Rebuilding my Relationship with Me ~ Recovering from Dysfunctional

emotional healing, mental health recovery
emotional healing from dysfunctional family

Sometimes I feel as though I can never go back far enough in order to tell you how I got myself out of the emotional mess that I was in. Today I have been thinking about some of the questions that I began to ask myself in the process of emotional healing and some of the ways that I began to wake up to the way that I was devalued in relationships. This relationship dysfunction was present in almost all of my adult relationships.

Here are the “fog busting” questions that I asked myself;  continued…

~Is there an equal amount of say in the plans, or does one person in the relationship usually get to decide? Do you agree to wait for someone, just in case there is a plan? Do you find yourself getting anxious when there are no solid plans but still unable to ask for a plan?

~When someone is consistently late, how does that make you feel? Do you feel like you are being a nag or a drag if you ask someone not to be late?

~Are you outspoken about your disappointments in relationships?

~Do you feel like you don’t really have a right to ask for fair treatment?

~What would scare you about asking for fair treatment?

~Do you feel like the success of the relationship depends on you?

~Do you feel like if the relationship depends on how compliant that you are; on how cooperative that you are; on how little that you ask for?

~If you don’t believe that you are worthy of fair treatment, how will someone else know that you are? I am talking about equal value. That if someone wants to wait until the last minute to make plans with you, and it bothers you, then why are you not willing to say that it bothers you or that you feel it is unfair treatment to you.

~Where do those feelings come from? When did you learn that asking for equal value and fair treatment was wrong or that you are not as deserving of it as someone else is?

These are the thoughts that came up for me in my process of recovery from depressions and abuse.  I had never thought about most of these things before. I knew that I was willing to wait for a phone call and be mad when I didn’t come. I knew that I would fume when someone was late, but that I never really said how much it hurt me and made me feel as though my time was not important and therefore that I was not important. I knew that when people (friends and boyfriends, family, whoever) waited till the last minute to accept my invitations, (or to commit to plans with me) that I felt powerless to object, and that I didn’t have a right to have a say in if they waited till the last minute to inform me of what the plan was or if we were getting together in the first place.

Because deep down I believed that I didn’t deserve more than the scraps that they could throw me.  Deep down I believed that I was darn lucky even to get the scraps. Deep down I felt less than everybody else.

Once I had a chance to think about this stuff, I realized that I do have and should have equal value to everyone else. The rebuilding process started with these realizations. I began to see the need for me to draw boundaries. But before my boundaries were respected by others, I had to believe that I was worth it. I had to repair my broken relationship with myself. I had to really believe that I had equal rights.

And I did that by realizing all the ways that I allowed myself to be treated. NOT from the familiar place of self blame but from a place of self love. I looked at my life and my relationships through the eyes of self love. I realized that first of all I had learned this compliance and acceptance of mistreatment and devaluing relationships at a very young age when I was powerless to have or to draw boundaries. The bridge between my childhood and adulthood was missing. I carried on through my adult life just as I had been as a child, powerless and without the knowledge that I DESERVED to be valued and loved.  I looked at how dysfunctional most of my adult relationships were and had been. There was no equality.

Then I began the process of repairing that damage with learning to value myself. And when I got strong enough, my boundaries were visible to others because they were drawn in my heart. I believed that I was worthy. When I got to this point, others had to make a decision about how they would respond to my declaration of equality. (Be warned. Most of them didn’t like it.)   

So one final question; ~ what message does your relationship with yourself give to others?

Please share your thoughts about this post. Feel free to answer the questions here too. As always, I look forward to the conversation!

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

Read the follow up post to this one ~ inspired by the comments ~ Self Esteem, My value and learning to love MY Self

related post ~ The deadly side of Accountability

82 response to "Rebuilding my Relationship with Me ~ Recovering from Dysfunctional"

  1. By: Maree Posted: 28th July

    I was diagnosed with border personality disorder in 2013, two months after having my second child.

    Since then, the judgement and exclusion I have faced from my family due to having a marriage breakdown and a child out of wedlock on my own has created not just an emotional mess but a complete breakdown in the relationships with my brother, my sister and my mother.

    One of the characteristics of border personality disorder is intense, inappropriate anger, which I have displayed due to the exclusion by my family from Christmas gatherings, birthday parties and housewarmings.

    The latest thing to happen is that I have completely alienated my mother. probably for good. This happened in June, when she came over to my house, and I erupted over the plans for her 60th birthday party which involved my being required to stay in a motel, when my brother was invited to stay at my sister’s. My mother discounted my feelings by saying ‘first in first served’. Actually I had booked my tickets before my brother had decided to go. According to my mother, anyway, whose word is not always gospel.

    I have decided not to attend my mother’s 60th birthday party in September. I take responsibility for reacting to her insensitivity, but ultimately, through maltreatment and neglect as a child I have ended up with this personality disorder, and I have a long road to hoe to heal. The ongoing pain through hurt she causes me layers on top of the pain buried in my inner child, and through my disorder this translates into raw fury.

    My mother has an art of making me look like the perpetrator, the black sheep, and her the victim, and has for years spread toxicity through the family by telling my siblings how I treat her.

    I am at rock bottom, but I will heal. This article is the start. Understanding that I do not need to settle for the ‘scraps’ I am fed, and that I am not solely responsible for the success of the relationships I have resonates with me. I have for years played second-fiddle to my siblings through favouritism my mother has actively shown towards my siblings in so many ways. I don’t know if I will ever mend my relationship with my mother. I have accepted that. I can’t, and she can’t continue to go through this cycle of pain. Thankfully I have understanding aunts, who saw how badly I was treated in my childhood, and can see I am why I am like I am. Broken.

  2. By: diane Posted: 28th May

    Darlene, I thought about everything I have written here about my relationship with my husband. I realized that I HAVE been patient and I HAVE done everything that I could personally be responsible for doing in my relationship EXCEPT for talking. I have even had many talks with him, but not one where I said…this is it for ME…! I waited this weekend until the timing seemed good enough, and I told him that I needed to talk with him about something important to me.My husband and I talked for HOURS! It was not easy, but neither of us were angry or upset. I was not able for a long time to say the words that he understood, but finally I just broke it down for him, “Either I stay here with you and have a life of ease and we are like a brother-sister or roommates because it is platonic, OR I leave you and am miserable with where I live and financially etc, but have what I have always needed and longed for…someone who will be open and discuss feelings and anything and everything without me walking around on eggshells. I will have affection and attention. I also told him that I grew up in a home with those luxury “things” and it was a hell house, and I always had longed for a relationship where I could have affection and someone to talk with. NOT THINGS! I think my husband understood at that moment when I spelled it out so specifically. I told him that I want HIM and want all of that with HIM, but I dont know how I can “settle” any longer. I also told him that whenever he said he would “try”, nothing ever happened because he felt nagged and pressured so he wouldnt do anything, but if I didnt bring it up, he still wouldnt do anything to change, so I was in a “catch 22 ” with him. At first, he was very reluctant and tried to step around this very uncomfortable topic, but then after he understood exactly what I meant and where I was headed, he started opening up. He told me things about his childhood that I had no clue about! He told me how miserable he has been in our relationship emotionally. He asked for certain things from me that I hadnt even been aware that he wanted from me, and we discussed EVERYTHING. I have never had a more open discussion with him in the 19 years we have been together. It was a breakthrough for both of us, not just me….so that made it happier for me! I dont fully understand why I am getting breakthrough after breakthrough right now, but it must just be the TIME for ME! It was wonderful too, because we discussed our past mistakes, his gambling and the effects that everything has had on me..and on him. I think it is nice being older because there just isnt the same intensity in life that we used to have or something. It was as though we were rediscovering each other and liking what we found. I cant explain all of it here, but I have a joy and PEACE and feeling of security in my relationship with him at a new level I have never had EVER. He has been opening up to me at times yesterday and today and since I am not used to it , I have to really try not to look surprised! lol. I have found out more about his past and his feelings than I knew in 19 years. He has also given me WORDS that I always longed for …affectionate words. And he has given me affection. Not a lot, but much more than he has initiated before. I can tell this time he is making efforts for me.
    I have no way of expressing how different I think and feel today compared to just a few weeks ago. With these issues in my family resolved, and the pain gone…and with my older brother resolved…and now the most important relationship that needed help resolved…it is something I cannot put into words! I feel like now I can LIVE my life…MY life! I am just beginning! I am also learning new ways to relate and to behave…I guess this is what you meant by reparenting? I understand what you mean now! There is still obviously work that will always need to happen in any relationship,but when I got free of all the crap and pent up emotions, now I believe anything is possible. I am learning how to BE and how to be aware in how I think and process and what I do and what I eat and how I relate to others in a “whole” new way…and it is beyond words how wonderful it is. Darlene…I will always be eternally grateful for you and what you have done in my life. Thank you!!!!

  3. By: diane Posted: 26th May

    Darlene….thank you SO much for answering….and I hope this didnt interfere with your vacation because you need and deserve one that is all for YOU! I hope you have a wonderful time!!!
    I do feel somewhat better this morning, but not resolved. At least I dont feel totally depressed like I did yesterday. I rarely become that depressed anymore, but I think it has been everything I have discovered and uncovered here and in myself…very quickly. Now I want EVERYTHING to be whole and healed immediately, so you are right..this is going to take more time and I will try to be more patient! You are also correct in how willing I have been to have all of the responsibility in the relationship. Now that I am aware of it all of a sudden, I want it all to become balanced between my husband and I immediately. I have made changes over the years, but he really has only adapted to those changes , but hasnt changed in his efforts to initiate emotionally/physically. We really LIKE each other as individual ppl and that is probably what has made this relationship go up to this point. He is so stubborn and closed off in many ways that he is too strong for me to keep at it….when he wants his way, he is very nice about it, but he wont budge. The best way to describe him perfectly is to compare him to those bassett hounddogs. Those dogs want to go out for a walk with their owner, but when they are on the leash, if they dont want to go somewhere or they arent ready to keep walking, they simply lay down and wont move. They dont get upset and snarl, bark or act mean…but they wont budge. My husbands favorite dog, I might add! lol. I wasnt going to write this, but since I am purging myself of all “secrets” … My husband used to be a compulsive gambler for the first 11 years of our marriage, and of course before he ever met me. I didnt know about it for the first year, but I wondered about his odd behaviors. Then when I found out after he had stolen 400 dollars from me, he promised to get help, but wouldnt. He scoffed at it. So…I dont know if anyone understands the mentality and thinking process behind this particular addiction, but it is quite similar to the alcoholics. Lots of denial, lies, doing anything to get the fix, using ppl etc. So..suffice it to say that is was like living in another nightmare. My daughter grew up being aware of it because I told her…but I didnt bash her dad. Since I was so crushed and had no self esteem, I was the perfect UNSUSPECTING enabler. I left him once for two months and then he stopped…for awhile. He was always a good provider, and he always coached our daughter for sports and he was a controlled gambler. But the mentality of “games” and “get rich quick” and “dont save money” along with all the other uncertainties…were hellish to live with. The lies and the feeling that I was being lied to and manipulated and controlled would drive me crazy because I couldnt pin anything on him because he was so secretive. I thought he had quit because we were making more money and he was telling me again that he quit, but eight yrs ago I discovered that we were losing everything and were going to have to repair our credit. I put my foot down then and he agreed and we put everything into my name only, and we moved into a super tiny, cheap apartment temporarily and I forced myself to grow up and engage in things I had let go of because he was so controlling with the money. I empowered myself and my daughter and my husband was able to fight through and now he doesnt gamble and hasnt since that time. I told him he wasnt going to run away and leave ME to clean up HIS mess,so we stayed together and he and I now ARE equal when it comes to that part of our marriage…thank God! However, the mentality is still there to some extent. I dont know if that makes sense, but he processes things through that filter in some ways. He has made many leaps and bounds in his own healing and I am proud of him! There is still a long ways to go. To end being so secretative about himself and to learn how to open up IS a long process, if it is ever going to happen. I am not being self righteous when I say this, because it is the truth. I stuck by my husband and carried the burdens of our marriage and raising our daughter …the emotional burdens and many physcial ones too…through the years. I am not proud of this. I settled in many ways and sacrificed my own life and health and happiness. On the other hand, I am very happy that I did this, because he did quit gambling and our relationship is happier than it has ever been…and even more than most of the relationships that I see around me today. I still hate my marriage though…the things that need to become more healthy. Whew! Thanks for letting me write here….I do hope someone can be somewhat encouraged by my super lengthy stories some day! I always feel so much better just for saying them because it has been extremely painful to not be able to discuss this with anyone. Most dont understand that I didnt want to throw away the man because he was flawed…but I really do like and love the guy and I wanted it to work out between us! I am a person who loves God and other christians cant handle these kind of situations because we as christians are not very tolerant. There is a mask ppl wear at church and to smile and pretend everything is perfect because you are a christian is very dangerous, IMO. It cripples a persons ability to be themselves and to be honest and to find help if necessary. I held in this part of my life as yet another “secret” for too long. It is freeing to be able to just spill it out! Thank you again Darlene…you dont have to answer back…it is simply enough to have this place to come to safely and spill out everything!!!! You have yourself the best vacation and lots of fun!! Hugs and peace to you!

  4. By: diane Posted: 25th May

    This probably isnt the place to write this, especially since I have already posted a comment about my marriage,but I am so depressed today! Again about my marriage. This is so difficult to deal with for me…and as usual, it is all about me having my needs and wants to be considered as valuable as his. I think it is even more than that…I think it is also that he doesnt initiate, isnt honest with his feelings and seems passive agressive….but I get so confused that I end up depressed! I dont know FOR SURE if he is being passive-aggressive. Such stupid issues too! For two weeks it has been planned to go to a certain movie with our daughter tonight…in another town that has a giant IMAX screen and those seats that move around to the action. We have never done this before so it sounded like a big outing of fun that the three of us would enjoy. My husband even brought it up a few times and mentioned going out to dinner beforehand…like he was into it. I cannot tell you how many times over the years that he has done this identical thing to me and my daughter, but all of a sudden yesterday he informs me that one of his employees at work is on vacation and he has to work late that nt. Then later , after he was home from work, he mentions that he wont be able to come home for lunch the next day (movie day), so I offer to take him some lunch, but he refuses. He wont eat all day for some reason if I wont fix it for him. Then I asked if he would be home on time from work and what time should be plan to leave for the movie. He says to me “whatever time you both want to leave”….and then I said, ” would it be easier to go on another night just in case you cant get off work on time? ” He doesnt answer. Silence. The television was on so I thought he hadnt heard me, so I tried again. No answer. I said “Work with me here….what do you want to do about tomorrow so that we can plan it?” He didnt answer and so I said, ” I am going upstairs now” and then all of a sudden”What? Diane…I dont know what to say”….like I am being unreasonable for being ignored and what I was beginning to think was passive aggressive behavior being used on me…..! I was so angry because I was confused and hurt! It also seems to happen so frequently when we have plans in place! I also get depressed because my husband is practically a workaholic…he is such a good, hard worker and has a very heavy responsibtily load on him at work, and he is under a lot of pressures all day long. When he gets home all he wants to do is veg out. I totally get that. We made the decision years ago that I would be a stay at home parent and he loves that…BUT…he behaves like his wants and needs are more valuable because he earns all of the money. He wont SAY that, and I dont even believe that he wants to FEEL that way, but he certainly expresses it that to me each and every time he pulls this. Why cant he just TALK to me? He is very quiet and wont open up or be honest with how he really feels and thinks so much of the time. Instead of saying , “I am sorry, I dont feel like going to the movies tomorrow night”, he does this head game with me and I am left playing 20 questions to TRY to get it out of him…and mostly I cant get it out of him . I just dont know what to DO…or say…and I dont want to try anymore. I hate my marriage. I do love the man, but we are so dysfunctional is many ways and it is depressing to me. It has gotten to the point where it is an effort to try to “be there” for him. I just dont care…I feel so burned out!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th May

      Hi Diane
      I understand how you are feeling. This is a very hard situation to be in for sure. I had to learn real relationship all over again. And it was shocking to see how one sided that I was willing to be, feeling as though it was right for me to have all the responsibility in all relationships. I had to learn the right definitions of love, respect and marriage. It took some time so be patient with yourself.
      (I am on vacation till June 02 ~ so if I don’t respond it is because I am away)
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Diane Posted: 20th May

    This article really struck my heart! I can absolutely see where I have brought into my adult relationships the same beliefs that I deserved less….as you put it…the “scraps”. There have been a few times when I did make a stand for myself in the past and the person proved me correct….they left me alone from that point on! I also remember a few years ago sitting at Starbucks with a new “friend”, and she began to tell me that she had chosen me to be her friend because at this point in her life she had decided that she needed a new friend. Once again I had a familiar feeling hit me….that it wasn’t ME that she was even interested in, but I was there so it would do u til someone BETTER came along….so just shut up and be what SHE needs in the “friendship”. I was able to see where this was headed and I had also reached a point in my life where I was unwilling to play that part in friendships. I cut her out of my life that moment. I have done things a bit differently over the years. It has taken me nearly 30 years to reach the point of saying I am healed and whole and to really place blame at the feet of those who deserve it…not myself…and over the last eight yrs I have cut off a lot of relationships because I could see that they were all the same…it was ALL about them and not at all about me. Not equal! I could never figure out why I had the same type of relationships or how to change it…or what to change about myself. I had no idea until I discovered this site and these articles and people with similar backgrounds that it was due to the way I had been devalued and humiliated and degraded to the point of actually believing that I deserved less than everyone else. Now I am really seeing my marriage from a completely different perspective. It is embarrass g to admit that I have always considered his needs to be more important than my own…… even more so to realize that he believes that too! I went I to our marriage with the ideal set in place that I was not going to do to my husband what my “mom” did to my father….she emasculated him by her constant narcissistic ways. The yelling and fights and anger and temper outbursts and pressures and demands placed on him. I was goimg to do it “right”. Leave it to Beaver all the way! I was so hungry to have a real family…a peaceful home…and I love traditional ways of doing things together. What I hadn’t figured out was that I never believed that I deserved any of it…and that I had married a man from a dysfunctional background in many ways. So..I gave and gave and tried to please and I gave in to everything believing that because he loved me he would turn around and do the same for me. Then I began trying harder than ever because he kept taking more and more and giving less and less…initiating less, helping hardly at all. I would talk to him a out it. “I will try harder” is what he told me. I would be so happy to hear that that I didn’t notice at first that he did nothing different. It went on li,e this for years until one Christmas when his mother pulled one too many of her methods of controlling and belittling me and my daughter and I ended that in my life….and I put my foot down with my husband. Things actually got better…and over the years we have had a few really heavy duty arguments where I have drained myself dry but he was forced to either listen or it was going to he’ll to pay. He is a great guy…but stubborn and now I finally see why the real changes that I need and want haven’t happened. My belief that he was somehow more entitled to me waiting on him hand and foot….and that I was less important. I hate my marriage, but I love my husband. Now I am almost angry that it has been this way and that I have been treated by the very man who swore to cherish and love me and care for me as he would care for himself. The only real reason I don’t want to hurt him is that the truth is that it isn’t his fault that I have nurtured that belief in our marriage…not entirely. Partly it is….but he can’t see it yet. However all of that is going to be changing as time goes on. I am so relieved to hear that Darlene is still married and they are happier than ever…and that it was rocky at the beginning in getting her husband to see and understand that she was not going to be treated less than anymore in their marriage! Powerful stuff here once you realize the truth that you are as good as anyone and everyone! Whew! I feel drained after pouring this out!

  6. By: Pam Posted: 17th February

    Love this, Darlene! I’m amazed sometimes at how much I’ve learned from you in such a short time! I’m at the stage where people who know me are confused by the changes and it is hard to work through but so worth it!


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th February

      Hi Pam
      I think people who know me are STILL confused by the changes but that is not my problem anymore. My kids fought the changes in me for about 3 years, and that was really hard, but they are thrilled with things now; YES it is worth it!
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Susan Posted: 25th February

    @Lynda; isn’t that something how that works? Thank you for letting me know that this rang true for you as well! Many hugs!

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