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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Categories : Survival



This is something I have dealt with too. I think maybe I take a different view than you, though…but maybe not…maybe I am missing something in what you are saying. I have learned it’s okay if I change my mind, or my schedule. My schedule, or to do list, is more like a things that need to be done (honestly, it’s a things I want to be done mostly with a few things that need to be done). I trust myself to know when they need to be done and also to get them done by that time and I seem to be the only one who places as much concern on it anyway. Other than that, I take it pretty easy on myself…they are my agreements with me…I can do whatever I want with them. Just like in agreements with anyone else…sometimes I realize the only reason I made them was due to some false sense of obligation or responsibility. It is not easy, but I am learning to both not allow myself to be pressured by others…and not to put too much pressure on myself. It is getting easier and easier. My to do list now is a work in progress…I get it done, or I will get it done. So for me, breaking agreements with myself is almost like an accomplishment in itself…when the agreement was about something that isn’t of the importance I once would have made it out to be. Like my own personal challenge to not be on time (which really for me means not be ridiculously early just to be on time…and to not pressure myself into near hysteria when I think I might be a couple minutes late…or even just barely on time).


I actually quit writing down my lists…except for those things that ABSOLUTELY I WANT/NEED DONE…there are very few each day of things that I feel have to be done. I am loving the new freedom to relax I have given myself…I used to put more expectations on myself than anyone else I knew put on me…or than I put on anyone else. I never thought I could “go with the flow”…but I can and I do…and I breathe, and sleep easier now…and it has become a little less of a conscious effort with practice.


Hi Wendi,

I completely understand what you are saying, yes absolutely I had to learn not to put too much pressure on myself and to take self care time and give myself permission to relax etc. and that is a key part of my recovery process also. I think you misunderstood my post, which may be due to the way that I wrote it. I am talking about things that I really really want to do. Like finish the editing process on my book. I am talking about my professional life and I write those things down because that is what works for me in my goal setting. This past year or two I have learned a wonderful balance between my professional life and my personal and family life, and in this post I am talking about putting off the things that I want to accomplish the most. The things that are for me. Not the things I “need to do” like clean the bathroom, but the things I really WANT to do.

One of the examples that I thought of when I was writing this post was when people promise themselves that they are going to adopt a healthier life style, and everyday they make plans and everyday they put it off till tomorrow. There are a lot of examples of breaking agreements with oneself that are not an improvement and that is really what i am talking about in this post.
I hope that gives you and the other readers a bit more clarity.
Thank you for sharing your positive take on this and your personal victories!
Hugs, Darlene


I understand…sounds a little like procrastination? I am an expert at that…but I’m giving that up too…one day…HAHAHA. Seriously though, I know what you mean…I work from home for my husband’s business…self-motivation is a skill I didn’t so much need in my professional life when I had a boss boss – I had boss motivation, so I’m learning all about balancing my time in order to get things done without a boss (so-to-speak) breathing down my neck…one of the biggest obstacles for me to overcome in self-employment.


and wait…you’re saying cleaning the bathroom is a NEED to be done? haha…j/k. I used to be soooo rigid before I had kids on house cleaning…every single weekend…and not just me, I would hound my husband until we were fighting about why he wasn’t helping me. Became a super-stresor when I had babies to take care of…I learned the art of prioritizing…it all gets cleaned…just sometimes at sporadic or unusual times…no schedule other than I know it should be done at least every x number of times (depending on the chore).


You can call it whatever you like, but what I am talking about is treating myself the same way that I was treated and mistreated by others, that kept me in the cycle of low self esteem and depression. Maybe that will clarify. 🙂
Hugs, Darlene


The title for this “my relationship with me” hit me between the eyes. I looked at it and thought what does that mean? I don’t really have a relationship with me. Do I really know me? Do I really know the real me? I thought actually no – my relationships with other people in my life tend to be distant ones – it’s all I can cope with. I can’t cope with flesh relationships. And actually I am the same with me.

I don’t really know me. I project a version of ‘me’ to the world but I just exist in the same dysfunctional detached way with myself that I do with other people.

I guess part of the problem is that I didn’t exist as a child. I was just a thing with no thoughts, emotions, feelings, wants or needs of my own. My mother’s words at 19 when I was left for dead still ring in my head – “from this moment you do not exist”. And I guess I’ve just carried that on through life. Not existing, just surviving.

Anyway, that’s my thoughts!!


I am fascinated to have come across this blog. I have been writing my own for a while now, about surviving rape and abuse and I just followed a link from one of the people who reads mine and came here. I am so glad that you are posting and I shall try and follow your posts.
my own blog is



I am in a different place than you are and I’m still struggling for self-direction. I’m spending a lot of time, these days, wondering if what I’m doing is what I want to be doing or if it is just for someone else. Other times, I think that maybe I’m just someone who enjoys serving others and maybe that’s not so bad as long as I’m not motivated by pleasing them only. I guess I’m looking for what motivates me other than the need of some other.

Reading this makes me realize that I also have a pretty lousy relationship with myself and I let myself down most every day. I break promises to myself just as promises were broken to me in childhood. I ignore my body’s needs and my emotional needs just as they were ignored by my parents as a child. Maybe a good place to start in finding what makes me tick is in being good to me.


Oh, Darlene . . .considering how young some of us were when the abuse began in our lives, I am in awe of the ingenuity, the determination, the creativity, the sheer genius we each somehow found within ourselves to maintain some sort of equilibrium and survive. Being abused in body, soul, and spirit gave me skills to be an amazing caretaker — skills nobody taught me. At the same time, what nobody taught me was how to take care of myself.

As you said, being raising with dysfunction, dysfunctional thinking can’t be helped. One of my daughter’s hardest questions to me lately, Why is your family so dysfunctional? (I noted “your” family, not “our” family –) So, even with my awareness of the abuses I suffered making me hyperaware in the raising of my children, and my diligently working not to repeat the abuse, the dysfunction remains. However, I look at my children and grandchildren, and see that the nurture, care, protection has paid benefits. I see that choices I made for them were life-affirming choices, and their blooming, growing families and friendships reflect the fact the abuse cycle need not repeat itself.

So, perhaps a lot of the dysfunctional thinking will end here. As much as I want answers, I want healing more. I want to believe I can find a friend I can trust. I want to believe I can have a relationship with a man that doesn’t end in abuse and betrayal. And that child within me still wants to believe our life can have a happy ending.


Hi Fi,
Your thoughts are awesome. That is the truth, that is what happened to you and how you feel and that is the only real place that we can start building from. (the truth)
I thought that your comment was really excellent! The realizations that I came to about my own life, were very similar to these comments. I didn’t know me, I didn’t have a relationship with me and I had to learn how to have one. all part of honouring myself.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Pam
I went through exactly what you are talking about Pam! That is also part of the process. I wrote a list of all the things that I had done in my life that made me happy. (tasks, jobs, volunteering, drama, etc) and a picture of my passion began to emerge. There is a lot of self worth that has to be established first before I could begin to really live in that passion though. Looking back, the biggest part of my REAL recovery has been about my relationship with me.

Hi Ultralite,
Self care, especially emotional self care was a very very important but as you say, it wasn’t taught to us. SO we have to learn how to do it. =) well worth the effort however!
My kids call my family “your family” too… =)
Thank you for sharing your victories with your own family. I have a very similar story to yours when it came to my kids!
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Shey,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken! Great to have you here.
I will stop by your blog. 🙂
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene; this is really interesting that you would bring this issue up…at this particular point in time…in other words; me too.

What you are describing is what I learned in my personal work to identify as “ambivalence” and “locus of control” issues.

you’d said: “Breaking agreements with myself allows me (and forces me) to keep trying harder only this time I am trying harder with me”

The whole thing around “trying harder” I discovered was around the fact that in the original trauma I’d been taught a couple of things: first that I had no internal sense of control and that no matter how hard I tried it was never “good enough”.

The other issue was that love/hate relationship that I had with others; I wanted desparately to be loved, accepted and honored AS I WAS. The problem was that I was never enough and therefore could never BE enough. I learned to treat life as a hot stove….reaching out yet pulling back because I doubted myself because I’d been taught that I could never be “enough” or do anything “right enough”. And I was reminded of this often by those I turned to for validation only to be invalidated.

This learned helplessness kept me prisoner in my own mind for a lifetime. Even though in the eyes of onlookers I was a free agent and could have left any abusive situation – I didn’t know I had the power to do so. In addition that push/pull love/hate black/white way of seeing others also became the lense that I saw myself through.

So today as I travel this path and create my best life each day I also struggle with this issue and have learned to see it for what it is; my deepest beliefs about myself, my abilities and that feeling of powerlessness to change this in myself.

What I’ve discovered though is that I CAN change it – by being aware of it and having compassion for myself and the “me” that shudders and shakes at the idea of attention or success because…OMG! What if I can’t repeat it? What if its not GOOD ENOUGH? What if its all a joke, a mistake? And I find myself frozen and unable to break out of that place where I’m so busy with everything else that I can’t do what I know will move my life and work to the next level. Self sabotage is how I played out this ambivalence in my life. And self awareness is of the behaviors like procrastination, over-scheduling, overdoing….is how I’ve learned to start to break through it.

So today…when I catch myself avoiding doing what will take me where I want to go I stop. Feel the feelings of anxiety and fear. Remind myself I’m grown up. That I WAS powerless but I am no longer. Maybe I journal to help identify the words and feelings….and then I’m able to step out of that survival mode that kept me safe and helped me to keep trying harder.

Today – honestly – I still deal with this feeling of expecting failure but have learned to see that this is a survival skill that no longer serves the same purpose and that I no longer have to keep trying harder and can see myself through the lens of “enough”. I can be kind to me, tell myself its ok to feel afraid, its scary to be all grown up and that I’m an adult and can take care of myself now.

This is kind of a long comment but geez:) I just didn’t see any way around it! lol! Great post Darlene and yes! Its time we understand that we don’t have to try harder anymore!


When I look at this issue for myself, I have to ask myself, “Would I put this kind of pressure to do so much on anyone else?” For me, with this question, I come face to face with the perfectionistic me of old days before healing. I thought if I could do everything perfectly then I would be ok, have some value and you would definitely like me.

Nobody really likes a perfectionist because nobody can live up to her expectations. They may silently resent you but they do resent your perfectionistic ways. That is why I hated myself for so many years. I wasn’t perfect no matter how much I tried to be.

Sometimes Life steps in and my “to-do” list goes out the window. There are just too many things that I would like to do but don’t have the time to do them. I don’t beat myself up for not accomplishing them anymore. I do what I can and that is enough. Loving myself, nurturing myself, meeting my needs has nothing to do with being perfect today.


My kids also refer to my family as your family. They also say that they feel numb toward them. I told them that is natural because ‘my family’ never put anything of themselves into the relationship. Relationship for them is taking -maybe feeding is a better word- and not giving.


Hi Susan
Your comment could be a whole blog post on it’s own. So many great points!

For me I have overcome the fear of success and all the dynamics that you highlight here to do with that. But it is the self sabotage that I am getting at. And ALL these things factor in at different points, separately and together so a hard thing to break down! So yes, I can relate to everything everyone is saying!

Lately I have realized that what I have been going through “right now” has to do with devaluing ME. However, I find it really interesting how this post is hitting everyone SO differently!
Thank you for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

I realize that your comment is YOUR reaction to this post, but the way you worded it makes me wonder if you are thinking that I am putting pressure on myself, when you ask if you would put this much pressure on “someone else to do “so much”. “this much” meaning that perhaps that is what you think I am doing?

My to do list is 5 points long, ~ it is not “so much” It is things I want to accomplish, goals I have set for myself, (editing my book and the tasks around the process of getting it online and downloadable) but they keep sitting there and I am aware of avoiding them. So it is not about trying to do something perfectly. it is about breaking agreements with myself the way agreements were broken with me. And it is not at all about being a perfectionist.

I totally understand and relate to your comment, but I don’t want the readers to misunderstand MY blog post. It isn’t about being hard on myself at all. It is about realizing where I repeat the way that I was pressured in my own life.

Your reaction is absolutely fine but it is not what I was trying to get at in this post and once again, it is so interesting how this post is hitting people so differently.

My motive for trying to clarify is only that I hope no one thinks that I am encouraging anyone to put PRESSURE on themselves or to try harder!
Thanks so much for Sharing.
Hugs, Darlene


It’s really hard when I glimpse outside the fog and see the mess the fog’s created, ouch! All the ‘valuing me’ things get lost, or don’t happen almost everything seems to reinforce that I don’t have value because my plans won’t happen. I used to be very good at making things happen but for some years, it’s seemed quite the opposite and I can’t figure it out


Here’s a BIG HUG back atcha, Darlene. Once again, you rock my world!


Hi Pam
I had to learn a new definition of relationship. The definition of relationship that was modeled to me was wrong. The burden was always on me. (my job to fix anything, my job to pursue, my job to take the blame) SO yes, Relationship was for them taking, (and feeding) is a great way to put it!

Hi Louise,
You said a lot in this comment too! It is very hard to “come out and see the mess” for me that was the beginning of “self value” and learning it. It came somewhat out of realizing it was always missing. But it isn’t the plans coming together that defines our value! Not at all. and it is so easy for us to go back there because we have forever had the wrong definition of self value!
This goes back to the beginning of needing to be validated by “something or someone” outside of myself. Accomplishment or whatever. But our self value is not established by our plans working out.
Glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene


I got your point was more about trusting yourself to do what you say you will do and about not repeating the old patterns of abuse from your childhood. Yes, my comment was about me and how in the past I have put pressure on myself to be or do things perfectly. Sorry about the misunderstanding. The question was one that I use myself to make sure that I am not putting unrealistic expectations on myself so that I don’t repeat the messages from childhood. I am tired from not sleeping well the past few nights so I may not have been clear in my comments above.


Failure is where I feel safe. I am happy doing things for people for free, but cannot ask for money for my time. It’s not just because I think that’s all I deserve, but because I feel safe there. I also have trouble finishing things. I get bored halfway through. It’s as if I can’t bare to succeed or accomplish anything because that would fly in the face of what I have been taught – that I’m a hopeless failure who doesn’t deserve success. I want so much to prove my parents wrong, but at the same time I’m terrified of the consequences of doing that. And I know deep down that nothing I do will ever be good enough anyway, so why bother?

So I start projects with great intentions and then give up. And there is a sick kind of relief and comfort in giving up – it feels so natural. It’s like a cycle of trying really really hard to be good enough, and then despairing when I realize that i cannot ever succeed because success means getting approval from outside myself. It’s a dirty trick I’ve been taught – like being a slave who has to work their butt off, but never gets paid.

I don’t think what I’ve written is quite what you’re talking about in your post, Darlene. To be honest I found your post a little confusing. You seem to be talking on the one hand about procrastinating or avoiding doing things, and on the other hand you talk about trying too hard, and I got a bit confused about the relationship between these two.

I can understand how we avoid doing what’s in our best interest because we do not think we are worth it, because we have been let down so often by other people and accepted that as reality, but I got lost when you tried to relate this to the idea of “trying harder” to get approval or a sense of value.

Are you saying that you have been taught that “trying hard” is a prerequisite of gaining a sense of value, so if you just did things the easy way that would forfeit any real worth in what you’re doing – so in a twisted way you have to make it hard for yourself in order to prove your value?


This is so timely for what I am going through, so bare with my personal reflection.

I began a 21 detox from sugar 19 days ago. I was doing great. Telling my friends and family what I was doing, hoping that the more verbal I was about it the more committed I would be. However yesterday, (3 days early) I decided to break it. I just thought, who cares, it’s only a piece of dried fruit, but that was the beginning of a snowball effect. I threw in the towel.

But really I did care!

On the outside I appear okay about it (after all it was only for me anyways), but internally, my authentic self, is really mad that I didn’t make it. It feels like I failed. And it may seem like just a small instance, not really important, but it’s not to me. And I’m not sure what to do from here, but I don’t want to beat myself up over it. I wonder, can I just pick up the pieces and move on?


Hi Patricia,
Well now I get it! Thank you so much for coming back and clarifying. I realize what you meant now.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Carolyn,
I totally get what you are talking about here, I used to feel that same way. about your statement “and I know deep down that nothing I do will ever be good enough anyway, so why bother?” One of the things that set me free was that I didn’t have to prove anything to my parents. I just believed that I did. And the fear of the consequences of doing that is a terror left over from childhood. It was all that stuff deep down that I sorted out to get past that fear. I know what you are talking about and it is all necessary to realize in order to take the next steps.

As for your questions, did you read my other comments?

PS Everyone
I am getting some private emails about this post. I seem to have hit a nerve. People are either telling me that I am being too hard on myself, OR defending themselves. Neither of which reactions I anticipated. This post is NOT about me telling myself that I am still not good enough OR about not doing enough! this is about breaking agreements with myself in the way that agreements were broken with me. It is about treating myself the way that I was treated by others, not about me being too hard on myself. It is about making myself try harder for ME in an abusive way, the way that I learned to try harder for the abusers and controllers. I hate to be misunderstood if it causes others to get defensive or hurts anyone, although maybe I should just let this post be taken the way that it
is taken.
Love Darlene


I totally hear you on this one. That is very much what I am talking about. It isn’t a failure, I don’t feel like because I have failed, I just felt like I finally realized that I do break agreements with ME the same way agreements were broken with me but I never break agreements with anyone else. So I was looking at that in this blog post.
In my view the only way that you can go forward is to just move on, yes. That is the best and most loving thing to do and that I what I am doing to. Just move forward from here, no guilt, no self blame, no shame, no failure, just going forward from here, this time with a little more self awareness then I had last week. Realizing that sometimes I need to work on my relationship with me.
Hugs, Darlene


Wow Darlene another great post! This past year has been one of me finding out who I am without the context of my family framing my life with their ‘stuff’. I’m learning who I am without their junk filling up my emotional spaces, and without their games tripping up my thoughts.

I’m learning to treat me how I wish to be treated and to stop putting off the things I need and deserve as I heal, as I am finding out who I am as a person.

Quitting the ‘I cannot believe it!” when good things happen and the “oh well that was what I had coming” when bad things happen has been a super hard lesson. In that lesson is how I treat myself and the messages my own child self clings to.

Finding the true holders of the brackets around my past abuse has been huge in resetting the perspective I have on healing. Accepting that someone could (and would) love me for who I am (or not as they choose) has been SO HARD!

There is no way we can do more than 100% in any relationship, including the one with ourselves. If we have 80% days that’s okay but we’ve got to accept them. It’s the same with other people, I cannot try hard enough or do enough to make up for them not doing their part, for choosing not to. I was raised to think that I could make it up, and indeed was expected to because I alone was responsible for when someone didn’t find me past the ‘meet in the middle’.

Recently I did a crazy thing for me, I entered a contest based soley on photos. I was chosen one of 50 out of 50,000. Whether I make the final cut of 6 is not as important as me accepting that someone could choose to see my as something other than how I have seen myself. I stopped saying, “I cannot believe this” and instead started to say, “Thank you Lord” because who am I to not believe in His touch in my life?

Peace to you Darlene and to everyone who commented, bless you. Shey I’m on my way over to your blog.


The perfectionist in me told me that I “am never enough”. I keep on trying harder, but could never get “there”. It was like pushing a stone wall that (of course) would not move. I was always waiting for the next slip, the next rejection…and expected the same from everyone else. I actually felt that people were just waiting for me to fail so that they can reject me.

That fear of rejection was immense. I even told my last therapist not long ago, that , “I am not a perfectionist because I’m not perfect in EVERY way”. You should have seen her rolling her eyes at me! I always cannot believe that people can be satisfied with me – either that they are just trying to “comfort” me, or that they are expecting me to fail soon anyway.

When I was appointed into cell leadership, my pastor sat me down and said, “Jasmine, I chose you because I know you can. You have the qualities that we’re looking for. But I don’t want you to feel pressured.” Since then, both her and my zone leader have consistently called me up to say “well done” and “I’m proud of you”. I find it so hard to believe. Isn’t nothing good enough?

Building a relationship with myself is not easy. But yet again, I know that as long as I keep fighting…I will get there one day. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay to fall, because I’m human. That failing doesn’t mean that I’m lousy or unworthy. That my worth is not determined by how “good” I am.


Hi Shanyn
I love your first paragraph! I love how you word it, and how I relate to it. There is a clarity that comes when all that fog is out of the way for a while. And learning how to treat me has been huge, and not a quick or simple thing to learn. I didn’t have very good examples. And yes, it was always up to me. I was the one that was responsible for all relationships.
Thank you for these comments Shanyn.
Hugs, Darlene
p.s. Shanyn ~ Congrats for your success with the photo contest! That is an amazing achievement and wonderful acknowledgment too!

Hi Jasmine,
I totally relate to this comment too. I was never enough. I kept trying harder because I believed that if I could BE enough, that I would be accepted. But I was on the wrong track. I didn’t realize that I would never be defined (as good enough) by being accepted in the first place.
I think that the biggest reason that abusers keep asking for more, is because they believe that if they stop requesting more, they will lose their power and authority over others, and it is their power and authority over others that they “prove” to themselves that they are good enough. But because that is the false definition of love, relationship and respect, it never works.
Thanks so much for sharing
Hugs, Darlene


You all have very good points…for 35 years I have been spinning this same “cycle of abuse” with my family/friends and only after joining this site have I been able to “weed” out fact from fiction. I am on the road to recovery…and it’s a great feeling. Thank you all for sharing your stories, I find them all to be of great help…I just recently gave up on my “lists” except for groceries and that’s only so I don’t overspend. Like Wendy,”Breaking agreements with myself is also like an accomplishment with myself”. I used to “beat” myself up over it because it STILL wasn’t good enough for me or anyone…not any longer, I now have permission from ME to choose what I will and will not accept. I spent my entire life “trying harder” and it got me absolutely nowhere….so now I will try harder to do fun things and pay more attention to my cat and that’s the extent of it. They didn’t accept me then so their not going to accept me now especially with a new attitude, but that’s ok… that’s THEIR choice!


Hi Susan,
YAY ~ I love this~ I had to give myself permission to do fun things and then I had to learn how to do them! (I am still learning) and your point at the end is so important ~

Susan said “They didn’t accept me then so their not going to accept me now especially with a new attitude, but that’s ok… that’s THEIR choice!”

Thanks for Sharing Susan,

Everyone! I just published a new post about “Permission” you can read it here ~ Permission to Live; Busting through Beliefs and Survival Systems
I think that it follows this post well,
Hugs, Darlene


It’s funny to read this about giving yourself permission to do fun things – I just wrote in my journal –

“this last few days I’ve had so much FUN watching the cycling tour of Italy travel through the high mountains of the Alps and Dolomites. Wow, I’ve had fun. When did I last think or write those words? Erm I dunno. But yeah I’ve such fun, it’s made my weekend. It’ll be good to get back to normal I can’t spend my entire life watching cycling tours in the mountains, I’m glad they’re scheduled that part of the tour for a weekend. It’s been good to allow myself that – although there’s a voice inside having a go at me for doing it, saying it’s a bit of a luxury to do that sort of thing, who do I think I am etc – but I’m listening to the I’ve enjoyed that sooo much voice, hearing the other one and telling it to shove off – wow that’s got to be a first for me – that’s progress!!”


I don’t always get my whole list done, but that is ok with me, me is ok with that, IOW, it is ok to take it more easy and process along the way.


Yay Fi!
That sounds really fun! I think it is sad that we have to learn all this stuff. To learn how to have fun and then to give ourselves PERMISSION! And YAY for telling the “voice” to get lost! I still have to do that, that voice comes round less and less, but I talked to it quite a bit while I was batteling the old belief system and cementing in the new one. (and sometimes I still ask myself / the voice “why is is so wrong for me to have fun?” or “why do you think that I don’t deserve this?” and digging deeper into where that voice has its roots too.
Thanks for sharing your victory!
hugs, Darlene


I’ll share what I’ve discovered about myself.

This breaking agreements with myself or failing to do the “shoulds”, whether from me or someone else, is all part of my process of discovering that I am okay, even if I don’t try harder or even perform rightly.

I can see that I need some rebellion in me to say “the hell with everything” and just do whatever I want, whenever. Because up to this point, I didn’t have the freedom to do that. I was obligated to others, being responsible, proving myself worthy and “trying harder” as you put it.

I see it all as part of the process. The world’s not going to come crashing down on me if I be a “bad girl” or a “lazy girl” or whatever.


Hi Connie,
Welcome to emerging from broken and for sharing your process of recovery here!
Hugs, Darlene


19 days without sugar? Sounds like an accomplishment anyway!!


Fi – thats huge! Congratulations! I love hearing how you wrote that out:)


I’ve been reading organization and procrastination books since high school. I’ve been told for decades that I have unrealistic expectations of how much I can accomplish in a given hour. The thing is, I’ve managed to become quite successful at times, even at tasks that seem daunting or too much. And yet, most of the time, I can’t even make my way through a tiny todo list that involves eating, showering and doing laundry. I’ve only recently begun to think about how dependent my mother made me on her, and your post really resonated with how baffled I am at my life right now. I haven’t spoken to her in 5 years, I quit my full-time job to pursue freelancing and art, I make my own schedule, I’m financially supported by my husband for the moment, so what the hell? Why can’t I complete any projects? Why am I still such a fuck-up despite how hard I’m trying? These questions have kept me up at night and I’ve been thinking about it from a time-management/messy/organized angle, rather than what you’ve written about.

I’m going to go back into therapy and I really hope that I can rebuild myself from the ground up, because I feel as though I have a foundation of popsicle sticks and sand.


Hi Dru
I totally relate. When I started to think about it from a “what happened to me in the past” perspective, everything changed! Everything
Glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene


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?


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


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


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!!


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!


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




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.



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


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


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


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.



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


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.


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,


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


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!!!


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.


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