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: Dru Posted: 24th May

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 24th May

      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

  2. By: Kate Posted: 23rd May

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

  3. By: Connie Henson Posted: 23rd May

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 23rd May

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

  4. By: Kate Posted: 23rd May

    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.

  5. By: Fi MacLeod Posted: 22nd May

    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!!”

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 23rd May

      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

  6. By: Susan Posted: 22nd May

    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!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd May

      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

  7. By: Jasmine Posted: 22nd May

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd May

      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

  8. By: Shanyn Posted: 21st May

    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.

  9. By: Meg Posted: 21st May

    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?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st May

      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

  10. By: Carolyn Posted: 21st May

    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?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st May

      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

  11. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 21st May

    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.

  12. By: Ultralite Posted: 21st May

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

  13. By: Louise Posted: 21st May

    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

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st May

      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

  14. By: Pam Posted: 21st May

    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.

  15. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 21st May

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st May

      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

  16. By: Susan Kingsley-Smith Posted: 21st May

    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!

  17. By: Ultralite Posted: 21st May

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st May

      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

  18. By: Pam Posted: 21st May


    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.

  19. By: Shey Posted: 21st May

    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

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st May

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

  20. By: Fi MacLeod Posted: 21st May

    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!!

  21. By: Wendi Posted: 20th May

    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).

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th May

      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

  22. By: Wendi Posted: 20th May

    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.

  23. By: Wendi Posted: 20th May

    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.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th May

      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

  24. By: Wendi Posted: 20th May

    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).

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