Forgive the Abusers? A bit of a Rant


Forgive the abusers?

A whole book could be written about this subject. There is so much “baggage” around the whole concept of forgiveness that I hesitate to even go there, however…. there have been a few discussions lately on the facebook page for Emerging from Broken; some to do with my last post “Emotional Healing and the Will to go forward” and it is time for me to post just a little bit about this huge topic for forgiveness. Please remember that this is just one blog post. One little snapshot of truth; one little view in to a very large subject. 

  • First, a note about blame: In my view, blame is about placing the responsibility for the trauma where it belongs. In my recovery, blame was necessary and part of the natural progression on the journey to wholeness. I am not suggesting that we need to stay in the emotional part of blame forever, just that it is an important stepping stone in this process of emerging from broken.

So, fasten your seatbelts because I feel a rant coming on. I hope that you will join in and express your own feelings about the kind of invalidation that we and so many others have suffered.

Forgiveness; What I am suggesting is that we are taught to skip a step in the whole forgiveness arena. We are told to forgive before we are even validated that we have something to forgive.  Some examples of this are when we have been abused emotionally, physically or sexually; (abuse is abuse) and we are ignored, not heard, discounted, not given a voice. Our trauma and our grievance is invalidated.  I have heard people told in for example, church situations that they must not take an accusation outside of the church but that it must be settled in the church ~  and then the situation is swept under the carpet. These are just a few of the stories that I hear over and over again; I have heard wives told that they are being beaten by husbands because they have failed to submit. I have heard of wives who have been raped by spouses being told that it is not rape and that it is a husbands right. I have been told when a husband is cheating sexually that it must have something to do with the wife not meeting his needs. This is all abuse. And then these same abused people are told to “get over it already” and that they “must forgive” Something foundational is missing in the forgiveness advice. These people were invalidated by the abuser and then re-invalidated by the ones they sought help from. And this is not at all unique to the church. I am just using that example because it seems like most of the people that tell me to “just forgive” come from that background.

Children are equally devalued. As children, IF we even realize that it is wrong to be called dumb, stupid and useless, IF we even realize that being beaten on a whim or because someone else is in a bad mood is wrong; IF we somehow figure out that adults having sexual relations of any kind with children is illegal, and IF that victim child tells and is ignored, called a liar, OR anything else other than protected and validated, then the child has an extra layer of abuse to deal with. When this child grows up IF they ever disclose the abuse, they are SO OFTEN met with more invalidation and unhelpful instruction such as “you must forgive”.

Are you getting the picture about why so many people DON’T tell? Many keep the secret in the dark recesses of their minds ~ so convinced that the guilt and shame are theirs to bear and that they must have somehow deserved this kind of mistreatment and added on to that is the whole insistence that forgiveness is the only answer which makes many of us reluctant to disclose abuse least we be seen as unforgiving!  

SO let’s just say we finally DO talk about it and then we are told to jump ahead to forgiveness. HOW the heck is that supposed to be possible?   This ticks me off. It isn’t possible to “just get over it and forgive”. I tried it for years! It didn’t work this way for me.

When we are encouraged to try to understand the abuser, it is worse. Why should we try to understand something so incomprehensible? WHY do we need to understand them when we have not been encouraged to understand our own feelings yet? This is so backwards. I spent years trying to understand them, even fooling myself that I did understand, and that I did forgive, and looking back I realize that in doing that before I even validated myself and the abuse that I survived, I became my own abuser. I became the one who discounted myself, picking up where they left off… oh it is so twisted how this all works.

I was told that forgiveness was for me, and had nothing to do with the other person, but I was told that as though forgiveness was just an easy choice. No one offered me any assistance on HOW to do it. (just do it ~ duh)

So why all the panic about forgiveness in the first place? This is a HOT topic all over the place. I had to stop and think about that one; right off the top of my head; I had this idea that if I suddenly died, and I had not forgiven (my abusers and oppressors whom I didn’t even realize were abusers until much later) that I would instantly be cast into Hell.  I think that was where my desperation to “forgive” came from. I had this anxiety about it and today I don’t believe that anymore; I see it as ridiculous.

So my point is not to put the blame where it belongs in order to stay there in that anger or resentment, but rather as a stepping stone to healing. I have no resentment anymore. I am not angry about my past because I have worked my way through it. But I HAD to go through the stage where I was really angry, and where I did not think forgiveness would ever be possible or necessary. I had to give myself permission to be angry, permission to speak, to have a voice, to vent and rage and FEEL all the emotions that I was not allowed to feel before as a victim.

Forgiveness for me came as a result of the work I did for ME. It came as an unexpected bonus ~ it was something that I didn’t consciously “work on” and I actually put the whole concept of forgiveness aside and tried not to think about it when I was in the depth of my process. Not forgiving had its own guilt and shame attached to it…none of which was MINE and in the healing process I had to get a really good grasp of what was mine to deal with and what wasn’t. 

It is with mixed emotions that I hit the publish button on this ~ for the most part “unedited” rant.

Love is my biggest motivator..

Darlene Ouimet 

One of my readers sent me this great video by ex-psychotherapist, Daniel Mackler  on You Tube, about this subject of forgiveness.

Related post: What about forgiveness?

258 response to "Forgive the Abusers? A bit of a Rant"

  1. By: Marianne Posted: 23rd April

    Ps just read some of the old comments on here, those by Arja and Christina regarding their spiritually abusive parents eerily sounded so familiar…it is almost as if there is a handbook of bible verses they all use to terrorize their children

  2. By: Marianne Posted: 22nd April

    This is a topic close to my heart and I thank you for take on it.
    When I went no contact with my narcisstic mother and enabling step-father, my step-father wrote to me and said that I had to forgive, otherwise God would not forgive me. (ie I would go to hell) My parents have been spiritually abusive for a very long time (not just towards me) In fact at the height of my depression I had the recurring thought “I am going to hell” such was the extent of the abuse. It is very difficult to find hope when you think you are going to hell…I digress
    I pondered this issue of forgiveness when I received his letter and realised that there was no acknowledgement of what I was supposed to forgive (in fact he deemed it “appalling” that I had outlined some of the abuse he had sustained, denied, gaslighted, projected etc etc) there has never been any affirmation or validation of any of my experiences or feelings, no insight, no empathy, no attempt or desire to change, (no repentance if you want to put it in biblical terms) and yet I was being criticized for not being “loving and compassionate” Huh?
    Whereas once, his letter would have cut me to the core and provoked extreme anxiety (as it was intended to do I guess), now that I am out of the fog and have clarity, I no longer believe that he is right. The onus should not be put on the victim by the abuser or others to immediately forgive in the absence of any effort on the part of the abuse and any healing on the part of the victim and I do not believe that the scriptures he has quoted have been used in context.
    You have articulated the thoughts that I have had on this topic well.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 23rd April

      Hi Marianne
      The manipulation is crazy! Telling people that they have a choice between forgiveness or hell.. and when I think about it, all abusers use FEAR to control and manipulate in all instances. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people tell me that they believe that God will not forgive them. EVEN though the bible is very clear on this.
      When someone says you must forgive, but then don’t even admit guilt, isn’t that a “truth leak?” If I am lying about what they did, why do I need to forgive? Perhaps they should “forgive me” if they think I am lying. But they never see it that way. Why would they lecture on forgiveness if they didn’t do anything wrong?? Today I lecture back; I say that the offender must ASK for forgiveness. They must admitt their guilt and repent. People shut up pretty quick, but they also don’t talk to me anymore.. LOL
      Thanks for sharing. hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Jenna Posted: 8th April

    I was in the church and the same thing happened to me at a few different churches. It’s like the church doesn’t want to deal with individuals. They want you to go back in group formation where you belong. They pretend to care, but when it comes down to it, your tithes and offerings don’t cover counseling, besides, there is nothing wrong with YOU!!!

    I think about this often.

    Also the way, when I was Severely Abused by my ex-husband, the pastor told me to that I needed to submit more…

    I was so desperate to remove myself from shame that I clung to the church, but in the end (15 devout years later), I find that the people in church are no better than those outside of it.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 8th April

      Hi Jenna,
      Welcome to EFB
      I too found that people in the church or anywhere else are just people. (and I seemed to be more comfortable with the ones that didn’t have much regard for me)
      I did all kinds of work. About shame work, the biggest key for me was to find out exactly where the broken started; I looked at the source off all feelings and figured out where they came from. I looked at why I had so much shame. It was in doing that that I finally was able to see that it wasn’t mine to carry. Just saying it was not enough to overcome it. I had to find the roots and see the lies.
      Glad you are here.
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Christina Posted: 18th December

    Hope you had a good night’s sleep.

    Yes, I was definitely the rebel and scapegoat. When I was 13, I got a horse, and I remember bushwhacking through our horrid woods and swamp to get to the road so I could escape. Before I had horses, I would run into our woods and just stay there even though I was deathly afraid of the woods. Sometimes I’d just go wandering down the road. Eventually I came back because I got too scared or too cold.

    I never tried to get into trouble…it just happened, usually when dad returned home from work. He was never a drunk, never smoked, but what he did was emotionally and spiritually abuse on a consistent basis and then he backed up his physical abuse by stating that the Bible said to discipline your children as such. The amount of Bible verses I know by heart as a result of dad doing that is pretty shocking.

    It is pretty sad, really, that anyone would spiritually abuse so much. It is a wonder I still believe in God and even want a relationship with Him. I always knew in my heart that God wasn’t REALLY like that, and I was determined to stick with God. I have never, ever blamed God and never even thought about disregarding God. It’s kind of weird, but it is a good thing, because that has been the key to me getting through all of this.

    I am doing better about forgiving myself. I used to say to my counselor and close friends “I was such a bad kid!” and they all looked at me in disbelief, like they couldn’t imagine me being so bad. After explaining what I meant, they would all tell me that I really wasn’t a bad kid and I just was poked and prodded and provoked to get to that place. I WANTED to be a good kid but it wasn’t really possible. Nothing I did was right. And even when I did the right thing according to what dad said was the right thing, it could still be wrong because his mind could have changed. One day he might be ok with drums being in music, the next, he could take that away…because he was the dad. So I wasn’t just a bad kid. Yes, I had a rebellious, stubborn streak and I made the choice to yell and scream horrible things at him (well, at both my parents really) and I made the choice to abuse my siblings as well…but I need to forgive myself for that because I HAVE repented from that, I have realized there are things in my life that I need to clear up, I have realized the effects of the abuse on me, and I have made a choice to stop it, to put the blood of Jesus over it on a daily basis, to stop the cycle. I cannot do any more than that.

    But even now, if I do something wrong, I will remember the pettiest little thing, and not forgive myself for it. For instance, a couple of years ago, I went to meet my best friend in Australia. While I was there, we went to a bra shop so I could get professionally fitted. I’d never had this done before and well frankly very few fit me properly because not a lot come in my size. Anyway, when the lady handed me a bra to try on before I had undressed, I put my arms out, as if to indicate to put the bra on over the clothes. In my head, that is what I thought the lady was indicating, but I didn’t think that could be right. I brushed it off and life went on (and I got some great bras LOL). But in the back of my head, I am still embarrassed about it, even though I did nothing wrong and it was all ok.

    Another instance, my best friend and I were driving somewhere, and a lady started to cross the street in town. I did not realize that my best friend saw her, nor that the lady stopped in the mid-section of the road which was specifically for that purpose. Instinct rose up and I calmly said “watch out” because I thought the lady was going to walk in front of us or something. My best friend got triggered by that, and it scared her, and she told me not to ever do that. Which is fine. But it was instinct…I didn’t do anything wrong, per say, but it was still “wrong”. Part of that instinct comes from my little brother being hit by a car when he was 7 and breaking his femur, and another of my brothers died in a car crash. But just the same, I still feel/felt bad about it, and can’t seem to forgive myself.

    Lately, I have felt the need to get rid of my fear, because it is a big wall in my life…that is stopping me from doing what I really WANT to do. I really WANT to jump up and down at church when singing fast praise songs. I really want to study more psychology. I really want to just do what I like doing, and like what I like, and most of all, I really want to have a relationship with God, a connection…but my fear is stopping me from doing all of that. “What if I let go?” It feels so weird to be without fear, and when I go to let go, I just freeze, literally. Then I fight myself and ask why I won’t let go…and then I have to forgive myself for taking so much time, for all this stuff.

    Thanks for letting me talk stuff out.

  5. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 17th December

    Christina, thank you. You sound a lot like my baby sister. She was the family rebel and scapegoat. She was always getting into trouble. This is a good place to talk about the topic of the article or whatever we need to say to feel better or to think our way through a subject. This is a safe place to talk and figure out things. It is a safe place to be yourself and to find out that you aren’t alone. Have a great weekend yourself. I need to get to bed now since I am getting up around 5:45 in the morning.

  6. By: Christina Posted: 17th December

    Patricia, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your daughter and family.

    “Even though I was the oldest child in my family, I would watch what my brother and sister got into trouble for and I wouldn’t do those things. I faded into the background as much as possible as a child. If I didn’t attract attention then maybe I wouldn’t be hurt by anyone.”

    This could describe my middle sister. She did that, and ended up being the “good child”. I was always compared to her. “If you just were quiet and respectful like Hannah” or “If you just had straight teeth like her, guys would like you” or “if you weren’t so rebellious, and were more passive like her…”

    It was like suddenly, once she was born, I was no longer the pretty or good girl. Before then, I was a pretty helpful little girl. I did have my rages a lot, but they got worse as my mom had more children. There were two boys between me and Hannah, and she was born when I was 5 and a half. Later in life, I asked her how she ended up not getting in trouble and she said what you said…I watched what you guys did, and I learned what not to do.

    She did fade into the background. I was the one being “rebellious” and loud, crazy. I was called a control freak but now I know that while I do have some similar characteristics, I am not one but I was merely struggling to stay on top of things, struggling to be heard, struggling for justice to be done. I am a fighter, a VERY, very strong willed person. When I want something I will do anything to get it…that can be good, and bad. And most of the time it was bad because what I wanted was for dad to stop “disciplining” us out of his anger but the way I went about trying to get that to stop got me in worse trouble. But I was just a child. I had no power over that, no choice as to what happened to me. So there is a way to excuse my behavior, simply based on that fact. Besides…had I been loved and nurtured appropriately, and had my sensitive yet strong willed nature been made into a positive thing, I don’t think I would have been having those rages!

    In fact…I used to tell my counselor that I “didn’t have time to think” when I got into my rages. It felt true. I did not feel like I even had a choice. You know what it reminds me of? This is going to sound a bit TMI, maybe sick, but it reminds me of when someone is raped, and forced to orgasm. It’s like, if you stimulate (negatively or “positively”) a certain area enough, it will react out of pure instinct. So in this case, I was emotionally raped, negatively stimulated to the point of over-reacting, and exploding. It wasn’t my choice…it was something that was forced upon me.

    I know this doesn’t have a lot to do with forgiveness so I apologize if this is going a little off the subject. I guess talking about it with others who understand feels good. So i guess I don’t really apologize. lol

    I also have a hard time with forgiving myself, just like the rest of you. I don’t know why, but it is just so difficult. Even if someone says they forgive us, and they mean it, and we know they mean it, it’s still so hard to ‘believe” it heart and soul. Totally get that.

    Have a good weekend everyone…

  7. By: J Posted: 17th December


    The “harsh” thing = thinking of cutting off from her/family. Which would potentially force her to face the fact that her view of our relationship is a complete joke.

    I think, as you mentioned for yourself, my brain has latched back on this “I am so bad” thing as a distraction from focusing on my own pain. It seems almost interesting in a way, because it doesn’t feel like I’ve been bothered by that kind of thought much since I’ve started reading/posting here. (DEFINITELY used to be bothered by it a whooooole lot!!)

    I think since finding EFB, it’s the first time I’ve really been able to see & self-validate the extent of the abuse (not to mention actually seeing it as and naming it “abuse” for the first time) and see it as the cause for so much of what I’ve spent my life blaming myself for (eg not being able to hold down work for long, not caring, depression/suicidal thoughts etc).

    Maybe this current lapse is to do with the fear of acting on my thoughts of cutting off completely (or at least, drastically changing my long-time habit of never saying anything/standing up for myself etc). Also the flow-on effect I strongly suspect would come from “family friends” (not to mention extended family).

    In looking at my last post, I didn’t really explain what I was thinking, so I’m going to try now. Re my mother, I think what I mean is that she could argue that HER mother did similar stuff to her, and then be gentle with herself. But I think my brain is conveniently skipping the point that my mother is not (as far as I know) doing any kind of self-awareness work for herself. In fact, she seems to be actively trying to avoid it. So I guess my brain is trying to stop me helping myself, by blaming me for the fact that SHE doesn’t seem willing/able to try and look at herself/change etc.

    (Does that make sense? And does it seem… I dunno, “right” to you? Very very late here again, brain is struggling bigtime)

    Also re my last post, I’ve long been afraid of having things I did to others in the past come back to haunt me somehow. (This gets extremely confusing/triggering for me to think about, so I think I should probably stop here). I guess it’s my brain playing the card of “you caused pain/grief to other people, therefore you deserve to feel like shit forever”. And also, a card along the lines of “if you choose to act in ways that will hurt your mother/family/friends (eg cutting contact; standing up for myself etc), you will somehow bring upon yourself actions from the people you hurt in the past”
    (as in, they’ll be trying to heal themselves, and I’ll then be to them how I view my mother now, and I won’t deserve any sympathy if they do things that harm me now in trying to heal themselves).

    Hope that makes some sense.

    Thanks again for the comments


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th December

      I look at this “harsh thing” differently. If the truth is what set me free, then it can set my family and everyone else free to. My choice to face and live in truth, is not harsh at all but rather based in the true definition of love.
      Good work in these comments.
      Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: J Posted: 17th December

    Thanks Darlene.

    I guess my head jumps to “how can I treat myself that gently, when I’m thinking about treating my mother so harshly?” (or, something like “why should I treat myself so gently when I’ve treated others so badly in the past?”)

    Hmmmm. Any thoughts?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th December

      What do you think you are doing or thinking of doing that is so “harsh”?
      And about the past, like I said, don’t go there until you see what happened to YOU first. I used the whole “I am so bad” thing as a way to keep from facing the pain of what happened TO ME.
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: J Posted: 17th December

    Hi Michelle,

    Well I understand it a lot better than I did from my brief bit of research – that is crazy! The body does some weird things hey. No didn’t gross me out (pictures would have!! I’m a softy like that), but did blow my mind a bit re how painful it must have been! I really hope that part of it’s better now (sounds like it should be if I understood your description properly).

    Also really hope the withdrawals are improving (just had a quick google about them too). I had withdrawals once coming off an anti-depressant (to try another one) and it sucked hard – I just felt like a zombie. (Actually, felt like I wasn’t even here on this earth really).

    That’s really great to hear about your girls! The other blog I mentioned before, she’d wanted more children & that was obviously really painful for her too. Will you need to have more surgery to fix the “stuck” bits when you’ve recovered from this one? (That was the impression I got).

    Thanks very much for your kind words re bullying. Much appreciated! Your question about expectations is very insightful. I’ll have to think about that some more. (Also re dealing w/negative response).

    I think I’m struggling with it due to the fairly recent realization of how much my parents emotional/mental/spiritual abuse has messed with me. Also the process of shifting blame for so much of how I am now from myself to them. I guess I’m worrying about other people that I’ve treated badly over my life laying blame on me in a similar way. (Or something). Meh.

    Well I’ve pulled my usual trick of late (leaving this here for hours before finishing last paragraph) so I’m gonna post now. Once again really

    Ok, not quite done…. just saw the part you wrote about forgiving myself. I tend to be extremely unforgiving in a lot of ways. Especially to myself. Probably a lot better than I used to be though. I don’t know if this is related to my mother…. I think she’s similar. Maybe it’s to do with the whole cluelessness on her part (at least I hope it’s that, rather than knowing but ignoring/not caring). But then, if I think about cutting off from family & few remaining friends, (or at least getting the courage to say things I’d want to say to them, and then choosing to cut off or not based on their response to me doing that) it seems like it’s not about not forgiving, but rather about not being willing to tolerate their shit anymore.

    Of course, as soon as I say that, my brain thinks “well, they’ve tolerated all mine”. But, what do I really mean by “mine”? I guess I’m judging myself for being a financial drain on them most of my life — but I could try and see it as, due to the abuse, I never believed I was capable of holding down a job (instead of just laziness/stupidity etc as I’ve tended to most of my life). That’s probably really the main thing. Right now feels like the ONLY thing (only big thing anyway). Everything else feels like THEIR own reactions to things that are none of their f**king business (eg my life choices, relationships, sexual activity etc).

    Like, I am all too aware that I am anything but perfect. But I used to see myself as basically the most worthless, useless piece of shit walking the planet. Had times when I felt I’d be better off dead/never born (for everyone who’s ever known me as well as myself). But sometimes I just think, I don’t try and make THEM live their lives the way **I** think they should…. so why the F**K couldn’t they have just left me alone to live mine?!?!? (pointless thought, I know. But hey. Feeling f**king pissed off about it right now).

    Like, my mother had a habit at one stage of sticking her head in if she got up during the night to angrily tell me how I “wasn’t helping myself” by being awake/eating/going on computer etc at night. (I know it’s true for the last two. But still, I’d do nearly anything to distract myself from the shit in my skull that’s tormented me for years when I go to bed and can’t sleep). On the occasions when she can’t sleep, I noticed how I’d be sympathetic to her. Is it really so f**king hard???!?!

    Ooookkkkk…. deep breath time yet again. Very late (as usual) and apparently pretty negative again, so this time I will sign off.

    Thanks again for all the info, and really hope your health is improving!

    take care of yourself


  10. By: Michelle Posted: 17th December

    Hi j. Thanks for reading and responding to my post.

    Endometriosis is a condition where the inner lining of a woman’s uterus (womb) somehow starts to grow in other areas inside the abdominal area. In some cases it can also penetrate the inner linings of the womb ( a few linings there) With each monthly cycle comes changes in the womans hormone production so the cells multiply until they become larger and can form tissue which causes painful cysts, stretchy bits of tissue ‘gluing’ organs together, and if you are unfortunate enough to have it inside your uterus( as I did) it is extremly painful as each month the uterus has to contract (yes contractions as in childbirth) in order to shed that first lining that has built-up waiting for a pregnancy- no pregnancy, it sheds, (periods). I had it in my uterus, it was twice it’s normal size, and extra strong contractions because my uterus was trying to expel the growths but the have nowhere to get out so stronger contractions each month :'( pain progressed to every day of the month, not just at time of menstruation. The reason to have the hysterectomy is to stop the periods, therefore stop the pain (and get off the huge doses of oxycontin omg how hard is that talk about emotional meltdown.. Withdrawals are dreadful). I am 38 and already have three gorgeous girls so I don’t need any more kids… I kept my ovaries otherwise i would go into menopause and there are lots of risks associated with going into early menopause (cancer, oesteoporosis). When the surgeon took out my uterus he had to cut it off my bowel as it was ‘glued’ on, (an adhesion) and he he also found my left ovary is stuck to my bowel.. He had to leave it there as I had already lost a lot of blood during the surgery, and I also have something else stuck somewhere else I actually just can’t remember!! Phew!! What a long explanation.. Hope I didn’t gross u out..

    I feel for u in your current predicament, re: the bullying you did when you were young. I really hope you are learning to not beat yourself up over it as you are clearly quite sorry for the pain you caused etc. We all make mistakes, and it’s my guess that there were obvious reasons you bullied. Thinking back I’m pretty sure I come close to bullying as a kid as well. Kids act out (or react) what they are exposed to. I’m not saying if you were sexually abused (or any other abuse or neglect for that matter) that you will then turn to do the same. (some do obviously) just that you will react in some way, everyone copes differently. Humans were not made to be hurt and abused. But then humans have failed miserably in caring for each other on the whole scale. We start out an empty vessel and develop according to what’s put into it. I certainly wouldn’t rule out contacting the person you spoke about, just give it time, only you can decide how to and whether to do it. Do u have any expectations with it? Will you be hurt, and are you up to coping if you get a negative response? Whatever you eventually decide, it sounds like it’s tormenting u, hopefully there is some way you can find it in yourself to FORGIVE YOURSELF. You know if u are truly sorry, and it may be that’s all you need to do to stop your torment. If you want the person to know u are sorry then like I said maybe if you forgive yourself first it won’t matter as much what their response or reaction is. But please don’t beat yourself up over it anymore, life is life. It’s being honest with yourself that counts.

    Love to all.. I’d love to keep chatting but it’s midnight here and I gotta get up early.. No mean feat when I still got a massive abdominal scar and everything else going on.. Oh dear, sooking again!!

    These caring, insightful little (sometimes massive!) pockets of wisdom in the world ( such as this blog ) are what keep me going at times that’s for sure…

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th December

      Excellent comments to J. Thank you so much for posting and I hope others read your comments as they apply to many!
      hugs, Darlene

      I constantly jumped to “oh my gosh, what did I do to people” I had to put that aside and heal from the damage caused to me before I jumped to the damage I may have caused. This is hard, but it was so important. I had lived in the cycle of self blame for so long that it was second nature and I could not see clearly about anything I DID until I faced the truth about the damage they did. Once I did that, I understood WHY I had done some of the things that I did that were not so healthy and was able to stop beating myself up and make amends where necessary.
      Hugs, Darlene

  11. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 16th December

    Christina, I am still around. I haven’t visited this particular post in awhile. I am wowed that there are 203 comments. That is great. Thank you for letting me know that my words resonated with you.

    I can understand your anger at being invalidated as a child. I was too by my mother and my dad. From the sound of what you shared, you went through a lot more physical abuse than I did as a child. The worst of my abuse was the incest and being made to feel that my only value came from being a sexual object for my dad and a housekeeper and babysitter for my mom. Even though I was the oldest child in my family, I would watch what my brother and sister got into trouble for and I wouldn’t do those things. I faded into the background as much as possible as a child. If I didn’t attract attention then maybe I wouldn’t be hurt by anyone.

    I agree with you about setting boundaries and that forgiveness doesn’t mean keeping company with my abusers. The last 10 years of my dad’s life, I only had contact with him a few times. I refused to take care of his retirement stuff when he got older. I would never have allowed him to live with my family for the protection of myself and my children. Setting boundaries are healthy.

    On Sunday, my husband and I are leaving on a trip to visit our daughter and her family in Idaho for Christmas. I will have very limited access to the computer during that time. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to those of you who celebrate those holidays. I will be back around the new year.

  12. By: Christina Posted: 16th December

    Wow…just wow. There is so much here.

    Patricia, I hope you are still around but anyway, what you said resonated with me SO MUCH. Your dad sounds just like mine. Thankfully I had a good mother, although she was silent and not very nurturing. As the oldest of 7 kids in a “Christian” family that looked perfect, there were a lot of expectations on me. Everyone outside of our family used to think that dad was this GREAT, wonderful Christian man, with a great heart, etc. But the abuse that occurred at home was pathetic.

    This particularly resonated with me:

    “I grew up in a home where it wasn’t safe to get angry. The threat of violence was always there coming from my dad’s rage which he always let out all over my mother, my siblings and me. He got physically violent with a belt just often enough to keep us scared of him. This was one of the experiences where my belief that anger was violent came from.”

    YES! I had rages from the time I was 6 months old. My mom says she remembers wondering why, and being worried about it. Although I have not gone through some of the horrendous things you all have gone through especially with the sexual stuff, I was still abused badly, especially emotionally and mentally, but in my earlier years, quite a bit physically too. I had horrible horrible rages, nearly every day until I was in my late teens. I married when I was 20 to a very passive, quiet man who unfortunately got the brunt of my leftovers. I had been working on myself for about 5 years with a counselor at that point, but had so much to work on.

    What angered me so much (and still does to a point) is that my feelings were invalid just because I was a child. He was allowed to get angry, yell, scream, cry, throw things and throw children, hit, spank, have his rages, everything and yet when i overloaded, I was treated as though it wasn’t ok. Talk about contradictory behavior! Hypocrite!!!!! When he spanked us, it was often bare bottom and often out of anger, and then when he stopped hitting us (after 5 hits), he would tell us we couldn’t cry. If we cried, we would get another 6 hits (5 hits for another spanking, plus an extra 1 because we cried). If we still cried, it would be an extra one added on to each spanking. I am sorry, but if my butt has welts on it and is stinging, plus I am angry and he is angry as well, how am I supposed to not cry? Not feel? Not hurt? Not respond? I wasn’t some lifeless doll that was his puppet. And I refused to accept that I was just a peon. Yet I was so so hurt.

    This resonated with me too:

    “As a child, I was taught that anger was powerful and fear was a weakness and you didn’t survive in my family if you were weak. You didn’t cry because crying was also a weakness. Feeling wasn’t safe because that brought out my dad’s rage. He was the only one allowed to feel and that was always rage.”

    Exactly. You were weak if you cried. If you were afraid of anything (the dark even!) then you needed to “face your fears” and not “be afraid” because we had the “perfect love of Jesus” which casts out all fear. But I was always scared of the “doll” that lived under my bed as a child. No one believed me, and not everyone believes in that kind of thing but I am telling you, this “doll” came after me every night and just haunted me. The actual doll was sitting on my mom’s dresser…a very very old porcelain doll she was. Even when I went to my grandparent’s house 6 hours away, she still haunted me. I named her June. Don’t know why. But I wasn’t allowed to be afraid of even that. And worse, I wasn’t allowed to be afraid of getting spanked, or anything like that.

    The times I was dragged down the hall or thrown up against a wall, or when I was throwing up from being so upset (from multiple spankings/beatings with a rod) were innumerable. And yet all he ever said in those times (even when throwing up!) was that I shouldn’t have been so rebellious, because then I wouldn’t be feeling this way.

    It was always “you reap what you sow” and “honor your father and mother” and “God will pluck your eye out and put you in outer darkness”. There was no empathy for how I felt. I wasn’t respected. My feelings weren’t respected or heard. At all. AT ALL. Rage was my safe place. Rage made me feel powerful when I really was not. When I raged, I could yell as loud as I wanted, say whatever I wanted, and it was a way for me to get it out. Of course, it never accomplished anything except making dad’s rage worse. But what did I hear yet again? “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger”. ANd that was twisted to say “don’t get angry”. And yet dad could do it whenever the heck he wanted?? Really? Just didn’t make sense to me.

    Now that I know he is a narcissist, I stay FAR away from him. I have not seen him in months. I almost threw up when he walked me down the aisle 4 years ago. I didn’t want him there. And I don’t want him in my life ever again. Even if he was to choose to change, it would take YEARS, perhaps NEVER, for me to let him back into my life. He was NEVER a safe person to be around, why would I try to force myself to believe that he was again? He has said “sorry” so so so many times and then twisted that to say “well I said sorry so you HAVE to forgive or you won’t be forgiven of your rebellion and other sins”.

    I can truthfully say that I have forgiven him. But BOUNDARIES are in place. So that I do not get hurt. I will never ever forget. I don’t need to forget. Those things that I do remember, I use to strengthen me and help others as well. God is the only one who forgets our sins. He does not expect us to forget what was done to us.

    Oh yeah, the other thing that I heard a lot was “Jesus forgave the men who were killing him, so we should forgive men of everything because we’re to be like Christ.”

    Yes. We are to be like Christ. But that was also his destiny. He was destined to die, FOR US, so that hey, guess what, we could sin, and there would be GRACE and forgiveness towards us. And everyone else. But he could have stopped them. He had the power to stop them. If it was not his destiny, he probably would not have allowed them to kill him. Since WE do not have that sort of power, the best thing we can do is put boundaries up. It is NOT our destiny to DIE or to get HURT by “forgiving” as Christ did. CHRIST did that, FOR US, so that we would not HAVE TO. HE DIED for ALL of it. So it is OK for us to set emotional and mental boundaries!! We need to!

    I have forgiven my dad. I actually feel sorry for him. Sorry that he lives such a miserable life, and sorry that he is going to have to face some awful judgment. His choice, YES. But I wouldn’t wish that sort of judgment on my worst enemy (and he really is my worst enemy). Forgiveness to me does not mean that we allow them back into our lives, or allow the hurt back into our lives. For me, forgiveness means that I accept that what he did was wrong, and that I am not responsible for that, and so I let it go because what goes around does come around, and that is a promise in Scripture. No, it is not easy. I still allow myself to feel anger about what he did. Does that mean I have not forgiven him? Absolutely not. Anger, hurt, etc are natural emotions that are part of a natural process and they are OK. It does not mean I haven’t forgiven! If I hadn’t forgiven, I think i would be out to kill him. I have forgiven to the best of my understanding, and yet allow myself to still be angry about it, allow myself to be real with myself. I hope that makes sense.

    I have let him go. I don’t care what happens to him now. That sounds heartless but he never cared what happened to me unless it was making him look better. So now, I have myself to think about, and my relationship with my God, with my husband, my family. I have repaired so many relationships now that I am away from my sperm donor. The healing I am getting is incredible.

    I may write more later…I need to go to bed! I just love all the conversation here! You all are so inspirational and stronger than you know, you really are. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable…it helps me so much, and probably helps others too. Please don’t stop…you’re doing great!

  13. By: Barbara Posted: 16th December

    I’ll be damned if I ever forgive them. Ever. And I am 110% fine with that. My abusers no longer provoke any reaction in me but indifference. They are dead to me. I will never forgive them because they didn’t earn it. They never repented, never owned their actions and the ‘gift I give myself’ is that I give them no reason to do it to me again, like forgiving the unforgiveable. That something I can not and will not ‘learn’ to do. No, ‘healthy unforgiveness’ is possible and can be quite fine. Torturing yourself over the ‘nice crowd’ telling you to ‘forgive’ is B.S., imho. I don’t forgive them. No.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th December

      Hi Barbara,
      I agree, torturing yourself over ANY of this stuff is B.S. I tried to forgive in the way that it was presented to me in the past.. it just made me sicker. I tried to forgive people who still denied that they ever did any harm.. and it contributed to the emotional mess I was already in BECAUSE of them in the first place. I don’t think forgiveness is mandatory either.
      Thanks for sharing.
      hugs, Darlene

      Hi Christina
      I don’t think it sounds heartless. Great comments. Thank you for sharing all of it!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Patricia, have a great time!
      Hugs, Darlene

  14. By: Holly Minor Posted: 16th December

    I am learning to forgive those that truly caused me harm. If any one of them would come to me and ask forgiveness because they have taken ownership of the deed and feel some remorse the forgiving would be easier.

    I’m learning it is okay to forgive, actually for me I find it refreshing not to harbor the anger any longer. I forgive and walk out of their life.

  15. By: Denise Posted: 16th December

    Hi Darlene, thank you so much for this post. It’s been told to me many times to get “over it”. Even by a sister who’s father had his way with me for three years, which seemed like a hundred years to me. She not only asked me if I was telling the truth, she took care of him in his old age up until he died. Validation, apparently doesn’t apply to me and I am so angry about a lot of stuff that to let it loose I’m afraid. Afraid of what I might do or even afraid of dying from letting loose the anger. I mean my heart might not be able to handle it as I already have heart disease. Any suggestions of how to release the anger would be greatly appreciated.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th December

      Hi Denise,
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken,
      Invalidation is something I have written tons about in this website! I totally get how damaging that is. It is at the root of the damage that happened to me. Anger is good. I had to embrace my anger. Although I don’t have a heart condition, I was terrified that I could not handle the pain if I allowed the anger. But I did. And it was a big part of what set me free. This is a process and releasing the anger was a part of that process and it came when I looked at the truth about what really happened to me; not what I was taught to believe happened (which was invalidating) but what really happened. I can only suggest that you read more of the hundreds of posts I have written here about the healing process.
      Hope that helps,
      Hugs, Darlene

  16. By: J Posted: 16th December

    Hi Michelle,

    very sorry to hear of your illness (I had to look up endometriosis). I’m male btw & not pretending to have a clue about what it’s like for you, but another blog I read was talking recently about the author having a hyst. & a huge wash of emotions which came up (along with the physical side) so at least have more idea than I would’ve before reading that. Feeling a bit ignorant for asking, but I’m not real sure why hyst’s are done – assuming it’s to protect rest of the body from something? (Hope you don’t mind me asking). Anyway I hope that having had it done that you’re healthier now.

    I can relate to the confusion re forgiveness. I was raised (and identified myself until prob. early 20’s – early 30’s now) as christian, so the “other F word” was a pretty common topic as I grew up. Darlene mentioned in the post about guilt/fear re not forgiving; I can DEFINITELY relate to that!!

    I think I kinda feel like forgiveness should be more for the person who was wronged, then the one who committed it. (As in, if you feel able to forgive, and it helps you, then great; but if the person as you describe wants it to feel better about themself, then f**k them – particularly in the case you describe of blaming you & minimizing etc). But then, I’m a pretty bitter person in a lot of ways, so my view probably isn’t very balanced.

    The way you said “please WHAT?” seems very insightful to me. It’s kinda like forgiveness is thrown around so much as what you have to do to heal, or to be a good christian or whatever, but as I think about it, it’s a very hard thing to define. This kinda flows on to me in regards to things I’ve done that I find very hard to deal with. For example, I took part in bullying a girl at school when I was maybe 11-12. Felt guilty about that (on and off) for years. (Sometimes I just forget about it).

    Not long ago (probably around the time I found this blog, as I think about it) I googled her name, thinking vaguely about apologizing. Found her facebook page with a link to stopping bullying among kids. Then I was googling stuff about “how to apologize for bullying”, and found of the pages I read, it seemed about 50/50 for people who had been bullied between a) feeling that an apology would really help them and b) never wanting to see/hear from the person/people again. So I got a bit stuck; couldn’t think of a way to easily broach the topic without making it worse if she was in the 2nd camp. I did think of trying to msg one of her friends and asking them to try and casually ask if she’d appreciate an apology from a bully or not, but haven’t tried yet.

    Feeling a bit guilty now for talking about my own s**t here. It’s been bothering me for quite a while now I guess. (Decades, in some ways – if not constantly). I guess I hate having to know about myself that I’ve caused a lot of pain, as well as having been on the receiving end of a s**tload of it. Life is very strange.

    Anyway enough from me. Hope that your health is much more stable now!

    Take care


  17. By: Michelle Posted: 16th December

    Hi, I haven’t posted for a while, been quite unwell with endometriosis, and had a hysterectomy 4 weeks ago… The whole of this year been pretty painful and miserable with this disease.. Well I guess if it’s not one thing it’s another hey??

    To the point; I don’t know what it means or how to handle it when someone says ‘ please forgive me ‘. Please WHAT me? What does that mean. I can’t say ‘that’s ok’ is that what they are asking for when they ask forgiveness? The concept of forgiveness has me stumped, time and time again. It may have something to do with the fact my abusers (biological mother and step father) are clearly not sorry, they still live their lives in denial, they have shown time and time again they are not remorseful, the only time they even look like being remorseful is when is affecting them, and they need our ‘forgiveness’. And they used to get it, or so I thought. When I realized (it was a gradual, painful realization) that they were not only un-remorseful, but they still harboured feelings of blame towards me, and minimization if their own actions.!! It seems my abusers only want my forgiveness to make them feel better. How selfish. Sociopathic narcissism???? ( by the way HE has never even asked for forgiveness, so how to forgive someone who’s never asked for it????) Hmmm tricky one.
    Love to all xo

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th December

      Hi Michelle
      Great to hear from you! I LOVE this “please what me?” I would as that question now when someone says please forgive me. I do ask those questions like “what does that mean?” and “forgive you when you never admitted guilt, so ‘forgive you’ for WHAT?? I want them to say it. I want them to know what they are asking forgiveness FOR.

      About forgiving someone who has never asked for it, I found that forgiveness is a RESULT of the work I have done on my own healing. It isn’t sometihng that I did, it is something that happened… but I don’t think of it in terms of that word “forgiveness” I think of it in terms of the “energy” that the event took up in my life was gone once I had resolved it. (that it was not my fault, that I was not AT fault and that what they did was wrong ~ period. No question about it, no accountability on my part)
      Love your points!
      Hugs, Darlene

  18. By: Donna Posted: 15th December

    Darlene, perfect timing for me. Thank you for sharing. I’m having some struggling with anger and forgiveness myself. I thought I got past this once before, but it keeps resurfacing.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th December

      Hi Donna
      Welcome to EFB and thanks for sharing. You are not alone on this one! It was certainly one I revisited many times before I moved past it more deeply.
      Hugs, Darlene

  19. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 8th January

    Lynda, When I get a comment on my blog that I just totally disagree with, as long as it is respectful and not abusive in any way to myself or others, I will post it. If it is mean or disrespectful, name-calling,abusive, or the occasional advertisement that has nothing to do with my topic, I don’t post it on my blog. I reserve the right to decide whether to publish or not publish comments on my own blog.

    I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. They make me think about other people and other ways of seeing a situation. I like that. It helps me to see beyond my own way of thinking. It sometimes opens doors of opportunity for growth for me that I wouldn’t have opened otherwise.

    One saying that I learned in 12-Step programs that I use when I disagree but don’t want to argue over the topic is “Thank you for sharing that.” It works really well in that it acknowledges what the other person said without agreeing or disagreeing with them and it is respectful of both parties involved.

    I love Emerging From Broken and Darlene for the way that she handles and addresses so many very complex topics of healing. I am so far behind in my reading of blog posts because of being sick with the pneumonia for a month and then Christmas and New Years. I need to spend one whole day soon catching up.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 8th January

      Thanks Patricia;
      for your compliments and endorsement, and for your contribution to this blog.. not just to this post but to the whole blog! I have missed you while you have been ill, but I am so glad that you are feeling better now.
      Hugs, Darlene

  20. By: Lynda Robinson ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 8th January

    Absolutely, Darlene, it has also been my experience/observation that those who dish it out are rarely able to take their own medicine.

    I’ve been wanting to tell you how much I admire your diplomatic, respectful, yet utterly straight-forward, honest, and assertive way that you deal with the comments some people leave on your posts, with which you disagree. I wish I had your talent for coommunicatiing the way you do. I do have that gift, but only up to a point… that point being when I am “triggered,” and then I either go completely passive, clam up, roll over and play dead, which has historically been my usual response, OR ELSE I go to the opposite extreme and become ballistically agressive, and blast the person right out of the water with my biting words… yikes.

    I’m so glad that you are getting these comments on your blog, and I’m not getting them on mine, because I am not able – yet – to handle them, but you most definitely are. I am gratefully learning from you, how to do what you do. I hope that by the time my blog starts getting a lot of comments, IF it does, that I will have learned from your example how to respond in a healthy, affirming, healing way, for ALL concerned.


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 8th January

      Hi Lynda,
      I spent over three years working with a brilliant therapist in his therapy/seminar company as the director of client relations, support and I was also a speaker in the seminars. I learned so much from him about healing methods ~ and also developed a deep compassion for people who are not strong, so when people say things that I don’t “agree with” I rarely react anymore. I used to say some “not so healthy things” too. Here is a rule of thumb for me on this blog that might help you out. Most of the comments that I answer when I have an issue with the content of the comment I answer keeping in mind ONLY the health of the other readers. (again, I learned this from my professional work with clients)
      Hugs, Darlene

  21. By: Lynda Robinson ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 8th January

    Wow. Darlene, your ‘rant,’ and the many varied comments it has generated… this is awesome. I completely agree with you, Darlene. Once again, you have so beautifully articulated a very deep truth.

    Several years ago, someone I thought of as a friend said something very rude, devaluing, and hurtful to me one day. I knew him through a 12-step group we both belonged to. As we were leaving at the end of a meeting, he made his hateful comment as we were going out the door at the same time. What he said was completely unwarranted. I was so hurt and shocked, that I didn’t say anything back. I couldn’t. Then I went home, brooded for a couple of hours, and finally called him and said, “Tom, what you said to me as we were leaving the meeting… that really hurt my feelings. It was rude, and untrue, besides.”

    Tom replied “I’m sorry. Now, get over it.” ~!

    I got over it, all right… I got over thinking of Tom as a friend!

    Although that incident was very minor, it is a good example, I believe, of the Absurdity behind the demand that we Forgive, immediately and completely, any and all abuses. “I’m sorry, now get over it.” Or, in most cases, there isn’t even an insincere-sounding “I’m sorry,” it’s just: “Get over it.”

    How utterly absurd.


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 8th January

      Hi Lynda!
      Very good example. And I like the conclusion that you came to as well ~ very healthy. And here is the strange thing I have found. These same people ~ if you were to reverse the whole interaction ~ he would have been outraged and certainly given you a lecture about it, but when “they” do it, it’s all fine. Well this is not always the case, but it is so often. I can think of many examples like this one where I could not win or come out even close to equal, ever!
      Thanks for sharing!
      hugs, Darlene

  22. By: nordy Posted: 25th November

    Thanks for posting, Darlene and Patricia.

    Unfortunately, I loathe groups. That means groups of any kind, support, therapy, 12-step, whatever. Talking about my personal life to a bunch of total strangers creates an inauthentic intimacy of which I want no part.

    I’ve been in enough groups to understand that despite the endless hugging, I don’t care about any of the members and won’t come to care as the group goes along.

    I do care about how groups make me feel violated.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th November

      thanks for sharing what worked for you. =)
      Hugs, Darlene

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