Foundation of a Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship


Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship

Today I’m highlighting a snapshot of where the dysfunctional mother daughter relationship began between my mother and I. The emotional abuse and dysfunction began before this event, but this was the point of no return.

Just a couple of months shy of my 13th birthday, my parents separated. That in and of itself isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a kid, but as in everything else in life it all depends on how it is handled. Kids need a little help handling that kind of a thing and neither of my parents was very helpful. For my mother it was all about her. For my father it was all about him.

My father had just been transferred and we had to move from Montreal Quebec to Mississauga Ontario and away from all the friends we had. My mother didn’t have any support. Even long distance phone calls back then were an expense that we couldn’t afford.  I am not sure why my Dad picked that time to leave, but that is the way it was. My mother had a serious breakdown and since my mother was susceptible to having mental health breakdowns and serious depressions, it wasn’t surprising.

I was the only girl in the family. I am not sure what my brothers went through. I don’t remember if I ever talked about it with them or not. As for me though, my mother leaned on me. I became her confidant her support and her friend. It might not have been so bad if she had not been suicidal.

We lived in a newly developed neighbourhood in a beautiful new house. It was so new that many of the homes were not finished being built and there was no grass in yet. We were living in a construction site and there were huge holes, wooden ramps and plank sidewalks. The ground was uneven everywhere. My mother would go walking in the dark of night and because everything was so new, there were no streetlights yet. I pictured her weeping and stumbling around the neighbourhood alone in the dark. I pictured her that way because she told me that wandered around in the dark and she was hoping she would fall in one of those construction site holes and die. I felt so sorry for her. I wanted to help her; I wanted to be the friend she needed to support her through that time in her life. I believed that the whole burden of whether she lived or died was on my shoulders. I was only 12 years old.

This one incident impacted me and the rest of my life in such a huge way. What 12 year old would refuse this burden? How was I supposed to deal with this? What choice did I really have? Looking back my father was not exactly the kind of dad that I believed would have taken care of me if my mother died, I mean if you think about it, he was the one who moved her away from all her friends just a few months before he left her and I don’t recall even one time when he talked to me about how difficult this was or even asked me how I was doing. Why didn’t he see how distraught she was, and why didn’t he realize that I was staggering under the burden of her dilemma and thinking that it was up to me if she made it or not? What would have become of me if my mother did commit suicide especially if my father didn’t care? And finally, why did my mother forget that I was only 12.

This incident laid the foundation for the rest of the dysfunctional mother daughter relationship my mother and I had to play out. I suppose that this laid the foundation for the nonexistent father daughter relationship I had with my father too. Things might have been tough before, but now they were disastrous.  

 If you are interested in more history regarding my mother daughter relationship stuff, please visit the mother daughter category button under the header graphic. This story is an example of emotional abuse by both my parents. Stay tuned; I will continue.

Please feel free to share your viewpoints or your experiences. As always I truly appreciate your comments.  

Darlene Ouimet

53 response to "Foundation of a Dysfunctional Mother Daughter Relationship"

  1. By: Mimi Posted: 19th February

    Hi Jenny,
    If your daughter has expressed the reason she’s angry is because you distanced her from her father, then that’s probably the reason. I don’t think you can add a “but” to that. “But I was protecting her” is what you said.

    My father was violent at times. He never hurt my sisters or I, never even spanked us that I know of. His anger was toward my mother. As a result of that, my mother’s fear, or alleged fear of him spilled over into every aspect of our lives. We all lived in terror. My father willingly left us behind when I was 11. From that time until just a few months ago, my mother has dramatized, retold, emphasized, etc, etc, the horror in our household from what is now 32-42 years ago. After my dad left, she instilled the fear that he wanted to steal me from her. I had to look over my shoulder all the time, waiting for him to attack. The truth was, there was little evidence that he would do that. She was carefully laying the foundation for what would become a life of distance from my father. I never had to wonder if he loved me or thought about me because she made sure I knew he didn’t. I know it was my dad’s reponsibility to maintain contact, I didn’t need her constant reminders. She wanted to solidify her place within me to make sure there was no place for him. It worked for several years. Now, I am in a relationship with him, although it’s not what I would call deep. It is mine though. It isn’t hers anymore. She doesn’t get to dictate what I feel or what he feels. What she still cannot understand to this day is, he is my father. The only bio father I have. She had a loving father that supported her until he passed away. She never cares to put herself in my shoes, a life and childhood without my dad. A life of hearing her mouth off about how he didn’t love me and never would. All that did was cause bitterness toward her on my part. It was never her place to decide how he felt and then force feed it to me. From my perspective, she was trying to make sure I was always under her thumb by making him out to be a monster, telling me he didn’t love me 100s of times, etc, etc, etc. It’s not your place to decide if your daughter forgives him. It’s hers. It is between her and him. You really have no place in the dynamics of that. The more you bash him, the harder she will run toward him.

    When you used the word “required”, I heard my own mother. She views me as an extension of herself. Not a separate entity that gets to live and make choices, and be independent. She views herself as someone so important that I should “require” her in my life for my mere survival. It’s just not that way. I am separate from her.

    Also, when Darlene said “hear” your daughter, I think that was very sound advice. Not that she hasn’t screamed at you or that you haven’t heard her loud and clear. But listening and hearing are two different things. I think if my mother would listen with an open heart, and a genuine desire to better our relationship, we could really move forward. The big roadblock is not IN the blame I’ve ever placed on her. The roadblock is she is in denial. It has nothing to do with whatever blame I feel. She lives a life of lies, manipulation, thievery, deception, projection, the list goes on.

    I am not a person who can’t forgive. I can and have. I can forgive mistakes she made when she was raising 3 young kids in her 20’s. I don’t think I would have known how to do that either. BUT, we all got older and the crappy stuff she pulled only escalated and continues to this day. I have lived a sifled life of depression, fear, anxiety, agoraphobia, anger, etc. Do I hear you saying that if I would just suck it up and pretend it didn’t happen, everything would be okay? We would all live happily ever after?? If I just go ahead and accept this lackluster life in order to preserve my relationship with her, that THAT is the superior choice? Jenny, I want to LIVE!!!!!!! I want freedom, and I want to be fearless and I want to thrive. Not just drudge through every day. I’ve learned that the best way for me personally to reverse the damage inside and live a life of truth, I have to do some digging, face some pain, tell myself the truth, tell others the truth, and move forward. Not living a facade is what it’s about for me. A perfect example would be my mother never allowing lying. That was the BIG SIN in our house. But, now, her lies are being uncovered. Does that mean I have to brush it under the rug? She gets to lie ABOUT me, but the rules are different for me??

    Finally, I just want to say Jenny, your daughters anger and lashing out didn’t come from the blue. My mother is so mystified by the distance my sisters and I have created the past year. It isn’t even about blaming her. It’s about living a life of wholeness, peace, and leaving the drama in the wake. Have you analyzed why your daughter has created this distance with you? There’s a reason. Did you go with your heart in your hand, knowing what she says no matter how bad it hurts, it’s what you have to hear? And,then follow up and make changes to repair your relationship? I always have this day dream of my mother coming to me sitting on the edge of my bed while I’m laying down. Extending her hand to me and saying, “I’m sorry, how can I help you, or make this better?” If my mother ever even THOUGHT about doing that, our relationship would be vastly different today. She has recently sent me an email claiming she’s ready to be accountable and move forward. I haven’t seen anything that leads to that end however. Until I do, I ask YOU why I should let her be a hindrance to my truth and wholeness? Ignoring it has brought 43 years of discontent. Isn’t it time for a different approach?? I feel for you and I know this distance from your daughter is painful. I have this suspicion that what your daughter needs is for you to sit on her bedside, and offer her your hand.
    Peace to you and your daughter,

  2. By: jenny Posted: 19th February

    I have healed my childhood issues by no longer blaming my mother .She was abusive and it was very damaging but when I stopped blaming her and took the time to understand why she did the things she did I was able to forgive her and move on. I am glad I can look upon the time I had with my mother in a positive light because for forty five years I was so angry and obsessed by her treatment of me I was poisoning myself. I no longer blame my mother and my life is better for it I can have good memories of her and accept the bad ones too.

  3. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th February

    My website is about HOW I overcame depression by facing the truth. Placing the blame where it belonged was key for me. This post may not apply to you or your situation but I took issue with you telling me and my readers that WE should not blame our mothers for what they did, ~ Blame that is so very often about neglect, disrespect, disregard; my mother beat me and she took me to bars when I was underage to help her pick up men, and she blamed me when her boyfriend came in my room at night (among other things) but she still says that she did the best she could and that I am the unreasonable one~ so do you agree that my mother did the best she could??

    From what you shared in your other comment, it sounds like history repeated itself. You take the blame for ruining your relationship with your own mother and now expect your daughter to do the same? It doesn’t work that way. My mother does that same thing. She kept telling me that no matter what her mother did, she still loved her… but that is NOT love.

    So Jenny are you telling me that you bear no responsibility for the issues that your daughter has? I am talking about YOUR relationship with HER. I am not blaming my mother for the destruction of my relationship with MY father. I dealt with that with my father. (For example; My mother beat me and my father didn’t protect me. I blame her for beating me and him for not doing anything about it.) I hear that you left her father. Great, but it sounds to me like there is way more to this than just that. Have you asked her HOW she would like to go about resolving the relationship between yourself and her?
    It just sounds like your primary interest here is in defending yourself. That is why I asked you to do your own healing work around your own childhood and dysfunctional family issues, so that you can hear your daughter.
    Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: jenny Posted: 19th February

    Hi Darleen,
    Many thanks for your reply
    I am not sure what you mean when you say I may be able to “hear” my daughter and heal some of the damage done. My daughter has been very vocal about her truth, she blames me for compromising her relationship with her father, she is deeply angry that she lost time with him, even though he was so abusive with her and I was trying to protect her from being killed. I don’t think I have swept any truth under the carpet at all and have always been truthful to her,I encouraged her to go to counselling and I have been myself. Since she has re-established a relationship with her father she has distanced herself from me, before that we had a very good relationship apart from the resentment she showed me which frustrated me because I tried so hard. I used to think the resentment was because we were so poor and I could give her the things she wanted, but now I realise that she always blamed me for the split up of the marriage. Thats why blame in my situation has been destructive , blame has not been healing for anyone here.

  5. By: jenny Posted: 19th February

    I am the mother of a daughter who blames me for everything, she started this when she was young.I left her violent father when she was little we got no support, we were living in a rural area with no family or friends. He took her for week-ends,or would then not show for months, occasionally sending postcards from exotic places as he happily followed his hearts content. When he showed up he used to beat me up which had done since when I was pregnant and then one day when my daughter was 14 he pinned her to the ground and beat her face black and blue whilst telling her it was all my fault. I had no-one to tell me what was the best thing to do but I decided that he couldn’t see her after this . which he didn’t for several years, until she was 17. My daughter seems to have grown to dislike me more and more over the years despite my trying everything I can to help her, we were close and she used to confide allot in me , but now she has moved on has a partner and baby and I am no longer required. She blames me for preventing her from seeng her father, she has told me all the awful things she thinks about me and when I asked if she hated me she just stared at me. I think it is common for girls to blame their mothers when there is a breakdown in the family, Freud writes allot about it, for the girls who feel this way I ask you take a moment to consider who stood by you even if the job they did was really not so good, what was the alternative a care home? I am sorry to hear of the awful things that happened to so many of you but blaming wont help. My father died when I was 19 my mother had banned me from seeing him and I never got to say goodbye, I blamed my mother all my life and it destroyed our relationship. My advice would be to go to counselling and talk about what has happened to you and then once that process has helped try to stop blaming, try avoid feeling your the victim, although that may be hard try to remember the good things your parents did for you if you can nd make the best of those good memories and what you have now.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th February

      Hi Jenny
      Blaming actually did help. It was a necessary stepping stone in my recovery. Before I looked at the truth, I blamed myself and it was never my fault. It was not until I looked at the truth that I was able to completely overcome depression and the other issues that had manifested in my life because of abuse. Blaming my mother (and my father is equally responsible) is not what destroyed our relationship; the way that she treated me with total disregard and disrespect is. All I did was finally stand up to that. It sounds like you live in the cycle (the same problems with your mother that your daughter has with you) but in my case I broke the cycle by looking at the truth. You are suggesting that the good cancels the bad and the truth is that it doesn’t work that way. Healing can’t happen when the truth is brushed under the carpet. My suggestion is for you to heal from the dysfunctional relationship that you had with your own mother. Perhaps then, you will be able to “hear” your daughter and heal some of the damage done there.

  6. By: Talkgirl Posted: 9th August

    Wow. I am 40 years old, and after a recent family reunion I realized my mother still triggers severe anger and pain for me. I am searching desperately for books, articles, anything that I can to relate to. I am religious, I have prayed again and again, I thought I had forgiven her for all of our dysfunction (she told me she wanted to kill herself when I tried to confide in her about my teen depression) but then why do I feel so angry still?

    I am looking for more clues to the steps of healing, I just wonder if I am normal! I love to read, and would love any good books also. My mother has anxiety and depression, but on top of that she is incredibly selfish and plays the victim card all the time. Just needing to know where to start to let this pain go once and for all.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 10th August

      Hi Talkgirl!
      Welcome to EFB! I have written a ton of stuff in this website about what you are talking about and my writing is a little different which seems to cause people to see things from a different view point ~ which works!
      You sound totally normal to me! You will find many others here that have similar issues. The reason that those things still bother us is because they are not resolved yet, and what I always did was try to get it resolved by thinking SHE coud resolve it. But the truth is that only YOU can resolve it and it within yourself. That is what this blog / website is about.
      Hope you share often!
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Samantha Posted: 6th August

    Thank you Darlene…

  8. By: Samantha Posted: 6th August

    I was just reading the comment by Ingrid and I wanted to tell her that my mother also calls me delusioinal and “misunderstands reality.” So I understand that so much!

  9. By: Samantha Posted: 6th August

    I was so intriqued by your website. I have had a dysfunctional relationship with my mother since I was a child. She plays head games with me all the time and she ignores me for months on end whenver she is mad or feels she wants to test me. I have told her to stop and that i am sick of the way she treats me and excludes me from my family but she does not listen! She continues to treat me disrespectfully and ignores my children. I have gotten to the place in my life where I think that talking with her is not the best way to move forward with my life and I think I am going to have to cut her out of my life. I feel very guilty about this but I have physically been affected by this relationship and she obvioiusly doesn’t care enough to change…I was wondering if you had any advice on the topic of separating from your own mother and if it gets easier? thanks…

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th August

      Hi Samantha,
      Yes it gets easier. I found that by separating from my mother I was able to see things more clearly. There was a lot of denial on my part about just what was going on. Read the posts here under the mother daughter categories and the family categories and you might get a clearer picture. I try very hard not to give advice, but I share a lot of examples in all the posts here about the ways that I broke free (not just from my mother but from all the “training” and manipulative conditioning I had in the past) and took my life back. It takes time.
      Glad you are here.
      Please share often!
      Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Ingrid Posted: 1st August

    My relationship with my mom has always been tumultuous from the very beginning – when I was a child my mom was hospitalized at least a dozen times for mental health reasons – during this time my father was left to care for me and handle all our familiy affairs alone – when my mom was home she would sleep all day and leave my father -again- to tend to the mess – later my parent divorced in my early teens – A defining moment was when my mom returned home from a custody hearing unsteady and out of it – she confessed to my babysitter that she had swallowed a whole bottle of antidepressents – we called 911 and my mom was promptly hauled away kicking and screaming – later – in my second year of college my mom decided that she would drink herself to death – she mailed me various forms with instructions on how to handle her estate , funeral arrangments, etc – it was also during this time that she told everyone she had terminal cancer – she was so sickly and looked as if she was on the brink of death – I begged her to give me the name of her doctor but she was evasive and made it clear she did not want me contacting him – I did manage to track him down and he was confounded as i was – he had no record of any cancer in her file and suggested I get her into a mental health facility beleiving she must be psychotic – to this day my mother refuses to take any resposibility for her actions – when I confront her she turns into a witch call me dellusional , ungrateful ,confused, etc I am 32 and happily married yet my upbringing still haunts me – I often ask myself if *I* am the crazy one because that is how she makes me feel – she has been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer (irony??) and i have the proof this time – I need to know – Am I the only person to go thru this with a parent?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 1st August

      Hi Ingrid,
      That was a dirty trick that your mother played on you. That is not love. That is total manipulation. And it sounds like there was a lot of it going on.
      Welcome! Oh my gosh I asked myself that question ~ am I the crazy one? ~ for YEARS! And please keep reading this blog and the comments because you will find out that you are certainly NOT alone and not the only one who has these kinds of problems with a parent. In fact, the whole mother daughter dysfunction is a very popular topic here. If you look at what you just shared here, how can you think that it was YOU who was the crazy one??
      Glad you are here!
      Hugs, Darlene

  11. By: Debra Posted: 17th June

    Yes , long story. My mother was married before ,she had three kids with her first husband. he was a drunk and abusive. then she divorced him and married her second husband .then they had me a girl . so i had 2 half sisters and a half brother. quess what ? then my dad had a bad drinking problem. i was the scape goat . my mother even lied about things about what i said and did . then she would say i was hateful and coundnt get along with any body. WHICH IS WHAT HER MOTHER SAID ABOUT HER. so she was taking it out on me. my mothers sisters said she was jealous of me that is why she would put me down infront of family and when i was alone with her. plus i was a quiet shy kid and adult. my brother who is 20 years older then me would join in with her to put me down .in a very underhanded way. in front of family and in front of his wife and son.his son was close to my age. but he didnt treat him that way. hmmmm any way she got some of the other families members involved . she turned it around and tryed to make it look like i was the bad daughter. it was the other way around/ people in leader ship roles who abusive their children wow/ any way i also didnt feel like i belonged in the family . because my half brothers and sisters my mother tryed to turn them against me. plus make me the scape goat. then they though my father was better than their father.the list goes on and no. my older brother came for a visit. evry thing went all right but i was scared because who knows what will pop out of his mouth. then i felt all alone because my mother tryed to get my brother to join in with underhanded comments. i never got any support or was made to feel good about my self . if my mother did say something good she would screw it up a few minutes later so how cound i believe her. my father would stick up for me when he was thier and he didnt know the half of it because i never told him. any way at age 57 im seeking help for all the pent up emotions.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th June

      Hi Debra,
      Oh yes, this is exactly what I am talking about! So then everyone wonders why we struggle with all those emotions! It is just crazy! I am glad you are here Debra
      Hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Jennifer Posted: 5th January

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart :o) I read rhrough your blogs and deeply identified with them!!!! Although I haven’t yet sorted through memories of years of abuse, shame, terror, panic, grief and loss. Not in a way that helps a person step by step.. I have to start somewhere and not by my OWN rationalizations, but by Gods help, your help and the encouraging posts of other readers.
    Today I had a GREAT day! A GREAT day withought excessive fears and doubt! I had a healthy outlook! I LIVED today and it felt great! I was able to handle most everything my kids could throw at me with love and peacefulness and handled the daily chores with ease and grace. THAT’S NOT THE TYPICAL Jennifer approach! I don’t know how, but just being able to post my story and KNOW that other people have been through similar things just helped me somehow. I haven’t been able to process anything just yet (is that something that is done over a lifetime?). Without even being able sort things out as of yet, already I feel lighter and calmer.
    Thanks so much for caring and relating to other as you have!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th January

      Hi Jennifer!
      There is a lot of power in being able to “tell” and there is even more power in being heard and “knowing that you have been heard”. That is how it all started for me too. I am really glad that you have found some extra hope here and that you had a great day!!
      Hugs, Darlene

  13. By: Jennifer Posted: 5th January

    thank you Darlene. I am SO SORRY my postings are so long!
    I was unsure whether or not to share my troubles or which site, but I have clearly found the right one, even if my troubles are not from a broken relationship with my mother. My step-mother maybe ; lots there to talk about, but I have come to realize she was just trying to help me more than hurt me emotionally. She was always aloof and emorionless to me for the most part, but when it came to necessities like clothing, providing lessons on table manners and other basic things you are supposed to learn way before age 12 , and respect for privacy, well she did that. Later when I had my daughter she was at the hospital. In the end, she was either vey manipulative or I was too paranoid about her intentions with my child to keep any real relationship with her going. She made me feel guilty by assuming I was not properly bonding with my daughter. I was 22 when I had her and I had lived a sheltered life from 12-18 the day of my birthday I was kicked out because I was always shouting and carrying on and being overly emotional is my guess!
    I went a little wild and dated boys and partied and eventually gave birth and wanted to still “have fun”. I compelety quit partying as soon as I realized a little while later that it was not helping anything. I just guess I didn’t know how to belive and trust people (her even) to have a real relationship.
    my dad NEVER took part in my life from age 12-18. He “worked” in his shop outside the house and let my step-mother handle EVERYTHING when I came to me or my brothers.. I always felt like he must have needed a break from all he went through in life so I never complained. As a mother myself now, I can see that it was no excuse. You have to be ther for your children……
    Why do I always think I am a bad mother? I forgot to look at my daughters basketball schedule and so she missed a game. So I think that I must not have cared enough or must have have been too busy doing crafts and things. I beat myself up about it and couldn’t process the guilt. My husband said, just let it go. I can’t just “let it go”! I have no control and I always feel scared and paranoid when I feel guilt. I literally, LIITERALLY. PANIC. Who does that? I know its sounds crazy but I can process guilt. I can’t rationalize it and I can’t set it aside or let it go. I literally was SO depressed and near crazy when I realized that I was the LAST person to realize my daughter needed a new coat. The lunch lady at school gave her one becasue she thought she didn’t have one (she hates to wear he
    r coat and at the time, it came up a little on her arms so then I thought I was a bad and horrible mother because I didn’t even think that she is growing! And she didn’t complain so then I felt even WORSE! Story of my life!!!!!)
    Somebody please tell me this is something I can work through!!!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th January

      Hi Jenifer,
      I can tell you that this is something that you CAN work through! You are very hard on yourself my dear. This is very common amongst us, so don’t worry! All of this is part of the whole package of the results of how you grew up. I had to start at the beginning, take a look at how I learned the things that I learned about me and begin the process of reparenting myself. I am not nearly as hard on myself anymore. I encourage you to read lots of the other articles in this blog. The mother stuff is only a fraction of what I write about. I think you will find a lot of hope and inspiration here!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Just in case you have not realized it yet, there is more communtiy sharing in the current posts. Just click on the home button (picture of the house at the top) to find the current posts. Some of the older posts get interactive but the newer ones have way more.

  14. By: Jennifer Posted: 4th January

    I am a mother of three ages 8, 6, and 2. I am married to a wonderful man and couldn’t feel more loved and protected and safe.
    That’s all I can ask for in this world. And health. My mother died at age of 29 from breast cancer. I was only 5 or 6. It was hard. I cried when no one was looking and I would hold her picture becasue that’s all I had left of her. My dad raised me and my three brothers. I have two older brothers and a younger brother and I was the only girl in the house, living in our 2 bedroom trailer for many years-until I turned twelve and he remarried. He molested me what seemed like every other night for YEARS. I lived terrified of this and every night made sure to wear a shrit and shorts before getting in bed. I slept on the top bunk (we had 2 bunk bed sets) and slept as close to the wall as possible so as to discourage him and hopefully change his mind from bothering me at night. I just wanted to feel normal. I never did and still can’t really at the age of 31. I was also molested by his best friend once but only once thank goodness. My oldest brother was a bully and made us all. Live in fear of him. He threatened us ALL the time, scaring us, making us believe he was going to hurt us and hurt dad too. Dad was all we had so I was so scared all of my childhood. My dad worked day and night and I was left alone with my brothers a lot and can remember leaving my house to go sit by the light pole at the end of the driveway because it was lit and I felt safer there and wanted to see my dad drive in. He never did on time and I remeber eventually giving up and walked back to the house feeling hopeless. My dad yelled a lot and was impatient, forgetful. Absent but loving too.. He was there, but he wasn’t. He took us places, fun trips, but I was marked pretty bad by the dark side of my chikldhood to ever grow up feeling well rounded at all. He remarried to my step mother and her three kids and we clashed just as everyone ever did who met her. She wore the pants. My dad needed a mother. His mother died when he was 12 and his alcholoic father “raised” him and his brother and sister.
    I have my own children to concentrate on raising, all the while sealing with feelings of guilt as a mother (for what?) and horrible inadequecy. I talked to a counsler, but couldn’t afford to see him again and don’t honestly jave time. I pray to God all the time. My dad taught me that. I know that my dad did instill a love for God in me and I depend on Him for everythinh. Sometimes its good to talk to someone who has been through things like I have. How do you deal with the small failures in life? I am trying to be a good mom and I feel like I am really unprepared because at times I am still a hurt and scared little girl, frightened for her life and feels worhless and unloveable. I don’t want to yell or be inattentive or burden my kids with outbursts and emotions that at timesi find myself giving into. . Help is greatly appreciated!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th January

      Hi Jennifer
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken,
      You have had a very difficult time; Thank you for sharing these parts of this story. I have written a lot on this blog that might help to get you started with sorting more of this out. For me the healing came when I realized where my adult struggles actually came from. Because of the abuse in my childhood, I had a lot of mixed up beliefs about myself and those things were where the problems really had thier roots. That was where the worthless and unlovable came from. Learning the truth set me free to be ME and to be the parent that I really longed to be. This was a sorting out process that took some time, but in the end I got the freedom that I was seeking. There was huge amounts of guilt in me, (which when I got to the roots of it, and sorted it out, the guilt went away ~ it was not my guilt that I was carrying) And the feelings of inadequacy went away too.
      Please hang in here and share as often as you wish.
      Hugs, Darlene

  15. By: Pat Posted: 8th September

    After reading all these other comments, my emotions feel raw. My mother was and still is a narcissist. I am 63 and back then, secrets were the order of the day. I was the youngest and only girl. My Dad molested me when I was seven. That act in itself is the reason, I am sure is responsible for the panic attacks I have suffered. I married someone when I was 16 who was a narcissist and refused to hold a job even though we had five children. My mother sided with him on most issues and he would go to her house for solice when we argued. Never did she attend any of my school functions, not even parent teacher conferences. I cleaned the house, did the laundry, encouraged her, gave her all my money when I worked during Summer vacations, yet all she could say is I was spoiled. Have not been able to afford counseling and now it is just hard to sleep well as these emotions seem to raise their ugly head and wake me up in the early morning hours. I still work. Although I could probably marry, I cannot trust, nor do I have any close friends. Too many mistakes I myself have made as a parent. I say these things to encourage anyone who has the courage or trust to get counseling so you do not end up like me.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 8th September

      Hi Pat,
      We have a lot in common. Having parents like this leaves a lasting mark, that is for sure, so you are likely right about the foundation of your struggles. It seemed to get worse for me the older that I got. You know it isn’t too late now ~ for you or for anyone else. One of the keys was realizing that understanding my mother (or father) was not a key at all and understanding them or the events would never set me free. Understanding what happened to me and the beliefs that I adopted from having those parents however, WAS key. I hope that you read some of the other posts and find hope again.
      please feel free to share often. =)
      Hugs, Darlene

  16. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 14th August

    I became an adult at age 11. I remember envying my younger brother and sister at Halloween because they were allowed to go Trick or Treating and I was too old. I started cooking part of our family meals when I was 11. I was sexually abused by an uncle and by my dad when I was 11. I was confidant of both of my parents when I was 11 and told things that I shouldn’t have known about either of them. I was the baby sitter of my two siblings. I remember being terrified one night that we were left home alone and the outside dogs wouldn’t quit barking. We lived out in the country with our nearest neighbors over a mile away through the woods. I knew at age 11 that I was smarter than either of my parents and more mature. I became the adult while they were children needing to be taken care of. On the other hand, my dad was the dictator of the family making all decisions for all of us. We were isolated and controlled by a rage-aholic.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th August

      Hi Patricia,
      You are amazing and I am grateful for your willingness to share your victories with my readers and with the hurting world; you have overcome so much.
      I envied my brothers too. They got to stay outside and play until supper. I had to come home from school and start cooking. It isn’t so bad that we had to contribute to our familys ~ it is that we felt and we learned that is all we were good for. I was not valued for who I was.. I was not encouraged or allowed to be who I was.. just for what I could do and that is what was damaging about being that kind of care taker. Such a funky system that we grew up in.
      BUT we know the truth now!
      Thank you for being here.
      Love Darlene

  17. By: Sherri Sue Posted: 5th August

    My mother was always fighting with my dad and he drank all the time and beat on her but she committed suicide several times she would say ” I can’t take it anymore I am jsut going to kill my selfand then she would take just enough pills to sleep all day the next day” then I owuld be stuck taking care of the younger siblings. I told her that I was molested when I was four and her response was that I must have liked it because Inever told her. I don’t know why she couldn’t focus more on her kids and less on her and her relationship with my abusive father.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th August

      You remind me of myself. =) and since I love me today that is a big compliment and I hope that you take it as such. I (personally) did not think you meant to portray that you are living in hallily ever after but Nikki, (But don’t doubt that you are well on your way. ) One of the things that I realized is that it isn’t up to my relationships with others on how far I go with the healing ~ it is up to my relationship with me. My mother could do every single thing I ever wished she would have done in order to heal our broken relationship and it would not change a thing about how I had to recover. My broken had to do with others, but my healing has to do with me… and I totally understand what you are saying, of course it is a mixed bag. It is a huge thing, and the damage is difficult.
      I love that you came back to clarify because you care so much about the other readers! That is so beautiful.
      Thank you so much,
      Love Darlene

      Welcome Sherri Sue
      I am so sorry that you had to go through that. I am glad that you are able to talk about it and share it. There is healing when we tell about the pain in our pasts.
      Thanks for being here.
      Hugs, Darlene

  18. By: Nikki Posted: 5th August

    Darlene I do want to add one more thing because after reading my last comment I felt that I needed to share the struggle I still face and much of this struggle is within myself. Our parents my come around and admit to things and be willing to face things instead of avoiding them or denying them however what I am discovering is the mix bag of emotions within myself …

    For me and my mom to be able to talk openly about this as we are is a miracle within itself because my mom lived in a lot of denial in which she blamed me for much of what happen in my childhood. I spent years and years looking for a mother figure someone who I could turn to someone who would listen and acknowledge my feelings and accept me for me. I spent many years in such deep pain that I shut my emotions off, I emotionally died really. It has only been the last three years that I have been able to really cry.. that is just how deep and painful all this has been to me.

    Even now that my mom has come around and has started dealing with this I find it hard for me to connect with her. Don’t get me wrong we talk everyday on the phone but at times I just feel distant. I just wanted to add this to what I said earlier because it is still tough at times…for every little step forward we make in our relationship I am truly thankful and at the same time I often deal with a mix bag of emotions.. I didn’t want to give anybody the impression that I was living a “Happily Ever After” healing is painful and having to deal with myself this deeply is truly hard there are moments I just want to shut it all out … but there is one thing I am sure of and that is healing pain is well worth it because when healing is complete the pain goes away completely…

  19. By: Fi Nicholson Posted: 5th August

    “Dysfunctional behaviors in families have such far reaching ramifications. It rarely stays inside the 4 walls of the home. It’s carried with all of the family members as they go about their day to day things, they carry it with them and often with such devastating consequences.” – Eddie what a phenomenally insightful and true statement.

    I’ve carried the consequences of my family’s dysfunctions inside me until my early 40’s when I decided I’d had enough of the living death which was my life and that the TRUTH of the horror that was the first of my life had to be spoken about if I was going to be able to say alive and find any kind of healing.I was forcibly ejected from the family home and disowned just before I turned 20 but have carried the ramifications of all that dsyfunction in every area of my life up to this point. Now I have found a voice and got professional support I hope that that can now begin to change and that I will be able to leave it behind somehow someday!!

    The abuse and torture my mother masterminded was in some ways the most devastating of all. If it is possible to differentiate between different abusers and different abuses when multiple abusers and multiple abuses occurred? There is something extremely dysfunctional and deeply disturbing about a mother who abuses her own daughter that words cannot adequately express.

    The word ‘devastation’ is a huge understatement for the effect of the abuse upon every area of my life. There is no word in the English language to satisfactorily describe the effects upon me.

    And as for my family? Well the rest of them remain locked in a place of mutual denial and dysfunction all these years later. And who is the most dysfunctional – my mother – who regards all that she did and how things are now as ‘normal’. That the dysfunctional mother daughter relationship is/was the most normal thing in the world. I spose that dysfunction when carried out long enough can become normal in the most bizarre ways!!

  20. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th August


    It is so great that you have this healing going on with your mother. I know what you mean that it doesn’t change what happened, but your mom is willing to work at it with you. That is such a win win because it allows her to grow too. I feel sorry for my mother also. That is why I included the stuff about what my Dad did before he left her; moving us so far away and not being interested in what we were going through.. he didn’t do his part of the DADDY stuff! He left all of us and he left my Mom with a big mess. It is very hard for me to communicate that I understand some of what my mother did and how I understand her own difficulties, and at the same time state that finally having had enough of it was what set me free. Finally seeing the truth and finally saying STOP and finally not making any more excuses is what set me free. I am going to write a post about this for tomorrow. My mother isn’t willing to work on any of this with me, nor is she willing to look at the things she did that were outright sick, so I am not in that healing relationship with her… but I am in in with me! (and my husband and my kids and all of you!)
    Thanks so much for your comments. I love having all sides of the picture represented on this blog! I know that there are many who can relate to what you have written here too!

    Love Darlene

  21. By: Nikki Posted: 4th August

    I can relate in some ways to what you have shared here. When I was around six years old my mom leaned on me tremendously. My dad was in the Navy and he was gone a whole lot. This was during the Libya conflict so we really didn’t know if my dad was ok or not because we didn’t hear from him that much. Mom had a mental breakdown during this time in which while the adults (my mom’s mother, our preacher, and my mom’s siblings) were tending to my mom I was left to care for my three year old sister and my baby brother. Before the breakdown my mom depending on me to do many things. For a six year old who suddenly sailed into adulthood it was hard. Then when my dad came back home I was made to be the child again which to me felt as though I was not worth my mother’s time this would plague me for most of my growing up years and adult life. It left me in such a devastated state within myself I kept hoping that I was really adopted and my real mom was out there and she really wanted me and loved me. This fantasy was my way of coping through my adolescent years. I just wanted to feel like I belong instead often I felt I was shoved aside or to a certain extent just flat out ignored..

    Now that I am older and my mom and I have talked about this I don’t think my mom realized what she was doing to me at the time so many years ago and she has apologized though apologizing don’t take away what was done yet it helps me to realize that she is human and in no way am I excusing or denying what happened just that I do have some understanding.

    My mom was having to raise three kids practically by herself with no telephone and limited money we were barely making it. She had hardly no adult contact or support whatsoever during this time and it was not that she had purposely planned it that way it just happened that way. So I can only imagine how it would have been if I were in her shoes. I just wished that she and I could have talked about this years ago but I am not complaining because we are dealing with this now and not many people get that opportunity.

    Hugs to you Darlene and to your 12 year old self! Again thank you for sharing this (((HUGS)))

  22. By: Barbara Posted: 4th August

    This sort of covert incest is so common and really messes with the child who is the “partner replacement.” Been there Darlene

  23. By: Eddie Posted: 4th August

    Hi Darlene,

    It is incredible sometimes how parents shift such huge burdens onto their children in order to avoid dealing with their own failures in life. It’s like they’re saying “Here, I can’t carry these heavy bags, you do it for me kid.” And the kid continues to carry those heavy bags into adult life, well after they’ve left home. You deserved much better, Darlene, and I’m glad you know and realize that.

    My mother was a lot like yours in some respects, and still is today, as a matter of fact. The world revolves around her and if anyone has a problem then she immediately wonders what her role is in it and why the person with the problem is “doing this to her”. It’s all about her. When I was in therapy in my mid-40s a few years ago dealing with the damage of the s*xual abuse from my childhood as well as the severely dysfunctional family junk, it about drove her crazy not knowing what all that was about. I had never told her about the SA, and never, ever intend to because I know EXACTLY how that would go — she would tell me how much it hurts HER, etc.

    My father was physically abusive growing up, which prompted me to get married in my late teens in order to get out of his house. But back to the dysfunctional thing, I’ve heard before that parents need to pay attention to their kids because if they don’t, then someone else will and probably with bad intentions. That’s how the creeps got to me, they saw a weak, timid child that was scared to death of his father, could not relate to his mother — they look for the ones from the dysfunctional homes because they know they are easy prey. They won’t tell. I knew I couldn’t tell, I was afraid my father would simply beat me for “letting” it happen.

    Dysfunctional behaviors in families have such far reaching ramifications. It rarely stays inside the 4 walls of the home. It’s carried with all of the family members as they go about their day to day things, they carry it with them and often with such devastating consequences.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 4th August

      Eddie, I am loving your comments too.

      YES exactly once again. My mother was upset one time because one of her friends husbands died while she was on holidays. I know exactly what you mean and I got so sick of it. I was afraid to tell to; I am not sure if I told when I was really young, but I doubt that I did, but by the time I was 10 I knew I was never going to be valued or protected from other things, so why would I tell about a big thing? I have memories of my younger brother telling about something that happened to me once, and my mothers sister was visiting and caught my mothers boyfriend in my room and told my mother when I was just under 14, and long story short, she didn’t believe me and eventually blamed me for it.

      As you say, the dysfunction is far reaching, and I started this blog because I want to be “far reaching” on the recovery side of things. I think if we can spread the hope and the truth and bust through the fog that so many of us live in, that future generations will be healthier and take better care of their kids. My parents don’t come from such “healthy backgrounds” either. My kids are getting a whole different chance at life. I could write a whole new blog post from the first three comments tonight! Thank you so much for being here Eddie and for sharing your life.
      Hugs, Darlene

      Welcome and thank you for bringing this up. I have been thinking about the topic of emotional incest lately. It is very hard on the “replacement child” who is powerless and in a no win situation. Very damaging, yes.
      Welcome to this blog, I look forward to hearing from you again.
      Hugs, Darlene

  24. By: Patty Hite Posted: 4th August

    Darlene, after reading this, I can’t help but remember when my daughter told me that her father had been sexually abusing her since she was 10yrs. old. Being a survivor myself, I had all the right answers and questions. I knew how to console her. I allowed her to be angry at me because I didn’t protect her. Not that I knew it was going on, but I could understand how she felt. I should have protected her, but I didn’t. As her anger was released about those things she held in for so long, I couldn’t help but ask her why she didn’t tell me. Her reply was, ” I didn’t want to hurt you mom.” And then she said, ” I should have never been put in the position of having to make those kinds of decisions.” She was right. As a child, she was forced to keep a secret. She had the burden of fearing that if she told, she would be breaking up the family. She would be responsible in sending her dad to jail. She knew the extra burden it would be on me to provide for the family. She knew that I would probably go to jail. She knew I didn’t tolerate abuse. It was easier for her to continue on in the abuse.

    This was her torment. Being forced to take on a responsibility that a child is not capable of carrying.

    Thank you again, Darlene.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th August

      Thank you for sharing yet another side of this whole thing. How tragic these stories are, and SO frequent. I think that this is partly why we are encouraged by the world to just put the past behind us, to just “get over it”. Because we look at this from so many different angles and we wonder what the heck the solution would have been for your daughter then? What could she have done? Most people just throw up their hands and say, well, just get over it. I totally understand what your daughter was saying. Not wanting to be the cause of yet another burden on an already horribly burdened family. Her realizing that she never should have been in that position is a big part of her healing too.
      Thank you for sharing this profound story Patty. You have brought up new feelings in me and more realizations, which I am sure will come out in a new blog post soon. =)
      Love Darlene

      Hi Fi,
      Oh yes… “Well the rest of them remain locked in a place of mutual denial and dysfunction all these years later” I bet millions of people can relate to that statement! Dysfunction became my normal, and it was a long road back to healthy, but I did it. I can honestly say that I have changed and I did leave it behind and I don’t see why you can’t achieve that too! I had to sort out the abuse, kind of put different things on different “mental shelves”, while I dealt with one thing at a time in the healing process. It was a big mess, and not just because of multiple events, but multiple lies that grew from each thing which grew into my belief system… which had to be completely dismantled and reassembled with the truth. but it can be done!
      Thanks for sharing, I am so loving your comments!
      Hugs, Darlene

  25. By: Kris Posted: 4th August

    The thing about your blog is that you put into words what so many of us have experienced. And, you do it so well. The story is, of course, different. But, the outcome was the same. My brother and I always said that we were put into the role of being the caretakers of these people who brought us into the world. From very young ages, we were taught that our behavior was going to affect our mother’s well-being and our father’s temper. We had to be good so that life could be pleasant. If we were “bad”, my mother would fall into a funk and take to her bed. My father would rage and we were told if he did this WE would cause him to have a heart attack.
    I recently called my brother to ask if he could remember WHAT if was that we had been doing that was so bad to cause all of these horrible memories – the spanking and kicking and emotional anguish we went through. Neither of us can come up with an answer. Nothing. We were normal kids who, like you, were subjected to adults behaving badly. But, we also like you, were damaged and both now in out late fifties and starting to dig out.
    Parents who give their kids such difficult emotional burdens should not be parents, we decided – when we were LITTLE people. We laughed (sadly) at that the other day. It is such a telling line.
    Our parent continue to be our victims, according to them. Only, now we see through their game.
    Thanks again for hitting the nail on the head!
    xx kris

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