try and get help (somehow) with my problem. We didn’t see each other for a while (weeks? maybe months?) but eventually gave in and met up and fooled around.

I left to drive home at some ridiculous hour of the early AM, fell asleep, then was awakened by my phone a couple of hours later. Completely out of it, I answered the phone to hear my girlfriend say that her sibling had just died in an accident. Everything gets pretty hazy from then on. I do remember that I actually believed god had killed her sibling to punish me (or us, but I think mainly just me). I feel sorry for myself writing that, but I don’t really feel it. Only in the last year have I found out (from talking to her) that she refused to talk to me after this. Long story short, I lost the plot. Can’t actually remember if I broke up with her (don’t think I did), but met someone new and bailed to be with her. All this was within maybe 2 months of the death (textbook rebound, I know).

The first relationship had lasted about 2 1/2 – 3 yrs I think. The new one lasted the better part of 5 (minus a couple of on-off again bits when I left to try and get back with my old girlfriend, then came back again etc etc). Not proud of any of this btw. Was barely hanging on. It’ll be very interesting when I’m able to look at “reframing” all this in light of what I now believe about my parents. At the time just blamed myself 100%.

I started all this backstory to get to the point that my parents still keep pictures of my first girlfriend in the house (often turn them around so they’re not showing, but always there). There are no pictures of my next girlfriend. (We didn’t try to hide that we were sharing a bed, although somewhat ironically not having sex, and possibly not even fooling around at that stage). This caused my father to say they didn’t want us sleeping together in their house and that we had to stop. (I suspect this came mainly from my mother). I didn’t speak to them for some time, and went to share a single mattress in her old room at her parents house (who, again ironically, were active church-going christians [my parents had long stopped going to church or anything] but were far less judgmental of me/us, and treated me much nicer than my parents ever treated either me or her).

One day when they’d moved the photo frames so that you could see the back photo from outside the house, a family friend commented on it with my father there “isn’t that hard to have to see?” I mumbled something non-commital (too gutless to stand up for myself). But hadn’t even really realized that it might seem that way to others too.

I sometimes think that becuase my first girlfriend was the closest I ever got to fulfilling the only parental-approved model of early marriage (with no sex before) and kids etc was a big part of the reason why I’ve never gotten over her. (plus, despite all the dysfunction, we were madly in love. It feels like the only time I was ever close to happy [in the good times at least]). Strangers used to comment to us how in love we seemed (happened quite a few times). Also I think that because I blamed porn on being the reason why I could never have what I thought I wanted (marriage), that was when I REALLY blamed myself for f**king up my life irreparably.

Ok. F**k this ain’t easy to write about. It’s almost daybreak too. My sleep is so messed up atm. Actually, last (?? couple? few?) weeks I’ve been falling asleep late arvo/early evening briefly, then up all night, and sometimes getting few hours mid-late next morning. I actually wondered if this isn’t an internal defense mechanism — being asleep when my parents get home from work, then leaving the house til they’re asleep, just so I don’t have to be around them at all.

I remembered today how when we had our last dog, my mother would be nicer to the dog than she was to me. She always seemed happy to see it, talked nicely to it, gave it treats etc etc. I’d kinda forgotten about that.

I think I’ve mentioned before how my mother moves things relentlessly. And very rarely tells me that she’s moved things at all, and with my bad memory if something’s not directly under my nose I forget about it, and also just randomly puts my s**t wherever she wants to without telling me where, so even if I do remember that something’s missing, good f**king luck finding it.


I f**king hate my mother. She puts my medications away and never puts them back. I need to see them so I remember to take them. f**king bitch. (and yes, this still is with my self-censor in play) Sometimes I get home and even if she hasn’t actually taken something and hidden it completely out of view, she’ll have rearranged it. maybe OCD is in play here too. Or maybe she’s just the world’s biggest SELF-CENSORED.

For several nights in a row (possibly couple of weeks), I’ve come into the bathroom to find my toothbrush gone (find it in a drawer). Theirs are allowed to stay out on the sink, but not mine. I leave it out. It disappears again. WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?!?

Lately they’ve started turning ALL the lights out when they go to bed (knowing full well I’m still up) so I come out and have to stumble in the dark. I keep getting the urge to just start turning out all thelights on THEM while they’re still up to see how they like it. Or just take their toothbrush (or medications, money, bills etc) and hiding them like she does to me. WHAT THE FUCK!>?!?!?! fucking 2 year olds are more mature than this.

I hate my family. I really do. What they;ve done to me is unforgivable. I just need to get the fuck out of this house and never come back. I might make it on my own, I might not. But I can’t go on like this. I just need to cut off completely. They’ve NEVER paid attention to my wants or needs. They attack pre-emptively to keep me down. So I’m not even going to bother trying anymore. If I get this low-income housing I’m applying for, that’ll be it. Game over. Have a nice life. Hope it’s as miserable as you’ve tried to make mine.

*******************Sorry new low here blasphemy-wise… Christians skip ahead*****************************************

Will I actually have the …. um, let’s go with guts… to do this? Doubtful…. but I don’t think I’ve ever been as angry in my life as I’ve been getting since I’ve started seeing the extent of the head-fucking indoctrinating BRAINWASHING in the name of their fucking lord and savior.

Ok. Time to remember to breathe. And somewhat incredibly, even that last paragraph is actually the self-censored version. I’m feeling kinda guilty for saying it anyway. Not sure if I’ll post this. But I’ve been writing for frickin ages. Several bits I hadn’t really remembered before.

Guys I’m struggling so bad. I actually still hope there’s a higher power, I just HATE the evil that’s done in the name of religion so much. I don’t want to offend you all, but I do want to get all this s**t out and try and move forward. I guess I’m asking if you can try and look past the words to the shattered soul somewhere beneath all the rage and offensiveness.

And for the record, after my first date in over 2 1/2 years went really well, and she said in a text “really enjoyed it, we’ll have to catch up again soon”, she said she’d let me know which day she’d be free on the weekend (the one just been). Still haven’t heard from her. Awesome.

But again, probably a good thing overall. Even in the week or so from first texting her to now, soooooo much old shit was coming up — it’s just super-depressing to have to realize how far I am from being able to have anything even approaching a healthy relationship. Obsession, jealousy, dependence… from one fucking date. Top stuff.

Alright I’m done. Apologies again for all this.


wow, this hit home in a few places.
@robert, my mother took an overdose when i was 9yrs old. there was me and my 2 younger brothers in the house with her. she told me to ring for her friend who was a nurse and then to stay by the front door to let her in. it took her friend ovr 30mins or more to get to us, all the time i was sat rocking on the bottom step wondering what i had done that she wanted to die, why wasnt we enough for her to live for. then to be told by her friend i had to keep an eye n her, my mother. well im sure that is why i hate suicide so much.have had a few friends say they were gona do it and it always made me sooooo damn angry that they could escape and leave it all for me to clear up for them. why did i get to be the caretaker of everyone. i have even made someone sit with a lot of tablets i had gotten for them and said take em or never threaten me with it again. mmmm how things get twisted in a childs mind. how easily we take on the mantle of parent to our useless mothers and then when they want to be the parent they wonder why we dont want to let themcontro us or how we think. it hard to unlearn how they made us cope when we hadnt a clue what was happening around us. only half the facts the rest made up in my childs mind which is always worse then reality. no wonder i have tried to forget all this crap for so long.
yet now i wana get rid of the pain that my mothers lack of or too much reaction has put me through i cannot. i really just cannot get to the root cause because im still afraid of how she sees/saw me.


Hi J,

I’m sorry to hear that you’re in so much pain, but I’m glad to hear that you have reached the point where you know you can’t take this situation anymore and need to get free. I really hope it works out soon for you to get some income support and your own place to live. In my experience I could not have figured myself out and found inner balance and clarity about my family if I had been living with them. You need some distance between you and the dysfunction of that relationship so you can breathe and sleep and let down your guard to relax. When it’s right in your face every day, you will shut down on so many levels just to cope. Which is probably exactly why you can’t sleep, don’t feel like you can think straight etc. Our body/mind/spirit can only cope with so much, and there finally comes a point where our coping curcuits get blown and we are fried inside. We start to break down and self destruct because we can’t get away from our source of stress long enough to recover/re-set ourselves. Sounds like this is where you are. That’s probably what was happening for me when I started having frequent panic attacks. I hope that posting here helps relieve some of the pressure you’re feeling, and that you do what you can to get out of the house as much as possible to give yourself a break.

If you can get in to see that PTSD therapist you mentioned, I think that would be a good idea – as long as the therapist is good and you get a good vibe from this person. It would be nice for you to have that support while you’re still at home, and while you go through the transition of moving out.

And as for your date not calling when she said she would, I hope you won’t go too deep into self-hatred over that. There could be a million reasons she hasn’t called. And even if she’s not interested in another date, that doesn’t mean you’re a horrible piece of crap or that you have blown your last shot at love. I know how easy it is to go there – to feel any rejection from any person as a sign that you’re fundamentally unloveable and worthless – but try not to put yourself through that. I don’t mean to say “don’t feel what you’re feeling” – I just mean, feel it but try to talk yourself through it and not buy into those horrible judgements against yourself. Try to figure out why you believe such awful things about yourself. You may have some work to do and a ways to go before you are ready for a healthy relationship, but try not to despair about what feels like a huge mountain of work ahead of you. Try to give yourself credit for every step you are taking and have taken toward being a healthier person.

Even feeling your anger is a healthy step forward, J. For those of us whose abuse included religious indoctrination, we understand how awful it is to realize that people used God/Jesus and hell and damnation etc. to manipulate us and harm us. I am still in the process of repairing my relationship with God, and even figuring out whether God is real, or whether He is just another lie someone thought of to use to control and scare children. I am hopeful that there is some benevolent force in the Universe that cares whether I thrive or suffer, and I truly hope that I have a Guardian angel that looks out for me and is guiding me and supporting me. For some reason I have an easier time believing in angels than I do believing in God – illogical I know but my relationship with God has been pretty tainted by lies and BS from church so I am still not reconciled with God in my heart. I know that there are people on this site who have sorted this stuff out for themselves and have made peace with God, and I am truly happy for them. But I personally am not quite there yet and I fully understand the fresh, awful pain you are in over this issue. It is a terrible abuse to tell a child that God is loving as long as you do what he wants, and you do what your parents want. If you don’t do what God wants then he will smite you/banish you to hell – what kind of unconditionally loving being does that? To me the Christian God, as taught in most faiths, is just a narcissistic parent who rewards us when we do what he wants and punishes us when we displease him. And when He is really putting the screws to us, we’re supposed to view that as a test of our devotion to him and an act of love on his part that he’s putting us through that?? WTF? We’re supposed to equate torment with love? Sounds like a great brainwashing technique to get us to accept abuse as something desirable.

I truly hope the “real” God is not like that, if there is a God at all. I was wrestling with this very issue myself this weekend – I spent the day in bed Saturday in agony over this actually, trying to figure out if I have been deluding myself thinking that there is a compassionate, loving God out there. This world is just so evil – so much abuse and suffering inflicted everywhere. I found it totally overwhelming this weekend and am still trying to get over this and figure out where to turn for any comfort from the nastiness in this world.

Sorry, that probably isn’t very encouraging. But I guess at least you’re not alone in struggling with these feelings. I’ll let you know if I achieve any kind of epiphany about it.

In the meantime, as awful as our anger feels, it is an important catalyst for change so I hope you will let your anger give you the power to keep moving forward with your move-out plans. And let your anger fuel your quest for counselling and help you ask the hard questions you need to ask and seek the answers you need to find. So many people are afraid to feel the awful feelings of revulsion and pain and rage that SHOULD arise when you’ve been abused or when you see abuse happening to others. They try to turn away and not look and not feel, which is why I feel that abuse gets tolerated so much in our society. One of the reasons, anyway. Too many people don’t want to deal with the ugliness of it. It doesn’t feel good to feel all these things, but if we don’t go through this and feel it and process it and work through it and speak out against it, then we run the risk of letting the abuse continue adn that is NOT a good option. So, keep on fighting the good fight, J. I’m sorry you are in so much pain. I feel myself like another big layer is being peeled back, and this one hurts like a bugger. I was not quite prepared to face this stuff to be honest. I was happy not realizing I had to face this, to go deeper with the religion issue. But, here I am. The layer is peeled open and there ain’t no tamping it back down. Maybe I need to quit believing that God will sort all this out and all I have to do is have faith. Maybe I need to go out and start kicking some ass against the injustices of this world and quit hoping that someone else will do it.

Anyway, you hang in there. In my experience, these dark moments always do lead me through to something better, as long as I can keep moving forward and not give up while in the darkest points of the despair. Easier said than done sometimes, but I can’t stop here. It feels too shitty to stay where I am at the moment. So, feel this pain J but don’t let it take you down. One fragment of my new belief system says that when we process this kind of pain and get past it, we help to raise the consciousness of this planet and help to heal the world not just ourselves, so that’s the motivation that keeps me going (besides having to drag my ass out of bed to take care of my kids) – that my suffering might not be in vain and by getting through this and becoming a happier person I may be helping not just myself but the world. At the very least, any work we do to heal stops us from spreading this garbage to others, and that does for sure help the world. It gives our suffering some sort of higher purpose and meaning, and for some reason I need that. Anyway, I should go take care of some household responsibilities. Hopefully you can get some sleep. Again, hang in there. This growth and healing stuff ain’t for the faint hearted or the weak, so give yourself some props for your strength!


J ~ I owe you an apology – I didn’t know you were a guy – from your last post I am now assuming you are. I’m so sorry.

I am a Christian and am not offended by your rant at so-called Christians – there is what is called spiritual abuse in the ‘church’ and I can understand your anger. Been there years ago – although I don’t think it was as severe as your experience. This is a safe place for you to rant and not be judged – at least I have never been. Most would be appalled at the thought of you hating your mother, but I so understand that – I went through it and me being a Christian, hating one’s mother is very taboo. But it is how you feel and NO ONE can negate your feelings!!

When I found Emerging From Broken a little over a year ago and started sharing my heart here, that is when the fog started to lift. I owe Darlene a lot – she really is a blessing to those of us who went through life with abusive mothers – thinking that we were suffering alone, that no one else had mothers like ours … this community was proof that it is simply not the case.

I am happy you found this place … ranting and getting it out is part of the healing, bottling up inside is not healthy and it can even affect our physical health. Step by step … step by step.


Hi J.
I am sorry you are in such pain and struggle. I know that this process can bring up terrible pain. I have been there too.
As I have told you from the start when you asked, in this blog I take into consideration all of the readers and I feel that your are escalating to a place where it will be safer for everyone if I moderate your comments before I publish them. This just means that I will read them first before they become public for others to read. I may delete parts that are offensive and or alarming to others as well. You may need to get a little more support then what I can provide here. I hope that you understand my decision.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Carol
Wow, you are certainly putting a few things together here. You may not see it but I think you ARE getting to the root causes. The fear is always a biggie.. Hang in there!
Love and Hugs, Darlene


I’m happy to hear the mention of panic attacks brought you a revelation. For me, unraveling and revelations haven’t been particularly joyous times, but, I’m hoping they will propel me into a better quality of life….. someday.

You asked about my experiences with panic attacks. I had fierce episodes in my early twenties. I actually got to the point of near agoraphobia. I was highly medicated (4mg of xanax a day). I thrust myself into the books. I read nearly anything I could find on it. Today, I don’t have what I would call panic attacks. I learned methods of self talk and self consolation that I believe have eliminated the sudden, “out of left field” attacks. It has taken on a different form, however. It has been known to sneak in subtly, in disquise. An example of that would be, 7-8 years ago, I got a stomach bug. I am terrified of vomiting and I did vomit. Anxiety morphed itself into some kind of unidentifiable digestive form whereas I was rendered unable to eat. I did NOT feel or recognize any anxiety, however. I was hospitalized twice. Every kind of test was run. I was dehydrated from lack of fluid intake. I got weaker and weaker. I lost 19 lbs in about 3 weeks. Finally, my family doctor visited me during my second hospitalization. (He diagnosed the panic disorder originally, years ago). He started me on Clonopin, and I took it nightly and within 4 days, I was able to eat a little. I was then released and able to resume regular meals after a while. The whole thing was caused by anxiety. I literally had no idea. All I knew was I could NOT eat. So, now I try to be conscious of literally anything that could pose as an imposter. I try to keep aware of what a trigger might be and rationalize before it gets out of control. I know now that anxiety can take on sooooo many forms and I try to stay very self aware; of how I’m feeling, before I’m somehow disabled by it. So, in essence, the attacks are gone. I know how to disable them immediately. The other forms seem to be able to morph into anything, and I try to stay on top of that. Since I had such routine and violent attacks in my early 20’s, I’ve never ever been the same, and that I know for sure! It’s a horrible feeling. Also, during that time, my mom told me to snap out of it, get my s**t together, and told many others, especially family, that I was attention seeking. I had to move back home with her because I was literally taken completely down by it all. I did continue to work, which I believe was a saving grace and a strength building measure, but it was hands down the hardest time of my life, and it took every fiber of my being to get through a day, especially at work. I hope you find some relief soon. It’s absolutely no picnic and I feel for you!!


Hi Mimi,

Thanks for your kind wishes of relief for me – thankfully, since we moved back to Alberta I haven’t had a full blown panic attack – I actually get excited about these sorts of things – my over-active mind gets to put a missing puzzle piece into place. I felt all the agony of the situation back when it was happening so thankfully your insight came along well after the fact, and I read it when I was calm and aware enough to recognize it without it triggering any distress. : )

I’m dealing with some pretty intense anxiety/fear feelings right now, and I feel nauseated and have zero appetite and have had trouble sleeping, but I have not had the awful chest pain and pounding heart that I would get before. What I am feeling now is not pleasant but I know it’s a reaction to a specific trigger so I’m just trying to deal with the trigger and keep myself calm. When I used to get the heart attack sensations I was certain that I was going to die, which of course amped up the terror immensely, which intensified the physical symptoms, so it was a rather vicious loop that was hard to disconnect. The ER doctor gave me a prescription for Xanax, I think it was, but I was too scared to take it – I’m a bit phobic of drugs. Thankfully I had a really good chiropractor and I do this modality called Body Talk which helped me get through it. And now that we’re in Alberta and out of the very high stress living arrangement we were in, I’ve been feeling much more stable. Until a couple of days ago, when I watched something on TV that I shouldn’t have, which has triggered all sorts of existential terror and punctured a big hole in my spiritual outlook. I’m still trying to put my spiritual safety net back together. So I just try to swallow the fear I feel, I burp constantly because the anxiety seems to cause a lot of acid reflux, and I try to think happy thoughts while not allowing myself to go into denial about all the scary, yucky stuff in this world. This is the worst I’ve felt since we moved back, and it’s not getting physically as bad as it was before, so for that I’m thankful.


Sorry, I meant that I get excited about making connections and figuring out things that help my experiences and feelings make some sense – I didn’t mean I get excited about panic attacks because I most certainly don’t!!


A-L & Rise,

thanks so much for the understanding and encouragement. Means so much.

(and yes, I am of the male persuasion Rise! Nothing to be sorry about – no easy way of knowing on the internet!) 🙂

For no apparent reason, here are some lyrics from one my favorite songs (“Sorrow” by the National):

“Sorrow found me when I was young
Sorrow waited, sorrow won
Sorrow – they put me on the pill
It’s in my honey, it’s in my milk

Don’t leave my hyper heart alone on the water (?? I think ??)
Cover me with rag & bone & sympathy
‘Cause I don’t want to get over you
I don’t want to get over you”


I kinda expected it since I started posting here. so at least now I don’t have to worry from that point of view. I’m sorry it’s more work for you though.


No worries. It isn’t any extra work for me at all. I read all the comments anyway~ this just means that yours don’t get published before I read them.
Thank you for understanding
Hugs, Darlene


Ways of shutting you up, of silencing your voice,
From “hissy fit” (a blast from my past as my dad used this one on me, thanks for the reminder–lol–wow)to mental breakdown, wow and all your fault…they are just not in control of themselves except at other times, like when your mother introduced you to men, etc., and chose to do other abusive and destructive behaviors,

This is a great theme here, this article, thank you!! It is so great when the light goes on!


Yes, you highlight an important point here. They are always out of control and fragile except when they are out in public ~ and as you said introducing me to men and all that other inappropriate stuff.
Great connection.
Hugs, Darlene


Mimi and Annalyzza,

Thanks so much for bringing up the subject of panic attacks. I’ve been having them off and on for the past year. They used to feel like heart attacks but now they feel like asthma attacks. I’ve been journally, trying to get to the root of it. But when AnnaLyzza spoke about feeling responsible for others it clicked with me too that that was what was happening with me. I felt like I had to “pay” for my abusers crimes against. I have been trained to protect my abusers at all costs, so now while I’m going through my healing process and I speak out loud things that others have done to me, I begin having these attacks. After reading your comments I started writing in my journal and affirming to myself that I *do not* have to pay for other people’s sins against me. They are responsible for paying for their own mistakes, etc…

This really helped me. I felt myself getting calmer and the choking feeling eased. It seems such a shame that as I heal I’m having to endure such things *after* having endured the abuse in the first place.

Anyway, thanks guys for the discussion. It’s life changing for me to make this connection.



Great comments and insights. Thanks for sharing them here!
Hugs, Darlene


And wouldn’t you know,they are never weak in “public”!!!


Darlene, I we all suffer in different ways with a pain that defies being put into words from something that robs us of what we feel we should have been, or could have been if only…. And I just love it when I see people as they start to awaken to who they really are and not the would have been or should have been or could have been but who they are in the present moment, facing the reality of the injustice and confronting the Truth head on. I saw that in what you posted. What helped me the most was to understand… understanding the process… understanding the purpose… understanding the value of it to my life … so that I could finally have the power to make informed decisions on the path of recovery and really begin living for the first time. I realized there had to be a “process” of recovery after hearing a rabbi compare life to learning how to ride a bicycle. You watch everyone else enjoying it but you don’t know how so you watch with envy, and sadness, and loneliness. One day it occurs to you that you could teach yourself how to ride and you try but fall injuring yourself, so you throw up your hands and go to your steps to watch with envy, sadness and loneliness. Then it occurs to you that if you continue to sit, you will always feel that way, so no matter how much it hurts to fail you are going to try and keep trying until you master it and so you do, then one day you realize your riding and enjoying the bicycle ride with everyone else, the envy, sadness, loneliness and even the wounds of learning have all vanished. I keep that image in mind because I know that life is filled with it’s ups and downs and some of those downs are horrendous, and the ups are far to few and too short until the skills for living are developed. What I learned is that even though as babes and children and even teens our life is often dictated, and our coping skills — some of which are very ineffective — are limited to what we see and experience, which we replicate… it is also true that the brain is not fully developed until we are into our 20’s and only then do we actually start thinking for ourselves. Then we accumulate some life experiences that give us perspective on the dysfunction we were raised in, and we begin to see the dysfunction within ourselves that we were taught in our formative years. The disparity between what we experienced and what perfection would have been like comes raging to the surface but masked: First it appears as denial an inability to accept the reality of the situation and what we want whether it is a perfect Mom, Dad or Husband seems to us to be possible if only we did a certain thing or acted in a certain way… and we don’t realize it but those methods we are using to try to “fix” the relationship are the same methods we used our entire life because that is all we know about coping. They didn’t work before and they still will not… and one day that occurs to us… It’s not working so then we try to negotiate it into being like “we” want it. We incorporate a few new strategies like not rewarding the bad behavior any longer, being honest and forth right with how it makes us feel… and of course we are still using lots of the old learned ineffective coping skills which are so ingrained that they are more than habitual, but are actually part of our own true nature… and you might think that this is a time when anger emerges and you will notice it rearing it’s head from time to time but it’s not the real anger over the injustice of it but rather it is a reflection of the pain of rejection and the pain of not being valued as a person …. and it’s as if in this stage we are blind to our own value as a person because this awakening that is going on is from the history of being what someone else projected on to us… verses the reality of who we really are…. The next stage is the rage of anger…. anger over the actual reality… it’s the result of Newton’s 3rd law of motion “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” All the cruelty we experienced is pressing to exert it’s self in a rebound affect. And here is the point where there is a true opportunity to start living. If I throw a ball at a wall, it’s going to bounce straight back at me. If I get angry with someone, they go on the defensive and rebound with an even greater furosity. If I don’t throw the ball, I’m just stuck. If I continue to act kindly repressing my feelings, then I give the other person permission to continue acting negatively towards me and I get stuck. BUT if I realize that the anger is just energy … energy I can use to tear down or energy I can use to build up and do something constructive with, then I can defer it, much like bouncing a pool ball off a wall to hit another ball into the pocket… then I can redirect the energy… Now that part makes sense on a purely logical level but at the heart level it would mean letting go of justice and expectations… If your mother didn’t matter to you, the pain would vanish …. You will never change your mother, she is who she is. You are free to love her because she is your mother but you have no control over her response to you… so you can love her up close where she can continually injure you with her apathy or you can love her from a distance because she is toxic and you can stay safe. You can hate the evil she has done, while at the same time appreciating the fact that she did not abort you, the priceless being God chose to create out of the matter at His disposal. Forgiveness is NOT saying the evil perpetrated is ok. Forgiveness is letting go of the expectations that anything could ever be different and letting God deal with her because He was her creator, so that you can get off the steps and back on the bike of life to enjoy it, discovering what your own purpose in this world is. The purpose God created you for was not to get all hung up on this woman’s treatment of you. She is simply a part of your history, a history you might draw from freely as you see how you can help others out of those experiences, but she is not your future. She is part of your past and I would bury her there so she is dis-empowered from destroying your future. When you arrive at this point, you can then progress to the next level of acceptance which involves both the active constant awareness of what you allow your mind to think on and what you reject and refuse to allow into your brain because it must be trained (not retrained but trained) to think correctly in a way that over rides the dysfunctional way of thinking you were taught in youth. Instead of allowing the awareness of sadness or anger or negative feeling to persist in the mind, you shove it out at the moment you become actively aware of it, and focus on the smell of the air or the sweet lulling rhythm of just breathing. Your a spirit having a human experience so in that moment become totally aware of what it is like to breath move and just observe, whether that is a plant in the window seal, a bird soaring in the air or traffic rhytmically moving up and down the street and as you become aware of this you will notice a sense of joy just below the surface… tap into it… it takes practice but eventually that will be the primary sensation you will experience instead of the pain of the past. In the same way that you become aware of these moments of joy that grow with each successive practice, you will also become aware of your own purpose whether it’s developing a career, starting a charity, painting, writing a book, etc… When God created you, He created you with a purpose in mind… Newton’s 3rd law comes back into effect For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, also called Karma or Biblically You reap what you sow or as Granny said, what goes around comes around…. but whatever your purpose is, its to be used to help others with, so that whatever you put into motion will come back to you… So you throw your bread upon the waters of life and allow the sweet waves to carry it back to you by giving purpose to all the energy you feel redirecting the anger into acquiring what you both want and need… If you really want a mom and your mom just isn’t it, then go find another one, because there are plenty of us mothers out there who love adding another person to our families and the nice thing about that is, that you become chosen… chosen for who you are… valued for who you are… So Darlene, maybe your mom never values you but I do and I’m so glad God created you, so glad you are my friend (((HUGS)))


Are you directing your comments to me?? I think you have completely misunderstood both me and my message. I would also guess that you have not read my blog before. I have never written about wanting to change my mother and I am well into living in my purpose ~ that is what I am doing with my work here in this website maintaining a growing readership of 67,000 readers monthly.

You write as though you only read the title of the post and you made all sorts of judgements and drew conclusions about me.

As for addressing this stuff to the other readers, although some of what you say here works, some of it is just more confusion and could be regarded as adding more guilt to what readers are dealing with already. I am not even sure how to respond.
Hugs, Darlene



Thanks for your post – you are right, you don’t have to pay for the negative choices of your family. And we don’t have to protect them either – I realize that I am still in a sense protecting my mother from the reality of how I have been affected by her. I still feel afraid to confront her honestly with that information. It’s funny, how we can be convinced that our parents’ needs are so much more important than our own. And how our bodies can try to shut us down when we start to go against our programming…

Your post got me thinking…and I’m pretty sure that the trigger for the worst panic attacks I’ve had were because I was facing imminent potential conflict with my friend, when I was caught between my anger over the very inconsiderate way my friend was treating me vs. my programming to never be angry, always be nice, always be accommodating etc. I was caught between this intense urge to speak up for myself and express my frustration vs. the equally intense belief based on past experience/conditioning that to do so would only lead to disaster. And I felt such guilt for even being angry in the first place because they had been so generous to us in the start – how could I feel so much irritation at someone who was clearly so nice? I was like a pinball in a pinball machine, bouncing around between anger and guilt and appreciation and shame for not being more grateful to more anger…No wonder I felt so crappy.

I’m thinking that the root of the panic attacks must have something to do with the act of “speaking out” and speaking up – as you’ve said, since you started to actually articulate your abuse you are getting panic attacks too. For me, I was so afraid that if I said the wrong thing then we would get evicted from the house, so I felt that my entire family’s safety was riding on my ability to hold myself together and keep my emotions contained. Ugh, that is so the story of my life! I’m seeing some other connections now to do with my husband’s family and my own family – I seem to end up in patterns where I am (or believe I am) dependent on people for help and support so I feel like I have no choice but to put up with their disrespect or boundary violations or whatever – I have to be thankful for what I’ve been given and shut the hell up about anything that is hurtful or abusive, or else. The same pattern applies to my church experience as well – be grateful, look for the good, and don’t even acknowledge anything negative or you’re being deceived by Satan and if you keep that up, you’ll be ejected from the church community. I have spent my entire life literally choking back my feelings and swallowing my anger or hurt or frustration or pain, because if I speak up and piss someone off or worse, offend someone and hurt their feelings, then I will be kicked out, cut off, and thrown out in the cold OR worse, have to deal with the guilt of hurting/disappointing/traumatizing people I care about. And for some reason I must believe that I can’t survive on my own. And for some reason I believe that carrying around my own pain and keeping quiet about it is better than ever hurting anyone else by subjecting them to my unedited feelings. Phew, this is kind of intense. I had no idea how much of this stuff I’m still carrying around and being affected by. It’s a lot to process.

I can really see now how all this translates into the physical symptoms I get – the sick feeling in my stomach, the terrible acid reflux. I’m trying to choke something down that I really need to express and my body is showing me physically what I am doing emotionally.

I didn’t realize I was still so scared of speaking up. I have done a lot of work inside myself to heal but I really have not done much by way of speaking up and asserting myself with my family or inlaws in a direct, self-affirming way. And I notice that I feel alot of anxiety about posting here – it feels good while I’m doing it but afterward I feel very anxious and worry that someone from my family will see this stuff and know it’s me and then I’ll have to explain why i would write such terrible things about them. Phew. This is a lot to think about, but I’m very grateful for the insights.

Thanks Mimi and Robin and everyone else who has contributed to the discussion, for sharing your experiences and helping me get some clarity on this. : )


Tonight I had my AHA moment! For some reason I got so tired of my “me” feelings I gave up and ran on the treadmill! I’m 240 lbs and I’m tired of being large. Tonight I think something kind of went berserk in my head and finally it all made sense. I ran on the treadmill thinking 1/2 way through that I did half and I did it good so I shouldn’t have to do anymore – unless I wanted to. And I didn’t. But I took it differently this time – one minute at a time so that I could focus. I did it! All 311.1 calories in 1/2 hour! I felt like I wanted to barf as well dizzy. It got me thinking though too. Normally every day my soul hurts while my body feels comfortable sitting around or doing chores or teaching my children. Tonight I made my body hurt (healthy and good way LOL) and my soul felt good! I packaged up everything mentally too which I wasn’t expecting. The parental rejection, the definitions, the thoughts, expectations, feelings, etc. Now I have a mental scenario where I am moving away from and rejecting the package. I’m sending it back to them and they can do what they want with it. I’m tired of feeling chained and backed down. I think something kind of snapped in there and I am seeing things a little differently. Thank you Darlene for your courage to help others… I don’t think I would have gotten here without a loving helpful kick in the right direction!


Hi Jessica!
This is great! Congratulations and thank you so much for sharing! You inspire me with this comment and I LOVE the imagery that you use here!
Hugs, Darlene


Jessica, thanks for saying, “I made my body hurt and my soul felt good” – that is a cool way to look at excercise! I am overweight as well so your post is helpful for me to read! I’ve been in a bit of a funk since the weekend and my way of coping is to think and think and think about it, but maybe I should scrap that and just get my ass outside and go for a walk! It’s time I stopped over-exercising my brain and letting my body languish! Thanks!!

Darlene, it occurs to me that with 67,000 readers, if you charged us all a yearly membership fee of $10 or $20 to enjoy the benefits of your time and perspective, that would be a substantial amount of money for you to support yourself with so you could continue providing this service. I for one would gladly pay that amount – as the benefits I have received in such a short time from this forum have been priceless!

I know that you take donations, so here is my challenge to everyone else on the board – make a donation!!! Even if it’s only $5 or $10 or $20, let’s give something back to Darlene for all she’s done for us, and help her continue being able to do this for us! C’mon, all you 67,000 – let’s anty up!


Darlene :am so sorry what you were held to as a child ..must have been something terrible growing up in that situation..So much was put on you.. the peace of the house ..your mom’s health.. what an awful thing…

I didn’t have such honors.. I wasn’t told i could make anything right .. I made everything wrong. if anything wrong happened.. it was my fault.. was like the bad apple in the cart of good apples..

Recently I was told that everything was good now that I wasn’t in their lives..

It’s not easy growing up thinking one is responsible for the bad that happens..

Luckily am not there any more.. but sadly I carry that feeling inside yet and am slowly trying to undo those bad recordings inside me. .that said I was cause for all the wrong done.

Have nice evening.




Thank you for posting the challenge to the readers to help support emerging from broken and my work. I did get a donation from someone who read your comment! I don’t think your comment was seen by many but you inspired me to mention my need for help in my new blog post which is actually about validation. I so often write about the need for self validation as though validation from others is not important but in fact, it is seeking validation from those who invalidated us in the first place or believing that if unless we ARE validated by everyone that will prove we are valid, that can be the problem. Being validated is a good thing and it comes in many ways. Hugs, Darlene

Everyone ~ Here is my new post “Being Validated, Making a difference and the Ripple Effect”


[…] started stealing my clothes within a year of their separation.  I would do almost anything not to be a burden to my parents. Stealing was like “my contribution” to helping out with the financial burden that I was. But […]


[…] first I had decided to leave my family. I thought that my husband and my three kids would be better off without me because I believed that I was the problem. I believed it deep down in my heart and soul because […]


Mom: I wanna just get in my car and drive it right into the lake.
me: (at 7,8,9,10 yrs) But, Mama, why?
Mom: Ohhhh…(crying) If I told you you would want to get in that car with me….Ohhhh
Me: what happened, Mama?
Mom: I just don’t want to live anymore, (crying)
me: Do you want some water? Some tissues?…Mama? mama?
Mom: screams…no! I do not need anything! I do not need you either! Get outta here! Leave me in peace! Bwahahha sob sob, I just want to be left alone…
Me: Mama?
Mom: breaks into song “leave me alone, just leave me alone, just leave me alone, oh leave me, leave me alone”
Me: some folks say some farm boy, up from Tennessee, taught it all to Ruby, then just let her be…(finishing the song she started…anything to try to calm her down)
Mom: (spitefully) you little SHIT! (smack)

Another day
Mom: singing to herself in the kitchen “Librium, my Librium, I’d go insane without my Librium”

Another day
I thank God there has never been any mental problems in our family!

Another day:


your comment….I took it. I sat there and took it although I had long since forgotten why I would sit through her accusations and judgements of me… really hit me between the eyes. I ask myself that question only about every time I remember yet another incident where I should have stood up and told her to shut up and go to hell. Any other person that talked to me the way my mother did would have been booted out of my house and out of my life. But…I just took it. All the nasty, hateful, judgmental, mean, vicious things she said about me. She has left me a legacy of hurt and pain that most days I don’t know if I am strong enough to over come. She made me feel little and stupid, ashamed of my thoughts and actions. She made me feel as if I were the most horrible child that ever lived. A look of the eyes, the raised eyebrows, the set of her pursed lips….still makes me shudder. I always was told to behave or mother would get one of her headaches…she still does this at age 82. I am over it all. Thankful to know from this website and people who post that maybe one day I can feel whole again.


Hi Pam
Wow. I hear you! That dripping judgement, that whole attitude ~ and all those looks defined me; they communicated to me how much of a pain in the butt that I was and I believed it! Her mother was the same way. I remember wondering one time why my mother took it from her mother and I didn’t even see that my mother did the same thing to me!
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,I could hear her breathing heavy as she came down the hallway. She stopped at my bedroom door,my mother would stare me down. She screamed at me I had no choice but to wake up,it was like 5 in morning. My sister stayed out all night and some how it was my fault that she never came home. My brother got high at a concert that we went to with a bunch of friends. He came home stoned and my mother came directly to me and asked what did you do to him what is wrong with him,my brother is older then me and I had nothing to do with his getting high. But she wouldn’t hear of it. My mother would throw temper tantrums she hated to clean so while she went to bingo during the day I cleaned the house by myself so that my father wouldn’t get upset when he got home. She always went to bingo she said it was therapy for her, she didn’t have to think about anything when she was there. I never understood what she meant by that. Until I remembered the abuse. She went to gamble to forget about all the awful things she had done to me. She never talked to me,she only yelled at me. I lived in that house with her for 23 years and we never had one decent,loving conversation. I don’t want a replacement mother. If anything I want to be able to nurture myself. My mother played me every chance she could, her problems became my problems and she put the entire families problems on my shoulders too. Talk about guilt and shame. Withdrawing and panic attacks became a way of life for me. She attacked I withdrew, I always ran to my room or anywhere she wasn’t. I’m learning little by little that I am not responsible for other peoples actions. I don’t talk to my mother anymore and I believe she is okay with that because she does talk to my other siblings and they never tell me that she asks about me or that she misses me or that she loves me. Which I have accepted that this will be how it is. Hugs Jane


Hi Jane
What a horrible way to have been raised! I am so sorry Jane. This site is about learning to fill that void and nurture the self. The guilt and shame was never yours.
Hugs, Darlene


I could have written much of this myself. My mother was always ‘bad with her nerves’ and I was made to feel responsible. Her favourite opening sentence to me was “If it hadn’t been for you…….” I was never parented by my parents but expected to look after myself and to look after them too, always blamed for any disharmony and punished in a million subtle and unsubtle ways. Recovering from the damage that does takes a long time and a great deal of courage, not least in facing up to the fact that you were not loved.

My father is long dead now but my mother is transformed in age only. She was a malicious young bitch. She is now a malicious old bitch, still trying to make me take responsibility that is rightfully hers and still employing the same old punishing tricks. The only difference now is that I no longer have any emotional attachment to her.


Hi Lynne
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
Isn’t it sad that more often than not, age is the only change.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Everyone!
I have published a new post using a quote about narcissism and narcisists from the mayo clinic that sheds some light on why victims of abuse so often question if they are actually the problem (as we have all been told we are). I look forward to the discussion!
“Survival Mode and an Alternate view of Narcissism”
hugs, Darlene


Emerging from Broken has been a big help to me since the beginning. I am so glad so many have found this site. I see it shared many places.

Learning the truth I have found is not instantaneous but a process. It often has to be dug out of all the lies. But truth sets us free.


Hi Shary
Thanks for sharing. It’s so true about the process of healing. I always say that the key to the present is in the past. It might take some digging but wow it is so worth it!
hugs, Darlene


Good Morning to everyone.
Darlene, you just wrote about me and countless others I’m sure. My mother could blast me at any given time or place, but when it came to me confronting her, it had to be in the gentlest way possible because it may break her into a million pieces. I would choose my words carefully, so I wouldn’t be too harsh. I would write letters so I wouldn’t have to actually confront her in person. It never helped. The gentle words on paper or coming from me personally, still brought out the victim in her and same reaction all the time. She couldn’t take it and I had to stop talking. I remember a time when I was pregnant with my 3rd child. My brother and. I decided to have an intervention for her and my Dad. She couldn’t take it so she went into the other room, grabbed and iron and started hitting herself over the head with it.
It was nuts. This last time, I was at her home and I refused to leave because I wanted to talk about it. No way. She didn’t want to deal with it. And people ask me how I could abandon my family….I’m not punishing her…I’m protecting myself from losing my mind and my husband and children.


I’m sorry Darlene…I’m half asleep …I called you Terry…I haven’t had my second cup yet. My apologies.


Hi Nadia!
No worries, I changed it for you!
Yes, I can totally relate to your comments. The ‘abusive person’ presents themselves as the victim and for some crazy reason they very often get everyone to believe it! It is nuts! Taking my life back meant validating that I deserved to have one, and to be an individual with equal value to all others esp. to my parents. What changed was the way that I understood “survival”! (just as you said in the end of your comments)
hugs, Darlene


Thanks, Darlene. Your story is similar to mine. Mom had nervous breakdowns and Dad depended on me, the oldest and the only daughter, to be the little mom in the house for my three brothers during those times. I have lived my life being everyone’s mom – at work and in our extended family. It is exhausting! Thanks for bringing things into focus for me.


Hi Dianne
Welcome to EFB ~ I got so much energy when I took my life back from all that! Healing is beyond anything that I could have ever imagined!
hugs, Darlene


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