Parent Child Relationship What a Confusing Mess


hope for healing

I wrote a blog post a few days ago called “Parent Child Relationships ~ When Loyalty costs too much, about parent child relationships and when my parents split up, that triggered a few new things in me. I intended to write about how my mother leaned on me when I was 12 years old, because my Dad left us and my intention was to focus mostly on her actions and how they affected me and how dysfunctional our mother daughter relationship was. BUT I found myself getting really angry at my father. In some ways I feel like I never really had a father and I’ve known for a long time that whatever smidge of a father daughter relationship we had, it wasn’t much.  Writing that post however was emotionally draining and I knew that I needed to process the feelings and anger that was coming up for me. Memories and feelings were coming at me from all different directions and so as I have learned to do, I sorted them out and separated them from each other in order to get a better understanding.

Here is how it played out;    

~I was angry at my mother (in that instance) because she made me feel responsible for the outcome of her. But the anger at her self centeredness and selfish behavior came up too. I have always felt guilty for feeling that way.

~I was also angry at my father for moving her and us so far away from everyone that could have supported my mother. I had not really thought about his part in it to this degree before. With the anger came many other memories and flashes of memories that I had never thought about in this depth before either. Sometimes I tend to think I only have to look at the “REALLY” bad stuff in order to move on but this is not true.

Mixed in with both of those realizations was the deep down suspicion that I might have been able to save their marriage… that maybe if only I had been a better kid ~ and all that type of stuff. I felt like I had failed my mother somehow, and my father never noticed me anyway, which I thought must have been MY defect. I thought that if I had been “different” or “good enough” he would have noticed me for sure.

Right away I reminded myself that the defect in our father daughter relationship was HIS. He didn’t try. His lack of interest in me had to do with him as a father. Not with me as a daughter.

Next thing I did was get the “my fault stuff” out of the way by looking at the truth about the marriage breakup itself and assure myself that I have nothing to feel guilty about. I asked myself these kinds of questions:

~What was MY part in the event? ~ Well actually it had nothing to do with me (other then my pain of my parents splitting up and getting a divorce) and this was a truth that I never considered before. I had NO failure or responsibility in it at all.

~What could I have done differently? This is a question that I heard in 12 step programs since I was 18 years old. I took it out of context though and used it to hurt myself, reprimand myself, and reaffirm the belief that I always had a choice and the outcome was always something to do with me. In this case, there WAS nothing I could have done differently. I could not say to my mother when I was at the age of 12 ~ “MOM, do not make me responsible for your life. I will not support you in this way, you need professional help.” I didn’t understand any of that back then; I didn’t even have any context to put it into. But in the mind of a child, I thought there must have been something that I could have done, and I somehow failed to figure it out. I believed that this was my downfall, my defect ~ that I could not figure out how to fix things or stop things that really I had NO control over, but when you are made to feel like you are always responsible for the outcome of everything, and if that outcome is a beating or sexual abuse or being ignored, your ideas of what you can “do differently”~ get warped. I carried that old belief with me into my adulthood. I had to start taking this information into consideration and I had to become aware of it, in order to change my belief system.

It’s like there is this missing space between childhood and adulthood that needs to be looked at. And this works to the controller or abusers advantage too. We don’t fight them when we are kids, and as soon as we are in our twenties, (sometimes younger) they start preaching at us that we are adults now and our outcomes are our choices. Our messes are ours.  It is SO dang hard to sort out!

In this case there were several things that I needed to look at separately; the anger and disappointment in my mother, the anger and disappointment in my father and what I believed to be my failure.  In looking separately at the mother daughter relationship stuff and the father daughter relationship stuff and separating it all out from my failure stuff, I was able to get a clearer picture of all three and where my belief system worked against me. This helped me to get a clearer picture of the whole truth, the real truth and it also exposed the false truth that I had accepted all those years since I was 12.

I hope that I have been at least semi clear in illustrating how confusing this whole thing is to unravel. This has been just one snapshot of how I take something apart in order to see the truth, and how many other things get in the way of doing that. Please share your thoughts.

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time.

Darlene Ouimet

Note: I had these same deep down beliefs about the sexual abuse, emotional abuse and parental neglect; that I should have been able to figure out something to STOP them. Up until about 6 years ago, I never believed that I had “no choice”. As an adult I was taught and accepted that I was accountable for the events and the results in my life. I applied that teaching to my childhood and to the past without realizing it and it automatically reinforced the belief that I had since childhood that it was my fault, that I had a choice and that I was responsible. Several years ago I realized all my adult struggles resulted from the child hood events that molded my belief system and that I HAD to figure out the missing pieces of the puzzle in order to recover!

27 response to "Parent Child Relationship What a Confusing Mess"

  1. By: Gin Posted: 22nd December

    I linked in today from the book– I’d debated doing so many other times, but this is the first section that I felt like I couldn’t NOT write….

    In getting to ‘truth’, the thought of asking the question “what could I have done differently” really bothered me. When you write, you talk about how, at twelve, you couldn’t have had context,etc. Any I believe you. I also know that if I were to ask that question, that I BELIEVE I SHOULD have had context, that maybe I did and was too stupid to know or that I should have worked harder to have more info or this, that, or the next thing. I feel bad, because I feel like I’m challenging this and being difficult, but I feel SO responsible for SO much, if not everything, and I can’t seem to kick myself out of the cycle. It isn’t for lack of trying. Please believe that. I don’t know how to rectify the gap between what my head knows and what my heart believes AND THEN, when that gap exists, not to let my head get talked out of what I think it KNEW as truth before. It is all so confusing. And it hurts.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd December

      Hi Gin,
      The only thing that I could do was just keep going until it stuck with me and eventually it did stick! Every time I thought ‘it is me’ I asked myself why I believed that and how it could have been my fault. It does take a bit of time.
      Hang in there!
      hugs, Darlene

  2. By: ButtaFli Posted: 6th August

    I believed it was ALL my fault. I no longer believe that. I have eliminated all the abusers from my life. I’m starting anew. Thank you for opening up and sharing. Your words are very insightful.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th August

      Hi ButtaFli
      I can relate to the “starting new” feeling. I started by ripping the original (and broken) foundation apart and looking at how it got that way. I threw out all the lies and the ways that I had been defined by abuse and by other people and their “rights” over me. I rebuilt the foundation and today I live in freedom and wholeness!
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Libby Posted: 10th August

    I think I have been angry with my father most of my life. Even when physically present he was absent. He behaved more like a rival sibling and competed with me for my mothers’ attention throughout my life – until Mum died.
    In the last few months, since I began my own healing journey, I have learned that he was terribly and violently abused by my grandmother – he never spoke of it in my presence while he was alive – but he did say that my mothers’ parents were the best parents he ever had.
    As a child I wanted a Dad, as a teen I wanted a Dad – and even as an adult, it was all I wanted from him – and he was only able to act as a father to me on one occasion, when he bought me a really thoughtful gift. Just the once.

    As a small child his absence and my Mum’s ill health led to my isolation and the first period of abuse. It was NEVER recognised – indeed I have only recently recovered that memory. As a slightly older child, when I was abused at another school and truanted from school, the reality of WHY I did this was never explored. As a young teen when I was fearfully abused and traumatised, again at school, it was my Mum who acted. I have no memory of my Dad doing ANYTHING positive to support me, help me, comfort me, heal me. Not then or later. It was shortly after this that I realised I would one day be expected to be responsible for my Dad; I was just 16yrs old. It came true when I was 51.
    Looking back I can see how I pulled my punches – I never asked him for what I needed from him as a man – as a Dad. At some level I knew he was not cpapable – he was too weak. And I took this out on my mother – I was able to be angry with her, to fight with her, etc. But the person I was most angry with was HIM. I grew up, he never did.
    In his last year of life he came to live with me and my husband – whereupon he began his old pattern of competing for attention – this time with my husband – for my attention. The roles had been reversed – and I now had a 78yr old “toddler” in my home. In his final illness I cared for him. I ran about organising things for him, took care of his affairs, took him to and from the hospital while I could. And I got mad as hell. As I look back now on those last months I can say I did not CARE for him emotionally – I had been too angry and neglected for too long and I was worn out – I could have been more engaged with him if we had ever managed to heal that part of our relationship, but we never did. So I do have some guilt feelings about that – but – I did the best I could – and it was more than many families manage for their elders.
    It is no coincidence that I began my healing journey a couple of years after my fathers’ death. I belive I could nothave done it with him around. But it took a diagnosis of a serious illness – throat cancer – to finally push me over the edge. Throat cancer – what a symbolic diagnosis that was – all those years when my voice had not been heard, all those years when I choked on my fear of being abandoned, my terrible wounds of emotional and sexuial abuse when my voice was heard but not listened to, all the years of swallowing down my anger. My throat chakra was well and truly stuffed up. I have been lucky – I was able to heal the physical illness – and I still have my larynx intact. It took me months to recover my voice – I needed speech therapy, and even now I feel I need to be careful with my voice. When the flashbacks started I realised there was something really wrong in my life, that my remembered past was actually totally different that I had edited and re-written large chunks of it and now the lid was off Pandora’s Box. I went into therapy – it has been a life saver.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 10th August

      Hi Libby
      I can relate to so much of what you are saying. This website is very much about what you are expressing here ~ about how I saw things through a different grid, a more truthful grid about why I was the way that I was so that I could actually leave the past in the past instead of living out of it in the present. There was a lot to sort out but from what you have written here, I can see that you are doing that sorting.
      Thank you so much for sharing.
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Sheryl Posted: 1st March

    Jimmy B,
    The truth is alot of the bagage we carry is not ours–it is “theirs”
    And to put it in the garbage, or to say, “This is your baggage, here you go; I am not going to carry it anymore.”

  5. By: Sheryl Posted: 1st March

    Sorry for your pain and long hard road. However, that is a good example of what could be going wrong when this religious erson is at church asking for prayer for his wayward daughter, etc., good for us to keep in mind when others are telling how OTHER people are screwed up, yeah, maybe because you are the one who messed up their lives…there is that projection again, and what lies can they get away with telling and where and to whom?

  6. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 13th August

    I was the caretaker of my mom’s emotions so she didn’t have to feel. I was my dad’s sexual partner. I was confidant to both of my parents and knew all of their problems. I was the caretaker of my two younger siblings. I was responsible for cleaning the house which no one ever taught me how to do. My sister once asked me if I raised her because she didn’t remember mom ever being around. My dad told me that I would hurt my mom if I told her about the incest and then he would have to go out with other women for sex. Can you imagine the mixed emotions that I carried around from all of this dysfunction in my family?

  7. By: Nicole Posted: 9th August

    I agree with you 100% Darlene, If they don’t use the Bible against you your abuser will find something else to justify their abuse. How sick!!!! With my father being a pastor I was a victim of the Bible thumping justification. So sorry to see others went through this as well. It causes us (the abused) to not know which way to turn, what to believe in, or who to go to for help. That causes us to go inward and self blame, self doubt, and abuse ourselves. I am so glad I have finally found truth..the truth lies in other survivors. I have learned through other survivors and their stories to look at my story a little closer. When I took the blinders off I found truth. God Bless and Keep Going! Nicole

  8. By: Fi Nicholson Posted: 9th August

    I too was told, among many other things, that if I told I’d be responsible for breaking up the family. I’d be the one to blame and I’d be the one shamed not them.

    And yes our family was deeply religious and continue to hide behind religion and use it as a cloak of respectability. The church I grew up in continues to harbour them while I cannot go anywhere near it. Abuse and torture were justified through verses in the bible and I was beaten with the bible just as much as I was by their hands and weapons. And they even found bible verses to justify their disowning me when they realised I was no longer prepared to be used by them for whatever they chose.

  9. By: Christina Enevoldsen Posted: 9th August

    I love what you wrote:

    “But I tell you, I really appreciate the intuition that I have in my new life! Some good things come out of survival when you get to the other side of broken.”

    That’s so true. As a little girl in an unstable environment, I became skilled at anticipating others’ actions and learn to adapt. I learned to pick up little clues that were probably missed by those who didn’t live in fear. I still use my intuition today. Developing my intuition was a matter of survival then, but it’s a matter of thriving now. It’s helped me see things about situations, relationships and myself that I probably would have missed otherwise–things that not only keep me out of danger, but help me appreciate the truly good things. It’s not just for recognizing the bad and ugly things; it’s also for recognizing the good and beautiful things. It helps me to see in another dimension. My intuitive side is one of the things I value most about myself.

    Thanks for bringing so much truth!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 9th August

      Hi Christina,
      This is such a huge area and I appreciate your expanding on it! You have spoken volumes with this comment, all good and all true!
      Thanks for being here.

      Hi Fi
      Thank you for sharing another point that so many have in common. The abusers/ manipulators/ controllers will find ways to justify why they are not wrong and why you are. If it isn’t the Bible they use to back themselves up, it will be from somewhere else. My Mother used self help books and talk shows to back herself up, to prove that it wasn’t her fault and to justify anything and everything. That is the nature of abusers. This is the nature of people who want to live in the lie. The truth is far to scary. I am grateful everyday that I chose to seek the truth and I no longer have to live in that mess and that lie anymore.
      Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Diane Posted: 9th August

    I was always told by my father that if I told my mother about his sexual abuse; I’d break up the family, it would be MY fault. When I DID tell, at age 17, my mother didn’t support me at all, and chose to stay with my father. Not just STAY with him, but refuse to be a part of my children, her grandchildrens, and my life, unless He ALSO could be. That NEVER changed. My children are mostly grown, and my mother died about 2 years ago, and she never saw them after my 3rd oldest was born. She’s now 24 years old, and my mother never changed her mind. I am now 50 years old and never saw her after I was 25 years old. My father never encouraged her to visit, nor did he ever validate HIS wrongdoing. What makes it worse, is that he was a very ‘religious’ person. Thanks for the place to vent. It is nice to be able to read other comments with emotions similarly experienced.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 9th August


      This is a tragic painful story. I don’t think I will ever understand what the heck kind of brainwashing and low self esteem that it takes for someone to be so controlled ~ so “owned” by another person that they give up their own child in favor of protecting that other person; the abuser. It is just crazy.
      I often say that a child’s biggest fear is that they will be abandoned by the parents if they don’t comply, and when we grow up and take the chance of fighting back and our biggest childhood fear comes true, that it very tough to face. And that is what many of us are facing. That is what we are trying to process in order to be free from the horrible past. What your mother did was just as devaluing and abusive as what your father did. So when you told, you got re-abused. Both actions are incomprehensible. Good thing freedom has nothing to do with understanding them!

      Thank you so much for sharing and welcome to Emerging From Broken.
      Hugs, Darlene

  11. By: Fi Nicholson Posted: 9th August

    yes, brainwashing is the word, and yes there are many many layers!!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 9th August

      My blog won’t let my husband comment! Here is the comment he has been trying to post since yesterday afternoon!!

      “When we are born we are taught from that day forward to be complient wether it be for survival, eat your veggies, or for to be obiedient. As we grow we are not taught to put this comlientency through a “truth” grid. We are so willing to take the blame and to try to make things better even when it is not our fault. I really here what you are saying about wondering if or blaming your self for your parents break-up. It is in our preconditioned belief system that it could be our fault. I always took the blame for bad moods, bad weeks in work being done and even the weather–as long as it made the “mood around the house” get better. I was insecure because I never knew what was “coming down the pipe” and thus was told I was needy. The truth is alot of the bagage we carry is not ours–it is “theirs” I applaude you in bringing us a new grid to put “truth” through and inspiring us to dig deep within our own belief systems to become free of these burdens and to drop the baggage that is not ours and throw it into the garbage. THANKS!!”
      Jimmy B.

  12. By: Nikki Posted: 8th August

    I fully agree with you Darlene. Over a year ago my sister and I talked about the same thing matter of fact the word “brainwashing” came up in our conversation. It is like trying to unravel a very complex, twisted, confusing puzzle. Or perhaps like peeling an onion for there are many layers.

  13. By: Fi Nicholson Posted: 8th August

    Whenever I say to my support worker ‘I cannot get my head around the sheer cruelty of my parents, I just cannot get my head around it all’ she always says to me ‘to understand them, to get inside their heads then you’d have to become like them, because none of it makes sense because none of it was normal behaviour’.

    The more I think of her words the more I get what she is saying. That enables me to see more and more that it was about THEM NOT ABOUT ME, although that has yet to sink any further inside of me. The little child inside me still feels responsible because she was told so many times that she was evil and bad and deserved it.

    But the truth is the ONLY people to blame are/were the ABUSERS.

    It will take a long time for that truth to work it’s way through all the confusion, blame shifting, scape goating, layers of lies and incorrect belief systems reinforced by those who abused, controlled and manipulated to get their way.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 8th August

      Hi Nikki,
      This undertaking, the rewriting of our life stories is no small task. The false beliefs were delivered in small doses, little things, often subtle things and became a form of brainwashing. We learned to question our doubts, and our good choices, in favor of the hope that we would be loved, accepted and good enough.
      p.s. I LOVED the Pet Shop Boys music! I think I had all of it.. LOL
      Thanks for being here Nikki!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Fi
      I will repeat what I said to Nikki because it is just that important!! This undertaking, the rewriting of our life stories is no small task. Sometimes I actually get little glimpses of understanding about their behavior and it scares me. I understand how they felt better about themselves when they made me scramble to make sure that I did everything right in order to avoid any mood swings. Abusers wait for you to make a slight mistake so they can pounce on you and blame you for the mood they are in. After a while it isn’t hard because when we sense the mood they are in, it makes us nervous and we usually make a little mistake out of sheer anxiety. Always a game of cat and mouse.. (it is pretty pathetic and it is always their fault. ) But I tell you, I really appreciate the intuition that I have in my new life! Some good things come out of survival when you get to the other side of broken.
      Thanks for your comments and hang in there.. I think you are doing amazingly awesome!
      Hugs, Darlene

  14. By: Nikki Posted: 8th August

    “As an adult I was taught and accepted that I was accountable for the events and the results in my life. I applied that teaching to my childhood and to the past without realizing it and it automatically reinforced the belief that I had since childhood that it was my fault, that I had a choice and that I was responsible.”

    The whole blog hit many points in my own life but this statement right here pretty well speaks volumes to me. For years and years I was blamed. To be honest many of the arguments in my family was often over me. For reasons I am not quiet sure my dad singled me out, though he never sexually abused me, but he did verbally, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally abuse me. Up until last year my mom still blamed me (that’s not the case any longer though).

    My belief system has been much like a song that the “Pet shop Boys” sung back in the 80’s

    When I look back upon my life
    It’s always with a sense of shame
    I’ve always been the one to blame
    For everything I long to do
    No matter when or where or who
    Has one thing in common, too

    It’s a sin

    Everything I’ve ever done
    Everything I ever do
    Every place I’ve ever been
    Everywhere I’m going to
    It’s a sin

    I honestly believed that of myself that no matter what I was just evil. But as I am rewriting my belief system I realize I am not evil nor am I the blame for their actions and to be honest I am not the blame for anyone else actions either. And as each step forward that I make it is ever so relieving to realize that I don’t have to carry that cross (burden).

    I am glad that you write as you do because this year I really needed to hear what you and Carla has had to say. Thank you for being willing to be so open and honest.

  15. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 8th August

    Hi Carol.
    Some parents don’t want to get any of it. They just want to finish their lives and die. They want to live in their fog and pretend that things are peachy and fine. They like us to take all the blame. I was willing to take the blame, but it was never ending. It got worse and worse and my mental health got worse and worse. The pressure on me to be more supportive, more accepting was killing me. Taking the blame was killing me. And I could see that I might become just like them…. and I wanted more out of life then that.
    So…….. here I am.
    So glad that you are here too! Thanks for the comments! Darlene

  16. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 8th August

    Hi Wendi!
    You make some really great points in what you have shared here today! I could write a few more blog post springing off of this comment alone!
    Stay proud of yourself, this is a huge accomplishment. I am always proud of myself when I stand up for myself too. Sometimes with family stuff my heart races, and I have an adrenalin rush, but that’s okay. That is the old fear and we lived under the old rules for way too long before we saw the light. You go girl!!
    Hugs, Darlene

    Hi Nicole!
    This is an eye opening story. Sad as it is, you are not alone. Others desperately need to hear this story, that this happens to little girls at the hands of parents and by sharing this with others, you are giving hope. You got out and you are healing and this is a lot to heal from.

    My mother treated me as competition with her boyfriends and with other men (when she took me to bars) when I was a teenager. I didn’t realize it then, I was just so confused by the way she acted. Today I have a different understanding of what she was doing, and it makes me sick. I could never accept that fact that when her boyfriend came into my room in the night when I was 14, that she blamed me, I never accepted that was what she meant when she said it. But later on it all became clear to me and plain and simple… she is sick. I don’t have to live in that sickness and when I look at my two teenage daughters and recall what my mom did to me, I shudder.

    Thanks for sharing yourself, your past, your journey and your victories!
    Love Darlene

  17. By: carol Posted: 8th August

    wow, you again took the words out of my mouth darlene, only thing with me is though i intellectually get that i was not to blame and that it was thier life choices that made my life hell not the other way around, i am stuck in altering the reactions to the ingrained anger that they gave me, their anger at being stuck in their lifes and having been thro what they had been thro meant they passed it on to the next generation, me and my brothers. that even tho i know it actually getting those involved to accept how i see it had been hard work as they really wont ever take responsibility for their actions, and thanks to you n christina i have been able to realise i dont have to make them listen fo rme to grow n relearn how i deal with things. hard as it is they have to learn for themselves that they where the ones with the power not us children and i think some parents just dont get that ever.
    thanks again

  18. By: Nicole Posted: 8th August

    Now that we have a choice it makes all the difference I so agree with you Wendi

  19. By: Nicole Posted: 8th August

    I am in the middle of sorting things out myself. I felt so responsible for my parents arguing due to my fathers sexually abusing me. I was told by my father that I had replaced my mother. I was the wife now and she was just there. I didn’t want this life it was chosen for me. I can see that now, but at the time being only 10 years old I thought I was to blame for everything. I thought I had seduced my father and betrayed my mother. The funny thing was my mother seemed very comfortable about the role reversal. The only part she didn’t like was the lack of sex. This is what my parents fought about constantly. I would hear them argue about sex and knew I was the reason my mother wasn’t happy. My mother has always seen me as the other woman. She has always looked at me as my fathers mistress. I know how sick, right? I believed that for many years constantly beating myself up. Now that I am older and in therapy I have been able to look at the situation much differently and have realized that I was just a little girl and nothing more. Just a victim of abuse. I still struggle with where I am at with my relationship with my mother. For now I have had to walk away until she gets the help she needs. Darlene I love your posts. You have so much strength to be able to deal with all of these issues. (hugs) Nicole

  20. By: Wendi Posted: 8th August

    I had to learn and have to constantly remind myself that my upbringing was the responsibility of MY PARENTS (plural)…and that if either one of them was failing in this responsibility it does not in any way excuse the other one for ignoring it or doing the same. I used to feel like everything was my fault, my responsibility, my obligation…was led to believe even my words, even thoughts could make bad things happen…I still struggle with this. I also always thought I was not capable of making a good decision, or even a bad one, on my own. I was codependent. So is my mother. Problem…as a child I had both no choice and no responsibility…therefore, I could not possibly be the one to blame for my parents’ problems or the ones they were causing me…HOWEVER, in order to assuage their own guilt…I was tricked and manipulated and lied to into thinking somehow I had a choice and I did all this to myself. Not true…the problem lies in that once I became an adult I was unaware of all this…did not know that now I do have choices…I was continuously lied to manipulated and controlled so that my outcome was seemingly successful or okay so everyone else could pat themselves on the back and say THEY did a good job. But I was still bound by their sick chains…until I met others who broke free on their own…and then I began to see the truth. However damaged my thought processes and therefore actions of an adult were due to my upbringing (grooming)…I now have a choice…thank God I finally saw it. Making choices to free myself has been the most painful, sad, and FREEING things I do each day. Although it still scares me I remain proud every time I have to/get to stand up for myself and set an example for my children that you do not let people abuse or control you…even if it means challenging beliefs held firmly within your family…and possibly even society in general.

    Love your blogs Darlene…you make a difference 🙂

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