My Relationship with Me ~ Emotional Healing


dysfunctional family and abuse“When a child has been in a dysfunctional family system, that child grows up with some dysfunctional thinking. It can’t be helped.  The dysfunctional ways of thinking in my family system got passed on to me. Dysfunction and mistreatment, psychological abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse all contributed to the survival methods that I had to adopt in order to stay alive”. ~Darlene Ouimet

I have this “to do” list. I tell myself that I am going to get “this much done” each day. I have it all mapped out.  But I don’t stick to the plan. I get distracted, I want to chat on the phone, I want to read a book, I want to spend more time on facebook talking to all my peeps and updating the Emerging from Broken facebook page.  I want to catch up on Twitter.  I tell myself that all these activities are part of the greater goals that I have to spread this message. But the truth is that I am not respecting the path, plans and goals that I set out for myself to accomplish in the first place.

I break agreements with myself all the time.  If I was me, I wouldn’t trust myself anymore… (Oh wait.. I am me.)

So how does that happen? How did I get to this point where suddenly I only do some of the action steps on my to do list when I have taken the time to set them all out in a neat orderly fashion, I am well on my way to accomplishing many of my goals and am fully determined to accomplish those pending tasks? Why would I hurt my relationship with ME? Especially since I have worked SO hard on my recovery, my healing and on learning to love and value myself.

When a child like me, lives in a dysfunctional family system, the child does not grow up with a sense of their own value in place.  I developed a lot of “trust issues” because I had been treated with disrespect and my feelings had been disregarded.   I had no reason to think that anyone was going to ever treat me with real respect and regard, so I built a wall up against other people in order to protect myself from danger, pain and even disappointment.  This is part of survival.

But at the same time when we are abused or devalued, we come to accept that we are NOT valuable and not loveable and as I have mentioned in countless other blog posts, we come to accept that it must be some defect in us and we try harder.  We are accustomed to trying harder. And most of us have never stopped trying harder. Trying harder was a big part of how I survived.

I was constantly ASKED to try harder by the very ways that I was taught it was “my fault”.

Sometimes in my adult life, trying harder has been like this “default mode”. Trying harder to please others is something I had always done and it was a really hard belief system to break out of. Sometimes trying harder to make others happy and to fit into to what they want was a way to avoid facing the pain of the past too. Trying harder allows me to stay in the spin of the whole false truth system. As long as I am in the spin, I don’t have to face the truth; that for some reason my own family did not come through for me and that I was a big disappointment to them. Even once I recovered enough to know that those things weren’t true, that I wasn’t a disappointment but that they were dysfunctional, facing that pain of being unaccepted and in many ways rejected is lots of work and it is very scary.

And my mind was very good at helping me to survive so my mind didn’t really want me to face the pain. Even when I started to face the pain in the first year of my emotional healing process, my mind would scream at me to stop, turn back, this isn’t safe! I learned my survival methods from a very young age. Survival methods are the systems that we learn that enable us to cope, to avoid the pain, and they work for us as children. They saved my life. My mind convinced me to stay in “survival mode” because it seemed safer in survival mode, then it would be to come out of survivor mode and face the pain.

In my process of recovery I learned to let go of survival modes and embrace the life giving truth. The truth that I had never known before.

Breaking agreements with myself allows me (and forces me) to keep trying harder only this time I am trying harder with me, in the same way I tried harder with everyone in my past who defined me as not good enough.  Even though I broke my pattern of trying harder with everyone else, and defined myself as good enough, worthy and wonderful there is still this pull backwards to the familiar comfort zone of the survival mode. SO sometimes in this one area of my life I venture backwards.  It feels safe because it is about my own relationship with me and I can tell myself that I am not letting anyone walk on me.  BUT when I do it, I am devaluing me, just like they did! I am telling myself that I need to try harder again. I am setting myself up to give myself heck and call myself a failure!

Breaking agreements with myself allows me to visit that familiar survival mode, where my own mind lies to me and tells me that survival mode is still the safest place to be.  And since that is yet another lie that my brain accepted into my belief system long ago, it is high time that lie is corrected and expelled.

Today I realized that breaking agreements with myself is like having one foot in the past when I want to strive for increasing freedom and recovery!

Please share your thoughts.

Darlene Ouimet

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56 response to "My Relationship with Me ~ Emotional Healing"

  1. By: ambushed by life Posted: 23rd August

    I struggle with letting myself down… not carrying through to achieve what I want, what I think I really really want. Two problems…

    1)I get lost somewhere between wanting something so badly, something that will take time, commitment and personal resolve to accomplish (like losing weight) and abandoning this course simply because I feel the need for a little immediate gratification, because heaven knows how seldom I have a feel-good-moment. My life is built upon oh-woe-is-me and I can not for moment suffer, do without, feel deprived or restrain myself sometimes… too much like pain… to be able to put off that want and wait for a greater reward further down the road.

    2)What I thought I wanted is NOT what I really wanted… I either convince myself that I must not have really wanted it because if I had I know I’m quite capable of making it a priority because I have done it before… or, maybe it wasn’t really what I wanted but what I thought was the RIGHT thing to want… that I was suppose to want or would get me the most approval.

    Both of these two faulting thinking modes play havoc with my scheduling, my eating, my lists, my quest for perfection… to following through on just about anything in my crazy little life. This is how I self sabotage! I’m great at it and have created a lifetime of experience to back up these crazy rationalizations.

    I think it’s about value, a self esteem issue, and a life time of alienation from myself. It’s the combination of these faulty thinking scenarios that do me in… for instance, once I lost weight and was suddenly sexually attractive to men and yikes, that was scary. I had no skill at feeling attractive or having a relationship with a man and was very very uncomfortable. So, I quickly self medicate with food, immediate gratification and yeah, I’m miserably fat again and men don’t notice me.

    First of all, how can you value anything you don’t understand and don’t know? The only thing I really KNOW I want is to NOT HURT. I’ve dedicated my life to not hurting, no pain. Sometimes accomplishment or recognition can be stressful. Stressful feels a lot like hurt or pain. I only have one bucket for all things painful… anything that doesn’t feel good can be considered painful, a definite no-no.

    So, you see, here’s the dilemma, this cyclical faulty thinking traps me into feeling miserable, sabotages my best efforts and keeps me comfortable with what I know.

    And, then I beat myself up for failing!

    In my defense, I know as a child I was so busy surviving that I didn’t have time to learn about what I liked or wanted or needed. Nor, did I learn to distinguish between those things that are merely new and uncomfortable and those things that are actually painful. I forgive myself for these shortcomings, they were expendable at the time. So, for today, sometimes the best I can do is be aware, think it through, adjust my thinking and get back on track. Success is not a straight line for me.

  2. By: ultralite Posted: 30th June

    Hi Daniel — I’m so jazzed you thot to check back here — and I also know that of which you speak.

    The past few weeks Darlene has been helping us sort through moms and dads (mom’s day and dad’s day) with all the hullabaloo and turmoil such “holidays” create.

    Please, please — continue to join us. There is powerful work going on here, and the folks here have been ever so kind and gentle helping me sort through my personal work. It would be my hope that they can also speak to you.

    And Darlene — she is one of the most courageous persons I have ever encountered — and you won’t find a more supportive cheerleader to help you on your journey to find your personal truth —

    She certainly is lighting my path (and I know she’s just holding the flashlight — I’ve got to do the hard work!!! haha)

    Be well, Daniel — so glad you’ve been here!!!

  3. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th June

    Hi Daniel
    Yes, I totally relate to that feeling of floating or drunk when I was dissociated. It took time for me to stay present all the time. It took time for the fears to dissipate. I kept just going forward, taking one more step towards the end result that I wanted. It worked for me but what you describe here is exactly how it was for me too.
    Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Daniel Forlano Posted: 26th June

    Thanks for the welcome(s).
    I am returning occasionally to this blog for relief and inspiration and understanding.

    Yesterday I was dissociated and fully aware if it but never let it go. For me it’s really like being trapped in my mind.

    Often what happens is once I feel safe again or receive compassion or even just recognition, I cry it out, realizing I have been ignoring my self. I cry from the pain and pressure of containment, emotional self abuse.

    I find that sometimes when I am emotionally disconnected it is as though I am drunk! My head seems to float about as if in a daze, experientially and physically! Has anyone else experienced that? (I wrote in my journal last night to post that her so I thought I’d follow through.)

    Another thing I experience is a sort of matching. I mirror the actions of others and take on a sense of their personality as a sort of defense. When I see someone do this to me I find it aggravating.

    When I find I am present and full of life I fear losing it again. It seams that once that thought arises I am doomed to lose my fullness. I think, No, I’ll be fine I can do this. The next day I realize it’s gone. Sometimes I can check in and let my feelings to the surface but it is brief. Soon I am distracted and lost in thought again.

    At the moment I feel muddy. I can let my emotions to the surface but it takes will. I want it just to be natural.

    For now,

  5. By: Ultralite Posted: 7th June

    Oh, Daniel. So glad you’re here! A more supportive group of people would be hard to find anywhere . . .

    When I found Darlene’s web site, it was like I was wrapped in a warm fluffy blanket, talking to a new friend. I went all the way back to Darlene’s first post, and, taking ever so many breaks as I processed all this new, painful, heartbreaking, liberating, renewing information, I find myself here today. EFB is full of such rich insights from so many remarkable people whose abuse issues simply boggle the mind. And while I am a long, long way from being able to say, as Darlene and others profess, that I am healed from the abuse issues that have in many ways paralyzed my life, I have found the individuals here have held out hope to me as no therapist or person of my acquaintance in many, many years has done.

    I hope you’ll find the same solace here. Here’s to finding and living joy . . . as you find and live your newly discovered truth.
    So glad you’ve joined us here.

  6. By: Daniel Forlano Posted: 6th June

    Dear Darlene,

    Your blog is the first time I have thoroughly related my own experience of healing. It was only a couple years ago that the words formed from my depths and found breath and the ears of a listening friend, “I was abused.” How easy it would have been had someone been able to tell me as much. Alas, I am quite sure they (the abusers) are more in the dark about it than I. I have always had a truth seeking side and I think this leadership is what has driven my abusers to attempt to keep me close. I feel they know deep down that in my own freedom I have confided in others. It’s a sort of “don’t let him get away or someone will know” mixed with “avoid meeting his dear friends or we will be outed.”

    Anyway, I can now be sure that I have survived by dissociation, that emotional abuse was dominant in my family life, that I have been healing from this trauma. I don’t remember what happened and it is as though this counts against me and when I attempt to understand I find myself in a mess so tangled, so mentally disorienting that, if I am not escaping into something passive, I prefer to write or draw or just DO something that gives me satisfaction. That is if my life doesn’t seem a muddy mess where days bleed together without moment or memory.

    It really bothers me that I don’t yet notice when I “escape.” As far as I know I am present until hours or days layer I realize I have not been present for some time. So my practice has been focusing my attention on staying with my emotions and remaining connected for as long as I can. My healing comes in knowing that it is okay to have emotion and experience emotion wherever I may be, and to carry this emotional connection with me from my safe space into the world and with people, that my emotions serve me and give me pleasure wherever I go. One of my real kickers is I escape from my own joyful experiences. I am afraid they will be destroyed my someone and so I “turn off” and hide my joy. I sabotage my own well-being!

    Also, I avoid things. I am wary of seeking a therapist because I can’t imagine how I would know whether or not they are trustworthy. How long would it take? And after all I want to achieve self dependence.

    Thanks you very much for your blog. It is such a relief to have some help understanding why I struggle as I do.


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th June

      Hi Daniel,
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
      When I started to face the truth about the past, I was finally able to notice when I “escaped” and dissociated. Over time I was finally able to “pull myself back and stay present” But it took really facing the truth. Most of my belief system was a lie, (believing that I was a bad child, that I was to blame etc. and that “they” didn’t know any better, that my life was “normal” and the abuses were “acceptable”

      I totally relate to your expression of escaping even when your are having a joyful experience. For me that was part of my trust issues and broken belief system. Joyful was just as dangerous as any other situation in a dysfunctional family system.

      I hope that you read more of what I have written here. There is a lot of fog busting info and insight (from others also) on this blog about how I reconnected to myself and overcame all that held me back!
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: joy Posted: 5th June

    Hi Darlene

    ITs all a whole tangled mess right now that I am trying to unravel..dont know if thats the right spelling but each time i think i am pulling one string out of the mess its hooked on to something else.. I get frustrated and sometimes want to just put it all back in the box where I hid it for so long.. but i know that will never do since. it wont ever go back into the box the same way it was before.
    Its so so painful. to give up hoping on something that wont be.. i wanted so badly they will change but realizing that was a just a little girl hoping . .is painful . in me i always try to hope .. it crushes me to realize they want no part of my hope. and its painful accepting that in the adult world people are slower to change and make peace. JOy

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th June

      Hi Joy,
      I have often described it just that same exact way. Pulling one string out and finding it attached to something else… yes. That is the process of untangling the lies and the belief system.
      And it is very hard to give up hope, it is like a death but it is a death that leads to rebirth! There is freedom on the other side of this Joy. It does get better!
      Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: joy Posted: 4th June

    Hi Darlene.

    Thank you for encouraging me ..and for understanding. I am in and
    out of the not knowing zone..i am confused yet see some things clearly. When I see the truth I become angry about it all then became angry at me for being angry..Its such a terrible mess I am in right now. My life revolved around that belief system. everythng! . it’s all been wrong all lies.. I am afraid of how broken I am , how misled I have been..afraid of the what I have to do now to get fixed. ..I am the only one who sees it as lies.. so no one in my family understands me. THey all accept it still and see me as being in sin for having left that way..Its so very hard.


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th June

      Hi Joy,
      Keep going, really you are doing great. All of the things you are saying are about realizing the truth; even realizing how many lies were at the roots of everything is realizing the truth.
      They are never going to see it the way you want them too, unless they too want to live in the truth, and them “seeing you as being in sin” is just another lie meant to control and manipulate you.
      Hang in here!
      hugs, Darlene

  9. By: joy Posted: 4th June

    I can so relate to the trust issues..I have had so many people drop and lie and hurt me that am afraid to put myself out there again to be hurt..I have been so trusting before only to be hurt that now if someone says something nice to me .. I feel it’s not me they are talking to .it’s someone else..Everyone I had known has lied to and hurt me. Its very hard to believe that someone is actually going to finally do what they say.. yet I know I have to learn to trust .. Not trusting anyone is isolating. .

    The strange paradox.. while I am afraid to trust anyone .. i find myself reacting in a way that I would ..when I as a child. I trust the old way that broke me and crippled me? I judge everything from that broken side of me.. I wish I could stop all the nonsense and break free of all the lies.. they just keep playing and playing in my head



  10. By: Fi MacLeod Posted: 1st June

    Hi Lynda, I’ve missed you too and was beginning to wonder if you were ok. Congrats on making it OUT of the Crazy Closet!!

    Thanks for your comment. Yes the sheer brutality of my mother’s (she does not denote the term ‘mother’, I use her first name when talking to my therapist about her) final words was totally breathtaking and there’s some really deep stuff there, I still feel that abandonment as if it happened 5 minutes ago rather than 25 years ago. There’s a lot of deep work to be done about that.

    Wow, I’m thinking about what you said about recording myself. I’m one of those people who doesn’t like the sound of her own voice when it is recorded. I’ve started to wonder just what that’s about. I guess it’s got a lot to do with being told that I had nothing of worth to say and that I was far better seen but not heard but even better would be to not even be seen. I have only 1 mirror in my house which I use to see my face when I do my hair and clean my teeth. I don’t have a full mirror because I hate seeing myself in a mirror. The things I think about myself when I do see myself in a mirror aren’t printable. But I also guess a lot of those thoughts are not my own as such but ones planted in me by my abusers.

    Getting to know yourself is multi-faceted but also quite fascinating too. All I know is I am not who and what they said I was but I don’t know who and what I really am yet.

    Your experience of seeing and hearing yourself on video sounded incredibly revealing and healing. I can see and hear the power of it in your words! Thanks for giving me that suggestion and your experience of it.

    This is probably the closest I get to it at the moment – it happens on a rare occasion because I tend to go through life without feeling but every so often I connect with myself and catch myself feeling really caring and being really gentle to someone, I take note of how it feels and I do a “wow, is that really me?Is that me underneath all that other stuff?”. And I know deep down that it is.

    I guess getting to know who you really are is really connecting with yourself.

    So thanks Lynda, it’s so good to hear from you, I so appreciate what you shared!

  11. By: Lynda ~ Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 31st May

    I haven’t been on here for a few days. I’ve missed you guys.

    I just read all the comments, and it is interesting how many different ways this post struck people. I wasn’t sure how this post struck me… but that’s because, for the past couple of days, I’ve been reeling from the latest unprovoked wounding from my primary childhood abuser, my mother. I’ve written about it some on my facebook. Anyway, I find it difficult to read and comprehend what I’m reading, when I’ve just had the stuffing knocked out of me again.

    Fi… your comment about your evil mother telling you that you no longer exist…

    ….I had to stop writing for a few minutes at this point, Fi, and just close my eyes and hang my head down and breathe in and out.

    I, too, have had to get to know who I am. Because I am so NOT the perosn my abusers told me I was. They told me, by their words and by their actions, who I was, but that person is not who I am, not who I have ever been.

    Fi, one of the biggest helps I found in getting to know me, is by talking into a tape recorder. Rather than writing in a journal, talking about what I would write in a journal, and recording what I am saying. Then, a day or more later, going back and listening to my voice, to my words, to my emotional inflections in my words, hearing the way I verbally communicate my thoughts… what an amazing eye-opener that was, for me to hear ME.

    One day, I saw myself on a video. I had decided to join a church and be baptized. This was in 2005. It was a very large church in a large city, and because the church was so large, they had videoscreens, HUGE screens, scattered around the church so that everyone, no matter where they were sitting, could see what was going on, onstage. The tradition for this church was for one of the church elders to do a videotaped interview with you, just a short get-to-know you thing, as you answer some basic questions about who you are and why you are now joiniing the church, that sort of thing. Then they had a video editor person take the tape of your video and edit it. This short but very personal interview was going to be shown on the huge screens all over the church, just as you were about to be baptized.

    So, there I was standing in the baptismal water, waiting to be dunked, when suddenly, there I was on the huge videoscreen on the wall behind me, and also out in the congregation, along the side walls, and at the back, it was ME, larger than life, talking, answering the interviewers questions about what had brought me to that place in my life.

    I was stunned. “THAT is what I LOOK LIKE? THAT is what I SOUND LIKE? THAT is ME????”

    Wow. what I saw, and what I heard, was NOT AT ALL the crazy broken unloveable unlikeable horrible nothing toxic person that my abusers had made me belief I was. What I saw and what I heard was a woman I would love to have for a best friend. A kind and a gentle woman. A soft and a caring woman. And an amazingly STRONG woman, but not in a scary way, in a life-affirming way. I saw ME. And I LIKED me!

    Fi, I just know, that if you could see and hear yourself, you would like you very much, too.

    Lynda ~ no longer “COMING” Out of the Crazy Closet, because I am OUT Of The Crazy Closet

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 1st June

      Hi Lynda!
      So great to hear from you!! I missed you too!!
      Thanks for sharing!
      Hugs, Darlene
      p.s. welcome to ~ OUT of the Crazy Closet!!

  12. By: Lynn Tolson Posted: 31st May

    I have this same dynamic with myself. Part of it is that I think it really doesn’t matter. I mean, if I do something, anything, great. If I don’t, who cares? If I do, who cares? I do break commitments to myself, just like they (TDF= the dysfunctional family) broke promises to me. I guess a way to move through this is to notice what was accomplished in a day?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 1st June

      I came to see it as a new part of the healing process; it was time for me to begin to see myself as just as important as someone else. I would never break an agreement with one of my children. I had to find that balance between being too hard on myself, and discounting myself altogether. It wasn’t about being superwoman, it was about self value. I tell myself, “i am going to take care of me ~ I am going to go for a walk” and then I don’t do it. Or I am going to take care of me and read a book while no one is home this afternoon, instead of cleaning the yard… but then instead I spend the quiet time on my computer, discounting the promise that I made to myself to do something just for me. Not so much about accomplishment, more about self care/ self value.
      So yes, any kind of aknowledgement is a good place to begin.
      Hugs, Darlene

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