Overcoming that Nasty Self Blame from Dysfunctional Relationships

self blame in dysfunctional relationship

daggers of self blame

Looking back on my life, it is evermore clear to me how hard I looked for excuses to blame myself for the dysfunction in my life. There is a very good reason that children take on the blame: it was safer to blame themselves. Blaming “them” was fruitless. I could not “make them change” but “I knew” I could always “try harder”.  I believed that if I could “do good enough” that they would finally love me.

It was very hard for me to learn to see things through a new grid because I had been consistently taught things a certain way. The way that I was taught things became my grid of understanding. My grid of understanding was the way that I saw and believed that life worked.  Dysfunction was my normal. I believed things worked in life a certain way, because that is how I was “taught” life worked.  As I got older, outside influences added to those teachings, confirming them and cementing them firmly in my mind. This is what I call my belief system. 

One of the things that I have discovered about my belief system is that although when I got older I was taught that I can change my thinking by practicing a new thought or belief over and over again, (positive affirmations or positive thinking) the truth was that until I found the original false belief and dispelled it, the original belief was there underneath whatever new thought I was trying to implement.  Furthermore the original belief was still my default mode.  So until I found the original belief, where it came from and what was untrue about it so that I could change it to the truth, I could not find the freedom and wholeness that I have now. All the “positive thinking” in the world did not change my “default mode”.

The belief system begins to develop early. Not only are we taught in words but we are taught by the actions of others and the consequences to us if we don’t comply, if we rebel and even if we misunderstand non verbal communication. When it comes to family, it takes real effort to make these changes in our belief systems because of all the fears related to them. Fears that have their roots in our child hood thinking. These fears are connected directly to our survivor mode. 

*Some children react differently to the teachings; in the opposite of compliance, they act out and rebel against all the wishes and rules the parents set out. The results however, are very similar. It is even easier for them to believe that they are to blame for any “lack” of love or nurturing in their lives.

There are a few really important things to consider if the changes in the way we believe life works and changes in the belief system are going to stick. 

~ I had to be willing to face the consequences of drawing my boundaries.  The fear of the ultimate and final rejection from my family was huge. I had to find out where that fear came from and what exactly I was afraid of and when I discovered the truth about that fear it turned out to be another false belief based in more lies that had to be dispelled. The first thing I realized is that when I was a child if my family rejected me that would have meant certain death.  That was the truth then. It is no longer the truth now.

~ Because of this fear and because of how I had been taught to take the blame for whatever happened to me, I had to constantly remind myself that what I was really healing from was the damage. I had to look at the damage by itself and not try to figure out why the person who hurt me had hurt me or what was missing or wrong with them.  I had to stick to the fact that they hurt me and there was damage. Sticking with looking at the damage was the key when it came to looking at the dysfunction in my family. (Mostly because of the fear of the consequences of disloyalty and again that ultimate rejection.) Unravelling the belief system is complicated.

Because I have been doing this work with others for a few years now, I quickly see when people are making excuses to excuse fault for the damage done. This type of thinking kept me stuck for many many years.

There are lots of ways that people avoid placing any blame on family.

This one is popular; “They didn’t mean to do any harm, they just didn’t have the tools they needed to be good parents.” To which I had to remind myself that first of all, they had the same opportunity that I did and I am not a disrespectful careless parent and second, in order to heal from the damage I had to strive not to get caught up in their excuses of why they failed me. (you may want to read one of my all time most popular blog posts at this point “My Parents Did the Best they could According to Who?”)

I hear this one a lot; “it is my own fault that my life was so messed up. I made the mistake of trying to do everything that my parents wanted instead of turning to God and seeking his guidance. I sought my parents for every decision instead of seeking God and that is why I got so messed up.”

In my case my parents WERE God. It was up to my parents if I lived or died. They represented God in my life and when I understood that, things became a tiny bit clearer.  I was a child when the dysfunction began. When kids are raised in a dysfunctional home, they are not ever taught to depend on anything outside their parents. Words about faith and a loving God are not comprehended even when taught by someone else when the child is living in chaos because there is NO example of how faith or love works.  I believed that my parents held my life in their hands and rejection meant death.  This childhood teaching is not easily undone. I didn’t just “grow out of it.” For one thing, I had to realize it was even there before I corrected that false belief!

Children are taught things through actions and reactions.  The difficulty in recognizing only the damage is in the fact that we are so brainwashed to submit to this ‘loyalty’ to our parent “gods.” This system did not start with my parent’s generation. My parents repeated the dysfunction in their own lives that they learned from controlling and manipulative people too. They passed on their dysfunctional belief systems to me and taught me the same false teachings that they themselves had been taught.  

~I was quick to take the blame for all the problems. I believed I should have been able to prevent them or that I was exaggerating them. That was my survival mode.  I was willing to take the blame for my mother’s emotional and violent outbursts, because I was taught to. I believed that if I had been “a good girl” she would not “have to” hit me.  I believed that I caused her anxiety or whatever ever her issue was at the time.

~I was willing to never expect any attention from my father, because I believed from all those other events that I was undeserving in the first place. And it doesn’t matter if my mother learned it from her parents and if they learned if from theirs.  That makes no difference when it comes time to face that it happened and that it was wrong.

My willingness to take the blame resulted in low self esteem, depression, dissociation, addictions and all sorts of other things. The results of blaming myself for the lack of interest my father showed, the carelessness and emotional neglect that had become “normal” for me was that I put myself beneath almost everyone because that treatment had defined me as unworthy. My needs, in my eyes and through the grid of my belief system, ALL of my needs were LESS important than the needs of others. 

I overcame the labels of unworthy, unlovable, invalid, less important and not enough. I overcame the manifestations of all these types of abuse when I looked past that learned behaviour of self blame and did the work to face the truth about where those thoughts began and the lies that were connected to them. When I knew how self blame got there in the first place, it naturally fell away.

Please share your thoughts. Emerging from Broken has a facebook page but this website and the comments here are NOT connected to that page. Your comments will not show up on facebook. I do not have this blog connected to that feature. Your identity is safe as long as you don’t use your full name in the comment form.

Another snap-shot of Truth;

Darlene Ouimet

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Categories : Family



Hi Darlene, In a way, my family was right. It was me taking responsibility for myself that set me free. What they didn’t see coming, was my final decision in taking the responsibility and asking them to change the way they treat me if they want to continue having a relationship with me. I’ve struggled to change me, in order to be happy and loved, ever since I can remember. What has changed is that I’m listening to myself about what needs changing rather than to those who want to control me and own me. I’m still changing and adapting every day but I’m the one who owns me, I submit to God because I know He has my best interests at heart. I no longer submit myself to those who don’t and have only their own self-interests at heart.

However, there are still days when it all hurts like hell and I wonder if I will ever be completely free from the damage. One of the things I’m good at is putting on a tough-no-need-of-anyone’s-approval-face while bleeding to death and lonely inside.Those are the days when I see the dysfunction living on through my children and know that my time to stop it has past.



Darlene, Don’t worry about trying to answer that post. I’ve finally learned not to blame myself for the past, now I have to learn what not to take responsibility for as regards the!I get tired of the struggle, sometimes.



Hi Pam
Well said!! Thank you for your comments!
Hugs, Darlene


I am so used to taking the blame for everything, I wouldn’t even know where to start to undo that. I was, and to an extent still am, the family scapegoat. My sister was the golden child who was perfect (and I was always told I could never hope to approach her perfection)and my brother is disabled and it was never his fault, even when it was. My mother even blamed me for my parents’ divorce. Even though I have no contact with her anymore, my sister carries on the family tradition of blaming me for everything. It still scares me just to put this into words. Even without them, my own mind continues to supply the accusations, and I don’t know how to make it stop.


Hi Tracy
Welcome to emerging from broken
I realized the same thing; that even without them my mind continued to supply the accusations at myself. This is actually a great insight. I made it stop by finding out why it was there. There was a reason that I believed the things that I was blamed for. I started examining some of the events that were traumatic and dug down to all the details I could remember and eventually I realized why I too blamed myself. There were details that i had not realized before that helped me. Once I looked at things in a deeper way, and found out why I continued on with the self blame where they left off, I was able to understand and then change those lies and the self blame fell away finally. This was a big part of the process of healing for me. There are lots of little insights in these articles that show details of how I realized those lies and what they were.
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks so much for this. I’m currently being blamed for a pile of stuff in my family. Yes, I was involved in all of it but when I drew the line and said I’d ‘help no further’, it was okay in the short term. But now, a few months on, everything is unravelling and the finger is being pointed at me. ‘how DARE she not keep her word!’ ahhh…I never agreed to this crap in the first place…that’s why I backed out when I did. But that is not accepted. The family is run wild with multiple ‘points of evidence’ of what a selfish little bitch I am. It’s funny, because I get so upset about it I get physically ill. That wanting to give in, the rush of being accepted, or being ‘loved’. But I’m going to stay the course. I’m so done with conditional love. The hardest bit about this is realising exactly what conditional love is and how it plays out in my life. I could give a lecture to my students on the negative developmental effects of conditional love … yet I didn’t see it in my own life. As each new horror presents itself, as I realise yet another person in my life needs serious boundaries set and maintained, I’m thankful I’m in the know. I’d rather know who I can really depend on. Better to find out in times of strength then in times of weakness.

Thanks for your continual validation. There is so much negativity. This is much needed.


Hi Bapesaurus
Sounds familiar! Good for you being done with conditional love. That decision saved my life! (and continues to empower me in my own growth)
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
This is so much of what I deal with in my self: I was neglected and those who were in my life when I was a child were so indifferent to my needs. Now I’m seeing that this created a foundational belief that I’m not very important…to anyone. I’m in therapy now and it feels so uncomfortable at times actually talking about myself because it feels like I’m making a big deal out of nothing.
Memories of a childhood lived in neglect, indifference and abuse are starting to surface,, as they have in the past, but this time there are feelings attached to them. For the first time in my life I feel about what happened to me. And it’s not fun to realize that I did matter and I was important and there wasn’t anyone who cared to validate my unique identity. I have to “parent” myself now. What a job! It’s so draining on the emotions to do this, but I’m told it’s worth the efforts.
Your blog helps me to stay on track.
Thank you so much for caring enough to send your very best to those of us who didn’t get that from the ones we should have gotten it from. You’re a blessing. <3


Hi Connie
I know that feeling ~ like i was making a big deal out of nothing ~ it comes from living with neglect and from being devalued being normalized. It is horrible and painful to realize that you didn’t matter. It was shocking to me when I realized it. I was stunned and it was very sad, but realizing that stuff and then validating my own worth and learning to love myself and telling myself that they were wrong, the neglect was wrong, all of it was so wrong ~ that helped me so much to overcome and take my life back.
Thank you for your share. It IS worth the effort. YOU are worth the effort!
Hugs, Darlene


Wow this was one of the most powerful straightforward descriptions of what goes on in a dysfunctional family. Even after a whole lot of therapy, I still accept blame for any bad situation. The reflex never goes away. And the depression and low self esteem is a constant struggle.
Setting bounderies sometimes means shutting a lot of people out and can feel very lonely. Your words were an inspiration!


Hi Deena
Welcome to emerging from broken,
I am glad that this resonated with you. It took a while for me, but I found a way to break that refex reaction. And I realized that a lot of the depression and struggle were actually a result of that self blame that I never deserved to carry in the first place. Setting those boundaries is hard, but everyone I set one with had a choice to either respect it or reject it. As it sounds like you know… rejection is a popular choice! BUT I don’t miss the mistreatment at all!!
Glad you are here,
Hugs, Darlene


@Pam . . . thanks for the words . . . One of the things I’m good at is putting on a tough-no-need-of-anyone’s-approval-face while bleeding to death and lonely inside . . this is how I feel quite often and haven’t been able to describe what I am feeling.


Thank you again for such a great article. You are a wonderful writer and put into words so well what has effected all of us and join us together in a sisterhood :). I can relate to every article that you write.
I know how you feel about your sister taking up where your mother left off. I had this same issue even with my mother still alive… It was the norm from the time I was 3 years old. I day I asked my mother why she was just abusive to me and not my other 2 sister. She was honest with me and said I knew whatever I did to you you would still love me. This kind of abuse set me up for many physically and verbal abusive relationships only to hear from her,,, “you are picking the wrong men!” I knew way back then that it was my parents doing that had caused me to be attracted to dyfunctional relationships and tried so hard to want good people but they tended to bore me. The sadistic masocistic lifestyle was ingrained in me.
After 3 years of trauma therapy and my father dead and my mom and sisters still emotionally and verbally abusive not to mention never being invited to family events often,,which hurt the most. I called them all them all and told them I would not be their scapegoat any longer and that I was done with them picking on me and putting the blame on me when something went wrong in the family and it was time for them to step up and accept their responsiblity when it was their fault. It has been a long few years but they know better then to toss the blame on me when it is not my blame anymore because I will not tolerate it. Being the scapegoat for years was something my sister depended on from me and now its not there for them to count on and dam it feel good for me!


Another post reflecting exactly what I’m handling right now.


This reminds me of the people who want to shove ‘codependence’ down your throat; force you to ‘forgive the unforgiveable’ and then call you a bully when you say something they don’t want to hear.

I don’t expect the world to agree with me but i’m done blaming myself for things I didn’t do. Particularly when I was a child.

GREAT post, Darlene


Here,Here….Excellent post! Happy Holidays….you’ve made mine!


Hi Invisible321
OH wow ~ What a thing to say to a person. I could write a whole article on what you shared in that statement ~ “No matter what I do, TO YOU, I know you will still love me” ~ this is exactly what I am talking about in this site ~ you were abused, set up to take it and then you were told YOU were picking the wrong men. (blamed) Thanks for sharing this “snapshot” of truth. I love how you put the whole thing. (and I might write that article… )
YAY for your victory! Thank you for sharing that too!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Barbara,
YAY!! Me too. I am DONE with all that fog. I love your comments!
Hugs, Darlene


Kim, There are probably a lot of people like us. I think part of the reason I do that is I wss trained not to bother anyone with my feelings. I was made to belived that there’s something wrong with me because I’m sensitive.



Thank you so much Darlene. There’s so much more I really want to say but I still struggle with living in the silence. Thank you again for being that voice.


Here is the blog I posted this morning. It was an important post for me because I have been dealing with so much of this for most of 2011. It has been a constant battle against the voices implanted in my head by my mother, the bizarre nasty comments from relatives, etc. I was a bad daughter because I could not sacrifice enough to my dying mother during my difficult 4th pregnancy.

My mother put on shows this year when her husband died, to show everyone what a loving, forgiving, terrific mother she was to sick, troubled me. She tells everyone I have mental/emotional disorders. It’s amusing, because she is the one who has been court-ordered more than once to be psychologically evaluated. But she has proven that old saying about telling a lie over and over again, and enough people believing it.

We never had much of a family with her at the center, but she has completely destroyed it on the way out, like one of those dead pharoahs who insists on killing off all his wives and servants.

I posted that post this morning on my blog with some trepidation. I have grown so weary of public criticism that I am saving most of my thoughts for the eventual memoir. But I would like to sincerely invite all of you to read it. I would so appreciate your feedback.




Hi Leslea
Thanks for sharing your blog. I had to stop listening to those voices, and to those people. I had to validate myself, my truth and my pain so that I knew deeply that I was not at fault. I did that by realizing how I could not have been at fault. My parents did not teach me love by loving me. Children only learn to love by being loved. I could not have been a “bad daughter” if I had a loving, accepting home environment, I would have learned what I needed to learn. It is so ignorant for people to blame the grown child who was raised as though they were born to fulfil the needs of the parents. My kids love me today because I loved them first. I showed them love. That is the job of the parent.
I am so sorry that you have had to go through all of this very difficult stuff and I am glad that you are facing the truth about all of it now. That truth is what led me to freedom.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Yvette
Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
Great to have you here.
Hugs, Darlene


I love your articles,,,they bring us all together.


gosh this one echoes loudly from my past. all i hear from my mother is how much she sacrificed for us kids and how much she suffered, but she has not a clue about how it all affected us, not because she doesnt know but because she cannot accept her role in destroying my childhood. i have a child and there is no way i would treat her like i was, am sooo tempted sometimes when she pushes me back to my default seting, which means i hear my parents and not me speaking to her. sent me into a sprial when my child was 18mths old. and im still struggling to let her become her own person and not mould her to the trditions my family had for parenting. i do tell her sometimes how i would hjave been treated if i was doing as she is being naughty and try to show her the difference between a parent who is trying to change and one who just does as they please with no thought for what the child thinks or feels. mmm my child can be a nitemare as i cannot cope with her growing up, but i hope i have done enough that she will be able to fly without my chains.
i also find that when i am uber stressed the newer knowledge tends to recede and the original training comes out, my filters slip and i lose my language abilities and control of the more outrageous verbal abuse i always want to spea, yet i can usually manage to curb it at more socially accpetable level. all things i doi because of the way i was spoken to or not as the case may have been, but it always comes down to me not being enough, even though those who meet me now are surprised at how far i have come. shame i dont always see it, but i know my brain works different ly to others as the pathways got laid down wrongly when i was a babe


Hi Carol
I hear you about hearing that old mother voice.
Some of the hardest work I have done has been in doing this whole parenting thing differently with my kids. I am aware of my actions and my words towards them DAILY. I believe that is the only way the cycle of abuse is going to stop. Teaching them love by loving them. Teaching them thier vaule by valuing them. Teaching them their rights by giving them rights and validating those rights. This has been the most fantastic result of healing for me; the way I learned to do and now DO relationship with my children. Leading by example; and example that I never had and proving that I didn’t need to have had it in order to learn it today.

Gald you are here Carol!

Hugs, Darlene


I read once that when we are raised in such a way that does not model to us how to be a loving adult, we respond by becoming compliant, resistant, controlling, or some combination of those. Darlene, you are saying that you coped by being compliant, I reacted by being resistant, but yeah we were coming from the same place. It took me a while to see this. I was actually attacking myself while reading this post: how come I didn’t try to be better like you did? Yes, I actually felt guilty because I was one who reacted by rebelling rather than trying harder to be good, like I still believe that these are not both equally dysfunctional choices. Well good, now I have uncovered another false belief!

Scapegoat No Longer
December 23rd, 2011 at 9:34 pm


God bless you for your tremendous insight, courage and compassion that you show in your posts and throughout your website. I sincerely hope you realize how much your positive, kind support means to thousands of abuse victims such as myself.

I am a single woman in my late 50s who is finally coming to terms with the horrendous child abuse – both verbal and physical – that I suffered from my late mother, whom I now realize was a complete narcissist. I was also the scapegoat child and my siblings joined in with my mother in treating me like dirt – a behavioral pattern that has also passed down to my siblings’ children despite the fact that I had always tried to be a loving daughter, sister and aunt. I carried a sense of emptiness and inability to put down roots all my life and never realized until after my mother’s death earlier this year that it was CHILD ABUSE! (I have read that it sometimes takes the death of the abuser for the horrible repressed memories of abuse to emerge again in the victim. In my case, these memories literally exploded in my mind starting the very moment I received word of her death.)

My mother poured all of her unhappiness about being stuck in a small town onto me. But who would ever have believed that this “well-educated” woman, married to a “professional,” would be a vicious abuser behind closed doors and in the part of the back yard away from neighbors’ view? One of my childhood friends told me this year that she remembers being out in her yard next door when we were around 4 or 5 and she saw me sitting on the back steps at my house. She said my mother all of a sudden opened the door and brutally kicked me in the back of my head several feet onto the ground. My friend said I landed on my back, then got up and ran off into the yard screaming – I was around 4 or 5 at the time. (I had no memory of this because I experienced so much daily abuse.) She said her mother also remembered seeing my mom chase me around the yard several times with garden hoses. But what her mom did not see was when my mom stood behind me, gripped my arms tightly behind my back and forced a gushing garden hose into my mouth. I remember frantically squirming, gagging and choking on the water, and absolutely terrified that I was going to die. My mom did not release me until I was purple and about to pass out.

Add to this constant beatings with her fists, extension cords, leather belts plus her chasing me around the house threatening me with kitchen knives. My father worked long hours – it was his way of escaping the constant yelling, screaming and chaos in our house. The verbal abuse from her was constant, too. (“You’re ugly, lazy, selfish, you’ll be a failure, no man will ever want you…”) Thank God for my cousins who believe me about all this (and are here for me now). One of my cousins, for example, witnessed how my younger sister would do something bad, blame me and my mother would beat ME for it. My cousin once even confronted my mother afterwards and said that my mom still irrationally blamed me even though I had not been in the house at the time of the misdeed!

There is SO MUCH more I could write about, especially regarding events that took place before and after my mother’s death. What’s more, the verbal abuse from my mother and siblings lasted my entire life and I just “turned the other cheek” to my detriment in the end.

After my mother’s death the horrid memories I had kept at bay just exploded to the surface in me. (I had spent years on SSRI antidepressants when I should have just gotten counseling for child abuse. The SSRI meds just helped me put the painful memories on the “back burner” but NOT confront and deal with them, which I am doing now.) My mother literally tried to eviscerate my soul. And she almost succeeded in doing so – I sank into the deepest depths of despair this past year when I realized that this grinding, relentless child abuse was the reason behind the fact that, while I dated sporadically, I had never had a boyfriend or married and had a family of my own, and the fact that – even though I would be complimented on my work – I could never settle down into a rewarding career because I had so little self-confidence and low self-esteem. To my family, making a lot of money and having social prestige is THEIR symbol of success. It does not matter that I have tried to live my life ethically, do volunteer work for others and be a loyal, dependable friend. Those traits mean nothing to them.

After a lifetime of family denigration and humiliation I am trying hard to change my pattern of thinking, self-blame and constant “beating up” on myself. Darlene, you are so right. When we grow up thinking of dysfunctional family dynamics as normal, we must work hard to change the negative thought processes that result from such a sick, abusive upbringing.

You are an amazing lady and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the inspiration, hope and strength you give to all of us who have suffered under an extremely abusive parent. Thank you for letting me pour out my heart here. I hope my post will help others who have gone through such abuse to know that you are NOT alone. Together we will overcome the abuse and THRIVE.


GREAT insight!!


Hi ScapegoatNoLonger,

goddamn parents do some sick s**t (the hose story got to me in particular). I never suffered physical abuse so can’t comprehend what that would have been like. That’s so amazing to hear how far you’ve been able to come in re-assigning the blame where it belonged all along. (Trying to do that myself!)

I can relate more to the despair/hopelessness upon realizing the root cause of so much of my current (long-term, in many cases) dysfunctions (or, perhaps “coping mechanisms” is a better way to phrase it?!). For me it wasn’t just how much time (and relationships/potential earnings/LIFE etc) it’s cost me already, but just how far I have to go still…. and it’s already felt like I’ve been giving it everything I have for years. (But so much I was just blind to/numbing out from etc.)

Btw, also so glad to hear about the support/validation etc you get from your cousins — that’s really great to hear!!! 🙂


Btw, on a personal note, I’m not exactly looking forward to xmas family gathering, and I figure if ever there was a place where plenty of people share that sentiment, it’d be here….

So I wanted to wish for everyone (and myself included!) the strength to get through this time of year (whether it involves seeing family or not) and wish peace, love, and happiness for all!

Also wanted to remind myself (and everyone else) there’s plenty of supportive people here who will understand if we come back with “venting” to do on the 26th…. or even if nothing real bad happens, but just the “coming down” effect from the stress of xmas etc, plenty here who understand and care.

And Darlene, I’d like to wish you personally a very happy christmas for you & your family (immediate, rather than extended seems perhaps more realistic!) and thanks again for creating this place of sharing & caring & growing!

Thanks also to all who share their experiences/knowledge here, and especially to those who’ve taken the time to write to me & offer support/encouragement/understanding etc — it means so much!


Scapegoat No Longer
December 24th, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Hi J,

Thank you so much for your supportive, thoughtful message. Like you, I was also “blind to and numbed out” from the constant abuse by my late mom and siblings. Please do not be hard on yourself if your journey of self-discovery (in regard to the abuse) sometimes goes slower than you would like. I get frustrated, too. When the frustration sets in, some little “self soothing” activities may help. For example, I love to drink exotic hot teas like white elderberry-flavored tea to help relax in the evening. Will also check into acupuncture treatment.

I also appreciated your kind words about my cousins, who are a true blessing in my life now.


sophia, i was a rebel, i smoked cigarettes form 8yrs old and drank from 12. my parents havent a clue how wild i really was because i never got caught, cos i knew if i did the beatings i would have gotten. i spent the years of 17 through 25 in a acholic daze to stop the past coming out, then i met someone who helped me stop drinking by giving me a job behind the bar, this woman gave me a lie line whiich i didnt understand till years later. she gave me responsibilty and i rose to her expectations, when i fell over she picked me up, dusted me down and set me on my way with a kindness i had never known. i was 19 then. im 43 now and have come along way since those days. i dont drink, though i still sue canabis as a crutch. i couldnt function on beer but i can on weed. i hate my dependency on the weed to help stabilse my moods so i dont impact as much on my family as i have in the past. i struggle daily with my temper and even having the awareness of the wrongness of me lashing out verbally. it dosent always stop me. but i am getting ther,
healing is done at different paces by differnt people, each of us will have things that trigger a reaction but the reaction will be slightly different from the others. and that is how it should be. yet somehow darlene, you always seem to say what i never would have though to have said, and usually just when i needed to say it but hadnt, so many thanks for you time and effort in you replies and your posts



(eg Scapegoat – SNL seemed quicker!) 🙂 My pleasure – thanks for yours! I think I need “BE GENTLE!!!” tattooed on my hands or something… I’m quite good at giving that advice to others, but have significantly more difficulty hearing it for myself (I’m a LOT better than I once was, though!)

I like the idea of “self-soothing” activities — I do find it very, very hard to truly relax. One way I’ve been able to be gentle with myself is napping when I need to during the day. (Unfortunately tends to throw my sleep patterns out of whack though. The only real 100% relaxing self-indulgent thing I do is get a massage (when I can afford it). I used to try chiropractors for the various back/neck/general body pains I tend to have, and finally decided if I’m going to be paying that much money, I might as well enjoy it while it happens so switched to massage.

I’ve never tried acupuncture – not sure I’d be brave enough to be honest! 🙂 I wasn’t sure if you meant you already do it, or are planning to try, but I’d be interested to hear how you found/find it!

I’ve never really been a hot drink fan, but despite that every so often when I hear someone pouring water for a hot drink, it just feels like the most relaxing sound!

Btw I was just looking back through your original post – I’d meant to say that I also relate to the difficulty w/jobs etc (and relationships for that matter — although I have tried a couple of times, even then I felt incapable. And that was BEFORE the realization & re-assignment of blame for many of my coping methods etc. Have felt very hopeless at times since realizing that I’ll never be “whole” enough to be in a healthy relationship — but at least I’m trying to get to a point where I might be!) I’m not sure if it’s to do with not wanting to feel materialistic etc, or just general result of being trained to feel incompetent etc (back on jobs now sorry – brain’s hopping around a fair bit).

Anyway I meant to say that I have much admiration for your being able to do the things you mentioned (volunteering/friendship etc) despite everything that happened to you!

I just noticed what you wrote about SSRI meds – very interesting! (I just had to google my latest meds – turns out they’re both SNRI’s) I’m not too sure of the difference, and can’t be bothered reading about it now anyway. I’ve come off one of the meds (the smaller dose of the two) and have been reducing the other one as well (don’t worry, I told my doctor! :)) basically because despite being on various meds for almost 7 years now, doesn’t seem to be making any significant difference long-term.

Also, since in the last (??) couple of years I think, I’ve started sweating so badly (even with little or no physical exertion a lot of the time) and my doctor thinks it’s probably mainly a drug side-effect, I want to try coming off them (or at least reducing) just in case I feel more human in general, and/or don’t have the sweating to feel embarrassed about in public all the time.

Now I’m considering what you said about the meds “helping” you to put the real issues on the backburner etc…. I’m not really sure anymore if my memory loss/haziness etc has only been since starting meds, or was always there. It’s weird; cause I can sometimes remember the most random, pointless details from 20 years ago (eg the brand & design of a t-shirt I liked from grade 6, worn by a girl I don’t think I ever even spoke to!), and then can’t remember what I did earlier in the day or something. Actually I think I did have a bit of a reputation for being hazy at times mid-late teens (few years before diagnosis & meds).

Anyway I’m just rambling now so I’m going to wind up. Thanks again for your msg & take care!



Hi Scapegoat No Longer (Love the name!)
Thank you for all your compliments! I am so glad that my work is helpful! Thank you for your courage in writing sharing your comments. I am so sorry that this was the horror of your childhood. It has been through changing the way that I believed the truth was before that set me free. None of this was my fault.. none of this was your fault either.
I am so glad that you are here.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Sophia,
I put that paragraph in as an afterthought, but I am really glad that I did. There are MANY ways that children react, (and even grow up to react as adults) ~ most of them come from the same place when there is dysfunction in the history.
Thank you for sharing!
hugs, Darlene

Scapegoat No Longer
December 25th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Hi J,

I have not tried acupuncture yet, but I’m told that it can help anxiety and depression. I’ve also started taking krill oil supplements for that same reason, but have only been on them for a week and it probably takes more time to see some benefits. Supposedly krill oil works better than regular fish oil in supplying nutrients to the brain. I also take vitamin D3.

Like you, I’ve had problems with memory loss and I think it’s a side effect of my years of antidepressant usage. The SSRI meds let you “coast along” with a false sense of wellbeing until they stop working and that’s what happened to me. I started experiencing an overall sense of apathy and lack of motivation and I have read that this happens to many people who have been on them for years and then the meds start to stop working. Also, when I was on the meds I gained about 50 pounds. Plus I had severe teeth grinding at night and had to get a special mouth guard from the dentist. Once I got off the meds late last year, the teeth grinding stopped and so did my hunger pangs to gobble down food all the time.

Since my mother’s death it has turned my life upside-down to finally confront that lifelong, tight knot in the pit of my stomach – and the jangly nerves that made me pick at the skin around my fingernails – for what it really is – bottled up, negative energy resulting from severe child abuse and scapegoating by a toxic family, and the inner emptiness and instability it caused. Fully facing the REAL truth behind these negative emotions has been overwhelming and overpowering. I spent the past year and a half before my mother died as her unappreciated caregiver subjected to even more verbal abuse. After her death I realized profoundly that I had spent all this energy and a lifetime trying to please a mother who NEVER loved me and who sought only to tear me down in every manner possible (but who would always reel me in for more abuse with just enough occasional acts of phony “concern” and niceties). Amidst all this I am thankful for this website where I can “vent” with people who come from similar dysfunctional families because I know that out in the real world, I must keep a healthy silence about this abuse. Ultimately I only feel comfortable opening up with other victims of child abuse because they have “walked the walk.” (If that makes any sense!)

It just takes sheer willpower to resist wallowing in a cesspool of negative emotions all the time AND resist going back on meds that just are a temporary band-aid and nothing else. The voice inside of me that insists that I am weak, worthless, & lazy is the voice of my late mother and my siblings.

The legacy due to my mother’s scapegoating of me has resulted in total estrangement from my siblings for various reasons not worth getting into here. I don’t know why I spent years trying to be a loving daughter, sister and aunt to such mean, vicious, greedy people. This pathetic compliance is something I now keep beating myself up about, thinking “how could I have been so stupid to always overlook and make excuses for them for what they really are?” My cousins, who COULD see though my siblings and their kids for what they are, remind me that I should never be ashamed for having been a giving person even to people like my siblings who did nothing but take and use over the decades. My cousins are totally supportive of me in my quest to put this awful family past behind me and move forward positively during the rest of my life. I am SO lucky to have their support and love and must let my new family be the driving force in my life, rather than the toxic energy from my late mother/siblings. One of my cousins says in dealing with my siblings that “success is the best revenge” and she means that in terms of living a happy, well-rounded life.

Such an outlook is vital because, for the first time in my life, I have very little appetite and have lost much weight this past year. My cousins are always urging me to eat more. They tell me that I must not allow the evil wrought by my late mother and siblings to destroy my health.

Because I FINALLY realize what a screwed up, dysfunctional family I come from, I am determined to attract a kind man into my life when the time is right. But it’s better to be alone than be with the kind of sullen, shallow, angry men my sisters are/were married to.

Please don’t view yourself as incapable of being in a healthy relationship. It’s obvious that you are a lovely person who has so much to offer someone. If you like getting outdoors, it might be fun to check out a hiking group to exercise and socialize at the same time.

I better wind up here – you take care, too, and please realize that you have much to offer a lucky someone. You radiate such intelligence and compassion in your posts.

Scapegoat No Longer
December 25th, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Hi Darlene,

Hugs back to you, too! I will continue following your site and the wonderful work that you do on it to help all of us here.


Hi J.
Thank you for all your participation here and for the special christmas wishes for me.
also yes, Everyone is welcome to come and “vent” or download on the 26th! ~ or any other day!
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks for the feedback & support. It has been good to read all the comments on this thread as they filter into my inbox!!!

Hubby & I have had such an emotional Christmas. We are really looking forward to turning over a new leaf in the new year. How can he & I be SO happy, but so many relatives are not? We haven’t dealt with these things well. We want to try and move on, and make a more peaceful new year. I am so grateful we have each other.

SNL, I was not looking to ever have another partner. I realized I had the best friend I’d ever had, and that I didn’t want him to fall for anyone else, especially if theybwould hurt him again. After that, falling in love was a no-brainer. I married him against my mother’s three page tirade about how he wasn’t good enough. He’s the first person who’s acted for me, so of course that sounded NUTS to her. LOL!!!

Scapegoat No Longer
December 25th, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Hi Leslea,

You are one smart lady to marry a man who is also your best friend. I think the happiest marriages result from such a healthy, loving outlook.



thankyou so much for your post. I’m feeling completely s**t right now & remembered seeing your post earlier, so I came back to read it again. I really needed some encouragement.

thanks again

Scapegoat No Longer
December 26th, 2011 at 2:26 pm


You are so welcome. Everyone who posts on this website has a unique, helpful message to share. It’s nice to be appreciated!

I may not be able to post as much in the near future simply because I’ll be very busy doing all sorts of temp work assignments to help me stay afloat. (So if you don’t see many posts from me, that is the reason.)

Take care —


D – you know until we are willing to tell the people that have abused us to go to hell, we cant fully escape or heal from the past. I have done most of my real healing after getting my parents out of my life. Like you i had a very narcissistic & controlling mother and an absent father. Until i said “no more” and removed them from my life, i was not able to do the hard work i needed to do in order to heal. They were constantly adding more pain and hurt to the layers already there. I could not heal from the past while trying to deal with abusive parents in the present. There was just no way. I felt that it was important to share this. We have to put ourselves first !


I’ve just had a weird realization. I’m an only child and part of confusion I think comes from having been both the golden child AND the scapegoat. Perhaps that’s why it’s hard to accept what’s really been going on all these years? I’ll keep thinking about that one xx


Ick I just saw my name appears in the recent comments section rather a lot. Sorry if it seems I’m making things ‘all about me!’ I’ll stick to reading more than commenting to avoid taking up so much bandwidth! Have a good day everyone x


Don’t worry about stuff like that. The bandwidth is not an issue. Please feel free to share/process as much as you like here. I have had comments over 2000 words in the past ~ it doesn’t concern me at all. Do what you need to do for you.
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks Darlene – I will however try to limit my comments here so that I don’t end up taking over. I’m very much a verbal/discussion processor – but I do have my own blog for all this messy personal stuff so I’ll be sure to stay on track here 🙂


I find myself in a bad way today- depressed & weepy. My husband is being mean. He is a Jekyll & Hyde type. I’ve known this for years and now that I’m stronger and speaking up to him, he still has to have the last word. Sometimes he backs down, when I give back the truth. I’m so stressed out today from the weekend with his temper tantrums. First of all, he blamed me for my daughter’s asthma. I let her go out for an hour to play with her friends and he actually believes that being outside caused her coughing. He is so overprotective/controlling of her & is now writing down all the medicine she needs, when he is at work & I’m home with her. He was talking down to me, so I said, “Why are you talking to me like I’m stupid?” Well, he was mad at that & told me that I misinterpreted him & I’ve been doing that for years!..Well I don’t believe that!..I walked away & said, I want “equal treatment.” That silenced him that time.

Anyway, my counselor says she doesn’t like my husband’s behavior and thinks he is recording my behavior to use as proof of my “incompetence”. Well, that was shocking!…I didn’t think of that and I’m even more stressed knowing that. I don’t think my husband would go that far. My counselor has been there for me like no one else, in the last year & a half. She is looking out for me & reduced my rate, knowing I’m not going to have any regular income coming in, after next week. I will be recording my husband’s temper tantrums too.

The stress of my husband’s behavior, my dtr being sick & my finances has me feeling depressed & stressed today. I’m feeling it physically too. I needed to get this off my chest as I continue to write, take care of myself with gentleness, good food, vitamins, supplements & medicine. I also have a APRN visit scheduled this week to evaluate my medication. I’m hanging in there and not blaming myself. I don’t know what else to do. Do you have in suggestions as to how to take care of myself?


These kinds of manipulators will change the way they interact to throw you off. Anything not to lose control. When we start standing up for ourselves, the people in our family get worried! My kids even fought me for a long time. They liked me compliant too!
My husband said all that crap too ~ that it was me. I stuck to what I knew was the truth and eventually he came round. My boundary was my boundary. It applied to all. (the ones that were used to pushing me around however didn’t come round overnight) Don’t dismiss your therapists thoughts on this one… I was SHOCKED at what Jim was actually thinking about me! (and he admits all of it today)

I wish I had a suggestion to help you feel a bit better, but sometimes we just have to ride it out. What makes you feel good and taken care of? bubble bath, or a good book, candle light or a walk in the park?

Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
Thanks for validating my husband’s behavior. I do feel better. Yes, it’s about Control & it is crap!!…I’m sticking to my truth & hoping he will come around. I’m going to suggest therapy for us. Wish me luck…We both come from dysfunctional families, so therein lies the familiarity factor. My therapist’s thoughts are most likely right, so I do consider that he may be thinking that way about me. I will keep track of his behavior, so I’ll have a paper trail to refer to, if & when he decides to pull out the guns. I get anxious thinking about that, but I can’t deny that it could happen. Other bully tactics have been done to me in the past, so it’s best not to overlook it. Thanks for your support!…It’s comforting to know I’m not alone.


Hope things are better. Since I began working on myself, going to counseling and becoming more aware
of the people in my life, I discovered my husband is a narcissist. That Jekyll & Hyde behavior. Its is so
hard to deal with when you are trying to understand and heal yourself. I stand up to him. He fumes and stares and gives me the silent treatment (that is how he punishes) but looking at him now, I can see that
he has some bad coping too. I try to show him a better example. (38 yrs married) and parent him a bit.
Compassion for me has shown me compassion for him. He was so badly abused as a child he created a false person to hide behind. At least I’m still really me. I’m NOT excusing his bad behavior but rather than just being angry now I try to react better and maybe tell him do this or that when you are upset.. its slow work. A narcissist hates to give up the control as it makes them feel safe and less helpless.
I have hope for him. I know I’ll be OK. It sure helps to read what others say. It has helped me not feel
alone. And it definitely has helped me not to feel like the crazy person my family has always told me I am. I never could reconcile that with my real life and accomplishments. I always tried to be my best.
Yet whenever I presented my best to them, it was always unrecognized, or belittled as a “wrong”.
I never did anything that was “good enough”. Thus I was very conflicted. But I always ran back for approval. Grrrrrrrr. I don’t even want to TALK about Christmas and holidays in our home…thats another
story. Thanks to all that post and read.


NEW POST published on the home page! It reminded me a bit of the discussion going on here too.
I was so moved by the comments made by Diane on an old post that I am sharing them (with her permission) as a blog post today. The first key for me was hope and this post is full of that!
You can read it here;
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks for sharing about your husband. I think they were made from the same cloth LOL!…I too have tried to be a better example & suggest what he can do differently, then getting worked up. I definitely feel like a counselor/parent to him sometimes, when his temper flares. However, I know it’s all about control & when he doesn’t have control, he gets worked up. I like how you said, “he fumes and stares and gives me the silent treatment.”…You are right on about that!..It is annoying & childish behavior. I don’t like him projecting his negativity onto me either. Since my last post, I have confronted his behavior over my dtr’s health and he admitted he is very concerned about her health & wants to make sure she gets what she needs. I believe that, however, it’s also about his need to control! She will be OK…I tell him not to get so worked up about it…we are here for her & she does get taken care of. It doesn’t help to get worked up. As parents, we need to be in control of our negative emotions & not project them onto others! I’m healing but I’d like him to do more work on himself, so we can have a better marriage. We haven’t started therapy together yet, but I continue to get support for my emotional health.
Thanks for your comments Karen, It’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone in this.


[…] to be expanded upon because it is a popular subject here on Emerging from Broken. Blame sharing or willingness to share blame seems to be especially difficult if we are dealing with it within our own families. ‘Blame […]


Thanks Darlene, for this lovely clarification on a particular issue I have struggled with but didn’t know how to identify. I understand that no problem can be addressed when there is no understanding the problem. No identification, no clarity means, no solutions or ways to empower myself.
It’s the part what I have been taught what Karma means. Where what passes for a religious or spiritual belief in Karma is used to justify or explain abuse. In my particular twisted way of thinking it was my fault he did what he did. I know he instilled that thinking in me, so I would comply and not tell his perverted secrets, that is was my fault he performed criminal acts on me.
What I am learning is that I don’t have to use it as a tool to blame myself for what he did. Its not an appropriate response to hold children some how mysteriously responsible karmically because of what was perpetrated on them. In regards to childhood sexual abuse or other violence directed towards children by their parents who failed in their responsibility.
I want to think about this issue some more and see if there are other ways it has impacted my healing…


Hi Kimmysurviving
Welcome to emerging from broken!
Yes, and it’s funny how that brainwashing works; people can manipulate other people (esp. if easy if they start when the person is young) to believe anyway they want. I wrote a post once about being raised to believe that blue was actually red. If you were not aware of the lie, it would be ‘true’. At the root of all my issues, were these “lies” about me and about ‘why’ these things happened to me. Why I was hit. Why my mother was so unhappy. Why I was sexaully abused. They were all lies. Finding them and exposing them (to myself) for the lies they were is what led me out of the darkness.
Hugs, Darlene


I was beating myself up over not being good enough to avoid the breakup of a relationship as you posted it on Facebook.

Now I’m trying to dehydrate via my eyes. 😉

That default setting’s a bitch, no matter how much you worked yourself up to believe that you deserve the same treatment and happiness as everyone else; it sneaks up and pulls the rug out from under you. And you (or I) just believe it more than everything else.

somehow you’re the one person in the whole world that deserves less than everyone else because you’re just not good enough.


Hi Fifi
Welcome to EFB
The belief that you are not good enough is a lie and overcoming those lies is the key to healing. Glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Truth be told, I don’t even know what to say. Learning about how much I’ve been living in, and blind to, abuse in my family has been one very bumpy ride.
It’s progress though, healing is beginning to happen as I dig up the dirt.
I’m learning about how I have been treated by my family as dirt, and being blamed for everything.

It’s so hard to validate the pain though when I keep on having denial and belittlement constantly a roadblock in my mind.
I’m trying to put blame where blame is due(on my abusers) but I don’t seem to know how to stop blaming myself or see it for how serious I know deep down it is.

I constantly sympathize and make excuses for them, have a hard time believing that it’s really that bad, and am always thinking that “everyone has these kind of problems, mine aren’t anything special.”

Do you have any advice on how to start holding my abusers responsible?
I know you’ve probably already outlined in your writing a lot of technique on how to do it, but I guess this is just a call out for help because I don’t know what else to do.


Hi Gabbi
Welcome to EFB
I love what you said here “Healing is beginning to happen as I dig up the dirt”. Yes. That was how it was for me too. This whole thing takes time. Remember it started long ago and we are trying to break what is so familar that it feels comfortable. Everything that you are talking about was exactly how it was for me and for so many others that I hav worked with and heard from on this site.
Please keep reading. There is no ‘nut shell’ answer to this, but I have written over 325 articles here, all with discussions ~ there are many answers and insights and you will see them as you read and relate.
I was able to hold my abusers responsible by digging into the truth, seeing what really happened and realizing the messages that the abuse, neglect, actions of others, etc. left me with. I had to change those messages about me, back to the truth but I had to find out what they were first.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene, Just came upon your blog as I was in a developoing situation of blaming myself for a financial oversight… my mind went to “look what you have done” mode and of course all the feelings that come after that. I have had this situation happen more than I know how to count. It always makes me feel guilty, Unworthy and ultimately feeling rejected and disgusted in myself and those who are affected by some decisions. I would like to ask you what affirmation can I use to build up this area of my life. Thank you for your support and help .



Hi Ray
Welcome to EFB ~ I don’t use affirmations. I tried them for years and in the healing process I write about here I found out that when I said an affirmation, my mind was actually responding with nasty thoughts cancelling the effect of the affirmation. (my mind would override the affirmation and call me a liar. In a way I had taken over where abusive people had left off) So what worked for me was finding out where the self blame came from in the first place. I write a lot about that in this site.
hugs, Darlene


Just sharing this wonderful article: conclusion – we need to first and foremost focus on forgiving OURSELVES, not our ABUSERS!



Hi Talent
Welcome to Emerging from Broken ~ Although the ‘self forgiveness’ issue is not a good one to start off with for most people that were abused as children because it suggests that (like we all have feared) that we may have actually done something ‘wrong’ I appreciate what this guy has to say so thanks for sharing that link ~ I have been reading some of the articles on that site and appreciate what this man has to say. I will be sharing some quotes from his articles on the EFB facebook page.
I hope you will share your thoughts often.


This article so resonates with me I don’t even know where to begin. I have a totally manipulative and narcissistic mother and absent father ( exactly the same as Darlene). Maybe these types attract.

I hit my epiphany or moment of truth about why at 47 years old I could not find peace and happiness and was still struggling only last week. I went to a family Christmas gathering and after the third put down in a row ( by my mother) I suddenly got it. I literally had to go and could not stop crying. I just was wanted to leave and never come back. I had to hide upstairs. The truth is I wanted to go but had no bag, coat or phone or money. I was desperately trying to recover so I could make some excuse to leave when my mother found me and harangued me for going off and spoiling things for everyone. I tried to explain but everything I said was invalidated and when I said that my dad at least attempts to understand and talk with me she went ballistic. I suddenly got that everything was all about her, her pain, her suffering her terrible life. Note : my parents divorced 30 years ago and she had been happily and comfortably remarried for 26 years. Yet she screamed and abused me for daring to suggest my dad was any good, the revelation I got dried my tears. My dad did leave but he has not stopped apologising, he talks to me, he cares about my happiness even if it means his pain. He at least tried to make amends. My mum does not and never has. She doesn’t do the unconditional love. I have been depressed on any off all my life. I have been bullied and abused and she has never been there for me or resolved these issues or supported me emotionally and psychologically. I thought I was somehow fatally flawed or something was wrong with me that this happened. I totally blamed myself. I suddenly realised in that moment that is what she has taught me and she has not ever helped me beyond what was needed for superficial public appearances. She told me last week that I was deluded, I hurt her and she was not going to allow me to do it again. I was not her daughter and that was it.

I left and I am now being ostracised for destroying her Christmas party. I have cried all week.however strangely I do not think my tears are about being ostracised. I am grieving for my lost childhood, for the years of struggling and not understanding why I couldn’t fix it whatever I did. Like Darlene I have done every course, treatment, read every self help book I could find. Nothing worked – not really. I did this all on my own with no parental support, they were so self absorbed and now I think just did not care. Mainly my mum though my dad is only marginally better. I know I have to sort this on my own.

Last week I think I was just so exhausted with it all I couldn’t do it anymore. I could not pretend or go along with playing happy families when it was not real. something had to change and events over took me.

I think I agree with those that have said to recover you have to get away from the abusers and do the healing in isolation from them. For some reason I have no qualms about doing just that. It feels right.

Finding this site and Darlenes book had given me the support and guide I needed at just the right moment. It all feels a lot to process and I am not sure how I am going to get there. It has given me some hope.

What I would say is that until now I had not realised that I had been falling through life without even touching the sides until I hit the bottom with a resounding thump last week. I am all pain and sadness right now and all I want is to heal and recover and to find my feet and the real me, my life and my happiness. I deserve no less.


Epiphany, your last week was my one year ago. “As always…” was the straw that broke the camels back.

It’s been a year of pain, torment, sadness, grief, anger, understanding, acceptance and strength building… coming out of the fog.

Go through the motions and emotions. Feel them, acknowledge them, then continue moving forward. With this, you will find the strength to believe in yourself, to put a lot of self blame to rest, and to have a much clearer view of what YOU expect for YOUR life.

Best wishes for continued healing!


Thank you for this Darlene…

A fundamental belief that I learned is that I somehow have to “prove” myself to be (hopefully) loved. That in my family I had to go through a hoop, be a certain way, act a certain way, look a certain way to be accepted and loved. I had to fill in a blank somehow—but that love was never there, or not for long. It was like a goal post that kept moving. I got the message early something was wrong with me and I was shameful and unlovable. But now I can see that that wasn’t love. No child should have to prove themselves for love. In a loving, healthy family a child is loved just because they exist. That love is automatic and there are no rules or conditions attached.

That’s a basic belief I’m picking apart by looking at it from another perspective. I’ve deeply believed they were right about me, I was and am “sick”, “weak”, broken, damaged defective, the trouble in the family, and especially the one who hurt everyone else—but now I’m thinking, “Wait, why did I have to prove myself as a small child??” What was wrong with THEM? What was wrong with this family? It’s taken me to my 50s to turn it around and look at it that way cause I’ve just gone through life believing this: “I was treated that way because they knew me better than anyone and saw my badness”. Well I had to believe that to survive and to have a hope for their love; and they obviously wanted me to believe that, which again raises a question, “What the hell kind of parents try to get their child to believe they’re not lovable?” I’m not captive anymore, I have an adult mind now. I can see why they wanted me to believe it was me deserving of abuse because that’s the way it always is with abusive people. And they were traumatized themselves but I didn’t know any of this as a child and the damage was done and their trauma does not lessen or take away the deep damage done to me.
I have to allow myself my feelings about that without rationalizing their behaviour too.

Aside from the belief that I had to prove myself, I’m also looking at all their negative labels of me in a different way. Since they thought I was so “sick”, why didn’t they get me help or do anything for me? My Dad said I was sick but I “had to solve my own problems”. I was 15 and told I was to blame for and responsible for my issues, specifically drinking. That says a lot about them but was turned around to be about my defectiveness.
Really looking at their behaviour and asking myself “Is this love?” is helping me realize there wasn’t anything wrong with me, that the intent was to break me so that the focus would be off the damage they were causing.


Dear Doren,

All that you are writing expresses so well exactly what I experienced and felt about my life. Two things you need to know. Firstly you are not alone and what you wrote is a common experience for many. All the insights expressed here are bang on.

There is nothing wrong with you – you are competent, good and whole. It was their problem and their issues that played out.

No – true love is never conditional.

Yes – they were trying to deflect from their own pain/inadequacies.

You are on the path to self love, self belief, self acceptance and healing.

Sending you light and love and the path to future happiness.

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