I Vowed I Would Never be like my Selfish Unloving Mother

dysfunctional mother daughter relationship

stormy mother daughter relationship

I used to live waiting to be good enough. I thought ~ “as soon as YOU say that I am important, then I will be important.  When you say that I am lovable, then I will be lovable. When YOU say that I am worthy then I will BE worthy”.  Deep down I believed that someone else would determine my value. I had to learn to stop operating under those beliefs. I had to stop seeing myself through the unloving eyes of others.

When I was 14 years old, I vowed that I would never be like my selfish, unloving, self centered mother. That was a serious vow and that memory is one of the clearest memories that I have. I don’t remember what happened the day that I made that vow but I remember it was one of the only promises that I ever made to myself.  I knew somehow that our mother daughter relationship was dysfunctional and that my mother was on the toxic side, I just didn’t know what I could do about it, or how long lasting and deep the effects of her way of relating to me would be.

When I went through my process of recovery from dysfunctional relationships, I took a closer look at the vow I made to never be like my toxic mother.  I asked myself what that meant to me and what specifically I had been referring to back then. I saw my mother as someone who didn’t care about others and cared about herself too much. She didn’t care about me. She discounted my feelings and she discounted my needs. She was disloyal and dismissive.  She was cutting and mean. She humiliated and embarrassed me in public and her actions and statements made me feel unworthy of respect or love. My mother (who demonstrates many signs of narcissism) was very selfish and self centered. My mother and I had a very dysfunctional and toxic mother daughter relationship.

More recently I took a look at this whole dysfunctional mother daughter relationship and the ongoing damage that it caused to me, in an even deeper way.  My narcissistic mother put herself first. So I vowed that I would never put myself first. My mother didn’t go without so I wanted to be the opposite;   I would go without many things to prove that I was not like my mother.

Somewhere along the line I decided that my needs would never come before others because that would mean that I was “like my mother” and in putting myself or my needs before anyone else would be showing those same signs of narcissism and since I had learned as a child that my needs didn’t matter, it was easy for me to stop listening to myself and discount my own needs.  I was proud of myself for doing it! That decision represented the vow that I made not to be like my mother. And I didn’t realize that I was taking over from all the other abusers in my life by agreeing that my needs would come last. My motive was understandable, but the practice was funky and dysfunctional.

When I decided that I would never be like my mean and toxic mother, I went to the other extreme and ended up being just as dysfunctional and I ended up treating and regarding myself exactly the same way that she treated and regarded me; as unworthy and unimportant. I discounted my feelings and I discounted my own needs. I put myself last. I humiliated and embarrassed myself by not ever standing up for myself and my own actions reinforced the belief that I was unworthy of love.

It’s a long uphill climb, learning to overcome this self discounting treatment. I still catch myself putting myself last under the guise of being a wonderful person and contributing to the greater good of mankind.  I have done it with my family and I have done it right here with my website and my readers.  Spreading myself so thin that I get sick, all because I vowed that I would never be like my narcissistic, dysfunctional and toxic mother.

I have been rethinking that vow lately.

The way that my mother did relationship with me was dysfunctional and toxic. The way that I learned to do relationship with myself as a result of how I was raised, was also dysfunctional and toxic.  By realizing where I got the ideas and teachings about HOW to treat myself, and how to NOT be like my selfish, toxic and dysfunctional Mother, I discounted and devalued ME, in just the same way that she did.

I still vow that I will never be like my unloving mother but today I am learning that what I regarded as the opposite of my mother is still toxic and dysfunctional. I had to take a look at the whole picture in order to see that I was not actually setting things right by being the total opposite of her because I was still disregarding me. (As I had been taught to do by her example)

Putting myself first is not narcissistic at all. The difference between the way that my mother regards herself vs. others and the way that I regard myself vs. others is that I believe all people are equally valuable. The way that my mother operated was that SHE was the most important and that HER needs were the most valuable.

The truth is that we ALL have equal value and that self care and self love when done in a healthy way, will actually benefit all those in contact with the person who practices it.

Everyone is welcome to share. Please feel free to use any name you wish if you feel unsafe about posting with your real name. I look forward to reading your responses to this article.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time

Darlene Ouimet  

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Categories : Mother Daughter



Wow Darlene. I can see why you are always so selfless in your giving to others now that I read your vow.. I admire that you could do so much .. but never knew the deeper meaning behind all your glad that you are taking care of you while still giving to others..

I think my resolve is very similar to your..and I run into the same problems of giving and not taking care of me. Of course I was taught by the belief system I had embraced at the time..that you are to forget yourself..deny yourself..take up your cross…etc.. ..

It was drilled into me that it was selfish to think of self. .by the church..and why they drilled that into me. mom was telling me I was nothing.. i had no value . .my only value came from the fact that I was allowed to be in their house with them..

So what a mess.. I was told I was nothing by mom and all there and told I should think Iam nothing by the church.. so I grew thinking am nothing and should never think I am nothing..

When I started to get good grades.. I would cry .. because I felt somehow . .doing good .. was not right..after all I was nothing.. Even now.. in my studies.. I find it hard to be happy .. that I do well in school .. some inner fear that somehow that isn’t right.. am suppose to be nothing. .those grades belong not to me but to someone else..

It’s hard for me to think I can do well. or can accomplish anything. .if I do .. I feel guilty . .if I feel in any way it’s me.. so when people say something nice about what I do . .or tell me I am smart I am afraid to accept it..

I know it’s all the bad things I have been told.. playing back each time something nice is said to me.. I have to get rid of all those old tapes.. somehow.. so I don’t feel guilty …for thinking nice of me.. .. or that others think nice of me..

I have no problem seeing others as nice. .or doing for others..but its very hard for me to do nice things for me or to think the nice things I accomplish are me..

Hope I get to that healing where I get this all straightened out.



Hi Darlene,
I’m glad you’re back and I hope you got the rest you needed.

I really relate to this post as the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my life was in running in the oposite direction of what my parents were and did. Balance is the key.



Hi Joy
Yes, it is interesting that it is drilled into us to be selfless, by people who are not acting in that way themselves; people who have a selfish motive; people who seek to be obeyed and served by us. How convenient that they teach us that we put ourselves last. For me, all the things that you are talking about got so much better when I did the sorting out work in my belief system. When I did the fog busting! Keep going forward!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Pam,
I am glad to be back!
Balance is key, yes, and balance is something that I continually have to tweek!
It was not so easy to achieve balance at all when the belief system was so strongly wired in place wrong! It is much easier now that I can see things through a more truthful grid!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you for your article. I see so much of myself in there. Very good at looking after everyone else and neglect myself. I’m losing my teeth and cant even be bothered to bath half the time. On anti depressants but they arent helping much. I pretend everything is fine and always look happy and joke about, but thats not what is on the inside. Should sort myself out, but dont know where to start.


He Welshie
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
I didn’t know where to start either and it was when I looked at just one untruth about my feelings about myself, that I made my beginning. Read some of the other articles in this site and you may find your starting point too. There is freedom on the other side of broken! We all deserve to have it!
Hugs, Darlene



Thanks..sometimes its discouraging…sometimes.. i think am too tangled but I will keep pulling on piece..eventually i will get it all unraveled.. thank you for everything. all your encouraging words;)



Darlene ~ I so get that! I went through the same thing … going to the other extreme only to get used by people. My husband was the one who had to help me to see that it’s okay to say, ‘no’ to people and that its okay is someone doesn’t like you. It took me a really long time to see that. It took me a really long time to to be able to value myself enough to put myself first sometimes – and what I mean by that is caring for myself.

How can I be a good and healthy mother if I don’t take care of myself, by putting my self care first? Like you, my mother taught me how to treat myself. I would beat myself up with unkind words, etc., just like she did. It took some doing to reprogram my thinking and I often still struggle with it – but it is getting better. Changing my name helped a lot, believe it or not, by helping me to not see or treat myself the way my mother did. She taught me how to treat myself … and I had to unlearn that.

It really helps being and seeing the true reflection of yourself through the people who do really love you – that is where we will find the ability for healthy self love and acceptance.

Great post!!


Yes, I too see myself in your story. Bit by bit I gather the pieces to me to try and put the puzzle of my life together. Reprogramming myself is slow and tedious work. Only this year have I been able to wrap my head around the neglect and emotional abuse I have endured from my mother. It took 2 therapists to get me to understand that she is toxic. I just could not bring myself to believe that my own mother was someone that would inflict pain on me. Surely I deserved it. Her personae is that of a bully. She was physically abusive and verbally abusive. I can hardly stand to be in the same room with her. She also talks in a super loud voice and will make eye contact with strangers while in conversation out in public. I have seen people move to another table because of this. A few of her friends have confided that they can only take her in small doses, which confirms a lot. Overbearing is a good word. Because she is the only mother I had (my dad left) I had nothing else to compare her to, so it has taken me years to get to where I am now.
I have been under fire for sharing posts about sexual abuse from her as of late. She yelled at me and told me that “her” family did not talk about things like that and that was just the way it was. Well, I yelled back and told her that I was not backing down anymore. I haven’t talked to her in about 2 months and I feel nothing but relief. I do feel awfully alone, however. It is incredibly hard to not have someone to talk to about such things. I can’t seem to be able to find a group that deals with sexual abuse in my area. I don’t think most people are equipped to deal with this conversation. I get silence and blank stares. Like I have leprosy or something. Tonight I was thinking about how people rally for you if it is medical like childhood cancer and such, but sexual abuse is denied the support. So sad about that.



Having to adjust oneself to a healthy point of view can take a very long time. It also takes steps. What should come “naturally” is not guaranteed to happen at all. Being able to protect oneself while attempting to treat others in the way you think is “right” is a difficult task. When one’s perception of “right” and “wrong” has been altered because of toxic people in one’s life (mainly family and people that one has no choice in having in one’s life,) and their own agendas a person has to extricate themselves from the “reality” they had to grow up in. I had to realize that the truth that I had lived with was a false set of perceptions that I adapted to in order to cope with the abuse and ignorance and selfishness that happened around me. I sometimes picked up on those habits not knowing anything better. Once I felt I was not comfortable maintaining the precepts that those habits supported I abandoned them for other rules that governed what I felt was appropriate. It is sad that many people are so busy unbinding the tethers that keep them in miscommunication and self harm. So much more could be done if everyone had the chance to live in healthy environments.


Darlene, again you have spoken clearly about an important issue. I too have been thinking about how my desire to be different from my toxic family actually led me to hurt myself. For me, it wasn’t selfishness I pledged against but their preoccupation with professional success and maintaining a proper “image” in the community, while behind the scenes it was all a chaotic, unloving, unconnected mess. But then, I actually was coming from a place of such low self-respect that I couldn’t distinguish between people with genuine integrity and those who would use me under the guise of acting against a corrupt system. Now, finally, I can see the truth and start acting truly in my best interest AND on behalf of the social and environmental concerns that are very important to me.


My experience was very similar. The vow that I made at 13 years old was what kept me alive for many years. The vow I made was a little different. My vow was that my children would never experience what I was experiencing. Today, my children are about grown, and they feel good about themselves. Not many people will understand what that took to accomplish. I will die happy because of knowing this, regardless of anything else in my life. I have not accomplished a lot else, but that suffering stopped with me, and I love myself for that. Still, there is a sadness and a longing, that no other human being ever loved me in the same way. But seeing the beauty and goodness that came of the struggle makes everything okay, most days. Thank you for this post.


Me too, Robert! I remember being about 8 or 9 and telling myself “the buck stops here.” My daughter is super extroverted and loving. Her healthy mind is all that matters to me most days. This has been a very timely post, Darlene. Thanks and keep up the great conversation.


Hi Rise
Yes! This whole discovery/recovery has made a huge difference to my children. It really was a big thing to “unlearn”.
Thanks for your comments!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Deirdre
Yay and thank you for sharing your victory! I love that you said “I’m not backing down anymore!”. When I look back on my life I am amazed by how much I backed down (with so many people) but understanding why I did that is a huge part of how I came to stop doing it.
I too feel sad that people are so reluctant to support survivors. I suspect that it has to do with their own issues that they don’t want to deal with.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Bipolar Bear
YES! Great comments. That is what this whole website is about! Thanks for your comments and I hope you come back often.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Sophia
Yes, the process of coming out of “the fog” happens in stages. I have found that one truth led to the next truth and so on as I became (and still become) healthier. My mother was also very concerned with her image in the community and that always came before me. My father was just not emotionally available.. and I guess my mother gets blamed for everything although I do see the part in all that that my father played too and the huge effect that it had on my self esteem and self view/value.
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Robert
Thank you for sharing this major victory! I made that vow when I decided to have kids (when I was about 29 ~ prior to that I vowed that I would NEVER have kids)
I try not to write much about my kids because of the details that I like to use in my writing or I would write a lot more about the differences in my parenting style vs. my parents style. But when they are all older (only 2 of them are no longer minors) I will.
Thank you for your contribution to this post!!
Hugs, Darlene


I sure appreciate this forum, Darlene – thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences, and thanks to everyone else who posts for your perspective and wisdom.

I also remember the teenage decision to NOT be like my mother in any way, ever. My mom was a different sort of narcissist than many of the mothers mentioned here – she was never physically or sexually abusive, nor overtly or intentionally emotionally abusive. She was just so damaged, and disassociated I think, now that I know what that means from Fi’s blog links. (Thank you, Fi!) I think she was molested or at least received some unwanted male attention from some of the in-laws in her family – I know her sister my aunt was molested for years by their oldest sister’s husband and my Grandma’s reaction when my aunt told her was “What did you do to make him do that?!” My oldest aunt was my Grandma’s favourite child so the very thought that her husband could be guilty of such a thing was more than Grandma would consider, I guess. So she made her younger daughter (her scapegoat child) pay the price for that. My poor aunt – she suffered for years from crippling anorexia and finally died of pancreantitus. She was a shit-disturber and I adored her for trying so hard to battle her demons and talk openly about her experiences and challenges and to just keep fighting. But ultimately she just couldn’t escape her little girl programming that she was a bad girl and must be a good girl so that her Mommy would love her. (Her husband didn’t help either by treating her like she was a bad girl.)

By the time I was old enough to really be aware of my Grandma, she was so completely checked out – she floated around in this weird “isn’t everythign wonderful” la-la land that she refused to leave, that my poor aunt couldn’t penetrate to get any resolution. And my aunt was subjected to such horrors from the mental health profession – electric shock therapy and stuff like that. Granted, she would go into the psych wards kicking and screaming like a banshee. A few years before she died the finally figured out she was bipolar. I’m sure because she was a PTSD survivor, but nobody ever figured that one out enough to actually help her. Anyway, I am certain that Grandma was a chronically disassociated abuse victim herself. My mom insists that she doesn’t remember anything like that happening to her, and maybe she doesn’t. But she intensly refuses to critically examine her family of origin in any way, and she has always acted like she is the emotional age of 12 years old, so I feel taht something happened to freeze her there. Anyway, she was always very fearful and anxious and cautious, and the older I got the more passive-aggressively controlling she became. She is also a chronic enabler to my father, letting him treat her like a doormat for years and then playing the victim to the hilt to control the rest of us. She felt like an over-grown child who wanted me to be her mother and put aside my own needs to take care of hers – that was our dynamic. I didn’t have a functional mother for years and years. I don’t know what kind of narcissist that is exactly, but what it boils down to is that her needs were always more acute than mine, and her entire purpose in life was to serve my narcissist father, whose needs also mattered more than anyone else’s, so I grew up feeling responsible for the happiness and well being of both my parents. We all wanted to please my Dad and get his attention and approval, which was hard to do because he was gone so often with church responsibilities and work responsibilities and volunteering and community theatre and other activities and hobbies that he loved – he admits now that he was codependtly addicted to the praise and approval of others – others not including my Mom! My mom drove herself to a nervous breakdown trying and failing to please him by the time I was 7, and from that point on I felt responsible to take care of her because I was convinced she’d die without me. Neither of my parents were sadistic narcissists by any means, just so wrapped up in themselves and in the case of my mom, so broken herself and such a child emotionally and so conditioned to put herself last in order to be a good wife to her husband (that was the religious/family programming she grew up with) that there was just nothing left over for us kids. I felt like I was the adult in the family since I was about 10. And it was so hard to put my finger on what was dysfunctional about our family as I got old enough to investigate it, because there was no overt abuse. It was all subtle and more neglect than abuse. As a teenager, my Dad would confide in me all his resentments toward my mom and ask me for marital advice which he would propmtly ignore – I was his confidante and therapist and his surrogate-wife, which I later learned is called emotional incest. Anyway, I’m so thankful that it was never more than that and that my parents weren’t vicious and abusive and overtly trying to crush my spirit and destroy my sense of self worth. For that I am very grateful now.

Anyway, sorry to ramble on. My point is that I too made the decision to never EVER be like my mother, who I saw as weak and weepy and emotionally sticky and chronically in denial about teh reality of her marriage and the reality of how unpleasant she could be to her family. I hated the passive-agressive BS that was impossible to confront because she would deny anything you accused her of. Come to think of it, she could be pretty snaky and mean if I tried to confront her about anything. I have grown up terrified of being in conflict with women about anything, because of her. On top of that I’d had years of hearing my Dad’s many complaints about all her failings, and i adored my Dad and wanted his approval more than anything, so I took his rejection of her to heart and rejected any part of me that was like her in any way. (My Dad used to fling out “you’re acting just like your mother!” when I was a teen, you can imagine how that made me feel.) Plus I made the consious decision to NEVER be anything like her at all.

The consequence of this is that I believe I rejected my entire feminine self, because unconsciously my mother represented the feminine, which I found to be weak and repulsive, and my Dad represtend the masculine which I found to be admirable and strong and more respectalbe than the weak, pathetic feminine of my mom. So I have this split within myself, and a lot of unconscious self hatred when I display any traits or tendencies like my mom. I haven’t really thought about this in a while, though – and Darlene I think it’s a really good question to ask myself right now – what did I limit myself to by pledging to never be like my mother? How is this old conviction still affecting me now? How is this deep-seated rejection of my mother and all she represents to me, affecting me and how I live my life now?

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this.

PS I want to add that to my Dad’s credit, he has seen a few therapists over the years and actually gave me a book on emotional incest that he got through therapy and apologized for that dynamic between us, and he has tried really hard to change his ways and stop turning to his kids for parenting/approval/the meeting of his emotional needs. He still isn’t perfect but at least he tries which I appreciate a lot. My Mom was a harder case. I believe that she is so disassociated that there truly is a part of her – the “good girl” part, that believes she is always trying her best to be selfless and kind and giving etc., who is completely checked out and unaaware of the behavior of the angry, bitter, selfish, manipulative, withholding, punishing, competitive, jealous shadow-side of herself. So when she acts out of the shadow-side, and I try to call her on it, the shadow-side ducks out of the way and “good girl” steps in and is completely shocked and hurt by the things I’m accusing her of. Good Girl just cannot be held responsible for such things, becuase she herself would never even think of doing such things. I’m not sure what self-preservation mechanism is going on there, but I just have a hunch that there is a big disconnect between her “dark” side and her primary identificatin of herself as a “good girl” She is very black adn white in her thinking and could not see herself as both capable of goodness and badness. She was the “good child” of her family, BTW, always reliable, always willing, always loving and peaceful and obedient. Her mother praised her endlessly for that, and I don’t think she could cope with admitting the possibility that she could be anything else but that. Just like she still can’t admit that her parents were anything less than perfect, saintly, wonderful, and beyond criticism. Oh my mother, she is a fascinating person. Baffling, annoying as hell, exasperating, and I can still only tolerate her in moderate doses, but nonetheless fascinating.

Anyway, in 2009 we moved away from Alberta to Nova Scotia – I wanted to get as far away as I could from my mother (and my mother-in-law – another story). And that seemed to be a catalyst for some major changes in my mom. I was the last person in her life that she was clinging to to take care of her and be her “good mommy”, and when I left, she at first got very ill for a month or more, then she seemed to snap out of that weird codependent childish state of being and start taking care of herself. She had a health scare that forced her to make some significant changes to her diet and activity level, and she lost a significant amount of weight, started feeding herself properly, and it’s like she suddenly grew up and came into her adult self and became a more functional, happy, autonomous, happy human being. She has actually demonstrated a capacity for self-awareness that I’ve never seen before. She still has her blinders on about a few things but she’s gotten better. I am still flabbergasted by the transformation. Because she also suddenly became a mother to me for the first time since I was a little kid. She suddenly wanted to actually take care of me and help me and be a support to me instead of dropping by my house to “help” which meant that she expected me to entertain her and meet her needs for the day. So, my parents are proof that people can grow and change, and relationships can heal. I’m thankful for that every day.

That being said, I still have issues to deal with of my own because of my upbringing, and I thank you Darlene for helping me identify an area that probably needs some more focused attention. I’m 41 years old and I should really make sure I’m living life on my own terms and not as an unconscious reaction to my parents any more.


Karen, Your family diachotomy sounds just like mine, the parents anyway. My parents have that exact relationship and my mom has always looked to me for mothering. When I was in my early teens and she would come to me with her problems, I can’t describe how awful and inappropriate that felt. When they moved onto my property and lived next door for 11 years, it was that way all of the time. She wanted me to be responsible for every move she made. Even calling me before she went out to do simple errands so I’d know where she was at all times…of course that goes the other way when things go wrong. She made me the responsible party so that she didn’t have to bear any responsibility at all.



Hi Karen
Excellent processing here in your comments! Thank you for sharing this here!

One thing that I want to mention to everyone here is please be careful not to get too caught up in the diagnosis of others or even of yourself. Knowing what was “wrong” with someone else never helped me get closer to healing for me. Even the diagnosis that I was giving for myself was not that helpful in the healing process, although I found it very interesting stuff to read about.

I love this conversation! Hugs, Darlene

Hi Pam
Your comment reminded me of things I have not written about yet! My mother leaned on me in really nasty ways too. She even told me about sex stuff with her boyfriends when I was a teenager. About making someone else responsible, that is such a typical controller / manipulator thing to do. Wow. thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene



Thank you for sharing about how you feel pain and despair when you accomplish things like get good grades in school, how you feel guilty when you do well or when people praise you or give you a compliment. I would like to better understand this because my oldest son, who is 18, has been reacting like this for the past year. He seems to be feeling a lot of shame and self-hatred, and if I say “I love you” or compliment him on something or try to say encouraging things, he gets very angry and has actually gone into rages at me/toward himself on a couple of occassions. We finally had a break-through of sorts a few weeks ago, when instead of trying to reassure him that he was wonderful and worthy of love etc., I just shut up adn listened to him rant about how much he hates himself – he was hitting himself in the head and crying and literally writhing in self hatred. He was wishing he could just be dead, saying that he wished no one would care about him so that he could just disappear, which was very alarming. The way he self-talks to himself is so vicious. He refers to himself as a useless pile of crap. And perplexingly, this intense self hatred and shame and crushing despair is worsened by me treating him lovingly and approvingly. It’s like he just can’t process it, he must fundamentally feel that he does not deserve it, adn maybe he fears he can’t trust it. Maybe after the compliment he expects criticism and for his achievement to be minimized or dismissed so he is pushing it all away. Maybe feelnig the good feelings hurts too much when your experience tells you that those good feeligns are going to be ripped away any second. That no matter how good you are, you are never good enough, so with any accomplishment immediately comes the devestation of failure because no accomplishment is ever good enough for your parents (and in your case, Joy, for the Church/God.)

Sadly, it was because of my poor parenting that he has learned to think and react this way. I grew up Mormon and was a devout, virtuous, chaste girl who ran into a fellow in college who found my self-professed purity and naivity a challenge, and within 3 months I was pregnant. I didn’t marry the guy, thankfully I had enough sense to get away from him, but I chose to keep the baby despite considerable pressure from an LDS Social Worker who tried every tactic he could to convince me that since I had sinned, I was “unworthy” to keep my son and the only right thing to do in teh eyes of God was to give him up for adoption to a “righteous” couple. I felt a crushing amount of guilt for having violated my faith’s teachigns about not having premarital sex, and I felt like a horrible person for bringing this baby into the world through my selfish,sinful acts. During the whole pregnancy I struggled with all this guilt and felt conflicted about keeping the baby vs. adoption, and many times I wished I would just miscarry. When I found out through ultrasound that the baby would be a boy, I had a huge meltdown because I was so afriad he would look just like his father and that I wiould hate him for it. I beleive that we can feel things and are aware of things while in the womb, so I believe that my son felt my confusion/ambivilence/rejection of him during that time. I believe he felt how unwanted he was, by me and his biological father, and this contributes to his self-loathing now and his desire to just disappear from the earth. : (

When he was born, I decided I was willing to go to hell if I had to, but I was not going to give up my baby. (Because I loved him and wanted to be a good mother to him despite my fear/pain/guilt…) This began my disillusionment with my religion and over the next several years I lost my faith, which for anyone who has been through that – you know how draining and painful that experience is.)

Thankfully my parents had been in favour of me keeping my son, and they were very good and loving grandparents to my son despite their own issues (they were in the process of seperating and divorcing becuase my Dad had an affair, all while I was pregnant and having my son and for many years afterward the divorce mess dragged on.) and their issues with me – and there were a lot of those. For the first year of my son’s life, I struggled to bond with him and I am sure he felt fundamentally rejected by me. It breaks my heart now, remembering how I felt and how I sometimes responded (or didn’t) to him. I wish I could go back as the woman and mother I am now and take that baby and raise him over again.

But I can’t, and unfortunately I continued to make mistakes – I had unreasonably high expectations of him, always expecting that he should act older than his age for some reason. And I was way to liberal with “constructive” criticism, so between me and my husband (his step father) who was very much the same if no worse, we did raise this poor kid in a climate of unreachable expectations and constant criticism, and a lack of support to reach our expectations. If he got 80% on his report card we’d say, that’ great BUT what can you do to do better? What was my problem, what was wrong with 80%??? I realize now that I wanted him to do really well in school so that his teachers would think I was a good mother, and so that no one would know how much we were actually neglecting his needs at home, because by this time I had 2 babies with my husband and was tired and overwhelmed and I expected my oldest to just understand that and not bother me with his needs. It breaks my heart to admit that too, that his needs were not as important to me as the needs of my new babies and my husband, and my own needs. I was a narcissist in my own right and my poor son got the brunt of it.

So it’s no wonder my son is struggling. Right now my focus is on figuring out how to help him and how to undo or at least bring healing to the damage that I have done as a mother. He is such a wonderful young man and he never deserved any of the crap that got heaped on him by me or his step-Dad. That was our crap, our failings, not his. I try to tell him taht every chance I get, but my love and remorse often seem to cause him even more pain, as I mentioned. He’s been doing better since the Prozac made its way out of his sytem – we tried it on teh advice of my doctor and it made him scarily angry and edgy. And he’s done better since I have learned to listen and just sit with him while he proceses his pain. Maybe that’s what he needs most.

Thank you for providing this forum, Darlene, where we can learn from each other and in my case, have a place to write our thoughts/feelings/share our experiences. It is very therapeutic for me to be able to “talk” about these things here.

And Joy, thank you for sharing your experiences. You are helping me understand my son and hopefully help him. I’m sorry that you were made to feel that God Himself disapproved of you, by your family and your church – that is such a sinister, horrible, soul-crushing abuse of religion and of God’s name. I understand, I also absorbed this fear of God’s anger/rejection from church teachings, and I was also taught that God made people suffer on purpose to “test” them. I can’t tell you how traumatized I was for years from the story of Job in the Bible. For years I felt that God’s big horrible test was lurking just around the corner – this fed into intense anxiety about my husband and kids’ safety – that God might tear them from me at any moment to make me a stronger person. How awful to teach children that the horrible things that happen to them in life might actually be caused by God, because he’s basically got a bet going with Satan. YUCK.

Anyway, I can understand why for you, achieving something good or receiving praise would make you feel so terrible. In my church there was a lot of talk about “the sin of Pride” and about how dangerous it is to feel pride in oneself. God values those who suffer, make sacrifices, and who are meek and humble, and too many children, like you, are surrounded by people all too happy to prevent them from becoming prideful by reminding them every second how worthless they are. I’m so sorry you were treated that way by your family and church community. I hope you know how wrong they were about you, and that you can unlearn these painful lessons and learn to feel joy and pleasure and pride in yourself for who you are and everything you’ve accomplished.

Again, thank you for posting, Joy.


Hi Pam,

I totally understand how awful and inappropriate it feels to have a reversed mothering dynamic with your mother. It feels icky and heavy and sticky and blech – I have also found it hard to explain or describe. My mom would even say things like “I wish you were my Mom,” – she’s say it as though she meant it as a compliment when she was watching me interacting with my kids, but I knew that it reflected a genuine desire to be parented/nurtured/mothered by me. Or she’d go on about how much I reminded her of her mom and then sadly say how much she missed her Mom (her Mom died a few years ago, but was emotionally absent for a long time before that). Those kinds of comments made my skin crawl and I’m not sure why, but Pam it sounds like you totally get it. It just isn’t right somehow.

I guess it’s because they are trying to get you to give them something that they should be getting elsewhere, and they’re attempting to get it from us without asking for it, and it’s something they shouldn’t be asking us to give them anyway. They are using our relationship to get their needs met in a way that disrespects our boundaries/roles/needs, and being used like that never feels good. Especially when it’s hidden – like my Mom’s pretext that she was coming by to help me, when in fact she was coming by because she was lonely and bored and wanted to follow me from room to room talking to me, or wanted me to take her places and do things with her. I understand loneliness and wanting company, but don’t pretend that your motive is to “help” when it isn’t at all. But knowing how to recognize her own needs and ask for them was not a skill she was ever taught at home or in church or anywhere else. When people aren’t allowed to honor their own needs and trust that they’ll be met, they sometimes learn to steal to get what they need. I understand this now, and even understood it at the time, but it didn’t make the false transaction feel any less yucky. Anyway, Pam, thanks for commenting. It helps a lot to be understood by people who have been through something similar. I don’t know if it’s common or not, but I went along for years assuming I was the only one dealing with this stuff or feeling these things. Maybe that’s just my own unique narcissism! : )


I appreciate your point about taking care not to diagnose or get hung up on diagnoses. I don’t think that boxing yourself or others into a firm label of what they are is healthy either. But I have found it helpful as part of my healing process to learn these terms to describe patterns of behaviour – it gives me a shortcut to communicate a lot of information in a word rather than a paragraph, to describe what I have experienced or observed. For example, when I learned about “disassociation,” that helped me so much to finally be able to put words to what I felt about my mom and Grandma but could never quite describe. My Grandma was just so unreachable, and I felt certain that it was significant somehow in the story of my family and thus of myself, and to learn what it means to disassociate made so much sense of that.

For me, asking and answering the question “WHY?” in response to how my parents treated each other, themselves, and related to us kids was how I coped with a confusing homelife. When I discovered psychology and family studies and eventually anthropology classes in university, it was like a world of perspective and understanding was opened up to me, and finding that other people had observed dynamics and behaviors in human interaction and named them, thus giving them a reality beyond my own experience, helped to validate to me that my sense that something wasn’t right at home was actually correct. I hadn’t imagined it, I wasn’t being over sensitive, and other people agreed with me that these dynamics and behaviors weren’t healthy.

Also for me, the process of analyzing my family and what makes them tick and what influences have traveled down the family tree has helped in my process of depersonalizing the abuse/neglect I grew up with. It has helped me to understand that my parents had their own bundles of issues that affected their behavior way more than anything I’d ever done. It doesn’t mean I don’t hold them accountable for their own choices and actions, but it has helped me release myself from the burden of feeling like their behavior was somehow my fault or responsibility. For years I felt responsible to make them happy and “help them” understand themselves so they could get well and stop hurting themselves, each other and us. If I could just find the right words to explain to them what they were doing and how it affected them and me, they’d finally hear me and stop doing it! That was the belief that drove me for years. But finally I realized that they were going to do what they were going to do, and it wasn’t my fault or responsibility. So I decided to just pull back (and move away) and let them do what they were going to do. And I decided to be more assertive in setting boundaries if they treated me poorly. That was so freeing, to let that burden of responsibility go. To do that, I needed to achieve a level of understanding about who they are and why the acted the way they did in order to realize that their behavior toward me was really about them, not me.

Even still though I find it helpful to still uncover clues and put together pieces of our family puzzle as I come accross them. I don’t search for them obsessively as I once did. But I sure appreciate every bit of insight I can find when they show up! THankfully it’s no longer driven by the desire to understand them so I can “fix” them. It’s more about understanding so I can be aware of what I might be doing in my own parenting. And also, in understanding why they did the things they did – it has helped me have compassion for them and move toward forgiveness.

**I’m not pushing that on others, please let me make that clear! Forgiveness has to come when you feel ready for it – being angry is a huge and very important stage of the abuse recovery process and I spent A LOT of time there. If you’d asked me 3 years ago if I could forgive my mother, I would have been really angry at you for asking me that question. I was so caught up in whatever weird dynamic we had myself that I felt responsible for her/dependent on her and hugely resentful that she wasn’t the mother I needed her to be. Her unwillingness to examine herself and stop herself from being so weird made me so angry. **

That being said, I really appreciate your caution about taking care not to be too liberal or too rigid in use of diagnosis. My mother had an undiagnosable disorder after her nervous breakdown and through into my 20s, and much energy was spent in my family seeking a diagnosis for her symptoms and a “cure” that did not require any kind of therapy. Personally I think now that she was exhibiting PTSD symptoms, but she refused to consider that option and instead wanted to be diagnosed with physical condition (so that she could prove that it wasn’t “all in her head” and that her disability because of it was not something she could control that the doctors could treat with medication.) Because she lost her job because of her symptoms, she ended up battling for years for her disability benefits, and the rigours of having to prove herself disabled had a huge impact on her sense of herself. She had to internalize that label, of being disabled, and it literally crippled her.

So, I am also careful not to put too much stock into labels that other people create for us. The mental health (and pharmaceutical) industries are pretty quick to pathologize everything we do that isn’t considered “normal”, and after reading through the symptoms list of the various “pathological” mental states described on the internet, I could easily be diagnosed right now with just about every neurosis condition out there! LOL! In the mental health industry, diagnosis are too often used to imprison people and justify committing all manner of horrors to treat them, which is wrong. So yes, absolutely, diagnosis of any kind by anyone should be handled with care – we should always remain open to the possibility that our or someone else’s assessment isn’t accurate or doesn’t show the whole picture.

I guess my point is, diagnostic labels and terminology have helped me in my journey of understanding my life, as tools for understanding and communicating. But we should take care, I agree, in how we use those terms/ideas so that we don’t let those definitions create prisons to trap ourselves or other people in.


PS from here on out I am going to change my name that shows up because it occurred to me that this is a public blog and I want to respect the privacy of my family. So, from now on I’ll be known as…uhm…AnnaLyzza! Yes! LOL!


Karen, My dad was very grandious as a young man but when they got older, they both assumed a extreme humble persona. My mother has always behaved as a little girl and I used to think that she never grew up because of my dad. However, I see it very differently now after having them live next to me for 11 years. When my dad became a preacher (with no education and only three years as a christian)my dad also, quit working, at 40. They have been living off of someone ever since. First they took all of the money out of the family ranch, sold my grandparent’s home out from under them making them dependent upon the goodness of my grandmother’s sister. They used the money to buy themselves a position in the church and when the money ran out, they were out. So they moved onto the property of a man younger than my dad who had always liked my dad, or really,the false personna that my dad portrayed to him. When they outlasted their welcome there, I was stupid enough to let them move onto my property but in a way, I’m glad I did because it was a real eye opener.

When I was born, I’m sure my parents saw me as a way to have their needs met, emotionally and physically. They talked about my siblings and I taking care of them when they were old ever since I can remember. When they lived here, my mom was the most obvious in assuming that I should fill all of her needs while my dad was less obvious and manipulative. When I didn’t meet all of my mom’s expectations as daughter, mother, friend, care-giver,taxi service, and home for her “favorite grandchild”, my nephew, she began to complain to my sister about how she seldom saw me (even though I walked with her nearly every morning)and she was successful in breaking my relationship with my sister apart as she wanted each of us to herself.They also, tried to turn my own children against me by filling their heads with all the mistakes that my husband and I made in the past. They wanted them to themselves also, and were dying to see me fail as a parent and bring me down to their own level. I began to see how their irresponsibility and emotional and monetary mooching had hurt me all of my life. When I confronted my mom about how wrong it was for them to move here and then expect us to support them while they were still young enough to support themselves, she said, “Yes, God takes care of me through other people.” I knew then that she though she was entitled to my financial and emotional support and had no gratitude what-so-ever for what my husband and I did for them. In their world, there are no other needs or feelings but their own and the rest of us are only tools by which they get what they feel they need and deserve.

You’re right, it is putrid and highly toxic. I’m glad I’m out of it because they see themselves as perfect and those who serve them as wanting. They will never do anything to change.



Darlene, The search term that brought me to EFB was, Narcissistic mother daughter relationships. Our mothers have different personas but I recognized the simularities immediately in what you wrote about your relationship with your mother. My mom was overly prim and proper about sex but she and my dad also shared portions of their sex life with me as a means of my sexual education. I also heard them having sex on a regular basis. It’s disgusting and I still don’t understand their motive in that one. They sure managed to twist my mind up when it came to sex though. Sexual abuse of the mind.



Hi Pam, it’s me (Karen B) with my new, more discreet name.
My mother also has a strange sense of entitlement to be taken care of by others. If she is coming to visit me she’ll always say, “Are you going to wait in me hand and foot?” Every time. The last time she said it I said, “That joke is getting pretty old, Mom.” I have also told her that when she’s 80 and infirm then I will take care of her, but not until then. Of course it’s always jokey jokey but one of these days if she says that again I should just sit her down and tell her how these comments make me feel. And she’ll probably say “oh i didn’t mean it like that” but oh well, hopefully the point will get through.

Your parents sound like full-fledged users and parasites. I know my Mom is operating from a state of childish woundedness and trying to fill a void. Since she started taking care of herself and since she and my Dad have become friends to each other and my Dad has started taking care of her (he’s her landlord…yeah…it’s kind of weird – they were divorced for years but never really stopped being married) she is not needy like she was at all.

I’m glad you ousted your parents from your life because it does not sound like they feel one bit of guilt for how they live and how they exploit those around them. It particularly upsets me how they tried to come between you and your kids. That is devious and nasty. When my mother was in her needy phase she would also sometimes try to come at me or my siblings through our kids, but I was pretty fierce about standing up to that. I can be a bear when it comes to my kids, and am learning to be strong for myself too!

The talking to your kids about your sex life thing is icky icky icky. That absolutely is sexual abuse of the mind. It’s like your mother(s) wanted you to be exactly what they needed you to be at the time, to fill whatever role was required whether it’s surrogate parent or source of money or friend/confidente or taxi service or whipping boy, and if you didn’t comply then you were a bad, neglectful daughter. No appreciation at all for all you have done. My husband’s grandmother was very much that way. My MIL could never do enough to please her. I don’t know what can be done with such people other than to distance oneself from them, because they truly do not care how they make you feel – they only want you to give them what they want. It is a miracle to me that loving, kind, compassionate, strong, abuse cycle-breakers emerge in such families and put the brakes on these patterns. So, salute to you Pam and Darlene and Robert and all of you Cycle-Breakers!!!


Sorry, I meant “your mothers talking to you about their sex lives” – or exposing you to their sex lives, not YOU talking to YOUR kids. Please pardon my poor choice of words there.


Karen.. just want to acknowledge your very long note and will be back in an hour. I have seen it but am doing a little breathing treatment having trouble breathing..cold.flu ..bug. but will be back to respond before nights up . I understand how your son feels. but you cannot take on that blame either.. you were a victim too.. your post has loosened the tears from my eyes.. be back in a few..

Love you



AnnaLyza, I’ve had problems with my youngest that sound simular to your son. The psychologist said that it is because my son identifies with me and took on my own feelings of low self-esteem. I know my depressions effected him also, and it was his depression that brought us all into the world of mental health care. Much of that experience was painful also, with doctors taking advantage of my propensity to blame everything on myself (he was diagnosed bipolar so I immedicately believed he inherited it from me and both of us were locked into the drugs for life condemnation). I am now learning not to beat up on myself over his problems or think that I am responsible for always making him feel better. I now see that as a means of backdoor control that doesn’t allow him his own successes and failures. The best thing I can do for my son is live an emotionally healthy life and work toward his full independence. I think we are close to that. He’s doing much better and I no longer believe either one of us is bipolar and in need of being confined within a chemicle assylum.

I just want to share this because the ways this junk gets passed down is sometimes, convoluted. My parents were highly irresponsible and my parenting style was hyper-responsibility. I left littl room for my children to take their own responsibility. Yes, I did make mistakes but my kids make mistakes too. Love and truth do make a difference in reclaiming what was lost beginning who knows how many generations ago. I think it is as much about the human race healing and becoming as it is a personal journey of healing and becoming.



Dear Karen

The difference between you and my mother is you truly loved your child. my mom hated seeing me . hated me.. and never hesitated to let me know how much of a mistake I was.. I know now. I am not .. just because she said I was doesn’t make me one..

As surely as she cannot create another human being merely by saying so .. so she cannot have stopped me from coming to be . because despite how terribly I came about. I was part of an carefully thought out plan of God given permission to take flesh. .

Maybe my life is meant to show how someone coming from such terribleness can still rise up to be such a wonderful proof of God’s mercy.. and love.. I actually grew up in circumstances that were far from idea.. I really have reason to praise God . because .. I am not evil or hateful.. .. that is God in me. and I thank God. .for that..I don’t feel hate ..

I know its in us to try to reason .. but some things have no reason.. other than they were allowed for some greater purpose not yet seen. .that is how I am trying to approach this .. that time of hurt. those times of hurt.. were only pieces of my life. but not my whole life..

Still more pieces will appear and then you and I will see the whole picture. Pieces are just pieces but when you put them all together they become a beautiful picture.

I am so sorry Karen what trauma you have known.. I can say I understand.. I feel it in my heart the terrible pain and burden you have but you chose to get away from all that.. nonsense..

your son is at an age that young men and women rebel. not just that he went through trauma but it’s the time of life when everything is changing inside.. and’s painful his reactions..but some day . he will come around and not be so mad.. .

Like me and you and all us here he has some things to go through and figure out. you giving him space.. room.. and understanding will help him.. as he tries to come to understand things.. am sure he loves you and you love him… maybe if he needs room just shower your love from a distance;)

I know the mormon faith is very strict they have been to my house so many times this past summer and I have told them not interested.. they are very similar in rituals and rules as I have known. am so sorry… for you but happy that you are now free..

I know its awful to feel how your son feels but also know that he will come to know just as you, me, Darlene and others are coming to know .. that some things we feel just arent real..they are things we came to believe but really should not have..

Sending love. hope I didnt ramble too much am full of the flu bug.




Karen, AnnaLyzza and Pam
Thank you all for your feedback about using diagnosis stuff in my writing. I am going to lighten up a bit and stop worrying about using diagnosis terms in my blog posts. (I have struggled with this issue for the last 2 years ~ afraid to cause people to focus on diagnosis instead of on recovery.) You are right, there is value in knowing the terms and even in communicating with using those terms so thank all.
Hugs, Darlene

p.s. Love your new name AnnaLyzza! 🙂


Yes, about sexual abuse of the mind. I have heard it called many things such as emotional incest. That one really resonated with me. I agree with what AnnaLyzza said about controllers/abusers making their victims be whatever they wanted at the time. That was very well said and very true.
Hugs! Darlene


I just viewed some videos on healing from childhood trauma by Daniel Mackler, who Darlene mentioned recently. I really like hearing his boldly unapolgetic critiques. One thing he said really jumped out at me tonight. That was, if I’m looking to know what it is to truly be myself, don’t look to what is “normal” in society, because most people in the norm are highly traumatized and in denial themselves. I think this can help when I start to feel bad about myself because of some inner voice chiding me for not doing things the way everyone else is. Heck, I just worked hard for the past few months to try to get a friend of mine elected to the city commission who is a person of great honesty and integrity. She was defeated by a man who is rich, dishonest, unscrupulous, and vindictive. I can see how the “normal” world works. I don’t want to compare myself to that and judge my success and accomplishments by that. But when I vow to be different, I now see that it has to come from KNOWING that I deserve to feel welcome and worthy. (I’m pretty certain that this awful man who just won the election has deep unresolved emotional issues himself, but it is not for me to “understand and forgive” when his position allows him to hurt my community!)


Darlene,That is just my term because I don’t know what to call it. Emotional incest is probably pretty acurate. It makes me as sick to think about it now as it did when I was a kid.



I can relate to this article a lot…. I have tried to be “perfecr” as a result of having the most vile of narcissistic mothers; never giving myself a break, like most people do; looking for the most perfect role model around, and trying to be like them…. When I think of just being myself, and that being fine, it is frightening; I have been invalidated that much that I don’t know what myself is, and everything about me has been devalued, so, as has been said, it is a constant up-hill struggle, which sometimes makes you wonder if it’s worthwhile… I will be spending christmas alone again this year, my “famly” will be sat around together doing the usual christmas things, without any conscience, feeling or thought for anyone other than themselves and their needs… on some level, you have to ask yourself who the winner is?
My best wishes to you and your recovery.


Hi Sophia
Yes, this is great advice! I like the expression “don’t judge your insides by other peoples outsides” too. I fear that “normal” if we are using the majority as a measuring stick ~ normal is messed up!
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Jane
I totally relate to your comments. I have asked myself a million times if I made the right decision when I stood up to my mother/parents for many reasons including the ones you mention here. I am the winner! but having said that, I know that sometimes I don’t feel that way either. Sometimes I feel like the price was too high. BUT I always come up with the same answer. The alternative was so much worse than the loneliness or rejection that I have felt since I stood up. There is so much relief and so much less hurt in my life now that I have taken my life back. I am no longer willing to live with the alternative ~ which was to do everything their way, to be who they wanted me to be, to take the blame for everything.
Thank you for your comments. Hang in here! Today I have few of these thoughts anymore that maybe I made a mistake.
Hugs, Darlene



It seems so crazy to me that when you talk about your mother it’s as if you know mine….I am not sure my mother was so consumed with herself and her needs though…I almost think she is and was in such denial about her own upbringing that she just handed down all of the bullshit she received without challenging her own beliefs…you have to actually admit there is a problem in order to solve it…

I know exactly what you are talking about when you talk about wanting to be nothing like her…I too vowed to myself when I was so young that I would NEVER put a man before my daugther as my mother had. I was tested on that one with my daughter’s father after he abused her. I couldn’t deny what I was seeing…I guess the thing in life is that you have to always seek balance. I vacillate between being selfless and selfish….I struggle with this all of the time. I feel guilty if I put my needs first and then I get angry when I am putting others first all of the time….the balance I seek is somewhere in between those two extremes…I will never quit seeking that balance because my happiness and the happiness of those that I love are important to me..thanks for listening


AnnaLyza, It’s wierd though,even though my parents are like that, I still love them and deep down wish they would do something to get well. I know they are miserable and so lost in their own heads that they can’t figure out why they eventually lose everyone. They are like toddlers that view themselves as entitled to things and can’t understand when they are told no. It’s really sad.



Hi Jenny
Yes, I am sure your mother had a tough life too. All this dysfunction starts somewhere; I am sure it didn’t start for my mother, with her. I write about my grandmother in this site too.
The longer that I live in freedom and wholeness, the more compassion and understanding I have for my mother. I am okay with that now because she still does not respect my boundary, so I say no to her toxic relationship style. I used that “feeling sorry for her and the past she suffered” as an excuse to let her hurt me for SO long. Today the answer has been in not letting her have any excuse. I dealt with all my issues and she has that same choice. She choose to stay in dysfunction, I choose not to.
I found the balance came with my understanding of the truth and the definition of what is best. Sounds easy I know and I know that it isn’t… but this IS the process and it takes time. I know that your persistence will pay off! My guilt feelings also came from a lie in my belief system.
Thanks so much for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


I wish this blog format had a “like” or a “LOVE” or an “AMEN SISTER” button you could just click on beside each post. Thank you so much Pam and Joy for your responses about my son – I got teary reading them which is saying alot, because years ago I vowed to shut down my crying ability and despite having tried to re-start it for healing purposes, it’s still hard for me to cry at appropriate times. (I shut it down because my mother cried so often and I found her crying so overwhelming…) You have both touched my heart – it is truly a healing gift to get such loving and thoughtful and wise responses from women who understand what I’m going through.

I have coped with my life challenges by retreating into my head and thinking about my pain/challenges rather than allowing myself to feel them, and it has helped me make sense of things and I guess feel some level of control over the pain and probably has kept me from having to feel more than I could process/handle. Come to think of it, I suppose this is my way of disassociating. Huh, never thought of it that way before. Because I didn’t feel a thing when writing the post about when I was pregnant etc., though it was probably the worst, most painful time of my life. But now it’s like, oh yeah that, yeah it was hard – no intense feelings associated. Hopefully that means I’m over it but maybe it means I am just really good about analyzing/thinking my pain away and stuffing it somewhere in my body where it might make me sick someday. Hmmm.

And I hope this ability I have to talk about horrible or upsetting things as calmly as if I were talking about the weather doesn’t result in me writing things that are triggering or upsetting to people. Oddly, when I read your posts I feel all sorts of emotions and sometimes I have to decompress because I resonate with your pain, but writing about my own stuff doesn’t set me off at all. Hmmmm. I’ll have to reflect on this.

Pam & Joy, your advice about my son is right on. I need to continue to love him but also back off and let him have his own journey. He gets irritated that I am always worrying about him, so I’m trying to back off and just be there if he asks. I feel better about doing that now that the weird Prozac- edge has worn off. I was afraid he would harm himself there for a while.

He can be very intense when he’s emoting, and sometimes I find it very hard to stay calm and present with him when he’s in so much pain. I can feel myself wanting to just snap him out of it because it is quite overwhelming to me – once again I want him to just be happy and be okay because it is stressful and exhausting and painful to me when he’s not. It shames me to realize how easy it is to be so selfish, and how easy it is to not even realize it if I’m not really careful.

I really get what Jenny is saying about going back and forth between being overly-giving (but resentful) and overly-selfish (but guilty). Well said, Jenny, that totally nails me as well. As a mother I think I have swung between holding responsibility for everything for my son or expecting him to be way more independent than is realistic. So he has been bounced back and forth between anxious nurturing vs. me being withdrawn and irritable and not very responsive to his needs. I’m surprised he’s not bipolar – I worry a lot about schizophrenia. I’m not sure what to do or how to help him if it turns out he has either. I struggle to know how to help him with his depression. And yes I blame myself probably more than I should. While I was pregnant with him I started reading self-help books because I was bound and determined to NOT pass on the dysfunctional stuff from our family, so the fact that I didn’t succeed entirely is upsetting to me. I’m doing a lot better with my four younger kids who started arriving after I had time to do more work on myself and when I was in a better place emotionally.

But you’re right Joy – I also believe that God has a plan, for me and for my son. I’m glad you believe that too. I have to believe that my suffering is for some higher purpose, I have to believe that there is some point to this and that there is some meaning in what I am doing/experiencing. It comforts me that you have been able to see that for yourself after all you’ve been through.

Pam, I understand about still loving your parents and wanting more than anything for them to wake up and grow up and heal. I wanted that so bad for my Mom, that she could find the strength to push through her denial and fear of the truth of her life and find some healing. I wrote many emails trying to explain it all to her and basically tear down her wall of bull $%*# about her family and how perfect it was, though I didn’t send them. One night I was working away on this very angry, very confrontational email and I had this moment of Grace, I guess, where I felt like some holy presence was telling me to stop, that what I was trying to do was actually cruel in the sense that I was going to force her eyes open to see things that she did not have the strength to see yet. That experience was a real breakthrough for me, to realize that she may genuinely not have the capacity to cope with the traumas in her past. I still stopped talking to her for 3 months because she would not stop doing certain things that I had repeatedly asked her to stop doing, but I also let go of feeling like I should or had to bust through her denial and make her face her past and heal.

That experience started the whole letting go process, where I realized first of all that I did not actually need her to survive – I had been caught in our codependent dance because I wanted so bad to get the mothering from her that I hadn’t had and wasn’t getting, and sometimes she could be great but then she’d be not – it was unpredictable. And I had young kids and I believed that I couldn’t handle my life without her babysitting help etc. But after she disrespected my boundaries one too many times and I told her I would not speak to her or see her until she actaally listed to my feelings and promised to respect them and backed myself up by stonewalling her for 3 months until she quit trying to weedle herself back into my life but kept trying to step around the whole reason why I was putting my foot down, I realized during that time that I was okay without her – I was actually happier without the daily stress of her phone calls and the tension of having her constantly in my life.

Realizing that I didn’t need her was hugely freeing for me. Didn’t mean it wasn’t still intensely painful that I couldn’t rely on her and that I essentially was an emotional orphan. But it was empowering to realize that I didn’t NEED her if having her in my life was more stress than not. Not sure where I was going with this…kinda losing my train of thought here.

Anyway, my hope for humanity, including all our parents, is that they evolve emotionally and become capable of giving and receiving love and stop being such forces of destruction in their own lives and others. I can understand very well how you’d hope that for your parents even after all they’ve done. Because it is sad to see people in pain and causing pain.

But I also understand your point, Darlene, about how our compassion for our parents can trap us into putting up with way more crap than we should. If ever I had a problem with someone in my life, if I told my mom about it she would always basically tell me to try to look at the situation from their point of view and forgive them. It has proven to be a very valuable life skill, I have to admit, to put myself in other people’s shoes before I judge them or react to them, but it was also invalidating. I’m sure that was how she coped with living with abusive and/or neglectful people – to make it okay somehow because well, they were having a bad day or they were tired or their work was stressful etc. To this day she cannot seem to stop herself from automatically defending the other person. For some reason, the object of my anger deserves more sympathy than I do, which has made me feel like I must be some kind of horrible ogre in my anger is that bad. It has also made it impossible for me to ever feel justified in my anger or betrayal or hurt etc. I always felt “bad” and mean if I let myself get mad at someone because I wasn’t being considerate enough of what they were dealing with.

So, this whole compassion and consideration and understanding thing is a double edged sword. It can help us not take everything our parents did personally, and can help us forgive when we’re ready, but it can also trap us in feeling sorry for them and letting them get away with abusive behavior because we are letting ourselves identify more with their needs/feelings than our own. I was caught in that trap for a long time – every time I’d get angry at anything actually. I would automatically feel guilty and second guess myself and feel like a crazy irrational jerk for not being more understanding. My anger or grief or outrage or whatever never seemed to be justified. To this day I still try to keep a very tight lid on my emotions because of this. I hate the intense stress of having to analyze my feelings and the situation to death to determine whether my feelings are justified. I am learning how to just let myself feel things and validate myself, thankfully. But clearly I still have some work to do in this area!

Anyway, I’m rambling. Sorry for the huge long posts. I don’t have really anyone else to talk to about these things, and it feels good to process/converse with all of you. Keeping things short and sweet is unfortunately NOT something I’m good at, so thanks to all who endure these long posts.


wow, that’s amazing. thank you so much for sharing. i finally severed links with my toxic mother about 2 years ago, but i am still fighting free of the legacy of self loathing she left me with.

peace on your journey



AnnaLyza, You aren’t rambling. You have a lot to get out. I didn’t just lose my parents,I lost my entire family of origen. It’s like they were all killed in some kind of natural disaster and I can’t talk about it, except here and have anyone understand why I had to do what I did. I’m the only one that ever held them accountable. My parents are very spoiled.

I know that my great grandfather was terribly abused by his step father. They came to the U.S. from Germany and his abuse was so bad that my grandfather ran away at 13 and became an open range cowboy. A hard life. Sometimes, I wonder if my grandmother didn’t react to her childhood the way I reacted to mine. Not having enough attention, so with my kids, I gave them all of my attention almost all of the time. I over protected them and spoiled them in reaction to may want and I think that maybe, that is what made my dad so self-centered, also. My grandmother’s sister didn’t have children and her attention was focused on my dad as well. My mom was the baby of 7 and the center of her older sister’s attention. They always coddled her and never asked for anything in return. It seems like a pendulum that swings back and forth with each generation reacting to their own childhood while raising their own children and by running in opposition to their parents, they create dysfunction of their own.

I wish I’d have figured it out before my children were grown but I didn’t. All I can do is try to share what I’ve learned but it is too late to completely stop the pendelum from swinging and I see my son making mistakes with his children while running the oposite direction from me. It hurts like hell but there is little I can do because my time has past. They have to figure some of it out on their own. They’ve also made mistakes in their lives that have nothing to do with me and it hurts to see them go through that, also. The world is a painful place and if we all weren’t slightly delusional, we’d go mad.

I have a hard time crying about my own stuff too but then it comes out on silly things like movies. When I do cry about my own pain, it is hard to stop. I’ve had to deal with out of control people so much in my life that I always shut my own feelings down as a reflex for survival. Then a few days later, I have my reaction. We are complex creatures. If human beings could get their behavior problems ironed out, we’d live in a near paradise.

We aren’t alone. Most people never talk about and try to ignore it but everyone has issues.



Hi Annalyzza

I only know what I say from watching my siblings when they were the age of your son . I feel deep in my heart you are such a good mother and yet are a victim too.. of all those old belief systems.. . Sometimes . I think .. backing away .. allowing those we care about to feel what they need to .. and letting them know its ok to feel like that is the best we can do… Since everything else we have tried hasn’t worked. .I am still very much broken but am in the path to healing. and know how important it is not to blame ourselves for feeling hurt. how else can we feel .. when we are in pain.. Idon’t believe God wants us to I use to ; but that God can pull us through it if we give God our hand.. GOd will not stop the pain but God will help us through it. God is not happy that we cry but God will dry our tears and hold us close.. The God I know now is so far different than the God I was taught to know . The God I know now is truly the God of Love ..

I admire all you are doing Annalyzza ..thank you for all your words..

Hugs: ( if ok )


Hi Pam..

I had a hard time letting out my tears.. because if I cried .. I “got something more to cry about” . .so when I finally break down. am like you. oceans pour out. .and there is a big ole flood to deal with.
Hope you are having a nice day:

Hugs and love :



Joy, Thanks for caring. I’m doing fine. Sometimes, it is still a little wierd having no parents, siblings, or aunts, and cousins, but I’m okay. It is just like it was when I was a kid and ran away. Everyone took my parent’s side without even asking me why I did what I did. I keep telling myself that the problem is them but it is hard sometimes not to fall back into thinking I deserve to be abandoned. But I don’t stay there for long. Being out from under that sick influence isn’t just good for me but for my kids too. I never would leave my kids alone with my parents but I thought that after they were a little older, it would be okay if my parents lived on our property. Boy, was I wrong! My family really wasn’t good for my kids as they were treated as less than just because they were my kids. My youngest broke ties with all of them before I did. If I hadn’t been so blind things might have been different for them. I kick myself for that.

I am having a nice day though. I took the day off, rested, and watched movies. It was great having a quiet day with me doing nothing!



Hi Jasper,
Welcome to EFB
In order to get rid of the self loathing, I had to take a very close look at where it actually came from. It had been “taught to me” through the mesages that I got from others and once I saw the roots of that, I was able to change it.
There is tons of stuff in this site about this topic,
hugs, Darlene

Maybe there will be a comment option like that one day! I have the same wish!
I wish I could comment on everything, but I have a shortage of time!
Hugs, Darlene


Everyone ~
I too lost my entire family. And my husband lost his also when we decided to fight the system and stand up for truth. So they can all get together and say that it was “us” (well my husbands parents say it was me which is a total insult to my husband as though HE had no choice in the matter.) They never cared to listen, although we tried to explain and back then the boundaries were SO slight… I told my mother that she couldn’t ever again say that it was my own fault that her boyfriend came in my room and molested me as a teen, because I had a crush on him. She was still bringing that up! and I was still taking it. But no more.

The truth is very powerful stuff. It is so funny to me that none of them denied the truth as much as they just skipped it and made a new accusation. “Oh, Darlene, you always were so needy, sensitive, selfish… etc. ” You get the picture. Oh and I always heard that I was “dramatic, a story teller, etc.” I don’t care what they believe anymore, I am done with that system and I am so much better off without that crap now. As for my siblings… I doubt they are having much fun staying in that system. I seem to remember that they had lots of complaints about my parents before I stood up to them. Well they can have it. I love my freedom and wholeness way better!
Hugs, Darlene



Am so glad you got to do things for you. I have been trying to be a good nurse to me and am not doing a very good job at that.. if i cared enough i would be under my covers. but still got the old tapes playing this evening that tell me i dont count. i know they are old stuff.. but my old mode is still kicking in. .but i suppose if one doesn’t care enough and one is sick could get worse.. right. so I better get getting myself to warmer places..i don’t feel comfortable paying attention to me . do you feel that way too? how does one stop the bad feelings about caring for one self when its really something one should do?

I am sorry Pam you are without family. I am totally orphaned too!!

(gentle hugs) if ok



Darlene, I know you’re right and I still can’t believe how simular our stories are in regard to how our families responded to asking to be treated with respect. Mine absolutely will not say that what happened to me as a teenager was abuse. They hung it over my head for so long. I guess they just don’t want to face how cruel they are. Cruel and petty. I’m way better off too. It’s just somedays, I wish I had a mom and dad that put me first. I wish I could have known what that felt like. It’s stupid but I watch those drug intervention shows where the families are so concerned and wanting to help and I’m awed. There was never anything like that in my family. No one ever offered to do anything to get me off of drugs or even tell me they wished I’d quit. They just ignored it. They’ve never been around for any major crisis in my life. They were nowhere to be found when I attempted suicide at 18 and spent several days in a county psyche ward. When I told them about it, I might as well have told them that I’d had to flu. There was no concern. However, I know they are probably really playing it up as to how unloving and unforgiving I am and how I dishonored my parents. I can just hear it. You’re right, they can have it.


I know what you are talking about Pam. Reading your latest comments made me realize that I no longer have that longing. I didn’t realize it had gone away. Something about Roberts comments twigged some realization but I brushed it off. When I read your comments this morning I realized that I no longer feel like something is missing regarding not having parents who care. The longing is gone. Wow.
There was this hole, this blank spot that I didn’t know what to call… but I think it was finally filled somehow. It took years. It wasn’t that it was my goal to feel this way, it just happened and it feels pretty good!
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
I’ve been thinking some lately about primordial feelings of attachment that a child usually has for their parents. These feelings are (or can be) “special” throughout a person’s life. There is a feeling of deep connection (possible) with our parents, with our siblings, and with long term friends that has a special value to us. This “longing” that I mention could possibly have been filled by some other person besides parents had I been able and willing to be completely honest with someone regarding the dynamics of of my inner world, and then they were able and willing to accept all that and love me. Usually what has happened in the past is that I would not open up in fear that I would be rejected, but rightfully so, eventually the crap would come up, and at least in my case, I was rejected. Most people, I believe, do not want to muck around too much with shadow-work. I am only guessing, but it seems that you have a mate that knows and understands all of you, and accepts and loves you in a deep way. Could it be that your loving relationship has allowed that longing to go away? Not all of us have been so fortunate. Learning to love and accept myself has been helpful, and most days this is enough, but there is something very special and beautiful when another person validates those beautiful aspects that are in all of us. Thanks.


More thoughts on wanting to be different from our parents and “normalcy.” When we were younger, my brother and I discussed the horror of our childhood, and he said that all he ever wanted was a “normal” life, and that he would be different from our parents. I can see now that this didn’t help him much. Without really confronting his rage and trauma, and without ever questioning what normal really meant, he tried to plunge into this “normal” way of being. Two divorces later, he seems to have just gone numb and I feel like I can’t really reach him anymore. I also feel that he doesn’t really care about my triumphs in overcoming trauma. He will only really be interested in me if I succeed financially. He has told me that he feels bad that my childhood trauma hurt me so that I can’t seem to function well in the “real” world. He will only consider me healed when I am doing something to make lots of money so that he can brag about me to his friends. He actually told me this. This is all pretty ironic considering what a mess his own life has come to be, both personally and financially. I have to appreciate the fact that he IS the one person in my family who recognizes that we were abused, but I see that he still doesn’t see how he was duped by the idea of being “normal.” And now I am finally feeling the impact of GRIEF that he too will only see me as important if I make lots of money. I guess it is true that I don’t have ANY real family that loves me for who I am. I only exist for him in the context of how I will reflect on him to his so-called friends. I’m feeling very sad about this today. I am actually resentful too. Why should I do anything just so that he can USE me to prove something to someone else? Why doesn’t he care enough to celebrate the great strides I have made in healing and self-actualization? Is it because he himself put success ahead of healing and is now finding that a very desolate accomplishment?


Hi Robert,
Honestly, I don’t believe that my feelings of validation come from my relationship with my husband. He has loved me in a healthy way now for several years but this feeling, this longing went away quite recently. Thinking about it more deeply, I think that it has something to do with when I validated myself by standing up to my father this past spring. He was the last key person in my life that I had not stood up to. I can’t “prove” that this settledness inside of me has nothing to do with my marriage, because I am married, but I believe in my heart that it has nothing to do with the fact that someone “loves me”. One last thing; I would not say that my husband knows and understands all of me either.. but that statement makes me think about the longing in a new way. That I always longed for that, believing that was the answer that would fill the void, and I don’t see it as the answer anymore. I still maintain that it is in seeking to understand and know myself, and in getting closer to self acceptance and in realizing how my belief system formed and where my self esteem got so damaged, that I have overcome so much.
Thanks for your comments Robert and your willingness to share.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Robert & Darlene & everybody,

I too have thought alot about the “primordial longing” for our parents’ love and attention, and the void that exists within when our needs weren’t met as children, and we shouldn’t forget the pain we feel when our needs also aren’t met or we continue to be abused in adulthood. I agree with Darlene that even the love of a spouse can’t heal that void.

I am married (together now 13 years) to a very loving, gentle, loyal, nurturing man and I know that his willingness to support me and stick with me even when I’ve been fully acting out of my shadow side – when I’ve been needy like a little kid or angry like a teenager or unreasonably jealous and suspicious, critical, over-controlling, with irrational expectations, withholding, moody, prone to anxiety and panic attacks, hostile, etc. etc – has certainly been an essential part of my healing. He taught me through his example how to be a loving partner, that is for sure. But, a huge reason he is so long-suffering and endures my many issues is because of his family dynamics. The men in his family catered to the moods and wants of his Mother – keeping her happy and not displeasing her was what his Dad did, and was his role as well so of course he married a high-maintenance woman like me! (In our case, our good qualities and our dysfunctions blend together beautifully! I’m probably more thankful for that than he is!) But, thankfully for him I am ruthlessly self-aware and I try really hard to monitor myself and deal with my own shadow-crap when it comes up. I struggle to rein my shadow in alot, but I try hard and apolgize sincerely when I catch myself. If it weren’t for that I may have overwhelmed him long ago.

Anyway, he is a good man and has a very loving nature – you could say he is a “heart centered” person and being with him has done a lot to open my heart up and help me get back in touch with my true, loving self. But as for filling my parent-love-void, come to think of it, until I found ways of healing that void on my own, nothing he did was ever enough to really quench that longing and my need for reassurance, approval, attention, care-taking. His love and complete acceptance of me, warts and issues and all, has been healing for sure. I don’t know where I’d be without that. But that alone was not able to stop the yearning for and the grief of not being parented.

But saying that, I should clarify that though my parents are prone to narcissistic behavior and haven’t always been capable or willing to give me what I needed, they are fundamentally good-hearted people who wanted me and cared for me. I was never told that I was hated or not wanted and I was never treated with the heartless contempt described by Pam and Darlene and Joy and many others. My Dad was affectionate and approving (of what qualities of mine he liked – less so of the qualities that threatened him!) and my Mom told me she loved me all the time. So, I don’t know what it feels like to be opening disdained by my own family. I don’t know what it feels like to be hated and utterly rejected. So I don’t know what that kind of void feels like, or what it would take to fill it.

My void is different – I’m not sure really how to describe it. My parents were generally loving, but that love was tainted by their neediness – “love” for me came to be associated with being used because my parents would often hide taking something they needed within the pretext of giving something to me. I’m not sure how much they loved “me” or even “knew” me, if that makes sense. They are quite approving if I make choices or conduct myself in ways that are consistent with their view of who I am/should be, but get bristly and disapproving and irritable and withholding if I behave in ways that conflict with their beliefs and expectations. So I realize that there are limits to their love and acceptance of me. I still feel like my parents don’t really know me at all. I guess you could say I was loved but I was not really parented/nurtured. My mother could be very over-controlling and smothery and was SO needy for SO long. My Dad had an adoring mother who did anything and everything for him, so as long as I fussed over him and adored him and played that role as well, we got along great. If I was angry or “difficult” or reflected back something to him that he didn’t like to see, he could be pretty mean.

Anyway, my point is, as much as my husband has earnestly tried to make me happy, it was never enough to heal the anger and depression and hurt and need that I was carrying around. I had been raised to care for my parents and they were looking to me (unconsciously) to fill their own voids, which of course left me with a void of my own. I tried very hard to get my husband to fill that for me and nearly drained him dry. Ultimately I had to heal that myself.

It has helped for my Mother to suddenly evolve and start behaving like a Mother. I know that this helped heal my heart a lot. She isn’t perfect by any means but she actually cared about ME for the first time in years and years without wanting anything in return. No strings, no hidden agenda. She came to my rescue when I was going through a rough time and was genuinely there for me, whereas in the past, her “help” was always way more work and stress than it was worth.

I’m not sure how I would have coped/endured if she had just kept on the same as she’d always been. I have read that the primordial yearning for unconditional love from our Mother is just a reflection of our yearning for the connection we had with God/Spirit before we left that realm and came into this world to be born. I have read that by cultivating that relationship and pursuing spiritual paths that lead to the experience of connecting to Divine Love, one can heal the true void. I have taken a lot of comfort in pursuing such paths. I do think, though, that getting to the point where I realized that my parents did not have the capacity to give me what I needed and that I had to let go of that hope/desire and just take care of myself helped free me to a degree from the pain of the longing for what I hadn’t had and wasn’t getting. Also realizing that no one else BUT me could fill it, taking my husband off the hook for that too, was also essential.

So ultimately I agree with Darlene – understanding yourself, refusing to believe anymore the toxic, hateful lies about yourself that your family told you, challenging those old tapes, and choosing a path of self-acceptance and self-nurturing is the only way to shrink the void.

For my Mom, it was only when she stopped trying to get her void filled by me or my Dad and began to properly care for herself that she healed and transformed. She didn’t do this willingly or with any conscious intent other than realizing that she had to make lifestyle changes or die, but even without the awareness of what she was doing, very positive changes occurred not just for her but for our family. It was amazing to witness the power of her embracing self-care and becoming her own source of nurturing.



I really appreciate what you said about the pendulum of extremes in parenting styles from one generation to the next. That has given me a lot to think about. I definitely try to bend over backwards to make sure my kids feel validated and loved and accepted for who they are etc. etc., but perhaps if I over-do it they will grow up to be needy, self-centered little narcissists who can’t do anything for themselves because I did everything for them. I need to regain some balance for myself and also figure out a balance between being nurturing, responsive and present but not a door-mat who doesn’t expect anything from them in return. Thanks for the perspective!!


i found this site wheni was having problems with my mother and how she still thought she had the right to tell me andmy husband how to liveour lifes.
not speaking to her has lessened our stress levels but the problems are still there. she wil not ever see me as a person in my own right. knowing that hasnt helped me cope with the stuff from my childhood or the lies and mistruths my mother has tried to pass off as the truth. as an adult i now see why my parents treated us the way they did, doesnt in any way excuse it but because this is the core issue it the one that is still deeply buried. why is it that intellectually i can understand the whys and therefores yet to actually believe it happened to me, well my emotional side wont deal with it. so im left trying to pick up thepeices and rebuild me, all the time having to take other people into consideration cos how it is fair on my husband and child that i cannot control the action i was trained all my life to give, even when im tryign so hard not to.
it all so confusing


Hi Carol
Yes it is all so confusing. We are dealing with a life time of false teaching/false truth and brainwashing/conditioning and it takes time to sort it out. I found that it got better and more balanced as time when on and as I kept going forward.
Hugs and love and keep striving! I am so gald that you are here!


I just wrote and published another post about this subject. This new one is on the side of grieving about the way that my mother regards me. That she didn’t want to even TRY to have a relationship with me. I look forward to the discussion on this new one too.
You can read it here ~

My Mother Doesn’t love me AND the Process of Grieving


Hi AnnaLyzza,

I just read your post (#37) and found several things I related to. The first was about finding crying overwhelming. I also have trouble crying myself, although if I’m with (or sometimes even just talking on the phone) with someone who I feel understands and cares about me, I break down completely. Been doing that quite a lot lately, and I really wish I could learn to let myself cry without needing someone else’s presence, because it’s one of the only ways I’ve found that relieves the crushing pressure I feel in my head at times. I’m really glad you were able to cry! I hope it helped you feel better.

The 2nd was about coping by retreating into your head. I think that’s what I did for many years, and I suspect that the regular messy breakdowns of late are related to finally feeling some of the grief/pain etc I hadn’t dealt with at the time (or hadn’t even realized was there to be dealt with, in some cases).

I wanted to say that I really admire you for being aware of your issues and trying not to pass things on down the line to your kids (even though you don’t feel like you did as well as you’d like to have done with your son). One of my biggest fears in life is having kids, because there’s so much of my mother in me and I can’t imagine being able to raise a human being at all, let alone in a healthy way (I’m hardly able to look after myself at this point in time), so I can relate (in theory at least) to it being upsetting for you. I wonder if you could try and be gentle with yourself and give yourself credit for the huge step of having even started the process at that stage (rather than just blindly following the same path, like so many of our parents seem to have done)?

I hope you don’t mind that suggestion; I just know it’s one of the things I struggle with the most (being gentle on myself).

Your paragraph about wanting your Mom to find healing, but then realizing that she might not be able to cope with that process, really touched me. I think that’s pretty much where I’ve gotten to in thinking about my mother. I think for a long time I’d felt stuck between at times WANTING to hurt her like she hurt me (eg try and pull down the walls surrounding what I see as her “fantasy world”, especially the way she maintains illusions about having the perfect family etc), and sometimes feeling sorry for her for having been broken too (there’s a photo of her as a small child with the biggest carefree smile, and it makes me really sad becuase I don’t see her smile like that much), but at the same time not standing up and protecting myself against the shit she puts me through. (I hope that makes sense. It’s very late, and it feels a bit confusing even to me).

Finally, the bit you wrote about always trying to look at situations from the other person’s point of view got to me as well. I can’t specifically remember that view being pushed on me, but it’s definitely been embedded pretty deep within. The problem with this theory (that I’ve only recently started to recognize) is that it ignores and/or denies your own right to have feelings and for them to be considered by the other person (at least, that’s how it’s played out in my life over the years). Again, I don’t feel like I’m putting my thoughts into words very well, so I hope it makes sense. I also relate to finding it so hard to feel anger (let alone actually express it!) and the guilt over even having such feelings in the first place. (Big f**king mess inside my head!!)

I also want to learn to just let myself feel things and validate myself. Very encouraging to hear of someone making progress in that way! I think I’m more at the stage of only just realizing there’s actually a road there to consider walking on! But all in good time, I guess (there, I’m actually being gentle with myself for once! Miracles happen!!) 🙂

And finally, from my point of view, don’t apologise for long posts. As I said, there was so much that I either related to or learnt from, so I’m really glad you shared!! Anyway, I reckon I give you a run for your money on the “long-winded post” front — once I start, it just seems to keep on rushing out! 🙂


PS on a personal note, I just texted a girl I met a few months back to ask her out for coffee and she agreed — this will be my first date since my last relationship ended over two years ago (and only the second time I’ve tried asking someone out since then). Needless to say, I’m both really excited and sh*tting myself at the same time!

It feels like a positive step to be “back in the game” so to speak, but actually I think I’m mainly scared because I feel like I’ve got so many problems that it doesn’t really seem fair to try and involve someone else in my messy life. Obviously I decided to ignore that voice for a bit or I never would have asked her, but I am worried that this fear is a legitimate one. But then again, if I keep following that train of thought, I’d never be able to talk to anyone again. Blah!!! Stupid head.

OK this was going to just be a quick post to share my news but now my f**king brain is racing, so I probably need to try and get some of this out or I’ll never get to sleep. I’ve only had two serious relationships, both were seriously flawed (from both sides, I think it’s fair to say) and both went on way longer than they should have (much easier to say in retrospect, obviously). Probably too long a story to discuss the details, but I will say that it’s only been since the last one ended that I’ve come to realize the full degree of my parental control/emotional abuse etc and started to see that as the reason for the bulk of my current dysfunctions (rather than just blaming myself for nearly all of it, as I had done previously).

Also, I now think that the very nature of both those relationships were hugely influenced by me subconsciously seeking out what I was used to in family relationships. And also that I transferred a lot of the blame etc that I now think should’ve been directed at my parents to both of my partners. I think I’m confused because I can’t see a middle ground between looking for someone who I think can “fix” me and then attaching myself to them in a death grip, or trying to be self-sufficient and not even talking about my mental health problems, my current inability to support myself etc etc. Also I can’t see a middle ground between cutting myself off from everyone forever because I’m too broken/don’t deserve love (or whatever other thoughts come up to stop me), or looking for love but trying to “protect” or shield the other person from all my pessimism, hopelessness, dysfunction, repressoin, blah blah blah.


So I’m trying to remember not to ask for advice, but I guess I’m interested in anyone’s thoughts on the topic of looking for love/companionship vs. trying to “heal” yourself before doing so, and what worked/didn’t work for you etc.

Hope everyone’s doing well!


Hi J.
Not advice, just opinion and my own thoughts on this: Life does not stop because we are in recovery. I had to continue to raise my kids and deal with my marriage while I was going through the process. Lots of times I thought it would be easier if I just moved out of the house for a while and dealt with “my stuff” alone. But that wasn’t realistic. Being aware of your relationship dysfunction goes a long way towards not repeating the same mistakes. There is danger in using a relationship as a coping method or escape from working on our own issues, but on the other hand, there are a zillion ways to escape working on our own issues. 🙂 new relationship being only one of them. I am an advocate of going forward. As I said… like goes on and we are in the business of LIVING or getting back to living! yahoo.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi J,

Thanks for your posts – I really appreciate hearing that something I’ve shared has been useful to someone else. To be honest, I must be craving approval and acceptance and validation, because I find that I will post something, then afterward I will feel horrible and embarrassed about what I have written and I worry that you will all think I am stupid or who the hell am I to comment on this subject or that I am a blathering know-it-all and you are all rolling your eyes when you see another long post from me. Where the hell does all that hateful self talk come from I wonder? Anyway, I feel a lot of anxiety every time I post something here, but when someone takes the time to respond and provide feedback or agree with a point or relate to what I am saying, I feel this huge rush of relief and gratitude. I don’t know why I feel so unsure of myself and so fearful/anxious about sharing my feelings. I know I feel like a bit of a survivor-poser because I was not subjected to the abuses that many of you have survived. I feel like I should just quit whining and be thankful that my family wasn’t worse.

What was that you said about being gentle with myself? : ) As you can see, that is a very timely and much needed suggestion! The funny thing is, I thought I was pretty kind to myself. I have learned to be my own champion and advocate. But I did not really realize until I admitted to you how I have been feeling about posting, just how hateful the self-talk is behind my fears of sharing my thoughts. Normally I would now spend 20 hours trying to figure out why I have such a fear of speaking/sharing, but since my latest epiphany about my obsession with “Why” (see my latest post I made on Darlene’s latest blog post), I’m not going to obsess about that right now. I’m just going to be aware that I’m doing this to myself and try to change out those old tapes.

But thank you J, and everyone else who have responded to my posts – it has helped me feel like it’s safe to continue participating.

Congrats to you, J, that you have asked someone out for the first time in a long time! I love what Darlene says about how life must go on even if we are in the process of recovery! I love that!! As much as I have wished that the world could stop turning so I could get my shit together, we do have to keep on keeping on. Sometimes it’s a good thing to have to leave my head and wash the dishes and cook supper, sometimes it’s excruciating to have to pretend to be a functioning human being while processing some really painful stuff.

But if I had chosen to wait until I had all my issues handled and was an always-functional, non-needy, non-crazy person before I dated or got married, I would still be alone! LOL! I’m just lucky I found someone who had been taught how to manage a high-maintenance, high-needs woman with skill and grace! My husband’s issues and imperfections make him my perfect match, and thankfully I had the sense to surface from my craziness frequently enough to be charming enough to keep my husband from leaving me along the way. We work because I’m a little bit domineering and a fear-based controller, while he was raised to be more submissive and deferential. We work because despite my issues I am a loving hearted person and so is he – neither of us likes to hurt the other and we both feel terrible if we do. We are both pleasers and peace-makers so ultimately, we really both do care if the other person is happy or not. So our mutual codependent need for each other’s approval works! LOL!

Thankfully we also genuinely like each other. I’m crazy and needy and a chronic, obsessive over-thinker which can be a bit much for even the most selfless of men, but I’m also funny and smart and a hell of a cook and am intermittently inclined to care about my husband’s needs as well as my own. He is funny and smart and kind and handsome and he puts up with me and even loves me despite my many faults, which is perhaps his most attractive quality! ; )

My point is, we were both pretty broken and each had issues a-plenty when we met, we’ve faced many issues throughout our marriage – he is not the compulsive self-analyst that I am and I get frustrated that he doesn’t work as hard as I do at self-improvement. But maybe my compulsion to be self aware really reveals that I don’t feel I am loveable just the way I am. My husband doesn’t consider himself fundamentally loveable or good enough either, which causes him some struggles and annoys me because I see how wonderful he is. (Nice that I get annoyed when he doesn’t love himself more – see what he has to deal with??) Anyway, our marriage has not been easy and we have had a few times where one or the other of us, and even both a couple of times, have wanted to walk away. But we have kids and we adore our kids and don’t want to put them through a divorce unless we are really 100% sure that being apart is worth the pain and heartache it would cause us all. So, our better qualities help us love each other through the hard times from without and the dysfunction from within.

We have both grown and become better, healthier people because we’ve had each other’s love and support and the motivation of being better than we were to keep this marriage together. So in my case, being married has been an essential part of my growth process. A marriage partner truly is one of our most powerful mirrors through which we see where we are at and what issues we need to face next. As long as we can, as you pointed out, not confuse our partner with our parents or confuse their failings with our own, and they are strong enough and self aware enough to do the same, then we have a fighting chance of being each other’s catalyst for growth as well as each other’s support and safety net.

The best book I ever read, the one that literally saved our marriage during our most recent big challenge, is called Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix. If you google his name, he has a couple of websites, books, and lots of resources for singles and couples. This book changed my perspective on my marriage and invited me to see possibility for growth and transformation where before I saw only the same old issues and problems that we never seemed to get past. His theories on how marriage/relationships bring up our unresolved issues with our parents (and siblings) is bang-on in my opinion. If you’re worried you’ve projected your issues with your parents/yourself onto past partners, you’re probably right! That’s what we do, according to Harville. That’s what everyone does, like it or not, and if we can learn the skills to work with that and grow from it WITH our partner, then we can turn our marriage/relationship into a sacred workshop of profound healing.

So, I guess you could say I’m living proof that a messed up, damaged person can be married and a mom and make it work, even while I’m muddling along on my path to wholeness and happiness. I passed on more of my junk to my oldest son than I wish I had, but thanks to the posts here I am going to focus less on that and more on what I can do now to love and support him in a constructive way.

I’m not casual about self-improvement though – I work my ass off at, full time all the time. I read, I try out various therapies, I monitor myself all the time and am constantly analyzing everything I think, say and do – which is perhaps a bit more intense than is necessary! This is a reaction for sure to my mother’s denial – I have seen first hand the unnecessary suffering caused by those in firm denial of their shadow side and I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to cause people pain because I’m a coward and can’t face my own ugliest self. I am trying to tone it down a bit and instead approach it from more of a Buddhist Mindfullness practice – to be aware of myself but to not judge myself and condemn myself either.

And I try not to hold my husband to the same standard of self-awareness that I aspire to. It’s hard though, sometimes I do wish he was more keen to delve into his own psyche and confront his issues. I think that it is easier for him to believe that it is somehow his fault or failing when his parents treat him in unloving ways, rather than to deal with the painful truth that they are selfish and unloving. He is quite afraid of his childhood pain, and I wish I could lend him (or force upon him sometimes) my own strength and my tendency to come out swinging if someone hurts me. Someone hurts me, I get mad first and don’t feel the true hurt and grief over it until much later. Someone hurts him, he feels just the hurt, and believes automatically that he deserved it. : (

Where was I going with this? Oh, if you are going to date, just try to take it slow, don’t feel obligated to delve into your issues right away. See if you even enjoy this woman’s company or not first. See if she makes you laugh or if she’s easy to talk to, is she fun to be with? Do you have things in common? Do you feel good in her company or uncomfortable and on edge in any way? you find things to talk about besides, can you do things together that are fun and enjoyable? My husband and I love each other because we like each other’s company and have fun together – thankfully our dysfunctions also happen to be compatible and mutually bearable! But had we both started off our first dates revealing all our issues and insecurities and neuroses to each other, I know we wouldn’t have been too interested in continuing to date!

And while you are exploring this relationship, get yourself a Harville Hendrix book and read it! Continue to do your own work, and be gentle on yourself as you do it. And if the date doesn’t go anywhere or doesn’t go well, don’t beat yourself up and assume you’re unlovable! It’s okay for you to choose not to be with someone for whatever reason and it’s okay for even someone we are interested in to not reciprocate. As long as you don’t give the other person the power to determine your worth, then if they love you or don’t is not as shattering. Rejection still hurts – both to give and to receive, but the fear of that discomfort shouldn’t stop us from trying to connect with others in meaningful ways.

Not that I think you’re headed for rejection, I’m just saying that our fear of reaching out to people and connecting to them in the first place is really the fear of their ultimate rejection. I fear posting here because what if someone secretly thinks I’m a blathering idiot (rejection) or someone else is offended by what I say (rejection) or someone else challenges me and disagrees with me (rejection). What if I’m really not welcome here (rejection), what if this is an established club of survivors who are suspicious of a new person (rejection)? What if no one here likes me? (rejection) Yeah, I’ve got some rejection issues of my own clearly!!

I guess my point is, not everybody is going to love us. I scared off a few guys before I found my husband. I also rejected a few guys who liked me more than I liked them. I’ve met guys who were crazier than I wanted to deal with! (when they’re crazy but don’t know it, that’s where I draw the line! – I can handle crazy but aware!) And I got pretty jaded and had basically given up on marriage by the time my sweet, safe husband came along. And though I still have my moments where I’m sure I’d be better off alone, the fact is he is taking care of everything today – the kids, meals, cleaning, so I can sit here and type long posts on the website, and he has not been upset with me that I blew off the housework all week long because I’ve been immersed in reading adn responding to the board – he supports me wherever I’m at and is waaay more patient with me than I am with him – what’s not to love about that? He has truly been my living breathing angel and still is, and I manage to reciprocate to him as much of the same love and support as I can muster. I have had to learn how to do that – it did not come naturally, but that is another story.

At the risk of breaking the record of the board’s longest post, I just want to add that it took work on my part to be ready for a good guy like my husband, and it takes work to keep this marriage going. We have to choose each other and the well being of our family over our own individual selfishness every day – and we don’t always! So we have to communicate and negotiate and learn to resolve challenges and forgive. But as long as we’re both willing to come to the table and do our part to keep this marriage going, we’ll be able to pull it off. Find someone who is as committed to personal growth and self improvement and to doing the necessary work to nurture a marriage/love relationship as you are, who genuinely likes you and appreciates who you are and what you are capable of contributing to the world, and make sure you feel the same about them! Don’t settle for anything less that than, J.

Good luck on your date!! : )


Tears again, AnnaLyzza.

Thank you for your beautiful words and sharing about yourself. Your first paragraph is something I could have written word for word about myself. I’m a bit flustered atm (brain feels overloaded – had to deal with a family get-together today – three generations of dysfunction on both sides at once!!! No wonder my head hurts) and not feeling very clear on what I’m thinking or wanting to write. Someone said they even appreciated my swearing up above (or my self-censoring gave them a chuckle – too many posts to read back to find it) which kinda felt validating for me trying to be myself when I post. Still worry about offending people though. I think I said in one of my other posts, the somewhat frightening thing is that what I write here actually IS the censored version (compared to my thoughts, which can be full of some truly ugly, sick shit in my darkest times).

Damn I’m struggling to write tonight. Having to stop and distract myself every couple of minutes for a bit. Barely slept last night though, and then with the stress of getting through family event unscathed it probably shouldn’t be surprising.

I really appreciated you sharing about your relationship AnnaLyzza. I really do need to hold on to that hope that two people can create a relationship that is positive for both people despite the individual struggles etc.

I think you mentioned not dumping all the crazy on the table during the first date (not in quite those words perhaps). I’m quite worried about that, because I’ve gotten quite used to just switching off the internal filter when talking to people (I think due to all the various therapists/psychs/GPs etc I’ve been seeing over the past six years). I also seem to feel that if I don’t tell people about where I’m at (negative/dysfunctional stuff particularly), I’m being dishonest about who I am or something. Or maybe it’s more that I’m scared of people rejecting the “real” me, so I feel I have to make sure they know all the shit about me that I’ve been scared would make them reject me from the start; rather than risk holding back, having something develop between us, but then having to “admit” (or be found out in) all the weird shit I’d been hiding and being rejected at that stage when it would hurt even more.

Also I guess I’ve switched off from life so much last few years that even the simplest questions like “what do you do for a living / for fun?” will entail me lying/holding back the truth, because otherwise I’d have to admit that I stopped working because of my mental health, that many days it’s a MASSIVE achievement just to even get out of the house, that I’m broke, have hardly any friends, blah blah blah blah blah.

One thing I sometimes say to people is something like “I’ve got a few ongoing health problems”. This feels like a bit of a compromise between blatantly lying and saying everything’s great (something I feel I was blatantly indoctrinated to do by my parents, and unfortunately have gotten extremely good at — lots of people I see around my local area at places I go for lunch etc often comment on how happy I seem etc), or saying “I’ve been desperately clinging to the last shreds of hope that are stopping me from wanting to kill myself, actually. How’s your morning been?” (sorry, that’s my extremely bleak attempt at humor in the face of all my negativity. apologies if it’s too dark).

So I guess I can try and just skirt around it by saying something like that (the ongoing health problems, not the suicidal tendencies — sorry bleak humor again… think it helps me talk about this shit) and trying to steer the conversation away from things that make me feel sorry for myself. That’ll do for a start. My parents just got back home so I’m trying to type furtively while switching windows quickly if I hear them coming. Feels just like being back in high school and trying to check your email during computer class! 🙂

Hope everyone’s well, I think I’ll come back later tonight once they’ve gone to bed.


Hi Annalyzza

About one kind of abuse vs. another kind of abuse ~ There is no “worse” abuse. Abuse is abuse and what happened to you is what YOU are dealing with. Did you know that almost all victims think that what happened to them wasn’t as bad as what happened to someone else? It is a coping method. We are all dealing with and healing from the damage that was caused. Neglect and emotional abuse causes just as much damage as physical and sexual abuse and so on. I had to remind myself all the time that there was a lot of emotional damage from each event that took place when my personhood was devalued no matter what the type of devaluing was.

I think it is normal to want validation when we comment such deep stuff. I felt that way for the first year that I wrote this blog! Being heard and understood was the first step in my healing process.

Everyone ~
I want to mention to everyone again ~ this blog generates 1000 comments per month and I have a lot of trouble keeping up. There are always at least 4 active posts generating comments. I am trying to finish my book and never seem to have time because I have such a heart for the commenters and want to answer them all! I really need to get back to work (income) here too. I hope that everyone understands that I can’t keep up with the comments part of the blog all the time.

Hugs, Darlene


[…] share your thoughts on this example of toxic mother daughter relationship. I look forward to the discussion in the […]


Hi J & Darlene,

J, I’m really enjoying our conversation and have been trying to find time to respond to your last post properly. I also appreciated your comments in the other post thread in which you stood up for Renae. You have a big heart and we share a tendency to immediately stand up for the people we care about! Looks like people were being triggered by that conversation – this is intense stuff we’re all processing so such emotional exchanges are bound to happen. I appreciate how you can express your anger/hurt/indignation in a way that is clear and emotive but still respectful.

Darlene, it’s true, you are only one woman and I have wondered how you keep up to all this! Last week when I was really actively posting I ended up spending a few hours per day writing/editing, which resulted in the housework and laundry etc. piling up! So I feel for you, trying to write a book and be a wife and mother and have a life and earn a living while also holding this space for others to process and heal from their traumas. It takes a lot of energy to hold a space like this – I admire your strength and comittment. I find sometimes I get overwhelmed by the posts and have to take a step back, so i admire that you are able to stick with this and with all of us in whatever stage we’re in, on top of everything else you’ve got going on. If there is ever any way I could help you out so that you can keep on doing what you do, let me know. I hope to make a financial donation soon, once payday rolls around, because i do understand that you are trying to make a living, and your insights have helped me reach new epiphanies that clearly I needed/was finally ready for. So thank you!


PS J, once I get the laundry caught up and a few household matters taken care of (that I blew off last week) I plan to get back to our conversation.


No tears this time Annalyzza, but not from lack of being moved by what you wrote. I **REALLY** appreciate you saying that becuase I’ve been giving myself all kinds of grief since posting what I did (especially with other people getting upset & worrying that I wasn’t helping things by getting angry). I really felt like I was trying to express what I felt (a VERY rare thing for me) but tried real hard to not just attack for the sake of attacking (or at least attacking about other things). All very confusing, and I haven’t felt able to post again in that one, so if anyone reads this, I’m sorry if I added to people’s grief.

Darlene, I’m still kind of confused by that thread, but I apologize too if I let my emotions harm other people in what’s meant to be a healing site. (Not asking for an explanation btw. Just not quite sure how I feel about it all).

And also Darlene, Annalyzza’s paragraph to you above says pretty much exactly what I’ve been feeling for some time. I’d been thinking of offering if there was anything I could do to help (financial help is not really an option at this time) but then all the other mess happened and I got worried I’m more likely to do harm then help. (I know even if that is the case, it’s a one-off so far out of several genuine dialogs I’ve been able to take part in and that I’ve found helpful or interesting)

But anyway I wanted to echo the sentiment at least. I do have a very strong tendency to feel like I owe the world to anyone who helps me, and then to take offense or over-think things and want to disappear and never see/speak to them again. Doesn’t make it easy to participate in therapy-type activities. Not sure why I’m saying this. I guess just to try and acknowledge that I imagine many of us here have a lot of unhelpful baggage that’s gonna come out at times, and that being the one who’s running a site where that’s the case, only earns even more respect from me. Hope that makes sense.

And A-L, thanks for saying that about getting back to the conversation, but no rush. I also find it takes a long time to think about/write on such heavy topics (also tend to forget where I was posting & lose track of conversations a bit).

PS don’t think I mentioned yet – the date went well! We could talk easily, and both laughed a lot. Might be going out again this weekend! It’s exciting, but is also bringing up a metric crap-ton of emotional s**t from past relationships, and probably even more about feeling like I’m lying/omitting truth about how broken I am at this point in time. So that’s been pretty hard. But hey. At least I’m trying I guess.


AnnaLyzza and J.
Thank you for your encouragement and offers to help. At the moment the only thing I am short of is time and money.
Hugs, Darlene


Fair enough — I’ll keep my eyes peeled for a Delorean though! 🙂


When I think about narcissistic, that label probably fits my dad. He ruled my childhood home and life with an iron hand and my mother let him. If you asked my mother anything, her answer was always, “Go ask your Dad.” I don’t remember her ever making a decision in my childhood. When I left home at 19, by running away, I swore that no one was ever going to control me like my dictator dad did and I was never going to be like my mother who never made a decision in my childhood. I saw her as weak and my dad as strong.

I did like Darlene in her decision to become just the opposite of my mom. I, too, had to learn that the extreme opposite of dysfunctional behavior is still dysfunctional. Why, because there is no balance in that kind of life.

Because I didn’t want anyone to control me like my dad did, I became the controller. I married a man who was gentle and easy to control. Like my mom did with my dad, my husband let me tell him what to do. He let me be in control. I thought that would make me happy and would make me feel safe. It didn’t. Sometimes people would try telling me what I was doing was wrong. I wouldn’t listen and I would get my feelings hurt. My husband wasn’t one of those people. He just went along with me for the dysfunctional, angry ride.

At 27 years old age and after 7 years of marriage and having 2 babies 16 months apart, I hit my emotional bottom. One day, I remember hearing myself shouting at my husband that I hated him and my life. I remember some part of me looking down at the scene and hearing what I was saying and being in shock because I knew that I was the problem, not my husband. I knew that I had terribly hurt him and that he wasn’t who I really hated. I hated me. That was the day, that I started to realize that controlling wasn’t making me happy or safe or any of the things that I wanted out of my life.

Fixing people and circumstances wasn’t my responsibility. The only person that I could work on and fix was me. It took me a few more years before I was ready to fully decide that being a dictator like my dad wasn’t what I wanted to be. It just didn’t work for me. It turned me into a person that I didn’t want to be – my dad. I had to learn that dictators weren’t strong. They were rageful and scared. It was many years before I was able to see my dad as the scared little boy that he was. It was hard to admit to myself that in order not to become like my mother, I had become like my dad. Those were the only two role models that I had. Neither was healthy.

I didn’t want to be like either of my parents. I was in 12-Step programs before I found healthy role models to follow. I needed their help to find out who I was. It was a rather lengthy process but who I am today was definitely worth the time and effort.


Hi Patricia
Great comments! Thank you for sharing and for highlighting this from another angle.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Patricia,

I appreciate your insights and have adapted similarly – I so rejected my mother’s weakness and was so adamant to never be treated that way by anyone that I instead chose a partner who is “weaker” than I am who I have tended to dominate. And I have often resented him for putting up with me! On the one hand we work because I feel safer and more stable when I feel in control in our relationship – I feel safer when I am leading and I become very anxious and distressed when I feel forced to follow, and he feels safer when he doesn’t have to be in charge and when he is serving/supporting rather than leading. But it becomes problematic because sometimes he gets tired of being controlled and I get really weary of having to be in charge all the time. Sometimes I wish I could rest from the responsibility of having to be “in control” all the time. Something to think about, and something to work *more* on.

Thankfully we try to be aware of our dynamics and how they work and how the don’t, and we work toward a more equal partnership between us. What sort of twelve step programs were you in? Was there anything that particularly dealt with control issues in marriage that you found helpful? We could benefit from something like that.


Hi everyone,

it’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep again. (Feels like weeks it’s been this way – up all night, few snatches of sleep after sunrise or late afternoon/early evening. Very frustrating, but I think it’s almost helpful in a way because I don’t have to see my parents much this way)

I just watched some (very) old home movies my grandpa took of me growing up. I haven’t watched them for ages, and I went in expecting to feel upset/emotional at times. It wasn’t too bad actually — in some ways, it was really nice. I was such a gorgeous & funny little tacker!

A few bits that stood out/made me feel funny: one was with my cousin who’s just under a year older than me (I think I was 1+1/2 or so at the time) playing in the kiddy pool, and there were 2 buckets and I had the little one (big one was floating off in the corner). Then my cousin came and took the bucket from me, and I just sat there and let him. That’s kinda how I feel today; I just freeze if someone tries to do anything to me. Felt really sad that I was like that so early.

My father was there and you hear him saying “don’t let him take it from you”, and then said “You can have the big bucket” to me but I said “no!” all upset and pointed at the one I’d had. Then he went and took it from my cousin and gave it back to me, which made me feel kinda nice.

Another part that upset me was when I got a little remote control car and was playing with it (REALLY old — the remote was actually wired to the car, so it could only go a few feet away before running out of wire) and you can hear my mother keep telling me not to do it so fast, but it looks like as soon as you touch the controls the car shoots off and jerks to the end of the wire almost instantly. Then my father stands up for me and tells her “it’s not easy to control” or something. Just made me feel sad how nagging/controlling my mother is.

It got harder to watch as I got older. Even by about age 7, something just seems wrong…. I just don’t seem comfortable or something. It makes me feel quite uncomfortable watching it even now. I think maybe it’s the feeling that I had to “play the role” that the family wanted me to play even then, and it just seems awkward and yucky. I think there was something else that upset me just now while watching, but I can’t remember.

Blah. Stupid families. Why can’t they get their s**t together before they start churning out kids??? (Sorry. Useless comment I know, but just feeling s**tty about it all).;

I also went briefly to the “Out of the Fog” site you linked to Darlene. I think I’d checked it out before. I’ll have to go over it in more detail sometime. One thing I’m struggling with at the moment is how much of my parents is in me, and the damage I’ve sustained by being around them for so long. I joined a dating site the other night and tried to write a profile, but just gave up. In the hints section, it says not to list anything negative about yourself, but then says “be honest”. Those two things can’t co-exist as far as I can tell.

I had a long conversation with my ex-g/f the other day. She’s been very generous with letting me get things off my chest lately (haven’t got many supports to be able to talk to). But even with her, sometimes it’s weird. The worst breakdown I had was triggered by her getting angry at me when I’d been complaining about my parents. She basically said angrily “maybe it IS all your fault” and I just broke down completely and hung up & started dialling numbers til I got someone (that was one of the days I got to the stage of saying I didn’t want to live anymore). Admittedly, I’m pretty sure I’d been saying some really dark s**t about my parents, so it’s kinda understandable in some ways.

But now I feel like THIS is an abusive relationship too, and that I’m just defending her. (This is a tricky one for me. I did used to feel like she manipulated me. But I think I’ll worry about all that later. Apart from that day, I’ve often felt like she’s helping keep me alive by letting me get so much stuff off my chest.)

But the other day, I felt like I’d blinded myself to the pain I put her through when we were together (and after, to a degree). Long story, and actually I don’t think I want to write about that right now. But the point was that I felt like a horrible person. I think because she seemed ok & like she’d moved on, that I assumed she didn’t feel any pain anymore or something.

Sorry, brain (and paragraphs) are jumping all over the place here. Re dating, I’ve been so worried about feeling like I’m lying (well, being dishonest rather than “actively” telling lies) by trying to appear “normal” when I went on my first date in years recently. I think there’s still such a big part of me that just wants someone to come along and be able to deal with all the s**t and dysfunction I bring to the table, but be able to deal with all their own stuff as well. (That’s a slight exaggeration perhaps. I think it’s just that I know how hard I find everything, and can’t really imagine me being able to actually help anyone else).

Also worrying that I’m just 100% selfish in my views on women/relationships etc. It’s like I’m this weird mix of old-fashioned chivalry in some ways, but then this horrible objectifying, self-obsessed *&#^@! in so many others. And I can blame a lot of that on the mix of sexual repression I grew up with, along with my secret life of hardcore porn (which I think I’ve mentioned before I discovered by accident on my father’s computer, then went on to get hooked on). But even if I can be understanding about how I got to where I am, I’m still there. And I can’t imagine it being healthy for anyone else. But I’m so lonely, there’s a big part of me that just doesn’t care how much damage I do to anyone else, I just want to have someone to love.

I feel pretty weird writing all this. It seems most of the people on here are women, and I worry it’s not fair of me to write all this stuff. I guess I’m just trying to figure it all out. Not many places you can talk about this sort of thing.

I guess the sticking point for me is that I feel like it could be so healing for me to have love in my life (especially if I can find someone who can help me learn to have a healthy relationship, instead of what I’ve had before). But that seems like too much to ask. If I look at myself, I’m in such a low, dysfunctional place, it feels completely unfair to ask anyone to even be around me (even as a casual friend). And then I think “maybe I’m being overly harsh on myself” (which I definitely have a VERY strong tendency to do), but when I think about the pain I’ve caused in my two serious relationships, it seems like I SHOULD force myself to never consider entering a relationship again.

But there were problems on both sides. Even with my self-blaming habit, I can’t deny that. I guess I’m just so scared of asking so much from someone, and that even with help I’ll still screw it up and be an a**hole etc etc. But maybe being away from the family influence will be a really good start. At least I won’t be actively submitting to all their bulls**t, and maybe I’ll be able to start trying to learn new patterns etc.

Actually, one positive thing in my favor — (only took me almost 3 decades, but hey) I haven’t even mentioned my date to anyone in my family. As a song I heard recently said “If I don’t want to keep getting shot, why do I give them ammunition?” 🙂

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Hope everyone’s doing well


Hi J, glad to hear that you keep on processing and thinking deeply and allowing yourself to feel. I had a hard time with sleep last night, too. I was going through a phase of self-recrimination about past screw-ups with people, both friends and lovers. It seems to come in waves alternating with a more positive self-assessment. Since I started therapy a year ago, I found myself losing the desire for dating and relationships. I am single and I wanted to really focus on my relationship with myself and re-parenting, etc. and I just didn’t want to have to engage in a relationship which would likely derail the therapeutic process. I also wanted to deeply examine all my motivations and assumptions and projections about relationships before I unconsciously cast them on another person and had them cast their unconscious needs upon me! And as there had been so much that I had mishandled in love and friendship in the past, it felt like a relief to put that all on the back burner. BUT, as you say, there is the loneliness, and last night that was getting to me, and I began obsessing on a fantasy about a man I knew who had been really sweet in my past. It was out of reality because we haven’t stayed in touch and he lives thousands of miles away and has his own life, and his kindness to me wasn’t really personal, we never dated, he was just naturally warm and supportive to everyone who crossed his path. But it led me to some dark thoughts about how I was such a mess then, and how far I have to go now, and how I really want a friend or partner like that, but who knows what that is REALLY like, and who would want to be with me anyway, blah blah blah! So, a lot of crying and yelling and circling thoughts, but I tried to just stay with it, get it out and examine the content. You’re certainly not alone in wanting love and friendship and yet knowing that this is a minefield which needs to be searched and defused and sometimes things just blow up anyway! Hang in there. ~* Sophia



thanks so much for your lovely message! It’s brought a hint of a tear to my eyes. This may sound weird, but the part about crying & yelling & crcling thoughts made me smile (in recognition, NOT enjoyment of you pain)

I think I’ve been reading & replying on here for possibly hours now, and I don’t think I’ve eaten today, so I probably need to go and sort that out. But I want to come back and re-read your post; it feels like there’s a lot to process and think about within it.

Very quickly, having gone on my first date in years, I discovered that even that was enough to unleash a flood of mental s**t about relationships/love/sex/family blah blah blah. I haven’t heard back from her (despite her saying she had a really good time and wanted to do it again soon), and there’s a fair part of me that thinks this is probably a good thing. She’s got a job, friends (a life, basically, which I really don’t right now), so better for her to keep doing what she’s doing. I think I’ve let go (at least a bit) of desperately wanting to msg her or waiting for her to msg me, so that’s probably a good thing.

Thanks again so much for your kindness and understanding!!


PS just saw the word “obsessing” in your post…. that’s one area of my mind I haven’t really been able to process yet. To quote a song line though, “my fevered thinking’s not gonna solve nothing tonight”
so I will leave that one alone for now and go get something to eat.

Take care!


I spoke to my Aunt the other day, we started to talk about my mother.I explained to her my mother feels like the wrong sisters died.That she would rather it have been me instead. She told me that that my mother was always aloof and unemotional.I said I always thought it was strength but she said Its just her way.I was at my mothers yesterday,wow I sure did notice.I’m only curious about one thing..she picks certain people to do this with.I wonder what makes her decide who to do this to,and what you have done to her to make her feel that way.My brother has also picked up this wonderful trait..I guess I’m on that list too…I need to let go and realize its not me its them.I leave their houses beet red and seething,and my daughter gets the backlash from my non confrontation again. I keep hoping for the glimmer of hope that they will open up and let me in one day…hopefully before its too late


Hi Kelly
From what I have observed over the past 7 years, abusers pick different methods to control people according to what works with those people. It isn’t what they have “done” to cause her to treat them that way. That is the lie I was stuck in most of my life; that it was me… My mother may have been different towards certain people but that doesn’t mean she likes them better; it means that they don’t let her get away with the same things that I let her get away with. My ability to stand up for myself came from doing the work of validating myself that I deserved better and that I had equal value to all other people.
Hugs, Darlene


Dear Darlene,

Just happened upon your site, I read your initial posting and identify with you. I sought out a husband (now separated) who echoed my mother’s attitude and I suffered the vicious cycle for 11 years.

I am shocked to see how many responses you got, that are from hurt daughters of unloving moms. My neighbors who have a young child (less that 2) left her alone in the house, probably thinking she’d sleep through the night, but I just heard the child cry hysterically for mommy and daddy, for 30 minutes. I thought of myself–that must have been how my mom was with me, the second child, that left me so wanting affection, approval..all that.

i have kids now and feel it is a chance to change the future and raise two children who are sure and confident and respected.
Thank you for this site.


Welcome to emerging from broken.
Yes there are many more children who went through this childhood rejection then I ever would have guessed in the past. My mother daughter relationship articles generate thousands of readers ~ hundreds of readers every day from people looking for information on this subject. And together we find healing. Glad you are here.
Hugs, Darlene


I am very glad I came across this website. Reading everyone’s stories makes me feel like i’m not alone and that there is hope to recover. I originally began researching on the internet looking for new strategies for coping with several problems i’ve had as long as I can remember. I have severe mood swings from really happy to depressed sometimes they will cycle back and forth rapidly. I have a really bad temper at times, anxiety attacks, low self-esteem, sleeping problems (sometimes sleeping for extended periods of time or insomnia and horrible nightmares), chronic skin picking which I guess i’ve substituted for the cutting I use to do in my teenage and early twenties. My body feels like a constant knot like i’m bound by rope and I think I must clench my teeth at night because my jaw pops and hurts most mornings after extreme stress. For a long time I just thought I was wired wrong or my mental problems were hereditary and that medication could fix me. I’ve taken various meds over the years only achieving temporary relief at times when i’ve been able to become numb to pain. Then I would go off the meds because after awhile my feelings would resurface. Only recently have I started to realize that I was doomed to fail from the very beginning. I apologize for the length of this rant and don’t expect everyone to read it but it does make me feel better to vent since I haven’t decided if I will confront the people responsible….so here goes.

My Mom was a soft spoken country girl who joined the Army to get away from her family. Her Mom was distant,un-loving and made her feel like she had never been a wanted child. Her father was much older then her Mom and he died when she was seventeen. Her two brothers were physically abusive to her. So she joins the Army and meets my father who is also in the Army. They date for a few months and then marry. Two years later I was born. Looking back at pictures from when I was a baby we truly looked like a happy, loving, healthy family. We moved a lot around the country and I can remember pieces here and there about how I felt as a child. A few years later my brother was born. Still in pictures I look happy. Around the age of five my father decided to take a deployment to Korea and it lasted for eighteen months. I don’t remember talking to him on the phone, letters or pictures coming from him. Once there was a package on our doorstep when I came home from school and it was a doll from my Dad. My Mom tells me later when i’m a teenager that she actually bought it wrapped and told me it was from him when he knew nothing about it. At the time I remember thinking why is my Mom telling me this? Does she want me to be mad at him? When my Dad comes back it’s time to move again and we live briefly in Kansas. I remember walking to school in the snow by myself while my Mom stays homes with my brother. The only other thing I remember about living there is that we were suppose to go see Hailey’s Comet but it ended up being too cloudy and I was really disappointed.I don’t remember school, teachers, friends or anything else. We lived there for about 1 1/2 years. After that we moved to N.C. I was around seven or so. I had a dog that I loved and I made some really great friends there who I still care a lot about even to this day. We lived there for a total of six years and I think this is when things started to go down hill for me. My Mom stayed at home and no longer worked. My brother had started having some issues which I didn’t understand. He would race around and was very animated. He was also doing strange things like washing his hands until his skin was raw, putting his shoes at the top of the stairs because he believed that was the only way for the snakes to fall out of them and other random weird things. I remember other kids picking on my brother and I would always stand up for him. I never asked my parents if anything was wrong with him. He was just my weird little brother. Things started to get worse. My Dad is deployed to Saudi Arabia, my brothers behavior is getting stranger, my mom falls off her bike and gets a compound fracture to her arm which requires years of surgery and physical therapy to fix the damage caused my the military hospital, she sinks into a deep depression and it also doesn’t help that she has an un-diagnosed thyroid condition. My Mom slowly slips away. She starts sleeping all the time and doesn’t watch me or my brother and we pretty much do what we want. I catch her many times and the table crying and then passing it off as just missing my father. I just remember feeling very uneasy and worried. During this long deployment in the Middle East again no letters, rare calls mostly which he only speaks to my Mom. Then one night my Mom comes to pick me up from my friends house who I was suppose to spend the night with and won’t tell me why. On the way home she tells me that they are bombing Bagdhad and thats where my father is….I still remember thinking why is she telling me this and I remember not being scared or worried. Now I think maybe I didn’t really care. Shouldn’t a daughter care? When we get home she makes me sit on the bed and watch the bombing on the news with her. I don’t why I guess she just didn’t want to be alone. Things around this time become blurry again. My grandmother (my father’s mom) dies unexpectedly a few days after surgery from an infection. It crushed me. I loved this woman very much more then anyone else at that time in my life. She spent time with me, talked to me, she was wonderful and I miss her deeply. After her death I began to have horrible nightmares about her where she was a floating ghost with hair on fire and screaming like a banshee. She would find me in this closet that I would hide in and pull me out by my hair and drag me in circles around the house. I would wake up screaming and banging my head into the wall. I had this dream every night for six months straight. The only thing I remember is my Dad asking me why would you dream this? She loved you. Other incidents happened with the lack of supervision from my Mom and the constant absence of my Dad. A naked man tried to approach my friend and I at a park. Luckily we noticed him far enough away where we were able to run back to my Mom who was reading in the car. Some teenage boys chased after him and eventually the police caught him. Another time I was at an after school game and my friends and I went into the girls locker room because it was cold outside. Some high school boys tried to break the door and threatened to rape us. We braced our backs against the door and the kicking ended up hitting a nerve in my back and I wasn’t able to get up. I’m not sure what happened but the boys were scared off my something and one our friends ran to the field and the entire school came running to help. I left in an ambulance and was home for a few days. My Mom never talked to me about these incidents but only told me how much my ambulance ride cost and made me feel bad about it. My Mom decides she wants to start reconnecting with her family which I don’t understand but as a child I have no choice but to go. My grandmother is still cold and strange. I have no feelings for her at all. On the other hand I really like her Mom my great grandmother and don’t mind spending time with her at all. Staying in my grandmothers house is unsettling. One of my Uncle’s still lives there and he swats or pinches me anytime I walk by the couch which he rarely moves from. He just sits there and watches t.v., smoking and drinking all day. I avoid the living room as much as possible. I spend a lot of time outside since it is on a farm and I enjoy spending time with all the animals. On one visit my Uncle is sleeping in his bed and my cousin and I are home alone. Not sure where my grandmother, Mom and brother were. He has a deer head on the wall and I want to see what it feels like so I climb on these boxes to pet it’s fur. I fall and awaken my Uncle who proceeds to get his belt out and whip me and my cousin across our backs. When my Mother returns I tell her what happened and she tells me to go outside. I hear her yelling at him and then she comes outside to tell me we are leaving in the morning. For the night we stay in an old trailer that is used to house most of the animals feed. My Mom and brother sleep on the floor and I sleep on an old couch. I wake up to feeling like my ear canal is on fire and i’m screaming. My Mom jumps up and when she pulls my hair away there is fire ants crawling in my ear. The next day we leave to drive home and our car engine catches on fire. With almost no money left we stay in a cheap hotel and live off friend chicken and snacks from the snack machine. I felt very hungry and shaky. It takes awhile for my Dad to arrange for us to get a rental car to get home. On the way home I was so angry. I was mad that my entire summer had been ruined. I had to go visit family I didn’t like, get beat by a known abuser and at the end of the trip we were suppose to go to Disney World which never happened and had been promised to me all year. Never did go until I was on my own as an adult. My Mom never talked to me about any of it.Not to see if I was o.k. if I needed anything. Nothing. After six years of being stationed in N.C. i’m told we are moving to Ga. I have to leave behind the only people i’m close to…my friends. I even ask my Mom if I can live with my best friend until I finish school. Her Mom even agreed to it she loved having me over. They wouldn’t consider this which I guess most parents wouldn’t so I didn’t hold it against them. We move to a town in Ga. that is very well off and the kids here are very different and spoiled. I do not fit in at all and feel like an outcast. Their education is also way ahead of my previous school so I start failing most of my classes. I have no friends except two other outcasts with their own set of tragic pasts (much worse then mine) which makes me feel ashamed at times for feeling the way I do. One of them was sexually molested by a family member and the other had too many problems to list. I start getting rashes all over my skin (now I think I was getting hives), panic attacks and constantly getting sick so I missed a lot of school. Still even though i’m obviously very miserable my parents never ask me about how I feel or what they can do to help. The next year I start high school which isn’t as bad as the middle school but I still don’t feel like I fit in until boys become interested in me. All of a sudden I start to feel better about myself, that there is something good about me that other people value or love. That is until all these little relationships fall apart. Each of which sends me into periods of deep depression and suicidal thoughts. Each relationship gets more intense (emotionally, sexually and physically). The first spreads rumors about me at school about what a whore I am. The second I give my Virginity to (at the age of 15) after dating for four months who then leaves me for my best friend. This is when I start to loose trust in most girls. The third I met when I was sixteen and he is twenty one. We both are recovering from hurtful relationships and fall quickly for each other. Looking back now our age difference is alarming to me. For three months I feel loved and happy. I hate my parents by this point and plan to run away with him to another state. Then suddenly he stops calling. A week later he tells me some story about being in trouble with the law and on the run. I don’t hear from him for a year to the day. This entire year I am constantly thinking about suicide but holding out for the hope that he will return. You would think parents who love their kids would notice them not leaving their rooms or talking to anyone, sleeping all the time and a steady depletion in their liquor cabinet. Not mine. I’m just your typical teenager with an attitude problem. So just when things couldn’t get worse they do but on a whole new level. I meet another boy who is outgoing, funny, intense and fun to be with. During this courtship my previous boyfriend who disappeared calls to tell me he left because he couldn’t face me to tell me he had impregnanted his ex-girlfriend (the one who hurt him so badly). He felt he needed to call and tell me because he kept having dreams about me standing over his bed telling him I hate his f***ing guts and he just couldn’t live with the guilt. I felt o.k though because I had a new relationship brewing. Things start to get serious with this new guy when people start telling me he is seeing other girls. I ask him if it’s true and he tells me no. Our relationship is new so I tell him it’s ok if he just wants to date and not be exclusive because I am hoping that this one will be different. I want someone who is honest, a friend and someone to love me. Well the rumors were true but at the time I chose to ignore them. This then turned into four years of on again off again torture. Drugs,cheating, suicide attempt, a miscarriage and finally physical abuse. I’ll start with the drugs. We both did them. Everything from Acid to crack.Cocaine, pot, pills, speed and many times I didn’t even know what I was ingesting. He was like a mirror of what I felt like on the inside. No emotion at least not good one’s anyway. Only rage, sadness and a deep passion for drama. During this period he cheated on me with more girls then I can count or care to know. He went to jail briefly for selling acid and then somehow his case got thrown out. I continued to go back to him even though I knew he wasn’t good for me. He was all I had. He was my link to a group of friends who I didn’t think would like me if I wasn’t his girlfriend and I enjoyed the parties and endless supplies of drugs. I also started shop lifting. Again no notice by parents. They never even asked me where all my new clothes or all their expensive Christmas presents came from. A teenager with no allowance or job. I could have been prostituting myself and they wouldn’t have noticed. Speaking of Christmas around the holiday my Mom goes on one of her weekend getaways I guess to visit her family without me or my brother. My Dad is stationed in another state at this time (now I kind of think maybe they were separated briefly but never told me) it was weird. So my boyfriend stays at my house for the weekend with me, my brother (who actually has Asperger’s Syndrome but at the time they think he has ADHD) and a large group of people where we do drugs all weekend. My boyfriend and I have sex. He leaves the room for a few minutes and then comes back with a worried look on his face. He tells me he doesn’t know what happened to the condom. I reach down to see if it’s on the bed and it’s not. Then I check and realize it’s slipped off up inside me. So I worry about it for a day and then just brush it off and think that everything is fine. Over the next few months we continue to fight back and forth mostly over his cheating and I break it off. Come April i’m at school and my stomach has been hurting really bad. I figure my period is about to start so I go the bathrooom when I get ready to sit down I feel like something is coming out of me and so I push. It feels like something is stuck so I grab some toilet paper and wipe the area and there is blood. I feel something slipping out of me so I hold the toilet paper there and out comes blood and mucous enveloping something the size of my hand. I pull away at it and turn it over and am in disbelief because it is what appears to be a baby. I want to scream but can’t because there are other girls in the bathroom. So I stand there just staring and holding my breath. I look at it and it doesn’t look quite normal. Not that I knew what a baby that small should look like. I remember the head not looking quite right but you could see where the eyes had developed and it had started to grow arms and legs although they looked small like they had stopped growing at a certain point. I instantly blamed myself. I was so stupid to not think this could have been possible. I hadn’t had a period in a long time but never noticed. I continued with my reckless drug use and ultimately feel like I am solely responsible for the murder of my own child. I can’t stay at school so I wrap the baby in several layers of toilet paper and put her (I didn’t look real closely but I think it was a girl)in my book back and drove home. So at the age of seventeen I walk into the house hysterical and show her to my Mom. She looks at me and says oh this is just a fleshy mass. I pass these all the time it’s no big deal. She throws her in the trash can and walks away. I go to my room and cry myself to sleep. I’m stunned and don’t leave my room for the rest of the night. Later the next day I go to the trash can hoping to secretly remove the baby and look at her closer to know that i’m not crazy it is a baby not a mass and to give her a proper burial. But it’s too late the trash has already been taken out and emptied. Several weeks later when I go for a check up at gynecologist mostly because I was having some prolonged discharge. The Dr. asks me if i’ve recently had a miscarriage. I tell her what happened and she just writes in my file, completes my exam and sends me home. Several weeks later my ex calls to torment me by telling me that one of the girls he’s been sleeping with might be pregnant but he’s not sure if it’s his baby or his friends. I’m so angry that I tell him about the miscarriage. He asks a few questions but doesn’t offer any words of comfort. During our next fight I try to kill myself by ingesting 180 tablets of my brothers Adderall. I tell my ex about what I’ve done and then take the phone off the hook. After a few minutes I regret doing this and wake my mother and tell her what I’ve done. She races me to the ER and my heart is racing and I can’t catch my breath. She tells the Dr. I mistakenly took medication that I thought was for sleeping because I had insomnia. They make me drink coal to stop the medication. I ask my mother why she lied and she tells me that she didn’t want this to be on my record. We go home the next day and never discuss it again. I continue to have reckless behavior going to parties and ultimately get raped by a guy I had never met after taking some drugs. He tells me he’s not letting me leave until we have sex. I didn’t fight back I just kept saying I didn’t want to. I gave up and pretty much felt like I deserved it. I didn’t report it because I didn’t want to get in trouble with my parents or for anyone to know. After that I became involved with a twenty six year old married man, father and firefighter who had an open marriage. He started to stalk me and wanted to get me my own apartment and then his wife started contacting me wanting to hang out. I don’t know if they were both trying to get me in bed or it was some kind of game. I stopped all contact with him after a few weeks. Later that year my ex-boyfriend and I got back together (the girl was never pregnant) and we moved into our own apartment. He starts using heavier drugs and shooting up speed. He lies to me constantly about it and disappears for days at a time. Our fights turn from yelling to him shoving me into the wall. He apologizes, cries and says he doesn’t want be like his ex-step dad. Months pass we move out of the apartment because it’s getting too expensive and we move into his Mom’s house. Girls start calling, he’s still doing drugs and disappearing. We fight constantly until one days he hits me in the head. It stuns me and he pauses for a brief moment only to look at me in such a way that I can only describe it as demonic. He proceeds to beat me for several minutes until he has exhausted himself. He punches me, kicks me, chokes me. I tell him during this that i’m done and i’m leaving. He then says if you ever leave i’ll kill you. I tell him i don’t care. Then he says ok then i’ll kill your family. This is something I can’t live with so I stay. Sometimes weeks or months would go by without fighting but something would always end up setting him off. It might be a question about where he had been or he just had a bad day and he would take it out on me. Once the fight got so bad while we were in his car he pulled over and smashed my head into the windshield. He then punched me while he drove for over thirty minutes until we got to his house. Shortly before arriving I tried to throw myself out of the car not carrying if I died. I just wanted it to stop. He snatched my hair back and told me not to move again. He reminded me to keep my mouth shut until we got to the back of the house as he didn’t want to wake up his Mom and siblings. He beat me for another ten to fifteen minutes and reminded me if I wasn’t there when he got back he would go straight to my house and kill my entire family. So I stayed. I had several bruises and did my best to hide them with make up and big clothes. No one ever seemed to notice. Later that year I got what ended up being a really bad kidney infection. For two weeks I laid in bed, vomiting, not able to eat or keep down much water. I was loosing a lot of weight. My boyfriend could care less he continued to have sex with me even though my back was hurting from my kidneys and I was very sick. After he left his Mom came in and said you have got to go to the Dr. I told her I didn’t think my Mom would take me (she always told me I was a hypochondriac) and she said if she doesn’t then I will. I told her I would drive to my house and have her take me. I barely remember the drive and was starting to hallucinate and felt like I was blacking out. I walk into my house and tell my mom my symptoms and how long i’d been sick. I was already a very skinny girl (95lbs with clothes on). My Mom said my trip to the Dr. could wait because she had to go to the grocery story. I started to scream and curse at my Mom which I had never done in my life. I don’t remember what I said but she just looked shocked and took me to the E.R. The lobby was packed. I sat in the chair too weak to walk and then started to go in and out of consciousness. I was freezing so they wrapped me in a blanket and the nurse looked at me and realized how serious my situation was. They took me immediately back over all the other patients that were there. The rest of the day was a blur. I only know that I weighed 82lbs (13 lbs lost in two weeks), I had a kidney infection, blood poisoning and the Dr. told my Mom I would have died within the next 24-48 hrs without treatment. My Mom never apologized although I did learn years later that she told my Dad how bad she felt about what happened. When I was better I went back to my boyfriend. New year’s Eve 1999 my boyfriend drank a lot and prob did more drugs. He started rambling about the end of the world and how he was going to go out and defend the house or shoot people. It freaked me out because I believed he would do it. So I followed him and he trapped me in his room and held the rifle to my head. He told me one of us is going to die tonight. Someone how his Mom could hear us and she started pounding on the door until she got in. I rushed past her out the front door and told one of his friends that was there what he did. At first he didn’t believe me but when he went back to the room he took all his guns and weapons away and told me I needed to leave. I didn’t but in my heart that night he was dead to me and from that point in time I was waiting for the right moment to get away where no one would get hurt. I no longer argued with him or asked where he went or who random girls were that still called the house. Six months later when I was slowly pulling away he threatened to beat me for being at a friends house unless I came straight home. I refused so he said fine i’m on my way. Luckily for me my friend protected me and he wasn’t able to hurt me. Our relationship ended with some minor incidents here and there but pretty much I moved on. I ended up finding someone who truly loves me and is everything i’ve ever wanted. He’s honest,kind,supportive and truly makes me feel safe and loved. I became so happy with him I slowly suppressed many of my memories of my parents neglect and just remembered what few happy times I had with them. I made excuses for there lack of parenting and love. I felt like my Mom was just really depressed with my Dad gone, my brothers disability and her health problems. My Dad I just blamed the Army. Being emotionally unavailable was just how he had to be to survive during times of war. He couldn’t afford to think of us or get distracted. I started to forget. The abuse with my ex stayed with me and ultimately I put all the blame of everything on him. A few years later after I married my husband I had a son after long debating if I wanted to have children. I really thought my head was too messed up and I would be a terrible mother. The day I went into labor I was very excited. Things were going well until they broke my water at 8cm. My son’s heart rate kept dropping and they rushed me away for an emergency c-section. My epidural wasn’t working properly and I could feel them cutting me. Between the pain and worried for my son I started having a panic attack. They had to give me sedation to knock me out. My last thought was I don’t want to wake up if he’s going to die. But he didn’t and when I saw him he was perfect. I loved him instantly and had to have him by me constantly or I felt like my heart would break. I loved him so much that I felt like I couldn’t love anyone else at that time even my own husband. It was very confusing. I nursed him and co-slept until he was 11 mos old. I cried the entire first week I had to take him to daycare and go to work. I felt like my son turned a light on inside me and everything was very clear. I was very protective of him and paranoid about anything that could hurt him. Animals, germs and especially people. My husband called me a helicopter Mom. I didn’t care. I felt like this was my calling and for the first time I felt truly complete. I had a husband and a son and they both loved me. For two years things were great. I would visit my family who had moved to Fla. My Mom wanted to reconnect with her Mom who was now in a nursing home. I was a little resentful that they left and were not able to see their grandson much… for what? A Mom who let her down…I didn’t get it. I was o.k though. Then came Mother’s Day 2009. My son broke his leg and I called to tell them about it. I had also broken my leg on a slide at the same age. We had a good conversation, some laughs, i think they may have even paid me a compliment about what a good mother I had become. All was well. This was on a Sunday. During that conversation my Mom even offered to come help me out if I wanted but I told her I was o.k. I told her I would update her on Tues after his recheck appointment with the pediatric orthopedist. I got busy and forgot to call. At the end of the week was my wedding anniversary and we had plans to take my son to stay with my in-laws while we got away for the weekend. It would be the first time he spent the night away from me. I came home from work Thurs evening and my husband kept trying to persuade me to leave one night early. Something in me just didn’t want to go. I felt like I needed to wait. I had a very weird feeling that something was about to happen. It felt kind of bad but I just figured I was nervous about leaving my son for the first time. That night my father called at 1 in the morning to tell me my Mom was dead.At first I thought I didn’t hear him right and that he was telling me my grandmother had died. So I asked him to repeat it and he said it again. I always thought I knew how I would feel when my Mom died but I was so wrong. I fell to the floor in the fetal position and my Dad said I let out these cries that he only heard one other time and that was when he had to call his sister and tell her their Mom was gone. I sank into a deep depression. I spent several days at my parents home crying, screaming, talking with my Dad and then cleaning his house obsessively that my Mom had destroyed with her hoarding.My Mom’s cause of death was never determined- ruled as natural at the age of 54. I viewed her body alone and apologized to her for being a bad daughter. I was consumed with guilt and began to blame myself for her death. That somehow I had caused it. I researched for months to understand why she died and even had a friends mother who is a Dr. evaluate her autopsy report to see if they missed something. I became withdrawn from my husband and my son. I isolated myself from everyone except my father. For the first time in my life he comforted me and I comforted him. He would call every few days to make sure I was o.k. and visit every few weeks and then months. I felt like maybe something positive would come from it and then there were times when I was angry with my Mom for bringing me back into depression thru her death. I started having nightmares every night where she would come and talk to me and comfort me. Like she was still alive. During one dream I woke up as she was kissing my forehead. My eyes opened the moment I felt her kiss me and I was sobbing. In my doorway there was a floating shadow in the shape of a person. I don’t know if it was a ghost or lucid dreaming or what. I was too scared to move and eventually fell back asleep. The next morning the door was completely shut when it had been open. A few nights later I woke myself up crying and telling my mother to please stop coming to see me in my dreams it hurts too much. And just like that the dreams stopped. A few months later my husband and I decided to start trying for a second child. Now sometimes I wish I would have given myself a little more healing time. Being pregnant and messed up in the head is not a good place for me. It was a long pregnancy with morning sickness, lots of mood swings and cramping. But the day they told me I was having a girl it felt extra special like somehow I was able to reclaim the potential to have a good mother-daughter relationship. Like it was a special gift just for me. Raising my daughter didn’t come as easy as my son. She is almost two now but from the moment she came out she was screaming,kicking and stubborn. She was hard to nurse and we only made it to three months. Never slept and very colicky. She didn’t seem to be comforted by me but did well when she was held by other people. Especially her Dad. At first this made me angry like somehow I was being cheated but now looking at her everyday she reminds me more of me. I feel like I have a chance to heal thru her by trying to be the Mom I didn’t have. Somedays are rough and I can feel myself disconnecting from those around me but I don’t want to give up and hope that I can get better.My father has become distant from me as he was before my Mom died. Sometimes I wonder if I should tell him what my childhood was really like because I really don’t think he has a clue. I don’t think he knew what kind of woman he was married to.(I know this because one night after drinking several glasses of wine I discussed the incident with my Uncle when he brought up the physical abuse she had suffered and he said your Mom never told me) He cherishes her memory and I don’t want to hurt him. At the same time i’m angry with him too… maybe I wouldn’t be if he would have stayed connected to me like he did the first two years. Sometimes I think he used me for support and now he doesn’t need it so he’s going back to his old ways. My son asks me when is he going to visit and I just tell him I don’t know he’s working. I’m sure he’ll visit when he can. I am always the one to call or email. Sometimes he answers and sometimes he doesn’t. It always seems like he’s trying to rush in getting off the phone with me or rush through a visit. He uses his work and looking after my brother as his excuses(even though my brother lives on his own now). I have never been his priority and just need to start accepting it.

It’s so confusing to love and hate someone at the same time. I just hope I won’t be like them and my kids will look and say they had a great Mom. Not worried about my husband because he is a wonderful Dad.


Hi Becky

Welcome to Emerging from Broken!

Talking and writing have been 2 of the most helpful healing tools that I have ever found! Please feel free to share as much and as often as you like.

Thank you for sharing your story with me. Your childhood was filled with extreme neglect from both of your parents and you have suffered so much abuse. For me healing began with getting it out. I wanted to be a better mom for my kids too and the best way that I found to do that has been to face the pain and the damage and the truth about the abuse in my past, find out the lies that I believed because of the messages that I got due to the mistreatment and disrespect that I was treated with and set those lies straight. This whole website is about that. Glad you are here.

Hugs, Darlene


Jesus Christ, what a strange world we live in. Beck’s story paints a tragic picture of life, yet, such beautiful hope and healing that is coming through in the telling of the story. We are all more alike then not, eh? This venue is a spiritual gift to our world. Thank you Becky, for telling your heartfelt story. Somehow it makes my own path a bit more manageable. That you Darlene, for providing this safe space for healing. The love is as real as the suffering, and a tad more powerful. Hope prevails.


Hi Robert
Thank you for sharing! The more that I do this work, the more I realize just how much alike we all are. That goes for the abusers too and thier tactics etc.
Hugs, Darlene


Wow, this is exactly what happened to me, my dad past away 7yrs ago and now im left to deal with my selfish mother one very toxic lady, i moved away as even just being in the same room as her is unbearable. Im finaly learnt why i always felt judged, why my anxiety gets so high and why i have continualy pt others first as i never wantd to be that selfish person either. Cant believe how much it described what i gave been through hm blown away..


Hi Jodi
Welcome to EFB ~ I think you are going to like it here!
Hugs, Darlene


I just read ur artical I had a very loving and 2 way relationship with my mom but with the men in my life I was the same I devalued myself to make them happy now I’m a mom tryin to teach both my daughters and my son how to value themselves first and others it’s hard I hope that ur in a better place u sound like a very loving person plz continue but love yourself first no one can love u if u don’t love ur self


Hi Laura
Welcome to EFB ~ I am in a wonderful place; I write this blog to inspire hope for healing for others and to teach the solution of self love and self value as you mentioned!
Thanks for sharing and YAY that you are teaching self value to your kids!
Hugs, Darlene


I came across this post tonight as I’m upset and thinking. I’m 48 years old and just this last holiday I was reminded by my mother once again how I was born – deformed and ugly and how I had to stay in the hospital for the first two years of my life in a full body cast because I was so deformed. I have done great things and came back from broken bones over the years and I always thought it was becAuse I was athletic. For the most part it was because I was compromised as a baby. My mother is in basic terms a good mother but she always had it out for me. Any time she could mention my shirt clings she did and embarrassing my in public was normal. I grew up a really shy kid who always knew that I was different and deformed. If you looked at me I looked the same but deep inside I was in physical and emotional pain. As a young adult until teo years ago I broke my back, broke and ripped both knees, broke three ribs. injured my right shoulder. , broke my left arm, slashed my right eye to pieces, broke my nose, broke my left foot, injured my neck as whiplash and broke my right shin bone not in that order. With all of these injuries I chalked it up to being an active adult – I ended up losing thousands of dollars in medical bills even though I had my own insurance. I never hit help from my mothers even though my dad wanted to help. My mother said no. I was punished my entire life because my mother popped out a deformed child. It was never my fault – I never had kids be wuss I was always afraid I would have a deformed baby. It’s do sad how the mind works. In my mind I will always be wrong and ugly. The birth of me changed my mother somehow – it’s not my fault and in the end it’s not her fault – ts just life but I have taken so much blame. I never got married, I never had kids and my life goes on. So for all icky mothers hurtful words – I’m still here and I’m not going anywhere. I will stand tall and be proud that I survived.





Hi Sandra
Thank-you! 🙂
hugs, Darlene


Ah Darlene, this is exactly what I needed to read right now. I have a tendency to walk towards cold,unempathic,bitter women with my eyes and arms wide open. Only for them to knock me down again and again, yet i pick myself up and walk again towards those very women looking for empathy and love.Women uncapable of loving,or even empathis gesture. Than I start looking at myself through their eyes, rip myself apart and start the entire process again.

Firstly I am glad that I am warm and empathic the total opposite to those cold ,brutal parents. Secondly I feel like the little girl who berates and tears herself down seeing herself through the cold, brutal,tormenting eyes of her parents. And thirdly it is now time for me to STOP that cycle and starting seeing myself through my oWN eyes.

This is what I have been going through the past few weeks, finally being aware of the tyrant ,brutal,traumatising inner critic and seeing where the voices and thoughs come from. Seeing the absolute enmeshment with those freaks, and I am slowly learning to seperate emotionally( I have already seperated pyshically).

I BLAME myself too easily, forgive too easily and brutalise myself too easily.

Thanks Darlene your article totally resonated with me.


Another great article Darlene! Your work has helped me tremendously and reflected in the way I help others emerge from the sex industry.


Hey Darlene! I can so relate to this on so many levels and what I have discovered is that I was so out of balance for trying to do the “opposite” of what my mother did. This just put me in a position to put others before myself to the extreme and I lost who I was as a person.

Through my healing journey I am learning about being balanced within myself and not using external mirrors to define who I am. I look within and examine the beliefs that I am operating from and dismantle them one by one. It can be a tedious process but it is so worth it. The way I feel about myself is all the proof I need.

I recently read a book called “Your not crazy, It’s your mother”. It’s about Daughters and narcisstic mother’s and wow did it ever put a lot of things into perspective for me. I wished I would have read this years ago but then I realized that I was not ready to look at our relationship from that angle. The angle being that “she” could actually be the problem. I believed I was the problem and that it was me that needed fixing. I didn’t need fixing, I needed nurturing, understanding, compassion and support for what I endured.

Now this is a nice space to be in. You mean it’s actually ok if it’s about “me”? I was afraid if it was about me then that would make me just as self centered as her…wouldn’t it? This is when a new layer of my journey was uncovered and this time I felt safe examining what was underneath. I am more present than I have ever been before and I am in a stronger place to face issues that used to terrify me.

It occurred to me that I had a wounded childhood view at the time the abuse was occurring and I carried that view into my adulthood. Well not anymore, I am empowered now and I have the education and skills to deal with this right now in this present moment. I never felt comfortable receiving support because in our family receiving support was off limits. We had to solve problems within our family unit and that’s what made things even more difficult for me.

There was so much shame, guilt and resentment being recycled in our family it was difficult to escape it. Well I can honestly say that walking away from my family was the best decision I ever made at 47 years old, too bad it wasn’t sooner but it is what it is. I accept that everything happens for a reason and I hung in there from a place of toxic loyalty. I see that more clearly now that I am out of the dysfunctional fog.

I feel more inner peace than I ever have before and I’m starting to feel more positive attributes revealing themselves to me now. It’s been a long road to get here but that’s ok because I am here…I am alive and I love myself more than ever and I will continue growing, learning and nurturing my self into wholeness.

Thank you Darlene for being a pioneer and helping so many people find who they really are behind all the abuse they endure. Love you, Hugs!


This article touches the heart of the issue I have been wrestling with most. I wanted desperately to be “not like my mother” as long as I can remember. For the most part, I think I was different, but I’m not so sure I was any better.

My children are all grown now. My youngest has been through all sorts of abuse from others that I didn’t know how to deal with. I wanted to validate her, help her, comfort and heal her, but nothing that I tried to do seemed helpful. I took her to therapists, psychiatrists, doctors, and half of them compounded the problem.

Even my older daughter criticized me harshly for failing both her and my youngest, but no one in my family could show me, tell me, or help me DO BETTER. They only pointed out all the ways I’d failed.

I don’t know what to do at this point. I feel like the impact of abuse I experienced at a very young age has hit me like a sledge hammer in my late 50s. My opportunity to heal has come too late to change anything for my kids. It’s frustrating..


Hi All,
Great comments! ~
Hobie ~ I wanted to say that it is never too late. I was in my forties when I began the healing process and I thought it was too late for my kids too, but it wasn’t. I had to be patient however as I learned to model the new and true definition of love to them. they were used to it all being a different way and some of the new changes they didn’t like that much. Some things I have to remember their ages too. They grew up in a dysfunctional system until they were teenagers and I can see a big difference in how my youngest daughter reacts compared to the older two because she was younger when we started to heal. I gave my kids permission to be upset with the way things were when they were kids. They have permission to be angry at me and at their father. I have made amends and I continue to strive to live in and model the new system of love and mutual respect. There has been a LOT of communication. We have also talked to them about the ways that we were taught relationship and all the damage that it did. My kids are understanding of that whole mess of abusive family system and how it impacted them. It isn’t that we are not accountable for how it impacted them, the key is that they know we are sorry and that we are living a different way now. They know they are loved and that they are respected as individuals. We use our power as parents to empower them now, and not to disempower them. I have to admit that this has been one of the biggest parts of the healing process for me! It was one thing for me to validate myself and heal, but then to become the mother that I never had to my own kids was a whole other story. But it is doable as long as both sides are willing to communicate about it.
hugs, Darlene


Thank you Darlene.

At this point, my oldest daughter seems to be towing the line of my family of origin. Communication seems unlikely.

The heart crushing issue at hand is that my youngest asked for my help earlier this year because her husband was abusing her (but she didn’t tell me that part at first), and while she is divorcing him, she is sharing custody of their daughter with him and his parents over 800 miles away from me, while they continue to lie and manipulate her. I am so afraid for my granddaughter because there are all sorts of red flags that she has been sexually abused, but no one (including my daughter, her lawyer and child protective services) considers my opinion rational, let alone valid.

Communicating with my youngest daughter became unbearably painful because I felt like I was watching her relive MY life while she is in complete denial. I feel rejected and helpless, at the same time the memories of being abused through my childhood have resurfaced with emotions that I had managed to stuff down most of my life.

I am in therapy, a support group, and I have a few supportive friends, but this situation is really hard to handle.


Every single word I read, I could have written. My mom’s needs were always the most important in my home. Now as a 46 year old woman I see how I have strived to be the polar opposite of her, putting myself after kids home and husband. I am struggling to find balance as I need to take care of myself before I kill myself from neglect. Thank you for being there for your readers. I know understand that being the polar opposite is not in my best interest and is actually still a part of her that remains. Ugh! I do not want that!!!
Thanks again,


Hi everyone. Great thread. I too, have a Narcissistic Mother, and all us kids had a role. My mother is 80+ and her divisiveness, gaslighting (reinventing the past), a triangle-lation (communication of the family flows through her) drives me nuts. Lies, realitiy twists and BS.

I am breaking patterns, and the witch doesn’t like it. She was my anti-role model. When she goes, that will be the end of a really, really bad era.

The way she treated my dying father towards the end was horrific. “Hurry up and die”. I know caregiving is stressful, but that showed a cold soul. My “incubator” deserves the title.


Hi Laura
Welcome to emerging from broken
They never like it because it is an indication that they are losing their ‘control’ over you.
I think you are going to enjoy some of the conversations in this website.
hugs, Darlene


Thanks, Darlene, for the warm welcome.

One would think with life’s very real vicissitudes, you wouldn’t want to manufacture more drama, but these “incubators” love to stir up the pot, and create an unloving and sick family. The “guilt bomb” doesn’t work on me anymore. So, naturally the phone doesn’t ring as much asking for favors. Incubator’s narcissistic supply is dwindling.

My 1st and 2nd husband is the same guy, and he is 1 of 10 kids of a loving, but poor family. He’s a professional, because of his wonderful mother that fed his soul. (He’s also very intelligent.)

Doing the work to heal yourself is freeing. I now chose who the people are who I want in my circle of personal life experiences. (work excluded-no control)But I limit engaging icky people much in my work life.

This speck of dust in the universe will float along and be happy because of my choices going forward. (I’ve been watching the new COSMOS-lol)

Darlene, thanks for this website.


Thank you for sharing. Im 38. My oldest is 12… and a half… im trying so hard to change things… its so painful to see how i was not being who i wanted to be and that it was me stopping myself with all the negative beliefs i carried as fact about myself. And that i could be so selfish to harm my children because of my own insecurities… to make them give me what i didnt get from my upbringing…. i really seemed to have no feeling for the past 15 years… im looking forward to being whole so as to give something good to my children. You are encouragement as i cant find many willing to speak about their mistakes and further only people who want to discount mine as not that bad instead of hearing me out and maybe being helpful.

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