Positional Power ~ When Your Therapist Doesn’t Get It

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The Path for EFBChild abuse and neglect result in low self-esteem, depression and a whole lot of other issues. Part of the grooming process that occurs in ALL abuse including emotional abuse and psychological abuse is that the blame is transferred to the child and in order to cope and survive children accept that blame and focus inward in order to try harder for the love and acceptance they long for. In the dysfunctional family, the abuse doesn’t end in childhood and often the child who is now an adult will seek professional help in order to overcome the damage that the child abuse caused. Just as our parents and all adult abusers, controllers and manipulators had positional power, doctors, therapists and helping professionals have it too.

When we have been convinced through actions, inactions and words that there is something ‘wrong’ with us and we finally go to a helping professional such as a therapist, counselor or psychologist ~ if that mental health professional defends our parents, or focuses on US as the problem it serves us as confirmation that we are in fact the problem and it is very much a re-traumatization.

Mental health professionals have tons of positional power ~ they are endorsed and accredited as being able to help and therefore we often see them as an even bigger authority then the way that we saw our parents when we were kids, so if they AGREE with our parents or if they focus with us on what WE could do or could have done differently, it very often causes a bigger problem than the one we went to talk about.

Just as abuse and neglect invalidated me as a child, a therapist who asks me what I could have done better or differently, or asks me to understand the abuser by suggesting that they did the best they could or suggests that I was part of the problem ~ those things all VALIDATE the abuser, controller or caregiver or whoever had the power in the situation I am talking about. Sometimes worse was when the therapist remained neutral. In all cases I was still stuck in the pain of the story. When a therapist or helping professional has any of those reactions they aren’t HELPING.

Years ago when I was in my twenties, I volunteered to be in a group therapy situation. We all sat around looking for the ways that we were accountable for what happened to us as kids and thinking about what we could have done differently. There were some serious situations being discussed; one girl admitted that when she was 17 years old she snuck out of the house after bedtime to go to a party where she had been raped. Her parents found out that she was out, and then she got a severe beating from her father who used his belt to thrash her for over a half an hour. She told us that she thought he was literally going to kill her. Then she told us that she realized that she had brought the whole thing on herself by sneaking out of the house. She admitted that she was selfish and ungrateful for the boundaries her parents set in place for her and that she deserved what had happened to her.

She was willing to be accountable for having been raped and for also for the beating. And the therapist just sat there. I remember looking at him to see what our ‘leader’ was going to say about this. I was so brainwashed in that kind of accountability myself that I don’t think I questioned if she was accountable or not but I know that I didn’t have “my own thoughts” about what happened to her. I looked to the therapist and relied on his authority, waiting for his opinion.

Here is the shocking truth about this though; two things happened to that girl that night and both were horrific and illegal but the only thing that was addressed was that her own actions resulted in what happened to her. She was blamed, she was shamed, she accepted the guilt and responsibility for all of it.

She went home from the party where she had been raped; maybe she didn’t have a chance to tell her parents what happened, or maybe she knew she could never tell them what happened, that part was never discussed or revealed, but she went home and got a severe beating with a belt. She got raped and beaten and then (because she was blamed and shown why it was her own fault) she blamed the whole thing on herself.

So where was she supposed to go from there? How does someone reconcile something like that? How does a teenager get her head around something like that?

Think about it; She was raped. She was sexually assaulted; brutally raped by a man who had no regard for her as a person. He disregarded her human rights and then he cast aside like the object that he used her for. Imagine her devastation. And then she went home to what should have been a safe haven. She should have been allowed to fall sobbing into the arms of her mother and blurt the whole story out. And then her father, after a bit of ranting and raving and threatening to KILL the bastard who violated his daughter, would have phoned the police and reported the entire thing. She should have been taken to the hospital where they would have checked for damage and taken some DNA samples so that the perpetrator of this crime would have been convicted of it. Then her parents would have taken her home, made her some tea and stayed with her for as long as she needed.

But that isn’t what happened.

She came in the door and without pausing for any explanation from her, her father took off his leather belt and began his brutal and unrelenting physical assault on her. The second crime of the night was perpetrated against her. How do you think she felt after all that? Worthless? Shameful?

Yes.

And there she was many years later, trying to get some help and willing to take the blame for the whole thing; willing to accept responsibility for both the crimes against her. And the helping professional in the room said NOTHING! He nodded his approval when she said that her bad choices had resulted in her having been rapped and then beaten by her father. He nodded as she related that if only she would not have snuck out to that party, none of it would have happened.

BUT it did happen! So how was she able to deal with having been raped that night? Well quite simply, she wasn’t able to deal with it in any way that enabled her to heal from the damage that it caused to her.

Nobody EVER validated for her that it wasn’t her fault and believing it WAS her own fault, she could not let go of the guilt and shame and she was stuck in the invalidation of it all.

Mental Health Professionals have a lot of positional power. I gave many of them my power because I didn’t know any different. I believed that because they were certified and licensed to help me, that they knew best and that they certainly knew better than I did. I believed that they WERE helping me and when they encouraged me to take blame that didn’t belong to me, I was stuck in the pain of being objectified, unheard, unseen and invalidated, believing that once again something was wrong with me because I STILL struggled with depression, sadness and low self-esteem.

That day in the group therapy, that therapist could have set the record straight for the young woman who had been raped at a party and then beaten by her father. He could have told her that first of all, rape is always the fault of the rapist. Rape is an illegal crime and is always the fault of the perpetrator of that crime. And then he could have also told her that the violent beating she received was also a crime that the responsibility for that crime also belonged to the perpetrator of that crime. And each of us sitting there in that circle would have walked away with a totally different experience of the way that we thought about our own life experiences.

I didn’t tell my real story that day; I guess I knew it wasn’t safe.

Positional power applies to anyone that we give authority to or a person who is respected AS an authority for their title or training. Please share your thoughts about positional power or any other thoughts you would like to share. Perhaps this story reminds you of a different situation where you were invalidated by someone with positional power such as a teacher, grandparent or a police officer.

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

Have you downloaded a copy of my book “Emerging from Broken; The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” yet? It is the first in a series I am going to publish and this first book is all about setting the foundation for healing by seeing HOW the false beliefs, depressions, low self-esteem etc. came from in the first place. The reviews are fantastic! Click on the book image in the upper right side bar and get yours today.

Related posts ~ Dysfunctional Relationship with Mental Health Providers by Susan Kingsley-Smith

218 response to "Positional Power ~ When Your Therapist Doesn’t Get It"

  1. By: marquis (female) Posted: 23rd December

    ““Positional power applies to anyone that we give authority to or a person who is respected AS an authority for their title or training.”
    For some reason,reading that statement made me shiver and cringe. I’ve always had problems with people in authoritative positions, probably because of my childhood. And when I spoke up or contradicted the so-called authority figure, I was the one who was punished, whether it happened at school or later in life at work. I get very angry at people who abuse their position. I also have a hard time holding a job. It’s either speak up and get fired, or hold it in until I explode and walk off of the job.”

    Very true. Just by reading your statement, this is coming to mind: it’s funny, how the public out there say we need to speak up asking for respect and equality yet when you, an individual, speak up you are always punished. It seems assertive communication isn’t embraced it’s either be a doormat or aggressive like you were saying either speak up or be fired. Giving others position power, my ex-therapist said that to me about giving power to those who don’t deserve it. Told her that applies to mental health professionals – don’t think you people are exempt from that statement! Yep, she was pissed as always lol.

    Growing up, I had those same problems with authoritative people. A lot of them were full of shit and their auras shouted “problem problem over here!” A lot of them got called out and told them what’s up about xyz which they couldn’t believe at a very young age what I knew and understood…but tried to “put me in my place as a child as children don’t know any better or they say the darnest things; they didn’t mean that or children shouldn’t speak unkindly to their elders/leaders.” Sorry, you are not a leader/my leader if you can’t practice what you preach!

    I had a bitch woman teacher long ago told me ‘you will always have problems with people with that nasty attitude and that mouth of yours.’ I said ‘do you have a problem with the truth or those who can add 2+2 and speak their minds? Are you saying I don’t have an opinion or not allowed to until “I am old enough?” that sounds like my mom right there! I thought children should form their own thoughts but now it’s considered “rude to the adult?!”‘ Teacher turned dark red thought her head was gonna shoot up to space lmao! I have always been a threat to people they always tell me ‘speak my mind too much, big mouth, won’t do as they say, wants to challenge them until I win the fight (which is true), makes people “use critical thinking” (really?!? people have an issue with that), etc.’

    One of my school friends said I should have been a lawyer or judge – a lawyer would’ve been better for me lol or police officer. I am very assertive when it comes to topics like Darlene’s posts or something about me or “those fools who raised us” (where people feel they are right), that I will jump at them like a snake attacking its prey. I had one friend who told me I was like a leopard never knowing when I will attack – a silent/stealth fighter. When it comes to being assertive in other areas, I am back to being a doormat. I had to become assertive with my boyfriend in October when we had our talk about our relationship status. I really like those women who are stealth fighters, warriors, etc who are like men will fight to be the one will win and get what they want.

  2. By: marquis (female) Posted: 23rd December

    Hi Darlene,

    I am trying to post my comment on here on childless women and it’s very long. I am still getting the error message on the page not being found try to search the navigation bar.

  3. By: Light Posted: 23rd December

    Hi Colin #194. Do you recall the title of the Susan Forward book you mentioned? Thanks, Light

  4. By: colin Posted: 22nd December

    Hi Laura (161)

    I have been helped in counselling. My first counsellor was beyond awesome the connection we had was very powerful and the most nurturing relationship I have ever experienced. Not only was I validated and heard for the first time ever I received a thorough education in the tactics and ways of my Mother

    I read the Susan Forward book as an autobiography of my life, I was blown away when I read about love. To read what I had always believed, To have myself validated was so powerful.

    With other counsellors I have experienced a disconnect its very corrosive to the relationship when my anger is questioned, or I’m told to understand and forgive. Its disrespectful and demeaning. In the early days these so called counsellors would get away with it, By the end I was standing up for myself something I had struggled with previously.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 23rd December

      Hey Everyone!
      I just published a New Post for the Holidays ~ I was originally going to title this post “Tips on Getting through Christmas Holidays when Family is an F Word” but I thought perhaps that would offend people who saw it here or in EFB Facebook so I amended the title, but I still wanted to share it with you because sometimes that is how I feel. ~ BUT I called it “Tips on Getting through Christmas and Family Dysfunction” instead.
      Hope that everyone will sort of “congregate there” for support and sharing over the holidays.
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Kaycee Posted: 22nd December

    Ackk, no edit key. I sought an escape route through substances where others presumably did NOT.

  6. By: Kaycee Posted: 22nd December

    As a child that chose the escape route I have experienced that idea that everyone sees themselves as better than me because they did seek an escape through substances. To be truthful, my fist escape was books. When I met my bio Father for the first time when I was 11, his new wife picked up on this immediately. I lived in books. She wan’t happy about it, she was right.

    I had a severe dissociative disorder, I would be walking walking to the bus stop and all of a sudden I would be in the woods, sitting at the base of a tree watching the birds. To everyone else, this meant I was truant. I did not know what happened, how I got there, I only knew I was glad I was there.
    I had my stash of books there.

    Real life just doesn’t match the books. The world I always lived in, the altered states helped me be stay alive when I often wanted to sink myself beneath the water of the lake and drown. I am reluctantly sober, for many, many years. But there is always this sense of disappointment. I grew up in a safe, fantasy world inside my mind that nothing in the real world can come close to matching. I miss that place now, even though I am still judged harshly for having gone there.

  7. By: Hobie Posted: 22nd December

    Thank you for all the supportive responses. I was out of contact with everyone for a few months. I supposed it was the holidays that prompted my daughters to contact me, and pulled me back into doubts. Before that contact I was beginning to really be happy.

    I can’t put any relationship back together without the cooperation of the other person in the relationship. I’m willing to own my part, but I can’t own their parts.

    At this point, I think I need to just maintain no contact until they see for themselves their part in the relationship. They may never do that, and I am finding myself more content without them.

    Once Christmas is in the past again, I think I’ll be a lot better.

    Hobie

  8. By: Eddie Posted: 22nd December

    Years ago, I sought out a therapist who was affiliated with a clinic that was part of a large church in our metropolitan area. At the time, I wanted to work with a therapist to attempt to heal the spiritual damage done and somehow work to a point of forgiveness. As I relayed to him the details of the systematic childhood sexual abuse (rape), physical abuse of my father, emotional emptiness of the home, etc., the therapist’s response was “Well, maybe you were just a melancholy child, some people are just born that way.” I was stunned. He was laying all this at my feet and totally excusing those crimes of others. HELLO!?! Maybe you haven’t heard – raping children is a crime. But at the time, I was just speechless and left that session and never returned again. At least I had the clarity of thought to realize this idiot for what he was.

  9. By: DXS Posted: 22nd December

    Darlene, re: False definition of love. In my case, $$$ is supposed to equal love. IT DOESN’T! And to try to talk to my mom about “emotional” abuse? She will say it’s poppycock.

  10. By: DXS Posted: 22nd December

    How do I express an interest in understanding someone who is different from me, without implying those differences make us unequal? How do I make amends if I’ve said something hurtful because I didn’t know any better?

    Hobie, I think that is where my Mom is at. But it just doesn’t occur to her that OTHER people perceive things differently than she does. She just thinks it’s only me that does that. I try to teach her, but she doesn’t want to hear it. 99% of the world is like her and I’m just the odd ball so why should she make an effort to understand me?

    I applaud you for the effort you made, and I’m sorry it’s been rejected.

  11. By: FinallyFree Posted: 22nd December

    Hobie, I dont know if this is similar to your situation because I dont personally know you or your children…so please bear that in mind. My three brothers and I were close and all of a sudden it seemed to me that they chose to live their lives very differently than I did and they chose to adopt differing philosophies about life, love, religion, health, food…etc…and I figured it was a phase for them. I didnt do the drugs or drinking or want to live the way they were but I did try to respect their choices and be accepting. What I got in return was that they looked down on me OR decided that I was thinking I was better than they were. There was no discussions or middle ground. All of them mocked me in my choices , but they seemed to demand that I be respectful and understanding of theirs as time went on. As I look back now, all of the kindness, understanding, time I spent was wasted on them and time out of my own life and healing because I was trying very hard to ….once again….please family who would never be pleased or loving or happy with me. My parents werent and somehow the brothers ended up the same towards me. I feel that I did try everything I knew with them, but they would not change toward me, so I cut them off. They all came back and it seemed for a short while that things were different. Then they all treated me the same again. It was very very sad to me, but I cut them off permanently. I feel peace of mind now because now I can move on and be happy. They will be as happy now without me as they were with me…and I leave them to live their lives. I now respect myself enough to wish not only them a happy life, but also myself…and to be happy has to be without the games and the disrespect and the putdowns and making fun of me. It was very difficult, but I feel totally free of all of their unhealthy ways of communicating and lack of respect. why should I show interest in their lives and keep chasing after them? We are unequals because they chose it to be that way, not me. I wanted to be equal with them and have mutually respectful relationships…they chose differently..so why should I hang around and try to always be understanding? I also figure if I did things to hurt them, then if they cannot be forgiving or are not a place in their lives where they can forgive because of whatever their reasons…that is THEIR responsibility and issue, not mine anymore. At a certain point, it ended up becoming abuse toward me, but I stopped it because I became healthier and understood that I didnt deserve that. Hobie, no matter what you did or didnt do…at a certain point people end up being responsible for their choices to forgive or not to forgive and nothing we say or do can help them choose that. I am so sorry that you were hurt so badly that you made mistakes with your own children! I can imagine the torment and pain. I will say this…you deserve to be happy now and to live a life without that pain and torment. I wish for you to find that peace of mind!!! whatever you choose or dont choose in this situation, we all support you here!! Hugs and peace to you! 🙂

  12. By: Hobie Posted: 22nd December

    I’ve avoided the choice to have or not have children debate. I absolutely see the choice as viable and respectable. It’s not wrong or less than.

    It is however a different choice from my own and is hard to understand because I never thought about making that choice.

    Those of you who have chosen not to have children have quoted questions and phrases that you have found insulting and hurtful and I get it. When those kinds of questions are posed rhetorically the implication that you’re just wrong is cruel.

    I have often been in the position of wanting to understand differences as SIMPLY DIFFERENCES, but found myself saying all the wrong things because the words I’m using have carried implications when spoken by others that I don’t want to make myself.

    I am sometimes on the other side of this same situation. There are words and phrases that put me immediately on the defensive and make it hard to get to a point of understanding.

    How do I express an interest in understanding someone who is different from me, without implying those differences make us unequal? How do I make amends if I’ve said something hurtful because I didn’t know any better?

    Hobie

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd December

      Hobie and all in this discussion ~ One of the key issues here is the cycle of abuse. I too found myself not realizing the damage I was causing with my own children prior to healing etc. I was passing on the false definition of love without realizing it because it was all I knew and I am still working hard to change and amend that. Perhaps I am very fortunate that I broke out of the fog when they were still young enough.
      Hobie, the only amends in those situations (other then the verbal ones) are living amends. I had to prove that I really had changed. BUT I am not in your situation because my kids stuck around for me to be able to prove it. AND in your situation, your family of origin has brainwashed your kids against you which I sometimes wonder (because I see this all the time too) if that is yet another punishment against you for daring to stand up to them and another way that they ‘prove to you’ and to everyone who is watching ~ that it isn’t them… “SEE it is YOU” they say with all their horrid actions. In this case I suspect that you are doing all that you can. There comes a point where all you can do is hope.
      Hugs, Darlene

  13. By: Andria Posted: 22nd December

    Yvonne,

    I hope you can find a way out of this situation with your parents. I hope you don’t feel the need to care for them. I have been a caretaker of family members for many years. If there is not a good relationship there it is not worth it and very damaging to the person who is doing the care taking. In the end, I just felt like I was being used and I was being used. Perhaps they fein appreciation, but what is a thank you when later you are treated badly. Some parents feel they have a right to have their children at their beck and call. I wish you peace. Please let all of us know how this turns out. I am on your side.

    Andria

  14. By: Light Posted: 22nd December

    Correction: “not having children is NOT a viable and respected option”

  15. By: Light Posted: 22nd December

    When I think of some people’s perceptions that not having children is a viable and respected option and to be judged negatively, the word “legitimate” comes to mind. Women who choose not to have children can sometimes be thought of as not legitimate. This is a very powerful concept, as if we’re not worthy enough to be in this world and are breaking a primitive unwritten, unspoken code – the circle of life. It also brings up thoughts that being childless is somehow childISH and to be pitied (even when it’s our choice!)- that we’re not fully grown and developed women, and that we won’t be a true adult woman until we have a baby in our womb.

    As Kaycee said, “barren” is also a powerful word. How desolate, deprived, and sad. The word inherently brings forth that something is missing. I reject that notion and plan on continuing to have a full and joyful life that includes a variety of people of all ages.

    I’m really glad we’re having this conversation. I would like the respect of others (and more importantly to continue to overcome these negative messages and respect myself) for the life I lead.

  16. By: laura Posted: 22nd December

    Hi Yvonne #167,
    About your parents moving near you.I see 3 solutions.You might get a restraint order from the police.I know it’s a radical option,but they are abusers,not parents.They have been brutal to you in the past.So now it’s not revenge,but a survival matter.It’s about keeping your sanity.You might hire a nurse for them or put them in an asylum.In both cases,it’s a kinder option and they’ll have medical care.These options may not be helpful for you,since everybody’s situation is different.However,the main idea is to keep no contact.

    Years ago,you had the strength to leave and never return.You fought for your freedom and your birthright to live.You found a shelter,but no moral support.You were tough enough to stay there and not come back.You worked,saved money and made a new home.This time,it’s about maintaining your position as a free woman.Now you’re an adult who can choose not to be the target of abusers anymore.You can say NO to the dirt they are preparing to throw at you again.If you become their caretaker,not necessarily moving in with them but visiting them often,you’ll probably suffer at their hands again and your traumatic childhood will return.On the internet,i read about abusers continuing to do harm emotionally even on their deathbed.

    I didn’t manage to leave,and my abusers are old and ill.Just like yours,they expect me to be their caretaker.That’s why i understand you feel stuck with them for life,hence the nightmares or sleepless nights filled with worry.But it doesn’t have to be that way.I wish you the same strength you once had,the power to say NO.You overcame all the obstacles,you confronted all your fears with one goal in mind: to go no contact forever.Keep it that way.My guess is that your parents came back with the purpose to torment you,believing you owe them.What about the peace you owe to yourself? So,don’t let them.Moving close to you,i see it as a tactic of manipulation and control.Surely other tactics will follow,if you allow it.

  17. By: marquis (female) Posted: 21st December

    Is something wrong with the site? It says page not found.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd December

      Marquis
      Sometimes when there is too much traffic at once people will get that error message. The site is fine and your comment posted too. (or are you having a problem with a different post?)
      Darlene

  18. By: Kaycee Posted: 21st December

    Davina, the idea that having a baby makes somebody into something they are not is a profound misconception. This world filled with children of parents who just are not parent material. So many of these people would have contributed so much more to humanity by working on themselves rather then procreating.

    The idea that people who would make great parents should have children even if their passions lie elsewhere is utterly absurd. There are so many ways people can contribute and be of value that do not necessitate having children.

    Barren, a powerful word filled with implications I am all too familiar with, sadly.

    I have learned to keep my child at arms length from his Grandma, I will never allow her to be close enough to make him a lesser like me. It has worked out well, she rushes in to be the good guy in their infrequent interactions now. There was a time though, when he was younger, and I was less wiser when she tried to use him to demean me.

    There was a time when she made it known that my sister and her children trumped me and my son. I was reduced to begging and groveling for her time and she let me know in no uncertain terms that my sister and her kids came first. The time she gave to my son was given begrudgingly, it was a sacrifice met with deep sighs.

    Then came the barbs, “I don’t know how to say this but he said you……” or “He’s being so difficult he……………”

    Then there was the deep sighs when she was there with me and my son. The undermining of my decisions, the idea that saying he could not have a candy bar, an Icee and then a Blizzard from Dairy Queen in one afternoon was somehow abusing him (this from the lady who deemed me fat enough for weight watchers camp at 10 when I got the puberty pudge).

    And to make it all the more unbearable, her golden, my sister, was a Madonna, an old soul, her ability to Mother was a heavenly event to behold.

    My sister is a great Mom. I love my sister and I know she loves me despite her golden status. She is not perfect though, nor am I and we both are good Moms. I have benefited greatly from having my child many years after my sister had hers (I was an advanced maternal age Mom).

    But still, I have had to pull back and pull my child back. I had to stop asking for my Mother’s time in order for her to understand and value her time with him as something she wants rather than something she is giving in martyrdom to the undeserving.

    In my barren years, both my Mother and my sister made it clear I was not Mother material. They would have happily perpetuated that myth and ruined my confidence as a Mother if I would have allowed it.

    I totally get your decision to go no contact, it is commendable. There is a point when allowing them to demean you is harmful not only to yourself, but to them as well. I see so may people who truly are making a altruistic decision in going no contact. To do otherwise is simply enabling an abuser.

  19. By: Davina Posted: 21st December

    Yvonne — 165

    You are not alone in your feelings about children and your boredom with the women who are obsessed with only that. It has been done billions of times. Some believe that many of those people use kid-having as a way to feel powerful and in charge of something.

    About 20% of baby boomers chose not to have kids and that number is rising in the generation after the baby boomers. Now that people can choose, many don’t have kids.

    Long-established civilizations in India, China and Africa have too many people and many of them are suffering for lack of food, housing and jobs. If everybody keeps automatically reproducing, that will eventually happen everywhere.

    There used to be a display at the Smithsonian museum in Washington DC showing that when everyone has kids and the kids have kids and the kid’s kid’s have kids, within 100 years, the population explodes. Our planet can’t support that.

    Years ago a neighbor called me selfish for not having kids. I replied: How can you be selfish to someone who doesn’t exist?

    Other than him, no one ever tries to make me feel guilty for not having kids–I think they can see that I am happy.

    People have admitted that they envy my freedom and that they would have no kids or just one if they had it to do over.

    You’ve got your head on straight, Yvonne! Live your life as you please.

  20. By: Davina Posted: 21st December

    Kaycee (148)

    I didn’t have kids because I was afraid I’d have one that would turn out to be duplicates of my personality-disordered parents or sister, or that I’d be cruel and neglectful like my parents were. I also believe that the world is overpopulated and that people should only have kids if they really want them and make raising them well a priority.

    My younger sister, a sociopath, finally cranked out three kids after having had 30 (thirty) abortions. A few years into it, she decided that she was put-upon and abandoned the care of the kids to her harried alcoholic husband and our mother. Two of the three kids are very troubled; I hear that the third is doing well.

    Though my mother sees that my sister made a mess of her kids, she tries to make me feel “less than” because I had none. For certain, I could have had kids if I’d wanted to, but Mommy Dear, who claims to be a staunch feminist, really believes that children are the only thing that give a woman worth.

    Despite my barren condition, I amazed my mom and sister by easily handling the kids’ feeding, diapers and shenanigans when they were babies and toddlers. It’s instinctual, I reminded them, not some sacred skill that surfaces when you pop out a baby.

    I always knew in my gut that if I had kids my mom would have treated them as less-than my sibling’s kids in order to hurt me.

    My family’s unwillingness to know and understand me and to value me is one of the many reasons that I no longer have contact with them.

  21. By: Kaycee Posted: 21st December

    Alaina, my mother has had two failed marriages and has been alone for three decades, she hasn’t even dated. She still deems my success at maintaining a marriage of over 25 years to the goodness of my husband and his wiilingness to put up with me despite all of my inherit flaws. She considers me very lucky. She thinks he is a Saint, much like herself.

  22. By: Alice Posted: 21st December

    Hi Alaina!
    I loved this most recent post. I still fight within myself for equality but it is the “good fight” I believe.
    On being single. I really believed that all it would take to prove my mother wrong about how loveable I was was a man to love me for a long time. Real relationships aren’t exactly that and my ideals (and hope for validation) did not stand up to reality. Sometimes I’ve heard the fact that I’m not currently in a long term relationship used against my character or my ability to get on with other people. It really hurts to be defined in that manner. It also hurts because until I realized what I was doing with “love relationships”, I was really using that someone else to prove something to a person who doesn’t love me.

  23. By: DXS Posted: 21st December

    Yvonne, there is a really busy forum called “THE CHILDFREE LIFE.” I used to be on but I got kicked off. Since you would like a relationship, you would fit right in. I got kicked off when I started threads on being happily single. Others who also started threads on this were kind of treated rudely.

  24. By: Kaycee Posted: 20th December

    Light, I got my marriage license right after I got my high school diploma. I never gave myself the opportunity to make it on my own. I envy what you have done and I can easily see myself being happy alone, just me and my cat. No doubt I have missed something that you have experienced. In a better world I think we could all value and honor the many paths we take and learn from each other’s unique but equally valid experiences.

  25. By: Light Posted: 20th December

    I am a childless woman as well. I can relate to the undercurrent of superiority I felt from one (ex) SIL in particular and sometimes from society as well. While I’ve been in relationships, I am not (and wasn’t)married. My SIL actually had the nerve to say to me “You don’t change”. I had the wherewithal to ask her if that was good or bad, to which she responded with a broad smile, no words. She could hurl daggers of insults like that.

    I was so offended on many levels. While I did accomplish an advanced degree (paid for myself), and she didn’t particular know me, she had the nerve to comment about my life. I suppose not being married, and not having children, along with not owning a single family home made me someone to look down on. Newsflash to SIL: Those things aren’t the be all and end all milestones. Because I’ve had to afford most things on my own including most of my education and taking out loans, having a home was beyond reach. I’ve had difficulty with relationships because of a tumultuous childhood that I’m trying to work through, and I was never confident about being a parent. Most significant life events taken longer and have been a struggle. But maybe if you’d gotten to know me, you’d learn about my interests and my struggles and have some understanding.

    I recall when this same brother and SIL were visiting my brother commented about a plant in my home that was obviously thriving “Look at it!!” I had the feeling that he or she was surprised I could nurture a living thing and have it be healthy.

    I’ve had a family member comment on my attractive neighborhood “YOU live HERE???”

    I got a cat a few years ago, and there were some interesting family dynamics. I had family members who made comments that showed that they thought I was handling some interactions wrong. I made some mistakes but my cat gets so much love he cuts me slack. When they saw how socialized he became in my care and how attached he became to me, it both shut them up and seemed to surprise them.

    Single women can be vibrant, interesting and nurturing beings. We can nurture ourselves, our friends, our pets, and our environment. We can experience the satisfaction of giving to others and accomplishing small and big goals. We can own property, travel, and develop a full social life.

    I have felt the bias toward marrieds and against singles…there seems to be a stigma against being single, whereas being married seems to garner a quietly approving response.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st December

      Hi all,
      I have been catching up on the comments about being a single woman, or a childless woman, or married with children etc. Something that I realized in my own journey to wholeness is that these are ALL ways that we are defined by society but that just like being defined as “unworthy” these definitions are also false. I love what Light said here ~ “Single women can be vibrant, interesting and nurturing beings. We can nurture ourselves, our friends, our pets, and our environment. We can experience the satisfaction of giving to others and accomplishing small and big goals. We can own property, travel, and develop a full social life.” and I would add that this is true for ALL PEOPLE.

      The ways that people define other people are always motive based and if misused, they are for the purpose of control. If you think about it this is what we are talking about all the time here. People put other people down in order to make them look at themselves so that we never notice them. It is pathetic to see anyone as less important or successful just because they have kids OR don’t have kids, are Married OR Unmarried, etc. Our circumstances don’t make us who we are.

      Having said all that, we do live in the world so it is great to have these discussions ~ I just wanted to point out that when people look down on other people for ANY reason at all, it is almost always to make the one doing the judgement feel better about themselves.. SO very pathetic!
      I am not what I do. Who I am in not what I do or my marital status. Being a mother doesn’t define me as better or worse.. but I have a good heart, I am a nice person, a good friend, a loving person (to my family and to others as well, I care, I love, I listen and that is how I define myself.

      Love!! Merry Christmas to Everyone!
      Darlene

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