Keys to Living in the Present (the password is “the past”)

one day at a time

“I saw the light” by Azelinn

I thought that my present could be resolved by talking about what was wrong with the present… but it turned out it was resolved by sorting out what went wrong in the past. And I had been told all my life to live for today so …… you can imagine the conflict!  

This is one of the most foundational messages that I have to deliver. It is one of those things I just didn’t realize. Living in the present sounded so right and so perfect, I strived for that ideal, never realizing that what was in my way was the unresolved past. We hear things that can back up our belief in these sayings, such as “you can’t change the past” and “live one day at a time” and “live for today” and my favourite of all ~ “If you have one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow, you are peeing on today”. When I look back over the years when I tried so hard to live by these sayings, I realize that they did me no good. I thought that acceptance was the answer, but I really didn’t know what I was trying to accept and so I accepted the blame and responsibility for abuse and for relationship difficulties that were there far before I was ever old enough to be a problem or even a factor in the demise of any one of them.

I got living for today and accepting the past mixed up with the realization that I can’t change the past, forgetting that the goal in healing from the past is not to change the past, it is to resolve it. The goal was to be ABLE to put it behind me in order for me to be able to live in freedom; to be able to LIVE in the present moment.

And I got so used to running from today that I didn’t know I was running.  I got so used to thinking that I WAS living in this day, and so accustomed to avoiding those feelings by using any number of coping mechanisms and escape tools, that my coping mechanisms rode piggyback on each other and every time I resolved or exposed and untangled one escape route, my cleaver surviving mind switched and adopted another one. The survival instinct is very strong and I got so messed up that I didn’t KNOW that I was even in survivor mode. I didn’t know that my coping methods were because my brain was so badly wired that it thought the escape tools WERE better and safer for me. I thought the problems WERE the answers.  

In order to live in the present I had to be willing to actually LOOK at what I was running from. I had to ask myself ~ why did I disconnect and dissociate. Why did I use food for comfort? Why did I go to bed for days on end? I had to ask myself what I was afraid of feeling. I had to become aware of my survival methods and look at where they came from; what they developed as a result of ~ and guess what??? All those questions led me back to the past.

But when I answered those questions one by one, month after month, over time I was able to stop using all those coping methods.  Little by little, as I understood the past and where my desire to run was born they just seemed to fall away and the more that they fell away, the more that I was able to live in today. And not just live in today, but LIVE. THRIVE.  Really live with the new energy that I found I had when I didn’t have to use all my energy to COPE so dang much. 

For the most part, I live in the moment today. The work that I do with Emerging from Broken is my chosen purpose and in order to shed light on how I found my own freedom, I write about my past almost every day in one way or another, however I do not live in the past any longer because my past is resolved. Today, the past is in the past and I can actually appreciate all those lovely quotes, understanding the true intention behind the sayings now.

Keep going, keep growing and please share with me and the other readers!

Darlene Ouimet

Are you aware my of my e-book “Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you and you would like to find out “HOW” I broke out of the oppression I lived in, this 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing. I’ve received many hundreds of thank you notes from people that have bought my book. Get yours here for 9.97 through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

Related posts ~ “the problem with living one day at a time”

Related posts ~ “the problem with living one day at a time”

“tomorrow I will start to face the pain”

“self validation for emotional abuse”



Categories : Therapy



I wonder how you write about the past but can live in the future? I wrote to Maggie and asked her if she had holes in her past and she said that she does not remember most of her past but was able to integrate anyway even with the programming. I have huge holes, school, sister told me about home life, but do not remember, do get feelings of dad’s violence, physical emotional psycological, no sex, but just as damaging. I think the overcoming sexual abuse is hard to respond gto when you were never sexually abused, what about all the other forms of abuse? Why not just say web page to overcoming all forms of abuse. Makes me not want to write because i feel a block bec of it.


Hi Lorraine,
I think that you are struggling with these things. I know how hard it is to overcome abuse and dissociative issues.
I am not sure how you got the impression that I was saying I live in the future; what I was saying is that although I talk about my past each day, I live in the present. I understand about the holes, I have them too and I don’t worry about them anymore.
One thing I would like to clarify. My site is not about overcoming sexual abuse and my facebook page is called “emerging from broken”. My website, (this blog) is about overcoming ALL kinds of abuse and ALL kinds of mental health struggles such as the many types of depressions and dissociative disorders, addictions etc. that result from abuse. I think you are getting mixed my stuff mixed up with the Overcoming sexual abuse site which is a whole different website that has their own facebook page. We support each other because all abuse has so much in common ~ there is a lot of crossover, but my work is not exclusively about any one abuse.
I really hope that my response clears this up for you because I would hate to see you feel blocked or unwilling to share over that issue, when in reality it is just a misunderstanding.
Please feel free to talk about anything that you need to here.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, when you said, “When I look back over the years when I tried so hard to live by these sayings, I realize that they did me no good. I thought that acceptance was the answer, but I really didn’t know what I was trying to accept and so I accepted the blame and responsibility for abuse and for relationship difficulties.”

That must be my hardest, very hardest, thing to heal – the fear reaction to appease by taking the blame, by saying ‘oh it must be me’ and then settling for that. When I work on NOT doing that, when I try to understand the past so that I can live in today it seems I get tripped up and tangled. No one wants to lose their pet scape goat and when I stop letting them heap it on me and I really examine WHAT I’m expected to take the blame for I get angry. Which is my second hardest thing to deal with.

I think I may be getting close to being able to ignore phone messages and emails without feeling terrified and having a panic attack. Love is not fear…gotta go read those posts again (yours and mine!)

Thank you Darlene!


Every post I place my own abuse in place of any mentioned,, These posts have encouraged me,,I feel the pain and I also feel the victory from each of your writings,,,Thanks to all.


When I left home at 19, I thought that I was leaving the incest and all of its effects behind me. I wanted so much to live in the present and not continue to be affected by the abuse. I tried being happy. I tried ignoring the pain with denial. I stuffed my real feelings down just like I did as a kid trying to survive and pretend that everything, especially me, was okay.

It all came crashing down around me sometime during my 27th year one day when I heard myself screaming at my husband that I hated him and everything about my life. I was blaming him for my unhappiness and pain. Some other part of me was standing by watching and listening to the words that were coming out of my mouth and knew that they were lies.

My husband wasn’t to blame for my unhappiness. It was my own self-hatred that came out of being an incest survivor. I later apologized to my husband for all of the hurtful things that I said to him. From that day forward, I went on a self-improvement kick. I read all of the self-help books that I could find at the county library in 1978. I looked for and found only 3 books on incest or sexual abuse in the library. I read those and waited until other books were written. Soon after that I told my husband and sister that I had been sexually abused by my dad when I was 11-17 years old. I said it to them but I wasn’t ready to really look at those issues yet. I wasn’t exactly ignoring them. I just wasn’t dealing with them yet. I didn’t do that until January 1989 when I went to my first 12-Step meeting. It took 10 years of talking about the past and learning to feel the pain of the incest betrayal and owning it as my own before I could start living in the present at least some of the time.

Today, I mostly live in the present and just occasionally revisit the past when new issues come up to be resolved. I am grateful to Darlene and everyone else who comments here and on my blog for sharing your courage and your struggles because in sharing we do help each other.


What I seem to have come to realize about myself is that I wanted to live in the present and actually don’t understand how we have any other choice…the problem was that for some reason I was allowing my past to interfere…part of that was because the past had become my present…I brought it with me (both mentally and physically). Although I was an adult I was still subjecting myself to unhealthy boundaries and toxic relationships and it was only by sitting myself down and really saying…what is this past that I keep around and why? What does it mean…come to find out that gut feelings or things I couldn’t just let go of were like my way of telling me that I need to deal with or check into something. Never even occurred to me, honestly, before I started into Emerging From Broken and OSA and started meeting other survivors that things are not always what I thought they were. Found out that they were only that because I was told that…and I chose to just accept it. In fact, I didn’t even realize I had another choice. The whole idea of doing anything differently didn’t even seem like a possibility. Don’t get me wrong, my counselor had suggested all these kinds of things to me in the past, but I didn’t get it and didn’t think she got it until I met other survivors further along in the journey than me. For example, when I told my counselor…”Oh man (or something worse) I really can’t go over there…I don’t want to…I could just cry…but I have to so I should just get over it and suck it up…” My counselor said it’s okay, if I want to cry and she said I really don’t have to go over there…I couldn’t believe that she just didn’t get it…I HAD TO GO OVER THERE and crying would do no good and would just show how weak I was! When I met others who had been there…and DIDN’T GO OVER THERE (replace with anything I didn’t want to do that I thought I had to do)…I saw that it was hard for them and the responses of the “others” were tough…but I saw people who dealt with it and didn’t go over there anymore…I really wanted that 🙂 I see the world a lot differently now…and certain words give me the heebee jeebees instantly “you have to” “we expect you” “we are disappointed” “we are worried”…I could give a huge list of ways that I allowed those people and phrases of my past to haunt my present. They still crop up and still freak me out…but I can handle it now…and it ends the way I end it now, for better or for worse – it is my choice how I live my present, and it always has been I just didn’t accept it because I wasn’t raised to realize it so realizing it on my own has taken me a while. I feel like I’ve just grown up in the last year…more like I’m in my late teen/early twenties as far as liberation to adulthood – even though I’m much closer to 40 than to 20.


I have come to see that I cannot leave my past in the past. Yes it is the past I cannot change the past but if I pretend that the abuse did not happen then I am… only lieing to myself. I have to be in reality and the only way I got into reality was to work on myself by going within myself. 12 steps helped me to do so. Also talking with other people who have been abused helped me to do so. Remembering the good and the bad. Mostly bad in childhood I had to let myself re-feel all these feelings and memories I had. If I did not I would of probably been in a mental hospital. If I don’t continue to heal and deal I wont grow. It is a healing process for me a life time process. I am thankful for the love and support I have received from people and mostly to God and my husband who has been there with me through thick and thin. Thank you Darlene for all you do. Hugs to you.


Hi Patricia,
Thank you for sharing your story of how you tried to leave the past behind and then how you came face to face with the past. Your first paragraph highlights so much of how so many of us function.
So glad you are here!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Wendi,
I love this comment! I really GET it! the way that you describe the session with your counsellor, how your counsellor said you don’t have to go over there and you though “she just doesn’t get it” Oh this is so good Wendi ~ I was exactly like that too and we all have to somehow break through our habitual thinking as you have described here!
Great contribution to this post!
Thank you!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Helen!
Welcome and thank you for your lovely comment. This was how I learned to look at things too, but placing my own abuse in place of what ever way being discussed. Looking at how it applied to me. The details are necessary, but only to a point. For others that struggle with this part, it got easier for me as time went by. At first I thought that I could only recover if I found very similar stories to my story, but I found out that in truth, all abuse was rooted in emotional abuse, and that it is the effect that it had on my belief system where I found so much common ground with others who were trying to heal. Thanks for sharing Helen!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Shanyn,
This is also a wonderful contribution to this post. You have exposed the depth of this whole thing. It takes a long time and for me, persistence was the answer. I just kept going forward and when I fell back I got up and brushed myself off and went forward again. The way that you have articulated this Shanyn, shows that you are making progress, because we don’t start off understanding what you wrote!
About adrenalin spikes from phone calls~ my mother gave up almost right away but I jumped when the phone rang for about 4 months after she did give up even though it was never her, but my husbands parents didn’t let it go as easy and it took a long time! But the good news is that with time it all got easier and the feelings got less intense, especially as I grew in my own strength and validation of myself, knowing that I was not a nasty person but that I was taking measures to be free of the oppression that was WRONG and that I never deserved to be devalued that way! no one does!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Angela
There is a huge component to this healing work that has to do with learning to live in reality!
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


Another great blog post.

As Patricia points out, it is in my own reactions and behavior that I begin to understand what had happened in the past and how it affects one now.The self hatred from being treat literally as trash or ‘refuse'(ironic word, that one)is difficult to get beyond at times.
I love reading the wisdom and honesty here.


“I got living for today and accepting the past mixed up with the realization that I can’t change the past, forgetting that the goal in healing from the past is not to change the past, it is to resolve it.”

Darlene what you shared today in this blog is a very foundational truth. The Questions that have kept coming to my mind is “How do I live today when I don’t even know what to do about the past or where to begin?” I mean honestly if we go through our lives trying to forget the past then we are actually trying to forget our lives all together. I have tried various forms of living in the present etc. I have even said at one time or another one of those statements about living in the present, simply because it did sound right.

That also reminds me of the statement “forgive and forget” that whole forgetting thing doesn’t happen just like getting over it doesn’t just happen. This life is a process and our lives is composed of the past, the present, and the future. Voiding any of these things we void the other.

I like that word Resolve there is a lot of hope in that word to me … instead of performing great feats of “amnesia thinking” (forgetting the past) or some “miracle working denial” I can accept the reality and deal with it and move on to be able to truly live in the present. By doing so I accept the reality of my life and who I am and where I have been thus I don’t have to go around in some state of amnesia fog and be disassociated with the person that I am..

Thank you much for writing and sharing this blog ((((HUGS)))) to you


This is an important post Darlene. Not that all of your posts aren’t important but this one is BIG. As usual, I felt as if I were reading my own journal while reading this post. All my living in the present, moving on, leaving the past in the past, without ever dealing with it, only led me to more and more maladaptive behaviors, insomnia, anxiety and depression. And I had NO IDEA why I had suddenly become such a hot mess. My past is not entirely behind me yet and I still have work to do but I am light years away from the woman I was 3 years ago who curled up in a ball on the couch crying, with a huge knot in my stomach, unable to sleep more than 20 minutes total some nights, with no clue what my problem was. The key to finding out what my problem was, as you said, was the past.


Related to the comments about things we think we “have to do”, something I struggled with for a long time is feeling like I couldn’t NOT do what someone in authority over me (a boss) wanted if the motivation was rebellion and came with hostility and anger. I somehow had this idea that I could only say no if my own heart was at peace about it, if I had a rational, logical reason, and if I wasn’t just doing it out of spite or selfishness or whatever. But I was always trumped by false guilt, and I always questioned myself, so that could never work. My whole life people told me I should be a lawyer because of how good I was at giving irrefutable “reasons” for things. “You have a reason for everything”. Well, that’s because I had to to survive in my family. I grew up that I had to prove everything. Prove I was not a liar, prove I was not exaggerating, prove I was hurt, prove was not the one at fault, prove I didn’t know, prove I forgot, prove I deserved whatever I was asking for. Prove I didn’t deserve whatever bad thing that happened to me at school, at my friend’s house, whatever, by provoking it. Mostly there was no way to “prove” any of those things, except by being convincing enough. So I always had this horrible conflict in myself of feeling like even when I was telling the truth, I was forced to sort of “lie” by adding in all these other things like people do when they’re lying, coming up with all kinds of “stories”, which were “true”, but were not really related or relevant. Because the simple truth was never enough. And I wasn’t allowed to just go silent after I wasn’t believed, I was badgered to keep answering. Speak up, I can’t hear you. What did you say? What? Tell me the truth! What did you do? Things like that don’t just happen for no reason, you did something. Think. What did you do? Hunh? What, I can’t hear you. Answer me!

I can’t even believe this now that I think about it, how as an adult, working with delinquent teenage girls, a lot like I had been, I started getting really run down and sick and I would be really clumsy and out of it in the mornings and often be late (usually only by 5 or 10 minutes) because I would have to clean up after dumb things – and my boss would never believe me. (Finally after like $20,000 out of pocket copays for medical bills, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia which I am over now). But I would tell my boss some dumb thing that happened, saying, I know this sounds crazy, but… because it DID sound crazy. But it was true. Like waking up and my right arm is completely numb and I can’t move it. I think, oh I guess I must have slept on it funny, so I go about my routine and take twice as long to do everything with my left hand/arm, and then roll around in pain as it starts tingling and cramping and “waking up”. Forgetting that I still can’t move it like I expect, I reach for things and knock them over, like my coffee, etc. and have to clean up. But by the time I get to work, my arm and hand are fine. And he would say I displayed every sign of lying that they learn about from corrections training programs. Oh. I’ve seen those videos too. I guess he’s right. BUT maybe my eyes are looking in the wrong direction like I’m using my imagination to make something up instead of using my memory because I hardly believe myself and I AM WRACKING MY BRAIN for a reason this could have happened so I can prove it, and for a way to get you to believe me. Maybe I’m sweating and nervous and can’t maintain eye contact because I have PTSD when someone accuses me of being a liar.

That was kind of a tangent, but the point I started out wanting to make: I finally stood up to that idea that I HAD to do what was expected, with another abusive boss who manipulated me into working 4 more weeks after my 2 weeks’ notice, handed me my paycheck and said I wasn’t worth half of it. She expected me to start training my replacement the next day, even though I had told her weeks before that I had company from out of town coming that day and would not work after that. So I called the office in the morning and got the machine and said, “I’m just calling to remind you in case you forgot, that I told you I would not be coming in today because I have company coming.” I hung up, but I felt like God was riveting me to the spot saying that’s not what you really want to say, you need to tell her what you really mean. I stood there by the phone for a few minutes and finally called back and left another message saying, “Actually, what I really meant to say was, I’m not coming in at all this week.” I hung up, and again, I heard God say, nope, that’s not it. That’s still not what you need to say. (I attribute this to God because it was so clear and so loud in every part of my being, and I know only He could have convinced me that I had “permission” to do this.) I called back and left a third message saying, “No, actually, what I REALLY meant to say is that I AM NEVER COMING IN. NOT TODAY, NOT TOMORROW, NOT NEXT WEEK, NOT EVER.” And I hung up. I can’t even describe the relief I felt, and I laughed my head off. I had absolutely no guilt, and I couldn’t believe it. I felt like God was proud of me and HAPPY. But then I started panicking about her calling me back. I didn’t know if I would be able to maintain that feeling of freedom inside. And then I realized, I don’t have to answer her calls! I don’t even have to listen to my voice mail! So I didn’t. She called numerous times and I have no idea what messages she left. I deleted them without listening. She could have been apologizing and telling me she’ll pay me all my vacation and sick time and whatever, I never found out and it didn’t matter. I wasn’t going to subject myself to the possibility of more abuse just to get money, even though I earned it, deserved it and had a right to it. That was such a huge victory for me. Some people said I was “running away” and not facing my fear of what she might say. But I believe I did what I needed to do, and the “running away” was the thing I had been afraid to do. I think it saved my life.


phewww, this was hard. i think mainly because i went for an assessment and they arent sure i am ready to to the work necessary to be in the group. now im confused. i have tried so hard to grow and over come that i have hid my fears so i can do what everyone thought i should be doing. i get up every day and try to live in the here and now and not disassociate but the past and how i coped with it is entwined i just dont know what to do. i gota go backto see them in a few weeks and see what they decide. not sure what im gona do if they decide i not right or ready for the work thye do. mmm not knowing how to break the chains that tie me to the past makes the undoing so much harder


I think it is difficult for me to really believe that analyzing and sorting out the past is a healthy thing for me. I get it how it should be and would be, but when I try to do it, it doesn’t work. Maybe I’m just in a different stage of healing or something. As I said in my previous comment, I’ve spent most of my life searching for reasons and living in my head instead of listening to my heart or even my body. If there wasn’t a rational, logical explanation for something, or definitive proof, it was dismissed as having no value. That was the model I grew up with, which I adopted towards my own experiences. When I start going back over the past, I go back into that analytical, logical thinking part of me that says, now that you have the information, now that you’ve figured it out, you don’t need to feel bad anymore. Now that you’ve figured out why you get these feelings, you don’t need to have them anymore. Instead of validating my feelings and allowing them to just be there whether they have a good reason I can understand or not. It’s kind of hard to explain, but I’m sure some of you understand what I mean. Sometimes I think that being in the present and noticing how I feel and just accepting it in the moment and going with it instead of trying to control it by analyzing where it comes from and if it’s valid or not is more healing – when I can actually do that. Because as soon as I start trying to figure it out, it’s like a way of not feeling the pain. Does anyone get what I mean?


Hi Amy,
I barely know where to begin to answer your comments ~ the points you make, the truth that you expose in your comment (#13 for anyone who missed it) is so good, so full of depth and description of exactly the way that is happens, that I went to Emerging from Broken on Facebook and told the readers there that they must read your comments here. When you talked about proof… that was my story too, that was how I felt, how I lived, how I did life. And when I was an adult, if I wanted a new sweater, I had to prove it to myself. I have so much to write about this subject, I could write several blog posts about the things you have touched on in your comments.
The simple truth was never enough.. oh so true. And your dialogue about how we are verbally assaulted ~ I was reading that out loud to my husband in the restaurant we were in when I got the comment on my blackberry.. I was reading it with the voice infliction that adults use to berate children ~ and the people at the next table were horrified looking, until they realized that I wasn’t talking to him, but I was reading something… ha ha..
I love your story about the abusive boss. I agree with you, and I applaud you! GOOD for you!
Thank you so much for sharing all of this fantastic amazing stuff that we can ALL relate to Amy!
Don’t second guess yourself here!
Hugs, Darlene


Nikki and Cyndi,
I wrote replies to your comments and accidently LOST them! I hate it when that happens!

Cyndi ~ thank you for sharing your victory with us~ that is so inspiring!

Nikki, ~ I love the word resolve, and I had to learn a lot of re words… like re-wire re-learn re-lationship… oops okay I had to learn how to do relationship and still be fair to me. The comment that I wrote to you before Nikki was in relation to your comment at the end of your post ~ about being dissociated with the person that you are.. In the end I realized that my disconnection and dissociation really was about running from me ~ it was my fear that if I did connect to me, that I would find out that “they” were right about me. I don’t mean how I dissociated as a child, that was survival. I mean why I was so afraid to stop doing it. But I found out that THEY were NOT right about me! Well I worded it way better the first time, but I am running out of response time now! LOL
Thanks for being here!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Carol,
I am sorry that happened to you today. One thing that I know is that is seemed to take me so long to feel like I was starting, but everything I was learning all went together towards the end result… so all the work paid off in the end..
Maybe it isn’t that you are not ready, maybe you have gone beyond what they expect? You have grown so much in the last year ~ don’t let this get you down ~ don’t let this define you OR your progress!
Hugs, Darlene


Oh, Amy,
I totally get what you mean. I can soooo relate to your needing to explain and justify everything….to prove it….every thought, every action, every expression. I too could be a lawyer.

I err on the side of thorough, for that reason, also. When I wrote my goals for therapy in the beginning I wrote 3 type written pages with headings, sub headings and sub sub headings. When I got to session my therapist said, “I think you could have been more detailed.” And believe it or not I didn’t catch his sarcasm. I was devastated that I had failed to be thorough enough once again. I never told him about that till years later.

As far as analyzing every feeling and expecting that analyzing it to understand it would cure it / fix it is in fact something I have been struggling with yesterday and today. Thanks for reminding me that I just need to feel it, accept it and go with it…..let it be what it is. That is really helpful. Thanks.


Totally relate to Amy’s comments. I also have been told that I should have been a lawyer because I can argue anything and also an actress because I am so dramatic 🙂 I’m beginning to think I should have become a detective because that’s what I feel like sorting out my own life 🙂


Thanks Darlene, I’m glad you got a laugh in the restaurant! The voice often came with a sharp finger jabbing me in the chest at every other syllable or shaking me by my arm. Thanks Arja and Wendi. I forgot about the actress part, the drama queen thing. Always crying wolf. For “no reason.”


I can’t say this one helped that much, b/c I don’t have any clue what, if anything, I’m running from.
IDK if it’s b/c I’m that out of touch w/ my own feelings or what, but I truly have no idea what I’m running from. And I don’t begin to know what questions I’m supposed to ask myself. I’m really confused tonight b/c I had a stupid fight (argument form) w/ the guy I’ve been friends w/ since September.
And you can’t talk about something to somebody who won’t come home since it happened.
Other than that IDK what to ask myself.
I’m just confused about it. I don’t know how you can get better when you don’t even know what questions to ask yourself. And it’s impossible to have any kind of relationship w/ any member of my family b/c they keep demanding that I think like them. I can’t even TALK to them if I’m not going to sit there and let them play games so, right now, I don’t want to talk to any of them.
B/c if I wanted to play games my whole life, I’d join the Milton Bradley or Parker brothers family.
I’m tired of it.


Darlene – I totally hear where you are coming from and agree wholeheartedly. 🙂 Another excellent post!

Amy – I also understand where you are coming from. My counselor told me years ago that with PTSD, I personally need to be careful not to over analyse those traumatic events because in some people (ie me) that actually leads more to retraumatising than to healing. Over the years I have learned for each specific circumstance, *when* and how to *push* at something – do I a) just need to see that this thought pattern is WRONG and adopt a right one (easier said than done admittedly); OR b) need to identify the specific LIE i have internalised and replace it with TRUTH specific to that lie; OR c) need to explore what happened in order to recognise the abuse in it and allow myself to go through the grieving process about it; OR d) leave it alone *for now*, pray about it and trust that the answers will come when I am ready for them, and instead work on some other aspect of healing.
All of these things, I believe, have value in the right time and place. All of these things have contributed towards healing for me. Of course, figuring out which one is right at which time is another matter. 🙂
But like the difference between the pain of childbirth or a good massage, compared with the pain of a shard of glass in your foot, there *is* a difference. We just need to learn to listen to it 🙂
Those were my thoughts, for what they are worth.
And to everyone here – how wonderful, how incredible is this journey of healing we each find ourselves on! And how thankful I am that we have a place where we can share steps of our journeys, and in particular of your journey, Darlene – your honest and open evaluation of what has happened and is happening is just brilliant and so very courageous. HUGS. and THANKS. and LOVE!


I don’t think most people understand how damaging it is to tell someone to live in the present moment when they are trying to process something. Sadly, I had a lot of damage done to me by therapies like that. Their goals were simply for me to ‘stop that’. Stop feeling depressed, stop having phobias and anxiety, stop feeling overwhelmed and disorganized. And do it by ‘breathing’ and ‘distracting myself’ from my memories and feelings. Basically, the main message of my last therapy seemed to be ‘stop feeling’. Which made me dissociate more. The whole thing was REALLY retraumatizing. It was just like how it was growing up in my family where there was the constant demand for me to somehow not notice what was being done to me. Yes, first my family forced me to dissociate and then my therapist did the same. I swear I have some PTSD specific to the things that happened in that therapy and it keeps getting in my way in my new therapy. It’s so bad that there are a couple of angry insiders who will come out and tell my current therapist to eff off if he says any triggering words like ‘present moment’ or ‘mindful’ or a number of other words and phrases. Sometimes I still feel angry that that happened to me. I needed help. I needed to be able to talk about the contents of my memories and the way they made me feel, but my feelings were not really accepted by my therapist. He said they were, but then he kept interrupting and making it so I couldn’t process things. And in doing that, he re-taught me how to do it to myself. Things got so bad that I started drinking again after 13 years of abstaining. There are few worse feelings in the world than being scared half to death of your own memory and having nowhere to go except to a person who will tell you to live in the present moment and pretend to feel good right when a major dissociative barrier has just imploded and you are suddenly a fifteen year-old who has been raped. I can’t imagine it being healthy to tell a raped teen to use drugs to make the memory go away if it cannot be ignored, but that’s what he did and I’m still trying to crawl out of the wreckage. And just the fact that he did that? It made me feel like no one loves me and that the abuse I suffered will cause others to treat me like a piece of garbage if I lose my ability to pretend that I’m fine with everything. He punished me by emotionally abandoning me because I’d been raped and couldn’t shove it back under the rug. All I wanted was for someone to listen and care about my real feelings. He made me ashamed.


Wow manifestations. I was not a very good communicator so I did not bother to validate anything when doubted. In my head I had a reason for everything and can remember someone asking me do you have a reason for everything you do and yes was the answer. I was probably 18 and this was the first time it ever came across my mind that I or anyone could do something without a reason or weighing the pros and cons like I do.I still struggle with sticking up for myself and can bask in the familiarity of losing comfortably.Keep on keeping on because you are making me look at myself with a open mind and greater understanding.


Hi Darlene:
I could really relate to your article about dealing with the past,
I had a block around age 5-6… I couldn’t get back beyond lst grade.
I finally found the information for that block and since have been able to live in the present. It took a long time. I really enjoy your site and your articles. Thanks Robin


I just tried answering these questions you asked yourself here ‘Why did I use food for comfort? Why did I go to bed for days on end? I had to ask myself what I was afraid of feeling. I had to become aware of my survival methods and look at where they came from; what they developed as a result of…?’
And these were my answers and a bit of what I thought about them:-

Why do you use food for comfort? – Reliable, hope, break, enjoyment, comfort. People look at their food and not me. It’s like good touch I couldn’t get, it’s safe I can control it.

Why do you go to bed for days on end? – No feeling, numb, no thought. Space, softness, no expectations, no needs or wants. Not existing, Breathing quieter so I take less (air even). Life hurts. Making myself smaller, hiding, trying to disappear, get smaller, a refuge (no one disturbs because your ‘ill’ or ‘sleeping’. Taking baths is the same, or a toilet or a place with a locked door or a quiet place no one goes). Want to cease existing.

What are you afraid of feeling? – Reason for anguish. Reason I literally wanted to get out of my body. The truth. Terror. More abuse. Afraid of being hurt again or hurting myself. Afraid of the situations that come up where I can’t express my truth and just swallow what people say I am. I feel horror/distress all the time but it’s the cause(s) of that horror I’m afraid of. It’s like I’m stuck on a silent scream.

What are your survival methods? – Staying still so as not to feel. Locking myself in places, a room, the car, hiding in the footwell of a car, behind a curtain. Causing myself pain (concentrates mind & lowers anxiety). Waiting, waiting, waiting for it to be over, go away, for it to come for something else to change it. Removing self from pain and confusion by ‘going’, hardening myself inside ‘steeling’ myself to cope,trying not to need, splitting my mind from my body and reality altogether so that I didn’t ‘come back’ to normal consciousness or social requirements, I ‘went’ beyond those even. I didn’t care about how I was or behaved because I was no longer there. It was too much stress to live up to social expectations or interactions expected of me by people, too much was asked of me. Pretending nothing happened, pretending something else happened or I was ‘in another world, family, place, time. Screaming and rage (to get the tension out). Hiding the bad stuff, not moving as a small child, sitting protectively, holding myself stiff like a board. Covering mirrors. Staying awake as long as possible.

Where did they come from? Tearing inside and having to stay silent – being unable to cry/scream when it hurt, dirty feeling, skin hurting, anguish, pain, fear of sleeping and night time, fear of men/people, distrust of people I was supposed to be loved/helped by. Betrayal, double hurts, a hurt on a hurt on a hurt with no time for one thing to get better before the next thing happened. Intense shyness/shame (especially about my mouth/ in the mornings). Trying to stay awake so that it wouldn’t happen. Ghosts with hands. Can’t escape, can’t get away, can’t breathe, held down, almost smothered.

What did they develop as a result of? Being hurt, being falsely accused, being unable to express my innocence, accepting guilt for something I didn’t do, being unable to say anything because I was choked by silence, taking an adult’s sense of responsibility as a child, forcing control by A- hurting myself, B-Not doing the right thing (twisted cry for help) C – Creating illness by hurting myself, burning myself D – Blaming myself so it’s not them. Invisible enemies – Don’t want to or can’t identify them. None of my survival methods worked.

The last thing that none of my survival methods worked because I did give up again and again, and still remained, and that none of them stopped what was happening. The only thing that worked was the waiting and giving up, and expecting that change would come. Nothing else was trustworthy, therefore everything betrayed me… all the normal things people strive for in life, became and meant nothing to me. I had no prayers, no one to pray to, nothing but air and my mind and well meaning people who tried to help. It got to the point where even the air hurt so I hurt inside all the way through to the outside and from the outside back again. I didn’t believe people. I hated everything, the helplessness in that others couldn’t help themselves or me and I couldn’t help myself, pain was the only thing I could feel. Everyone and everything was a traitor. You have to have a reason to live, to survive and I didn’t have and couldn’t think of a reason. I stayed alive in the hope that one day a reason might come – that was my reason. I stayed alive in the hope that one day there might be a reason to live.

When you’ve gone beyond pain more times than anyone can imagine, painlessness is sufficient reason to enjoy life, the ability to breathe is sufficient reason for contentment, freedom to choose silence or sound. stillness or movement is sufficient liberty, and the ability to spend your time directing your attention as you wish is the greatest wealth. Comfort in your own body is like gold and conquering your own terror is like an eternal purple heart no one can ever take away from you. Inner battles with their inside scars are the most fiercely fought and gruelling ever; battles unseen and never known. The greatest survival tool is the mind and the spirit that drives it through the darkness.

I don’t have any armour or weapons or medals of valour to show for my fight. I can’t shed light on the worst times all I can do is show up after it’s over and the sun’s coming up – still here. And maybe when I can respect the truth of that and look people in the eye knowing my true worth; knowing I know what it takes to exist with only my clinging to the faith, that the reason I can’t see, and don’t know, is worth it. No one can take that away from me.

And what makes this most powerful is that I’m now sitting here in the absence of that suffering, knowing it came to an end, I was right to hold on. What is the value of that I wonder? I think what’s important in life are the hidden hopes we promote in other people’s lives. ‘All in all is all we are’. I have no reason to apologise for existing. I’m here, might as well make the best of it – on my terms. Maybe I have gained more from these experiences than I think.


Zoe i can so relate to your way of dealing with things, but my emotions sorta got left in the past. now that i have some great tools to help me see my worth and know that it wasnt and isnot my fault, tools to help me recognise when i at fault or the conditioning i have been put through as a child. i have grown in awareness and in some areas i can actually blend into society and they would never know that i have been so truamatised by my childhood and early adulthood. the bit that gets me is when my mask that gets me through doing this socialising then trips me up when i cannot reach the behavioural levels people then expect from me. so on bad days when i have regressed abit and am more volatile they give me hassle and pile on the pressure which leads to further regressions. yet havving all this new awarenss has helped me spot problems faster so that the impact is limited or avioded which ever is the case, and carry on doin as much as i can to get where i feel i dont need to heal every day, but just when an issue raise its head
darlene, i was on f/b last nite and came to pretty much the same realisation. i took away my perception and not their intentions so im gona go back n see em in a few wks and see where we go from there, i think i need to let them see the behind the door person and not the social persona that gets me doing all i do


That feeling of needing to explain, justify and prove everything comes from the way we came to feel about ourselves as a result of always being wrong, being treated like we could not possibly make a decision, or even think for ourselves.
Thank you for sharing this story of your goals in therapy. This is such a great example of so many things. I was not that detailed, but I thought and processed in that much detail ~ which is fine today, but when I was in that fog, the thinking was always in victim mentality; the most important question I had back then was, how can I be sure to say/do the right thing so I don’t get sneered at.
Thanks so much for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Zoe
Thanks for sharing your process of learning.
hugs, Darlene

Hi Vicki
I know how hard this is, and I know that it seems like we never find the right “starting place” but in my case looking back, I didn’t realize that I HAD started as soon as I started trying to get through this stuff.
Keep hanging in here and keep sharing! It really does take time.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Wendi
I helped in a police investigation (I wrote about it in the the “Prince Charming was a murder suspect” series) and they told me that I should have been a detective. Today I put my detective skills to good use! LOL
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Ethereal Highway
I totally agree with you. I had a LOT of damage done to me that way too, and I kept trying to make those instructions work because I was afraid they were the ONLY solution. I was so afraid to even think one of those expressions like “live in the present moment ” might not work because THEN WHAT do I do?? Some therapists really are not good therapists and they can do tremendous damage because of the authority and position they have. This is such a huge problem.
Thanks for sharing this because so many of us had had something like this happen and are afraid to talk about it.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Louise
This is GREAT! What an honour it is to have you sharing your processing thoughts here ~ I know this will be very inspiring and helpful to everyone that reads this. I admire and thank you for your courage Louise, in sharing this work.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Robin
Thanks Robin, I am so glad that you are here!
hugs, Darlene


Louise, wow… I almost have no words. I felt every word you wrote. You are an inspiration and I’m so glad you held on. I’m glad you didn’t give up and I’m glad you’re here. Thank you and God bless you!


Louise ~ “I think what’s important in life are the hidden hopes we promote in other people’s lives.” THIS LITERALLY TOOK MY BREATH AWAY. THANK YOU. I find this a very powerful wording of a value I believe in very strongly. And you are living it. Blessings to you. Thank you so much for sharing.


Hmmm. I dont even know where to begin with this one. Its hard for me I think because I dont remember a time when it became past, and wasnt actually occuring in the present anymore in some form or fashion until after I already knew all the “why” answers and purposefully took myself out of the abusive dynamics of my life that were so detrimental to all of it….even still some days I question if what I remember and think and “feel” is real and true…and so I am 100% aware that my abuse had an effect on my perceptions and thats part of why it continued for so many years without me even thinking of it as abuse. I was sure that I was the problem and that my perceptions werent really how things were going. That has (and still is the most difficult part of the journey for me) I doubt EVERYTHING I think/say/do/feel/experience.


You are not alone. The beginning or knowing a beginning is a tough place ~ I think you have already made a beginning. I still have to reasure myself that my thinking is clear and that I am not that person that everyone seemed to indicate was “wrong”. And in each new situation in my “new life” I put things through my new grid and still have to think a lot. It gets better though. It is no where near as intense as it used to be! This is one of the biggest parts of the process of recovery. In some ways being aware of it this way and questioning myself was at least a step closer to where I used to be when I never questioned anything and just went along with it. At least you are questioning and you are aware of the doubts. I think this is a positive.
Thank you so much for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


I am not sure at all if this comment even belongs here other than it does contain the idea of living in the moment.
I apologize if it is not appropriate and Darlene, just move it or delete it if it is out of line or too way off topic.

I had decided to go to a bird migration festival today, and for some reason – I decided to ask a male friend to go with me. The friend is someone I really decided earlier to slowly stop seeing because I felt I was being devalued in the relationship. but when I would talk to him every now and then about some things for clarification I would get confused and thin I was just seeing things wrong or misjudging him.

It started well. I was looking forward to the event and it felt light and good on the way. Then out of the blue he started telling me he had been abused by a neighbor and his grandfather as a child. I ffelt very sad for him and we talked awhile about abuse. I told him it must be hard to talk about and I appreciated his trust.Still the suddenness of hs disclosure startled me.

All throughout the day which overall was fun- the events were fun- he made cryptic comments, such as when we went through the lunch line and I paid for my own food, he made the comment to the cashier that I was a ‘cheap date’.there were several other odd comments along this line that I felt verged on provoking- that is, I felt like he was wanting me to say something back but it didn’t feel good or comfortable to me. I ususally said nothing in response.

Along the day he made several observations about my responses to him. or lack of them. He would makwe comments like ‘you seem confused by my sense of humor’, or ‘you don’t seem to know what to say when I say…..’I began to get a feeling of being dogged to say something or argue.Or get defensive and I resented it.

We did eat dinner, and he gave me late Christmas presents, scarves someone at his work knitted.I appreciated them and said so.

But then he suddenly started telling me about the eventss leading up to his ex’s death, a sudden death; and it was more than I wanted to hear. as he was talking my mind drifted to mom’s death.I suddenly felt worn out.He suddenly said ‘Earth to LIZ!’And then said, ‘I’ve noticed many times when I talk you drift away.’

I told him that while he had talked about her death many times I had never asked about the details…I then asked a couple of questions and he said:’you act like you’re interrogating me.’I said ‘no.’

And then he said, ‘you act like you’re afraid of me.’

He had said this three times today.Because the first time he said it and I had asked what he meant, and he said ‘you just seem to withdraw at times after I say something..’ I didn’t even answer this the next two times.I was beginning to get tireder and tireder and my mood was going downhill quickly after the odd day.

He proceeded: ‘I’m looking for a female companion to do things with like movies and things. I know we talked about doing this a few times but we never got to it.’

The reason we never got to it was he never wanted to in the last year.
I said ‘it sounds like a job description’ A ‘female companion’? It sounds so detached.’ He said ‘that’s normally what you call a female you are cohabitating with.’ We don’t live together and I don’t plan on it.

Several months ago we were talking and I said in response to something he said about himself ‘well you do seem detached.’He said ‘you mean I am an emotionally witholding asshole?’ I said I had not said that.

When time came to leave I visited the lady’s room and when I got to the cashier’s he had already paid for mine, something unheard of with him.Usually he would tell the cashier to split the check.

Then he said he wanted to get together next weekend. I don’t think so.

The entire day I felt I was having words put in my mouth, things attributed to me that I didn’t say and didn’t think. it all felt slightly hostile. And I kept having the feeling of narrowly averting some kind of angry confrontation with him. I am very confused about this.
I don’t think I was reacting out of my past and overreacting all day. I think I was underreacting, or acting neutral.

I do know I definitely don’t want to pursue this. I felt an undercurrent of anger that I don’t believe is coming from me.
I feel sorry if he REALLY disclosed his abuse because he trusted me but it was on the way to a great event and it just went downhill from there.I felt like I was being emotionally abused all day.

On the way home he told me to take my cd out-he didn’t like it- and put the radio on some station he liked.I was ticked by then.

But here I am trying to be sensitive to his disclosure all day and all day, he seemed to take potshots at me.

What started as a nice day- ended with me feeling worn out, creeped out, and wondering if maybe I SHOULD be afraid of him in some way.

His ex died of suicide btw- she wasn’t murdered or heart attack or something. Because he had been through that I have been letting alot of things go by I should have addressed earlier or paid more atention to.?

I tried to respond all day from my head, rationally but also with my heart; not read anything into things but STILL wound up feeling like this all is not good for me emotionally, but STILL wonder if I am being too hard on him, maybe he was just defensive after his disclosure.But that doesn’t explain his other dismissive behavior in the past.

I wanted to make sure I was not being unfair, but I am now more than uncomfortable with him. now I feel like….’What the heck was happening all day??’I feel mixed up. Confused about the day. And disturbed.

Sorry if this is too much ‘he said’-‘she said’, but something happened today and I am not sure what these dynamics all were.

thanks for letting me share….


elizbeth it would seem that you have done nothing wrong and that he either has a hidden agenda or is the emotional asshole he thought he was. if you are not sure stay away or do things that invovle other people and dont let his past make your issues worse. you have the right to set any boundaries you like in a relationship and im sorry if it was me i probably wouldnt go out on a date again with him. but maybe the fact that he disclosed his past was not so much as an explaination for his behaviour but as maybe a shock tactic to make you feel sorry for him so he gets his own way. not sure as i dont know him but you take all the time you want to make any decision you are not sure about


Elizabeth, Carol makes a good point about boundaries. It is actually a very loving thing to set clear boundaries- good for both of you I mean. Those of us who have been abused as children, especially sexual abuse, have a hard time with boundaries and if you’re like me, you think you HAVE to be nice- no matter what. You can still be nice and set boundaries. You can still be nice and say how you feel and you can still be nice and say “no”. One thing I’ve learned along the way is to trust my gut. You know how you feel- follow it. If you wonder about whether or not to be scared, then you already know the answer. Be good to yourself friend. Assuming that his disclosure was the truth, that still doesn’t mean that YOU have to fix it for him or that he has the right to make you feel uncomfortable. You can kindly and lovingly set limits and say “no thank you”. I don’t know if that helps, but I could really relate to what you wrote and I suspect that there are lots of us out there who can. Hang in there and take care of yourself!


I appreciate the things you have said; both Carol,and Gabrielle.

I think applying what I have learned and am learning about what is abuse, dissociation, and all things related, is what I am trying to do.

Things get confusing. I don’t want to misjudge anyone. That concept has gotten me into alot of trouble in the past, as I have used it to ignore red flags, trying to ‘give’ someone the benefit of the doubt…..as if they ‘need’ that.In our family I always had motives attributed to me that were not true, was told how I felt, was told in many ways I was not acceptable. I don’t want to ever do that to anyone else.

I didn’t want to spend my time being analyzed or second guessed by anyone, on what would have been an otherwise lovely day.On the other hand, it can be constructive if I look at what happened.

Having a fun outing starting out in the first mile on the road being given the details of someone’s abuse history was ruinous.I don’t want to be mean, but that was not the time or place for that. What I could have said was ‘I understand this is very painful and I know its important but could we discuss it later?’ In fact there was no reason for him to have discussed this with me at all.

Being told I mean something specific when I say, or don’t say, do or don’t do something is a ‘red flag’. Motive attribution. In a healthy relaationship I don’t think this happens. Clarifying and allowing another person to make their point is one thing. TELLING someone what they meant is another….

Saying mysterious things in a hinting fashion really bothers me. Its sideways communication and really throws me when its done.

At the end of the day yesterday, I felt drained, irritated, and wanted nothing more than to get away from the person I spent the day with.

Recovery helped me understand I don’t need to even respond to things said to me such as ‘…you don’t understand my jokes, do you?’ I understand jokes and humor. I don’t understand nor have to communicate in a covert, ambiguous tense exchange with anyone…when they seem to have an agenda or point they are making.If you have something to say; SAY it.

I don’t have to take the brunt of someone else’s apparent anger.

I don’t have to accept someone’s ‘attention’ in this fashion.

I resent having my ‘motives’ pointed out to me, especially when they are wildly inaccurate.

Then unasked for, I was told the details of his ex’s suicide. I asked two very brief questions and was told I was ‘interrogating’ him.

I could have said nothing.I felt entrapped.

In short I could have set boundaries swiftly along the way, but it all seemed to be covert- what was going on. I didn’t ‘get it’ until I was ‘in’ it, if that makes sense and then found myself in the weird position of ‘defending’ myself against things I didn’t do or say, or mean.

It was as if the framework was already set up and I walked into it. That is how I felt.

I don’t feel safe emotionally with this person anymore. Before I felt he was detached to a ludicrous degree but didn’t want to misjudge. Now at the risk of judging another’s motives- I think my defenses just got down and away we went; I think the previous detachment was not innocent; I think he was waiting for me to complain to him about it so he could withold even more.

When I didn’t do that the semi snide ambigous covert comments came swifter and so did the opportunities to ‘portray’ me to myself as something negative and mean
became more numerous.

He was having a day that was ALL about HIM, and HIS, feelings,HIS anger, and USING me to do it; That ticks me off so much.

In this case, ‘detached’ is good for me. I intend to stay away from this person.

I wish I could clarify here more, but I truly went through a period of blurry confusion about what was happening yesterday.
Thanks for everything we are learning here.


Hi Elizabeth,
This comment is just fine here. 🙂 no worries.
As you wrote this post I think you have answered many of your own questions. In the past when I was in situations like this ~ (which was OFTEN) I felt this huge need to “prove” that my feelings of being uncomfortable and having red flags ~ were right. I had no confidence in my own feelings or in my own decisions. I stayed with people who treated me in ways that made me really uncomfortable, because I really thought I had to PROVE these feelings, intuitions and suspicions before I could act on them. But I finally asked myself (looking back) why do I want to be with someone who I am constantly having to wonder IF he is treating me right or if it is just my imagination? I hope this helps a bit. I am glad that you are sharing and processing this. This is all part of the journey when we start to “grow up” in ways that we didn’t before.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Elizabeth,
It sounded like he was setting you up to feel emotionally obligated to him (by telling you things to make you feel sorry for him, not just the abuse but the ex’s suicide), and then confronting you when you didn’t quite take the bait – when you held back by not commenting or connecting. Maybe it was not so much him wanting an argument or provoking you as trying to make you feel like you were somehow the one who was wrong for withholding from HIM, like whatever your reasons, they were faulty. He was guessing at what you might be thinking and pointing out what you were doing to intimidate you into believing you were the one with the problem. This is so classic. And the tactic of withholding from you – you said in the beginning when you first knew him he seemed to not want to pursue anything with you, it’s to get you to want him, to wonder what’s wrong with you that he didn’t want you, and then feel good that now he’s suddenly confiding in you… and then how he “called himself on it” by throwing it out there that he’s emotionally withholding – so you would think well at least he’s being honest about it, and the reason he seems that way is his abuse and all the hard things he’s suffered, which, if he was really emotionally withholding he wouldn’t have shared with me… ETC!
Good for you for recognizing this is a wolf! There’s nothing wrong with you for being preyed upon, the fact that you saw his trap when you were lead to it and you didn’t fall for it is proof that you are healing.


Amy…I”m sitting here with my mouth hanging open. You nailed it.

Thankyou very much for taking the time to look at this, and see the pattern. Wow; you’re precise and intuitive.

For some reason I went into this spiral of confusion trying to sort this out, after this man’s disclosure of abuse; and his relating the events leading up to his ex’s suicide the other day…all in one day he tells me this info.It was weird.

When he told me: ‘You act like you’re afraid of me’, I think then I went from irritation with him, to wondering what he was talking about; to not wanting to know.Then at THAT point I began to feel apprehension.
When someone says that, I think there’s a big red flag going on.

Thanks ….I appreciate the comment~!


for some reason when I sent my first response I had not seen your second comment about this guy. I see that you came up with lots more of your own answers! The covert stuff is the hardest; that is why some people have the hardest time recovering from psychological or emotional abuse. It is so covert.. so sneaky ~ but also so deadly, discounting, insinuating and devaluing. You are doing great. I had all the same reasons that you mentioned here for being afraid of standing up to someone. I was so willing to discount myself for the sake of not taking a chance on misjudging someone else. What you describe at the end of your share here is what I call “the fog” ~ that blurry confusion that you referred to. There are many fogs and it looks like you came out of this one!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene- YES, the fog!

The bottom line is, if I have misjudged someone, then they have the right to clarify things along the way.Its not up to me to run back and forth from someone trying to get the ‘story’ straight. After one or two attempts at clarification, if I’m still confused I needed to be long gone.

I played this charade with my family for years. Its called the ‘guess what’s going on with me’ game; and it never ends because there is no
‘right’ answer. There also is no ‘right’ answer regarding one’s own feelings in my family of origin..no one listened to me when I said how I felt or didn’t feel…..I had motives and feelings attributed to me that were horribly inaccurate all my life.

It was as if I didn’t even need to be there to have crap generated relating to me.

I just never want to do this to anyone else. I also don’t want to view other people thru the lens of my own past….BUT this stuff regarding this man, just feels so yucky.

He is a therapist with many years experience, so I wonder how aware he is of what is going on here….sigh.

Thanks again…


Hey…forgot the most telling thing! Emotionally witholding people are frequently selfish, and self involved, and CHEAP. This guy didn’t want to drive HIS car in case he had a fenderbender and had to shell out the deductable….so I drove mine….what a tightwad….lol.


Elizabeth ~
That is what I call a “truth leak”. He is also saying that it is okay if YOU have a fender bender.
Hugs, Darlene


I invite you to consider your mother isn’t rejecting YOU, she is rejecting herSELF. She is rejecting the pain of change, of facing her own demons and own damage and trauma and pain. Her pain is just as real and valid and makes her just as foggy as it did you. This does not devalue you, or your pain and experience in any way. There are so many things our parents experienced that we can never understand. The fact that we CAN awaken enough to heal ourselves is an EXTRAORDINARY feat. I have come to understand that my mother is simply does not have the same capabilities that I have, and it has nothing to do with me. By telling her what she can and cannot say, it sounds as if you are trying to control her…it’s one thing to set a boundary and decide what you are and aren’t willing to hear from her, between the two of you, but to tell her she cannot say something anymore just out of hand, well, it sounds as if you are rejecting HER and calling it the other way around.


Hello Sunshine,
I have no idea why you posted your comment on this particular post. There is nothing about my mother in this article. Having said that, I have written often about how I understand my mother and her own demons and I have come to the same conclusions that you have come to however, I can tell her what she can’t say to me when it comes to accusing me of inviting her boyfriends into my bedroom when I was 14. I can tell her that she is not allowed to say that to me anymore although she is free to say whatever she wants to anyone else. Since my mother does not like my boundaries, I don’t have a relationship with her. That is about the bottom line. You can call it whatever you like because who rejected who is not the point.
hugs, Darlene



For most of my life I have been thinking that I needed my parents help to resolve my past. This lets me know that I have the power to resolve those issues myself. I know what you are saying is true because about five years ago, I realized that I’d been sexually abused as a teenager, that it wasn’t my fault, and that caused my whole way of thinking of myself to flip. That initial flip has been like a flood gate opening and with each new revelation and my action upon it comes the pain and then the growth and then new strength. I really think that I am nearly there.


This is so true and such a huge stick point for so many! I still sometimes find myself thinking that if my parents would change or if they would even see that harm that was caused, that it would be easier for me, but I know that is not the truth.
Even if my parents had thier own lightbulb moments, and did their own work and healing and then tried to make amends etc.. I would STILL have to do my own healing work because the damage to me STILL happened. My belief system was already set in place.
Thanks for sharing your process, and your victories! YAY.
p.s. yes exactly about “the pain, the growth and then new strength!)
Hugs, Darlene



I think what you just described is the wonderful realization that we are our own person and not a part of someone else. We can feel happy in ourselves even though family members choose to stay in the same miserable state. That also means that nothing I do can make them better. They have to want that for themselves.

Thanks for sharing your heart and for the encouragement that it results in.


Hi Pam
Yes ~ we are our OWN person, but so brainwashed that we are not ~ that our existence is owed to someone else. And YES we really don’t need our family members or friends to affirm that we CAN be whole and free and individuals. And yes, we can’t change them.
Yes yes yes!
Hugs, Darlene


I wish they’d quit taking forever to find a therapist for me. Maybe SOME people don’t need anyone else at all to help them sort through emotional issues, but I do. I don’t believe people can sort through emotional issues w/out at least a small amount of help, b/c I believe they’re too partial on the subject. It’s b/c they’re too close to themselves, and they might miss an observation that someone else would pick up on.
That’s how it is for me, anyway. Trying to help myself w/ absolutely no help from others hasn’t worked for at least 30 years.


I hope you find some support soon too, having some kind of support is so very helpful!.
Hugs, Darlene


Dear Darlene

I like how you said “to live for present I had to be able to look at what I was running from ”

Seeing that I was running from something and knowing what it is . is quite enlightening and boy is my past full of stuff i had packed away .. thinking i could go on and no one would ever know

Guess eventually the little box of past hurts burst open because the newer hurts had to be put somewhere . .but there was no more room. Therapy is where I can begin to take everything out ..and how I wish I didnt have to look at it all but its necessary:

Letting healing in

i am looking at all the pieces
scattered all around
and wondering how to start
am crying without sound.
it seems so very much
didnt think that it would be
so hard to start the healing
and learning to be free

but it is so very hard
so hard that i want to run
and pretend once again
that there’s nothing to be done
but then i come back again,
face my reality:
I’m broken and I’m bruised
not liking what i see.

So i have to let it happen
let the healing come inside
To release all those tears,
all the times i’ve never cried
it is so very messy and
my emotions fall apart
One by one I’m letting go
the secrets from my heart

joy (c)


Oh Joy,
I love your poetry.
Take heart, when the fog starts to lift and when the brainwashing has been really exposed, the healing takes place much faster, because there is more hope and the hope fuels the process.
Hugs, Darlene



I look forward to the fog lifting but am a bit afraid at same time of what am going to see. ..it’s necessary though, I know it.

I want some day to help others who are broken ..and once I am healed I hope I can ..




Fear is a big part of what holds us back, but the pain of not seeing the truth was worse then the pain of seeing it. And since I was already in pain I figured “what the heck?” Might as well just embrace the healing process. And wow, I am so glad!
Hugs, Darlene


This is getting harder n harder but it’s worth it
How is it possible with abusive ppl around? Is it possible
how do you know if you are dissociating?
My therapist says she thinks I am but she’d not sure urgggg
So they are checking me for seizures instead
I do see that I dress diff and act different around different ppl or events.. sometimes I’m a free spirit or the responsible or even a little girl , ppl cant notice it’s like a state of mind and even the way I sit is diff.
Usually starts by not being able to sleep then I want to just be free and unreaponsible


I see, why would I ever want to be me ? if I was constantly told how lazy fat slow dirty I was
I remember the day I said I was goin to be perfect, just how they wanted me to!
I was 6 and I folded my pjs perfectly 🙁 poor little girl
So much I don’t remember


Hi Joan
Realizing that “why would I want to be me” was a huge thing in my recovery. I did lots of work around realizing how others defined me as “unworthy” and so “why would I want to be me” when me was never enough. Realizing how they defined me AND then setting those false definitions of me to the truth, that is where the major healing is!
Hugs, Darlene


Awesome!!!! I’m digging, I really wants to get away from the ex boyfriend and his narcissistic self so I am working hard on healing. I’m not responding as much to him but I still find myself wanting to prove to him I’m not crazy n everything else- I know I don’t have to its sinking in.  At first I just wanted one dinner with him to make him feel like he use to make me feel but his sob stories of his divorce blah blah and that his ex wife abused him( lol now I know that is typical of them to say). I don’t get why he Persues me if I’m all those neg things he tries to convince me I am.  I went backwards. Now it’s not revenge anymore bcux loving me is more important.
He is just like my mom but even more malignant, I never know where he is coming from. Urggg I am staying cool and mirroring back to him what he says or does. He knows my weaknesses so well


Yay for digging Joan!
I think the reason they pursue even with all those neg. opinions, is because it is about ownership instead of love. It makes them feel better about themselves if they can control someone else or if someone else complies with what they want esp. if they treat that someone badly. It is about the misuse of power and false def. of love.
Hugs, Darlene


I think is about some twisted power with me too, I want to hurt him back but doesn’t feel like it works.
No love we r only friends he says but then throws all this turns and then says that I am the one confused.
Lately he has stopped the heavy contact but then starts when I don’t. I just say hi in a weird way while I text him I know he won’t “show up around places I am” or say hurtful mean things
I am so afraid of the mean stuff he will say if I cut contact– he finds a way
I guess don’t want to feel hurt after the 3 emergency colon surgeries in 6 months
I’m vulnerable n embarrassed of still let him around.
It’s getting more confusing , I was in control of only talking to him once in a while but now when pulls back I get anxious – I don’t want to “Lose it “like he use to make me when I was a teenager and then say see, see ur nuts”
It seems like he is using or drinking a lot – he is like a different person at night. I know he does smoke m..

N drinks but I swear he buinges just a hunch. He has cut his arms up.. I should’ve run when “he shared ” this


He is nice and fake gentleman that he swears he is while I don’t respond to him but when I do. He plays the games that I had control over n would get him back (p.s I love psych and I thought I had emotional abusers down) but oh was I wrong LOL


Darlene, I’m so thankful you chose sharing EFB as your work. I hope to one day pay you what you deserve. After an intake interview for funded therapy, where I inappropriately trusted, didn’t say “why did you say that” but did correct ( a bit of growth ) & had to walk home saying my mantra in my head ( Quimet,Quimet,Quimet)
So I’m going to continue trying to stay with the present. My hope comes from you, your blog, the comments, & your responses. I have a few I read again & again to know there is one such as you!


Hi Fai
Your post made me smile.. If you are going to say my name in your head I want to make sure you can pronounce it; it is “we met” (no Q) like the french “yes” OUI..
Thank you so much for you comments! Comments like this make me really glad that I chose to share efb as my work too.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, Yes, I should have said ” pun intended” I’m so glad we met!


This is highly inspiring. God, the day when I won’t be surviving anymore but really fully living. Really present. Not just under a ‘glass’ but free. Not just feeling old hurts and primed for new ones. It’s my peace, and I’m so glad I lived to see a breakthrough in getting there.

Two months ago I was living in that fog. For the first time I quit drinking and drugs with the conviction to never use again; I had 2 and half months clean and sober, and one day I experienced a sense of rejection over a current issue that I now know opened all this up.

Previously I thought If I quit substance abuse and lose weight and look “more attractive”, my new life would come. And thinking about it, my new life would come because I would be more appealing to others. So I busted myself at the gym this summer and stayed sober.
Which is good—but I wasn’t looking inside too much. And it’s like that rejection forced me too. SHE inside, that kid, had had enough.

And I was excited to see my doctor in September, because I began finally to connect dots and feel the impact of my abuse rather than just think about it. For 20 years, I’ve had chat times with him, usually focusing on childhood stuff. And he responded—not saying this outright—with an air of “here we go again”. Telling me about moving on, how I would be bored telling these ‘stories’ one day. As I left his office he had this look of, “this woman is never going to get better”. He had said, as he did every time I talked to him, “one day you won’t be so dependent on me”.
And he was right, but in a way I couldn’t see coming: I stopped from that day wanting or needing to talk to him about this stuff again. He can’t help me anymore, I know better than him about my healing. 23 years of chats, I talked to him more than any other patient in his 30 year career, he said.

That day, rather than doubt myself as I had done so often—especially because he is such an authority figure—I walked out realizing, in a deep ironic way, that believing him and adopting his viewpoint would keep me stuck. That my new found conviction of turning around and facing childhood head on was the way forward. It wasn’t not taking responsibility for my life, it wasn’t being a self-indulgent victim. It was examining how I got here, in a more awakened state; not pretending there’s this demarcation line psychologically between childhood and adulthood, as if HIS self-described loving nurturing childhood wasn’t fully present in HIS adult mindset, and played out in his healthy life choices. It works both ways, loving or abusive pasts, and you can’t just take a cleaver and cut one away from the other, like a tumor.

I really wonder where this line is supposed to be, between the past and the present. I haven’t been living in the past all these years so much as trying to escape it, drinking and pills and sleeping into the afternoon. I talked about it but wasn’t feeling it and examining it. But I think it was a process all along. Starting as a teenager, reading about weight issues or shyness…later on about self-esteem, years later about drinking…then reading about child sexual abuse even though I told myself I didn’t “really” suffer that, and the books were interesting….then being diagnosed with PTSD, then last year, “attachment disorder”—like branches on a tree, for 30 years inching toward the root—I was ABUSED AS A KID, this is what it’s all about for me.

When I hear “move on” or the like now, I hear, “I don’t want to hear it”, or “I haven’t dealt with my own stuff” more than anything. But I can’t turn my head away any more.


Wow Doren
This is huge! Yay! Really great insights! Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

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