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.

101 response to "How The Truth Silences Inner Critics Voices and Healing Begins by Pam Witzemann"

  1. By: Karen Mackay Posted: 18th September

    This site has helped me so much in explaining why I am as I am.
    However as I’m trying to recover I find that I feel as if I am a nobody, a nothing. I understand nothing and should really have been a miscarriage as I have no personality, I just am able to say the right thing and be convincing to fit in in some groups but am not real. I don’t know how this relates to the emotional abuse and neglect I went through. It seems like a fact and the reason why my dad was so disappointed in me. So, can someone help me understand why I feel this way?

  2. By: Pam Posted: 5th March

    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.


  3. By: Doren Posted: 5th March

    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.

  4. By: Pam Posted: 6th February

    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.


  5. By: Doren Posted: 6th February

    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.

  6. By: Amber Posted: 3rd February

    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

  7. By: Doren Posted: 3rd February

    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

  8. By: Pam Posted: 3rd February

    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)

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd February

      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

  9. By: Amber Posted: 2nd February

    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.

  10. By: Amber Posted: 2nd February

    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.

  11. By: Doren Posted: 2nd February

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd February

      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.

  12. By: Amber Posted: 2nd February

    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

  13. By: Pam Posted: 2nd February

    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)


  14. By: Amber Posted: 2nd February

    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.

  15. By: Pam Posted: 2nd February

    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.


  16. By: Doren Posted: 20th January

    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.

  17. By: Doren Posted: 20th January

    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.

  18. By: Pam Posted: 19th January

    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.


  19. By: Pam Posted: 19th January

    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.


  20. By: DXS Posted: 18th January

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

  21. By: Doren Posted: 18th January

    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

  22. By: Pam Posted: 18th January

    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.


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