How Judgmental People define other People by Pam Witzemann




in defence of the truth

Guest writer and fellow blogger Pam Witzemann continues to bust through the fog with the conclusion of  her two part article about living under constant judgment and disapproval. Pam is a regular participant in almost all the discussions here in EFB and has her own blog; “Boomer Back-beat ~ Talking bout our generation”. As always I am looking forward to the conversation~ please contribute your thoughts and insights! ~ Darlene Ouimet

How Judgmental People define other People by Pam Witzemann (this is Part 2 of Judgementalism: A Cloud of Disapproval and Condemnation)

Bad things happen to good people.” This is a truth that a judgmental person can’t accept. They view the world through a simplified black and white lens and in that world, bad things only happen to bad people. Unless, of course, something bad happens to the one who passes judgment. In such a case, a scape-goat is needed and children are convenient scape-goats. Judgmental people can’t accept the random nature of life and what they fear most is becoming a victim because victims are unable to control what happens to them. By raising themselves above all others and passing judgment on them, they are able to explain away the randomness of evil. By this, they maintain a delusion of control that makes them feel safe. Of course, bad things happen to all of us and that is where the scape-goat comes in. When things go wrong, it is because the scape-goat did something to invite evil in. Blaming, shaming, and punishing the scape-goat enables judgmental abusers to see themselves as good and above bringing any disastrous consequences upon themselves. It also, prevents them from recognizing themselves as abusive because in their simplified black and white view of the world, there are those who deserve evil consequences and those who don’t. In this world view, according to the abusers, victims are those who deserve what they get. Disapproval keeps victims in their place, accepting the consequences that only they, deserve.

“Water finds its own level“. Judgmental parents raise children who are condemned to self-doubt and they are likely, to become perpetual victims, who accept the treatment they receive as deserved. I was one of those children. The cloud of disapproval that I grew up under robbed me of the ability to validate my thoughts, opinions, and decisions. I lacked self-direction and tended to do whatever my friends or the men in my life told me to do. It made me an easy target for abuse.

In my twenties, I began to see myself differently but it took decades to see myself apart from my mother’s disapproval of me. The rest of my family of origin, especially my sister, adopted this view from my mother and also, used disapproval as a way to manage and control me. Even when I didn’t see my family often, that cloud hung over my head and every decision I made was accompanied by wondering if my mother or sister would approve. I was a talented, intelligent, young woman but I had no confidence in myself. I couldn’t picture myself succeeding at anything. I loved to paint and for a time, pursued a career as an artist but the lack of support from my family, left me feeling that to do so was taking too much time from my husband and children. I was made to feel that the things I loved and aspired to do weren’t realistic and a waste of time. I was made to feel that it was bad for me to want personal success. I was comfortable with failure because that was the position my family of origin assigned to me. I was held in that assigned role by their judgments of me and my acceptance of their (and everyone else’s) superiority over me.

Awww! Quit whining and sniveling about abuse!” I don’t think that most people would call judgmental behavior abuse. As adults, we all know to avoid judgmental people and to not take their judgments into ourselves. Children who grow up under the control of a judgmental person don’t have those defenses and the judgments passed against them are powerful. Growing up in a black and white world with no hope of ever measuring up is psychologically and emotionally damaging. There is no hope of receiving what is needed to thrive in the real world because overly judgmental parents are afraid of reality and create an alternate reality for themselves and their families. Growing up under constant disapproval robs a child of their true identity. Judgementalism creates the atmosphere of abuse by misapplying truths and making what is right, appear wrong and what’s wrong, appear right because the purpose of it is to keep the judging one safe from the reality that everyone is at some time in their life, a victim. What judgmental abusers fear most is becoming a victim and “getting what they deserve”

The truth hurts, don’t it!” It took me a long time to admit that my mother didn’t like me even though, I always sensed it. Because of her disapproval, I grew up not liking myself. However, I didn’t understand how her disapproval ruled my life until the cloud of disapproval that hung constantly, over me was gone. That cloud dissipated when I told my mother that she would have to treat me with respect if we were to continue to have a relationship. She couldn’t meet the requirements I set as proof of that respect and we’ve not had contact for over a year. The cloud is gone because I was finally, able to validate my own thoughts, opinions, and reality about the events in my life. It no longer matters if my mother or my family of origin approve of me or not. I’m no longer a part of that black and white world in which, I was always to blame. It’s no longer my job to protect my mother from the reality of her own victimhood. I no longer carry or suffer the consequences of her actions even though, as far as I know, she still refuses to accept them as her own.

 “The truth will set you free!”  I understand now that I’m not the person my mother’s disapproval colored me to be. The cloud of disapproval she hung over me was simply, the reflection of those things she despised in herself. My mother’s judgments of me were never valid and only useful in creating an alternate reality that enabled my mother to dissociate from the reality of her life. As my mother’s evil daughter, I was the scape-goat that prevented my mother from having to take responsibility for her life. Without me, her harsh judgments can only be directed at herself, along with the condemnation that she too is sometimes, a victim. Sometimes, we get what we deserve and sometimes, we get what we don’t deserve. Lies only confuse things and in the long run, make life more painful. Judge-mentalism is another form of lying and the only way to break its spell is to find the truth and rightly, apply it.

I’m happy to be free and to know myself, as I really am. I’m someone that only a right-thinking mother could approve of but I don’t need a mom to give me the approval I need because I’ve learned to validate myself. I am the mother I dreamed of and I’m proud of the woman I grew up to be.

“I can see clearly now, the rain has gone. There are no obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds that made me blind. It’s going to be a bright, bright, bright, sun-shiny day!”

Pam Witzemann

Please share your thoughts with Pam and I about how living with judge-mentalism creates and atmosphere of abuse or about any of the other points Pam makes in this insightful article.  Remember that you are free to use any name you wish in the comment form. Only the name you use will be seen by the public. Although EFB has a facebook page, your comments here will not be published there or linked to you in anyway. ~ Darlene

Pam Witzemann was born in Santa Fe, NM and is married, has raised two boys and has two grandsons. Pam and her husband have had their own business for over twenty years. Pam is a painter and a writer and hopes to make these pursuits more than a hobby in her later years. Pam authors the blog Boomer Back-Beat; a place where baby boomers find inspiration in the process of aging.

Related Posts ~ The fear of Goodbye if you don’t Comply

Categories : Family



Thank you Pam. So many of the points you made about judgmentalism and abuse were almost word-for-word in the slew of emails I received TODAY from another branch of my family. I don’t know where this is all coming from, but the attacks were just horrendous. But for the very first time in my life, I was able to maintain some sense of balance, and respond in a courteous, sincere, without defensiveness or rancor. I stated that I would accept their dis-invitation for me to visit over the Christmas Holidays and that I was sorry for any unknown offense or injury I may have committed. I wished them a happy holiday and I meant it.

I then went to the “family tree” and removed my name, photographs, memories and mementos from people that I have hardly seen in the past 25 or 30 years and I hope this means I am FREE.

I have been in contact and living for many years with true friends and supportive individuals; people who “let me be me.” People who let me “take all the time I need to heal” and people who do not hold me responsible for other people’s actions or feelings. What a relief this has been.

Reading people’s most hurtful words, intended to wound so deeply, showed me just how far I have come in my own life as I am NEVER around people like this anymore. NEVER. It never even enters my life that this is how people could be.

I live with and share on a daily basis, the Three P’s, as I have come to call them:

Patience, Pardon and Prayer. With these three things, all will be well. And all will be well. All manner of things will be well.

“The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.” Dear God please show us The Way.


Catherine, I’m glad this was helpful. When I learned not to take those judgements into myself as a definition of who I am, it became easier to disregard them. No one but me is an expert on me. I want friends and family who support me in finding my own answers and I don’t need those who always have THE ANSWER for me. Be well.:0)



Thank you, this applies perfectly to me and my situation too. I suffered all the “you brought that on yourself/you deserved it” treatment too, right up to last year. If anyone ever “did me wrong” my mother had an excuse for them, even when once someone broke the law by acting against me she took their side. We are “no contact” now since I told her I could not take her treatment of me and my children any more, and she disowned me. She did me a huge favour. I am currently negotiating the difficult terrain of seeing what other family members can be trusted, and am healing with the help of a great therapist. I am off the “merry-go-round” as I enjoy reminding myself, and the world looks different and unfamiliar, but at least I have stable ground underneath my feet.


Letter to a friend of mine, after being blindsided by another group of relatives. And their comments are almost word-for-word described here in the “judgmental” discussion above. Thank God I found this today or I don’t know what mountain I might have fallen off of!

* * * * *


S, do you think I’m so crazy or so bad? I don’t think so. Any affirmation right now would be most appreciated. I say this even as I can see that the statements made fall right into the “abuser” category, almost word-for-word.

But how can so many be “wrong” and only one be “right?” Who am I to stand up to all of them, and say “I’m a person and I have feelings and I’m a human being who is deserving of courtesy. If I have done anything to offend you, please accept my sincere apologies, as I had no idea. But I will certainly not come and “ruin anyone’s Christmas Holiday.”

It’s as if I have been stoned nearly to death with words, and I don’t even know why. So many grudges and so much hostility, pouring out like a rainstorm and thunderstorm blasting through the sky. The two individuals that opposed my coming probably spoke to me five or six years ago. My other cousin, who I felt the closest to, and just corresponded with recently, plunged the knife in the deepest and then closed with “Love, Bill.” This isn’t any kind of “love” that I know of. And then I was accused of “only looking at the things that I could use to feel bad about myself,” when I pointed out that I didn’t feel bad about myself,. That he had written those things about me, not the other way around. How crazy is that?

And all along I had been looking up and seeing big puffy white clouds in a beautiful blue sky, looking forward to seeing this cousin in particular, who I haven’t seen in going on 35 years, which is why I was going to make the trip. Boy do I feel like a fool. I must be crazy, that’s for sure.

This feels like I’ve been hit by a two-ton semi truck when I was crossing on the Green Light! I was really looking forward to this visit, as I hadn’t seen most of my cousins in so many years. And then BOOM! I had no idea!

This also shows me why I have stayed with Les for so long. He is on my side too, as far as encouragement goes. He said we shouldn’t go down there, but he would if I really wanted to. I’m just so grateful that this came out before we made an eight hour drive!

So here I sit watching Law & Order SVU. They always say just the right thing: “It’s not your fault!” And eventually, justice wins out in the end.

Thank God I have such good work to work on, that is actually valuable to so many others. It doesn’t matter so much what other people think that I’ve only met once or twice in the past 30 years, even though I wish so much that things could have been different. I surely never thought they would turn out this way! I can’t believe the incredibly hurtful things some of my cousins said to me and about me in the email, especially the ones written “behind my back” that my uncle forwarded to me. People on this side of the family angry about me for things I still know nothing about. How can anything ever get resolved if people don’t ever talk about it? No wonder I learned never to say “sorry” in my family, as it was never accepted and just made things worse.

It’s not like that at all with Delfia and her family or the “faithful” Guatemalans I know. They believe in asking and granting Pardon as much as they believe in the power of Prayer. They consider “having a lot of Patience” the way we Americans consider “having a lot of Money.” It’s more valuable to them. Can you imagine? Patience being more valuable than Money? But that is how they live.

They live by what I call the “Three P’s:” Patience, Pardon and Prayer. I see how they operate and how they live, and I tell you, IT WORKS. I add my own “P” in here: Practice. For that is what I need to do, and I do it all the time. Patience, Practice, Pardon and Prayer. That works for me, no matter what.

I don’t know why my uncle set me up to be a moving target in the first place. He has some kind of sense of “justice” or “truth” or “honesty” that seems so twisted as to be beyond belief. I never knew that expressing any kind of fearfulness or showing emotion was so expressly forbidden in this family. And he made sure I was “punished” for it, although he would never see it that way. He actually professes to be a Buddhist, and he and his wife drank and partied for most of the kids life and he used to write prescriptions for painkillers for his wife and never seemed to realize that she was hooked to.

But for my cousins to all jump into the act determining that I have “no grasp of reality” and am “not in touch with reality” and I have “compulsions to talk about the past when it SHOULD BE BURIED” and I “SHOULD BE OVER IT BY NOW” (this from a licensed psychologist!) and I have a “need to feel bad about myself” when I pointed out that HE was the one who was writing these things about ME, not the other way around!

They state that I “do this or that blah blah blah” with “everyone” when they haven’t seen me in so many years and have had one or two contact by email or telephone… who is “everyone?” and many of them have had serious drug and alcohol problems, but they are all educated professionals, just like the other side of the family… there’s so many of them and there’s just one of me.

The one thing that is saving my sanity right now is realizing that THIS IS WHY I HAVE STAYED AWAY ALL THESE YEARS. When I was part of Uncle Johnny’s email list, there were so many arguments and “mobbing” of one person and so much information; it was just hell. Anything I said opened the door to group attacks on me sometimes. I couldn’t believe it. I finally got him to take me off the list and within one day, “peace reigned.”

I have often thought about what it was like in the cacophony of emails that used to come my way and the arguments I ended up in because of it, and how once I moved away from all that my life came back into balance. I wondered why I had “stayed for so long.” I think because I just couldn’t believe it! And I kept thinking that if I just “learned to keep my mouth shut” or “say things differently” things would go more smoothly and everything would “be alright.” But that never happened; it just got worse. And then when I finally left all that disappeared. In the blink of an eye!

And the light of peace and tranquility reigned like the stars coming out in the sky. I might be lonely under all that beautiful starlight, all alone, but I was safe and I was home. Home inside myself, safe and sound. But I will say that all the confidence I have been building up inside myself has crumbled into dust pretty darn quickly. This atom bomb dropped into my midst has just blown me away, and I have no idea why my uncle would do this to me. I wrote to him in confidence and he chose to show it to the world, and ask for feedback about my visiting, and then refer all the negative comments directly to me. I didn’t know I was to be put on display and judged and found guilty by people that don’t even know me. I had no idea I was to be put on the witness stand, and condemned to death. “Hang her by the neck until dead” was just about what was said.

And my uncle was welcomed into my home in Guatemala this year and we spent many days showing he and my other uncle and his wife around. I invited them into my life to share my life and I looked up to both of them and thought he was so “kind.” I even counted my cousin that went after me in such a huge way as a “friend.” Boy was I wrong. What a way to find out. Since I didn’t know any of this was going on, it makes me afraid to trust anything or anyone because Lord help me if I find out once again I am wrong. There MUST be something wrong with me if I thought well of these people… yes, they had their foibles, and I wouldn’t have sought them out perhaps as friends, but I accepted them as “who they were” and thought that would be enough for a sit-down Christmas Dinner. How could I have been so wrong? I never had ONE INKLING that any of this was going on. And apparently it has been for quite some time. Just like with the other side of the family. The shocks just never end.

But they will be over now, as I’m sure there will be no more contact after this. I had to learn “the hard way” with my mother, my son, my sister, and now my cousins. Even if all of them are “right about me,” I don’t believe that I should die. I think I should just stick to myself and do my work and take pleasure in that and do what I can to “make things right” inside myself, if nowhere else. For what else do we have?

But there’s so many of them, and there’s just one of me.

Home is where I want to be, wherever that may be, and I hope I can find my way back there soon.

Thanks for writing.

Thank God I “dodged a bullet.” I can’t imagine what would have happened if I had actually gone down there. I’m not sure I would have made it back.


But I know they don’t know me and I don’t know them, so their opinion really means very little. I have Delfia and her family and all the artisans that I work with – and you and Les and my friends here –

On Sun, Dec 2, 2012 at 5:07 PM, ST wrote:

Hi Catherine,

I’ve been out for a while. Will reply in a bit. But I wanted to let you know I am so sorry that the other side of the family has turned out like this, and it sounds like you’re absolutely better off without them. So sad.


On Dec 2, 2012, at 12:09 PM, “Catherine S. Todd” wrote:

> Thank you S. I just got blasted and rejected by the OTHER side of the family today, who do NOT want me to visit Atlanta for Christmas. I had no idea – NONE! So your emails are a bright bit of “realism” in this world of lunacy that I used to call “family.”
> Now that my little pipe-dream is shattered, I can wait for the bleeding to stop and climb back in my life boat and get out of the tsunami wave. And get back to doing the things that we three love doing most – beadwork and animals and festivals and fairs! I swear, if my true friends and support system wasn’t here right now, I would have drowned in this last round, coming out of nowhere. But an alcoholic family system with severe personality disorders acts just as crazy if they drink or not. I just didn’t know how many of them had been affected, since I was only around them once or twice in the last 30 years. And that was enough!
> So now it’s back to work on the catalog and thank God for my new support sites. I was actually able to respond to the accusations and hostility of those “family members” in a sincere and heart felt way, without defensiveness, bitterness or rancor. I must be learning something!
> Thanks be to God for miracles, large and small. Now if I can just apply this to the rest of my life and those people torturing me in it, I might actually be “home.” Home Free.
> When I think about the people I DO spend time with, I am so happy almost all of the time. And when there is a problem, it’s so easily resolved. You and I have been through that and so has Delfia and I one time each, and we resolved things immediately. What a relief.
> Resolution NEVER happens with my family of origin, and now I see that holds true for both sides.
> So I don’t ever have to talk to them again, and I will for ever after be truly FREE. You can come and spend Christmas with us in Guatemala when you are strong enough, or I will come out to spend it with you one of these days. I swear, now that I’m able to not depend on Les for things he just won’t or isn’t capable of, life here is so easy too. I hope it lasts. I feel so grateful that he and I have been able to last this long, even when there’s plenty of changes that need to be made. But really, it’s probably only ONE change: and that change is in ME.
> It’s about unmet and unrealistic expectations, and acceptance of how things are NOW. And things are “just fine” for the moment, in the present. And that is the best PRESENT we know. It really is a GIFT. If I can just remember this when the big tsunami wave hits!
> More later. I’m resting waiting for the bleeding to stop. What an incredible exchange of judgmental emails. And just like with the rest of the Scheffellins, I had no idea this was going on all this time, behind my back. Now I find out the Merricks are just the same.

I love the Three P’s of the faithful in Guatemala: Patience, Pardon and Prayer. With those three things, all will be well. And we get along so well. I hope it lasts there. It’s becoming more and more “home.”

Thank you for being my friend and my business associate. Means the world to me! Thank God that no matter how angry other people may get at me, I can still do some good for some people in this world of ours. And I intend to keep doing it, no matter what. The Mayans and our businesses deserve nothing less than my very best. Thank God this won’t make me give up everything, as would have happened just a few years before. I must be getting stronger, every single day. I hope this lasts and I don’t fall to pieces as I have in the past. PTSD is very strong and I’ve been dealing with it my entire life. But this time I have the “Three P’s.” In fact, make that 4.

Patience, Practice, Pardon and Prayer.

Yours, Catherine Todd

“The winds of grace blow all the time. All we need do is set our sails.”
Dear God please show us The Way.


thank you Pam and Niamh. Reading everyone else’s experiences and hard-won wisdom is keeping me alive. Thank God for so many miracles, large and small.


Niamh, You’re welcome. When I started confronting this stuff, I thought no one had a family like mine and I felt very alone. I’ve learned though that these are common problems that people keep hidden.I think the longer they are hidden, the more malignant they become. It’s good to get rid of the malignancy but surgery is painful, it takes time to recover from,and you’re never quit what you would have been if you’d never needed surgery, in the first place. However, when the recovery is completed, the higher quality of life we gain makes the surgery worth-while.



Thanks Pam,
Here in Ireland, there has been a huge exposure of secret child abuse that was perpetrated by the Catholic Church in their institutions for decades, going back to the 1950s and probably earlier. There are inquiries and reports on it in the media, and nearly every family has a story of being sexually or physically abused by a priest / teacher. It’s no wonder that in that culture of secrecy abuse spread like wildfire, children had no one to talk to, as the clergy/teachers were feared and revered. It is only my generation that are not afraid, and are questioning, and are standing up for what is right. Like women’s rights, children’s rights are something people have to learn to respect, and I am committed to protecting my children from toxic people, even though they may be blood relatives. I’m going to read through your blog this week, I have a lot to learn! Thanks for sharing your story and giving us all strength and hope x


Niamh, I know a bit about the things going on in Europe and here too. I have written a few posts on how the Foster Care systems, all over the world but mostly in Europe and the U.S., are being infiltrated by corrupt people who use the systems as ways to procure children for people to sexually abuse. There have even been some instances where social workers provided children to pedophile rings composed of high government officials. It used to be the church that child-predators used as a cloak and now it is the charity and government systems that harbor them and supply them with victims. As a survivor, I feel I must do what I can to be a voice for these children and make people more aware of who abusers are, their methods, and the damage they do to children. It’s an ugly subject that people turn away from but all that does is protect the predators. There are a lot of Jerry Sanduskys in the world and if they are to be exposed the image of creep in the basement, outside the mainstream of life, must go. Pedophiles populate some very high places of power. This is a subject dear to my heart.



Pam, i agree with absolutely everything you said! With only one exception, everything bad that happens to my mother is deserved. 😉


`It’s no longer my job to protect my mother from the reality of her own victimhood.` This one line really hit me hard between the eyes. It seems as if I have spent most of my life making my mother happy, doing whatever it took to make her more satisfied with the was her life was going. I remember as a teen my mother telling me that I was the glue that held her together. Great…where the hell was she while my world was falling apart??? Never there until the time came when she needed an emotional whipping post. The damage she has done to me is at times overwhelming then, I pull myself up and start all over again. I have finally gone no contact because I realized that every time I spoke to her she was sucking my power away from me. Every time I felt I had done something right she was there to remind me that I was to stupid to do any thing. Then, like the Cheshire cat, she would slid away grinning and licking her lips while I lay in a pool of emotional devastation. I have taken my power back. She will never hold me as an emotional hostage again.


Hi Michele, All I can do is LOL!:0)

Hi Pam, It sounds like we have more in common that our names.:0)My mom has a much quieter way of doing what you describe and because of that, it’s really hard to call her out on it. She was also, very good at saying something one way to me and then later, to someone else, the same words with different inflections and a different meaning, all together. She also, decided to stay a little girl and because of that, I really relate to “she was sucking my power from me”. I have always felt that way. She had so much need of her own that she was like a black-hole that sucked the emotion out of me. No matter how much I would give her, it was never enough, she always needed more.The innocent little girl mask seldom falls completely, away but the few times I did see it fall, all I saw was a seething hatred. She was psychologically and emotionally abused by my dad all of her life and would never do anything to stop it.I’ve never met another person as totally passive as she is. Just as she would never defend herself from my dad, she would never defend me either. I’m the one she’d be mean to in mostly, passive agressive ways. I can only describe it as undermining. One of the things I’ve always longed for was a supportive mother and I guess, I will always wonder what that would be like.



Pam wrote:

“It no longer matters if my mother or my family of origin approve of me or not. I’m no longer a part of that black and white world in which, I was always to blame.”

Whew Boy. Don’t I know the feeling. This is going up on my wall.
Gracias, amiga.


You’re welcome, Catherine.:0)Buenos nochez mi amiga!



Pam, thank you once again for an insightful and deep post. This is very interesting, that judgemental persons are fearful of becoming victims. Your own mother sounds a lot like mine. Intelligent, and able to subtly convey different messages with the same words, just different tones and inference. My mother is also childlike, she plays stupid in front of my father, such as not understanding a simple point he explains to her, or purposely mispronouncing a word so he can chuckle adoringly. However, I see that she has her fish by his hook, and actually manipulates him expertly. I saw my mother’s mask fall last at her birthday lunch. My Dad and brother had taken her out to lunch, and I tagged aong, in her mind. We were all talking and laughing at the table. She is hard of hearing, but will not wear a hearing aid. We were laughing and I had my hand up to my mouth, then said something, and she could not lip read it, evidently. Well,that mask fell, and she growled at me, “Get that hand away from your mouth when you are talking. I cant hear you!” And I looked across the table into the face of my childhood tormentor, the witch who came out to play when no one was around. And it chilled me to my core! And I thought, she really STILL despises me!
Interestingly, my sister thinks I deserved my childhood abuse and neglect. I tried to reframe it for her. Imagine coming home, and finding your daughter, when she was 4 yrs old, outside, in the cold, tied to a tree, crying and fearful. She still wont look at it. I can see by this post that she is a black and white person, fearing bad things happening to her. Well that, and she is just hateful, veonous.

“Awww! Quit whining and sniveling about abuse!”
I was so happy to see this here, as it validates what Catherine has been through, especially the cousin Bill, the unempathetic psychologist! He really got to me. I think he was saying to Catherine, what he would like to say to his poor patients!! But then, I am projecting for him/analyzing.
I can also identify with white being black, and black being white. That is certainly the case in my FOO. My brother, agreeably the most talented individual in the family, scholarly, artistic, he tars driveways for a living. My mother just loves and dotes on him, whom she damaged the most, as he is always right there to take care of her whims and needs. I feel he was crippled in order to allow my other brother to be the run away success, and always be there to serve her needs.
My mother sent me an email the other day, about first my cousin, who plays guitar and sings in lounges, with a Neil Diamond act, then about my injured brother, who sings karaoke to Frank Sinatra, and what a great singing voice he had. This made me unbelievably sad, that he has yet another talent, which never came to fruition. Though I am glad he gets hapiness out of singing now.
Then she made a strange comment about my nephew, he is 8, and I suspect untreated Asbergers, neglected by my sister, in a weird religious school with 4 classmates, and not allowed to socialize with any other peers. She told me that HE likes to sing Sinatra, and also wears the Frank Sinatra hat. Really? So, I guess he is here to bring his warped mother and crazy grandmother pleasure. It just seems odd, and something that may bring him ridicule. It is like he is a little puppet, there to please these nutjobs. I feel so sorry for him.
Then, her final statement: “I guess we have a musical family. Who knew?” was a stab at me, as I played the piano throughout childhood, and she always would scream for me to stop. My great aunt was my teacher, and she saw a little talent in me (not much!) and tried to mentor and encourage me. She was using the piano to build my confidence, and undo the damage she could see my mother doing. God bless her! I have alove for music, and the piano, still. And a loving memory of a positive role model. I will never have the supportive mother, either, but had support from my Grandmother and my wonderful Great Aunt! I was lucky, there!


THANK YOU thank you thank you for telling the truth for being able to put into words what I have dreamed of being able to say. I will need time to absorb this properly but WOW you nailed it.


Niahm #7 wrote: “nearly every family has a story of being sexually or physically abused by a priest / teacher.”

OMG (Oh My God). I didn’t know it ran that deep! Thank God your generation is not afraid, even of “blood relatives.” I can hardly breathe today, after getting that horrendous email yesterday. It’s like a horrible dream I had, but it’s real. But I have to let them all go. Dry drunk alcoholics and people who say I “should have gotten over my abuse by now.” It’s just unbelievable. Reading through here is saving my sanity. Thank you.


Pam wrote in #2: “I want friends and family who support me in finding my own answers and I don’t need those who always have THE ANSWER for me. Be well.:0)”



Janie #14: “And I looked across the table into the face of my childhood tormentor, the witch who came out to play when no one was around. And it chilled me to my core! And I thought, she really STILL despises me!
Interestingly, my sister thinks I deserved my childhood abuse and neglect.”

““Awww! Quit whining and sniveling about abuse!”
I was so happy to see this here, as it validates what Catherine has been through, especially the cousin Bill, the unempathetic psychologist! He really got to me. I think he was saying to Catherine, what he would like to say to his poor patients!! ”

Thank You Janie! I am still in shock, practically paralyzed. My cousin Bill, a licensed psychologist, said the most awful things about me, and when I asked him why, he denied saying them. When I copied the sentences from him email to the others, he said I “cherry picked” the words that would “allow me to feel bad about myself.” Apparently this was “to satisfy my deep-seated need” to denigrate myself.

I couldn’t believe it! I pointed out that I DIDN’T “feel bad about myself” and that HE was the one who wrote these words, not me!

It was like some kind of really sick game that they ALL played using me as the hockey-puck, or in reality the scapegoat. I was accused of intending to “bring all my drama” if I came to visit for Christmas in Atlanta, with the most hateful and spiteful things said about me for “not getting over it by now.”

I don’t know what they think I am supposed to “be over” by now as I have never discussed anything with most of them in years. I haven’t even seen most of them in 30 years, including my psychologist cousin. I did however, loan him $7,000.00 when he needed it so he wouldn’t lose his house. He thankfully paid me back, but I guess that wasn’t nice enough to keep me off his chopping block.

I am so grateful that I have stayed away from everyone but I am really sad that it’s “curtains” for any kind of familial contact. I hear them using such abusive words and creating this entire atmosphere of hostility, and then it’s “they were joking” and I “better learn to get over it.” My uncle, who started this whole thing by sending out an email I sent to him said “The only one who can change you is YOU” as if I am the one who needed changing.

I was just going to visit for the first time in years and this is what I get. But I am the one “creating drama.” It’s just unbelievable.

I am sure that I am really, really lucky to be gone. Even though it wasn’t my decision. My husband did not want to go as he was afraid there “would be trouble.” All he said is that he was glad it happened BEFORE we got there, rather than AFTER.


But how to digest so much hatred and hostility directed my way? It’s just unbelievable. And it has now happened on both sides of the family. This either shows that my mother brought her dysfunctional system into my biological family, and all sides are infected. Even though my cousin accused ME of being “the infected one.”

So here I sit curled up under the blankets, waiting for the shock to wear off and the pain to subside. Yet another attack but I dodged a bullet.


But then again, who knows? Maybe I really AM an unbearable, unpleasant, unlikable and unlovable person? WHO KNOWS?

I am apparently so stupid as to NOT BE ABLE TO TELL.

Since I apparently can’t see my own mistakes and the error of my ways, or even how “I need to change,” I MUST BE A BAD PERSON.

You could read all the emails that went around behind my back and you would KNOW THIS HAD TO BE TRUE.


And this from people who have seen me once or not at all in over 30 years.


Janie,My sister’s view of people always getting what they deserve seems to govern most anything she thinks, says, and does. She is still locked into her role as the golden child and this view is central to that. She has to be perfect and she also, has to avoid being a victim. She gives her self no more sympathy that she gives anyone else. It’s harder with my sister because I know almost, as much about the forces that shaped her as she does, maybe more because I’m willing to look at it. I hurt for her but there’s no way to reach her and her need to control and manage me is very detrimental to me. It all came to a head and she refused to acknowledge the truth about my childhood (she has almost total dissociative amnesia and remembers very little of her childhood)and for the sake of my own mental health, there had to be a break in our relationship.

My mom is very intellegent underneath but most see her as kind of a dingbat. I think she has used that as a way to keep from having to take on any responsibilities.(I know some of her behavior is due to accepting my dad’s abuse all of her life, their relationship is a kind of co-narscisism that is very complex, they each serve as a scapegoat for the other) Like you, the few times that I saw that mask fall, I couldn’t believe her hatred or the person she sees me as being. In her eyes, I am the evil daughter. No matter what I do, good or bad, she sees it as coming from evil motives. People who constantly manipulate as a way to do life seem to think that everyone else does the same. I know I’m also a mirror for what she won’t look at in herself. I’m not a perfect human being. I’ve commited my share of evil acts but I try to be honest about that and take responsibility for them. I’m not the person she imagines me to be or the confused person I was when I took her critcisms as valid. That’s also, what broke our relationship apart. My getting well threatened my families ability to maintain the false images of self and the family roles that help them support those false self images. My family is very emeshed and becoming an individual was like a surgery that separates conjoined twins.



di, I’m glad it echoes true for you and is helpful.:0)



Catherine, None of us should be surprised when an abuser becomes a mental health care provider and misuses their power. What better place to find victims for abuse? As far as digesting the hatred, vindictiveness, scapegoating,and all the other aspects of emotional abuse, why digest it? It is a poisonous meal? I believe I shouls assess my actions because I want to do the right thing. I can’t allow abusers to exploit that and I sure don’t have to eat the meals they try to force me to consume.



A lot of this resonates with me but made me very confused as a child because my sister was the “black sheep” of the family and everything was my sisters fault. She was older and started running away when i was 7 after my mother tried to kill herself. Even tho i was the “good child” i heard over and over again that i “was stupid or a bloody fool or could not do anything right or was berated “what the bloody hell is wrong with you ?”…so instead of acting out and doing bad things like my sister, i came to the conclusion that I was BAD. Not what i did but that i was created BAD. I was a model child. Never caused any problems. Did everything to try and please my mother and meet all her needs since my father rarely paid any attention to her. I never gave any thought to what i needed or wanted. I lived under constant judgement every day. But my mother told me that she loved me and i was everything to her and that i was her whold world yet she would judge and condemn me at the drop of a hat…so i tried harder and harder and harder to please her and meet all of her needs so she would not try to kill herself again. By the time i was a teenager i was so depressed i spent virtually every weekend during high school alone in my room. No dates. No hanging out with friends. No parties…nothing…I felt ashamed of who i was and thought my whole existence was to meet all of my mothers needs. I lived that way for 40 years and then when she started interfering in my young marriage i put my foot down and said “No more…you lying bitch…I yelled and screamed at her like i never had in my life…i finally saw her for the lying, manipulative bitch that she was. The truth hit my like a ton of bricks. My mother used me and controlled me my whole life to try and get all her needs met…i felt betrayed. I was hurt beyond any hurt you can imagine. See, i thought my mother loved me…she told me she loved me but more often she told me i was stupid or no good or could do nothing right. I am still breaking free from those shackles but now i put my marriage first. I have not had any contact since that day about 8 years ago when i told my mother off. She would have ruined my marriage. She ruined our family unit and destroyed my childhood. She was the most judgemental, critical, hateful person i have ever known…how sad is that to say that about your own mother but its true. She hated her life and took it out on all of us. She drove my sister into drugs, alcohol and promiscuity. My sister has had 2 failed marriages, many abortions and been homeless for about 2 years. My mother systematically destroyed everything that was good in our family. I so wish her suicide attempt had been successful. I would have had a chance at a good childhood…instead she destroyed it piece by piece every day. My heart is still broken from all the hurt and pain and suffering. I live with it every day. Thanks for sharing from your heart.



Yes, Pam! I was feeling the same thing, but didn’t know how to say it. Yes, leave the poisonous meal right where it lies. Walk away. Back away. When I realized I would always be scapegoated, no matter what I did, and all of the dysfunction would be labeled as normal, I said, “I’m not playing this crazy game anymore”. My mother can put on her show of fake hurt, that the person she was emotionally neglectful and abusive to, and physically abusive and negelctful to, does not want to participate in the “the show”, once or twice a year, that’s her problem. And there can be drama at my expense, I can be once again villified, but, who cares? I am not there to witness such displays, nor am I in communication with those people who could try to beat me over the head with it and guilt me into submission to the dysfunctional system. Eventually, they will re-assign your role. They will do this, so they don’t have to change. I find my family to be very enmeshed as well.
I also need to cut myself out of a family email chain. My older sister, is the “head of the committee” planning the paternal side of the family Christmas party. It is very large, and we rent a hall, hire a Santa, etc. Oh, she is such a family person!!! Yeay, J.E.!!! Sending out cheerful emails from herself and “the committee”. Except……….your husband just finished hes sentence at the house of corrections for his 4th driving while intoxicated offense……you turned a blind eye to his known drinking, and left your small child in his “care”, even drove him around in the car……..your child has learning disbilities which you refuse to acknowledge……..your house is not fit for humans to live in, and when someone tries to help you clean it up, you villify them………and in your spare time, you work my elderly father’s ear to the bone, trying to tell him what a bad person I am. Still. Well, I guess you only care about extended family, b/c you are without a doubt neglectful of your own! Just like, dear old Mom….. Merry Christmas! I won’t be attending this “celebration”. I will be with people who love and care for me, and we treat each other with mutual respect…….
(sorry for the rant!)


It is also interesting that abusers become mental health providers, though, it makes me understand a wacky therapist or two a little better. In my opinion, Bill display narcissistic tendencies, and is an intellectual snob. Also, how he refused to take responsibility for his own statements, tried to turn them back on Catherine, would be crazy making, if you didnt have the knowledge and understanding to consider the source! And that patronizing email he sent to you, telling you to sally forth, and so on. It was sickening.
It makes me feel sorry for the people at the mercy of the mental health “workers”. It truly is a crap shoot.


Hi All
Re: the whole ‘Bill’ thing and the fact that he is a psychologist, something that I found out that really helped me is that it doesn’t matter what the person has a degree in if they misuse that power. All abuse is about the misuse of power and control. I don’t accept people anymore just by their credentials. It is too dangerous. So many people with ‘authority’ misuse that authority or have it for the wrong reasons. Getting to the bottom of the truth really helped me to see people through new eyes. I don’t give Bill credibility just because of his degree.

p.s. Janie,
Yes, it is very often a crap shoot. And victims are usually too afraid to stand up to anyone in ‘authority’and many mental health professionals got into it because they needed to fix their own lives. But many don’t fix their own lives and therefore they are powerless to help others.
I have great success with my clients because I had great success with my own healing.
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks for these heart-strengthing, healing comments and words. My best friend pointed me to this blog, and right now, in my hardest of hard times, reading it is making me stronger.

I am in court defending myself from physical abuse that my FOO did to me. I have spent my adult life realing over my abusive upbringing and healing from it. It wasn’t until last year when my face was broken in numerous places that I realized that my family cared more about their belongings than me. It was tough to admit to myself, but I never once blamed ME for the injuries. This blog is very reassuring and reaffirming that even though I may make poor decisions at times, I am only responsible for myself and my actions. I am NOT in charge of other peoples’ lack of self-control or feelings.


Hi Christina
Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
You have come in on guest Pam’s post but as the Author of this site I wanted to welcome you also!
Good for you for defending yourself in this way! It really is tough to see the truth when it comes to our own families.
Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Dave, “A foolish woman tears her house apart with her own hands” and I’d like to add, Woe to those who form her household…”I love you” was said very often in my house but I think the purpose of it was more about checking the tethers used for control than expressing any heartfelt feelings.

I’m glad you shared your story and perspective. I believe, no I know, my sister endured as much emotional damage in our home as I did. She doesn’t have a perfect life either, in fact, I think her life has been very painful but she keeps all that pain hidden and to herself because she must be perfect to ‘honor her parents’. She understands that as doing what they want and giving them what they define as love, admiration. My sister wasn’t allowed to be an emotonal being with human flaws and she has grown to deny they exist in her and if they do appear, she must immediately, stamp them out. I’ve always viewed her as being much more fragile than I am and felt that if she ever did see the truth it would break her apart. I went along and tried to protect her from that truth, she’s my baby sister. However, now I know the truth would break her but when she gathered up the pieces and reconstructed them through truth, she could be well again too. I love my sister. I have no hatred or animosity towards her but I had to choose health for myself or the family I created would pass on all the pain and they are the one’s I’m responsible for. I came to realize that love didn’t mean total sacrifice of who I am and that caring for others means taking care of my own emotional health first.

Thank you, Dave for giving me hope and showing me that truth can break through to the golden child victims of abuse too.:0)



Janie, It’s wonderful when we discover that we do have the power to step outside the dysfunction. We do have the power to live better lives.



Christina, I’m glad you’re finding the same kind of strengthen sustanance that I found here.:0)I wish you success in holding your abusers accountable.



All, I just published a new poem today by, Sherry C. Garland called, “You’re Worthless!” that blends very well with this article and expresses the pain and damage judgemental words cause the victims of verbal or as she describes it, mental abuse. Just click my little, red hat.:0)


renuka suradeep nath
December 3rd, 2012 at 1:11 pm

while reading this, i thought it was exatly me who was telling her story. judgements from parents is indeed very damaging. my parents always tagged me as wrong. i have no contacts with them for past 5 years and I am better. but still it hurts me to accept that my birth parents treated me that way


This all really hits the nail on the head for me. The “black and white lense” really caught my attention, as this is one of the issues I’ve always had with my parents. When they want to “talk” it is always in terms of black and white, there is no gray. There is no room for negotiation or contemplation. It just is the way they say it is and that’s the end of it.

This leads into another problem I’ve always had with them – which is the topic here – being judgemental. I recall an “argument” that I had with my parents during my first year of college. I had to laugh, even then, at the absurdity of my parents’ logic regarding kids being teased. In the case of this argument – race related – it was the parents’ fault the kids were teased, so that was evidence that these parents just shouldn’t be in a relationship to begin with.

Every example to the contrary I came up with, which should have been an exception to their “rule,” was said to be “different” – especially when I used the example of my being teased. Of course, that was my fault, not theirs. A cousin born with a deformity – that was different too, but no reason given. Finally, the argument was over when I brought up my dad’s ruthless teasing and making fun of others –anyone and everyone he encountered. He screamed at me to “shut-up about it already.”

I now realize why my cousin being teased was “different”. According to my parents’ beliefs, my aunt and uncle did something to bring it upon themselves. And the argument ended the way it did because I turned the “eye” on him.

“A child raised by judgemental parents are condemned to self-doubt” It is no wonder that I cannot stand to be in social situations. I even find it impossible to be outside in my own yard. I feel like everyone is staring at me and talking about me. And it makes perfect sense – growing up with parents who judged everyone around them for even the most minor or superficial things.

My mother’s judgement of another is what finally made something snap in my brain and seek therapy last year. The “good, Christian woman” that is my mother said another human being deserved the suffering and pain they were going through – and did NOT deserve sympathy – because of their “sins.” (scapegoat invites evil).

She hated the family I babysat for when in high school because the mom and grandma smoked. (Her misplaced anger at losing control over me – not under her thumb 24/7 and making my own money). Later on, when things going on in that family bothered me, my mother suggested calling Children & Youth. I never did, thank God. I had no right to judge them. And now that those kids are grown, I can see they have a very close, supportive family – the complete opposite of the “perfect family” my parents pretended to be.

After I started therapy and started to “wake up” and try to take back some control, my mother started going to extremes to control me. She called the police on my husband when he came to pick up the kids from her house. Then she had the police come to my home. When that didn’t do anything, she called Children & Youth–twice within six months. I am guessing that she was told that she was abusing the system – or something similar – because the next time she felt the need to tear me apart, she screamed at me that I treat my kids like trash. She even threw in there that I use and manipulate her. All of which was in front of my kids. I sarcastically smiled and asked if I could be expecting another visit, which only served to enrage her even more. She said she was “not going around the corner anymore” and is now “saying to [my] face” what she thinks of me.

This is when I cut off contact and my father said I “chose to not be a part of the family.” He also told me I was stupid for not letting him or my mom get my kids off the bus, and instead was leaving work early. And for this reason, he would no longer give me the money I had been promised.

Since then, I’ve been avoiding them all as much as possible, but I’ve been very ill lately and emotionally weak – just not in a mood to fight. I called my mother on Friday and asked if she’d want to get the kids off the bus so I didn’t have to leave work early since my co-worker was out sick. She said she wanted to and would.

Needless to say, no one got my kids off the bus. After 30 minutes and umpteen phone calls (my parents, two sisters and brother-in-law all live/work within 3 miles of the school while I am 20 miles away at work), someone finally got my kids from the school. This is not the first time she “forgot” to get them. She did it twice in one week, the same week she verbally tore me apart. But I am the one who treats my kids like trash! Then when I got to my mom’s after work to get my kids, my mom had just left the house to go and get the kids from my dad’s office (near my house). My youngest sister, who still lives at home, said “I told her to call you so you could just go straight there. I don’t know why she didn’t call.”

I know why she didn’t call. Because she knew I was sick and weak. She manipulated ME by making me sit and wait at her house for an hour without picking up the telephone to let me know what was going on. She manipulated ME by bringing my kids back to her house knowing they would give me trouble leaving. And she knew this would all make it easier for her to suggest the kids spend the night with her (something we have not allowed in a month).

Thanks, Pam, for putting all of this into words. It really helped put a lot of things into perspective for me today. And it really is remarkable how timely these posts are.


renuka, I think there will always be some pain for survivors of abuse. How can we not feel loss at not having the kind of childhood that all children need in order to thrive? I find it much easier to live with that pain and disappointment and also, keep bitterness from filling my heart and soul by choosing to not subject myself to continuing abuse and surrendering to living in total dysfunction with people who have given up on reaching for anything better. Life will never be perfect but we do have the power to improve our lives.



Hi Jerri, A friend of mine once said, “We all probably deserve some judgement and condemnation but what we want and need is mercy.” It amazes me how people can turn a faith based upon grace and mercy into judgement and condemnation;but many professing christians are horribly, judgemental. They are religious but they certainly don’t live a spirit-filled life. They use religion to justify the strict codes they use in an attempt to control their lives and everyone in their life. Sadly, they damage people on many levels and serve to keep people away from the spirituality that could benefit them. It’s good to remember that abusive, controlling people will use anything available to them as a tool and ‘God’ is a favorite tool. The tools they use also, can sheild them and cause people to hate the tool rather than place their anger where it belongs, on the judgemental, condemning, controlling abuser.

I’m glad my article is helping you make sense of your problems.:0)



And I’ve noticed religion and spirituality being a big issue in the comments here. Unfortunately, I had far too many of these negative examples in my young life. I had learned enough to know that these were horrible examples, but I couldn’t bring myself to “overlook” them for the greater good. These examples were not just from my mother, but from nearly every person in the church and especially in the church organizations. I don’t want to take away from the focus of this topic, so I won’t say much more, but religion was and is a huge factor in my relationships…or lack thereof. In fact, it was this issue that precipitated the “you treat your children like trash” attack.


Thank you Pam. There are days like today when I really struggle with the life-long self-doubt.

My sister and her husband visited me for a couple of days. I was tested early, as soon as they arrived my sister went to the bathroom. My brother in law immediately gave me some pot, which I later flushed down the toilet. I’ve been using drugs and alcohol for 33 years and am desperate to get off them. Even though for the first time in my life I disposed of the pot, I kinda kicked myself for not refusing it in the first place. The critical voice kicked in but I’m at least aware of it and trying to counter it.

What troubled me more was how my sister approached me about Mom. Mom now has Alzheimer’s and dementia and is in a retirement home. My sister told me that they call Mom “loveable” at the home. She then asked me if I had got Mom anything for Christmas, and when I said no, she asked if she could get Mom a gift and say it was from me. I told her, if that’s what she wanted to do.

My sister does so much to protect Mom. My mother was anything but loveable when we grew up. I’m supposed to forget all that now that her mind is going. She may be lovable now but that doesn’t undo all the damage. I’m sort of just sick of family right now. I kind of would like to tell my sister, I changed my mind, please don’t get Mom something on my behalf. I think that’s what I’ll do. I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m just bristling over interference and being fake. My sister may do it anyway though. What also angers me is it makes me look like the bad guy, when my pain has never been acknowledged. Just wanted to get that off my chest.



Jerri, I know. I’ve had the same kind of experiences. People who abuse and control will use any tool that gives them an upper hand. It makes me sad that you’ve had so much of this. It helps me to remember that people aren’t God and especially, not when they put themselves in God’s place in order to rule over someone.



Doren, Good for you flushing the pot down the toilet. That’s so much better than getting rid of it by using it up. Sometimes, we choose to do what gets the heat off of us and I see no problem with that especially, when we are feeling weak and vulnerable. I do know what you mean though about not wanting to be fake. I never want to go back to living lies just so the pretense can be maintained. It was a process though and we can only take the steps that we are currently, strong enough to take.



Pam, I wanted to let you know that I read your article today, and as always, was deeply moved by your words. You may have a gifting in painting, but you also have one in writing! I haven’t really been able to comment a great deal because what you have written is so descriptive that it has been painful. I was not the scapegoat in my family, and although I did experience abuses and neglect, they were nothing compared to what my older brother suffered, and when I read your words, I cry. My pain comes from having to witness all of the things my parents did to my brother, and the absolute rejection, hatred, dislike, and what seemed like ALL of THEIR rage out on him. Your story and words brought it back to me, and I don’t know what to write, but I did want you to know again how much I love it that you have found your voice enough to write/talk/paint! You are such an inspiration and I appreciate reading how you are now vs. then. You are truly amazing that you fought so long and hard for healing.


Thank you Pam. There are just times like this when I’m so TIRED of the family dynamics. I will be prepared next time to say no to anything my brother-in-law puts in my hand. I was caught off guard and honestly I didn’t want to hurt his feelings—that might sound bad but it’s the truth. I have to practice putting myself first.

The way me and my sister deal with the past is completely opposite. She refuses to talk about childhood so I no longer bring up painful memories with her. Any emails I wrote to her about the past were ignored. I finally came to a point where I can respect that’s how she deals. However, on my end I just can’t deal with the ‘everything’s normal’ shit anymore. It completely invalidates my feelings and experience. Sometimes I feel, there must be something so wrong with me because I can’t just ‘forget’ all those years of being put down by my mother.
I did write my sister asking her not to get a gift and say it was from me after all. I don’t want to be part of pretense. I don’t want her interference and I’m tired of mom being protected at the expense of my feelings.

These sick families, if you don’t go along and play nice then they act like you’re mean or won’t let go or whatever, and really it’s just the same thing happening as always, my feelings don’t matter, we’re gonna be silent about the abuse, and let’s all act normal. This isn’t letting go, it’s the same old thing but they don’t see that. I just feel such anger tonite. Just can’t do this anymore. It just asks too much.


Hello All!
I just wanted to stop by and wish Christina well, on her journey to wholeness! I am so sorry you suffered and were abused in this way. I wish you justice and peace! Just hearing a little bit of your story, makes me root for you, to continue on your path.

Pam, thank you for sharing about your golden child sister. She sounds almost identical to mine. It makes me see that all children in the Disfunctional family suffer.
Dave has shared on this as well. Dave, that took courage to keep your mother out of your relationship with your wife, but it seems to have worked! It sounds like things fell into place rapidly, and you were blessed with a clear vision of your families future, not including your abusive mother! Good for you!
So all the chidren of dysfunction seem to suffer in different ways. However, since my GC sister is abusive verbally and emotionally to me, and sees no problem with it, I do not desire a relationship with her. I guess since I was the scapegoat, I must have done something to deserve it, in her sick mind. I will say, I don’t like her, and I don’t care much what happens to her. I dont wish her well, and I dont wish her ill!

Doren, that must be difficult, your abusive mother sinking into the depths of dementia. The personality change to “loveable” is hard to take, as she was not so. And the others all seeing her as such, must be difficult. You do not get to speak your mind and get some sort of answer/resolution for your relationship. Its harder to find closure, if you have not already. Also, in her mental decline, she is loveable. She had it in her, somewhere, or at least was aware of the concept. It will be interesting, what you make of all of this!


Darlene, yes, you are a positive role model of what a therapist should be! I learn so much from what you share. You help us bring tangibility to this process. At times, I almost feel divine inspiration in what you say. (not to discount your personal experience and work. That is key to all of our getting better) But I truly believe we were all brought here, to learn, and begin to heal.

Thanks for sharing, everyone. I learn so much by reading your stories.


Thank all of you for articulating and reaffirming what I have felt since childhood-and that was decades ago! Especially thanks to those who post great responses to “those stupid things” that others say to minimize or neglect what one is trying to say. I may not post much, but, I am listening. And, Thank you again.


Thank You for another wonderful & insightful post! I’ve lived under the cloud of judgement & rejection too in my FOO. I always tried harder & do better for approval & acceptance. AS long as I denied my needs, feelings & thoughts, I was tolerated. I don’t thnk I was ever really accepted. I’ve tried accepting who they are, but I don’t like bullies. I was too nice & lacked boundaries, but when I started speaking up,setting boundaries & limits they didn’t like it. They pushed back by making snide comments, excluding me and starting drama. What comes to mind for me is that my mom actually said to me that I exclude myself. How backwards that statement was, since realistically I was the one being ignored or shunned. If your not included, how can you be the one excuding yourself? they point the finger at the scapegoat which is me. This year, I have no desire to visit my family at Christmas. I will ask a few family members to my house, where I will feel safe & drama free. If they refuse to come that just further validates their unwillingness to have a mutual relationship. Since, I have always reached out to them. I don’t need their approval or acceptance anymore. I know myself, I validate myself & I have a close circle of friends who appreciate & accept me for myself. I have what I need inside myself now & that is empowering. I’m feeling much stronger these days. Not to say I don’t have my down days. My focus has been on my creativity & positive qualities these days. I have choices & I’m not as fragile as they think. They have called me weak for my sensitivity, insecure for my honesty & say I hold grudges. They don’t really see me. My friends & some family members, not including my FOO, see me for the person I am .Triangulation runs rampant in my family & I’m not playing that game/control tactic. To be rejected & scapegoated in my family has been painful, yet I’ve learned that I don’t want to be in that dusfunctional system full of denial & lack of empathy. I’m healthier to be able to see the truth & being kind to myself. I like the person I am. Never been able to say that! Love EFB for allowing me to grow & learn from others in the same dysfunctional system. Although my brother shunned & walked away from me last Christmas, that made it easy on me to let go. It’s hurtful but I don’t deserve to be held in contempt, for things he & his wife have done. So done with that!…Anyway, I plan to have a Happy Christmas with my husband & kids. Wishing everyone here peace 🙂


Janie in #25: “My getting well threatened my families ability to maintain the false images of self and the family roles that help them support those false self images. My family is very emeshed and becoming an individual was like a surgery that separates conjoined twins.”

OMG. That’s it – and I see it every day with all of them, on both sides of the family. They all grew up in the same “enmeshed family system.” They seem to only “have each other” and don’t interact with anyone else. I might be wrong about this, as I’m not around them enough to know, but I never hear about any outside interests or activities or friends or anything else but family-family-family trips, meals, get togethers, all this togetherness all the time.

I thought I was missing out on something. I tbought I was being left out of something. But NO. That must be part of why, as much as they seem to hate and despise me, they admire me at the same time. My independence, my freedom, my travels, work and adventures. I am NOT enmeshed with them in the least. At least not physically, since they are so awful to be around. I am, however, completely enmeshed with them IN MY MIND. I am a prisoner in their castle in my mind, locked in the tower or thrown in the dungeon while the rest of them “eat drink and be merry” at the “Christmas table with the fatted goose.”

At least that is how I see them! I wonder how they see me?

You have given me so much to think about. “Enmeshed” is the word. I will have to look it up and find out more. I imagine “approval” slips in slyly here too, somewhere. Hiding under the seat cushions or squeaking by on the floor.

Snakes, spiders and toads. All of them. And me too. Unfortunately. Maybe now I will be able to drop these chains, unlock the door and walk out the door, free. As I am the only one that holds the key. I hold the key to MY FREEDOM. Not them.

Show me The Way. Gracias, Amen.


I got Pam and Janie’s comments about “enmeshed” mixed up, but the message remains the same. Thank you so much! Now to find out more about this “enmeshed” business.


Dave in #24 wrote:

“My mother systematically destroyed everything that was good in our family. I so wish her suicide attempt had been successful. I would have had a chance at a good childhood…instead she destroyed it piece by piece every day. My heart is still broken from all the hurt and pain and suffering. I live with it every day. Thanks for sharing from your heart.”

Wow. Dave, I can’t believe you made it through all of this. Wow. I am just speechless. I understand perfectly about your feelings about your mother and “wishing her suicide attempt had been successful.” I had to laugh a little when I read that.

I always said that my you-know-who should have been shot to put him out of OUR misery!

So glad you are on this site. It is saving my life and I know it will yours. Welcome aboard*.

*I don’t know how long you’ve been here but it’s the first time I’ve read your comments, and I really do appreciate them. Every little bit helps to hear “my story,” “our story” all over again. Maybe we’re not crazy after all!”


Janie, Darlene and “the Bill thing:” OMG. Thank you! You haven’t even read the half of it! I thought was I crazy this whole weekend after receiving his emails, along with the rest of them. I will re-read all of this, and “digesting a poisoned meal” and work it out work it out work it out. I have so much “mirror polishing” to do to see clearly through the distorted window I have been looking in, and the warped and wiggly fun-house full of smoke and mirrors. Thank God for the internet and email. I can re-read things and let it sink in and look at it, piece by piece and others can review it too and finally it might begin to make sense.

The past two days have thrown me back into the Crazy House and I’ve been acting and feeling and talking just the way I did when I was trapped in that hell-hole I had to call “home.” At least I knew enough to stay away all this time. And all I have to do now is “just say no.” And it’s so much easier, since they don’t want me there to begin with! Thank God for large and small favors, no matter how painful they may be.


Hi Sonia, Your Christmas plans sound awesome! I hope you have a joyous and merry holiday. It feel so much better to plan what is happy and healthy for ourselves and our loved ones, doesnt it? I’m glad I don’t subject myself to their abusive behaviors anymore, either.



“Their” being FOO’s………….


Thank you, Diane. It’s amazing to me that I’m writing about this stuff now. What’s even more amazing to me is the response I’m getting. I know from experience now that when we bring the things we’ve hidden in darkness, they bocome a light for others who remain in that same darkness. I hope your brother has found some healing. My little brother found the least healing in his life. It’s hard because he just refuses to try and find the reasons of why he does what he does…I’m sorry my words cause you pain but I am glad you found empathy in them. Darlene’s posts often hit me that way and I have to think about them for awhile before I can make any use of what she’s written.

Bless you.



Doren, I call that kind of anger,righteious anger. I have a post here by that name that describes how I used that anger to heal. It’s natural for you to be angry. I had problems with rage because of swallowed abuse. When I learned to direct my anger and use it to fight for myself and my healing, the rages went away. It’s impossible to live in an alternate reality. In my family, it got to where there were so many things we couldn’t talk about that there was nothing to talk about at all;and even if we weren’t talking about them, everyone was thinking about them. It was just plain miserable and pointless. I’m really glad to be in a different place even though, I still at times wish things could have been worked out. I sometimes waver on my decision but then when I think it through, I come back to the simple boundary I set and THEY rejected and I know there wasn’t and isn’t any other alternative.



Thank you for your comment, Payne and I’m glad that you are benefitting from EFB.



Sonia, I decided that their brains are in backwards!lol!Or that’s the way I began to think about it when I finally, healed to the point to see through all the methods they used to control me. I loved reading your comment because it is so full of self-confidence and expressions of emotional health. I love EFB too and one of the things I love most is that it holds out hope for emotional health and healing from abuse.All that was ever offered to me before was a life-long commitment to taking pills.



All & Catherine, When I speak of my family as enmeshed(I’m sorry for the typo in my previous post) I’m not talking about families spending a lot of time together. Healthy families can enjoy being together, often. In my family, we were all enmeshed into my dad’s personality. It was like he was the head and we were his appendages. We weren’t treated as individuals with lives and purposes of our own. We were to serve my dad’s needs. He even, verbally taught us that we were part of him. He sees himself and others as an infant does. When he needs something, he cries and expects his family to come running to fill his need. It never enters his mind that anyone else has any needs or that he should give of himself to another. Anything he gives is for the purpose of keeping his appendanges within reach. I was raised to be one of my dad’s arms.

I don’t know if that helps or confuses it more. Individiating was an important part of my healing process.



Pam…..thank you. I honestly could have written every word of what you wrote. Our stories and experiences are very similar.

My father was extremely judgmental. I don’t recall him ever saying he liked anyone at all, except for John Wayne and Archie Bunker. (He seemed to be in awe of both of them.) He put everyone down….bosses, relatives, his own mother, all of us children, my mother, his ex-wives, people on TV, random people. I don’t think he liked anyone at all.

He set himself up as judge and jury (and God!) so that he was “above” the peons of this world, which in his mind gave him the “right” to call everyone else an idiot. Judgmental and highly critical, he was extremely obnoxious and difficult to live with.

I was his targeted child, his dumping ground upon which he could (with glee) spew his noxious verbal taunts and belittlement, constantly putting me down, laughing at me, taunting me and tormenting me daily and chronically until I thought I would literally go mad. I often felt as though I would one day just tear my hair out by the roots and run screaming amok down the street. His judgmental and harsh bullying nearly drove me insane.

He definitely engaged in black-and-white thinking. So did my narcissistic mother. Both of them saw the world in “good or bad” terms. Both of them labeled people as either “good” or “bad.” And they were selfish and silly and capricious in their declarations of who was the “good” or “bad” person of the moment. You see, it was always subject to change, based upon what a person had done (or not done) to make either of them happy! One day Uncle Joe is “bad,” because he dared to challenge one of them with the truth. The next day Uncle Joe is “good,” because he stopped by and brought them a gift.

It was maddening in our household. My abusive father was “good” one day in my mother’s eyes, and the next day she hated his guts, calling him “the devil incarnate.” It was horribly confusing for a small child to grow up in such an environment. Back and forth, back and forth, like a seesaw, were my parents’ actions, thoughts, and words. So confusing…….

Both my parents were judgmental. And they judged me the harshest of all. Me, the kind, sensitive, brilliant, quiet child. Me, the compliant child. Me, the one who was so sensitive and empathic that I laid in bed at night as a child, weeping FOR THEM, because I wanted to make their lives better, so that they would seem happier. So that they might begin to love each other and be kind and good.

Their judgmentalism nearly destroyed me as a human being. I’m not being overly dramatic by saying that. The word “abuse” is too tame a definition to describe what they put me through.

I see scapegoating as heinously abusive. Bullying and scapegoating are committed by cowards, by sniveling cowards who must inflate their egos at the expense of someone smaller or weaker. I consider both to be evil acts.

Judgmentalism is cruel. I still feel judged by my family, and for what reason? I will never, ever know! I have been nothing but kind and good to all of them, and to their children, all of my life. I am generous and loving and kind to a fault. But I am scapegoated by our mother. The funny thing is, my three siblings worship her! They just ignore me completely as a human being, but they worship her! And I will never be able to figure it out. I see my mother for who she honestly is, not who she pretends to be. But it is as if my siblings all have blinders on. None of them holds her accountable for one single, solitary thing. They all see her as the victim she portrays herself to be. It’s so painful being in my shoes. It’s so painful loving people who don’t love you back, who don’t even care about you, whether you’re well or sick, hurting, sad, lonely, scared. I care about them. They care little about me. And it will always be that way until the day I die. And I know it. Daggone it, I KNOW it.

I’m so glad that people here can talk about the realities of what judgmentalism and scapegoating and abuse are all about. What people seem to forget is that there are real-life victims who are being cut to shreds, whose souls are being damaged, whose spirits are being crushed, by the actions of judgmental and cold, cruel parents. Some of these parents put on a great show. They look great to the outside world. But the way these parents act at home is a whole different ballgame. At home, their cruelty comes out. And the children pay the price, a very heavy price.

I am never going to get over what was done and said to me. I know that now, and I have made peace with that truth. I have worked hard in therapy throughout many years, but the words reverberate in my heart and in my mind. The damage was done, and I will live with it. Until the day I die. I know that. And I do NOT see myself as a victim, even though I was victimized. I don’t have a “victim mentality” at all. Never did have. I just accept that the abuse was so horrific that I am lucky to be still alive, lucky to be still a very loving, caring, empathic human being. I choose to continue to be open. I choose to still love others. I choose not to be hard and cold and stony and bitter.

But that means, of course, that I am still open to deep hurt whenever I am rejected by people I love. And that is the price any of us pays if we love others. The more we love, the more we can be hurt.

Thanks for talking about this topic. It’s been so good to know that I am not alone in life with these experiences.

I am so sorry for any of you who were wounded and hurt by the judgmentalism and abuse of your parents or other family members.



Pam……after I posted my comment, I read your last comment about the enmeshment in your family, and I wanted to tell you that I also relate to that.

My family was and still is very, very enmeshed. Oh my goodness, it’s pathological, in fact. My three siblings still call our mother every single day, worry over her, fret over her, check on her, take her gifts, etc. Boundaries? My mother doesn’t know the meaning of the word. She will blab anything you tell her. That’s why I can only talk about the shallowest of topics when she calls me. If I mention anything at all about a problem or an incident in our lives or my children’s lives, she will blab it immediately to every sibling, and anyone else she has within earshot. There is NO trusting her.

Like you mentioned in your family, my dad was the “hub” around which we “spokes” (his wife and children) revolved. And he wouldn’t have had it any other way. He was the “king” and we were all his subjects. He was the puppet master, and we were nothing more than his puppets to be manipulated at will, to do his bidding. He spoke; we obeyed. He barked out orders; we did what we were told. He used terror to manipulate us. He beat us, screamed at us, berated and belittled us, sexually abused me, and mocked us mercilessly. I will never forget his maniacal, snarky laughter when he had caused one of us kids to cry. The man was sadistic.

Like your dad, my dad was like an infant, too. He had an entitlement mentality, and he expected us to do exactly what he said to do, without a moment’s hesitation. What he wanted, he got. No matter if it hurt anyone else. He was selfish and self-absorbed and self-centered.

Like your dad, mine didn’t know any of us kids. Nor did he want to know us. We were merely extensions of his…, if you will. He didn’t waste one moment worrying about whether or not he had annihilated us with his cruel words. He was mean. Downright mean.

You said you were raised to be one of your “dad’s arms.” I understand what that feels like. It’s miserable, and it’s completely invalidating to you as a human being. I don’t know about you, but I grew up feeling utterly invisible. And, in the eyes of my psychopathic father and my narcissistic mother, I really was invisible. People like my parents only think of themselves, sadly.

I love being around my own children. We have the best time whenever we are able to get together! We laugh, we play board games, we enjoy each others’ company!…….the total opposite of what I grew up knowing in my family.

No, enmeshment is not the same thing as family togetherness. Enmeshment involves major lack of boundaries and a lack of respect for the uniqueness and differences among family members. Enmeshment involves triangulating, and it involves besmirching others behind their backs. It plays one family member off against another, and creates family jealousies and hurt. It’s the antithesis of what a healthy family looks like.

Pam, I’m so sorry you were treated the way you were. I truly am. But your words are so helpful. You inspire me. Thank you.



Oh, I forgot to mention one thing.

I was thinking yesterday about how desperately lonely and alone I’ve always felt. Ever since my earliest childhood memories, I’ve had a deep, deep sense of sadness and loneliness inside of me. Since about the age of four or so. That sadness and loneliness never went away. It is still inside of me.

I think it has much to do with how I was parented. My needs were neglected. I as a person was invalidated, ignored, and neglected. I yearned for some type of connection as a child. To anyone. But there was none to be. We moved so often, every 6 months or so. Therefore, I was never around anyone long enough to carve out a relationship.

I am deeply lonely. And still deeply sad. Inside. People wouldn’t know it, though, because I do not act lonely or sad on the outside.

Anyway, I just wanted to acknowledge that. I want connections but having been so deeply hurt (and so many times), I have such a difficult time knowing whom to trust. I wish I could trust.



Marore, We do have so much in common. Self-centered, self-absorbed,pathological,cruel,manipulative, triangulation, negligent, demanding, and very, very malignant. These descriptions describe our relationship with our parents. Everyone is hurt by something in life and we all develop mechanisms to cope. However, some choose to do evil to others as a way to do life and that’s when it seems to become hard-set and malignant. It helps me to know that the problem is in them and not in me. It also, helps me to know that even though they too suffered at one time in their life, they chose to be who they are. No matter how much I love them, they have to choose truth for themselves. They have to do their own reckoning and that seems to be the stumbling block. They will not ever admit to doing anything wrong and every time I tried to talk about my pain and the damage I suffered at their hands and the hands of other abusive people, it angered them because by doing so, it made their flaws evident. Jesus said that the world hates Him because He testifies that its works are evil. We aren’t evil and that fact alone, is enough to anger them because they have chosen to live by evil.

I agree there will always be a sence of loss but I do believe we can be whole, individuated people. I have another older post here called, “The Black Hole Of Emotional Neglect”. I talk about that deep lonliness. I believe it is possible to fill that and heal.

Thanks for pouring out your heart. You hit on so many good point.



Thank you very much, Pam.

I would like to read “Black Hole of Emotional Neglect.” But I can’t find it. I am not sure how to search for it. Could you help me? Thank you.



Hi Marore
Here is the link!
If you are ever looking for something specific I rank high enough in google that if you just type in the search tool on google for whatever you are looking for, it should come up. (that is how I got this link just now!) Sometimes if you are looking for a key word phrase, include the phrase ’emerging from broken’ and the articles will come up.
Hugs, Darlene


You’re very welcome, Marore and thankyou, Darlene.:0)



Pam, Thanks for your compliments! Foo do have their heads on backwards lol….You made a validate point, when you said,
“Individiating was important in my healing process”…I agree!!…Seperating myself from FOO was a big first step in getting to know myself. Also, getting support outside of my family & having the opportunity to go to College expanded my world. I become more analytical about my problems & issues. Of course, my major was psychology for the purpose of helping & understanding people & myself.

I was raised to be an extention of my parents. I had no choice but to adopt their beliefs, judgements & black & white thinking to survive. I never felt comfortable with the way they bad mouthed & acted as if they were better than others. Pretentious & Judgemental is not genuine or nice. Although, I’ve been sick with depression, anxiety & PTSD, I am not malicious or disordered like them. So glad I resisted being like FOO, with their disapproval, rejection, triangulation & scapegoating.


Sonia, I separated from parents at a very young age and I too wanted to be a very different kind of person. However, I still had no personal boundaries that identified where I ended and others began because I had been raised to fill the emotional needs of my parents, I related to others in the same way. I attracted people with the same emotional problems as my parents. I also, felt responsible for things that weren’t my responsibility. I had to learn to live as a whole human being and not as an appendage of someone else. Indiviating isn’t the same as becoming independent(though it is part of it), which is something I think everyone goes through whether they are abused or not. Everyone at some point in time, analyzes what they’ve been taught in childhood and decides whether or not to make it their own. Indiviation should begin to take place at birth, when the child leaves its mothers womb.My parents assigned me the purpose of gratifying their needs and my identity was formed and defined by that assignation. Indiviating from an enmeshed family system is more like the surgery used to separate conjoined twins. It’s complicated and I hope this explains it more clearly.



Thanks everyone for these words. Reading your posts here has really helped me yet again…Especially this time of the year when I am really struggling….Peace


Pam, I like what you have said about indivuation. I had a different twist on that, which I just realized. I, too, have issues on separating myself as an individual, which is getting better as I work on it. I need to ask myself, Is this what I want? Is this good for me?
Last night,I was working with another nurse, and I realized, she IS that nice. It’s not an act! And she appears to be a really good mom, too. She was showing me pictures of her two daughters, and explaining to me how different they were, but not as a judgement, as a blessing, that she had these two great kids, with two different personalities and needs. And listening to her good night phone call, speaking to her girls, and to her mother, who was babysitting, was heartening. And, interestingly, her mother didnt seem to mind, taking direction regarding her grandchildren! Seemed very healthy……..
I tend to think, sometimes, when people act nice and like good mothers, it is an act, like I myself have experienced. I have trouble giving people the benefit of the doubt sometimes, and I think I actually judge THEM, by my dysfunctional familys false shows and displays, instead of accepting and allowing the person to be the good person that they are! Does that make sense?


Janie, That makes alot of sense. It is about children being allowed to have an identity of their own. None of my talents were ever encouraged (except by my grandmother). I was forced to join 4H because my dad wanted to be part of a certain group of people. I hated it but that didn’t matter. I was forced to participate. Then when he fell out with that group of people, I was pulled out. It was about how I could serve his needs.

Perfect families are very different from loving families. In a perfect family, everyone must measure up to a certain standard. Loving families accept their members for who they are, encourage them in their individual talents, and are there for one another when things go wrong. Perfect families are about producing admiration for the parent or parents. Loving families are about mutual respect and understanding that each individual has unique abilites and talents to offer to the whole and each person deserves success of their own apart from what serves the head of that family. Perfect families are about projecting an image to those outside the family. It doesn’t matter how unhealthy they are within as long as the image is maintained. Loving families strive for inner health by practicing unconditional love. I could go on and on but it can be boiled down to one type of family being very unhealthy and the other, healthy. The pretencious family is enmeshed and the healthy family is made up of healthy individuals with very separate identities.

I like how you describe this woman as a grandmother. Grandmother is a very important role to fill in a family but grandmothers have to step back and honor their children’s wishes to parent their children as they see fit. That is something that can’t occur in an enmeshed family system.



Thanks for expaining the difference between independence & indivuation. I guess I associate the two, by tying idependence to being your own person & indivuation to being a seperate person from FOO. I do believe I was enmeshed since birth, however, lots of mixed messages in my FOO about being an individual. I was expected to be popular & into sports, however, when I didn’t pursue what they wanted me to, they pointed the finger at me, making me feel inadequate for not measuring up to their expectations. I wasn’t the sports type. I went the artistic route, and not until I was getting outside professional support, was my interests & talents encouraged. My dad started encouraging & admired my art, basically since his family has gifted artists. It’s more about being like my dad’s side of the family. My mom did not encourage my interests…It wasn’t her thing….she made snide comments or ignored my talents. She wasn’t getting the attention. A Love/Hate relationship. Very confusing to me as a child & adult. I think I understand the difference between independent & indivuation now. Am I on the right track? It’s been a confusing issue for me….My FOO are pretentious regarding their image. My sister has been the queen of image- following the trends, being popular above being real and getting what she wants. She also has good/positive qualities, yet it’s hard to overlook the importance she places on superficial things & her image.
Just food for thought…


Sonia, Yes, you are on the right track. Parents in enmeshed families live through their children. The talents and intrests of the child aren’t important to such parents. In my family, we were constantly told we were ‘like’ someone but mostly, if we did something that pleased my dad, we were like him. If we did something that didn’t please him, we were like my mom. My sister was considered to be more like my dad so, I was supposed to try and be like my sister. It was impossible, in that system, to define one’s self without including another.

It is a lot to think about.:0)



Thanks again Pam for post #54. I saw my therapist yesterday and she told me my anger is ‘hurting’ me. I’m sorry, I don’t know what the problem is with anger?? To me, anger alerts me that something is wrong, there is some kind of injustice. All my life I’ve heard this shit, ‘don’t get angry don’t get angry’. And anger was all around me, parents fighting constantly, but MY anger was bad! My sister said once, ‘anger is neurotic’, no it’s not! It’s a legitimate feeling!

This is why I’m angry—my feelings don’t get acknowledged! I told my therapist I’m thinking of no contact with my sister, my therapist said, she’s all I got, reconsider etc etc. I know my sister’s all I’ve got! What do I have though? My sister will only talk to me about techie things (kobos and kindles stuff like that), or work or Mom, she cannot talk about feelings. Nothing touchy-feely, no feelings. But she tells me she wants to bond, how can we bond without personal communication??

I don’t know if it’s me, but when I write my sister and get no response back, it nearly infuriates me. I know it’s giving her power, but it just tells me, I can’t deal with this anymore. I might as well be talking to the wall. I wrote my sister telling her I changed my mind, please don’t buy Mom a Christmas present and tell her it’s from me, I write my sister I tell her that in a nice way, please stay out of it, it’s my relationship with Mom, and no answer back. I find I can’t deal with this anymore.

I know it looks like I’m being mean, why don’t I just let her get the present, but it bothers me so much. I don’t want to protect my mother, I don’t want to pretend or be part of pretense, I don’t care that my mother is ‘lovable’ now, she hurt me so much for years on end. Never an acknowledgement of the damage done, never an apology, I am treated like the problem, WHY? Is there something wrong with me cause I don’t want to give this person who abused me for years a Christmas present?? I deeply resent that she is protected to this day while I sit here and try to explain myself and get no answer.

I think there’s nothing wrong with me. I think it’s sick, I think it’s really sick how people are protected because of nothing more than a biological role. It’s very difficult to stand alone but I essentially have been doing it anyway for 35 years. I must trust my gut or that voice of the little kid inside who’s just so fed up with the way things are stacked up in this family.

Why do people want to wash away years of abuse? I can’t do it, not in me. My voice tells me, it doesn’t matter what any therapist says, I am the expert on my life. I know these people better than any therapist could. It hurts so much because I stand alone, and the tape in my head wants to say, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I being so difficult?”

But that little voice says, “You just want respect, you just want to be heard”. There is pressure around me, and I must stand up to it. I must come before ‘family’.



Doren, I very much understand wanting to be heard and respected. Disregard is a major aspect of disrespect and every time I got near the truth, my family would simply disregard me. That’s why I laid down a simple boundary that would require some reckoning from them in order to remain in a relationship with me. They chose to walk away from the relationship rather than give me the reckoning I needed from them to begin to rebuild trust. It made it simple and clear. I gave them no room to deflect. People want to wash away the abuse because they don’t want to reckon with it. I had to reckon with the past before I could leave it in the past. I’m sad they chose not to move into the future with me but it was their choice.



Do you mind saying or explaining more about what kind of reckoning you wished from your FOO?


Hi Kate, I told them that they had to acknowledge that what happened to me as a teenager was sexual abuse. I also, said that they had to acknowledge that when my parents knew where I was and what was happening, it was criminal child-neglect when they chose to do nothing. They chose not to even though, the law backed me up. They responded with “statutory rape laws are controversial and I don’t agree with them” and “I don’t think I broke the law”. They had the attitude that I was just crazy and that I was making ‘excuses’ for my sin. When I made those two things qualifiers for the respect I had to have from them in order to begin to trust them again, I also, asked them not to contact me in any way if they couldn’t meet those two requirements. I haven’t heard from them since then.




So GREAT for you that you put it into real and legal language. This is a language upon which we should all be able to agree!

Thank you for sharing this!

There are people who need to say these words, as you have done, now that they are adults and can name names and actions.

I realize that the way I was raised was neglectful at best, and did not raise my children that way. I made mistakes, but I did not repeat the same neglectful behaviors with which I had to struggle.


Kate, We all have to do all that we can to break the cycle.:0)



Hi Pam….thanks for that clarification, I was wondering the same thing as Kate.

I already know I wouldn’t get that from my sister. (My mother is a lost cause, she has both Alzheimer’s and dementia, and even before that she clearly didn’t care about my feelings, and stated as much explicitly). My sister will not call what happened abuse. She will not go there with me. I cannot bring any feelings of having been molested to her, she told me, “Don’t tell me, in case it happened to me”. My sister will not deal with the past.

My sister also will not respond to emails about problems I’ve had with friends. She doesn’t have friends of her own, she says she hates people. When she and her husband visited me on the weekend and stayed overnite, they never asked me about me, how was I doing. Nothing, no interest shown.

This is all breaking my heart. I love my sister more than anyone in this world, but I can’t even get her on the phone. Her husband does the calling and she doesn’t get on the line even though she’s there. I can’t do this anymore.

It seems inside of me I must make a choice. For me to put myself first and foremost—that is not a bad thing, right? It feels inside, I must do this to survive. I am so unused to putting myself first. But I can’t deal with people who don’t communicate, there’s nothing for me there.

Maybe to some people it seems obvious what to do, but I have resisted for so long, and it’s making me sick again. I certainly hope this gets easier with time.



Doren, For me it wasn’t so much putting myself first as seeing my needs as important as everyone elses. My sister won’t engage either and neither will my brother. They both say they really can’t remember their childhoods and think I should black it out like they have. That’s their choice but my emotional health is as important as theirs and it is my responsibility. For me to heal, I had to figure out how the events in my childhood affected me and I have to live my life in truth. Truth is important to me and trying to live their lies…I just reached a point where I couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t think there is a step by step set of directions to follow in this. It’s about each person finding their path to healing. It’s not about breaking off contact but about seeing the truth through to the end. I don’t think it will be exactly, the same for everyone though, there are many abusive families who don’t want truth.



Thanks for sharing about your parents. I was compared to others in my family alot. I was Compared to my Dad’s Aunts who were talented artists and told to paint like them & join some professional art club to be recognized like his Aunt’s. What about supporting my way without comparing me to someone else. That was done a lot between my sister & I too. The message was to be like my sister- wild & social. My own individual self was not encouraged. I needed the validation to grow my self identity & worth. They did not mirror that. It’s always about the enmeshed family. It’s about their image. I’m having many memory flashes of incidents of comparisons & living up to my parent’s expectations. No wonder I was confused & lacked self esteem, yet that was my problem. I feel angry even remembering this now. I’m different with my kids. I value & encourage them to be their own person. They have their own interests & talents. I certainly don’t push it or compare them to others family or friends. So what if their cousins are involved in so many activities. My son choses what he wants to do and it’s things he likes and keeps up with his homework. Anyway, being an individual is important!


How could I define myself in an enmeshed family?!…The process has felt like surgery- painful & difficult to cut away from them, yet I needed to separate & indivuate. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself. I learn so learn so much from your posts & comments.


Sonia, That makes my day!:0)



Hi Everyone~
Thanks again to Pam for contributing TWO guest posts in a row.
**I have published a new post today; some of it was inspired by the conversations going on this past week. Here is the link: “When Friends and Family say Mean and Hurtful things”
Looking forward to the feedback on this one! It’s ‘a bit of a rant’…
Hugs, Darlene


Great article, Pam!
I’m still trying to shake off the sound of all of those critical voices, that have impacted me over the years. It really IS hard to deprogram myself from all of those negative, uncalled for messages I received as a child, and from subsequent abusive relationships.

Slowly, but surely…….

For Catherine—your story absolutely breaks my heart, I understand how it feels when you feel like you’ve been put on trial in absentia.It feels like being sucker-punched….I’m going through that on a social level right now, and there are days that I just want to curl up in a ball and cry. I’m absolutely stunned that I’ve been villified by someone I gave tons of support to. I’ve been getting the snide comments, and downright cold shoulder from people I’ve known for years, all based on malicious gossip (that’s based on reality distortions) I feel like I’m walking around in a daze half the time, I’m so flabbergasted, and incredulous.

I found a great article/essay about family mobbing that’s been very validating for me. It’s from a Christian site, so I don’t want to make it seem like I’m trying to sell anything religious–actually I don’t follow organized religion myself. I just wanted to be forthcoming about that .

If you’re interested, it’s on the Luke 17:3 Ministries site. The article itself is called, “They Can’t All Be Wrong and You Right?…..Or Can They?”


So glad I could make your day!….I appreciate your wisdom & insight 🙂


Thanks, Twinkles. I can’t believe the same thing is happening to you by someone you trusted. That is just what happened to me, and over a CHRISTMAS visit. The time of “joy and giving.” What hateful people these people are.

You wrote: ”
For Catherine—your story absolutely breaks my heart, I understand how it feels when you feel like you’ve been put on trial in absentia.It feels like being sucker-punched….”

Yes. But thank God for your comment about “family mobbing.” Until I read about this here, I had no idea that is what I was going through. But it’s been going on for years, any time they had the slightest crack in the door. I’m going to look at the Luke Ministry you mentioned and look up more about this phenomena. It’s quite incredible. And all I ever heard about “family” is that it’s all supposed to be based on “love and support. What a crock.

I’ve not been here much because I am curled up in a ball and practically speechless. I know “this too shall pass” so I’m waiting, quietly and silently, and hoping it will pass sooner rather than later. And reading about letting those people go because they REALLY don’t matter, and they REALLY don’t define ME at all; their behavior defines THEM and who they are. I’m nothing like them. Thank God. Amen.


OMG. I looked up “family mobbing” and found it on Wikipedia:

Then I looked up the referral to Luke Ministries:

They Can’t All Be Wrong And You Right…Or Can They?

“Family Mob Mentality, The Pathological Denial of The Truth, And The Scapegoating Of Those Who Speak It”
By Rev. Renee

So much to read up on. I am not alone. We are not alone. All these years, and I am 62 years old, I had no idea. I really thought, deep inside that it “was all my fault.” So these huge “triggers” I have been going through by having renewed contact with these horribly toxic individuals that are supposed to be “family” really have been good for me even though it feels like it is *almost* killing me. But I’m still here, alive and kicking, and I’m being forced to look at REALITY, not the naive and innocent “dream” of reconciliation and love and acceptance from people who won’t do it and don’t know how to do it.

“Forgive them Lord for they don’t know what they do,” although I believe they know EXACTLY “what they do,” but it won’t matter anymore soon because soon enough I will walk out that OPEN PRISON DOOR of my unmet needs and unrealistic expectations. I WILL BE FREE. All I have to do is “do it.” Move. And sprout wings and fly into the white clouds and blue, blue sky. Sun moon stars await and life is eternal for all of us.

Now to read more. Thank you so much, Twinkles, Pam, Darlene, and everyone one. It’s unbelievable I finally have somewhere to go, happy or sad, broken and bleeding, and with simple words of truth and beauty my wounds are beginning to heal. I never ever thought this was possible. Gracias, Amen.


I put myself in rehab when I was 28 because I was escaping the pain of bad parenting via alcohol and sex. I was told I was a liar, a drug user, and a slut. I was none of those things, but eventually made them true. The alcohol had been pretty much a constant since I was 15, and I was raped at 17 or 18 can’t remember which, after I passed out at a party. I just let my self loathing take over from there. I have never had any support other than financial from anyone in my family, not parents, not from three siblings who are quite a bit older than I am. I am the black sheep, the scapegoat, the “wrong” one. In a family counseling session in rehab, I told my mother that she was judgmental, hypocritical, and self righteous – at which point she got up, slammed her hand on the table, and got in my face saying she might be all those things but she’d always loved me, and stormed out. This pretty much solidified for me that this was one sick woman. I had actually known that for ages, having asked my father to commit her several times as a teenager, to which he replied he could not do that because he’d never hear the end of it. When I think back, I was actually asking to live alone with a child molester over her. A child molester who accused the child of coming on to him. What a crazy choice to have to make. It was never about me, ever. Never about my life, who I was inside, who I wished to become. Even though it took me till I was 40, I finally found a decent guy and got married. Fourteen years later, he still has to help me through the times when Mom treats me badly and has actually experienced it himself, to which I said, I’m sorry and welcome to the family. Even though she can still flatten me for a few days when she blindsides me with her meanness, I have somehow found my validation within me, on most days. There are so many walking around like her, that it seems a societal illness, as well. So I just keep doing the things that make me content and have as little contact with her and these types of people as possible. At leas I have stopped self-medicating and stopped being suicidal finally. This is one messed up world. And it is one beautiful and amazing one at the same time.


And I apologize, Pam, that I was so caught up in my own story, I did not thank you for your own insightful, direct, and well expressed story. Thank you to you and Darlene for your courage which allowed me to find some words of my own. I’m so used to people not caring who I am or what I think or feel that I usually just keep quiet. Just what they want I suppose, the abusers.


Hi Suvi, I’m glad what I wrote allowd you to open up so, no need for an apology. I preferred living with a child molester over my parents too. It wasn’t a choice that was as well formulated as I just stated it but I didn’t want to go home. I couldn’t take anymore brow beating by my mother or manipulation and game playing from my dad. Staying stoned and disconnected from reality was the escape from a hopeless reality that presented itself to me. There was a lot of abuse in either situation so I chose the one where I could stay stoned and numb to what I was going through. My entire family has been hurt by my parents and I regret thinking I had to stay in the relationship(after I was older)just because we’re related by blood. Looking back, I realize that I really didn’t owe them anything. If they were anyone else, people would be insisting that I break ties with them but because they’re my parents, many people still think it’s wrong for me to insist they treat me with respect or stay away. It’s not logical. I’ve chosen to do what’s logical, no matter what others think and my life is much happier. It’s better for my husband and kids too. My grandkids are growing up free of that toxic influence. We are all beginning to thrive. Things can get better, Suvi. I’m not telling you to go no contact. That isn’t a cure-all for everyone. What’s important is to focus on your own healing and trust yourself to know what is true about your life and give yourself what you need to become whole. Anyway, that’s what worked for me. Everyone has to find their own path but I think we all get there by following and insisting upon truth.

I’m glad you’ve stopped self-abusing. I did that too. I picked up right where everybody else left off. It was what seemed ‘normal’ to me. Now I don’t shoot for ‘normal’, I aim for healthy. I thought I was a defect but I’m not. I wpent my life operating in a defective family system, living by the rules it imposed on me. I don’t live by those rules anymore and I’m no longer a part of that sick system. It’s amazing to be free. In fact, even though I have some sadness over the loss of my FOO, I’m terrified of gowing back because now that I’m not in it, I can see the danger I was in much more clearly.




one of the bigger guilts I’ve had, is that I stayed with a man for years after he told me he was a pedophile. I remember the moment, and when he saw my reaction he backtracked saying, “Oh that was when I was a teenager, and more so the company I was with”.

I never forgot his admission. I never saw him act strangely toward children. By the time he told me, I loved him. My mother told me, I’d never get a man. The one time he blackened my eye, I called her and she asked, “What did you do?” So, I held on to what I could get.
He would for years later swear he never admitted such a thing, he swore on his dead son’s soul. I was heavy into drink and drugs and felt confused. He, like my original family treated me like I was sick and dependant. After I left him, he was imprisoned for child porn offenses.

I too picked up where my original abusers left off. They told me I was weak and sick and needed this man, I was ‘weak and sick’, they said so. I am not. They were sick. In a sick family, health is torn down. Health doesn’t follow the rules, it doesn’t support The Family. And the Family always comes first. I don’t know what it’s like to be a “burier”. I can’t ignore or ‘forgive’. Forgiveness is a possible last step, a terrible first step. I miss what I’ll never have, but I am more important than The Family.



Hi Doren, I’m sorry you had to go through all of that. I never got any support from my family either and they always sided with those who hurt me too. I’m sure they still would if I were around to listen. They see no need to change and there is nothing more cruel than willful ignorance.

Sexually abusing children is right next to being a serial killer. It’s the same kind of mentality. I’ve heard them claim to ‘love’ children but to do what they do, they can’t think of children as human beings. They have to objectify them. They aren’t attracted to a person and the fact that they prefer a certain age group, belies that fact. That’s what makes hebephiles predators, also. People don’t always understand that. Of course, there are a lot of men willing to have sex with a teenage girl if the opportunity arises and that confuses the issue. People don’t stop to consider what is stolen from children who are sexually abused. I know my family has never considered any of this. They prefer to blame me. Instead of giving me support when I finally clearly, understood what had happened to me, they chose to re-traumatize me by siding with my rapist. Unbelievably cruel. I agree, my sanity, happiness, and well-being are not things I should sacrifice in order to keep the family my parents created in tact.



Thanks Pam. I’m so sorry you never got the support you needed from your family. There really is no pain like family turning their back on your suffering.

I desperately want one day to be a whole healthy person and get to inner freedom. As I get closer to some realizations, I feel worse and think I’m backtracking, or feel more hopeless about myself. Yet there is inside of me a tiny voice that tells me, keep on going. I have been trying to avoid this hurt for a long long time.

After my sister left from visiting me last week, I drank again, as I have for a few years after seeing her. Always I feel rejected when I see her. She’s put a wall between us for 40 years but denies any conflict. When I drank again, I knew I felt hurt that she was protecting our common abuser over me. When she asked me if I’d got Mom a present for Christmas, and could she get her one on my behalf, it’s like something in me died. My illusions of family, I am forced to give up.

I speak of my sister a lot because she is the only family I have. I am facing that she made a choice a long time ago, and I’ve refused to see it. She told me last year, “Don’t tell me if you think you were molested, in case it happened to me”. I represent something she doesn’t want to see. She needs and prefers the illusion of family.

But what I realized this week as I drank, I too have been holding on to the illusion. I couldn’t deny the connection between her and the bottle anymore. And I thought of the first time I got drunk, and my sister put the bottle in my hand. It was my 15th birthday, nobody was home but me and her. She was 23. She got a call from a friend and told me, “I’m going out, but I got this Sangria for us, you can have it”. And she left and I drank the whole thing, and discovered escape. I don’t blame her for my drinking, I’d have found alcohol soon enough anyway. But this week, I was forced to make the connection, that for 33 years I’ve been using to numb the abandonment from my only family, and also, to keep my own self in ‘family’ by fulfiling my ‘role’ as addict/screw up/silenced truth teller.

It felt like an elevator coming to your floor, a revelation rising up. I had to make some sense of the profound disappointment I felt in myself for drinking again. But I can’t stand this bashing of myself inside anymore. There are reasons why I’ve been so self-destructive, and the only way to stop is to make some connections.

But I feel terrible, I feel worse for seeing things clearer. A few months ago I had more elation over this process. In a way it was much better to be in a bubble, to push my voice down, to tell myself, “Oh no, my sister would not hurt me, she doesn’t know”. She knows. People know what they’re doing. They know you are hurting, it’s plain as day. And they chose to look away. And I guess the best thing for me is this terrible feeling right now. People told me, “It will get worse before it gets better”. You don’t know what that means until you feel it.



Doren, A big step for me in overcoming my self-abuse was deciding to poor a six pack of beer down the sink instead of down my throat. I put it in the garabage rather than treating myself like garbage. Understanding does hurt but it doesn’t do the same amount of damage as living in denial, no matter what we do to get to that state of denial. It’s better to face the pain with eyes wide open than to create a dream version because it costs so much to keep that dream going. People who stay in denial miss out on life and everybody has to wake up someday, sometime and when they do they find they have nothing. At least, we know what we really have and we have the hope of building a new future that is based in reality. Sometimes, I think they really don’t know what they’re doing and in a way that’s worse than thinking they do. I think they are so self-envolved and involved in their system of denial that they aren’t aware that other people hurt because of their actions. The only thing that matters is their own pain and whatever they have to do to numb it.

I believe things will get better for you, Doren. Facing the truth is like taking medicine. It tastes nasty and can even make you feel sicker for awhile but when it has done its work and cures the disease, a whole new life lies before you.:0)



Thank you Pam for that great encouragement. I guess it doesn’t really matter, do they know, do they not—-it’s still a matter of facing myself above all others. I’d have to live in their heads to know, and trying to figure family out, time goes by on me.

I am almost petrified to do this. It’s all I know, turning the painful emotions off with chemicals. But of course, the pain is there anyway. It can’t go anywhere, I house it until I deal with it. And in fact, perhaps I’m scared to give up the emotional pain. It is all I really know of myself at this point.

I wrote my sister today and told her I need a year before seeing her again, I told her I drank after the visit, I don’t blame her for my drinking, I just can’t deal emotionally with visits, it triggers me to use. I told her I also can’t take things that used to be Mom’s, and I especially can’t take gifts that I once gave Mom. I told her it hurts me to get back these presents. There’s something psychological about her giving them back to me, and I’m glad I finally told my sister today to stop doing that.

The biggest fractured relationship as a result of my childhood is with myself. I don’t know who I am underneath the hurt. But I know now the answer lies in turning my focus from them to me. It’s ‘icky’ to make these boundaries with my sister, but it’s down to my survival. People can get on board, or not, but being responsible for my life means being inner-directed. I’ve resisted that, because I haven’t wanted to look at myself. I’ve been driven to turn to others with “love me love me love me” while avoiding myself.

I take great encouragement from your words that it will get better. I’m not sure if what I’ve written about here pertains to your topic, I just had to write this down.



Doren, It all relates and I’m glad you were able to write it down here. I understand how you’re feeling. Really being honest about the relationship I had with my sister was the hardest part. I made her more than she really was and was very emotionally, dependent on her. It was hard to sever that but it needed to be done for both of our sakes. I still have hope that things will work out differently between us someday but I’m not sorry that things have changed. I miss her but our relationship wasn’t healthy. My hope is that she’ll find her way to embracing the truth and we could start all over. I have that hope but I have no sense of certainty about it. I can’t allow myself to do that. I just have to keep living in truth and see what unfolds. I have no other choice.

Thanks for sharing, Doren.



Pam, Thanks for this interesting article. I know I keep saying this on this site, but your mom could be my mom. My mother is so good at using her power to convince others of my “inherent so-called badness.” And both of my sisters and my brothers have jumped into the fray. I have no one except my own kids and husband that believe how she really is. I have found that even friends don’t quite accept where I am at in life. (No contact with my FOO, they just don’t understand it.) Unless you had a mother and father who discounted you, messed with your brain, manipulated, and played games with you, you don’t understand it. The last I spoke with one of my sisters she said, “Don’t you understand how you are hurting me by talking mean about a woman I love?” (Meaning our mother.) She completely disregarded what my mother had done to hurt me by saying “Why should I put a fake smile on my face for you and go to your daughters’ wedding?” What loving Grandmother would say such a thing to their daughter near her granddaughters’ wedding? My mother would! But she’s allowed to hurt me to the core, and I am supposed to buck up and forgive her. This has been my whole life. This is not love. I’m also sure that my sister doesn’t realise that my mother doesn’t know how to love or what love is. This is how I see her because of my past. There’s many more examples my whole life of her quick little put downs on me. Most of the time she did her nasty talk with me was when we are alone or on the phone alone. (She’s so good at covering her bad side to EVERYONE.) She’s a regular church goer and involved in bible study weekly. I hate to get religious on the site, but I really thought the bible helps people to not be hateful to others! Maybe she will study it next week. (Being sarcastic.) I guess after seeing all of the posts on this site I know my mother will never change. I see that now, but I am still left with the lingering “Why just me and not my other siblings?” I will keep working on me and have to disregard them for my self preservation. Peace and love all!


Melody, It is the same for me. My family of origin expects me to overlook everything they and others do to me but everything I do is up for correction. It’s nuts and trying to live that way made me nuts!I think I’m past worrying about what others think about my not participating in my family’s sick system. My husband and children are more than supportive and they’re the ones who count. It has made all of our lives better. The Bible only helps people improve when they apply it. People have all kinds of reasons for going to church and Bible studies and a lot of them have to do with building a false persona. Many find the Bible a useful club to hit others over the head with. No one can change unless they want to and have a reason to do so.



What a great article. I lived through some extreme family dysfunction this past holiday season, and something really clicked for me as too why my family was so broken and why I find myself at 52 years old with no friends, no husband, no job….just totally shut-down. I have a rage issue…so do many of my 10 siblings, however, I am the only one who admits it, and I am the only one who has tried to understand it; albeit, I’ve never really been able to figure it all out. Well, after one of my sisters totally ruined the holidays for everyone by jumping up from a holiday table, calling everyone names and traumatizing the children, I had enough and wrote a lengthy email telling her how inappropriate her behavior was, and called out a couple of my other sisters about their constant berating of others in the family behind their backs. I was shocked when everyone in my family started hurling insults at me blaming my rage issues for all that is wrong with this family. That I did no good by confronting these people. “You can’t change anyone but yourself.” No matter how many times I explain to my aging mother and/or my sisters that I am not trying to change anyone, I was simply pointing out that I WILL NOT BE SUBJECTED TO THEIR INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR ANY LONGER. I became so frustrated that my family was being so cruel as to take another family member’s bad behavior, turn it back on me and use it as a tool to point out issues I ALREADY KNOW I HAVE. When I am one of the few in the family who is will to accept and own my issues, it has been used to beat me over the head and take the light off their own short-comings time and time again. My mother talks to me like I went to a store and purchased my rage issues. Like somewhere in my life, I chose to be a person riddled with unresolved emotional baggage. Believe it or not, it has only been through this recent incident, and finding this great website that I am now starting to understand that my rage is born out of things that happened to me many, many years ago, and exacerbated by years and years of living in a large, dysfunctional family. Toxic family really. When I was a child, I was a piece of furniture. I was never talked to, validated in any way or protected. I was born. They barely fed, clothed and kept a roof over my head (even though we moved every 6 months), but nothing else. Not one of my emotional needs were ever even addressed. The reservoir inside of us that holds the hurt feelings we either can’t acknowledge because we are only a child, or don’t acknowledge because we are incapable of doing so as an adult, that reservoir was filled to capacity probably by the time I was 5 years old. After that, the hurt feelings I continued to endure spilled over into the reservoir that holds angry feelings I couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with. And finally, when the angry reservoir was all filled up, the RAGE reservoir started taking it all on; the hurt, the anger and the rage. After a while, it’s more and more difficult not to rage when your feeling are even slightly hurt about maybe a minor issue. FINALLY after trying to figure this out for the last 10-15 years, I believe I’m getting a handle of how this rage issue started, and what I need to solve it once and for all. I really wish I could get my mother to understand this. She received a fair amount of therapy through out her life, and I never dreamed she would have such a hard time understanding that I did not create my rage issues. I feel as though she should be throwing a party with relief knowing that at least one of her 9 daughters has seen the light and may have a chance of cleaning up some of the garbage that fills her soul. I don’t get it. Any suggestions?


Sorry about this, but I have really been using this comments area as a tool to help purge my demons. I read my above comments and wanted to correct a couple grammar errors and just write it better….more clear. It’s useful to me to know I am understood. Thanks.

What a great article. I lived through some extreme family dysfunction this past holiday season, and something really clicked for me as too why my family was so broken and why I find myself at 52 years old with no friends, no husband, no job….just totally shut-down. I have a rage issue…so do many of my 10 siblings, however, I am the only one who admits it, and I am the only one who has tried to understand it; albeit, I’ve never really been able to figure it all out. Well, after one of my sisters totally ruined the holidays for everyone by jumping up from a holiday table, calling everyone names and traumatizing the children, I decided it had to be addressed, so I wrote a lengthy email telling her how inappropriate her behavior was, and while I was at it, I called out a couple of my other sisters about their constant berating of others in the family behind their backs. I was shocked when everyone in my family started hurling insults at me blaming my rage issues for all that is wrong with this family. That it “Did me did no good to confront these people.” “You can’t change anyone but yourself.”
No matter how many times I explain to my family that I am not trying to change anyone, I was simply pointing out that I WILL NOT BE SUBJECTED TO THEIR ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR ANY LONGER. I became so frustrated that my family was being so cruel as to take another family member’s bad behavior, turn it back on me and use it as a tool to make me feel even more horrible about issues I ALREADY KNOW I HAVE. They actually tried to make me out to be insane, while elevating themselves above any accountability. They seriously hoped that I was sick enough (as sick as they are), or stupid enough to just accept their blame and shame for something that had nothing to do with me or my issues. And to cap it all off…no one has even heard from the sister that caused the scene on Christmas eve. As long as they had someone to point to (that would be me), then the real culprit gets off scott free.
Because I am one of the few in the family who is willing to accept and own my issues, it has been used to beat me over the head time and time again so to take the light off acknowledging their own rather extreme issues. My mother talks to me like I went to a store and purchased my rage issues. Like somewhere in my life, I chose to be a person riddled with unresolved emotional baggage. It has only been through this recent incident with my dysfunctional family, and finding this great website that I am now starting to understand that my rage is born out of things that happened to me many, many years ago, and exacerbated by years and years of living in a large, dysfunctional family. Toxic family really. When I was a child, I was a piece of furniture. I was never talked to, validated or protected in any way. I was barely fed, clothed and sheltered (even though we moved every 6 months), but nothing else. Not one of my emotional needs were ever even addressed. The reservoir inside of us that holds the hurt feelings we either can’t acknowledge because we are only a child, or don’t acknowledge because we are incapable of doing so as an adult, that reservoir was filled to capacity probably by the time I was 5 years old. After that, the hurt feelings I continued to endure spilled over into the reservoir that holds angry feelings I couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with. And finally, when the angry reservoir was all filled up, the RAGE reservoir started taking it all on; the hurt, the anger and the rage. After a while, it’s more and more difficult not to rage when your feelings are even slightly hurt. It’s hard not to rage when someone makes you even a little bit angry. It’s hard, but I still have not gotten so bad that I would do what my younger sister did on Christmas Eve. I wonder how she is excusing herself for traumatizing children and ruining the holidays for the entire family. If this does not get her to take a look at herself, nothing ever will.
FINALLY after trying to figure this out for the last 10-15 years, I believe I’m getting a handle of how my rage issue started, and what I need to solve it once and for all. I really wish I could get my mother to understand this. She has received a fair amount of therapy through out her life, and I never dreamed she would have such a hard time understanding that I did not create my rage issues. I feel as though she should be throwing a party with relief knowing that at least one of her 9 daughters has seen the light and may have a chance of cleaning up some of the garbage that fills her soul. I don’t get it. Any suggestions?


Connie #100 wrote: ” I was shocked when everyone in my family started hurling insults at me blaming my rage issues for all that is wrong with this family.”

This is EXACTLY what goes on with my family of origin (both sides!) and that’s why I won’t have any contact with any of them any more. It’s so peaceful when they are not around… and this NEVER happens with the other people in my life. So period, bum, poo… “your out of my life.” I’m gone. And happier than I ever imagined without them. Now, if someone starts to make trouble in my life, they are gone too. I don’t play “three strikes you’re out” any more either. If someone makes a mistake, and owns up to it or asks for forgiveness and DOESN’T DO IT AGAIN, fine. If they don’t own up to it they WILL DO IT AGAIN and I will NOT accept anymore of this in my life.

This one rule has changed everything. Nowadays, we have most natural disasters at bay, or we have recovery teams. Unlike many other countries in the world, we have enough to eat, roofs over our head, social security and free education and medical care.

The only real problems we have now in our country and with our neighbors, families and friends, is HOW WE TREAT EACH OTHER. If not for that, we would be in Paradise.

I don’t need any more snakes in my own garden. Begone and they are out of there. Just like vampires, YOU HAVE TO INVITE THEM IN. They can’t come in on their own! Scratching at the windows, knocking at the doors… Just Say No.

And pray.


Thanks for your thoughts Catherine. It made me think of something I saw on FB today. Written by George Carlin:


The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.

George Carlin


Thanks Connie… this is so true! It actually wasn’t written by George Carlin, but by Dr. Bob Moorehead, a pastor, for his sermons and radio program. Dr. Moorehead retired in 1998 after 29 years at his post. There’s a very interesting story to read about this “Paradox.”

I am so grateful that I live in Guatemala, Central America, for most of the year. The culture is so different. The people are so poor in material things but rich in spirit. They would not dream of behaving in some of the ways that we Americans behave. They love and support each other and families really do take care of each other. They cannot rely on government to do it, so they do it for each other. Makes for a whole ‘nother world. I hope that we do not ruin it for them, bringing the virus of consumerism with us as even I have been known to do.

These people have taught me how to work and shown me how to pray. They are of the faithful, and they give pardon every day. This is the first time I have experienced this and it has changed everything.

I can’t imagine that I would ever rejoin organized religion of any kind, but the Guatemalans who do go to church take vows of no smoking, drinking or drugs. And the difference in their families is phenomenal. The level of domestic violence goes down immediately and dramatically, and people begin to get along. I have seen this over and over and know that it works. I wonder how many in our miserable families are addicted to prescription or other drugs, or alcohol of any kind? Plenty in my own family, that’s for sure. Add in personality disorders and mental illness, and you have a powder keg waiting to explode.

I don’t need to be around this anymore, at all. I will enjoy the peaceful company of my self and others who think like I do and believe like I do, and willing work for harmony and support in a productive and prosperous world.

Prosperous for everyone concerned. That’s a keyword here. EVERY ONE, including ME!


And my family is all college-educated white collar professionals with “reputations” to protect and preserve. Don’t think they are any different than a Mafia hit squad, but they “look good” on the outside and they are determined to keep it that way. And a truth-teller like me is considered a squealer and needs to be rubbed out. Ain’t going to happen, folks. There’s whistleblower protection laws and I aim to use them!


Yeah Catherine, I heard that about this not be written by George Carlin after I posted….FaceBook Spam I guess??? You know how that is…


It’s not exactly “spam,” it’s just people changing the story or the author or pertinent information for God only knows what reason. Just like gossip and musical chairs. But it’s still a very good discussion and well worth reading. Thanks for the reminder!


Connie, Being able to be truthful about your problems gives you a leg up on the other members of the family who want to continue in denial. Sadly, I think it may be the trait of bein able to accept one’s wrong-doing that makes us the one chosen as family scape-goat. I got stuck trying to heal my family thinking that was the way to heal myself. I can’t heal any of them. They have to do that for themselves but I can heal me. My suggestion is to keep reading here and follow the truth to where it leads you. Reckoning with the past is the only way to solve the puzzle, change personal behavior, and change our lives. It is the way to heal from childhood abuse and end any current abuse.



Some of my family members remind me of the mean ruler that sits high judgiing and sorting, keeping records of all the wrong and unacceptable that I do.

I think they will even argue with God on judgement Day, when their book of life is opened before them. God you are wrong…..I am right. So Sad


DC, You’re right, it is sad and if we never fall on the bad side of their judgement, it is something I can overlook in people, as a weakness. However, growing up under that kind of attitude is so detrimental. It is a behavior based on fear and a child under those kinds of attitudes lives in constant fear of making a mistake and then being judged and condemned. There is nothing nurturing in fear and fear is the power in all lies. People who put themselves in God’s place, thinking they will not be judged or condemned, if they judge and condemn everyone around them, even their children, have swallowed a huge lie.

Truth heals and it is truth that can lift and disapate the cloud of lies that is human beings sitting in judgement over other human beings.



Judge Jury and Executioner cannot sentence, punish or condemn me like in the past!


Hi Everyone
I just published a new post by Pam!~ This week shares about the process of forgiveness (of child abusers) as it happened for her. I look forward to the conversation!
Here is the link “The Process of forgiving child abusers by Pam Witzemann”

See you there!
Hugs, Darlene


“Judgmental parents raise children who are condemned to self-doubt and they are likely, to become perpetual victims, who accept the treatment they receive as deserved”

This is very triggering for me, and not in a good way. It hurts. Does this mean that all victims of child abuse will always be victims? It makes it sound like change is impossible! They deserve what they get? Can someone please explain this?

I’m dealing with so much of an identity crisis right now- every time I say I am not a victim, that I deserve equal respect, I never know what the response will be. And since I am so new to this self talk, I only believe it some of the time! Uggg! So frusterating! It’s to the point that I don’t want to talk to anyone, because I am tired of being told what to think, being stepped on, and for once I am starting to be able to tell myself what I think, and find out what I think, and actually like it! The problem is when any outside influence triggers an intense fear-response (ie above sentence, or people saying, “I bet if you did blank you could work it out with your parents”). And also, I seem to not be able to maintain this thinking (ie when I think it I believe it with all my heart, when I don’t like now I’m filled with terror and dread).

Gosh, I am having so much self doubt. Yesterday I did a good job of validating myself, I felt in my heart I was an equal, valuable person.

Today? I feel like a victim again.

Thanks to anyone who can help,


GDW, No, that isn’t what I meant at all. I wouldn’t bother to write if I thought there was no hope. I was explaining how judgementalism hurts a child and teaches them to think about themselves. The work that is done on this site is what breaks that kind of thinking and helps victims learn to avoid repeating what happened to them in childhood, in new relationships.

I get triggered sometimes, too. It’s part of the healing process. I used to run from my triggers but now, I try to face into them and figure out why I feel the way I do when certain words or phrases come up. I have to remind myself that just because I was triggered by something someone said, it doesn’t mean they were saying it to hurt me and my response is about what happened to me in the past and not about what someone is saying now.

I hope that helps. I don’t want to hurt anyone with my words but it happens, sometimes.



Yeah that makes sense. I think I’m not far along enough to KNOW that I will and can get better, I am only catching glimpses. I guess my main questions are:
Do you really think we are condemned? Or that we are likely to become victims for good/perpetually?
I think the words condemned and perpetual really got me as they sound permanent.

I think I might be able to take a big breath in, if I could get some reassurance that victimhood is not something we are given by are parents and stuck with.
I think that’s what it comes down to- I don’t know the answer to those questions, I can’t confidently say there is any hope for change. And that scares me!

I am at such a stage right now where questioning things and starting to form my own opinions is happening. It’s quite scary, and many times I default to the, “I guess you are right”. But right now, I’m asking for clarification.

Thanks Pam,


I want to jump in here: In this process I found out for the first time that I have a choice. Through embracing the truth, I rejected all their definitions of me. I threw off the shackles of victimhood. Coming from these families is not a death sentence anymore. I survived but now I thrive. There is hope for change AND yes it is scary. I think of it as the fear of the unknown. I never lived as an individual. I didn’t even know if I would like me if I found out that I wasn’t who they said I was. All of it was unknown, but I can tell you that not one of my fears was as bad as I thought it would be ~ not even the rejection of my family. Taking my life back has been amazing, freeing and really fantastic, and I LOVE the real me. I love living in my own skin. I have not had a depression in over 8 years or 10, I’ve lost track, which I think is an all time record becasue I suffered from many childhood depressions.
Hugs, Darlene


GDW, I was writing to show what happens if there is no intervention and no attempt made at healing. Darlene is right, there is all kinds of hope and I’m so much better because of what Darlene does here. I was tired of being abused by people and my desire to get better led me here. I found the validation I needed to help me accept the truth and then learn how to stand up for myself and stop people from abusing me. There were patterns of relationship that I repeated over and over but I learned to break those patterns. I still have some healing to do but for the most part, I am thriving too. I’m whole and no longer splintered into a million broken pieces. I have self acceptance and I can validate my self now too. I have self-confidence, dignity, self-eteem. It’s wonderful and I think every abuse survivor is capable of the same kind of healing.:0)



Thanks Pam and Darlene,

These are both such helpful comments that give me a lot of hope! For me wording is so powerful and so this clarification helps immensely!



“All of it was unknown, but I can tell you that not one of my fears was as bad as I thought it would be ~”

That is so helpful and inspiring. I think about it when I’m afraid to do something. It is so true.



Thank you so much for this article made me open my eyes… The same thing too it’s h
Happening to me right know with my mother. I can really relate to everything you wrote everything really.
And I am trying to understand my mother and come to terms with how she is….. And sadly my sister adopted her same crazy personality. Right now I feel like the black sheep of the family…. I know I’ve made some mistakes in my life and I’m still working on being a better person every day but I get hit on the face with everything I do. And everything I do is always questioned…and judge….. . It’s horrible but I know I got to do the same thing you did just stop the abuse….


Hi Alesines
Welcome to EFB
It was when I stopped trying to understand my mother that I made some progress with my recovery. 🙂
Hugs, Darlene


This is a very powerful article. Because of the thoughts my mother has about me, I hate certain things about myself. I am the most judgmental person of MYSELF, now because of it as well. My husband and I are in couples counselling right now because of it. I ceaselessly compare myself to his first wife to the point of torture and I can’t seem to stop. I can’t forgive myself for past wrongs. I don’t value my ‘broken road’ that led me here. I would have rather done the ‘right’ things than learned from the ‘wrong’ ones. I feel like a crazy person! My therapist ties all of this back to my mother who, even still, has nothing but critical things to say about anything I say or do or wear or how I raise my kids. I kind of feel like, because I am adopted, and I didn’t ‘turn out’ a certain way, that I am a useless person and a huge disappointment. I affects my relationship with my husband. We are just starting to crack this open, but I have a feeling it’s going to get worse before it gets better. It scares me. Thanks for writing this. It makes me feel less alone.


Hi Amanda
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
When the self esteem in injured in childhood, there is very little a child can do about it. The beliefs form and we blame ourselves for difficulties. The key is to see what happened and how it happened so that the damage can be validated and self blame relieved. Then we can go from there.
hugs, Darlene


Hi Alesines & Amanda, Your comments touch a deep, painful chord in my heart. I wastes a great deal of my life trying to win the approval of my mother and sister. I’m free from that now and though I’m still living with some of the consequences of that hopeless pursuit, I’m very glad to be free from living my life while being governed by that disapproval. God’s approval and my approval are my guides now and my life is much happier and more sucessful. I know you both can find the same kind of freedom.



All I can say is Wow. Thank you for sharing this as others have said I feel so strongly that what you have written is practically word for word my own life. I’m 26 now and still struggling with this, I hope to one day be able to explain this to my dad and do what needs done. Glad to know I’m not alone though.


Hi David, The shame of sexual abuse is very isolating and I also, was encouraged to find that others knew how I had suffered. However, I can’t help but wish that mine was an isolated case because I don’t want anyone to live through the pain of sexual abuse. I hope talking about it not only helps others heal but makes sexual abuse less prevalent.



Hi Pam..a great exactly describes my childhood. My family is also pretty judgemental.I am now married with a 2 year old living at my parents home. My family is all very educated.My bro is a doctor. The profession I want to go into and my dream to become an artist. They say. it is unrealistic and domething what an uneducated person would do.I often get highly. criticized by everyone on everything i do whether it is to do with housework or the way. vv i dress up my hair my body .image. This has lacked my self esteem. criticized


cont d…my husband also I feel has caught my weakness because I always seek approval from my mother on how to bring my kid up.He sometimes even takes advantage of it. He says that moving out is a better idea. I dont know whether it is a good idea or not?


I feel hopeless. Because of this. I never got anywhere in life.


Hi misssewingbee, I’ve heard it said that the only way to stop an abuser from abusing is to remove the victim. I know from my own experience that this kind of treatment robs the victim of self-confidence and that makes it hard to make decisions for change. I had to rewire my thinking about relationships and through that process, I found self-acceptance and I developed more self-confidence. I hope you will continue reading the articles here. They are full of practical hope for the hopeless.



My remaining brother is a black and white kinda guy. He is also a baptized Christian who wont accept anything or anyone who isnt like him. Not even my daughter. I seen where Jesus did not come to the Earth to judge. Hate to say that I think said brother is mentally unstable. I judge no one, not even the guy around here who calls me punta. I am to myself, and think of how it hurts people to be mean. I have a great marriage, good kids and grandkids, and a good dog. I am no longer a victim of abuse…first a mother, then this brother. Hope others overcome feeling inferior and realize like me they are a child of God, loved by him whether they accept it or not .Hugs


justme, There are denominations out there that are very black and white and I think, black and white thinkers are attracted to them. The good thing is they may learn what it is like to be judged that way and want to change. I think our psychology affects the way we all hold our spirituality. As I have grown spiritually and also, worked to change my inner psychology, I have become a much different person than when I first became a Christian. A different, happier, even joyful person. I could not have any of that if I were still allowing my foo to abuse me. I can’t change any of them but like you, I pray that God will change their hearts. I can’t love them in person so, I love them through prayer. What amazes me is that I still love them and I don’t think I’d have that if it weren’t for God’s full acceptance of me. I also, couldn’t have that if I hadn’t worked on changing how their abuse taught me to view myself and others.



thank you for sharing this… Have the same problem with my mother…


Hi Camille
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
You have found a website FULL of information and healing from difficult relationships especially between mothers and daughters.
hugs, Darlene


Dear Pam, many thanks for your personal sharing. I’d say my life from the 20s to now almost fifteen years is highly traumatised by my verbally abusive mother. From a Chinese background where filial piety is of utmost importance I’ve suffered from enduring the abuse, feeling depressed and yet returning such abuse with kindness to my mother. After I finished highers I’ve got flying colours which had gotten me into medicine. However I was at that point really burnt out and heavy hearted with years of examination and studies that I couldn’t take it anymore. I chose an ‘easier’ field which is the profession I like – teaching. For most Chinese parents who like to compare kids’ achievement and justifying their time investment in ‘educating’ for doing well in exam, I had done a gravely unacceptable thing and brought shame to family. I am cutting short here the barbaric treatment that I received back then for five years which were the worst to ‘lesser’ evil following that only because I pursued and secured a PhD. There were slamming of doors and windows, constant mocking of my lack of intelligence and value as a child, celebrating birthday with my twin sister but not me, texts after texts of scolding, telling me that if ever she has cancer it will be my doing of causing her the emotional turmoil.. And all these and more were done in public and at home that I’ve cried everywhere in my town. I was silly that I thought I should understand their reaction by never saying a word back, crying silently for years, treating them even better and even kneeling before them to apologise. After I became from their lense of judgment, finally successful as a lecturer things were better from the outlook but I can always feel the hidden grudges and mockery that has gone on. The treatment to my siblings are always better, whatever I do is still in her eyes childish and stupid. At those times at the depth of depression, my only consolation was my religion and my loving grandma. When my mom unwillingly followed me overseas to help me briefly with my baby my grandma passed away. Everyday she bad mouthed her nonstop and I was only softly reminding her that she has just passed away please speak only of her kindness. Because of this she scolded me everyday and I just couldn’t take it anymore with the grief and lack of support in my challenging life. I reduced interaction with her after she left but slowly we got back into speaking terms. After a year I have just returned home and she chose to bring up this issue and scolded me in front of everyone including my sister’s helper although she could have spoken to me privately. At night she yelled at me for one hour and mocked my one-year-old son while I just shut my ear and walked away busily preparing baby’s food. To me that was the last straw years I have endured her madness and abuse only with kindness and care. I threw away the letter she wrote me in the morning, I blocked her on my phone and moved out to be with my kind in laws. I will not argue with her but will not initiate contact anymore. Deep inside I feel sad it has to come down to this but it doesn’t mean anymore that if my mother disapproves me I must be unlikeable. Sorry for this long message but it feels calming to voice out with people of similar experience, to feel that I’m not alone. Thanks.

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