Importance of Recognizing Progress in Recovery


recovery courage to heal

“It is important to give yourself credit for all your successes, no matter how small. If you wait to get to the end of the healing process, until you’re ‘finished,’ before you recognize your progress, you’ll wait forever. Each small step is a building block, and accomplishment in and of itself, and by acknowledging each step along the way you make room for further growth”. Courage to heal workbook by Laura Davis.

 I thought it would be fun to pool my thoughts with Christina Enevoldsen and Patty Hite from Overcoming Sexual Abuse on this post about rewarding ourselves and recognizing our progress along the way on the journey to the other side of broken.

 Christina Enevoldsen writes:

“I learned as a child to think in terms of my inadequacies, so I discounted any progress if it fell short of where I wanted or expected to be. I couldn’t see how far I’d come; only how far I still had to go. I’d verbally flog myself after I finished anything. I secretly hoped that if I put myself down, others would disagree with me and come to my defense. I thought if I focused on my flaws, I’d keep improving and wouldn’t get complacent with my achievements. Trying to be good enough felt like it was a life or death battle.

A big part of my healing from sexual abuse has been to accept my weaknesses and love myself in the midst of them. I know I’m just as valuable right now as I will be when I’m all bright and shiny at the end of this process. That helps me to accept not only myself right now, but my work right now. I approve of my progress. Even if it’s a little thing, it came from me and that makes it good. It’s the baby steps that are the foundation of healing and any other successes in life. Those things that look like gigantic leaps to others are really just a lot of baby step strung together. Others may not be very impressed with me or with what I do, but I know where I came from. I know what it’s taken me to get to this place. And I’m DAMN impressed.”

Christina Enevoldsen

Patty Meyer Hite writes:

h step along the way you make room for further growth.” Courage to Heal WB by Laura Davis

“I too had a hard time acknowledging my achievements in the beginning. Especially when all we focus on are the bad things that has happened to us and the whys and the why not’s. It’s hard to focus on “how far we have come.”

But it is soooooo important to. I compared myself to my kids. Every little thing they do, as children, is exciting. They learn how to tie a shoe, how to write their names, how to read a book. They learn a new cheer or they caught a fly ball. With every triumph, we as parents should encourage them. I would clap my hands, tell them how proud I was of them and always give them a hug. Sometimes, I would pat them on the back, tell them, “Way to go”, and take them out for pizza. Compliments were big in my house toward my kids. They still are even though the kids are now adults.

We need this. We need a pat on the back, a “job well done” and a special treat. Even if our parents (especially if our parents) didn’t do it for us, it is time to do it for ourselves. If no one is there to encourage our efforts, we need to do it ourselves. We are valuable and we deserve it!”

Patty Hite

Darlene Ouimet writes:

Self acknowledgement was a huge problem for me. I never gave myself credit for anything because nothing was ever good enough. Nothing was ever good enough for me because when I was a kid nothing was ever good enough for them. (teachers, parents, elders) I was conditioned to try harder no matter what I was trying for. It was the slow process of not being acknowledged for achievements that wore me down. It isn’t that I was always told I my efforts were not good enough; sometimes it was just that nothing was said. Sometimes it was a frown, sometimes it was a scowl, or an impatient huff. So I tried harder to get what I considered to be approval. A smile or any kind of approval or acknowledgement that I was even there would have gone miles towards my self esteem. This was not the case, so I learned to try harder and never rest or be satisfied with my effort. I learned to believe that I was never enough in almost every area of my life.

One time my therapist asked me to write a list of my accomplishments ~ to write down anything and everything I had ever done that I felt good about starting at about the age of 18. I thought I was going to throw up at the very idea of doing that exercise. I was sure that I was going to have to come back the next week and tell him there was nothing. What I realized is that there was nothing I could write down that I believed was good enough. When I looked at the origins of that belief, and saw where it came from and how it developed, I was able to write down some of the things that I felt good about, and then what happened that caused me to feel not good enough afterwards. I saw that I let others continue to suck my joy and ask me for more even after I left my childhood family. By then, if my efforts were good enough, I told myself it wasn’t good enough; I looked for ways that I could have done more, done better and I no longer trusted anyone who was pleased with my efforts.

Shortly after this project that I did for my self growth and recovery, with the help of my therapist I set a few goals. When I accomplished the first really big one, my therapist suggested that I reward myself. I didn’t know how. I realized that I didn’t know how to give myself a pat on the back OR any other type of credit. I was so stuck and once again scared about “not doing it right or good enough”. For several weeks he asked me if I had chosen my reward, and I resisted. We ended up having to spend some time talking about HOW to reward myself.

That first reward is in my living room and each day I see it, I remember “I can”. I can take care of myself, I am worthy, I can do anything that I put my mind to. I can overcome the past. I can fly. I can emerge from broken and have a new life. And I DID and I DO.

What are your thoughts about acknowledging yourself? Does it make you uncomfortable? Does it make you feel weird? Does it come easy? Please feel free to share your experience with us and our readers.

Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Self Esteem



Wow I could relate to all three of these statements about dealing with achievements! It has just been the past couple of years that I realized it was ok to acknowledge the good and progress I have done. I have always been afraid that to acknowledge it would lead me into failure. I know that sounds odd I mean it even sounds odd to me as I write it. I was afraid that I would somehow loose touch with “reality” and therefore fool myself to believe a lie. This is all rather twisted I know but if anyone has been the worse judge, the executioner in my life it has been me. Never not good enough is a syndrome many suffer with but what I am realizing is as long as I put forth my best it matters little if it was good enough or not the only thing that matters is that I have put forth the effort, I did not give up and that I have achieved many things.

Being able to represent my state two weeks ago at the Regional Consumers/Survivors meeting in Atlanta, GA is one of those mile stones in my life. I was able to speak my heart and the truth concerning the mental health situation in my own state and my words had a impact. I am not a nobody, I am somebody and I don’t say that to brag or to put on airs but that the realization that I do have a voice that my words and thoughts do count and this is a tremendous step forward for me.

And well as for my reward it is two fold … I am helping others that is very rewarding in of itself, and I helped myself as well but also I really rewarded myself yesterday by getting new brushes for my paint shop program on my computer to improve my digital art skills … lol : )

I realized the other day while I was in the kitchen I started having some of those thoughts that usually cause my stomach to sink and get into knots I was able to refocus myself and confront these thoughts with the truth and realize how much I have progressed and i found myself smiling and going on about my afternoon. I realized that I don’t mentally bully myself as much as I use too, instead I divert it with the truth.

there are many areas of my life that still needs a great deal of work but step by step, moment by moment, and day by day I am moving forward and the journey though it is hard yet it is worth it and a blessing to actually feel the chains fall off of me!

Thank you Ladies for sharing : )


I could completely relate to what you wrote: “I was afraid that I would somehow loose touch with “reality” and therefore fool myself to believe a lie.” That’s exactly what I felt, too. I was afraid of fooling myself into believing I had done a good job. I thought if I always looked for the flaws, I’d protect myself from those delusions.

To tell the truth, I thought I was done with that until something else came up and I ripped myself apart again. At least THIS time, I’m still acknowledging that I’ve come a long way and I’m not started from the beginning. I just have more work to do in this area. That’s okay–I’m progressing and I’m still proud of myself.

Good for you for celebrating your success. I think the more we congratulate ourselves, the easier it is to focus on those positive things and to keep looking for them.

Yay for you!



Good for you! It used to be so hard for me to compliment my self, and it was even harder when others gave me compliments. I took small steps and I remember it very well, how it was so easy for me to fall back into the pattern of ignoring myself. As I stated above, it was my kids who helped me, because I always gave them credit for the things they did. One day I thought, I need that too. I would make a meal and then tell my kids to tell me how wonderful it was. It became a family “tickle me silly” time, because everything I did, I would tell them to compliment me. I started to compliment myself after a while and I do it to this day.

It’s a joyous time for me when I say, “I am so proud of myself! because it was such a struggle to get there.

I am so happy that you are taking those steps. It is so necessary and so fulfilling. It makes us want to continue on and see what else is in store for us.


Hi there

It was drilled into me from a tiny age that I was worthless, would never achieve anything, be anything or do anything good and to never think of myself in any other way.

This article kind of hits on something my support worker is doing with me and that is about giving myself a treat every so often because I AM WORTH IT. I couldn’t accept that si I said sorry but thing is I don’t think I’m worth it. She said I understand completely. How about if you can’t see that for yourself then how about accepting that I think you’re worth it because I made a choice to work with you.

That gave me something to think about!!

I’m slowly beginning to see her point but what does it mean to give myself a treat? What is classed as a treat? How do I do that? Don’t you have to deserve a treat? I dunno, these are alien concepts to me. But I realise that when I get it, then it’ll be one of those little baby steps. The whole thing makes me feel extremely uncomfortable, unworthy and uncertain.


It was extremely hard to accept compliments, too. At first, I was sure they were just trying to be nice to me. For a long time, it was hard to say, “thank you” without adding what I could have done better. I was afraid the other person would think I deserved the compliment. Sheesh!

Christina The Fabulous


I think a treat would be anything that you might do for someone else to congratulate them. If the person who knew you best wanted to treat you, what would they do for you? That’s how I had to think of it at first. I was so out of touch with doing nice things for myself so I didn’t even know what I wanted. I think some of it was that IF I chose to do something and then it didn’t turn out to be something that great, I would be disappointed. Treats didn’t come around very often, so they HAD to be good.

You may not feel like you deserve it and you might feel uncomfortable about it, but that’s okay. Even when we move forward apprehensively, we’re moving forward.

I can’t wait to hear what you do for yourself!


First of all I love the 3 person blog. It’s nice having different perspectives, because I can relate to differnt parts from each. It’s a new thing for me to celerbrate my own accomplishments. I was raised in a religion where celabrating yourself was considered evil. We were only supposed to celebrate god. It has been difficult to get over that view. But I’m learing to acknowlage the good things I do. Who says I can’t be proud of myself just because I’m not “perfect”. I’m fed up with that concept. Now instead of seeing life as a race to be finished. Instead I see life and healing as being like climbing Mt. Everest. There is no way I’m going to wait until I get to the top before I enjoy the view. I’m going to stop after every peak I climb, take a look down to see how far I’ve come, and congratulate myself for making it as far as I have.


I forgot about the religious aspect of it. YES! I experieced that, too. I was taught to be afraid of being prideful and if anyone gave a compliment, the only proper responses were things like:
“All for the glory of God.”
“It wasn’t me, it was God in me.”
God forbid we take credit!

I’m so glad to be out from under that. I don’t think God is threatened by our success at all. I think he cheers the loudest.

That’s so great that you’re celebrating yourself and your accomplishments now. You deserve to be proud of yourself!


You reminded me of all kinds of things that I forgot about! I was afraid that if I aknowledged myself, that I would lose everything I had worked for. I was afraid that if I believed that I was getting stronger and better, I would relapse. Some of that fear comes from the past, it always seemed like when I let my guard down, I got slammed. Oh and when you stated “I am somebody” and you added that you don’t say it to brag or put on airs.. OH MAN do I understand that! I used to defend myself to myself when ever I even thought about giving myself a pat on the back!

I love what you told Fi, Christina about how to start to give yourself a treat. Like I said, I needed therapy to get started thinking in this direction. My mother and I used to celebrate with food treats. That became the only understanding of treating myself, which would have been fine but I had an eating disorder. So in recovery I could decide to reward myself with food and turn it into a real self hate / failure session. I had to think of other things and one little thing I learned to do was self care. I treated myself to a special bath, sometimes with candle light. I would do a facial or use special body wash or both! This was really hard at first.. just the act of what I always said was a waste of time, taking a dang bath, what a waste of life. But really I just had trouble spending that kind of time on ME. I started with the little things.

Jennifer! How great to have you with us, welcome!
The religious teachings against self love was a big one for me too. I think that people invented that restriction in order to keep others “underneath them”. I think it was and still is one of the original abuse tactics. To make sure that no one ever feels good about themselves, so they can’t rise above the ones in charge.. uggg. What a box that was!

I am loving all the comments and all the different ways that we all look at things!
Hugs, Darlene



It was very hard for me at first, because I never thought I deserved anything good for myself. If I did break out of the box and do something for me, it had to be because I did something tremendous.

I would suggest doing something good for you, even if you don’t feel like you deserve it. Get in the habit of special things for you. It’s ok, that your mind doesn’t match up with doing something good for yourself. Everyone likes unexpected praise and nurturing. You are worth it.




You touched on something there. i used to get upset when others took credit for anything, because I thought only God got the glory. It was exceptionally hard for me at the church I was at because I didn’t want the credit, and when others tried to give it to me, I would try to make it a little thing. Like no big deal.

But healing is a big deal. it’s a celebration into a new life. And every little step is worth a hallelujiah, to me. I love how you talked about climbing a mountain and stopping to enjoy. You reminded me how important it is to not only celebrate when we accomplish something, but to actually SEE where we were, and where we are going. Thanks for sharing kiddo



Thanks, folks, for your encouraging thoughts and comments. It’s funny I was thinking food treat because my best friend would always take me for a meal. But I have an eating disorder so that’s not such a good idea. So maybe starting with something like a bath instead of a quick shower or a little trip out to a place I like is somewhere better to start.


Good discussion here ladies. This topic just came up with week with a recent client who had made an accomplishment, but was unable to celebrate. We must take time to celebrate even the smallest of accomplishments and acknowledge our efforts to move forward. We may not be exactly where we want to be but we are in the race and our achievements along the way are to be recognized and cheered.

Great topic!



Hi Rebecca

Reading your comment I just thought that taking part in this blog and these discussions is a big accomplishment for me. I’m not keeping quiet and hiding away anymore. That’s worthy of a big thumb up!! Yay!!!



Thanks for the compliment. I agree, it is so important to celebrate, no matter how small a step or how large. We need to celebrate for celebrating!!!


It is a huge step to be able to post on the discussions. They didn’t have this when I started to get free, and I think the web is so awesome for Survivors to have a place to share. The more we practice on here, the easier it gets to do it in person.

Thanks for stepping out and being a part of this wonderful support group.



oh my gosh, i had just posted something on the OSA wall n when i was done i scrolled down n found this post. mmm seem abit like a sign, so i came n had a read.
you three ladies are the the most open and honest people i know. i applaud your strenght and courage and thank GOD that i have had the privilege to read and learn and gain understanding in areas i had become stumped by.
christina, thank you for your comments about my recent growth spurt.
yesterday i was crossing a busy road and a man in a van went passed n whislte at me and blew me a kiss. you know what yeah i had those doubts ‘why would he do that to me, was he taking the piss’ but then i smiled at him whispered thank you n carried on walking. lol made me smile for a while cos i dont think he thought he’d ever get a thank you.
maybe theres a light at th eend of the tunnel after all.
bless you all


I’m so happy you didn’t miss this post. You’ve been making so much progress lately and it seems like a good time to acknowledge that.

I can’t speak for Darlene or Patty, but I know I can afford to be open and honest because I don’t have anything to be ashamed of. I used to hide in fear, but now I know nobody has anything to use against me because I’m clean and free. It feels so good!


Carol, thank you also for being open. It takes a lot to share and I see you doing that more and more. Great steps.

I agree with Christina on feeling free to be open about my abuse and my life. it took time and steps to get to this place, but the more I realized I had nothing to be ashamed of, the more I let it out. I have found that the only ones who come against what I say, are the ones who either can’t handle the truth, they have issues themselves, or there are some who don’t want their glass house rocked. Either way, their problems are not mine, so I will continue to share in hopes that it gives someone courage to share themselves and helps them on their road to healing, and lets them know, they are not alone.

I’m so proud of you Carol, Patty


There were many years that I lived with just a sliver of hope or no hope at all. All I really wanted was to be “okay” and I never expected live to turn around to this degree, or that it woud ever be ‘this good’, but it is. I did that work, and I figured that if I can do it, anyone can. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I have seen huge growth in you since you first started commenting on this blog. Keep going, keep striving to live free and thrive!
Hugs, Darlene


Well I guess I kind of had an I don’t care because nobody else cares attitude for most of my life. I had no motivation, no goals in life, and I really hardly existed. Self acknowledgement didn’t come easy for me. I kind of did things and then years later think wow I did that?
Even though I am wowed I still found it hard to feel good about myself. I didn’t know how. It wasn’t until I started therapy 2 years ago that I had the first feelings of pride and accomplishment ever. My therapist couldnt even give me a compliment without me freaking out on her or turning it around for the bad. It took a lot of work for me to build self confidence and a sense of worth. I am still struggling but getting stronger every day. I can now say I have been through some impossible things in my life and I have survived. I have a wonderful husband, 3 beautiful children, sanity :), compassion, kindness, humor, joy, beauty, and faith in God. All of the things that others tried to destroy or take away from me is still there 😉 (to all my abusers: Take that and rewind it back!) I have found that I love to write so as a treat to myself I go and buy myself notebooks, journals, and little things that make me feel good about myself…I am writing my first book…although some have told me i cant….I am finding I can and am so excited about it and am so proud of myself. Ladies/men…dont ever let anyone tell you, you cant or your not good enough…smile and reply…WATCH ME! HUGS TO EVERYONE 🙂


Great to see this United effort with you great women sharing different views with a common goal. Validation of myself was the hardest thing to learn for me. I was desposible child and thrown away and out of site from the world at 13 yrs old. I believed if my family did not believe I had any worth, and the Goverment thought I should be locked up, and Religion told me not to be vain. I agreed then it must be true that I should not expect to ever be accepted recognised or valued. It was so hard for me to accept affirmation about anything I achieved. I remember the 10years when I was a sporting coach and won 8 finals I would have to get someone else to accept the trophies as I would have a panic attack if I had to recieve the credit for achievements. I am thrilled to recieve recognition today and one of the proudest moments in my life was in 2005 recieving a Social Justice Award for the healing group


I really enjoyed this blog! And the religion point is sooo true. I have felt as though if I take any credit for the good I did then I was being disrespectful to God. Truth is it is by His grace that I have lived to this point in my life however the question that comes to my mind is “why do I give Him credit when I do good but when I do bad it is all me?” Do you see the oxymoron in that statement? Because I do! We do have a free will and it is our choice to choose what is right and what isn’t thus with that said I don’t think it is a “sin” to recognize something that we do that is an accomplishment!

The pride thing is when we go overboard meaning putting on airs of something we are not, but if we are being honest and sticking to reality then it is not a pride thing it actually can be an attitude of gratefulness or thankfulness! Furthermore God’s love for us doesn’t change no matter how well we do or how many times we fail His love remains! But that is my own perspective of it. And one I hope to have written to the hard drive of my brain! : )


Christina, I can totally relate to focusing mostly on my flaws in the hopes of improving them that way. The more aware I become of my “inner dialogue”, the more I see how I learned to cope this way. It was almost like my way of staying “conscious”, if that makes sense. A way of feeling alive and in control of myself… Like if I really stayed in tune with my mistakes and shortcomings, I wouldn’t get carried away with myself, or (like you said Nikki) fall into that pride stuff. Or (I just realized) if I could be first person to see my own mistakes, I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain of other people telling me my shortcomings! I gave everyone else so much power to define who I was, that I worked super hard (inside and out) to keep my mistakes at a minimum and protect myself. Owning my value for myself brings myself to life in a whole new way. I can see the big picture of my life better. All the little steps and learning along the way are like grips along the path- I keep moving forward.

This post really encouraged me today. Thank you. 🙂 ~ Carla


Hi Nicole,
I am glad that you mentioned the point about “I don’t care because nobody else cares”. We LEARNED not to care about ourselves. People don’t realize that kids that are not valued don’t learn to value themselves. Everyone goes around judging others ~ kids that get into trouble and women who end up with violent men, but it comes from somewhere. It starts somewhere.
I love your ending! (watch me) I have this little mantra that got me through for a very long time ~ Its a lyric from a song in the 80’s ~ and it goes through my head when ever I feel as though someone is trying to squish me back down ~ “nobody’s gonna break my stride, nobody’s gonna hold me down. oh no, I gotta keep on moving”. Works for me!
YOU GO GIRL! Love and hugs, Darlene

welcome and it is great to have your contribution here today!
Thank you for sharing a glimpse of how far you have come.
Congrats on your award! and even bigger congrats that you learned to receive an award ~ This is such a bg thing! The absoloute terror so many of us had about receiving credit for something. I think it comes from the inconsistency of our chidlhood. Sometimes aknowledgement was just another trick followed by more abuse.
Big Hugs!


I read this comment and I went YES YES!!!
This is a huge point; excellent food for thought. The way that most of us have been taught about God is wrong. In my case I was taught by people who used the Bible and twisted the teaching in order to be able to manipulate me into doing what was best for them. I was in a huge spin of confusion about that whole thing. I don’t think it is a sin to recognize something we do either! ARGGG it makes me crazy when I think about the false teacihngs that got in my way for so long. I could have been really making a difference in the world but I was so held back by all that. Today I am free to go forward, to live my life purpose, to be who God made me to be in the first place, and I don’t let other peoples skewed definition love get in my way adn that goes for God’s love or any other kind of love.
Thank you so much for your comment!
Love Darlene

Hi Carla!
You also make some very huge points, especially the one about if you could recognize your mistakes before someone else did you could avoid the pain……….. OH my gosh, I would TELL everyone what I could have done better when ever I got a compliment… I rejected the compliment for this same reason that you state.
I love your statement “All the little steps and learning along the way are like grips along the path” YES that is so true.
Thanks for sharing and shedding so much more light.
Love Darlene


Your comment “if I could be the first person to see my own mistakes, I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain of other people telling me my shortcomings.” really resonated with me, too. Pointing out my own mistakes was really saying, “I’m already aware–so back off.” But as I think about it, another reason is that I was afraid of being loved just for the way I performed. Even if I was good, do you ‘love’ me because of my performance? I think telling people was my way of avoiding the disappointment of finding out later that they only valued me for what I could do.


That’s such a powerful statement, “why do I give Him [God] credit when I do good but when I do bad it is all me?” Yes! It also made me think about the focus on our flaws coming from the false belief that when God looks at us, that’s what he sees–our flaws. If we believe that, why wouldn’t we be extremely self conscious, always focusing on what we’re doing wrong? People tend to mimic whatever image of God they believe in.



Your words were so encouraging to me. I like how you said that others told you, you wouldn’t be able to write a book, but you are finding that you can. It never seems to a amaze me how many gifts we really do have inside of us. But were covered up because of our abuse or by the negative things others have said to us. It’s wonderful to know that there is always hope and by sharing this post, I am sure others will reach deep inside of them and see what wonderful things they may have hidden.

Vikki, thanks for sharing how far you have come! I can relate so much to the panic attacks when receiving your awards. When I was in school and was told we had to read in front of the class, I would miss school, because that is what would happen to me. Being vulnerable around others would throw me into a tizzy.
You are always an inspiration to me and I am sure others by telling your story and giving every one hope for a better life. Thanks so much for sharing.



hi and thank you ladies for the support and helping me see that ihave travelled so far and thpugh there is still work to be done having a stable base to work form helps so much more. yeah i do seem to have jumped forward, i dont feel as angry as i did last week. yeah hubby has been away n that took the sexual n his issues out of the equation and given me a chance to heal on my own, but i havent been on my own have i? no i found this amzing group of people who know where i am, yet are far enough in front of me to help me reach that next level. catch up the behaviour to the triggers n i might even get there. thanks for helping my blinkers slowly fade away so i can see what is happening rather what ive been believeing is true


I understand exactly what you are saying. I wish people would just let God be God, and quit making Him out to be this greedy God who wants all the credit, and diminishes our worth. Because of that, I too tried my best to be good, and unrecognized. When people would compliment me, I would go home and repent to God and ask Him to forgive them, because they were trying to build me up…. geeesh. Thank you for your wonderful and heartfelt comment.

Carla, I can so relate to what you said about finding your own mistakes first. I believe some people may think this is a good quality to have. But to a Survivor, it shows us how fear based it is.
I’m so glad you can see the big picture concerning your life. That in itself is a huge step. Thank you for sharing.



I just read this article and I remember going through this where I could honestly say that I didn’t think I had any accomplishments, even though I had some. No matter what accomplishments I had, to me they were never ‘enough’ because I was taught that I was never enough, nor could I do enough perfectly enough.

As I got older, enduring my mother’s abuse which also got worse and worse, the more I felt that I was undeserving of anything which made it very hard to reward myself for anything. In my early twenties when I was earning my own money and buying myself nice things, my mother would find some way to tear me down about them, making me feel that I shouldn’t be buying myself nice things. Often my husband would tell me to go buy myself something, like new clothes for instance, and it really bothered me because I never felt like I deserved it, so when I would buy myself something I felt so GUILTY!! And it would be so intense and overwhelming that I would want to return the item. It was really hard for me, for a long time, to feel as though it was ‘okay’ for me to buy myself something NICE.

I’m better now, but I still struggle with it. When you have a mother teach you that love is earned and that gifts are earned and that perfection is the goal (that I could never reach of course) … this is what happens. She made me feel so bad about myself that I felt undeserving of anything nice, and that ‘anything nice’ could be anything from a thing purchased to receiving love.

I go to great lengths to make sure I don’t pass this garbage on to my next generation, my kids and, one day, grandkids. I want them to know they are valuable simply because they exist, and not because they would be expected to fulfill me or make me happy (which is what my mother expected of me.)

Overcoming abuse is so rewarding in itself … with every lie revealed and replaced with truth is something to celebrate. I have come a long way in ten years … can’t say I’ve ‘arrived’ yet … but I’m getting there!

It’s a wonderful thing when you can get to where you feel like you can celebrate yourself and be comfortable and pleased with your own accomplishments when they are not done to earn the love and affections of someone else!


Hi Paulette,
It is a wonderful thing when we can celebrate ourselves! I call it freedom! Iam free to be me, I am free to love me, I am free to live and be who I am because I no longer accept the lie that I was not valuable, not important, not good enough. It is a long road, but we are ON it! TOGETHER, which makes it so much more fun, and easier; we share the burdens, we expose the lies that were forced on us ~ together and the real truth sets us free. Thanks Paulette, it’s great to have you here!

This post has been a happy post! All the comments have contributed to the celebration of our victories. We have all aknowledged ourselves by our contributions here!
I am loving this!


Thanks ladies for sharing this wonderful post. Letting go of the stress of trying and never being able to be perfect in my own eyes is one of my biggest accomplishments in my recovery from incest. I always thought as a child that if I could just be good enough then the abuse would stop. If I could be a good little girl than my parents would love me the way that I needed to be loved.

Early in a 12-Step program, my sponsor had me make two lists: One of my faults and another of my accomplishments in life. When we talked about the lists, my sponsor had me add things that I never would have thought of as accomplishments. Through 12-Step programs, I was able to start rewarding myself (usually a new pair of inexpensive earrings from Claires in the Mall) when I saw myself improving. I was also eventually able to let go of the need to be perfect and the need to beat myself up when I wasn’t perfect. I learned that my mistakes were simply lessons to be learned and not who I was. I very slowly started to give myself value in my life and to accept that I had value to others.


Hi Patricia,

Great to have your input on this post! I am publishing a post today about how we believe that if we could just be good enough, that the abuse will stop and we will finally be loved. This is a huge belief that we develop in childhood, and we carry it with us into adulthood. You bring up a whole other huge topic here too; the need to be perfect ~ which all stems from that trying harder. We could all write volumes about that I bet! I know it has been a huge thing for me to deal with and let go of too.

I like the idea of lists, I have done a lot of this kind of writing in my recovery too.
Thanks for sharing some of your journey and solutions with us Patricia.

Hugs, Darlene


A topic rarely addressed.
SEX is a gift from God, intended to be enjoyed.
After having survived sexual abuse are you able to “enjoy” a right relationship? A woman I met recently, was raped as a teen, her mother married the rapist and abandoned the daughter and granddaughter (result of the rape) and the daughter went on to have addictions and promiscuity. NOW, she finds it difficult to “make love” to her husband due to all the “things” she did when in sexually abusive relationships.
I had an amazing loving relationship and amazing “intimacy”, only to learn that he had 5 partners and was sexually exploiting employees. We “made love”! Now I am alone and know that I would not “love” another or be able to give or receive “affection” / any other relationship would merely be settling for companionship and would not have the devotion/ passion/ or desire of a marriage that had existed. HOW DO WE HEAL IN THE PHYSICAL/ SEXUAL REALM?


Last week I had a review with the agency where I am getting counselling. It felt like a long time since I last measured where I was at, but I had no expectations of things being much better, even though I feel better in myself. Imagine my surprise when the scores on the scale were quite considerably improved. And my horror when I realised that I was trying to persuade the counsellor to lower those scores, that I felt I didn’t deserve them to be so good. I wasn’t ready to acknowledge how much better I really am – because I was scared I couldn’t maintain that improvement or it was a fluke, or something. So rewarding myself was another hurdle – I was proud of where I had got to, but what could I reward myself with? I still don’t understand the concept of “need” in relations to my Self – soa reward is even harder. In the end, I told my husband and enjoyed the grin he gave, the pleasure he took in my improvement. So – still working on stuff…….:)))


I look back sometimes and am amazed at how far I’ve come in my healing. I once saw a couple sitting across a restaurant table, holding each others hands and smiling and talking to each other. I thought, “I could NEVER do that. I’m so shy. That’s being too intimate.” I also was amazed at a worship leader’s confidence as he played for our small group Bible study and thought “I could NEVER do that.” I also once heard a female speaker give an inspiring and encouraging message to a room full of women and thought, once again, I could NEVER do that. Guess what? I can DO ALL THOSE THINGS NOW and have in fact done them. I am proud of my accomplishments and that God has shown me my true worth and beauty despite my painful and abusive past. He gives me confidence I need to do anything I put my mind and heart to. It’s so exciting!! I have a new life now, my accomplishments are limitless, since I’ve stepped out of the box of my ‘I can’t do it’ mentality. Plus, I realize my worth is not based on my performance anymore. I am worthy just because I AM. That’s so freeing.


This resonates within me too.

I’ve never even known what feeling worthy means. I’ve always felt “not good enough”, always fearful of making mistakes, and always discounting any achievements. Even when people tell me that I’ve done a great job, I’ve always felt that they were just saying to make me feel better.

My therapist used to ask, “So do you think your friends lied by saying that you did well?”

That stunned me.

Feelings of inadequacy was especially true in therapy. Because therapy does not produce instant results, but instead it can take up a lot of time, I had never thought that I could be well enough to be on my own. When my clinical psychologist repeatedly told me that she won’t terminate our work if she hadn’t seen enough progress, I didn’t believe her. I was so scared.

It came to a point where my recent therapist (whom I saw for “maintenance” therapy, drilled me in the end. We did art therapy (and empty chair the week before). In my drawings, I drew myself bound but the ropes didn’t go through my wrists. I drew myself in a cage, but I was actually seen outside. I didn’t realize it until my therapist pointed it out.

“You’re not bound, neither are you trapped. But you choose to believe that you are. And if you continue doing that, let me tell you this – you WILL fall into depression once again.”

They were hard words, but it was the turning point. I realized that she was right. I chose to believe that I was still wounded, because wounded was all I knew. I realize that if I don’t make myself believe that I am recovered, I will never be.

I dropped my crutches. I chose to believe that I can be on my own, that I no longer need help. I submitted my stories to the papers. I share my story with people. Recently, I met my clinical psychologist during a seminar that she conducted (she has a policy that her clients should not go back to her for help, to prevent dependence…hence, it’s very hard to meet her), and she was so amazed with my progress that I knew I made her real proud…and she’s invited me to write our journey together, in her new book (all her stories were written by herself, about her experiences with different clients. This is the first time that she has invited a former client to write a joint article).

I made a choice to acknowledge the fact that I am no longer handicapped. I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be. I’m okay and I’m on my way (Joyce Meyer). We can’t wait until we’re “fully recovered”, because recovery is a lifelong journey.


Hi redaunt4
This area has been the hardest area for me and I am still working on looking at repressed memories and facing the past here. To answer your question “how do we heal in the physical/sexual realm?” as far as I know there is only one answer to that question. By doing the rest of the healing work. For sexual abuse survivors, the area of sexual intimacy is often the last area to heal. I have found healing itself (in all areas) is a result of doing this work. Facing the past and the fears of those feelings. Facing what I came to believe about myself because of those traumatic events. It takes time and a constant persistent willingness to keep going forward for the sake of my own quality of life.
There just are no magic bullets and looking at the belief system is the only shortcut that I have found.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Libby
I had a lot of stuff to look at in this regard. I realized that in my past, compliments were always a set up and I didn’t trust them. Deep down they scared me even with my therapist. I was also scared that I might not be able to maintain the improvement, but it went deeper then that. And I had a huge problem with “rewarding” myself! I still have trouble there too, come to think of it; because others defined me all my life, I wanted others to define my improvements too and was afraid to aknowledge myself ~ (that has its roots in how many times I was told that I was selfish and self centered and how long and hard I tried to never think about me) but I keep striving to be aware and to move forward with each discovery that I make about me.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Karen!
Thanks for sharing your victory story here! That is fantastic and I know your words will inspire hope in others!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Jasmine
I actually did believe that when people complimented me that they were lying. I thought if a woman said “nice dress” that it must make me look fat or something. I was sure that men who acknowledged me were after something. This was all about the belief system I had ~ most of it was true, that a compliment was dangerous ~ but it isn’t so anymore! I have a choice now and I never knew that I did back then. (When someone had a wrong motive, I didn’t understand that I could say no) So when it came to complimenting myself I had huge issues and I too realized that this was something I really wanted to get past.
Thanks for sharing your victory story too! And congrats on your joint writing adventure! That is fantastic!
Hugs, Darlene


Growing up anything that I did well, or achieved was not mine but belonged to someone else who succeeded through me. I wasn’t good enough on my own, they had to have the ‘you wouldn’t have done with without me’ and when I failed, however, it was my failure alone.

I’m finally learning, as I am growing as a mom and a wife/partner, that positive recognition and encouragement is vital to healthy spirits, minds and bodies. When we don’t get that it really leaves some serious dry holes in us that can be begging to be filled with false things and things which appear positive but are only window dressing.

Seeing how encouragement waters the spirit of people in my family really is special, what encourages me is that my son and husband pay that forward. Kindness and encouragement have become a habit – in the store, on the golf course, at work. It is amazing to see how it changes the expression on people’s faces when you recognize they did something well.

Thank you ladies for sharing and encouraging, you all have been so instrumental in my healing journey, and each step is a celebration. Bright blessings, Shanyn (Scarred Seeker)


Thank you for adding your voice here Shanyn,

You make great points! I too see the gift that encouragement is to others. I too was deprived of that kind of encouragement and told that my accomplishments had to do with someone else. I believed it. I thought that on my own I was nothing; just an object.
I am so grateful that that is no longer part of my self view.
Hugs, Darlene


I have just recently decided to end my relationship with my Narcissistic/Borderline mother and finally realized ‘she has as much control over me and my life as I let her.’ Now she will NEVER hurt me again. I am FREE from her criticisms, control, judgments, lies, disdain, ABUSE. Even though I realized she was a borderline eight years ago, it’s taken me this long to process the truth that she will never be loving, nurturing or empathetic. I have given up hope that she will ever change. It was a brutal reality to face that caused days of distress, depression and vomiting spells. But I’ve let go. I will become the mother I never had and mother myself and my son with all the love my heart holds. Which is a lot. I’m going to stop wasting it on someone who just keeps sucking my emotional well dry. Enough will never be enough. I know now I don’t NEED her approval anymore. I don’t need to jump through any more hoops. I get my validation and approval from God who can’t love me anymore than He does right now! I’m already perfect in His eyes and so are YOU. I’m through wasting precious time and believing LIES. I want to walk in the TRUTH now. We need to ask ourselves ‘are we better off with this person in our life or without them?’ I’m better off without her. It wasn’t an easy choice to make. In fact it was excruciatingly difficult, but it’s the healthiest choice in the end. I don’t need her anymore because she can never give me what I need anyway. I need to focus my energy on life-giving things, not life-draining. I’m done! I’m FREE from her bondage!!


I agree that getting your sex life back after sexual abuse isn’t talked about very often. Dealing with my sex life has been intertwined within the rest of my healing. It’s been a little here and there. The major breakthrough was about three years ago when I really understood for the first time that my value isn’t in sex. That was a huge key for the rest of it. That allowed me to say no to sex for the first time in my life. I still enjoy sex without dissociating like I used to, but I felt that my “yes” wasn’t a true yes, so I stopped having sex for right now while I sort that out. Sometimes stepping back is really a step forward. I’m making progress a little at a time and I’m happy with it.

Congratulations! Your hard work is paying off. I hope you can rest in that satisfaction and enjoy it the fruit of your labor. You deserve it!

While I was reading your comment, it struck me how refreshing encouragment and praise are to me now. I can simply enjoy it because I agree with it. lol. I don’t have to fight it or make excuses for why I don’t deserve it.

That’s so great that it’s a regular part of your family life! Yay for that!

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