How The Truth Silences Inner Critics Voices and Healing Begins by Pam Witzemann


Christina 8Please help me welcome back one of our most popular guest writers ~ Pam Witzemann! In this post Pam shares about how seeing the truth in a bigger picture way, helped her to recognize what her inner critic voices were telling her. Truth was the balance in accountability that Pam needed to silence the lies those inner voices told her about herself that she had believed for so long as part of her coping method. This post is extremely content rich and I encourage you to read it through more than once! ~ Darlene

 How The Truth Silences Inner Critics Voices and Healing Begins by Pam Witzemann

An abusive childhood left me with little self-worth and a damaged ability to trust and form healthy relationships. I have lived most of my life with both a strong inner and outer critic. The inner critic tells me that I’m defective and responsible for every bad thing that happens to me. The outer critic tells me that most human beings shouldn’t be trusted because they are all potentially, dangerous. Both my inner critic and outer critic lie to me and they present themselves as my greatest obstacle in healing from the abuse I suffered during my childhood. Truth is the balance in accountability I need to heal from childhood abuse. Only the truth has the power to silence my inner and outer critics, who are never satisfied until they fully disable me, driving me into deep depression and isolation from others.

Human beings are social creatures. I am a human being and I too am meant to enjoy relationships. However, my early childhood taught me that I wasn’t quite human and the second half of my childhood taught me that all human beings, not just my alcoholic parents, were dangerous. I decided that if I had the choice, I’d rather not be a human being and I spent several decades of my life seeking safety through various forms of isolation and very limited close relationships. As a small child, my isolation was involuntary and imposed on me by poor health and by the way my parents chose to treat my unhealthy condition. From birth, until age seven, I spent most of my time in bed and usually, I was medicated with alcohol. All during my elementary school years I was often, sick and kept in bed. I had a deep longing for something that I didn’t understand, an empty, excruciating, emotional ache; but I grew used to being alone and that state of aloneness became my safe haven from the alcoholic drama that characterized my home life.

During my teenage years, when relationships are of ultimate importance, I learned to relate to other young people, most who were emotionally damaged as I was, through drugs. Together we sought the safe haven of emotional and physical numbness, by abusing ourselves with drugs. This led to my being sexually abused by men who tempted and lured me  with the promise of a place to live away from my abusive, chaotic home and an endless supply of the drugs that allowed me to isolate in the way I felt most comfortable. 

This drug induced state enabled me to tolerate the payback they required, of sexually abusing me to gratify themselves. As a minor child on the streets, I was the victim of several other crimes and I learned to view the world as wholly dangerous and a deep, mistrustful fear of others was set in cement. By the time I was nineteen, I suffered from full blown post-traumatic-stress-disorder symptoms. I didn’t understand my emotional symptoms but my inner critic never failed to lay all the blame for the crimes of abuse I had survived, squarely in my lap. At the same time, my outer critic induced crippling fear by constantly, reminding me that the past could repeat itself or that something even worse was likely, to happen. My inner critic told me that it was up to me to prevent bad things from happening and my outer critic told me to avoid relationships, hide, and as much as possible, live my life as an invisible person. My life experience taught me that the only true safety from others was in not being seen by others and by avoiding contact as much as possible.

Like many survivors of war who suffer from PTSD, I moved to the country and spent ten years living as far away from civilization as I could get. I did have my husband and a few primary relationships but I avoided most people and most social situations. It was me against the world and I had no idea that my thinking was skewed. Others who had a sense of safety in the world seemed foolish to me. I didn’t know that it was I who was lacking and I still can’t help but see those who are completely unafraid of others, as practicing a form of denial. My trauma-experience taught me that it was me vs. them and I lived my life in constant survival mode. I clutched my children close to me and trusted very few people outside of my immediate family. I didn’t talk to anyone about the things that happened to me on the street because I believed it was my fault and I was ashamed.

I dissociated from that portion of my life and tried to become a different person. While my outer critic kept me afraid of the world without, my inner critic kept me fearful of my past being discovered and I lived the worst years of my past, over and over in the form of flashbacks. Fear was my overwhelming response to the many layers of abuse related trauma that formed my childhood. Fear was my way of life. I didn’t trust me and I didn’t trust anyone else, either. Some respond to their outer critic by acting out against others but my response was to batten down the hatches and disappear. My response was to never fully trust, period.

During that time, I found faith and my personal, spiritual relationship with God began. I did find some healing through spiritual means, by learning new behaviors and making my first attempt at true relationship, by choosing to trust God. However I was too emotionally and psychologically broken to even relate to God in a healthy way. My choice of church was driven more by my need to hide from the world than by any kind of spiritual leading or enlightenment. I chose a very strict practice, with lots of rules, and a lot of teaching on being separate from the world by adherence to the rules. There were some good people in my church of choice but it was also, a place where people who want power over others find many useful tools for controlling people. My hiding place couldn’t protect me from what I feared most; abusive human beings, and much of what my family and I endured there had nothing to do with spirituality but everything to do with evil being cloaked in good and abuse disguised as religion.

This was the experience that finally, showed me the fallacy of living a fear-filled life in hiding. This is when I began to face my past and myself with the truth. I’m not talking about the ultimate Truth that also, was instrumental in my healing but the truth about my life, the things that happened to me, and how those events taught me to relate to myself and others.

It was truth in both forms that pushed the doors of my self-imposed prison open and silenced the lies my inner and outer critics constantly bombarded me with thereby granting me the inner silence I needed to be able learn how to become more like the woman I was intended to be.

Knowing and embracing the truth about me led me to full acceptance of the child I once was. I no longer view her as less-than and not quite human. I don’t blame her for the evil things that adults did to her in her broken, innocent state. That little girl is part of me and I love her. She is fully part of the woman I am today and I would not be better off without her or her experiences. Together, we stand up to those abusive inner and outer critics that crippled us for so long. Together we are as one woman, beginning to enjoy that which should belong to all human beings, the joy of relationship.

My greater sense of safety in the world comes from the security I have found through truth. I am secure in my relationship with myself, with my God, and I am better able to keep myself safe in relationships with others. I am able to enjoy relationships with others, as I was never able to enjoy them before.  The truth has made me whole and no matter whether my relationships succeed or fail, no one can take that wholeness from me, ever again.

As an abused child, I was never allowed to grow and become a complete person but I have the victory over my past. I’m the adult now and I have the power of my adult choice to keep that little girl safe and make sure her needs are met. I have claimed ownership of me and though my inner and outer critics still whisper their lies, I silence them with the truth and they are no longer allowed to cripple me. It is self-ownership through truth that is allowing me to trust myself first and then others. It is impossible to learn trust without first embracing truth because real trust consists of truth.

My early relationships were based on lies and it was those lies that formed my inner and outer critics. My new sense of safety in the world doesn’t come from the world at all. My sense of safety lives in me.

Please feel welcome to share your own thoughts and stories here.

Pam Witzemann

If you are interested in how Darlene discovered and uncovered the false messages that were holding her back, “Emerging from Broken ~ The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” is available for download. Click on the book image in the upper right side bar.

 Pam Witzemann is a long-time native of New Mexico. She is a writer, painter, landlord, wife, mother, grandmother, small-business co-owner, child-abuse survivor and overcomer. Emerging from Broken has played a big role in empowering her in her struggle to overcome the emotional damage caused by a childhood of abuse. In her own words, Pam is an avid supporter of the work here on Emerging from Broken and is honored to share her story in support of that good work.

Categories : Survival



Hi Pam,
I’m so sorry for everything you went through as a child.I’m also glad that you found yourself again and the truth set you free.

You say that abuse made you not to trust anyone.For me,it was the opposite.I always felt that only my parents were dangerous,while the outside world seemed like such a good place for me.Until recently,i used to feel safe and free on the street.The park was my refuge,a few hours spent in peace,instead of the constant fighting at home.The music i heard at bar lifted up my mood.Strangers on the street seemed friendly,unlike my abusers.I used to confess my pain to anyone who would listen,just so that i could internalize their comforting words.I blindly put my trust in people who used me as a shoulder to cry on or to give them money.When their problems were solved,they walked away,and i was all alone again.

Basically,my main mistake was this:if abusers are bad,then others are good.And oh,how i learned my lesson the hard way!


I relate to so much of your story, Pam. I, too, have spent much of my life hiding from life. (I also live in New Mexico… plenty of places to hide here!)

Several years ago I discovered this amazing blog. I remember Darlene once told me that my long comments were what started the trend of other readers making long conversational comments on EFB. Pretty cool!

But then, life happened. My primary abusive parent, who is still alive even though she is pushing 80, sent me a 60+ page letter, telling me everything that was ever “wrong” with me in my entire life. It wasn’t the first book-length hate letter that my momster had ever sent me out of the blue, but it was the first time (I know of) that she sent copies of her hate-my-scapegoat letter to others in my family.

While I was reeling from this, I spent a lot of time on the phone with my younger first cousin, a registered nurse who lived in Albuquerque and worked on the infusion ward of UNM hospital. My cousin, an RN who also had a masters in psychology, and who had known my mother/her aunt throughout her entire life, told me during our last phone conversation that “it would explain everything” if my mother has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. (Though definitely of the deadly psychotic malignant variety.)

Oh, wow, Pam — it felt so wonderful to be believed and VALIDATED, for the first time in my life, by a blood relative! Prior to this, everyone in my family seemed to buy into my mother’s scapegoating projecting lies that she has been telling about me since I was a little girl.

But… this part I still can’t quite believe or even accept… the very next day after my cousin Elaine said these affirming words to me, while I was writing a long loving email to her full of plans to get together with her in a couple of weeks… my cousin drowned. On June 3, 2011, in the Montezuma hot springs of norhtern New Mexico, my sweet precious wonderful cousin Elaine, who was only 38 years old, DROWNED.

My grief was truly unbearable. She was so young, so alive, so caring and sweet. She was my only blood relative living in this state. Why did God let her DIE when she and I had JUST started to get really close, despite all of my mother’s scapegoating lies that had kept us apart until then?

I wanted to die, too. I went to bed and I basically did not get out of it for over two years. Eventually I even stopped going on blogs like this one, because not too many people understood or wanted to deal with my extremely distraught mindset at the time. Not even here, not even on Emerging From Broken.

I was too broken for EFB. At least, that’s how it seemed to me, at the time.

But… GOD did not give up on me. My loving best-friend-husband, a wonderful USMC Vietnam combat veteran who, like me, also has severe PTSD, he loved me unconditionally and he did not give up on me. Our next-door neighbors, a couple a lot like us — he is also a Nam vet on disability for PTSD, and she is very reclusive and has symptoms of PTSD from past abuse — they also did not give up on me. And our precious fur-baby, our rescued Cattle Dog, was a huge hel. She helped me to hang onto life through the darkest of times, by staying faithfully at my side even when that had to be the boringest place she could choose to be.

Like you said, Pam, facing the truth and telling the truth is KEY to our recovery from being broken. Both the Truth with a capital “T,” as well as our own personal truth.

I have a motto that was born out of finding my way through and out of my deepest pain. My motto is this: Fear No Truth.

Even when the truth hurts, the only way to effectively deal with reality and to make the best of What Is, is to first of all, face What Is.

Lately, with stories in the news about women saying they were drugged unconcious and then raped by the famous comdian Bill Cosby when they were in their teens — these awful stories are making me realize why it may be so hard for some people to hear and validate my truth about my history of trauma and abuse.

You see, I don’t want to believe that the brilliant comic actor who made me laugh and who warmed my heart with his sweet family shows and fatherly act, is a RAPIST! A serial rapist, yet! A rapist of young girls! Oh NO… I don’t want to believe it.

But I do believe it. Why would these women all be telling these stories if there were no truth to them? I can’t imagine it doing any of them any good to say these things, unless they are true. The more who come out with these stories, the less likely it is that they are ALL lying.

So yes, this awful thing in the news is helping me to see why almost no one has ever wanted to believe that my “sweet” mother tried to gas our entire family to death when I was 12. She tried it several times and could not manage to kill us because the furnace had a safety shut-off valve that turned off the gas when the pilot was out. My mother tried with a wrench to override the safety but still we did not die in our beds as she had planned. So then she was going to drive us off a cliff… but she chickened out at the last minute and then she confessed to me what she had been doing and why, all those nights when the house got so cold because the heat wasn’t coming on because the pilot light was out.

Then, after making me her confessor at the age of 12, my mother turned against me and began telling everyone horrible lies about me — why? To discredit me in advance, in case I one day broke my promise to not tell her horrible secrets? Or was she simply projecting all of her disowned badness onto me?

I think it was a combination of things. But it sure made for a miserable childhood.

When you have a mother who tries to gas the entire family to death, because “I brought the 5 of you kids into the world so I have the right to take you out of it!” — trust me when I say that this is just a small example of the many horrible things that went on in my childhood home when I was growing up.

ALSO, since it is trut that like is attracted to like and sick is attracted to the same degree of sickness, even if it is a different kind of sickness, trust me when I say that my dad was just as abusive and just as insane as my mother ever was, in his own way. He stopped the car on the Oakland Bay Bridge and told me he was going to throw me off the bridge and that I would fall into the water and die. He made me look over the railing to see how far down the water was. He held me up against the railing, chanting that he was going to throw me off and that I would die… and part of me did die, in that moment, when I thought he really was going to do it and I knew I was too little to stop him. My dad got right up to the railing and then, for whatever reason, changed his mind. But I have never been able to drive over a bridge since without flashing back.

A few years later my dad dangled, literally dangled, my then-two-year-old sister off the side of the top floor of a 4-story parking garage, chanting in the same psycho sing-song voice he had used when he was saying he was going to throw me off the bridge: “I’m going to drop you… I’m going to drop you…” while her twin and 9-year-old me were screaming “NO DADDY NO DON’T HURT OUR SISTER PLEASE” and trying to pull him back away from the half-wall.

And the list of sick evil traumatic abuses from BOTH parents goes on and on.

But my dad was a MINISTER of a small fundamentalist church! My mother was his Bible-thumping helpmate/pastor’s wife! People LOVED my parents! Maybe not as much as people love Bill Cosby, but they were loved enough that no one wanted to believe ME when I began trying to speak out about the abuses, including sexual, that occurred behind the closed doors of our home.

For most of my 61 years I have struggled with trust. How could I ever trust anyone, when my own parents did such horrible things? How could I ever learn to feel SAFE in the world, or even to feel safe in my own skin? When the people who don’t abuse you or abandon you or ignore you or treat you like you are a crazy liar, go and DIE on you!

Hey, I know we are all going to die. But my cousin drowned at the age of 38 right after telling me, in so many words, that my mother’s 60+ page hate letter had FINALLY made her see the truth about her aunt. I am deeply thankful my cousin gave me those validating words, the night before her tragic untimely death. But…. I WANT MY COUSIN ELAINE STEWART BACK. I still miss her every single day.

Yes, life can be very hard at times, almost unbearably so. BUT… this is what I have come to believe, through everything I have experienced: As long as we have love in our hearts, puppies and kittens and sweet innocent babies in the world, beautiful sunrises and glorious sunsets: life is a wonderful gift.

We CAN overcome even the worst that life has to dish out, but ONLY as long as we are willing to Face The Truth and SPEAK Our Truth, regardless of whether anyone even wants to hear us, or believe us, and even if everyone seems to ignore and reject us. We have to choose ourselves. We have to believe ourselves. We have to validate and honor and affirm ourselves. We have to love ourselves.

Even if you feel ignored or outright rejected by some people on the very blogs and forums that are meant to HELP broken people… if the whole world turns their back, never, EVER give up on YOU.

I am now going by the pen name Alaina Adams as well as still using my old @LadyQuixote on Twitter.

In Peace, Truth, and Love ~ Alaina, aka Lady Quixote


I identify with much of what you say here, and thank you for writing this blog post. I have always tried to fit in, but have usually failed miserably. I am still living a very reclusive life with my husband, and the reclusiveness has grown even more intense since recent major traumas have happened. We are trying to gradually work through them. By the way, it is nice to see another New Mexican in our internet trauma circles!


Susa, I’m sorry for your recent traumas and I understand the reclusive response. When I confronted the way my family treated me and lost them, I too became even more reclusive for awhile. That experience was a new trauma that opened up many old ones. I’m past that now though and my new understanding of myself and how relationships should work has given me the confidence to try to reach out and connect with others. I don’t take any relationship for granted anymore and I’m very mindful of the process of a developing friendship. I’m having fun getting to know new people.

I love my native New Mexico but there should be many more New Mexicans visiting EFB because our state is at the top of the list when it comes to child abuse. There is a great need for healing here.



Thanks Pam, once again you have written a very insightful article. This one has me honking a lot about my own sense of safety in the world. I know I’ve written on other threads about how withdrawn I was as a child. Hiding within myself was how I kept myself safe. If no one knew my feelings and thoughts then no one could criticize me for them. If I kept quiet about my own wants and needs, they wouldn’t interfere with someone else getting what they want, nor would anyone have to be inconvenienced meeting my needs. I also feared being ridiculed for my thoughts and feelings. So much safer to stay hidden. These days I am much more comfortable around people, but at the same time I give my trust slowly to people. I am getting much more savvy at spotting manipulators and people who mistreat others.
Thanks again for another great article. I really value the insight I get from both you and Darlene.


Oh no, spell check again! Grrrrrrr! It should say thinking, I am not “honking”,, or am I? LOL.


Hi Amber, lol! You can honk if you want to, it’s cute.:0) I think what changed things for me is self-acceptance and I think I hear you saying that you are developing the same. Trust is hard for me and I don’t think that can be otherwise for people who were badly hurt by the people who brought them into the world. If you can’t trust your parents, then who can you trust? When I was young, I gave my trust all at once, or none at all. I was without personal boundaries and didn’t understand how to give incremental trust. Then I quit trusting anyone. I certainly, didn’t trust myself. It all goes back again to understanding where I end and other begin. Now that I understand, I can give trust in increments as a relationship develops and I can trust myself.

Thank you, Amber for the support you give me.



Pam this is a great post. It makes me want to cry!!! It is sooooo close to home. I want that close knit friendship too!! I am trying to consciously make the choice to “step out and find out” right now and it is so hard for me to do after decades of isolating myself but I know that I will never have those close knit bonds with people doing what I have been doing all of these years. You really do have to make the choice to walk in fear and I think that is what makes it so hard.
I don’t want to be afraid while I do it!!! lol …but there is no other way that I can see to get around this.

I had a very traumatic childhood and there was an incident when I was 5 years old where I asked my friend to come over and play but I didn’t ask my parents for their permission first and my father went ballistic in a drunken rage and I ended up with blood splattered all over my bedroom wall and now anytime someone asks me to go out and do something fun I relate it to this incident. All my life any time someone would ask me to go out I would get severe anxiety leading up to the day of the event and by the time the day hit I was beside myself. When I was at the event those inner voices told me what a worthless piece of garbage I was as a way to get me to leave so I would be safe in my mind and by the time the event was over I was ready to kill myself and after time I just plain gave up because it just never felt safe to me even though I never understood the reason why. A lifetime of isolation prevailed and a laundry list of losses accumulated with each passing year where I stayed to myself.

This traumatic event cost me from having fun for 48 years. It cost me from being able to form close bonds with people. It prevented me from having fond memories to share with a friend. I look at old photo albums and all that is in there are a bunch of drunken escapades to hide from the pain of my past with a bunch of other people who were trying to do the same thing. I am grieving my losses and it is hard. This post really stirred up the crap!!!! I am trying to “step out and find out” but it is so hard to do. Some days I want to jump out of my skin because I am so hurt and angry over this but I know that I have to find a way to deal with my losses because there is no way of getting things back. It certainly is a process to say the least!!!! Can anybody share HOW they overcame their inner fear? I did read Darlene’s book and it was excellent but I would like to hear from other people as well. I suspect the answer is staring me right in the face if I would just take a good look in the mirror but with me having Dissociative Identity Disorder that is a whole other issue!!! Lol (Just joking…I am not trying to make excuses for myself. God only knows I have done that enough times in my life!!!)



Hi Kris, I don’t think acknowledging what you have to overcome is making excuses. Flashbacks are excruciating, at times and the incident you’ve shared is definitely in that category. There’s a lot of pain to force yourself through in order to take the risk of connecting with others. It isn’t a small thing.

I’m timid as I reach out too. It does take courage. Nothing can erase the risk that is part of connecting with people but I also, know that in the good relationships that last, a lot of personal growth takes place when two people work through problems together. I’ve worked hard to silence my inner critic because she had nothing good to say about me. She definitely wasn’t a good friend. However, that inner voice now serves me in the form of insight into my own behavior but the negatives have been modified by replacing them with more realistic assessments of me. I’m still working on modifying my outer critic because I still need that voice to keep me safe but I’m trying not to end a new relationship the first time I see a flaw in another that might prove hurtful to me. I’m working on being cautiously, watchful without going home and hiding under the bed.:0( I’m working on achieving balance between ignoring any red flags and avoiding any connection for fear of those red flags appearing. It’s a process that can’t be rushed but I’m enjoying where I am right now.

Grieving is a very important process too. I’ve found that embracing grief is the best way to work through it more quickly. In fact, I’m working on embracing all of my feelings rather than forcing them down by giving myself a half hour per day to simply ‘feel’. The good thing about these ‘healing’ processes is that each portion of the journey flows naturally into the next. I think when you’ve worked through the grief and have a new understanding of who you are, then relationships will follow.

When I was being sexually abused, I broke into many ‘Pam’s’. Then I dissociated from all of them and tried to create a new Pam and keep all those others hidden. I couldn’t fully be ‘me’ until I retrieved all those splinters into one. I still have some fragmented memories but the reconciliation took place naturally, as I replaced the lies I’d been taught about myself with truth. All those ‘Pam’s’ were created by me in an attempt to please others. Now, I am who I am and I am pleased with me.



Wow, this is really what I need to read right now. I’ve always been relatively trusting and social but a series of traumas brought me to the truth of my early life, the truth about my family, and the truth of what happened to me as a three year old child when two disgusting neighbor boys dragged me into the backseat of their car and sexually assaulted me. My mother knew and did nothing, probably to keep the neighborhood peace but I drew conclusions from that experience that being sexually assaulted was something to bury and never talk about. I didn’t realize until this late stage of my life that her behavior that day, which I remember like it was yesterday separated me from her forever. She did the same thing in other ways throughout my life, and I buried all of it until she died and then I began to remember. I’ve been fascinated by this, that I would begin to remember and uncover things after she passed away. I stood up to my siblings who used to join her in her ‘fun’ where I was concerned, she even went to work on my husband but mostly my siblings worked on him and the marriage was lost. I have, like the rest of you, withdrawn from many social activities because of the pain and the need to feel safe. People where I live tend to be overbearing, competitive and narcissistic. I sometimes think that I’m not withdrawn, I’ve just wised up! No…it isn’t just the narcissistic people, I just find that so few have been subjected to the level of trauma, and they can’t relate. Or, I feel like I’m just pretending to be unaffected all the time by what’s happened. I need a way to process all the abuse and trauma so that I can lose this sense of pretending that everything is alright. It isn’t. I’m traumatized, I have lost friends and I’m also estranged from my family. I wouldn’t know what to say to them now that I have woken up!


Hi Alaina Adams

I’m sorry your comment was held in moderation because you changed your name. I have been travelling without internet access – and I am extremely busy (so exciting!) but I have been
Unable to check the blog for about 36 hours and that’s why your comment wasnt published.
Please understand it was not personal or related to your comment

Hugs Darlene


Hi Pam

Thanks for your post – it’s wonderful to read your story and amazingly helpful. thank you- and in a place of such acceptance – Darlene has really created something wonderful here.

I have a couple of questions about your process of healing. Like you I had a very isolated existence – not bedridden like you – but as the only child to a single mother – who travelled extensively. It has taken me so long to even start to understand the level of extensive brainwashing that I essentially had imposed on me as a child.

I am at that stage – where I just want to talk about it – for my whole life – as I was completely immersed – i did not know how to actually think / believe myself – there was no-one to actually validate my experience outside my mother – so i have felt crazy – as it has never been recognised. But I am learning slowly to trust my own judgment – and believe it is ok to think as me and grieve for the systematic abuse – and rejection and immersion I suffered. Because it absolutely sucked.

I still really struggle with a lot of shame – about my years of self abuse stemming from this toxic environment – starting in my teenage years – and the compounding belief that the world was a scary dangerous place – and people are not to be trusted – they hurt.

I feel a lot of grief – and it swaps between rage – and sadness for what i experienced and then snaps back into self blame for a good measure. It really sucks and hurts to look at those experiences again. You mention it does not go – so do you need to be vigilant?

Anyway as part of your healing journey you mention spirituality – for me this is an issue – a lot of my experiences are tied negatively with my mother’s quest for spirituality. The word itself creates an adverse reaction with me – physically I tighten up and it creates an immediate stress reaction. A lot of what i have heard is that this healing is a spiritual experience – is there a way that you could define this a little more – so that for a “spiritually” adverse person like myself I can actually break it down – and look at it with more of a process head. It has pointed out that perhaps I am even a little wary of this notion of learning about who I am – as a result of this type of association. How would you define the spiritual aspects – to a complete food for worms type of person. My childhood was decimated by the ugliness of mysticism, seeking the divine, god – I was labelled and shamed in the name of spirituality. Can you define the aspects for me so that I can look at them?

Thank you for sharing – it’s wonderful.


Thank you for your kind words, Pam, and also for letting me know about your experience of how you found a way to become who you chose to be. I am glad that you were successful in finding your happiness in life.

I agree that it would be wonderful if more in NM visited EFB, or joined any online group for survivors. I have not seen many New Mexicans in any of the online groups that I am part of… and yes, there is a great need for help here with so many instances of child sexual abuse. I promote EFB when and where I can.


Pam, I’m a little confused concerning ” inner critic” and ” outer critic”. Could you please elaborate, or give examples because I really want to understand this concept. It looks like something that would be a big key in my process. Thanks so much, and also thanks for your post on incremental trust. This is something I have been getting better at but still have some work to do. Love, Amber



When I was young, a teenager, I gave my trust indiscriminately. That of course, opened me up for more abuse. Every human being is capable of abusing others and most of us, commit some acts of abuse, of varying degree. Then we are sorry for what we’ve done and try not to repeat our mistake. Abusers on the other hand, have decided to make hurting others a way of life.



Hi Alaina aka Lady Quixote, There has to be a foundation for trust and good parents lay that foundation in their children by being trustworthy. I had to build that foundation in myself. That came from replacing the lies abuse taught me with the truth and acting on that truth by doing the right thing. This allows me to validate myself and not look to others for that validation. Don’t get me wrong, I love validation from others but I’m no longer crushed when I don’t get it. I trust myself now because I know the truth and I do my best to do the right thing. That is my foundation for beginning to trust others when I have reason to believe they are trustworthy.



Mary, My family constantly, told me to leave the past behind but I couldn’t. No one does really, no matter what they say, because the past is part of our present and also, our future. Having huge chunks of my life that were taboo to even mention, placed my life on an unnatural time line that was fragmented by those demands. Allowing myself to talk about my life and integrate my past into the present, took my life off of that unnatural, broken timeline. I love the saying, “Eternity is now.” In me there is no time-line. All that my life has been exists in me now and will always be part of me. I have self-acceptance and I’m not haunted by a childhood that I’m trying to deny and forget.

People don’t want to hear about abuse because they don’t want to deal with the problem in their own lives. People like to think it is rare but it is very common, in varying degrees. I’m thankful for EFB where we can talk about our traumas, be heard, and understood.



Wow. When I read about your childhood continued illness (caused by external forces), I was suspecting Munchausen by proxy (which is when a caregiver causes you to be sick to they can get admiration for “caring” for you), but the other stuff you mention later, well, maybe not, instead they are just SICKO people.

I’m sorry for how you life went and admire what you have done to overcome it.

On the other hand, I don’t find any fault with you wanting to avoid people, unless it’s an “extreme” thing. I like to be alone, too, and I avoid people a lot…..


Hi elle, I’m so sad you were hurt spiritually and actually, we have a lot in common there. My dad quite drinking at age forty and not only became a Christian but also, a preacher, of sorts. I’m not going to judge his heart because a spiritual journey is a healing journey and many people are a mess while they are healing. However, he did many hurtful, confusing things, in the name of God. He was still practicing his own agenda and using God as a means to accomplish it. This isn’t spiritual, it’s very carnal because it is all about gaining attention from others and material gain. This caused a great deal of confusion in me but in the end, I realized that whatever journey my dad was on, was not a deciding factor in my personal journey. I separated the carnal type of spirituality of my dad and others like him, from what I believe is the true spirituality. I hold to the eternal, unseen values of love, truth, justice, righteousness, mercy, grace, and life. In these values, I find hope and they gave me hope when I was at the most hopeless time in my life. In these things, I have found the courage to reach to obtain these eternal values in my own life. I am not mystical. I am not any kind of special holy person. I don’t seek power over others. The spirituality I practice is very much where the rubber meets the road, in my every day life. It’s personal and I don’t want to force it on anyone.

Everyone is different and I think people can achieve psychological healing without spirituality. For me, they are deeply intertwined and fit like hand a glove in my life. Both have been highly beneficial to me in my healing, becoming journey. I am still on that journey and will remain on that journey until I pass away.

When someone imposes their beliefs on a child and doesn’t allow that child to develop their own ideas, even if they believe they are doing what their god commands, is doing so for material reasons and for power over another. People who have a need to control others often choose religion as a means to do so. This kind of lie keeps many people from enjoying their right to a fulfilling spiritual life. I’m glad you are talking about it and I’m glad you are here. Embracing your truth gave me the ability to become more like the woman I was intended to be no matter what my abusers tried to take from me. Healing means reclaiming all that was rightfully mine at birth.

The inner voice that says, “you are bad”, is the inner critic. The one that says “others are dangerous”, is the outer critic. Those voices are necessary for survival but abuse gives those voices false information and exaggerated perceptions of reality. Applying truth helped me modify those critics. I’ve done more work on the inner critic and I’m working hard on the outer critic. I hope that helps.



Amber, The inner critic is the voice that tells me I’m bad, I’m at fault. My husband often said, “Pamela, quit beating up on yourself.” It was my inner critic that beat me up, daily. It’s been a few years now since he’s said that to me. Understanding my past and accepting myself, went a long way to modifying that voice. I still need that inner critic for insight into my behavior. However, that criticism is balanced and helpful now, rather than destructive.

The outer critic is the voice that tells me that human beings aren’t to be trusted, at all. Many people who have a strong inner critic are confrontational and violent. In me, it caused me to give up on people and I have a surrender response of freezing and hiding when I feel threatened. It is my exaggerated, out of balance, outer critic that causes me to withdraw and isolate. It tells me that people are evil and because of them, I have no control over my life so, I give up and try to become invisible. Prey animals have this same response when they are at the point of death, as the victim of a predator. This is what sexual abuse taught me. Freezing allowed me to survive but it also, made me want to die. I am working on modifying my outer critic(a healthy outer critic response is needed for self-defense) by mindfully, gaining control over my own life. The truth is, there are no perfectly good people in the world but there are good enough people, who just like me, wish to hurt no one. I very much want to have good relationships with other people of good intent. I want my outer critic to function properly and allow for interaction with others but also, work to alert me to danger and keep me safe.

It took awhile to be able to define those voices and understand how out-of-whack they were in me. It takes time and follows its own course. The whole process is incremental.:0)



Hi DXS, I am a creative person, which requires some alone time. I’m also, at peace with myself and I will always enjoy spending some time alone. I also, want a healthy, fulfilling social life and in that area, I was crippled by neglect and abuse. I’m working to reclaim that for myself.

My parents need healing too. I’ve also, thought about Munchausen’s but I will probably, never know that for sure. I do believe my mother used my poor health as a way to gain sympathy. She could only see me as an extension of herself and I think I was a disappointment to her. If I could convince them to seek their own healing, I’d be very happy. However, I have no control over them but I do have control over me and I want a happy, abuse-free, life.:0)



Hi Pam

Thanks for your response – it is great to hear your approach and healing process. It is really interesting to hear your perspective on what the aspects of spirituality mean for you in your day to day existence – and I can honestly say they sound pretty darn fantastic and is something I too hope to live by.

It’s quite something – trying to re – learn so much – and actually re-adjust one’s perspective. Especially as I have targeted it as the reasons for a lot of my pain as a child – when it is not the concepts within the religion – but my mother acting out her dysfunction – which created the pain. The process of separating criticism and abuse when it has been – deemed by god/ the forces of the universe by my mother has made my internal critic bloody powerful. Being rejected by mother, and deemed sub par through every “spiritual” channel she went on – meant my feelings of self were pretty much nil.

So as an adult I completely rejected any spiritual practice – instead of actually looking at why. When in reality the facets of spirituality are guide posts I am trying to live by too. With some success and some failures however :). It’s really wonderful to hear your story Pam. Thank you so much for sharing. Much appreciated!


You’re welcome, Elie.:0)




Thank you for the post. This certainly sounds familiar. However my fear of people includes my significant others. I don’t understand how you were able to have a good husband. I am in a state of fear of possible rejection and abandonment with all men. Now after abusive marriage of 10 years I am even more suspicious that the men are out to screw with my head.
With women I had horrific non relationships. I somehow found the worst couple girl friends. Overall I trusted men over women more most of my life. I could not relate to women, had no idea what that was about. I thought all women were uncaring horrible people. It looked to me with all the supposive caring women do, not one helped me during my childhood. Men at least helped me and were around, ofcourse because they wanted sex, not really because they are good people. It was my only certainty in life that some guy is gona show up to help cuz he wants sex from me. Otherwise all people are evil bastards perfectly content to let me live in my hell.
That was my view of people up until 30 smth. I got sick of my male psychologist whom I could not entirely trust to relate to me without involving his male ego. I finally lucked out and found a good female therapist. She proved to me that women are not psychotic uncaring maniacs. It took her years to do that. Since then I finally made some women friends that seems to actually care about me. I am still not super convinced.

Now I have a boyfriend, whom I can not trust. I have seen so much evil. What if I end up in another life killing relationship. I am suspicious I am not getting love like I should. How am I ever suppose to enjoy my relationships?
I either think I will screw something up since I am so maladjusted. I am terrified of rejection. I am so terrified that I get nervous twitches in the presence of people. I am so desperate for human connection in this void that is my life without family. While most of the people I know waltz around not giving a crap about my approval or friendship because they can go home and call their mommy or husband for approval. I am in this constant state of disadvantage and being hurt by rejection. And then I get angry at all this. I pretend I don’t need a connection. At least when I am angry I don’t have a nervous break down from the fear of rejection. How am I ever suppose to enjoy relationships? I am forever looking for more then average person. I am so super confused about having enjoyable relationships. I can’t seem to have that.
I probably isolate myself thinking these things. I often despair that I am doomed to my programmed wounded behaviour I can’t overcome and will forever be subject to predators. I will forever be reliving the unrequited love like a blind hamster and pick men that will deliver this horrible feeling.
I am quite down on this whole relationship enjoyment topic.


Kathryn, My husband is a miracle in my life, he just loves me because I am. I couldn’t always receive that or believe that the way I should, though. I didn’t define love the way he does and I thought I should earn it, somehow. However, he loved me the same, whether I was bending over backward to please him or not. It confused me but his unfailing love eventually, changed my definition of love. He isn’t perfect. He’s just a guy but a very genuine guy.

I attracted all kinds of manipulators, users, and abusers because I was groomed by my childhood to feel comfortable with those kinds of people. I know that sounds strange but that is what I grew up with and I accepted it as just being how people were. I began to isolate in my twenties because I much preferred being with my husband to what my experience of ‘others’ had been. I also, wanted to protect my children from what I experienced. Flashbacks also, drive me into hiding and before I understood that I was having flashbacks, or why I was having them, I also, went into deep, months long depressions. For me, depression is my psychological cave where I hide from the dangers I’ve experienced, and fear could happen again, and lick my wounds. It’s the place I hide when I’m emotionally overwhelmed by the present that also, triggers feelings from the past. There’s no room in that cave for anyone but me. Not even my husband or my children. The second miracle of my life is that I didn’t lose them because I know this was very hard on them. The truth is that I wasn’t very good at relationship because I was so wounded that most contact with others was often, excruciating. In my thirties, my wounds weren’t as fresh as they were in my twenties and I learned to put a mask on my depression that fooled many people but not my husband and children. I worked and did what I was required to do but I also, had many sick days and times when I couldn’t cope with things happening in real-time because I was so overwhelmed by feelings from the past. There was really just too much going on inside of me to be able to relate to very many people in a meaningful way. I preferred acquaintances over friends because I wasn’t required to invest as much and it kept people at a safe distance. My forties brought a lot of new trauma and poor health. That’s when I nearly, became a hermit. I did go for ‘help’ at this point because I finally, could afford it. However, I didn’t find any real help. I was prescribed a lot of medication for my symptoms and the counseling I received was all about keeping me compliant with my chemical treatment. I spent several years in a chemically induced coma that made my physical health much worse. I came close to dying from all of those drugs. When I weaned myself off those medications, I began to confront myself about why I had so much depression and anxiety. When I was nearly fifty, I realized that I was sexually abused and that it wasn’t my fault. Everything flipped over inside of me and that is the point when I began to reconnect to the past that I had dissociated from and kept hidden. I found EFB during that time and spent a couple of years connecting with the experiences of my childhood, confronting the lies that abuse taught me and re-teaching myself the truth about “me”. That is the process that healed my old, untreated wounds and changed how I think about myself. That is what is allowing me to seek new relationships. It has also, made me a better wife, mother, and grandmother. I am a whole person now and not a dissociated, emotionally needy, partial person. I’m no longer seeking to connect with others in hopes that they can fill a void inside of me. I want to connect with others simply, for the joy of it. If they reject me, it doesn’t hurt as much because my sense of value comes from me and not from others. I have no need to try and earn love from them.

I hope that makes sense. I probably, should have written another post.:0)



Pam, thank you for your post. I always find such warmth in them 🙂
I have much interest in the spiritual side of life but even there I feel like I am not good enough for God or the Spirit, not worthy of that love. At times I battle a feeling that I’m evil and doomed, even though I’ve tried to be a good person.

I’ve just lost my only friend and my inner critic can so easily tell me I’m to blame for everything. I find I connect with emotionally unavailable people who it seems move along far better without me than I do without them. I invest so much emotionally in people and then self-destruct when we part; they carry on their way.

My loneliness is acute and I’m pushing myself to go to a church to make connections. I’ve been encouraged to attend coffee hour afterwards but have been so afraid to; I’m afraid I’ll say the wrong thing or look like an alien amongst people. I’ve had such a deep fear of rejection that I separate myself first. It’s because I think I’m so deficient and such a failure in life. I feel so apart from people and feel such a need to be seen as “special”. I know that’s because my parents did not see me really or treat me as special. I was just there, or I was a burden. I have been afraid to live.

I know the truth is my parents were traumatized and deeply troubled people, but emotionally I still feel I deserved how they treated me. I know I didn’t do anything to deserve their treatment, it can only make sense by me being intrinsically bad. But when I think of it they were both so trapped in their own mental problems they couldn’t have seen I was bad. They couldn’t even see what was going on with themselves.

My inner critic condemns me for spending my whole adulthood in addiction and not working; thus, it tells me I can’t relate to people and vice versa. It tells me people won’t be interested in me cause I was never “productive”. (I did get a degree but it took me over 20 years. But I am the only person in the family who has one. I got that degree through years of drinking, pills and living with someone who would become a convicted pedophile. I never gave up, I wanted that paper).

If I challenge my inner critic I feel I’m being soft on myself, letting myself off the hook. But I know being on the hook doesn’t help motivate me. It drives me to more isolation and self-destruction. The truth is I was severely compromised from a young age. I was closer to my father and he had an eating disorder, and he encouraged that in me. It was kind of a bonding thing. When I cried about being lonely as a kid, he threw me a bag of chips and left. He took a lot of pills as well. I was about 8 when my eating problem was set and never got help from family; my mother just shamed me about my weight.

So, were I to challenge my inner critic about the life I’ve lived so far, I’d say, “This is how I learned to survive, to soothe myself”. I was taught to turn to substances, and that people would be rejecting. I was also taught and told I was weak, and took that to heart such that I feared working and getting fired. So I lived with a man not interested in me and took drugs, feeling like a cripple.

There is something in me that prevents me from giving up. It is a strong will to “get over”, to find myself a whole person again after a lifetime. I readily compare myself and my life to others and always find it lacking, and I think a key to healing is to really challenge that tendency. My life has been on the margins; but something in me says it has been significant just as it’s been, and that I have a lot to offer. If I stop comparing myself to others, and accept my life and experience as valid, not a failure, nothing to be ashamed of, that critic will die down. I want to stop running away from myself and my life and stand in it. I’m telling the critic, “I don’t have a history of cars, houses, vacations, work, children, etc, but I have myself, my mind and my heart, and my surviving”—and that was what my parents devalued, just me myself. (I think this is rambling, it takes me so long to write these things…) Thanks for listening..


Doren, I can relate to so much of what you’ve written. You’ve been through a lot and no matter why your parents didn’t give you what you needed as a child emotionally, it doesn’t change the damage that lack caused in you. That was key in my beginning to see myself and my life through a lens of truth rather than through a lens of abuse. It takes time but whenever those lies pop up, I confront them with truth and eventually, they pop up much less often and many of them are now fading away for good. It takes time and persistence but it is never too late and I firmly believe you can give yourself what your parents neglected to give you. You weren’t born defective. You are a valuable human being with a unique purpose in the world. Surviving is something to be proud of and hold onto. It is a major accomplishment. However, it doesn’t have to end there. It is possible to have so much more. It takes work but you and I are worth it!



Thank you Pam..
yes, I remember Darlene saying something once about how it doesn’t matter why a shark bit you, you have to tend to the wound it left—something like that. Now I am 50 and can see my parents in a way I couldn’t long ago, and I don’t always hear the rationalizations I make for them. I’ve been thinking of a cat I brought home 30 odd years ago, and how one day this cat walked into my Dad’s room–he kept a locked room for himself while me and my sister shared a room and a bed til I left home–and I was standing right there and he threw the cat out of the room and it hit a wall and died a few days later. And all these years I feel guilty for bringing the cat to our home. A part of me really resists seeing the truth cause I in the family stand alone in it. There is no acknowledgement of the past with my sister, who is my only family. I am pushed aside while the mother who hurt us is accommodated. I wonder how I can stand in my conviction, my truth—I guess I think, what if I’m wrong? But my feelings aren’t wrong. My hurt isn’t wrong. It just doesn’t fit into the “normal family” vision others want.
This is a LOT of work. It really takes courage too, to stand alone and to get out from the comfort zone. Thank you Pam for your encouragement, it means a lot to me.


Doren, It is the same in my family. My siblings say they don’t remember their childhood but they tell me that my memories are wrong.:0/ My dad never killed a pet but he broke a lot of toys that were special to me. I take the pet part back…when I was twelve I had two orphan calves to take care of. I loved them and felt like their mother but when fall came, they were sent to market to be butchered. It’s been hard for me to let animals into my heart ever since. I know that is part of growing up on a farm but a dad who had empathy for his daughter, would have made an exception…

Abuse and neglect steal what is rightfully ours but with the courage you speak of and hard work, we can get it back. This is the place to find the kind of encouragement we need to fight that good fight.



I’m so sorry Pam for all you went through, and for so much being taken. So sorry about losing your calves. I think about my lost pets often—I went the other way and always live with an animal now, but not a cat. Last year on the day I lost my chinchilla of 13 years I called my sister. I had been sober 4 months and I told her I was proud I wasn’t going to relapse; she told me “Maybe you’re growing up now”. I just wanted support or a “That’s great”, but it felt so back-handed.

Her view is childhood is over and she’s too old to go back. But I like what you said about “The eternal is now”; we are products of every moment we’ve lived and childhood can’t be separated and cut away from. People say they’ve left it behind because they just want to forget it. My truth about it all is that she’s at least as wounded as me but just wants normalcy, and I somehow, in her mind, wreck that for her by my life as an adult. I’ve faced things, but alone and without family support, knowing I’m seen as the family mental case. But I don’t have much choice, I can’t deny how hurt I was.

If I look at the truth of it, she was older and at times abusive to me as well cause I was low man on the totem pole, and there for her frustrations at the time. When our parents weren’t around she kicked me or threw large objects like a typewriter at me, I was the safe one, and she couldn’t get away from me. She was 16 and I was 8 and we shared the same room and bed, and when I moved away at 22 and she 30, same thing, cause she had moved back home and those were the accommodations.

So….is the lens of truth what we believe about our experience?
And is the lens of abuse what we’ve internalized, or what the family spin is? Because my perspective is very different from my sister’s, but I have so doubted myself because of that. I have internalized that I am the troubled one because of how my life has played out, addictions and years of therapy and being on disability. I’ve gone through all this without any talk about how childhood is behind this—just that this is “me”, my weaknesses, my not letting go, my not growing up. I’m angry about it all, but having a hard time seeing my perspective as the only valid one I need.
Don’t know if I make sense but it’s good to have a place to get this out. Love back, Doren


Doren, I always thought I was a defect and that I was the crazy one too. I was misdiagnosed as bipolar and my mom loved that because it let her off the hook. Deep down, I always thought it was my childhood that was the problem but I never got any support for that from any doctor. I didn’t get that until I found EFB. About the same time, a friend of mine said, “Pam, I don’t think you are the one that’s mentally ill. I think it is your family.” She was right and Darlene is right. I was right and I just needed the right push to finally, accept what I really knew was true all along. My problems with depression and anxiety were rooted in my childhood.

It doesn’t matter if our siblings have the same perception we have. If we want to heal, it is our perception that counts. My siblings were assigned a different role in the family than I was. They were treated differently than I was. Their childhood was different than mine. They don’t think they were damaged (they were damaged differently than I was) but I see their damage. They developed different ways to cope than I did but they still have maladaptive coping methods. They have no desire to do anything different. They think I should black out my childhood, as they have. My parents would like that too. That’s what they call forgiveness, over-looking whatever wrong they did to me without ever naming it or requiring any form of responsibility on their part. That’s where the final divide between us took place. I wanted truth and they want to remain in denial. If I remained a part of their life, that denial would be shattered. They’d rather be without me and I guess, I’d rather be without them too. I love them but I’m happy and whole now. I can’t go back to what I was.

So yes, the lens of truth is what you know to be true about your life, your experiences, your pain. Those are the wounds that need to be tended to. They can’t heal until they are addressed. I could never leave those pieces of my life behind, no matter how I was shamed into doing so. It was validating my life’s experiences that put the fragments of “me” back together again. Now, when I have pain bubble up from my past, I know where it comes from and why I feel that way. I recognize it, experience it, and it passes.

I have problems with inflammation and I get larybrinthitis(inflammation of the inner ear) and subsequently, vertigo. When my head starts spinning, it is natural for me to turn my head in the opposite direction of the position where the spinning begins. However, that makes my vertigo worse, in the long run. If I push into the spin, instead of pulling away, my vertigo improves. It is the same way with my flashbacks and past trauma. As long as I kept avoiding what my flashbacks were trying to tell me and kept trying to deny and bury the trauma, my depressions kept increasing and my anxiety was through the roof. Pushing into my past and paying attention to what my flashbacks were telling me, made my depression and anxiety manageable. I still have flashbacks but they are more manageable too. It’s work but it’s very simple and straightforward. The best part is that it works. Nothing else I tried ever worked. When I was a kid, I medicated myself. Then I went to doctors and they turned me into a drug addict again. Treating symptoms can’t compare to treating the cause.



Thank you Pam, and for taking such time with me too.
In my heart for years I’ve known what my truth is, but I’ve been so fearful of living in that truth and becoming who I really am. I’ve been afraid of living in such a different way, or rather, of experiencing myself in a different way. It seems daunting to make a new relationship with myself now, but I am not living as I am, only surviving. It’s been easier to believe “they were right”, and to accept the abuse only intellectually but not emotionally. It’s been easier to think I’m a failure than to really see how devastating childhood was to me.

I’ve told people for years that twins can be standing side by side and they’ll perceive an experience individually, differently, because they are different people. But emotionally it’s been so hard for me to apply that to my own life. I developed a far more passive and needier personality than my sister, and I just lost myself in that way of relating to people. But the anger inside has been tremendous and I turned that on myself with self-loathing and addictions. A lot of my anger in recent years has been toward my sister, feeling very much betrayed, but instead of facing those feelings head on I’ve kept myself in the broken role and tried to reach out to my only family.

There’s so much anger inside over what happened, my lack of support, the silence, the care for our mother while I am generally shut out.
There is so much to grieve over the lies I’ve believed for years.
That is 50 years of being treated like I was the problem. That talk about the past and getting over things has never applied to me, the anger towards me persists. And I know it’s because it’s safer to be angry at me rather than our parents. I had a different experience than my sister and she had a part in making it difficult; it may have been out of her own survival at the time but it still hurt me a lot. So I can see now, no one can speak about my experience but me, I was the only one who had it.

I’ve never been away to push my childhood away, it has been with me every day of my life. I have no interest in trying to forget it, but I do badly need to make peace with how I’ve dealt with it since. I’ve been terrified to feel the pain, it fills me up. A rejection or a dirty look or something can make me feel every rejection I’ve had, it’s all right there. If all that hurt is valid, then so is my anger. But there is a part of me that says it’s not been a waste, that I am strong, that my life has had great meaning…I can remember that when I feel so much anger, or when I bash myself. Thank you Pam


Doren, I was fifty when I really started taking this stuff head-on. It’s not to late. I know it is hard to confront, and painful but that is the only way to lessen the pain. It doesn’t have to be accomplished all at once. Be good to yourself and give yourself time.:0) You’re welcome, Doren.



Hello all:
Great discussion. Everything seems to come back to self esteem for me. Sense of self. The realization of being a valid person. I never had that. I struggle with it still.
Im never “enough”. Still trying to prove myself.

Re the outer critic: All my childhood experiences of being rejected by parents, kids at school, kids I thought were friends, guys who used me, etc set a pattern of experience that others were in fact unsafe. My outer critic has had very few safe relationships.
At age 60 I see that I dont trust or at the least am very wary. I dont think its an overreaction to be wary when that is your history.
Thank you for pointing out the isolation aspect. I did not see the connection but its there.
Im very isolated now.
After a frightening confrontation (only to me) at my first job in 5 years, I literally ran out the door. I was triggered. 7 months on the job doing great and bang all gone.
I took a big risk going back to work putting my toe back in the water.
Now Im too frightened that it will happen again to try another job.

I understand the aspects of what made me the way I am. I understand my trigger. Cant control my response yet though. Ive delt with my bad coping. I just cant seem to get control of my emotions enough to be stable enough to have any kind of social life or friendships. I guess my outer critic is just too scared.
I cant “not care” what others think. It hurts. And I guess Im back to self esteem.


I had a fight with my Mom this morning. A couple days ago, she had a tumor removed from her leg, and I know she is trying to heal from it, but I needed to discuss with her something she said that hurt my feelings. I tried to calmly discuss it, but she ranted and raved and I’m a terrible person, blah blah blah. During the rant and rave, I kept repeating, “Happy Thanksgiving, I don’t want to upset you” over and over so that I didn’t hear all the words she said. She finally stopped talking.

Back story: I didn’t speak to her for an entire year, but a few months ago, she called me up and said she “missed” me. Ok, now we are speaking and it’s like she thinks she gets a free pass to “business as usual” (translation: Say what she wants to me and I’m not allowed to protest.) Darlene is right, they suck you back in with promises that are empty. Oh sure, she will “ALWAYS” love me. Nope, she doesn’t love ME! She loves the person I have to pretend to be.


I’ve been trying really hard to “tune in” to what I’m feeling. After the fight with my mom, I am not feeling bad or depressed. Instead, I’m feeling like….. Mom just wants “business as usual” where she can fake her reality because she doesn’t want to see the real reality, only the one she wants to pretend.

Therefore, my conclusion that she convinces everyone including herself, that she is a duck when she is really a goose.


Hi Karen R., I know how you feel. It hasn’t been that long ago that I recognized my outer-critic and realized that it doesn’t always tell me the truth. It takes time and there are those times still, when I’m triggered and overpowering emotions, mostly fear, take over. I am getting much better though, at recognizing that I’m triggered and with mindfulness, I work through those emotions quicker and regain control. I have learned not to be so afraid of my triggers and use them to help me figure out why I feel the way I do and I’ve made them an ally in my healing. I still don’t like them, though.

There are few people that I trust completely but I am learning that I can trust some people in certain areas and not in others. I don’t want to do away with my critics but I am working to bring them into better balance. I’ve come a long way but there are always surprises in this journey and I never know for sure when a new layer of trauma and revelation will surface. I’ve come far enough to know that I don’t want to give up.



DXS, I’m sorry for this experience. It is fear of something like this that keeps me from knuckling under, burying my feelings, and reconnecting with my family. I’ve done so many times before and it always ends up with them using it against me. It isn’t possible to reconcile with people who never admit to wrong-doing or recognize my feelings. I don’t always know what they are thinking inside but I know how it ends, with my dignity trampled.

Hang in there and remember, the problem is in them.



Hi Pam (31):

It’s nice to meet with others here from the southwest and I live in Arizona. I was also “labeled” as a teenager but mine was a “chemical imbalance in the brain” and depression. My mom enjoyed taking me from shrink to shrink to make me become the family scapegoat. “We just don’t know what to do with our daughter”. They had NOTHING on me since I was well behaved and an honors student in private school. My mom wanted to label me first before they could earn a label. The depression came from being treated like a slave. No one could understand that a girl raised in a rather upper-class neighborhood with seemingly no problems on the surface could also be very abused. Why couldn’t these stupid therapists see that there was a cause and effect? Maybe the brilliant reason that I was depressed was the fact that I was abused! But since my mean old parents got to the shrink first before I did, then these shrinks believed them. The reason I was depressed was due to my Narc mom and sociopathic parents. When I was 19 going on 20, I almost died from a serious suicide attempt after moving to Arizona with my parents. My father had retired and I pleased mercilessly with my parents to help me stay in Seattle. I felt like I was kidnapped in a cross country car trip to Arizona. My Narc parents got what they wanted but nearly destroyed me—-another very long story!

But then it gets worse…This is hard for me and I have never revealed this here on EFB but it’s Thanksgiving and all the family secrets tend to come out. Enquiring minds want to know…I was an only child, but since my mom’s family was totally trashy there was always someone living in our house basement, one after another. Her brother(my uncle) lived in the basement bedroom, and then he was replaced by a string of young, male cousins close to my age. It’s as if they were all cut from the same cloth being young, rude, nasty, and very emotionally and physically abusive towards me. No, I was not molested by them, but given their nastiness I almost wish that I was in order to have a reason for them to be taken away. I learned that my mom’s family has a large number of narcissists. At first I thought they were just spoiled brats but then I realized that they were mentally “off” with a tendency towards violence. One of my cousins liked to play in the woods behind our house in Seattle and hurt small animals! Yes, it’s true since I saw him but he didn’t see me thankfully! What happened next was that my mom warmed up to the final cousin who lived in our house for ten years—(and he was legally adopted after we returned from living abroad). If I had remained in that horrible girl’s boarding school as a teenager, then the cousin would not have been adopted, so I was double crossed once again by my parents. (We would have lived abroad longer in foreign countries—very complicated). Sometimes I kick myself that if only I had been a bit tougher, I should have stayed in the school. I made the right choice, but it was a tough choice. Essentially, the cousin became the golden child and I became even more of a scapegoat! He was treated very differently than me and allowed to run around around the neighborhood with virtually no restrictions. He was a poor student and took a PT job as a teen. I’m sure that he was not always working but sometimes doing wild activities. I was not allowed to go out or have social activities. It’s not because I was “shy” but my parents did not want me to date or attend a school dance and so on. I was an excellent student and they paid for private school tuition. I was expected to be the model daughter who did the house cleaning for their big, luxury house and my school work and that’s it! I dreamed of growing up and being more free to make more friends and have time and money for my hobbies. To this day, the cousin is still my parent’s favorite and I have almost no contact with my parents. Whenever he comes over to visit my parent’s house, he buys them lots of good takeout food and fills up their car’s gas tank. Since I am single and only work at a not very high-paid job (but college grad) I NEVER hear the end of how wonderful the cousin is to them. He joined the military young after barely graduating from high school and has been married a couple of times with kids. My parents claim that I am some kind of loser and that they don’t understand me. Of course, they never acknowledge years of abuse since I was born and long before the cousin moved into our house—-(I was 15 and he was 10?).

Yes, I am an introvert and proud of it! I am NOT shy, but I am an introvert. I heard the statistic that one in four people is an introvert and that is still quite a large chunk of the population. I prefer my own company and a lot of down time. I enjoy being on my computer, reading, writing, knit/crochet and crafts. I don’t watch a whole lot of TV like my father. I know that the extrovert majority enjoys shaming the quieter and calmer introverts. “Don’t you want to be surrounded by people all the time?” The answer is NO! I am not shy, but I have learned to build walls of protection around myself when I was a kid. Actually, I was concerned with protecting my reputation and not having a friend see my crazy mom fly into a batsh**t rage! It’s happened a few times among my few good childhood friends. Surprisingly, I was more talkative and outgoing as a child. We lived in two different houses when I was growing up, and at the first house I attended public school. I attended the Catholic Church, and I was a Camp Fire Girl, took ice skating lessons —(had to quit due to my Narc mom’s cheapness)—and joined the school band. My so-called social problems began when we moved across town in Seattle to their brand newly built luxury house. Then I attended private school and lost my circle of friends. I became more “withdrawn”, but it was truly like a wall of protection. Other kids called me “shy” or even “snooty” but they never knew the real me! Then my life became even more complicated and confusing with my engineer father taking a job in the American community in Saudi Arabia. So, once again there is even more loss and chaos. I could write a whole book on my experiences about being pushed to grow up lightening fast with time served in a girl’s boarding school—not fun—and fighting with mean nuns! The boarding school appeared rather glamorous but was not fun! Boarding school was like a low-level juvenile prison, or at least that’s what it felt like to me. Some girls were truly unwanted and sort of just thrown away by parents. I don’t understand and I will never, ever, understand having a happy childhood home. The closest that I have ever been to having a happy home was watching those TV sitcoms about the so-and-so family,complete with a laugh track and their minor issues solved within a half hour show—(so sorry about The Cosby Show but I feel for the rape victims!)

People find it hard to know the real me and I like it that way. It’s not about me being totally shy or snooty, but rather streetwise and cautious. I lost a circle of five girlfriends and we were very close, after I moved here to my new city. I was hurt and abandoned since they figured that since I had moved that we were not close anymore—and they’re all like me rather bright and psychic women from my spiritual groups. I keep myself very busy with my hobbies. I have one very good co-worker friend who is surprisingly not at all involved with metaphysical subjects like me, but accepts me for who I am. So, yes not all of my friends share the same spiritual path as me!

Thanks for reading! I am thankful for everyone’s kindness and support on this site! Happy Thanksgiving Everybody! 🙂


Hi Karen R (34):

Sorry about your bad job experience. Just wanted to cheer you up. When I was younger I got away from my parents as soon as I could. I had some college and quit since I was forced into a college major that I did not care for. At age 28, I became a returning college student and basically put myself through college on my terms, with a different college major that I liked. I was lucky to be living in a low cost southwest city where I could afford to subsist very cheaply on maximum financial aid and PT job. It was then that I moved into my first apartment without roommates.

Anyway, when I was in my twenties, I worked like a mule with no end in sight! There was a series of low level, low pay, customer service jobs. I usually worked liked two PT jobs at a time! It was very hard going from abuse with my parents and into the real world with all types of people. Most coworkers, supervisors, and customers are not that difficult. But then there are others who are excessively rude and nasty on some kind of power trip. I felt as if I had gone from the proverbial frying pan into the fire! I would work like six months at a restaurant and then another one. There were some truly nasty supervisors at these past jobs when I was young. Sometimes it was a jealous coworker situation towards me or a woman supervisor who just did not plain like me. It disturbed me because I would blame myself thinking that if only I had said or did something more? My logical mind wanted answers but I learned to accept the fact that it was not logic but rather their own screwed up thoughts and emotions. The key to understanding these nasty job coworkers was knowing that I did everything right on the job! I did NOT provoke or insult these coworkers! Maybe they disliked me or they were jealous of me but it was their stuff.

I understand just wanting to run and get out of a job. I would leave to go home and stop at a local New Age bookstore where the owner was a metaphysical healer doing energy work with crystals. I remember that she was working on me during a session and she pulled out a lot of negativity from my aura. She even told me that this one particular job at the time was seriously affecting my body’s energy field and that I needed to get out! So I quit since I figured that I could easily get hired at another low level, equivalent low paid job elsewhere!

Perhaps if you really need a job, you can try temp agencies where you set up a home office with a computer, land line phone, and direct deposit into your bank account. There are temp jobs and phone calling center jobs working from home where you are not selling anything, just setting doctor’s appointments or taking catalog orders. Just a thought…..

I am doing better in my life financially. I do want to go back to college in a couple more years to study what I want. I work on educational projects for a big company but it’s not FT work. I get by OK with money but it’s hard. My dream is to go into another career field and work at a FT day job, but then do metaphysical work, like mediumship readings, as a PT extra job, but more like a hobby. I want to do what I love so that it’s not really work!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Blessed Be,

Yvonne )0(


Hi Yvonne, I’m sad to hear about all of the instability in your life and lack of emotional support. It sounds like you’ve done your growing up mostly, on your own. I did a lot of that too but in a different kind of way. The contrast between material wealth and emotional poverty must be difficult to sort through and overcome. I’m glad you have some peace with yourself and the things you enjoy.

Thanks for sharing your story and you have a happy holiday too.



Isolation is something that was imposed upon me at an early age. I remember being a social child before the age of eight before my parents divorced. We were a family of five children and two adults at that time. It was a dysfunctional family but there was something about all being together still, for me, that made the difference. My mother had mental problems from an illness that nobody knew existed. My dad was a workaholic who stayed at work to get away from her raging, screaming, and let her take it out on us. When I was about nine or ten, my mother decided to leave my dad for another man. The older siblings were out of the home but there was still my older sister and myself at home. From that moment on, my life was a ruin. My step-dad was controlling, verbally abusive and a rageaholic. My sister, who already had major mental illness, tried to kill me by smothering me with a pillow and was put in a group home. The older siblings, three, and my bio-dad really didn’t care what happened to me. I had to go with my mom so I was just gone, invisible. My step-dad couldn’t get along with anyone in any job so we moved frequently. I experienced isolation by where we moved, deprivation because of his behavior, and abuse because he was an un-educated, ignorant man and I was quite intelligent. He was intimidated by my abilities and intelligence. My mother allowed him to emotionally and verbally abuse me. I was abandoned and abused by my so-called family. I was programmed to be my mother’s confidant, only “friend”, and to be “nice” to other people and deny any needs I may have had. At some point, I gave up trying to make friends because I knew we would just move anyway. I didn’t invite kids home because of my abusive step-dad. When I was 15, my bio-dad married for the ninth time and she gave him an ultimatum. It was her and her daughter or me. She didn’t want me around. Of course, he chose her and so did my older siblings. I was replaced by her with no questions asked. Nobody was trustworthy in my eyes and the inner and outer critic kept telling me it was because of who and what I was. This pattern has followed me my whole life. I tried to hide, put myself through college by hard work and pure grit. I didn’t know how to relate to people or spot evil people who were disguised as “good Christians” or a husband who said he loved me until after the wedding and then proceeded to pour upon me his Narc-filled hatred of himself by emotional and verbal abuse for 14 years. I’ve been hiding for 13 years since I divorced him. I still struggle with the PTSD. I blame my upbringing, or lack of, for setting me up to be a victim for whomever came along that was able to take advantage of my programming to be “nice.” I spoke my truth of my childhood and three of my four siblings rejected me and labeled me “negative” and won’t have anything to do with me. The only one who has even minimally kept in contact now has cancer and an uncertain future. I feel like he’s the only one left who knows who I am and where I came from. I cry because I don’t want him to leave. Anyway, I know I need to reach out and get a life with others but how do you bring up the motivation to do so? I really have no close friends. I have my two daughters but one is in college and the other is nearly there. I feel like I’ve just given up on the human race. So much disappointment, so much pain. Are there really any people out there who just want to have friendships without games and just want to enjoy each other’s company. Sorry for going on so long. This post has really hit a nerve I guess and the memories came flooding in.
Thanks for listening.


Hi Lynne, I don’t think I will ever stop being stunned by what so many people have to survive. I’m so sad that you had to endure all of that pain but I admire your grit and hard work. I’m glad you struggled to survive and that you are here to tell about it. I’m also, sad to hear that you are facing the possible loss of the sibling who stuck with you. Children growing up is a huge transition for all loving mom’s but I completely, understand how that can be a bigger challenge when you’ve lost so much family. Every good relationship is precious and I don’t take any of them for granted.

I’m stunned by what people have to survive but I’m also, amazed by what people can overcome. EFB is a website about overcoming. It’s a good place to be. There are no perfect people and no perfect relationships but there are people who are good-enough and it is possible to have safe, healthy relationships. Don’t give up. For me, my surviving relationships were improved by improving my relationship with myself and it has also, given me greater confidence in reaching out to others in hope of developing new friendships.

The holidays can be very hard, sometimes. This is a good place to find support from people who understand what you are going through. Thank you for sharing your heart.



Thank you for your comments Pam. It means a lot to me and so many others too. Finding EFB has helped me a lot. I don’t feel so alone anymore but I do feel lost. The past still haunts my everyday life and I often pretend at work and with my children that I’m okay when I’m not. Most of the time I feel empty inside. I guess you’re right. I cannot really be in relationship with others when I can’t even stand my own company or live in my own skin.



Lynne, It’s really okay not to be okay all of the time. Expressing that here is a very positive step in the right direction. There is hope because you aren’t alone and you are reaching out for a better life than the one you received in childhood.

May you be blessed at EFB, as I have been blessed.:0)



Recently, my Mother was carrying on about a young woman in our family who was going to start soon at a University. I mentioned that it never occurred to me at that age that I was college material. I went to a Community college and worked full time in fast food.

Eventually I did go to a University and graduated with honors. My Mother snapped back at me in our conversation “Well once you finally went and did well, didn’t that make you feel better?”

The answer is no, it did not. I learned the ropes, learned how to navigate my way around and how to get good grades. Yes, my confidence in my ability to pass classes grew.

What I have learned recently in therapy is there is a difference in self confidence and self worth. My sense of self worth was damaged so badly in childhood, no accomplishment in the world changed that.

I am learning that my worth isn’t connected to any accomplishments. My inner critic is perhaps the most brutal when I achieve something. I feel like a fraud. Yet I have always struggled to do things or have things that will prove my worth.

I am gradually learning to value myself, to surround myself with people who value me. It is way outside of my comfort zone. I have always viewed myself as less than everyone else. This made me feel obligated to prove my worth.

Remembering I am worthy no matter what requires a constant monitoring of my inner voice. My parent’s inner voice became mine. It feels sometimes like I am learning a new language.


Hi Kaycee, I still struggle, at times, with believing my own voice about me. Especially, when someone in my present calls my personal judgment into question. I feel that old familiar wobble inside and I start doubting myself. I know that comes from abusive people in my childhood manipulating me into questioning my view of reality so, they could replace it with a version that worked in their favor. I still have that moment when I think that the sky might really be purple instead of blue, no matter what my eyes tell me. For me I think it goes even deeper than what most people call self-worth, or self-confidence. I struggle for a word for it but it goes back to seeds of self-doubt that were planted in me early. Like there is no one I can trust and most especially,not myself. I viewed myself as ‘defective’ for a very long time and I’m not sure that a ‘defect’ has any hope of earning self-worth or self-confidence. That view of myself as hopelessly, defective is the foundation I have struggled to change. I’ve come a long way but I have to keep a close eye on the new foundation I’ve put in place of the old one. It is mindfulness in my self-talk that is required for that maintenance. At nearly 60 years old, I doubt I’ll ever have the confidence or feelings of worthiness that someone from a more nurturing background has but what I have now is much better than what I had a decade ago.

I never saw myself as being able to obtain college either and always felt extra defective because of my lack of educational opportunity. I am a self-educated person and the truth is, I’m better educated than many who had their education handed to them and take it for granted. These days, I’m proud of the hard work I’ve put in and what I’ve been able to accomplish despite the odds against me. It sounds like you’ve worked hard too and it also, sounds like you continue to strive for something better. I value the drive to continue to do better very highly, in both of us. You know, we could have ended up like those who beat us down in childhood. Instead of working to heal, we could be settling for a false sense of well-being in beating down someone weaker than ourselves. That would be a true cause for self-doubt and a true lack of worth.



Hi all,
Today my father tried to hit me again.But this time something major changed.I firmly grabbed his hands,i looked into his eyes full of rage and i told him:”No more.This was the last time you hit me.Violent people belong in jail or in a psychiatric ward.You have a mental problem”.After he left the room,my mother defended him as usual.I stopped her short:”You will no longer justify his violence towards me.Enough of that.Wake up and admit that,one day,he’ll hit you too.We are no longer safe with him”.Those were my exact words,but there’s a reason why i had the courage to say them.

My aunt recently died and she left me her appartment as inheritance.The problem is that i can’t move there.It’s a very dangerous neighbourhood:criminals,rapists,drug dealers,people who recently got out of jail.I’m afraid to stay there during the day,let alone the night.What should i do? I don’t want to fool myself.Both houses are dangerous and the conditions there are worse than my abusers home.

My mother convinced my father to go to a psychiatrist.He agreed,but only if i go with him,as a patient too.I’m fully aware that my mind is traumatized,and i’m scared of bad consequences for me.The doctor may not find me normal,as abuse leaves scars.Plus,i know somebody who went to therapy and the doctor abused her,telling her that she was the problem and that her parents did the best they could etc etc.You know the drill and victim blaming.If it turns bad for me,my parents will feel even more entitled to call me crazy.On the other hand,i badly want a diagnosis for my father.Maybe that will finally wake him up.

I have a huge dilemma.Part of me wants to go to therapy.Another part of me knows that i don’t live in america,so going to therapy could turn against me.And if they do,i don’t stand a chance at proving my abusers wrong.They’ll be able to get away with anything,if the doctor points to me as the problem.If i do go,i’ll tell all the horrible ugly truth and all abusers masks will fall.What to do?

Am i getting close to freedom or it is farther from me than ever before? I know that all my post is about me and only my issues,with no validation for others,but i need help.I need as many opinions and perspectives as i can get.Please help.


Hi Laura. Good for you for standing up to both your parents! It takes courage to tell someone” no more!”
Re: the apartment, is this something you can sell and maybe get some place in a neighborhood you feel more comfortable in?
Re: therapy. You have some choices. You can decide not to go, or decide to go and see how it works. If you find that the therapist is one of those invalidating ones that say your parents did the best they could and that you need to ” move on” you have the choice to discontinue going. It’s a personal decision that only you can make. If it was me, I would would ask myself some questions as things progress, such as ” is this helpful to me or is it hurting me?” ” is this making my life better, validating me, or is it disregarding my feelings or harming me in some way” you can make decisions by looking at how the experience is affecting you.
Best of luck!


Laura, The one thing no one is allowed to do here is give advice or medical opinions. I can share my experiences as an abused child and what has helped me in my personal struggle. That’s what EFB is about. It isn’t like therapy that is available from trained psychologists. Darlene is a life coach. I and most everyone else who have contributed here are only survivors. Sharing our experiences, gives one another perspective on our problems so, that we are able to find our own answers, within ourselves, that suit our particular situation.

Doctors in the U.S. are just as corrupt and full of foibles as doctors elsewhere. Good ones help their patients find the truth they need that lies within them already. Abusive parents can be very good at coaxing some doctors to scapegoat the victimized child. Often, I think it happens because the parents pay the bills and therapists and psychiatrists are trying to pay their bills like everyone else. Whatever the reasons, there is no magic place to go or any magic people who can make abusers better or free their victims. The only way to stop an abuser, is to removed the victim (unless they themselves want to stop being an abuser and that motivation comes from within and not from without). The only way I was ever able to stop an abusive person from abusing me, was to leave. I can’t change any of the people who hurt me, only they can.

I know you are in a tough situation and no matter what country an abuse victim is in, they are in a tough situation. In that you aren’t alone. The problem is in the people who are abusing you, the rest is just context.

My thoughts are with you, along with my hope for your freedom from a life of abuse.



Hi Amber, Thank you for sharing the process you go through in selecting a therapist. It can be a daunting decision. It is helpful to be able to read your practical techniques in making that daunting decision more manageable.:0)


Laura, I agree with Amber that it took courage for you to stand up to your dad in that way. I’m glad it caused him to back down. In my experience, standing up to the abusers in my life in that way, was like throwing down a gauntlet and put me in greater danger. There is no one way to survive an abusive situation and there is no shame in not choosing to physically, stand up to an abuser, when that is what survival calls for. Of course, we’d all like to turn into the Hulk and hammer them but the important thing is to live another day and avoid further violence when at all, possible.



Hi Amber and Pam,
Thank you both.I never thought i’d see the day of me confronting my abusers.Their violence no longer made me shut up.They couldn’t close my mouth,like they did on too many other occasions.No more blackmail for me,no more shut up or i’ll hit you.Now it’s “the more you hit me,the more authorities will find out”.Violence will no longer be a secret hidden between the walls.Blessed be this day,even if it started with violence.It will end in liberation.I made a huge progress today and i decided to go to therapy.I need to be there and describe exactly what happened.If i don’t,my father will manage to coax the doctor and then all my accomplishments today will be in vane.My father won’t be declared sane,not if i speak to the doctor myself.He won’t get away with what he did,if it’s the last thing i do.

Very good advice,Amber.useful questions.I never thought of them before.I’ll put them into practice,as now i realise i don’t have to take invalidation from any doctor.I can choose my own.The knot of abuse is finally getting loose,little by little.Yes,Pam,money is something doctors could easily fall for.Here,doctors emigrate abroad to practice their job.Here,their income is a mockery,next to nothing.If they can’t leave,they’ll usually accept bribe to feed their family.I’m verry concerned about this aspect.

My aunt’s last wish on her deathbed was not to sell the apartment.If i do,i’ll betray her.Financially speaking,my abusers offered to buy me another house in return for the risky one.But i don’t trust them.What if they convince me to sell,and then nothing? I’d lose that roof over my head,my only chance to escape.What if this is an abusers tactic,another one of their cruel tricks played on me?

My aunt’s home is the only place i felt loved.That home made my childhood bearable,it saved me from going crazy.It’s full of warmth and good memories.My heart won’t let me sell.Tough decision.I’m still pondering it and my head is exploding as i can’t make up my mind on what to do.I must find the answer quickly,or else…Time is not on my side.


Hi Pam, it is so hard to put experience into construct like “self worth” or “self esteem.”

In truth, I have often felt like a ghost, not real. A mistake, yes, defective yes, but on some other level totally irrelevant. My pain was but a puff of smoke out of my Mother’s cigarette, that she could just wave away with the flick of a hand.

My Mother, the ultimate do gooder. The person who abhorred suffering, took in stray animals, gave to charity, spoke with such assurance and character about peace, love and doing the right thing.

Yet not only did she pretend what was happening to me was not real, she became an accomplice. A cat hit by a car could consume her, but I was nothing.

I have to constantly rewrite the narrative. I was bad because I could not pretend everything okay, that it did not matter what happened to me. To my Mother that meant I had a big mouth, I was digging in my heals. Today when I hear my inner voice telling me to shut up, that I am being trashy not classy, I have to change that inner dialog. I am honest, I am brave, but most importantly, I am real.


Hi Kaycee, I think your last comment is profound and comes from a place that is common to many. I see the same response you describe in your mother is so many people today. Every night on the news, there are stories of animal abuse, while thousands of children are being abused and very few of them ever come to public notice. People fawn over their pets and ignore their children and grandchildren, seeing them as a bother. Sometimes, I think I even pretend when I see children hurting and feel that my hands are tied and that I can do nothing to help them. I pretend because the pain is overwhelming, echoing in my own lifetime of pain. Human beings aren’t the warm fuzzy creatures we fancy ourselves to be, or pretend to be. Finding the balance in not denying reality but also, finding peace in doing what we can, today (without being overwhelmed by the impossibility of tomorrow) to ease the suffering (of ourselves and others), I think, is where sanity lies. If we are able to ease our suffering and not pass it on to another child, we will have accomplished more than many others, who manage to think much more highly of themselves. There are so many ways to dissociate and deny the pain. Being real, searching out truth, and seeking to live by it, is a narrower, harder path but it is the path that is worthwhile. It is the path to wholeness.

You are real, Kaycee. No matter how we were brushed aside or ignored, the truth of our presence in this world, isn’t diminished. We have endured and still, we press forward toward something greater than we have experienced. We aren’t casualties, we are survivors and overcomers.



Thanks Pam. You know it is funny, my family, from the time I was young diminished my friends. They looked their noses down on them. I realize now that I have always been attracted to people who are unabashedly real. They just used my choice of friends to demean me, they were all trashy, bad for me, blah, blah, blah……….

I’m still peeling away at the onion, there are so many layers, so many tears to cry. I distract myself, I run away.

When I read the stories of people here whose parents were just blatantly horrid, I admit to feeling like it is just easy for them, like “Well there it is.” My stepfather was like that, it is so easy to get he was an abusive nutcase.

The rest of my family though, the way they pretend, the phenomenal circus feats, tricks of the hand, they are masters of illusion. It’s that place where I am a toy, a thing. I am a doll with movable parts, a smile painted on a plastic face. I can be stepped on, broken, bent and left behind, but I have no voice, no true meaning or value.

To have a voice, even a private inner voice is foreign territory and even when I do allow it, I still have a hard time accepting it. I have a hard time not hating it.


Kaycee, There are lots of broken people who are great fakers. They learn to adapt to the cruelty in this world and get on top but they lose themselves. They are the controllers, the manipulators, who have numbed themselves to their own true humanity and can no longer see it in anyone else. Then there are the broken, bitter, hate-filled, crazies. The truly, lost. I have been there but I didn’t stay there. There are some of us who slip past the confines of abuser and victim and become better human beings despite what we suffer. I’m not saying that I’ve never done anything to hurt another person, I surely have; and for awhile, I made hurting myself a way of life. There was also, a time in my life when I tried to gain control over the trauma in the past repeating itself, by taking responsibility for everything and I know that translated as ‘controlling’ and ‘crazy’ to the people I loved and was trying to so hard to guard from things that had already happened to me. There is no excuse for abusing a child, or anyone, ever but I do understand that abusers are broken. The abusive behavior of others has nothing to do with me or who I am or who I am not, it is an expression of their own pain and madness. It hasn’t been that long though, since I realized that those who set themselves above others and passing judgment aren’t right about me and those judgments hurt me deeply and had a profound affect on my inner thought life and personal choices. Now, I see them for what they are and that has helped me to stop listening so intently, to their criticism. I’ve stopped internalizing it the way that I used to. It is territory that I have to constantly, reclaim. I realize now, that my personal thoughts always belonged to me but my boundaries were so trampled as a child, that I never thought it wrong that my inner critic’s voice didn’t belong to me, at all. It belonged to those who wished to dissociate from their own feelings of inferiority and powerlessness, by putting me down and controlling me and using me for their pleasure. I have come a long way in the struggle to not define myself by the roles abusive people assigned to me but there are broken, controlling, abusive people everywhere so, the struggle continues to keep my definition of me. I do think however, that I’m reaching a point in my life where what I think of myself matters much more to me than what others think, no matter who they may be or imagine themselves to be. That in itself gives me an inner strength that I never experienced before.

It all takes a heck of a lot of time and hard work but I think those of us who take this journey of truth are rewarded not only with better emotional health but also, gain a depth of understanding of ourselves and life that those on the path of denial can ever know.




You have a natural gift with words (even though what you are relaying sounds so painful e.g. the puff of smoke) – you could easily be a professional writer if you’re not already!

I can relate to the family that pretends, for many of my abusers are that way. They are masters at verbally ducking and dodging, assigning blame to me but in a more sophisticated way, lying when needed, “forgetting”, and manipulating dysfunctional dynamics so that I come out on the losing end. All said in a calm and controlled voice of course. Most also have an aversion to “talking about it”, so I end up being the needy one, writing letters about my feelings, only to get brief replies or no response. They are in the power positions, and I am grovelling for some crumbs.

I’m getting a handle on this, my letters are decreasing and almost stopped altogether, I’ve tried and tried and I’m not trying so hard – or at all – any more. Leaving my family behind is tough. It doesn’t mean I’ll never see them again but I am disengaging and won’t be open like I used to be.

The description about material wealth contrasting with emotional poverty also resonated with me. While we weren’t wealthy, my parents were comfortable and had their trips and nice cars and a fur coat, and sports and cultural events. However it was an emotional desert for me. I think my mom may be a narc or even emotionally autistic if there is such a thing. She seems to have a knee jerk aversion to emotions, especially confrontation and has a way of emotionally disappearing even when she’s right there.

I’m sorry I’m not addressing everyone right now. I feel so bad for all the brave survivors here who keep moving forward every day. . Laura you are so courageous to stand up to your parents; Yvonne you sound like such a grounded person; and Lynne your experience sounds horrid…I am so sorry your father abandoned you. I just read a quote today from Mahatma Gandhi “Poverty is the worst form of violence” and I think emotional abandonment and neglect (emotional poverty) would be fall under this.


Hi Everyone! I am home from France! I had the most amazing time and lots to tell you but for now I have just posted a new article on the homepage!
This one is called Positional Power; when your therapist doesn’t Get it… You can read it here!
Talk to you there!
hugs, Darlene


Thanks Yvonne the phone jobs idea is great. I didn’t,know about that. I am computer literate and use to design websites from home. Lynne, there are good people without an addenda, we are here talking to them. I have never looked for anything in a friendship other than friendship, mutual respect and fun. I’ve felt like a simpleton NOT having ulterior motives. I guess that’s how I’m wired. I never see the subtle clues of abusive behavior.


Hi Karen, I just want to say, my guess is you probably have really good gut instincts and are are able to pick up those subtle hints. Chances are good you were taught not to trust yourself so you buried them. Chances are good you were taught you were unworthy so learned to be comfortable with abusive behavior. I’ve been working on this very thing in therapy. One of the reasons i was singled out for abuse in my home is because i was the one person who knew something was really wrong with the people around me, especially my Mother’s new husband.

I have been in some bad relationships as an adult but I am learning in therapy the reasons I have fallen into these is not because of a lack of ability to properly assess people, but because I was trained that I was less than everyone around me, that my feelings were always wrong and I had no right to protect myself.

I’m learning how to get back into touch with my inner guide by paying close attention to the physical sensations in my body that I have in reaction to people. These are primal, survival instincts that we can override, but do not go away.


Hi Karen & Kycee, I grew up with people who have a limited capacity for empathy and are manipulative. I accepted this as normal. I also, accepted their assessment of me as being too sensitive, because I do have empathy. I thought they had the same feelings of love for me that I have for them so, I thought they manipulated me because they were trying to get me to do something that was good for me. Manipulation was called diplomacy, in my house. I’m straight-forward and was labeled as a “bull-in-a-china-shop”. All of that made me accept uncaring, manipulative behavior as the norm and myself, as overly sensitive and gullible. I became a secondary kind of person because I have feelings for others and I don’t manipulate. It’s that fog that Darlene talks about. I still have to be mindful to not transfer my good intentions onto others. I have to remind myself to step back and try to see them as they are.

I also, know that I can’t tell, for sure, what another person is really like inside. There is risk in beginning a new relationship and it isn’t good to trust someone I don’t know. It is good to trust myself though and that inner trust has grown because I know the truth now, about me and about the way my family of origin functioned. It helps a lot to know that it is a good thing to have feelings for others and that manipulation is disrespectful and wrong. It really helps to know that I’m a good enough kind of person, with equal value.



Everyone have made so many comments that I can relate too. I am 46 years old and still feel I do not fully belong. I have so much to write….my mind never stops but as I sit here and try to express myself….I go blank! I guess I will start from the beginning

I have never felt loved or accepted as a child or adult from my mother or step father. There was never physical abuse. We lived in a decent house….had meals on the table and seemed to live in peace but I have always felt unworthy.

My father died when I was 2 my mom remarried when I was 4 to a nice man but emotionally unavailable. My mom was depressed and I knew I was not able to ask questions about my deceased father. I somehow knew my mom couldn’t talk about him even at a young age. Growing up I always felt my mom competing with me. She would never tell me I was fat but would suggest we go on diets together….which would let me know…..she thought I was fat! My step father would tease me when I was young and would sing songs about being fat to me…my mom never stopped him. It seemed she enjoyed it. When I was 15 she took me to a place that gave you shots of pregnant woman’s urine and put you on a 500 calorie diet. Looking back I was not fat! I was 120 pounds. My mom would say….just skip a meal or 2? This continued my whole life….her watching every morsel I put in my mouth. When I was pregnant with all my kids she would tell me to keep sucking my stomach in.

I’m not sure if it was my parents generation, but we were never told as kids that we were loved. When I think back to my childhood….I feel loneliness and regret. I know we had fun times but mainly remember being alone and on my own…even though there were four kids in our house. I felt like the black sheep but later in life found out some of my other siblings felt the same.

I was assigned the role of mother since I was the oldest daughter…my job was to tote my much younger sisters around and take care of them.

My parents rarely came to any school or extra activity events. I don’t think I ever asked them? I was trained early not to ask for anything. I will not ask for help from anyone now….I never want to put anyone out….and it’s to painful if they reject you.

I don’t remember ever having a dream when I was a kid??? Nothing!!!! My mom always told me I was not college material. If I did say I was going to try something….she would tell me why I could not do it and discourage me from doing it

I moved out when I was 18 and was totally on my own. My mom believed in tough love. She had it hard….so you needed to have it hard. I had little contact with her from age 18 to 25. I got married to a great guy who dispite my trust issues loves me. We had 4 kids very close together which made it fun but crazy. All through these years I had a relationship with my mom. I still felt inferior around her. She never could help me when I really needed her. The more she knew I needed her the more she would not help. She wanted me to beg her. She has made everything hard my entire life. Even with all this….I still talked to her daily and needed her approval.

I started my own business which she tried to talk me out of. When I was succeeding with my business….she would act happy but then make an ugly to let me know I was not that good. If someone would give me a compliment I could feel her anger and her fake smile pretending she is happy for me. Even though she was like this to me….I would down play it because I didn’t want her to get her feelings hurt.

She has pulled so many stunts through the years….a lot seem so silly but when it’s your mother it hurts. She has a hard time sharing with her children. Recently for my sisters birthday lunch she didn’t want to go to the restaurant my sister picked so she left the restaurant and walked around the neighborhood while we ate lunch….bizarre! This was after my sister and I hadn’t talk to her in 6 months.

Somehow through the years….maybe hitting my forties….I got stronger. I didn’t need her approval. I didn’t care if she thought I was fat or not. I didn’t need her…I realized I put my love and dreams into MY family!

I decided to tell her and my dad how I felt….she had to take a tranquiler before I talked to her. She does not remember anything she did to me. She said she thought we were having fun going to the diet doctor. I told her I would love if she could write down some things about my father for my brother and I. She said she would….that was two years ago….still nothing! I’ll never get that from her!!!!

I’m sorry I have rambled on and on. There is just so much! My two sisters don’t talk. They still have siblling rivalry issues that my parents did not correct. My mom and dad want to pretend nothing is wrong and talk about the weather. My one sister is a character assassin and is married to a cheating loser. My mom and dad are enablers for them. They help that relationship by watching their children so they can misbehave

I have a lot more strength and feel better about myself than I ever have. My inner self is a little nicer. I am mourning my family!!!! I am sad that i wasted so many years hating myself! So many years I thought it was me…but in the last few years have realized we are so dysfunctional! I am mourning that I have parents that will not listen….cannot listen!!!! When I tried to tell them how I felt 2 years ago…it brought me back to the one time when I was a lil girl. I mustered up courage to talk to my mom and tell her how I felt….her comment to me was “poor Holly” I started crying and she told me “see you want to be a big girl but look at you crying? That’s the last time I told her how I felt!

I have read so much about np but I’m not sure if my mom is that? Her and my step father had hard childhoods…and come from a generation that did not talk. My mom really did not have rages. She would give you the cold shoulder and silent treatment. My mom is loved by almost everyone. She is not a horrible person. I know there are so many horrible parents that have done way worse. I am just so tired of having to give her praises she so desperately needs. It is exhausting!!!! I have given her so much to feed her ego. I can’t do it anymore. I could forget the past if she would stop the things she does today but I know she won’t:(((

I did not talk to her for about 6 months….she suddenly started going to my kids games and events that before she was not interested in. We have had limited contact for about 6 months. I am trying because my kids love them but I don’t tell her anything that is important to me! That is so sad!


hey holly

it’s a real struggle isn’t it – it is so interesting reading your story – parts of it – I feel like we could swap out verbatim. It’s really painful mourning that family closeness – and then having to piece together all the things that were presented as normal because one was clothed and fed. I am sad to hear that you have suffered from so much self hate – for so long – it is so tiring keeping that up..i find it exhausting. It is really heartbreaking to hear your story – it does sound dysfunctional, and really unhappy and lonely for you. It is wonderful to hear to mention you are feeling stronger – these 40’s have their blessings that is for sure..the old skin may be a little bit wrinklier – but it’s wonderful getting stronger. yay you!!

My mother raged and ignored – the ignoring was the worst – you felt like you were nothing – invisible. her reaction when you told her how you felt is galling. I am really kind of outraged – but from what you have explained – it seemed pretty on target with her behaviour patterns.

I also have kids and have struggled a lot with them being used as part of the “communication” strategy on her part – it’s kind of insidious – and it makes it really difficult to actually articulate it to myself – because the manipulation is so yuk – and it hits at the core of your love for your kids. I think I kind of see my mother paying my kids attention – as a reflection on her caring about me too – which is warped I know – but it all harks back to that desperation for me to be seen and accepted for who you are. How are you feeling about all of that.

Like you I had no father – and he was never mentioned -never- and it was like a part of me never existed – I also had a step father – but I was older and he was kind but it was like I wasn’t really anything to him. I too left home at 18 – and 15 – for 1.2 years – very independent. I found the world quite lonely. Never feeling good enough for family – and anyone else.

Frankly the stories of your mother’s weight loss strategies are disgusting. I am outraged and horrified by this – and so sorry this was your experience. That was horrible behaviour. you can dress that up in any old frock and sell it – but it still was absolutely terrible. Shame on her.

Anyway thank you so much for your story – it is really hard – and it hurts – and I wish you so much happiness. Interestingly as a side note – Darlene mentioned to me ( and I hope she won’t mind me saying) that it is ok not to try and figure out what is driving our parents all the time – I have spent my whole life trying to understand my mother’s behaviour – and background to gain more insights into our relationship dysfunction – but now as I am trying to (..and with much back and forth) heal – it is actually a relief to really take stock on how we felt as kids in that environment. God massive rave – I hope I didn’t go too overboard. xx


Hi Holly, Thank you for sharing. You’ve been through a lot and it sounds like you are still going through a lot. I don’t know what is wrong inside of your mother but I know it isn’t because anything is lacking in you. It is terrible to have a mother who has no empathy for you. What you grew up with is nothing trivial. It is devastating to have a mother who is deaf, mute, and blind when it comes to the needs of her child. It’s impossible to ever be perfect enough to earn their approval. When everything is always about the mother, the child can never win. When we internalize the constant criticisms and lack of empathy, then those heartless words and actions can continue to beat us down inside, for a lifetime. I’m sad you had to grow up with this. You aren’t alone. There are many here who understand exactly, how you feel, including me. I’m glad you are here. It is possible to find freedom from the painful lies an abusive childhood teaches us to believe.




Holly, Elle, I think Holly’s mother’s response when Holly told her how she felt, is a perfect example of how someone who has little to no empathy responds to the intense feelings of others. They don’t get it. I agree with Darlene that we don’t always need to know why our parents are the way they are but it helped me to learn how to recognize what is wrong in my parents. I grew up thinking they were okay and that there was something wrong in me. I accepted a lack of empathy and manipulation as normal behavior on their part and on the part of others. I had to learn that those behaviors aren’t the norm and recognize those problems as being in them and not in me.



Hi Pam and Darlene,
I think that for my whole life I’ve been running away from my little girl self; the one that was rejected by my mother as well as my classmates, and then later had difficulty with people at work and other acquaintances that were mean. I was quiet and shy and my mother never cared about my appearance so people felt that this gave them permission to talk down to me. And then, unfortunately I began to do this to myself too and push away my little girl self which was in effect rejecting her and criticizing her just like others did.
Today I decided to stay with my little girl self. I was thinking of an incident when I was eleven and at my most awkward, unkempt shy self. A boy in my class got really nasty during our library time calling me ugly and telling me That he was going to have many more girlfriends than I would have boyfriends. He and others were laughing at me, and of bourse no one stuck up for me and if any teacher heard they didn’t intervene. I froze. I said nothing and inside The belief that I was worthless and ugly grew stronger.
Today I tried to connect with that little girl. At first I watched that scene play out as if my older self was looking at the incident from a few feet away. Then my older self intervened and dealt with the situation the way an aware and competent teacher should have back then. Next I comforted my little girl self and told her it was safe to express my feelings to this nasty classmate. Out loud I let my eleven year old self tell him what I was feeling at that time; that he was hurtful and that I didn’t know why he was picking on me but I wanted him to stop right now. I told him that if it happened again I was going to the teacher. I then let my older self praise my younger self for speaking up.
I’m wondering if this is how the process played out for either of you. I am trying to stay with that little girl instead of pushing her away and to give her a chance to speak.


Hi Amber, I think you did an excellent job of embracing, protecting, and soothing the broken little girl in you. My process was similar but not altogether the same. All abused children are in a sense, orphans and learning to give ourselves the mothering and fathering that we missed out on in childhood, is essential for healing. My process was not as deliberate and clear as yours but accomplished the same kind of nurturing self-acceptance.

This was a wonderful comment to read.



Thank you Pam! What I did felt very healing and validating to me, but it’s nice to get that outside validation too. I’ve been in the ” process” for about 20 months now and have visited and revisited scenarios from childhood many times including the one described in message 66. In the beginning I felt the hurt, then the angering side if me. I am trying to unfreeze it from inside me now, meaning I am trying to learn how to outwardly express it. I first need that safe feeling in order to do it. I may have to give voice to these feelings by myself many times before I feel safe enough to do it in the outside world. I am aware that once I do it in the outside world when someone I acts mean, I may not get the reaction I want so there is yet another level of safety that I will need. I need to feel that it’s okay if I stand up for myself and the other person is not cooperative. It scares me, but I do know that I have the choice in that case to end or limit contact in the relationship.

Thank you again for your validation and support.


Spell check did it again! That should have read “the anger inside of me”! 🙂


Amber, I read what you wrote about your older self and little girl and I loved it! That is exactly how I got free myself. One day I sat alone and closed my eyes and envisioned the old abusive family home and people and different, troubling situations that I experienced as a child. I had never done this before, but it seemed so real to me that day . As I rescued my little girl self, I smashed everything in the rooms and saw them crumble all apart and fall. I comforted my little girl self and spoke to her about how it wasnt HER it was THEM etc etc…and it was so freeing forever to me! I had never done that before and it was “out of character” for me and seemed strange, but I didnt care…and so I am now a believer in how empowering and powerful the visualization is. That was a couple of years ago and I am still learning how to reparent the child within and to self care and to walk in freedom. It is still a process, but this is all good and positive and happy to do. I am getting bolder as I also get practice….and believe me, there is always someone out there in society that will cause us to have to “practice” because of their behavior or words. I feel so impressed that you are standing up for your little girl self and helping her to heal. That is amazingly wonderful.


Pam, can you share how you have learned to reparent yourself and give examples of self care? I know after all you went through that you have a lot of insight into this issue. I have never had anyone to talk about this with and only know what I have done, and do. Thank you.


Pam, I was going to ask the same question as Finally Free did in her message 71. Would love it if you want to share it.
Hi FinallyFree! I always feel like you are in my corner so to speak! Thank you for your validation and encouragement and also for your willingness to share your own experience. I too have told my younger self that it wasn’t me it was ” them” In the experience I described in my earlier post, I talked to my eleven year old self about how that boy acted in a mean way and that it was wrong. There was no excuse for him to treat me the way he did. I did find it comforting and validating to explain to my younger self that this boy was insecure and unhappy with himself and tried to feel better by bullying me. This was something I did not understand at eleven and telling it to my younger self did help lift the burden of self blame, that I was somehow responsible for being bullied.

I have several more people that I want to encourage my younger self to talk to. With me, the older self with her, we are going to deal with some of the “adults” that mistreated me. The teacher who humiliated me in front of the class for not reciting something and bringing me to the front if the room screaming at me, a six year old in tears, to recite it in front of he class. The woman who insulted me about my hair at age 13. She was a friend of the mother of the friend whose house I was at, and did that in front of my friend and mother and no one stuck up for me. The woman who excused me of stealing at age nine, which of course I was not doing, and several other mean adults who abused their position of power when I was a kid.

Thanks again Finally Free and Pam for your validation and support.


I feel so angry, I have to get this out. I hope this is the right topic. I haven’t seen my mother in over 3 years now. She has alzheimers and dementia now and is in a retirement home. I wanted a mother as much as anyone, but I never bonded with her…she was emotionally and verbally cruel, and narcissistic. I talked with my brother in law yesterday and we talked about Mom. He and my sister put her in the home, my sister has power of attorney. Both of us were abused (not physically, but it doesn’t matter). My mother is going to be 88 this year and her health is worsening. My brother in law suddenly tells me, “You have to do something, call her, write, visit, something”. It’s the second time he’s said this in a few years, I don’t talk to him or my sister hardly at all.

As soon as he says that I feel deep anger, but I don’t have the nerve to tell him, I just ask, “Why?” He goes on that Mom may not have much time, you never know. They see her at the home once or twice a month. I feel deep anger because he wasn’t there. He wasn’t there when I was growing up. I feel he is totally out of bounds, that is my mother, he or no one else has the right to tell me who I contact. He is estranged from his grown children, I would never tell him “Why don’t you contact your kids”, because I don’t know the story, I wasn’t there.

I dealt with the anger by hurting myself, again. I just want to know, is this deep anger, normal? I am aware I am seen as the baddie because I don’t contact my mother. Brother in law told me Mom asks about me when my sister leaves the room. I can understand that could get to him after a while…but that woman hurt me so much and I can’t forget it. I see so much protection of my mother’s feelings and none of mine. I didn’t ask for her treatment I wanted her love. Now I’m supposed to do the “right thing” just because she is my mother. She threw away her role as mother. I actually have thought of seeing my mother alone, one on one, nothing bad, just closure for myself sometime this year…but when I heard that from my brother in law…it turned me off. I am the alcoholic who won’t grow up and think of Mom in her last years, in their eyes…but what about my feelings? I wrote them an email tonite asking him to please not do that again, I had a right to my feelings…my sister wrote back that she was sure he wasn’t issuing an ultimatum (as if I would respond to that), that they were just worried because she is deteriorating.
My truth is this is a sick family who won’t face the truth of how damaging things were. The only way I’ll get better is to stop hurting myself over them and stand in my own truth, alone as I may feel.


Hi Doren
I completely understand your feelings here. I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but I do remember realizing that I had finally stopped caring what they said about me and I know it happened when I realized that ‘they’ were not going to change. They don’t want to hear me. They don’t want to face what I am willing to face so I finally just stopped hoping that they would and turned to my own needs. My mantra today is “they will say what they say, do what they do and think what they think and it doesn’t have any reflection on me.”

Today I do have the nerve to say things ~ my brother (about a year ago) called me (my family reads my blog) and he tried to convince me that our parents are getting old (in their eighties) and that they were not going to change. I calmly told him that I am not asking them to change. I am simply stating that I am not going to accept being treated ‘that way’ any more. He had no response to that…. 🙂

Hang in there! Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Thank you for your support Darlene, ((hugs back))
It means a lot.

I’ve told myself for years that they didn’t care about my feelings but I didn’t really “know” it, accept it, didn’t let it really hit me—partly because I’ve always distrusted my perceptions. I still care about what they say but hopeful that as I accept myself more that will change. I still struggle so much with poor self esteem. All my life I figured everyone else was right, not me. It hurts me but it’s good that I know the truth and know my perceptions were right all along.

I have been hoping they would see me, understand me. I drank and got depressed rather than really acknowledge my feelings that I was the last priority in the family. In my way I avoided the truth too. All of this is just a continuation of the past and the belief that I’m a screw-up and selfish and won’t grow up, etc. Nobody else ever faced or acknowledged how hurtful our parents were, but I can’t forget it. Of course my parents presented their every action as faultless and normal and they were protected, and that continues. Rather than face their abuse I was seen as a screw-up and I also played into that.

I feel very alone right now. I’ve never gotten very close to people cause I’ve felt so flawed and thought they wouldn’t care either, so why bother. I have so much anger inside of me. My terrible hurt has meant nothing. I’ve dragged myself through life and am half dead from health problems over my self abuse since I was a teenager and still Mommy’s got to be protected…I will not play my part anymore in hurting myself over these people. Thank you for understanding my anger…I think it is completely normal, but it’s what I do with it now that has to be different. I have to take care of myself now and give myself the care and love I never got. I don’t have to be sick anymore, I will start to be the person I always truly was. It hurts right now but I have a lot of hope.


Doren, you distrusted your perceptions because you were told some crap about “your parents want what’s best from you” so you didn’t believe that they would not care about your feelings.

Also, I found an earlier post of Darlene’s with these words:

WHY is it wrong to need to have something understood or resolved in the first place?

My mom seems to feel it’s wrong to need things “resolved.” especially when it’s been 40 years.

I love what you said.


Thank you, DXSMac…..yes I imagine most of us have heard “they did the best they could” or something like that. If that’s the best they could do I wasn’t supposed to expect much. Time and again my feelings were disregarded, my mother even said she didn’t care about them, but still the mind will twist things around, deny, minimize whatever happened, whatever one’s feelings are, to not face the reality of them not caring. I’ve had a harder time accepting my sister’s rejection than my mother because she went through it too, and I don’t see her as over it like she claims. To me if people are really healed and over things they could discuss or at least acknowledge the damage.

Yes, this thing about time, so many people say it’s been so long, they act like time alone poofs it away. I understand wanting it to go away but it doesn’t unless it’s faced, the trauma just goes underground or is expressed in other ways like addiction or withdrawal or something. But they don’t see it that way as continuing on in how they treat you, for example.

I wonder about the “sanctity” of family and how scapegoats are not included in that. My mother who called me a pig as a child and my sister ugly but that was over 40 years ago so I’m being selfish for staying away now….really this is about wanting a mother at whatever cost and if that means transferring your hurt and anger to another family member so be it. My mother is quite docile now and vacant so I am seen as mean for not seeing her, seeing her is so loaded for me but all my struggle with it is seen as personal weakness. Just as my Dad said I was weak, themes just continue in these people who have “resolved” the past.

When my sister in her 50s called her Mommy the last Christmas I was there I saw it all in that moment she just wants her Mommy I felt great compassion for my sister and wanted to flee because it hurt so much. Now my mother is declining and I do want to see her again one time, but my brother in law’s pressure that I “have” to galls me and makes clear my feelings don’t matter. I will do it when I am ready. I remember Mom telling me before she got dementia, my sister could have done better than him, he was ugly, I never told my sister that and wouldn’t, how does somebody get protected so much? Just being mother. How do things get twisted so much that I am seen as more hurtful than her, I just want to protect myself. I suppose being the scapegoat is a blessing in disguise, giving one the outsider perspective, that designation is proof enough that nothing’s been resolved. How dare I put myself before my abuser—oh wait, she’s stopped being abusive now why don’t I let it go already and see her. It’s so messed up how parents are elevated. I hope the loneliness of standing alone eases in time, people say it will get better, I have to put faith in that.


Hi Doren, I’m sorry that I was so slow to respond to this. I have more going on in my life right now than I can handle. I haven’t been online very much.

I think your anger is very normal. I’m proud of you for writing your emails and expressing that anger. Anger is for self-protection and self-preservation. You used that power in a very healthy way, through your emails.

I think when things are wrong in a family, people try to correct the problem by trying to preserve the form of family but when the family dynamic is rotten on the inside, a correct form only serves to cover the problems, when they should be dealt with. Even Normal Rockwell was dissociating when he created his famous, family paintings. He had a miserable home life. Family is never perfect and trying to pretend that it is instead of facing the truth, destroys families and lives. Truth is always the best choice.

Hang in there, Doren.



Hi Pam, it’s good to hear from you…no need to apologize, I just hope you are taking care of yourself, especially at this time. I’m sorry to hear you have a lot on your plate.

I’ve said it before, there is a warmth that comes from your posts, kinda wish you weren’t so far away. Thank you for your support, I needed it today. I’ve been thinking, “Either I’m a terrible person or something is really wrong here”. It’s easier to think I’m bad. I find the hardest part of this healing process right now is trusting my perceptions.

I didn’t know that about Norman Rockwell, he must have been trying to create what he never had. My sister is trying to hold onto “family” and there is a lot of sympathy for an elderly, demented lady who can’t be abusive anymore, so I am seen as selfish. I also have to face the truth that they will never come around, never try to understand how I feel, it is too much of a threat. I’ve been hanging on to the illusion of family too, just not my mother. Thank you Pam


“Family is everything, family is everything.” How come I don’t feel this?


Hi Doren, You’re welcome.:0)I will always have my “ideal” of what family should be. Because what I knew as a kid was so far from that ideal, I think I convinced myself that my ideal was the norm. Something most people had and I didn’t. Now, I know family is messy business and I will never obtain that ideal. Still, I do think that love, kindness, and respect isn’t too much to ask for while family members work through the messy business of family. There is no excuse for abuse.



Hi DXS, Family is more important to some than others. I think how you feel belongs to you. I find it more helpful to honestly, accept my feelings, as they are. I can’t help what I feel. I just feel it. What I choose to do with those feelings influences the course of my life, for the positive or the negative. Examining where those feelings come from, helps me know myself better and gain confidence in my personal truth.



I got a phone message from my brother in law this morning that my mother is in the hospital. She went in yesterday and they think she’ll be ok. He said he and my sister were there all day yesterday, and would be today. He said later tonite my sister will maybe give me a call. I caught onto the “maybe” and once again it was him calling and not my sister.

The vibes are getting nasty. His voice was shaking and he sounded angry at me. As I wrote before, when I talked to him on Friday he said I “had” to do something to contact my mother, even though I haven’t seen her in 3 years. I know exactly what’s going on now, I know how I’m seen, my feelings the last few years were correct. I am the bad one, the mean irresponsible daughter who is thoughtless towards her mother.

Right now I am struggling so much inside. I wonder if they have a reason to be angry, because even though I’m no contact with her, I accepted information about her and wanted to kept up to date about any major health problems. I never thought that was a contradiction, to me knowing if she’s ok or not and seeing her/contacting her are two different things.

The other part of me is so angry at what is going on. When my mother went into the home a few years ago I expressed more interest in her health. I asked my sister what medications mom took and I asked to see the letter from a doctor diagnosing her dementia. My sister told me she’d sent it to me. I waited 7 months, when I asked my sister she said, “Oh it’s so painful for me to read the letter, that’s why I delay sending it”. Finally I called and she said, “Why do you want this info, do you want to show it to your therapist?”, I said no, I was her daughter too. I asked, “Does Mom not want me to know this?” My sister said, “No, and it doesn’t matter, I’m the one in charge”.

After that I stopped trying to get info, I wasn’t going to chase her for it, and I backed off, which wasn’t difficult because I never got close to Mom anyway.

On an emotional level, I just feel so much hurt and anger and don’t know what’s going on. I have never tried to hurt anyone, I don’t want to hurt my mother, I am trying to protect myself. I always thought I had the right to decide my own relationship with my own mother, but I’m getting so much anger from my sister and her husband because I don’t see her, because I’m not involved. Is this a common thing? Does this happen a lot? I’m I a bad person? I’ve worked so hard on myself but because things are coming to a head now emotionally I’m all conflicted by the negativity and wonder about myself.


I’m just writing here cause I don’t have anyone really in my life to say these things to. Just getting it out helps. So my sister just called me and mom is in the hospital and they found out she has mild parkinson’s. She may have to be put in a nursing home, they don’t know yet.

My sister says it’s breaking her heart, mom keeps asking about me…she said “I’m going to be honest, you might get mad, but I think you’re holding on to the past too much”. I said I know you think that, I’ve known for years, it’s not a surprise.

So, I think this is the time in my life at 50 where everything’s coming to a head and I have to decide, whose truth directs my life. My head right now is all over the place. I have never been able to forget, let go, whatever that thing is that people say they do…I don’t know how to do that like they say they do it, because I can’t do it like a mental exercise or something, will myself to stop “hanging on”. I said to my sister that mom’s feelings matter more than mine, which she denied, but I don’t know how else to see it.

All of this obligation thing…I want to know why I’m supposed to forget the abuse all those years, or put it aside because I’m losing her…I don’t know how to find the words right now…when do I come first, it has to be now…my heart has been broken for years, what about my heart?

I don’t understand their perspective…this woman helped create this situation…her feelings are supposed to matter right to the end, above all overs, I think this whole thing is sick. My sister’s heart is breaking over mom’s feelings…over mom asking for me….it’s not breaking over what happened to me, or to her own self. I hate this denial of the past and its effects. I hate this putting mothers on a pedestal because, my sister says, “she is old and very sick”, that’s what happens to people, they get old and sick. I am so tired of people trying to tell me how to deal with my own experiences, my sister didn’t have my experiences, she had her own. I am my own person, I am not a part of a glob called “family”.

All my life I’ve been the black sheep now it’s all coming to a head and I feel so alone. I know I have to be the one to be there for me, to stand by what I believe, to say I matter. I don’t want my mother to hurt, even after everything she did, I don’t enjoy that she may be hurting, but she should have thought of the consequences of years of being so hurtful. They want to protect her from the consequences of her own actions, and I have to put myself first and not that woman. I knew when this time would come things would come to a head but I feel I must take extra care of myself and listen to inside of me first of all. Just having to write that down.


Hi Doren, I’ve heard exactly, the same things from my family. It’s a lot easier to “let go of the past” if it is your own wrong-doing that is being overlooked and let go of. I know with my parents that if they really wanted forgiveness from me, then they would name their offense, apologize for it, and then ask if I could ever forgive them. If they had done their part in reconciling our relationship, it would have been a whole lot easier for me to let go of the abuses they committed against me. However, they didn’t want any of that. They wanted me to overlook their crimes, instead. I have forgiven them and that came when I was finished trying to reconcile with them. The forgiveness is for me. It is when I let go of the past but I also, let go of the relationships because they refused to do their part in the reconciling process so, I was finished and I moved on.

There are those who must feel they are in control, even on their deathbed. The “black sheep” in the family, is usually, the scapegoat and those of us assigned that role are always called into action, in a crisis, when old wounds can’t be covered and blame must be assigned. I think such dying parents don’t really miss their scapegoated child, they’re just afraid to meet their maker with so much blood on their hands so, they call for their favorite sin-eater…for some, casting shame is a way of life and they fool themselves into believing that they can exit life in the same manner.

I’m sorry you are going through all of this Doren and I’m also, sorry that it took me so long to answer. Hang in there, honey.



Hi Pam,
I’m struggling with the inner critic today. My mother passed on three years ago, however I still experience very strong triggers at times where i feel certain incidents with my mother very intensely. I was painfully triggered today about a couple of incidents with her and my aunt. My mother used me a lot. She had no interest in my life but was quick to come to me with ridiculously nervy demands like wanting to ” borrow” the money from the savings for my sons college, and demanding that I fly 3000 miles to take her to doctor appts. That an aide from her assisted living could have taken her to. My aunt, her sister, also tried to shove things off on me. She went behind my back to my grandmother and planted the idea in her head that she should call me and ask to live with me or else she would have to go into a nursing home. My aunt manipulated me into quite a difficult spot with my grandmother. How were she and my mother exempt from dealing with their mother and they put me in the awkward position of telling my grandmother that with two young children I could not take her in when m grandmother called and asked if she could come live at my house.
Back to the inner critic: my inner critic keeps asking me what is wrong with me that people like my mother and aunt thought it was okay to do things like try to dump the care of their mother on me, or take my sons college fund ( my mother never would have paid it back). I know it was nervy of them to demand these things, but a voice in me keeps blaming myself that they do it because there’s something wrong with me that makes me appear stupid or like a pushover. Have I been groomed so thoroughly that I think there is something wrong with me? There was such a strong feeling of guilt that I wasn’t complying even though it was to outrageous demands that they would never think of asking anyone else in the family to do. I’m feeling belated anger about all this today. Anger at being used, anger that no one cared about my life…did I mention I have a special needs daughter that none of these people ever offered to help me with? Anger that they must have had such little respect for me that they thought I was stupid and would comply so I might just get a pat on the head if they decided to give it.
If I think this through intellectually, I can understand what Darlene means about looking at what HAPPENED to me rather than what is wrong with me. But when Im feeling the intense pain over what they did, the critic is very loud. I keep hearing ” what is wrong with me that they think I am so stupid that I can be used so easily”? Why not my brothers or cousins? No…just me. I was their ho to person when the work had to be dumped somewhere.


Amber, I would say, yes, you were groomed, through emotional and psychological abuse, to blame yourself and see yourself as defective. I too was made to feel worthless but at one point in my life, I was taking care of three members of my family of origin. I thought it was my duty to do so, even though, those members didn’t lift a finger to take care of themselves. It was something that never should have been asked of me, at that time, but I was so conditioned into thinking that I should meet their needs, while never asking the same in return, that I thought nothing of taking on that burden.

I still have to fight the urge to meet all the needs of others and I have a hard time trusting anyone to meet any needs of my own. However, I don’t hear those critical voices telling me how undeserving of anything good or deserving of everything bad that comes my way, very often anymore. I have more self-confidence than I have ever had in my life. It just took a long time in correcting that critical inner voice and believe me, she was way off course! You aren’t a defect, Amber.:0)



Thank you Pam! Your validation is very valuable to me, especially today. It is so hard to undo the grooming. I know I was groomed to be of service to everyone while at the same time I was taught I was beneath the other family members. Therefore I was supposed to ” do for” but not to dare expect anyone else to have to give to me. Thank you too for the reminder that I am not a defect! It’s your kind of validation that helps me pick myself up and move forward even when I am hurting. Xoxo Amber


Thank you so much Pam for your kindness and thoughtful words 🙂
I’m like Amber, your post is what I needed at this time. I don’t have anyone in my personal life that I can talk to about family.
I have never believed that my sister has herself “let it go”, but has transferred her anger onto me, easier for her to be angry at me than face the damage our parents did. But I have bought for most of my life the message that I deserve this anger, that I have done such wrong and been wrong. When I think of it though, the depth of anger makes no sense to me. I’ve moved away and tried to be my own person, it seems that can be a “sin” in itself.

But now I am realizing I don’t have to try to figure her out, or make her understand me. My “truth machine” in my gut tells me that my health and protection are my priority. I think all my life I’ve been trying to prove that I’m not a bad person, while believing so much that I am. To face that those messages were wrong, and self-serving on the part of my parents and sister is so uncomfortable…to truly accept that my gut was right, my perspective was right after all, takes some getting used to. Not just words that I tell someone, but actually feeling it, realizing it. And with that is a deep sense of betrayal, and anger and grief over the time I’ve lost…the time I’ve spent believing I should be low man on the totem pole, just because I’m me. And hoping one day I’ll be number one in priority, and I’ll finally get that love. But it’s for me to give myself that love.

Though I am 50 it is quite scary for me to draw my boundaries. I can rail against my sister for trying to control me but she can’t do anything I don’t let her do. I’ve been putting the power on her still. When she said it broke her heart that Mom asks about me I felt guilty and arranged to visit Mom in the hospital. I soon realized I couldn’t handle that trip and arranged to send a card instead. I had to fight the “bad daughter” feelings cancelling the trip but it was too hard for me. I felt compelled to explain my health is too poor for travel and disappointed myself in doing so, because I was still playing the “I owe you this” game. But I’m being kind to myself and see that I’m making some steps forward. My boundaries are fuzzy but I’m working on it.

I realize now it doesn’t matter what family does or says, it’s what I do in response, how I assert myself, how I advocate for myself. I’ve had heavy victim mentality for a long time and it’s not easy to let that go. I haven’t been ready to say I’m lovable because I say I am, not because others say I am. But I really want that freedom that others like you Pam talk about experiencing, and I trust that the discomfort of acting more authentically will pass. Thank you.


Doren, hi! We ARE similar in several ways! First, I find it hard to talk to people about this stuff too. I can sometimes talk to one of my brothers, and he did experience abuse from my mother too, but as a boy there were certain situations that didn’t apply to him that I had to deal with and I think other women can relate to these things, particularly being considered as inferior for being a girl, being expected to ” serve” and being treated as if being pretty and attracting a man are the only valuable things a woman can achieve.
Doren, like you, I have spent my whole life trying to prove yo people that I have worth and that there is nothing wrong with me. But I have trouble doing that because Ive been so brainwashed into thinking that there IS something wrong with me and that I don’t measure up. On an intellectual level, I understand that we are all born with equal value, but emotionally there is still this nagging feeling that maybe I smile different; maybe everyone else is equal but some defect in me excludes me from being there with the rest of the world.
All my life I felt I had to prove myself to people. This is a hard thing to let go of. All my life I tried to explain and get people to understand me. Never worked. I need to be able to get past that too. Some days I feel healthy enough to feel that I don’t owe anyone any proof or explanations, and other days, like today, I hurt and I still long to get this validation from people who are nasty to me.
It sounds like you have gone some good healing, Doren. I like that ” truth machine in my gut” ! Yes, your health and protection are priorities. Mine are too. I need to listen to my gut closer because I know that truth machine is in there but it doesn’t always get easy access.
Boundaries are hard for me too. I get a knot in my stomach when I try to set one. Always, always have the feeling that someone is going to get upset and reject me. But wait a second, if I always give in then I never get my needs met. And that is just plain unfair. I have set boundaries with my manipulative mother ( she is now deceased.) and she usually responded with a guilt trip, silent treatment, and trashing me to other family members, and even throwing me out of her life for a while. Keep in mind that this demanding woman was not there for me for things that were important in my life. It’s easy to see why I feared / still fear boundary setting with that kind of training!
I too long for that freedom from all this garbage.


Doren, please excuse the spellcheck distortions in my last post. I can’t believe it says that I ” smile different”! I meant ” am different” actually, maybe I will smile different someday when I reach freedom from broken.


Hi Doren
Pam accidently replied to your comment through email instead of posting here so I am cutting and pasting in her reply;

Doren, I wouldn’t judge the boundary you set as too fuzzy. Some abusive people see a solid boundary as a challenge and it can end in the abuser upping the abuse, so that they stay in control. Whatever you have to say too keep yourself safe, is acceptable. In fact, even lying is okay when it comes to personal safety, whether that safety is physical or emotional. Nothing I can do or say will ever cause an abusive person to stop abusing. The only sure way to stop the abuse is to remove the victim. The only behavior I can change is my own.

You are definitely, on the right track, Doren. The world is full of nasty, controlling, abusive people and the only way I’ve found to help me survive them is in changing how I view myself. We live in an unsafe world and safety, lies within me. I had to reprogram a lot of my thinking but I know that ability was there all along or I wouldn’t have survived my childhood at all. Now, I see myself as strong and understand that my abusers are the weak, dependent ones.


Thanks, Darlene. I have too many emails, lately. I could blame it on a lot of things, actually but basically, I just goof up sometimes!:0)


Haha Pam!
and the truth is that we all do “just goof up sometimes”! I’m glad we can laugh.
Life keeps going on no matter how much we have healed, moved forward or whatever we can still get bogged down, overwhelmed, have tragedy and difficulties etc. I am speaking about my own life right now… and that is all part of the package! It is still better than it used to be!
Hugs, Darlene


Amber, thank you so much for replying. It sure feels good to know that I’m not “the only one” in this world feeling this way. When you said about the nagging feeling that I smile different, I totally get it. That somehow I am different (in a bad way) and it comes down to every little human thing, smiling, gestures. I would like to get back to you more in depth Amber, in a few days. Thank you again, also thank you to Pam.

I just found out my mother is declining and has a few days to a few weeks, so I’m going to see her tomorrow. She’s not eating and is on do not resusitate. I want to see her one more time. I don’t feel like crying, and I don’t feel any anger toward her. I think I went through all that with her. Thank you everyone for your support, its meant so much to me, Darlene too. Hugs Doren


Hi Doren, the “smiling different ” was a typo but in a way, there is probably some truth to it. Like smiling when I really didn’t feel like it. Anyway I am always glad when my posts are helpful to someone in some way. Sending you extra hugs for your visit tomorrow, and remember I am here to listen if you need someone to talk to. Amber


I told myself I wouldn’t cry when I saw my mother in the hospital the other day, but she looked so physically broken, just chewed up and spat out by life. Seeing her like that I had a flash that she was probably abused herself as a kid and I felt such pain inside. But that was my good heart feeling overwhelmed by the state of her.
She’s 88 and a broken whispering thing and I noticed how the medical staff were naturally so gentle and taken with her. I appreciated their care but really noticed how they saw her, of course, as she is now. I thought “if you knew how she was before”.
I made my concession being there, a “dutiful” thing, but I did want to see her one more time. Since returning I am aware of a deep anger inside of me, not towards her because I essentally detached a long time ago, but towards my sister. On my own I was able to kiss my mother and hold her hand, but two times my sister pressed to see this lovingness. “Let me see a kiss” she said in this happy voice. The worst was my last visit with mom my sister noticed noticed mom reaching out her hand to me, my sister saying in that stupid happy voice again, “Hold your loving mother’s hand”, and I turned around and gave her the filthiest look I could, I couldn’t say anything in that situation. She smiled after I gave her the look, I am slightly suspecting this is all sick.
I have to be my number one priority now. I had some inkling of hope that my sister understood my perspective before this trip, that is gone. It is all about the sanctity of motherhood and too bad about my feelings. I know the message is do the “right” thing otherwise you are being an unforgiving selfish bad adult who won’t let it go. I thought before it was my mother’s feelings that mattered most, no it’s my sister’s and her denial and need to make a happy family now, take a brush of white paint and forget everything.
How is it that I have no family support but this person who wrecked her children is tended to like a little bird? Why do people do this? They just can’t bear the truth. They can’t bear that mommy never cared for them, and is only like this because of illness.
I haven’t wanted to face the truth either, and now it’s time to stop waiting for a rescue and my family to come around. I’ve thought I couldn’t take care of myself, I thought really they were right.
If I look at it, I’ve been on my own emotionally for a long time anyway, so of course I can take care of myself. My gut tells me to be very forgiving to myself for the choices I’ve made.


Hi Doren, My heart is with you as you go through this ordeal. I don’t know if I could do what you are doing. I don’t know if I will go to either of my parent’s death bed. I’ve already mourned the loss of my parents so, when I think about the possibility, it seems redundant.

Accountability is so important in figuring out how to get out from under abuse and break away from dysfunction. It helps me to remember that being abused isn’t an excuse to abuse. It’s true that abuse in childhood is faulty programming but there are the victims who are continually, trying to get better and those who choose to just follow what has been programmed into them. The first victims choose to pursue truth and second, to maintain the image of family through the lies of denial. Truth can be very painful and a difficult path to follow but denial is also, painful and devoid of hope for anything better. The only true hope for real healing lies in choosing to pursue the truth. Yes, you can take care of yourself and also, give yourself all of the things your mother with-held.

In my family, the abuser was my dad and he didn’t just abuse his children, he abused his wife, his parents(who were very good to me and more like my parents than my parents)his friends, anyone he was close to. I don’t know what happened to him in childhood but somewhere along the way, he chose to abuse others as a way of life. I don’t think anything happened to him that was any worse than anything that happened to any of the rest of us. It isn’t so much about what trauma we suffer as how we choose to deal with it. I too chose some bad coping mechanisms and I can’t say that I’ve never abused or hurt another human being because I have but there was something inside of me that couldn’t deny that the way I was living was wrong. My dad was the total opposite. He could never look at his own wrong doing and instead, pushed it all outward, onto everyone else. To him, lies were the magic that he believed could change the reality of his life. In some ways, it seems to have worked very well for him because he has always been pampered and most of the family would never dare to dispute his version of reality, with him face to face. The power of lies is fear and it is fear that still rules my family of origin and keeps them locked into a system of denial. I think the most fearful among them is my dad and his over-whelming fear is having to see himself as he truly is.

I am much happier as a person of truth and the more truth I embrace, the less fearful I become. Even though, the world is full of abusers and the battle never really ends. I can’t change any of them but every day, I become a little more like the woman I am intended to be. That is the prize that I have contended for all of my life.



Pam, I’m sorry I did not respond earlier. My mother died on Sat the 28th and my head is fuzzy. I’m surprised that I feel a missing of her when I didn’t particularly miss her in life. Maybe a part of me naturally held onto hope that somehow she would acknowledge her actions and apologize. I wasn’t aware of that feeling when she was alive but it probably was deep down in me. Now that cannot be and maybe I am missing any chance to have a mother.

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that my sister and I aren’t much support for each other. We’ve not said “I love you” in the days following Mom’s death. Due to her dementia Mom was very docile and childlike, she was a sweetheart and the hospital staff loved her, my sister told me. My sister also told me as far as she was concerned this was the “real” Mom and this was how she wanted to remember her. And I get the message in that pretty good. Unfortunately for me I’ll never know that this benign Mom was her “real” self, since that’s just conjecture anyway….also, I have a small problem with the fact that there was damage done and serious traumatic effects from the way she was. That is the part that of course is not acknowledged, that there are long-term consequences of child abuse. I don’t have the ability to poof it away and the unspoken message from her is that that is my problem and due to personal failings of mine.

So here is this woman who never has to be held responsible for her maternal actions, and the fact that I see things differently is seen as more proof that I am a screwed up, unforgiving person. I’m always struck that I cannot get the pass that my mother gets. On top of having been so hurt as a child I now am to blame for feeling the effects of that very mistreatment. If I cannot be as “mature” and forgiving as my sister than something is wrong with me, which funny enough, that’s just what my parents said, that I was the problem. This is a big reason I find my sister’s “let it go” message so disturbing, because implicit in that is something that’s never let go of, the notion that I’m a problem. There is no letting go, it’s just “let go of what I want you to let go of because I don’t want to see it”.

It is a no-win situation, and I think I really have to let her go. I really understand not wanting to face painful reality as I have clung to my sister as caring for me, as she has clung to Mom as a caring person. I have to face the truth that I am alone in this family and will only be accepted if I “return to the fold”, go along and deny my feelings. Of course in doing that I’d be saying, “yep you were right I was the problem”, and in some way I’d still have to be seen that way. I would never be accepted for myself. I have to face that this is an untenable situation, that there’s nothing I can do to “fix” it. It must be that in trying so long to fix it I assumed this was my responsibility as the problem; I know I’ve internalized it.

Before Mom died my sister said, “Mom would want us to be close”, what about what we want? How can I be close when it means denying myself. If I only remember my mother in her dementia I am blocking out my own life, my history. It’s not just “bad memories”, I have to come to terms with my life. I may be rambling here, hope not.


Hi Doren, No, you aren’t rambling and I’ve gone through some of those same thought processes because I was the scape-goat in my family system and was treated the same way. It’s tough to prove emotional/psychological abuse and that is the type of abuse most controllers choose. Controllers don’t love their kin, they own them, and use them to fill their needs. They can be sweethearts if that’s what it takes to get their needs met but if you are close to them, they need to use more effective means, in order to keep tight control. Demeaning, criticizing, scape-goating, casting-shame, emotional terrorism, are the most effective means because the long-term effect is as good as a regular beating, without the physical evidence.

It’s normal to feel loss, even when we weren’t parented the way we should have been. A child needs their mother for survival and we form and deep, natural bond to our mothers, despite who they are. I think it is that way with anyone in our family, whom we love, and then they choose to control us through abuse, rather than love us back. I don’t buy the popular conception that being abused is why someone chooses to abuse others. The choice to live life by owning and controlling others is something that comes from deep inside a person, that may be encouraged by their environment but I’ve come to the conclusion that life reveals who a person is, more than creates the person they become. Child abuse warped my view of myself and others but there was always something inside of me that made me want something better. I never wanted to ‘own’ or control anyone. I wanted to love and be loved in return. That’s the difference between a survivor/over-comer and a controlling, abuser.

I don’t know where your sister is in that but you are right, I think. You can’t be ‘close’ unless, the relationship you form is about the two of you and not about what your mother wants, or would want. I think some people who belong to controllers are lost when that control no longer exists. We scape-goats usually, know deep down that we are victims, golden children don’t acknowledge that about themselves but they are as damaged as we are.

Hang in there, Doren.


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