Mental Health Recovery ~ Ten Necessary Changes


Peace after recovery

I had to get it sorted out. I had to separate the real from the imagined; the true from the false; the facts from the fiction and it all had to be looked at from a new perspective; the true perspective. The way things really had been.  These are a few of the necessary things that I did in order to give myself some space to come out of the fog enough to see clearly and begin to heal.  This is part two; continued from “The Recovery Journey ~ Common Bonds

~ I decided that my version of the truth was not really mine and that I didn’t know the truth at all. I gave myself permission to examine the truth and to realize that my survivor mode was a leftover from childhood. I was strong enough to know the REAL TRUTH now.

~ I decided to spend some time with myself, to invest in myself and my health and to pay attention to me and give myself some of the value that I had shown to others.

~ I decided that I was not going to be responsible or accountable for other people’s feelings during this process.

~ I put aside my constant obsession with guilt and shame over not having enough faith (because if I had enough faith, I would be healed) and over not being grateful for my wonderful life (because I thought that I didn’t even deserve the good things I had) and put aside my obsession with doing things “the right way” (the right way according to who??)

~ I stopped trying to look at things as a mature adult who was responsible for the results of my own life and just looked at what my own life had somehow become.

~ I stopped feeling sorry for my parents and making excuses for their behavior and decided that I was going to just open my eyes and LOOK at the truth.

~ I gave myself permission to feel however I really felt. If that meant feeling angry; fine. If resentment came up, then that was fine too. I had to allow those feelings long enough to really feel them, so that I could let them go and become able to get over them.  

~ I decided to put aside the whole forgiveness issue. I did not think about forgiveness, I made a decision NOT to think about it until I had time to sort a bunch of things out because by then it had gotten really complicated. I was beating myself up for not forgiving and hiding the fact that I had not forgiven.

~I decided to put the time and effort into the process no matter what, because life the way that it was ~ was not worth living. I decided that I was going to at least find out what my “worth” was even if that meant that I was going to be disappointed. (I was so afraid that “they” were right about me, that really I wasn’t worth it. There is NO SUCH TRUTH!

~ Somehow I knew that doing all these things~ including putting my faith aside~ to examine the truth about faith itself and my faith, would not get me thrown into hell. I decided that I had to clear all that clutter, so that I could start fresh, with a clean slate, without all the garbage that was on my old slate.

Most of these decisions were not conscious. I made many of them along the way. My therapist had to tell me many times that I didn’t deserve to be so disregarded. He had to tell me many times that I had a right to have been protected and that the abuse was not my fault. It was in believing him that I was able to start to look at the truth. It was in seeing how my belief system formed, that I was motivated to change it. It was in taking everything apart that I was able to be put back together. When I was able to make a beginning on even the first few of these decisions I began to see the road ahead. Eventually, I walked into a world of freedom that I never thought possible. I was able to own my value; I not only felt my worth, but I knew it, and I found my purpose.

How does this post make you feel?

To Your Freedom on the Journey to Wholeness,

Darlene Ouimet

33 response to "Mental Health Recovery ~ Ten Necessary Changes"

  1. By: I garden too Posted: 19th April

    I don’t want to monopolize this thread, but I really appreciate this and think I understand it too. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the word “abuse” in my situation, but I did grow up with “worm theology”, fear of displeasing God, a dysfunctional and critical family system, and hyper-responsibility for everything. I’m sure I had a consequent sense of worthiness of everyone in the world except myself – although I don’t think I even realized that until recently. All of that certainly affected my life direction – a vocation that many would consider to be self-sacrificial etc. Ahhhh, it’s too long to tell here, but it seems to me that one person’s outward life can look much the same as someone else’s … but that the motivations and sense of an alive self at the core can be very, very different. Family systems are the same. They can look so good on the outside yet feel so suffocating from the inside. “Control, guilt and shame” – with the Bible wrapped around it. I guess maybe that IS abuse?? At any rate, it’s confusing. Very confusing in its subtlety and because it CAN look so good on the outside! I can’t believe it has taken me so long to see this, and that I’ve tried for so long to measure up to something, without even knowing I was doing it. And certainly I never considered why. Not sure I’m hearing God’s cheers just yet, but I’m not sensing his displeasure either … and the stirrings of life within me are more God-like than anything I’ve felt in a very long time. Thank you for the nudges to continue in that direction!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th April

      Hi “I garden too”.
      Something that surprised me is when I looked up the government definitions of child abuse (in the USA and Canada) and it is amazing what the definitions of abuse and neglect are.
      Looking at the “motives” was where I finally found the truth about the difference between one relationship and another. I was accused of being the controller a few times, but when looking at my motive vs. the other persons motives, it became very clear who the controller / manipulator was.
      Don’t worry about monopolizing this thread. This article is almost 2 years old now so not very active anymore. There are some conversations about this stuff going on in the more recent articles here if you would like to join us there.
      Hugs, Darlene

  2. By: I garden too Posted: 18th April

    Setting aside “confusion and conflict”. Yes. Much of that comes from my version of “faith”, I think. Maybe that’s what I meant – that I’m setting aside what has only seemed to me to be “faith”. Beliefs, practices, what is familiar – things I’ve been invested in – that have perhaps come at the expense of myself? Not sure I can really untangle things to say anything that makes sense here, but it encourages me to know that this was a long process for you. And as to prayer, I understand this, too. I don’t know how to explain or rationalize that coming from a faith perspective, but this is also my experience. And I think that for now, this is part of acknowledging where I’m really at instead of trying to force myself into another unhelpful version of “faith” and trying to make myself conform to it. It just feels like I really need to relax about these things for now in the process of hearing what else is really going on inside. A bit of a ramble here, but thank you. So glad I’ve found this site.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th April

      “I garden too”
      I feel strange telling you this, but I had this feeling that God was cheering me on. I had this “feeling” that God was telling me that it was right, that I was on the right track setting it all aside, like he was affirming that this was something that I needed to do in order to heal from some the abuse, and not just the spiritual abuse, but all abuse. It was all intertwined together. I was scared to set “god” aside but realized the fear came from people ~ people that put that fear in me. Eventually when this all got sorted out, I saw with amzing clarity how people use bible teachings to control, guilt and shame other people and when this begins in childhood, the lies seem to be truth and it is no different than the grooming process of all other types of abuse and mistreatment.
      I am glad you are here too!
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: I garden too Posted: 17th April

    I am so glad that your blog doesn’t emphasize so much the particulars of what happened in your life to make you broken but that what you emphasize is the commonalities with broken people and HOW YOU GOT FROM THERE TO HERE. But saying that, I’m glad you do mention faith, and 8 years of Greek and Hebrew and forgiveness – and your decision to lay that stuff aside to just take care of yourself and SEE and LISTEN. To YOURSELF! I can really relate to this. As I read about your journey, right about the time I’m hearing myself say, “What is your problem? You had a much better life than this! This blog is for people who have REAL problems. Get a grip. Pull yourself out of this and stop whining. Get out of yourself”. Right about that time I’ll read something else you’ve written that just resonates so deeply with me about past stuff, beliefs, and the need to face it and find it somehow.

    My past has God all through it. As does my present adult life. God and faith and correct beliefs and wonderful, self-giving dedicated people. Whine about that? Set that aside?!? But somehow it’s become like a prison to me. Walls I can’t go past. Defining who I am, what I feel (or should feel). I’m becoming slowly aware of things I DO feel, though. Things that were off-limits before. Feeling like I was set-up from the beginning to not acknowledge who I was or what I felt but to take on somebody else’s script. And it’s gotten me here – to a place of exhaustion and emptiness. I don’t know how to integrate this with God and beliefs I’ve held all my life, but for now I’m trying very hard not to worry about that and instead listen to myself for a change. Realizing I had no idea who “Myself” was is what drove me to therapy in the first place.

    Thank you for talking about faith and clearing clutter in the same sentence. That’s exactly where I am right now.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th April

      Hi “I garden too”
      sounds like you are on the right track! I had beautiful faith filled people in my life too; I didn’t set them aside. I didn’t even set my faith aside ~ I set all the confusion and conflict aside. I didn’t even pray for well over 2 years and I somehow knew that it was okay and necessary for my healing. And it was! The sorting out part of my process was the part that took the longest. (over 2 years) but it all came together and the other parts of the healing processes went so much quicker. I found myself ~ I feel like I finally know who I am now and what I am “doing here” and it is fantastic!
      I am really glad that you are here!
      hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Laura Posted: 10th March

    Your post made me feel hopeful for the many people I will one day counsel who have been through abuses similar to yours. I have healed from many of my own past issues, I’m thankful to say, but we can always learn and grow more through anothers’ eyes and experience.


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 10th March

      EFB is all about hope! Thanks for sharing!
      hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Fai Posted: 29th January

    I don’t know if it helps to write in the mist of the pain,but here goes. Lots of my beliefs are based on things I don’t remember. Reading your posts Darlene & the comments helps my memories to come back. Then I change them to positive. Right now I’m hating being set in such a horrible family,then living 51 years being blamed & shamed for it. I would never even let anyone love me very long, first I couldn’t even understand it (pretty much learning now) then not wanting to taint their lives. This tainting still seams to be occurring. So I trust your sharing & I’ll just explore the depths of this origins of damage funk.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 29th January

      This sounds excellent! It takes time, but it is so worth it.
      Hugs, Darlene

  6. By: Roshani Posted: 24th September

    This is also TRUE …Sophia!!! I can’t not stand when someone tell me that now I am Adult and i have to take the responsability for the RESULTS of my LIFE!!! Where they were all these people when we were HARMED CHILDREN and they were all pretending. Not TO SEE NOTHING!!! IT was not their RESPONSABILITY to protect and LOVE US all the same??!!!WE have taken as CHILDREN a RESPONSABILITY that sure it is not the responsability that has to take a child , this means that we had to take the resonsability that it has BEEN OUR FAULT if the ADULTS have given harm to Us …we DESERVED IT because we were BAD!!!!ANd still now my DEFENCE when I hear the word RESPONSABILITY it is So BIG that I have the INSTINCT to kill them( SURE I don’t do it!!!)….but it is also OK now to feel all this anger….my little INNER CHILD still needs to make feel the aults responsable of this CRIME!!! LOVE AND LIGHT TO YOU!!Roshani

  7. By: Sophia Posted: 23rd September

    How does it make me feel? I feel sad, and that’s GOOD, because these words are opening the doors to compassion for myself. I especially like the point about putting aside seeing myself as a mature adult who is responsible for the results of my life. I have felt guilty for so long about not feeling able to cope. I believed them when they told me it was because I was lazy, or a dreamer, or unrealistic. The little girl did not get what she needed to become a mature adult, and then she receives the blame for their failure.

  8. By: beverly Posted: 25th August

    this post says all that i am going through it all makes sense to me. the bridge and the keys the returning to the real self lost left behind in a childhood prison made by the abusers. it is a long and difficult process but you made it and that makes me feel encouraged. additionally aids my understanding of this complex process of recovery. those labels given so easily by psychiatrists begin to fade away as truth and understanding surface. Humility and compassion not scientific labels, after all we are human (were helpless children)
    thankyou for the post

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th August

      Hi Beverly,
      That is my goal! To communicate that I made it, so you can too. Excellent comments!!
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: IAmEchad Twitter Posted: 9th August

    I love that. There IS life after broken. Wow

    PS. Is there a way to be notified of follow-up comments?

  10. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th May

    Dear Sharon,
    It is very hard and draining to sort all this stuff out; I often wonder if the reason that I was unwell so much of the time was because of my emotional struggles. I am so rarely ill now. It is so important that you keep seeking your truth, and empower yourself with it, as you move forward with your journey. I felt so sad and lonely too, and I think that is a season in the whole process. It did take some time though.. I wish I could tell you that it passed quickly. I was also exhausted and thought I would never feel energy again, but I did! I have a full life now, in fact I am writing this comment from Puerto Vallarta Mexico where I am vacationing with my youngest daughter ~ and the other night this older man came up to us at dinner and said that he had been watching us play in the ocean, and from the screams and laughter he could not tell mother from child; he said it brought tears to his eyes. It brought tears to my eyes too, that I am able to be this way today. There is hope! There is life after broken!
    Thanks for being here,
    Hugs, Darlene

  11. By: sharron Posted: 29th May

    Darlene, I also resontated with putting aside forgiveness and the 12 step process that seemed as if it peirced my precious self. That was back in the 1980s. I’m interested in your journey, because you have found such wonderment . I am floundering after severing ties with an abusive family, moving, and being unwell and isolated. It takes only one of these things to create a vacuum. I think dealing with them all takes all of my energy + courage. The world isn’t a kind place without fellowship + sharing. I’m finding it’s easier to speak of, or imagine feeling better, but life’s harsh reality doesn’t support me to heal. It feels sad and lonely.

  12. By: mel Posted: 22nd May
  13. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th May

    I can completly relate to everything you say, I felt all the same ways too. I am so gald that this blog is helping, and yes.. yes there is always light at the end of the tunnel!
    Hugs, Darlene

  14. By: Rebekah Encke Posted: 19th May

    Darlene, once again you have spoken to me. Until 3 weeks ago I really didnt even imagine living past the time my kids left home, even if I made it that long it would be a miracle in my mind. No hope doesnt even begin to describe it, I had nothing. One day in art therapy I had to draw an abstract picture of what I saw as my inner worth and I drew an “X” because I dont believe I have any worth whatsoever, and even though logically I “know” its not true, it doesnt seem to stick in my head, so I need to see the REAL truth. So I am here forcing myself to do whatever I can to make me realize my value, and you are helping me to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I thank you for that

  15. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th May

    This is such a huge topic; one that I intend to write a few posts about soon, and I can assure you that they are not going to be “typical” lecture type posts. Forgiveness for me was not part of the work, I had to set it aside, it was just too frustrating and too OLD of a wound. I had to separate things in order to look at them through the truth lens. I had to take events apart and look at things in a new way and I decided that I was going to FEEL anger this time, and I was going to be mad at the ones that hurt me. When I was honest about my feelings, and looked at things the way they really were, I knew that I had not brought on certain events in my life, and I also knew that I had been very devalued and unprotected. Out of the events of my childhood developed a false belief about myself. I could not understand forgiveness until I righted that false belief system. When I began to really feel my recovery and live my life as who I believe I was always meant to be, I suddenly realized the anger and resentment was gone. Forgiveness happened naturally, not because I DID something but because I understood the truth. I feel sorry for many of the people that I used to be so angry at.. some of the ways that they live and the things they did to me to keep me “down” are really pathetic. I appreciate your honesty in your comment. I look forward to hearing from you again as we journey together.
    Hugs, Darlene

  16. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th May

    How lovely to see your name here and thank you for your comment.
    Hugs, Darlene

  17. By: Becky Posted: 19th May

    Your comment about setting aside the whole forgiveness issue struck a HUGE nerve in me…people have been telling me – over and over – that I need to forgive. All sorts of people, on all sorts of levels. I’m so totally confused about forgiveness, what it means, how do I do it, what it should feel like, what happens if I can’t, don’t! Frustrated with myself because I don’t even know what the word means! I thought I had it all figured out when I started using the words “acceptance” and “letting go” but those don’t feel right either. Nothing seems to “fit” me. I still have a lot of anger inside me (as I was reminded today by my therapist) and still have a lot of work to do. Is forgiveness part of that work? I don’t know. I’m going to give a lot of thought to your words. Thank you!

  18. By: Ligeia Posted: 19th May

    Excellent points, every single one is dead on. *hugs*

  19. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th May

    Its kind of a funny thing when someone has such a strong reaction. I want to say “yeah! I’m happy that it hit you so hard” but yet I feel the pain in all of it too. But as I always like to remind myself and others, My FAV Quote by Kahlil Gibran “The pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding”. So pain and tears are good. I am so happy that you are sharing your process with us.
    Hugs, Darlene

    I will have to check out your list! Thanks for your encouragement, I do second guess myself, but I have learned that it is only because I so deeply want what is best for others.. and I know that I am powerless over that, but I still want it!
    Hugs, Darlene

  20. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 17th May

    What a great list and no it isn’t too long. It is just right because that is what you wrote. We are still good at second guessing ourselves. You give others hope that they can accomplish the same thing. I just posted my own list of things that I did as tiny steps toward learning to love myself in recovery.

  21. By: Splinteredones Posted: 17th May

    How does this post make me feel? I’m crying so hard I can’t see
    my phone’s keys. You have once again spoken straight to my heart. The process. How it began with tiny shreds of belief, including your therapist (who sounds like a great guy). When you say you were not to blame, when you say that you’re not toxic, false beliefs are that–false…you get me right where I’m living these days. I know that I will read this many many times. Thank you

  22. By: stacy Posted: 17th May

    I admire all the hard work you’ve done in your recovery. Thank you for sharing many of the things you’ve found to be key for you.
    I find the list kind of emotionally overwhelming and difficult to imgine achieving. But at least it’s something to work towards.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th May

      Hi Stacy,
      You know, I might have included too many points on this list; I certainly didn’t do them all at once, but I am glad that you feel like it is something you can work towards.
      Hugs, Darlene

  23. By: K. Gibson Posted: 17th May

    This post let me know that you’ve been through what I am currently trying to do. Clean slate is the perfect phrase for what I seek and feel that I deserve.I repressed everything so well,mentally I felt exhausted and knew I needed a change. Your words have shown me that it can be done. God Bless

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th May

      K. Welcome and thank you for your comment. I was so exhausted that all I thought about was when my kids were grown up I would lay on a beach and do nothing for the rest of my life. I had no hope anymore before I understood a few keys things. ~I believed the lies about me and that my memories were false. I thought I was just an attention seeker. I blieved that I did not deserve happiness becasue of the first lie. I didn’t think that I could overcome that much muck and confusion! But you are right!! It can be done! Thank you for being here!
      Hugs, Darlene

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