My Reckoning Journey on the path to Forgiving my Parents by Pam Witzemann

Parents and Forgiveness

at the end of the reckoning

Part 2 continues in this 2 part guest article by Pam Witzemann. Please read part 1 “The Process of Forgiving…” for additional information and helpful context.

My Reckoning Journey on the path to Forgiving my Parents by Pam Witzemann

Being able to forgive my parents for abusing me, as a child, came at the conclusion of my healing journey. I found the ability to forgive at the end of a long reckoning process which enabled me to forgive from a position of power that was not dependent upon any action on the part of my parents.

 During the reckoning process, which must take place before forgiving an abuser is possible, offenses are named and counted. Damage caused by the abuse is assessed and culpability assigned to those responsible for the abuse. The amount of damage sustained and the number of years that healing requires, determines the length of that process. My process began when I was nineteen. Now, I’m 56 and though I believe myself to be healed, there were many plateaus, during which I believed I had conquered my past. There were many times that I thought I’d forgiven what needed to be forgiven only, to have another layer of trauma and damage revealed.

The first abuser I dealt with was me. It was through my faith that I was able to stop abusing myself, by stopping my self-abusive behavior. Of all my abusers, I think I did myself the most damage but without their tutelage, I never would have thought to treat myself, as I once did. Even though I stopped my outward, self-destructive actions, it wasn’t until I confronted the truth about the other abusers in my childhood, that I was able to stop emotionally and psychologically, abusing myself, by blaming myself for their actions. This didn’t begin to take place until about six years ago. After stopping my self-abuse, I had to assess the damage.

In my twenties, my PTSD was severe and I didn’t even understand it as emotional illness. My depressions were so immobilizing that I thought I had some terrible disease and was dying. My emotions were so divorced from reality that the depression seemed to come out of nowhere, by its own volition. Like-wise, my hyper vigilant anxiety, was perceived as premonitions of bad things about to happen, rather than worry about the past repeating itself. When my husband and I lived in the city, I would dress myself as a boy when I had to go out alone. I couldn’t be alone by myself, at night. I convinced my husband to move me far into the country and when I went into town, I would slip in early in the morning, do what I needed to do, and hurry back home. I was terrified, depressed, and very, angry and I had no idea why because I thought that everything that happened to me was my fault. There was little that I considered as abuse because I had been convinced that I had earned what happened to me.

With time, the love of my husband and my faith, my PTSD became more manageable but I didn’t learn that I suffered from clinical depression until I was almost forty. Then I found myself on a lot of prescription drugs (that I didn’t really need in the long-term). They made me certifiably, insane and I came close to losing my life. Finally, it was the process of raising my children that caused me to confront myself and my past. This led me to do a lot of reading and studying and I found my way to Emerging from Broken. I had already begun to connect the dots and understand why I was depressed and anxious. I’d realized that I had been sexually abused as a teenager and that it wasn’t my fault. I had been confronting my family about the sexual abuse and their reactions caused me to read about various family dynamics and how they affect behavior. When I began to read about the structure of narcissistic families, I was literally, sick at my stomach because it was such a strong dose of truth. I googled “narcissistic relationships mothers daughters” and that led me to EFB.

As is the common reaction here in EFB, I was amazed to find people who understood what I was talking about when I described my family and my life. Darlene’s writing and coaching led me into a much deeper understanding of how the abusive treatment in my childhood, shaped me and my life. I learned names for behaviors that I was too ashamed and confused to confess. I continued to try and reach my family and was met with continual, rejection and disregard.

Finally, I drew a simple line; I told them that my love for them was unconditional but relationship with me, no longer was. I told them they had to treat me with respect and that had to begin by acknowledging that I was sexually abused as a teenager and that my parents were guilty of criminal child neglect when they knew where I was, what was happening to me, and did nothing to stop it. The law was on my side but still, they continued to deny that I was a victim of any kind of crime or that my parents had any responsibility in it. I replied by requesting that they not contact me, in any way, until they could honor the boundary I set for relationship.

The reaction on the part of my family was that I had to forgive them and the men who raped me. This while denying that anything took place that required forgiveness. I wanted to forgive them. There will always be a part of me that wants to reunite with my family and for a long time, I thought they had to take responsibility for the things they’d done to me before I could forgive them. I thought forgiveness meant that reconciliation would automatically, take place but I couldn’t do as I’d done in the past. I couldn’t swallow the truth and sacrifice my self-respect, in order to keep a relationship with my family.

Choosing to simply allow the offenses to ride, is forgiveness from a position of weakness. This kind of forgiveness doesn’t have the power to heal anyone and it is no foundation for reconciliation. I didn’t want to lose my relationship with my family. They are my family and I love them, unconditionally. I still love them even in the face of all the things they’ve done to hurt me. However I couldn’t sacrifice the returned dignity that my reckoning had bought me. It was too hard won and too valuable to surrender. I had to stand with and on the truth. I had to maintain the boundary I set. I suffered so much over the course of my lifetime and I couldn’t do as they have always required, pretend that nothing serious had happened and hold myself solely, responsible. Keeping the boundary I set, honored the undeserved suffering I endured.

However, I also, wanted to forgive them and leave my painful childhood behind. I didn’t want to prosecute them for the abuse. I didn’t want them to suffer and I didn’t want to exact revenge. What I wanted was to have them take responsibility for their actions. Then, I wanted to forgive them so that we could be a real family. I couldn’t do their part or force them to take responsibility. However, I could do my part. I told them that I did forgive them but if they wished our relationship to be restored, they had to do their part by acknowledging the truth of what happened to me and how their neglect contributed to the sexual abuse.

At that point, I understood that my suffering was more than enough to pay the penalty for the crimes committed against me and it was time for my suffering to end. It was time for me to come down from that cross of suffering and bury the dead past; not with the pretense, lies, and deception that I buried it under, for so long; but instead, give it an honorable burial with remembrance of the price I paid in suffering and all that I had to overcome. As long as I continued under the family system of lies and pretense and as long as I was met with disregard whenever, I tried to get them to face the truth, I remained nailed upon my cross and I suffered.

Finally, I gave up the ghost of trying to make my family understand what they didn’t want to understand. They didn’t want to change and would never choose to unless, for some reason of their own they decided they would benefit by it. I required them to honor my choice and I honored theirs. I knew my reckoning work was finished. It was time for me to rise from the ashes of my childhood, walk a new path, and live a new kind of life.

As long as my family refuses to acknowledge my suffering and how they brought that suffering about, they will never be able to enjoy the forgiveness I earned for them or apply my forgiveness to themselves. Our relationship from that moment forward was fully, severed and can only be restored, if and when they embrace the truth. In the same way that Christ paid for my sins, my abuses, my suffering was enough to pay for the crimes they committed against me. Just as Jesus was sacrificed, paid my penalty, and laid the way open for me to be reconciled with God, I forgave and opened the way for them to be reconciled with me; but in order to do so, they must honor the price I paid in suffering by acknowledging their crimes against me.

As I write this post, they remain lost in their abuses and continue to cling to lies in order to deny their crimes. The only thing that can save them and our relationship is for them to reckon with the truth, as I reckoned with the truth. It’s been nearly two years and I’ve not heard a word from them but I know the stand I made was the correct stand. I did what was right and it was the best thing I can do for them as well as for myself. I presented the truth clearly and I stand firmly, upon that truth. That is the only hope I have to offer them. They made their choice and though the way to reconciliation remains open to them, so far they still choose to deny the truth.

I am at peace because I followed the truth to its end. I forgave and then walked away. The reckoning process and my suffering are finished and now I have full closure on the past. If at some point, they do decide to acknowledge the price I paid in suffering for their actions, the real work between us will begin. Forgiving an abuser, isn’t a simple decision that magically, restores broken relationships, in full, but it does open the possibility for working out a new relationship that is healthy, equal, and free of abuse.

I’m not sure where I am in the reckoning process of forgiving the men who raped me, as a teenager. I haven’t seen them in decades and since there is no relationship to restore, I’m not sure what forgiving them will require from me. Perhaps, I’ve given enough. I’ve thought of hunting them down and prosecuting them but I haven’t pursued this even far enough to know what I can and can’t do, according to the law. I’ve only recently allowed myself to feel anger toward them and mourn what they took from me; because I thought for so long, that it was my fault. Right now, I’m happy to be free of the self-loathing and confusion about myself that imprisoned me for so long. Right now, that is enough. I know that as long as I pursue and live in truth, I am on the right path and it will end at the best destination for me.

My reckoning journey on the path toward forgiving my parents, my childhood abusers, was a long one. Part of that is because of the silencing of victims and attitudes toward mental health care. I’m hopeful that abuse survivors today may enjoy a shorter journey. My hope is in survivors speaking out and exposing child abuse for what it is. In the past two years, I’ve been amazed as the most painful, darkest secrets in my life have become a light for others. Six years ago, my voice cracked when I tried to tell my husband about the sexual abuse. I wrote to my family of origin and then shivered under a blanket for hours, after I sent the letter. I couldn’t imagine telling my children or talking publically about what happened to me. It’s powerful to be able to accept the little girl (who was me) who was battered in such a way, back into my life and fearlessly, acknowledge and share the truth about the degrading, soul-shattering abuse she (I) endured.

I know that the choices I’ve made in reckoning with my past and then forgiving my parents were the right things to do. Even though that forgiveness didn’t bring reconciliation because they still refuse to do their part, my forgiveness marks the burial of my painful childhood. It also, marks the beginning of my new life. I now enjoy self-acceptance and freedom from the self-loathing, shame, and guilt that my abusers created in me.

My suffering is finished and I am free. I am enjoying a life in which abusing me isn’t okay. There are no more shameful parts of my life to hide and the demons that haunted me for so long, no longer have any power to torment me. All the lies they used to oppress me have been exposed and there is no guilty, darkness left within me, where they can hide. It’s wonderful to embrace all the broken pieces of me, in one, more complete, human being. It’s amazing to be able to love myself, in the same way that God loves me. These are the things that I have earned by completing the reckoning process that ended with forgiving my parents; my childhood abusers.

Pam Witzemann

Please share your thoughts with Pam about anything in either Part 1 or Part II of these articles about the difficult subject of forgiving parents who are childhood abusers or who contributed to the child abuse that was perpetrated by others. ~ Darlene ~ founder of Emerging from Broken

Pam Witzemann was born in Santa Fe, NM and is married, has raised two boys and has two grandsons. Pam and her husband have had their own business for over twenty years. Pam is a painter and a writer and hopes to make these pursuits more than a hobby in her later years. Pam authors the blog Boomer Back-Beat; a place where baby boomers find inspiration in the process of aging.

Related Posts ~See coloured phrases in bold throughout the post 

Part 1 ~ The Process of Forgiving….. by Pam Witzemann  

~ Overcoming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Freedom & Wholeness



[…] is essential; this post is about understanding forgiveness and the part it may play in recovery. Stay tuned for Part II; Pam digs even deeper into the reckoning process as it unfolded for […]


Thank you so much for sharing this!! Reading it takes me one step closer to becoming healed and whole again.


Helen, I’m glad it helps. I was beat up over not forgiving for so long and my definition of it was so warped because of it, that I couldn’t see the freedom for me, in it. It was defined for me as never daring to mention what the other person had done wrong, just ignoring it, and then go back to putting up with the same behavior. There is no way I could have ever reached true, forgiveness, while holding that definition. I had to go through reckoning first and that is what I was denied for so many years. Thank you for taking the time to comment.:0)



I am a very forgiving person. I am willing and able to forgive someone that seeks forgiveness. To seek forgiveness you must do the following: show true remorse and regret for what you have done, be contrite about it and be seeking forgiveness, change your behavior going forward to not repeat the offense or actions. Aside from that, we are not talking about forgiveness. We are talking about whether or not I have the ability to feel empathy for someone who is mentally ill. And that is different. And the answer to that is, not yet. Maybe someday. But forgiveness. Nobody has asked me for that. I’ll let you know if they do. I’m not holding my breath.


Michele, The first part of this piece defines what true, forgiveness is, as I now define it. Finding that right definition was as important as finding the right definition of love. I didn’t get them from the family system I was raised in. I sure didn’t get it from the men who raped me for over a year, as a teenager. I had forgivenesss demanded from me from my parents, every time I tried to talk about my childhood. I was bludgened with it. Being able to forgive them is every bit as amazing as learning that love isn’t to be earned. I was able to retrieve what was stolen from me by being able to forgive, corectly. The forgiveness that was forced from me in the past, was twisted and gave me no honor.

I’ve always considered myself as forgiving, too. It’s easy for me to blow things off and overlook them and that was the problem. I didn’t honor myself enough,I blew things off too easy, I set myself up by following the definition of forgiveness that I learned from my FOO. True forgiveness requires the reckoning that honors myself. Forgiveness isn’t just a freebie. It comes at a cost and realizing that makes it much easier to maintain my boundaries.

I also, know that forgiving someone is a process and that process takes as long as it takes. It can’t be pushed and it can’t be produced upon demand. It should always honor the victim and humble the offender. Everything else that abusers call forgiveness, isn’t forgiveness. My parents never asked me for it either. It’s more like a gift I’ve given myself, since they remain too irresponsible to receive it. I’m not going to hurt over it anymore.I’ve let go of the offenses after counting them and mourning them. Now I’m free of them.

I know this is a tough subject and when your in the middle of it, who can even think of forgiveness. Not when no one even acknowledges anything has happened. Every abuse victim needs to be heard and find self-validation. Healing has to happen first. As far as the sexual abuse, those creeps are probably, as objectified in my thinking of them as I was in their thinking, when I was a girl. They’ve been more like demons that tormented me for decades, as I was too ashamed to talk about it to anyone. It’s a whole different thing. There’s nothing to even consider reconciling so, any forgiving that comes from it will be solely, for me and I don’t know what that looks like. I don’t know if I ever will and honestly, it doesn’t matter to me,right now.



Pam, i have read your posts and have a GREAT deal of respect for you! I, however, am unable to forgive. And I am ok with that too. But, the more important part, methinks, is in our own path of healing for ourselves. This was yours, and probably many others, path. And I am happy you have taken it. Because the end of the journey, however we arrive, is most important. And I have no doubt, for many, the path includes forgiveness. For me? I’ll check back with you in a few years. Is that fair? 😉


Michelle, Absolutely!:0)I’m sharing this more to let people see that forgiveness is just another way we’ve had our hearts twisted by abuse.I would never demand someone else forgive, or else!Never. And I’d never encourage anyone to rush or divert their own healing process. It’s cruel and abusive to do so. I had so much pain,knotted at my core, that secret inner place, for so long. The whole process in these last six years has been about working that knot loose, allowing it to uncoil. Forgiving my parents was the last knot to let go and it came as a natural conclusion of the process.


Pam! Thank you for your insightful writing. What you said above to
Helen is exactly true for me. I helps so much to be able to share
here on EFB. I know you are an artist. I also do my own artful
creations and find its a great way to express and have good feelings
which were always denied (not allowed) by family.
I dont know that I can forgive the abuse as its still ongoing but
will reach a point of not caring which for me is harder. I got to
that place with my Dad and need to achieve it with my mother and brother.
Im NC but still obsessing about them. I guess Im still pretty angry.


Michelle, Pam and all the readers
I agree with you that it is more important for us to be on the healing path for ourselves. In my journey I set all the teachings that I had learned that had any baggage associated with them, (such as the issue of forgiveness) and I tried to start from my own clear slate. I had to understand first that I did not have to forgive, that it was NOT a requirement to healing, before I could fully proceed with my healing. Funny how that worked. When I was feeling really whole agian, and really free, I realized that I no longer had the resentments, the pain or the desire to get revenge on the people who abused me and I realized that ‘forgiveness’ must have happened or at least that is what I had come to understand forgiveness was. And I am fine with that. I had to have time to validate the damage; I had to have permission to be really angry and if forgiveness was my goal, then I would have to squish those feelings like I had always done in the past. I always say that forgivness was a result of the healing process, but when forgiveness is not sought by abusers, all I am looking for is ‘peace’ and when I get that, and don’t have so much energy around the people who caused the damage, I am free, but again, THAT process is number one!
I totally understand what Pam is saying in her articles, but I also understand what a complicated subject this is too! I think that many of the readers here (including me) First need permission NOT to have to forgive, (and that is absolutly fine!) more than an understanding of forgiveness, but I really like the way Pam is sharing her story too.
To sum it up; As for me, I don’t believe that forgiveness is a choice; I believe it is a result. I did not seek to forgive, I do not see it as part of the solution, but I see it as part of the freedom at the end of the process. (when it happens!)
And I love that Pam says forgiveness comes from a postition of power and not weakness! YES that is so very true!
Hugs, Darlene


so just tell the people that get in your face and tell you how to live your life: You talk about/live your life and I will talk about/live mine. Tough if their religion doesn’t allow them to have proper boundaries with others.



Good clarifying comments, making for a great discussion on the whole.

I like this”

“don’t have so much energy around the people who caused the damage, I am free, but again,”

for me that happens when I greatly limit or omit contact.


Karen,I spent a lot of my life trying to figure out what motivated my parents and why they were the way they were. They sure weren’t sharing and I’m not even sure they understand themselves even though, they are totally, self-involved. Letting go of trying to figure out their inner workings, accepting that in many ways, they are very shallow with the same kind of motivations as small children, helped me to start working on me. I could never not care or find any kind of healing if I was still in that system of lies and pretense. I also, had to individiate myself from them and escape the enmeshment. It wasn’t easy to do any of that. It took time, knowledge, maturity, and the force of my anger that accepting the truth gave me, to accomplish that. After it was over and I found myself fully individiated from them, I had a new perspective of them. They are separate from me, now. Their sickness doesn’t make me sick because I’m not part of them. How could I have ever forgiven them before all of that took place? Now, I see them for who they are, separate from me, and that gives me the distance I need to let the weight of all the offenses go. Forgiving them is the result of my healing and I couldn’t have reached it before completing the process. The last thing I ever want to do is put pressure on someone else to produce forgivness on demand. Understanding and being able to experience true, forgiveness was stolen from me by those who abused me as a child but I retrieved it when I recovered from all that was done to me.



What about neglect, rather than abuse? And what if your parents have already died?
How could I recount each ‘instance’ of neglect that began at birth and lasted until I escaped at age 20?


Darlene, I read your comment after I answered Karen’s and I can’t believe how we said so much the same thing, in our own way, of course. You know, I don’t think I ever saw forgiveness as part of my personal healing because it had always been presented to me as something I was expected to give others, with no requirements attached. Jesus said to forgive others in the same way He forgive us and that was used against me, to make me feel that if I with-held the forgiveness demanded from me, then I wasn’t living up to the faith that I profess. I’m pretty serious about my faith so, my wanting to forgive was motivated by my wanting to live as Jesus lived and follow Him. Then one day, I read what He said and laid aside the false concept of those words that had been taught to me and I focused on the words, ‘in the same way’. When I followed the process that God went through to be able to forgive, everyone (which took thousands of years)I saw that it wasn’t something that I could give in a snap. I also, begin to understand that the responsibility to reconcile a relationship wasn’t all mine and I could do only my part. Though I agree that it comes as the result of the reckoning, healing process, I also, still believe we have the choice to give or withhold that forgiveness but it is an empowering choice and not a forced choice. I like making my own choices but feeling forced to choose what another wants from us, when it isn’t in our hearts, is abuse. I think the reason that it is so hard for survivors to even talk about forgiveness is because it is used as bludgeon against so many of us. My experience with that kind of forgiveness meant letting all my protective barriers down so that I could be abused some more. That’s because all the responsiblity was placed on me. I don’t allow that anymore. As it stands today, I’m the only one to benefit from forgiving my parents. That will never change until they do their part and take responsibility for themselves and their actions. That’s the only way to build the trust necessary to have a relationship. I no longer get too close to people that I don’t trust.



Kate, I agree that we should state our boundaries when someone is trying to take control of their lives. However, I don’t think it is their religion making them do it, or the devil, or anything outside of their own wish for power over others. Religion is their chosen weapon, the tool they use to gain power over others. When people do that to me, I stay focused on the real culprit rather than the weapon because if that weapon doesn’t work, they are more than likely, to pick up another. There’s no threat in the weapon when it is removed from the abuser’s hands.



#12, so well put!!!!
and #14, clarification about religion being a weapon, yes, absolutely, and I said that sort of tongue in cheek after the week I’ve had…but yes, it is a weapon and another can be found, and don’t focus on the weapon, but it felt good for me to say that this week, you know, the idea that more harm as been done in the name of religion…


Hi K8
Welcome to EFB
Neglect IS abuse. I didn’t recount ‘every instance’ of neglect ~ I only had to realize enough of them to get a clear picture~ that enabled me to validate the damage that was caused to ME through the neglect. Realizing the way that I was disounted enabled me to see the false messages about me that I had received through that neglect. (that I wasn’t important etc.) Recovery for me had nothing to do with ‘them’ the people who caused the damage. It is not dependant on their actions or thier agreement with me. I had to finally validate me.
Hugs, Darlene


Kate, I know some of what you’ve been through and I totally, understand your statement. We survivors get confused by the weapons they use against us, they know that. Abusers use all the things that people want to trust in, against them. I don’t know if you’ve read about the pedophile rings being exposed in Britain and Europe but it is an excellent example of why we shouldn’t trust people just because they have a certain kind of education or hold a powerful position. In fact, I think we should be more suspicious of those who hold power.



Pam and Kate
And to add to what Pam just said; I think that we are brainwashed into believing we have to trust straight away. (once again, controllers who misuse power have set it up this way since the dawn of time) I trust when I feel that a person is ‘trust-worthy’ not because they have a degree or title. My clients don’t automatically trust me just because I say that I know what I am doing. Many of them begin to trust me because they have read enough of my blog to catch a glimpse of my integrity, but that doesn’t mean they have to trust me. They come along with trust as our relationship progresses. And I don’t ask them to trust me. That is up to them. Trusting until proven un-trustworthy is a backwards way of entering into relationship. My biggest problem with trust turned out to be that I didn’t trust myself to know when to trust or not trust so having permission NOT to trust, was a very big beginning on the path to freedom!
Hugs, Darlene


[…] have a new article at, http://www.emergingfrombroken.com/my-reckoning-journey-on-the-path-to-forgiving-my-parents-by-pam-wi…. In this two-part article, I share my journey in finding my way to forgive my parents for the way […]


Darlene, I think the choice to begin to reiniate trust has to be treated like a bank account. The one who broke trust has to make deposits into that account and it takes time for that account to become large enough for the offender to be fully, trusted. I too, didn’t know who or how to trust. I had no guidelines to follow. If someone said they loved me, I trusted whatever they said they wanted me to do. That led me to not being able to trust anyone. If my parents did accept my forgivness, in respect of the boundary I set for relationship, they would have to make a lot of deposits, over a long period of time to earn back the trust they broke in me. It would take a lot of work and a lot of time.



p.s. The link above my last comment is me linking to this article from my website because I have so many people who come in on the search for answers on how to forgive abusive parents or if it is required. I also, like to point survivors to EFB so, it’s a promo for your work, Darlene.:0)



Pam, I can really relate to the section about hyper vigilant anxiety….

“My emotions were so divorced from reality that the depression seemed to come out of nowhere, by its own volition. Like-wise, my hyper vigilant anxiety, was perceived as premonitions of bad things about to happen, rather than worry about the past repeating itself.”

This happens to me as well. It mainly happens to me at night now, where it used to be any time of the day. Sometimes when I wake up at night, I have an ominous sense of dread and feel threatened by something. I guess it’s my subconscous processing events from my childhood.

I usually deal with it by breathing exercises or a relaxation audio, or sometimes I tell myself “I’m strong, I’m safe”. It is getting better, so I know that I’m healing.


Daisy, I still have lots of trouble going to sleep at night because my heart-rate goes up and it’s like I’m on guard duty. Every time I nearly drift off to sleep, I snap to attention. My insomnia started when I was really young and I’m sure it was because my parents were usually, up drinking and I never could go to sleep until they were in bed and asleep. I never new what might happen. There were always,crazy, drunken dramas. Then the sexual abuse, I was also, stalked for a year, and other crimes I was a victim of as a kid with no way to take good care of myself, compounded it. The sexual abuse completely destroyed my ability to say no to sexual advances. I didn’t own myself anymore and that left me vulnerable beyond belief. I hated myself for it too. I dissociated so much during that time in my life that it left me splintered. I had no clue about PTSD, no labels for what I was feeling. I thought depression meant feeling sad but I just felt like I couldn’t move, like I was dying, or that I was dead inside. I didn’t know what triggers were so I was defenseless against them. I did manage to work through some things in conquering my substance abuse habits. However, the hyper vigilence stayed with me and the depressions did too but I learned to be at least, semi-functional really, just through will power. When I finally, had enough money to get professional help, my anxiety was diagnosed as mania and I was diagnosed as bipolar. That fit the view I had of myself as a defect. I got very little helpful, counseling. It was all aimed at keeping me compliant to the drugs rather than helping me figure out what caused me to feel the way I did. I had tons of stuff buried inside of me that I never talked about. I dissociated from my fragmented self and tried to be another person. Mostly, I tried to be what my sister wanted me to be. Until, I suddenly, understood that I’d been sexually abused and I wasn’t just a whore, I didn’t connect much of my behavior or feelings to what happened to me then. I locked it away with a child’s understanding, totally, not understanding my own behavior and hating myself for it. Everything flipped inside of me and turned right side up when I did understand. That’s what started me down the road to facing the truth and connecting the dots of how it damaged me. When I found this website, I was also, able to more clearly define the abuse I had as a child from my parents. It was that abuse that made me a prime target for men who prey on teenage girls. At sixteen, I looked like I was about 12. I was a child predator’s dream and the proverbial girl with daddy issues. I was really, rebellious by the but also, very nieve. All they had to do was tell me they loved me and I’d do anything for that even though, I had to be high all the time to do what they asked. I was so starved for approval. Anyway, I’m getting off track but understanding why I felt the way I felt and how certain events damaged me, helped me get to the point where I really don’t sink into deep depression and defining my personal boundaries has made me feel less responsible for things I can’t control. One thing I realized about PTSD is that the past is always in the present and no matter what was going on in my life, I viewed it through that unresolved trauma. I also, know that when something triggered me, I was instantly, on guard duty. Here I learned to face into my triggers and use them to help me understand my past and myself. I resolved the issues in the past and they don’t haunt me because I understand it all now. I understand myself. I can’t believe how different I feel today. Of course, it helps to not be accepting being treated as a defect and a secondary person, from my family of origin, all the time. A lot of my relationships didn’t survive because I attracted controling people, who I served. Validating my own truth has given me a lot of self-acceptance and self-confidence, two things that I’ve had almost none of. My relationships are more equal. It can get better, Daisy. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t heal and that your only hope is in techniques or drugs that quiet the symptoms.This is a great place to figure things out and I’m glad you’re here. I hope I didn’t write too much. I try to throw as much as I can out there so that you might find something from my experience that helps you. Reading what Darlene writes and the stories of others here was like excelerated therapy, for me. I accomplished more here in two years than I had in a lifetime.



Thank you Pam, I’ve learnt so much from you and Darlene, as well as all the other people who comment here.

Reading about the experiences of others with similiar dysfunctional backgrounds has helped me significantly more than any therapy I’ve tried. I never seem to get beyond 3 or 4 sessions with a therapist before I know I’m wasting my time and money.

The biggest breakthrough has been understanding the origin of my emotional pain. 2 years ago I was having suicidal thoughts, not really wanting to kill myself, but feeling that I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up again.

I now feel so much more confident that I can overcome many decades of struggle with C-PTSD, and the key has been to place the responsibility where it belongs. I’m out of the fog now.

I can relate to being on guard duty; I can usually fall asleep pretty easily, it’s staying asleep that’s more difficult, especially if I’ve been triggered during the day. I seem to wake up at the slightest noise.

Getting back to the topic of forgiveness, I’ve been reading articles from Alice Miller’s website and found one on forgiveness that I can relate to.


Pam, I forgot to add that I’m so sorry that you had to go through such a difficult and painful childhood. All the best to you…you deserve it.
Love Ali


I’ve been doing a lot of research on “maternal deprivation.” Because of my unique situation growing up with 12 siblings, and having an emotionally detached mother, I have suspected for a long time that the “attachment theory” applied to me and my siblings. I was the 9th of 13 children. When I was born, my oldest sister was 12.
I have asked my mother many times to explain to me how she cared for an infant when she had 8 other children under the age of 12 to take care of; I really never got an answer of any substance. However, I believe anyone who is able to read this post would come to the conclusion 1 emotionally detached woman caring for 9 children under the age of 12 would not supply the infants in the home with anywhere near the amount of emotional validation, care and love that they needed. I honestly believe not ONE of my emotional needs were ever met.
If anyone has ever read about “maternal deprivation” they may have learned that many times children who were born into an “institutional” settings (orphanages) ended up with strange physical reactions due to the necessary one on one love and responsiveness of a mother/child relationship. One of these symptoms was a rocking back and forth motion. Well, when I was a child me and my sibling would sit on the couch in the evening before bed, and we would all rock back and forth. My mother used to call it banging our heads and she encouraged it to get us out of her hair. “Go band your heads and leave me alone”, she would say. To this day, every morning when I wake up I have to rock back and forth for almost an hour before I feel able to get started with my day.
Being born into a highly dysfunctional/narcissistic family system with 12 other children, really, as I have learned in my recent research, was no different than being born into an orphanage that had a 1 nurse to 10 child ratio. Many babies born into this type of situation….actually died! Failure to thrive. Well, I have that too….only I lived.


Sorry about the typo’s above. I’m trying to get so much out…my mind is flooding with images from my childhood. I’m in a desperate race to get them out….my mind is moving way faster than my fingers…and I type 70 wpm.

ALSO: If anyone out there was also from a family with a large number of children…I’d love to hear about your experiences.




Oooooh, this is a really good one for me!! Wow!! (I was an only child for 5 years when my only sibling, a sister was born.) I did the head banging from earliest days in the crib and I can still remember bouncing on the corner of my bed for an hour each night and singing. I would love to know what book you read on these kinds of behaviors. (For me the orphanage effect was found in many church settings in which I found myself throughout my growing up years).

I still really love the feeling of rocking. I think my mother always knew this about me, but I don’t know if I can remember her ever rocking me. She rocked my sister until my sister was too big to sit in the chair with her. And that idea pretty much sums up the dynamic with my mother and her two daughters. Additionally, my sister always hated everything about me and put me down, sometimes taking direct quotes from our mother. She worked SO hard to be opposite of me in every way possible that she imitated a typical left-handed style (curved wrist) of writing with her right hand just to be opposite of my left-handed writing (without the curved writst) Same dynamic is still true today.

Do you discuss the rocking or anything else from your childhood with your siblings today?


Daisy, I relate to the wanting to go to sleep and not wake up. That started when I was about 12. I don’t have those passive-suicidal thoughts anymore. I’m really glad you’re here and thanks for the link. I’ll read that today.



Connie, A family that large has to be overwhelming for one woman even if she was emotionally healthy. I think my mother was emotionall, overwhelmed too. I understand the rocking, you guys were huging and comforting yourselves. I had ways of comforting myself too and I have few memoties of being held by my mom or feeling connected to her. She was a presence but I always, felt alone. It took me a long time to identify that ‘aloneness’. Emotional neglect is harder to identify because it is a nothing. It’s hard to fill but I do think that learning to parent ourselves in a way that allows for more personal development gradually, fills in that void with ourselves. I nearly died as an infant. My parents found me not breathing and from what I gathered from my mother, I wanted to be held all of the time (I was premature)but it made my dad jelous. I think I was left alone too much. I was kept in bed a lot in my early childhood. Too much.



Connie, I’ve experienced that kind of flooding too. It can be overwhelming but you’re doing fine and expressing it well. It’s good when the pieces start falling in place even though, the process can be rough. This is a good place to be heard.



Daisy, I very much relate to this article too. Forgiving someone doesn’t make the damage they caused you, go away. I feel bad that this article has landed the way it has because I feel that the ability to really forgive was stolen from me by abuse, as were so many other personal assets. I’m not trying to convey that healing a child abuse survivor comes from forgiving the abusers. I was beat over the head with that too, for decades. It was a way to control me and keep me silent. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but most people don’t want to hear about what happened to us. Even people who aren’t touched in any way by what we’ve lived through, don’t want to hear about it. We can’t be heard but we need desperately, to be heard. People pound on us to forgive, when they don’t know what was done to require forgiveness in the first place. They pound on forgiveness as the solution to our emotional damage without even acknowledging or understanding the full extent of the damage or how it was accomplised. Believe me, this isn’t what I was trying to offer in this article. I had to go through a long process to get the place where I could forgive and I didn’t do it out of any responsibility that I felt toward my abusers. If they really want a relationship with me, they will have to go through the same long reckoning that I went through to be able to offer the forgiveness that I earned through my suffering. Being able to forgive them, was the moment that I laid down all the offenses that I’d named, catologed, assessed the exact damage they caused me, and laid the blame in their lap. It was the moment of decision when I decided that I wasn’t going to suffer for these offences, anymore. I laid them down, knowing that I’d done everything I could do to first, heal myself and also, reach them with the truth. I honored myself by forgiving them, being done with their offensive, deadly damaging actions. I won’t exact anymore from them but I’m permenently, removed from relationship with them unless, they acknowledge the truth of their actions, how much damage they caused me, and with true remorse and a deep desire to want to change. That’s the only benefit they could recieve from my forgiving them and beginning a new relationship with me. It would require a lot of work on their part, as much as healing from the damage they caused me took on my part. They would have to earn my trust, little by little, by their actions. I doubt they will do this but that makes no difference in how I live from that point forward and it doesn’t mean that my forgiveness is worthless because it failed to change them or make them take responsibility for their abusive actions. My forgiving them is primarily, for me. It marks my letting go of my abusive past, dying to the offense of their abuse, and walking a new path, living a new life, no longer under that sick influence, and no longer accepting abuse. They don’t hold any power over me, anymore. It’s finished and I have this correct definition of what forgiving means now that honors my personal boundaries and well-being. My forgiving someone doesn’t mean that I drop all my protective boundaries and allow someone in to abuse again. In fact, my new-found definition of forgiveness allows me to better defend those boundaries. I’m less open to attack from other abusive people.

I couldn’t have skipped any of the reckoning-healing procees and arrived at the point of being able to give true, forgiveness. It was impossible when I was so confused that I though the abuse was my fault. In my family’s sytem and with the false definition of forgiveness that was taught to me, I spent most of my life trying to be forgiven for things I didn’t do because even though they demanded I forgive them, they never admitted to doing anything. I was the sin-eater, I was supposed to take their sins upon myself and also, seek forgiveness of myself for them. This is the twisted way they made my lack of forgiveness the crux of our family’s relational problems. It was the only way they could have forgiveness for the terrible things they’d done to me, without admitting to any wrong-doing. This was the final knot inside of myself, that came undone when I realized what true, forgiveness is compared to what they continually, demanded from me. The knot fell open, I forgave them, I made my choice and I left them with theirs. I’m free!

I hope that clarifies. The last thing I want to do is make others feel that I’m putting the same demand on them that was put on me. Abusers and those who support them in keeping victims silent, want forgiveness from the point of weakness that meekly, accepts all wrong doing. True, forgiveness is from a place of power that leaves the victim in charge of their own life and well-being and puts the abuser in the position of having to take responsibility for the things they’ve done, if that forgiveness is to have any power in their lives. There are no scape-goats, sin-eaters, or martyrs in true, forgiveness.If accepted by the abuser and put into action in their life, it establishes an equal relationship with respect for each individual. If the abuser never accepts it, then forgiving is an expression of the equal status the survivor has earned by reckoning with the truth and being faithful to follow it to its end. It is an act of comeplete individiation and independence from the abuser. It’s a prize that lies at the end of the long-endurance marathon of healing from childhood abuse.



Hi Pam, Thank you so much for part 2 of this topic! So much of what you and the readers say resonates with me. I like that forgiveness can be a by product of our journey to healing, as it will bring us further peace. I had thought it needed to be an active, conscious process, and thought myself not a good person, as I wasnt there yet with some of the abusive folks. And also, I like that it is okay not to forgive. Our choice!
I find I am probably still experiencing PTSD symptoms. My sleep schedule is totally off, and I epxerience anxiety and hypervigilance at night. Also, have nightmares about abusive people from the past, and people I have trouble with in my life right now (mostly coworkers), and find that it all runs together, like it is all in the present moment! I usually wake up with a feeling of dread or foreboding. I am going to try exercising more in the day, especially walking, to improve my sleep. It also helps me to process, and we know it releases endorphins.
Peace to all!



Going gluten free has also helped my anxiety or PTSD symptoms. I am much more calm and stable without wheat.


#28 – Connie,

You had asked if anyone else experienced being raised in a big family … I am the oldest girl in a family with 9 kids. (well, soon to be 11 – they have decided to try adopting, now that my ‘mother’ is no longer able to get pregnant.) Though I had a brother older than me, he was excused from responsibilities having to do with ‘raising the younger ones’ because, he was a boy – and he “wouldn’t need to learn those kinds of things” (nice. Way to be sexist, people.) Besides that, he hid in his room most of the time and only came up for meals. From as young as I can remember I felt that I was basically a mother to my younger siblings … not just in the normal caring for physical things, but also – and most importantly – emotional things. When I spoke up to my mother or father about my needing time with them, for emotional support, I was chastised as being selfish and then told that “We don’t have time to give you that kind of individual attention. There’s just too many kids for us to be able to do that. Besides if ANYone needs to be encouraged emotionally, it’s US!” They would then lay into me with a MAJOR guilt trip about “What are you even DOing to help make our life easier? I guess you just don’t care about us!” (And every time they chose to have another kid it felt like they were just saying ‘I REALLY don’t care about making time for you – I’m going to now lessen what little time I have even more by having another child” Even outright laughing at me and making fun of me when I was visibly hurt that they were – yet again – having another child.) Feeling like I had nowhere to turn for my own emotional well-being (not to mention feeling like I was also responsible for the well-being of my parents and siblings), I started to develop my own – distorted & destructive – coping mechanisms. I pulled my own hair (not ripping it all the way out, but just kind of tugging on it and rubbing my fingernails on it – which I still do to this day when things start to feel like its too much to handle) … I did this so much as a child, that my normally thick hair became very thin on one side of my head. My ‘mother’ retells of that ‘weird behavior’ and laughs at the whole thing. At the time I just assumed I was strange, some weird messed up kid that no one would like or understand. Looking back now, I realize that was just my means of ‘consoling’ myself, as I had never been given any tools as to how to handle my own emotions (why would I have been taught such things? my feelings were not allowed, let alone addressed.) … in response to stress, I would hide in a closet, cry and run my long fingernails down my face til you could see raised tracks across my skin. This behavior was never acknowledged by the parents. They were too busy having more and more kids. As I (and my siblings) got older my responsibilities grew (even to the point of being the one that had to teach my younger brother about puberty – as he didn’t feel comfortable talking to our parents about it) … my ‘parents’ then began asking me to have difficult talks with my other siblings (about the kind of things that parents should be charged with teaching their children.) … It frustrated me that people who were so eager to keep bringing more children into this world, seemed hell bent on avoiding the whole ‘parenting’ part. It felt that each child was just a new toy to be used, but when it got tough, let someone else do that part. It felt like that fell to me. And I was so eager to please, thinking ‘maybe if I do a good enough job at raising these kids, THEN my parents will love me and I’ll be worth spending time with in their eyes” To this day, when I see commercials for shows like “13 kids and counting” .. I feel this anger at the parents.

This article on forgiveness has been great for me, Pam, because I too have been ‘forced’ to forgive throughout my life. I have now made and stood by my boundaries and am getting so much better emotionally now … My recovery has been speeding up, the less I am around their toxicity. But, they still insist that the problem is me (I guess in their twisted world that is true – as I am the ‘only one’ who challenges their reality) … Regardless, I have to allow myself to feel what I’m feeling -which is hard to do when your whole life you’ve been taught to stuff your emotions down and address everyone else’s. And I’ve been listening to myself when I am feeling like it just doesn’t feel right to forgive yet. (It doesn’t yet feel right for me to be forgiving – not for their sake or for my own freedom. … not yet anyway. I am still in the ‘coping with the anger’ stage.) … I love love LOVE how you brought out that true forgiveness is where the victim is given the power and the one who did wrong is humbled. The way it was always shown to me, however, was “if you hold on to SUPPOSED wrongs that you CLAIM we’ve committed, then GOD won’t forgive YOU … ” (all this while they seem to have their own ‘reference book’ on mistakes of others to have at their disposal should they ever feel the need to use it for manipulation. SO. FREAKING. HYPOCRITICAL!!!)

I have to go … but I am loving the conversations and posts! They help remind me that I am not alone in crawling my way out of this mess!


My sharing about my ‘distorted coping mechanisms’ is a BIG deal. I’ve only ever talked with my husband about that stuff! (but, I feel safe here – thank you guys for that!)


Janie, I know what you are going through. I’ve been there and still experience it, at times. I think our dreams serve the purpose of helping us download and reconcile new information with the old. Recovering from the trauma and damage of child abuse, can be exhausting work and you are smart to do things to take care of yourself while going through it. I know that even though, I’ve found a great deal of healing, there are still changes taking place in me too. I doubt that will change in my lifetime but it is no longer the kind of mindless process that PTSD was when it was the only way I had to cope with the past and the present. I also, understand that flashbacks (waking and dreaming) are really, messages from me to me about the truth, that is painful but has the power to set me free and become evermore, whole.:0)

Choosing to forgive my parents was reaching the end of a long process that made no other choice possible for me. I didn’t do it because I suddenly, learned to be a better person or because I gave up to my parent’s demands and put myself back in the same old same old. I didn’t do it for them or because I thought that was what they needed to change. It was more like choosing to claim the prize I won, at the end of reckoning with the truth. Sure, I could have chosen to hang on to the offenses of my parents, continue as their sin-eater, while trying to get them to understand what they don’t want to understand, but I’d reached a point where it wasn’t reasonable for me to do so. That’s because I was fully, individuated from them. I no longer viewed myself in relation,as part of them,like an arm or a leg, that served them as, I’d been taught to view myself.I was a whole person and not just a member in an enmeshed family that served my parent’s physical and emotional needs and never, my own. My finding freedom from the past didn’t depend on any choice or action they made or didn’t make. It was my choice, to let it all go and move into the future and I honor their choice, to not move into that future with me. I leave them to their own process.There’s nothing I can do to ever make them better. They have to reach for that themselves. The hope I have for them in making the choice to forgive them, is that it might cause them to see a glimmer of what they need to do to heal. Forgiving them doesn’t mean that I choose to remain silent about my abusive childhood. It is mine and I choose when and where to share it and for what purpose. I can’t choose anyone’s healing but my own. I hope my actions have influence in helping others, including my family, to heal but they have to embrace truth for themselves, reckon with it, and come to their own point of revelation and make their only, resonable choices. They have to individiate themselves to become whole people, too.

I do love those endorphins, even when I’m not in the midst of painful, emotional surgery and healing from it.:0)Bless you, Janie. Brighter,less painful days are ahead!



Kera,You came from a big, enmeshed family and I came from a smaller, enmeshed family. Our parents didn’t address our emotional needs because they brought us into the world, hoping to gratify their own emotional, persnal, and physical needs. I know that’s the only purpose my parents see in their children and I also, know that I disappointed them by not being able to gratify them. To them,my crying out about my pain is no different than when my arm hurts and I can’t do what I want because of it. They are irritated, frustrated, and don’t get why I won’t stop hurting them and go back to doing what I’m supposed to do, serve and gratify them. They can’t see me as seperate from themselves and for a long time, I couldn’t see myself as seperate from them either. It is painful,surgery to remove yourself from that kind of parent/child relationship but it is the only way to become a whole person, in our own right. We’re taught to swallow our own needs and that forgiveness is complete sacrifice of ourselves and our personal needs so, that the family system can continue to funtion for those who run it. That system functions as one body that serves the parents. I think I was assigned the role of sin-eater because I was born small and was often, sick and needy. They could find no other use for me. My siblings were assigned other roles in service to my parents emotional and physical needs. Their roles may seem more pleasing on the surface because they are given higher regard but still, they only receive that regard in reference to how well they gratify my parents. I know how tough it is to remove yourself from that kind of family system, big or small but I can tell from your comment that you are moving in the right direction. The process is worth the outcome.

Thank you for encouraging me about this article. I’m an old fashioned girl and sometimes, I think the language and imagry I use is a bit old fashioned too. I’ve been concerned that what I was trying to express wasn’t getting through. It blesses me to know my writing has blessd you.:0)



{{{{{At the time I just assumed I was strange, some weird messed up kid that no one would like or understand. Looking back now, I realize that was just my means of ‘consoling’ myself, as I had never been given any tools as to how to handle my own emotions (why would I have been taught such things? my feelings were not allowed, let alone addressed.}}}}}
Kera. These could be my words and thoughts. I used to become very
upset. “In a mood” my mother called when unable to cope. I would
then (privately) break a favorite toy and have an immediate feeling of relief.
This was my self harm. My safe way of expressing feelings. I was
labeled unstable and destructive. Ive done this bad coping 50 years
never understanding myself. Until EFB a year ago.
Thanks Pam for your thoughtful response.


Ahh, Karen. You’re welcome. I was labeled as ‘pouty’ from a very young age. I remember depression at about twelve but I think it started long before then. I remember being twelve and sitting in my closet, because of the drunken drama taking place between my parents, holding a hack-saw and ligtly, slicing at my wrist,thinking about death and hoping for relief. Soon after that, I started stealing pills from my mom. They made me sleep and gave me that escape for at least, a little while. Six years after that, I was a full-blown heroine addict. I did commit suicide but the doctors brought me back. Then I was homeless and a joy-popper not caring what I put into my veins and I often had someone inject one drug in one arm and another drug in the other. It’s a miracle I survived and I may not seem like much to people who measure success by material wealth and fame, but where I am today, from that starting point, is a miracle too. All abuse survivors are living miracles.:0)



Pam, I think my not forgiving my parents for the abuse is my way of holding them accountable, and the only way they can understand that they did something wrong to me. During my brief contact with them last year, it was obvious they were still in denial, “we only smacked you when your were naughty”, and “we don’t want to talk about the past”. I “forgave” them and it was just like I hadn’t been NC for almost 20 years. Family business as usual they thought. No way, I got out of there fast….

I strongly feel that the way I was treated is unforgivable, My mother actually tried to gas me during one of her suicide attempts, no way is that forgivable. My father knew she was unstable, yet she went on to have 8 children that she couldn’t care for.

I do understand what you’re saying about forgiveness being about me, not them, but I can’t seem to forgive them. I can let it go and move on, that works for me….


Pam, thank you for your kind words:

” I know how tough it is to remove yourself from that kind of family system, big or small but I can tell from your comment that you are moving in the right direction. The process is worth the outcome.”

Thank you for the encouragement. It really has been a difficult process, but I definitely am seeing how much I have already benefited! (and don’t worry, those who are going through ‘the process’ understood your words loud and clear 😉 … again, great post!)

Karen Ranes – I could really relate when you said: “… I used to become very upset. “In a mood” my mother called when unable to cope. I would then (privately) break a favorite toy” … It reminded me of how I was always labeled as being ‘dramatic’ or ‘moody’ … as though I was somehow at fault or wrong for feeling anything! Also, isn’t it telling to see that our way of ‘coping’ was done in private? … Almost like we were ashamed to be trying to console ourselves or something? Maybe deep down we knew that wasn’t the ‘right’ way to overcome our feelings, but we didn’t have anything else … so we had to hide … kid’s should NOT have to hide from their parents and try to heal themselves!!! It’s just so wrong. :-\ … at least we’re coming ‘out of the fog’ now, right? 🙂 (finally!)



Daisy, None of us can do what we aren’t ready to do. The acts my parents committed against me are unforgiveable too. I’ll never forgive those acts, I have forgiven the people who’ve committed them. My forgiveness also, doesn’t mean that I don’t hold them accountable, I do still hold them accountable for their actions and that’s why they have to acknowledge them, with the kind of remorse that causes any of us to stop abusive actions, before there’s any chance of beginning a new relationship with me. However, I am free to live my life now, and I don’t take those unforgiveable actions with me and continue to suffer over them. The past really is the past and I live in the present. I no longer go back over things and try to figure out how to get them to see my point of view and understand. I was trapped into that kind of thinking because of the enmeshment. I wasn’t a whole person, I was part of my family’s sick system, one body, so to speak. I thought that if I were to heal, they had to heal too. Forgiving them marked the end of any enmeshment of myself in them.Even in times before when I broke contact with them, I remained enmeshed by carrying the unresolved issues of my past with me. The anger they caused in me made me do all kinds of self-destructive things. Trying to force them to take responsibility hurt me.Holding onto the offenses hurt me. By forgiving them, I left them with those offenses,for them to do with whatever they wish and they don’t tie me to them anymore. They hold no controlling destructive power over me, anymore.

I’m not trying to drive you to a certain destination, Daisy.:0)I want what I’m trying to say to be clear but I also, know that we can only understand fully, what we are able and ready to understand. Then we can implement it. Requiring someone to do anything, in regard to healing, before they’re ready will just cause more damage that will mean more healing time. In anything I write, take what is helpful to you and don’t worry about the rest. Maybe, some of it that doesn’t click now will make sense later or you may find something that helps you more than anything I have to offer. It isn’t about doing exactly, as I do but about you finding your way to wholeness.



Daisy and Everyone!
For me, frogiveness wasn’t something I decided to do. It wasn’t a choice I made but a letting go of the pain that I still had over what they did and that they were not sorry. Eventually, through the healing process, I just ‘noticed’ one day that I no longer had that anger and resentment. I was free! For so long I thought that they had to ‘realize’ what they did to me and the damage it caused before I had that freedom. Like you said, you let go of them and moved on. It didn’t remove any blame or accountability for them but for me, when I no longer had the pain, I concluded that this new freedom was the true meaning of forgiveness and why everyone says “forgiveness is for you” It’s that freedom! Getting caught up in the ‘choice’ part of it (for me) was like a rabbit trail that led away from the solution and from healing. I didn’t choose and I didn’t decide to forgive because I never knew how that could be done. (I still don’t understand when people call it a choice.) and perhaps we (they and I) have different understandings of the word ‘choice’. So I call forgiveness a result. And no one has to agree with me, no one has to understand me anymore. I understand me. This works for me. Perhaps you already have this ‘freedom’ ~ but it doesn’t matter about the word, forgiveness. If it is a choice, then choosing NOT to forgive is just as worthy as choosing to forgive.

I have been enjoying catching up on this conversation tonight!
Hugs! Darlene


Darlene & everyone, Sometimes, we get tripped up over words, when what we are saying isn’t that different. Words are just descriptions of what goes on inside of us when it comes to the process of healing.It’s hard to describe those things in a way that everyone understands it exactly, as we understand it. Words provoke feelings and we have different feelings associated with words because of our personal, experiences. I think I value ‘choice’ because the kind of sexual abuse I went through, stripped me of even the most personal choices that most people take for granted. I couldn’t say ‘no’ to anyone who wanted sex, or anything else they wanted to use me for, because I no longer belonged to myself, in the most basic way. Choice, was the main thing I grabbed onto to pull myself up and out of that state. I don’t know how, I just did. I wanted to survive. I’m very aware of my choices because of that experience. I see myself as always having the power to choose and since I first began choosing, I’ve not allowed anyone to strip me of that power. I know this ‘word’ doesn’t sound the same or carry the full impact of the meaning I intend, to everyone but when I read what Darlene says, I see the same process underneath her words. I don’t think I ever saw the choice I made to forgive or not to forgive my parents as worthy or unworthy. It was just the only choice that made sense in response to what I’d learned about myself, about them and their regard for me, and where I stood, at that particular moment in time. It was the moment when the final knot that was the emotional twistedness inside of me, as a result of my childhood of abuse, fell open.My work in regard to my parents and my abusive past was finished.

I don’t know if that helps clear any confusion or not but as always, the conversation has been good.



Well said Pam!
Hugs, Darlene


Pam and Darlene

I’m really enjoying this converstation too. It’s helping me to hone in on how I really feel about forgiveness.
I agree that everyone attaches unique meanings to word depending on their experience, and I’m understanding that my process and yours have similarities, we just verbalize and experience the feelings and emotions differently. My process seems more like Darlene’s.

“For me, frogiveness wasn’t something I decided to do. It wasn’t a choice I made but a letting go of the pain that I still had over what they did and that they were not sorry. Eventually, through the healing process, I just ‘noticed’ one day that I no longer had that anger and resentment. I was free! ”

The main thing is that we’re all making progress in our recovery and we’re “out of the fog”. :-))

Thank you for providing a place where we can be ourselves and say what we need to.


Thank you, Daisy. The conversation has been good for me too. Trying to present my experience and the reletively, new understanding and concept of forgiveness that I have now, in a way in which it can be understood by others, has helped me refine my understanding. I guess, what I’d like to leave people with is that being able to forgive in the right way, where responsiblity is placed correctly, and accountability isn’t denied, is a wonderful, useful tool. Now that I understand, it helps me negotiate relationships and maintain my personal boundaries in a way that is dignified. Dignity is so important to me and I think you guys can understand why. It was an important part of forgiving my parents and probably, one reason that my choice in the matter means so much to me.The kind of forgiveness they wanted from me, stripped me of all personal dignity. That made me vulnerable to abuse by others. When my family sided with the men who raped me and demanded that I also, forgive them with the same kind of forgiveness they wanted for themselves, it was so apparent to me, that what they were saying was no more to them than words with the intent of manipulation. They wanted me to deny my dignity and in that way, they are like my sexual abusers. They wanted the kind of forgiveness that stripped me of my dignity and the ability to choose for myself. They wanted to strip me of the newfound, self-ownership that I had earned. They wanted to strip me of the same power that was stripped from me by the sexual abuse. Instead, I chose to give the kind of true, forgiveness that freed me from the effects of their treatment of me and maintained all of my dignity. Just as I reclaimed the power of personal choice and use it as a valuable tool, I have reclaimed the right to forgive and I know how to use it, expertly. It is the prize I won for not only, completing the marathon that was my reckoning process but for completing that process, well.



KATE: “I still really love the feeling of rocking. I think my mother always knew this about me”

I still really love it too. You know, I have tried to talk to my siblings about the rocking among many other abnormal behaviors we display now as mature adults. Like most dysfunctional family systems, many of the things that happened in our family that were outright abuse, are retold like it is a treasured family memory. FOR EXAMPLE: I know very little about my early childhood, because my Mom rarely shares any memories with me about that time in my life, and quite frankly, I don’t have much of a memory for anything before I 8 yrs old. But there is one memory my mother has related to me countless times. I was born in July, so she tells me I must have only been a few weeks old and she left me on a blanket under a tree and was distracted for so long that she forgot I was there, the shade of the tree shifted and I was sunburned pretty badly. She has always recounted the story to me like it was something cute or funny or something….Is it just me or is this not really funny? It’s not to me. But that’s how my family is….they have turned the abuse we suffered through as children into quirky family stories and they just completely ignore the stories that are too difficult to talk about. I just told my older sister the other day that when I was 16 our father punched me as hard as he could right in my face. He knocked me out. That was 35 years ago, and the other night was the first time I had ever talked about it.

PAM – Thank you for the wonderful article. I am very interested in the forgiveness process, but I am far from ready to go there yet. I’m just starting to actually get angry about the way I was treated as an infant, a child and even into adulthood by my parents and as an adult, by my siblings.

You are right about 13 children being too much for any woman, and I always knew and accepted that fact. Whenever I looked at the neglectful and abusive realities of my childhood, I would just tell myself my mother did the best she could, with what she knew and she was only 1 woman caring for 13 children. And that probably would have satisfied me for the rest of my life until a recent family incident finally made me see how manipulative and dysfunctional my mother really is. She pits her adult siblings one against the other. She treats one with all the respect and dignity in the world and completely humiliates the another adult child without thinking twice about it. She cries on que when someone’s around who might feel sorry for her, but when they turn their back, she be talking badly about them. I’m just starting in my quest for healing, but I believe I may have grown up in a Narcissistic family system, that was only exacerbated by the large number of children. My mother openly admits that my Dad cheated on her throughout their marriage, and that she was madly in love with him. If you ask me, she kept cranking the babies out in order to make it more and more difficult and complex for him to leave.

Thanks again for your wonderful article, and keep the posts coming…each and everyone puts me one little grain closer to the truth and healing.

Wow. You have a very big family too! It sounds like much of the adult responsibility in the household was put upon your shoulders. Do you know what Kera? You didn’t deserve that. You deserved a childhood that was full of love and support and long Saturday afternoon tea parties with all your dolls. I don’t know how far along in the healing process you are, but I am relatively new to the process. I’m just starting to examine how my belief system developed, and how the heck I can try and reverse the severe damage that was done to my soul. I appreciate your comments. It feels good to know I’m not the only person who can relate growing up in a family that felt more like an institution….hugs to you!


Connie, Thank you.:0)That anger you have going is really important! I have a lot of stories like you describe about me too. It’s weird how they can make abuse cute. Those stories were so confusing and they never felt like they were really about me because from my perspective, there was nothing cute about them. There is definately, some healing taking place when that anger is aimed at the real culprit and not ourselves or an innocent bystander. My poor husband was the innocent bystander, who got me to thinking about what was really wrong to make me so angry by saying, “I don’t know who you’re mad at, but it’s not me!” That’s probably the most important thing anyone ever said to me.:0)

Buenos nochez mi amiga!



Yes Pam and Kera and Everyone. Speaking about all these things instead of just keeping them inside and hiding is so freeing. For 50 years I have felt that I was somehow bad and wrong. For 50 years I have had that self destructive coping. I couldn’t overcome it. I didn’t try as I just thought it was because I was bad inside and it was an indicator of that brokeness. In a way it was but not the way I thought. It was an indication of how I was broken. I always knew my family was dysfunctional but never saw my dysfunction as the result.
Pam: I had the destructive “moods” more and more frequently in my teen years. I began to try to find someone to love me. I had unprotected sex. I had no concept of how sex or relationships worked. I had the intellectual level of a 10 year old in that regard having never been taught anything but rules, servitude and compliance. If I let anyone do anything they wanted to me maybe someone would love me. It did not go well. I could easily suffered the abuse you suffered
for which I feel great sadness and at the same time anger. We had such great gifts and a bright future which was stolen from us and at the time we didn’t even know it. I am so happy that you have survived, that you have thrived!! Look at you now. Your posts are inspirational to me. Thank you for sharing!


Kera: yes my destructive behavior was always private. I would have been punished and belittled for being destructive. As it was, my mother ignored it. I didn’t have much as it was as a child. By the time I was 12 or so I had next to nothing of my own. My mother concentrated all her love and effort on my golden child brother. She does that to this day. If something happens to him its “poor Richie” if something bad happens to me I deserve it.
I have come to terms with my Dad’s abuse, maybe its forgiveness, I don’t know. He died 10 years ago. He objectified me. My mother is another story. With her I am the servant. The direct target.
Last Jan I stated my case in a letter. Point by point respectfully. She pretended like I never said anything. In April I got another direct attack and cut contact. Boy to I feel better! I no longer expect anything from her and thats big for me. I don’t want her to understand or approve of me.


Karen, We have so much in common. The stories are little different but the tactics are the same. I have a sharp eye for those tactics now that I didn’t have before. It comes from finally, acknowledging that my parent’s actions weren’t born out of any interest in my well-being. It hurt but it was like having cateracts removed. It amazes me too that I also, was about fifty before it started to come together for me. It’s like reaching the end of a long prision sentence served for crimes we didn’t commit.

You inspire me too, Karen.



Thank you for telling me I “didn’t deserve” to have such adult responsibilities as a child. That is so reassuring for me to hear because, as much as I tell myself that it’s legitimate to feel as I do .. just knowing that someone else ‘sees’ it helps me see it even more clearly for myself. (Its like I am hearing myself say: “ok, Kera, these things really WEREN’T ‘normal’ as I was taught to believe it was”) And, I agree with you … it’s nice to hear from someone else who’s made it through an abnormally large family. 😉 I’m not certain I could pinpoint where I’m at in my healing process … But I am certain that the way shown by Darlene here on EFB has been THE most helpful for me … (funny, I stumbled across this site because I could no longer afford to ‘take care of myself’ by paying a therapist. -what with being a stay at home mother of two little ones and my husband going on and off of unemployment – we couldn’t afford therapy too. But this site has given me more progress than ANYthing I’ve ever tried! – on that note … Darlene, if you wrote a book, I’d save up and buy several copies and give them out as gifts! … no pressure, I’m just saying you’ve done aMAZing work! and it is SO deeply appreciated!) I’ve had such clarity come about with this process. It has been very painful at times, having to face some tough realities. But, the pain is beginning to lift, and I’m feeling better than I ever have! In reality, at least IMO, the pain from living in such a dysfunctional system for most of your life is FAR worse than any pain you have to face from the process! 🙂 Because the pain you feel during the healing process means that you’re not going to be having those phantom pains as much – because you’re educating yourself about where those pains were coming from the whole time – and now you can do something about it! Keep up the hard work! (hugs)

I’m sure I would have been punished and belittled for being destructive, as well … How sad that we knew deep down that we needed to keep such things private. That our outward display of coping with pain would be punished rather than seen as a sign that they needed to DO something to help! I too wrote a letter to my mother at one point. (just briefly stating why our relationship wasn’t working, and how things between us had to change as a result – i.e. less contact) All it did was serve as a basis for her lies. She went around telling other family members that I had written a letter saying how much I ‘hate’ her and ‘I don’t know WHAT I’ve DONE to deserve such treatment! You know, I think Kera may need to be on medication. She MUST have a chemical imbalance.” (um, no, I don’t. But thanks for the drama. Crazy person.)… but, she refused to show the letter to any of them (If she HAD shown them, then they would have seen that part where I specifically said “This doesn’t mean that I hate you. It just means I’d like you to treat me lovingly” … lol better not let THAT one get out, honey.) Funny thing is, I kept a copy of that letter before I sent it, and – if ones tell me she’s been saying crap about me ‘based on that letter’ I just let them read it. Their response has unanimously been “oh, well … your letter doesn’t say ANY of the stuff SHE said! It’s actually a very nicely put letter” … (uh, yeah.) But, no matter how ‘respectfully’ victims address their issues with their abusers … I imagine it is rarely ever seen as ‘respectful’ in their eyes. It is so disruptive to their reality (that you would DARE overstep your place by telling them that THEY are in the wrong!) that they don’t see how hard it was to bring those things to their attention, to take such a stand for yourself … they just see it as a losing of control, and begin using all their tactics to ‘get you back to the way things were’ (you know, when your whole existence served them – yeah.). Thankfully, the clarity that comes from ‘the process’ helps me through this stuff. The more they attack, the more I see their crazy dysfunction. And the more justified I feel in going low/no Contact. (I almost want to shout as I walk away “Thanks for being so consistently crappy! It helps me realize just how right and healthy it is for me to walk away from you!”) I am so happy that you are feeling better, Karen! It’s a very freeing feeling when you realize ‘if getting your approval means destroying myself … then I DO NOT want your approval!” And you can just live and grow from that point! (GOOD FOR YOU!!!) 🙂 And it is definitely a big step to not ‘need them to understand you’ – as if we needed their permission to feel a certain way. Just because they refuse to understand the situation or how you feel, doesn’t then change the facts. It is what it is.



Hi Pam,
I really appreciate what you’ve written in these two posts. Like others, I especially like the insight about forgiveness being given from a position of power. I’m definitely in the midst of this reckoning process and I’m quite exhausted. My mom won’t address anything specific. She has “many different perspectives” but when I pressed her, she wouldn’t say what they were (no doubt because she knows they would offend me). I made it clear that a general apology would not suffice, that I needed to know that she knows what happened to me that almost killed me. I need to know that she renounces that behaviour. But she stuck to her story and didn’t address specific instances that I brought up, thereby once again disregarding my emotions and needs, the same as she always has. Her story is that it took her far too long to recognize generational dysfunction and failed her daughter and she will live with that till the day she dies. That’s all she will say. (I gather she believes that she dealt with the dysfunction when I was a teenager and has done the best she could since then and what happened to me since then was some inevitable fallout, totally disregarding all the enmeshment, possessiveness and control tactics that went on during my teens and after my breakdown). She said, “As for the details, I don’t think it’s the right time to go into all that. Perhaps when we have more mutual trust, and feel safe or perhaps with the help of an impartial person/counselor present, we can talk about details.” The history of her wanting to go to counselling with me is a bit long. I’ve always said that I couldn’t do it because speaking is hard for me with her and just being around her physically with all these issues on the table is difficult for me. She knows this as I’ve stated it umpteenth times. I’m pretty sure what she wants to do is negotiate my truth. Tell a therapist her version of my life and have the counsellor explain it to me. She wanted to go talk to my therapist back when I was still cut off from my parents, asking one of my aunts about it since my therapist is my aunt’s friend. She’s very invasive, smothering and domineering (but she knows how to talk in a way that sounds civilized). I wrote what I hope will be one long last letter on this subject, in which I reiterated my needs, that taking a specific account of what happened to me is the only way to reestablish trust (I like how she used the term “mutual trust” as if I also broke her trust). Reminded her that I’m the victim, that her treatment of me caused very real damage and that if I’m worth anything to her, let alone love me (as she always says she does), she will put the effort into putting herself in my shoes, to look at and address my needs, etc. I also added that if we were ever to go counselling, it wouldn’t be to negotiate my truth (i.e. discuss the “details”—I love how my life story has apparently become “the details,” as though it’s trivial what exactly happened), that it would be to help her better understand what happened, to learn how to help give me what I need, how to treat me for a relationship to work, to be a mother to me. I also told her right from the start that I don’t want her to carry anything till the day she dies. I hope that she’ll forgive herself and release the past, but that that can only happen with a true accounting. To me it’s a bit like a victim thing—that she has to carry till the end of her days the burden of having abused. I have no interest in her beating herself up; I just want her to take accountability and change. I’m extremely doubtful right now because it’s clear to me that she wants to be in control still, and if she’s really remorseful and wants to make amends, she has to let go of control. It’s very hurtful when you make things so explicitly clear (and reasonable!) and it doesn’t seem to matter… especially when you’ve made it clear that this is the only way a relationship is going to work. It is like you said about being a limb to serve the family. I’ve given one last shot but it seems likely that if I’m not serving what she wants, she won’t make the effort—because of course I’m supposed to make the effort, I’m supposed to come around. As for my dad, I haven’t heard a peep from him in a couple months since I’ve brought all this up, which is exactly in keeping with our relationship. It’s very disappointing and my gut fell out when I first received my mom’s email, that she wouldn’t budge an inch from initial response, but I’m also… fine. I’m ready to let this go, to release the pain and anger, etc. I mostly think it’s just stupid and unnecessary to so stubbornly refuse to look at my experience, when I am totally capable of forgiving them—and that’s clear in the way that I write them. Anyway, I’m hoping that holding my ground won’t cause too much drama… Hope you don’t mind that I wrote so much for you to read here. I guess I had to get this stuff off my chest. I know that no matter what, I’m going to be free now, and that’s the most important thing. The rest is just “details” 😉 Thanks so much for being here and sharing your journey, Pam. Xo, A


Alaina, No, I don’t mind at all that you wrote all of this. What pops out at me from your comment is that you are learning not to deny your truth when every response you get from your mom and dad, is denial in all its various forms. I had to realize and accept that my family simply, doesn’t want to engage me on the issue of my abusive childhood and no matter how I present the truth to them, they respond with a tactic of denial. I call them sidewinders. They never face anything in a straightforward way and they seldom say what they really mean. They are always trying to figure the angels and I think they’ve done this to the point that they can’t see what truth is. It’s all about maintaining their false image, not taking responsibility, and keeping ‘their’ people in compliance and in the role that graifies their personal needs. I also, see you in the process of unenmeshment surgery. When I was free of that enmeshement and viewed myself as a complete individual, I no longer felt I needed my family to survive and I no longer felt the need to try and make them take responsibilty and heal. As long as I was just an arm, I needed the rest of the ‘body’ to be well before I could be well. When I was free from the enmeshment, I could see that wasn’t true. There was also, nothing I could do to make them take responsibilty. I tried in a concentrated way, for five years and in some form, all of my life, to get them to do this. When I forgave them, I made it clear what they had to acknowledge to have a relationship with me and I left the ball in their court. I left them with their abuse and system of abuse, to their own process. I walked away a whole person ready to live my life, free of enmeshment and the abuse required to maintain an enmeshed family system. I have peace about that because I know it was the best thing I could do for me and also, for them. The concept of forgiveness that I was taught made my forgiving people who’d hurt me, my duty to them. It also, required silence and that was the main purpose of what I’d been taught and demanded to give in forgivng, to keep me silent; to keep me so confused about who was responsible for what that I could never find my way out and stop gratifying their needs. (My parents are highly dependent and frightened of having to take care of themselves and I believe, that fear of independence is the root and the reason for the family structure they created.)The false concept of forgivness they taught was the main tool they used to keep me where they wanted me. When I understood the resposibilities, who they belong to, and the process of reckoning, that must come before true, forgiveness and I gave them that kind of forgiveness, their hold over me was broken forever. Even if by some miracle, they did take responsibillty and we did reconcile, it would never be the same because I’m different, I’m not just an arm, anymore. The old relationship is dead, we’d have to start from the ground up. When your process ends, when you are whole, the rest will fall into place. I’m proud of you, Alaina.:0)



Thanks, Pam. My parents never used the word forgiveness but since forever I was taught to put myself in other people’s shoes to understand where they come from and why they are the way they are, so in essence it’s what you’re talking about in that it was used to keep things the same, letting them use and abuse me and to shame me if I wanted things to change because that meant I wasn’t sensitive enough to the impact of what they’ve been through and where they come from. Funny how that was a concept pushed on me in regards to others but not applicable to my own experience. Neither of them will put themselves in my shoes even when I’ve asked. Certainly I think the concept is a good one when applied correctly and not used as an excuse. (I also write fiction and the process of putting yourself in another person’s shoes is exactly what fiction writing is.)… I said exactly what you said—I told my mom that the ball is in her court, that I’ve stated my needs, I can’t change them, and that if she wants a daughter in her life, she’s going to have to take accountability and address the specifics, etc. I usually function brain first. My emotions freeze and my intellect takes over. I think that’s what saved my life a few times. When I got my mom’s email, my gut fell, but my brain took over. My response was very strong; I was kind of blown away by my own words… but then it’s been a couple days since then and the emotions are coming up and I have that shakiness. Unenmeshment surgery is right. I had my job from before birth—my mom was suicidal but having children was what kept her going and I was the baby girl she always wanted. Her false image was of someone who overcame her dysfunctional upbringing and ongoing depression. She clings to that so hard. Our “good” relationship (before my breakdown) was supposed to be proof of that. Now, she has simply shifted the story a little bit to allow for my breakdown, etc. I think she might also be terrified of being independent like your parents, but it’s also about not showing weakness, of needing to be the expert, to appear like she’s totally her own person. Like you were the sin-eater, I was the holder of denied emotion; I carried her depression. I was the good daughter so that she wouldn’t kill herself. I protected her from the ways she used and abused me and the consequences of that, of standing up to her, for fear that if the truth broke through all her denial and she finally saw and understood the truth, she’d kill herself. The fact that my uncle, her brother, killed himself when I was a kid probably made that fear deeper and stronger (also because he meant a lot to me). I suppose there must have been some false notion that if she killed herself, I’d die, too, that I’d have to follow her. Intellectually of course I know this is a bunch of hooey, that my mom is an adult, responsible for her own life, and if she ever killed herself, it’s not on me—it’s on her. It’s her life, not mine. But emotionally, yes, the unenmeshment surgery is still in progress. I have no doubt I’ll get there; it’s just following through to the end of this…. I’m also certain that like with your parents, mine also want my silence and that’s not going to happen. That’s not a part of true forgiveness at all. They must accept and allow space for my truth if they wish to have me in their lives. They squashed my voice my whole life; I certainly won’t let them do that now when I know the truth and have finally started to find my own. Thanks again, Pam. I really appreciated your response. It helps. I’m so grateful to this place and everyone here. It has made such a difference to connect here.


Hi Kera
Thank you for your lovely compliments! I am currently working on putting my work into a couple of e books and then maybe some workbooks. Maybe one day I will write a self help book ~ who knows!
Hugs, Darlene

You are so AWAKE! do you know what I mean?? I love it!!
Hugs, Darlene


Alaina, This place made all the difference in my life too. It’s amazing how easy it is to get better just because someone else says, “yeah, that is abusive, your not crazy, that happened to me too.” or “that’s horrible!I’m so sorry you had to live through that!” instead of hearing,”Is it really that bad? You’re so emotional! You make too big a deal out of everything. You just need to forgive them but for what is never named.You’re so angry!” Growing up inside a system of denial and trying to define truth, is a nightmare. In the last few years that I had contact with my mom, I noticed that even if she had a feeling that was less than what she considered perfect, she would just deny it, even to herself. It’s impossible to break through to someone who even lies to themselves and sees truth as the enemy.Now I understand why she always saw my wanting to understand and any questions I asked about painful memories as a child, as accusation. When people deny their own reality for the sake of appearing to be someone esle, to themselves and others, the truth is a threat to their very, existence. I know they are sick. I know they need to heal but I don’t even know how to begin to approach people who live by denial. There just came a point where I had to acknowledge that I could do nothing to help them get better. I had to save myself and work on the relationships within the family my husband and I created. I can’t parent my parents. I tried for most of my life but a kid makes a terrible parent!lol!

I know exactly, where you are right now. I can still feel it. When all the pieces finally, snap together and the picture becomes clear, things begin to improve. Darlene is right, you are very awake. When it first happened to me, I was awake for three days. I’ve never had an experience like it, my husband was amazed just watching and listening to me. The world flipped right-side-up and nothing has been the same since. That’s a good thing. Painful but like the pain after a long needed surgery. You heal, the pain subsides, and your life is so much better. You’re doing great!




Thanks, Darlene and Pam! I do know what you mean about being awake. Today was a rough day of anger and pain, etc. Then I got home to an email from my mom, expressing how much she doesn’t understand my response and showing me how she did show me empathy, etc. Talked to ME about showing mutual respect and equality! Missing my points entirely. I was so fed up, ready to never have anything to do with her ever again… Instead, though, I ended up writing her an email in which I gave her an example of what I was looking for. I.e. I pretended I was her and wrote an apology and validation to a specific event brought up in an earlier email. I (as my mother) showed how I understood the messages that were being sent, the feelings, the experience, the long-term impact. I made a promise to change. I went beyond the issues that were already on the table to talk about other ways I treated my daughter wrong in the same way—just to show that I really understood. Etc. I (as myself, Alaina) ended it saying, “If I had treated someone in such a way over many years that brought them to near death, I would take a lot of time and care to really going into it and renounce my behaviour—specific behaviour—and tell them the kind of treatment they deserved and should have gotten from me. I’d ask them what they needed, what more I could do, show them in every way possible that I am changed and that I do not take them for granted. Especially if that person was my child, whom I had a responsibility toward to take care of their emotional and psychological development.” …There was a bunch of stuff in my apology to myself that would probably offend her (like this one: “You are a valuable, important person who should’ve had had the freedom to grow into your own person and not the compliant child who felt she had to be and do and say and feel and think the same as I, whose needs went ignored because I was too consumed in my own problems to even see that you needed my help”). I feel much better now. I totally validated myself and I did it in front of her just so she can see what real validation is. So, I guess I’ll see how she takes that. If she doesn’t take it well, I want this to be the end because I am exhausted and she has taken up so much of my life. Anyway, thanks again for all your support!
Much love, A
p.s. I also made a terrible parent and a terrible therapist (that was one of my starring roles—the passive listener)!


Alaina, Good for you to state your needs so specifically. Isn’t it amazing to be able to state the truth and stick to it, no matter what? Being able to do that and not get knocked off of my feet by their tactics, changed everything for me. I know about the exhaustion. Do something good for youself, a reward for valor in fighting for your truth.:0)



Hi Alaina
Your comments reminded me of a few things! One of them is that parents (or anyone who has set themselves higher than you in the pecking order” have a different definition of mutual respect and equality. It is the craziest thing! The parents that I have taken a close look at really believe in entitlement and if the definition of relationship is rooted with those beliefs, then there is NEVER going to be an understanding of mutual respect and equality. It’s the old “I AM THE MOTHER here” thing. ( to which I say ‘what the hell does that mean?? you are the mother so you don’t have to live by YOUR own rules?”
I am writing a new post about something related to what you have shared here. May I have your permission to refer to your comments about how you modeled (to your mother) what you would have liked to HEAR, FROM your mother? This is so excellent and gave me a really great idea on how to expand our understanding of what we actaully want from them.
Hugs, Darlene


Great job in addressing the issues with your mom!…You did spend time & energy modeling what you need from her. I’ve spent enough energy on my mom, so I can certainly relate. Just sent my mom a typed letter too addressing some of the issues she brought up in a recent letter she sent me. I’ll get into that in another comment. I mentioned some of what she said in another post. It was about entitlement as a mother. My mom has taken up too much of my head space over the last few years. It’s best to be concrete & specific with her. Anything deep she does not want to address or discuss for that matter.


Hi Darlene,
Yes, that’s fine with me.
My mom replied to my email, saying, Thanks for this, and that she would write more on the weekend. It’s crazy to me that I had to be so explicit in explaining what I meant by empathy, that I actually had to tell her how to do it. I mean I literally walked her through the act of how to empathize. I picked a particular moment from my life, asked her to imagine herself as a 16/17 year old girl with a mother saying/doing XYZ, and now how do you feel? What are you thinking? What messages are being sent to you? And then had to show her how out of this exercise, I would’ve hoped she’d have given me a response/apology/validation like this, again being incredibly explicit, and then after that, I explained step by step how that response functioned to give me what I needed, what it communicated, why, how, etc. so that she could see why that was needed and why her one sentence general apology was not good enough…. I don’t know that my mom knows how to properly apologize and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her humbled…. It’s possible that I actually managed to get through to her finally. The act of literally imagining myself in someone else’s shoes is so natural to me that I wouldn’t even think that I’d have to explain it so thoroughly! I could not understand why she could not understand me. It was like having to teach a kid a math problem, breaking it down step by step. Weird! Anyway, I guess I’ll find out if she got it this weekend. Hopefully she doesn’t say something that amounts to, well, you should’ve told me this is what you wanted me to do because, good god, she should’ve figured it out on her own!

Hi Sonia,
Thanks for your support! Yes, I’m totally about focussing on my own healing now. I don’t feel any more need to put in endless energy into explaining myself and proving myself. It’s in her hands. It’s her turn to prove herself, to show me that she’s actually worth my time. I thought about the fact that the way she treated me nearly killed me, or was certainly a major, major part of what nearly killed me, so what am I doing, when that fact is already out on the table (and not even being denied by my parents… dismissed, yes, but not denied) but they are still making me feel like crap, like I haven’t been caring, loving, respectful and all that TO THEM! (When I most definitely have been.) It makes no sense! They’re allowed to almost kill me through their treatment of me and then still want or expect anything from me?!?!?! I think in that position, as a parent, I would actually stand to at least at one point have my child spew the most disgusting amounts of vile hatred and anger in my direction, to have them “let it all out” and then still validate their pain, love them, have no expectations, and try to help them to move forward calmly, etc., because I’d understand that they might actually need to do that. Anyway, thanks again for your comments! And good luck with your mom. I read some of your comments in previous posts and I’m so sorry she dismissed your pain. I think these people need a serious lesson in empathy. I mean that’s the problem, isn’t it? They seem to only really feel their own pain. My mom’s idea of empathy seems to be relating her pain to mine (like talking about her experience of having been suicidal as a child, then saying she can empathize with my experience). That’s fine when fellow victims are sympathizing for each other’s pain, but that’s not at all what we mean when we want understanding and empathy from our abusers.


Hi Alaina
I am looking forward to hearing her response on the weekend! I have seen people who actually DO hear what we are saying to them and actually do want to heal the relationship. I hope that this is the case here!
Hugs, Darlene


Oh, gosh, I don’t know. I’m having a really rough day. When I’m having problems with my mom, I want to withdraw and centre myself, but my mom is the smothering type. In the one email she sent me (just a few days ago) in which she spoke to me about mutual respect and equality, she also wrote about wanting to come visit me one day and did I think that was feasible and then last night I got another email with this cute photo of my nephew, wondering if my brother had sent it to me, and telling me how she and my dad are planning on babysitting him for the long weekend in May and wondering if I want to come out in May and join them. It was really hard to get that. When I first stood up to my parents in Nov., my dad sent an angry letter, part of which was basically insinuating that I didn’t care about my nephew. He also was mad about the pain I expressed over the fact that they had not said anything in regards to the past, taking accountability (because I thought they should have done that without me having to ask)… but anyway, part of my response was in explaining the pressure I’d felt that if things didn’t go well with them, that my brother would take sides again and that I would have such a hard time maintaining a relationship with him, that I’d lose my nephew, and that is what kept me silent for a while, hoping that they would say something, instead of me pushing it. My dad never responded to that letter and my mom didn’t say anything about that subject, either. So it was hard to get that email from her with the photo of him, inviting me to spend time with them, right now when we are right in the middle of things, when all this stuff has NOT been going well at all. It’s like she’s pushing what I have at risk right in my face. I’m already so much less of an aunt than I wish I could be and already feel internal pressure over that. My mom is highly manipulative, except I’ve never known it to be conniving and I don’t suspect that it is now, either. I suspect she’s just nervous because she doesn’t want to lose me and is now doing whatever, but that doesn’t change the highly emotional impact it has on me. My mom is the type to be critical, cold and lash out when you want/need something that doesn’t suit her, then when she gets hurt by you standing up for yourself, turns around and wants to pin you in a hug and hold you and pet you and love you because she loves you so much (read: needs you so much). I guess that’s pretty typical abusive behaviour… You know, whatever she has to say, even if she has finally started to understand any of it, I know that she isn’t healthy, she isn’t whole, and neither am I yet, and it’s really hard to imagine a relationship working without it being a struggle. I’ve lost so much life. It’s such a weight to carry this relationship in my life when I don’t know one positive thing I get out of it. Stuff. I get stuff. They buy me stuff and take me places. But I don’t care about that. I’m so drained.


P.s. What I meant by manipulative but not conniving is I don’t think she thought, Oh, this is how I’ll get Alaina to shut up and accept whatever I have to say, just in case it’s not what she wants to hear. I think a lot of times she does manipulative things but has no idea that she’s doing them or so totally blinds herself to it…. But the emotional effect on me is what it is.


Kera! Thanks for your great words! You sure made me chuckle.
Especially that part about ” she should be on meds” !! I’m sure my
Mom is saying that about me to everyone who will listen.
“Poor Karen, shes always been unbalanced. I hope she gets help
for her mental issues. Blah Blah Blah”

She is in such denial that anything I have tried to discuss is just
ignored like I never said it. She never defends or denys. She just
ignores. If she pretends not to hear than I’ll stop talking.
I just wanted to say thanks Kera, you described the situation
perfectly. Karen


Oh I forgot to mention she has tried to hook me back into
the family system twice since I went NC. Friendly postcards.
Then a “if Ive done something to upset you” fake apology letter
and chatty phone call. Oh no, not doing that again.


Alaina! Awesome!!
I would like to say your exact words to my mother.
These are the words I would like to hear but never will.

{{{You are a valuable, important person who should’ve had had the freedom to grow into your own person and not the compliant child who felt she had to be and do and say and feel and think the same as I, whose needs went ignored because I was too consumed in my own problems to even see that you needed my help}}}}

Thank you


re you saying that you are so drained; this stuff is exhausting! I had no idea how exhausting it was until I stepped away from it for a while. All the constant figureing out ‘what was going on with her, what did I say wrong that set her off; guessing what kind of mood she might be in…’ it was such a habbit ~ a default mode for me, that I didn’t even realize… and I had to stop caring that ‘she wasn’t whole, that she was sick, that it wasn’t her fault…’ because there was no solution FOR ME in that. Once I healed me, I saw her totally differently. I feel sorry for my mother today; she could have wholeness and freedom too, and she could even have me, but I don’t feel sorry for her ‘at my expense’ anymore. That is a huge part of my freedom today!
Love and hugs, Darlene


Thanks, Darlene. I realized today what my problem was. I set my boundary that I could not have a relationship with her unless she took (full) accountability for the past, and she has yet to do that (and I’ve explained that to her a few times over), so talking to me about wanting to come visit me or to have me fly out there way in the future is disrespectful, as she was overstepping that boundary, ignoring the need I set forward and pushing for a future that is in no way established (that’s why I was feeling invaded and trying to mentally push her away). Only after she takes accountability will I consider visits, etc. And yes, whatever she was thinking, conscious of it or not, throwing my nephew into the mix was manipulative.


Alaina, My internet was down so I haven’t been able to be online for about a week. I understand what you are going through because I’ve experienced close to the same with my FOO. My parents live through other people, thats how their needs, even the most basic ones, are met. My mother even told me that God takes care of her through other people, when I tried to talk to her about how her irresponsibility hurt me. My parents always give presents when there is a disagreement but never say they are sorry. It feels creepy because they would give me things to buy me back. They freak out when one of the people they live through and depend on threatens them with becoming independent. I know their fear of losing me has nothing to do with me. Like everything else, it’s all about them and their fear of having to be responsible for themselves. When I lose someone I love, I lose a whole person. When they lose someone they love, it’s like losing an arm or a leg. Breaking that kind of enmeshment is very different from what an idividiated person feels when they lose a loved one. Empathy is the missing ingredient. They only feel their own pain, their own loss. If they don’t feel it, then it isn’t important. I would never have been able to walk my parents through what you walked your mom through, in regard to empathy. My dad won’t engage with me, at all and my mother would treat me like I was crazy. My empathy has always confused them. I think they view it as a weakness and they use it against me. Having said all of that, if I was still the one giving them a place to live and serving their needs and that was threatened, they would pretend to go along with anything. My mother’s initial reacation to the first letter I wrote was to call my sister because she was afraid of not having a place to live. Nothing I told her about being raped at 14 and the other sexual abuse during the rest of my teenage years had any impact, other than how it threatened her personally. That reaction helped me to see how my parents tick. Yes, it is sick and I have empathy for them because I’ve been sick too. I’m not sick now because I’ve individated myself from that sickness. As long as I was stuck trying to heal my family so that I could heal, I was still emotionally, enmeshed into that sick system. I also, know they can’t begin to get better if they never want to and refuse to embrace truth. As long as they use pretense and denial to cope, they will remain lost.

Hang in there, Alaina. When they unenmeshment surgery is over,there is the new trauma to deal with because of the surgery and then mourning what is lost but then things start to get a lot better. Anyway, that’s how it went for me. I know that even though, we all have simular experiences, we are all individuals too. My process and outcome can’t be exactly, like someone elses. The designated outcome has to be healing but that comes out of the process that can’t be skipped. That process is personal.



Alaina, After I set my boundary for relationship, I got several letters from my mom trying to step around that boundary. I threw them away and they soon, stopped. It was easier for me when I realized that this kind of behavior is a tactic that they use to preserve their mode of survival through others. Once I understood that it wasn’t out of any kind of normal affection, it was easier to resist. Those tactics damaged me and they are damaging to themselves. Going along with them, helps no one. When I reached the point in my healing that I could see myself as separate from them, was the point when I became whole. My parents and siblings need that healing too and maintaining the status quo will never allow them to reach that point.

Karen, My mother was really happy when I was on so many psychotropics, with the diagnosis of ‘bipolar’ because it absolved her from all responsibility, in damaging me. Even when I was at the point of death because of those drugs, I know she would have preferred me to keep taking them and continue to provide that cover for her abusive behavior. Sadly, I think that is a big reason why so many children are medicated these days. It relieves adults of their responsibility toward those children. I know that if they knew that I’m never depressed like I used to be that it wouldn’t matter because I healed myself by embracing the truth about how I was damaged and that same truth requires them to take responsibility for their actions. That kind of attitude is enough to give any kid bipolar disorder!



Thank you so much, Pam, for putting so much care, thought and time into your responses. I really appreciate it. Everything you write rings so true to my family as well, underneath all their pretence. I really hit my limit with my mom after she brought up my nephew right in the midst of all this. I started this process, to talk to them about the past, in Oct/November. I waited a month and a half while my mom was thinking things over, only to have her reiterate the same one-line general apology. She has said so many things now that were dismissive or hurtful. I’ve explained myself so many times. I started to feel sick—physically, mentally, emotionally. I know she’s still totally dysfunctional and I don’t want to be involved in trying to push her through her own process—as you say that is still being a part of the sick system. What I did was I sent an email in which I expressed every last bit of what I had to say to her (I put forward my truth about two months ago now but I didn’t have all of it down—not the deepest stuff about being held hostage by her depression, which she chose to deny and never get help for, or the fact that it wasn’t just that she was so consumed in her own problems that she didn’t see mine, but actually that she chose to turn a blind eye to what she knew and saw was there (as long as I was always willing to say everything was fine, which I always would because that’s what I was programmed to do—to always be the good girl) so that she could continue to use and abuse me. That she needed and wanted me crippled. I wrote all sorts of stuff around that—showing how I came to understand that to be true. I called her out on how she overstepped boundaries and said that I just could not deal with this stuff anymore, that it was making me sick. I’ve worked hard to get away from that sick place and I don’t want to spend another minute in there. I want to get back to my own life and healing. I told her that I’d be back in contact in the summer or fall (probably the fall) if she wanted to take full accountability for The Truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, reiterating that that is the only way I see a relationship ever working out…. So, at this point, I’ve laid my truth down for her and she can choose what to do with it. Even if it happens to break through to her and she chooses to face herself, it takes time to work through all of that and I think it’s probably better off that we’re not in contact. More than that, I just don’t want to be in contact with her right now. I’ve had enough. I NEED to be on my own, separated from her. I need to do my own healing and work on becoming my own, whole self. That’s my focus now and I just can’t have her in my life. It is not conducive to my healing. And I reached a point where I didn’t even know why I was doing this, why I wanted her in my life at all, that it was certainly not for me…. So I’ll let it be for a while and try to decompress from this experience and see where I’m at now. I’m glad to have expelled all this, though. It made me sick in the end but it was something I needed to do and I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually I’ll get to wherever it is I’m going…. Anyway, thanks again for your response. It was very helpful in firming up my thoughts and decision. I feel good with where I’m at, even though I can’t see anything right now. In front of me, the vista’s somewhat blank, if that makes any sense. I’m at a pause, I guess, and that’s alright. I don’t have to know everything or see everything right now. It’ll come in time, I’m sure. I’m on the path at least—that’s what I do know… xo, Alaina


Alaina, When I insisted that my parents find another place to live, I remember telling my mom that I just wanted my life back. She said she didn’t understand what I meant and I told her that I knew she didn’t and that was the crux of the problem. She couldn’t see that I needed a life and a purpose of my own, seperate from taking care of her needs. I’d reached a point where I knew there was nothing I could do to fix another person. I had to fix my own life. Even if she decided to meet my boundary for relationship, it would never be like it was because I’m a whole person now. Once conjoined twins have been separated, there’s no fusing them together again. You are right to take a pause for yourself, understand what you’ve been through, and plot a course for your future. Even though I know I can’t change anyone else, I do have faith in the ripple-effect. I’ve seen it with my own children. I hope it will have a positive effect on my FOO. My sister was my mom’s ‘good daughter’. In her, she sees everything she likes about herself and my sister has to be ‘perfect’. My parents live on my sister’s property now :0( and I wonder how that is going for my sister. I hope it opens her eyes and helps her see the areas where she needs healing that she denies. In many ways, I think she is more fragile in her condition than I was in mine. Anyway, I’m getting off course but I will always hold out hope for them. I wish them the same freedom and emotional health that I have found.



New Post just published ~ is TRUST Mandatory in Healthy Relationships? I was taught a false understanding of trust. This post highlights what trust really is and how we come to believe we have no choice in the trust issue.
I am looking forward to the converstaion ~ http://emergingfrombroken.com/is-trust-mandatory-in-healthy-relationship-the-true-definition-of-trust/
Hugs, Darlene


I was very compliant and obedient as a child and was able to win approval by being so. When I got engaged/married in my late 20’s and refused to allow my Mom to have control of my marriage, I was rejected. From that point on, I have never again been able to win approval from my Mom. She has told me that the burden of reconciliation rests solely on me (since I’m the daughter from Hell who betrayed her) and that all my efforts to reconcile were a mere drop in a teacup and she’d never forgive me. All the advice I have been given over the years is that I needed to be more loving and forgiving toward my poor Mom and others who are just wounded and need love. I have endured emotionally abusive people because they “were wounded,” and I wanted to be loving and forgiving. Slowly, step by step, I have realized that respect goes both ways, and that being wounded is not a license to treat others with disrespect. I am learning to stand up for myself rather than always take the blame. I still struggle sometimes to live this out because the majority of the messages/advice out there is that forgiveness/love is to be unconditional with no repentance/accountability require from the offender, and if I require repentance then I am judgmental. These messages sometimes causes me to doubt myself and wonder if I am right in thinking respect in relationship goes both ways, even though I think I am right.

Anyway, I believe I am on the right track with what I am learning. However, one area I am really struggling with is how to forgive myself for my mistakes as a parent. If I label my Mom as an abuser because of her failures, am I an abuser for mine? My Mom manipulated, twisted truth, and never admitted to a wrong. I think I differ from her in that I have tried to always be honest with my son, to forgive him when he does wrong, and to apologize when I am wrong. Friends have told me that I am a really good Mom. However, I can see mistakes that I have made, ways in which I have failed as a parent, times when I was clueless about how to raise my strong-willed son, times when I was inconsistent because I was filled with self-doubt and secondguessed myself, times when I didn’t know if I was too controlling or too permission or if I gave him too much freedom or not enough. Sometimes I feel as if whatever I do is wrong. I understand that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We are all human and make mistakes, we all have bad days, and we all have weaknesses/dysfunctions that trouble us. We all need repentance/forgiveness when we mess up. I can forgive others for their weaknesses and failures. How do I forgive myself for not being “good enough” as a Mom?


Hi TJ, I have those struggles with beig a parent too. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone needs to be forgivien when they realized those mistakes. My adult sons tell me that my ‘abuse’ was passive and I know that’s true, I never wanted to do anything that hurt them and I was always, trying to do the right thing. Because of my childhood, I often, didn’t know what the right thing to do was and whether passive or not, it still hurt my kids. I take responsibility for that and never expect them to. That is a big difference between me and my mother, who never takes responsibility and makes me solely, responsible for maintaining our relationship. There are no perfect mothers, TJ and even great mothers don’t raise perfect children. Loving mothers always act in the best interest of their children and love them despite all their imperfections and all the imperfect things they go through in life. Good mothers see their children for who they are and don’t seek to live their lives through them. I’ve been able to forgive myself because I love myself in the same way I love my children, despite my failures and imperfections. I didn’t have that from my parents but when I healed from the damage caused in my childhood, I’ve been able to give that to myself. That doesn’t mean I still don’t struggle sometimes, with wanting to be able to fix things I did in the past. That’s the part I have to turn over to God and let go of. I see the ripple effect of my healing with my husband and my children and I’m counting on that ripple-effect to heal what I’m not directly able to heal. I try to focus on the positive support I can give my adult children now and not on the things I failed in, in the past. However, I’m always prepared to answer for them if my children bring them up and want answers.

Love is unconditional and I never had it from my parents but I give it to my children and I give it to myself. Relationship isn’t unconditional. It has to be based upon mutual respect and that is what I strive for with my children. They saw me accept so much disrespect as being normal that it has been difficult to establish but things are good between us now. Forgiveness comes with responsibilites to be met by both parties and the conditions are set upon the one who is to receive it. In forgiving myself, I have to forgive and also, acknowledge those areas of my life that were wanting, so that I can apply my forgiveness and find peace within myself. Knowing that I account for my actions with God, myself, and my children opens the way for me to forgive myself and begin a new relationship with me. It’s been a long journey. When I read this article to my husband, we both cried because my reckoning was so painful. When my husband held me, I realized that he hadn’t had to say, “Pamela, quit beating up on yourself” in a year or more. That’s amazing and a true ‘symptom’ of how far I’ve come because that used to be the way I responded to everything. Today, I have a much clearer understanding of my responsibilites and limits, when it comes to relationships. That came about from breaking away from the enmeshment of my family of origin and learning where I began and others ended. I had to be a whole person in order to forgive. I also, had to be a whole, indiviated person to forgive myself because without that individiation, I was always seeking forgiveness for things I didn’t do. Personal healing has to come first and true forgiveness flows out of that healing. There’s no way to skp the process and achieve the end result.



Hi Everyone!
I published a New Post by Pam and thought that the readers on this thread would be interested! This one defines sexual abuse and is a highly personal account of how Pam came to terms with what happened to her.
Here is the link http://emergingfrombroken.com/defining-sexual-abuse-and-devine-sex-by-pam-witzemann/
Hugs, Darlene


I was and have been the only one in many relationships asking for forgiveness. A pattern I established- I would take full responsibility, even if something was done to ME!The other party never asked forgiveness. I would wonder why and feel cheated yet continue on trying to mend the relationship or situation with my accepting all the responsibility and blame. wow! I now see what I have been doing..my eyes are being opened and I see now why my own children have not shown me the respect I thought I’d taught and earned.. Wow! the truths I thought were true~some were NOT. Just my own faulty belief system.
well things are changing and going to change more. Thank you for being here- all of you! Thank you!


C, Many traditional things we are taught aren’t true. It’s important for us to do our own homework and find the truths that tradition often hides.



Dear Friend
I stubbled on your site this morning and I am so glad that I have found somebody who had a similar experience to me.
I have just completed the second part of my book A Broken Childhood II Forgiveness
It took 25 years to forgive my parents and that was because The Lord Jesus spoke to me about this.
I was physically abused for 7 years while living with my parents in the UK
I had my two front teeth broken, kicked in my head, hospitalised a couple of times, suffered neglect, emotional abuse it was terrible, but through it all The Lord God preserved me and spared my life
I am 48 and married now with six children of mine own, I can’t imagine the cruelty of a parent but for Jesus.
Likewise my parents have not acknowledged doing anything wrong and likewise my Lord Jesus is my father and mother, He has been watching out for me.
God bless you for your ministry I pray you will be a beacon of hope to many.
Are you in the UK or USA?
I would really want to meet with you because you could talk about your story to encourage a lot of broken people who need healing


Hi Lydia, I’ve been in the process of forgiving my parents for most of my adult life. It has been much like peeling back the layers of an onion and there were many times I believed I’d forgiven them only, to have a new hurt emerge or a new injury and the process would begin again. I also, didn’t fully understand forgiveness and thought it meant what my parents taught me it meant, that my actions alone could restore the relationship and the things that were done to hurt me, should never be mentioned. It was all for the perpetrator with total sacrifice on my part. It included the false definition of love that no matter what someone did to me, if I loved them I would accept it and overlook anything they did to hurt me. If I mentioned my pain, I was treated as being very cruel. It wasn’t cruel for them to hurt me but very cruel for me to talk about it. I couldn’t truly, forgive them until I had rewired all of those false concepts and validated the abuse I endured. I don’t expect them to ever do repent of their actions against me. If they do, it will be a miracle and the real work would begin because our relationship has been mangled from the beginning. However, I’m much more whole than I’ve ever been and I’m at peace. The ordeal is finished and if they ever do have the required change of heart, I will meet them as equals from a position of power and not as their scape-goat and victim. I am free and my forgiveness is born out of that freedom. It is for me as much as for them and even if they never do what is required to apply my forgiveness, it is not dimenished.

I have my own blog. I haven’t felt well for the last month or so and haven’t been able to write but there is quite a body of work there. I don’t write solely, about my experiences with abuse but I’ve writeen a few from the perspective of my faith. I’m from the U.S. You can email me through the contact form on my blog.


Oh…just click on my red hat and it will take you to my blog.


Dear Pam, thank you. Your stand is beautiful and brave.


Bless you, Pam!
I love where you say that “…Forgiveness is the burial of my painful childhood…”.
I need to remember that.


Hi Quintana and Jeff, Thank you for your encouragement and support.:0)



Hi Darlene ,

I have just read Pam`s powerful account of her reckoning.I am right in the middle of it.I ma having a hard time believing that my mother hated me.She is all sweetness and light right now to me.I moved thousands of miles to be away from her and the family but I have never emotionally separated. I am terrified of my family, terrified of the rejection.I guess deep down I know that they never loved me.They have always chosen my mother.They would sacrifice me in a second if I ever crossed our mother.I guess my question is, how do I know if my mother is Narcissistic.Throughout my childhood she would tell me how much she wished she had got rid of me etc. I grew up feeling like the worst person in the whole world ,feeling so worthless but seeing her shower some of my siblings with utmost love and glory.I have so much hate for her but I dare not express it for the wrath I would incur would make my life unbearable.The trouble is that she has turned into a `lovely` person who doesn’t interfere in my life simply because I don’t call her as much.My siblings are all falling over themselves for her and I am the odd one out as always.I am too scared to find out that I don’t matter and that I never did.It is heartbreaking.Yet again I am sacrificing myself.I have confronted her and she has apologized for `whatever she had done to me`. Is it possible for someone to completely forget all the nasty things that they said and did to their own child?


Hi Londiwe, Knowing whether or not our parents are narcissistic is not so important as acknowledging what they have done to us. I don’t think abusive parents really forget everything they’ve done but will do anything to avoid being specific and taking responsibility for the things they’ve done. Over generalizing is something my parents have done also.

It is hard to face how little regard an abusive parent may have for us but it helps me to understand that the lack is in them and not in me. There is no reason that they shouldn’t value me highly as their daughter.


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