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: Doren Posted: 17th January

    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.

  2. By: DXSMac Posted: 17th January

    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.

  3. By: Doren Posted: 17th January

    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.

  4. By: Doren Posted: 16th January

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th January

      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

  5. By: Amber Posted: 12th January

    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.

  6. By: FinallyFree Posted: 12th January

    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.

  7. By: FinallyFree Posted: 12th January

    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.

  8. By: Amber Posted: 12th January

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

  9. By: Amber Posted: 12th January

    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.

  10. By: Pam Posted: 12th January

    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.


  11. By: Amber Posted: 12th January

    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.

  12. By: Pam Posted: 20th December

    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.


  13. By: Pam Posted: 20th December

    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.



  14. By: elle Posted: 19th December

    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

  15. By: Holly Posted: 19th December

    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!

  16. By: Pam Posted: 10th December

    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.


  17. By: Kaycee Posted: 10th December

    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.

  18. By: Karen R Posted: 10th December

    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.

  19. By: Light Posted: 1st December


    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.

  20. By: Pam Posted: 30th November

    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.


  21. By: Kaycee Posted: 30th November

    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.

  22. By: Pam Posted: 30th November

    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.


  23. By: Kaycee Posted: 30th November

    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.

  24. By: laura Posted: 30th November

    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.

  25. By: Pam Posted: 30th November

    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.


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