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

Categories : Freedom & Wholeness



Oh my, did this ever hit home… Ah yes, the boundary setting… *sigh*. I especially liked the part where you wrote, “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.)” This is especially painful for us to experience first hand.

Darlene, can you be more specific about some of the steps that you took to learn to value yourself, and all parts of you? Were there any particular actions that you took to do this? Just trying to learn step by step, day by day.

Boundaries are SO difficult to establish… especially when you’ve never known where that “line” is! And then the “re-living of each word that we spoke or typed… taking it apart word by word to see if ANY of it could possibly be construed to be unkind in any way….” The relentless self-persecuting OCD…


Hi Susa
I think in many ways that I learned to value myself by exposing the truth about how I was treated vs. how I was expected to treat others. I get asked for specifics a lot in this blog.. and I am always a little surprised at first… because in my mind I am telling everything that I did throughout the EFB blog posts.. I do know where you are coming from however but I think that my angle is different. Like the post I wrote about the key to the present is in the past.. it really was in seeing the reality of how double edged the whole system is, the pecking order that exists in dysfunctional systems, and the double standards that apply, that I was able to own my own value. SO.. I am telling you step by step how I did this. I recovered by realizing the sick system I lived in. I recovered by realizing the lies that were taught to me through manipulation and control and blame shifting. And your process will be slightly different, because the events will be different, but the lies are always similar.
(we were not brought up to think or communicate this way so my communication is often alien! LOL )

I am working on some other ways to present this in the future that might make it a bit easier to follow.
Thanks for being here!
Hugs, Darlene


I am having the same battle with myself. Where is the line between setting boundaries/asking for equal treatment and being a witch. So many people don’t like the new me and want me to remain the doormat. I don’t know if it’s because they like having someone to walk over or if I am crossing the line. It terrifies me to ever become like my narcissitic mother!


Hello Kari and Welcome,
I asked that same question a million times. My therapist kept telling me that the answer is in the examination of the motive. Is your motive for control? Is it for manipulation? To get your own way? Or is your motive for love and harmony? My husband (we went through this process in our marriage recovery too) accused me of being exactly like his father, saying all my new boundaries were about controlling him, but he was not thrilled with my insistence to having equality. I mean, why would he be?? He had everything HE wanted before when I did everything he said and the way he said it. He had NO motive for equality. But I was dying. Today we are both a million times happier in our new family system. My motive for drawing boundaries was NEVER to get my own way. It was always love based. I had no wrong motive. That is the difference. Hope this helps a bit.
Hugs Darlene


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Hi Darlene,
I’ve been reading your posts for several months now but this is the first time I have posted. After being sexually abused for 5yrs as a child, then turning to drugs for 28yrs to block it all out, then the end of a 13yr dysfunctional relationship, I finally decided to face my demons and start the healing journey. I kicked my drug addiction and have been 100% clean for nearly 5yrs and I got myself into some good therapy. I’m at a stage now where I’m starting to question the equality in my friendships & like so many of your posts this one has put into words what I’m going through. Often I will print out your posts and show them to my family/friends and on occasion my psychologist, as this helps open a line of communication about topics that need addressing in my life.

So I would like to thank you for sharing your story and for your part in my healing process. Thankyou 🙂


Fabulous just fabulous. especially this bit below and the questions you ask yourself. I need a checklist I think to constantly remind myself and refer to!
‘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.’


You’ll probably think this is funny, *I* thought it was amusing, but the last guy I dated thought he was worth more to society than I, b/c he was a medical doctor while I was a “lowly paramedic.”
To doctors, paramedics are quite unimpressive, and I didn’t find out he thought this until he dumped me and started dating another doctor-whom he married 5 months after he met her-and he treated her w/ dignity. The same things I’d told him when I was with him that he ignored, all of a sudden he was listening to it when SHE said it.
That’s a load of trollop, but I can’t deny that the rest of the world ACTS like doctors have more to give to it than paramedics do. I saw w/ my own eyes how they were impressed w/ him while they bypassed me in their mad fervor to please a doctor or at least get in good w/ him in case he should decide to throw money their way.
I think paramedics are worthwhile. If I didn’t I would have quit my job a long time ago, b/c I take ridiculous amounts of abuse from some of the doctors, and there’s not really anything I can do about it.
Just ask anyone who works in allied health care what it’s like. Saying something, in certain situations, is likely to get you transferred out, if not outright let go.


I’m new to your blog. This is the first of your posts I’ve read and very much looking forward to exploring the blog more. Like the other commenters, this really hit home for me as well. I must have asked myself those questions a thousand times but always came back with the same feeling that I was asking too much, not being kind enough, not being understanding enough, would lose people if I spoke up, someone may not like me…etc. When in fact, I simply did not value myself as an equal and wholly good person who deserved better treatment. And in fact, the very people I was asking these questions about were treating me horribly. They were being unkind, selfish, cruel and controlling. I began slowly weeding people out of my life, starting with acquaintances and friends who were no good for me. It usually took a few tries and when I got to my mother (the main abuser in my life) it was the toughest. I must have shut her out 5 times in my life, starting at 16 when I left home. Every time I’d let her back in, craving her love and acceptance…it was as if that was the only way to be a worthy human being. She never took any responsibility or apologized for how she’d treated me. I just would play make believe like she did. I finally moved 1000 miles away when I was 35 years old and that was the start of my healing. It was so hard and I was terrified and lonley…always doubting myself but when mother overstepped the boundaries I’d mustered the courage to set (mainly about my daughter–rawr!) that was it for me. It’s been nearly 2 years since I’ve spoken to her or anyone who was a negative or abusive influence in my life and it has been the best choice I’ve ever made. It’s still hard. I’m 39 and I still long for that closeness with my mother…for her to come around. I even sometimes feel pity for her and worry about her…that I’m hurting her. But I make myself give it 2 days before doing anything rash like calling her or writing to her. I’ve learned that in that timeframe I begin to remember WHY she isn’t a part of my life and how happy I am without her abuse and drama. Just before I shut her out I found a wonderful counselor who helped me with inner child work and working on my PTSD triggers…managing it all and I still put it to work because it does, indeed, work! All I had to do was take a step back from the chaos to see that I am worthy and this is not right so why carry on with it and keep wasting my life? Because IT IS MY LIFE. We have to take power over our lives and our happiness. Right?


Hi Lee,
Thank you for having the courage to post a comment and for your encouragement about my work too. I am really glad that you find it helpful.
thank you for being here.
Hugs, Darlene

hi Louise!
Glad that you liked it too!
hugs, Darlene

Hi Skim, welcome to Emerging from Broken,
thank you for sharing your life, struggles and victories today. You bring up a really good point when you talk about taking a step back from the chaos. That is what I did too. I gave myself a break and almost right away I started to come out of the fog of the confusion that I had lived in for so long. It was just a beginning, the layers of fog were huge and deep, but all it takes is a beginning.
Thanks for being here!
hugs, Darlene


I’ve asked myself these questions many times. Some of them I can answer and others I usually push away because it is to painful to think about them. Again this has really made me stop – and realize this is dead on to what I feel.
I also struggle with guilt because I realize I have not been through what a lot of you have. And it seems to me that what I have experienced is minor compared to the rest.
Thinking of the question,”what would scare you (me) about asking for fair treatment?” Wow! A couple things come to mind right away – I feel very selfish, like I should be grateful for what I do get that has any semblance of fairness or not. And I also get terrified that if I ask for fair treatment then I will be rejected again, this time by those who I love with all my heart. I don’t know if I could handle any more rejection. It was dished out pretty liberally by my Biological parents and their church.


Susa, I always appreciate your comments and relate to a lot of what you say. This may not be what you were asking Darlene, but I started thinking about some of the specific things I started doing to value myself when I realized how devalued I was by others and myself. I had no idea where to start. So I started by taking practical, simple steps like taking better care of my body – spending money and taking time. I started getting my nails done, buying and actually taking the time to put on good expensive lotion. I wouldn’t have thought a thing about giving a friend or family member a $25 bottle of lotion for a gift, but myself? Waste that kind of money on myself? So I started doing it. And I started taking myself to lunch or dinner when I could, and if the special sounded good, ordering it without knowing the price, as if I was on a date. I did things like threw out all my old, holey, raggedy underwear and bought all new, just things no one would know but me, just for myself. It was SO awkward and weird. But it was right. These are little things, but they represented a huge change in how I was treating and valuing myself, and made the truths I was learning become real. If something I set out to do like this was hard for me, it just showed me how much I needed to do it. I would think about why I was struggling and who gave me the idea that I didn’t deserve it, or wasn’t worth it? What made me think it would be okay for my friend but not okay for myself? I’m discovering parts of me that are or have been “unacceptable” on some level, and I’m trying to find practical ways to treat them like I value them. That has not been easy. But for me, actions are more meaningful than thoughts or feelings.

I hope this is helpful to someone.


Darlene I have to be up way too early for my tastes today and tomorrow and was checking my FB first and saw this. Maybe it is the time of day but it really hit me. Because I have a healthy relationship now I do no think about the past relationships that often. I had to be alone for several years (by choice) to learn to love myself and respect myself and learn self worth. After that time alone of healing and hard work I met my husband. But before that all of my romantic relationships were painful. I was just thinking about this. I only had one other relationship where the guy was a gentleman. His good points were sense of humor, great personality, honest, never lied to me, gentle and would never intentionally hurt anyone. Because of that I practically made him into a hero in my mind. Compared to the others he was. And I did love him in a pure and simple way. But I was so messed up that I over looked the fact that everything was always on his terms. He was a drug addict and dealer and was in and out of jail. He woudl not cheat on any woman he was with he was old school but his commitment w3as more to himself.
He was irresponsible and the deal breaker for me believe it or not wasn’t the drugs or jail. It was that he was a mamas boy. The only reason I dis not marry him he he went to jail on a life sentence. He got out life doesn’t really mean life it is complicated. But I knew he could be in for life. But when he went to jail for “life” it kind of woke me up. Though as I said he was a gentleman and wouldn’t yell or verbally abuse or cheat (mostly because he is afraid of STD’s ) he just did whatever he wanted. I remember once I did not see him for about 3 months. He was off doing drugs. Then after 3 months he came back and asked me to marry him. It was that day he was sentenced to life in prison. He called all of the shots without any thought to how his choices affected me.
Anyway I said all of that to say when I look back I thought he was the greatest catch! Though he looked like Antonio Sabata Jr. which kind of made it hard to see his negative points 🙂 I think back now, what was I thinking? and wow I have to give God credit for protecting me and sending me a truly wonderful man but as you said it all goes back to the belief system! If I had not taken that time to go trough my changing and healing process I would not be with the man I am with now because I would not have recognized him as a good man. In fact I thought he was too good to be true so I pushed him away but he was persistent and proved to be a loyal and trustworthy friend. Thanks for this reminder! It is well executed!


Susa > Amy

Thank you for your suggestions, Amy, and I totally understand this approach.

Sometimes, it may at first seem like a superficial action to invest more in personal adornments and extra treats, but I do realize that it signifies something much, much deeper. We were always conditioned to look for the “sales” and “closeouts”, and there we might find something that we could feel worthy of. Always looking for the used and broken items… maybe because we were used and broken… I totally get this.

Although I may have to “tweak” your suggestions a little as I don’t drive without another person being with me (almost always – husband, Allan), and have not yet been able to conquer my fear of even going up to a salesperson, and paying for an item… it is something to work towards… even at this late stage of life.

I don’t like frilly, girly things, but prefer to “treat” myself with the addition of an inexpensive, new (used) musical instrument from eBay. Maybe, someday, I will consider us to be “good enough” to buy a brand NEW, expensive musical instrument! (I realize that this signifies chasing after dad, “the musician”, but I have never been able to stop trying to please him – even though he is dead.)

I treated myself to a doll recently… as we never had much of that back in the early days… never even had a stuffed animal back then. The doll was a vintage, composite doll… almost identical to one that mother owned… although, this one is very damaged and needs repair. I still love her, and I will repair her (me/us)! I just realized how rife with insight these last couple of paragraphs are…

Thanks again,


Susa > Amy

Oops… I now realize that I started out okay, but ended up in a “different place”… sorry.

I truly understand what you’re saying, and plan on going to Sally Beauty, and getting some hair coloring! Maybe, reddish? I deserve it! (I say… quaking in these shoes…)



Hi Kia,
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that we have all been through more then you. You would be surprised to find out that almost all survivors (of any kind of abuse) all think that what happened to them is not as bad as what happened to others. Abuse is abuse. When Carla Dippel co-authored this blog, one of the coolest things was that she had never been physically abused OR sexually abused. She had been emotionally abused, (the controlling kind of abuse, not even the verbal kind) and spiritually abused. AND yet, she had the same struggles with depression that I did. The same feelings, the same low self worth, the same beliefs that she was undeserving. Your abuse is yours and all abuse does damage!
Having said all that, I can totally relate to what you just wrote here. I felt that same way.
I used to run from those questions, but the more I faced the answers, the more I realized that the pain didn’t last that long and there is freedom on the other side!
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Amy
Great contribution! I also started doing all that same self care stuff ~ things I used to feel guilty about doing and I agree ~ they were very healthy and they certainly represented a huge change in the way that I regarded me.
Thanks for sharing this!
hugs, Darlene


Hi Pinky
Thanks for sharing this story. It’s it so true that we can become so brainwashed about our lack of value that we think guys like this are the greatest! LOL
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Susa,
These are such great points. (and I picked up the significance in the ending too!)
I had to learn that I was worth more then the bargain bin undies. I even thought about how much time I wasted looking for good deals.
Let us know how your hair turns out!
Hugs, Darlene


Rebuilding a relationship with oneself is not easy, but am in the process – its hard, rewiring oneself, but it will be so worth it as I’m already seeing the changes in me.

Setting boundaries was difficult too with my mother (who is the picture perfect of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder!) I first started off with distancing myself for a period of two to three years, but when I did see her, she made up for lost time. When she humiliated me in my own home at my little boy’s birthday party almost 11 years ago – I put the wall up. I told her she was no longer welcome in my life. She came back saying I was doing this because of my (Christian) faith (I became a Christian at 26 yrs of age) – I told her had NOTHING to do with that but had everything to do with how she’s always treated me. It was in no way an easy decision – it took me two months to think it through. What would be the consequences? Even though it meant not attending ANY family function with my mother there (birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases), the decision was STILL very WORTH IT. It’s been almost 11 years and I have never regretted that decision.

When I realized only about six months ago that my mother was the picture perfect of someone with NPD, I knew then that there would never be hope for us because in her own mind, even still, she thinks she’s done nothing wrong. Even still. I realized then that its time for me to move on – and got myself into therapy. Therapy is arduous some days – and some days I feel like I’m in a total fog – but I also know that its got to clear sometime. I’ve come to realize that I am worthy to be heard, I am allowed to draw boundaries for my own safety. I am allowed to be treated like I’m worth more than an ant.

Darlene, between you and my therapist – I have found tremendous healing my friend!! I cannot begin to convey my gratitude for you and the work you do!!


I really appreciate your encouragement. It makes it worth my effort on the tough days ~ like today when my eye strain problems are making if difficult to be online.
There were certain things that I HAD to do in order to acknowledge my own value, and this was one of them. Walking away from abusive people isn’t always the bottom line, but if they refuse to listen (as your mother, and mine, are great examples of, then walking away shows self love. I was thinking about this when I wrote the post. It is such a stick point for so many ~ walking away from someone who treats you so badly that you could never feel good about yourself ~ even when they (the abusive ones) were not there, caused deep down self doubts about my value. In my case my mother stopped talking to me, which really proved that she would NEVER stop treating me like I was less then her, the same as your mother refusing to stop meant the same thing. And this is not just about parents. For many it is about other relatives, husbands or wives, siblings, in some cases even the grown children become the abusers to the once abusive parents. In all cases we have to be the ones to be proactive in our own lives.
Thanks for being here Paulette! This is not an easy process that is for sure!
Hugs, Darlene


Before I forget (IM posting this before I read the rest of them so I dont forget it) Vicki…who would get the patient TO the hospital and the doctor alive if there were no paramedics?!?! Stupid bunch of bullshit I say! Im glad you dont feel bad about it, because you are doing a very honorable worthwhile thing and I appreciate it and I know anyone else who has ever needed you, does too.

Amy–I love that you wrote this. I had to do those same things for myself. I hadnt bought myself new underwear (lol I know thats crazy to say that item specifically) in probably 2 years, and have recently lost over 40 pounds, so the ones I had were falling off…literally, and it took me almost a year (and actually going into a store and having a salesgirl tell me “your pants are wayyyy too big for you”) for me to realize that my clothes were really big on me and I needed new ones, before I even would go to walmart and buy new underwear, but I spent hundreds of dollars on clothes for my husband and children every chance I got.

I have a lot of body image issues, and thats part of the stuff with clothes for me too, I see myself as much bigger than I actually am (at least from what I get from other people as how they see my size) but it also goes into self care, for me, even bathing daily was “wasteful” because I didnt “do” anything, so why did I need to spend the money on water, soap etc. and it didnt seem like a justified expense in my mind, and it was also very time consuming (which my depression made worse) and I had to look at myself naked and zillion other things tied into it, but part of it was at least that I didnt feel like I was important enough to even be clean, and if thats not totally out there, I dont know what is.

Then that led to not praying because I wasnt clean, and it just snowballed. But it all had to do with me not having value in my own eyes. It took me a year, to even get to where I felt like it was important to brush my teeth and take care of my gums and whatnot, I just figured, “oh well, so what if my teeth fall out, Im fat and ugly and no one loves me anyway.” (totally not true, but thats what my head tells me)

It just seems insane that we get to that extreme with our lack of self worth that things most people never even consider as something that should be value based, is for us. Maybe y’all werent ever that bad off, and I hope you werent…but I can imagine that someone was other than me.

I have probably said this a million times, but it fits here, my very first act of self care, was cooking a meal that I liked, for myself, that I knew no one else in my family liked or enjoyed. It was tempeh stir fry, and I was horrified about going to the store and buying the ingredients and coming home and cooking it and having to hear my husband and kids talk about how they dont like it and its gross and my husband make fun of me for making something like that (not being hurtful, just joking that its something he doesnt enjoy) and have to explain to him why I was doingit and why it was important to me (I never talked to him about any of that before then) and it was such a huge step for me, that i couldnt handle that kind of response, so I was really really scared, and it took me about a week after first coming up with the idea, to actually buy the stuff and have the courage to cook it and eat it. But I did it, and that was a HUGE step for me, and I just kinda did things like that that were totally for me, for a long time, little by little, and then I colored my hair how I wanted, and some people made fun of me, and some people loved it, and some people said nothing, but the important thing was THAT I LIKED IT and it made ME feel good, and to be able to be happy with my appearance, even if it was just my haircolor, was a big step in self love and self acceptance for me.

So yeah, its a process, and a long one, and I wont even get into the first time I tried to wear lingerie for my husband…thats a whole book in itself…LOL, but it does get better and it does work, but its totally individual and you have to do what is important for YOU! Like Susa said about the musical instrument and Amy about the lotion, those things are what mattered to them, so do what feels right to YOU!

LOL sorry I hijacked the comment thread with a novel Darlene ?


Oh yeah, and now that Paulette mentioned mothers, mine called yesterday and I couldnt justify not talking to her (someone in our family was in intensive care and I didnt want to seem insensitive to the people hwo had nothing to do with our personal issues…and wanted to hopefully go see them in the hospital)

We actually had a civil conversation, which was a miracle in itself…but Im not naive enough to think that everything is “okay” and that for one second that she will ever admit her part in things, and she tried to blame religion and all that crap too, and I am not sure that I did the right thing by talking to her yesterday, but I didnt know how else to handle it, so I did what I thought was best, but I know that if it ever comes up, I am going to be told that i am wishy washy and pick and choose when I want to deal with her and when I dont and its not fair and all that crap, but I dont want to isolate myself from the rest of my family, and they are so stuck up her behind, that I have to go through her to communicate with most of them.

but thats a whole other topic. I just wanted to mention that because I really can relate to Paulette and Darlene with that issue.


I really enjoyed this post and can relate to it in many ways. The comment that hit home for me the most was how people responded to your declaration of equality. Most of them didn’t like it.

If there is one thing I discovered during my healing process in overcoming depression and an inferiority complex, is that I will never allow someone to make me feel less than them ever again. If that creeps into our relationship, I’ve learned to confront it head on. It’s either we’re equals or I’m out. There’s no way I’m ever going back to feeling less. I’ve worked too hard and too long to get where I am today. I’m not budging on this one major point in any of my relationships. Good stuff Darlene!


Through my experiences as an adult learning to love myself, I have learned that people treat us the way that we allow them to. When we treat ourselves with love and respect, others do too. We often show them by example how to treat us. If we don’t value ourselves, others won’t either. We attract people into our lives who treat us the way that we expect to be treated.


Amira ~ That’s how manipulative mothers work – I feel bad for you. Mothers like ours make it so that you have to go through them to communicate with anyone else in the family. They set it up so that they are like the ‘Godfather’ in the family. It’s awful.

With what you said about self-care – OH MY GOSH! That is where I am … suddenly. I don’t understand it. I’ve gained weight, and thus I feel ‘dumpy’ – as a result of that the self-care isn’t what it should be. Is it because we don’t feel we are worth it or what?? I don’t get it. I’m not sure if its because I don’t feel valued or what! But like you, I am finally wearing what I LIKE and I am colouring my hair the way I LIKE. I know it stems from how I see myself and its really hard to get past that. We talked about this a bit in therapy yesterday about my weight being related to the abuse – that I am still seeing some of myself as someone my mother said I was. When I left therapy yesterday, I thought more about losing weight not to show up my mother, but for doing it for my own health – but then I suddenly felt threatened. I don’t know why. This is what makes therapy hard!!! Maybe its still that thinking that I have to achieve ‘perfection’ to be loved and accepted … whoa!! I think that just might be it!!!! …. You see why I love posting here … epiphanies are wonderful!! And I’ve found many by writing and posting here. WOW!!


Paulette–you wrote “I thought more about losing weight not to show up my mother, but for doing it for my own health – but then I suddenly felt threatened. I don’t know why. This is what makes therapy hard!!! Maybe its still that thinking that I have to achieve ‘perfection’ to be loved and accepted … whoa!! I think that just might be it!!!!”

and that whole thing about perfection, was exactly it for me. Yet I was horrified to actually be perfect, because I guess I think I could never actually get there and would always be a failure, so I was afraid to try, and it took me gaining almost 100 lbs and facing that fear of imperfection and being unloveable if I wasnt perfect and staring it straight in the face and saying “NO I AM LOVEABLE EVEN IF I AM NOT PERFECT” and telling myself that every single minute of every single day when the thoughts came into my head, until I found some shred of self love that I could build on when it came to my appearance, and it all started with my hair and my clothes, just like I posted earlier, I made the parts of my appearance that I could change instantly, the way I wanted them to be, and just hoped that eventually I would be strong enough to change the rest, and it is happening, slowly but surely, but lo and behold, now that i am actually facing the abuse issues in therapy, rather than making every excuse to not face them and doing other things, I have started eating over the anxiety and it SUCKS! So its not do it one time and you will be better always type thing, but it can change 🙂


Hi Amira,
Something you said reminded me of something ~ you wrote about how one lack of self care led to another one and so on and so on. (this is really excellent ~ it is exactly the progression in the opposite way we want to go ~ so the progression of the low self image problem. It makes sense that doing some self care would stop or at least help stop, the downward spiral. .I had to find out where it came from and fix that too, but self care was certainly one of the factors on this journey when it came to rebuilding my relationship with self.
So thanks so much for sharing! (you didn’t highjack!)
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Dolores
What you stated here is GOLD! That is the absolute exact place in my recovery where I knew that I would NEVER go back to depression. When I decided that I would never allow anyone to EVER make me feel less than them ever again! That is the bottom line I think in this whole recovery from abuse / depression (which is the result of abuse) etc… is about making that decision. (or growing into it)
Thank you so much for being here!
Hugs, Darlene


Yes, this is so true! and I also had to realize that I has LEARNED to allow it, so there was an extra layer to get through before I stopped allowing it. (unlearning to allow it.. ) I agree that we show them how ~ as in what we will (or won’t) put up with.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Paulette and Amira
I can relate to your epiphany! (“but then suddenly I felt threatened”) it totally comes from that belief for me that I had to achieve perfection before I would be loved… always willing to take responsibility for the success OR failure of the relationship. For me I think that it also had to do with still believing deep down somewhere that if I was physically perfect, and still rejected, (even if I was the one that rejected me) that would KILL me! SO, why even try? As though it is better “not to know” … when in actuality, love has nothing to do with any of that! (including self love ~ love is not about perfection!)
Thanks for sharing!!!
LOVE Darlene



I really liked your first response to the commenter — that essentially you recognized the inequality between the ways that you were treated and how you were expected to treat others. I was actually thinking something along these lines today: My mother had spoken openly about wanting me to convert my formal dinig room to a guest room so she and my dad could visit for indefinite periods of time. The first time they came to stay, she made it clear that she expected me to keep the bed set up in my formal dining room for them permanently. I was entirely willing to do it! Even though they weren’t here for months and months and I really missed my dining room table, I was still willing to stick with her plan for my house. Dave and I decided to put the house up for sale, so the dining room table got set up again. When I broke my leg a couple of months ago, my mom came to stay — planning to be here until sometime in April, no matter my plans, and one of the first things she did was start moving around furniture and other decorative items without permission! It really mad me feel angry!! There were other problems, and she eventually left for home when I asked her to go take care of my dad who was hospitalized unexpectedly. Rather than take my advice in the spirit it was intended, she got hacked off and told people that I had ordered her to “get the h@#$ out of my house”. That was the last straw for me. Lying is absolutely where I draw the line! I haven’t spoken to her since.

All that to say that I, too, have decided that I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect just as much as the next person — even my own mother. Also, who is she to order me to turn my house into a permanent lodge for her to visit anytime she pleases?! I still have so much anger about it.

Anyway, thanks again for a very accurate take on the view from this side of life. It really helps knowing others are walking a similar journey.



Hi Darlene, I hope I have picked the right section to post my first message on for other readers to comment? I have just arrived at my respite place, a lovely little cottage in a place called Durham overlooking the magnificent Cathedral. As well as spending the time feeling peaceful and calm my aim is to reflect thru writing and drawing and try and make sense of the confusion and battle that goes on in my head. One question I have which I hope you don t mind me asking is about the prof help you had and what was it about the help that inspired you on yr road to recovery. I ask because I too have prof help from a psychotherpy 3 times a week which I am truely grateful for but at the same time struggle with the unhealthy attachment I have towards her and sometimes wonder if the pain has been intensified and complicated more because I want her so badly to look after me, protect and contain me, be my mother, my best friend and soul mate. I am also struggling with the boundaries of having to leave the sessions and the pain I feel inside when its the 4 days I don t see her or even the hours till I do see her. I think what I m saying is do you think its good that I ve developed such a strong attachment to someone who is able to meet some but not all my needs or am I in for a bigger fall and reinforcement of the rejection issues I ve exp most of my life. As someone who has had years and years of some support of one sort or another, I have never exp this with a therapist so it scares me that I m setting myself up to be hurt, or is it part of the healing process and will get easier for me.


Hello Darlene,

Do you ever feel yourself starting to slip back beneath your boundary line? I guess I’m trying to say: Do you think that “line” is ever moveable depending on the circumstances? Like when a family member might “need” you way more than you would ordinarily offer, but the circumstances dictate that you need to bend back the old way a little more even if it is an exhausting drain, and destroys boundaries? In other words, a family member who has never been reciprocal with support, once more calls on you for constant support because they are in a crisis, and you do it even knowing that the support will never be offered to you? I’m still trying to find my way through this boundary thing… UGH.


I’m probably going to have to read the book on boundaries that OSA recommends.
Most family members refused to reciprocate for me, and I got sick of being the only one who does anything.
Now I don’t have any family members, except my brother, Tom, that will be supportive of me.
They do sneaky little things though. Like just showing up at my house w/out calling and telling me they’d appear, and what do you do when they do that? I didn’t know what to do so I let him stay for a few hours.
This was after I’d made myself clear about not talking to him if he’s going to be abusive.
Well he wasn’t directly abusive, he didn’t call me names or anything, but he insisted I have the same feelings about our mom that he does, even though she physically and mentally abused us. And it was obvious he wanted me to say it never happened.
I didn’t do it, but I also didn’t like being put through the guilt trips intended to get me to change my thinking.
I’ll have to get that book about boundaries as soon as I can.


Amira ~ So encouraging to read that and that I’m not alone! I’ve gained all the weight I lost 3 years ago. 68 pounds. :o( Today I was thinking so much about this that I missed lunch. Missing meals and not getting sufficient sleep is my downfall. Missing meals and then emotionally eating is not a good mix! I am hoping that as I discover my worth that this will change. Therapy digs up all the crap in our lives which I find also upsets ones ‘balance.’ Just when we thought we had it balanced out, something gets trudged up and then throws us off our groove!

I wrote about this today and I came to the conclusion that nothing makes me feel good about me. Not hobbies, not anything I do including weight loss has made me feel good about me. It’s a sad truth, but its the truth nonetheless!


Yes, sometimes we can go to both extremes – devaluing ourselves and at the same time esteeming other people to a point where it gets unhealthy. It’s happened to me many times. When I first entered university, I got to know a great bunch of friends – smart, outgoing, popular. We were known as “the gang”. I was always the outcast, and so needless to say being in the “popular group” was a big thing.

My friends knew about my struggles. They tried to help me in whatever way that they knew best, but only if it will not affect their grades. You see, it wasn’t that I was a bad student; it’s just that when I’m in their group for assignment I just couldn’t be myself because I felt inferior. Hence, I was quickly excluded. When it happened I got severely depressed and suicidal, thinking that I brought this upon myself, that I ruined an opportunity to be “accepted”. I thought I should simply have allowed people to treat me as they like and still be grateful. Another time when I was severely betrayed by others whom I used to esteem, I still blamed myself because I thought I shouldn’t have “fought back”.

Boundaries have always been a huge issue when we grow up believing that “you should be thankful if anyone were to accept you”. But you know, the irony is, if we do not take the first step in valuing ourselves…there are people who will do just the opposite – trample on us.

When I decided to leave my group of friends (not dissociate, just distant a little) to find my own “freedom”, I realized that there are people who are willing to treat me like anyone else. Then I realized that one mistake my friends did was that they tried too hard to “care” for me. You know as helpers, we should not treat those who are struggling as children needing care…because that creates a power imbalance.

My roommate pissed me off when she brought in her boyfriend to sleep with her when I’m also in the room sleeping, for two consecutive nights…among many other things. I didn’t dare to confront her directly, but I decided to call up the agent. At least, that was a little line drawn. Two nights ago when I told my mum about my roommate (she brought in her friend at 5am talking loudly and I was a little harsh towards her partly cos I was sleepy), my mum immediately asked, “So did you make her angry?” I thought that was ridiculous (Okay, for asians, it’s a lot more important to make other people happy).


Emma, I have felt that kind of attachment to a therapist before. I understand how bleak it can feel. My therapist handled it very well by helping me learn that those needy feelings that were being “satisfied” by her were things I felt longing for in my life. That acknowledging those longings and needs was essential to ever having them fulfilled and eventually being able to fulfill them for myself. It was painful when she did this, because I felt chastised for my “inappropriate” feelings for her. I spent my usual amount of time beating myself up for having those feelings, but I was eventually able to forgive myself, with her help, because I realized that those feelings for a therapist (a good one) are normal and I never would have been able to see that if I hadn’t overcome my fear of discussing those very feelings with her.

I am still working on fulfilling the needs for myself, but I was able to realize that my therapist was being competent by drawing an appropriate boundary. Boundaries hurt at first when we draw them AND when they are drawn by someone else. But they are so important! And learning what’s appropriate and what isn’t (especially for those of us who had our most basic boundaries violated at such a young age) can be very difficult.

I hope it helps you to know you are not the only one. I hope your therapist is able to help you through your feelings of attachment and you are able to work through this difficult time.


Susa and Vicki–Im so glad you posted and asked those questions. I struggle with the same things, like when my mom called the other day when a family member was in the hospital…I hadnt talked to her for six months, and had no intention of doing so, because we have been round and round with her never admitting any fault whatsoever and putting all the blame squarely on me…but I felt like because of the other person, I “had” to deal with her to show support for them and I had no other way to find out about them because everyone does everything through my mother.

Her (and other members of my family) just “showing up unannounced” was one of the reasons I moved away. I moved away from them all, just so that they couldnt do that (well, there were other reasons too, but that was one of them) so now, they dont do it because its not worth the drive….but I spent years not knowing how to handle that, and the only solution I found was to get out of range of them being able to do it. So I dont really know where those boundaries are either, especially when alienating my mother has basically alienated my entire family. When is it ok to have contact for the sake of others? Is it ever? Was I totally wrong and should have just not answered the phone when she called? I dont know.


Susa > Amira:

Yes, the line seems to be extremely difficult for me to determine… I suppose the “line” can be fluid to a point, but one part of me has the habit of totally putting us in their place, and trying to determine if in protecting our boundaries, we are invading theirs? It seems to be a razor thin line sometimes! Or, maybe it’s a process of over protecting our boundaries for a while until we can relax them somewhat, and push them back toward the middle… It is a never ending struggle for me.


Susa > Emma:

Emma, I agree with Lisa… we as survivors of childhood abuse are trying to fulfill an attachment and nurturing which we should have had from the parents, but did not get it. The pervasive “Mommie transference”. It is so difficult to develop that part in ourselves that can fill that void, but I believe as Lisa spoke about, that it should be the eventual goal.

Therapists have so many different therapy approaches, and it may be your therapist’s goal to create that attachment in order to establish trust with her. What I would recommend it to try to openly discuss this with your therapist to see if this attachment is indeed a healthy step, and one that she intended, or if it might be detrimental. Abandonment and boundary issues seem to be very closely related to attachment issues.

Sometimes, we unfortunately develop unhealthy attachments by trying to mimic the ones that should have been there from the family of origin… We start the attachment, and then we set it up for failure so that it more closely resembles our beginnings in life… So we end up sabotaging it before it ever begins, so it will repeat the past non-attachment, then abandonment. We have to try and break that looping tape in our heads that constantly tries to hijack our healthy thoughts, and continues to try to repeat the unhealthy abuse from the past. Just my thoughts.


Again Darlene; Score! This post is so right on! One major thing that had held me back was in facing the grief at the possible loss of these relationships that had kept me prisoner. In learning to be assertive I also learned how to practice to avoid the panic at the anticipation of conflict and regonizing when I was “triggered” and that my over or under reactions were connected to the trauma fight flight freeze response that kept me in that dance because it was all I’d ever known.

Most often expressing a need for myself meant that they would get defensive and could not look at their own issues and ultimately since they won’t respect me I limit my time around them or grieve them as they would cut me off blaming me for their choices. This was extremely painful at first as my issues with being abandoned and the idea that to not be abandoned I would do this dance and tolerate being treated as less than. Once I realized that freedom may include the loss of some or all of my past relationships and that grief was a natural part of any loss or major life change I felt less panicked and more capable to make these kinds of changes over time, bit by bit as self care became my new “normal”.


Susa > Susan:

You state some very good tips in your post. One of my main obstacles is a medical one… when trying to set new boundaries, the blood pressure skyrockets. I’m already on two BP meds (and I HATE having to take any kind of prescription medication), so I try deep breathing, relaxation techniques, and lying down to bring the high BP down… sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, and I have to adjust the BP meds. I realize that the confrontation causes the hike in BP, but spikes like this can be dangerous. I am currently looking into an affordable biofeedback device to try to resolve this issue. I realize that with practice in setting boundaries, this BP problem will resolve, but until then, I have to do something.


Reading some of these latter posts really hit home for me. That maternal connection I never got as a kid. I never felt close to either parent. My father was gone a lot and never really got to know him until after my parents divorced. I never had a closeness or attachment to my mother because of her abuse. I so miss having that mother-daughter love bond that I see in other mother and daughters. They often say you can’t miss what you never had – but I do miss the fact that I never experienced a mother’s unconditional love. I didn’t even learn that real love was unconditional until I was 26 years old! And I still struggle with that on some level. There are times when that lie creeps into my marriage – that if I don’t perform well as a wife that my husband will reject me and leave. It’s awful living with this thinking.

I have a tween daughter of my own and I have no model to follow really – but I do work very hard at having a close bond with my daughter (and my sons too for that matter). I do not want them growing up and ever doubting my love for them. I think that if they ever doubt my love for them then I would have failed as a mother. I hope I don’t!

The unconditional love and respect of a mother is so important in the life of a child (so are involved fathers!!!!) … I believe that kids need this love to grow into well-rounded human beings – to grow into confident individuals. I want to so desperately give my children what I NEVER got as a kid. I want them to know they are LOVED, ACCEPTED, and RESPECTED NO MATTER WHAT. I have often told them that there is nothing they can do that can make me stop loving them. I sure wish I had had that – but at least I have healed enough to know that loving my kids ‘no matter what’ is probably the best gift I can give them.

MOTHERHOOD – its something that should be taken seriously, passionately and given 210% – to the best of our utmost ability!!


Susa > Paulette:

Isn’t it amazing that at that young age, that we as humans seem to instinctively know what we’re missing? My mother wasn’t overtly abusive – she was mostly passively abusive in being neglectful, enabling to the other abusers, and not nurturing to her little girl. She WAS, however, nurturing to her son. I can remember running after her through the house, hanging onto her skirt (in a child’s way), begging for her love as she tried to swat me away…


Paulette–I could have written all that myself. I actually was hugging my daughter yesterday (she was upset about some girls at school being mean to her) and I remembered the one time I felt loved by my mom, I was in probably 5th grade (and my daughter is that age now) and was upset about being made fun of at school, and she hugged me and told me not to worry about it. That is probably one of the only times I can remember feeling like I was loved by her. The thing that bothers me most, is that I still struggle to think that its “her fault” in lots of ways, because there were a lot of us and she worked, and so she just wasnt there a lot of the time, through just not having other options…and then as a teen I moved away (at her doing) so I have no real connection with her either…and I also think there is some birth trauma/lack of bonding as an infant stuff going on maybe (I was premature and spent the first four months of life in an incubator with no human contact, and the more i think about that, the more I realize maybe that played a role somewhere too)

but I feel the same way, with my daughter and not having a role model, what I try to do, and this may not be the best approach for you, is get books about being a teenager and how to deal with teenage issues and growing up and all that, and read them with her, and talk about the subjects that come up and learn together what to do and how to do it.

I feel just as passionately about being a good mother, and I have a great deal of anger (probably misdirected anger to some degree, honestly) at the general public for their lack of concern (or willingness to do “whatever it takes”) for the welfare of their children (or the children of society at large) and that to me is a HUGE problem. I am not perfect, that much is obvious, but its not for lack of trying every single day all day to do the very best job I can, and Im just not convinced that parents in general take that same approach, and it makes me angry.

Anyways, thats a whole other story. Im glad that Im not alone in having no idea how to raise a tween daughter!


Wow Kellie!
This is a perfect example of how controlling parents ask for really strange things.. I think it is how they get the proof that they so need that you will sacrifice anything for them. (in this case, your dining room) It seems like those are the things that make them happy, instead of the relational things. And we are just so happy to comply without questioning the fact that it is ridiculous to give up your dining room full time! This is exactly the fog that I came out of ~ again, this is a GREAT example.
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Emma and welcome to Emerging from Broken
I know that some people do struggle with this attachment problem. I know that your therapist is aware of i and for the sake of the other readers ho might be in a situaltion like this I want to say that is a good place to begin. (I know it can be embarrassing but it is really neccessary)
I didn’t have that kind of attachment to my therapist at all. I was afraid about knowing therapy would end one day, but when that day came I was ready! The thing is that we so strongly believe that a person is going to save us and become the answer.. someone to be our mother or father or both. That is never going to be the answer though. No other person can be the answer. We have to do our own work, and like I am saying in this post ~ my relationship with myself is really the biggest key in reocvery.

I developed a very strong relationship with my therapist, because he was helping me so much. (but I didn’t mind the confines of the therapy relationship ~ not seeing him outside of my sessions) The difference with the therapist I saw last, compared to other therapists is that he helped me resolve one of the events that had formed so many false lies in my belief system, within 2 sessions and that was where my hope came from.
I have not read the other responses to your question yet, but I am going to catch up on that now!
Thanks for being here,
Hugs, Darlene


@Emma; You bring up a very vital question of the therapeutic relationship. I also struggled with the issues you describe – the feeling that I “needed” my therapist or psychiatrist and how I struggled with what you describe in the boundaries of these relationships; my entire focus was on getting to the next appointment and not wanting the sessions to end. I was dependent on my therapeutic relationships; I needed them to feel ok, to feel as though I would make it. the idea of not having them in my life was terrifying.

This part of Darlenes post is a great introduction to this idea of the childlike dependence that I had on those therapeutic relationships…

“The bridge between my childhood and adulthood was missing.”

In my own abuse and trauma I’d been forced to be dependent – I’d not had the fortune of growing up in an environment that taught me how to be autonomous, independent and an interdependent member of society where I understood that it was up to me to meet my own needs and take care of my own emotional well being.

In fact – I’d been taught and conditioned that I was responsible for everyone elses well being and that mine did not matter. Efforts to have my own thoughts or express my own feelings were rejected, shamed and punished. As an adult, I was unable to be independent and panicked at the thought of making a decision without someone elses validation or permission. I’d not been allowed to grow and learn how to move from childlike dependence on others to knowing how to be a separate being in the bigger world.

As I sought help to learn how to stop putting myself in abusive relationships I became enmeshed and dependent in other dysfunctional relationships in friendships, marriage, religion and then the mental health system and I continued to be abused and patronized by my family. I had a very unhealthy dependence on others and suffered a great deal of distress from this dependence. In the end, the thing that helped me to grow beyond this dependence was in first understanding that it was not my “fault” that I was this way and seeing that it was my neediness that often set me up for all kinds of other abuses and unhealthy relationships both intimate and therapeutic where others became my source. What I’ve discovered over the years is that any relationship that leaves me feeling as though I can’t live without it is a mirror of that childlike helplessness and sense of powerlessness over my own life.

I don’t know if my experiences are anything like what you are describing but it was when I began to see myself as my own source and recognize the issues Darlene brings up in posts like this one today that I began to be able to decide if a relationship – therapeutic or otherwise – was helpful to me or not.

Its nice that you are able to be in a place where you can rest and sort through some of these very important issues…I’m glad you brought this up; its an important issue:)


You asked ” Do you ever feel yourself starting to slip back beneath your boundary line? I guess I’m trying to say: Do you think that “line” is ever moveable depending on the circumstances?”

The answer is NO. Well I sometimes FEEL like I am slipping back, yes, but I learned the hard way to avoid lifting my boundary! (this was a process so don’t be hard on yourself. It took me a couple years to learn all my boundaries, and then a couple more years to really stand firm)
I know what you are asking, and the part that I am strongly saying NO to is the part about bending back the old way… NO NO I never do that anymore because I learned that there is more to this then just them getting me to do what they want. It is as though controlling me is their drug and then my demise. So they pull out ANYTHING that works or has worked in past to try and pull me back in. In the case of my husband ~ when he knew that my boundary was real, he changed his tactics. This is a huge huge topic. I also learned that if I lifted my boundary, I had to set it about 10 more times because they didn’t BELIEVE that it was my boundary anymore when I lifted it “just this once”. I hope this makes sense!
Thanks for bringing this up! it is so huge!
hugs, Darlene


Susa > Darlene:

Your post makes perfect sense to me, and thank you for encouraging me to stay strong with this “healthy boundary quest”.


Hi Paulette
You wrote that you realized that nothing makes you feel good about you ~ that is a huge breakthrough. I hit that same wall, except that I realized it was like breaking through a huge wall, because this was great information to build from.. A great place to begin with a new relationship with yourself. I know this hurts Paulette. Thank you for your courage in sharing that with us. This is a comment that so many will relate to!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Jasmine
This is another excellent example! (I love how we are getting all these really different story examples, they make a huge difference to others struggling to realize where they have similar issues)
This is my favourite line in your share, I have to highlight it!
“Boundaries have always been a huge issue when we grow up believing that “you should be thankful if anyone were to accept you”. But you know, the irony is, if we do not take the first step in valuing ourselves…there are people who will do just the opposite – trample on us.”
This was something that took me a while to learn, but it is one of those foundational truths. Victim mentality tells us that compliance etc. is the way to acceptance and love, but in reality, self acceptance and self love (being who you really are as you illustrate in this story) is the only way!
Thanks so much for being here!
Hugs, Darlene

Thank you for your excellent reply to Emma! One of the things that I think many of us react to with therapist boundaries is that we are not used to anyone drawing a healthy boundary. Abusers use boundaries to control, and good therapists use them out of love. There is such a huge difference, (but I had to learn that)
Hugs, Darlene


Susa (post 40) … When I was little though, I didn’t know what I was missing until I was older and started to see her favouritism of my younger sister. I retreated into my own little world for a long time. It was when I was in my teens when I started to notice other family dynamics as well as the favouritism. And that is when I longed for it.

Amira (post 41) … My feelings/views exactly! And I have bought a book on the tween mother-daughter relationship – just have to read it! Good call!! My mother moved me out too when I was 19 – she told me I was too selfish and lazy. She paid for my damage deposit on an apt as well as my first month’s rent and a few staple groceries. Yeah, ‘lazy’?? Really?? I was the only one cleaning her 2 1/2 bath, 5 bedroom (2 1/2 storey) home EVERY SATURDAY – plus doing the family laundry!! I was never allowed to hang out with friends on Saturdays (they still remember this too.) My mother would wake me up at 8am on Saturday by banging on my door, yelling, “Get up! You have work to do!” Then she’d go into her favourite daughter’s room – crawl into her bed and they’d talk and giggle til noon which was the typical hour my sister’s friends would show up and go out for the rest of the day! And I was ‘lazy’!?? Two weeks after being on my own, my mother came to visit and asked me, sheepishly, if I would consider moving back home. When I asked her why, she said, “Well, now I know whose been doing all the work around there.” I WAS BAFFLED!

Amira – it really sounds like you and I had a lot of similar experiences – however, I never remember any kindness from my mother. I was always on the ‘outside.’


Darlene … (post 46) … BIG HUGS! Thank you for giving me a place to share!


to all the commenters and readers in the discussion about boundaries ~

It was very important for me to learn to put myself first long enough for me to learn my value. Each situation with family was dealt with as it came up at first. I couldn’t answer all those questions at the same stages that they came up. (I am having trouble articulating this) The whole thing is a process, including the setting boundaries. At first the boundary was small.. and then as I got stronger, the boundaries got stronger. A process that goes along with all the other processes.

The line is fine Susa, you are right. But I had to stop analyzing what the other person was doing and look at what was best for me for once in order to learn that balance. I had to build a NEW GRID to see things through. I was way to used to being the one who was wrong to accurately figure out if I was stepping on someone esles boundaries. SO YES ~ you are right when you said this: “Or, maybe it’s a process of over protecting our boundaries for a while”
Great discussion!!

Hugs everyone!!

P. S. I want to highlight the comment from Dolores because this is really the bottom line! Dolores said in comment # 21 ~ “If there is one thing I discovered during my healing process in overcoming depression and an inferiority complex, is that I will never allow someone to make me feel less than them ever again. If that creeps into our relationship, I’ve learned to confront it head on. It’s either we’re equals or I’m out. There’s no way I’m ever going back to feeling less. I’ve worked too hard and too long to get where I am today. I’m not budging on this one major point in any of my relationships.”


FANTASTIC comments, wonderful contribution to this discussion ~ Thank you! (Susan wrote comment #37)
I think that what you mention (facing the grief at the possible loss of the relationship) is what kept you a prisoner of the dysfunctional relationship ~ IS a major stick point for many. It may very well be THE biggest stick point. Thanks for bringing this up.
On your second comment ~ wow… that comment could stand alone as a blog post! Excellent, I hope everyone reads them both.
Hugs, Darlene

In response to your comment # 41 ~ This isn’t about blaming our parents or anyone else as much as it is about NOT blaming ourselves. That concept was a really difficult one for me to comprehend, but it was so necessary. The only way that I was able to stop blaming myself was by really looking at the truth about what happened. The misuse of power that did so much damage in my life. The fact that I was taught love was obedience, and obligation, compliance, etc. The blame (or placing the responsibility for the damage where it belongs) was really just a stepping stone to freedom.
Hugs, Darlene


Thank you for all your kind, helpful comments yes Lisa it is so hard and I do beat myself up knowing this isn’t helping me and must be difficult for my therapist too. Susa you are right, my therapist is working with me to build up the trust, but the more I seem to trust her, the more the attachment increases. And Susan your insight and explanation has helped me so much more to understand myself better. You have hit the nail on the head and everything you have described about yourself I can relate to also. A BIG THANK YOU TO YOU ALL. I know it is my journey and I need to do the hard painful work. My therapist and I first worked together in 2001 but that was only once a week for 18months. I never had any attachment issues then and would walk out the room and get on with my life the best I could until we met again. However this time round I see her three times a week, it is open ended and have been told it will be long term work. When it is getting nearer the end of the session or often as I’m watching the clock moving faster than I can cope with, the fear of going back outside into the world absolutely terrifies me, I am often in bits and in a heap on the floor, pleading with my therapist to let me stay with her so I can feel safe, its taking me longer and longer to leave her room, I get cross with myself as I know I need to go but my legs wont move and when I do eventually go, I head straight to the toilet where I invariably curl up on the freezing concrete floor and cry myself to sleep until someone comes knocking on the door needing the toilet!. She is so lovely and gentle with me but I know its not a healthy attachment, I know intellectually that I will never be taken home and looked after by her, but emotionally its what I crave and need and right now I am functioning very much on an emotional level and the pain of leaving her after each session intensifies. I hope as I get stronger, my dependency lessons and my fantasy of being in her family disappears. This work is SO tough and exhausting, and nothing prepared me for the emotional pain that I am experiencing. I appreciate all your helpful comments thank you again Emma


@Susa – yes; there is that definite physical response to stress that is a factor. Living in a chronic state of emotional stress is very damaging to our bodies. I heard/read a recent article that 80% of what we seek medical care from is caused by the stress response. Like you, stress management became a really big deal and its taken time to learn how to make it a way of life instead of the crisis management tool that it was for a long time. Baby steps:) I’m glad you are finding you way with this issue; I found it to be so freeing when I realized that I was no longer prisoner to my emotional reactions. Love hearing from you on this Susa!


@Emma; thank you for letting me know my note was helpful to you. This kind of dependence is so crippling and debilitating. Emma – I really do understand what you are describing and I am glad to hear that your therapist is compassionate with you around this. It was in the grieving of the childhood that I never had and the reality that no one could “fix” me that was so deeply draining. It does ease in time and this is a wonderful place to be to talk about these issues. I’m so glad that you could share this here Emma:)

@Darlene; thank you:) Many hugs and appreciation for this place:)


Something you said a while ago struck home for me Darlene. Where you learned to give yourself and your feelings “equal” status in a relationship. There are moments when a penny drops – and a penny dropped for me the moment I read that line. I had always put others first. Their needs, their feelings. And in doing so, I felt that I needed to defend myself if I ever brought up my feelings or needs.
I have done a lot of work and have done a lot of growth and healing.
But – thank you for putting that into a clearer perspective for me.
Blessings ! <3 Judy


I think that there is one thing that we have to realize, and that is:

If Other people can have the choice to trample on our boundaries and mistreat us, then so do we have the choice to make it stand stronger than ever.

I won’t say that it’s easy. When I first stood up against my mum, teachers, leaders, friends, etc…their initial reaction was always shock, followed by lesser attempts to continue to demean me, and then gradually stay away.

The unfortunate thing is that people know it when you allow yourself to be treated as trash, and many of them will gladly “help” you out.


I have removed a comment, something I rarely do, in fact I have only removed on other comment ever. For those of you who subscribed to comments on this post, you would have already received the comment in your email so I felt the need to post a message about it, even though I have removed it. I removed it because it contained advice that I believe could be very harmful. On a blog there is no way that we can know enough about a persons process to be able to give them helpful advice, especially when it comes to the relationship that they have with a therapist. In fact the potential to do harm is greater then the potential to help. I am not talking about sharing our own personal stories. That is always fine. I am talking about giving specific directives or analyzing a situation someone else is in.
I am not asking anyone to stop asking for feedback, just that others be careful which kinds of feedback that they offer.


Hi Judy,
It amazes me when I look back at the “logical” things that impacted me too… I look back and wonder why I didn’t realize it before. Why had I been stuck there? But I was. I didn’t know that I deserved equal value. In fact, equal value meant something NEW to me, where as the word equality wasn’t something that I had any real understanding of at all. I am really glad that you shared your penny drop moment!

Hi Jasmine,
Yes, we do have a choice. I think this is such a big stick point for so many; that we don’t even realize we have a choice. We just never had one before! It is like habitual to think we don’t have a choice. I found it was something that I had to remind myself over and over again. I have an equal right.
I found that when I treated myself like trash by never standing up to anyone, others (as you say) will gladly treat me the same way!
But everything is different today!
Thanks for being here Jasmine!
Hugs, Darlene


I’d love to read an entire column/s on learning to value one’s self. I definitely see myself in this column; many of my relationships aren’t balance and it’s often me that’s in the way of them getting there or becoming moreso. I wish there were more detail here on the process of learning to value yourself. I hope to see an elaboration on that in a future column/s?


I like what Jeff said! 🙂


Boundary setting and changing the lifelong learned self-worthlessness continues to be a constant struggle for us… Trying to educate that part of me who has always essentially “given our entire being away”, simply because that part was created specifically for this purpose. We are finally making a little progress in getting through to her. This has been especially painful lately.

I would like to share a striking metaphor, that is tweaked somewhat from one that a therapist told me in the past regarding changing behavior.

We envision that we’re driving a tractor out in a field… The wheel has been rusted in place, so that the tractor keeps going around in the same circle, again and again, until the ruts are very deep. We must not only try to break the rust loose, but then use every ounce of strength that we can muster to turn the wheel the other direction, so that it climbs out of the “dysfunction ruts”. The longer the unhealthy boundaries have been in place, the more rust there is, and more strength is required to break the steering wheel loose before we can even attempt to strong-arm the wheel and turn it to climb out of the old, dysfunctional ruts. So far, I’m starting to break some of the rust loose!



Hi Susa,
This is such a great metaphor. I was told a similar one too.
Thanks for sharing.. I might put yours into the post I am currently working on. It fits well…
Hugs, Darlene

Learning to love myself is a process that took such a long time. In my view, my intention with this blog is to write about that process within each blog post that I publish. Re-learning to love and value myself was a process of going back to the original places where the brokenness happened; It took years. But the details are all right here in this website. I am going to write a post about this ~ so stay tuned, but as far as writing one specific blog post ~ that isn’t possible.

Hugs, Darlene


I’m not going to be able to say anything else on Facebook about these issues, b/c someone in my family-who MAJORLY ignores everything that happened-asked to be Friends w/ me.
He’s just about the worst one in the family about it. He once wrote a 3-page microscopically printed letter trying to force me to think the way he does, and he played a REALLY stupid game about it. He addressed it to our mom, told her how wonderful she is, and then SENT it to me.
Some of the games they play go beyond the land of manipulation and enter the realm of just plain f-ing weird.
I’d rather not deal w/ him, so I’m going to do my talking here. And on OSA.


I started counselling for childhood sexual abuse a year and half ago. My father was the culprit and although I told my mother twice she did not believe me. Im 57 now and I told my mother I needed time away from her while I dealt with counselling and also learned to cope without tranquilisers which Id used for 25years. After a years break she phoned me and acknowledged the abuse and said she respected what I was doing and believed in me. She died of a heart attack two days later. In some ways I feel Ive been punished for starting to value myself and Im stunned still that I never got the chance to talk things through with her. Id also in the last two years had to let go of my partner and all but two of my friends as they themselves had issues but did not want to heal and did not value the work I was doing on myself. I feel Ive changed on an a very deep level but spend my days coping with stormy grief over all these losses. My worry is that I will not find ways to reconnect with the world and will become increasingly isolated, particularly as I havent worked for 12 years. It seems Im learning to value myself but have left it to late to have a worthwhile working life or relationships and it feels like the grieving over the loss of childhood, mother , partner , relationships,’old self’ will take forever.


Hi Vicki,
It is fine for you to only post comments on OSA and in here instead of in facebook. You do whatever you believe is best for you!
Hugs, Darlene

Welcome Layla
Wow, that is wonderful that your mother acknowledged you and expressed her belief and respect for you, what a gift. I am sure that your mother crossed over feeling much more peaceful about your relationship with you. I am so sorry for your loss. I totally understand how you feel and I hope that in time you realize that her death was in no way a punishment; life can be so brutal, but what a gift to know that she supported you in your quest for healing, before she passed away.
I was extremely worried that I would never find a way to make friends, work and be a functioning member of society. I thought it was too late also, but then I realized that I had the rest of my life! And my life is so rich today, each day if full happy and a blessing because I used to want to just give up and die and everything is so different now.
Please keep hanging in here, sometimes things look really tough right before a breakthrough into the sunlight.


Thanks for youre so kind words and insight Darlene.You are helping a lot of people and I respect youre work. Ive had more support reading youre website in the last year than Ive had from any doctor or psychiatrist in the last 30 years. Best Wishes


[…] my last blog post there were some comments asking me for more details about how I recovered my value and learned to […]


I’ve been reading a lot of comments on here about loving myself, and I’m gonna blurt out what comes to mind. How can I love myself if others cannot love or accept me? When I chose to leave the Anabaptist lifestyle and pattern my life and path after something more Biblical and less “plain” – in other words choosing to pay attention to the things that really matter, rather than dress, etc.. all the “outside” appearances, I lost a lot of friends and my biological parents. It has made me wonder how I can love myself if others can only reject me.


Thank you Layla,
What a wonderful compliment.

Everyone ~ I have just published a new post that follows up on some of the comments in this thread. There were a few people interested in having more details on the process of how I learned to value myself. You can read it here: Self Esteem, My Vlaue and Learning to Love My Self


Hi Kia,
I understand what you are asking, I had all those same feelings before, but one of the most foundational messages in this blog is that self love does not depend on anyone else. When I took my life back, I decided that no one was ever going to DECIDE for me again that I was not lovable or worthy, but I wasn’t able to decide that until I realized why I believed them when they had decided it. (by going back and seeing where the whole thing started and how I believed the lies)
I have written a lot of posts on this topic ~ We are rejected because we didn’t fit into someone elses idea of who we should be… does that sound biblical to you? I realized that this in itself was WRONG. You might like my next blog post. You can read it here: Self Esteem, My value and Learning to love My Self

Thank you so much for having the courage to post this comment!
Hugs, Darlene


Susan, this was KEY for me, too, what you wrote in comment #43:

“I had a very unhealthy dependence on others and suffered a great deal of distress from this dependence. In the end, the thing that helped me to grow beyond this dependence was in first understanding that it was not my “fault” that I was this way and seeing that it was my neediness that often set me up for all kinds of other abuses and unhealthy relationships both intimate and therapeutic where others became my source. What I’ve discovered over the years is that any relationship that leaves me feeling as though I can’t live without it is a mirror of that childlike helplessness and sense of powerlessness over my own life.”



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


[…] Related post ~ Rebuilding my Relationship with Me ~ Recovering from Dysfunctional […]


[…] depression and low self esteem and wrapped all around my victim mentality and survivor mode was my difficulty with self love. I had not been taught my value. In fact, I had been taught to doubt my value. I had been taught […]


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!



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


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!


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!


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


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!


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!!!!


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.

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