Invalidation ~ When the Truth is not True

mental health, recovery,
The truth will set you free

As a child, I had no understanding of why things were the way they were. I don’t think I even thought that the rest of the world was any different from my world. My parents lived in denial which stemmed from their own childhoods and the situations that they were raised in. They had organized their worlds around their own wounds and traumas and they developed their own belief systems.  I would imagine that years of denial led them to raise their children in a similar way to how they were raised, expecting their children to have that fierce loyalty that they themselves developed for their parents and never questioning why.

I don’t write this blog to blame my parents for their shortcomings; I refer to them only to illustrate what happened to me in the parts that had to do with my parents. I write about how I came to be an emotional mess, constantly struggling with depression due to many different incidents, how I discovered the lies that formed my belief system and how exposing the lies enabled me to see the truth; the same truth that set me free.

I was conditioned to hold it all in. When we are children, we don’t have a choice if we have not been helped through a trauma. We just go forward from there, with the pain and the scars of the trauma. We can only learn positive self care if we are taught self care but because no one helps us through the things that happened to us, we learn to not take care of ourselves we learn not to speak about the trauma or about anything else. We don’t know the difference between what is serious abuse or what is just a person or parent in a bad mood. Everything becomes our version of  “normal”  We keep silent because either we have been told to keep silent, or because we have learned from experience that we will not have any impact if we do tell. We learn not to speak about our emotions, believing they are wrong and that no one will listen. If we learn that telling won’t make a difference we also learn that we are not important and we try very hard to prove that we are important. If only we believed it ourselves we wouldn’t have to prove it.  

So much of this problem comes from being told who we are and who we are not and from being told who we should be and who we should not be.  When we are defined by others we are invalidated as an individual and as a person. Invalid. That means NOT VALID. That is a serious thing for a human being and it can cause serious problems with emotional health, physical health self image, self worth and self esteem. One lie (one false belief about ourselves) builds on another lie and we carry the whole mess with us into our adulthoods.

The false beliefs that we have about ourselves have  to be undone if we are going to have any lasting freedom from the results that manifested in our lives from being invalidated, mistreated, unloved, devalued, neglected or abused.

We have to relearn how to validate ourselves.

I had to learn how to validate myself. I had to dig into that foundation that was built on those lies, expose it and talk about it so that I could knock it down and start fresh with the truth. I had to face the fear that the situations and the people who taught me “who I was” might actually be right ~ because in facing that fear, I found out they were wrong.  

The truth will set you free,

Darlene Ouimet

Note: This week I did a ten minute audio interview with Christina Enevoldsen from Overcoming Sexual Abuse ~ here is the link : how we uncover the truth.

For the article I wrote and refer to in the audio about the Dr. discovering that I was being psychologically abused  ~ you can find it here: Psychological Abuse ~ how self doubt grows

16 response to "Invalidation ~ When the Truth is not True"

  1. By: Melinda Posted: 2nd November

    This site is truly helpful, Darlene…thanks so much for creating a place where we can share with one another.
    There is something very healing about it. I know I’ve been writing a lot of comments here recently but I’ve been feeling low and I need some inspiration/comfort that I’m not alone.

    I’ve come to realize that for most of my life, I have been looking for validation from others.
    Wanting to be affirmed and accepted for who I am; wanting to be acknowledged as worthy.
    Although I am grateful for the good things in my life, I have to speak my truth despite the denial of others about what I’ve experienced and how it has affected me.

    @Patty…I,too, was called “fat” growing up. I was actually very thin but certain people insisted on calling me fat and it was just one of the MANY ways that my self-esteem was destroyed.
    I think that when faulty (and false) ideas about ourselves are programmed into us by abusive people, it’s very hard to overcome that feeling of being unworthy, the feeling that somehow we deserved it. You are correct in saying that it’s important to define yourself rather than allowing others to tell us who we are.
    I have always known in my heart that what people have said to/about me isn’t true.
    The only problem was that because my self-esteem was so eroded, I couldn’t fight back against my abusers and their mind tricks.

    I’ve been trying for a long time to retrain myself to see myself differently, not in the way others see me.
    Being called “ugly” and “stupid” and many other hurtful things has taken a toll on my psyche.
    I also experienced a lot of racism and was made to feel inferior because of my differences, so I have to understand that people didn’t call me the N-word because I deserved it…they did so because they were operating from a place of hate and ignorance, a faulty belief system.
    I hope that by continuing to visit EFB we will all find the strength to work through our pain and heal.

  2. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 21st August

    As a child, I didn’t know that the “truths” that my parents gave to me were no more true than the false self that I created to protect the real me, the vulnerable child that was too afraid to come out of hiding. She was the part of me that held in the silent screams. She was the funny, smart, laughing part of me that went deep inside of me to hide from the pain that came from the lies that her parents told her and to hide from the physical pain of incest from an uncle and her dad. She hide from the 6+ years of memories of incest and emotional abuse.

    Letting her now come back to the surface has given me my life, my joy and my creativity back. Yes, it is painful to look at the lies for what they are – words and stories that were told to keep the abuse going, to keep me a helpless victim of their wants and needs as sick as they were.

    Amaryllis, let go of the expectations that you have about how your family will react to your recent letters. If you don’t, you will be disappointed. If they react at all, it won’t be what you need from them unless they are willing to look at their own issues.

    Many years ago I sent a Dear Family Members letter to my dad’s brothers and sisters a week after mailing the same letter to my own brother and sister and reading it to my mom, husband, son and daughter. I told them all about the childhood incest and let them know that I hadn’t forgiven my dad yet and that I would not be taking care of him “in his old age.” This letter went to 13 people. My own brother has never mentioned the letter. My sister and I talked at length about it. Of my dad’s brothers and sisters, only 4 mentioned it to me. His youngest brother said he was sad for what happened to me and that it was hard to believe that your own brother was capable of doing such things to his daughters.

    My dad’s youngest sister told me my dad had made a pass at her when she was a teenager and that she had told her mother and that they wondered if he was doing anything to his daughters. She also blamed my mother and wanted to know where she was when the incest was going on. They never asked.

    My other two aunts who responded to the letter have been very supportive. No one else from my dad’s family has ever responded to my letter.

    Just because you are healthier doesn’t mean your family is. I applaud you for the work you are doing on yourself, Amaryllis.

    Thank you, Darlene for the article and the support that you give to each of us.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st August

      Patricia, thank you! what you have said here is SO clear and so important ~ “Letting her now come back to the surface has given me my life, my joy and my creativity back. Yes, it is painful to look at the lies for what they are – words and stories that were told to keep the abuse going, to keep me a helpless victim of their wants and needs as sick as they were.” This is true for me too.
      I love what you have written to Amaryllis too. It is very loving, very worthy and gentle, and also true. I found out that my family does not want healing, but I don’t let that stop me anymore. I can’t be what they want anymore. I can’t shed the light on the truth for them if they don’t want to see it and it isn’t my problem either.
      Thank you so much for this wonderful contribution to this blog.
      Hugs, and love, Darlene

  3. By: Amaryllis Posted: 20th August

    Darlene, once again, an awesome article. I remember when I came to the knowledge of what my mother’s abuse was called, “emotional abuse” or “psychological abuse.” It was very hard for me to say, “My mother ABUSED me.” I thought it sounded so harsh. She was my mother after all. When I first confronted her, I didn’t call it ‘abuse’ I called it, ‘not treating me very well.’ Yeah, I was pussy-footing around the issue even with her. But in the beginning I was trying to be gentle about it.

    Long story short – no matter how I tried to get her to ‘see’ what she did to me it was all in vain. Nothing worked and even after ten years of not being in my life, she still thinks she’s done nothing wrong and that basically I should just ‘get over it.’ It was and has been so frustrating.

    These last ten years has been spent evaluating family values and systems … what is healthy and what isn’t. It takes some time to sort through all that stuff. Like, was the discipline she used effective and or necessary? Did the way she treated me have any positive effects? Of course, the answer to these was, ‘no.’

    Two weeks ago, a letter went to my mother (again – I was always the one initiating correspondence) and I also sent letters to my dad and siblings. I remained respectful, but I did not sugar-coat the term this time – I said it how it was, as ugly as it sounds. And in so doing was a feeling of emancipation. Wonderful. And since I sent those, God has been uprooting things left and right for me to deal with, uprooting things and showing me the lies to replace with truth. It can be a scary place – that place of change … but its exciting too. It’s a new adventure … I get to meet ‘me’ there! 🙂

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th August

      YES yes.. those are all valid questions we have to answer for ourselves! The answers (when we see the truth) are life changing for us. I can relate to the uproot thing.. I call it this: when the fog starts to lift, all sorts of other things start to become clear. And that goes on for a while.. I still have false truths back in my mind that pop up and need to be ccorrected. I think it is a new adventrue too! And YES you get to meet YOU there!
      Finding me has been the biggest miracle of my life. And I suspect the most important miracle of my life. I have impacted my whole family (husband and kids) for truth and for good, we have stopped the cycle. I am impacting many by writing this blog. I could not have done any of this if I stayed in the fog that I was in trying to cope with abuse and putting myself last.
      Thanks for your comments today! You have inspired me!
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Patty Hite Posted: 19th August


    It was quite an awakening for me when I made the decision to find myself. It still amazes me how I spent half of my life accepting what others said I was and then spending the other half of my life so far, telling myself and others who I really am. I thought many times of how easy it was to believe their words and take their abuse, just because they said it was so. It caused me to go beyond the abuse. As a Survivor, I got stuck on the abuse in my life and was able to see how it had damaged me, but it wasn’t until I re-evaluated the lives of my family, their perceptions of me, and the beliefs that I adopted from the atmosphere of my family, that I was able to free myself totally from the false belief.

    I wasn’t sexually abused from my immediate family, nor physically abused, but the examples of dysfunction that was portrayed to me, was a set up of false beliefs. I think it is so important that as we re-visit our abuse thru healing, that we also re-visit the family dynamics of how we were raised. I believe both are necessary for a thorough healing to happen. In my case, I already believed I deserved to be abused before it ever happened.

    I remember my dad singing, “Patty, fatty, 2 by 4, can’t get thru the kitchen door.” My whole life I had an impression on my mind that I was fat. And I wasn’t. I was a skinny kid, yet my mind, took on this picture of being fat. I never saw myself as anything but that and believed every bad thing that came out of my ex’s mouth. When my dad would line up my brothers every night, with a paddle in his hand, ready to whack which ever one was bad that day, I lived my life believing that I had to be perfect, which I was not able to be, and when my ex beat me, inside I had to have deserved it.

    Anyway, just want to say thanks for a great article and how important your words are to me. You are MY kind of people Ms Darlene…… Straight to the point.


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th August

      Hi Patty,

      You bring up some really important points here Patty. This is very well put and exactly what I am trying to say, but you have put it in different words that shine the light of truth even deeper. You write about having to examine the beliefs that you adopted form the atmosphere of your family ~ YES that is so important. Many of us were never physically or sexually abused by family and emotionally or psychologically abusive families don’t realize what they are doing but psychological abuse is enough to condition us for any other kind of abuse in the future. The roots of abuse are always psychological and all abuse stems from psychological abuse.

      Thank you so much for expanding on this in your comment and for participating on this blog. You bring amazing insight and I love and deeply appreciate your contributions.
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Jackie Posted: 19th August

    I was raised w/many false beliefs and to be honest, still today I some times fall into those patterns constantly. With it not only bein “me” persay, it’s difficult to maintain one balance but I try. Under the beliefs growin up was more like their ways or no way and/or do it or get in serious trouble. My parents (both sets) um…let’s just say they gained what they wanted while we suffered at their hands AND their beliefs.

  6. By: carol Posted: 19th August

    yeah i sorta get the shame n blame lay at the hands of the people who layed down the thought patterns i my family, logically n rationally i get why they did it as an adult now i have to join up the bits that still bother me n find out why. carnt get why if i think that i know where the blame lies n that i speak out about my past without shame for the most part, but certain areas gosh they still plague me. those behind the door moments day in dayo ut, healin is hard work. get that. been doin that, wana stop havin to do it though

  7. By: carol Posted: 19th August

    wow this one caught me unawares,
    i went docs today to disuss CBT and whether it would help me at all, i canot crack the shell around the core of my belief system without gentle pushes in the right direction. darlene your words have had a profound effect on how i understand the what n why;s surroundin my childhood but it hasnt been able to help me crack the walls to the emotions n hurt that lay deep within me. he said that he hadnt kept a copy of the lsit of work i have done or the stuff i feel i need to work on, ha had forwarded to the place that he had mentioned to me when he sked me to do the list. i told him that i understood intellectually what i needed to do n that i have to do the work needed to free me from the chains of my past. i have had a fine body tremor ever since, abd i carnt seem to shake it. im glad he hhandled my information safely but stillworry has i dont know who will see it at the other end. i also had the chance to express my concern and be reassured by his manner n support. it was really hard to face him afyer admittin i have incest n other stuffstill left lurkin in the dark pits of my soul,but i wana be free so on i go tryin to make sense of stuff that no person let alone a child should have to go through, when it still just stops at certain points in the memory givin just a hint of the mess hdin there.
    again thank you, for sayin what i need to hear even if i dont really want to hear the truth just yet. but with everyones help on hear n OSA i am getting the courage to move onwards n upwards

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th August

      Hi Carol
      You are doing so well! It is so hard to admitt to someone what has happened to us, but it is so important. And this stuff comes out when we are ready, (and the healing takes place in stages too) ~ because it would be so hard if it all came out at once. I never could have dealt with it all at once. I am glad that you are here Carol sharing with us.

      One other thing, I don’t have all the memories yet, but that didn’t stop me from getting over this stuff. I thought I would have to have them all, but I didn’t. I still have a few flashbacks that I have no idea what they are, however they don’t bother me anymore either and I know that if I do remember, it isn’t going to be the kind of devastation that I have felt in the past because the shame is not mine ~ I was innocent. And so were you.
      Love Darlene

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